Opera for Obama!

November 4, 2008

Here are a couple of marvelously delightful and artful clips!  Bravo!  Bravo!  Encore!  Encore!  The link came from Adela. Thank you Adela!!!

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Google has a “tech talk” that is very interesting.  Barbara Simons, prominent computer scientist, explains the whole electronic voting machine problem, from cost to vulnerability and lack of transparency and much, much more.   And here’s something I learned: California Elections Code specifies that no voting system may be purchased or used in a California election until the Secretary of State approves that system. Additonally, all direct recording electronic voting machines used in California must have an accessible voter-verified paper audit trail. If they don’t, they can’t be used.  Now isn’t that sensible?

Can you feel the rain?

November 3, 2008

I had no idea how parched I was, what a longing I had for a hopeful, inclusive message! Like “stubbygray” says,” I didn’t know how starved I was for an eloquent and intelligent President–I thought I’d just become apathetic.”  Hey, she’s got a great way with words, check her out!

God bless Obama!  God bless “stubbygray” and God bless us all!

“Tomorrow”

November 3, 2008

I wandered over to Truthout today and although I think nearly everything up is worth spending time on, here’s my favorite article so far:

Tomorrow

by: William Rivers Pitt, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

photo
Tomorrow, voters will choose a new leader. (Photo: Charles Rex Arbogast / AP)

A thing is about to happen which has not happened since the Elder Days.
– J.R.R. Tolkien

It has been a long and terrible time since tomorrow mattered as much as it does today.

It began with that first terrible election, the media manipulations, the stolen and uncounted votes, the menacing mobs, and a decision by the highest court which sealed our doom. A man who was not chosen came to possess an office he was unworthy of, and everything that since has come to pass now seems almost preordained, fated, inevitable.

We have seen tax cuts which looted our Treasury and further enriched the wealthy, we have seen presidential vetoes of legislation designed to heal the sick and feed the children, and we have seen executive orders designed to shatter the Constitution and erase our rights. We have seen annihilation by fire and water visited upon our cities and ourselves. We have seen wars and rumors of wars. We have seen fear visited upon the populace by design. We have seen terrorists, and all too often, they have been us.

We have known death, and disgrace, and failure, and greed, and theft, and shame, and utter lawlessness. We have lost hope, and been afraid, and fallen to exhaustion and despair. We have seen torture and murder stamped with the seal of highest approval, and we have become what we despise.

But tomorrow is a different matter.

Tomorrow is a place of definitions, where change may come and be welcome even in the smallest degree. Tomorrow will see millions upon millions from every national nook and cranny pour forth in celebration of their own lone and lonesome voices.

Tomorrow, we will know.

It has been a long, strange and entirely preposterous course that has brought us today to the edge of our next tomorrow. Millions of new voters rewrote an old, calcified map. Fifty states one and all had their say, and their say mattered to the last of it. Money mattered less than organization, less than passion, less than hope, less than tomorrow.

There are many eyes upon us today as we prepare to step into tomorrow. The eyes of those lost in fire and smoke of a bright September morning watch us, the eyes of those lost in needless battle watch us, the eyes of those subsumed by an invading sea watch us, the eyes of those lost to disease and poverty and greed watch us, the eyes of all those lost who should not be so are upon us, they remember what we did yesterday, and they will see us tomorrow.

What they call change is nothing more than choice. Tomorrow is another choosing, perhaps the greatest of our lives. Something will happen, and afterward, we will know.

Here are a few of the other interesting articles over there:
Florida Democrats Sue GOP Over Voter “Caging”

Jay Weaver, The Miami Herald: “It may be the peak of the 2008 presidential election season, but the Florida Democratic Party is taking a trip down memory lane with the first voter lawsuit filed against the GOP. This time, it’s not about ballot recounts, as in Gore v. Bush in 2000. It’s a Democratic legal salvo accusing the Republicans of plotting a last-minute challenge of registered voters with potentially bad addresses, which may prevent them from casting a regular ballot at the polls Tuesday.”

