Sunday, November 07, 2004
You can read all about this in almost any newspaper this weekend or you can hear it on the radio or watch it on television. You can even find it on the net. So I'm not going to bore you with my amateur interpretation of how the Democratic campaign could have been more efficient.
Instead, I'd like to point out that it takes two to tango. Somehow we have decided that the proper view of political engagement is similar to an ardent wooer going after someone uninterested. It is as if the politicians must not only inform the voters about what is at stake, but also personally get them out of the house and into the voting booth. The voter appears to have no responsibility, no obligation whatsoever. The voter is also seen as a buyer, a reluctant consumer, and the onus is for the political firms to sell their products by clever advertizing. In either of these metaphors an uninvolved voter is seen as blameless.
This is not what democracy is all about, of course. We have a responsibility to be involved, to educate ourselves about the issues and to vote. If we accept this view of voters as passive lumps to be manipulated by the right message, even against their will, we have no democracy but a system in which politicians manage the voters. It should be the other way round.
I'm just now hearing on the radio that voters can't get informed or involved because they are so busy with their lives, their children, their work. Fine. I'm too busy to have my teeth checked, too, but if I don't get them taken care of regularly I will end up with no teeth. In the same manner, those who are too busy for democracy will end up without it.
This is not to say that the pressures on people's time today wouldn't be real. They are, and we need to do more to make voting easier. For one thing, the election day should be a national holiday so that the poor don't have to choose between a paycheck and voting, and there should be daycare facilities and free buses to the site. It wouldn't cost that much for one day every few years, and paying the money would show real respect towards the voters. But it is still true that even if voting is a hard chore it is a necessary one for anyone who wants to live in a democracy.
The Democrats probably made many mistakes in their campaigning. Given that really atrocious and mortal errors didn't matter for Bush's chances of getting another four years, mistakes don't seem to matter too much. To be quite honest, I am much more concerned with the hidden message in all the articles that talk about how the Democrats could have done better, because the hidden message is that the voters are objects, passive lumps, to be manipulated at will by others. Politics is not consumerism, whatever the corporations try to tell us.
It's time to treat democracy seriously. This means making the voters understand not only their rights but their moral responsibility. It also means making sure that every vote counts, even the votes of minorities.
Moral values is a religiously correct (R.C.) term for defining rightwing values (no gay marriage, no choice for women, a certain kind of hidden racism)as the Good Values. If you don't share these moral values you are a person without any values. You want to kill babies and appease terrorists, where the former is defined to include embryos and fetuses and the latter is defined to include any individuals of Arab countries and/or Muslim religion.
Many have pointed out that even a polite interpretation of the rightwing moral values only includes private values: those that apply to an individual's sexuality or family arrangements. R.C. values appear not to include public values. This may explain why the wingnut politicians are often the most shameless manipulators, liars and crooks. It suffices to sigh deeply over terrible tales of same-sex love or the butchering of innocent zygotes, whereas the deaths of Iraqi civilians from babies to the elderly can be passed over as just one unfortunate side-effect of the holy fight against terrorism. It is acceptable to tell the Americans that the country attacked Iraq to keep terrorists away from the United States, and nobody asks why it is ok to move our terrorist problems into the backyards of people who had nothing to do with causing them. Better that they be killed than someone here, perhaps?
The other interesting thing about these R.C. moral values is the odd mix of extreme duality and fuzziness. The wingnuts accuse the rest of us for fuzzy morals, and point out their extreme good versus evil values as the clear and correct ones. Everything must be totally right or totally wrong; thus, the so-called 'partial birth abortion' is totally wrong, even if the fetus is dead in the womb or rapidly dying. But the extra deaths of Iraqi civilians caused by our invasion (as many as 100,000, perhaps) are something fuzzy in value terms: lamentable, yes, but necessary. At the same time, the deaths that Saddam caused during his reign are totally wrong. No ifs and buts about that part. And it is R.C. to argue that anyone who thinks the world is not a better place without Saddam Hussein in power is a treasonist or even a terrorist. God help you if you try to explain that this comparison shouldn't be made as if the choices are 'Saddam in power' and 'perfect Eden', given that perfect Eden is not what is happening in Iraq right now. Then your moral values are terrible and you deserve nothing better than being called a Saddam-lover.
In reality most people have moral values, not just religious people. There is something extremely insulting in the R.C. assumption that only the fear of gods can make you act nicely. I have heard more than one wingnut commentator argue that I can't have any values if I don't believe in the Christian god; after all, what would keep me from acting totally selfishly if there is no eternal punishment? This tells a lot more about the wingnut than it tells about me.
Maybe the right wingers should take stock of their own moral values and consider lengthening their lists with a few more: honesty, compassion and justice. These are not R.C. right now, but they are real values nevertheless.
This is from the Salon:
A lieutenant in the New Jersey National Guard -- sent home after she was allegedly raped on a Mississippi base -- has been declared absent without leave in an attempt to force her to return to her old unit, her lawyer charged.
She does not want to return to her old base, because that would bring her into direct contact with her alleged rapist who is also an officer there. She had asked to be reassigned to another base while she is beginning her preparations for leaving the military.
The powers-that-be appear to have no knowledge of the psychological effects of acts on violence on their victims. Especially when the violence comes from someone you are supposed to regard as a fellow soldier, someone who was supposed to get your back when things get bad. Of course, this is assuming that she told the truth about the rape.
