Campaign lies

Letters to the Boston editor, August 1, 2008

It’s impressive that your editorial in favor of the national popular vote did not even hint at any possible downside. Few bills are that perfect. There are a number of possible problems that supporters of this proposal should feel obliged to acknowledge and rebut. Is the Phoenix selling ideas or used cars?

Your assertion that this would make candidates campaign nationwide seems wrong. Sparsely populated states would be totally ignored, even if the race in that state is close. With all votes anywhere being the same, candidates will spend their time and money where voters are concentrated. A national popular-vote election will make the most populous states even more dominant, and the least populous states totally irrelevant. Our founding fathers were aware of this — it’s the main reason the Electoral College was created in the first place.

And what happens if the national vote is so close that a recount is necessary? Take the chaos that was Florida in 2000, and multiply by 50.

Not to mention that there is no mechanism in place to compel a national recount. Even if the states in this compact adopt uniform rules, there is no way to force the other states to follow them. Those states have their own laws as to when a recount can be made — and those laws concern the closeness of the vote within the state, not the national vote. Without a means of compelling a full national recount, a close national vote will always be suspect.

Our current system of electing presidents needs reform, but that should come from Congress, so that all states operate under the same rules. Simply replacing one form of state-by-state chaos with a different one isn’t going to fix things.

Joel Bernstein

Best band gripes, pt. 59
Regarding your “50 States, 50 Bands” round-up, here’s my vote for best Minnesota solo artist: Brother Ali. [Note: the Phoenix selected Ali as best Wisconsin solo artist.] He may have been born in Wisconsin, but he grew up in Michigan, and started his career in Minneapolis. That sounds like a Minnesota artist to me. (If birthplace is your criteria, the Pixies are questionable as a Massachusetts band: Kim was born in Ohio, and Joey in the Philippines.) I’ll concede that Prince clearly beats Ali in the end, but I won’t concede Elliott Smith as a Nebraska artist: he’s Oregon all the way. Go ahead and pick Conor Oberst for Nebraska if you must.

As far as the Wisconsin solo artist who’d replace Brother Ali: oh, I don’t know, have you heard of this guy called Les Paul?

Kerry Skemp

EDITOR’S NOTE As the rules of our “50 States, 50 Bands” intro stated, all-time best solo artists for each state were chosen based on their birthplace. Bands, however, were selected by the state in which the group either formed or gained prominence.

Batman returns more than we thought
As a film critic for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette and the Jewish Advocate, a past president of the Boston Society of Film, and a fan of the Batman genre, I enjoyed James Parker’s piece about the summer of superheroes at the movies.  I take exception, however, to his claim that the latest film, The Dark Knight, will be the seventh Batman movie. Not counting the animated offerings, it will actually be the ninth. I had to see all eight existing Batman movies for my essay, “The Batman We Deserve,” in the current collection Batman Unauthorized (BenBella Books).

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