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July 16, 2003

When did they know?
Posted by Teresa at 09:01 PM *

At what point did the Bush administration know there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? When Rumsfeld started cutting troop allocations from the war plan. The administration may have known earlier, but they surely knew by then.

Cutting the troop allocations was crazy enough if Rumsfeld assumed US troops would be going up against conventional weapons; but even he wouldn’t have done that if he honestly thought they’d face WMDs.

Comments on When did they know?:
#1 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 09:44 PM:

That only actually follows if you're postulating that the merry band of nincompoops involved didn't really believe that the people of Iraq would welcome them with strewn rosepetals.

It's pretty clear that they are nincompoops and did believe that; this is why their operational planning is so palpably absent as it presently is.

The thing I have sticking in my mind about this timing thing is that the documents purporting to show that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger have been described several times as forgeries.

I want to know who forged them, and when.

It is my disturbed suspicion that this information might very well answer your question about the point in time the Bush administration knew there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. (Since why forge evidence when the real thing is to hand?)

#2 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 10:16 PM:

I'm surprised the weapons haven't "turned up". I would have thought four months would be plenty of time to plant them.

#3 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 10:22 PM:

Rush Limbaugh hypothesizes that the French forged the documents in order to befuddle Bush when it was announced that the documents were faked.

I suspect that Bush still thinks they'll find WMD in Iraq.

I also suspect that Rumsfeld, Perle, Wolfowitz, and the rest of the Neo Con chicken-hawks are thinking they don't have to prove anything, enough voters to re elect Bush are violent xenophobes with ADHD.

#4 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 10:22 PM:

Too much risk; what do you do if the convoy gets shot up, the stuff leaks, and there happens to be good video footage?

It would also be hard to cook something that would pass international verification, and refusing to let that happen would scream 'fake' with damaging loudness.

#5 ::: Anne ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 10:49 PM:

According to tonight's ABC News, they were forged by an impecunious diplomat(?) from Niger and sold to the Italians. The Pentagon hasn't declassified them, but pictures of them were plastered on the front pages of various Italian newspapers. The forger wasn't very good--for example, he produced a letter to M. le president du Niger, from M. le president du Niger--and there were other irregularities as well. Or so I believe I heard (I can't read and listen at the same time).

#6 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 11:03 PM:

Niamey, Niger.
Attention: President

Dear Sir,

Confidential Business Proposal

Having consulted with my colleagues and based on the information gathered from the Niger Chambers Of Commerce And Industry, I have the privilege to request for your assistance to transfer the amount of 47,500,000 grams (forty seven million, five hundred thousand grams) of yellowcake uranium into your country. The above resulted from an over-invoiced nuclear weapons program, executed commissioned and paid for about five years (5) ago by a foreign contractor. This material was never shipped however as the original consigner fell from power and since then the yellowcake uranium has been in a vault at the Niger Nuclear Materials Commission Warehouse.

We are now ready to transfer the yellowcake overseas and that is where you come in. It is important to inform you that as civil servants, we are forbidden to operate a foreign nuclear program; that is why we require your assistance. The total amount will be shared as follows: 70% for us, 25% for you and 5% for local and international terrorists.

The transfer is risk free on both sides. I am a senior minister with the Niger National Uranium Corporation (NNUC). If you find this proposal acceptable, we shall require the following documents:

(a) your weapons minister's name, telephone, account and fax numbers.

(b) your private telephone and fax numbers -- for confidentiality and easy communication.

(c) your letter-headed paper stamped and signed.

Alternatively we will furnish you with the text of what to type into your letter-headed paper, along with a breakdown explaining, comprehensively what we require of you. The business will take us thirty (30) working days to accomplish.

Please reply urgently.

Best regards,

Dr. Mokumbo Molake
Niger National Uranium Corporation

#7 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 11:39 PM:

Impecunious? It's so rare I read a word I can't define. Thanks Anne.

#8 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 11:40 PM:

Well done, full marks on artistic merit, but, alas, I must deduct .6 from the technicals -- you failed to put the subject line in all caps.

#9 ::: Jon Hendry ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2003, 11:56 PM:

Anne wrote: "and there were other irregularities as well"

Another irregularity was a letter that was stamped and mailed before the date of the events it described. (Or something to that effect; the chronology screwup is right, the details may be wrong)

#10 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 12:06 AM:

Jim: You is a wicked evil man. Keep up the good work.


MKK

#11 ::: Jeff Crook ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 12:11 AM:

It would also be hard to cook something that would pass international verification, and refusing to let that happen would scream 'fake' with damaging loudness.

They are in a bit of a quandry. Even if they actually found real Iraqi-produced, post-1995 WMDs now, no one will believe them. They need UN inspectors to find them. But they can't let anyone in to inspect the country, because that will blow the lid off the real reason why they absolutely had to invade and occupy Iraq now. The inspector is a two-edged sword. Imagine how heinous whatever it is must be for them to prefer to lose all credibility on the WMD issue than to let inspectors into the country.

#12 ::: Hal O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 03:25 AM:

I dunno... Cutting the troops prior to the attack could make sense if you thought WMD would be used against you, whereupon you'd be justified in massive retaliation, and you wanted to keep losses to some min-max (least troops lost but as high as possible for outrage).

But I've been arguing the Administration has known all long Iraq had no WMD, on four points:

* Our reluctance to have the UN inspectors return in the first place, circa Aug-Sept 2002. We were much more reluctant than the Iraqis to have the inspectors go in. That's when Cheney made his "the Iraqis are masters of deceit" speech... almost as if he knew the inspectors wouldn't find anything, and wanted to spin it his way.

* Our consistent presentation during the buildup that the Iraqis "prove they've disarmed", rather than supplying any evidence they were actually, you know, armed. If one knew in advance the Iraqis weren't armed, and that one was asking an impossible task from them... well, so much the merrier.

* The battle plan didn't appear to take the possibility of a WMD strike against the troops seriously. I really thought, when I heard the term "shock and awe" used, that the plan was to do a massive, time-on-target, Arnhem-style aerial assault. In other words, 1AM, we were nowhere, 4AM, we were everywhere, having either already seized the WMD or mixed our forces in theatre in such a way as to make a strike against us very costly to the Iraqi people. Instead, we did the single most obvious tactic, a march up the Tigris-Euphrates valley. The military equivalent of taunting Saddam to "use 'em or lose 'em". This pretty much means that either the soldiers were sent in as sacrificial lambs to be slaughtered to justify retaliation, as above... Or that the generals didn't think there were any WMD to be used against us. Interesting to note that according to the Official Story, the former possibility is regarded as less odious than the latter. As Mr. Lehrer would say, it makes a fella proud to be a solider.

* The looting of the WMD sites. It was repeatedly mentioned, pre-war, that a "worst case scenario" was that WMD would fall into unknown hands in the chaos of regime change. Rather than prevent either the scenario or the looting from happening, it appears we damned near encouraged said looting. Which, again, only makes sense if... one already knows there's nothing of military value to be looted from those sites.

But as to "When did they know?"... Last summer, at a minimum. And very probably, as I believe, "Always."

#13 ::: Jane Yolen ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 05:11 AM:

Jim--I laughed so hard, the laptop began to fall off my lap and onto the floor. Which would have been a mass destruction of a certain kind.

Thanks.

Jane

#14 ::: Elric ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 10:33 AM:

Why send in lots of troops against lots of WMDs when you've already said that you think tactical nuclear weapons are really kind of neat?

#15 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 12:37 PM:

So Limbaugh thinks it was the French. Beloved & Respected Comrade Professor Reynolds suggested the same idea yesterday, attributing it to an anonymous reader. Who got the idea from who I wonder? (not that it matters, really.)

That's brilliant, Jim. May I circulate it?

#16 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 01:23 PM:

There's a simple proof that the Administration knew without a doubt that Iraq had no WMDs and specifically, no nukes: we sent ground forces. The Cold War was the Cold War for a reason: Mutually Assured Destruction. We never preemptively invaded Russia or China because it would be suicide.

Likewise, this is why we are handling North Korea like a hot potato with teeth, because we know for a fact they have nukes. If Bush tried sending troops for a preemptive invasion there, Schwartzkopf would come out of retirement just for the chance to be first in line to bitchslap him.

That and NK doesn't have any of the old Texas T.

#17 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 01:43 PM:

Graydon earlier suggested that the current administration are nincompoops, bunglers, and asset-strippers.

I resent this imputation of incompetence to the glorious leaders of the free world. No mere bungling could have created such a mess. No; there has to be a conspiracy behind it all.

We learn that many neoconservative ideologues are former 1960's and 1970's trotskyites who saw the light of the radiant future of capitalism and were saved, converts to the cause of righteousness.

At least, they say they were saved. Me, I say they're still trotskyites, carrying out a black plan to cause the final crisis of capitalism by subjecting it to imperial overstretch. After all, if their old enemy wouldn't die on its own, why not cause it to choke by biting off more than it could swallow?

It's all so clear, now. Rove, Rumsfeld, et al are all working for Vladimir Putin, former KGB staffer and friend of the White House and the only world leader whose economy has had double-digit growth since 9/11. (Coincidence or conspiracy, you judge!) Dick Cheney is probably a Fellow Traveller. They meet in the White House basement every week to read Mao's little red book, discuss Hegelian dialectic, and place a long-distance trunk call to their mentor, eminence grise Ken MacLeod who confessed this all in his 1996 novel of spectacular trotskyite infiltration, "The Star Fraction", if only we'd had the eyes to understand what we were reading.

