February 2004

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Posted February 20, 2004
Circumstantial Evidence

Why all the hubbub about John Kerrybeing the target of dirty tricks? When the arrows were flying in Howard Dean'sdirection the media made not a peep. The only dirty trick so far against Kerryis the doctored Hanoi Jane photo. I'm not counting as a 'dirty trick'the story about Kerry's intern problem because it has not been disproved.
       Who are the tricksters? Where there'ssmoke there's fire, so let's run through a quick listing of all the tricks I canfind and see who benefited--

Seattle: Deaniacs catch incorrect delegate counts for many precinctcaucusesBeneficiary: would have been Kerry
Seattle: Kucinich caucus delegates are incorrectly recordedBeneficiary: Kerry
Iowa: Man claiming to be from Massachusetts discourages Deancaucusers at the front door.Beneficiary: Kerry
Iowa: Late night calls from "Dean campaign" give out wrong caucusaddressBeneficiary: GQ saysKerry
Iowa: As Dean narrows gap with Kerry, push-pollers ask voters "if they knew" Judy Dean is Jewish,"if they knew" Dean performed abortions, "if they knew" he dodged the draft, "ifthey knew" he supports gay marriage.Beneficiary: Kerry
New Hampshire: Kerry mailing brands Dean "unstable and unqualified", Clark a"Republican"Beneficiary: Kerry
New Hampshire: Rumors spread that Dean cut down 1000s of Vermont treesBeneficiary: ABC saysKerry

Draw your own conclusions.

Sidebar: Here's a piece from Alternet thatparallels some of the things I've written about how Howard Dean has basicallybeen screwed by the Democratic establishment.

More on the Scream: in an article pickedup by a few ABC affiliate websites, Diane Sawyer describes how Dean was just yelling along withhis supporters, but that his microphone, like those used by reporters, served toisolate his voice from the crowd noise. But TV and radio didn't include that.They just played the Scream over 600 times.

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Posted February 11, 2004
Election encounters of two kinds

Just to show you how careful we have tobe about trusting our voting to electronic systems, see today's Seattle Times article, about the naughty boys to whom theyliterally handed (yes: literally, not figuratively) the keys to the electionsdepartment. Their company, Global Election Systems, printed absentee ballotsfor King County. Their work was so good that they were contracted to createsoftware for use in managing voter registration, candidate filings and votingdistrict boundaries. That was before company head Jeffrey Dean was discoveredto be a convicted embezzler, and one of his employees a convicted drug dealer.
       The story was originally broken by BevHarris on her excellent site Guess how Dean carried out his theft:through the sophisticated alteration of computer records. And Harris also revealedthat Dean helped program Diebold's v1.96 optical scanning system used inSeattle. Dean's company was eventually sold-- to Diebold. The county ended thecontract, and is now set to buy another system. But we must still be watchful,as the new system is made by-- Diebold.

Speaking of irregularities, you may (ormay not) be surprised that problems have been reported with the tallying ofvotes in last weekend's Democratic caucuses. The paper votes and delegateallocations are taken to a central location in Seattle, where they are enteredinto a spreadsheet. But it seems there is no process for verifying that thepaper data matches the spreadsheet data. Two intrepid Deaniacs from the 36thDistrict went to check the vote for their caucus. They discovered it wasrecorded completely wrong, with 1 (Howard) Dean delegate entered into thespreadsheet when there ought to have been 4. The delegate count (precinct1699) now shows the correct 4 delegates. Errors were also found in a dozenother precincts. Note that Dean only beat Kerry in the 36th District by 12delegates. See two posts at radio guy Mike Webb's site for the firsthand account. 

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Posted February 9, 2004
Is Dean done?

