November 8th, 2006


Ah, the Senate

Whither Virginia? Whither Lieberman?

Virginia: Assume that Allen goes to a recount. This is different from the tainted elections in Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004, in that Virginia's Secretary of State (well, Secretary of the Commonwealth) is a Democrat, so there won't be the sort of wholesale selective blindness that characterized those previous two election messes under GOP Secretaries of State Harris and Blackwell respectively. That means the recount might be fair. Watch for loud and bitter complaints from Allen and GOP sock puppets about how it's impossible for Katherine Hanley to be fair in managing the recount. Without any sense of irony, either.

Of course, the Rove slime machine will be running in double overdrive, and then some. On the other hand, Virginia seems to have been one of the states with the most egregious GOP voter suppression and fraud operations. So several weeks of recount activity will keep a law enforcement and press focus on that, which, while not directly affecting the recount, will help shape the public narrative.

Lieberman: If both Allen and Burns prevail (VA and MT), this is less of an issue. If the tight races swing Democratic and the Senate goes 49-49 or 50-48 Dems (Lieberman and Sanders are third party senators) I don't think Joe will switch caucuses. He still likes to think of himself as principled, as bizarre as that seems to anyone outside the Lieberverse. His bad blood with Democrats will be a continuing problem, and a personal embarassment for him. Instead of switching caucuses, the pressure to resign and take a prestigious appointment to the cabinet in the name of bipartisanship will be intense. (Defense or State, I should think.) With Jodi Rell the Republican governor of Connecticut, that means a Republican appointee to fill Lieberman's place will be assured, tipping the Senate back to the Republicans. Watch for that final sellout.

Maybe some moderate New England Republican will caucus Democratic (Snow?) but I'm doubtful. If they did, they'd literally be in fear of their lives I should think, given the tendencies of the Republican base these days. When Senator Campbell switched from D to R back in 1995, the Republicans were all about the high minded principles, but if a Republican goes the other way, expect unparalled savagery much along the lines of the recent election rhetoric, and a quick recall campaign. Again, without any sense of irony whatsoever.

On a related note, Chris Matthews last night decried the death of civil discourse in American politics following McCaskill and Webb giving acceptance speeches without a prior concession call from their opponents. Another irony-impaired moment, that. One great lesson of Florida 2000 is that you have to declare victory early and emphatically, without regard to the facts on the ground, in order not to be seen as a sore loser. There was no decision in Florida when Bush declared victory, but all the later narratives in the media portrayed Gore as a sore loser rather than a contestant in an undecided issue, largely due to that initial psychological push.

In that same vein, I think I'll repost an old piece of mine on the 2000 elections, talking about fairness. Maybe it will remind my conservative friends of some differing perspectives. Like the man said, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

My six year old post on the 2000 election

A little trip down memory lane. This one seems strangely apropos this morning, with a tight election and bitter recount fights at our doorstep. The original is here. Another old favorite here, that latter written election night 2000. Money shot from this old essay:

One of the simplest definitions of fairness is to turn the situation around and ask how you would feel. I would ask Republicans to substitute 'Gore' for 'Bush', 'Democratic' for 'Republican' and 'liberal' for 'conservative' in the above chain of events and ask themselves how they would feel. Would you have quietly accepted this outcome in reverse? Would conservatives in general have accepted it?

If you're a conservative or a Republican who's frustrated this morning, ask yourself how you'd feel after being in the minority these past few years, under a single-party system that behaves the way the Bush administration and recent congresses have.

Why Are So Many of Us Still Mad?

This essay is based on an email message sent to a conservative friend on a chat list who felt that liberals were applying a double standard in failing to accept a Bush victory. His position was, in effect, 'Your guy lost, get over it.'

Another friend responded to my message with a detailed list of the sins and offenses of the Clinton administration. This seemed to miss my point. For one thing, for every complaint about Clinton, there are eerily parallel complaints about Reagan. For another, regardless of conservative feelings about Clinton, he was elected twice without significant failures in the electoral process. It is the manner of the election of George W. Bush about which I am angry, not the fact of his election

Being mad about politics is a traditional American sport, one in which I participate with great gusto. My problem is not that Gore lost the election. Bush winning the election does not equate to his "stealing" the election. The problem is there is substantial grounds for reasonable doubt that Bush won the election.

