Saturday, November 29, 2008

This Shit Has Got To Stop

Did you read about the shopper that was trampled to death by the crowds breaking through the Wal-Mart door in New York. Evidently there was a crush (literally) of people trying to get $300 laptops.

It reminds me more of a shark feeding frenzy than a human activity. Or should I say what a civilized human activity should be like. Capitalism has created monsters and I am so happy I was swimming yesterday in a small eddy at a holiday market in Angel Fire.

Christmas as celebrated in the United States is a creation of department stores to increase sales during a normal slow time in their economic cycle. It certainly worked. Now shrines to capitalism like Wal-Mart make the lion's share of their yearly sales between Black Friday (very appropriate color given the shopper's death) and Boxing Day or the day after Christmas when large crowds descend for the 50% off holiday merchandise and returns of unwanted gifts.

Evidently not everyone upon realization of the recession we are in re-evaluated what was important about the holidays. No, this is not one of those religious blogs, and if it were it definitely would not be a Fundamentalist Christian blog. But a great many world religions do have a major "holy day" around this time of year going back beyond Stone Henge no doubt. And before the United States department stores capitalized on it this time of year was seen as a time for spiritual renewal, bonding with those closest to you, examining of our lives and dedication to better ourselves, and standing in awe that after the shortest day of the year when the sun seemed to stand still the daylight increased. None of that translates into whether you get one of the limited availability $300 laptops - or die trying.

You do know that sharks often die in feeding frenzies? Once they all gather and devour the original batch of food they often go for one of their own accidentally or on purpose. Sharks are survivors but they have not developed an elevating culture that we have been able to discern. I have my doubts right now about Americans. And quite frankly I think we need a depression to re-think our values.

In the 60's when I was into shaking off my parents' conspicuous consumption I hadn't a clue what capitalism would get to be about. I would like to apologize to them now, wherever they are. A new car every two years because the ash trays were dirty sounds oh, so reasoned in lite of dying for a Game Boy.

The local weekly paper has a question of the week feature and yesterday it was my turn to be asked I guess in the great rotation of things. The question was, "What are you looking forward to most this holiday season?" My answer was being with my sister, her husband, and my best friend down in Cedar Crest for a few stolen days. Simple joys.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Citibank Bailout like Electing Mafia Don President?

I am not a fan of credit card companies. And frankly one of those I dislike the most is Citibank. And we are rescuing these robber barons?

I had been playing credit card roulette before my head injury. That is where you roll over your balance to the lowest interest rate whenever an offer shows up in your mail box. I had even developed a spread sheet to keep track of when the "introduction rate" would go up.

I had excellent credit and balance limits I figured I would never max out. I could have bought a Hummer and a vacation home with credit cards and not come close. Then the accident that altered my life. When I got conscious I realized my credit card companies were tripling my interest rate and charging me $25 to $35 late fees. I wrote all of them and explained my head injury and I would soon be back on top of things. They doubled my interest rate again.

Taking Oprah's advice I called them all and asked if they could lower my rate for six months to allow me to get a handle on things. Now mind you at that time I was not late on a single card. But two or three things had begun to transpired in the credit card business: make up for the low rates by changing high penalties for a single minute late, and shorten the day between mailing the statement and when it is due.

This last little trick since I live in a rural area and only get mail three days a week was deadly. I frequently got statements after the due date. So I switched to on line billing and payments. It was Citibank that developed this little ploy that you could not pay on line without a penalty within three days of the due date; they needed processing time. Or you could avoid the $30 penalty by paying them $10 for fast processing. Mind you I sat there one day with two windows open - one to their website and one to my bank and watched the money vanish from my account the minute I authorized payment.

Listening to my friend last night they evidently have not gotten better. Citibank just raised her interest from 10 to 24 percent because she called and asked about an auto loan. That is all it takes. Just have someone run a credit check on you. I give prospective renters the option to get a credit report for me to save them the predatory practices of credit card companies.

Some leaders of the congress have been trying to get a consumer bill of rights to restrict the activities of the credit card companies after Bush deregulated all banks. I say if we are going to give Citibank money they have to clean up their act. If they are going to stick to their same game plan I say let them fail.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Remembering the WPA

My family camped for vacations. Dad wanted to get away from his high pressure job and the telephone (no cell phones in those days) and so we took to the highways and byways of the mountain west and camped.

