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Saturday, December 9, 2000

What a glorious day we had in Northern California yesterday. Sunshine! It was hazy early in the day, but by afternoon we saw brilliant blue skies. I managed to sneak outside before four o'clock, and I worked in the garden until almost five, pulling weeds and trimming back the overgrowth. It eventually did get cold, not to mention dark, but I had to feel good about the fresh air and exercise.

Today is a different story. It's a good thing I got something done yesterday, because we're back to the cold, gray days of December. Rain is promised, not only by the forecasters, but also by the dark sky and the heavy, soggy air. A day like yesterday makes this easier to take.

On the other side of town I rent a storage locker, where I keep all the Stuff I don't have room for in the huge house and huge garage. Man, that place is packed, so packed that I couldn't find the plastic Christmas tree I was sure I'd put away there. If it's there at all, it's tucked away so snugly that I'd need a steam shovel to get to it. I did find some other decorations and wrapping paper.

Now that I have the string of M&M lights I got a few years ago, and a few special ornaments that were given to me over the years, I'm thinking I need a real tree. Some time next week, I'll take Suzanne up on her offer to use the van to get one. Yes, that's right, I'll be driving into town to buy a tree to bring out to the country, so that I can put in inside the house and try to keep it alive for a couple of weeks.

Yesterday's mail brought a letter from the power company. I thought it would be the warning I've been hearing on the news, to conserve power by cutting back on Christmas lights and turning down thermostats. There's a critical shortage of power reserves, and they're threatening rolling outages. Now they want us to help out by turning off our computers when they're not in use. (Can you imagine?)

But this was a letter of apology from PG&E. (Can you imagine?) They're sorry that we've had intermittent outages here in my neighborhood. They say the problem is caused by trees coming into contact with power lines. They're trimming the trees to improve service. I'm glad they thought of that.

The three decisions handed down by Florida courts yesterday had one thing in common. All of them were in favor of getting the most votes counted. If the Bush people had accepted Gore's offer last month to recount all the votes in the state and abide by that count, we'd have an undisputed president-elect now. Won't George W. Bush feel better about his self-proclaimed "victory" if it turns out he actually did get the most votes?

I'll never be convinced that Katherine Harris did her job without regard to her political affiliation. I don't begrudge her using her office to further her cause. That's why people go into politics in the first place, after all. But in this case her actions caused some legitimate votes not to be counted, and the courts tried to rectify some of that aberration. Wouldn't it be funny if she didn't need to rush through the process to get her man elected?

Now there might not be enough time to put the court's remedy into effect. Some people have resisted counting these ballots for so long that now the deadline looms like a great wall. The Florida legislature would like to resolve this dilemma by making the President of the United States an appointed office. There could end up being as many as three sets of 25 Florida electors for the U.S. House of Representatives to choose from.

Isn't this great? I can't wait to see what happens next.

Here's something that's not great.

The nasty problem no one talks about is the intimidation of African American voters, and the discarding of many votes that they did cast in Florida. If you want an example of an "undercount," there's the real thing. I've tried to see all sides in the electoral dispute, but the more light is shed on this situation, the less understanding I have for those responsible.

And I shouldn't really say that no one is talking about it, because Arianna Huffington uses her December 7 column to call Al Gore on the carpet for ignoring it. I'd feel better about either of the candidates becoming president if they would speak out against this outrage.

The outcome of the 2000 election is trivial compared to this. If the deliberate disenfranchisement of African American voters is proven to be true, people should go to jail, and election laws should be changed to make it impossible.

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