Let me put recent history in simple terms, with a minimum of rhetoric.

  1. On election night, Voter News Service (VNS) calls Florida for Gore. VNS was the election analyst of record for all major news outlets, including Fox News.

  2. VNS later correctly retracts the Gore call due to problems in their analysis process.

  3. Late on Election night, Bush cousin John Ellis of Fox News receives phone calls with both George W. Bush and Jeb Bush. Even though no new statistical evidence has been released by VNS, and no vote count data is available from Florida officials, shortly after speaking to his cousins Ellis makes a call of Florida for Bush. This call is picked up by all major news outlets without further substantiation.Clear conflict of interest as well as apparent collusion.

    • Conveniently for the Bush campaign, the Ellis call creates a strong sense of entitlement ('our guy won, get over it') that later serves as the basis for successful public relations efforts undermining the legitimacy of Democratic appeals in Florida.

  4. John Ellis' boss, who presumably endorsed his call of Florida for Bush, happens to be Roger Ailes. Ailes worked closely with Lee Atwater as a key Republican strategist during the Reagan years and one of Rush Limbaugh's early mentors. Clear conflict of interest.

  5. Florida recount mess starts, supervised by Katherine Harris, Bush's state campaign co-chair. Clear conflict of interest.

  6. Strong rumors emerge that Harris is having an affair with Jeb Bush. CNN actually issues an internal memo specifically forbidding reporters from investigating or citing this rumor. Clear conflict of interest if true.

  7. In Oregon a similar but much less publicized recount fracas takes place, with the situations reversed. Bush campaign lawyers sue to have Harris' Oregon counterpart, Democratic Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, removed from supervision of the recount process on the grounds he is biased due to his role in the state Gore campaign. This assertion directly contradicts the Bush campaign's Florida arguments regarding Harris. Clear case of hypocrisy.

  8. Republicans claim 'votes were counted and recounted' as disputed punch cards had been run through machines at least three times, therefore Democratic requests for hand recounts are irrelevant.

    • A Republican witness in one of the numerous Florida cases, an engineer who designed the punch card counting system and holds key patents, admits in court hand recounts were the originally intended method of settling voting disputes. Clear case of hypocrisy.

    • A Texas law, signed by George W. Bush as governor, states that hand recounts are the preferred method of settling voting disputes. Clear case of hypocrisy.

    • The difference in the vote totals as reported by machine count falls well within the acknowledged margin of error of the counting machines. Clear problem with the claim that machine recounts are sufficient.

  9. Case arrives before the Florida Supreme Court, where Bush campaign officials and the Republican-dominated Florida legislature loudly complain Bush will not get a fair hearing. Florida Republicans immediately begin investigating ways to evade a possible Florida Supreme Court decision unfavorable to Bush. Clear case of hypocrisy.

  10. Case in a slightly different form arrives before the United States Supreme Court which happens to be dominated by conservatives. Democrats do not universally or officially complain of being unable to get a fair hearing. Gore announces he will respect decisions of the United States Supreme Court.

  11. Supreme Court stays Florida Court's order for a recount on grounds that it may cause irreparable harm to Bush. Bizarre legal reasoning that inherently presumes Bush will prevail before the Court, showing clear Supreme Court bias.

    • The Republican party and the current conservative Supreme Court that have fought for years to emphasize state's rights suddenly find it politically convenient to override a state court's authority on very flimsy legal grounds with the initial stay of the count. Clear case of hypocrisy.

  12. Four days later, United States Supreme Court determines that as four days have elapsed there is no time for a recount, and Harris' certification of vote totals stand. It was their own action that stopped the original recount, with no legally mandated deadline actually at hand. Clear case of hypocrisy.

