Monday, November 5, 2012

Votapalooza

Yawn. So I filled out my mail-in ballot over the weekend, tongue held firmly in cheek. Were it not for the storm, I would have done the deed earlier. There was one local law on the ballot I wasn't familiar with, and I wanted to do some research on it first. It turns out I now have the choice of either allowing my county legislature to draw redistricting maps, or allowing an unelected board of people I don't know to draw redistricting maps. So I chose the former, lesser of two evils. From the dregs of the backwaters to the heights of the presidency, ain't it always the way?

I deliberately do not endorse any candidates on this blog because I don't want to add to the phony political mania. Plus, I realize that making a Hobson's choice in a battleground state must be nearly as stressful as living in a hurricane state. But let me tell you how I voted anyway. Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala of the Green Party, for prez and vp, as you may have guessed.

  I voted against my Democratic senator, Kirsten Gillibrand. Although her general voting record is relatively "liberal", she also happens to be the Number 1 senatorial recipient of Wall Street money. Grounds for immediate dismissal right there.

As a direct result of those bribes, she was silent while the NYPD pepper-sprayed, tased, illegally detained, billyclubbed, jackbooted, trashed the camps of, or otherwise inconvenienced Occupy Wall Street protesters last year. She was silent during the SOPA and PIPA protests (Hollywood and Silicon Valley Money) too.  And most loathesomely of all, she sided with President Obama and voted with 85 of her cohorts for the National Defense Authorization Act, allowing for the detention without trial of American citizens. As Gail Collins pointed out in a recent column, Gillibrand reportedly does have a Republican challenger, whose name nobody seems to know. So-- I checked off the Green Party candidate once again. Her name is Colia Clarke, a former assistant to Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers; she is one of only six Greens on the ballot in Senate races nationwide.

I did vote for the unknown Democratic contender for retiring Rep. Maurice Hinchey's  seat, a guy by the name of Julian Schreibman, on the alternate Working Families Party line. Julian is a former CIA agent, so I held my nose with fingers crossed, just to keep the sole close contender, from the Tea Party, at bay. See? I can be a pragmatist too, at times. Plus, there are no third party candidates running in my district.

 I voted for New York State Senator Blank, because the long-time GOP incumbent, John Bonacic, is again running unopposed. Four years ago, Senator Blank actually beat him. Even so, no living human being could come up with the money or the chutzpah to challenge J.B. this cycle.

Finally, I cast my ballot for incumbent Democratic Assemblyman Kevin Cahill. This guy has actually personally helped me out on a couple of matters. So when they tell you to put all your energy into local politics, believe it. Bottom-up change is pretty much all we have to cling to anymore.

If you're feeling that what little is left of the Left is crumpling up into a pitiful ball, urging us to hold our noses and vote for Barry, you are not alone. Such erstwhile stalwarts as Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore and Daniel Ellsberg are among the recent sellouts, or semi-sellouts. But don't despair. Not everyone has fallen abjectly into the Nose-Holders for Obama League.

Chris Hedges calls it The S&M Election, and he is all too painfully correct. Echoing the famous George Orwell essay, Such, Such Were the Joys, he compares this horrid presidential campaign to his own torture at the hands of boarding school bullies. A choice excerpt:
Obama tells us that we better lick his boots or we will face the brute down the hall, Mitt Romney. After all, we wouldn’t want the bad people to get their hands on these newly minted mechanisms of repression. We will, if we do not behave, end up with a more advanced security and surveillance state, the completion of the XL Keystone pipeline, unchecked pillage from Wall Street, environmental catastrophe and even worse health care. Yet we know on some level that once the election is over, Obama will, if he is re-elected, again betray us. This is part of the game. We dutifully assume our position. We cry out in holy terror. We promise to obey. And we are mocked as we watch promises crumble into dust.
 
He truly gets it. Personally, I don't think I've ever been subject to so much animosity from the tribalists of the Pseudo-left for even mildly criticizing Dear Leader in the comments threads of the New York Times. Thank God for Chris Hedges. He soothes even as he inflames the victims of attempted gaslighting by hordes of well-meaning Obamabot concern trolls.

