June 16, 2009 - Stacking the Deck

When I was in the 6th grade I was given a "Learn to Play Bridge" tutorial game, a pre-computer interactive plastic and paper contraption, and I worked at learning the rules. My mom, dad, aunt and uncle played bridge regularly, and I decided to put my newfound knowledge to work. I meticulously stacked a deck so that everybody would get a good bidding hand but in different suits, just to see how high and heated the bidding would go. I strolled into the room and casually handed over a deck, assuring them I had already shuffled it. My family humored me and dealt the hand, but figured it out pretty quickly. I realized later my plan lacked subtlety. I should have made the hands less than perfect to be more believable. It was a childish stunt.

Ahmadinejad needed to learn a little subtlety before he tried to pull a similarly childish stunt in the recent Iranian elections. If all you knew about any national election anywhere was it had a record 85% voter turnout and used paper ballots that have to be counted manually, would you believe final results announced 2 hrs after polls closed? Would you believe reports of a candidate losing his home precinct, where previous elections showed a pattern of strong tribal/regional loyalty, by a steep margin in favor of an outsider incumbent? Even Walter Mondale managed to hold onto Minnesota in the face of the Reagan landslide. Now we know Ahmadinejad is not only a tyrant, he isn't smarter than a 6th grader either.