More about Katherine Harris's refusal Sunday night to certify the Palm Beach count, which came in two hours and eight minutes after the injunction forbidding her from certifying the results of the election expired. (Note that nothing in the Florida Supreme Court decision required her to certify the vote at 5:00.) Here is the actual text of the Florida Supreme Court opinion:
"Because the right to vote is the pre-eminent right in the Declaration of Rights of the Florida Constitution, the circumstances in which the Secretary may exercise her authority to ignore a county's returns filed after the initial statutory date are limited. The Secreary may ignore such returns only if their inclusion will compromise the integrity of the electoral process in either of two ways: (1) by precluding a candidate, elector, or taxpayer from contesting the certification of election pursuant to section 102.168; or (2) by precluding Florida voters from participating fully in the electoral process. In either such case, this drastic penalty must be both reasonable and necessary. But to allow the Secretary to summarily disenfranchise innocent electors in an effort to punish dilatory Board members, as she proposes in the present case, misses the constitutional mark. The constitution precludes punishment by proxy."
One would presume that the Florida Secretary of State is capable of reading English, that a copy of this decision was made available, and that she has the wit to realize that the legal conclusions contained therein might have some bearing of the proper performance of her duties. Therefore one can only conclude that she deliberately chose to come as close to contempt of court as you can get without actually going to jail.
There are various political philosophies that do not consider it important to conduct a fair and accurate count in all elections. Unfortunately these philosophies are all incompatible with swearing an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America. George W. Bush, in attacking the fundamental principles of our democracy, has shown himself unfit for office. I sincerely hope he never takes office as President; Al Gore has the law and the facts on his side, but he's losing the propaganda war.
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I read The Stone War by Madeleine Robins this weekend, and I highly recommend it. It's set in New York City after an inexplicable catastrophe takes place, killing most of the people in the city, causing most of the rest to flee, and cutting those who are left off from the outside world. John Tietjen is a hero who helps rebuild the city, creating a refuge and inspiring those around him by example. He reminds me of a Heinlein hero in his quiet competence, but has more emotional depth than any of Heinlein's heros. For one thing, he has trouble empathizing with other people, a fault seen clearly through the eyes of Barbara McGrath, an older women who comes to love him. And then there's Jit, a sympathetic and terrifying figure, a telepath living ferally in Central Park, who wants peace and security, but who is completely unsocialized. The mystery of what happened is cleared up fairly quickly, but the suspense of whether John and Barbara can create a safe new world in the midst of destruction, the question of how the relationships will play out, and the tragedy of beloved characters dying is enough to make this a gripping book through to the end.
You Can Count On Me is a movie about a family whose parents were killed in a car accident when they were young. The older sister grew up to be the responsible one, the one who nagged all the others and worried about them, while her brother seems rootless, drifting around the country, without a plan or a clear future. When he comes back home for help the two try to sort through the debris of their relationship. In the end, they know each other better, they know they love each other, but there hasn't been any magic healing. This film does a good job of showing ordinary daily life, from run-ins with her control freak boss to casual greetings from friends on the small town sidewalk, and has some very funny scenes, like when she leaves her brother babysitting with instructions to let her son only watch two hours of TV, so he takes the boy to a bar to shoot pool. ("I have a hundred dollars says my nephew and I can beat any man here, but it has to be the next game, because he has to be in bed by ten o'clock.") This is a low-budget film with great acting and a good story, so naturally it received a very limited release. If it's in your area go see it, and help it do enough business to open everywhere.
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