I am informed the new Blogorrhoea is completely and permanently kaput. This unfortunate event has coincided with one or two others at the blogoshed, so a protracted silence is indicated. Ceteris reasonably paribus, blogorrhoeaic dismarrhoea should resume in the Spring.
BFN and iyi geceler, arkadaslar.
The ol' difference engine has thrown its last sprocket, so please don'tbother e-mailing until I send the new e-dress down the line.
In grim solidarity with Australia's most heroic borrowers (the fearlessburghers of the adjacent ACT) I shall be swiping a card at a new e-Mac nextweek. Dashing Dave Tiley
andhis mate Sam had built a lovely new home for me but, alas, technical problemsbecame apparent just as the gentle samaritans had done most of the work. Heartfelt thanks to both.
I am consequently now ensconced, (amidst, it seems, a set of altogether different technical problems) HERE
Humble thanks to Landlord Tim
I'll be moving the links and archives in as soon as Tim has defeatedthose demon-spawn spammers and hope to add to the 'what I did on my holidays'pipe-opener straight after that.
Pop 'round some time, eh?
A QUESTION CONCERNING INFLATION
One good thing about inflation is that the dollars you owe lose value while the value of at least some of what you bought with 'em doesn't.
The US dollar is in free fall just now and it occurs to me that Alan Greenspan might just sit back and let it fall for precisely that reason. It wouldn't be a costless policy, but it might just be better than hiking interest rates and drowning the credit sector in bad debt and flying bankers.
No-one would be allowed to know this, though, because then every economic rationalist in America would rationally exacerbate that country's unprecedented consumer/residential/national debt loads by buying up while prices are low and repaying the loans in the itty-bitty dollars of tomorrow. So it's important the prez should reassure the world that the dollar will be protected as a matter of policy. That'd be a bald-faced lie, but something tells me the bloke is up to it. Anyway, bald-faced lie or otherwise, he's just done it.
Of course, such a policy would mean the US consumer would gradually pull her head in, meaning the rest of the world would lose its Maw Of Salvation and the chances of a neatly calibrated global depression duly enhanced.
But let's imagine Greenspan has quietly decided the world's stuffed anyway. A lower dollar would certainly give his own industrial constituency some help (imported components might go up, but home-made goodies would be cheaper both at home and abroad) and it might put some sort of floor under US unemployment. It'd stick it up those troublesome Asian and European economies, but this is, after all, official neo-con policy.
The danger there is that these economies might feel obliged to unload their vast stocks of ever littler greenbacks, and no-one benefits if the greenback sinks that fast that quickly. Indeed, stuff would come to suck mightily - mayhap even belligerently …
Anyway, I have (provisionally) convinced myself this is on the cards, and am suggesting it might be time we changed Australia's central bank's standing orders. At the moment, its prime directive is to keep inflation steadily low. The idea is that the 'business certainty' this affords might help employment along, which is just as well as said central bank no longer concerns itself with direct interventions on the criterion of employment.
But, given the circumstances, couldn't Australian business stand a few more points of inflation?
I mean, it's not as if we don't have a bit of a debt-bubble on the go here in Godzone. And it's not as if the local currency (based, as it is, on an export basket boasting little more than a few primary goods) mightn't be very costly to support to in the face of a rapidly declining greenback (let's not forget that precious FTA, folks!), a floundering Japan and a slowing China. And it's not as if we're not sucking in more than we're sending back already. And it's not as if we don't have a consumer/residential debt load within three or four points of many a devastated suburb and a lot of red ink at The Big End Of Town.
So - should we be thinking about a public rate-rising setting atop a firm, thoroughly discreet, policy of leaving it be?
There's a political pay-off, too. Howard has a much lousier interest-rate record than he makes out (we forget it went up by more than three points while he was treasurer and we forget it ultimately plunged on Keating's watch, not his), but he could lend his place in history a bit of much-needed substance by experimenting with the idea of delivering on an election promise.
And the real value of my mortgage would theoretically halve in less than a decade.
As I say, it ain't costless. But I'm not economist enough to weigh all the pros and cons.