Saturday, November 06, 2004
Just to remind you that I also blog on the American Street on Saturdays. You can go there if you want to get more politics today. Though why any of us is that masochistic beats me.
I am going to start boycotting certain firms from now on, by the way. The Whole Foods chain has been getting a lot of my money, but from now on they get none of it. They have been successful at taking over profitable organic food stores all across the country and then at profiting from their established reputation as good providers of food while all the time destroying their local delivery chains, leaving the local farmers bankrupt and substituting sources from places like Costa Rica and Chile. And the owner of the chain is a big Ayn Rand fan (I had Bush fan here earlier, but I can't prove it so I took it out; he's a Libertarian, though). Also, the company is fighting unionization of its work force.
This is going to create some real hardships for me as I'm a terrible cook. But that's what I'm going to do.
In other Saturday notes, I'm training Henrietta and Hank (the dogs) to sing while I accompany them with a harmonica. It sounds really good right now, and I might put up an audio of our concert in the near future!
I am still digesting the election results, though now the process has shifted largely to the thinking part of me. And what I get is more and more questions.
Consider the information I had right before the elections: The most recent polls were showing a very close presidential race, and many were predicting Kerry slightly ahead of Bush. The news about new voter recruitment quite strongly implied that Democrats were being far more successful in this than Republicans. The exit polls that were leaked during the election day showed a very similar state of affairs.
Then the actual results were quite different. I have been told in various explanations in the media that the Republican effort of getting the vote out just happened below the media's radar. My question: How is this possible? How could the media not pay attention to the Republican vote effort? I am not blaming the media here, by the way, I am only trying to understand what happened.
Next the exit polls failed to reflect the actual results. Traditionally, exit polls have been pretty good at predicting the final results. Why were they so much off this time? Why were they all wrong in the same direction, i.e. showing too many Kerry voters? I would think that if they were off due to the fact that a sample can be unrepresentative by fluke, at least a few sets of results should have been wrong in the other direction, i.e., showing too much support for Bush.
I have also read that the early exit polls were wrong while the later ones were more correct. At the same time, I have read that the later exit polls available on the net were adjusted by the actual vote counts. This would seem to be a very bad thing if it is actually true. What are the facts here? Also, is it true that the exit polls were good predictors of the final results in paper ballot areas but not in the machine voting areas? And if this is true, why?
Finally, if the exit polls are not to be relied on, why are they relied on when it comes to the argument that moral values was the most important reason voters went for Bush? After all, if the exit polls are wrong, they can't be used for some arguments and not for other arguments. If the percentages in the exit polls were unreliable, do we really know what the most frequent argument for voting the Bush-ticket might be?
Questions. So many questions, so little time.
In Kenya, a physician is facing murder charges for performing abortions:
John Nyamu, a Kenyan obstetrician and gynecologist, will stand trial next week after being charged with performing 15 abortions. Dr. Steven Ochiel, the head of Kenya's Medical Association, is urging doctors to protest the murder trial, stating that "the case against Dr. Nyamu is not against him. It is against the medical profession," reports The East African Standard.
In Portugal, abortion is mostly illegal, and as a consequence:
Health statistics reveal that over 1,000 Portuguese women were hospitalized last year as a result of complications from back-alley abortions. According to Agence France-Presse, between 20,000 to 40,000 clandestine abortions are performed annually in Portugal.
In the U.S., abortion might also become mostly or totally illegal:
Anti-abortion advocates responding to the results of the presidential election announced that with President Bush's win and the Republican Party's increased control of the US Congress, they have hopes that the administration will successfully pursue an anti-choice agenda. Citing a net gain of three anti-choice senators, the National Right to Life Committee is planning to pursue legislation that would make it a crime to travel with a minor across state lines to obtain an abortion in order to circumvent restrictive parental notification laws that inhibit a woman's right to choose, according to Reuters. Anti-abortion advocates are also aiming to ban human cloning, even for stem cell research purposes, as well as secure right-wing, anti-abortion nominations to federal courts.
Banning abortions will not stop them. It will drive them underground and increase the number of women dying each year, though the rich will get their abortions safely in any case. What would severely reduce abortions is proper sex education, including information on both abstinence and the proper use of contraception.
Just look at abortion statistics in those countries which do have proper sex education.
Also, anti-abortion men and women could just say no to sex...But I doubt that this recommendation will work. I also wonder how much the anti-abortion movement is really founded on desires other than the belief that life begins at conception (rather than at some other point either before or after conception). There are some very primal reasons why many view women largely as a source for more population growth, and as population growth is very important for groups like the White Supremacists, to have this important political variable determined by individual women's decisions is not a good thing for them.
Friday, November 05, 2004
Here is a clear example of the terrible Hollywood liberals' effect on the real Americans:
Nov. 5, 2004 - The Texas Board of Education approved new health textbooks for the state's high school and middle school students Friday after the publishers agreed to change the wording to depict marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
The decision involves two of the biggest textbook publishers and represents another example of Texas exerting its market clout as the nation's second-largest buyer of textbooks. Officials say the decision could affect hundreds of thousands of books in Texas alone.
On Thursday, a board member charged that proposed new books ran counter to a Texas law banning the recognition of gay civil unions because the texts used terms like "married partners" instead of "husband and wife."