He often would point out that this trail or that camp ground had been built by labor during the depression when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt developed the WPA to put people standing in bread lines back to work.

The Blue Ridge Parkway that runs along the Appalachians in the eastern part of the United States is a great example of what the WPA accomplished. Not only did it put people living in that area to work but to this day the parkway allows an economic flow that has preserved the native crafts and culture of that area. The art trail we are setting up her in New Mexico is modeled after one set up by benefit of this parkway built over 70 years ago. Its stone bridges and retaining walls and restored mills and waterways are beautiful and lasting.

Here in the mountain west the WPA worked on many parks creating trails and overlooks that made their beauties more accessable to the public. The closest example to me is the Wild Rivers Park at the junction of the Red River and the Rio Grande. A system of trails allows visitors to hike down switchbacks to the bottom of the Rio Grande gorge some 600 feet below the scenic overlooks at the top. Remote campsites at the bottom allow hikers to over-night away from the maddening crowds. A group of volunteers goes out every spring to do trail maintenance but the original WPA work has lasted.

Today because of Bush cutbacks the National Park Service originally created by the giving of land by Rockefeller and other railroad magnants is suffering. Facilities are in need of repair to the point that on my recent roadtrips with my sister we have chosen to stay at state parks which are better funded.

The Bush administration has chosen to focus on foreign countries and exporting of jobs and resourses away from the United States. Our national parks are crumbling, our infrastructure is deteriorating, and the economy was built on a tissue of lies that is now going up in flames. President elect Obama proposes to rescue our economy by returning the US governments focus back to our own shores.

“We’ll be working out the details in the weeks ahead,” Mr. Obama said about his economic stimulus package, “but it will be a two-year, nationwide effort to jumpstart job creation in America and lay the foundation for a strong and growing economy. We’ll put people back to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, modernizing schools that are failing our children, and building wind farms and solar panels, fuel-efficient cars and the alternative energy technologies that can free us from our dependence on foreign oil and keep our economy competitive in the years ahead.”

It looks to be the modern version of Roosevelt's WPA. I certainly hope the effects of it last as long as the Blue Ridge Parkway. And that generations to come look back and point at the accomplishments yet to be achieved by this new era.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Modest Proposal

I used to work for an international construction firm that had a long standing relationship renovating auto factories for one of the big three in the country. One of the plants I worked on in our capacity as construction managers had been converted to make tanks during WWII, and another had made bombers in the same period.

So why is it we should just give money to Ford and GM? Why not take the same amount of money and have them re-tool a couple of their plants to make railroad cars and engines? And the company that makes their bucket seats could make comfortable passenger car seats. The stamping plants for engine parts could make train wheels or retool to make rails. This makes so much sense on so many levels government probably will not even consider it.

Level one is that big business always bemoans welfare to the poor. Don't they always say, "let them get jobs." Well, I think that applies to the big three. Can't sell cars because the poor are not working because we are in a recession then don't make cars. Make trains.

Due to the fuel crisis and our need to be more green and less dependent upon foreign oil more freight companies have been piggybacking their trailers between major cities rather than trucking them. As I reported in an early blog this has caused some issue with trains because of aging track and cars. We need more capacity to ship more stuff.

Our reliance on airplanes for travel is also silly. Planes really waste fuel. And the contrails from the number of planes in the skies at anyone time are believed to be increasing the effects of global warming. More of us need to take trains for those between town jaunts to visit Aunt Helen. And if the SUV could come with us on a specially built train car we would not need a rental car at our destination. Fifty cars riding on a train are not burning fuel wastefully and contributing to greenhouse gases like the same 50 cars on the interstate.

Transporting cars on trains for long distance travel also reduces wear and tear on our aging interstate system until much needed repairs of the infrastructure can be effected. Maybe we can use out-of-work United Auto Workers who will not compromise on their benefit packages. (Does this sound like CEO's and golden parachutes?)

