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Challenging the assumptions we live by — Because I want to.

Archive for October, 2008

NBC Nightly News: Clearing up Misconceptions about Voting

Posted by kelliasworld on October 31, 2008

If you are eligible to vote and registered, call 1-866-ourvote toll free, if you are challenged. Cast a provisional ballot.


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Monitor Election Problems Nationwide with

Posted by kelliasworld on October 31, 2008

Search by State or County for Real-Time Voter Reports on Election Day

San Francisco – Reporters, bloggers, and voters across the country can monitor problems at the polls on Election Day on, a project built and hosted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on behalf of Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, and its toll-free voter-assistance hotline, 866-OUR-VOTE. collects and analyzes reports from calls to the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, which is staffed by hundreds of volunteers across the country. Tested during the presidential primaries, the site is already documenting over a thousand examples per day of voters needing information or reporting problems such as registration and identification issues, difficulties with voting machines, and polling place accessibility issues. Over 200,000 calls are expected to come into the hotline and be documented on through Election Day.

“Improved transparency in all aspects of the electoral process is critical to ensuring accurate results as well as diagnosing systemic problems and helping voters,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. “ is helping the Election Protection Coalition make that possible.”

In addition to call incident data, also features maps, nationwide trend information, and an active election issues blog that will highlight important election incidents as they develop.

“ will allow us to help more voters more effectively,” said Jonah Goldman, director of the National Campaign for Fair Elections at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which leads Election Protection. “We — along with election officials and the media — will be able track trends and identify problem areas quickly so that we can remove any barriers that voters face as they cast their ballots.”

Election Protection has more than 100 partners at the national, state and local level and is providing live voter protection services now through Election Day across all 50 states. On November 4, Election Protection will mobilize tens of thousands of volunteers, including 10,000 legal volunteers to monitor polling places, educate voters, facilitate a dialogue with local and state officials, provide legal support to poll monitors, and answer the 1-866-OUR-VOTE voter services hotline — a monumental undertaking designed to ensure smooth voting in November.

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Obama: Change you can believe in…Not!

Posted by kelliasworld on October 30, 2008

[This article was originally published on Speaking Truth to Power. You can read the other parts by visiting that site or scrolling down this blog].

Part 3 – Israel and Iran

Which country comes foremost in US foreign policy, the United States or Israel? Sometimes it’s hard to tell. The Israeli-centric approach to US Middle East foreign policy, which is unfair to the Palestinians and dangerous to a United States dependent on foreign oil, will not change in an Obama Administration.

Which office is Obama running for?

On June 4, 2008, the day after Barack Obama clinched the Democratic nomination, he spoke to AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Here are some excerpts of that speech:

I want you to know that today I’ll be speaking from my heart and as a true friend of Israel. And I know that when I visit with AIPAC, I am among friends. Good Friends. Friends who share my strong commitment to make sure that they bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable today, tomorrow, and forever.

… I was drawn to the belief that you could sustain a spiritual, emotional and cultural identity. And I deeply understood the Zionist idea – that there is always a homeland at the center of our story. … We know the establishment of Israel was just and necessary, rooted in centuries of struggle and decades of patient work. But 60 years later, we know that we cannot relent, we cannot yield, and as president I will never compromise when it comes to Israel’s security….Those who threaten Israel threaten us. Israel has always faced these threats on the front lines. And I will bring to the White House an unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security. … Let me be clear. Israel’s security is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable. The Palestinians need a state that is contiguous and cohesive, and that allows them to prosper – but any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized and defensible borders. Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.1

Great speech…for a candidate for Prime Minister of Israel.

Later in the summer Robert Fisk, renowned British journalist who has covered the Middle East for over 20 years, said: But hasn’t anyone realised that Obama has chosen for his advisers two if the most lamentable failures of US Middle East policy making? There, yet again, is Dennis Ross, a former prominent staff member of AIPAC, the most powerful Israeli lobby in Washington — yup, the very same AIPAC to which Obama grovelled last month – and the man who failed to make the Oslo agreement work. And there is Madeleine Albright who, as US ambassador the the UN, said that the price of half a million dead children under sanctions in Iraq was “worth it”, and who later announced that Israel was “under siege”. This must be the only time – ever – that a US politician thought Palestinian tanks were on the streets of Tel Aviv.2

Understand that Zionism is a political philosophy and is not the same as Judaism, which is a religion. One does not have to be Jewish to be a Zionist. In fact, Christian Zionists are prominent as supporters of and elected officials from the Republican Party.3 Some Christian Zionists, particularly the Dispensationalists,–the late Rev. Jerry Falwell was one–want Israel to claim all of Palestine because they believe that this is a necessary precursor to the Second Coming of Christ.4 However, these Christian Zionists also believe that the Jews and all other non-Christians will be condemned on Judgment Day. So they don’t have any particular love for the Jewish people.

Jewish Zionism stems from the anti-Semitism Jews have faced in Europe and elsewhere. Jewish Zionists see Israel as the one place Jews can be safe.5 But not all Jews are Zionists, and in fact, Zionism is actually considered by many Jews to be a heresy.6 So being Anti-Zionist does not mean one is Anti-Semitic.

There are two kinds of Holocaust deniers. There are the fools and propagandists, like white supremacists and Iran’s President Ahmadinejad who claim it never happened or that far fewer Jews were killed than the history books say. There is certainly more than enough documentation of the atrocities to prove these fools wrong.

But there is a second, less publicized but more pernicious, form of Holocaust denial. One that many of us are guilty of. It’s the denial that overemphasizes the tragedy of the Jews and fails to comprehend the full scope of Hitler’s evil. While the Nazis made the Jews the scapegoats for Germany’s economic problems post WWI, Hitler also persecuted Slavs, Roma (Gypsies), trade unionists, Communists, homosexuals, who were marked with a pink triangle as Jews were marked with a yellow Star of David, and the disabled. He also thought blacks were subhuman, and while there were not many blacks in Europe, Rommel “The Desert Fox” operated in North Africa, as the Nazis desperately searched for oil with which to fuel their war machine, and fascist ally Italy held Ethiopia as a colony.

While we often hear about the 6 million Jews who were killed in the Holocaust, we seldom hear about the over 20 million citizens of the Soviet Union, military and civilian, who died during WWII,7 and we hear even less about the atrocities committed by the Japanese allies of the Nazis in the Philippines, Korea, China, Indonesia and other places in Asia.

And, of course, in 1938, Hitler felt confident that he could eliminate the Jews because “no one remembers the Armenians” who, to this day, are seeking recognition for their genocide in waning days of the Ottoman Empire.

US Presidents of both parties, and their advisers, for too long have acted as if the Jewish people were the only ones ever to be victims of genocide. But if humanity is to learn the true lesson of the Holocaust, we must remember that other peoples were genocided before WWII, and have been genocided since WWII, and that others besides the Jews were genocided during WWII. The true lesson is that “Never again” must be “Never Again” for everybody, or else it will be “here we go again” for somebody. The goal should be to eliminate genocide from human behavior, not to guarantee of survival of one set of genocide victims above all others.

For “Never Again” to be realized, the dominator paradigm of human relations must be overthrown in favor of a system in which the rights of all people, as individuals and as group members, are respected. There are at least two competing ways of achieving this outcome. One way is through true democracy in which there is a “one person-one vote” principle and where various groups can speak, publish and educate in their own languages, worship, or not, as they please, band together in whatever political parties they wish, and engage in economic activity without discrimination.

The other, which seems to be the way the world is going, is for each people to have its own land. But the struggle for independence or autonomy is a bloody one, full of ethnic cleansing (e.g. Serbia) or acts of repression by the dominant culture over the minority (e.g. Tibet and China). Israel is but one famous example of this “one people on its own land” approach, which, frankly, is outdated in places where colonial powers have redrawn borders to weaken the power of local ethnic groups to resist. (This includes the United States in its treatment of Native American nations). And that “to each his own” solution is never equally applied. The United States, whichever party is in power, has an overweening concern for the survival of Israel as a Jewish state; the Palestinians are an afterthought, the Kurds, who are the largest ethnic group in the world to not have its own state, are hardly thought of at all. And a worldwide list of peoples with their own nationalistic aspirations, ignored or trampled on by larger powers, is fairly long, indeed.

Why is Israel so special to the United States? For some it may be the idea that the establishment of Greater Israel fulfills a biblical prophecy, for others it may be guilt over the Holocaust and the US failure to help Jews trying to escape the Nazis. But I think a large part of it may be that Israel gives the United States a firm pied-a-terre in the oil-rich Middle East. The worldwide search for resources we can control is at the heart of US foreign policy. Or to put it simply, “what’s our oil doing under their sand?” Our hunt for resources helps make the world a dangerous place, especially for the people who live with those resources, whatever their religion or ethnicity.

If we really want to end genocide in the world, we should debate which approach will best achieve that goal: True democracy within existing borders, (e.g. with respect to Israel and Palestine, a one-state approach), or nationalism, with its penchant for ethnic cleansing. How many of you know that in the days before the State of Israel was founded, the Arabs were driven off land that was to become Israel. How do we know all this? From the Hebrew press. In an article published 13 August 1993 in the Israeli daily Hadashot, writer Sarah Laybobis-Dar interviewed a number of Israelis who knew of the use of bacteriological weapons in 1948. One of those interviewed, Uri Mileshtin, an official historian for the Israeli Defense Forces, said that bacteria was used to poison the wells of every village emptied of its Arab inhabitants. According to Mileshtin, it was former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan who gave the order in 1948 to remove Arabs from their villages, bulldoze their homes, and render their water wells unusable with typhus and dysentery bacteria.8 As I said in an earlier article, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

The preservation of Israel as a Jewish state seems racist to me. And in some other context with some other people it might be openly called racist. Ethnic separatism is racist and a poor substitute for what we really need to finally eliminate genocide, ie. universal recognition of human rights. And in the end, what does Israel as a Jewish state say about the ability of the Jewish people to live and thrive in the world? The world is big; Israel is very small. If Israel is the only place where Jews can feel safe, albeit with a sense of safety derived from being armed to the teeth, including with the bomb, and with the US at its back, the Jews will have been ghettoized on the planet, only this time by their own hand. They will have created the very thing they fought to escape during the Nazi era.

The United States, under Democratic and Republican administrations, has been so committed to the survival of Israel as a Jewish state, that discussion of a one-state solution has been banished to the fringes. Considering the cost to America in money, reputation, and eventually lives, if the US goes to war with Iran, I think Americans ought to be having a lively debate as to the best way to eliminate genocide, starting with the Middle East. But Obama, as he indicated in his speech to AIPAC, will continue the course of the United States guaranteeing the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.9 So people who thought that a black man would be especially sensitive to racism will be disappointed in Obama’s Middle East policies, as they see the aspirations of the Palestinians to political and economic autonomy take a back seat to the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.

Nuclear non-proliferation and Iran

Nuclear non-proliferation is certainly a worthy goal. But building up the image of Iran as a nuclear threat is not the way to achieve it. In his speech to AIPAC, Obama said “Iran has strengthened its position. Iran is now enriching uranium and has reportedly stockpiled 150 kilos of low-enriched uranium. Its support for terrorism and threats toward Israel have increased. Those are facts. They cannot be denied and I refuse to continue a policy that has made the United States and Israel less secure.10

The fact that cannot be denied is that Iran’s alleged support for terrorism and the increase of its threats against Israel is a non-sequitur to its stockpiling of 150 kilos of low-enriched uranium. Low-enriched uranium is the type used in civilian nuclear power plants to generate electricity. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to which Iran is a signatory, but Israel is not, recognizes the right of every nation to develop nuclear power for peaceful civilian uses.11 So far, the IAEA “has been able to continue to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran”12 although it is also urging Iran to implement all confidence building measure with respect to the peaceful intent of its nuclear program.13

The US has argued as early as 1998, during the Clinton Administration, that Iran has so much oil it doesn’t need civilian nuclear power and therefore must be enriching uranium to get the bomb.14 But running the country on nuclear power means Iran would have more oil to sell at a profit on the international market in later years as demand increasingly outstrips supply, even though Iran would have to import uranium. The one way to be sure that a nation was not using civilian nuclear power as a cover for a weapons program would be for all nations to agree to ban civilian nuclear power. But that is not about to happen.

Demands of the US and Western Europe that Iran allow Russia to enrich its uranium for civilian use is an insult to the sovereignty and dignity of Iran. This is the equivalent of being told, “Don’t try to use a knife yourself. Let an adult cut your meat for you.” All this talk about Iran trying to get the bomb is about selling another war, getting Americans to accept the idea that an attack on Iran (either by Israel or by the US) is necessary and therefore acceptable. You will be branded unpatriotic (and anti-Semitic) for not supporting the squandering of more American lives and money on a war against Iran.

President Ahmadinejad of Iran has made some very intemperate remarks about wiping Israel off the face of the earth, but we know that the real power in Iran is the Guardian Council, not the President. Ahmadinejad’s comments may be more bluster than threat, for home consumption. Iran is having a presidential election in 2009.

But let’s assume the worst for a moment. Suppose Iran really is trying to get the bomb. Why would it want to do such a thing? Maybe because Russia, Pakistan, India and Iran’s enemy Israel have the bomb? (Israel never officially answers the question of its nuclear status, but it’s been an open secret that Israel has the bomb since Mordecai Vanunu was prosecuted in the 80s for letting that cat out of the bag). India, Pakistan and Israel are non-signatories to the NPT. Additionally, Israel’s guarantor, the US, has the bomb and has the ignominious distinction of being the only nation to actually use it. Might Iran be feeling a little insecure in that unstable region of the world, especially after it saw what happened to Saddam Hussein, even though he did not have weapons of mass destruction? The United States will never be able to effectively promote nuclear non-proliferation if it fails to see things from the point of view of its adversaries and if it continues to promote the use of force to get its way.

But maybe nuclear non-proliferation isn’t really the goal. Maybe the conquest of Iranian oil is the goal. And maybe the Iranians know that goal won’t change, whoever is in the White House as of January 20, 2009.

1 Transcript of Obama’s speech at AIPAC, NPR

2 Robert Fisk: New actor on the same old stage, The Independent, Aug 2, 2008,

3 Joe Conn, “The Christian Coalition: Born Again?” Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, Nov. 2002.

4 “The Rise of the Religious Right in the Republican Party: Dispensationalism.” Theocracy Watch,

5 “The Rise of the Religious Right in the Republican Party: Christian Zionism.” christian_zionism.htm

6 Baha Abushaqra, “The Heresy of Jewish Zionism”,

7 World War II, Encyclopedia,,

8 John F. Mahoney, “Israel’s Anti-Civilian Weapons,”January – March 2001 The Link – Volume 34, Issue 1, as reprinted on Americans for Middle East Understanding,

9 “…any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized and defensible borders. Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.” Transcript of Obama’s speech at AIPAC, NPR

10 Transcript of Obama’s speech at AIPAC, NPR

11 “Affirming the principle that the benefits of peaceful applications of nuclear technology, including any technological by-products which may be derived by nuclear-weapon States from the development of nuclear explosive devices, should be available for peaceful purposes to all Parties to the Treaty, whether nuclear-weapon or non-nuclear-weapon States,”… Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)

12 Summary, Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council resolutions 1737 (2006), 1747 (2007) and 1803 (2008) in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Sept. 15, 2008,

p. 6.

13 Summary, Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement, p. 6.

14 Bushehr, Global

Posted in Election '08, Obama | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Obama: Change you can believe in… NOT!

Posted by kelliasworld on October 28, 2008

[This article was first published on the website “Speaking Truth to Power”. Please forgive any formatting errors as we don’t have the formatting software or expert personnel that professional online magazines have.]

Part 2: Foreign Policy

By Kéllia Ramares

During a debate on January 31, 2008, Sen. Barack Obama said, “I don’t want to just end the war, but I want to end the mind-set that got us into war in the first place.”1 That is an excellent idea. But Obama’s other words, the Democratic Party Platform, and the advisers he has chosen for his foreign policy team indicates that the January statement is just a bunch of pretty words. He will not reverse the trend of American military interventionism that is so costly in lives, money, and American standing in the world. As Michael Rubin, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, has written, “much of the Democrats’ anti-war rhetoric has more to do with politics and anti-Bush sentiment than it does with ideological opposition to the use of force.”2

Yes, Obama wants to end the Iraq War but,

The 2008 Democratic Party platform flatly states:

Expand the Armed Forces

We support plans to increase the size of the Army by 65,000 troops and the Marines by

27,000 troops. Increasing our end strength will help units retrain and re-equip properly between

deployments and decrease the strain on military families.3

Recruit and Retain

A nation of 300 million people should not struggle to find additional qualified personnel to serve.

Recruitment and retention problems have been swept under the rug, including by applying inconsistent standards and using the “Stop Loss” program to keep our servicemen and women in the force after their enlistment has expired. We will reach out to youth, as well as to the parents, teachers, coaches, and community and religious leaders who influence them, (emphasis mine) and make it an imperative to restore the ethic of public service, whether it be serving their local

communities in such roles as teachers or first responders, or serving in the military and reserve forces (emphasis mine)or diplomatic corps that keep our nation free and safe.4

Re-train and re-equip properly between deployments? Sounds like Obama plans to keep the military busy.

This indicates that Obama will only provide a change of tactics, not strategy. The Iraq War is bad, but war itself is a perfectly permissible tool of foreign policy. Rep. Ron Paul, who sought the Republican nomination himself this year, understands the issue. In an interview with CNN’s Kiran Chetry in August, he stated that there was no difference between the foreign policies of Sens. McCain and Obama:

“Their foreign policies are identical,” Paul explained. “They want more troops in Afghanistan. They want to send more support to Georgia to protect the oil line there. Neither one says bring home the troops from Iraq from the bases — you know the bases are going to stay there, the embassy as big as the Vatican, that’s going to remain. So their foreign policies are exactly the same. They’re both very, very aggressive with Iran. So I would say there’s no difference.”

“How would you handle these global threats, then, if it’s not to send our troops there and make sure that we’re protected?” Chetry asked.

“We create the threats!” Paul replied emphatically.5

American foreign policy will not change substantially until a president acknowledges that we create threats, and figures out that we all would be better off if the US didn’t act like a bully, or the world’s policeman. That is not likely to happen until the sheeple who attend Sarah Palin’s rallies, and who think patriotism means blind adoration of your country and its leaders, and that any finding of fault means you hate America, stop sitting on their brains. As long as Palin’s “Pro-America” small-towners and their brothers and sisters in larger cities who swallowed Bush’s post 9-11 propaganda about evildoers who “hate our freedoms” post “United We Stand” and “We are Resolved” signs in their shop windows, and “Support the Troops” stickers on their cars without ever asking “Stand where?”, “Resolved to do what?” and “Who benefits from our troops being in harm’s way?” this nation will always have cannon fodder for the politicians of both parties, who receive contributions from the corporations that are the true beneficiaries of American’s pro-war foreign policy. And while those politicians are bailing out Wall Street, the veterans are being tossed onto Main Street. Although solid numbers on veteran foreclosures are not available, RealtyTrac, a Web site that follows foreclosures nationwide, reported earlier this year that areas with large numbers of military personnel have foreclosures at a rate four times the national average.6

