The Watering Hole, Monday, October 8th, 2012: To Vote or Not to Vote

Last week a friend at work brought in a recent copy of the Norwalk (Connecticut) Community College’s campus newpaper, TheVoice, so that I could read one of the opinion pieces. This particular piece, written by James Marchese and originally published on September 17th, was entitled “Why I think voting is a waste of time.”

While I agree with some of the reasons that Mr. Marchese puts forth, he demonstrates a lack of knowledge which undercuts his premise:

“Our politicians have no accountability for what they say. To get elected they are willing to bend the truth about what they will do in office. Most often, it is promises to “change” whatever is ailing our society at the time. Though how often does a fundamental change take place? There is often talk of it, but when push comes to shove, things often stay the way they are; politicians normally take that as the safest route.”

The lack of accountability for what politicians say stems from three main problems:
1), when a politician speaks, it is usually either in front of a friendly audience of supporters who don’t care whether the politician is factually correct; or it is in front of journalists who may or may not question the politician’s “facts”, and the journalists who do dare to question a politician who is obviously lying receive short shrift or are simply told that they are just plain wrong.
2) The quality of what passes for journalism in this country, particularly on the televised “news” shows, is sorely lacking any interest in researching the background or the veracity of a politician’s claims. The internets are not just a “series of tubes”, they are a trove of information which can be accessed in a matter of seconds. In addition, many “journalists” are more than willing to trade fact-finding for access to an influential politician, particularly when that politician is a Presidential candidate.
3) Once a politician does get into office, even with the best intentions in the world, he or she is immediately faced with the Borg-like mentality of ‘be assimilated or die’ (the ‘die’ part meaning that none of the politician’s ideas will ever see the light of day), otherwise known as “go along to get along.”

“I see lots of back-and-forth over trivial subjects, but the aspects of our country that need to be scrutinized the most are entirely left alone. For this I mostly blame lobbyists, who are people employed to persuade politicians on certain decisions. How they persuade them exactly, I am not sure. Still I believe someone voted into office by the people should stand with the people they represent, not the people schmoozing them.”

I agree wholeheartedly with the writer’s first and last sentences in this paragraph, but the rest of it betrays his naivete about what has been going on in Washington, DC, for decades. How do lobbyists persuade politicians to do what the lobbyists want? MONEY, MONEY, MONEY. If the writer has not grasped this concept, it is certainly an indication that he has never, ever been paying attention.

“I believe if politicians really cared about the people they would make more decisions based on what is best for them, and not on what their party’s standing is. In some cases our elected officials reject new bills and policies just because a rival created it. Our government should not operate out of spite, they should be setting an example and learning to cooperate to really decide what is best for the country.”

This, too, I agree with. However, again, while Mr. Marchese seems to be aware of at least the idea of obstructionism in today’s Congress, he apparently has no idea of which party is doing the obstructing. If he did even the most minimal research, he would find that the Tea Party Republicans have been doing their utmost to prevent ANY legislation which might compromise their own etched-in-stone ideas about minimal government, or which might allow the Democratic President anything that resembles a victory, even at the cost of hurting American Citizens.

“I have been called un-American, an idealist, and even a communist on occasion. [Try being a Liberal, the name-calling is even worse.] The fact of the matter is, that I refuse to participate in something that I value as having no merit. I personally refuse to give people power over me when there is no way to guarantee they will act in the best interest of the people. Politics is often too dirty a game for my taste.”

So, Mr. Marchese believes that exercising his Constitutionally-given right to vote has no merit. And while he “refuse[s] to give people power over [him]”, his very refusal to do so actually gives politicians and government the ultimate power over him, i.e, ignoring him completely. Yes, politics is a dirty business, but it is NOT a game. It can be, literally, the difference between life and death for some, and the difference between keeping your rights or losing them. With so many people being purged from voter rolls, along with other voter-suppression tactics going on in so many Republican-governed states, the right to vote should not be tossed aside so readily. In my opinion, Mr. Marchese’s decision to not sully his hands by participating in the electoral process implies not only a lack of concern for the future of this country, but also an innate selfishness that belies his supposed concern for “the best interest of the people.”