So no bailout money for auto companies without a plan for them to produce something we can use. Let's make trains.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Consumer Trap

Let me begin by saying a word about the photo I picked. It is a trapdoor spider and my original thought upon Googling the image was to get one lurking in its trap. There are lots of those. But this one was so pretty. And in a way that illustrates my point better.

We, as consumers, were enticed into spending way too much with tarted up merchandise we were made to believe we needed. A friend of mine with a good and secure job in government said he had gone from buying things he did not need to buying things he did not even want. I figured we were in trouble when the big box stores switched from selling us new linens and clothes and things to selling containers to put them into or storage systems to make those containers look so good in our closets. Products never got better. They just got bigger or brighter or with some new feature we really did not need. But we were sold on the fact that they were necessary for our peace of mind and standing in our community.

And wasn't it so easy to get those new necessities with the tarted up credit cards that you can even put your picture on and donate to your favorite charity every time you swipe it thought those oh, so easy to use card readers. Using cash or writing a check was viewed as slowing progress down. Everyone behind you and the clerk waiting on you expressed their discontent.

I fell into that trap seven years ago after my head injury. I literally could not write a check. Nor could I really keep track of all those complicated credit card statements or notice when they had raised my low entry rate to astronomical heights. Because of being out of work and medical expenses and credit card fees I became one of the last to declare bankruptcy before Bush toughened up the laws in 2005 that was suppose to end personal bankruptcy.

So I read this morning the New York Times' series the The Debt Trap with great interest. Bankruptcies are up. They jumped nearly eight percent in October. "Filings totaled 108,595, surpassing 100,000 for the first time since a law that made it more difficult — and often twice as expensive — to file for bankruptcy took effect in 2005. That translated to an average of 4,936 bankruptcies filed each business day last month, up nearly 34 percent from October 2007."

Banks are not lending money so easily anymore. As banks have pulled back on lending consumers have been finding it more difficult, and in many cases impossible, to use credit cards, refinance their home mortgages or fall back on their home equity lines to get them through a rough period. New credit card offers with lower interest and even zero after roll over of another card debt are slim and far between. And some homeowners have already maxed out their equity in their homes to get out of credit card balances.

Remember when you could get your home refinanced for 125% of its value? Or when if you wanted a home refinance or home improvement loan the estimator sent out to value you house stayed in the driveway so he got the address right and filled in the value number the bank wanted for the loan? We all though home values were going to continue to rise. My father, whose parents rode out the Great Depression, told me to never borrow more than 70% of what my home was worth and only believe 80% of what I was told it was worth and don't buy what you cannot afford.

But even those that stick by those rules can get caught when they lose their jobs, or have a major medical crisis that results in the loss of a job and escalating medical debt. If the United States is bailing out those companies that set the trap why are they not helping those that fell into it. The first group is being investigated for felonies by the FBI. The second group is being thrown out of their homes.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Consumer confidence at an all time low

I went shopping last Friday. I drove over to Taos because the price of gas was down and I needed some things not available in my local area. I did try the local stores first and had been working on a list for a couple of weeks. I used to dash over to Taos almost weekly. It is where the Wal-Mart is.

I stopped going to Wal-Mart during the poisoned Chinese pet food debacle. I found Wal-Mart re-price coding some of the pulled lots and putting them back on the shelves. And I never by non-freezing windshied wiper fluid there since the stuff froze all over my windshied while driving through Pueblo during a snow storm. But Wal-Mart did have my printer ink, and security envelopes for the two bills I have to pay with real checks and not on line. I went to Albertson's for the pet food. Sorry, I will not forgive Wal-Mart for my dead cat.

Wal-Mart seems to be about the only company in America showing a profit this year. Grocery stores are flat. But the electronic stores and the finer stores are really hurting. Even with lower prices consumers are buying just the necessities.

My list was just the necessities and still it exceeded my budgeted amount. Seems that gas prices may have gone down but products have not followed suit yet. One of the necessities I had to get was windshield wiper blades. I went to Auto Zone because they have a brand I prefer (yeah, Wal-Mart may have had them cheaper but we are back to that confidence thing).