ASSORTED DISMAL BLEATS OCCASIONED BY AN AVERAGE DAY'S BLOGSURF
VALE MARGARET HASSAN
reminds us a wonderful woman has been brutally butchered. Tim is opposed to needless wars, and is not being inconsistent in bewailing the viciousness of this murder. Of course, if needless wars are okay be you, as long as it's 'our' side starting 'em, you need to be reminded of the brutal butchery of about 20000 other wonderful women in Iraq. I shouldn't keep quoting Joe Stalin, lest I give people altogether the wrong idea, but I do believe it was he who said 'one death is a tragedy; a million but a statistic'.
And I shouldn't keep quoting Colonel Kurtz, who suggested those who go to war must be prepared to make a friend of horror. The horror of which he spoke is precisely the horror that was Margaret Hassan's appalling murder. The colonel would advise us to resist invitations to see Ms Hassan's murderers as mere evil psychopaths. They are merely the necessary product of guerrilla warfare.
Uncle Sam has been finding it difficult to find a decently uniformed enemy - to engage between the white lines of a good old-fashioned battlefield - for the simple reason none has been able to oppose him on those terms for somewhere between thirteen and fifty-three years now. For the foreseeable future, wars involving Uncle Sam shall be "asymmetric" wars.
The rules of asymmetric war don't look much like rules, but I'll try to put a few into words. To defeat an invasion by The Greatest Military Force The World Has Ever Seen:
- gradually and persistently chip away that invader's legitmacy, aspirations and morale;
- to do that, ensure the occupier never ceases spending lives, treasure, self-belief and prestige; ensure relations between occupier and occupied do not improve, and ensure the occupier does not succeed in restoring or improving the security and prosperity of the occupied population.
In that light, poor Margaret Hassan was the perfect target for as brutally eloquent a public murder as possible. She was a saver of lives, a builder of hope and a pourer of oil on troubled waters; in this sense not unlike the thoroughly decent - and equally late - Sergio Vieira de Mello.
The Americans could not countenance a successful Iraqi reconstruction after their first invasion and now the guerrillas will do anything to ensure there won't be one after the second.
Pity Margaret Hassan and her poor devastated family.
And pity poor devastated Iraq.
IS COMPARATIVE ADVANTAGE TO YOUR ABSOLUTE ADVANTAGE?
The indispensable John Quiggin
surprises me by wondering why Comparative Advantage hasn't become common sense. I'm sure economists think it's because the rest of us (especially those of us dulled by too long a wallow in those pretentious humanities) are too thick to grasp the theory's subtleties.
Sense demonstrably can (alas) become common when it's not supported by reality, but this, (thankfully) does not guarantee it will become common. In its own terms Ricardo's theory of comparative advantage proves itself every time, and uncommon prettily, too.
But I am left wondering at the assumptions and double standards the theory's advocates ask me to tolerate.
The self-styled economic realist insists we must struggle for a world in which all nation states trust each other to specialise only in those enterprises the theory suggests they must, to export the product they are least-worst at producing, to do so costlessly, to sell it to all as cheaply as a 'fair' return would allow (even if they have monopoly), to trade with friend and foe alike for ever, and never to experience the sort of disaster that might destroy its capacity to produce its specialty and buy the specialties of others.
In short, the economic realist insists that all nation states have to do to optimise global production and consumption is trustfully and seamlessly to co-operate.
Yeah, but curse the lefty who dare ask for that self-same international cooperation for the unrealistic, looney idealogue she is, eh?
So I don't see Ricardo passing the reality test.
I don't see him passing the utilitarian test, either. Of course, that all depends on how we evaluate 'the greatest happiness of the greatest number', but I doubt we can leave such items as security, agency, dignity and serenity out of the evaluation altogether ...
Whatever we've been told 'globalisation' might be, it's got an awful lot more to do with the mobility of capital than it has with the mobility of people. And an awful lot more to do with the point of view of capital than it has with that of labour.
Given capitalism is a definitively dynamic system, constantly revolutionising the means of production and, if allowed its definitive tendency, to close down whole sectors here and others there (for where does it say each nation shall maintain the same comparative advantage tomorrow it has today? Just change the rules - or nature - of water distribution and watch what happens to Australia's rice and cotton industries), it seems essential to ensure all that in-built uncertainty and volatility is visited upon the workers. After all, uncertainty is bad for business.
