Saturday, June 14, 2008

Killing Time ‘Till the November Election

Does Our Democracy Call for More Than Knitting Socks? 30

None of us has missed the endless complaints of the political hack on the losing side of an election. For months after the fact, the same refrain seems to “seep up” from the voices of the defeated, hypothetical grumbling along the lines of “If old Harry had won that election, none of this would be happening.” No matter who “Harry” might be or exactly what “this” is, such comments seem to be unavoidable perpetual political noise.

So, what’s the problem?

Simply put, suspicious election results can no longer be dismissed as either inevitable or in any way acceptable. We have all been told about the Supreme Court’s delivery of the Bush White House in 2000. We have all heard snippets about the outrageous elections in Ohio and Florida in 2004. We have heard all the interviews warning us about voting machines, you know, the ones without “paper trails” making recounts possible. Believable recounts, that is.

We may have heard about the astounding election crimes which placed the Governor of Louisiana in a Federal Prison, the court ruling prohibiting him from speaking publicly about his case and the criminal road blocks set before his appeal. He found relief only after the House Judicial Committee, once freed of the Republican strangle hold, began to “look in” on his plight. And even that only occurred after the state Attorneys General of something like 48 states, from both parties, signed a letter proposing that his case be reviewed.

Is all this “stink” limited to Republicans? Lately, while they have held all the power in the government, the answer is “yes.” However, looking back, there was a widely accepted rumor that large numbers of the names on Lyndon Johnson’s voters’ list were residents of a cemetery in Houston. He still became a Senator, and the “story” was dismissed comfortably after he began to repay his debts to his campaign supporters.

In this system, power seems to inevitably lead to innocence.

There are apparently two essential forms of election corruption, election fraud and voter suppression. In a magnificent attempt to add another “bumper sticker” to phrases such a “Fight them over there,” “They hate our freedom” and “Stay the course,” one of our most embarrassing “throw-back” states has sponsored a successful Supreme Court ruling requiring additional identification to vote. It is a law without a criminal. There are no more than a handful of cases of actual election fraud in the entire country. It is yet another blatant design to suppress voting, especially among the poor, the wrong colored and the elderly. You know, Democrats.

It has, however, provided public cover (distraction) for the greater crime of voter suppression. In the case of this crime, the criminals are surfacing everywhere. As is usually the case with such matters, no new law is required. It is the checkered application and enforcement of the existing law that has created such a festering problem.

The Supreme Court “Prize Lottery” of 2000 represents the most compelling case of outright criminal activity. That vote count had to be terminated “before it inflicted irreparable damage to George W. Bush” according to the Supreme Court ruling. Such outrageous partisan hubris could only be reasonably undertaken with the certainty that it would deliver power sufficient to protect the guilty. It worked.

The myriad of “lesser crimes” which delivered Ohio in 2004, although lacking the preposterous glamor of the Supreme Court case, still engineered the delivery of a similar, massive felony. It was the product of “caging,” inadequate numbers of voting machines in Democratic neighborhoods, misinformation campaigns and material miscounts by election officials. The result, although more “low rent” in its execution, was just as damaging.

The “expert” (intelligent design?) for these insults was Mr. Carl Rove. You know, the one who has refused to testify under a Congressional subpoena. The President quickly selected an Attorney General who publicly stated that he would never enforce such a subpoena (the legal equivalent of “treason” under the shared powers act). After the elimination of a few “troublesome” Federal Prosecutors, there was no one else left brave enough to pursue Constitutional Law. The immense cowardice of the House of Representatives’ “Gang of Fourteen,” aside from demonstrating typical Congressional willingness to do absolutely anything necessary to get reelected, cemented the deal during his nomination “hearing.”

Don’t forget your nose plug.

Here in New Mexico we can’t really lay claim to the same caliber of outrage. Our election meddling is more of the “trailer park” variety, but still smelly enough to place us squarely on the “second tier” of states with troubled election results. Being a predominantly Catholic culture, our voters subscribe to the essential “original sin” concept of politicians.