Jeff Cohen | Studs Terkel: He’ll Never Be Silenced
Jeff Cohen, Truthout: “Louis ‘Studs’ Terkel was many things – oral historian, radio host, agitator, Bronx-born icon of Chicago, the ‘great listener’ who was hard of hearing, Pulitzer Prize winner. But most of all he was an inspiration. He inspired every younger activist or independent journalist who ever met him. And who among us wasn’t younger than Studs?”

Nicholas D. Kristof | Rejoin the World

Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times: “An unscientific poll of 109 professional historians this year found that 61 percent rated President Bush as the worst president in American history. A couple of others judged him second-worst, after James Buchanan, whose incompetence set the stage for the Civil War. More than 98 percent of the historians in the poll, conducted through the History News Network, viewed Mr. Bush’s presidency as a failure. Mr. Bush’s presidency imploded not because of any personal corruption or venality, but largely because he wrenched the United States out of the international community…. So here’s the top priority for President Barack Obama or President John McCain: We must rejoin the world.”

Obama’s Green Jobs Revolution
Geoffrey Lean and Leonard Doyle, The Independent UK: “Barack Obama is promising a $150bn ‘Apollo project’ to bring jobs and energy security to the US through a new alternative energy economy, if his final push for votes brings victory in the presidential election on Tuesday. ‘That’s going to be my number one priority when I get into office,’ Mr Obama has said of his ‘green recovery’ plans. Making his arguments in a radio address yesterday, the Democratic favourite promised: ‘If you give me your vote on Tuesday, we won’t just win this election. Together, we will change this country and change the world.'”

And here’s Judy Woodruff asking us to video our votes.  It’s short, watch it, then go vote!  And video your vote!  (After you watch Judy there is a video of an early voter.  Just lovely.  If you have see too much Fox television, or read too many crazy blog comments, you may need to watch this.  It will restore your faith in humanity.

October 30, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist
American Stories
By ROGER COHEN

Of the countless words Barack Obama has uttered since he opened his campaign for president on an icy Illinois morning in February 2007, a handful have kept reverberating in my mind:

“For as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on earth is my story even possible.”

Perhaps the words echo because I’m a naturalized American, and I came here, like many others, seeking relief from Britain’s subtle barriers of religion and class, and possibility broader than in Europe’s confines.

Perhaps they resonate because, having South African parents, I spent part of my childhood in the land of apartheid, and so absorbed as an infant the humiliation of racial segregation, the fear and anger that are the harvest of hurt — just as they are, in Obama’s words, “the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.”

Perhaps they speak to me because I live in New York and watch every day a miracle of civility emerge from the struggles and fatigue of people drawn from every corner of the globe to the glimmer of possibility at the tapering edge of the city’s ruler-straight canyons.

Perhaps they move me because the possibility of stories has animated my life; and no nation offers a blanker page on which to write than America.

Or perhaps it’s simply because those 22 words cleave the air with the sharp blade of truth.

Nowhere else could a 47-year-old man, born, as he has written, of a father “black as pitch” and a mother “white as milk,” a generation distant from the mud shacks of western Kenya, raised for a time as Barry Soetoro (his stepfather’s family name) in Muslim Indonesia, then entrusted to his grandparents in Hawaii — nowhere else could this Barack Hussein Obama rise so far and so fast.

It’s for this sense of possibility, and not for grim-faced dread, that people look to America, which is why the Obama campaign has stirred such global passions.

Americans are decent people. They’re not interested in where you came from. They’re interested in who you are. That has not changed.

But much has in the last eight years. This is a moment of anguish. The Bush presidency has engineered the unlikely double whammy of undermining free-market capitalism and essential freedoms, the nation’s twin badges.

American luster is gone. The American idea has, in Joyce Carol Oates’s words, become a “cruel joke.” Americans are worrying and hurting.

So it is important to step back, from the last machinations of this endless campaign, and think again about what America is.

It is renewal, the place where impossible stories get written.

