Here’s another one I didn’t make up. Not kidding. This is true.

You are Walden W. O’Dell, a business executive. You make scads of money, so, of course, you support George W. Bush, because never has any president of any country ever produced so much money for the rich and asked so little in return as George W. Bush has, with his tax cuts, deregulation, and pro-industry policies.

So, if you’re Walden, you actually help raise money for George W., knowing that the hard work involved in a small price to pay for ensuring that Medicare is emasculated.

Mr. O’Dell is one of the “Rangers and Pioneers”, which is Boy Scout First Class, if you’re not already a Bush acolyte. That means, he not only gives lots of money, but he twists other peoples’ arms.

And Mr. O’Dell is president of Diebold. If you are a state government looking for state of the art voting machines– well, you’d probably look elsewhere. But most state governments are pretty stupid, so a lot of them bought Diebold voting machines. In fact, 8 million of the next votes for president will be counted on Diebold machines– that’s about 8% of the total presidential vote. Thank about that. How many of those votes would it have taken to alter the outcome of the 2000 presidential election?

If you were a Democratic candidate you might be forgiven for wondering to yourself— what the hell is going on here? How can the owner of the system that counts our votes also be a die-hard Republican fund-raiser? Wouldn’t it be more “seemly”, at least, if the owners and makers of these devices were a little non-partisan?

Not in this crazy world.

You don’t get too upset. You think, well, somebody’s obviously going to check these devices fairly regularly to make sure that there is nothing suspicious going on, right? There is a way, right, to take a random sample of voters and check to see that their actual votes matched up with the stored results?

Wrong. The only people allowed to check these devices are employees of the Diebold company. And they can’t check to see if the results match up because there is no paper record of the actual vote. Only the electronic record, which might or might not be accurate.

You should find that almost impossible to believe. I do. It sounds like a joke so bad, you don’t even pass it on to anybody. Parody is funniest when it is almost believable. The scene of a suspicious Democratic candidate checking into the results and finding out that Mr. O’Dell was not available for comment because he was busy attending a George W. Bush fundraiser… it’s too crazy.

A judge in Boca Raton, Florida, ruled that Diebold’s proprietary interest in its “trade secrets” (as if there was some work of genius in these relatively dumb machines) are more important than the voter’s right to know whether or not his vote has actually been counted correctly. You think a few hanging chads might have gone the wrong way? At least, we had ways of checking into those hanging chads. 50,000 votes on a Diebold machine could be switched to a different candidate and no-one would ever know.

At our last election in Ontario, Canada, a bunch of volunteers, including representatives from all of the political parties, sat in a gym waiting for my vote. I filled in the paper ballot in pencil and dropped it into the box. No machines. No computers. No software. No punch cards. No hanging chads. Couldn’t be simpler.

The results were known by midnight.

And couldn’t be less likely to result in the election of a George W. Bush.


After a Bolivian drug lord, Alejandro Sosa, has Tony (Scarface) associate beaten and then hanged by the neck from a helicopter, he asks Scarface how he can know whether or not to trust him. Scarface tells him, in colorful language, that he never did anything dishonest in his life. The Bolivian drug lord replies, “I think you are speaking from the heart.”

Seriously?  Who, exactly, does this drivel appeal to?  I know it does appeal to a certain class of people who see Scarface as some kind of hero because he has so much contempt for the audience in the theatre watching the movie who disapprove of him.

I can’t go on: it’s too dreary.  It’s Al Pacino slumming through this big budget extravaganza having lost sight of the meaning and purpose of the craft of acting.

Tony Montana
Gina, his sister
Manolo, his loyal lieutenant
Elvira, Michelle Pfeiffer
Richard Belzer is comedian at Babylon Club

Incredibly, a journalist who is fingering the drug cartel, travels without body guards, and parks his own car late at night in New York, on the street.  Sure.