So uncertainty for workers (relatively immobile, and therefore not able to go where their own least-worstness might be utilised) is good economics, whilst uncertainty for owners (effectively mobile, and at the speed of light at that) is bad economics.
Kinda tells you who gets to write the rules of economics, eh?
But I digress. As the theory of comparative advantage is demonstrably correct, to slow the transition to that happy state is simply irrational. So close that shop down quickly, eh? The workers'll have a new job next week, just you wait and see. Shit, they'll have jobs that won't even exist until next week, just you wait and see.
And anyway, you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs.
This last argument is one neatly taken to task by the out-of-fashion-but-ever-so-current JM Keynes and the fashionable-but-only-if-you-don't-read-the-whole-chapter Joe Schumpeter. If creative destruction (the changing of what you're least-worst at) is allowed to assume gale proportions, it'll instantly and constantly interrupt, and often wipe out, livelihoods of masses of people, whose utility will be intolerably afflicted (and whose allegiance to authority sorely tried).
For the worker who asks little more than enough security of tenure to raise a homeloan, ensure his kiddies' health insurance and education, avoid an ulcer and fund his retirement, it all looks like breaking eggs today so they can be broken again tomorrow - serene equlibrium ever promised and never delivered.
For many, many workers, then, the omelette never comes.
For the mobile cappo, it's just a matter of closing down this plant here and opening that one there; sacking this receptionist here, subscribing to that callshop there. His future is in his hands - as was that of the workforce he had yesterday..
The cappo is human, and Kant said humans must ever be treated as an end in themselves. In Ricardo's theory, as in capitalist economics at large, the worker is a factor of production, thus a means, and thus NOT human.
If greater aggregate production and consumption do ensue (and how we apply Ricardo's examples of cloth and wine - staples of early nineteenth century European political economy - to this fabled information economy of ours, well, a chap could go on a tad too long), they come at the price of much that the majority of us would value more than the proliferation of widgets.
Anyway, I don't see America closing down its primary and secondary sectors (even though neither would have found support in either Smith's theory of absolute advantage or Ricardo's of comparative advantage).
Maybe it has even occurred to some of our economic realists that a salient benefit of information technology lies in its application to those very sectors - but then I promised I wouldn't go there.
After all, the sainted Ricardo didn't ...
SAVING THE WORLD WITH NUKES
It may be that Ken Parish
is right, and that nuclear power will have to make a comeback if the world is to power its current pulse of economic development without cooking the planet. It may also be that arguments based on employing nuclear power as a 'bridge' to the promised clean'n'renewable future shall have to confront the role said bridge is likely to play in stunting research and blocking innovation of said clean and renewable technologies.
Oh, and call me a clinically commie cassandra if you must, but don't expect hydrogen/photo-voltaic arrays to take the curse off the world's transport fleet within any timeframe that might make it relevant.
In short, market forces need some serious messin' with if we're to avoid one hell of a global mess.
Oh, and just in case the whole planet is not already doomed within the next century - don't be thinking about building that nuclear plant near my kids, eh?
VALE BACK PAGES
Just adding my congratulations on Chris's stunningly successful blogging career
and my sadness at his blog's untimely (for us, anyway) passing.
TO BE FILED UNDER "SUCCINCT SUMMARIES"
hiring Allawi we've already pretty much admitted that Saddam was the right man for the job, because Allawi is just a midget version of Saddam with the beard shaved and the American flag stamped on his forehead. Which is why he'll never get the respect he needs to run the place -- the Iraqis see him as our puppet. Old ladies would tear him limb from limb if they caught him in the street without his Delta operators.
TO BE FILED UNDER "HANDING OUT SPEEDING TICKETS AT THE INDIE 500"
You train a youngster to kill, then send him to a guerrilla war in a place full of foreigners with whom he can't communicate and thus can't get close to. He's rightly scared and understandably angry - he's also just back from hospital, having been wounded earlier in the occupation. So he murders a wounded man.
