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Thursday, October 21, 2004
Each day that goes by, we get more and more stories of voting "irregularities" in certain swing states. It gives you the impression that Florida in 2000 is going to seem utterly quaint by the end of the year.
Missouri - This state has 4.3 million election age voters. Guess how many have registered? 4.2 million. I had no idea Missourians were so civic-minded. (Unlikely)
Ohio - Thousands of absentee ballots already sent out have a typo on them. Why must I nitpick? The typo "inadvertently" involved the disappearance of the letters "K-E-R-R-Y." (Obvious)
Nevada - A judge refuses to reopen registration in Clark County where a Republican-funded group apparently destroyed thousands of voter registration cards on which people had the temerity to select "Democrat" as their affiliation. Clark County is where Las Vegas is, by the way. (Obvious)
And, of course...
Florida - Thousands of, ah, ethnic-sounding names purged from the registration rolls.
Asian-sounding names? Hispanic? No, not so much. But if your name happens to be Leonard Washington, I wouldn't count on making it into the booth this year. The governor's fingerprints are literally all over this one.
In a trial run last week, voting machines malfunctioned and thousands of test votes disappeared. The problem is that they overheated. But you know, it never gets hot in Florida...
How have we come to this? We already allow the ownership class in this country so much leeway. We know that their kids will go to better schools, including college. We know that they will get breaks when it comes to securing jobs. We know that these people always protect one another, unless of course, there is a dollar to be made by stabbing someone in the back.
But why have we ceded to these people the right to choose our leaders? Are we really so lazy and apathetic? I'm not so naive that I believe that the election of one candidate over another will instantly make things better. Frankly, my inclination is to give Bush another four years, and let him clean up his own fucking messes.
Iraq: We won't win if we stay, and we won't win if we leave.
The deficit: No matter who wins, we will be paying interest on this gargantuan thing for decades.
Partisanship: I think we may never go back to a time where people were able to put the good of the nation ahead of the advancement of party politics.
It's pretty depressing, and I understand why people don't participate, I really do. Giving Bush another term would serve him right. If there was any justice, impeachment hearings would have begun 18 months ago.
But since that won't happen, he has to go in November, and I'll again say why: The Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court justices are aging faster than Trump's show, and even with their conservative bent, they are the only thing standing between us and an Ashcroft/Bush Christianization of all public institutions in this country. In his nominations for lower judgeships, Bush has very clearly been promoting not simply conservative judges, but reactionary ones. If you are a woman, a non-Christian, or any sort of minority in this country, you really ought to be frightened. And not like "I hope it doesn't rain while I'm out at Wal-Mart" scared. I'm talking "I hope I don't have to thank Jesus for my textbooks in class" kind of scared.
Think you may want to have an abortion? If Bush gets re-elected, you'd better spend most of December having them, because by 2008, it won't be an option. Want to protest against the war? Better hurry up, because by 2006, that will be considered as treason, and you will be jailed. Feel like writing a blog that doesn't tow the party line? Get it out of your system because even at this point, the FBI has broad powers to invade your privacy, and lock you up. If the so-called PATRIOT Act is renewed or further expanded, dissent in this country will be further criminalized. And please, don't be a Jew, Muslim, or God forbid, an atheist. Those are fake religions, and Jesus tells me so. Well, he tells George W. Bush it's so, and I'm sure the President would never stoop to lying about his deep, DEEP religious convictions. What would he have to gain? Oh, yeah. Another four years in office, bankrupting this country in every sense of the word.
I don't care what you believe in, honestly. Whatever gets you through the day without killing someone else is a good thing. But if you honestly believe in this country, and care about it at all, we have to change course. Stop taking it for granted, and stand up for your own freedom. Ask around, it can be taken away.
posted at 6:29 AM
It has come to this
We watch the news and the Sunday morning yak fests, and we see the same people saying the same things over and over. Guys like Tim Russert and Chris Matthews are on the upper end of these shows, but really, all of the most pointed political commentary these days comes from people best known as stand-up comedians. Specifically, I refer to Bill Maher and his excellent Real Time With Bill Maher show on HBO, and certainly, Jon Stewart of Comedy Central's The Daily Show. These guys are smart, speak bluntly, and have no interest in keeping the big ball of polit-speak crap rolling.
