A Presidential Debate

This is about a year old but it’s still funny and relevant — a no-holds-barred debate between President George W. Bush and someone who apparently completely disagrees with him on all major foreign policy issues — Governor George W. Bush.


Via Steg’s LJ.

How To Disenfranchise Ohio’s Democratic Areas

Did anybody catch the NPR story about the Republican voter challenges in Ohio?

A bipartisan panel (2 dems, 2 repubs) presided over the hearing. There were a couple righteous Ohio Republicans there to protest umpteen hundred supposedly fake voter registrations.

The panel picked up an example of a challenge, and asked the righteous Ohio Republican who did the challenge if she had ever been to the address where this voter lived. No. They asked her how she knew the voter didn’t live there. Well, mail to that voter was returned. Did she have that returned mail with her? No. Had she ever seen it? No. Her Republican Overlords on Coruscant had told her, and that was enough for her to swear under oath that she knew that for a fact. So they brought out the actual voter whose mail had been returned. This actual voter, who had been consistently registered there for 35 years, explained that she hated the Republican party and had refused to accept the mail from them for that reason.

The panel made noises about indicting the Righteous Ohio Republican for perjury, at which point the Righteous Republican Lawyers refused to let her speak any further.

I think it’s clear that the Republican leadership and Bush’s people are terrified of new voters angry at what Bush has done to their country, and want to eliminate as many of them as possible, by any means necessary — and if that means “challenging” thousands of votes and disenfranchising many real voters on the pretense of eliminating fraud, that’s fine with them. Votes are dangerous, they sometimes vote people out of office.


Hat tip to Puddingbowl for the link, though I originally heard the story driving home listening to NPR. (Go check the story yourself; my post about it is based on day old memories of something I didn’t take notes on and may contain minor inaccuracies.)

Lessig on Presidents, Policy, Politics, and A Little Note on Torture.

Excellent and nuanced look at why one should vote Kerry here.

I find the nuanced reasoning compelling, but I also find it interesting that Lessig allows that more powerful than any reasoning, to him, is the outrage that under Bush, America became America The Torturer.

Bush will always be the Torture President. The man who made us all accomplices to torture in the name of America.

If Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay and the other loci of America-sponsored torture don’t fill you with outrage, there is something wrong with you.

(Footnote — I’m linking here to a little blog presidential sponsorship survey — click here to support Kerry in it.)

Everything Bad Is Good For You

Via BoingBoing.net, Everything Bad Is Good For You.

Unlike my first three books, which were all to varying degrees intellectual travelogues with me as a kind of tour guide (“let me travel with you through the world of emergence, or neuroscience, and show you the interesting landmarks”), Everything Bad is a pure work of persuasion, an old-fashioned polemic. It’s shorter than the others, and barely has any chapters, and I’m not really introducing the reader to outside experts as the last two have. It’s just me trying to marshal all the evidence I can to persuade the reader of a single long-term trend: that popular culture on average has been steadily growing more complex and cognitively challenging over the past thirty years. The dumbing-down, instant gratification society assumption has it completely wrong. Popular entertainment is making us smarter and more engaged, not catering to our base instincts.

I call this long-term trend the Sleeper Effect, after that famous Woody Allen joke from his mock sci-fi film where a team of scientists from 2029 are astounded that 20th-century society failed to grasp the nutritional merits of cream pies and hot fudge. (In conversation, I sometimes describe this book as the Atkins diet for pop culture.) Over the course of the book, I look at everything from Grand Theft Auto to “24,” from Finding Nemo to “Dallas,” from “Hill Street Blues” to “The Sopranos,” from “Oprah” to “The Apprentice.” There’s some material about the internet, too, though less than you might suspect. (And I’m pretty sure the word “blog” never appears — imagine that!) The critical method I’ve concocted for making the argument is one of my favorite things about the book — it draws a little on narratology, a little on brain science, a little economics and media criticism, a dash of social network theory. But it tries to yoke all those disciplines together in a consistent and unified way. Or at least I think it does.

I totally need to read this.