Sunday, October 26, 2008

Yoni School (US) Election Watch Pt. 10

OK, I've found a couple of articles in Salon about things going on in the US election that disturb me.

Here's the first one:
See this photo here. It's from an article entitled: Another election nightmare in Florida? What are these people doing?

AP Photo/J Pat Carter

Well, I'll tell you. The caption for this photo is: People stand in line to vote early in Pompano Beach, Fla., on Oct. 23, 2008.

The article goes on to say that people stood in line for as much as two hours! In a voting place where there were "a couple of dozen voting machines and their operators...struggling in vain to keep pace with a flood of citizens. " And this for advance voting, mind you. Not even election day yet.

This is in Florida. In the good ole US of A. The country that is the beacon of hope for all struggling democracies. The light of liberty. The most election-crazy nation in the world! (I mean, really, where else does a presidential election consume the attention and energies of its people for more than a year?)

I am astounded that a country that holds so many elections should have its citizens standing in line for hours simply to vote. Haven't they figured out by now how to do it expeditiously?

(Remember when they had the troubles in Florida before? Of course you do, Mr. Chad...OK, remember Fidel Castro's remark about sending election observers to help out the poor Murricans? You thought that was just a joke, didn't you? Well, maybe not so much of a joke.)

Now, here's why I'm flabbergasted by the apparent unwieldiness of the Murrican voting system. You know, of course, that we here in Canaduh just had our own exercise in electoral inanity. The campain (sp. error deliberate of course...) lasted just over thirty days. None of this orgiastic self-flagellation and mutual-masturbation and puerile parodies of political poop-slinging going on and on in an endless round of gotcha journalism and obsessive attention to irrelevant details. Up here in Canaduh it's "wham bang thank you ma'am oops my minority government slip is showing!" Vote and be done with it!

In Canaduh we have a standing voters' list. They send you a card with your name and address on it, and the place where you have to go to vote. If you're not on the voters' list, it's easy enough to find out how to get on the list. And even if you don't get on the list before election day, there's a fairly simple method of making a declaration which will allow you to vote. (The only real flaw here is that there doesn't seem to be any serious attempt to ascertain whether the person is actually a citizen and eligible to vote. This includes people both on and off the list...Seems a little weird to me...)

On voting day, you take your card, show it to a couple of people, show them your photo ID (a new innovation since the last election), they give you a paper ballot, you go behind a little cardboard booth thingy and here's what you do:

You put a big X beside the name of your favourite candidate. The same way King John signed the Magna Carta. A big X.

You take it to Martha or Ethel at the table and watch them put it in the ballot box. Boom! Done!

When the polls close, they have somebody who passed Grade 5 arithmetic count the ballots. (I'm not sure, but I think they also have a scrutineer and he/she would be at least a high school graduate.) In other words, it's not rocket science.

On election day, I was escorted by a burly Yoni School attendant to the polling place, got my ballot, and was in and out in ten minutes!

So, all right, I admit I'm not intimately familiar with the US rigmarole. You have to register to vote first. But when you register, don't you get some sort of card or paper that identifies you as a registered voter? What more, then, do you need?

I suppose part of the problem is those damn voting machines. You know what I say? Toss em in the trash bin! Simple paper ballots. A big X. Why complicate matters? Unless there is some ulterior motive? I don't know, I'm just askin'.

Ultimately, I think it's a shameful state of affairs that the world's No. 1 democracy can't hold a national election in an efficient manner.

So, now, the second article is even more disturbing, in a creepy kind of way. The title of this article is: Chairwoman of N.M. GOP group calls Obama "a Muslim socialist".

Her name is Marcia Stirman. She wrote a letter to the editor of her local paper. Got a bit of flak about it too. But she is unrepentant. Here's what she said to the Associated Press:
I don't trust them [Muslims] at all. They've sworn across the world that they are our enemies. Why we're trying to elect one is beside me ... I still have freedom of speech and an opinion. If the Islamic group doesn't like it, well, I don't like what's going on in their camp, either.
Now, I'm sure some of you remember all the bad publicity Barack Hussein Obama received because of the rants engaged in by his pastor in Chicago. What was his name again? Jeremiah Wright, that's right! And his church? Trinity United Church of Christ. (Am I reading that right? I think so. Or maybe Christ is just another name for Muhammed.)

Obviously, the purpose of pointing this out is to remind Republican supporters that they simply can't have it both ways...nailing Obama for radical black Christian views and simultaneously branding him a radical Muslim.

But the creepy part...

Do people really believe these lies? Apparently they do. Even Republican Colin Powell can't seem to convince people about Obama's Christianity. (Approx. 10 minutes into the video, or here right at the beginning of the video.) Or make them pay attention to the real question: Even if Obama were Muslim, so what? Does being Muslim disqualify you? Does being Mormon? (Being Catholic almost disqualified Kennedy...) But this is bigotry, pure and simple. As for the socialist part, check out this video on Democracy Now, in which the publisher of Harper's Magazine discusses this pseudo-accusation, and then further discusses how the US needs to have a serious debate about some possibly socialist-type actions in the near future, given the sorry state of the US capitalism.

