Bits and Ballots

Filed under:Politics — posted by Anwyn on November 7, 2006 @ 4:43 pm

Catching up from a lovely visit from friends, voting, and having a nasty cold, all in the same rainy day. Oregonians vote by mail, which is nice: take all the time I need to fill out my ballot in the comfort of my home, with the voter’s pamphlet and my computer at hand; come to a candidate or measure I don’t know about? Look them right up. If I’m doing this on election day I have to drop the ballot off rather than mail it, but that doesn’t take much away from the convenience. A few election-day tidbits:

1) I do not think judges should be an election matter. Because they’re supposed to be nonpartisan, it is more difficult than with representative candidates to tell what they’re supposedly made of unless you’re a lawyer who has argued before them, a lawyer who has argued with them (as an opposing attorney), or a legalophile (Invented Word Alert) who has paid attention to decisions as they come down from the court of an incumbent judge. And because they’re not supposed to be representatives of the people, but of the law, knowing their record on the law is of paramount importance. If I don’t know, I don’t vote. I did not vote for Oregon Supreme Court justice, nor Court of Appeals judge. I gingerly cast a vote for a Circuit Court judge, but I have my doubts about that too. Speaking of representation, Oregon also had a ballot measure this year to make Supreme Court and Court of Appeals judges run by district, such a bad idea (see also: not supposed to represent the people, but the law) that I was amazed to discover it was dreamed up with the best of intentions. If you want judges who uphold the law rather than make policy, you’ve got to elect the representatives who will appoint such, not try to find a good judge in a geographic district where there may or may not be one.

2) For such a hyped election, I was underwhelmed that I had only one federal race on my ballot: Congressman. I duly cast my vote against the looming specter of “Speaker Nancy Pelosi” and went back to the state stuff. The Republican state representative candidate had a website full of Latin–just the way WordPress test themes look–and it’s pretty much, “Hey, Mr. Candidate, if you can’t even be professional enough to put your information down in the most obvious place–your own campaign website–then I have zip reason to vote for you.” State rep ballot left blank.

3) We’re not voting for or against Bush today, but of course, we are, especially those folks who have more than one federal office on their ballots. I’ve recently been reminded, via Mike Lief, of one stellar litmus test to put to rest the weary bromide about how dumb George W. Bush is:

Now, picture yourself in this [cockpit], at 40,000 feet, traveling at one and a half times the speed of sound. Now imagine that someone has painted the windows white – you are flying on instruments. Now imagine that not only do you have to be able to fly blind, by referencing these instruments, but that you also have to stare into that orange jack-o-lantern of a radar, and interpret a squiggle that will lead you to your target. Now imagine that in addition to not hitting the ground, or your wingman, and watching the squiggle, you also have to turn those switches on the right side panel to activate weapons systems, to overcome enemy countermeasures…without looking outside, as you hurtle through air at -40 degrees F, air so thin that should you lose pressure, you have about 4-6 seconds of consciousness before you black out and die.

I maintain that the instant George W. Bush closed that canopy and took off on the first of his many solo hours in an F-102, it is quite impossible that he was either an idiot or a coward.

Right on. My dad was a pilot; I’ve trained as a private pilot myself, though I don’t have my license. And I’ve ridden with one very dumb student pilot and quite literally thought I would die as he botched his takeoff, from a short runway surrounded by trees, in the inoffensive Cessna 170. The “Bush is dumb” thing is, admittedly, old and largely a non-huntin’ dog; or would be, if–

4) Speaking of dumb, Kerry just can’t help shooting off his shark-like mouth at the worst possible time for his peeps. I mostly, reluctantly, agree with Mr. Lileks that there is some sense in the “I meant Bush” interpretation, mainly because I find it hard to believe anybody savvy enough to get elected as senator could be that stupid and also because it’s always been obvious how much John Kerry hates GeoBush on a personal level, but then, look who else they elect as senators in Massachusetts. Karol collected a pretty convincing counter-argument to Lileks, but here’s the thing: if Kerry weren’t such a malevolent jackass all the way around, maybe it would actually matter which one he meant. It doesn’t. He hurt his own party more than anybody else, and there’s much too much “I meant thisI was misunderstood” going around lately. If you don’t want to be so grievously misunderstood, you should shut your big yap until you have some understanding of the most effective way to make your point.

5) Live in New York? Look out, baby. That thing could gather momentum for ’08.

Update: Speaking of Lileks, he doesn’t vote for judges either.

image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace