July 21, 2010

Don Quixote and the electronic voting machines

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , — Bob Patterson @ 2:11 pm

The New York Time’s recent obituary for Rev. William R. Callahan stated that the death had been announced by the Quixote Center. That was the first this columnist had ever heard of that group and we wondered if, in this age of ubiquitous awards ceremonies, they hand out kudos and statuettes annually to people who attempt the impossible. Everyone knows that if God intended for man to fly He would have given homo sapiens wings, but that doesn’t mean that those crazy Wright Brothers don’t deserve an award for trying.

A recent online article by Allison Kilkenny informed readers about a study that concluded that partisan citizens are not prone to being converted by facts, so it becomes obvious that the “preaching to the choir” aspect of political commentary carries with it a meager payoff and that is about all those with a liberal point of view can expect for their efforts.

Those two bits of news added together make it extremely poignant for a fellow who learned that any contributed content (to a certain other liberal web site) concerning the possibility that the Republicans would use the electronic voting machines without a paper trail to rig elections in favor of their own candidates earned him a chance to be (as they say in drinker’s terminology) 86’ed off the site. The very idea was denounced as being a conspiracy theory indicating the writer had lapsed into lunacy. Whatever. The bottom line is that only one of two conclusions can be reached. So what binary choice does that indicate?

Well, if the columnist turns out to have been correct in his assessment of the situation, after the ambush is unleashed and (as a hypothetical example) a Republican, backed by a Republican majority house and Senate, is sworn in as President in January of 2013, then the inauguration will provide the writer with a pyrrhic victory that is filled with a bitter taste and an opportunity to produce eight more years of (Jeb) Bush-bashing columns.

Conversely, if this year’s fall elections and the Presidential election in 2012 turn out to be overwhelming mandates for Obama and the Democrats to “continue doing what you’re doing,” then the ostracism of the “rigged elections” point of view will have been a bit of digital streamlining that – while seeming to be a contradiction in the “free exchange of concepts and ideas” policy espoused by the non-ditto-head faction – will turn out to have been (in retrospect) an example of editing efficiency.

This columnist knows positively that he has been wrong before (Native Dancer had a lock on the Kentucky Derby’s winner circle until Dark Star blew past in the stretch) and so we’ll try to turn our attention to more mundane matters while we await the mid term mandate for Obama to appear via the election night stats on the TV screens across America.
One of the liberal radio personalities (Tom Hartman?) pointed out that the conservatives are saying that President Obama is taking too many vacation days. When Bush was President the liberals said the same thing. At this point in the presidency, Bush had taken 96 vacation days and Obama has taken 36. Good thing facts can’t be used to dissuade fanatical Republicans, eh?

What compassionate conservative Christian wouldn’t be enthusiastic about ending unemployment benefits for his neighbors as a way of paying for a war that is killing dozens of infidels? Actually in a country full of homeless people and empty homes that have been foreclosed, a policy of guns not butter makes complete sense.

President Obama has encouraged folks to visit the Gulf region where it is allegedly a case of business as usual. Trouble is, if we do that and accidentally wind up too close to an oil boom, we can not afford the $40,000 fine for blogging without BP’s permission, so our financially motivated response is: “We’ll take your word for it, Mr. President.”

Back in the Vietnam War era, wasn’t it an in thing for celebrities to get arrested in anti-war demonstrations? If Hunter S. Thompson were still alive wouldn’t he go down to the oil spill and get arrested for reporting just to make a point? Why can’t Brian Williams be Hunter’s proxy?

Can’t you just picture Bob Schieffer being hauled off in handcuffs? Then wouldn’t his brother, Tom Schieffer, call his friend and former business partner George W. Bush and put the fixeroo on that situation?

Speaking of folks going to jail, it would make a good column if we could find out if Paris Hilton will visit Lindsey Lohan while she is incarcerated. Ms. Hilton has been maintaining a low profile since her well publicized “house arrest” stint. We thought she was going to become an activist publicizing the plight of people with claustrophobia who are forced to serve a time in a jail cell.

Don Quixote spent a lot of time tilting at windmills. Hans Brinker saved the day for the country of windmills. When it comes time to write a column that a topic that the writer thinks is extremely important, how can he know if it will be a “saved the day” effort of just another variation of the Sisyphus assignment?

This columnist has tried to convince folks that the electronic voting machines can and are being used by the Republicans to micromanage the election results, but very few people will listen and fewer can be convinced that it is happening. (Picture Kevin McCarthy yelling: “They’re here!”) Unfortunately, it turns out that the Quixote Center doesn’t seem to hand out awards for exorcises in futility.

The Quixote Center describes itself online by saying this: “a band of ‘impossible dreamers’ who joined together in 1976. We are a multi-issue, grassroots social justice organization with roots in the Catholic social justice tradition. Independent of church and government structures, the Center operates with an understanding that an educated and engaged citizenry is essential to making social change. For over 30 years, the Quixote Center has gathered together people of faith and conscience to organize highly effective campaigns for systemic change.

We draw inspiration from the satiric idealism and gentle madness of Cervantes’ dauntless Don Quixote. We trace our roots to the Gospel and the Catholic social justice tradition; but today, we gather people of faith and conscience from many diverse traditions to share our common quest for justice and peace. We work on issues of justice with people who have few other resources. By laughing a bit in the midst of struggle, we gain strength and heart to sustain our efforts for a more just and peaceful world.”

Since this columnist is a duly ordained minister; by the powers granted to me by the state of California, I hereby declare that the attempt to achieve the impossible will henceforth be yclept “the Brinker-Quixote Syndrome.”

If the New York Times does a feature story on the Quixote Center, we’ll always wonder: Did their obit inspire the follow-up, or did this column?

What does that leave to use as a column topic?

Would it take much time (and get many hits?) to bang out a column about: Comic-con 2010, The Hemingway Days Look-alike contest at Sloppy Joe’s, or Netroots Nation?

Maybe we could go and cover the annual Oskosh Air Show and on the way back stop and see the Seventhieth Annual Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis?

Are you aware that there is a Hokonui Moonshine Museum in Gore, New Zeland?

Maybe we’ll just stay home and see if we can catch Rush Limaugh in a rare bit of extreme exaggeration or his first flat out fib?

Wait! This just in! It’s about time for this year’s winners of the Emperor Norton Awards to be announced. The award is given for “extraordinary invention and creativity unhindered by the constraints of paltry reason,” in memory of Joshua Norton I, Emperor of the United States of America and Protector of Mexico. Heck no conspiracy theories there, eh?

Yogi Berra has (supposedly) said: “You can’t think and hit at the same time.” The same principle, during the electronic voting machine era, also applies for watching election eve voting results.

Now the disk jockey will play the “Man of La Mancha” soundtrack album, “When You Wish Upon a Star” and Jerry Reed’s “Eastbound and Down.” We gotta go check out why our name fell off the voter registration rolls and we had to cast a “provisional” ballot for the recall election when Arnold Schwarzenegger suddenly replaced the Democratic governor of California. On second thought, why bother? It will only sound like a conspiracy theory. Have a Barron Munchausen type week.

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