(Where'd I put my chlorpromazine? Ah, that's better ...)

Honestly, what puzzles me most about this century is that it makes much more sense if you view it as a conspiracy of insane proportions and crazy intent rather than simply the emergent consequences of a collision between religious bigots, asset-stripping sharks, and incompetent machine politicians.

#18 ::: Lis Carey ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 02:18 PM:

They're not trotskyites, Charlie. They're Stalinists.

#19 ::: Charlie Stros ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 03:02 PM:

That makes a horrible kind of sense, Lis.

(I'm off out to get drunk in good company and forget the global situation for another night. See you tomorrow I hope ...)

#20 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 04:03 PM:

There’s also the Jonathan Wilde argument that the century’s best viewed not in terms of a conspiracy but in terms of the various conspiracy theories believed by the actors involved.

Either that, or it all has to do with the djinn colony on Mount Ararat.

#21 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 05:43 PM:

Fareweel to a' our Scottish fame,
Fareweel our ancient glory;
Fareweel ev'n to the Scottish name,
Sae fam'd in martial story.
Now Sark rins over Solway sands,
An' Tweed rins to the ocean,
To mark where England's province stands-
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

What force or guile could not subdue,
Thro' many warlike ages,
Is wrought now by a coward few,
For hireling traitor's wages.
The English steel we could disdain,
Secure in valour's station;
But English gold has been our bane-
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

0 would, or I had seen the day
That Treason thus could sell us,
My auld grey head had lien in clay
Wi' Bruce and loyal Wallace!
But pith and power, till my last hour
I'll mak this declaration;
We're bought and sold for English gold-
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

Robert Burns

#22 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 08:14 PM:

By the cross our Andrew bore
By the sword our William wore
By the crown our Robert swore
To win our liberty!

Call the falcon frae the glenn
Call the eagle frae the ben
Call the lion frae his den
To win our liberty!

By the man whose face was owed
By the man they sold for gold
By the man they'll never hold
To win our liberty!

Call the thieves of Lidisdale
Call the spears of Anandale
Call the brave of Yarrowvale
To win our liberty!

By the arm that bends the bow
By the arm that flies the blow
By the arm that lays them low
To win our liberty!

Call the banners frae the West
Call the raven frae his nest
Call the clans that dance the best
To win our liberty!

By the field that once was green
By the shield that silver sheen
By the sword in battle keen
To win our liberty!

Bless the man whose faith we hold
Bless the man in chains they sold
Bless the man in cloth of gold
for won our liberty!


George Weir/Roy Williamson

#23 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 08:41 PM:

ARGH!

for 'face was owed', please read faith was owed

All die, and O! the embarrassment.

#24 ::: Anne ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 08:53 PM:

Josh: You're welcome! (I think we might have met, briefly, in a.c a couple of years ago.) I learned "impecunious" from the judge's patter song in _Trial by Jury_ (he was, "as many young barristers are, an impecunious party.")

Graydon: Aha!! "O the embarrassment" has been tickling my brain recently; would you remind me where I read it?

#25 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 09:14 PM:

Anne --

If it was the thing to which I am alluding, it would have been in Joe Haldeman's short story "A !Tangled Web".

#26 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 09:21 PM:

You may have seen it there, but it's also a favorite trope in rec.arts.sf.fandom.

#27 ::: Anne ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 09:50 PM:

Graydon, and Teresa: I've never hung out in rasseff--with my text addiction I'd never get anything else done--so it must have been the Haldeman. (Except I have a vague recollection of having read more than one story about that culture...so now I hie me to Amazon to find out what's what.)

#28 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 10:20 PM:

Anne--

rassef got it from the Haldeman.

Charlie, Lis--

They're Stalinist capitalists--they're serving a different god these days, but serving him the way they always did.

#29 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 12:26 AM:

Graydon, re: Parcel of rogues
I had just heard that put to a song and on a CD before I went out to my 'job' at our local renaissance festival. I was sort of singing it to myself as I went out to get something to eat and was accosted by a patron (guest, ticket buyer, whatever.... not an employee of Fest or one of it's' crafters, which is what I am). And they scolded me. I looked at them for a moment, and said, "that''s the attitude they get for rollling to the English crown." they looked like that was a NEW idea. I left the patron standing with their mouth open. I'm Irish BTW. So my attitude toward the English is a bit worse.

#30 ::: Ken MacLeod ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 08:06 AM:

So it's all my fault, Charlie? Huh. I don't recall you mentioning that little detail when you explained your Trot conspiracy theory in the pub last night :-)

I suppose one explanation of the whole mess could be American ex-Trots doing imperialism the way they once read about it in Lenin's Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, just as the Russian ex-Stalinists allegedly do capitalism like they read about it in Marx's Capital.

Fusion of finance capital and the state? Check. Promotion of reaction and militarism? Check. Seizure of resources of backward countries? Check. Wars of redivision of the world? Check ...

#31 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 09:42 AM:

It works if you accept that people tend to fulfill their own expectations, even if they neither like nor approve of the things they expect. Another way to put it is that we can only take the actions we can imagine. Hope's a form of expectation, but so is fear, and so are the clearly imagined futures of political theorists and scientifictionalists.

(I'm convinced this is why so much of the show-offy architecture of the late 20th C. looks like it came off a Frank R. Paul cover. I suspect it explains some long-term tendencies in the administration of the Mormon church: When they ask themselves how a powerful church behaves, the only vividly imagined, fully internalized model they have is based on 19th C. nativist anti-Catholicism.)

(But I digress.)

Anyway, sure, I can imagine neocons working from a Trotskyite model they picked up in their youth. It would explain a lot. They didn't actually change their worldviews; they just decided it was more fun to side with the oppressor class.

#32 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 11:28 AM:

You can also try explaining it using Timothy Leary's warning: "Beware of your enemies because you are going to become them."

#33 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 12:26 PM:

I've never been convinced that was true.

#34 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 01:48 PM:

Ken: no, no, they've just been reading your fiction and using it for a blueprint.

(I wonder what Rumsfeld would make of "Newton's Wake"? Ugh, no, horrible thought ...)

#35 ::: Elizabeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 02:58 PM:

Alas. I fear that the model Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Bush are working from is Late 20th Century CEO. You reduce troops because workers "Will Just Have To Make Do" and if you threaten them loud enough, they will, for a while, in fear for their jobs. (How handy that the military cannot go on strike, quit, or even show up drunk.)

In other words, they are both loud and cheap, managing through shouting, interested only in the bottom line: the political equivalent of their golf game and their year end bonus.

If you think they reduced troops due to WMD, you are much more charitable than I.

(Now where did I put that beer?)

#36 ::: Jeff Crook ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 05:55 PM:

In other words, they are both loud and cheap, managing through shouting, interested only in the bottom line: the political equivalent of their golf game and their year end bonus.

More true than you know.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2003/07/18/MN248299.DTL

Turns out those soldiers who complained on Good Morning America are now getting the shaft. A few days ago, someone asked why the families of the soldiers don't speak out. I responded by saying they don't want their loved ones getting the Uriah treatment.

No matter how absurd or fanciful, outrageous, over-the-top you describe this administration, sooner or later they do it. Years ago, this was the stuff of comedy. Caddyshack. Now, the idiots we were all laughing at are in charge. You can't write comedy as beyond the pale as this administration. The other day, Bartcop was complaining about the pathetic quality of the comedy of SNL of late. That's because they can't do political satire because the very next week it becomes reality. It isn't funny any more. You can't laugh at a Judge Smails saying "The world needs ditch diggers, too" when this has become the official Republican platform. I got mine - screw you. Cheap-labor Conservative.

It seems like the administration is starting to unravel, which frightens the crap out of me, because there is no telling what they won't do to stay in power. This morning, I sent a note to Talking Points Memo after reading Bob Graham's comments, noting the possibility that Congress could come apart at the seams if artciles of impeachment were introduced. But it didn't even take that. All it took was this:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A11104-2003Jul18.html?nav=hptop_tb

House Democrats Storm Out of Ways and Means Committee
Chairman Calls Capitol Police to Restore Order

Seriously. This feeling has been growing all day. I don't think the House Republicans would allow impeachment procedings under any circumstances. I don't care if there was a dated photo of Bush holding the forged Niger documents and laughing his head off. I don't care if the CIA played CYA and produced incriminating recordings of telephone conversations between Tenet and the White House.

I can all too easily imagine what would happen then. It's already begun to happen, on a small scale. The question is, will the administration be able to threaten and intimidate fast enough to keep a lid on this, or will they "take extraordinary measures" to hang on to power?

It does worry me.

#37 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 06:56 PM:

All this Scottish nationalism is reminding me of my favorite conspiracy theory, picked up in Dunblane just before it became notorious. The fact is that three well-born sisters died of poison in the same night (they're buried under the Dunblane Cathedral altar). The suspicion is that the eldest had secretly married the prince who became James IV; the mercantilists, wanting stronger ties with England, got her out of the way (the others were "collateral damage") so the prince could marry a Tudor instead.

Makes Burns look a latecomer, it does. (And think of the cliches we'd be spared if England and Scotland had never fused.)

#38 ::: Jamed D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 07:25 PM:

http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/07/18/sprj.irq.letter/index.html

General's wife: Complaints aid enemy in Iraq
Friday, July 18, 2003 Posted: 9:45 AM EDT (1345 GMT)

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Public griping by spouses of soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq could hurt the war effort by encouraging Saddam Hussein loyalists to continue their guerrilla war, according to the wife of the division's commander.