Hasn't that been what's been happening in Fallujah for over a week
? Why isn't it news that those wounded fellas had been left lying there, untended and unwatered for a whole day? And why wasn't it news when we saw a marine deliver the coup de grace to a wounded sniper on Saturday? Why no questions about the other sixteen hundred officially documented Fallujah killings? Why no inquest into the live-to-air murder of a television journalist and a pack of innocent kiddies on that Baghdad street a coupla weeks back?
It can't be conventional morality. Killing civilians is supposed to be at least as bad as killing prisoners. And it ain't 'news values', either. Nope. I submit this murder was different from those other murders in one important respect: so explicit was the footage that we viewers had no way of avoiding the truth of what we'd just seen.
We can usually be relied upon to find a way of ignoring unpleasant implications, even inventing comforting narratives if we have to. But this bit of footage offered us no such escape. And because The Powers That Be know we don't like what we saw, this guy has to be served up to us as an individual aberration (yeah, just like Lindy England) - 'coz if he ain't that, then he's merely this war in microcosm. And our complacency or support (either will do, really) might not survive that unwelcome insight.
We might stop judging the warriors and start judging the war and those who made it happen.
Apropos of which I might just return to librul Hollywood for a few words on judgement and war:
"You have no right to judge me . It's impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror. Horror has a face, and you must make a friend of horror. Horror and mortal terror are your friends. If they are not, then they are enemies to be feared. They are truly enemies.
I remember when I was with Special Forces - it seems a thousand centuries ago - we went into a camp to inoculate it. The children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for polio, and this old man came running after us, and he was crying. He couldn't see. We went there, and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile - a pile of little arms. And I remember...I...I...I cried, I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out, I didn't know what I wanted to do. And I want to remember it, I never want to forget. And then I realized - like I was shot...like I was shot with a diamond...a
diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought, "My God, the genius of that, the genius, the will to do that." Perfect, genuine,
complete, crystalline, pure. And then I realized they could stand that--these were not monsters, these were men, trained contras, these men who fought with their hearts, who have families, who have children, who are filled with love--that they had this strength, the strength to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men, then our troubles here would be over very quickly.
You have to have men who are moral and at the same time were able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling, without
passion, without judgment--without judgment. Because it's judgment that defeats us.
I worry that my son might not understand what I've tried to be, and if I were to be killed, Willard, I would want someone to go to my home and tell my son everything. Everything I did, everything you saw, because there's nothing that I detest more than the stench of lies. And if you understand me, Willard, you...you will do this for me."
LAZY SUNDAY AFTERNOON
When you have a day that doesn't quite work - doesn't quite compensate you for getting up, I mean - it's usually not news worthy of imposition on anything up to seven innocent readers. After all, we all have 'em. And it's not as if my Sunday has been That Bad. It's just that today was the first day in a good while that might have been all good.
I stayed in bed till late. I wanted to sleep in, but awoke at eight, and lay there until noon listening to PNN and imagining what my perfect country would be like. A few Dutch cafes, English pubs, South African breakfasts, Turkish dinner parties, Namibian nights, Melbourne football grounds, Irish stouts, Scottish accents, French kisses and Latin American electorates later, I gave that up and thought about Emma Peel for a bit (one of many reasons the formidable Mrs Peel is worth thinking about). Then I read a Nathaniel Drinkwater story for a while and fondly imagined it might be a quarterdeck heaving under me and not a planet. I was determined not to Enter The Day too soon as I'm resolved to stay up till 5.00am on account of the Newcastle/Man Utd game (which had better be the fixture form suggests) and I'd promised the bride I'd move an agony of sleepers to her new flowerbed around the watertank and the loinfruit I'd take 'em on a big bike ride - all the way to the servo out on the highway for some al fresco cafeing and concomitant protobloketalk. Ms Blogorrhoea is more used to disappointment than the sprogs are, but all that really meant was that morality obliged me to move said sleepers and pragmatism to walk my bike up a Himalayan escarpment in the wake of my scoffing offspring.
