Saturday, November 11, 2006

I Was Wrong

In my last post I made a remark to the effect that computerized voting machines seemed to have suddenly been absolved of all the previous accusations that had been made against them. Well, not quite. Darrin Bell, who draws the comic strip Candorville, raised the issue yet again in the strip below, published today.
candorville comic

Now I know that the strip was drawn several weeks ago, prior to the election and before Bell could have had any knowledge of the results, but his failure to allow for the possibility that the election might proceed fairly and even favor his own party shows a lack of foresight and a ghastly lack of faith in the American electoral system.

Bell had to have assumed, in drawing this strip, that there was no way his side would get a fair shake and no chance they would win. One has to wonder how he will proceed with his next batch of strips now that the reverse has been demonstrated.

I have often opined when reading this strip that the cartoonist must get his political material from the Daily Kos and similarly-inclined blogs. I frequently find myself wondering whether the Democratic left wing really buys its own PR, especially in matters like the "Rigged Elections" accusations. I suspect that some--Jesse Jackson, for example-- do not. In this case, I'm afraid I have to conclude that this accuser actually does, to the extent that he was willing to risk looking like a fool to make his point.

Thus the Minor Premise is displeased to present Mr. Darrin Bell with the Third Irregular Order of the Tinfoil Hat. We have finally developed a prototype for this award (see below,) so if Mr. Bell will send us a mailing address and hat size, we can parcel post him a customized one. (NOTE: We will not be holding our collective breaths for this event.) We should probably add some kind of device for Failure to Plan Ahead in Case of Being Wrong. I suppose I could pengrave something along the lines of Ha-mi-nah-ha-mi-nah-ha-mi-nah" around the brim, but I'm open to suggestions.

The Susan B. Anthony Fund raises money for pro-life candidates, giving preference to woman candidates but supporting women and men. It was formed by pro-life feminists as an answer to EMILY's List. It also has an informative website and sends out legislative alerts. A recent notice from the organization offers some perspective on the recent election:

For the fifth consecutive election in a row, candidates endorsed by the SBA List Candidate Fund have won more than they have lost.
The SBA List Candidate Fund won 59% of its federal campaigns this year. Seventeen of 29 SBA Candidate Fund-endorsed candidates were victorious on Tuesday.
By contrast, EMILY’s List won 43% of its federal races with 13 of 30 endorsed candidates prevailing on Election Day. In 2002, the SBA List won 19 of 29 federal races (66%). In 2004, SBA won 27 of 35 federal races (77%).
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and the Democratic Party imitated the pro-life movement to pick up several seats on Tuesday. America did not vote against the pro-life position on Tuesday. Even Democrats were sounding pro-life.

Heartening to hear, as I have just about had a surfeit of news commentary from the EMILY's list people lately.

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Blogger Rambling Speech said...

I love the tin-foil hat. May I ask as to the designer's identity? C-Minor, C-Major, or the little C's? I might need to order a few of these for public distribution!

8:43 AM  
Anonymous Richard said...

Um... You are aware that this strip referred to the events that happened in the "Candorville" comic strip that week, aren't you? Problems with the Candorville machines discarded all the votes, so the election was decided by a thug who was the only one to vote on a paper ballot.

And you are aware that Rick Santorum's campaign claimed that electronic voting machines were flipping votes from Santorum to Webb, aren't you?

Plus, it's sort of odd to start off by implying Democrats only care about election fraud when they lose, and then say they're nuts when they care about it even when they win. Something's not quite right with that sort of argument.

2:43 PM  
Blogger CMinor said...

Hi, Ramble--that was mine. Maybe I'll try a garrison cap sometime. Next time you're in town, if you'd like, we'll make you a batch! There's a very funny scientific paper out of MIT on the relative "effectiveness" of various styles of tinfoil hats--sometime soon we'll have to try to track it down online and post the link. I think mine has better lines than theirs did, however.

Greetings, Richard:
First point: You're correct about one thing--I take the paper on weekends and consequently was not taking this particular strip in the context of the cartoonist's story. However, I do see enough of Candorville to be familiar with Bell's brand of hyperbole, and I'm sure you've deduced as well as I have that the Candorville world serves as a mirror for Bell's view of the real one. Apparently Bell believes that the American electoral system is rife with fraud, at least when Republicans are in power--I disagree. Moreover, I do not assume fraud when the Democrats win, although historically Democrat political machines have been far from having clean hands in that regard. Therefore, I take a rather dim view of anyone who invents a fictional case of fraud to highlight what he imagines (without supporting evidence) to be a case of real-world fraud.