So I wonder about statements like those of Ms. Stirman. Either she's completely stupid, since on the evidence Obama is neither Muslim nor socialist. Or she's deliberately spreading lies. Hoping that some people will be ignorant enough to fall for them.

I'm sorry, I have to say this: frankly, I'm appalled by the average level of political discourse and debate in the US.

(Aside: This quality of being appalled is what marks me as a true Canajun. You know those phrases we use to describe pairs or groups of animals, such as "a murder of crows" or "a gaggle of geese"? Well, given the frequency with which Canajuns are appalled by circumstances and conditions they encounter, I think any group of Canajuns gathered together should be called "a pall of Canajuns"...)

It seems to lie somewhere between the gutter and the sixth circle of Hell. When it's not vile insults and falsehoods tossed back and forth, it's information overload filled with obsessive trivialities and inanities. This applies to both the so-called MSM (mainstream media) and online sites.

This is not to say that you can't find good and useful discussion...interviews with the candidates, analysis by perceptive people, arguments by argumentative people. But a significant percentage, if not a majority, of the material is unadulterated content-less crap. Even my favourite vaguely liberal news sites are not immune from this. How many different ways can we squeeze out to pop the pathetic Palin persona? And for the right wingers: how many different ways can we pin the "domestic terrorist" tail on Obama?

It's tiresome, already, OK?

And furthermore, even the official debates, from which many people form their decisions on who to vote for, are superficial and somewhat boring. Commentators are reduced to picking apart the candidates' demeanour. This is a useless exercise. It tells you nothing about what he or she might do when in office. But we get to hear McCain Obama agrees to meet with terrorists...without preconditions! (Only stupid people can't figure out this is such an oversimplification that it amounts to misrepresentation...) And we get to hear Obama say "tax cuts for 95% of the population"...again.

Then we get to read about it on the web or in the paper. And we get to watch the same thing only shorter on the evening news. And then the next day we get to see them at a rally in Snerdgrass Montana saying what they said the day before in the debate, but with a different accent. Or we get to hear Sarah Palin telling Pennsylvania that California is un-Murrican. Or that liberal is un-Murrican (as "Communist" was un-Murrican in the 50s...)

And meanwhile you've got a hundred different versions of Joe the Plumber spewing some kind of venom and hatred around the webcam, everybody minutely parsing the off-hand statements, looking for the tiniest bit of dirt to fling at their latest demon. As if they even knew what "parsing" means.

But to get back to the original theme. Ms. Stirman kind of brings me full circle to the discussion in the first part of this post, because she may be a prime example of why there should be an intelligence test before you are allowed to vote. Or at least some sort of knowledge test.

If you can't answer a simple fact-based question like "What religion does Barack Obama profess?" or "What country held John McCain captive and practised torture on him?" then No Vote For You Baby!

Of course, this wouldn't prevent people from voting based on their hatreds and prejudices, but at least we would know that these people were deliberately allowing their hatreds to rule them in the face of facts.

On the other hand, if you think you've got long waits to vote now...what circle of hell is reserved for those who have to write a test before they vote?

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Anonymous said...

Have you heard that Canada is planning drive through voting stations for a next time? So it is easier for people?

Sort of drive-in-and-vote-and-get-a-free-coffee-and-donut? That should bring them in! What will we call those, "Timmy Votes?"

Larry Keiler said...

I'll just remind you of a post I wrote back in Feb/07 in which I attempted to facilitate the spread of a new Canajun term: TimHoe.

This drive-thru voting booth would certainly go a long way towards making every one of us a certified TimHoe.

Larry Keiler said...

For some reason the previous link didn't work. I'm trying it again.

OK, I tested it before publishing, but who knows what will happen after that....

Anonymous said...

Hmmmmm. I wondered if we are slighting other drive throughs like Mc.Donald's Wendy's, Burger King's,Harvey's...

Wendy could make your vote way delicious for you. Maybe with a free baked potato. But Wendy's didn't receive her pig tails in Canada. It all started in the States.

Really the only other fast food restaurant being originally Canadian is Harvey's. Home grown!

Could Harvey's make your vote a beautiful thing, with a free burger with free trimmings? A free drive through vote for Canadian burgers. Wait I don't think burger is a Canadian word else than in hamburger. In Dutch a burger is a citizen. Silly me!

As to TimHoe...we also could shorten the word 'vote'.
"TimHoVo Day!" Maybe even lose the m, like, Drive through the TiHoVo poles, assert your right to vote and bloat?

Help! I've written and I can't get up!