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Monday, April 28, 2008
By Steven L. Taylor

Via Reuters: Pregnancy, stoner comedies a hit at box office

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the NYT: Election Day in Florida May Look Familiar

Eight years after the debacle of hanging chads, Florida once again seems to be courting electoral trouble. A handful of laws have been passed since the 2000 presidential recount, with state officials saying they bring order to a chaotic system.

[...]

According to independent elections experts at Pew’s Electionline.org and other organizations, it is now harder to vote here than in nearly every other state in the nation. Some critics predict that tens of thousands of potential voters will be kept off the rolls — many of them poor, black or Hispanic.

[...]

Three laws in particular are at issue, including a “no match, no vote” measure; the provision managing voter registration drives conducted by third parties, like the League of Women Voters; and a law that would keep a voter from correcting mistakes or omissions on a registration form in the final month before an election and would bar that person from having his or her vote counted.

Despite the framing of the story as The Son of the Hanging Chad, Part II: The Return, these issues are all about registration, not voting procedures.

One of the items in the story that caught my eye was the following:

An oversight can be as simple as failing to check what many Florida residents call the “crazy box.” It asks people to affirm: “I have not been adjudicated mentally incapacitated with respect to voting or, if I have, my competency has been restored.”

If one fails to check that box, one can’t vote. Even a small percentage of registrants failing to check the box due to oversight or mis-comprehension could lead to the disenfranchisement of hundreds, if not thousands, of voters. As such, no small thing, this box. I must confess that I had to read it twice to figure out what it was saying, and therefore whether or not I would (were I a Florida voter) have had to have checked it myself. If the wording is difficult for a Ph.D. in Government to quickly grasp, it is easy to see how a poorly education voter might mistakenly not check the box and thereby deny themselves the right to vote.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the AP we have the following map of the 2004 electoral college outcomes, with the alleged “battleground” states for ’08:

To echo a post I wrote back in January, I have a hard time seeing the GOP making gains over its 2004 outcome, but can easily see the Democrats making strides.

Setting aside who the Democratic nominee will be, the bottom line is that the incumbent (Republican) president is quite unpopular, the GOP nominee is running on continuing an unpopular war–while both Democrats are running on ending it,1 gas prices are at record highs (even adjusted for inflation)2 and stories about Costco and Sam’s Club rationing rice and general ones about food shortages just plain sound bad.

It is not an environment in which the party in power can be expected to do well at the polls.

As such, it seems like wishful thinking that the Republicans could pick up states like Pennsylvania, Oregon, Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin, but not at all unlikely for the Democrats to pick up Ohio, Florida, Iowa, and New Mexico and even places like Missouri, Virginia, Colorado and Nevada.

  1. And yes, ending it may be more difficult than they assert, but the political points over Iraq clearly redound to Clinton and Obama and not to McCain. []
  2. Topping the record set in March of 1981. []
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By Steven L. Taylor

Via Reuters: Gov. Richardson meets Chavez over hostages

The governor of New Mexico met on Saturday with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in an effort to restart talks with neighboring Colombia to secure the release of hostages held by leftist rebels.

[...]

Richardson, who was a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and has helped release Americans held in Sudan, Iraq, North Korea and Cuba, was asked by the hostages’ families to help seek their release. His mother is Mexican and he speaks fluent Spanish.

I must confess, it is unclear to me what Richardson’s presence will do in this situation. Still, given the dire situation of the hostages, I can’t see any actual damage from his visit. Yes, I know that some will see this as somehow being a PR win for Chávez, although I am not sure how photos and a chat with the Governor of New Mexico will make much of a difference one way or another over the long haul.1

And, Richardson is right, while the political discussion will focus on Chávez and whether or not he is scoring political points, the basic fact of the matter is as follows:

“Many times in a conflict like this we forget the human side, that human beings are being held hostage.”

And regardless of why, the fact of the matter is that Chávez’s involvement in the situation has led to some FARC-held hostages being released. Such a positive outcome needs to be acknowledged, regardless of one’s views of Hugo Chávez.

  1. Exactly what is the big deal about getting a photo op with Bill Richardson, really? []
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By Steven L. Taylor

As the argument over whether we should be counting popular votes or pledged delegate, let me suggest yet another metric: number of candidates clamoring for more debates (via the AP): Obama says no debates with Clinton between now and Indiana

On Saturday, Clinton said she wants Obama to face off with her in a debate without a moderator, Lincoln-Douglas style.

“I’m not ducking. We’ve had 21″ debates, Obama said on “Fox News Sunday.”

While I have not gathered the data, I am willing to state that candidates only request more debates if they think that they are losing. Hence, by the Debate Metric, I’d say that Clinton is the loser for the nomination, so we can quit now.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008
By Steven L. Taylor

Tony Zirkle, candidate for the Republican nomination for Congress in the 2nd District of Indiana) gave a speech last week at an event that commemorated the birthday of a former leader of a European country.

