Thursday, October 5th, 2006

Jacob Weisberg in Slate has an entertaining, and I think highly accurate take on Bob Woodward. He traces the treatment of Rumsfeld in Woodward’s three books on BushCo. As he points out, Rumsfeld did not change during this time, but Woodward’s descriptions of him changed radically by book 3.

Woodward never acknowledges changing his mind because he regards himself as a straightforward reporting machine, with no opinions of his own and no axes to grind. He can’t say he’s revising his judgments because he claims never to have made any. But, of course, Woodward does have a consistent worldview—the conventional wisdom of any given moment. When tout le Beltway viewed Rummy as a commanding hunk, Woodward embodied the adoration. Now that we all know Rummy is a vicious old bastard, Woodward channels the loathing just as fluidly. I’m not holding my breath, but if the war in Iraq takes a turn for the better, Stud Rummy could well return in Woodward’s Buns of Brass: Bush at War IV.

What’s maddening is the way Woodward reverses his point of view without acknowledging he ever had one—then or now. You could charge him with flattering politicians only when they’re up, and piling on when they’re down. But you might as well accuse a weathervane of changing its mind about which way the wind should blow.

I think this last sentence is an excellent summation of Woodward’s entire career.

It can happen anywhere in the world, regardless of who makes the voting machines. The Register brings us a story of Irish voting machines that can not only be hacked so as to manipulate the result, they can also be hacked so you can play chess on them.

IT professionals in the Netherlands have demonstrated that the type of e-voting machines chosen by the Irish government for election counts can be secretly hacked.

Using documentation obtained from the Irish Department of the Environment, Dutch IT experts from anti e-voting group, “Wij vertrouwen stemcomputers niet” (We don’t trust voting computers), went on the “Een Vandaag” television programme on Wednesday to reveal that NEDAP e-voting machines could be made to record inaccurate voting preferences and even be reprogrammed to run a chess program.

Courtesy of Abu Aardvark, this joke has been around at least 15 years:

An American CIA agent, an Israeli Mossad agent, and an Iraqi Mukhabarat agent are sitting in a bar. They start arguing over who is the best at intelligence, so they decide to have a contest: the first one to come back to the bar with a camel wins. The American rushes out, calls up the King’s office, and says “King, I need a camel – now.” Five minutes later, the King comes huffing and puffing up, delivering the camel personally. “Thanks, your Royalness. You can go back to the casino now.” Grinning a cocky American grin, he saunters back to the bar with his camel… only to find the Israeli sitting in his chair, resting his feet on a camel. “Dang it!” curses the American. “How did you DO that?” Then the two sit back and wait for the Iraqi. Hours pass. Finally, they go out looking for him. They don’t have to go far. He’s in the back alley, torturing a rabbit and screaming “Say you’re a camel! Say you’re a camel!”

Trust me, it used to be funnier.