woensdag, september 22, 2004

Coup odds

In another example of the brazen fascist tendencies of the current US administration - and I don't abide the promiscuous use of the term 'fascist' (unlike a certain turncoat English journalist that lives in Washington D.C. and whose last name sort of rhymes with bitchin') - the Pentagon is restricting international access to the Federal Voting Assistance Program [sic] website - the U.S. agency that helps Americans who live overseas register to vote.

The International Herald Tribune is reporting that attempts to log on to the site are blocked if they originate from one of several foreign ISPs. The Pentagon has confirmed that it is blocking traffic from these ISPs, but won't say why.

According to Salon, covering the same story, one unnamed Defense [sic] Department official believes that this is entirely due to the fact that overseas voters as a group are considerably more progressive than the U.S. population, with 'one recent Zogby survey, for example, show[ing] that voters with passports supported Kerry over Bush by a margin of 55 to 33 per cent.' (Although, according to the CBC, of the 400,000 to 600,000 Americans living in Canada, a large proportion live in the kinda-like-Mississippi-but-colder province of Alberta, so that sort of skews things a bit more in Bush's favour north of the 49th)

'"This is a completely partisan thing," [the] Defense Department voting official told Salon.

'"There is no way in hell that this is not a deliberate partisan attempt to systematically disenfranchise a large Democratic voting bloc," the official said.'

Now, this comes on top of news in August that the Pentagon had cancelled plans for internet voting for the half a million U.S. troops stationed abroad. Could that possibly have been because as far back as autumn 2003, reports were trickling in that sizeable numbers of troops in Iraq were turning Democratic? This week, the Christian Science Monitor reported on the vocally anti-Bush soldiers in Najaf:

'"[For] 9 out of 10 of the people I talk to, it wouldn't matter who ran against Bush - they'd vote for them," said a US soldier in the southern city of Najaf, seeking out a reporter to make his views known. "People are so fed up with Iraq, and fed up with Bush."'

And today, Reuters reported that

'Millions of U.S. citizens, including a disproportionate number of black voters, will be blocked from voting in the Nov. 2 presidential election because of legal barriers, faulty procedures or dirty tricks, according to civil rights and legal experts.

'The largest category of those legally disenfranchised consists of almost five million former felons who have served prison sentences and been deprived of the right to vote under laws that have roots in the post-Civil War nineteenth century and were aimed at preventing black Americans from voting.

'But millions of other votes in the 2000 presidential election were lost due to clerical and administrative errors while civil rights organizations have cataloged numerous tactics aimed at suppressing black voter turnout.'

And then, back in July, Newsweek reported that U.S. counterterrorism officials, 'citing what they call[ed] "alarming" intelligence about a possible Qaeda strike inside the United States this fall, review[ed] a proposal that could allow for the postponement of the November presidential election in the event of such an attack.' The review followed a request by the head of the Department of Fatherland Security, (and issuer of Mumia Abu Jamal's death warrant) Tom Ridge, of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel that they analyse what legal steps would be needed to permit the postponement of the election.

I tell you, if, come the third of November, we see tanks in the streets of U.S. cities and a suspension of their Constitution, I will just calmly walk down to the bookies and collect my winnings.

I mean, what are the odds on a military coup in the U.S.? They've got to be pretty good, eh? I've never gambled in my life - not for any moral reason, I just think it's stoopid - so I'm not totally familiar with how this whole betting thing works, but I reckon I could get a tidy little dividend from wagering, say, that there will be a coup before the end of the year.

I don't think I'd get rich from the bet, mind - it's not like I'm betting the Beatles are going to get back together before Christmas or anything.