It is the overcoming of history, the leaving behind of war and barriers, in the name of a future freed from the cruel gyre of memory.

It is reinvention, the absorption of one identity in something larger — the notion that “out of many, we are truly one.”

It is a place better than Bush’s land of shadows where a leader entrusted with the hopes of the earth cannot find within himself a solitary phrase to uplift the soul.

Multiple polls now show Obama with a clear lead. But nobody can know the outcome and nobody should underestimate the immense psychological leap that sending a black couple to the White House would represent.

What I am sure of is this: an ever more interconnected world, where financial chain reactions spread with the virulence of plagues, thirsts for American renewal and a form of American leadership sensitive to humanity’s tied fate.

I also know that this biracial politician, the Harvard graduate who gets whites because he was raised by them, the Kenyan’s son who gets blacks because it was among them that mixed race placed him, is an emblematic figure of the border-hopping 21st century. He is the providential mestizo whose name — O-Ba-Ma — has the three-syllable universality of some child’s lullaby.

And what has he done? What does his experience amount to? Does his record not demonstrate he’s a radical? The interrogation continues. It’s true that his experience is limited.

But Americans seem to be trusting what their eyes tell them: temperament trumps experience and every instinct of this man, whose very identity represents an act of reconciliation, hones toward building change from the center.

Earlier this year, at the end of a road of reddish earth in western Kenya, I found Obama’s half-sister Auma. “He can be trusted,” she said, “to be in dialogue with the world.”

Dialogue, between Americans and beyond America, has been a constant theme. Last year, I spoke to Obama, who told me: “Part of our capacity to lead is linked to our capacity to show restraint.”

Watching the way he has allowed his opponents’ weaknesses to reveal themselves, the way he has enticed them into self-defeating exhaustion pounding against the wall of his equanimity, I have come to understand better what he meant.

Stories require restraint, too. Restraint engages the imagination, which has always been stirred by the American idea, and can be once again.

A wonderful article from Susan Saulny of the New York Times. Obama has indeed awakened hope. Yes, we do matter! Yes, we can participate!

Obama-Inspired Black Voters Warm to Politics

Growing up in St. Louis in the 1950s and ’60s, Deddrick Battle came to believe that the political process was not for people like him — a struggling black man whose vote, he was convinced, surely would not count for much of anything. The thought became ingrained as an adult, almost like common sense.

But a month ago, at age 55, Mr. Battle registered to vote for the first time.

Senator Barack Obama was the reason.

“This is huge,” Mr. Battle, a janitor, said after his overnight shift cleaning a movie theater. “This is bigger than life itself. When I was coming up, I always thought they put in who they wanted to put in. I didn’t think my vote mattered. But I don’t think that anymore.”

Across the country, black men and women like Mr. Battle who have long been disaffected, apolitical, discouraged or just plain bored with politics say they have snapped to attention this year, according to dozens of interviews conducted in the last several days in six states. They are people like Percy Matthews of the South Side of Chicago, a 25-year-old who did vote once but whose experience was so forgettable that he cannot recall with certainty whom he cast a ballot for or even what year it was. Now an enthusiastic Democrat, he says the old days are gone.

And Shandell Wilcox, 29, who registered to vote in Jacksonville, Fla., when she was 18, then proceeded to ignore every election other than the current one. She voted for the first time on Wednesday.

Over and again, first-time and relatively new voters like Mr. Matthews and Ms. Wilcox, far past the legal voting age, said they were inspired by the singularity of the 2008 election and the power of Mr. Obama’s magnetism. Many also said they were loath to miss out on their part in writing what could be a new chapter of American history — the chance to vote for a black president.

Mr. Battle, for one, remembers growing up in the Pruitt-Igoe housing project in St. Louis and how intimidated the adults were about voting, and that left an impression on him. The older women he knew were afraid to walk to the polls, he said, for fear of being attacked. “I didn’t think it was for black people, period,” he said of politics before the Civil Rights era. “We didn’t have any rights, really. We were just coming into voting and everything.”