#39 ::: J Greely ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 07:32 PM:

Jeff, what won't they do to stay in power? The same things that the Democrats wouldn't do, of course.

I'm just not sure that actually defines the limit...

-j

#40 ::: Jeff Crook ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 11:45 PM:

J

I think we are kidding ourselves if we still think there is no difference between Republicans and Democrats. Probably, there isn't. But there is a huge difference between the Bush Cabal and everyone else.

They are playing for keeps. Think about the 2000 election. If there were illegal shenanigans that made that "victory" possible (and I think there were, if Greg Palast's investigation is any indication), then they cannot... ever... let someone outside the family get into a position of power to order an investigation. That's why Jim Jeffords' jumping ship scared the bejesus out of them and solidified their determination to take back the Senate in 2002 at any cost.

Because if ever there is a powerful Democratic leader in the Senate or House, one with the moxy to order serious investigations, the Bush crew will be screwed. If ever there is a Democratic president with the power to investigate the 2000 election, Bush won't be enjoying his retirement in Crawford, he will be spending several years in prison.

Yes, it is the nature of politics (and all human competition) to want to win and always win. The difference is this crew doesn't even want to play. They are tired of playing, because when you play, sometimes you lose. As in Bill Clinton. When Bill beat Poppy in 1992, the gloves came off. They've been operating under different rules ever since. Most of us are only now waking up to this reality. Many are still asleep.

Is this alarmist? You betcha! The Republicans look like they are still playing ball, but they got people on the field with brass knuckles under their tape. They aren't out to win the game, they are out to destroy the other team. They have no intention of being out of power again... ever. They have broken too many laws, both domestic and international, stolen too many trillions of dollars, to ever allow anyone to investigate them.

#41 ::: J Greely ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2003, 12:41 AM:

I don't think we've yet left the land of "never attribute to malice...". I just don't see the evidence that the vaguely-defined "Bush regime" is as smart, tough, ruthless, and organized as they'd have to be to pull off such a fundamental change in how the US is run. Their behavior to date has not managed to display all of these qualities at the same time.

One, maybe two in each incident, and that's just for the incidents that most people seem to agree on. I don't think the pro-Bush bloggers are witless dupes or willing conspirators, so maybe it's not as bad as you think.

Then again, I think the 2000 election was legit and Al Gore would have been a terrible president, even pre-9/11, so perhaps I'm part of the conspiracy.

-j

#42 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2003, 10:04 AM:

(*splutter*)

Of course there's a difference between the Republicans and the Democrats! I swear, that is the most nonsensical meme--as though the (quite predictable) fact that some Democrats will sometimes misbehave in the same ways that some Republicans will must needs mean that the two parties are indistinguishable.

Like, hello, did anyone notice that a lot of national policies started changing about three years ago?

If there were no significant differences between the two parties, interested contributors wouldn't give heaps of cash to one party but not the other. But that is what they do. You have to think they're maybe on to something.

Core conservative voters know perfectly well that voting matters, party matters, and winning elections matters. That's why, person for person, they have more political clout than any other comparable segment of society, and have successfully pushed what is essentially a minority agenda.

I can understand why some adherents of the Green, Libertarian, Reform, Socialist Worker, and Natural Law parties keep saying there's nothing to choose between the Republicans and the Democrats. If the Anti-Masonic, Know Nothing, Free Soil, Populist, or Bull Moose parties were still around, they'd be doing the same thing. It's what third parties do.

What I don't understand is how someone like (say) Will Shetterly, who fancies himself a fully accredited cynic where party politics are concerned, can happily listen to Ralph Nader prose on about how there's no difference between the Republicans and the Democrats, without ever having it cross his mind that Nader was motivated by anything other than a pure and dispassionate love of truth.

I still hold Will personally responsible for the outcome of the 2000 election. I don't think he caused it; I just hold him responsible for it.

#43 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2003, 10:41 AM:

Mr. Greely --
It's not _one_ conspiracy; the looters ain't the same guys as the theocrats.

Note that it's a looter being run as the disposable front man. For the theocrats, and really, for the looters, too, the Bush regieme is a disposable thing; if it gets kicked out of power, they'll be back. (It would be a lot harder to get a sufficent grip on power to actually jail any of these guys; most law enforcement in the States just wouldn't do it.)

So far as I am aware, it is a matter of established fact that all the votes were not counted -- not counted even once -- in the Florida portion of the 2000 election.

If you don't actually count all the votes, it's not a legitimate election; that's Representative Democracy 101. It isn't possible to be legitimately elected without counting all the votes.

#44 ::: J Greely ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2003, 02:09 PM:

Note that I never said "there is no difference between the Republicans and the Democrats". I said "I don't see a difference between what the Republicans and Democrats are willing to do to stay in power." The Florida fiasco wasn't planned by either party, but the responses to it showed that both sides were sore losers.

Graydon, to the best of my knowledge, the vote-counting in Florida was done by the rules. This is also part of Representative Democracy 101.

As for the labels you give to the separate conspiracies, I think my earlier comment still stands when applied to each of them in turn.

-j

#45 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2003, 05:07 PM:

Well, they may not need to be; the lack of opposition is disturbing.

After all, Mr. Ashcroft has jailed American citizens without charge, trial, access to counsel, or ability to communicate with anybody, and there hasn't been significant political opposition to this.

The other way to take over is to tell people that what they want to hear is true, and there's no shortage of competence at that.

#46 ::: J Greely ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2003, 06:06 PM:

No offense, but I thought we were the opposition. If the large number of people who are offended and outraged by these actions cannot find a single incumbent politician willing to champion them, then there are much bigger problems than the actions of Ashcroft's Army, and they can't be blamed on the "theocrats" or the "looters." They're merely exploiting a situation created by others, on both sides of the fence.

-j

#47 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2003, 06:40 PM:

Not offended at all.

The theocrats have been buying airtime for as long as I've been alive; the looters have been pusing the War on Drugs for about that long, too. They're in large measure exploiting a situation of their own creation.

There's been a fellow slung into jail in Canada on unsubstantiated accusations of being a terrorist; it looks like it's going to generate a Supreme Court case on the (Canadian) Constitutionality of secret trials. It's not generating a lot of airtime here, either, though at least the fellow can talk to his family and has a lawyer and suchlike. Even that much isn't happening in the States, and this is very unnerving.

#48 ::: Lis Carey ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2003, 07:10 PM:

Mr. Greely,

No, the vote countin in Florida was _not_ conducted according to the rules. The rules--Florida election law--require that all the votes be counted, that a discrepancy larger than the one that existed trigger an automatic _actual_ _recount_, that people who make errors on their ballots and realize it before sticking the ballot in the ballot box have the opportunity to correct it, that people who are _not_ convicted felons in the state of Florida (or some other state which permanently deprives the convicted felon of the right to vote) not have their names struck off the voting lists as felons ineligible to vote...

No, Mr. Greely, the vote in Florida was not conducted according to the rules. The Supreme Court even grudgingly conceded that it wasn't, but ruled that the "irreversible harm" that would be done to Mr. Bush, and a statutory deadline, trumped American citizens' Constitutional right to vote.

(And that's not a complete list; in fact, I've left out most of the really _nasty_ stuff.)

#49 ::: J Greely ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2003, 09:17 PM:

Graydon, the team you describe as the looters haven't been alone in pushing the War On (Some) Drugs, so that particular item doesn't mean much to me. For that matter, unless equally-well-funded non-theocrats are being denied the opportunity to buy airtime (and I've seen enough propaganda from both left and right that I don't think this is the case), I can't give that one much weight either. I don't think it's a situation entirely of their creation.

Lis Carey (I've given up attempting to figure the current non-offensive form of address for people with apparently-feminine names), I've yet to see a detailed, well-documented, non-partisan account of precisely what happened in Florida and whether or not it followed the laws as they existed at that time. I've had to sort through multiple contradictory accounts and pick the ones that were least obviously biased. If you can recommend a decent reference on the subject, I promise to read it with an open mind.

There will of course be a small skeptical voice in my head wondering if the claimed irregularities in the Florida voting could not also be found in many other states, and were not given attention simply because they couldn't have been used to keep Bush out of office.

Bottom line for me is that the 2000 election made it painfully clear that the two major parties in this country are both run by scum who have no interest in honest public service.

-j

#50 ::: Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2003, 01:14 AM:

J Greely: I'm trying to think of anything that the Democrats did in Florida in the wake of the 2000 election that would be sufficient to brand them as "scum". Honestly. Can you give me an example? Three examples would be even better.

Off the top of my head, on the Republican side, I can think of several, not even counting pre-election problems: Suing to prevent a legally mandated recount (note that the Bush team was the first to file lawsuits); having Congressional aids beat and kick an employee of the Dade county board of elections; claiming that machine counts were inherently more accurate than hand counts, when their candidate had signed a Texas law dictating the opposite position; insisting that absentee ballots without postmarks be counted if and only if they came from likely Republican voters; Katherine Harris's explicit statement, "Is Bush still leading? Then the count stands." And on and on.

This is putting aside the issue of who I think actually won the Florida election. I'm just trying to find out what the Democrats did that was the action of "scum".