Speaking of the 'bot attacks, Matt Stoller got a real earful when he painstakingly laid out the The Progressive Case Against Barack Obama for Salon. He blows away the choking kool-aid propaganda powder that would have us believe the president is a proto-feminist, or that the much-vaunted Supreme Court nominations are a reason to give him another term, or that the so-called pragmatic progressives (translation: right wing enablers) have a leg to stand on:

As a candidate, Obama promised a whole slew of civil liberties protections, lying the whole time. Obama has successfully organized the left part of the Democratic Party into a force that had rhetorically opposed war and civil liberties violations, but now cheerleads a weakened America too frightened to put Osama bin Laden on trial. We must fight this thuggish political culture Bush popularized, and Obama solidified in place.
(snip)

At some point soon, we will face yet another moment where the elites say, “Do what we want or there will be a meltdown.” Do we have enough people on our side willing to collectively say “do what we want or there will be a global meldown”? This election is a good mechanism to train people in the willingness to say that and mean it. That is, the reason to advocate for a third-party candidate is to build the civic muscles willing to say no to the establishment in a crisis moment we all know is coming. Right now, the liberal establishment is teaching its people that letting malevolent political elites do what they want is not only the right path, it is the only path. Anything other than that is dubbed an affront to common decency. Just telling the truth is considered beyond rude.
 
Read the whole thing, as well as this follow-up addressing the torrent of criticism. Stoller is a profile in journalistic courage.

Elsewhere in the blogosphere, CounterPunch can always be counted on to deliver many a dead-aim left hook/knockout punch. The blackly humorous Good Voter Larry  by Riley Waggaman provides a grim Election Eve chuckle. Seeing how MoveOn has been more than usually annoying lately, I especially enjoyed the parody of the MoveOn member who gets mistakenly arrested while handing out Obama propaganda. MoveOn has been inundating me with emails informing me if I don't send them money right now, and if Romney is elected, I will be unable to live with myself for the rest of my brutish life. Real subtle persuasion tactics.

Toledo voter Michael Leonardi talks about going to the polls in a decimated area of Swing State Ohio,"land of the serfs and wage slaves". And while I wrote a couple of posts ago about the epidemic addiction to the Obamaopiate class of designer drugs, Randy Shields informs us that Obama can also be smoked. "For American capitalism, that Obama is some good shit," he writes. "Using Obama makes some people prone to wild mood swings and abrupt changes in personality."



And sometimes, short, sweet and succinct just says it best. The hilarious Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy has an excellent rejoinder to Obama voters who think they will able to hold Barry's feet to the progressive fire once he is safely re-esconced as the Temporary Emperor (temp emp.) --

If Obama wins, and you didn't push for a Democratic primary challenge or a left third-party vote or a non-vote... when you post your smarmy "now the real work begins" thing on Wednesday, I respectfully suggest that the real work for you is to go fuck yourself.

13 comments:

Valerie said...

Wouldn't it be a kicker if all those people who don't usually turn out to vote, because they can see that neither the Democratic nor Republican parties represent their intersts, turned out and voted for a 3rd Party candidate - I don't even care which one. Anything to shake the system.

Great piece, Karen. Thanks for all those good links and loved the last line!

Zee said...

Great column, Karen, and great ending with the last quote. It echoes sentiments that I expressed on an earlier thread regarding the realities of "pressuring" Obama to do the right things in a second term.

Har. Har. Har.

I am not hopeful that Obama will be ousted, though I would like to see that happen; he deserves the boot, for conservative as well as progressive reasons.

But I will not be happy if Romney wins, either. Two sides of the same coin, really, with only cosmetic differences that will be forgotten the instant the election is over.

Then, back to Business As Usual : Government of, by, and for Wall Street and the "too-big-to-fail" banks...

Government of, by and for "public-private partnerships" that will rip off the taxpayers while enriching con artists and politicians...

Government of, by and for people and corporations with the right political connections...

Under Romney, perhaps, a smaller government, but smaller in all the wrong places.

A couple of sad, "dismayed conservatives," as I think Jay--Ottawa once accurately descibed me and Mrs. Zee.