Fast-forwarding to the present, he continued: “I never thought that I’d see this day. I never thought I’d see the day where an African-American was standing at the podium getting ready to be president.”

The swelling ranks of the newly enthusiastic are also the result of extensive nationwide voter registration drives and new early voting procedures in many states that have made the process easier and more accessible. Read the rest of this entry »

Voter Protection

November 2, 2008

YouTube has some Voter Protection advice for Voters in Nevada, North Carolina, Florida, New Mexico, Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, Missouri, and Colorado.  If you live in one of those states do check it out.

Here’s six minutes of the pranksters playing with Sarah Palin, pretending to be the French President Sarkozy!  Excellent!  So funny.

These clips are from the film Uncounted: the New Math of American Elections by David Earnhardt. A must see!

What can you do?  This from the Uncounted website.

Stop, Drop, and Poll – What to Do if You Have Problems Voting

By Mary Mancini

Anecdotal evidence is coming in fast and furious of early-voting incidences including voting machine malfunctions in Ohio, Putnam, and Jackson Counties in West Virginia and Davidson and Decatur Counties in Tennessee, as well as hidden problems with “straight ticket” voting (confirmed by Snopes) in Texas and West Virginia. A more complete list of the problems so far can be found at VotersUnite.org.

It CAN happen to you. If it does, here are a few suggestions on what to do:

1) Video Your Vote
If possible, plan ahead for any problems by bringing a video camera with you to Video the Vote. Then, spread it around (send it to us and we’ll help). Remember, the focus should be on gathering evidence and not telling stories. So, use video, audio, photographs to document what happened. Also, get names and phone numbers of witnesses, voting machine serial numbers, names of poll workers, and document the time of day.

2) At the First Sign of a Problem, Stop*
At the first sign of a problem with your machine (or if you experience any of the other problems listed below), stop what you are doing and ask to speak to the supervisor/officer of elections (skip the poll worker) at your polling location. Explain your problem. If they try and waive you off, call your main election commission number and ask to speak to the election commissioner who will satisfactorily address your problem. Keep in mind that many poll workers/supervisors will try and blame the voter aka “operator error.” Do not leave your polling place until your problem is well-documented and addressed to your complete satisfaction and, if the problem is with a machine, that machine is quarantined. Oh, and you get to vote. Never leave the polling place without voting.

3) File a Report. File Several Reports.
Your local polling place will have incident reports available to you. If they do not, call the main election commission for your county and ask for someone to bring one to you. Make sure that both you and the supervisor sign it. An example of a report is here (Hat tip: Wake Up and Save Your Country Voters Guide). The U.S. Election Assistance Commission also lists on their website where you can find out how to file a report in your state. Again, the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-Our-Vote can also help with any questions in this area.

4) Call the Election Protection Hotline
Report you incident to the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-Our-Vote, especially if you feel you are being bullied or your incident is not being taken seriously. The ACLU has a hotline as well at 1-877-523-2792. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and Greg Palast offer suggestions as well in their comic StealYourVoteBack.org.

5) Pledge to Stand Up to Stolen Elections
Go to NoMoreStolenElections.org and pledge to not concede until every vote is counted – and counted as cast.

*Problems can include: machine problems, polling place problems (machines not set up on time), switching or closing of polling place, voters forced to vote on a provisional ballot, long lines/waits, intimidation, unusual ID demands, poll workers asking inappropriate questions, etc.

UPDATE: One of TrueVote.Us’s members has a great suggestion to add to this list: “Voters who see their vote being flipped by the machines on election day, if they can’t get the machine taken out of service, they should immediately begin telling all the voters still waiting in line exactly which machine flipped their votes. (Third machine from the left, or whatever.) Try to get people…to refuse that machine. This could cause trouble, backups, and increase the pressure on the local officials to mothball that machine. No doubt people are already complaining both to the officials and to election activists and lawyers waiting outside – but the other voters waiting in line also need to know. [I took out a bit of this that was very partisan because we believe that fair and honest elections are no-partisan and non-ideological. – Ed.]