#51 ::: J Greely ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2003, 01:34 AM:

Kevin J. Maroney: now would be a good time for me to confess that I haven't spent much time thinking about the Florida issue in well over a year. I sorted through the conflicting reports for a while when it was news, and came to the conclusion that there was nothing particularly noteworthy about what happened in Florida, except as it reflected on the two parties as a whole (negatively, IMHO). I'm willing to be persuaded otherwise (in fact, I'll come right out and ask for it; I have a great deal of respect for the people who regularly contribute to this site), but a quick Google this afternoon turned up page after page of ax-grinding, and very little in the way of unambiguous facts.

I will not start a point-by-point debate on the subject, because I would first need several hours of research, and I have no real motivation. I have no great affection for Bush, and a great deal of dislike for many of the things that have been done by his appointees since 9/11, but I'm satisfied that he was legitimately elected, and see no reason to beat that particular dead horse for another year.

I'll cheerfully read someone else's collected research on the election issues, but I'm not going to attempt to track down every detail that went into a decision I made so long ago.

Mind you, I already thought that the two major parties were composed primarily of self-serving scum, so their antics in Florida served mostly as confirmation. :-)

-j

#52 ::: Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2003, 02:31 AM:

J. Greely: I've yet to see a detailed, well-documented, non-partisan account of precisely what happened in Florida and whether or not it followed the laws as they existed at that time. I've had to sort through multiple contradictory accounts and pick the ones that were least obviously biased. If you can recommend a decent reference on the subject, I promise to read it with an open mind.

Does the Florida Code count as unbiased?

From http://www.flsenate.gov/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=Ch0102/SEC166.HTM&Title=-%3E2002-%3ECh0102-%3ESection%20166


102.166a0 Manual recounts.--

(1)a0a0If the second set of unofficial returns pursuant to s. 102.141 indicates that a candidate for any office was defeated or eliminated by one-quarter of a percent or less ... the board responsible for certifying the results of the vote on such race or measure shall order a manual recount of the overvotes and undervotes cast in the entire geographic jurisdiction of such office or ballot measure.


102.168a0 Contest of election.--

(1)a0a0Except as provided in s. 102.171, the certification of election or nomination of any person to office, or of the result on any question submitted by referendum, may be contested in the circuit court by any unsuccessful candidate for such office or nomination thereto or by any elector qualified to vote in the election related to such candidacy, or by any taxpayer, respectively.
...

(c)a0a0Upon receipt of a proper and timely request, the Elections Canvassing Commission or county canvassing board shall immediately order a manual recount of overvotes and undervotes in all affected jurisdictions.

(5)(a)a0a0A vote for a candidate or ballot measure shall be counted if there is a clear indication on the ballot that the voter has made a definite choice.

(b)a0a0The Department of State shall adopt specific rules for each certified voting system prescribing what constitutes a "clear indication on the ballot that the voter has made a definite choice." The rules may not:

1.a0a0Exclusively provide that the voter must properly mark or designate his or her choice on the ballot; or

2.a0a0Contain a catch-all provision that fails to identify specific standards, such as "any other mark or indication clearly indicating that the voter has made a definite choice."

Lydy here:

I don't see any way to doubt that a manual recall was required under state law. Do you? As the law is written, I think it should have been state wide, but I am not a lawyer, so I'm not entirely certain what the bit about "entire geographical region" means.

With an election that close, a recount is a completely unsurprising request. Challenging an election and requesting a manual recount is not, as many people have said, an attempt to steal the election. Gore was well within his rights as a candidate, Indeed, he did not even pursue all of the legal avenues open to him.

There was much fuss at the time about how he only asked for recounts in counties where he was likely to win. This is neither a surprise nor disingenuous. The Bush campaign had the same rights as Gore's, and could easily have filed for recounts in any areas that they felt might change the result to their favor. Moreover, by law he can only challenge elections in counties where there is some doubt as to outcome. Gore didn't have the legal right to demand a state-wide recount.

Recounts aren't an attempt to cheat, they are an attempt to determine the true will of the people. A minor error on a ballot should not cause that person's vote not to count. If a candidate wins with a huge majority, much larger than the under and over votes, then there's no point in a recount. But if the spoiled ballots can change the results, then they must be counted in order for the election to be fair.

One of the most bald-faced lies that Karl Rove told during that episode was that machine counting of ballots was more accurate than hand counting. That is not true, and known to be untrue. My own source on this is a conversation with Bruce Schneier, mathematician and cryptologer. All machine counts have a margin of error. Careful handcounts have a margin of error that is almost zero. No automated system comes close.

Gore asked for a recount. The court granted him one. Bush challenged the recount on an appeal. Lost, and appealed to the Supreme Court. All the while, people were blatting about how Gore should have asked for a recount of the entire state, and so he was obviously being underhanded. The State of Florida should have ordered the recount, based on their own laws. Gore was entitled to a manual recount under Florida law. Florida courts even agreed with him.

Yes, indeed, I'm biased. However, I think that the law is actually pretty clear.

The water got muddy very early on. It was beautiful, if you like those sorts of things. Gore was following the law, Bush was not. That was clear mere days after Election Day. Then things started to happen, accusations were made, and many facts transmorgrified. I never did understand how not doing a manual recount in all the counties was Gore's fault. There is no provision under the law that a candidate has to call for a recount. As for not counting the ballots, how does that become legal and appropriate?

Frankly, I'm not certain that Gore would have won if there had been a recount. (If there hadn't been so many voters who were listed as felons incorrectly, I think that he would have, but that's a different issue entirely.) I don't understand, though, how people can accept as legitimate an elected official who went to court to stop votes from being counted. If they did a recount tomorrow, and found that Bush had won by 20,000 votes, it would not change that fundamental fact.

#53 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2003, 08:38 AM:

The illegitimate removal from the rolls not just of felons but of alleged felons is a part that I also find disturbing; unfortunately the most memorable material I've seen on this comes from The Nation and Mother Jones, which are at least as good at high dudgeon as at facts. Does anyone have more solid information on this part of the mess? Among the reports I've seen (filtered of some of the more extravagant language):

* The Florida state government gave a contract to a private firm to ]"clean up"[ the voter rolls to remove felons. This is a touchy job to hand over to a private, out-of-state firm; it can also be seen as partisan, since people convicted of felonies (which is different from people guilty of felonies) tend to be much more prevalent in the lower economic levels that are also more inclined to vote Democratic.

* The private firm was twice told to loosen its standards to "90%" then "80%" certainty that the given voter was indeed the given felon. This can be seen as partisan as above; it is also a gross abuse of power, on a far wider scale (so far) than what Ashcroft has done--a deliberate brutalization of one class to convince another class of one's fitness to rule by willingness to protect the populace against the barbarians. (This was a lie when McCarthy told it; can anyone provide an instance where it was ever true?)

* The above is known to have had at least one very well-publicized mistake; a black minister who could not possibly have been the felon he was matched with (when the felon's dates and places were lined up with his) was denied the right to vote. This is likely to be just the tip of the iceberg--the minister could get a lot more attention than a random community member so denied.

* The purge was also found to have eliminated people who had been convicted of felonies in other states and then had their voting rights restored. To me this is a clear violation of the national constitution, Article IV, Section 1, which begins "Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State" This is the one that terrifies the opponents of gay marriage; it says that a felon whose right to vote had been restored by the state that convicted hem and took it away could establish residence and vote in another state (absent a felony conviction in that state), or that a couple married in one state must be recognized as married in all states (imagine the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce attack on anyone trying to break that rule).

* Having done this large-scale purge, Florida did not provide adequate access to the centralized records on election day to contest disqualifications. (They didn't even provide any mechanism to segregate such ballots against later verification, but I'm not sure you could do this with reasonable effort without breaking the confidentiality of the ballot.) Rich communities had laptops with extensive information cloned from the database; poor communities had to telephone Tallahassee and usually got a busy signal.

There's also the ugly fact that the management of the elections was given to an official whose elected job was expiring at the end of the election cycle; she had an obvious motive to tilt the results (especially in a state governed by one candidate's brother) to get an appointive job, which IIRC she did.

As I said at the beginning, my sources for much of the above are debatable (although they included a fair number of specific facts that could easily have been contradicted if false -- the letter columns in both magazines carry comments from many sides). Can anyone provide
more centrist sources confirming or clarifying these points, or non-rightist sources correcting them?

(J: note that this doesn't begin to discuss the mob action in and around the counting room, that was widely reported at the time and that appears to have been a deliberate action by Republican congressional staffers when a monitor didn't give them every disputed point.)

#54 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2003, 09:21 AM:

"(I've given up attempting to figure the current non-offensive form of address for people with apparently-feminine names)"

Ms. Since about 1970, I believe.

#55 ::: J Greely ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2003, 12:50 PM:

Okay, last comments on this from me for a while. I'll keep checking in to see if someone supplies that reference, but I'm not going to debate this further without doing some homework. My initial attempts were sufficient to convince me that the facts are still not clear to a casual observer.

Lydia Nickerson: I knew what the Florida Code said. As facts go, it is necessary but not sufficient to prove the case; I'd have to look up each of the facts that you hang off of it before accepting it as a smoking gun.

CHip: like I said, it's been hard to get information that didn't come from people whose motivation was clearly "we know it had to be unfair because Gore lost, let's prove it" (with a very similar statement for claims coming from the other side, of course).