Second point: Rick Santorum ran against Bob Casey, Jr., son of the late Gov. Casey (both conservative Democrats, I might add) in Pennsylvania. George Allen ran against Jim Webb (whom I've heard referred to as more or less a Buchananite, although he ran as a Democrat) in Virginia. Not living in either state, I haven't been following the elections closely enough to know who's accused who of what, but I will point out that, in Santorum's case he was regarded as vulnerable by his own campaign (read up his biog in Wikipedia if you want the details) before the election and lost by a sizeable margin. The Allen-Webb race was extremely close, but was conceded by Allen two days after the election. This from Wikipedia:

On November 9, 2006 , Senator Allen held a press conference in Alexandria, announcing he had conceded the race to challenger James Webb, and would not seek a recount, even though legally able to do so.

As the principals in both races have conceded without argument, anything others may have said is at this point irrelevant. Surely you understand that no one is required to concede before the vote count is in, even if his opponent seems likely to win.

Final point: I certainly did imply that Democrats complain about fraud when they lose elections; that fact has been amply borne out by the evidence of the last three. I have not suggested that they are nuts when they complain about fraud when they win. Frankly, I wouldn't mind seeing a little of that. I might be more inclined to view them as sincere.

As I pointed out, the strip was likely sent to press before the election (standard procedure for cartoonists,) so Bell appeared to be expecting an electoral loss with copious "reports" of fraud in the real world at the time he drew it. Not much for foresight, (in view of the way the polls were going at the time,) or for faith in the American electoral system, as I remarked.

As I stated in this post, I had observed in the previous post that there was suddenly a surprising dearth of fraud and error complaints by Democrats in the wake of the election despite weeks of agitating about expected "problems" before it. You might check DMinor's post below, "Election Blues," on this point. Either there was fraud or there wasn't--but you can't have it both ways. Whining about fraud because and only because your side has lost is disingenuous and whining premptively about fraud in order to justify extraconstitutional activity once your side is in power violates the rule of law.

At the time of the 2000 "hanging chad" fiasco, there was a fair bit of agitating by the media and quite a few Democrats to the effect that every other civilized nation had gone over to computers. Well, we got our computers and as soon as an election went Republican there were no end of accusations. Now, suddenly, the process seems to be "working." Why, pray tell, might that be?

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Richard said...

I read numerous reports of voting machine errors in the days and weeks leading up to the election, where votes for Democrats were being "flipped," as they say, to Republicans. I don't think we would have seen those articles if testing wasn't occurring. I think it's reasonable to assume that this time, they caught the fraudulent activity (or "glitches," you might call them) BEFORE election day, which is why there aren't claims about fraud on election day. Two years ago there wasn't all this rigorous testing before the election.

Which causes me to wonder: why would you expect Democrats to complain about actual electoral fraud if the potential fraud was caught and taken care of before the election?

People who try to use mockery to dismiss this never, ever explain why all the anomalies favored the Republican Party in 2004. Every single one. That's statistically impossible. I think it's crazy to not assume there was wrongdoing when faced with that.

And for the record, I'm a Republican who voted for Rick Santorum, but I don't just care about this because he lost. I cared about this even in 2004 when the Democrats lost.

12:31 AM  
Anonymous Richard said...

I forgot to mention, I'm a fan of Candorville, which often gives me something to think about, especially when I disagree with the conclusions. I think you're reading motivations into the cartoon that aren't actually there. The way it's written, it doesn't say electoral fraud DID occur, it says it COULD occur, whenever the party in charge wants to do it. You can't really argue that that's a false point. When Democrats ran Illinois, they stole the election for Kennedy. When Republicans ran Florida, they stole the election for Bush. Candorville didn't say "Republicans," it said "the party in power."

I read it as a purely cautionary strip that brought up recent examples of things that DID happen, to make a valid point about our broken electoral system (Republicans deciding to ignore the vulnerabilities doesn't mean those vulnerabilities aren't there). It used examples of Republican fraud, but I chalk that up to the dearth of examples on the Democratic side in recent years (which is simply because they're not in charge. If they had been, there'd have been Democratic examples too probably). It didn't rely on massive fraud having been committed by Republicans, but was open to fraud on any scale, by either party. I think you're dead wrong about this strip, but hey, that's just my opinion.

I think the mark of a good work of art is that different people can read entirely different things into it. Much as I disagree with Candorville, I think it's a damn good work of art.

12:41 AM  
Blogger CMinor said...

Hi, Richard,
Well, I guess it was either Santorum or Whatshisname, hey?;-)

Seriously, although I'm not convinced you're being entirely on the level with me re your politics and location, I commend you on your civility.

I wouldn't want you to think I'm giving you the brush-off, but right now I really don't have the time to give your comments full attention. Rest assured I will make every effort to go over them and reply in a day or two. Your patience, and courtesy, are appreciated.

6:24 PM  
Blogger CMinor said...

Hello, Richard,

I have attempted to answer some of your questions, but found my answer was really too long for a combox comment. I have posted it here. Thanks again for your patience.

5:17 PM  

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