As promised, I made an appearance at myprecinct caucus, held along with many others in the lunchroom of the lovely Northgate Elementary School. It was phenomenal, severalhundred people packed into the room, with 30 neighbors and myself just from ourprecinct. Statewide, TWICE as many citizens caucused than had been expected, fora total of about 200,000.
       The statewide results were Kerry on topwith about 48%, Dean another disappointing second with 30%, and Kucinich awelcome third with 8%. In my precinct, the delegate breakdown was Dean 2, Kerry2, Kucinich 1, and Uncommitted 1. Actually, Dean won the three most denselypopulated legislative districts, the 36th, 43rd and 37th. But it appears Kerryand the Electability Express ran away with it everywhere else.
       So in the national scheme of things, isDean finished? Probably. But he still has the 2nd most delegates, and his viewsneed to be heard. Kerry has shown every indication that he'll try to make Deanirrelevant during the rest of the process, in favor of Edwards or Clark. Huh.Kerry, Edwards and Clark-- all so-called moderates acceptable to the DemoLeadership Council. But in my view they all have something wrong with them: Kerry-- insider, in pocket of lobbyists; voted for the war. Edwards-- imagineBush repeating the words "trial lawyer" ad nauseum. Clark-- ran the School ofthe Americas, didn't reform it; may have tolerated war criminals in the Balkans.What grates on me more is how Sharpton (managed, we now know, by a GOP dirty-tricks operative) startedsticking pins in Dean over minority Cabinet appointees in Vermont, and Kerry andEdwards (and Gephardt and Lieberman, etc.) just stood there and let him bleed.No, only Carol Moseley Braun stepped up to defend Dean.
       No, Kerry will have to be on theconvention dais in Boston waving to the crowd with the figurative crown on hishead before I'll support him.

Sidebar: In remarks to the AP's DavidBauder, CNN General Manager Princell Hair has admitted that airing Dean's'scream' 633 times was overplaying it. But, Hair said "It was a bigstory... the challenge in a 24-hour news network is that you try to keep all ofyour different viewers throughout the day informed without overdoing it." Inthe same story CBS News President Andrew Heyward agreed that 'I Have A Scream'was covered more than editorially justified. "It's just inherent in thestructure of the news media today, especially with the role that 24-hour cableplays." Oh, boo hoo.

