Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It isn't voter fraud unless...

This is just ridiculous.

The defense offered in this story (and many others) is that "There are no known instances of fictitious people actually voting...". Are you kidding? We're supposed to shrug off bogus voter registrations as unimportant unless there's an actual vote? There's nothing suspicious about registering non-existent (or dead, or ineligible) people to vote?

So it's OK if I pollute my town's voter rolls with hundreds of false voter registrations unless (until) somebody actually votes under a false registration?

It doesn't matter that the election workers have to deal with the noise of bogus registrations? Faced with reports of bogus registrations, I would expect (hope) that election workers would be more careful vetting voters on Election Day. But maybe then we'll hear that voters are being "harassed" or "suppressed".

Try this on as a conspiracy theory:

ACORN (or somebody else) contrives to falsely register thousands of bogus voter names, and they (and the press) shrug it off as "not real voter fraud, because nobody has actually tried to vote (yet) under a bogus registration."

But election officials, faced with reports of bogus registrations, are compelled to examine voter credentials more closely on Election Day.

"Closer examination" of voter credentials is deemed by some to be "voter suppression."

So we're faced with two possible outcomes (under the assumption that massive registration fraud has taken place): many fraudulent votes are cast, and/or there are charges of "voter suppression" when thousands of voters (most or all legitimate) are subjected to unusual scrutiny (in an effort to eliminate fraudulent voters).

Consider some possibilities:

Obama wins, but there are challenges about those thousands of false registrations sponsored by ACORN, an organization he has worked with in the past and actually contracted with to foster voter registrations.


McCain wins, but there are complaints of "voter suppression" as election workers try to screen out the false voters represented by the bogus registrations.

It's a no-lose situation for ACORN, set up by themselves.

Monday, October 06, 2008

John McCain and Me

I attended the United States Naval Academy for a brief time: I was inducted on July 6th, 1972, endured Plebe Summer (a sort of Basic Training for midshipmen), and the first semester of the academic year, then resigned at the beginning of second semester.

It's a complicated story: I am immensely proud of being accepted, enduring Plebe Summer, and being a part of the Class of '76, even though I decided not to continue, for complicated reasons best discussed in another post.

It was a trying time. Plebe Summer is designed to push you past limits you thought you had and recognize that you can perform at higher levels than you believed possible. Once you think you've got it under control, academic year arrives with the pressures of new upperclassmen, academics, and new responsibilities. I probably performed at the highest levels of effectiveness in my life, but received the poorest feedback (a 2.58 GPA, which wasn't half bad, in retrospect), and decided that "I wasn't good at it" and decided to bail and study Computer Science at WPI (which has worked out very nicely, as it turns out).

My time at USNA was probably the longest eight months of my life.

While I was there, we were very much aware of what was happening to previous USNA graduates, including Marines (the Marines are a branch of the Navy, and many Marine officers come from the academy), river boat ("Swift boat) forces, and, of course, Navy pilots.

Now let's compare:

John McCain was a graduate of the academy (in an era where the life of a mid was even more strenuous than mine), and had walked the same halls I had in Bancroft Hall. He had become a prisoner of war on October 26th, 1967, when I was in eighth grade. He was tortured or neglected for most of the time I was in high school. He had been a prisoner for almost five years before I started my "ordeal" at the academy, and he was released about a month after I left.

My point:

I believe that I have been tested, and succeeded to a degree, to an extent that few Americans have. I take a certain pride in that.

John McCain has been tested to an immeasurably greater degree, and passed those tests admirably.

I will follow him anywhere.

And I close my ears to those who will belittle him.

"McCain scares me"

I've heard this comment from a couple of people recently, and it really bugs me.

"Why?" I ask.

"Because I hear he's a hothead? Do we want someone like that with his finger on the nuclear button?"

Please. McCain will tell you himself that he has a temper; he's even committed it to print in at least one of his books.

But how do you get from shouting an occasional epithet in a Senate anteroom to nuking a country in a fit of anger? It's absurd.

In fact, I can make a case that John McCain is one of the most forgiving people on the planet.

It is commonly accepted that McCain was abused, as were so many others, during his 5+ year ordeal as a POW in North Vietnam. (How many people have endured more than 5 years of anything as unpleasant? No marriage jokes allowed.) But McCain has been in the lead in normalizing relations between Viet Nam and the USA. The memories are still there, but he rises above them.

In 2000, McCain and his family were the target of some vicious and personal smears by pro-Bush forces during the primary campaign. After the election, McCain was able to support Bush when he found it appropriate. (I ask you to set aside the not-unreasonable question as to whether McCain should have supported Bush in those circumstances; the point here is that McCain was able to overcome his personal anger when the situation warranted.)

The bottom line: John McCain is the most tested candidate for president than we've seen for years, comparing favorably to JFK's and DDE's war experiences and exceeding everybody else since then. I can think of very few people I would trust more in a stressful situation.