Moreover, one of the publishers agreed to even more fundamental changes:
After hearing the debate Thursday, one publisher, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, agreed to include a definition of marriage as a "lifelong union between a husband and a wife." The definition, which was added to middle school textbooks, already was in Holt's high school editions, Holt spokesman Rick Blake said.
That lifelong bit really shows the oppression of fundamental Christians who have gotten divorced! But at least the coastal elites didn't get this term inserted, though they tried:
Neither publisher added all the changes Leo initially pushed for. For instance, one proposed passage in the teacher's editions read: "Opinions vary on why homosexuals, lesbians and bisexuals as a group are more prone to self-destructive behaviors like depression, illegal drug use, and suicide."
Poor Christians. They almost got oppressed here, again and again.
P.S. This is a very poor example of sarcasm.
The exit polls in this year's elections were unreliable. Supposedly the surveys across the country tilted towards Kerry early in the day and throughout much of the evening in some states.
Why this happened is something I have not been able to establish. It is an odd kind of mistake to make; one that causes bias in only one direction. I would have expected that some states would have had polls tilting towards Bush and some towards Kerry. Why would all exit polls tilt in the same direction, and one that was not the correct one based on the election results? I really want to understand this.
In any case, it is interesting to note that "Late in the evening, the exit polls were adjusted to reflect the official vote count."
Is this the common practice? If so, that would obviously account for the common experience that exit polls have been pretty reliable in the past. But I very much doubt that their reliability was caused by a trick like this.
This link shows some very interesting patterns in the comparisons between exit poll and final election results by state.
Voting is an important part of democracy and it's really very necessary to understand exactly what happened. If we don't understand this, our trust in the very concept of democracy will be reduced.
Richard Viguerie is a right-wing strategist who invented their direct mail campaign in the 1960's. This consisted of sending short, simple (even too simple in terms of truth)letters to people asking for money to oppose abortion or to shrink the government. Many of the respondents sent in small donations and also identified themselves as the base of what today is the socially conservative movement in the Republican party. Th wingnuts, for short. So Viguerie is kind of a king of wingnuts. He gave an interview to the Salon about what's going to happen now that the Republicans finally have "a mandate". Would you like to know what he is saying? I don't think you do, but I'm going to tell you anyway:
, who is the author most recently of "America's Right Turn: How the Conservatives Used New and Alternative Media to Take Power," took a break Thursday from his work blocking Specter's ascension to the Judiciary chairmanship to talk with Salon.
You were quoted in the New York Times Thursday saying, "The revolution begins now." But I thought the [conservative] revolution has been going on for a while.
Well, it has; that's a good observation. But it hasn't been at the public policy level. The conservatives have been engaged in building the movement for 43 years. Actually, it really started 49 years ago, when Bill Buckley launched the National Review. Morton Blackwell [one of Viguerie's contemporaries and fellow activists] said many years ago that when he first came to Washington he realized that conservatives had never nominated anyone for president. That was our first challenge, and we did that in 1964 [when Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona won the Republican nomination for president]. Then, we needed to nominate and elect somebody, and we did that in 1980 [with Ronald Reagan]. Then our next goal was to nominate, elect and govern. And that's what we have not yet done. We have not yet governed.
But you can't call it a revolution anymore if you're in power, if you're the government? Or can you?
It would be [a revolution] in terms of legislation. The time is now to take a very different approach to governing that this town hasn't seen since the 1930s, when Democrats took control of the White House in the 1932 election [with FDR]. Since then, the big-government establishment has driven the political agenda. They started driving it in the early 1930s, and they pretty much drove the agenda through 1994 [when Republicans seized control of both the House and the Senate for the first time in 40 years].
Then things kind of came to a halt. It was difficult for the conservatives to implement a lot of their agenda. [With Bill Clinton's election in 1992] they didn't have the White House. The president could veto our legislation, as he did. And then, we had slim [conservative] majorities to none in the Senate. Now we have a comfortable margin. And George Bush has a mandate. It's humorous and amusing to hear people in the media and liberals in the country -- and even some Republicans, though not many, just one as a matter of fact -- who are saying we're not going to move on [our conservative agenda].
If we don't move forward now, what was the purpose of building the movement? We were told under Reagan we couldn't do this and that because we didn't have the House or a majority of conservative senators. Now, we've got everything. We've got a president reelected based on running a conservative agenda. We're thrilled and pleased. We've got a good comfortable [conservative Republican] majority in both houses. Now's the time to do it.
Just to remove any doubt that we are not going to see much unification this year if the wingnuts have their way. Which they might, given that they now have a one-party country to operate in.
Georgie Porgie will have to do an intricate dance here if he doesn't want to use up the ace in his sleeve within the next four years. The ace is of course banning choice in child-bearing, first through the banning of abortion and then through the banning of contraception.
Another article in the Salon poins out that this election was one in which the working classes pretty much went for Bush. The Republicans have succeeded in creating a populist movement which benefits only the conservative elites and their corporate cronies. I must take my hat off for them: this is something Macchiavelli would applaud if he still had hands.