Obama does not believe that the “war on terror” is wrong. He sees a place for military engagement with Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. For example, the Democratic Party Platform says: We cannot tolerate a sanctuary for Al Qaeda. We need a stronger and sustained partnership between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and NATO–including necessary assets like satellites and predator drones–to better secure the border, to take out terrorist camps, and to crack down on cross-border insurgents.7 (I will not here get into the issue of how real or how infiltrated by CIA Al-Qaeda might be). Even if you do not believe that the United States government let 9/11 happen on purpose, or to go even further, as I do, that the United States government made 9/11 happen on purpose, you should ask yourself: Does our continued military presence in Southwest Asia only increase the recruitment capability of terrorist groups? Let’s put it another way: If a foreign military force occupied your hometown, would you resist or aid the resisters, even is that resistance included violence? One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

The Black Bill Clinton

The parallels between Barack Obama and Bill Clinton are truly striking. Both first sought the presidency while still in their forties. Both faced opponents a generation older. Both were raised in financially straitened households with an absent father. (Clinton’s birth father died before Bill was born and his stepfather was an alcoholic. Barack’s father left the family when Barack was 2). Both managed nonetheless to attend prestigious universities (Clinton: Georgetown, Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship and Yale Law; Obama: Columbia and Harvard Law). Both married strong, highly educated women and both fathered daughters.

The Obama campaign has frequently argued that a John McCain presidency would be, in effect, the third Bush term. Barack Obama appears to be a continuation of Bill Clinton.

At this year’s first debate among the Democratic candidates the moderator asked, “Senator Obama, you have Bill Clinton’s former national security adviser, state department policy director and navy secretary, among others, advising you. With relatively little foreign policy experience of you own, how will you rely on so many Clinton advisers and still deliver the kind of break from the past that you’re promising voters?” As Obama fumbled for an answer, “Well, the,uh, I am…” Senator Hillary Clinton started cackling and said, “I wanna hear that.” To which Obama replied, “Well, Hillary, I’m looking forward to you advising me as well. I wanna gather up talent from everywhere.”8

Indeed, Obama has hundreds of advisers, paid and volunteer, in both domestic and foreign policy. But those closest to him are a recycling of previous administrations and Washington power politics. The change is in the offices they will sit in during an Obama Administration. If he really wanted change, he would surround himself mostly with the best and brightest of the men and women whose voices are not often heard in Washington. If you are reading this article, you have probably read, or listened to, or taken a class from, or participated in a project started by these new people. Recycling is generally a good thing, but it does have its limits.

The Vice President

Sen. Obama named as his running mate a Senate colleague who represents a state that has only 3 electoral votes, and whose own two presidential bids ended early. What does Joseph Biden bring to the ticket and to a potential Obama Administration?

The Vice-Presidency has become a powerful office in the last three decades, and, as Vice President, Joe Biden would be one of, if not THE closest advisor to President Obama. Biden’s age (68), length of Senate service, (first elected to the Senate in 1972) and status as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, give the campaign of the youthful (47), relatively inexperienced (first elected to the Senate in 2004) gentleman from Illinois a certain gravitas, especially in foreign affairs.

But it is a gravitas that suggests that the veteran Senator from Delaware will advise Obama to take traditional courses of action in foreign policy viz., heavy on militarism. While Obama was opposing the invasion of Iraq as a member of the Illinois state senate, Biden was in Washington carrying water for George W. Bush.

Biden claimed that Iraq under Saddam Hussein was a threat to our national security. He held hearings on Iraq that excluded Iraq WMD expert Scott Ritter, who would have testified to Iraq’s lack of such weapons, or dissenters in the Pentagon and State Department who refused to march to the ideological beat of the White House war drums.9 Biden was calling for an invasion of Iraq in 1998, during the Clinton Administration.10

More recently, Biden has been the principal congressional backer of a de facto partition of the country between Kurdish, Sunni Arab, and Shia Arab segments, a proposal opposed by a solid majority of Iraqis.11 More generally, the Delaware senator has been one the leading congressional supporters of U.S. militarization of the Middle East and Eastern Europe, of strict economic sanctions against Cuba, and of Israeli occupation policies.12

On privacy, a right that has lost much protection in the name of “national security,” Biden has proved to be a reliable friend of the FBI. In the 1990s, Biden was chairman of the Judiciary Committee and introduced two bills, one called the Comprehensive Counter-Terrorism Act,13 and the other the Violent Crime Control Act.14,15 Both mandated government “backdoors”:

It is the sense of Congress that providers of electronic communications services and manufacturers of electronic communications service equipment shall ensure that communications systems permit the government to obtain the plain text contents of voice, data, and other communications when appropriately authorized by law.16

Let me here remind people who think that the Democrats are the protectors of our freedoms that January 1993-January 2001 were the Clinton years and that Bill Clinton staunchly favored government backdoors into our computers.

While neither of Biden’s pair of bills became law, they did foreshadow the FBI’s pro-wiretapping, anti-encryption legislative strategy that followed.17

Zbigniew Brzezinski: Carter Redux

I recall some snickering when George W. Bush reached back into the Nixon Administration for two of his closest advisors: Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. But Zbigniew Brzezinski, Obama’s chief foreign policy adviser, is also a retread. This old Cold Warrior was born in Poland, and served as Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor. During the Carter years he promoted Islamic fundamentalism to counteract then-Soviet influence in the Middle East. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) a member of the Middle East and South Asia subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee has said, “I remember thinking, ‘Why are we listening to him?’ (Brzezinski) He was the national security adviser for Jimmy Carter 30 years ago. He proceeded to talk to us about Iran, and I said, ‘Let me see, didn’t the ayatollahs come to power, didn’t we have this problem when you were in the White House?'”18

People who want to see the Taliban defeated because of what they have done to women should remember that Afghani women were among the freest in the Islamic world when that nation was under a Soviet-influenced government. And while we’re on the subject of Afghanistan let us remember that Obama’s much touted call for an end to the war in Iraq does not come from a desire to set America on a path to peace, but to enable the Pentagon to commit more troops to Afghanistan.

