Monday, September 15, 2003

Dodging the raindrops

Back from nine days in North Carolina, eight of them on the coast, where we experienced perhaps 4 hours of sun ... until it was time to head for the airport yesterday, of course. But as my friend Roger Waldon said, there's no such thing as a crappy day on the beach. I saw the Carolina Tar Heels lose a 49-47 triple-overtime football game to Syracuse; played cards with my Chapel Hill poker buds (and my second college roommate); frolicked in the surf for 90 minutes; ate shrimp burgers and oyster burgers; and enjoyed the absence of Internet access and 24-hour cable news. More sunshine would have improved the trip. It was nice to return to the desert.

BTW, the link to my column on The Substance of Style, published while we were on the East Coast, is here.

While you were out

Warren Zevon, Johnny Cash and John Ritter died. John Edwards may have guaranteed an additional Senate seat for the GOP, though the jobless recovery has taken a psychological toll on my home state. The collapse of manufacturing jobs is being felt in more than the old-line industries such as textiles and furniture; it also appears to be hurting the high-tech industry there, which hasn't bounced back from the dot-com crash (and is no doubt hurting from the failure of the administration to further liberalize trade). If Richard Burr does not win that Senate seat, George Bush is in trouble, and you can blame that on Bush's economic, fiscal and trade policies, which have not restored economic growth to North Carolina and other states in the New South.

Making the Nevada Supremes proud

That was my initial reaction to the news that a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit delayed the California recall. Much like their colleagues in Carson City, the 9th Circuit judges set aside a provision of the state constitution for trivial reasons, ruling that the terms of a consent decree overrules the clear language and intent of the constitution. Lots of other folks have weighed in here, including Mickey Kaus, Glenn Reynolds and Eugene Volokh, among others.

What makes this decision so perplexing is the blithe confidence its proponents have expressed that the initial shift from punchcard to touch-screen devices will reduce voting error. It's a ludicrous assumption. Despite the demurrals offered by the 9th, if the decision stands, the upshot of this ruling is that any election in which voters do not have access to the most recent, most expensive state-of-the-art voting technology will be easy prey for litigators. I find the ACLU's sense of triumph here mind-boggling.

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