Spent from noon to two (no relation of mine would dare interrupt my first two hours of official wakefulness) ingesting coffees and Rothmans in the shed and writing a long blog on why the world economy is playing dice with the lives of billions (drawing inspired linkages between Australian housing, Indian commodities, Chinese banking, strong Euros and American everythings) and how it's been headed that way since about 1972 (just imagine Immanuel Wallerstein, Eric Hobsbawm, Stephen Roach, Joe Stiglitz and Robert Brenner sharing a gin hangover) and was just about to get to that fun inserting-the-droll-adjectives bit when the difference engine threw a sprocket and I lost the lot. Pausing only to doosra a hardback edition of Doug Henwood's Wall Street into the new print (a fate neither fine work deserves, btw) and remind myself I'd have had a new Mac by now if some pimply little tealeaf hadn't zippoed my beloved Falcon, I sacked the muse and strode off to the bikes for The Big Day Out.
The ride out was much as expected. The kids loved it and bloody sputum escaped my lips in warm frothy spurts. The al fresco bit was okay, too. My $4.00 coffee was cold but a coupla Rothamns recongealed the contents of my respiratory system enough to allow me fondly to share with the children my predictions of global depression, carnage and famine.
On the way back, Number Two lost his front wheel and Number One was sent ahead to fetch The Admiral (who'd always thought the ride too ambitious and would doubtlessly remind me of it upon our rescue). During the wait, Number Two contented himself with a detailed survey of his wounds and a close study of his new Simpsons fold-out, and I discontented myself with The Telegraph (which I'd had to buy to obtain said Simpsons fold-out, and which kindly informed me Count Ricardo and Amtrak would indeed have made me rich had I not lost my roll when 23 jockeys decided last Tuesday that the inside running at the best-drained track in Australia was slow and one didn't).
Then I got home and I couldn't watch a docco on the First World War because a Brand New Episode Of The Simpsons was on, and then Number One vomited so he couldn't do his homework and Number Two needed to sleep with Mum coz he wasn't feeling so well either and I couldn't get good reception on the shed telly (a Canadian job that was old when Molly Meldrum and Aunty Jack first graced it) when I wanted to watch that Mary-Queen-of-Scots show (I could make out enough, needless to say, to know I was missing something good).
Then I read this
, and this
Then I drank some 100 Pipers (dunno why it's so cheap; it has me drooling miserably at my keyboard quite as quickly as its dearer rivals), remembered to write into Word before pasting into Blogger, and blogged this. Not quite what you'd have had if my effort of this morning had survived, granted, but dismal all the same, I like to think.
LEST WE KEEP FORGETTING
Eighty-six years ago a war that need never have started, and could not then be stopped until one side was broken by sheer attrition, ended ... thus putting in place the conditions for another. A Colonel Repington knew as much in 1919, when he proposed as a name for the grand tragedy just passed 'The First World War'.
Even then, wars didn't start, and weren't conducted, at some faraway front. Everyone was in on it. Whole populations were infected then mobilised then targetted then attritted. That's what war has really been all about this last century and more.
As Romain Cierambault observed two years after The War To End All Wars and nineteen years before The One After That: "In the wars of today, which comprise entire peoples, thought is enlisted; thought kills as well as cannon; it kills the soul; it kills beyond the seas; it kills across centuries; it is the heavy artillery which works at a distance."
JC Squire had given us an example of this artillery-thought back when The Guns of August first let loose, "God heard the embattled nations sing and shout, "Gott strafe England!" and "God save the King!" God this, God that, and God the other thing. "Good God" said God, "I've got my work cut out!"
Yep, if truth is war's first casualty, God is its first conscript, this time in The Iraq War After The Last One. Artillery-thought has just claimed another thousand lives in Falluja ('we' killed a thousand Fallujans last time 'we' 'took' Falluja in March). It'll likely claim another thousand next week. Then Ramadi. 'We' 'took' Ramadi a few weeks ago. And soon 'we'll' 'take' it again. Then Falluja. Again. And I see Mosul, a touted success story only a few weeks/thousand deaths ago, is awash in grenade launchers and AK 47s today.
Peace is the only thing worth fighting for, yet if there's one thing war is demonstrably very bad at, it is ensuring peace.
It's the worst thing people do and it doesn't bloody work.
SATURDAY NIGHT HAVER: A LEFTY EXPLODES
Look, the US election was a close one, not a landslide, and only 37% of the US considers itself 'reborn', not the whole country! So let's not fall over ourselves jettisoning all we hold dear to fit in with some brand new social reality, eh? It's taken the neocons decades to get us where we are, and it's not yet entirely where they want us to be. 63% of the US public is open to secular argument and in Australia the number is doubtlessly more cheering still.
