Monday, June 14, 2004

Late Report

(or very early report, depending on how you look at it.)

Co-opting the Gipper may meet with some resistance.

Turns out the Gipper's family finds the Bush regime distasteful.

The Reagans and Bushes, who have had famously strained relations throughout the years, may be an exception, as Nancy Reagan and her children guard Ronald Reagan's legacy, fending off efforts by both the right and left to trade on it for political gain.

"I think Nancy would not want that," said Barbara Kellerman, a Harvard expert on leadership who has written a book on first families. "She is not mad about the Bush family, and the last thing she intends is for W. to inherit her beloved and sanctified husband's mantle."

Ron Reagan, a television commentator who has frequently been critical of Mr. Bush, has already said as much. In 2000, he fired a shot at Mr. Bush in Philadelphia during the Republican convention, which featured a tribute to his father. "What's his accomplishment?" Mr. Reagan asked then. "That he's no longer an obnoxious drunk?"

Last year, in an interview with the online magazine Salon, Mr. Reagan renewed his critique, making clear his distaste for the Bush administration.

"The Bush people have no right to speak for my father, particularly because of the position he's in now," Mr. Reagan said then. "Yes, some of the current policies are an extension of the 80's. But the overall thrust of this administration is not my father's - these people are overly reaching, overly aggressive, overly secretive and just plain corrupt. I don't trust these people."

Neither do we, Ron. Neither do we. (More at link.)

Krugman. Must Read.

Choice bits:

No question: John Ashcroft is the worst attorney general in history.

For this column, let's just focus on Mr. Ashcroft's role in the fight against terror. Before 9/11 he was aggressively uninterested in the terrorist threat. He didn't even mention counterterrorism in a May 2001 memo outlining strategic priorities for the Justice Department. When the 9/11 commission asked him why, he responded by blaming the Clinton administration, with a personal attack on one of the commission members thrown in for good measure.


Then there is the lack of any major captures. Somewhere, the anthrax terrorist is laughing. But the Justice Department, you'll be happy to know, is trying to determine whether it can file bioterrorism charges against a Buffalo art professor whose work includes harmless bacteria in petri dishes.

Perhaps most telling is the way Mr. Ashcroft responds to criticism of his performance. His first move is always to withhold the evidence. Then he tries to change the subject by making a dramatic announcement of a terrorist threat.


For an example of changing the subject, consider the origins of the Jose Padilla case. There was no publicity when Mr. Padilla was arrested in May 2002. But on June 6, 2002, Coleen Rowley gave devastating Congressional testimony about failures at the F.B.I. (which reports to Mr. Ashcroft) before 9/11. Four days later, Mr. Ashcroft held a dramatic press conference and announced that Mr. Padilla was involved in a terrifying plot. Instead of featuring Ms. Rowley, news magazine covers ended up featuring the "dirty bomber" who Mr. Ashcroft said was plotting to kill thousands with deadly radiation.

Since then Mr. Padilla has been held as an "enemy combatant" with no legal rights. But Newsweek reports that "administration officials now concede that the principal claim they have been making about Padilla ever since his detention — that he was dispatched to the United States for the specific purpose of setting off a radiological "dirty bomb" — has turned out to be wrong and most likely can never be used in court."

Read the whole thing.

I still maintain that the FBI knows precisely who the anthrax mailer is, but they can't arrest him until his Bush/Cheney bumpersticker completely weathers off his car.

Finally... League Sees the Light

League of Women Voters drops paperless vote support

(Link requires you to be a subscriber, or to watch a commercial to access content.)

The League of Women Voters rescinded its support of paperless voting machines on Monday after hundreds of angry members voiced concern that paper ballots were the only way to safeguard elections from fraud, hackers or computer malfunctions.

About 800 delegates who attended the nonpartisan league's biennial convention in Washington voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution that supports "voting systems and procedures that are secure, accurate, recountable and accessible."

That relatively neutral stance was a sharp change from last year, when league leaders endorsed paperless terminals as reliable alternatives to antiquated punch card and lever systems. About 30 percent of the electorate will use touchscreen voting machines in the November election, and hardly any of the machines provide paper records that could be used in case of a contested election.

Last year's endorsement infuriated members from chapters around the country -- particularly in Silicon Valley and other technology-savvy enclaves, where computer scientists say the systems jeopardize elections. Legitimate recounts are impossible without paper records of every vote cast, they say.


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