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For the next month or so, I'm going to be carrying around with me a petition to get Eric Griego on the ballot for the Mayoral election in October. Whether you like, dislike, or really don't much give a hoot, hopefully you'll agree that offering viable choices for candidates is a good thing, and maybe I can twist your arm into signing. Signing the petition DOES NOT mean that you are agreeing to vote for him - only that you agree that he should be on the ballot during the election.

More info on Eric Griego can be found at his website:

http://www.ericgriego.com/

Here's a recommendation from LJ'er [livejournal.com profile] killbox in the [livejournal.com profile] nm_vote community, from whom I got the heads-up on this:

i am not at this time involved in the campaign, just somebody who wants change, and id have to say since i have met with the man 3 times, he is a very cool person who genuinely believes in providing a public service, not your run of the mill candidate..

he also sponsored (and helped pass) the memorial, that helped put Albuquerque on the map standing up (a little) to the patriot act!


So, yeah - support choice, damnit. Sign my damn petition.

[EDIT: Or better yet, print your OWN copy and have YOUR friends sign it. It's not an egregious process. A postage stamp and a piece of paper with some names on it earns you the right to say 'yeah, I'm DOING something.' Not that you should stop there, but it's SOMETHING, damnit.

Petition for printing here:

http://www.ericgriego.com/documents/EricGriego-Petition.pdf ]

Rawr.
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On two hours of sleep and after an emotional roller-coaster of a day, I don't have all the words at the ready that I had earlier.

I'm just tired.

I'm tired of a lot of things.

I don't want to hear anymore wailing and gnashing of teeth, though I'm resigned to wading through it.

If nothing else, as exhausted as I am, I feel galvanized.

Not to reinvent the political process, though it is sorely in need of same.

More than anything, and not even entirely because of this sad excuse for an election, I feel that my life is on the right track.

I have a purpose.

Some parts of that purpose are vague mutterings of a kind of twisted idealism generously swirled with demoralized indignance at the human species.

But I have a job to do.

My job, simply, is to leave the world a little better than I found it.

My job is to refrain from bitching and pissing and moaning about how this politician or that political process are fucked up and using that as an excuse to be apathetic and powerless.

My job is to one day be the best goddamn teacher I can possibly be.

That's how I'm going to pay back the universe for allowing me to take up space in it.

People have as much power as they are willing to be responsible for attaining and utilizing - my job is to show them what their personal tools are, how to use them - and encourage them to get out there and hammer the world into the shape they believe it should be in.

No more blame.

No more excuses.

...

Sleep would be a really good idea right now.
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I have to fucking laugh, though.

It's 5am - yes, I've been up all night, but thankfully otherwise engaged in something besides staring at the totals with my sense of dread confirmed -

But damned if the Land of Manana isn't once again living up to it's fucking nickname.

...

Excuse me while I go slit my wrists now, thanks, thanks very much.

Or sleep for - two hours.

It will pretty much feel like the same thing.
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From yesterday's Writer's Almanac:

I Sit and Look Out

I sit and look out upon all the sorrows of the world, and
upon all oppression and shame,
I hear secret convulsive sobs from young men at anguish
with themselves, remorseful after deeds done,
I see in low life the mother misused by her children, dying,
neglected, gaunt, desperate,
I see the wife misused by her husband, I see the treacherous
seducer of young women
I mark the ranklings of jealousy and unrequited love
attempted to be hid, I see these sights on the earth,
I see the workings of battle, pestilence, tyranny, I see martyrs
and prisoners,
I observe a famine at sea, I observe the sailors casting lots
who shall be kill'd to preserve the lives of the rest,
I observe the slights and degradations cast by arrogant persons
upon laborers, the poor, and upon negroes, and the like;
All these - all the meanness and agony without end I sitting
look out upon,
See, hear, and am silent.

-Walt Whitman-


Literary and Historical Notes:

Today is Election Day. Millions of people across the country will be going to the polls today to elect new legislators, judges, sheriffs, school board members, and of course, the President. Generally between fifty and fifty-five percent of eligible voters actually vote in each presidential election year. There have only been four presidential elections in the last seventy years that inspired more than sixty percent of eligible Americans to vote: 1952, 1960, 1964, and 1968. The lowest turn out in the last seventy years was in 1924, with 48%. Turn out in 1996 was the second lowest, with 49%.

