Friday, November 19, 2004

Friday, November 17

My friend Margaret makes an impassioned case for a thorough-going investigation of the November elections: "i am becoming convinced that there was widespread fraud or at least such failure in our electoral system," she writes, (Margaret doesn't bother with a capital I for herself,) "that for me puts the results very much in question. i don't think this is wishful thinking or being in denial. It is a very deep gut feeling that all is not right… Most of the halfway legitimate sources that have debunked or dismissed this story have done so based on the modified exit polls which were changed to agree with the results. Nobody knows why, as they are supposed to be predictive and are used for fraud analysis around the world."

"The actual unadulterated exit polls," she continues, "are now becoming available, more just posted on the web today and the major moves in the numbers are said to be far beyond the margin of error expected in the swing states where double the sample size was used. There is a consistent major swing (i think of it as switch) in states without paper trail as opposed to smaller changes in states with paper trail. But 47 out of 52 states show a discrepancy from the exit polls in Bush's direction. It should show discrepancies in both directions. And swing states and paperless trail states should be no different than the others in terms of discrepancies or size of same. Discrepancies of this size are difficult to explain away and nobody is buying the weak offerings. Increasing numbers of statistical experts are speaking out on the odds of these switches happening without something being amiss."

I'm with Margaret, Bush (except that I do claim the capital.) You were far too cocky on election evening, when you called in the press to gloat--yes, Bush, you were gloating-- while Kerry's numbers were still in the ascendancy. You seemed to KNOW what the result would be. Given your special relationship with a higher authority, of course, you might have got your certainty from that source. Even so, the truth is I do NOT trust the likes of Diebold, who made no bones about his loyalties earlier this year; nor do I trust the election procedures or results. A sorry situation for a country that presumes to sell its democracy in supposedly less enlightened countries.

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But I really set out to write something different today. I was struck by a discrepancy in the TV news last night, when BBC World headlined with news of a UN report--nowhere mentioned on the CBS national news nor, that I could find, in this morning's LA Times--that the opium poppy business in Afghanistan grew by two-thirds last year, and now represents 60% of the country's gross national product!

So now, after the "free and democratic" elections that you touted so delightedly during your own campaign, we have come to this?

Do I detect another sad irony here, Bush? We rush in to liberate the country from the evil Taliban, and end up fostering (whether or not by intention) the evil trade that we spend millions fighting back here at home? From the newly liberated Afghan fields to the heroin-addicted back streets of our cities… Was this what you had in mind? I'm sure not.

And here I confess to a certain ambivalence. In the wake of 9/11, I did support your invasion of Afghanistan. I saw no other option than to attack the killers where they lived and trained. (Though I also thought, at the time, that we should go in there with weapons other than those that kill: with education, medical care, compassion, understanding, a respect for cultural traditions…) And I watched with approval as our armed forces seemed to sweep aside the terrorists and their Taliban patrons.

But then… I woke this morning with the problem of the rats in my house. Not that I wish to compare human beings to rats--except in that we are all living beings on this planet. But I have been setting traps. I have killed three of them this week, because they invaded my house, chewed on whatever food they could find, and left their turds for me and my wife to clean up. So I set traps and killed them. Some of them. Others will return. I still have not resolved my problem, and I have their deaths, however small, to carry with me to my own grave and--if Buddhist philosophy is correct--into the next life.

So when I look at you, Bush, I look in the mirror and see myself. We are both killers--though I on a slightly small scale than you. We are both cleaning house of our invaders. We both accept killing as an appropriate means to solve our problems. And I have to tell you, I do not feel good. I don't feel good about either one of us at the moment, Bush. I do not.

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