THE OTHER SHOE DROPS: Updates To Previous Posts
† What Al Gore Hath Wrought (second item): Seven months after Election Day and millions of dollars in recount-related expenditures later, MN Senate opponents Norm Coleman (R) and Al Franken (D) will now each get to press his case before the state’s Supreme Court, reports The Associated Press:
Coleman, a Republican who had been the incumbent, trails by 312 votes. He wants justices to instruct a trial court to open 4,400 rejected absentee ballots. Franken, potentially a critical 60th Senate vote for Democrats, hopes the court sweeps aside the appeal and demands that he get the election certificate required to take office.
There's no telling how fast Minnesota's highest court will act. And if Coleman loses, he could file a federal lawsuit or petition the U.S. Supreme Court, which isn't certain to take the case.
What is certain is that the pivotal seat will come at a handsome price: The combined $50 million Coleman and Franken have spent so far chasing victory is more than double what it cost candidates in 2002 when Coleman captured what had been a Democratic seat. …
Steve Lombardo, a Republican strategist and pollster in Washington, said there is little doubt Coleman will try to take his case forward if the next ruling goes against him.
"This is a worthwhile endeavor and while the chances are less than 50-50 probably, there's no reason not to see it all the way to the finish," Lombardo said, adding, "This has become a firewall."
The firewall that we really need is between the voting booth and the courts to prevent post-election second-guessing and lawsuits regarding voter intent when votes are cast improperly or ballots are illegible. Each election district in each state should devise and adhere to uniform standards on how to handle illegal or “iffy” votes - with the rules weighted on the side of not counting them to avoid endless legal challenges that cost candidates and states money, and deprive citizens of the representation to which they are entitled.
† Well-Chosen Words: Part XI (third item): Will “Bing” bring Bill Gates even more billions in bling? It depends on whether the name Microsoft settled on for its new search tool becomes a verb, and is not associated with the nickname of a crooner that most computer users are likely too young to remember. The New York Times (whose reporter apparently never heard of Bing Crosby – you’ll see why in a minute) reports:
“Why don’t you Bing it?”
A year from now, if you hear someone say that - and actually understand what it means - Bill Gates will be a happy billionaire. …
Bing, the name Microsoft gave to the new search service it unveiled Thursday, is its answer to Google - a noun that once meant little but has become part of the language as a verb that is a synonym for executing a Web search. After months of, uh, searching, Microsoft settled on Bing to replace the all-too-forgettable Live Search, which itself replaced MSN Search.
Microsoft invested billions of dollars in those services and failed to slow Google’s rise, so a new name certainly can’t hurt.
Microsoft’s marketing gurus hope that Bing will evoke neither a type of cherry nor a strip club on “The Sopranos” but rather a sound - the ringing of a bell that signals the “aha” moment when a search leads to an answer. …
Meanwhile, some tech people were already noting that Bing is also an unfortunate acronym: “But It’s Not Google.”
Editorial Note: Before “Bada bing bada boom” came to be the name of a fictional strip joint, it was an Italian expression common in NYC’s outer boroughs meaning “easy as 1, 2, 3” or “piece of cake.” So if Bing can hold its own with Google, users might think: “Bada bing bada boom, I found exactly what I was looking for.” Conversely, users could free-associate Bing with “bing bam boom,” as in: “I got screwed when I tried to do a search with Bing.” Oh well, at least M’Soft didn’t call it “Bong.”
† Iraq Was Supposed To Become Like The USA - But The Reverse Has Happened: Part II: Such American fads as heavy metal and tats are influencing Iraq’s twentysomethings – much to the dismay of their conservative parents, who lament the "contamination" of a civilization that stretches back to antiquity, reports The Washington Post:
From tattoos of Metallica to bellybutton piercings, from posters for a rap concert in Baghdad to stories parents tell their naughty children in Fallujah of the Americans coming to get them, the occupation has already left its mark. …
Iraq remains a proud country, its people bridling at what they see as the condescension inherent in the United States' modern-day equivalent of a civilizing mission. History, thousands of years of it, forms the refrain of any conversation: Mesopotamia gave birth to civilization, and at its medieval zenith, as Europe slumbered, Baghdad was a city of racetracks, law schools, museums, libraries, hospitals, zoos and insane asylums. …
"What are they leaving behind?" asked Mohammed Chayan, a 45-year-old painter sitting with friends at the Madarat Cafe and Gallery, near a wall of concrete barriers.