Kip W: I've largely given up on Ms. because of the number of women who've taken offense at it. Makes me want to go back to calling everyone "hey, you". :-)

-j

#56 ::: C.E. Petit ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2003, 01:14 PM:

I was out of town slaying dragons for a couple of days, so I missed the start of this thread.

Once upon a time, I was an Area Studies Officer (Southwest Asia). That's a military euphemism for "No officer is a spy; he just orders them around." I do not say that there was no malice in the Bush administration's stance and actions on Iraq, as malice and stupidity are not mutually exclusive. There certainly was stupidity, though--and it's not even at the top.

Between the National Security Council and the people who actually know what is going on in the shadowy world of raw intelligence sits the layer we need to blame: political appointees who are supposed to funnel information to the NSC, but usually end up funnelling only their preconceived notions. At least, that was my experience in the 1980s and early 1990s, even if I can't support it by stating details. (I don't care if they come to kill you after I tell you; the problem is that they'll come to kill me.)

Given that a fair number of the same people are back in place now under George III as were in place under George II, and some even in identical positions, I strongly suspect that the correct information never made it to anyone who was in a position to correct the erroneous analysis. Those preconceived notions arise from a fairly random mixture (from person to person) of malice, stupidity/ignorance, and venality. So perhaps we're stuck with Karl's DC Bunker:

"We've got both kinds here--malice AND stupidity!"

#57 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2003, 01:33 PM:

Teresa: If there were no significant differences between the two parties, interested contributors wouldn't give heaps of cash to one party but not the other. But that is what they do. You have to think they're maybe on to something.

The big difference between the two parties here is the Republicans' "K Street Stragegy". The Washington Republicans have pretty much agreed as a bloc not to do business with lobbies that contribute to Democratic candidates. In effect, it's a boycott. And since the Republicans have controlled the House for several years, they have been in a position to make this boycott stick for several years. As a result, business interests which might otherwise be non-partisan (and perfectly content to contribute to the campaigns of whoever can deliver the desired legislation) find it necessary to do business only with the Republicans, and the Democrats get frozen out of the fund-raising process.

(There is a clearcut distinction between conservatives and liberals: Conservatives think the nation should be run the way the English ruled in Ireland; and liberals think the nation should be run the way the English ruled in India.)

#58 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2003, 01:37 PM:

Lydy, my memory may be playing me false, but I thought it was James Baker, not Karl Rove, who told a press conference that machine counts are of course more accurate than hand counts. My jaw dropped when I heard that one. Everyone who knows anything about the mechanics of vote-counting knows that hand counts are more accurate than machine counts. I'm glad to have Bruce Schneier's confirmation on it, but as far as I know the principle was never in question until the Florida count. That's why the standard procedure is to use hand counts to check disputed machine counts, same way you use a human proofreader to check OCR-scanned text, or a clerk at a cash register who can't get a UPC to scan will read and re-input it by eye and hand.

I think I've told you the question I wished a reporter had asked at that press conference:

"Mr. [Baker][Rove], if an automatic change machine refuses a dollar bill you've put into it, do you then throw that dollar bill away?"
Whether it was Rove or Baker, the implications of that press conference were frightening. You'll sometimes see an organization with a major lie to put across use a respectable-seeming but essentially disposable flunky to present it. If the story blows up on them, they discredit the flunky and distance themselves from him.

But neither Rove nor Baker was disposable. Neither of them could later claim they'd been honestly mistaken on the point. The lie was blatant, and instantly recognizable as such by thousands of people across the country and around the world. And the sole purpose of promulgating it was to prevent a proper count of the Florida ballots.

In essence, it was an announcement that they intended to steal the election and didn't care who knew about it. That was infuriating. What was frightening was the clear implication that they didn't expect they'd ever be called to account for it.

The same goes for the mob attack on the ballot count. That would have been shocking no matter who did it. Hell, it shocked Erik Olson, and he's from Chicago. But what was scary was that some of these non-spontaneous "rioters" were recognizable Republican staffers -- career political apparatchiks, not temporary campaign workers -- who'd come in from out of state, were having their expenses paid out of national-level Republican organization funds, and are known to have conspired in advance on that attack.

When it was confirmed a couple of days later that the "rioters" hadn't just been a random bunch of pissed-off Florida locals, I started totting up all the different crimes involved. Riot, for starters. Attacking a ballot count. Assault and conspiracy to commit assault. (If the people doing the counting were so unnerved that they quit and refused to go back and start again, it was assault.) Harassment. Conspiring to deny the Florida voters their civil rights.

After that it gets technical. I'm not a lawyer. I don't know how it fits into the list of charges that they attacked a legally mandated government process; ditto, that they attacked a federal building. Since they'd just come in from out of state and were quartered together in the same building they were working out of, you get the "Crossing state lines in order to --" prefix added to all the other charges. And I'm certain that further charges would be incurred by their having done all this while their operating expenses were being paid out of Republican organizational funds.

(I wouldn't expect a RICO prosecution, but it's fun to think about it.)

A career apparatchik shouldn't go anywhere near an operation like that, but these did. They didn't disguise themselves, and there was no real effort to cover up the money trail. And what that says again is "We're stealing this election and we don't care who knows it," and "We don't expect we'll ever be called to account."

It was in online arguments about stuff like this that I first came up with "Just because you're on their side doesn't mean they're on your side." I was dealing with all these triumphalist eo-freeps who couldn't see past the idea that their team was going to win.

They didn't understand, and I think they still don't understand, that they're being excluded from participation in their own government just as surely as a poor black Florida voter whose ballot's gone uncounted. They're like voters in a pre-Reform rotten borough: allowed the appearance of having a say in the outcome as long as they pick the right outcome.

I don't get it. They can't all have flunked Civics. I can't see what's so hard to understand about "No matter what else they say, people who don't believe in counting all the votes are not your friends."

#59 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2003, 01:40 PM:

J, they get offended? Wow. Last time I got a reaction remotely like that was from a superannuated English teacher around 1972. And I figure she's probably dead now.

#60 ::: Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2003, 07:29 PM:

TNH: It was, indeed, James FTJ Baker.

#61 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2003, 10:29 PM:

J -- actually, the information that they disqualified a minister who could not possibly have been the person they were after was reported very widely, not just in the partisan press. The state of Florida did not even challenge these people in advance to prove that they were not Felon X (in itself a violation of innocent-until-proven-guilty); the would-have-been voters found out on election day that they'd been disqualified.

#62 ::: Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 12:48 AM:

J Greeley: I knew what the Florida Code said. As facts go, it is necessary but not sufficient to prove the case; I'd have to look up each of the facts that you hang off of it before accepting it as a smoking gun.

Does this mean that you weren't paying attention to the news? I'm not basing my opinion on arcane information, nor facts that were disputed. The whole flap about whether or not the "butterfly ballot" was flawed in such a way as to cause people to vote incorrectly, for instance, I am leaving clean out.

Gore challenged the election under regular, Florida law.

The appropriate circuit court ordered the recount.

Bush appealed to the Florida Supreme court to stop the recount.

Bush lost and appealed to the Supreme Supreme Court, and won.

These are the only facts upon which I am basing my judgments. I can't see how it is anything other than an open and shut case.

What is missing, or how is my argument flawed? I have been, and remain, utterly flabbergasted by the number of people who think that Gore was not playing by the rules, and the number of people who were offended by the call for a manual recount.

I haven't ever heard of a challenge to a recount, before. I'm sure it has some precedent in law, but how can someone protest a manual recount without their motive being to not count all the votes? I honestly do not understand what other motivation could exist. Hand counts are more accurate, and elections are about counting votes, ne?

I am not being deliberately provocative. I just, very honestly, cannot see what the argument in favor of not counting the votes was.

P.S. I prefer Ms., also. I preferred it before I was married, while I was married, and after I was divorced. These days, it's almost certainly non-offensive since it makes no assumptions about age or marital status.

#63 ::: J Greely ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 01:48 AM:

Lydia Nickerson: Does this mean that you weren't paying attention to the news?

No, it simply means that I saw so much conflicting news, most of it presented with obvious bias, that I did not accept every announcement and claim.

I've spent the day thinking idly about this, while sharing good food with a group of friends (who were, BTW, uniformly flabbergasted that anyone was still making a fuss about the Florida election), and this is what I came up with:

Based on the information I read at the time, and the discussions I had with other people within the first few days after the election, I concluded that Bush won. After that time, the sheer volume of conflicting stories, most presented with clear bias, led me to grant them little credibility, especially since all but the most strident basically admitted that Bush probably still won.

I have no great emotional investment in this opinion. I also have no compelling motivation to investigate alternatives. I'm willing to examine all of the facts and claims if they are laid out fairly and clearly somewhere (particularly since people I consider rational are telling me here that I'm wrong), but I don't currently have a reason to do the legwork myself.

I can think of three things that could provide that motivation:

1) proof that Bush personally committed a crime related to the Florida election for which he could be removed from office.

2) proof that an organized group deliberately committed multiple crimes in Florida with the goal of preventing Gore from winning the election.

3) proof that, absent substantial irregularities, Gore would in fact have won the Florida election.

Without at least one of those three, why should I start looking at it now?

Do I like the Bush administration? Not particularly, no; among other things, I'm giving up most of my vacation this year to travel by car to a professional conference, because I refuse to submit to the insulting and almost-certainly unconstitutional searches by airport security. That's just the tip of the iceberg; there are plenty of more substantial reasons that I don't feel like dragging into this forum.