But the lowest turn out in the history of American elections was the first federal election under the US Constitution, held in 1788. Only eleven percent of eligible voters voted in that first election. To be eligible to vote at the time, you had to be a white male property owner. But different states had trouble defining what a property owner was.

In Pennsylvania, you just had to prove that you paid taxes. In New York, you had to prove that your estate was worth a certain amount of money. If your estate was greater than 20 pounds, you could vote for state assembly, but your estate had to be worth more than 100 pounds to vote for senator or governor. In Connecticut, you had to be a white male property owner "of a quiet and peaceable behavior and civil conversation."

In order to vote in that first election, voters had to travel many miles to the nearest polling place, which was often a tavern. There they met the candidates for their district's seat on the state assembly. In many precincts, there were no ballots. Voters announced their votes to the sheriff in loud, clear voices, and then stood by the candidate they had voted for, who usually offered them something to drink.

It wasn't until 1820 that American voters from every state were able to vote in the presidential election. Before that, many states let the state legislators choose presidential electors who cast votes for president. Even after voters began choosing presidential electors, different states held Election Day on different dates. The first uniform Election Day took place on November 4, 1845.

For the first fifty years of American elections, fifteen percent of the adult population was eligible to vote. Thomas Dorr was one of the first politicians to argue that poor people should be given voting rights. As a member of the Rhode Island legislature, Dorr argued that all white adult men should have the vote, regardless of their wealth. He incited a riot to protest the governor's election of 1842 and went to prison for treason, but most states began to let poor white men vote soon after. Women were given the right to vote in 1920, and many African Americans were prevented from voting in the South until the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

George Bernard Shaw said, "Democracy is a form of government that substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few."

W.C. Fields said, "I never vote for anyone. I always vote against."

Gore Vidal said, "Half of the American people never read a newspaper. Half never vote for President. One hopes it is the same half."

Ambrose Bierce said, "[A] vote [is] the instrument and symbol of a freeman's power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country."

Mark Twain said, "If there is any valuable difference between a monarchist and an American, it lies in the theory that the American can decide for himself what is patriotic and what isn't. I claim that difference. I am the only person in the sixty millions that is privileged to dictate my patriotism."
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I hate television. I refuse to watch it.

Right now, the television is on.

And because I don't have cable, there are 4 browser windows open on my computer right now for ABC, NBC, CNN and C-SPAN. Right now, C-SPAN is the only one that's had the dignity to refrain from posting 'projected' results.

But right now, according to those fucking 'projections' on all the other channels, that cocksucker extraordinaire is in the lead.

20 minutes ago, Kerry was behind in the popular vote but still ahead in electoral votes. Nothing like excruciating irony.

But now Bush is ahead, projectedly, and by a sizeable margin.
I feel sick.

And weirdly enough, this is one of those moments when I really wish I wasn't single.

Because I feel like I have in those infinitessimally rare occasions when the world - or at least my portion of the globe - has been in real, actual deadly peril. Living in Seattle, we had a few scares, knowing that Boeing was a great goddamn big bulls-eye during the Cold War.

This is is a feeling not unlike that. Kind of like, there's nothing you can do at this point about that nuclear warhead heading right for you - right now, this is the moment when you just grab and hang onto someone you love, because there's very little else you can do.

I guess it's stupid to be so melodramatic about it, though. It's not like we're really going to know who won tonight, anyway.

But still - jesus christ, I'm scared.
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Listen:

If you think that voting is a lost cause, unimportant, doesn't make a difference, consider this:

The eyes of the world are on this election.

And they do not like what they are seeing.

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=615&e=2&u=/nm/20041021/pl_nm/campaign_observers_dc

It's funny how our country calls itself a leader of Democracy, and yet everyone else sees that we're screwing the election process into a hole in the ground right here at home.