These are the results of one voting precinct in Ohio, from Kos:
Franklin County, OH: Gahanna 1-B Precinct
638 TOTAL BALLOTS CAST
Fingerhut (D) - 167 votes
Voinovich (R) - 300 votes
Kerry (D) - 260 votes
Bush (R) - 4,258 votes
Thursday, November 04, 2004
This is fun. An outsider often can see more clearly than those who are immersed in an issue, and it might be very useful for us to see what the British press is writing on our election results. The Guardian is a lefty paper in the U.K., but despite this, perhaps astonishingly for many Americans, it is highly respected.
This is their take on the results:
A mood of elation permeated the ranks of evangelical Christians in the United States yesterday as it became clear that the election marked a watershed moment for their chances of implementing a conservative moral agenda - above all on the issues of abortion and gay marriage.
Buoyed by exit-poll results suggesting that moral issues had weighed on voters' minds even more than terrorism, activists vowed to use their victory to push the second Bush administration to ban same-sex unions at a federal level and to move the supreme court to the right. "I think it's quite possible this could be a turning point," said Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Group lobbying organisation.
"We're seeing from the exit polls that conservative Christian voters turned out in record numbers ... so we certainly will be pressing for action on key items of our agenda, and we will not be shy about claiming that our influence was significant in the outcome of the election."
In a post-election memo obtained by the New York Times, Richard Viguerie, a rightwing direct-mailing campaigner, issued a warning to the Republican party. "Make no mistake - conservative Christians and 'values voters' won this election for George W Bush and Republicans in congress," he wrote.
"It's crucial that the Republican leadership not forget this - as much as some will try ... Liberals, many in the media and inside the Republican party, are urging the president to 'unite' the country by discarding the allies that earned him another four years."
This might prove a little inconvenient for the administration who is still talking about working with the Democrats. Not that they ever planned to do so, but it's still the honeymoon period of broken promises. Good of our fundamentalist brethren to remind us that the election was not about the war in Iraq, about the poor economy and terrible failures in education or about the totally incompetent administration we have had in the last four years. No, the election was about moral values, a P.C. term for religious values of the fundamentalist sort.
These are not the kinds of values that you can read about in the Bible, on the whole. There is nothing about feeding the poor or comforting the sick, for example. But there is a lot on abortion which, astonishingly, Jesus failed to comment on.
Anyway, this could prove to be quite interesting in the longer run for the Republican party. The fundamentalists want to get their payment for piping the tune; else they will walk away with the children of the well-endowed, just like the Pied Piper of Hameln. Will the Republicans pay or not?
But a leading moderate Republican told the Guardian yesterday the tactic could prove self-destructive if pushed further. "If Bush deliberately or inadvertently appoints enough judges to overturn Roe v Wade, the worst-case scenario is that it's the beginning of the end of the Republican party," said Jennifer Blei Stockman, co-chair of the Republican Majority for Choice. "It wouldn't be long before the outrage would spill into the voting booth, and it would only be a matter of time before the Democratic party ascends to power that will last for a long time."
In pandering to evangelical conservatives, Ms Stockman said, Republican strategists had "been feeding a monster who now has the party by its tail". At least 75% of Bush voters do not consider themselves evangelicals, she said. "The keynote speakers at the Republican convention were all 'pro-choice' moderates, from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Rudy Giuliani to [New York governor] George Pataki. Was that just a masquerade or was something of substance communicated?"
Conservative Republicans argue that talk of an imminent reversal of Roe v Wade is fearmongering, though they are far from reticent themselves in using lurid and shocking campaign messages.
Why would talk about overturning Roe v. Wade be fearmongering? It is part of the Republican official agenda. Surely we are going to see the end of "babykilling" in the next four years, at least in sanitary spaces and without coathangers. This should be a time for great rejoicing for all true wingnuts. However, as Ms. Stockman points out, if the administration gives the fundamentalists their pound of flesh, what will happen in the next elections? How can the fundamentalists be encouraged to vote again when there is no such burning issue left?
May I suggest banning all contraception. That should do well as the next energizing move for the fundamentalist armies. Then we can consider other measures that you can read about in The Handmaid's Tale. By any luck, the Republicans can stretch this out for a decade or so.
Henrietta the Hound has diarrhea because of having to live around my emotions, and I have decided to put my rose-colored glasses on!
Nothing but good stuff for a while.
So I'm going to write about my bagua practice. Bagua is an internal martial art like tai chi, but at the same time very different. It looks weirder, for one thing, and it's done very fast, indeed, on high levels so fast that the opponent can't see how you got behind him, around him and back to his front. The name reflects bagua's dependence on the Chinese I Ching, and also bagua's purported ability to make the practitioner capable of fighting eight enemies simultaneously (ba=8, I think).
In the initial stages of practice, the moving isn't very fast. It's ridiculously slow and awkward and your knees creak and hurt a lot if you're not careful. But after a while it becomes interesting and then suddenly you go fast.
Bagua is done in a circle. The energy it creates is a spiraling type and the movements of the art reflect this spiraling nature of the energy. It's very invigorating, yet at the same time quite meditative and peaceful.
I try to practise every day, but Hank also likes to practise, so I often have a chocolate Labrador between my legs as I shuffle around a small circle. This makes my form bad: you are supposed to keep the legs very close together as you walk, but mine tend to bend out into a Hank-space. These are the necessary compromises in life.
In other good news, I have lots of Halloween candy left. I eat the chocolate outside of the candy and then throw away the insides. Aren't you glad I shared that?