The Democratic Party platform contains a section titled Win in Afghanistan. It says: “Our troops are performing heroically in Afghanistan, but as countless military commanders and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff acknowledge, we lack the resources to finish the job because of our commitment to Iraq, We will finally make the fight against Al Q’aeda and the Taliban the top priority that it should be. We will send at least two additional combat brigades to Afghanistan, and use this commitment to seek greater contributions—with fewer restrictions—from our NATO allies.19

So progressive voters who want peace should realize that Obama, doubtlessly backed others on his foreign affairs team, shares the old hubris about American military might, even though history tells us that Afghanistan is a nation that has never been successfully subdued by an invading force. And current allies also doubt the likelihood of military success. For example, Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith, Britain’s commander in Afghanistan recently said: “We’re not going to win this war. It’s about reducing it to a manageable level of insurgency that’s not a strategic threat and can be managed by the Afghan army.”20

Interestingly enough, Brzezinski does not share the enthusiasm for stepping up combat in Afghanistan.

We cannot try to create a modern, centralized, democratic state in Afghanistan from the top down using essentially foreign troops to impose such a solution. This collides with the sense of ethnic identity and religious sensitivity in a country that is very resistant to foreign intrusions. We need an altogether different approach. Some additional troops in the short run may be necessary, but the main emphasis has to be on decentralized political accommodation with the different elements which are collectively described as the Taliban but in fact representing a much more diversified group.”21

But Brzezinski wants to see the United States continue its imperial ways. He is the author of a book called “The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives”:

…it is correct to assert that America has become, as President Clinton put it, the world’s “indispensible nation.”…Without sustained and directed American involvement, before long, the forces of global disorder could come to dominate the world scene. And the possibility of such a fragmentation is inherent in the geopolitical tensions not only of today’s Eurasia but of the world more generally.22

Indispensible nation? Does this mean that some nations are dispensible? Who gets to make that determination and on what basis can it be made? And what does he mean by forces of global disorder? Terrorists, or people who want self-determination rather than the dictates of the United States or the New World Order?

The most immediate task is to make certain that no state or combination of states gains the capacity to expel the United States from Eurasia or even to diminish significantly its decisive arbitrating role.23

Is there any wonder some people have resorted to terrorism in the face of this appalling imperial hubris?

Eleven years later, we see in the Democratic Party platform a section bearing Zbig’s imprint. It is titled: Lead in Asia:

We will encourage China to play a responsible role as a growing power–to help lead in addressing the common problems of the 21st century. 24

The Chinese have the world’s largest population, a 5,000-year-old culture, nuclear weapons and a trade surplus with the US that reached $75.3 billion dollars in the first half of 2008.25 That statement in the platform treats China like a junior partner in an American enterprise. Given the trade surplus and the fact that the United States depends on China to buy much of its government debt, such an attitude is presumptuous and patronizing in the absurd. But it also represents the Post WWII American exceptionalism that the stock-in-trade for people such as Brzezinski.

Brzezinski’s views on democracy and empire are downright scary:

A genuinely populist democracy has never before attained international supremacy. The pursuit of power and especially the economic costs and human sacrifice that the exercise of such power often requires are not generally congenial to democratic instincts. Democratization is inimical to imperial mobilization.26(emphasis mine).

Is that why the Constitution has gone into to shredder over the past eight years?


Moreover, as America becomes an increasingly multicultural society, it may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues, except in circumstances of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat. (emphasis mine)27

Direct external threat? Like 9-11, perhaps? Does this sound like a man who would advise Obama to restore democracy at home to serve as an example to peoples abroad?

Of course, given the current financial crisis, caused in part by the disastrous and expensive invasion and occupation of Iraq, as well as by the massive corruption and exploitation in the financial industry, it is questionable whether America can remain the world’s “indispensable nation.”

And what about Russia?

Zbigniew Brzezinski is joined on Obama’s foreign policy team by another Russia hard-liner, Michael McFaul. McFaul is a political scientist is the Hoover Institution on the campus of Stanford University, and McFaul is a former Russian policy adviser to George W. Bush.28 Mention McFaul’s credentials to someone who tries to argue to you that Obama is some sort of radical liberal. McFaul favors the expansion of NATO to include Ukraine and Georgia,29 something Russia opposes. Russia does not like the idea of its historical adversaries (NATO) expanding right up to its borders. Obama seems to be quite willing to antagonize the Russia bear by supporting NATO expansion.

Dmitri Simes, president of the Nixon Center in Washington, is a Republican but not a neoconservative.30 He has said, “Brzezinski and McFaul are not known for their desire to engage Russia on anything. If McFaul is representative of Obama’s foreign policy thinking, it’s difficult to imagine that there will be any sort of positive engagement with Russia if he is elected.”31

Failure to engage a nation with whom we disagree is not change. It is the standard policy, as anyone who pays attention to Cuba can tell you.

Simes’ prediction bodes ill, not only for US-Russia relations, but for relations between the US and Europe as Europe becomes more and more dependent on Russian energy supplies.

Where are we headed?

…To Be Continued

1 Spencer Akerman, “The Obama Doctrine”, The American Prospect, March 24, 2008,

2 Michael Rubin, “Obama or McCain, Iran stance won’t change”, The Australian, Oct. 3, 2008,,25197,24437864-7583,00.html

3 Renewing America’s Promise: The 2008 Democratic National Platform, as approved by the 2008 Democratic National Convention Monday, August 25, 2008, Denver, Colorado, p. 34,

4 Renewing America’s Promise p. 34,

5 David Edwards and Muriel Kane, “Ron Paul: ‘There’s no difference’ between McCain and Obama”, The Raw Story, Aug. 28, 2008,

6 Malcolm Garcia, “Foreclosure crisis falls hard on veterans”, The Kansas City Star, Oct. 21, 2008

7 Renewing America’s Promise, p. 30,

8 Obama to Hillary: I look forward to you advising me,”

9 Stephen Zunes, “Biden, Iraq and Obama’s betrayal”, Foreign Policy in Focus, Aug. 24, 2008,

15 Declan McCullagh, “Joe Biden’s Pro-RIAA, Pro-FBI tech voting record”, CNET news, Aug 23, 2008

18 Eli Lake, “Obama Adviser Leads Delegation to Damascus”, The NY Sun, Feb 12, 2008,

19 Renewing America’s Promise, p. 29,

20 “British commander says war in Afghanistan cannot be won”, Reuters, Oct. 5, 2008,

21 Brzezinski: West Must Avoid Russia’s Mistakes in Afghanistan

Deutche-Welle, Oct. 16, 2008,,2144,3715692,00.html

22 Brzezinski, Zbigniew, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives. (New York, Basic Books, 1997). p. 195.