Listen:

If enough people vote, and their candidate doesn't make it into office, and they get to talking about it and how it could have possibly happened -

Maybe, even if things go terribly awry (again) with this election -

Maybe, maybe this will be what convinces everyone that it's time to make a change. That the system is broken, and it needs to be fixed.

Not tomorrow. Not just after the next episode of 'Survivor' or 'Entertainment Tonight'.

Now, people.

Cast your vote.

See what happens.

If what you want doesn't happen - it will be time to start asking why.

And that doesn't mean turning on the television and waiting for the first available talking head to feed you your next opinion du jour.

It means it's time to start doing the work necessary to answer your own goddamn questions.

[EDIT: Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] saint_durrutti for posting the article first.]
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Just got off the phone from a quick chat with [livejournal.com profile] darkwench; Friday night we're going to sit down with our ballots and the Voter's Guide - and probably the Internet - to see if we can make some sense out of all the unintelligable initiatives on the back of the ballot.

Kimmie, I just wanna say, here and now - I am so damn proud of you for giving a damn. For wanting to put the time into making your vote count.

A Shout-Out to All and Sundry - Please - Follow the excellent example of [livejournal.com profile] darkwench and take a couple of minutes out of your life to become an educated voter - so that a few months from now, all of us have at least a ghost of a chance of having a life worth living.
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So.

Watched a streamcast of the debates last night when I got home.

Was slightly - okay, more than slightly - annoyed by the fact that there were so many word-for-word repetitions of rhetoric from the Bush-Kerry debate, this time being funneled through the mouths of Cheney and Edwards. In fact, it f*cking pissed me off at times. Like, tell me something I haven't already heard, please?

Was also more than a little surprised that Cheney actually did rather well for himself, I thought. When he wasn't actually lying through his teeth he at least seemed much more composed and comfortable in a discussion-oriented environment than his boss does. And a few times, he had the damned good sense to not take the opportunity for a rebuttal when he didn't have something specific to respond to. It sounds silly, but I am impressed by people who know when to STFU already. And he handled the gay marriage issue about as well as someone with a gay daughter I suppose could be expected to, considering he's basically going along with the idea of it being okay that his boss wants to pass legislation that ensures that his daughter will be legally seen as a second-class citizen. Honestly, I feel sorry for the guy. What's it like to be so afraid of life that you have to use threats of nuclear war to get people to support your administration, and show support for a government that gleefully marginalizes members of your own family? Wow. It's really gotta suck to be him.

Edwards - I dunno. He's got that Kennedy-cute-boy thing going, for sure. Affable, winsome, all that. But I was pretty disappointed that he spent so much of the valuable air time he had just repeating his boss's lines. It feels like that kind of mental sleight-of-hand where if you say something enough times, it becomes true - whether or not it really is true. I don't think Kerry's a weasel but neither do I think he has all his facts straight, and I just heard Edwards blah-blah-blah-ing many of the same exaggerations and expecting that if they were repeated enough times they would solidify into straight fact.

::sigh::

Yes, the Kerry/Edwards beast still has my vote.

I sure wish there were leaders that I could honestly whole-heartedly believe in though, you know?
my_window_seat: (End Bush)
Heh-heh.

Just called my County Clerk's office and requested an absentee ballot.

'Cuz no amount of crappy scheduling is going to prevent me from voting.

Rawr.
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From slash.org:

Vote Tabulator Security Hole Exposed
Posted by timothy on Monday August 30, @07:41PM

from the poke-poke dept.

Doc Ruby writes "Black Box Voting has exposed a security hole in Diebold machines that tabulate votes collected from electronic voting machines. A code entered into the tabulator's user interface duplicates the "secure" counts into an insecure count which can be changed, and counted instead. The "double books" vulnerability and exploit were reported to the manufacturer over a year ago, and confirmed, while major customers (California and Washington states) were notified shortly thereafter. In spite of some revisions, the latest version of the software remains insecure. Diebold voting machines running GEMS version 1.18.x are vulnerable, running in about three dozen states. Although the software is widely deployed, and scheduled for use in shortly upcoming elections, risk mitigations are available, mostly protocols restricting physical or network access to the machines. Other auditing/accountability measures for ensuring only trusted access to the system are recommended."