Our allegiance to the tradition of the old Spanish “patron” leads voters here to measure elected officials not by inspired leadership so much as by the size and frequency of “gifts” brought home by their alleged altruism and populist spirits. Republican prostitutes such as Heather Wilson are lauded for continually designing schemes which allow Congressional treasures to flow from positions of exalted power to the submissive, but loyal plebeians below who are willing to accept such behavior as “enough.”

Here, as is the prevailing case across the nation, election manipulations lack the brazen qualities of Ohio or the Supreme Court. In the high desert of New Mexico, vote management takes the form of complicated, yet petty, conspiracies to influence district and regional results imperceptibly, but still effectively, to deliver the desired product.

None of these stinky little affairs seems to amount to much compared to the huge, blatant gerrymandering of our neighboring state, Texas, under the careful husbandry of a Tom DeLay, a true Bush hero who managed to create five new Republican votes in Congress. He was no more than a failing bug exterminator before Carl Rove provided him the “training” to become Speaker of the House, but Rove (and DeLay) had the wisdom of the “fish wife.” They proved, through their complicity in such RNC projects, that great political power can be stolen a tiny bit at a time. Once stolen, it is just as tangible as something won honorably so long as all those ostensibly responsible to oversee such things are adequately paid off or threatened.

So, what’s the “hobby” idea?

It is roughly five months before we go to use those “entirely trustworthy” voting machines again. Beyond that, we can add that it is roughly five months before we once again place our adolescent, unquestioning confidence in the “entirely trustworthy” processes we count on for honest elections. But, hold on. We are ankle deep (or worse) in evidence that these “trustworthy” mechanisms have been subverted! Will we be “lemmings,” willingly marching right back into the same crooked elections like Pollyannas who still try to believe that everything is actually right on track?

If we do that, we will finally get what we deserve. “Fool me once, uh, fool me again?” So far, if we try really hard and we hold our tongue just right and it’s Tuesday, we can still claim that we didn’t deserve what we got last time. Perhaps such a position was marginally reasonable given the subterfuge of the recent past, but it grows a bit road weary as an excuse for our irresponsibility.

Are we satisfied simply with indulging ourselves to continue to complain? Are we really blessed with some sort of stoic acceptance of “That’s just the way things are.” “Get used to it.” “What did you expect?”

So, if we were to adopt this hobby, what could we do to change this mess to something better?

Plenty. Even if you are convinced that your state has none of these pesky little problems, you can campaign for greatly improved election law. It is a state matter which can reach right to Washington, D.C. Your state Secretary of State is “on the hook” to convince you that your elections will be fair, that is, that your state’s election laws and processes will be transparent and honest. That is the job of each state’s Secretary of State. The most important job.

Have you been settling for less?

The election laws in your state are created by your state legislature. This is why such ugly anomalies such as Texas, Florida, Louisiana and Ohio are possible. When the only law enforcement threatening these brassy neo-con election schemes is an unlikely “prosecution” at the hands of other brassy neo-cons in election commissions and courts, we shouldn’t expect much justice. We haven’t had much.

So, communicate. Tell your legislators that you want nice, fresh elections laws that will absolutely end these abuses. Make some noise. You can actually scare the hell out of them with this one.

Let them know that you are not going to tolerate any more hushed rumors of anecdotal election manipulation. Let them know that you are not going to be hypnotized by the results of elections at the cost of forgetting about serious questions about their execution.

Questions about invisible little rodents out in something or other county. Questions about when recounts are possible, necessary, reasonable. Questions about stinky little tricks that wind up disqualifying thousands of votes at just the right moment or at just the place to “reelect” some good ole’ boy who should be going to prison instead of the State House.

There is time to get this cleaned up pretty well before the next election in November. The folks running the country right now are convinced that we are stupid enough to elect Bob Dole President (Uh, no wait. It’s that other old guy.) and accept it as legal. We can’t count on the media to help us here. They own the media. We can’t count on the Supreme Court to help us here. They own the Supreme Court. We can’t count on the Congress to do anything honorable. We know better because we’ve seen them in action. (“Off the table. It doesn’t matter how bad it is, it’s off the table. Off the table. OFF THE TABLE, so shut up. We’re busy!”)

Are we too busy?

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