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Elliot: Not lying about lions

BY BEAU ELLIOT | JANUARY 29, 2013 5:00 AM

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The cougars are coming, the cougars are coming.

No, not those cougars — mountain lions. Honestly, some days I don’t know where your mind is going, though I suspect it’s somewhere in which they speak French. (“Cougar” comes from the French word “couguar,” the American Heritage Dictionary reminds me. The dictionary likes to do that — pop back to life from time to time to remind me that such and such a word comes from French. Does your dictionary do that? Why not?

(After all, not quite half — or so, depending on how you count at home — of English words come from French. So the next time you’re tempted, to employ another French word, to take potshots at the French, easy enough to do, just remember the French gave us more than Lafayette and French fries. Which, as it turns out, you should not try cooking at home. The fries, not Lafayette.)

Meanwhile, back at the cougars, or mountain lions, they’re coming to Iowa and not just to watch Hawkeye football, Iowa Public Radio informs us in its blasé (the French hits just keep on coming), pubic-radio sort of way.

Turns out, the cougar population is burgeoning in places out to the west of us (think behond Nebraska; you should always think beyond Nebraska), and so, the younger mountain lions are being pushed east. Which means us. (Did you know a mountain lion was discovered in Des Moines last year? According to Iowa Public Radio, anyway. I don’t think the good folks at Iowa Public Radio would be lying about lions.)

Well, unless Michael Gartner is rearranging the furniture again.

So now we have mountain lions to worry about, and you thought it was only debt ceilings, fiscal cliffs, and Congressional Republicans we had to worry about.

Speaking of Republicans, Congressional or otherwise (kick the can, GOP, kick the can — ooh, you missed), Charles M. Blow of the New York Times reports that Republican legislators in five states (Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin) have come up with a new/old plan to steal the vote.

Well, OK, Blow didn’t use the word “steal.” (Which does not come from French, for a change.)

Sometimes I exaggerate.

What the Republicans have done is gerrymander the legislative districts so that the GOP controls the legislatures. And the legislatures are thinking about rearranging the furniture of the presidential vote so that Electoral College votes are allocated by Congressional districts instead of the winner of the statewide vote taking all the electoral votes.

As Blow points out in his Jan. 25 column, “Pete Lund, a Republican state representative in Michigan, ‘plans to reintroduce legislation that would award all but two of Michigan’s 16 Electoral College votes according to Congressional district results,’ said an article Friday [Jan. 25] in the Detroit News.

Under that plan, the Detroit News reported, President Obama would have taken seven electoral votes and Mitt Romney nine. Obama took all 16 last year, winning Romney’s former home state by far more than 400,000 votes.

It’s a blatant power grab by the Republicans, because in the last 20 years, the GOP can’t seem to win the presidency. What about George W. Bush? you point out. Well, Al Gore beat Bush in the voting but not in the Supreme Court in 2000, and in 2004, given all the shenanigans in Ohio, John Kerry probably did, too.

It all kind of makes you wish the Manti T’eo story would come back to life. Or that the French would send us some more cool words.

Oh, attendez.

Enough. Send in the cougars. Or even the French.


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