This is our daily open thread — got anything to say?


136 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Monday, October 8th, 2012: To Vote or Not to Vote

  1. When people like Mr. Marchese complain to me about “the government”, I tell them that the complaint department is in the voting booth and if they choose not to vote, then I won’t discuss politics with them. What Mr. Marchese has done with his article is an attempt to sabotage our right to vote. His attitude is a better fit in some other nation where there are no voting rights. But then he would complain about that, too. Mr. Marchese has the right to not vote but I find his encouraging others to stay home bordering on treasonous speech. In Pennsylvania, there is a “No Vote” button on the machines so people’s dissatisfaction with all the candidates can be registered. If Mr. Marchese is feeling that disenfranchised, then he could choose that option instead of being lazy and not showing up to vote.

    • What Mr. Marchese fails to realize is: The only solution to bad democracy is more democracy.
      If he doesn’t like the choices he can run for office and solve that problem for himself.

  2. As Churchill put it, “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government — except all the others that have been tried.” Maybe Mr. Marchese has something better in mind? Probably not, but that’s what I’d ask him if the opportunity happened to present itself.

    Actually, I cast my first vote in 1964 and have never missed voting in a major election since. That’s a total of twelve presidentials, thirteenth on its way in four weeks. In the first twelve, my choice was victorious four times; a .333 average, not bad! I presume it’ll rise to .385 by November 7 this year. Better! Not perfect, true enough, but hey, at least I’ve taken my swings, right?

    Stay home? Not even at gunpoint!

  3. “I personally refuse to give people power over me when there is no way to guarantee they will act in the best interest of the people.”

    And, by not voting, you give people power over you. While you wait for this government to shape itself into your perfect ideal, those that have their own selfish agenda of power over their fellow human beings are out there, voting, and getting their candidates elected.

  4. On Raw Story this AM, filed under who could have predicted…
    Afghan government could collapse, new report says
    “The Afghan government could fall apart after NATO troops pull out in 2014, particularly if presidential elections that year are fraudulent, a report by the International Crisis Group said Monday.”
    Propping up a corrupt puppet gummint that rigs every election will surely endear us to the mulititude of Afghans whose descendents kicked out the Soviets, the Brits, the Persians, Mongols, etc, etc.

  5. How many soldiers have died in legitimate wars this country has been involved in. How hard was it for our veterans who survived in all wars? In the jungles of Viet Nam and the desert heat of the Middle east. But citizens can’t bother to find out who agrees with them the most philosophically and get off their asses and make an informed decision and vote. No wonder this country is turning into a pile of shit.

    • Yes, but some 40% of Amurkuns believe the earth is between 6 and 9 K years old. That may have something to do with piles of shit…

      • Now my big irritation is Jack Welch say Obama had them fudge the unemployment numbers when he in fact started the off shoring jobs that ruined the economy. He should really STFU.

    • Great article zxbe. I wrote a whole long comment about end of life circumstances based on what I saw as a nurses aide and then somehow
      lost it. And I’m too exhausted to do that rant over.:)

      • my mother died of cancer much like Anthony Gilbey, ten days from diagnosis to the grave at age 75.

        my father, siblings and i had several conversations about his death over a period of the next five years. my sister had taken him to his routine quarterly doctor’s visit at 9 AM on a Friday morning. at approximately 9:15 the doctor entered into the exam room where my father, sitting in a chair, sighed, his head nodded down and he died.

        dad died the way he wanted to go, quickly with a loved one at his side. If only i can go so quickly.

        dad had a DNR, a will made, he had gone through the house with a notebook and had written in his own handwriting special items he wanted each of us to have and why he wanted us to have them. the rest was to be divided between grandchildren, and the will would take care of the estate.

        our neighbor’s wife was stricken with MS, and bedridden in a fetal position for 17 years. she was unable to communicate, blink her eyes, see her children get married, grandchildren born, graduations, birthdays , holidays….nothing for 17 years but the ceiling of her room……Jim, her husband often spoke of Dr Kevorkian and what an american hero he was, and what was wrong with our laws not allowing his wife to die with dignity, on her own terms.