Snow was heading into my area so I changed out the old blades for the new winter ones the next morning, turned on the wipers to see if they were on correctly. Next morning as the snow is starting I had to run into the local village five miles away and the plastic clip holding on one blade broke. Pieces of plastic flew across my field of vision. I dashed into the local auto store and got another blade at $2 more expensive than the one I got in Taos but what can you do?

I really feel that this consumer drop in spending is not just about money. It is about paying higher and higher prices for lower quality stuff, and in some cases poison. And why are we paying such high prices? Fuel costs? Or is it because of golden parachutes and CEO bonuses? The whole focus on the economy and the bailout has made the American consumer more aware of what is behind the price of that piece of plastic that broke and sent the new windshield wiper flying. I can remember when those clips were metal. And when they were made in the United States.

Even if I had the money, at the moment, to buy the non-essentials I sincerely doubt I would. I feel like I am buying crap and being ripped off so some CEO can get his billion dollar bonus. What Christmas shopping I do will be at a local arts fair this Thanksgiving. Nothing from a department store or a big box store. Definitely nothing from Wal-Mart. Oh, the envelopes seem to be okay, but I think I will order the printer's ink from HP by Internet next time I need some and just save the trip over the mountain.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

We Can Think Again

A funny thing happened on the way to the presidential election. I rediscovered my love for reading essays and editorials.

When I lived in Washington, DC and worked for a US Senator I read the Washington Post and New York Times editorials every morning. It was part of the job description. Morning coffee generally included lively discussions about one or more op-ed pieces.

Since those heady days within the workings of power there has been a dumbing down of America. Even President Bill Clinton hid his brains behind Arkansas folksy talk and stories about hogs. GW Bush and his current White House cabinet openly scorns expertise and avoids words with multiple syllables (not that GW can pronounce them).

But there is a new age as Nicholas D. Kristof writes in his New York Times op-ed piece: Obama and the War on Brains. Seems our new President-elect is an ", out of the closet intellectual" complete with favorite philosophers and poets. John F. Kennedy was our last president to be openly intellectual. President Bush, adopted anti-intellectualism as administration policy, and supported No Child Left Behind which merely tests memorized knowledge not your use of it. NO THINKING. Studies show that fully 1/5th of our school children believe the sun orbits the earth. And Sarah Palin thought Africa was a country and not a continent.

Our new President to be thinks. Which all leads me to wonder what Bush and Obama talked about in the White House Oval office for an hour yesterday. Obama talks in paragraphs rather than sound bytes as Kristoff points out in his op-ed piece. Bush frequently does not finish sentences, and is inclined to give you a three word sentence rather than any serious analysis of the situation.

Kristof mentions several White House intellectuals of the past and that it does not necessarily make them good presidents. But thinking people are happier in the company of knowledge and expertise and we are going to need a lot of both to think us out of the mess GW got us into. President Kennedy surrounded himself with the best and brightest and was open to new thought. As Obama puts together his staff, advisors, and cabinet it looks as if he intends to do the same. With the best and brightest in touch with out new leader we have a chance of solving our problems.

During his transition to power I am thrilled that I can come out of the closet about my intellectualism. To quote Kristof again, "An intellectual is a person interested in ideas and comfortable with complexity. Intellectuals read the classics, even when no one is looking, because they appreciate the lessons of Sophocles and Shakespeare that the world abounds in uncertainties and contradictions."

My favorite philosopher is Jean-Paul Sartre. My favorite poets are a rather long list with John Keats and Walt Whitman and e. e. cummings toward the top. Oh, and I now daily read op-ed pieces from the NYT's on the internet every morning. And a growing list of blogs by bloggers who think. I don't even have to get out of the house and go to the news stand which is good since I live a long way from one.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Obama to hit the White House Running

The pace of the world especially in the dire straights we are in does not allow for a lot of time to celebrate or for Obama any time to grieve the death of his grandmother. He is busy naming his team and setting his agenda (about as difficult as herding cats). I was overjoyed to see he is going to repeal some of GW's executive orders if not all.

Meanwhile I have been swinging from giddy to stunned that it really happened to going through political blog withdrawal. Seems I am not the only one. All my friends seem to be continuing to read the op ed pages available on the internet. I was reading Sails blog this morning and she cited an editorial by Frank Rich. I found the following paragraphs where he describes the morning after really spot on for me:

Our nation was still in the same ditch it had been the day before, but the atmosphere was giddy. We felt good not only because we had breached a racial barrier as old as the Republic. Dawn also brought the realization that we were at last emerging from an abusive relationship with our country’s 21st-century leaders. The festive scenes of liberation that Dick Cheney had once imagined for Iraq were finally taking place — in cities all over America.

For eight years, we’ve been told by those in power that we are small, bigoted and stupid — easily divided and easily frightened. This was the toxic catechism of Bush-Rove politics. It was the soiled banner picked up by the sad McCain campaign, and it was often abetted by an amen corner in the dominant news media. We heard this slander of America so often that we all started to believe it, liberals most certainly included. If I had a dollar for every Democrat who told me there was no way that Americans would ever turn against the war in Iraq or definitively reject Bush governance or elect a black man named Barack Hussein Obama president, I could almost start to recoup my 401(k). Few wanted to take yes for an answer.

So let’s be blunt. Almost every assumption about America that was taken as a given by our political culture on Tuesday morning was proved wrong by Tuesday night.

And aren't we thrilled that Obama and the voters of this United States (no longer divided into red and blue) did prove us wrong. I admit to a definite negativity about the possibility of democracy winning out in the United States. I thought it very ironic that we were "exporting" democracy while erasing it here in the United States with executive orders that allowed its citizens to be spied upon, vanished to Gitmo, marginalized by labeling us terrorist sympathizers, the list goes on. Or was going on, but it looks like our President-elect plans to change that all the minute he takes office.

Friday, November 7, 2008


I began this blog originally as a replacement for my Yahoo!360 blog if it came to that. And then transitioned it into being a political blog in part to explain the primary process to some of my world friends. In that process I learned a great deal.

And than learning has continued throughout the political process. Now I am finding out about the transitional process taking place.

In a world where everything seems to move so fast these days it seemed like an awfully long time from the first Tuesday in November until January 20th when the president-elect is sworn into office and actually takes power. But some things do seem to start happening almost immediately. And is more than just measuring for drapes like McCain joked in the closing days of the campaign.

On Thursday President-elect Obama began getting the same daily national security briefings that the sitting president, GW Bush gets so that he can be up to speed on world issues. And, as we have seen, Obama has begun to put his staff together and begin the vetting process for his cabinet positions. President Bush has promised a smooth transition of power. But we do know from 2001 that does not always happen.

Out-going President Bill Clinton's staff passed off with some urgency information about a possible major terrorist attack that the Bush incoming staff ignored. Depending on what side of the conspiracy theories you are on they either elected to ignore it with willful intent because they figured it was minor and when it occurred might advance their agenda or the were disdainful of any information coming from Democrats. The result was the same: 9/ll. And as it happens Bush/Cheney got to advance their agenda of depriving citizens of privacy and civil liberties and having an excuse (all be it a thin one) to invade Iraq and make millions for Haliburton.

Let us all hope that this hand-off of power is smoother this time and no balls are dropped intentionally or accidentally. The economy is going to be a major hand-off and no doubt GW is ready to see quit to that issue. And Obama seems to have given priority to picking his economic advisers. Will the current White House staff allow them to call some plays early for the sake of the American people and the world? Let us hope so.

As for this blog I am looking forward to learning about the transition process and sharing my views here. But I am also looking ahead to covering some of the issues that concern me most as the US and the world move forward together. Needless to say this list includes global warming, over-fishing of our seas, green energy, water and its misuse, nuclear power plants and their placement on fault line, disposal of nuclear waste in my part of the country, etc. I don't think I will get bored.

Note: Opening illustration is Marcel Duchamp's Virgin Transitioning to Bride.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

My Word for Today - Validation

Now that I have stopped dancing about the election Tuesday, and gotten another day to sleep off the fatigue of working at the polls during this very critical contest for America and the world, and read all the blogs about what it meant for so many on a very personal level let me just I believe Obama's victory was validation for all I have believed since my idealistic youth.

