Friday, December 31, 2004

Happy New Year

If you are on the east coast, it's about two minutes away...

I hope that my readers (and their families) have a happy new year.

posted at 08:59 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

EoY catblogging

I'll get in one last catblogging opportunity before the end of the year.

When I came back home, I brought two catnip pillows with me. The cats found them in my luggage (still sealed in the plastic bags), shredded the plastic, and managed to destroy one of them while I was at work. The other one survived, but was covered with kitty drool.

Belle was really whacked out by the catnip. While we were watching TV, she jumped up into the entertainment center and plotzed on the nice warm TV. She then proceeded to mug for the camera.


(click to enlarge)

posted at 05:46 PM | permalink | Comments (1)

Haven't you instructed Belle to 'Just Say NO'??

posted by Mad Mikey on January 3, 2005 09:15 AM

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Not quite

Over at Sound Politics, Stefan Sharkansky and Brian Crouch have been extremely busy unearthing dozens of examples of fraud in the Washington gubernatorial election, and Jim Miller has been busy explaining his theories on "distributed fraud" in elections, and what effect it might have played here in Washington state. The comment threads are quite active, and have drawn quite an eclectic mix of people. Most of the commenters support Rossi, but there are a few trolls, and a few relatively sane dissenters. One of the sane ones, Daniel K, runs a blog of his own. In this post, he argues that Dino Rossi, the Republican candidate, is wrong to call for a new election. Fair enough; everyone is entitled to an opinion. However, he is a bit off-base in some of his justifications he uses to bolster his case.

Rossi continues to equate this to a best-of-three type election, where he won twice and Gregoire won once. That isn't how it works. Gregoire won the final tally, the only one that matters in determining the outcome. This is vintage Republican poli-speak, the type they successfully used all throughout the presidential campaign.

Hmmm, even though the first count had a bigger lead for Rossi than the final count for Gregoire, the Dems maintained that it was a tie. If it's a tie when Rossi leads, why is it not a tie when Gregoire leads? Further, this doesn't address the heart of the matter, which is the validity of the votes themselves.

[Rossi] adds:
"Throughout the entire process, King County Elections staff changed the rules about which ballots would count and, at the end, the Supreme Court also changed the rules. As it now stands, some people in King County had the rules changed so their votes could count, while other wrongfully disenfranchised people across the state—including many members of our military—have been denied the opportunity to have their votes counted."

Misleading again. The election boards followed the rules. At no time did the Republican Secretary of State, Sam Reed, take the election boards to task for not doing so. When Democrats tried to expand the vote counting, against the rules, they were shot down by the courts. When Republicans tried to block the King County elections board from counting valid votes, a count that Reed approved, the courts sided with the Secretary of State.

Sam Reed's shortcomings have been discussed at some length at Sound Politics, so I'll not rehash them here. However, the mishandling of the ballots in Washington in 2004 is eerily similar to what happened in Florida in 2000, before the SCotUS stepped in. Ballots that need to be "enhanced" are of dubious validity; ballots that need to be "interpreted" are frankly invalid. Votes that cannot be counted by a machine (in locales where machines are used) should not be counted, period. Allowing them to be counted in a hand recount means that they are receiving unequal protection, in violation of the 14th amendment.

Even this still does not reach to the heart of the issue, which is (again) the validity of the votes. Despite the reports of problems and bias during the recounts, the biggest issue is what appears to be massive fraud in Seattle, and lesser instances elsewhere in the state. Sharkansky has found several instances of multiple voters listing the same address (other than government buildings, which are used as addresses for street dwellers), dead people still on the rolls (at least one eligible voter died in 1998; I wonder if he voted by absentee ballot), people using PO boxes as their address (in violation of the law), genderless voters, variations of the same name at a single address receiving multiple mail ballots Such as John Smith, John Q. Smith, and Johnny Smith), and more. When the ballots themselves are not valid, it doesn't matter who is doing the counting, because the crime has already occurred. Not counting a vote is no more disenfranchising than countering a legally cast vote with one that is not legal; that is the issue. I believe that Rossi will start emphasizing that point in a few days, once firm data are available to prove his point. So far, the King County canvassing board has not been forthcoming with the information, and that appears to be ground zero for the fraudulent votes.

posted at 07:09 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Contribute via

Amazon has set up a one-click link to donate to the American Red Cross for assistance to the tsunami victims in Asia and Africa. As of five minutes ago, the total raised was $672,000.

Since the contributions are not tax dollars, the UNuchs find them morally inferior, but they still buy the same amount of relief. If you have any money to spare, contribute to what is certainly a worthy cause.

(Link courtesy of Instapundit.)

posted at 08:15 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

A rant at the airline unions

The Associated Press (via Yahoo! News) reports that Norman Mineta has oredered an investigation into the transportation meltdown this weekend at Comair and US Airways, in which computer systems crashed, baggage was mishandled, and thousands of travellers were inconvenienced and stranded. I'm going to skip over Comair's issues, because I have a personal experience with US Airways.

I flew home on Sunday, via US Airways. I arrived at the airport in Orlando two and a half hours early, only to discover that my flight was going to be delayed, due to an "equipment problem". (It appears that aircraft require maintenance personnel, flight attendants, and ground crew in order to be operated.) When it became obvious that I was going to miss my connecting flight to Seattle, I was shifted to another flight to Philadelphia, which was an hour late departing. (It left half an hour after my flight was supposed to leave; it was originally supposed to leave 35 minutes BEFORE my flight.) When I arrived in Philadelphia, my connecting flight also departed an hour late, apparently because of a shortage of gate agents. When I arrived in Seattle, I was dismayed to realize that my luggage did not make it with me.

Yesterday (Monday), I called the US Airways baggage claim hotline to check on the status of my baggage. I got a machine which informed me that my baggage was still missing. I called later in the evening to check for an update, and was informed that the center was closed. (I suppose the machine that handled my call was demanding overtime, which the bankrupt airline cannot afford.) My luggage finally arrived here at noon today.

While the unions deny it, it appears that US Airways was the target of a work slowdown by union workers disgruntled by pay cuts the airline needs to enact to avoid liquidation. Given the choice between a 17 percent pay cut (what USAirways is proposing) and a 100 percent pay cut (which will be the result of a liquidation), the choice seems clear to me, but the union leaders are not always known for their logic. To their credit, the pilot's union has agreed to a 24 percent pay cut; the remaining unions are still jockeying for position.

What the unions do not realize is that the people who are most affected by the slowdown are the passengers, who are not likely to sympathize with the unions when they are stranded overnight because of a cancelled flight, or have to do without their luggage for two days. (I had to buy another razor and do without my house keys; luckily my roommate was home). It seems to be self-defeating because it is only going to reduce the number of people who will fly US Airways in the future, assuming that it is not liquidated next month. Fewer passengers means fewer jobs, or more across-the-board wage cuts. It's no coincidence that US Airways and United had the industry's highest labor costs (before they declared bankruptcy and forced through some pay cuts) and new high-cost leader Delta is teetering on the edge. When 40 percent of a company's expenses go towards labor (in a field with very high equipment operating costs), it is obvious that something is amiss.

posted at 07:51 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

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