ENTRY 0002, SEPTEMBER 16, 2003

A lot has happened in the last couple of weeks.   The circus-like atmosphere of the California recall is getting worse.   Now the ninth circuit court of appeals has decided that it is unfair for rich counties to use the electronic ballots, while the poorer counties still have the outmoded punchcard system.  The punchcards are unreliable, maintains voter rights groups, and it is likely that up to 200,000 votes would not be correctly accounted for if this election goes forward.   Progressives are all for the delay, conservatives are against it.  Being a progressive,  I am for it, but not exactly for the reasons that others are.  

To me, the election is just another symptom of two things that are wrong with our society.  The first is the fact that Republicans, flush with stealing a presidential election, are now going gangbusters to tip the scales in their favor every chance they get.   In Texas the republicans are attempting to gerrymander the voting districts in the state, to make it virtually impossible for a democrat to get elected to national office.   Why? so they can "Deliver Texas to the Republican Party and increase its power in Congress."  Democrats in the state congress would easily be outvoted, and thus they had to leave the state to prevent the vote.   Republicans were so enraged by this activity that they called on the office of Homeland Security to track down the democrats, so they could be arrested and forced to show up.  This, beyond almost anything, shows the lengths republicans will go to to achieve their goals.

In California, we have a problem as well.  In this case, it involves a massive deficit.  38 billion dollars, give or take a nickel.  The republicans (Spearheaded by Darrel Issa) saw this as an opportunity to capture the governor's mansion of the most powerful state in the country.   It is necessary to note that Issa tried unsuccessfully to win the republican nomination in the last legitimate election.  The rules being what they are for this election, all that is necessary to win  is to get the greatest number of votes.  Theoretically, if all the candidates got roughly an equivalent number of votes, and all voters actually voted, our next governor could be elected with only 60,000 votes.  As opposed to the 4+ million that voted for Davis.

Now the Republicans have seen the opportunity to take the office, and are really working hard to get it.  The governor's approval rating is low, and with the energy crisis that was engineered last year by the likes of Enron, they seem to have sealed his fate.  "The deficit is massive, the governor unfit!" shout the zealots on the far right.  When asked why, they point out that there was a surplus, and now there is a deficit.  Never mind that this governor was the one who got us the surplus.  
Never mind that the new budget reduces the deficit from 38 billion to 8 billion.  Never mind that the economic policies that caused many of the state's problems can be directly linked to the current REPUBLICAN administration in Washington, D.C.. .  I personally find it interesting that the far-right will yell about the California deficit, but fall strangely silent when you point out that the president has taken a budget surplus and created a deficit that is approaching 600 billion dollars.  That's billion with a "B" (you know, almost two thirds of a trillion dollars...)   

So, problem #1 is this new do-anything-to-win attitude by the republicans.  But, as I mentioned, this whole election debacle is a symptom of two problems.  The second is how our society is becoming more and more litigious.  Lawsuits used to be a last recourse, used when somebody had been severely wronged and there was no other recourse.   When some rich bastard slammed into your car, and you were injured, you sued only if you were getting the runaround from the insurance company.  When a law was bad and people were suffering as a result,
like when minorities were prvented from voting, you went to court to challenge the law.  Now, it seems that lawsuits are the first recourse.  If you don't like the results, threaten to sue.  Just a few months ago a highschool girl sued to be the sole valedictorian for her school, based on the fact that she had a higher GPA than the other two valedictorians.  This was simply because they were required to take PE classes,  which had a lower grade load, whereas the girl had a medical deferral, and took classes that had a higher grade load.  Never mind that all three got A's in everything our sue-happy girl felt she was superior, and did not want to share the stage, for fear it might dilute her college prospects.   

Never mind that she had already been accepted to college.  Never mind that the other two were just as good as she.  Never mind what is right and what is fair.  All she was concerned with was being the only one.  Selfishness.  That's it.  "I'm thinking of me, I don't care how it hurts you.  Screw you!  Me first!  Gimme, Gimme, Gimme!"  We have no compassion and no concern.  All we think about is ourselves.  We are so wrapped up in ourselves that we seem incapable of seeing what we may be doing to others, how others may be suffering because of us. 
Now, people have to operate on the assumption that each and every decision they make might land them in court.  It's a terrible way to have to live.  If I give a kid detention for not doing his or her homework, I might get sued for treating that kid unfairly.  If I don't give the kid detention, I might get sued for not providing adequate educational recourse for the child.  Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

So how does this relate to the California recall election?  Well, it seems that the outmoded voting machines, which were scheduled to be replaced in the early part of 2004 will be used in poorer (and minority heavy) districts, meaning that they poor will have a greater chance of having their vote not counted.  So, the voting rights folks went to court, to make sure the rights of the poorer voters would be protected.  Instantly, the ones who started the recall in the first place (You know who you are) cried "Foul" and began complaining that the judgement interferes with a legitimate election.  Like their recall doesn't.  Davis had been in office for only a year when the recall began.  Regardless of whether it's legal, using the recall in this manner is unethical, period.  Anyway, the recallers are trying  to stop the postponing of the election, saying it will harm the electoral process.  The candidates have already spent lots of money.  The voting machines, which they themselves said were inadequate and needed to be replaced are now perfectly fine. "Just go ahead!" they say.  

The republican Secretary of State stipulated in court that the punchcard voting machines were inadequate.  The 14th amendment would be violated if these machines were not replaced.  So a schedule was set up to replace the machines before the next scheduled election in March, 2004.  This was done to allow for the federal money that was becoming available for the replacement of outdated voting machines.  The new machines are not here, and, according to the republican (ex)Secretary Of State, no election can happen until they are here.  

So why are the folks up in arms about having the election right now, bad machines be damned?  Simple.  They know that in the heat of the moment, many people might vote for the recall who, after a few months reflection might realize just how dumb an idea the recall really is.  They also realize that there is quite a surge behind Arnold Swartzenegger right now.  That will change, as people come to their senses and realize the man has no real plan, and that walking into the state capitol and saying "Hasta la vista, baby!" will not change the deficit on little bit.  They need to move now, if they want to win.  A delay will be potentially fatal to their scheme.  The longer the delay, the more of a chance people have to think, and thinking is just what the Republicans don't want.   They want the election now, and if some minority votes don't get counted, too bad.  

Something else to think about is the fact that the next election will be a primary.  Thus, lots of Democrats casting votes for the next candidate.  Republicans are sticking with Bush, so they don't need to vote in a pirmary.  Democrats have much more reason to show up than do Republicans.  The Repubs fear the Dems will show up in record numbers, while the Repubs stay home.  Death to the recall.  And to any republican-backed initiatives.  So, again, the election must be held now, if the Republicans want a chance of winning.  And again, fairness has nothing to do with it.  All they care about is winning.

This brings me to another topic which I will mention only briefly.  Are the electronic voting machines foolproof?  Could somebody monkey with them so a democratic vote is changed to a republican vote?  Until such time as this can be prevented, I will be leery of the new machines.  Maybe a pritout can be produced, the voter can check it off, make sure it says the right thing, then this is stored away, if the need for a recount arises.  Do I sound like a conspiracy theorist?  Maybe, but bear in mind the leading manufacturer of electronic voting machines, Diebold, is owned by a Republican who donates heavily to the republican party, and has assured us that this can't possibly happen. Even after university research has proven not only that it can happen, but that this kind of voter fraud would be relatively easy to perpetrate.

I don't know anymore.  All I know is that the atmosphere in this country is getting uglier by the day, and I don't much like it.  The republicans are in power, and are shouting "Screw You!!!!" at the top of their lungs.  They don't care about anybody who can't help them, which is about 95% of the country.

It's depressing.

Maybe next time I post a blog I will be cheerful.

Depends on what Bush pulls in the near future.

Well, I gotta run.

P.S. Why do I hate Darrel Issa?  Besides the fact he's trying to screw up our government and costing us millions?

here: http://www.bayarea.com/mld/mercurynews/news/6173826.htm

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