But today's appearance by Jon Stewart on CNN's Crossfire may be some of the greatest political commentary and live television in history.
Link goes to the video: Click here, dammit.
It's 13+ minutes, but it is utterly beautiful to watch. Enjoy.
Labels: the media
posted at 2:47 AM
Pay up, bitch.
To begin with, I did not see the debate last night, so I won't comment on it. Unfortunately, I had to work.
And as I drove in, I noticed that gas has gone up about twenty-five cents in the past month. I regretted that I'd be missing the final debate of the 2004 presidential race, as I was hoping to hear what Uncle George was going to do about this problem. But I knew that he'd be too busy spouting off about how Kerry was going to tax and spend us back to the Stone Age to say anything substantive.
Remember back in early 2001 when Dick Cheney had his private meetings with Ken Lay of Enron and a dozen other corporate criminals, as they set the energy policy for the US? Well, even though no one will discuss what went on at the meetings, the Bush administration's energy policy has become readily apparent:
Two dollar a gallon gasoline.
Fifty-plus dollar a barrel oil.
Begging the Saudi royal family to pump more oil.
And you staunch Republicans out there might pacify yourself with the notion that if that's what the market will bear, then that's just how it is. So you are willing to pay 100 bucks a week to keep your Hummer rolling, and maybe that's patriotic in it's own warped way. And yet, you are so opposed to taxes.
Why is that? Do you really believe that your personal comfort, which would only be minimally impacted by driving a reasonable vehicle, is more important than the fiscal condition of your country? Life is better with a poorly educated citizenry? You are comfortable with cutbacks in police and fire protection? You're ok with porous borders, and next to no regulation of shipping containers coming in to the country? Are you honestly so selfish?
And how do you jibe that with your so-called Christianity? Aren't you somehow compelled/obligated to do right by those less fortunate? I know that in reality your view is "I got mine, fuck you," but if that's the case, why do you put any real stake in a candidate's "values?" In your view, Bush is a better Christian than Kerry. Why? Because he says so? Is it Christian to make things harder for the sick and poor? Is it Christian to have 45 million people without health insurance, so many of then kids? Is it Christian to waste precious resources like oil? Is it Christian to let your government send poorer Christians to go fight Muslims, so you have the freedom to waste even more oil? How do you reconcile that?
And after all, the government's lax policies in the area of fuel conservation, in conjunction with our failed foreign policy, have basically resulted in a tax on fuel. Compared to four years ago, you now pay a seventy-five cent per gallon tax every time you fill your vehicle. You pay it when you get your electric bill. You pay it at the grocery store, and everyplace else, because it costs them more to get their products to the shelf. Virtually all plastics, which includes clothing fibers, are derived from petroleum, so they cost more, too. Everything costs more, and the only way to avoid this de facto tax is to not spend, and that would make you a bad American.
Your government is taxing you, and it never shows up on your check stub. It's showing up on your receipts. It's showing up in your dwindling checking account. And it shows up in the lint at the bottom of your pockets. This administration wants to be your friend so much that it lies to you. And you enable it by going along with half-truths and outright lies, because you have been told it is unpatriotic to do otherwise. With George Bush, you don't have to wait until April to pay taxes. You get to pay every day of the year. And not just in money. You pay in credibility, of which America is nearly bereft. You pay in increased terrorist activity. And if we continue down this blindly reactionary path, you will pay for it with the blood of your sons and daughters. The future of America is happening in Fallujah. The reports will eventually come from Amman, or Pyongyang, or Tehran, but they will come.