23 Brzezinski, ibid. p. 198.

24 Renewing America’s Promise, p. 28,

25 China’s trade surplus falls more than 11% in H1, Xinhua, Oct. 7, 2008 as printed in The China Daily, Oct. 16, 2008,

26 Brzezinski, op. cit., p. 210.

27 Brzezinski, op. cit., p. 211.

28 Robert Dreyfuss, The Rise and McFaul of Obama’s Foreign Policy, The Nation, July 2, 2008,

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W. Virginia Gives E-Voting VP an Award While Machines Malfunction

Posted by kelliasworld on October 27, 2008

Article from Wired Magazine’s THREAT LEVEL blog:

By Kim Zetter

A day after West Virginia secretary of state Betty Ireland held a press conference to address vote-switching problems with touchscreen voting machines made by Election Systems & Software, she presented an award of merit to an ES&S vice president, who had abruptly and mysteriously left the company in May after 11 years of service, according to the Charleston Gazette.

The rest of the article.


It is both amazing and disturbing to see the lengths to which elected officials will go to try to convince the public that electronic voting is OK. Is it that Americans can’t admit that “high” technology is not always better than simpler methods (e.g. paper ballots), especially when that technology has cost the taxpayers a fortune? Or is it that the Demoblican Party is hell-bent on making this technology acceptable so that it can continue its thieving ways, and those who object to a generally accepted technology will be considered tin foil hat-wearing conspiracy theorists worthy only of pity or contempt?

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Election Integrity Verification Project

Posted by kelliasworld on October 26, 2008

Dear Friends of Election Integrity,

With over 95% of U.S. votes counted by machines that use secret software
(such that no human being can know after an election what instructions the
machines actually executed), and with no scientific, independent
post-election manual audits in any state, and with no public oversight
over ballot security in most states – there is no reason to trust in the
accuracy of U.S. election results. Even the detailed methodology and data
of the media pollsters is usually kept secret from the public.

Please help our country by volunteering to help with this citizen exit
poll project (See below). It may be the only way to detect
suspicious-looking vote patterns caused by vote miscount that could
wrongly alter the outcomes of our November 4th election.

Kathy Dopp

The vulnerability of US voting systems to mass scale fraud has been well
documented, but little has been done to establish meaningful checks. Bad
as the last few elections have been, coming elections – including this one
– could be worse. “Improvements” such as early and mail-voting
See what’s wrong with them

and purging of voting roles
Voter roll purge in the 2000 Florida election

continue to undermine election integrity and a wide variety of vote suppression

portends poorly for what we may see on November 4.

One of the few ways to detect mass scale fraud under such conditions is an
Election Verification Exit Poll

Such polls have been used around the world to ensure election integrity
and have been used to overturn fraudulent national elections.

On November 4, Election Integrity is engaged in a two-part exit polling effort:

(1) Our 3rd professional poll to determine and document whether official
numbers reflect how people say they have cast their ballots, to
investigate any discrepancies and to establish exit polling as a meaningful
verification technique (see our May primary pilot project).

(2) a Citizens Exit Poll with the Election Defense Alliance

* extend our ability to ascertain the veracity of official reported voting

* detect specific indications of election fraud, which can be further

* develop citizen polling as a means to detect and deter fraud; and

* to give citizens the tools to take control of their elections and their

You can volunteer.

The Election Verification Exit Poll project

To properly prosecute these efforts, we need your help.

I realized a long time ago that the idea of self-government based on
pushing a button for one name or another every few years was inevitably a
fantasy. In the end, self-government, or for that matter, good-government
demands citizen involvement and oversight. So, please, volunteer

or donate.

Democracy depends on it.

Steven Freeman

About Our Exit Polls: Video: Interview about exit polls and election

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Obama: Change you can believe in…NOT!

Posted by kelliasworld on October 26, 2008

[This article was first published on the website Speaking Truth to Power. Please visit that website early next week–The last week of October 2008–for the following installments].

Part 1. The Economy

by Kéllia Ramares

It is often said that you are known by the company you keep. If that is true, then progressive voters should familiarize themselves with at least some of Sen. Barack Obama’s advisers and fundraisers, and by this I don’t mean Bill Ayers and Rev. Jeremiah Wright. I mean the real movers and shakers who are the answer to the question: “How does a young, black, first term Senator rise so quickly in politics so as to be standing at the threshold of the White House?” You will see that those who made it possible are
not Weather Underground, or vociferous ministers, but are the people who will insure that Barack Obama will not make any fundamental changes to the way the United States does its business – here or abroad.

The Religion of the Free Market

The Democratic presidential candidate’s chief economic advisor is Austan Goolsbee of the University of Chicago, an economist described by author Naomi Klein as “on the left side of a spectrum that stops at the center-right.”1 Goolsbee is very much a home town pick, and not merely because he and Obama both live in Chicago. Obama taught at the law school of the University of Chicago for a decade, and, as Klein says, “is thoroughly embedded in the mind set known as the Chicago School.”2 The Chicago School’s long time “Headmaster” was the late Nobel Prize-winning monetarist Milton Friedman, who made a secular religion of “the free market.” According to Klein, Goolsbee qualifies as a leftist in this group because he acknowledges inequality as a problem. But his answer to it is more education.3 Sound familiar? During his years in the White House, Bill Clinton emphasized retraining for the people who were losing their manufacturing jobs to “downsizing.” But, besides the difficulties inherent in retraining someone who had spent a decade or more on an assembly line to be a computer programmer, (and helping him or her maintain a home and family during the process), there was the not-so-little matter of technical jobs also being outsourced to the other side of the world, a problem that has been growing since the Clinton Administration, as the United States loses the ability to make anything except bombs, debts, and rich executives.

Goolsbee got into a bit of PR trouble earlier this year for comments to officials at the Canadian consulate in Chicago that a President Obama would not be as anxious to renegotiate NAFTA as Candidate Obama appeared to be.4 Naturally, the press was alleged to have gotten it wrong, just as it has gotten the exit polls wrong in the last two elections.