Here’s a picture of the event:1

Zirkle, when asked about the event stated:

“I’ll speak before any group that invites me,” Zirkle said Monday. “I’ve spoken on an African-American radio station in Atlanta.”

Well, sure. That explains it: African-American radio stations, neo-Nazis–no big dif.

Zirkle went on to explain:

He said he did not know much about the neo-Nazi group and that his intention was to talk on his concern about “the targeting of young white women and for pornography and prostitution.”

Of course! It is rather difficult to figure out the meaning of a Hitler portrait, swastika-laden flags/arm-bands and the “Happy Birthday” Hitler banner. I mean, really, who could figure out such subtle signals?

If one goes to his web site, one finds that he is rather concerned with the “great porn dragon” as it “inspires Jews into pornography and prostitution and then, like the snake he is, turns the public against the Jews.” Well. Who knew?

He manages to connect immigration to porn as well (although, I must confess, I can only half-translate the following gibberish):

3. Immigration – The porn capitalists are doing their all to prove the case of the ante-bellum racists and the Jim Crow bigots by making the case that whites and blacks can not control themselves in each other’s company. If it is possible for noires to obtain 400 criminal years of familial revenge in just 40, the porn capitalists are giving it the new college try. Accordingly, as the above two groups sexually self-genocide themselves, the currently more meek Latinos are inheriting the land – and they should under current conditions.

I can say this from reading the above: for this guy to claim that he doesn’t know much about neo-Nazi thought is for him to be thoroughly lying, as he is clearly delineating race-based politics of the most onerous type.

This guy is porn-obsessed, including linking the “great porn dragon” to Iraq. I shan’t go into the details for fear that my brain will melt.

He also is quite concerned with what he calls “divorce aids” (i.e., sex toys)–although why they should lead to divorce in ZirkleWorld is beyond me.

This would appear to be Zirkle’s second run at the nomination, having won just shy of 30% of the vote in 2006. One can only hope that his vote share would be far, far lower this time around.

As a side note, how anyone can read his rants and then hire him as an attorney is beyond me.

Some examples from scanning the front page of his site:

  • “What goes around, sometimes comes around, and sometimes a Zulu massacre comes right back in a dot com a few generations later to taunt a people in a new, more efficient destroying form of the same song, different dance hate speech. If addiction prone blanches can’t get their act together, then all of us who have a shred of justice in our spine may one day have to debate the idea of giving them what their ancestors gave to the natives, the author or whom is still honored with placement on the $20 bill, and consider for a second, before being publicly scorn-burned to a 33rd degree crisp, the merits of exiling them to a 44 state reservation and consider slavery reparations where the 12%, 6 state FL, GA, SC, MS, AL, & LA South shall rise again under the transformed Bible-to-Gospel belt.”
  • “The GPD (Great Porn-Dragon) is seeking so set up this country as a Broke-Barack mountain of gay pride Obama-Nation where a nation that was conceived in liberty now conceives in illigitimacy at 40% in Indiana, where a nation that grew as a Christian lamb is now phoenix-izing itself to speak as a porn dragon. ”
  • “If history can not produce one mono-syllabic tax cut king to stick his fluking harpoon between the porn Tiamat’s oeilles, then perhaps history will one day send a homeless vet to attempt a confoundation of those incognoscenti who think they’re wise. ”

h/t: Chris Lawrence

  1. It is always painful to see the Nazi flag and the American flag together in pictures like this. Indeed, pictures like this are painful in general, as it is tragic that anyone is drawn to these groups. []
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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Zimbabwe opposition retains gains

None of the original results were overturned, making it difficult for the ruling Zanu-PF party to overturn an opposition majority in the lower house.

Ten opposition-held seats remain to be declared and Zanu-PF now needs to win nine to be sure of regaining control.

There is still no word on the results of the presidential election.

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Friday, April 25, 2008
By Steven L. Taylor

click.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Iran votes in second round poll

Eighty-two seats in which no candidate managed to win 25% of the vote in last month’s first round are being contested on Friday, including 11 in Tehran.

Conservative candidates won around 70% of the seats in the first round vote.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Argentina’s economy chief quits

Argentina’s economy minister, Martin Lousteau, has resigned after less than five months on the job, officials say.

He was behind a tax rise on soybean exports, which triggered a three-week strike by Argentine farmers that resulted in widespread food shortages.

[...]

He also reportedly had run-ins with other ministers over inflation and the direction of the economy.

Fallout from the farmers’ strike, one would think, although that is just supposition.

Along those lines, Boz speculates:

this could be the president’s way of telling the population that she is trying to do something about the strikes, shortages, inflation and other economic problems that are slowly increasing in Argentine’s daily lives.

He also notes that the incoming new minister is more of a Kirchner loyalist.

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