        • I don’t think my wife’s MS will ever get that bad. At some point, she’ll decide to stop taking her potassium and that…as they say…is that. After a short while, her potassium levels will be depleted, she’ll lose consciousness and die, peacefully. She already knows what to expect, having gone into a coma once already from lack of potassium….and…I guess….so do I. It’s a bridge we will both cross, at some point.

          • I think every case is different isn’t it. And new medicines come along frequently it seem. If we didn’t live with barbarians who ban stem cell research who knows how far ahead they’d be. I know people are leaving the country to get treatment for some conditions that aren’t allowed here.

      • I’ll have to chime in on this later, after I get home. I, too, was a nurse’s aide at one time, not to mention our family’s nursing experience with my parents.

  6. I got an e-mail from

    “For more than a year, we’ve been pointing out on a regular basis how President Obama, his allies and his critics all misuse or even fabricate statistics to give voters a skewed picture of reality. This time we’ll just offer the accurate numbers.

    Here — in a graphic suitable for framing, embossing, emailing to friends or posting on social media — is an accurate statistical picture of key changes that occurred since Obama took office in January 2009. The indicators are all derived from the most authoritative and up-to-date sources available.”

  7. One of Mitt’s great ideas from his foreign policy speech today…build 15 new ships for our Navy every year. How he would pay for that is not stated. He’d have to do more than just fire Big Bird.

    • The world knows he offers no actions or solutions:

      Most of the speech was spent on the revolutions in the Middle East. He criticised the president for having no overall strategy for the region.

      That sounds like very big news indeed. But there is really very little flesh on it.

      …He says Iraq “has been undermined by the abrupt withdrawal of our entire troop presence”. He doesn’t say if he would return them to the country.

      • The Right’s dream of ME peace is to have every nation governed by a group that is ‘friendly’ to the US. Once the entire ME exists as vassal states to America everything will be fine and dandy. It worked so well with the Shah and Mubarak and Karzai and whoever the puppet in Iraq is. If only they would all just realize they would be better off in the US Empire.

      • Iraq? If I recall correctly, Iraq told the US to leave ….. wow, a bit of self-determinism and a state that would rather not have US soldiers crawling all over it – who’d have thought… but then again… that doesn’t fit Gekko’s narrative.

    • We already have, something like, 10 or 12 Super Fleets, any one of which could dominate the world in a war. We do not need any more ships. And it isn’t just the cost of building the ships we have to consider, but we have to maintain them, dock them some place, put sailors on them, supply them with arms and food, and probably a bunch of other things Mitt isn’t thinking about. He’s just one of the RWers who gets a hard-on for military hardware.

    • build 15 new ships for our Navy every year.. something worth borrowing from China for….

    • Get Big Bird a welder’s mask, and get him working for a living.
      And those lazy damn kids on Sesame Street? Put em to work as janitors in the shipyards. NO FREE LUNCH. Freeloading goddamn muppets!

  8. Perhaps the most distressing thing about the Reichwhiners is that they can’t accept disagreement. If you have a different idea about what this country is and should be? You aren’t just wrong; you are an enemy of the country. And this includes people, like teabaggers, who are themselves part of a minority. This can be viewed at FAUX”News”. Despite the fact that only around 1% of the country watches FAUX”News”, much less believes their crap, their on air talent constantly bullies anyone who falls outside that 1% on any issue. Then they go on to constantly assert that, by virtue of the fact that none of the other “news” networks can quite manage that 1%, they are the sole arbiters of “truth”.

    This isn’t new under the sun but it is a bit surprising that we are seeing a resurgence at the present time. Voting issues might be the most glaring example. To these people who truly Believe that anyone who disagrees with them doesn’t deserve the benefits of living in a civilized country it’s easy to assert that anyone who disagrees with them doesn’t deserve a vote. Heck! Even people who agree with them are only allowed to vote because they are useful idiots.

  9. There is only one teeny little flaw in Mr. Marchese’s thoughts on not voting. Our voting system doesn’t say our elected officials are elected by a majority of the votes that could be cast but rather the votes actually cast. We made a huge mistake when we made voting just a right. It should be a responsibility and required.

    Refusing to play the game of voting does not make one a neutral noncombatant. It just labels you a high minded idiot who is willing to let other people decide how things are done.

  10. Spencer Ackerman thought Romney’s foreign policy sounded a lot like Obama’s:

    “Mitt Romney thinks Barack Obama is a terrible president. When Romney looks at Obama’s foreign policies, he sees a president who projects “passivity” in a dangerous world, as he argues in a big speech on Monday, leaving allies and enemies confused about where America stands. Which makes it curious that the policies Romney outlines in his speech differ, at most, superficially from Obama’s.”

    • Put to one side if you can also the disaster that Romney was ‘on safari’ through Europe this summer – widely panned as an idiot by everyone (probably including Bibi).

      • Then again – this nation also (s)elected Ronald Raygun and Chimpy McFlightsuit twice each…..

        • Yep, those were four elections where the idiot prevailed in spite of my NO!! vote. Discouraging, yes, but only in the sense that I’m more determined than I ever was to do whatever I can — even if it’s ‘nothing more’ than to vote — to try make sure no idiot ever again manages to pull off what those two did.

  11. Speaking of elections; I’m looking forward to the wailing and gnashing of teeth about Hugo Chavez’s reelection. I suspect it will go something like “another anti-American dictator is on the loose because Obama…”.

    • I’m waiting for them to start whining about the President wanting to set up a monument to Chavez in CA. Hugo, Cesar, don’t confuse them with first names!

    • Er….. dictators win elections with 99% of the vote – Hugo isn’t much of a dictator…

  12. A new web video from the Obama campaign highlighting Romney’s dishonesty at the debate:

    There’s also a new anti-Bain ad suggesting that Romney put a Chinese investment ahead of national security:

    The Obama campaign is honoring Romney’s foreign policy speech with a web video and two new TV ads all suggesting that he fails the commander-in-chief test.

  13. Well that was interesting! The Mormon Temple is not actually that big. It has lots of granite and stone from China, Spain etc, and the inside looks like a house where someone was going for a rich look but comes off as cheap and tacky. Lots of plastic where you would find wood in a rich house. The fake smiles went very well with the fake decor.

    Very odd rooms where “Instruction” is given. You know, the path God has planned for you and other stuff that someone has to make up. These “Instructions” are given via video so the temple doesn’t even have to have anyone trained up. I’m sure this is to prevent going off message.

    My wife put it best afterword, “There’s two hours we’ll never get back!”.

    It’s going to take some time to cleans myself from that experience. A beer is a good start.

  14. Well, this is scary…

    Daniel Grossman profiles Paul Hearty, otherwise known as “The Rock Whisperer,” who believes ancient rocks hold the key to figuring out how fast and how much polar ice will melt due to climate change:

    “Such predictions matter tremendously. The world’s glaciers and ice sheets hold about two percent of Earth’s water. It’s a small fraction, but if all of it—about 6 million cubic miles of water—melted and poured into the oceans, the sea would rise by more than 230 feet. Most of today’s largest cities would vanish. A map of this waterlogged world would be missing Florida, the eastern shore of Maryland, Bangladesh, and Denmark.”

    • Not all of Denmark – not Sky Mountain, the bit in the middle. It is to Denmark what nipples are to Gwyneth Paltrow..

    • But only if the children are religious. Atheist kids don’t come under that sort of law.

      Fucka — he’s named appropriately.

      • Exactly! I think that any elected official who legislates according to the Buybull, rather than the Constitution and over 200 years of secular governance, should be barred from public office. Atheists, obviously, would not fall into that category. Alas, being an avowed atheist is almost always a death sentence for a political campaign. Most days that’s enough to send a very deep chill down my spine.

  15. Biden better stop the bleeding and reverse the slide on Thursday night. The Pew poll is devastating, just devastating. Before the debate, Obama had a 51 – 43 lead; now, Romney has a 49 – 45 lead. That’s a simply unprecedented reversal for a candidate in October. Before Obama had leads on every policy issue and personal characteristic; now Romney leads in all of them. Obama’s performance gave Romney a 12 point swing! I repeat: a 12 point swing.

    Currently, women are evenly divided (47% Obama, 47% Romney). Last month, Obama led Romney by 18 points (56% to 38%) among women likely voters! These polls look like they queried Romney’s family.

    I’ve never seen a candidate self-destruct for no external reason this late in a campaign before.

    • Easy there, badmoodman.

      Gallup showed the same bump on Friday but today, after the job numbers and fact checkers had their say, President Obama was right back in the lead. It appears that much of the jump in the Pew poll was due to Mittens’ supporters being more enthusiastic after a strong debate performance rather than voters actually switching allegiance. Mittens allayed some unrest on the right but we “lefties” were not impressed. Plus; Mittens just kept talking and doing more damage rather than sitting on his gains.

      • Anderson Cooper is also reporting an 8-10 point swing in Michigan etc.

        Obama really f**ked up.

  16. Does Obama want out? Michael Tomasky thinks he might:

    “There’s no doubt that he did envision himself as transformational…. He also believed, I think really genuinely believed, that he was and could be a post-partisan figure. He thought this because he wasn’t a product of the ’60s, and he said so explicitly on occasion, noting at one point in 2008 that we didn’t need to “relitigate the ’60s” anymore.

    Well, maybe he didn’t. But someone did. Conservatives did, because they believe that’s when it all went sour, and for them, it’s good for business besides. I doubt Obama had ever been hated by anybody in his life. Now, 40 or so million Americans hate him. Must be stunning to him, still.”

    • Of course he doesn’t. He went through all the crap 4 years ago and is now just willing to say, oh fuck it. Let them win. Yup, I see that as exactly what the man is about.

      • I dunno. Then there’s Byron York who reads Obama’s deflated spirit as the consequence of his restlessness:

        “A look at the president’s career shows he has never stayed in a job four years without looking to move on to something better…. Now Obama has been president for nearly four years. Aided by a huge Democratic majority from 2009 to 2011, he achieved some big things — massive stimulus, Obamacare, Dodd-Frank. He even won the Nobel Peace Prize, essentially for showing up.

        But he hasn’t achieved, and won’t achieve in four more years, the “fundamental transformation” of American society that he envisioned. And his entire career suggests that by now he should be angling for a bigger, better job.”

        If Obama wants to stay in, suffice it to say that Obama’s next debate appearance is THE most important night of his political career. Until the next debate….

        You can all dismiss the above posts as a crock, but I watched that last debate slackjawed, wondering if Obama had had enough of the insults and bullshit heaped on him by an ignorant citizenry.

        • I do view them as a crock, and I’m also sure he and his family are sick and tired of the racist shit flying at them constantly, but I don’t believe Obama is a quitter.

        • “deflated spirit, huge Democratic majority from 2009-2011, never been in a job longer than 4 years, wants to move on to something bigger and better..”
          Yep, that’s a crock.

        • Why are you worried about what Byron York thinks? These guys live in the false reality they’ve created in their own minds. He is doing nothing but speculating based on a few details he decided were important. Ignore him and his ilk.

    • Very few “mere actors” make my list of famous people I would like to share a beer with. George just might be at the top of that list. Even going back to his first appearances on Star Trek, a person of Asian heritage who was not portrayed as a villain or subhuman, I thought that he would be immensely interesting. His public journey since then has only strengthened that interest. I also figure that he’s smart enough to know when to laugh at my jokes and his graceful humor has convinced me that he would have some truly awesome jokes to share in turn.

      • He’s got a great sense of humor, and I think an evening with George and his husband, Brad, would be one of the greatest highlights of a lifetime. 😀

        Here’s his happy dance. 😉

    • Why is it called “Gish Gallop?”

      That’s exactly what Mitt did in the debate. The media needs a horse race, so they continue to say Mitt “won” the debate, and now Obama is losing ground in the polls. Sure, Obama did a shitty job in the debate, but TRUTH has to count for something.

    • Yep, and that is why I believe the Prez was not remotely prepared for the barrage of lies Mitt spewed during the debate. He better be next time.

      • He hadn’t been paying attention – but he should have had someone who had been. We knew this was going to happen and some of us have jobs to keep us busy too.

      • Sometimes a good football coach holds back certain plays and defensive schemes until the second half, and uses the first half to evaluate his opponents game plan. Then the opposition has less time to adjust to the changes after halftime. Romney came out and used every trick his team could invent in the first half. Obama hasn’t even played his first string yet.

        • Yes but he took a 8%-12% swing right on the chin…… its one thing to get your opponent to show his hand, but you have to survive the punch. In 90 minutes he undid two months of solid campaiging.

          • Once again, it depends on which polls. The Pew results are disturbing but the latest Gallop, taken after the fact checking and strong job report last Friday, has Obama right back where he was last Monday. Plus, we must always remember that the “librul media” has a vested interest in treating this as an even bout.

      • I have to give credit where it’s due. Mittens added his own twist by combining his lies with contradicting virtually everything he has said over the last year. Neither is surprising from him but it becomes impossible to counter within the rules of political “debates”. If Obama were “allowed” he could have easily countered with “that’s not true” and “that’s not what you said last week” but he played by the rules set out.

        • I really think it wasn’t that Obama wasn’t prepared, but that he was shocked at what was happening in that room. He should have been able to recover from it, but wow.

          • Obama was prepared for the guy who wooed the teabaggers in the primaries and he got the guy who ran for Governor of Massachusetts. It might have been Mark Twain who said:

            “An honest man is helpless in a debate against a committed liar”.

            • I’m having a hard time believing that anyone watched that debate and decided “Oh yeah, Mitt’s my kind of guy”. Unless the nation has gone so crazy that I need to behave like the RWNJ’s and put a gate at the end of the lane and start stockpiling food.

    • You won’t get any sympathy from here, Wayne. I’m a Viking fan and have witnessed devastating losses in the post season despite dominant regular seasons and very little press. The New York teams, on the other hand, get extensive coverage despite their records and a good deal of post season success, mostly for the Giants, with teams that barely made the playoffs.

      Plus, the Jets made a stupid, stupid, move bringing in Tebow. Assuming that his career lasts long enough he will go down as one of the most over-hyped players in history and will probably become a “coach killer” with the potential to even bring down managers and other front office people. After some of the moves the Vikings have made, with little or no mention anywhere outside Minnesota, I must admit that I will enjoy watching the unraveling of a team that will get press if they do nothing.

  17. If this is legit, then, as George Takei said in the video above, “Oh, my!”

    A link to Andrew Kaczynski’s article

    UPDATE: Never mind. The original article was posted back in January. Oh, well. It’s one of the hazards of twitter: People post old shit all the time. My apologies. But I’ll leave it here in case anyone wants to read it. Anyone from the Obama campaign.

  18. Unique Ancient Spider Attack Preserved in Amber

    Researchers have found what they say is the only fossil ever discovered of a spider attack on prey caught in its web — a 100 million-year-old snapshot of an engagement frozen in time

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