'Religio' used to refer to the social relations between people. Once you live in a social structure in which exchange has become the primary relation - in which, as someone once said, all that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind - you either wear it or tear it. One way of wearing it is to withdraw into a fondly imagined past, into the illusion that all can be made to share norms and relations out of which those constituents of the 'good life' the market can not provide (eg. meaning, trust, full mutual recognition, a more stable identity and, of course, meaning in life derived from a postmarket eternity) might be fashioned.
The Right has known this for a long time - and, having produced the angst, is best circumstanced to proffer the salve. It's sheer demagoguery (no different from ol' Milosovic offering his suddenly ex-Yugoslav, ex-communist constituency a Serb identity based on a selective history as Christendom's last stand at The Field Of Blackbirds) and it's all about ensuring that those privileged by capitalist modernity continue to benefit when capitalist modernity inclines the masses - as it will - to seek spiritual succour.
In 1982, conservative philosopher Roger Scruton proposed The Nation as the ideal answer to this New Emptiness. The Nation would need lots of help - not least by way of reinvigorated religion (proddie, of course) and an identification of same with the notion of The Common Culture That Made Us Great (this theme is precisely what definitively unites the scribblings of Sam Huntington, ol' man Kristol, and divers neocon acolytes, no?).
Ten years before that, Pat Buchanan suggested to Richard Nixon the declaration of a cultural war along precisely such lines. Josh Marshall
recalls the note referred to 'positive polarisation'. It concluded thusly: "this is a potential throw of the dice that could bring the media on our heads, and cut the Democratic Party and country in half; my view is that we would have far the larger half."
So that's my blog-length answer to Mark Schmitt's
question as to why it is that all these 'values' we're hearing so much about don't seem to concern themselves with social justice any more. It was the Christian concern with social justice that helped produce the welfare state, and capital don't need no damned welfare state right now. It needs an orderly self-regulating society of worker ants and it prefers 'em sniffing each other's sheets rather than dwelling on those real conditions of life.
If it's moral to crush, disintegrate, bereave, incinerate and eviscerate hundreds of thousands of people in other countries and it is immoral to allow about ten per cent of our own number to marry those they love, then I invite you to deposit your morals where only your proctologist need pay them heed. If it's moral for the state to remove from half of our number discretion over their own bodies on grounds that life is sacred, then a president exceptionally inclined to execute people has some questions to answer. If it's moral to force crackpot creationism down the throats of our innocents but not to afford them the sort of sex education that has proven itself able to avoid a plethora of unwanted pregnancies, lingering deaths and sexually transmitted diseases, well, then morals can be immoral indeed. Just check your John Stuart-Mill to see how far we suddenly haven't got in nearly two centuries ...
So let's not have unity, eh? Let's not fall in behind our mandate-waving leaders. What this is really all about is whether we give up what's left of the material gains and formal rights bequeathed us by the generations of workers, women, gays and freedom fighters who bled in the streets to earn 'em. Half of Australia and half of America demonstrably haven't been taken in by decades of this tendentious moralising, and that's one sound platform from which to resume the task of putting things right, I reckon.
Big Capital and its pet theocrats own the White House now and it is time for us to recognise some of those real conditions; for example, that a corporatist, mercantilist, imperialist, pseudo-theological, intolerant, blood'n'soil-nationalist, culturally-exceptionalist, illiberal and brutal campaign - forty years in the making - has succeeded in capturing the world's driver's seat. It has paid too high a price in terms of treasure and global prestige to do this, and it must now bleed white both its own populace and much of the rest of the world to sustain its world-historic grasp for global control.
There's yer next coupla decades, right there.
Oh, and why is it so daft to suspect a dodgy election in '04? Lemme propose two possible answers ...
1) Because it is not necessarily valid to extrapolate from the past when diagnosing the present. So you can't say, "They stole the elections in 2000, then lied continually for four years, and then began lying about Kerry as soon as they finished lying about Dean, so they're cheating now".
