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Wednesday, November 10, 2004

THE FIX 

DEMOCRACY BETRAYED
By Jack Random

In the wake of the 2004 presidential election, the bold defenders of the Electoral College cannot suddenly fall back on the popular vote to assert the validity of the result.

The Electoral College is an affront to every individual, red-blue or gray, who believes in the principles of democracy but this election was fought in the battleground states because both sides agreed to play by the rules of the game.

On May 4, 1970, the counterculture of the late sixties was forced underground and the mass protest movement was effectively assassinated when four students at Kent State University in Ohio were gunned down by the National Guard. Ten days later, two more were gunned down at Jackson State in Mississippi. The administration of Richard Nixon (the man who so inspired Governor Schwarzenegger) had served notice: There is a price to pay for exercising your freedom of speech and that price may be your life. It was an act of terror and a betrayal of fundamental liberty so brazen it deserves no other title than treasonous.

Thirty-four years later, in the critical state of Ohio, the state that decided the presidential election, something stinks to high Heaven and the cry of treason is on the breath of every true believer, red-blue or gray.

Voting machines unaccountably cast thousands of votes for the president where no votes existed. In key counties, election monitors from the press were barred from observing the proceedings (allegedly the result of a government issued terror alert), while boxes of mail-in ballots went uncounted or simply disappeared. In precincts with registered voters in the hundreds, thousands of votes were recorded. In nearly all cases, the “error rate” decidedly favored the president. As any beginning student of statistics knows, “error” that consistently favors one result over another is not error at all: It is known as bias and, in the case of electoral politics, it is known as the fix.

CNN’s exit polls showed John Kerry winning Ohio by 53 to 47 percent among women and 51 to 49 percent among men. Unless there was an extraordinary turnout among the gender-neutral, something was rotten on Election Day.

Contrary to the cursory explanations given by the exit pollsters, random sampling is not guesswork. It is the foundation of the scientific method and its track record is rock solid. If the numbers were off by such an astounding margin, it cannot be rationalized by random error.

In the name of democracy, we must demand to see the raw data, the methodology and techniques for sampling. There can be no defense of shielding this information from objective review that is not corrupt to the core. It is in the compelling interest of every American to know beyond all doubt that our democracy is in working order. At the very least, we can be certain that a great many operatives were engaged in a conscious effort to defraud this election. We must demand an investigation that will uncover the offenders. We must demand that they be prosecuted and sentenced to the full extent of democracy’s righteous wrath.

John Kerry was wrong to concede the election before every vote was counted and every vote was accounted for. Once again, the Democratic Party was complicit in the betrayal of democracy. Once again, we must ask: What are you afraid of? Were the Democrats also guilty of conspiracy to defraud an election?

If the price of defending democracy is the appearance of a poor loser, the choice should be clear to any individual of conscience.

Once again, we may never actually know who won this election but we do know who lost: We, the people, lost. When the Parties are at play, the people lose every time and that is a result we can all mourn as one.

Jazz.

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Monday, November 08, 2004

THE BUSH BLUES 

AND HOW TO GET OVER IT
By Michael D. Caine

George Bush has squeaked out the most narrow of victories by using the same tactics that the Nazi’s and Communists built their power with: the big lie and pounding propaganda. The Neo Conservatives will try to solidify their control with ruthless extension of the same tactics. There is no logic in his position but Bush is claiming a mandate. Why are the media not scoffing at that attempt? It’s not an unusual position for a re-elected President but in light the narrowness of the two victories that have brought him to power and sustained him there, it is mere hubris to make the claim of mandate, but hubris is Bush’s most important trait. The truth is he and the neo-conservatives are trying to do what Hitler did, magnify their power using the media lens to make his victory appear like a landslide. Now he will hide the truth by simply ignoring and omitting it and fill in the empty spaces in the history of this election with spin.

We have watched G.W. and his puppet masters do the unthinkable but we can’t take only negative lessons from this defeat. We have learned the strength of our opposition. The Republican Party had more volunteers, they were devoted to G.W., and what they perceive him as representing. His supporters believe in him like they believe in God. I had a boss that invited everyone into his office each morning to pray. In the middle of one of those prayers he looked up at a picture of Bush and with tears in his eyes said, “I love that man.” He is not alone.

