a fair and balanced birdthing (raaven) wrote,
a fair and balanced birdthing
raaven

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Our government has failed us.

From the Nasua Advocate.
http://www.nashuaadvocate.blogspot.com/

(the link has bunches of other articles, I recommend you visit!)

The Arc of History Bends Toward Justice: A Triumph of Grassroots
Activism Against Dire and Unspeakable Odds -- The Boxer Rebellion,
January 6th, 2005

By ADVOCATE STAFF

A warm breeze filtered through the hallowed halls of Congress, and
gathered itself into a heady rush of hot air in the well of the U.S.
House of Representatives, as Republicans from all corners of the
country rose in support of several vital constitutional principles,
among them the following: that poor folks in the cities of the nation
should wait fifteen to twenty times longer to vote than well-to-do
folks in the suburbs; that the nation's electoral mechanism should be
governed by antiquated technicalities involving the weight of a piece
of paper and which street a voter happens to live on; that voting
machines and other electronic voting equipment in America should be
programmed with privately-held proprietary codes and not
publicly-disseminated and easily-analyzed software; that such
machines should record votes in an untraceable fashion, without even
so much paper trail as an automatic-teller machine; that poor folks
should make do with outdated, malfunction-prone voting equipment when
their communities find they can't afford the top-of-the-line, nearly
foolproof equipment purchased by well-to-do communities; that
critical election decisions such as the placement of voting machines
should be executed by high-ranking officials in the respective major
parties' campaigns; and, above all, that the power to elect a
President is not a vested right in America, but a privilege which can
be lightly and easily lost through mistake, error, bias, prejudice,
ignorance, or even willful deceit.

It was a great day to be an American.

It was an even greater day to be a Republican.

Unfortunately, mainstream media coverage of national Republicans'
earnest pleas for unstandardized, unaccountable, untraceable voting
systems was slight at best. The major television networks continued
their usual programming of game shows and soap operas as Republican
after Republican rose courageously to criticize a challenge to Ohio's
Republican electors brought by two Democratic members of Congress,
Representative Stephanie Tubbs-Jones (D-OH) and Senator Barbara Boxer
(D-CA).

Nor did Congressional Democrats cooperate with Republicans' plans for
a devastating counter-protest against the evils of federalized voting
standards. While Republicans had carefully organized their canned,
pre-written oratories to coincide with anticipated claims from
progressives that George W. Bush had stolen the November presidential
election, and/or had personally masterminded a nationwide
electronic-fraud conspiracy to siphon votes from his more articulate
and intelligent Democratic rival, in the final accounting only one or
two Democrats alleged that election fraud had occurred on November
2nd, 2004, and that John F. Kerry was therefore the nation's rightful
President. Most of the challengers simply submitted, instead, that
the voting irregularities in Ohio's general election should be
investigated -- and reforms to the national system of elections made,
as such investigation should deem necessary.

Almost to a man, the Democratic challengers conceded that present
evidence suggested Bush had won the November presidential contest --
while stating plainly that a lack of time and resources had made it
impossible to reach a final conclusion on the matter.

All of which made Republican vitriol in the halls of Congress this
afternoon a little -- awkward.

Republican Representative Tom DeLay, currently under investigation
for multiple political corruption-related felonies, managed to -- in
a single five-minute rant replete with righteous indignation -- term
the relatively innocuous Democratic challenge, amongst other
similarly delightful things, "noise," "a waste of time," "an assault
against the institutions of our representative democracy," "a threat
to democracy," "a crime," "a direct attack," "like crying wolf,"
"frivilous," "destructive," "dangerous," and, most heart-wrenchingly,
"hurtful." His comments were met with wild applause from Republican
House Representatives/voting-rights activists, who symbolically
burned several hundred authentic U.S. ballots to graphically
illustrate their likemindedness.

Well, no, they didn't.

But their attempts on this day to block any and all meaningful
discourse on election reform were only marginally less horrific.

For instance, while speaking of Democratic allegations that, as in
the recent [over-turned] Ukrainian presidential election, the exit
polls in the November election did not supply the necessary
confidence in the U.S. presidential contest's raw vote total, a
nearly-frothing Republican Representative from Georgia, Jack
Kingston, stormed that "the only thing less realistic than exit polls
are Godzilla movies!" [The Advocate hastens to note, at this
juncture, that the preceding quote is not fictitious. The man said
what the man is quoted as having said].

Joining in the right-wing lunacy was a Republican Representative from
Florida, Ric Keller, who posited that independent film-maker Michael
Moore had secretly guilt-tripped Senator Boxer into issuing her
election challenge, specifically by playing upon (during, presumably,
an illicit rondevous with the Senator) the public shame Mrs. Boxer
allegedly endured while attending the premier of Moore's "Fahrenheit
9/11" -- which documentary revealed (gasp!) that just like her
forty-three Democratic colleagues in the Senate, she failed to
challenge Congressional certification the 2000 presidential election.

[A major conservative news outlet, "Human Events," immediately
picked up the rumor --without even washing its grubby little hands,
first].

The Advocate thinks that the party of former Ku Klux Klan Grand
Dragon David Duke doth protest too much.

Indeed, were The Advocate in the political-consulting business, it
would issue the following edict to those doe-eyed Republican
voting-rights activists who showed such courage on the floor of
Congress today: when a political party with a history of human-rights
activism alleges that you condone voter intimidation, voter
suppression, and election fraud, try to say at least something in
response supporting the protection of voting rights in America. And
when you anticipate that members of this same political party will
assert your man stole a national election -- and, in the end, they
really don't make that assertion -- ease off the conspiracy-theory
talking points just a bit, maybe just a little down-throttle, that's
all, sliding nicely from "simply nutty" to "aloof and ignorant."

