Why Bother Voting?

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Minneapolis Tragedy

Bridges, roads, levees, schools, our infrastructure is going to pot. Couldn't we please redirect some of that 12 billion per month that we are spending to blow people up in Iraq? The Republican philosophy seems to be that it's fine to spend us into a sea of red ink in pursuit of global domination, but it's not OK to spend money for the public good.
One in four of our bridges are now rated as structurally deficient. The FDA has cut inspection of our food by 47% over the last 3 years. We've got to turn this around.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Pearl Harbor, Gulf or Tonkin, 9/11 ............?

Exit polls show that 88% of voters who disapprove of a retiring president will vote against his party's presidential nominee, and 80% will vote against his party's Congressional candidates. This political fact of life tells us two things.

1.) This is why the Democratic leadership is not moving forward with impeachment or pushing harder to end the war. Bush's approval ratings have been very low for two years. If they stay this low, it guarantees a Democratic landslide in '08. The leadership doesn't want to rock the boat. It makes sense in a Machiavellian sort of way.

2.) The Republicans are aware these political facts of life too. The neocons see the impending destruction of the Republican Party and prosecution for war crimes on the horizon. Their only way out is another Pearl Harbor type event. It would pull Bush’s approval rating out of the toilet. It has always worked.

The problem is that most of the country, and most Democrats in Congress, are not willing to face the inconvenient truth that their president and vice president are quite willing to kill them if necessary, and it appears that it's going to be necessary to kill a few thousand more.

If any doubt remains in your mind that the Bush Crime Family plans to leave quietly in January of '09, just think for a moment. Cheney has come a long way toward implementing his "unitary executive theory." He has eliminated habeas corpus and posse comitatus. he's set up military commissions and NSPD 51. Now he can seize our assets if he suspects we might interfere with his plans. Do you think he's going to hand all that over to a new president in '09 that is not under his control?

So what do we do? Leaving the country sounds good, but most of the countries that you might want to go to, have tough immigration policies, and actually enforce them. Probably nothings going to work, but I'm going to keep pushing for impeachment, organizing, and spreading the word. And it might be a good idea to be sure the fourth box is full.

No option should be taken off the table?

Several Democratic presidential hopefuls have said, about the threat of a nuclear armed Iran - "no option should be taken off the table" Bush considers one of these options to be a preemptive strike with strategic nuclear weapons. If you asked me I'd say that a preemptive strike with conventional weapons is the act of a raving lunatic. A preemptive strike with nuclear weapons is so insane, it can't be described with words. Let me show you how to answer the question. - When I am elected president, the only time nuclear weapons would ever be considered is in response to a nuclear attack. Disarming countries to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, by striking them with nuclear weapons is definitely off the table.

The Crime of the Century

Our government is planning the biggest theft in the history of the world. Both Republicans and Democrats are to blame and the media is not covering it.

The Bush administration has crafted an Iraqi “Hydrocarbon Law" and is pressuring the Iraqi Parliament to pass it as one of the benchmarks necessary for continued US support of their government. This document pays lip service to the fair and even distribution of profit among the various sects, but a careful look reveals that it allows huge multinational oil companies to take 80% of Iraq's oil wealth.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) invoked a rarely used House rule of personal privilege to gain an hour of time on the floor of the House on Wednesday May 23rd, to lay out the details of this travesty. “This administration has led Congress into thinking that this bill is about fair distribution of oil revenues. In fact, …except for three scant lines, the entire 33-page hydrocarbon law creates a structure to facilitate the privatization of Iraq oil. Now, the war in Iraq is a stain on American history. Let us not further besmirch our Nation by participating in an outrageous exploitation of [another] nation which is in shambles due to the U.S. intervention.”

Despite the objections from Kucinich, the Congress passed the Iraq Supplemental Bill, including language requiring the privitization of Iraq's oil resources as a benchmark for US support of the corrupt Iraqi government. Bush signed it into law on May 25th. Bush will have ask Congress for another appropriations bill in September. If our representatives felt enough pressure from the people, they could draft the new bill with language that made it clear that the US and the multinational oil companies have no right to control what Iraq does with it's oil. If not, then we have proof beyond any doubt remaining in our minds that this war is about oil.