But the Associated Press obtained a memorandum of the meeting written by Joseph De Mora, a political and economic affairs consular officer. Part of it said:

Goolsbee candidly acknowledged the protectionist sentiment that has emerged, particularly in the Midwest, during the primary campaign. [H]e cautioned that this messaging should not be taken out of context and should be viewed as more about political – positioning than a clear articulation of policy p1ans. He also suggested that of the Democratic candidates, Obama has been the least protectionist (unintelligible).5

On NAFTA, Goolsbee suggested that Obama is less about fundamentally changing the agreement and more in favor of strenghtening/clarifying language on labor mobility and environment, and trying to establish these as more “core” principles of the agreement.6

But the people of Ohio, before whom Obama harshly criticized NAFTA during the primaries7, are not interested in labor mobility. They want good jobs in Ohio. What they are getting is more of the same insensitive and nonsensical message that both Democrats and Republicans gave them in 2004: Outsourcing your job is good for the American economy.

Dr. Francis A. Boyle, Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign, received his undergraduate education at the University of Chicago, where Obama taught at the law school and Goolsbee is a member of the economics department. Boyle rails against that institution regularly. He managed to stick to his liberal principles there and at Harvard University, where he received a law degree and a PhD. in political science. Boyle had this to say about the University of Chicago’s political science and economics departments, and law school in a December, 2005 article:

“The University of Chicago routinely trained me and innumerable other students to become ruthless and unprincipled Machiavellians. That is precisely why so many neophyte Neo-Con students gravitated toward the University of Chicago or towards Chicago Alumni at other universities. … Integrally related to and overlapping with the Feddies [lawyers who are members of the ultraconservative Federalist Society] are members of the University of Chicago “School” of Law-and-Kick-Them-in-the-Groin Economics, which in turn was founded on the Market Fundamentalism of Milton Friedman….This Chicago gang of academic con-artists and charlatans are proponents of the Nazi Doctrine of “useless eaters.” Pursuant to Friedman’s philosophy of Market Fundamentalism, the privatization of Iraq and its oil industry [is] already underway for the primary benefit of the U.S. energy companies….”8

Naomi Klein’s description of Obama’s economic philosophy bears repeating: he “is thoroughly embedded in the mind set known as the Chicago School.”9

Obama: Property of the Billionaires

Anyone still harboring any fantasies at this late date of “Change you can believe in” from an Obama Adminstration needs to understand just how badly compromised he is. And that understanding begins with learning about his national campaign chair, Penny Pritzker. She’s the one behind his raising a record $500 million—that’s half a billion—dollars. (My thoughts on what we could do with that kind of money besides spending it on political campaigns will have to wait for another day).

Penny Pritzker runs Classic Residence by Hyatt, a chain of retirement homes, and The Parking Spot, an airport shuttle service. She’s president of Pritzker Realty Group and chairwoman of TransUnion LLC, a credit checking company. She’s a director of Global Hyatt Corp., which owns or operates more than 365 hotels in 44 countries.10

All told, the Pritzker empire is worth as much as $40 billion, a person familiar with the situation estimates.11
Much has been revealed by the KPFA-FM’s investigative news magazine Flashpoints. (Flashpoints in the the public affairs department. This author works for KPFA’s news department). On programs on February 20, 2008 and September 30, 2008,12 Flashpoints focused on Pritzker’s role in the the sub-prime crisis that has triggered this nation’s and now the world’s financial industry meltdown. Bank fraud whistleblower Timothy J. Anderson appeared on both shows to give details of Pritzker’s schemes.
Pritzker, through Superior Bank FSB of Hinsdale Illinois, of which she was owner and chair of the board, was among the first to securitize sub-prime mortgages. Superior was closed by the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) in late 2001and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was named Receiver in early 2002. Flashpoints host Dennis Bernstein relayed what Anderson told him in February in an article for Consortium News:
“The [sub-prime] financial engineering that created the Wall Street meltdown was developed by the Pritzkers and Ernst and Young, working with Merrill Lynch to sell bonds securitized by sub-prime mortgages.
“The sub-prime mortgages, were provided to Merrill Lynch, by a nation-wide Pritzker origination system, using Superior as the cash cow, with many millions in FDIC insured deposits. Superior’s owners were to sub-prime lending, what Michael Milken was to junk bonds.”13
Also in February, Earl Offari Hutchinson described the conflict between Obama’s speeches against subprime profiteers and his campaign’s association with Pritzker in an article for the Huffington Post:
“Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama says he’ll crack down on fraudulent sub-prime lenders. If he really means it he can start by firing his campaign finance chair, Penny Pritzker. Before taking over Obama’s campaign finances, she headed up the borderline shady and failed Superior Bank. It collapsed in 2002. The bank’s sordid story and its abominable role in fueling the sub-prime crisis are well known and documented. It engaged in deceptive and faulty lending, questionable accounting practices, and charged hidden fees. It did it with the sleepy-eyed see-no-evil oversight of federal. It made thousands of dubious loans to mostly poor, strapped homeowners. A disproportionate number of them were minority.
“Obama’s home state, Illinois, ranked near the top of thee states in the percentage of sub-prime mortgages. Nearly 15 percent of home loans were sub-prime according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. But that only tells part of the tale. According to the Woodstock Institute, a Chicago non-profit that studies housing issues, the sub-prime fall-out was far higher in the predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods of South and Southwest Chicago.
“The predictable happened when many of those lost their homes. When the bank collapsed Pritzker and bank officials skipped away with their profits and reputations intact.”14

On September 30th, Tim Anderson opined to Flashpoints that Pritzker raised the half a billion dollars for Obama because she “wants a seat at the table. She doesn’t want to be just a fundraiser.”15

She got it. When Obama met with his economic advisers on July 28 in Washington, Pritzker participated along with Warren Buffett, Robert Rubin, chairman of Citigroup Inc.’s executive committee, and Paul Volcker, 80, former chairman of the Federal Reserve.16

Speaking of seats, the Obama family lives on the southside of Chicago. So they have had a ringside seat to the devastation caused by the subprime mortgage debacle. Yet Obama says of Pritzker: “She and I share certain core values about how to run organizations, and hopefully that will inform how we manage the government.”17

How “we” manage the government? Will this subprime queen become the next Secretary of the Treasury?

That ain’t all…

Pritzker is not the only ultra-rich Obama backer. Another is George Soros, the wallet behind the faux-progressive, which called for the censure, but not impeachment, of George W. Bush. Obama has been the beneficiary of Soro’s soft money since his days in the Illinois state senate.18

The billionaire currency speculator’s hedge fund may have lost at least $120 million on its stake in Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., mostly acquired in the second quarter, as the investment bank suffered its worst financial result. Soros Fund Management LLC, which manages $20 billion, purchased 9.47 million shares, or about 1.4% of New York-based Lehman, between March 31 and June 30, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.19
Do you think that maybe Sen. Obama might have an interest in seeing that Mr. Soros can recoup those losses?
Both Obama and Sen. John “Keating Five” McCain, the nominal opponent in this fake two-headed corporate party “election,” enjoy huge financial support from Wall Street. Obama has received at least $1.5 million collected by three senior executives at Lehman Brothers.20

With support of the ultra rich such as Pritzker and Soros as well as others at the top of the investor class, is it any wonder Obama and McCain, were joined at the hip on the necessity of a Wall Street bailout? They even issued a joint statement as Congress negotiated the first version of the bailout.