There are truly dangerous people in the world, who honestly don't care whether you live or die. And some of them live and work on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.
posted at 7:42 PM
Well, we finished up the second of three presidential debates earlier tonight. I initially thought that the town hall format would favor George Bush, but really, I didn't notice anything that gave him or Kerry a clear advantage. Senator Kerry did a lot of things that indicated his past debate experience; Addressing the questioner by name, linking one answer to a previous question, etc. And the president was typically on message, although less so than the first debate.
I never watch these things expecting anything too shocking, but I have to admit there was something that surprised the hell out of me. I'm going to have to review the program to see what the topic was, but President Bush was asked a question, then Kerry responded. Something he said infuriated Bush, and Charles Gibson, the moderator, was about to give George some time to respond to Kerry. All of a sudden, Bush is out of his chair, waving his arms around, yelling, "I'd like to respond!"
And Gibson is trying to give Bush the floor, and the President keeps getting louder, and louder, as he advanced in Gibson's direction. It was creepy, and completely outside of any behavior I had expected to see. George was livid, and obviously so. So much for all of that good breeding and charm school.
I don't watch the post-debate spin shows, so I don't know if the talking heads focused on that, but I'm sure it'll be obvious tomorrow in the paper. The man was clearly knocked off stride, and his reaction gave you a real idea of the way he truly is.
George W. Bush is a son of privilege. He has had every advantage. He has been coddled his entire life. No one ever bothered to say "no" to him. And it's all because of who he is, not what he's done. He is the finest example why we formed a democracy, to stop kings passing rule to their idiot, inbred offspring. The idea that each citizen of this amazing place can grow up to be president is debunked. It probably has been for a long time, really.
So, maybe I'm the one in denial. I don't want to be president, but it'd be sort of cool to think that I could be.
Well, why can't you be, blog-boy?
1) I am not, and have never been a millionaire.
Another telling sign that we don't really prefer democracy over plutocracy is evidenced by who we elect, and even who runs for high office.
George W. Bush - millionaire
John Kerry - millionaire
Al Gore - millionaire
Bill Clinton - Well, the next thing you know, old Jed's a, yeah, you see a trend here.
We want to be ruled by our betters. And we judge human worth in America the same way we measure net worth. If you're rich, you must be smart. Also, charming, beautiful and worth following.
2) I am not an attorney.
Every single one of these bastards is a lawyer. I'm not fundamentally opposed to lawyers, although I am properly cynical about them. And I suppose if you are going to make laws, you should have an advanced understanding of them. Still, I believe that the study of the law is more than anything, likely to make you distrustful of the meaning of words. You understand their power, and ability to obfuscate and deceive.
3) I am not a Christian.
I don't really know if I even believe in a god or not. I suppose that makes me agnostic, and that's ok. There are lots of things I don't know about, and the meaning of life and the nature of the universe are right at the top of the list. The bible doesn't answer my questions. It's not the word of god. It's the word of men who had a vested interest in keeping other men in line.
And I won't pretend to love Jesus just to pander to people who do. It's the most disgusting thing imaginable, to try and sneak into people's confidence by professing belief. I'll allow that maybe these dicks who make it to the top of the political pile may believe in god, but that just makes them hypocrites. Bush spent his life between the ages of 15 and 45 being drunk, high, irresponsible, and living in a way completely devoid of value. But like criminals who find Allah in prison, George found Jesus under a Pabst keg outside of Midland, Texas. And now, he's president of the United States.
Why can't the small business owner who pays his employees decently and provides health coverage ever be president? What about the factory worker who gets his college degree at night school? Why not a nurse? How did we get stuck in this awful cycle of righteous, two-faced weasels? What did we do to deserve this?
Answer if you want. Otherwise, I'll just add another entry.
posted at 9:18 PM
Meet my kid: America
Just over a month until the election, and the first debate was last night. I don't really want to talk about the substance of it so much as about the effort taken to watch it.
When you are born in the United States, you are a child of this country. What America is shapes who you are, and you benefit and suffer based on the way it is run. Of course, I have no other frame of reference, but I feel pretty fortunate to have been born here. Obviously, it affords you more opportunities than most places, although certainly less than some others. Hey, I'm trying to be diplomatic here.
