Right 2 Scam

Blame Canada: As wealthy Republicans feverishly conspire to overturn another election—while being cheered on by prominent headlines in which the likes of columnist Dan Weintraub declare them a “Democratic Revolt Against Ruling Elites”—Bites has begun to wonder exactly why we bother with these elections in the first place. Sure, it’s nice to think that someone once cared enough about your opinion to give you the right to vote—even if those votes ultimately end up counting for nothing. But now, Bites has found a more 21st-century approach, one that gives us all the warm, fuzzy feelings of being a democracy without the inconvenience of real elections. And, best of all, there’s already a company doing it.

The company in question is called Right 2 Vote Ltd., a prescient name if ever there was one. Sensing a burning desire in U.S. citizens to have their opinions taken seriously, the Canadian company faxes them a poll and promises to forward the results to key decision makers. Respondents who answer “yes” or “no” to the company’s latest solicitation—“Should ‘Under God’ be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance?”—by replying to the appropriate 900 number get an extra bonus that’s spelled out in the fine print, which may or may not be legible on your fax machine: “Calls to these numbers cost $3.95 per minute, a small price for greater democracy. Calls take approx two mins in standard mode. Your views are important. We make sure that decision makers are hearing them!”

So, that’s the scam. Right 2 Vote Ltd., a division of the craftily named “North American people’s polling company,” tracks the responses to each number, mails them to a handful of decision makers and racks up $7.90 per vote for everyone foolish enough to pay this small price for a greater democracy. Why, it makes the amount of money Darrell Issa’s paying for recall signatures look like a pittance.

So, why is all this money going out of the country? Let’s reinstate the poll tax, fix all the elections and get this country back on track, pronto!

Fox & Goons: Inspired by the recent glut of Doonesbury strips, Bites couldn’t help but show up for Sacramento’s Howard Dean Meetup, a volunteer gathering, last Wednesday evening at the Fox & Goose. As it happened, Bites walked in just as a man standing on a table told the throng of 150 or so Dean supporters, “I’ve got goons waiting outside to beat up anyone with a Howard Dean sticker.”

Having seen no actual goons in the parking lot, Bites quickly surmised that this was the organizer’s wistful way of encouraging Dean supporters to stick around for the second half of the meeting, a letter-writing campaign in which each person present would compose three handwritten letters to be mailed to individual voters in Iowa.

Though it may be a while before Dean overcomes the stigma of David Letterman repeatedly branding him a loser, his supporters were in fine spirits, celebrating the news that their candidate had jumped to the head of the Democratic pack in terms of fund-raising last quarter. Much of that is because of their aggressive use of the Internet, which enabled them to raise $800,000 in just one day. And though Dean’s campaign has had some success creating a sense of community, however contrived, through the Internet, something tells Bites that those slightly inebriated, handwritten letters to Iowans may not have quite the same impact.

Where’s the rest of me: Bites got all excited upon hearing the news that consumer privacy groups were planning to release the Social Security numbers of assemblymembers who voted down financial-privacy legislation. But when push came to shove, and the legislation went down in flames, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights ended up releasing just the first four numbers of each offending assemblymember’s Social Security number. Thus ended Bites’ masterful plot to assume the identity of privacy turncoat Tim Leslie (who used to support such legislation but doesn’t anymore) and snag a lifetime subscription to the Weekly Standard.