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Posted February 4, 2004

...was the girl I took to my seniorprom. This is instructive vis-a-vis the Democratic Presidential race, bear withme.
       Brunhilde was distracted. "Do you thinkYitzhak would go out with me, even though I'm German?" Brunhilde (not her realname) was an incredibly gorgeous blonde Aryan type, and sharp as a tackacademically. In fact, she was Harvard-bound and today, I'm told, a principledattorney. But at this point she was still a typically insecure 11th grader,albeit one with enough extracurricular accomplishments and school spirit to giveher the cool points to be accepted in several cliques. In fact, she bestrodethree cliques like... well, like a female Colossus: The English Literaturati,the Journalistas/Student Councillors, and the Jocks.
       For my part I had managed to becomelooked upon with favor by the first two. I had already discovered Cliffs Notes,so I had the ability to sit quietly in the back of English Lit class,occasionally waking up long enough contribute comments that sounded like I'dread the book. You know the person who would say things like "David Balfourstruck me as a character too naive to be believable in the 'adventure' genre"?That was me. I gained entrance into the Journalistas because I was intophotography at the time; it was sort of like joining Drama Club to operate thelight board. But my pictures ran in the school paper (and, eventually, a fewtimes in one of the city dailies). More importantly, I got to arrange myschedule so that I had a three-hour lunch every day of my senior year: 4thperiod journalism, 'official' lunch, then TV production.
       Others had worked out the samearrangement, and we would pair off to sneak off-campus to the Pizza Pete or thedeli (one of only two actual delis in town at the time). Often my lunch partnerwas Brunhilde. She liked Yitzhak (also not his real name), anotherhyper-intelligent type like herself who, I suppose, could have been calledhandsome. But it was one of those situations where Yitzhak acted like he didn'tknow Brunhilde was alive-- or if he did, that she was female.
       Thus her concern that her Germanicheritage was the source of his Jewish disinterest. "Well Brun," I replied,resisting the urge to remark about Yitzhak annexing her Sudetenland, "I hear hehas a girlfriend who goes to another school." She thought about this for awhile, but then turned the conversation to her best friend Kerry who, for somereason, I was sort-of-dating and had already asked to the prom. "Do you knowwhere you're taking her to dinner?" was what Brun might have asked me next, butI can't be sure because I was probably distracted by her tube top.
       Because the truth was that SHE was theone I wanted to take to the prom. But I was "sure" that Brun would never go withme, so, desperate to NOT be stag at the prom I hooked up with Kerry. And so whenthe big night came, I was miserable as I watched Brun dance with her date-- OFCOURSE-- Yitzhak. Miserable, even though I now see Brun was not my type at alldespite her great looks-- self-important and not very sensitive. In short shewas an image, and not the person I thought she was. I know now that had Iswitched dates I would have been even more miserable.
       Here's where my story becomes relevantto the Democratic primaries.
       OF COURSE John Kerry is the currentfrontrunner, it's what the DNC has always wanted. If you think back to therun-up to the Iowa caucuses, there was a drumbeat of anti-Dean rhetoric thatwith hindsight was undoubtedly choreographed. All the six other candidates wereganging up, Dean even remarked at one point that he was tired of being apincushion. When he did, that was the first hole in his armor, immediately youbegan to read commentaries about Dean's "quick temper". Caution about Dean'ssupposed thin skin and stubbornness were suddenly everywhere. "Is hePresidential? Is he electable?"
       Today Dean is portrayed as selfdestructing; "imploding" is the label in vogue. But the infamous "I have ascream" speech so widely portrayed as the beginning of Dean's end is NOT theroot of it, because it came AFTER Iowans had cast their votes. He had alreadylost. So the damage to Dean was not self-inflicted, it came from what we now cancall Operation Pincushion. And you can bet that Terry McAuliffe, the man whotook Dubya too lightly and blew the 2000 election, was behind it. McAuliffe, theDNC and its DLC shadow have never been comfortable with Dean, Vermont has fewelectoral votes and Dean as Governor showed himself willing to buck the partyline. The DNC probably decided Dean had to be stopped because being a D wasn'tenough, he had to be one of their Ds. On the inside. One of the boys.Someone they've done favors for, and who owed them favors in return.
       John Forbes Kerry is one of the boys.Witness the disclosure that he is one of the biggest congressional recipients ofspecial interest money in the last 15 years. Why IS he considered "electable"?Because of his stands on defense and foreign affairs? He voted for the Iraqinvasion. On health care? He's received big bucks from HMOs and BigPharmaceutical, how can he be an effective reformer? Maybe it's because he's gotgood hair, is reasonably good-looking (and I've been told by a Kerry cousin thathe definitely isn't using botox) and his initials are JFK.
       The whole "electability" thing ismaddening. Has everyone been watching too much so-called Reality TV? TheDemocratic primaries are being played out as if it should be called "JoeCandidate". Will America choose the hard-working Average Joe candidate who's agood talker and is right on the issues? Or are they going to go for the hunk theproducers bring in as a surprise to shake things up? Hey people: yourcandidate is electable if enough of you vote for him (don't give up youKucinich people). Despite the media's deathwatch over his campaign, the fact isthat Howard Dean is in second place in the delegate count. He's still rightthere in it.
       So I'm not going to support Kerryunless he gives me a reason to, or until he locks up the nomination. Therefore,I'm going to do the same thing I did at the prom-- I'm going to dance with theone I brought. So this Saturday I'm going to my precinct caucus and supportHoward Dean. Because the U.S. Presidency is not a high school-level popularitycontest. OR Reality TV. Evidence to the contrary.

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Posted February 2, 2004
Update: Ritchey Tom Slicks kick ass

In a recent entry I lamented suffering SIX flats since putting Specialized's "Turbo Pro Classic ATB" tires onmy everyday bike. That was an average of 20 miles between flats. Well I am nowpleased to report that their successors, the "Tom Slick 1.0" by Ritchey have completed afull week and 40 miles without giving up any air. Cheers to Ritchey, and nothingbut Jeers for Specialized.

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