My parents never beat me over the head with love of country, at least not in words. I think the unspoken message was always, you get out of America what you put into it. Work hard, be honest. play fair, and things will sort themselves out. It's a pretty decent philosophy. And when you're a child, no one really expects you to understand the subtle nuances that go into democracy.
I definitely feel that upon reaching voting age, you are no longer a child of America, but instead, become it's parent. That's right, you are responsible for the course your charge, and your charge is a truly unruly bastard.
The first thing you need to do, is make it legal. Get registered to vote. America isn't going to listen to you if it knows you have no say in things. A kid doesn't want to listen, but if you can wave that ballot around like a trust fund, li'l America will do it's best to remain focused.
Secondly, you need to be informed. Read the paper every day. And I'm going to suggest the local paper, even if you think it sucks. Maybe you don't like the bias of it's editorial board, or you think the photos with the obituaries are poorly chosen. (They are!) Read it anyway. You'll at least get the gist of things going on in the world, and will be aware of things going on in your backyard. (You have moles. Sorry.)
Third, find out who your representatives are, locally and nationally. There are people in your city, state capital, and in Washington who represent you, believe it or not. And they all believe, whether they were elected with 80% or 50.1%, that they speak with the absolute voice of the people. Maybe they are. And maybe they are speaking with the voice of filthy corporate lobbyists. You need to find out. It's going to take some effort on your part, but you can Google and get most of the info you'll need. And no, you don't have a congressman named "hairy piss dog fuck nipple."
Fourth, run for office. Certainly you feel like you are not alone in your views, and can fairly represent your neighbors. Step up to the plate. Start with the PTA, or the local zoning board or city council. It doesn't matter where you serve, but you really should. It's an addictive thing, and I am not referring to anything so crass as power. I mean that when you participate, and see change that you helped create, you will want to do more. And then maybe you aspire to higher office. You may never be president, but that's irrelevant. Participation is it's own reward.
I don't have a fifth, but if I did, I'd be drinking it right now. People talk until they are blue in the face about America, and how much they love it. And I believe that many of them mean it. I've said in the past that I am no patriot. I don't believe that everything America does is right, or that the ends always justify the means. Your kids aren't all geniuses, and they make mistakes. They do stupid things, and they can embarrass you at times. Still, you love them, and only want what's best for them. The responsible thing to do as the parent of something as wonderful as America, is to be honest with ourselves. There are problems, but we can overcome them if we care enough to do so, and put the interests of the whole ahead of the interests of the few. We have great capacity to make positive change here, but it will not be achieved through ignorance, disinterest, laziness, or strict belief in ideology.
Step up. You are responsible for how your kid turns out. Take ownership of that concept.
posted at 10:44 AM
I watched the first presidential debate last night. I definitely believe that it's the responsible thing to do as a citizen, even if the format lends itself better at times to a scripted play. Still, it's too important not to take a look at the men who want to be president, especially in rare circumstances when they are not being directed by handlers.
My impression, particularly during the first two-thirds of the debate, was that both men gave good account of themselves. At times, Kerry seemed to be trying to restrain himself from really diving in deeper in his emotional response, which was something of a surprise, given his rep as a very calm, cerebral type. It seemed like he saw openings that he just wanted to really kick a hole in, but wanted to remain civil. All told, he seemed fully prepped and informed.
President Bush, to his credit, remained on message, as always. He hammered away at the same points that he always does. "I'm resolute, you know where I stand," etc. Interestingly, he seemed to get a little worn out past the halfway point of the debate. His pauses got longer, his blinking became more pronounced. I think he sensed that Kerry was making some excellent points, especially in areas where the president has been for months painting his challenger as confused.
I'll give a slight edge to Kerry on this one. Probably not enough to really change anyone's mind, but probably very important in helping Kerry close the current gap in the polls. Still not sure how anyone can still be undecided, but then, we have our share of nitwits.
posted at 9:53 AM
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