Vice President Cheney said to Tim Russert (9/13/03) "Iraq sits on top of 10 percent of the world's oil reserves—a very significant reserve, second only to Saudi Arabia. The fact is, there are significant resources here to work with." Most of the oil producing countries in the world have nationalized their oil production. Iraq nationalized theirs in 1972. It's very clear that the intention of our government from the beginning was to privatize those resources. The Center for Global Energy Studies estimates that Iraq could produce 300 billion barrels of oil. At $70/barrel, that comes to about 21 trillion dollars—nearly twice the gross national product of our entire country. No wonder Bush defaulted on his electioneering promise that he was against regime change and lied to us about reasons for invading Iraq.

Here is what Hassan Jum'a Awwad, Head of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions, has to say about the Hydrocarbon Law "Everyone knows that the oil law does not serve the Iraqi people, and that it serves the administration, its supporters, and the foreign oil companies at the expense of the Iraqi people, who have been wronged and deprived of their right to their oil, despite enduring all difficulties.”

Vice President Cheney called together his Oil and Energy working group four times between December 2002 and April 2003. He refuses to this day to tell us who was at those meetings, and transcripts have not been released. Cheney recently visited Iraq to urge passage of the Hydrocarbon Act.

Some people might think that it makes sense to use Iraq's oil wealth to pay for the war. I would point out to those misguided souls, that this Hydrocarbon Law is not designed to benefit the American taxpayer who is paying for this war. It is designed to benefit Exon/Mobil, Chevron, Shell and British Petroleum.

This Hydrocarbon Law was made a part of the Iraq Supplemental Bill by a Congress under the control of the Democratic Party. This is a sad reflection on the nature of both parties. I hope it is not a reflection on the American people. I hope we are better than that. I hope that Americans would not want to use military force to steal the resources of another country. I hope that Americans would not want to trade blood for oil. If you agree perhaps you should call your congressmen and senators.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Black Box Voting

In the week after the Democratic midterm win, there was very little in the news about voting machines. Proponents of electronic voting machines are claiming that the election went smoothly and there were very few problems. They are wrong. There were many problems.

One of the most glaring examples is from Florida's 13th Congressional District This is the seat that was vacated by Katherine Harris when she ran for the Senate. The official vote count in the 13th gave the House seat to Vern Buchanan (R) over Christine Jennings (D) by 369 votes out of a total of 238,000 votes cast. One district using ES&S black boxes with no paper trail favored Jennings by 53% to 47% but 18,000 of the votes cast did not include any vote for congressperson. Really, do you believe that 18,000 people bothered to come to the polls, voted for town clerk and dog catcher, but just couldn't decide who to vote for in the congressional race?

Christine Jennings is requesting a new election, because, with these machines, there is nothing to recount. Her legal battle will be expensive. We can contribute at http://www.christinejenningsforcongress.com/.

We do not want machines like this in New York. We will soon be replacing our lever machines with either Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines or the Paper Ballot Optical Scan (PBOS) voting system. Albany has mandated that a paper trail must be a part of any system chosen by our county Election Commissioners, but the flimsy little receipts that the DRE's produce are not much of an improvement. They don't necessarily represent the voter's wishes, and they would be very difficult to recount. If we chose the PBOS system, then voters would mark real paper ballots, in a privacy booth, and then they would be scanned by an optical scanner. In the event a recount is necessary, it would be easy. A paper ballot can be scanned, rescanned, hand-counted, if necessary, and stored indefinitely to assure an honest, fraud-free election. Scanning is fast and decoupled from marking so the likelihood of long lines is minimized. In the event of a power failure, ballots can still be marked and scanned at a later time. The PBOS system is more cost effective as well, but cost cannot be a serious consideration. Nothing in a democracy is as important as assuring an honest election.

In Montana, on Nov. 7th, there was a very close election, and the control of the Senate was in the balance. Fortunately, Montana uses the PBOS system. Imagine if that election had been held on these ES&S paperless machines.

The control of our country must not be in the hands of people like Rep. Bob Ney, who's Help America Vote Act (HAVA) mandated the use of electronic voting machines. Ney is going to prison soon for his dealings with the infamous lobbyist Jack Abramoff but his HAVA legislation lives on. We must insist that this law be amended. We will have a much better chance of being heard by the new Congress in January.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Exit Plan

It took 3 weeks to invade, disband the Iraqi army, and take Baghdad. I don't see why it should take more than 3 months to leave. You've got the Sunni militia, the Shiite militia, the Kurdish militia, and the American militia. You've got all the militias fighting each-other and then you've got fighting within the main sects. Shia fighting Shia. We are just another militia. It's insane.

3 months everybody out - including all the contractors and all the oil companies. We don't keep any military bases, and we don't guard any oil wells. No more training Iraqi police. No more hearing we need to give the Iraqi's a deadline to take control of this province or that province. No more waiting for the Iraqi government to get a grip.
The only American presence remaining in Iraq should be our heavily guarded embassy. It should be renamed The American Center for the Reconstruction. It should be staffed with diplomats, consulting engineers, and intelligence people. The mission statement is simple. We are there to fund the reconstruction. Only Iraqi's are eligible for the funds. Funds are dispersed based upon performance and withheld from those suspected of violence and corruption.

We have destroyed much of their infrastructure. They only have a few hours of electricity a day. Clean water is scarce, and unemployment is very high. They have too much time on their hands. They are well armed and justifiably very angry. What do we expect them to do? Lets leave, and then hire them to rebuild their own country. It's the best prescription for peace.

If we convince the Iraqis that this is not the typical US embassy whose purpose is expanding the empire, then they will not bite the hand that feeds them, they will set to work rebuilding their country and the violence will subside.

The problem with my plan is that it is totally antithetical to the goals of the Bush Administration. They want a permanent military presence in the Middle East. They want to control the flow of oil. They want a constant state of war because it pays billions to the military industrial complex. They want to keep the people in a constant state of fear. Our job, therefore, is to remove the Bush Administration.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

John Kerry's Botched Joke

John Kerry's Joke about Bush. Everyone knows now how Kerry botched the joke, but the amazing part of the story is the response by Bush and his minions. They are pretending to be too stupid to realize that the joke was about Bush. They go on and on about how Kerry owes an apology to the troops. What does that say about what Bush thinks of we the people? He thinks that we are too stupid to realize that he is pretending to be too stupid to know that the joke was on him!
I think he has misunderestimated us this time. Why Bother Voting? Let's send a message that we are not as stupid as they think we are.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Habeas Corpus

Tuesday, October 17th 2006 we lost half of our Bill of Rights and the essential right of Habeas Corpus. Habeas has been part of our law since way before our constitution was written. It dates back to the year 1215 when some English lords confronted King John on the fields of Runny-mead and forced him to sign the Magna Carta. Basically, it's the law that allows you to ask "Hey, why am I in jail?"
On Wednesday, our local paper, the Ithaca Journal reported that Bush had signed this bill into law. The headline was not above the fold. The type size was much smaller than other more important local news. The media is largely responsible for the mess we find ourselves in. I have enough faith in the goodness and wisdom of the people to believe that we would not have elected these evil men to positions of power, had we been better informed. Most of us get our news from the television, and the coverage of this has been very poor there as well. Keith Olberman is the only person on the tube that seems to really get it. If you don't watch tv (I don't) then watch him on YouTube.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Pendulum Politics

The pendulum in politics has swung dangerously far to the right. A change is coming. Every citizen must be vigilant. If we do not return our nation to its more progressive heritage, we may loose our rights and freedoms as the ideologues fight to retain their power.

A brief look at history reveals a pattern of regime changes in our country. The first pro-corporate era began around 1870 shortly after the Civil War. This was the era of the Robber Barons, when corporations controlled our government and many aspects of the lives of average citizens. Many of the flagrant abuses of the Robber Barons were curtailed by trust busting initiated by Theodore Roosevelt. This was the first progressive era beginning in 1901 and lasting until about 1922. During this period, women got the right to vote, and we began directly electing our senators. Maximum hour laws and child labor laws where passed.

Warren Harding and Herbert Hoover handed control back to the corporations and began the second corporate regime, which lasted from 1923 to 1933. The inauguration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt marked the beginning of the second progressive era, The New Deal. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Peace Corps, unemployment insurance, civil rights, student loans, OSHA, EPA, FHA, HUD, USDA, the Marshal plan, women's rights, flood control programs, rural electrification, the GI bill, and the veterans administration began during this period.

The third corporate era began when Ronald Reagan was elected in 1981. Some hallmarks of this regime are NAFTA, CAFTA, the WTO, and the IMF, and the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act. This era is beginning to crumble. We see it in the huge inequality of wealth. We see it in the unsustainable national debt and trade deficits. We see it in the dissatisfaction of the people with their government. The good news is that the pendulum has swung to it's limit and that something is about to change. The bad news, is that we cannot be sure the change will come in the form of a more responsible and progressive government. If we fail to vote for progressive change in overwhelming numbers, we may loose democracy itself and the change may come in the form of Fascism. Our future depends upon how many of us will be awakened to the reality of the situation and are inspired to do something about it. We have that opportunity on November 7th.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Why Bother Voting? - The Damn Voting Machines!

The damn voting machines are sometimes used as an excuse for not voting. Please, if you don't vote, don't use this excuse. Obviously, if a significant percentage of us give up, we are doomed to lose our democracy. There is a growing movement of people who are organizing to oppose the theft of our vote, and they are making progress. Don't give up, join the fight. Go to http://www.velvetrevolution.us/ There are links here to many groups - thousands of people fighting for your rights.

You've probably heard of the Help America Vote Act. What a lovely name. Sounds righteous, noble, and fair. Did you know that the principle author of this legislation was Bob Ney? Bob Ney is a congressman from Ohio, at the time that I'm writing this. He won't be much longer though because last week he pled guilty to crimes involving the infamous lobbyist Jack Abermoff. He hasn't resigned from congress yet though, we are still paying his salary. Voting machine companies like Diebold and ES&S, pay lobbyists like Jack, who in turn bribe congressmen like Bob, to write bills that make suckers like us, fund the purchase of voting machines, which eat our votes. HAVA provided 3.8 billion dollars of our money to the states to "upgrade" their voting equipment.

Please watch this video:
And don't forget to vote. The good thing is, that stealing elections is tricky business. If the polls going into an election are predicting a landslide for one candidate, and the other candidate wins, it raises suspicions. The people at the Velvet Revolution are offering a $250,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of anyone stealing an election. If we all voted on November 7th there would be quite a few landslides and we just might get our democracy back.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


My dictionary defines liberality as the quality of being open to new ideas and free from prejudice. " John F Kennedy said in defense of the term "But if by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."

Most of our founding fathers were liberals. I believe the majority of this country believes in the principles of liberality, but they won't define themselves as liberal because, conservatives have done a thorough job of besmirching the word liberal over the past fifty years. The problem is that the percentage of liberals in our government has been dropping steadily over this period. This causes some of my good liberal friends to become disgusted with the choices we are given at election time, which causes them not to bother voting. For instance, senators Hillary Clinton, and Maria Cantwell have not spoken out against the war, so many liberals will not vote for them. I think this is a mistake.

One of our best liberal senators is Russ Feingold. Russ Feingold was interviewed yesterday on Air America. He was responsible for blocking the NSA wiretapping bill the same week as the Military Commissions Act was passed. When congress comes back after the elections in a lame duck session, the Republicans will try to ram the NSA bill through again. Hopefully he can stop it again. He wanted to filibuster the Military Commissions Act but he didn't have the 40 votes he needed because of the 11 democrats that chickened out. Maria Cantwell, and Hillary Clinton, did the right thing and voted against it. If we stop voting for them, then Feingold will never get the backing he needs.

Feingold said that reversing the Military Commissions Act would be a top priority for him. If we can pass a bill reversing it, then Bush will veto it, but Feingold wants to force him to veto it and then take that into the 08 election.

Asked why 11 Dems crossed over - Feingold said "Obviously, they feared the fact that this would be laid at their doorstep as being somehow soft on terrorism." He said it wasn't typical of the stands they usually take. People have to get active. They have to support progressive candidates and call their representatives and write letters to the editor. We have to find ways to move the collective consciousness back to the left and our representatives will follow. If we try to pull government back to the left by withdrawing support from less than perfect centrist democrats, then we are shooting ourselves in the foot, and pulling the rug out from under the few remaining liberal representatives that are fighting the good fight.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Why Bother Voting

Why didn't nearly half of the electorate bother to vote in the last presidential election? Why are many people annoyed when the subject turns to politics? When I have volunteered to make calls for candidates, most people won't take the time to talk to me. It seems they are too busy with their hectic lives and they fail to see how it affects them. I don't see it that way.

I'm a typical taxpaying American worker and I realize it's my responsibility to pay for roads and schools and police and our government institutions. But, it seems to me at least 1/2 of my tax dollar is being misspent. My tax dollars are funding a government that is dedicated to serving the interests of the rich and the multinational corporations. My tax dollars pay for death and destruction, and for making enemies all over the planet. Half of my tax dollars are actually working against my interests!

Some of my after tax dollars are spent buying gas for my car. In so doing, I support Exxon so they can lobby congress for more tax breaks and military support for their overseas operations. If I stop at Wal Mart for some new sneakers, I'm contributing to the trade deficit because Wal Mart and their friends in congress have decided that underpaid Chinese workers should make my sneakers, and that we should stop manufacturing anything here.

So, about 2 hours of my 8-hour day, are spent to facilitate a system, which will make it more difficult for me to feed, clothe, and house my family. The next two hours just bring me back up to zero. Half my day is shot, and I haven't made any real progress! The solution to these problems lies in politics, but politics don't matter? What if my kids are drafted into one of these illegal wars, then will it matter?

Politics is the only tool we have to regain control when we see our government headed in the wrong direction. We must act while there is still something left of the democratic process. Some of my friends don't think there is any hope of success (pointing to the stolen elections of 2000 and 2004). Obviously, there is no hope if we all give up. If we allow ourselves to become comfortably numb, it will be a short lived comfort. There are forces that are taking more and more advantage of us as we become more and more complacent.

These are not ordinary times in politics. During the last century, we might have ignored elections and still found ourselves with much the same country four years later. But not today. The disparity in the distribution of wealth has reached a new record. The Bush administration has gained unprecedented control over all three branches of government. The "free press," has been bought out by huge corporations that profit from the continued ignorance of the electorate. The National Security Agency wiretaps us while the telecoms offer to help. Unilateral preemptive military strikes are now acceptable. The Bush administration abandoned the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and now plans to build new nuclear weapons, and actually discusses using them against Iran! They are giving billions of our tax dollars to "faith based initiatives" in spite of Constitutional separation of church and state. Bush is above the law. He is the “decider”, and doesn't have to explain his decisions. He issues “signing statements,” which show that he will interpret the law as he pleases. We are borrowing trillions of dollars from the next generation, so that we can give tax breaks to the super rich. Bush wants to privatize social security, large parts of the military, and the voting process itself! If we do not act quickly, our vote not only may not count, it may not be counted! In five years, our country has already undergone very fundamental changes.

Get involved. Support progressive candidates. Talk to your friends and neighbors, and get them to the polls November 7th in numbers large enough to overwhelm those who tamper with voting machines and gerrymander our districts. If the democrats can take 15 seats in the House, then we will begin to see congressional oversight, which has been completely laking in the Republican controlled House.

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Trumansburg, NY, United States