We just saw our candidate get defeated by a team that is that devoted to their President. Give it to G.W., he never wavered from the ideas that got him elected the first time, and what he said and did immediately after 9/11 blocked the sunlight from exposing the dark side of his policies. When he and his followers are attacked, they respond with force. Forget the Gospels, they believe in the Old Testament stuff. “Eye for Eye” is the operative text. His followers fundamentally understand Bush and his actions feed into their beliefs. The linkage to the economy of any of his policies is beyond them. They are the faithful.

We lost because we didn’t have faith in our candidate; we were joined primarily in our opposition to the other candidate. We for the most part disagreed with our candidate’s stand on the war and the single most important issue in the campaign, as it turns out, was the war on terror and the two were allowed to be inextricably linked when in fact they are not. Kerry couldn’t explain what he would have done differently than Bush because in the beginning he voted for the President’s ability to wage the war. Ours was a candidate that came to fame fighting against a war he fought bravely in and to many that makes him a walking contradiction. His policies on this war could barely be distinguished from those of his opponent, and they differed only long after the fact. Kerry did, in fact, support the President’s ability to wage the war and pledged to support it’s continuation if he were elected because… well who knows?

We lost because we got out politicked. We couldn’t muster a single issue that rose to the importance of National Security and we offered up a candidate that had, in the final analysis, no credibility concerning that issue. We offered a candidate that stole his version of that issue from Howard Dean and then lost the election because he couldn’t run with it. We offered up a candidate that single mothers couldn’t vote for because they were afraid of new 9/11’s even though there has been only one of those and it’s been three years since it happened. We should have known this election was over when a week from the election the polls started showing those single mothers breaking for G.W.

We lost because we couldn’t see the forest for the trees even though the thing that hung us together was the forest. Blame Kerry if you want, and he should take a lion’s share of the blame for a strategy that emphasized his weaknesses, but we didn’t do what it took to get a real candidate onto the ticket. Why was that? That’s not Kerry’s fault. We have to start finding candidates that articulate our issues and have the backbone to stand up for them. The conservative issues are not winning the elections. Kerry led the polls on every issue except leadership in national security, but lost the election. We are losing these elections mainly because our spokesmen are inarticulate on the issues that are most important to us. That is what must change.

The Internet is turning out to be the best tool to get people together on the issues. We should stop worrying about what party someone with good ideas is a member of and ask only for the ability to articulate those ideas, and start supporting those candidates. Let’s just find the right people and support them because they are the right people. We need to get on the Internet and spread the word about these candidates. I’m not against the two party system so much as I am against excluding ideas before they are tested by argument. How can I find a serious liberal candidate for a real office? Where are the people that have better ideas? How do we find them? Where is the place to look for them? The Democratic Party may still be the best place to find viable candidates for liberals, but it is looking more and more like a conservative think tank. We need to change it or treat it as such, letting it split the conservative vote with the Republicans. If the two party system excludes debate on important issues and only elects conservative candidates, it must be destroyed. If Democrats can’t find electable candidates it is because they are too entrenched in a party that is out of touch with the electorate and incapable of finding it’s own base.

Progressives need to find the candidates that can stand at a podium and express ideas so right and powerful that they give the electorate Goosebumps. Our schools cannot turn out the scholars and skilled work force that a successful twenty first century economy will demand and will leave our children in the third world if it’s not rejuvenated. Our health care system is the best in the world for the rich and third world for the 35% who don’t have health insurance. It’s obvious that in the next 20 to 50 years our economy will be surpassed by the Chinese and Indians and the geo-political effects will be that we will no longer be able wield the economic club with impunity to effect policy, and our military will no longer be unchallenged. Manifest destiny is apt to be our downfall if we can’t find the leaders to adjust our current policies. We need to be seeking our allies in the next fight whether it’s economic, scientific, or military. We need to be finding common ground with others not excluding them, persuading not bullying and we should be learning from others not dictating to them. History doesn’t justify our greatness, as the conservatives want us to believe, it simply points the way to the future. Greatness is in the eye of the beholder not in our own. We need to find the leaders that can take us into the future with joy and grace; otherwise, the rightwing, neo-conservative warlords will drag us all there, screaming and yelling.