“Now is a time to come together – Democrats and Republicans – in a spirit of cooperation for the sake of the American people. The plan that has been submitted to Congress by the Bush Administration is flawed, but the effort to protect the American economy must not fail.”21

After the bailout finally passed ($150 billion more costly and about 300 pages more complicated than the original bill), Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) told writer Chris Hedges in a phone interview:

“We face a perfect financial storm. The elements are the deficit spending for the war of 3 to 4 trillion dollars, the trillion and more tax cuts, the war itself and the lack of serious investment in the country. We are being hollowed out. We are going to see more unemployment and more people losing their homes. With $700 billion we could have made a real investment in the country, in jobs, in infrastructure and in homes. Instead, we got robbed.”22
Apparently, the American economy Obama wants to protect is the financial interests of the Wall Streeters who bankroll his presidential campaign.

1 Naomi Klein, “Obama’s Chicago Boys,” The Nation, June 12, 2008. This article appeared in print in the June 30, 2008 edition of the nation.



4 Michael Luo, “Memo Gives Canada’s Account of Obama Campaign’s Meetings on NAFTA,” New York Times, March 4, 2008,




8 Francis A. Boyle, Neo-Cons, Fundies, Feddies and Con-Artists, December 17, 2005.



10 John Lippert, “The Power of Penny Pritzker,” Bloomberg Markets, October 2008.


12 Podcasts of these shows may be obtained at or

13 Dennis Bernstein, “Obama’s Sub-prime conflict,” Consortium News, February 28, 2008,

14 Earl Offari Hutchinson, “If Obama’s For Real on the Sub-Prime Crisis, He’ll Dump His Campaign

Finance Chair,” Huffington Post, February 29, 2008.

15 Flashpoints, KPFA-FM, September 30, 2008. Podcast is available at



18 Ed Hamler, “George Soros buys the Democratic Nomination; Obama Borrows It,” EIR, July 4, 2008.

19 Bloomberg News, “Soros Fund Loss on Lehman May be $120M,” Sept 11, 2008, as reprinted in the NY Sun

20 Peter Yost, Associated Press, “Wall Street among biggest donors to McCain, Obama,” Sept. 18, 2008 as reprinted in, Nation/World section on Oct 5, 2008.,0,7899171.story

21Joint McCain Obama statement,

22Chris Hedges, “Dennis Kucinich on the Democrats Betrayal,”, Oct 5, 2005.

Posted in Election '08, Obama | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Jerry D. Rose: Off on the wrong track?

Posted by kelliasworld on October 26, 2008

[This Op-Ed, which originally appeared in The Sun, a newspaper published in Gainesville, FL, is reprinted here by permission of the author. You will see other articles by Mr. Rose in Kelliasworld from time to time. You are invited to visit his sites: The Sunshine State Activist, which contains many articles of interest to people outside of Florida, and his blog Principled Progressive].

Published: Saturday, October 25, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 24, 2008 at 3:04 p.m.

Public opinion polls are showing that only about 10 percent of people are saying that the U.S. is going in the “right direction,” most saying we are on the “wrong track.”

Cagle Cartoons

This mood of pessimism about the country’s future is widely cited as a reason that Barack Obama has forged his way to a seemingly commanding lead in the presidential preference polls.

The thinking is that people usually vote for an opposition party when they are dissatisfied with conditions under the incumbent one.

Such analysis no doubt contains a grain of truth that should be acknowledged.

But when I cast my ballot for president on the November ballot in Florida, I am faced with a choice of not two but (count them) 13 choices.

Each of the 11 alternates represents a more or less different “track” if I don’t care for the one furnished by either of the two major parties’ nominees.

How will I and other Florida voters choose a “track” when faced with a full set of options? Will we accept the box placed around our choices by our media and our peers, making a choice between the two tracks represented by the Republican and Democratic candidates?

Perhaps we will, but suppose we find nothing in the track records of either the McCain or Obama tickets that would impel us to get on either of their trains?

What if we feel that, no matter which track is taken, the destination will be the same: a cliff just outside town that the train will go over whenever we reach the point of an international conflagration or (in case we miss this cliff) an abyss of economic collapse on a train with engineers in the payroll of the Wall Street combine that drives the engine of our national economy?

Suppose we want something different; like progressive taxation, a fair tax, a reduction in government size, a socialist rather than a capitalist society, a world at peace rather than in incessant war, etc.

We will find congenial “tracks” in our list of 11 or whatever alternatives to our two corporacratic parties and some of us will choose one of those tracks, feeling that while that track may not get us to our preferred destination, it at least will not run us over one of those aforementioned cliffs toward which the D Train and the R Train are headed.

If our peers, parties, pundits and presidential debate organizers have their ways and get us all back on the Obama track, we’ll all be duly making our “lesser of evil” choices. The Obama lead in the polls might then hold up when the only poll that counts is conducted in November.

If too many of us stray off the track, we might indeed “spoil” the election for a Democratic Party that has in fact spoiled itself through its failure to select candidates who are genuine alternatives to the Republican ones.

If that happens, we track-strayers will of course face the full wrath of those who will blame us for the train wreck of the country in the coming McCain administration.

But maybe, just maybe, the Democrats will come to the realization that, if they want the unquestioning support of the American people, they need to put the party back on a track that represents the values of their paying (voting) customers, not those of their corporate paymasters

Jerry D. Rose is a retired sociology professor living in Gainesville. He operates The Sun State Activist and Principled Progressive, Web sites which present news and views from a progressive point of view.

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How to hack an electronic voting system

Posted by kelliasworld on October 25, 2008

For more information, read the article “E-Voting made scary”,

and visit the website Black Box Voting

Posted in Election '08, Electronic Voting | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Practice “Safe Voting”

Posted by kelliasworld on October 25, 2008

UPDATE: Check out the ACLU’s Voter Empowerment Cards for specific information about voting in your home state. Go to

Posted in Election '08, Electronic Voting | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »