Watering Hole: November 6, 2014 – Old vs New

Tuesday was a sad day for our nation.  President Obama’s voters deserted him.  This feels like a repeat of 1998. Democrats need to learn to show up at all elections.

I am getting too old to continue to fight to save our nation.  This election was about the future for the Gen X’s, Gen Y’s, and Millennials.  There will probably still be enough food and clean water to drink until I get planted in the ground.  I’m not sure that I can say the same for my children and grandchildren.

So, will the rich keep getting richer?  Will we be returning to the feudal system?  Is this the end of democracy?  Sadly, America now has the worst government that money can buy.  The “kooks” will be running the nation financed by the greedy likes of the Koch brothers.

Just a word to the younger generation, if Social Security is dismantled, your parents and/or grandparents will be moving in with you.  You will be straddled with student loan debt because the Republicans use your money to finance their wars and war machinery.   You will have the country that your apathy and lack of voting will provide.  I wish you luck with that.  As I said, I am old and for me, “everyday above ground is a good day”.

This is our Open Thread.  I’m sure there will be plenty to Speak Up about.

NB:  I cried when Reagan got elected and I came close to crying on Tuesday night.

Watering Hole: November 13, 2012 – What is Your Request?

Now that Barack Obama has been re-elected to a second term, what issues would you like for him to address?

Here are some of mine listed in no particular order:

  1. Decriminalizing, legalizing, and taxing marijuana.
  2. Legalizing the growing and selling of hemp.
  3. Presenting to Congress the approved referendum from Puerto Rico for Statehood.
  4. Fixing Federal voting laws so that no one is disenfranchised by party politics.
  5. Working to create a law or make a change to the US Constitution whichever is needed to overturn “Citizens United”.
  6. Appoint progressive, young candidates to the courts, especially the Supreme Court of the United States.

This is our Open Thread.  Speak Up!

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?

Watering Hole: August 26, 2010 – Never Take Things For Granted

On August 26, 2010, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution celebrates its 90th Anniversary. It was a long, hard battle fought by courageous women.

We should not take our right to vote for granted. Yet, so many Americans do not vote. What would these non-voting people do if they were told that they were prohibited to vote? Would they then be protesting? Shame on anyone that stays away from the voting booth on election day. It is not only your right to vote, it is your duty as a citizen to vote.

There is a statement in the movie “Iron Jawed Angels”, “You can’t picket a war time president”.  They did and they were severely punished for it.

Alice Paul is the true hero and she should replace one of the dead presidents on one of our coins (This is just my personal opinion and does not reflect the opinion of other members of The Zoo).

Alice Paul was the architect of some of the most outstanding political achievements on behalf of women in the 20th century. Born on January 11, 1885 to Quaker parents in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, Alice Paul dedicated her life to the single cause of securing equal rights for all women.

Few individuals have had as much impact on American history as has Alice Paul. Her life symbolizes the long struggle for justice in the United States and around the world. Her vision was the ordinary notion that women and men should be equal partners in society.

A great op-ed from Christine Stansall.

Happy 90th Anniversary, 19th Amendment, and thank you to the women that risked everything just for the right to vote.

This is our Open Thread.  Show courage and SPEAK UP!

More Ballot Changes In Ohio Confuse Voters

The Brennan Center for Justice has sent a memo to the County Board of Elections were the TSX is used. It seems some counties in Ohio they have split the presidential candidates into two columns on their paper ballots. This has caused problems with voters in the past. Lawrence Norden from the Brennan Center has the details of why this is so confusing on the TSX also.

More recently we’ve found out that some counties that use touch screen machines have split the presidential contest onto two pages — meaning on the first screen voters might see Barr and Nader, and on the second screen McCain and Obama. For reasons explained in a memo we sent to county officials, that’s likely to confuse and frustrate a fair number of voters. So far we have confirmed that Portage (home of Kent State), Hancock, and Wayne Counties have split the presidential contest this way. Others like Montgomery, Stark, and Butler Counties have managed to get the presidential contest (eight candidates and a write-in slot) onto one screen.

In their memo they explain the problem and what their research has shown when presidential candidates are put on two different screens.

Layout of the Presidential Contest on the TSX

We have recently been contacted by Ohio voters concerned that in certain counties using the AccuVote TSX, the presidential contest is spread over two pages. Based on calls to county boards in the past day, this complaint appears to be correct. Some counties (including Montgomery and Butler) report that they placed the entire presidential contest on a single page.

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The GOP Mask Is Slipping – Voting Has Consequences

Bob Herbert has written an outstanding op-ed on the Republican party and about one of their great American hero’s Ronald Reagan. It talks about the deficit spending practices by the “conservatives” that Dick Cheney is quoted as saying “deficits don’t matter.” Well, maybe not to him, but the American people are paying a heavy price for that reckless mentality. Lastly, he starts off talking about the wing-nuts that would vote for McSame & Mrs. Joe Six-Pack, commonly referred to as the “Hockey Mom Extraordinaire”.

For the nitwits who vote for the man or woman they’d most like to have over for dinner, or hang out at a barbecue with, I suggest you take a look at how well your 401(k) is doing, or how easy it will be to meet the mortgage this month, or whether the college fund you’ve been trying to build for your kids is as robust as you’d like it to be.

Voters in the George W. Bush era gave the Republican Party nearly complete control of the federal government. Now the financial markets are in turmoil, top government and corporate leaders are on the verge of panic and scholars are dusting off treatises that analyzed the causes of the Great Depression.

Mr. Bush was never viewed as a policy or intellectual heavyweight. Voting has consequences.

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DOJ John Tanner Resigns as Voting Chief

via: BradBlog

The controversial head of the DoJ Civil Rights Division, Voting Section, John Tanner, finally resigned from his position as of 11am ET this morning…

Today, John Tanner resigned from his position effective immediately as chief of the Civil Rights Division’s voting section. His resignation email, with the subject line “Moving On” was sent out at approximately 11 AM to voting section staff. He said that he will be moving on to the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices.

More from TPM Muckraker:

With Tanner, it had seemed like a matter of not if, but when. As we reported late last month, his travel habits had angered attorneys in the voting section, leading to an investigation by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

And that was after his comments about the tendency of minorities to “die first” led Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and others to call for his removal. When he went before the House Judiciary Committee in October, he was lambasted for his tendency of “basing your conclusions on stereotypes” (like, say, claiming that African-Americans have IDs more than whites because they’re always going to cash-checking businesses).

But most of all, Tanner’s reign is notable for his collusion with the political appointees who oversaw the section, an ongoing effort to reverse the Civil Rights Division’s traditional role in protecting minority voters, particularly African-Americans, into one of aiding thinly disguised vote suppression measures (most infamously Georgia’s voter ID law). It was an effort that some career DoJ attorneys later described as “institutional sabotage.”

I will hold my enthusiasm until I see who they replace him with..