Contact: mikecaine@comcast.net

Sunday, November 07, 2004

QUEST FOR HOPE, SEARCH FOR BLAME 

By Jack Random

As the grim reality of the 2004 election settles in, we are torn between seeking blame and finding new direction, all in a desperate quest for that most illusive human treasure: hope.

The search for blame is a ritual of healing. In many ways, it is a useful endeavor for it may enable us to reconcile our understanding of reality with a completely incompatible result. In other ways, it is a harmful practice for it tends to divide us at a time when we need unity more than ever. The Democrats, having lost their favorite scapegoat in Ralph Nader, have begun pointing the finger of liability at gay rights and pro-choice activists. Having already turned their backs on the antiwar movement, they will resume the rightward migration that Bill Clinton championed.

The new reality is this: We can have no reasonable expectation that our dissent, however vocal and massive, will have any real impact on our elected leaders. For the next four years, the administration can claim, with documented validity, that a silent majority supports their cause regardless of the lies and deceptions, regardless of world opinion, regardless the mounting debt, and regardless the rising tide of blood for oil.

The stark, horrifying reality is this: Our collective voice of opposition to war, occupation and empire on the streets of America’s cities may actually produce the opposite effect in America’s heartland. It is no longer the Bush war; it is America’s war and the threat of terrorist attacks on this nation’s soil has grown exponentially.

Why then should we continue the struggle?

The answer must come from within.

In the days following the reelection of GW Bush, I have heard powerful and insightful voices from within the antiwar movement appeal to the esoteric. They speak of the Mayan calendar, the Hopi elders and the native prophecies that we are on the eve of an evolution in human consciousness. Inevitably, these prophecies hold that it must get worse before the dawn of a new enlightenment.

While I value these voices greatly, they do not speak to me. They appeal to our faith in summoning forces beyond our control. While I respect the sentiment and honor the faith, I cannot substantially differentiate the appeal from that of the fundamentalist right that effectively elected a war president.

I require more earthly objectives. From my perspective, we must march on if only to inform the world that we are still a deeply divided nation. We must speak out to proclaim that we are not complicit in the crimes of our government.

In accepting our electoral defeat, we must also accept that we can no longer pander to the right. We cannot convert the faith-based supporters of GW Bush. We can only strengthen our own base and appeal to the one demographic that voted strongly against the war and its faith-based master: the youth vote. If we can keep these voters as they mature and win the emerging youth, there is constructive hope for real change.

The most predictable outcome of this election is that the Democratic Party will move to the right. In the aftermath of defeat, it was revealed that former president Bill Clinton (fast becoming the Democratic version of Karl Rove) advised John Kerry to come out against gay marriage. To his credit, Kerry refused. He had already moved to the middle ground on virtually every issue. As a candidate, he was in fact inflicted with the disease of his supporters: We saw a darkness so profound that we were willing to do almost anything, to say almost anything, to advocate positions against our interest and convictions, in order to defeat this president. When he spoke of winning the war, we whispered to our friends on the left: Don’t worry; he doesn’t mean it. The stain of core compromise does not belong to John Kerry alone; it belongs to most of us.

Mark it: The Democrats are serving notice to every oppressed community, every dissident, every progressive, every antiwar activist and everyone else not substantially represented in red America, that they are poised and ready to throw us overboard if we prove a political liability. Get out your life jackets, folks, the boat is listing and the Democrats are planning our funerals.

The only recourse we will have in 2008 will be the one we rejected in 2004: the Independence Movement. Having been removed from the table of mainstream politics, our only forum will be the underground and the streets of America.

If we need a reminder of why we are fighting, ten thousand troops have surrounded the city of Fallujah in preparation for a full-scale assault. The election over, political restraint has been removed and the fear of horrific images on American television has subsided. We are called upon to bear witness and plead for the lives of countless Iraqis whose only crime is to resist foreign occupation. We are called upon to plead for our soldiers as well, as they carry out the orders that will alter their vision of the world forever.

When we consider the plight of Fallujah, our electoral pain becomes sufferable. We have no choice. We must continue the relentless march with uncompromised conviction. We must rally to the cry of Independence and demand that the rule of two parties controlled by the same interests must finally be defeated.

In the end, we are the hope of America and we must never give in.

No retreat, no surrender.

Jazz.

[Note: Originally posted on Buzzle.com 11/7/04]

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