Yes, we can change the direction the world is going. Mom, would have said it was going to Hell in a handbasket. I frankly at times felt more like I was in one of those mining cars in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

So my word for today is validation. Complicated word. It seems to be used by engineers and computer scientists and a whole host of other technical trades. For the complete list of what validation can mean I refer you to Wikipedia. Enjoy. After a quick scan and then more in depth spot reading that was totally off point I found what I wanted:

In psychology and human communication, validation is the reciprocated communication of respect which communicates that the other's opinions are acknowledged, respected, heard, and (regardless whether or not the listener actually agrees with the content), they are being treated with genuine respect as a legitimate expression of their feelings, rather than marginalized or dismissed.

In case you missed it that was what President Elect Obama and Senator McCain did in their respective speeches on Tuesday night. It is what we need to continue to do in the years ahead. GW Bush and his administration contantly marginalized or dismissed the opinions of others. It made us angry then it made us fearful.

I am reminded of the time riding in the passenger seat of my brother's sports car and telling him he was in the wrong lane. The first time I thought he had not heard. But thinking it was important because the lane in question was the parking and unloading lane on a very busy street and their were vehicles parked in it up ahead I said it again.

He told me he was driving and I should shut up. Well, as soon as we slipped the MG under the semi truck trailer ahead I thought that would be a foregone conclusion. Decapitated you cannot talk. So I screamed at him that he needed to get to the left lane or slam on the brakes. He finally saw what I was so excited about and we narrowly avoided an accident. But he had to dis me afterwards by reminding me he was driving. I asked him to stop the car and I got out. I was five miles from home from my house and had to call a cab to pick me up but I never rode as a passenger in his car again.

This is frankly exactly how I have felt the last eight years in the United States. I would have called a cab if I had known just exactly where I wanted it to take me beyond away from here. And I live about as away from here as you can live and still be within the boundries of the United States. This campaign process was my last attempt to get anyone's attention about where we were heading. And I felt so validated when from the podium those running for office acknowledged where we were heading.

I was scared to death of McCain winning because as we neared the back of the economic truck parked before us he did what GW has done for years and said, "The underpinnings of this economy are sound." I am not an economist but I knew that was wrong two years ago.

I think as we move forward (having changed lanes) it is important to not invalidate anyone's opinion. We need to concentrate on "
reciprocated communication of respect which communicates that the other's opinions are acknowledged, heard and respected. . . ". We are going to have to work together if we are going to avoid a train wreck the like of which they world has never seen.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I Get to Shout

For those of you that have read this blog before you will know that I posted one about having to whisper for the last eight years or be thought a traitor. Coming out as a Democrat was risky enough in my predominately Republican neighborhood and a definitely Republican county, but then to say I was for Barack Obama . . . well, I just figured I had lived a nice long life and if it was over I wanted to go out with a shout and not a whisper. And if McCain won I wanted to emigrate to another country.

So yesterday found me working as an Obama poll watcher in Angel Fire. I and the other volunteers recruited by the Obama campaign were there to insure that regardless of who won we could say this election, as opposed to the last two, was run and won fairly. I told myself that was all I wanted - fairness. The sweeping victory of Barack Obama was icing on the cake. I can now believe that America has a chance of reclaiming its position as a beacon of hope in the world.

Everyon can read the national coverage of this race. But I would like to say something about precinct 01B in Colfax county, New Mexico. There are approximately 1100 registered voters. Of those 1100 the poll judge believes approximately 200 need to be purged from the rolls. This is done through death, notification the person is now registered to vote elsewhere or if they miss voting in two presidential elections. Of the remaining 900 approximately 300 had voted early or by absentee. Before I left my post at four 519 had cast their vote. That is a damn nice turnout.

The poll challenger for Obama, watching all voting irregularities, called me after the final count to say that in our majority Republican precinct Obama had lost by only 34 votes. A lot of Republicans crossed party lines to vote for him and for our new Democratic Senator Tom Udall who carried the precinct. As thrilled as I am that my Red State turned Blue yesterday I am even happier that this election did not seem to be about party as much as it has under GW Bush. (mind you I am not moving to the deep south any time soon). Hopefully, this election will heal political divides that have separated this country for the last eight years, and that Barack Obama's election will heal the racial divides that McCain's base proved still exists among the Joe Six Packs of this nation.

And because Our President elect is a man who is willing to talk and not invade there is hope that we as citizens of the world can come together to address issues like global warming, the global economy, world peace, religious freedom.

But first given the mandate this election gave him, Barack Obama has to heal the wounds inflicted upon this country by the last 10 years of divisive politics. I have great hope that he can. Especially now that we are all allowed to talk outloud without fear of being sent to Gitmo.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Not just about us

One of the greatest things about the Internet and Blogland is the ability to be friends with people from around the world. Since posting my first blog I have gotten to know a lot of people in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

I have been amazed how involved they all are in our elections. And have gotten a chance to exchange opinions with them on world affairs.

Bill is one of my oldest and dearest blog friends and he wrote the following poem for me to post or use as I saw fit to give his view of our election. AND our need to vote. Some countries make voting mandatory and they don't understand our low voter turnout. I don't know that I do either.

Tuesday is our chance to say how we want things to be in the future or just how upset we are with how it is at the moment or has been for the last eight years. It isn't just about us in these times of global connections. I give you Bill from across the sea and his view.

Polling Day

So the choice is yours to select your man
You, just you, are the only one that can
With your vote.

You have shouted and hollered
No one interested, no one bothered
For your vote

You ve been push and pulled, lied to wooed
Cheered and booed.
For your vote

We need a change
We need to fight
With your vote

Right now you have the power
For most, this is your hour
For your vote

Ask not what your country can do for you
Ask what you can do for your country
With your vote

Long remember that man on Earth
Earn his respect and show your worth
As he did with your vote

The choice is yours, don’t cut it fine
Be patient as you wait in line
With your vote

You want a winner?
They don’t come thinner
For your vote

So what can you do for U.S.A.
For Europe and the World
You have the flag of freedom
So let it then unfurl
Look over that horizon
It is your very last chance
Come, join in the party
As to Freedom do we march
Vote Democrat
Vote Obama
We the World need you.
Your vote.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


This says it all:

Down to the final hours

The CNN countdown to election clock just reported 2 days, 10 hours, and 50 minutes until the polls close on yet another election for President of the United States. We are all suffering election fatigue. Nothing new there. Some of us were tired of this months ago.

Now the post traumatic stress disorder kicks in. Having had the last two presidential elections stolen caused a lot of PTSD among the voters.

I remember in the closing hours of the 2000 election praising the citizens of the United States for not rioting in the streets over that. Any third world nation would have and the UN would have sent in peace keepers. In 2004 while the BBC was alleging irregularities that the US press were only barely covering I thought maybe it was not a good thing there was no rioting in the streets. If they try to pull this this again I am personally going to be in the streets leading the riots until I am arrested and hauled off to Gitmo.

That said I do hope all works smoothly and in the spirit of democracy which GW Bush gives a lot of lip service to even if he has the tendency to undermine it here on our shores. I hope he does not allow a terrorist attack (or encourage one) to sway the election. I hope nobody tries to assassinate either candidate despite the inflammatory rhetoric being tossed around by McCain/Palin. I hope that there are no last minute major highway renovations in heavily Democratic precincts. Or that any new registrations have gotten lost by Republican administrations.

We still do have computerized voting machines with no paper trails that can be reprogrammed with a cellphone in the parking lot of some major precincts. But we have Federal attorneys lined up for calls on Tuesday should there be any voting irregularities. And I do believe we have gotten rid of all hanging chads.

In some areas which suffered some major issues in 2000 and 2004 the early voting has been up to 60% of the registered voters. These people do not want their opportunity to vote yanked away from them as in the past. And yet my friend in a neighboring community reports that his friends think the election is so in the bag they do not have to take the time to vote. Shame!

Wouldn't it be nice if everyone that could vote did vote? If we surpassed that 1/3 we usually hover around because we truly believe nobody counts them anyway. Went all the way up to the 60% they are projecting for this election and into that rare space of above 75% of registered voters. How historic would that be?

But I just want an honest count. I want the United States to reclaim its reputation (sorely damaged in the last two presidential elections) of being a model of voting propriety.