    • Clarence Thomas' wife was employed by the Bush campaign to help screen cabinet appointees. Clear conflict of interest.

    • Antonin Scalia's son was employed by one of the law firms representing the Bush campaign before the Supreme Court. Clear conflict of interest.

    • The other three justices in Bush's five vote court majority are all on the public record as having said they could not leave the court unless Bush were elected as they did not want Gore to appoint liberal or moderate successors. Clear conflict of interest.

One of the simplest definitions of fairness is to turn the situation around and ask how you would feel. I would ask Republicans to substitute 'Gore' for 'Bush', 'Democratic' for 'Republican' and 'liberal' for 'conservative' in the above chain of events and ask themselves how they would feel. Would you have quietly accepted this outcome in reverse? Would conservatives in general have accepted it?

Bush hadn't won the election -- that's not possible to say, because the final Florida count was still unknown at the time the Supreme Court settled matters to its satisfaction. Bush simply got the recount process stopped by five justices, each of whom had a strong personal interest in his victory. Their conflicts of interest are not partisan fantasies, they are matters of public record.

Any politically active conservative could put together a laundry list of Democratic misdeeds in reaction to this timeline. That isn't relevant as this is not the usual 'tit for tat' political animosity. First and foremost, there is no equivalent supposition that the Gore campaign may have used family members, employment ties and ideology to suborn the media, the Florida political process and the United States Supreme Court.

My point is that there is something extremely legitimate about which to be upset. The legitimacy of that upset has been largely ignored or derided by conservatives. Had Bush won an unambiguous victory (and by that I mean an unclouded Electoral College outcome, not the popular vote), I wouldn't be happy about it, but I wouldn't be particularly upset.

In point of fact, with neither a majority nor a plurality of the popular vote, and the narrowest possible majority in the Electoral College thanks to the Supreme Court, Bush is appointing a cabinet that is neither 'compassionate conservative' nor 'uniting instead of dividing.' His Energy Secretary is a man who has twice introduced legislation to abolish that department. His Interior Secretary is a woman who strong espouses individual property rights over public interests to an extreme unusual even by Republican standards. His Attorney General designate is a man so strongly pro-life he once introduced legislation in Missouri to decriminalize violent acts against abortion providers, and believes that legal contraception is a mistake. These are not even mainstream Republican views, let alone mainstream American views.

So having arguably stolen the election, Bush is proceeding to govern from the far right while pretending to unite and heal the country. At least acknowledge our right to be upset.

Combine this political comedy of errors with the absolute refusal of the Republicans to acknowledge any basis for anger or frustration on the part of us "Sore Losermen", and you can see a deep reservoir of anger building.

2007 Convention Appearances (updated)

Here's my semifirm Con schedule for 2007. Note this does not include workshops and writing conferences. I'll post a comprehensive 2007 schedule later.

(With possible appearances at RustyCon and Potlatch.)

Anent WorldCon and Nasfic. I have dropped WorldCon for financial reasons. If I land on the Hugo ballot, I may reconsider, otherwise not. I dropped Nasfic because the hotel problems were so profound.

Things in the mail

Today, a short story royalty statement for <$4.13>. Yesterday, two contracts, one for an as-yet unannounced sale, the other for Madness of Flowers. Also, emails concerning some foreign rights possibilities which will be very cool if they come to fruition, as well as a new sale to Cosmos, short story (from the Ship continuity) "The Dead Man's Child."

Even the business side of this business is cool.

Oh, and back to Stemwinder this evening.

Caption Contest Voting Poll

After a lapse of attention on my part, here's the caption contest voting poll for Collapse )

The usual rules and disclaimers apply. Vote early, vote often!

Poll #863221 Caption Contest Jay Lake and Dad

Which caption best expresses the Weltschauung of this picture?

I am seeing the future. sdn
We're here for the Burl Ives impersonation audition. erdnase2000
As seen here in slide #17, time dilation produced unanticipated side effects in optical expansion and chromatic transformation. funding for additional studies has been requested. klingonguy
Santa says: Don't forget your succession plan this holiday season! deviathan
And now, ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for our very special guests, live from the Pearly Gates, God and His first-born son, Jesus Christ. Welcome to our show, Gentlemen! kradical
If he says nucular one more time, we're gonna give him the wedgie of the century. sartorias
Silent Bob (Jr & Sr) pause for a moment during their busy Q&A session. etcet
You see, this is actually my twin brother but he foolishly allowed a woman to cut his hair! thecrimsony
During the President's news conference, the evil masterminds ponder the effects of their latest invention, the "DISOLVO RAY" on Little Shrub's pants. dinogrl
From the Worlds of Jay Lake Convention: Jay Lakes from Earth 12 (No Hawaii) and Earth 221b (UK Prime Minister is Sherlock Holmes) pose for photograph. jonhansen
Watch for the subtle signs of aging among Lake males: The hair shrinks while the glasses grow. karindira
And on that note, limited edition Silver and Gold edition Lakes on the eve of going platinum. deviathan
October 28, 2030: Jay concludes his all-ages time-travel jaunt to spend some quality time with his future self. carnwrite
Lake Superior meets Lake Oahu. delkytlar

It's only a flip-flop if the other guy does it

WASHINGTON, Nov. 1 — With less than a week before the election, President Bush sought to rally Republican voters on Wednesday with a vigorous defense of the war in Iraq and a vow to keep Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in office until the end of Mr. Bush’s term.

New York Times, "Bush, Trying to Rally Base, Defends Rumsfeld".

If staying the course is your primary virtue, what do you have left when you surrender even that idiotic principle?

The Lieberman Flip

Per my post this morning about the Senate and the possibility of Lieberman flipping to a cabinet position so that the Republican governor of Connecticut can name a replacement while Joe preserves his bipartisan credentials, this Rumsfeld resignation is a very nice set for that. Watch for another set and then a spike to keep the Senate in Republican hands. I suspect they would offer him almost literally anything to make this happen, and it's much cheaper, politically and logistically, than forcing a recount train wreck in Virginia.

ETA: Yes, I'm aware of Gates. That nomination can be a stalking horse while behind-the-scenes deals are being cut, or it can go forward if the deals fail. The White House will play that either way.

Selfish Attention Whore

I was recently told that I am a "selfish attention whore". The followup to that remark was that my relentless self-promotion and abuse of the goodwill of people around me makes it impossible for other, deserving writers to reach notice. (This same person also suggested I might have more success if I behaved differently.)

Now there can be a fine line between promotion (self- or otherwise) and pushiness, and I certainly ride its ragged edge often enough. My persona is a sort of three-decades-later distillation of the class clown. I'm having fun, and most people around me either seem to be having fun, or they move away quietly. Like retsina or manual transmissions, I am not for everyone. So I don't object to the "attention whore" part of it -- the phrasing could have been a little more genteel, but call an entrenching tool and entrenching tool and I'll say, "Yep, that's a spade."

I have some objection to the selfish part. Though I don't have an exact count, between my various editing and publishing activities both solo and with mme_publisher and with David Moles, I'd say I've helped put a couple of dozen new or very early career authors in print. When I was a reviewer, back in the day, I plugged new authors with enthusiasm. I have no notion how many people I've introduced to editors, agents, fellow writers, nor how many Con workshops I've sat in as a pro, weekend retreats I've gone to or facilitated, or people I've spoken to in lectures, presentations and conference sessions. Not to mention odd bits of coaching, mentoring, first reading, blurbing and Ghu knows what else.

All of that I did, do, and will continue to do because it's the only way to thank the people who did every single one of those things for me. In some cases I can name names -- Louise Marley, who took an interest in me back in 1997 when I was a long way from publishing anything, and has become a friend since. Jim Van Pelt, my invisible mentor. Kris Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith, who've poured endless amounts of time into helping me find my way. Irene Radford, Loren Coleman, Dave Truesdale, Gardner Dozois, Ginjer Buchanan, Jerry Oltion, Bruce Holland Rogers, Nina Kiriki Hoffman (who once wrote me a note entitled "The semicolon is your friend"), Alan Beatts and Jude Feldman, Alan M. Clark...the list would be endless if I tried to fill it in.

Like almost all of us, I sit in the middle of a web of relationship, obligation, amity and craft. It's a ladder that reaches back years and forward past the end of my lifetime. Am I more demonstrative than most? Sure. Somebody's got to be, otherwise life would be boring. Am I the worst-dressed? Probably, but most people seem to have no trouble recalling having met me.

None of it matters, except as light entertainment, so long as I'm writing. And for me, writing includes helping other people write, and publish, where and how I can.

Attention whore? Bring it on. I'm the guy with the "grand guignol" buttons after all. Like I've always said, if you don't start rumors about yourself, no one will talk about you.

But selfish? No. I won't cop to that. And for me, one of the truly magical things about being in this field is that there are very few people around me I would ever describe with that word. I can name a dozen, a hundred, acts of selflessness for every act of selfishness I have seen. It's a lot to live up to, but I try. Sometimes I fail, but I keep trying.

Wisdom of the_child

"One thing that I think is interesting. The world always has new experiences. It is like a machine that never stops. I want to be sixteen and keep on living and never die. Then I could see the future. Then I could write books about it, just like you. I have a lot of time, and that's the good part."

Hey, let's be more selfish!

Scalzi made me this cool icon for when I'm being a selfish attention whore. Heh.

Also, I'm really not feeling angst over that last post. (I was when this first came up during WFC, but I got over it.) Rather, I figured taking flak is part of the process of growing as a writer, sadly enough. Since I badly overshare here regarding so much else in my life, badly oversharing my flak seemed to be worth doing, along with my reactions to it.

Y'all are great.

Permanent Growth Attenuation

This story on permanent growth attenuation badly creeps me out. In short, a severely disabled 6-year old girl has received a combination of hormone and surgical treatment to arrest her growth at about that biological age, in order to ease her family's ability to care for her over time.

I have a constellation of reactions to this, which I'll have to consider. Science fictionally speaking, the idea is exciting. In real-world terms, it tempts me to outrage. I am not a medical ethicist, however, and I need to think through my own opinions on parental choice, children's rights and the rights of the disabled. I think if I were not a parent myself I might view this differently as well.

A test case of technology outstripping social mechanisms if ever there was one.

(Thanks to danjite for the tip-off.)


Due to some recent trollishness, I have placed anonymous comments in moderation. I have no objection to snarkiness, disagreement or even outright namecalling (the last if it's done creatively, at least), when signed by the commentor, but unsigned potshots are just an annoying form of moral cowardice. If this proves unwieldy, I may roll back -- I don't want to discourage anyone from commenting.

This does not mean you have to have an LJ account to post here. It just means if you post without an LJ account I'll review the post before letting it be public. If you've signed your post (ie, put your name or other obvious identifier at the bottom), I'll let it be public even if you're being snarky, disagreeing, etc. I'm fine with adversarial discourse, I just don't feel like having trolls. They get into the sugar bowl, and then you have to call the man to come spray for them.

Neighbor Update

As many of you know, readers of this blog have been contributing for a while to help my neighbor out. (If you're not sure what I'm talking about, go here.) She came by Rancho Lake tonight to give me copies of some poetry the younger granddaughter has been writing, which I will read tomorrow. She also expressed her thanks to you guys who've been giving, from all over the world. I don't have a direct comment, because she began stammering and became very self-conscious, but she kept saying what a blessing the gifts have been. Another gift is going next week, and she will be receiving one of the_child's Christmas Wreaths courtesy of a reader here.

I'll also be running a mini charity auction here soon. An artist here in the Northwest is donating a handmade Christmas ornament to be sold to support the Neighbor fund. I'll throw one or two things in as well -- maybe an original drawing of the_child's, or a signed print of one of my recent photos (the doll's head?). If anyone else would like to donate to the auctionlet, please let me know.