Was I glad that Bush won instead of Gore or (shudder) Nader? Yes. I didn't expect him to be on my side, but I expected him to be less against me than the other two, and I think that still holds true.

Did I vote for George Bush? No. I voted against Nader first, Gore second, Bush third, and then looked at the rest of the list and gave up in disgust. I think I ended up voting for Jenna. :-)

Lydia Nickerson: P.S. I prefer Ms., also. I preferred it before I was married, while I was married, and after I was divorced. These days, it's almost certainly non-offensive since it makes no assumptions about age or marital status.

I think I've gotten heat for it about a dozen times so far this century, and in each case the reaction was so out of proportion to the "offense" that I had trouble resisting the urge to address them more bluntly. I don't have call to use it very often in any case, so i've been dodging the bullet for a while now. Maybe it's just Silicon Valley.

-j

#64 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 08:01 AM:

J, it appears from here that your standard for "shrillness" and "partisan" reporting is whether they don't endorse Bush as our undisputed leader.

Rent-a-mobs aren't a crime? Falsely kicking people off the voting rolls isn't a crime? Insisting on the votes being counted -- once -- is a crime? If you look at the reports of what happened, partisan adjectives aside, I don't see how any other conclusion can be reached but that Bush got into the White House on the shoulders of a lot of criminals.

Now, he didn't have to tamper with all those votes himself -- it was done by people who wanted him in office. I will stipulate that George W. Bush probably didn't touch a single ballot, or personally intimidate a single would-be Florida voter.

Who benefitted? Certainly not the majority of the voters, whose will was thwarted in order to cut taxes on the rich and to snoop on everybody else. The wild counter-claims are nothing more than noise. The purpose of that noise is to cause people to throw up their hands in disgust and decide that we'll never know the truth. But the truth is in the public record, and has been pointed out multiple times, particularly in the foreign press.

#65 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 11:04 AM:

I noticed that J Greely doesn't want to answer any of the very specific points brought up about the Florida election. But I am startled that neither he nor any of his friends think it matters now. Surely it should be obvious: If the Bush clan were allowed to steal the election by finangling the votes in Florida (as it has been alleged they did with specific reference to the Florida electoral code), and they got away with it and got their candidate into the White House, what is to stop them doing the same thing again in 2004?

#66 ::: J Greely ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 02:13 PM:

Kip W: J, it appears from here that your standard for "shrillness" and "partisan" reporting is whether they don't endorse Bush as our undisputed leader.

No, but you're welcome to believe it. I'm pretty sure I said that I saw plenty of bias from both sides. Yup, I just looked upstream, and by golly, that's what I said.

I stopped trusting sources on both sides, but the general consensus seemed to be that Bush would still have won, even with more recounts, and that any significant irregularities in the actual voting were not intentional. Another quick google turned up a number of news stories from 2002 that repeat those statements, with reference to ongoing investigations, so I didn't just imagine it all. (and no, they weren't all from right-leaning sources)

Were there some definitely underhanded and possibly criminal acts after the initial verification of the results? Sure, I can believe that; I could even locate some support for it. Do they invalidate the vote itself or put someone other than Bush into office? As far as I can tell, then and now, no.

Yonmei: noticed that J Greely doesn't want to answer any of the very specific points brought up about the Florida election.

And I've already explained why. At length, in fact. Read it again if you missed it the first time.

Really, if you want to convince me, is it too much trouble to point me to a source that lays out all of the facts and claims, rather then throwing them out one by one without attribution? I said I'd read such a source with an open mind, and I meant it.

It's obvious that several people here are passionate about the issue, where I am not. Why then is it my job to track down all of the evidence that supports your position?

Oh, and Yonmei? Does it actually startle you to hear that a fair amount of the public doesn't think that the issues raised in the Florida election matter much now? And not just among Bush supporters? Wow. Outside of blogs and Berkeley, I haven't heard any mention of it in a very long time, even among people who were actively complaining about the Bush administration.

FYI, of the friends I mentioned, I think only one actually voted for him, and none of them fit any of the commonly used far-right profiles, particularly not "looters" or "theocrats."

-j

#67 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 02:34 PM:

Kip W: J, it appears from here that your standard for "shrillness" and "partisan" reporting is whether they don't endorse Bush as our undisputed leader.

J: No, but you're welcome to believe it. I'm pretty sure I said that I saw plenty of bias from both sides. Yup, I just looked upstream, and by golly, that's what I said.

You said, "all but the most strident basically admitted that Bush probably still won." I see. You didn't say "shrill" or "partisan," you said "strident." Makes all the difference in the world, eh?

So if I point you to this page that details the crimes used to put Bush in office, it'll just turn out to be more 'strident' stuff, right?

I keep mentioning this, because the illegitimate way they got in office is similar to the dishonest way they have carried out their plans in office, so their continuing to claim there are WMDs to be found (flying in the face of the troop reductions mentioned in Teresa's original posting here) is all of a piece with their regard for truth in other areas.

#68 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 02:45 PM:

Mr. Greely -

What, in the way of election irregularities, would you consider grounds to delegitimize the result?

#69 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 02:49 PM:

It's obvious that several people here are passionate about the issue, where I am not. Why then is it my job to track down all of the evidence that supports your position?

It's not. But the specific rules that were broken in the Florida election in order to ensure that Bush won, were laid out for you. You weren't asked to go looking for them. You just chose to ignore them.

Oh, and Yonmei? Does it actually startle you to hear that a fair amount of the public doesn't think that the issues raised in the Florida election matter much now?

No, it doesn't startle me to hear that a "fair amount of the public" doesn't think that the way the Bush clan cheated to win the election in Florida, and hence the Presidency for Dubya, "doesn't matter now". However, it would surprise me very much to find that well-informed, intelligent people don't think it matters - because given that nothing was done to stop the Bush clan breaking the rules last time, nor to penalise them for breaking the rules, nor to prevent them from taking the prize "won" by breaking the rules, what is to stop them from breaking the rules again next time in 2004?

#70 ::: J Greely ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 03:37 PM:

Yonmei: But the specific rules that were broken in the Florida election in order to ensure that Bush won, were laid out for you.

The rule was laid out; the ways in which it was broken were simply alleged, without reference. I can go searching for this information, but I've already explained why that search is not currently a priority.

Kip W, you are the first person to post a reference that makes some attempt to cover the issue in detail. Thank you. I will read it, and also read the documents it links to. Even though it's not what I'd call an unbiased source, it appears well-reasoned and well-referenced.

Graydon: What, in the way of election irregularities, would you consider grounds to delegitimize the result?

The most obvious is proof of a deliberate, organized attempt to fix the voting or (initial) counting. I can find several actions which may have plausibly affected the outcome, but little support for the claim that they were done specifically to achieve that goal.

That is, I don't think the Florida vote was 100% fair and accurate, but I also don't think that the voting in the other states was any better (now or in previous elections), or that all of the cheating and mistakes nationwide favored one side. If every state were examined as closely as Florida has been, I think we would find just as many suspicious actions that skewed results toward Gore as toward Bush, and of similar magnitude. We're just not looking for them.

What will happen in the next election? I'm betting on a lot more partisan scrutiny, and a lot more FUD, from both sides.

-j

#71 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 05:31 PM:

Well, here's my bias: I think if we examined all the states, we'd find more cheatery from the Bush coterie. They were trying to agitate for a recount in New Mexico even as they were trying to suppress a valid count in Florida. But Florida is where it all paid off for them. It was a years-long campaign, and they were (on the record) prepared to fight in even more desperate ways if that one didn't favor them.

Here's another source of info on what the GOP did in that election. Of course, it's partisan, too. Is it any surprise that there aren't a lot of GOP sources for this information? I'm on my home computer now, so I can find the bookmarks. Like this one and this one.

Two of the Supreme Court justices should have recused themselves when the case came to them, of course, having relatives working for Bush team members. I'm sure that's in there somewhere; it's been a while since I reviewed all the evidence.

#72 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 06:20 PM:

The rule was laid out; the ways in which it was broken were simply alleged, without reference.

Are you claiming, then, that your recollection is that there was a manual recount of the votes in Florida?

#73 ::: marek ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 06:28 PM:

I don't think we are going to reach harmony on elections in Florida. So can we go back to 'impecunious' instead, which is a more interesting element of this thread than it might first appear.

It's interesting because it brings out how words may belong in different registers in different versions of English. In a group of British English speakers with similar characteristics to many, perhaps most, of the people who take part in these discussions - educated, informed, enjoying the use of language - I would be surprised to find any who did not know the meaning of impecunious. It's not exactly in everyday use, but it's not completely arcane either. To test my impression, I have just searched the archive of The Guardian, and found 'impecunious' used in 136 articles since 1998, of which the most recent ten were all since March this year. By contrast, the New York Times used it in 65 articles since 1996, of which the most recent ten go back as far as December 2001.

This is emphatically not a clever Brit/dumb Yank point. It is, as I said, one of the curiousities of language how words take on different lives in different environments. 'Impecunious' is not unique of course. The scores for 'fortnight' on the same basis are much more extreme - 149 to the NY Times, against 5,797 to the Guardian. It must work the other way round too - any native speakers of American English want to try the game in reverse?

#74 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 06:52 PM:

I spent several sleepless nights in my office thinking that chemical attacks on our troops were imminent. As has been stated in non-classified sources elsewhere, Iraqi commanders were talking and acting as if they had chemical weapons, and we had to act according to what we thought the Iraqi capabilities were.

#75 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 07:07 PM:

I have always felt that we should have used the well-documented human rights abuses of Saddam Hussein against his own people instead of WMD. We know that Saddam used chemical weapons against his own citizens at Halajba in northern Iraq in the 1980s. We are finding mass graves all over Iraq; Amnesty International estimates that there may be 30,000, which estimate could be on the low side. The Washington Post today has a story about an Iraqi who was tortured and repeatedly raped because she married an Indian citizen, who was eventually murdered before her eyes.

One of the deficiencies in the left's anti-war stance is that, as Nat Hentoff pointed out in a couple of his columns, many of them failed even to acknowledge Saddam human rights abuses. Not a word. It was like Victorians with sex; if they didn't acknowledge it, maybe the unpleasant subject would go away. I remember seeing an interview before the war with a woman who had been tortured and raped by Saddam's thugs and had escaped. An anti-war activists was screaming at her, telling her to shut up, that she was hurting the program, called her a slut, a whore, a cunt, and said that she must have deserved to be raped.

I have a very lively interest in human rights, and I have frequently disagreed with members of the right on more than one occasion. My father liberated one of the concentration camps at the end of World War II, and I have in my possession the photographs he took and the descriptions he write of conditions there. My own experiences at the end of Gulf War I, along with the Bosnian war and the intervention in Kosovo, have made me well of the inhumanities that people of all ideologies can inflict on each other. We cannot cure all the ills of the world, but in this case we were able to put an end to Saddam's oppresson of his own people, just as we stopped Slobodan Milosevic and his use of mass rape as an instrument of national police in Bosnia.

#76 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 08:20 PM:

Saddam's gone, and that particular set of human rights abuses have stopped.

Are things better in Iraq? Is the average, statistical, security of an Iraqi citizen better? Is it trending better? The reports we're getting don't indicate so; people aren't safe in their homes, goods, or persons.

Replacing a brutal dictator with a howling wasteland of broken cities isn't a good trade on human rights grounds, and that's a risk of this particular conquest.

Being frightened by that risk isn't an indication that someone is dismissive of human rights for Iraqis.

#77 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2003, 03:39 AM:

J Greely contacted me offlist (I'm not sure why). He admitted that Lydia Nickerson had cited Florida laws 102.166 and 102.168, but appeared to be unaware either that Bush had "won" the Florida election by rather less than one-quarter of a percent (thus invoking 102.166) or that Gore had asked for a manual recount (thus invoking 102.168). I don't know where he was living at the time of the last presidential elections in the US: I was in the UK, and casually reading the newspapers at the time was sufficient research to acquaint me with both facts, which have stuck in my mind ever since. It's possible that where Greely lives these facts were not reported in the news, and he therefore thinks this would require much research to establish. Not so: if there is no American news archive which would report those facts, I can recommend the www.guardian.co.uk

#78 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2003, 06:45 AM:

Robert, could you give more detail about this anti-war activist who is supposed to have screamed abuse at an Iraqi woman? It sounds so completely unlike any anti-war activist I ever met or heard of, and bears a suspicious resemblance to many slanders being spread by pro-war activists who wanted to believe that anti-war activists were indifferent to the plight of the Iraqi people under Saddam Hussein. If it's an event you witnessed with your own eyes, can you give further detail about when and where it happened? If it's a reported event that you read about, can you remember where you read it?

#79 ::: J Greely ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2003, 02:09 PM:

Yonmei, I took it to email because it was obviously no longer of interest to anyone else. Well, obvious to anyone but you, perhaps. Since you're not reading what I'm writing anyway, I'll simply ignore your "contributions" from now on and spend my time reading the honest-to-gosh reference that someone else was willing to provide.

Feh.

-j

#80 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2003, 03:44 PM:

Robert, you wrote: "One of the deficiencies in the left's anti-war stance is that, as Nat Hentoff pointed out in a couple of his columns, many of them failed even to acknowledge Saddam human rights abuses."

Well, the parts of "the left" that I was aware of were complaining about Saddam's human rights abuses in the 80s and 90s, when various members of our current administration were singing his praises.

#81 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2003, 03:50 PM:

So, J Greely, are you asking for references to the margin being less than 0.25%, or that Gore requested a manual recount? Or do you stipulate those facts? Or do you dispute them, and if so, do you have any references? Or are you abandoning the discussion?

#82 ::: J Greely ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2003, 04:30 PM:

Actually, Jeremy Leader, what I'm doing is looking up the various facts and claims now that someone has given me a pointer to a relatively-solid collection of them, which was what I asked for when people with a passionate interest in this issue started telling me that my casually-held belief was wrong. Yonmei hasn't contributed anything useful to that process, and seems determined to continue as he began.

If you want to ask me a question on this issue at this point, I think the way to do so is to post a pointer to a decent reference, ask me what I think about it, and then wait patiently for me to find the time to read it and get back to you. And, yes, that will likely be in email unless other people express a strong interest in seeing it here. Sound reasonable?

And note that it won't be today, tomorrow, or even Thursday. For reasons I've explained at length above, I feel no urgency about the issue at this time, and I've got plenty of other demands on my time (such as making sure that my bandwidth bill doesn't go through the roof now that I've restored my large, popular, and often-misappropriated photo archives).

I'll read it, and take it seriously, because I promised that I would. It simply won't take priority over money, food, work, sleep, or the massive job of cleaning up my house before the sister I haven't seen in nearly ten years shows up at my door this weekend.

-j

#83 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2003, 04:55 PM:

Enjoy the visit, J. My sister was out just last week -- first visit I've had from one of my siblings in the 18 years we've been here. I've seen them, of course, and they've seen me, but not in my native environment. Hopefully, she's giving a good report on me now. Maybe someone else will make it out here.

#84 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2003, 11:00 PM:

Yonmei -- The incident I referred happened on a cable news show where the two people involved were being interviewed. As it was a number of months ago I don't remember which show it was.

#85 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2003, 03:17 AM:

Robert, then I'll take your uncertain memory of it with a pinch of salt. It sounds so unlikely to me, and if you can't remember any other details, I have no way to check it out.

#86 ::: Simon ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2003, 01:58 PM:

My recollection from the period of the election recount is that, during the initial period, the Republicans and Democrats seemed about equal, not in mendacity but in foolish rhetoric and in incompetence at handling the process. (The Democrats' first mistake was for Gore to try to condede too early; later mistakes included not realizing the importance of the overvotes.)

This attitude changed after the Republicans filed suit to stop the recount. From that point on, the brazenness of the Republicans' lies and illegal aggressiveness took my breath away.

Baker's statement about machine recounts being more accurate was just one of these. When it was pointed out that W had signed a law in Texas mandating manual recounts, the Republicans thought they rebutted that by pointing out that Texas law doesn't apply in Florida. Which was silly: this wasn't about the law, it was about Baker's statement that machine counts are inherently more reliable, something that would be just as true in Texas as in Florida, if it were true at all.

The big lie, though, was the one claiming that the Democrats were just trying to foist recount after recount until they got one that went their way. There were supposed to be two recounts, under the law, and due to the Republicans' obstructionist tactics (which included physical assault, as noted above), the election officials never finished the first one.

It's possible, as subsequent studies have suggested, that Bush would have won a fair count in Florida. ("Fair count" of the votes actually cast, not counting the people illegally removed from the rolls before the election.) What's unquestionably true, though, is that there never was a fair count: the Republicans obstructed it, and the USSC, by referring in their decision to the risk to the presumption that Bush won, nailed it.

If Bush would have won a fair count, it only makes it unnecessary, as well as illegal, that he stole the election - nakedly and blatantly. Just like it was unnecessary, as well as illegal, for the CRP to break into the Watergate.

J Greely, your friends who are astonished that we're still angry over this - are they also astonished that blacks are still angry over slavery? That Scots still resent the English takeover? Those events are much longer in the past than this, and yet they're still capable of firing passion. And this - this was the election to the current presidential term, and it is the most blatant presidential electoral theft in all of US history - much more so than anything that might have happened in 1960, even more so than the stolen election of 1876.

If you want to read detailed accounts that will explain all this to you, I don't know about websites but there are plenty of books on the subject. Looking through a library catalog, I note The Accidental President by David A. Kaplan, and a collection of essays called Bush v. Gore: The Question of Legitimacy edited by Bruce Ackerman, as possible places to start.

On the use of "Ms." I have experience that confirms yours. In the mid-1980s I knew a woman in her late 30s, politically conservative but socially liberal (she had an active non-marital sex life, for instance), who said that she discarded unread any mail addressed to her as "Ms." What she thinks now I do not know.

#87 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2003, 03:17 PM:

Freeper: (n) right-wing troll.

#88 ::: J Greely ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2003, 06:02 PM:

Simon: your friends who are astonished that we're still angry over this - are they also astonished that blacks are still angry over slavery?

That particular strawman argument hasn't come up in conversation recently. I'll be sure to let you know if it does. Thanks for the pointers on the books, though.

-j

#89 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2003, 06:17 PM:

Your arguments haven't been so strong, relatively speaking, that you can get away with sneering like that.

#90 ::: J Greely ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2003, 06:40 PM:

That would be because I haven't been trying to make strong arguments defending my opinion on this issue. It was never my goal to debate it here, and I've tried to head it off several times now by promising to seriously consider the arguments set out in whatever detailed references people point me to. I think that's a reasonable position.

