October 25-31, 2004
A little taste of the Boat Show that will open this weekend: something from the Sunday Supplement in the local 'rag' ... and a couple of pictures of early arrivals.
Who cares about The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times! We made Lantana's Weekly World News!!!
(*) Thanks to the keen eye of reader Kevin from Arizona, THOCBDC was able to bring you these pictures.
The Fort Lauderdale Boat Show is still two days away but there is already a shortage of water space.
Seven little drawers of corkscrews:
PS: Can you place her ... where and when?
The 'best' reply to my October 20th question came from Wolfgang Haendle:
"Alf, Phantastic pieces - but I cannot answer your question. -- Wolfgang"
Florida County to Replace Absentee Ballots
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Oct. 28) - With voters jamming phone lines saying they haven't received absentee ballots in the mail, elections officials planned to mail out thousands of replacement ballots.
As election workers and the U.S. Postal Service traded the blame Wednesday, Broward County elections supervisor Brenda Snipes moved to solve the problem with less than a week left before the presidential election by sending duplicates to people who had not returned the original ballot.
Attention focused on a batch of 58,000 Broward ballots given to the Postal Service on Oct. 7-8. Though some voters have completed and returned ballots mailed those days, hundreds of others have called to complain their forms have not arrived. It was unclear how many absentee ballots were affected.
"This isn't a blame game," Snipes told The Miami Herald. "What we're concentrating on is getting the ballots to the voter." She was named to the job by Gov. Jeb Bush after the 2000 elections supervisor quit during the bitter presidential vote recount and her replacement was suspended for bungling.
Snipes estimated she would resend no more than 20,000 ballots, but about 76,000 ballots sent by her office have not been returned. Overnight mail was to be used to send new ballots to voters living outside the county, such as college students.
Because of the volume of calls, Broward County commissioners assigned 40 new workers to phone duty at the election office and early voting sites, where voters have been routinely waiting in line up to two hours to reach touch-screen voting machines.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said it investigated the questions about the Oct. 7-8 mailings and found no criminal violations. Enola C. Rice, a Postal Service spokeswoman in South Florida, said absentee ballots are handled separately from other mail and are processed and delivered immediately.
People who requested absentee ballots can always vote early or on Election Day, officials said. If a voter who asked for a ballot shows up at the polls, the absentee form is flagged so only one vote counts.
In Palm Beach County, Democratic lawmakers Wednesday called on elections supervisor Theresa LePore to take out newspaper ads informing voters of their options if they do not receive an absentee ballot. U.S. Reps. Robert Wexler and Alcee Hastings, along with state Sen. Ron Klein and Mayor Lois Frankel, said they have been inundated with calls from voters who are confused about the process or who have not received their absentee ballots.
They said the ads should tell voters that they can vote early at polling places across the county.
LePore's office has received a record number of requests for absentee ballots and had mailed more than 128,000 ballots by early this week. She said an additional 7,000 go out each day. "I have no control over the post office," LePore said.
Tony Fransetta, president of the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans, said the delays could put thousands of seniors' votes in jeopardy.
Many older Americans rely on absentee ballots because are disabled or unable to drive to the polls, he said.
Retirees Stanley and Fran Peck of Boynton Beach said they requested absentee ballots in May but never received them. They voted early because they will be traveling on Election Day.
"With all that happened in 2000, we have no way of ever knowing if our ballot will be counted," said Peck, who waited in line for more than an hour to vote despite his doubts.
10/28/04 09:01 EDT
[*] THOCBDC received its absentee ballot awhile back. Remember the postage snafu? Now I am beginning to wonder if my completed ballot was received by the counters.
PS: I can't let a day go by without a picture. Though today is the first day of the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show this house ... and, yes, it IS all just one house ... probably isn't in the market for something grander. Incidentally, only the keenest of THOCBDC readers will recognize who lives on the top floor of the building in the far background.
Why we rent movies:
Florida, an Electoral Prize, Is Awash in a Sea of Ads
By ALESSANDRA STANLEY
Published: October 29, 2004
MIAMI, Oct. 28 - Watching television in a swing state this week is a little like walking into fabled Narnia. The media landscape looks familiar at first, but quickly reveals itself to be utterly different.
Spiky political ads crowd "The Young and the Restless," the Spanish-language talk show "El Gordo y la Flaca" ("The Fat Man and the Skinny Man") and "Divorce Court." The sheer volume of campaign commercials clotted around local news broadcasts is unnerving.
And here, where newscasts focus on missing absentee ballots, long lines outside the early voting places, and bizarre election-connected crimes - several Miami stations reported at length on Wednesday about the arrest of an 18-year-old man said to have held his girlfriend at knifepoint because she wanted to vote for John Kerry (they barely mentioned that she also broke up with him) - the ads' shrill, urgent tone only heightens a general state of alarm.
Viewers in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area were deluged with 1,100 presidential campaign spots in the last week, commercials placed by the Bush and Kerry campaigns, the Democratic National Committee or its Republican counterpart, according to a study by Nielsen Monitor-Plus and the University of Wisconsin Advertising Project. (The number does not include state or local races or presidential spots by independent groups.)
Even for a crucial media market, Miami, like Albuquerque, is getting an especially intense dose, with hundreds more spots a week than Philadelphia or Madison, Wis. "There are battleground markets and there are battleground states," Ken Goldstein, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin and the director of the advertising project, said. "And then there is Miami."
In other words, from now until Nov. 2, practically the only escape from election unease on television is to watch ESPN or the Cartoon Network.
At times, the commercials seem to blend with the entertainment shows and product pitches that surround them. After wives confided to Oprah Winfrey their discovery that their husbands are secretly gay, a Bush ad suggested that even direr perils lurked outside the home. "Weakness attracts those who want to do us harm," a woman's whispery voice warns as a camera pans, "Blair Witch Project"-style, through a forest to a pack of hungry wolves.
On the more lighthearted talk show "Ellen," a commercial for Crest Whitestrips is immediately followed by Mr. Kerry, his teeth bleach-white and gleaming, promising not to "waver, flinch or back down" in the war on terrorism.
One of the paradoxes of the campaign is that these last-chance political ads are supposed to shake viewers from the soporific routine of regular programming. But as Florida tumbles toward Election Day, the saturation and repetition are numbing, particularly when the formulas for commercials are so unvaried. Negative ads all look and sound like trailers for a teenage horror movie; positive ones, with their stirring montages of flags, smiling old folk and white porches, look like commercials for Paxil and Wellbutrin.
Viewers in solidly red or blue states have to work hard to see the negative ads described in newspapers - only a few end up on cable news shows, usually very late at night and nestled among ads for weight-loss pills and magazine subscriptions. In Florida, viewers get all the latest Bush and Kerry ads and dozens more of for and against a host of ballot amendments. Some of the most scorching messages concern Senate and House races.
The Republican Senate candidate, Mel Martinez, the former Bush administration secretary of housing and urban development, has an ad saying that his Democratic opponent, Betty Castor, a former president of the University of South Florida, "allowed an Islamic Jihad cell on her campus. " (Ms. Castro suspended a professor, Sami Al-Arian, after he was charged with raising money for a terrorist group in 1996; he was reinstated in 1998 and was not fired until his indictment in 2003.)
But the ads in the presidential race are the most vociferous, and every one seems to be followed by another knocking it down. Right after a mournful spot that shows Mr. Bush hugging a young girl who lost her mother on Sept. 11, 2001 ("He's the most powerful man in the world,'' the girl, Ashley Faulkner, tells the camera. "And all he wants to do is make sure I'm safe, that I'm O.K.") comes a less flattering portrait of Mr. Bush by the Democratic National Committee. Over a photograph of a soldier saluting a helmet placed on top of a rifle to honor a fallen comrade, a gravelly voice says, "One thousand soldiers have died in a war poorly planned."
Spanish-language stations in Miami also jangle with clashing messages. A Kerry commercial about "el plan de Bush" says millions of people have lost their financial aid for higher education. A Bush one says Mr. Kerry will raise taxes. Mr. Bush delivers his "I approved this message" tagline in Spanish, but the commercials that showed Mr. Kerry speaking good, if plodding, Spanish were not being shown much if at all this week.
It could be that Mr. Kerry's strategists worried that his sonorous delivery made him sound too much like a non-Hispanic personal-injury lawyer, the kind who flash 1-800-WHIPLASH and who switch to high school Spanish to woo Latino viewers.
Political ads are to commercials what democracy is to systems of government: the worst, except for all the others.
It was the last postal delivery before Halloween; and there was this small package on our front porch. Only corkscrew balloon people will know who sent it. Who will be first with the answer?
PS: P.F. of Washington State was the first to connect the dots:
"Oh, more directly responding to your question: Has the lovely Sandra expanded her prank repertoire to include Halloween?"
Yes, reader P.F., Sandra has ranged far from her April 1st bailiwick. This is truly scary.
PPS: Last night we had dinner with our friends, Rick and Gik ... at their apartment.
Sandra spotted a strange corkscrew cloud in the sky. (*)
(*) She mailed me a photograph of it along with the black coffin containing the severed finger.