And much, much worse news on this topic to be found at:

http://www.blackboxvoting.org/?q=node/view/78


=========================


Cynical about the voting process - who, me?

Don't say I didn't f*cking warn you...

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Dear Mr. Nader:

Unfortunately, I recant on my previous leaning toward voting for you.

I don't know if the rumors are true about the bulk of your campaign being financed by Republican sources, and I know you're a really busy person and all -

But if there isn't anyone on your website-running staff who can take the time - even just a couple minutes - to answer a simple question from a potential voter, hey, I guess that tells me what I need to know.

Sadly,
~D~

Dear Senator Kerry:

I'm not sure you're the right man for the job, but it looks like you've won one more vote by default.

Resigned,
~D~
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I know this will be an unpopular opinion.

From me? Really?

I'm going to do some more homework, but thus far, after listening to the news these last months and from and reading the campaign information from the major candidates, I'm pretty close to making my decision for the election this Fall.

At this point, it's based primarily on the fact that the candidate that I'm leaning toward voices clear and easily understood opinions - not happy-face, diluted, wishy-washy, electorally 'safe' ones.

The candidate I'm leaning toward doesn't just give vague promises to 'improve' this or 'focus' on that - he gives specific and detailed goals - and equally detailed descriptions of his plans for accomplishing them.

The candidate I'm leaning toward has a viewpoint that focuses on cause, rather than effect - he realizes that in a nation that has "one out of four of the world's prisoners, half of them non-violent" - that's over two million people, right here in the US, behind bars - the causes of crime - poverty, lack of education - need to be addressed and dealt with on a real, tangible level.

The candidate I'm favoring clearly states that he supports gay rights. Doesn't dance around the issue, isn't afraid to say, unlike most of the other pansy politicians.

There are more reasons I like this guy more and more.

And despite what everyone is going to say - "ooooh, if you don't vote for Kerry, you're voting for Bush!" - I may very likely vote for Ralph Nader.

If Bush wants the damn election, he'll get it again. We didn't vote him in last time - there's absolutely nothing to stop him from stealing it again, if he really wants it bad enough.

Certainly the American people won't stop him. Our apathy is his greatest ally.

And I'm sorry, but Mr. Kerry, while seeming to be a nice enough guy, has very little to say in the way of specific, clear, detailed suggestions on how he's a better choice than anyone else. His website is one big shiny vague postcard of ill-defined, feel-good fluff.

Ralph Nader is so far the only person who really seems to be able to provide me with information that makes sense.

Yeah, go ahead and throw rocks at me. I'm used to it.

But I don't feel like wasting the one thing that really makes me an American - my vote - on a decision based solely on fear. Yeah, George Bush's cabinet scares the hell out of me - but that's not a good enough reason to vote for someone who doesn't seem to really have his sh*t together.

And like I said - if Georgie wants, Georgie will get. So I'm going to at least use my vote the way I would want to see it used.

I refuse to vote out of fear.

Color me crazy - but wasn't that the point of setting up this kooky little thing we call democracy in the first place?
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From ABC News:

US ponders election delay

The US Department of Homeland Security is considering delaying the US presidential election, in the event of a terrorist attack before the poll.

Department officials say there is no specific information suggesting such an attack will take place but a change to the November 2 election day date is under discussion.

Analysts say authorities are taking into account the bomb blast in the Spanish capital, Madrid, in March, which killed 191 people.

Three days later, the pro-US Spanish Government lost the election.

But senior US Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein says nothing should force a delay of America's democratic process.

"The election is a statutory election - it should go ahead on schedule and we should not change it," she said.

=======================================

And now, a brief anecdote.

This is going to sound pretty silly, and I don't expect anyone to take it seriously at third hand face value - or at all, if you like. I view it more than a little skeptically myself, but considering all that's happened since I heard it - well, it's interesting, anyway.

Quick disclaimer: Personally, I think that most people who call themselves psychics are crystal-rubbing attention seekers, or worse - just someone out to make a buck from someone else's gullibility. But, I won't be the one to say that they're all fakes, either. There's too many unexplainable things in the universe for a Bear of Very Little Brain like me to be able to rule out the possibility that there might be a small handful of people who have a little summin' summin' more in the sensory department than your average person.

That said -

I work with a woman who's a dedicated activist. She has a friend who claims to be a psychic. Not that the two facts are strictly related but -

About 6 years ago, still during the Clinton administration, my friend was having a conversation with her psychic friend. In closing, the psychic said to her, "I have to tell you something, and I don't think it's going to make any sense, but I've been given to understand that I'm supposed to tell this to everyone I come in contact with. I mean, I don't get it myself, but - I'm supposed to tell everyone that I talk with that Clinton is going to be our last freely elected president."

(ooooooh, spooky hush)

My friend didn't know what to make of this anymore than her psychic friend did at the time.

Considering the outcome of the last election, though - it does give me pause.

I'm planning to vote, mind you. My voter's registration card is pinned to my bulletin board, just waiting to get it's cherry popped.

But I really do wonder what's going to happen this Fall.
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I know I've been quoting a lot from the Writer's Almanac lately, but today's excerpt struck a particular chord with me. It reminded me that this country used to be capable of having, holding, and defending strong opinions about it's political leaders, and at one time, had the balls to stand up and do something about them.

I find it confusing that this no longer seems to be the case.

Or maybe it's just that I really am as out of touch with the world around me as I often feel that I am. Maybe I really am in the lunatic fringe, and most of this country really is as selfish and self-absorbed and impenetrably ignorant as it appears to be. Or maybe it's my own ignorance.

I just don't know.

From today's Writer's Almanac:

It was on this day in 1868 that President Andrew Johnson was acquitted in his impeachment trial by only one vote. The trial took place in the wake of the Civil War, during the period of Reconstruction. The Republican congress, still reeling after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln a few years before, was infuriated when President Johnson readmitted southern states to the Union and refused to punish southern politicians for participating in secession.

When news of Johnson's impeachment trial reached Philadelphia, Republicans celebrated by firing a fifty-gun salute, while Democrats threatened to send armed men to defy Congress. Many people feared that the trial would bring about a second civil war, that Johnson might use the army to defend his right to be president. Iowa's governor announced that if Johnson used troops to defend himself, then Iowa's militia would fight back. During the trial, some congressmen called for Johnson's execution. There were rumors that Johnson had helped plan the assassination of Lincoln. One congressman said, "[The president is a] despicable, besotted, traitorous man."

The final vote came down to one person, Edmund G. Ross, a freshman senator. He didn't like Johnson and had received hundreds of letters urging him to convict him, but he worried that a conviction would damage the office of the presidency forever. He still hadn't decided what to do on the day of the vote, and sat at his desk, nervously tearing pieces of paper into shreds. When he was finally called he stood up and voted "Not Guilty." He later said, "I almost literally looked into my open grave."


When Mr. Bush took office, I wondered why this country didn't stand up and demand that an official recount be held, damn the cost, damn the inconvenience. Why, despite the fact that he supposedly carried the electoral vote, all the suspicion and uncertainty of the popular vote was not fully investigated and sufficiently explored.

I know that I am fearfully ignorant of the machinations of politics. They confuse me. I pay attention to them only reluctantly, though more now than before. But I find it very difficult to hold opinions, because I can't properly defend them - I know so little and understand even less.

It just seems like things are seriously, gravely wrong in this country right now. And it seems like we are so close to tearing ourselves apart, and taking much, if not all the rest, of the world down with us.

I know that there are people who care. I know that there are many people who are actively engaged in trying to change things. It just seems like things still aren't changing for the better. It feels like our country has a fatal disease that has been allowed to progress unchecked for so long that there is little left to do but offer the last rites and wonder where to bury the body.

I actually registered to vote the other day.

I don't know what, if anything, I will actually choose to do with my one vote.

I honestly don't believe that whatever I believe, my vote will make any kind of difference.

I realize that for every person who feels the same way, a little bit of what this country was once supposed to stand for erodes further and further away.

If everyone that has a conscience voted with it, what would happen?

Would it just hand the Presidency right back to Bush?

I'm scared. That's about all I know right now. And sad.

Where do we go from here?

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