Simon's question comes from so far out in left field that I simply can't take it seriously. I have trouble believing it was intended seriously. I certainly have no intention of putting his insulting question to my friends. They are, after all, my friends.

-j

#91 ::: Simon ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2003, 06:43 PM:

What, pray tell, is "strawman" about that argument? Blacks had their rights taken away - hundreds of years later, they're still angry about it. The voters had their rights taken away - three years later, during the same presidential term, watching a president who's the opposite of conciliatory - they're still angry about it. How much worse the one is than the other is one question; but that in both cases there's a right to be angry about it - of that, there is no question at all.

#92 ::: Simon ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2003, 06:47 PM:

(cross-posted)

No, it wasn't intended as a serious question. It was intended as a rhetorical question.

If by "left field" you mean you don't see the parallel - a grotesque attack on civil rights - I can't help you there; seems obvious enough to me.

The point is entirely serious. The point is that your friends are brushing aside the significance of the most serious breach of electoral procedure in US history.

#93 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2003, 07:10 PM:

Simon, at the non-inauguration of That Man, I was carrying a sign that said WE WILL NOT GET OVER THIS. I got razzed, unpleasantly, by some guy who said "You people sure can hold a grudge."

He was wearing a Civil War reenactor's uniform.

It was an illuminating moment: "getting over it" doesn't actually mean "getting over it." It means "bend over, here it comes again."

So, no. We're not going to get over it, and we're not going to apologize for not getting over it. They're free to go on hoping we will, for all the good it's going to do them.

I consider the whole thing roughly equivalent to being mistreated by a bully who, when you get upset, jeers at you for "not having a sense of humor." Uh-huh. Yeah. Right.

#94 ::: J Greely ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2003, 07:21 PM:

Sorry, Simon, but I'm not going to respond to either of these latest messages. I'd much rather deal with the telemarketing droid who was stupid enough to harass and verbally abuse me a few minutes ago from a call center that sent out legitimate Caller ID info. I've got his manager and the phone company involved now. Great fun.

The reason I asked for references in the first place is that I don't currently believe that an injustice of great magnitude took place, and many people here do. I don't have a strong attachment to my opinion on this subject (unlike, say, gun control, where I'd cheerfully argue point-by-point until doomsday, with references), so I'm willing to listen, read, and consider.

And, yes, even if you convinced me today that Bush and his allies deliberately, unambiguously, criminally stole the 2000 election, I would consider it an issue of much smaller magnitude than the enslavement of blacks in America. They're just not in the same ballpark.

-j

#95 ::: Simon ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2003, 08:00 PM:

Sorry, Simon, but I'm not going to respond to either of these latest messages.

I love self-refuting sentences.

In the long run, one stolen election is not as serious as centuries of bondage. But one stolen election can lead to another, and to very serious criminal deeds in office. And the time to fight it is here and now. By comparison, reparations for slavery are a quaint academic subject.

I don't think J is malignant, nor a troll. But (s)he sure has a lot to learn about this. I hope those citations are helpful.

Teresa: yep.

#96 ::: J Greely ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2003, 08:17 PM:

Simon, I apologize for omitting the words "in detail" from that sentence.

-j

#97 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2003, 11:31 PM:

Our Hostess writes: "I was carrying a sign that said WE WILL NOT GET OVER THIS. I got razzed, unpleasantly, by some guy who said "You people sure can hold a grudge.

"He was wearing a Civil War reenactor's uniform."

Confederate?

#98 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2003, 12:37 AM:

It was indeterminate -- the kind of fancy uniform some units commissioned before or at the start of the war, but few kept.

J. Greely, you let yourself be abused and harassed by a telemarketing droid? What a waste! Those guys were made to provide a little random catharsis. I don't do it to the nice ones or the hapless ones, but jerk telemarketers come pre-labeled "LUNCH".

But back to the subject. Given the arguments already presented on both sides, I've ceased to believe there's any possibility of your being convinced that the Bushies "deliberately, unambiguously, criminally stole the 2000 election." You'll always argue that the uncounted votes might have shown Bush the winner, ignoring the elephant-in-the-parlor fact that the Bushies were the ones who kept the votes from being counted in the first place.

There are a great many legitimate variations in the way elections are conducted in a democracy, but not counting the votes is not and can never be one of them, period the end. If you accept that as legitimate, you've given up on democracy itself.

That's a terrible thing. I don't understand how anyone could think otherwise. Neither the issues nor the candidates nor the outcome of a single election matter anywhere near as much as the institution of democracy itself. The world's full of big bugs and small bugs, and you're a bigger bug than most; but in a country whose government is based on strongarm tactics, rather than the consent of the governed as duly expressed at the ballot box, you're nothing at all. None of us are.

No electoral victory is worth that: first, because there's nothing you could gain from it that's as valuable as being a free citizen of a democratic state; and second, because if that's how they did it, it's not your victory. They're just letting you run alongside their parade and cheer.

#99 ::: J Greely ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2003, 02:30 AM:

TNH: you let yourself be abused and harassed by a telemarketing droid?

Let? No, it's just that when I gave as good as I got, he enjoyed it. He was happily repeating my words to all the other droids. The only thing that got his attention was when I said that I had valid caller-id and knew where he was calling from. That's when he hung up.

I could hear other abusive calls going on in the background. It sounded like a contest where the person who produced the most outrage won a prize. All I can think of is that the whole group was either quitting today or had just been laid off. (Pacesetter Corp's Sacramento call center, by the way)

The catharsis started when I got through to a manager and reported the exact time of the call. Icing on the cake was that I knew I had previously requested to be put on this company's do-not-call list, and mentioned the fine that could result from the call. Even if it hadn't been abusive.

Supposedly a higher-level manager will be calling tomorrow with a sincere apology and a guarantee that I'll never be bothered by their phone calls again. I'd prefer a letter, but I'll take it.

I'm left with some spleen that I have no vent for, which is another reason I shouldn't continue to discuss "that issue" here right now. Y mght slc ff my vwls.

TNH: You'll always argue that the uncounted votes might have shown Bush the winner

I'm sorry that you don't believe I'm sincere in asking for supporting data and promising to read it. If it helps, pretend that I've been in a coma for three years and have awoken with no detailed knowledge of the Florida election, and a vague feeling that Bush was elected. It's not true, but it's closer than the impression people seem to have formed of me.

I am not by nature a political animal, nor do I religiously follow the news. If someone from work hadn't thought to call me, it might have been at a week or more before I heard about 9/11. I get caught up in my work and my hobbies, and I block out the outside world for days at a time. Sometimes weeks. I work from home, I live alone, I don't buy newspapers, I don't listen to the radio, and I only watch TV after recording it on a PVR so I can skip all of the commercials.

Hell, I spent two hours today tracking down an obscure CSS bug in Safari, and then another three hours on the project that finding the bug had interrupted. I didn't even notice that the same song was playing over and over again in the background all that time.

-j

#100 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2003, 04:09 AM:

Greely wrote: I'm sorry that you don't believe I'm sincere in asking for supporting data and promising to read it. If it helps, pretend that I've been in a coma for three years and have awoken with no detailed knowledge of the Florida election, and a vague feeling that Bush was elected. It's not true, but it's closer than the impression people seem to have formed of me.

Okay. :-) Actually, I do believe it (at least I believe it's possible) since while I do invariably dig into the news around the time of a General Election (or any other election I'm entitled to vote in) there are periods in my life when I've just let the news slide. I've not had one of those times since September 11, though.

However, it would be nice if you'd concede, on a point of principle, that it does matter that votes should be counted, and counted accurately, especially where there is an extraordinarily narrow margin of victory.

Yonmei, I took it to email because it was obviously no longer of interest to anyone else. Well, obvious to anyone but you, perhaps.

And I'd appreciate an apology for this piece of snark, since it should be obvious by now to you that the topic was still of interest to others.

Simon, as I recall, the Democrats' "first mistake" in conceding the election was inspired by another shady piece of electioneering on the part of the Republicans (or at least, the Bush clan): John Ellis, George W. Bush's first cousin, was on the Fox News channel on the night of the election, and declared that Bush had won, even though it was clear the results in Florida were uncertain enough to call for a manual recount. Apparently (I am going by what was reported in UK newspapers at the time) the other American TV news services followed the Fox News lead, or rather - as it turned out - the Bush clan's lead. Granted, Gore should have waited to hear from his party election officials in Florida before calling Bush.

#101 ::: J Greely ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2003, 04:37 AM:

Yonmei: However, it would be nice if you'd concede, on a point of principle, that it does matter that votes should be counted, and counted accurately, especially where there is an extraordinarily narrow margin of victory.

Sure, no problem there. It's just that until I examine the references that have been provided, I'm not able to make a new decision about what was counted and how accurately. You (collectively) have convinced me that I need to look at it more seriously; that will have to do for now.

Simon: And I'd appreciate an apology for this piece of snark, since it should be obvious by now to you that the topic was still of interest to others.

Sorry, I think you're stuck with that one. I tried to take it to email after someone else expressed a desire to go back to the earlier discussion and others followed suit.

I don't particularly like engaging in lengthy point/counterpoint in someone else's forum (and I hadn't planned to in this instance), especially when it doesn't have a threaded interface that allows uninterested parties to skip back to the good stuff. Well, except for photo.net, but I gave that up when they sold out.

-j

#102 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2003, 03:59 PM:

My apologies for not being back sooner.

Yonmei -- I know what I saw on TV, and your skepticism will not change that fact one iota.

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