On this historic day in the nation's capital, Republicans angered
over the Tubbs-Jones/Boxer challenge spent more time talking about
Democrats and the Democratic Party than Democrats did Republicans
and/or the Republican Party; and they spent more time hatching
conspiracy theories -- and wilder conspiracy theories, at that --
than any such theories ever devised or printed or spoken or advanced
by any of the Democratic House and Senate challengers.

Indeed, at one point Representative DeLay, in a brief spasm of
semi-coherence, asserted that the election challenge had been brought
by the "'X-Files' wing of the Democratic Party," which wing asserted
that (he claimed, eeriely) President Bush was a "closet computer
nerd" who had a "master computer" in the White House with which he,
and/or another nefarious accomplice, undid and re-calculated the
actual results of the November election. [The Advocate again notes
that these quotes are not fictitious: Mr. DeLay is genuinely as
emotionally disturbed as his prepared -- yes, prepared -- remarks on
the floor of the U.S. House would seem to imply].

At the end of the day, The Advocate presumes there were few who truly
appreciated the lack of gravitas in the Republican position on
election reform -- which is, to not have any discernible or
articulable position on election reform at all. Standardized voting
equipment for federal elections, with a verifiable paper-audit, seems
sensible, even elementary, to millions of Americans, Republican and
Democrat alike, as well as to that eternal conservative boogeyman,
Some Nations Which Are Not America. The Advocate cannot fathom how
Republican opposition to meaningful and timely election reform is not
treated with the same degree of contempt as would open Republican
opposition to sunshine, marmalade, and night-time baseball.

Democratic Senators did little to aid Boxer and Tubbs-Jones's
historic challenge. While ten Senators spoke in favor of the written
challenge, not one of them were convinced enough by their own words
to actually vote for it. Nevertheless, the final Senate vote on the
challenge leaves American political history with an interesting
footnote: less than 75% of the Senate actually voted to award George
W. Bush sufficient votes to secure the Presidency.

The final vote on the Tubbs-Jones/Boxer challenge was 74-1, with
only Boxer voting in support.

In the House, fully thirty-one Members voted in favor of the
challenge, constituting 26% of the Democrats in attendance. [87
Democrats voted against the challenge, and 80 did not vote; on the
Republican side, The Advocate presumes that fear of DeLay's
triple-forked tongue, withering schoolyard rebukes, and dexterity
with common adjectives convinced the conservative caucus to vote
unanimously against the challenge -- with several dozen members not
voting, some of which were believed at the time of this writing to
still be in hiding over recent five-minute oratories launched against
them by Representatives DeLay, Kingston, and Keller. There's no word
yet on whether Keller, for his part, has identified any links between
John Hinckley, Jr., who shot the late President Reagan to impress
Jodie Foster, and Senator Boxer, who made United States political
history to impress an independent film-maker with dubious hygiene].

Below are links to stories on the election challenge. The Advocate
notes that it is people like you -- the readers of this and similar
on-line articles -- who made the above news story possible. You did
it without substantial media coverage of any kind, at any juncture.
You did it without having substantial numbers, substantial
institutional inertia, or even substantial support from anyone with a
megaphone large enough to stand up and be heard above the national
din. Nevertheless, when the challenge came, your efforts saw their
fruition heralded across a broad spectrum of worldwide and national
media, from news services (e.g., Associated Press, Reuters,
Scripps-Howard, Bloomberg) to major newspapers (The New York Times,
The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune) to
mainstream television and radio (ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, NPR, and
even -- albeit kicking and screaming and spinning like a liquored-up
baby -- erstwhile Fox News).

Moreover:

Your efforts led to a recount and a contest of election in Ohio.

Your efforts have led to an ongoing investigation into the November
election by the non-partisan Congressional General Accountability
Office.

Your efforts led to an ongoing invesigation by the Democratic
National Committee's Voting Rights Institute.

Your efforts led to an ongoing investigation (with a one hundred-page
report) by Members of the House Judiciary Committee -- and will lead
to future bi-partisan hearings before that same Committee.

Your efforts led Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) to publicly voice support
today for a constitutional amendment making voting -- and having
one's vote counted -- an enumerated U.S. Constitutional right (which
it is not currently, as few are aware).

Your efforts led Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) to promise on the
floor of the U.S. Senate that the broken/yet-to-implemented Help
America Vote Act will be fixed.

Your efforts led Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) to forge an agreement
today with Senator Boxer (D-CA) to re-introduce legislation in the
Senate requiring a paper-audit for all electronic voting machines
currently in service in the United States.

Your efforts have led Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) to sponsor a
bill proposing the abolition of the Electoral College -- a bill now
supported by at least one Republican Senator, Lincoln Chafee (R-RI).

Your efforts will force Senator Kerry (D-MA) to spend much of the
next four years delivering the "election reform" he recently promised
his 59 million supporters.

Your efforts, finally, have made history, with the Tubbs-Jones/Boxer
election challenge marking only the second time in one-hundred
twenty-seven years -- since the inception of the concept in 1877 --
that both houses of Congress have been forced to debate an entire
slate of electors. As such, your efforts have convinced the world,
and, just as importantly, your fellow U.S. progressives, that
grassroots activism is alive and kicking in the nation which
currently leads the free world.

And what is most amazing to The Advocate -- it took you only nine
weeks to do everything you did.

Imagine what you'll do in the next four years.
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