2) Because you can't prove it. Whatever the US electoral system's virtues, it seems accountability ain't one of 'em. Mexican election observer Oscar Gonzales has observed as much of the latest celebration of American democracy as he was allowed to, and even that was enough to allow him to observe that "one aspect of the U.S. electoral system that our observer delegation found deeply disturbing is the partisan oversight and administration of elections ... We were disappointed that touch screen voting machines – which nearly one in three voters will use this year – do not provide a paper trail ... we were distressed by the laws in eight states that permanently disenfranchise felons even after they have completed their sentences, laws that we felt create subcategories of citizenship ... there are no provisions in most state laws for non-partisan poll observation ... who represents the interests of the voting public at large, including the growing number of citizens who are registered as Independents? The lack of mechanisms for non-partisan poll observation has been dramatically illustrated to our delegation as officials in about half the counties we plan on watching on Election Day have denied our requests to enter polling places."
Greg Palast puts the case that a contrived 'spoilage' rate of between two and three per cent
dramatically favours the Republicans and is enough to throw states still employing the Florida-2000 technology into question. Ohio was one of those ...
This is not to say, of course, that new technologies are any better. A full third of America's voting machines are worse. Anything without a paper trail is effectively unaccountable and consequently a fraud waiting to happen. And there already is some anecdotal evidence of dodgy computers turning out dodgy data. One machine accepted 700 votes, of which about 3000went to Shrubya
The less generously inclined among us might suspect it was always meant to be thus. After all, it's not as if this hasn't been an issue for years
. And the reason it remains an issue is that some have worked hard to ensure nothing would be done about it. "Congressman Rush Holt introduced a bill into Congress requiring a voter-verified paper ballot be produced by all electronic voting machines, and it's been co-sponsored by a majority of the members of the House of Representatives. The two-year battle fought by Dennis Hastert and Tom DeLay to keep it from coming to a vote, thus insuring that there will be no possible audit of the votes of about a third of the 2004 electorate, has fueled the flames of conspiracy theorists convinced Republican ideologues - now known to be willing to lie in television advertising - would extend their "ends justifies the means" morality to stealing the vote "for the better good of the country" they think single-party Republican rule will bring."
No wonder Kerry didn't bother insisting on a count - nor that FoxNews is so busily slandering those poor exit pollsters.
Shit, I meant to cheer myself up with this rant, too ...
VALE JOHN WARREN
He did the show on Sunday - fighting for what little breath was left him, but talking sense and substance right up to the show's closing minute, when Les Murray seamlessly finished a sentence for him just as JW's deathless enthusiasm finally threatened to take him a word further than his atrophied lungs would allow. I thought then it might be a moment I'd have to remember, and so it was. A big whole-of-face smile, betwixt and beyond the white lines (I played against him once in his Canberra City days), and just the bloke to have in the skipper's armband on your country's one and only gallop on the world stage.
What a bastard of a month it's been.
JUST IN FROM THE TALLY ROOM
The neo-cons' invasion causes 100 000 'excess deaths'
That's just the 'excess' slaughter, mind you ...
And what does our noble Minister for Offence have to say about it? "Unfortunately there will always be, always be some civilian casualties."
Not if you don't bomb 'em just like Western Civilisation did when it killed 250000 of 'em last time
or impoverish 'em, like it did for a decade after that
That's about a million corpses out of 24 million Iraqis. That's about 400 World Trade Centres Western Civilisation has visited upon them in
Every living Iraqi adult - and not a few Iraqi children - knows someone Western Civilsation has killed.
I don't doubt a lot of Iraqis would love democracy.
It's just Western Civilsation they've had enough of ...
Vale John Peel
A kick in the teeth for Beeb listeners everywhere: John's influence has towered over the development of popular music for nearly four decades and his contribution to modern music and music culture is immeasurable.
When I was a twelve-year-old in Namibia, the man who introduced me to Pink Floyd was John Peel. When I was a thirteen-year-old in England, the man who introduced me to T-Rex was John Peel. When I was 20-year-old in New Zealand, the man who introduced me to the Undertones was John Peel.
I was listening to that ubiquitous, enthusiastic, drily mischievous monotone mebbe a month ago. Far too much the stick-in-the-mud to enjoy most of the new sounds he'd dug up for me, but listening - coz it was John.