"There's never really been interaction with society," he said. "When they came to visit, it wasn't artists who showed up. It was soldiers coming down from their tanks." …
Abu Naji was the nickname Iraqis gave their British occupiers. There remains no equivalent for the Americans, but a slew of words describe those who imitate them. The older term for someone becoming more American than Americans was mitamrik, or Americanized. More conservative types here call such people khanazeer or quruud, "pigs" or "monkeys." One student at the Academy of Fine Arts coined another name.
"Am-raqis," she said.
The students agreed there has been an infitah, or opening -- the word many use for the plethora of influences that followed the occupation, imported through the Internet and satellite television, each banned to varying degrees under Hussein. But many of them echoed the question heard at the Madarat Gallery: What has freedom brought?
"You can say what you want to say, and you don't care what anyone else thinks," said Raed Ibrahim, a 23-year-old painter at the academy. "That's my freedom. Anyone can grasp it."
Shahid Shaker, a 21-year-old sculptor, looked at the ground, then spoke up. "Don't exaggerate," she told him softly. "Yes, the occupation brought freedom. But it destroyed culture, too. We're being educated in a culture of violence."
"Sometimes," she added, "there is too much freedom."
Shaker should be old enough to remember when a young woman had the freedom to choose between being raped in front of her family by Saddam’s depraved son Uday (or was that Qusay?; The Stiletto could never tell the two demon seeds apart) or resisting, and seeing her father fed into a wood chipper (second item) before she and her mother were raped and killed.
† Updates To Previous Posts (sixth item, What It's Like To Be Sheriff Joe): Attorneys representing “controversial” (except in his home state of AZ, where he is lionized) Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio are accusing officials in the Justice and Homeland Security departments of political payback for launching three federal investigations into whether his highly effective tough-on-crime policies to apprehend forged documented aliens, reports The Washington Post:
Robert N. Driscoll, a District-based lawyer for Maricopa County who served as a civil rights official at the Justice Department early in the George W. Bush era, said he was seeking "assurances that political rivalries and score settling played no role in the investigations."
In his letter, Driscoll said that a civil rights probe of the Arpaio operation began in early March, weeks after four influential Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee called for an investigation into alleged discrimination and possible constitutional violations in arrests and in police searches and seizures. …
Driscoll wrote in his letter, referring to the sheriff's office, "When one law enforcement agency becomes subject to three federal investigations in a matter of weeks immediately after a shift of political control in Washington, it is difficult not to speculate that politics played a role in the decision or that policy differences related to hot-button topics such as local law enforcement's vigorous enforcement of immigration related crimes are being litigated through enforcement actions."
He asked that investigators working on the case be reminded that no conclusions have been reached about legal violations by Arpaio and the sheriff's office and that politics should play no role in their decisions.
† Updates To Previous Posts (last item, 10 Reasons Michelle Obama Should Be Proud – Really Proud – Of America): This latest installment in The Stiletto Blog’s ongoing series meant to help instill the necessary pride of country in Michelle Obama’s consciousness to enable her to serve as an unofficial ambassador focuses on Drew Schaffer, who served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan before entering the University of Connecticut School of Law. But his plans don’t just stop at getting his J.D., reports The Connecticut Law Tribune:
The 26-year-old former Army Ranger last year applied to law school from a war zone in Afghanistan - studying for the Law School Admission Test between combat patrols and taking the test at a military base subject to Taliban artillery fire. Now Schaffer hopes to aid servicemen and women overseas who face similar challenges in gaining admission to law school.
Borrowing an acronym from the pre-law standardized test, this spring Schaffer formed Law Students Assisting Troops. Starting next fall, Schaffer hopes the group will counsel military personnel on the unique challenges of applying to law school while serving. That includes helping them locate overseas institutions offering the LSAT, finding time to prep for the exam and navigating the computer-driven law school admissions process.
"We will just be an advocate for them - and a resource," Schaffer said. "We will point them in the right direction, let them know of the requirements and get them started on their quest." …
For counsel in organizing the group, Schaffer turned to UConn law professor Mark Janis, who advises the law school's Military Law Society. Janis notes that soldiers like Schaffer, who are determined to gain admission to law school, will often find a way. But he hopes the group can benefit qualified servicemen and women who may not have considered careers in law.
"There are all sorts of people in the military who come from families where people have never gone to law school before," said Janis, who served in the U.S. Navy before attending law school at Harvard. "These kinds of things can really build awareness and tell people these things are possible."