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Saturday, November 11, 2000

I'm not sure how septic systems work, but I've noticed that when my toilet is stopped up, the kitchen sink drain runs slow. If I think about it too long, I get a queasy feeling. I don't use tap water for drinking or cooking, because I pay for bottled water to be delivered, but I wash dishes in that sink. When, you know, I get around to washing dishes at all.

And then there's the laundry. Sometimes I wonder if when I flush the toilet it doesn't go directly into the washing machine. As I said, I don't know how it works. Maybe I can get a plumbing schematic from my landlord.

I almost got through the day without turning on the news channels. Almost. But I just had to know what was happening in Florida, and what people were saying about it. I've been determined not to keep rattling on about this, but I still have a few stray thoughts that I can't seem to keep to myself.

It seems for the most part today that the rhetoric has been toned down, but also that positions have hardened. The Democrats want to be sure all the votes are counted, no matter how long it takes. The Republicans insist that the votes have gone through an initial count and a recount, and enough is enough.

No one is willing to say when they think it will all end. It's to the Democrats' advantage to keep counting, because they keep getting closer to a plurality. It's to the Republicans' advantage to quit while they're ahead.

I can see a point where all the ballots have been counted to the satisfaction of a majority of us, and we have a tally we can live with. I don't see any reason to rush it. If it means all the ballots have to be handled by a committee with representatives of all the interested parties, so be it. If it takes a week or so, that still gives us more than enough time to get ready to change administrations. If other states feel the need to count again, let them have at it.

The ballots cast on election day should be the focus. A re-vote, as suggested by many, would open the door to chaos from coast to coast, as other voters, confused by the way their ballots were set up, come forward with complaints. Most people in Palm Beach County managed to find the right hole to punch. Unless there was fraud or intimidation, that should be the end of it.

Any other irregularities should be handled as a separate matter. The ballot should be clearer next time. Maybe we need to look at how polling places are run, and have impartial observers there to make sure nothing interferes with the process. All this can be discussed and addressed at length between now and the next national election.

Okay, just one more thing. The electoral college itself meets (in the sense that its members meet in the state capitals) on December 18. If Florida, or any other state, can't decide by then which electors to certify, the voting will go on without them. There's no deadline that matters before then, and it gives us more than a month to sort this all out.

Neither candidate needs to jump the gun, either by conceding prematurely or by expecting a transition team to be recognized. They're free to do and say whatever they want, just like the rest of the citizens of this country. But the process is the process, independent of the whims and desires of Mr. Bush and Mr. Gore.

And on the third hand, anyone who wants to be president under the cloud of confusion and contention that a disputed result will bring, probably deserves the job for the next four years. Good luck, chump. Your days are already numbered, and they haven't even started yet.

Mom went on a bus trip to San Jose today to see Singin' in the Rain on stage. I share her love of the movie, and in fact it was one of the films we studied in my film history class. Since Gene Kelly wasn't in the stage version, I had no special desire to sit on a bus for three or four hours on a Saturday to see how they'd turned it into a musical play. I was willing to rely on Mom's accounts of the experience.

I was supposed to pick her up from the bus stop tonight, since she doesn't drive at night, but she got a ride from someone. She liked the play, and said it was done scene-for-scene like the movie. It must have been performed well, too, because she was raving about it. She's not one to mince words when something like that doesn't entertain her.

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Latest recommendation:

Read John Scalzi's November 10 Whatever. Just a suggestion, but it makes sense. And that's kind of rare in these days when rhetoric so often overwhelms reason. (All I would add is that nothing should be done until all the votes are counted.)

Other recent recommendations can be found on the links page.
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