In an interview on the NPR about the election turnout of the two parties, the interviewer asked a Baptist minister about why his flock turned out in such large numbers. He talked about how excited everybody was to vote and how they were really energized by their opposition to the possibility of same-sex marriage. Also abortion limitations, but especially the prevention of same-sex marriage. He compared the emotions of his congregation to those of a person standing on the edge of the cliff and being pushed over. The alternatives left would be to fall into the abyss or to push back. His congregants decided to push back.
It is an appealing story, isn't it. The problem is that nobody was pushing these people into an abyss, nobody was actually telling them anything to do whatsoever. Same-sex marriage is not something that would be required by law by a certain percentage in each Baptist congregation. In fact, a legal same-sex marriage in the whole nation would have no effect on any Baptist church's ability to refuse to marry people of the same sex.
This is because of the separation of the church and the state. If the two were not separated as many fundamentalists desire, the state could make the churches carry out their laws to the letter.
It seems that the fundamentalists are not really thinking this out carefully, though of course they do, they don't want no separation between the church and the state in this direction: the state infiltrating the church, only in the other direction. And they clearly assume that the state would then make only such decisions as the church approves of.
Another fascinating aspect about this interview is the feeling I got that this particular Baptist minister felt that it was his rights that were infringed by the looming spectre of same-sex marriage, even though this is not the case. Nobody is forcing him to divorce his wife in order to marry some man. It is all about other people's rights, and to argue for these appears to be equated with the oppression of religion.
The program didn't mention if this particular church was Southern Baptist or not. But it's good to remember that the Southern Baptists no longer allow women to be ministers and that they recommend the submission of women in marriage. As far as I can see, religious oppression is much more likely to initiate from the church than to focus on the church.
Isn't it time to begin talking about two Americas in a more concrete way than the one John Edwards used? The United States of America is no longer one country if it ever was. It seems to consist of two countries totally different in beliefs and desires.
The Red states appear to have large majorities believing in minimal government and a very strong fundamentalist type of Christianity. The Blue states appear to have majorities varying in size that believe in more government and a strict separation of church and state. The decisions that please the Reds will anger the Blues and vice versa.
We have come to a point of extreme division, and as I have been writing many times, this is almost totally the fault of the right-wing pundits and others who benefit from fomenting fear and hatred among the fundamentalists. Still, what is done is done. The results are obvious: we spend enormous amounts of time and resources in Washington fighting and bickering over these basic divisions, and each side sees it as a war to pretty much death. Think how much money and energy we are wasting on something that may not be fixable.
The correct solution would be to reorganize the country into two separate nations and let each of these run their lives as they wish.
Life would be so much more pleasant for all of us, and both countries could spend their legislative time and effort on questions that really need to be addressed in each country.
This is completely along the lines of the Republican states-rights movement, so I suspect that they'd be happy to hear about this idea. So simple, so obviously correct, and probably so terribly illegal. Who knows? But it seems ridiculous to beat about the bush (!) when the facts are very clear to everybody.
We are no longer in the same country, and we'd all be much happier if there were two countries. We in the Coastal states could start working on the issues we find important and creating a good and just society for all. Those who live in the Inland states could ban abortion and birth control and install madrassa-like religious schools and also get what they regard as a just society.
The fly in the soup is money, of course. We in the Blue states are supporting the Red states, and it's not very likely that the Red staters will let us go. But they should. It really is the sensible and fair solution to everybody.
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
These are messages left by pro-Bush people on Atrios' blog. For those who don't read there, Atrios is a liberal blog. People are right now going through a hard time there, and this is what our wingnut brethren contributed:
I have to say.. that $2000 Bush-Cheney '04 campaign contribution was the best fucking money I have ever spent in my entire life.
Oops!... its' getting late...time to get in my 2004 Merecedes SL500, cruise over to the country club and hit the links for a few.
Better luck in 2008, losers.
P.S. You fuckers can't win anything, can you? Perhaps you should stop blaming Bush and the nearly 60 mil that voted for him and start taking a look in the mirror.
Seethe, whine, bitch, piss and moan.
You fuckers don't get "it" at all.
All you have been programed to say is, "Diebold", "voter fraud", etc., etc.
Maybe, just fucking maybe, if you hadn't nominated an elitist puke that keeps saying, "I am for the little people", you wouldn't have lost?
He had no character, plan OR vision for America and all you can do is seethe, whine.....
The first step to recovery is admitting one's faults
10 REASONS I AM HAPPY:
If Canada or France don't work out for all of you, try Cuba. Or Iran.
And one more thing about all of the "tax cut" bitching.
The only tax that is moral is a flat tax. Today, you get punished for working harder and earning more money. That is completely immoral and unethical. A man should not punish another man for his extra effort. Let me repeat that. A MAN SHOULD NOT PUNISH ANOTHER MAN FOR HIS EXTRA EFFORT.
Support flat tax efforts. On the whole, it's good for the society. And it rewards those who work hard and push our economy forward.
I really like that last one, especially the idea that women are free to do whatever they wish about punishing others. Of course he didn't mean that; in his world women don't exist. - Anyway, remember how we are all supposed to try to come together in this country and heal?
