Thursday, October 25, 2007

Starting To Calm Down Just A Tiny Bit…

...some of the fires in Southern California, I mean.

Many of them are still ferociously blazing, unfortunately: the worst of them in San Diego County, for instance. But apparently the winds are finally starting to die down in L.A County, allowing the firefighters to start to get an upper hand.

Many have said this, but it's true: this is the worst fire season that I've ever seen. I've lived in Southern California since 1977 and many fire seasons have come and gone, but so many fires simultaneously springing up over such a wide area is unheard of in my recollection. When I first heard about how broad an expanse the various fires covered, my first thoughts were arson. It looks like that may be the case in several of the fires. These are the sorts of people who need to be strung up by their most sensitive body parts and left alive for a very long time.

No one I know has yet been affected, which is of the good, but I still feel for everyone who's been affected. If y'all want to help out and haven't done so yet, please do.

On a less positive (and far more cynical) note, while I'm happy that the folks in San Diego County who are being displaced have found shelter at Qualcomm - amongst other refuges - I am furious that this sort of coordination and level of help wasn't available to the folks profoundly affected by Katrina. Granted, part of it is that the head of FEMA in 2005 was an idiot who didn't have the first clue of how to organize a sock drawer, let alone such a vitally important federal emergency agency. The current FEMA chief comes from an emergency response background and shows signs of competence that is stunning for anyone appointed by Bush and Buddies.

However, that doesn't excuse the continuing lack of attention paid by the federal government to the fine folks in New Orleans and the surrounding areas. There's no reason why ALL the federal attention is going to the displaced in Southern California and none is being diverted to NO. Well, no good reason. The only other thing I come up with - besides FEMA being run by someone who knows a thing or two about fires - is that the areas hardest hit by the fires< are in northern San Diego County. And if'n ya know anything that area, you know that the residents are, for the most part, rich, white and Republican.

Cynical? Perhaps. But being "governed" by those currently in the Executive Branch has engendered a definite cynicism where none previously existed. Besides which, I, like many others, have seen how this administration caters to the wealthy and Republican. It's certainly not beyond the realm of probability. It would also explain why the only people really doing anything to help the Katrina-ravaged areas are those who live there. People who, for the most part, are not rich, are not Republicans, and are less white per capita than the population of NE San Diego.

Again, I am happy that the displaced have got quality shelter. But the federal government still needs to turn their attention back to the Gulf Coast.

We're ALL American citizens, Bush and Co. Don't you dare forget it again.

crossposted from just an ordinary goddess

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The US Under Apartheid & the 2008 Election


  • An official policy of segregation formerly practiced in the Republic of South Africa, involving political, legal, and economic discrimination against select members of society.
  • A policy or practice of separating or segregating groups.
  • The condition of being separated from others; segregation.

One of the concerns I hear most frequently voiced by democrats is that during the next election the Democratic party will split between the idealist, activist, grassroots and the more pragmatic, pro-business, pro-moderation members. The Common Wisdom is that a precursor of this disaster was seen in 2000 when Nader sucked up enough votes to help George Bush win the election. The Common Wisdom is wrong. It wasn't a lack of votes that caused the problem. The folks who "won" the election were determined to do anything they had to do in order to be handed the White House without open riots. The worst you can say about the Nader folks was . . . they probably saw it coming. They'd stopped trusting either party.
In preparation for the 2000 election, the "the powers that be" in Florida commissioned a "voter purge" that pulled 50,000 voters off the rolls, most of whom were liberal democrats, most of whom were black. Many of those voters came to the polls to vote in the election, as they had for years, only to find that they had been disenfranchised.
And when that wasn't enough to win the election, the Republican's turned to the courts of Florida to stop a vote count, and subsequently to the Supreme Court, to have the Florida court's decision over turned.
In the 2004 election, voters in Ohio were disenfranchised in a wide variety of well documented ways.
Across the country we are now using polling stations that are easy to tamper with. It has been proven, over and over again, that the vote HAS been tampered with. That it will be tampered with again is a foregone conclusion. Why else wouldn't those machines have been replaced and discarded. There's certainly been enough outcry and enough legal challenges to have brought that about. If the Democratic or Republican party leadership wanted those machines gone, they'd be gone.
And all this is in addition to all the ways in which key members of both parties have been effectively determining who will be a candidate and what issues will be voted on for years. You'll note that the population of this nation never gets to vote on a national health care system, and that's been something with a more than 60% approval for decades. These same folks determine which laws will be enforced. There are laws on the books against war profiteering and Halliburton is alive and well. We have laws against lying to congress and giving money to political cronies and torture. Bush is still in office, our last Attorney General was allowed to resign.
All of which means that we live under an apartheid government which effectively disenfranchises most of the people most of the time. If you are a democrat and the votes of OTHER democrats aren't counted, YOU are disenfranchised because you cannot ever "win" an election even if you have "won" the election. In fact, when the votes of Democrats aren't counted, even Republicans are disenfranchised because the election wasn't legal, didn't create consensus, doesn't represent the will of _anyone_ except the folks who rigged the election and their collaborators.
Its hard to imagine why the "pragmatic" among us, especially those in the democratic party, can't see their way clear to demanding immediate and visible action on election protection from the party and every single elected official as a condition for receiving their vote in 2008.
Actually I'm afraid I do understand why so many Democrats who call themselves pragmatists won't make that demand. Its because they know it will be refused. They want to believe there is still hope, that some how by accepting these "flaws" we can move on to other business. They believe that widespread election fraud is some kind of snafu that will ultimately be worked out.
If that's true . . . its terrifying. Ending apartheid _starts_ with giving every citizen a right to vote, and ensuring that vote is counted. As folks in South Africa, activists who fought for the rights of blacks in the US South, and survivors of the Holocaust will tell you . . . appeasement leads to tyranny.