I'm in a nostalgic mood today so bear with me. Fifteen years ago I was a woman (not a goddess in this story) excited about her new job and friends and family, and in general optimistic about the world. Politics was something other people did and it seemed a little smelly and quite inelegant to me. Politics was something that involved talking about sewer pipes and trade agreements and whether taxes should go down or up, and this didn't have much to do with my life. So...aggressive.
Then something happened. I had always been an avid reader and I started reading more political news. And by doing this I found out about the American radical right. It sounded like a joke to me, it really did, and I probably laughed at the funniest bits. But of course the number of similar messages kept rising, and they were echoed by distant thunderings in other countries, largely Islamic ones. Then slowly, drip by drip, the same messages seeped into what I then thought was the mainstream media, but by now so carefully distorted and camouflaged that it took a real effort to decipher them and see them for what they were. And a different stream of messages joined the first fundamentalist ones: messages of hesitation and doubt about most of the advances the Western nations have made during the last hundred years in human rights. Wasn't affirmative action truly every bit as bad as any past act of vicious racial oppression? Wasn't feminism a failure; a movement that gave women nothing but the double-shift days? Something was changing, something that was born in the shady corners of radical right, carefully nurtured and fed in the Republican think tanks and then released in a disguised form to be absorbed in the innocent-seeming articles and columns of newspapers and women's magazines, to be added to movies and tv sitcoms as this odd almost unnoticeable twist which left the moral of the ending reversed from the one it seemed to be?
At first I decided I was imagining things, then I prayed that I was imagining things. Then I accepted that I wasn't imagining anything, and started doing research on the radical right. What I learned left me so scared that I couldn't sleep for several nights. Yet I could not make anyone else see the danger looming at the horizon; in fact, I lost friends during this stage of frantic scrambling towards truth. The truth, as is now pretty clear, was that a large number of people in this country, as well as in countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan and so on were turning into religious literalists, largely as a response to the human rights developments that I had so treasured. These people desired a world which would be run on the basis of opinions written two thousand years ago by members of various nomadic herders in the Middle East. I could not breathe in such a world. What to do? What can any of us do alone?
So I became politicized and learned more than I had ever wanted to know what the Republican party wants to achieve in this country, and none of it is pretty. The long-term platform includes the complete abolition of the social safety-nets, the cancelation of civil rights protections, the very eradication of the government except for two reasons: to provide military protection and to enforce laws for the protection of Christianity and the assets of the wealthy. The Republicans are not shy about the existence of this platform, either. Every tiny move they make is a step down this path, from the so-called Faith initiative to the destruction of the public schools.
Even without George Bush in the White House, I became an activist, but a nice and polite one. I wrote carefully researched treatises based on facts and had very pleasant debates with various conservatives. I thought I won all these arguments, but of course the fight has never been about facts. It has always been about our whole way of life and about who has the right to wield power. So most of my effort was for nothing, and I grew more despondent.
Fast forward to last year or so. Someone gave me a ring in the form of a writhing snake. Such an odd present, I thought. Then I got a framed photograph of a snake in the mail, and a friend bought me snake bookmark. One day in the library I opened a book at random and started reading about Echidne, the Greek snake goddess. As I stood there in the stacks, reading, my hair rose up and began undulating. Each tip of each individual hair acquired a forked tongue, and they were all hissing. I couldn't see or move for what felt like an eternity but was probably only a second or two.
From that day onwards I have accepted that my role in this battle is to be the voice of the snake goddess and all that she represents.
And right now she is angry, very angry, and the earth is shaking under her feet. She is energized and she is ready to strike. For justice. For peace. For a better world for most of us.
Without waiting for the provisional ballots in Ohio. Who knows if this is the right thing to do or not?
It has been a rollercoaster ride, that's sure. Only a few days ago a Kerry victory seemed to hang in the air, there was something different about the way the pundits behaved and Bush looked uncertain and sad. And there was talk about a large increase in new Democratic voter registrations and a great youth movement of new voters, expected to vote for Kerry. What happened to this talk?
Was there a evidence for any of it? If so, what happened to the evidence?
Then the exit polls seemed to suggest that Kerry was doing well. And wham! The reverse in the ride, whiplashing our necks. That's where we are now.
I hear that the new Kerry voters who registered for just this election didn't turn out to vote, but the people who did turn out in large numbers were the Republican base: the Bible-carriers. As many as one in three of exit polled voters stated that they were voting for "moral values", and these were overwhelmingly Bush-voters. It is hard not to conclude that a large number of Americans care nothing about the war, the economy and other such secular questions, but instead worry much more about Christian values, interpreted very narrowly and literally. I'm not happy about that. I like the bits in the Bible which talk about caring for the poor and not ripping people off in commercial transactions, but the Fundamentalists tend not to mention those. You know the ones that they love to talk about.
So it's not hard to conclude that it's perfectly possible to get re-elected (or elected for the first time in a legal way) even if you are the worst president the country has ever seen, even if you attacked Mexico because Pearl Harbor happened, even if you combine pointless blood-letting wars with humongous tax cuts for the rich, even if you are willing to rape Mother Nature and call it seduction by her (the slut), and so on. This is where we stand right now.
The next step is to continue the fight against the radical right for the simple reason that this is what we need to do. The alternative is impossible, unless you believe that a kinder, gentler Taliban in a polluted country with gated luxury compounds among the filthy unwashed masses is just the ticket for you.
So back to work!
There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth in the lefty blogosphere. That's ok, it's hard to see the results of so much hard work in canvassing and voter registration and all the money that has been donated. You're right to feel a little down. For a few days.
But then you must get up and go back to fighting. The reason is very simple: we are right. We have the right values and the right facts and we can see what will happen if we give up. It's not pretty. So we must continue. The Republicans have been building their power base for forty years, and we have rebuilt the Democratic party for how long? A year? Clearly, patience is required here. We are going to win, though it may take a little bit longer than some expected. There is no alternative, or rather, the alternative is too horrible to contemplate.
It is a beautiful thing to work for a righteous cause. Don't forget that. My admiration and love to all of you who have worked so hard for a fairer society and a more peaceful work. We will reap the fruits of this work even if the trees are not ready to flower quite yet.
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
It's still unknown what will happen in the presidential elections, but whoever will win, the outcome does not please my liberal heart.
Given George Bush's record (he really is the worst president ever), it shouldn't even be close. That it is tells me that things are not well in the United States of America. What would have happened if Bush had been a little more polished in his misdeeds? He would have won in a landslide.
I'm sorry if I sound pessimistic, but the figures are good cause for pessimism. The values of Enlightenment, humanism and open enquiry are not the values of enough Americans.
Still, I'm hoping that the next U.S. president will be John Kerry!
I'm going out to do bagua, so I will not comment on the elections until 10 Eastern time. Right now it's too early to say anything much, but I'm full of hope, like a balloon ready to take off. Keep thinking positively! Keep visualizing President Kerry!
These are from kos and were taken at 6 p.m.:
PA 53 46
FL 51 49
NC 48 52
OH 51 49
MO 46 54
AR 47 53
MI 51 47
NM 50 49
LA 43 56
CO 48 51
AZ 45 55
MN 54 44
WI 52 47
IA 49 49
And the first final results are also in: Bush won in Georgia, Indiana and Kentucky, Kerry in Vermont. All these are expected.
Recent exit poll numbers from a source at the Democratic National Committee, given to political journalist Doug Ireland:
Colorado - Kerry 48.7 - Bush 50.8
Florida - Kerry 51.7 - Bush 48.1
Iowa - Kerry 50 - Bush 50
Maine - Kerry 55 - Bush 44.4
Michigan - Kerry 51.5 - Bush 47.7
Minnesota - Kerry 58.5 - Bush 40.2
New Hampshire - Kerry 57.9 - Bush 41.4
New Mexico - Kerry 50.2 - Bush 48.8
Ohio - Kerry 52.2 - Bush 47.8
Pennsylvania - Kerry 59 - Bush 40
Wisconsin - Kerry 52.6 - Bush 47.3
Arkansas - Kerry 44.5 - Bush 55
New Jersey - Kerry 56.4 - Bush 43.2
Remember the pinch of salt.
Remember to treat everything preliminary with a large pinch of salt. And never think that you shouldn't go out to vote because it's a) in the bag or b) a certain loss. With these warnings:
Ohio - African American precincts are performing at 106% what we expected, based on historical numbers. Hispanic precincts are at 144% what we expected. Precincts that went for Gore are turning out 8% higher then those that went Bush in 2000. Democratic base precincts are performing 15% higher than GOP base precincts.
Florida - Dem base precincts are performing 14% better than Bush base precincts. In precincts that went for Gore, they are doing 6% better than those that went for Bush. African American precincts at 109%, Hispanic precincts at 106%.
Pennsylvania - African American precincts at 102% of expectations, Hispanics at 136% of expectations. The Gore precincts are doing 4 percent better than bush precincts.
Michigan- Democratic base precincts are 8% better than GOP base states. Gore precincts are 5% better than Bush.
MyDD.com also has some preliminary results by state. These are exit polls and taken very early in the day. Traditionally, Republican votes are higher in the morning, but this may not be true this year. In either case, read with great care.
Another source for the exit polls is Salon:
According to the first exit polls by the National Election Pool, a consortium of six major media organizations, Kerry's not doing half bad.
The results posted below warrant at least a few grains of salt, but as of 2pm Eastern, exit polls show Kerry winning in Florida (51-48), Pennsylvania (60-40), Ohio (52-48), Michigan (51-47), New Mexico (50-48), Minnesota (58-40), Wisconsin (52-43), and New Hampshire (57-41).
The president leads in Arizona (55-45), Colorado (51-48), and Louisiana (57-42). Iowa is a tie (49-49).
Whom to vote for today? We have here two New York Times columnists, both writing on the elections. Here's Brooks:
There are moments when I think, These are exactly the sorts of mistakes that administrations should be thrown out of office for.
Then other considerations come into play. The first is Kerry. He's been attacked for being a flip-flopper, but his core trait is that he is monumentally selfish. Since joining the Senate, he has never attached himself to an idea or movement larger than his own career advancement.
I doubt that this is true, but even if it were, I'd rather have an ordinary egotist in the White House than someone who believes that God speaks through him. Well, you know that Brooks is not going to vote for Kerry, though he admits that Bush has done a crappy job. He's too scared of terrorism and he wants to get rid of Social Security and Medicare, because they're "asphyxiating" the government. Better have the elderly asphyxiated by untreated disease and hunger, at least if one is called David Brooks and has a nice, fat paycheck.
Then here's Krugman:
Here's what a correspondent from Florida wrote to Joshua Marshall, of talkingpointsmemo.com: "To see people coming out - elderly, disabled, blind, poor; people who have to hitch rides, take buses, etc. - and then staying in line for hours and hours and hours ... Well, it's humbling. And it's awesome. And it's kind of beautiful."
Yes, it is. I always get a little choked up when I go to the local school to cast my vote. The humbleness of the surroundings only emphasizes the majesty of the process: this is democracy, America's great gift to the world, in action.
He is going to vote for Kerry, but he isn't giving us a last minute shopping list of reasons. Instead, he is celebrating the right to vote and the seriousness with which ordinary citizens take it.
I think that I'm going to vote for Krugman.
Monday, November 01, 2004
It may be a good time to think about the future of American politics. Whoever wins tomorrow, the truth is that the animosity and near-violence between the wingnuts and the rest of us will stay.
The great divisions in the United States are very real, and it's hard for me to see how the country can endure them in the long run without a civil war or secession of some parts from the whole. Take me, for example: the basic rights that I want any country to have before I land the Snakepit Inc. within its borders are the very concepts which make a fundamentalist Christian pray for the Apocalypse. And I am not a communist or even a socialist. I'm not especially radical, either.
No, what has happened in the U.S. since the late 1950s is a real radicalization of the right. This, together with the unholy marriage between Big Money and Big Faith is what has been running the country during the last four years, and running it in a way which cares very little about the Constitution or about other long-established ethics or behavioral guidelines. As a consequence, the United States is now mightily hated in the rest of the world, we are deeply in debt to the Chinese while we bow to the gods of free trade and the demons of outsourcing. We have spent enormous sums on getting roughly 80,000 Iraqis killed prematurely, and in the process we have killed over a thousand of our own. All in a country which had as much responsibility for the slaughters of 9/11 as Mexico had for Pearl Harbor.
Nevertheless, there are many Americans who would scream "communist, treason, enemy of America" if they read what I wrote above. For them the important principles are very different, and one of the most important ones is the preservation of the American way of life. This means the preservation of things as they are today in terms of who has money and power, but it means something different in terms of social norms; these must be taken back several centuries in some cases. They hate the killing of children which is how they interpret abortions, and they hate anything that is not explicitly allowed in the Bible. They want a government to reflect these values, and they are not so worried about whether the right people are killed abroad as a revenge for terrorism on our soil.
Ok. I give up. I tried to write a nicely balanced treatise on the views that divide America, but I am no longer able to do so. I swear that I used to be great at this sort of writing: dancing on the fence on the toes of one foot while twirling my manicolored umbrella in the air. But the juice has run out of me; I'm just too worn out by the years of reading what Rush Limbaugh's reality looks like, and I no longer seem to know how to do neutrality.
This is scary. What it certainly means is that the struggle will continue. I hope that someone in the media will get courageous enough to start talking in a conciliatory way. Even if it doesn't sell. We need that desperately if we are going to remain one country.
The Bush supporters are energized, it seems:
In Milwaukee, in the swing state of Wisconsin, Republicans produced a list of 37,000 voters whose addresses they said were questionable. They argued that all voters should be required to show identification at the polls Tuesday; otherwise they would instruct thousands of poll workers to challenge people.
But Milwaukee's city attorney, who represents no party, said hundreds of addresses on the list had already been confirmed as valid. Still, local Democrats warned that voters could be disenfranchised simply for failing to include their apartment number as part of their street address.
And in South Carolina:
...the Democratic Party said a letter was circulating that wrongly informed voters that they could be arrested at the polls if they had outstanding parking tickets or child-support payments.
The Republicans argue that the real problem in this election is voter fraud and maybe that's why they try to reduce turnout by all sorts of shady tricks. Who knows how they think? Though I must admit that there might be a goddess or two who vote without being registered, so they may have a point. But it's a very tiny point and not worth all this warfare.
Meanwhile, Michael Moore is going to bring cameras to polling sites to witness any shenanigans that might take place. This could be quite intimidating for all those election monitors who decide to challenge voters based on their race or seeming economic class. Tsk tsk.
If you still haven't seen Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, you can watch it tonight on the net by paying ten dollars.
By divine inspiration:
Victory is ours
Over Evil Powers
Trust this poem's spell
Every vote will tell
(For those who doubt my words
Or think they smell like turds:
Resign to being nerds.)
Know that your voice matters
Enemies it scatters
Rips apart the lies
Rinses blue the skies
Your vote decides!
So does CNN, not to mention Fox. But ABC is one I hadn't classified correctly before:
When it comes to ABC's The Note, War Room has always been baffled why the online daily must-read treats the New York Post like a serious news outlet and links to its political reports as if they were anything more than warmed over GOP spin. But today, War Room is even more puzzled by The Note's suggesting the Bush team is "understandably bullish" heading into the final days of the campaign, and that's its "swagger" is not "without justification." (The rhetoric is reminiscent of the Beltway spin so prevalent during the closing days of the 2000 election, when mainstream pundits seemed eager to predict a clear Bush win.)
By the way, if Kerry wins the wingnuts are going to blame it on the so-called liberal media. Funny, because the SCLM has done its best to keep Bush in power. They like their present life a lot, it seems. Poor SCLM, they are going to face hell whoever wins.