I should further confess that while Mrs. Zee and I DID indeed cast our votes for former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson--who still has a solid reputation as a good Republican governor here--our decision to do so was motivated by pragmatism, too.

New Mexico is totally in the tank for Obama according to the polls, along with the rest of the Democratic mafia. So any votes for Romney are wasted, anyway.

(I will be eager to see if, in 15 years or so, Senator-elect Martin Heinrich starts to approach the wealth of the once-modest, country-boy senator whom he succeeded, Jeff Bingaman, now a multi-millionaire.)

So we did what seemed to be the right thing, but perhaps only because it didn't really matter anyway. Would we have done the right thing had the race been competetive here in New Mexico?

I don't like to think about it, since the decision was made easy for us.

There. I said it.

Well, in 24 hours it will all be over, save for the recounts, the lawsuits, and, yes, the hangovers.

God help us.

barbara madeloni said...

Thanks for this Karen. I would post it on my facebook page, but the open hostility of the Obama people is too much for me right now. Watching one exchange explode as I write. The Democrats have been much more successful than Bush ever was in exciting fear as the primary motivation for voting. And with that fear comes rage that others do not understand how dangerous things are. It makes conversation impossible. I am waiting for Wednesday to continue the same fight we have been waging for years now, whoever 'wins'.

Denis Neville said...

Ian Welsh describes how Obama normalized Bush’s Republic and what his second term will be like:

“He will make a Grand Bargain. Winning by only a small margin of the popular vote will help with this. The rich will pay slightly more, but most of the money will come from cutting Social Security, Medicare and other such programs. The Republicans will give him just enough votes to pass it, so that it will be the Democrats who have gutted SS and Medicare.

“The Republicans will nominate a right wing crazy in 2016. He will stand a good chance of winning, because the Democrats, having cut SS and Medicare will now stand for nothing other than “fear the Supreme Court!” In fact, the Republicans will run as the defenders of SS and Medicare.”

http://www.ianwelsh.net/the-left-wing-case-against-obama-and-obamas-next-term/

“Since life consists of madness spiked with lies, the farther you are from each other the more lies you can put into it and the happier you'll be. That's only natural and normal. Truth is inedible.” - Louis-Ferdinand Céline

Jay - Ottawa said...

The first Tuesday of an election year. Liars, thieves, murderers and oppressors are in the saddle.

The best measure of disgust and resistance will be found in the tally for Third Parties.

The stay-at-home No-Vote will be the measure of ignorance, laziness and defeatism in the land.

The vote for the Duopoly will be the measure of collaboration. Among the collaborators are learned and wise citizens pledging their honor for small favors.

Let the count begin.

Neil Gillespie said...

Thanks Karen. To follow-up your reference to the National Defense Authorization Act, there were only 7 votes against the NDAA: 1 Independent, 3 Democrats, 3 Republicans

S. 1867: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (On Passage of the Bill)
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/112-2011/s218

Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont

Tom Harkin, D-Iowa
Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon
Ron Wyden, D-Oregon

Mike Lee, R-Utah
Thomas Coburn, R-Oklahoma
Rand Paul, R-Kentucky

James F Traynor said...

Corelli's Mandolin. Louis De Bernières. Wonderful book.
One of the librarians (I love librarians) had it on display as her personal recommendation to readers. It was published in 1994 and I remembered it receiving good reviews from reliable sources, but, because I was inundated with work at the time, I could not indulge myself in recreational reading. I'm about a third of the way through and wish it would go on forever. It's not a gentle salve but it works, it soothes. Medicine for the human condition.

Valerie said...

@Zee,

Are you saying that if you lived in a battleground state you would have voted for Romney instead of Gary Johnson?

Zee said...

@Valerie--

I think what I (more or less) said was that I was RELIEVED that my NOT being in a battleground state made my (actually, "our," Mrs. Zee's and my) decision easier.

I honestly DON'T KNOW what I would have done if New Mexico was in serious contention. I probably WOULDN'T have known until the moment that I entered the voting booth, so I won't try to persuade you--or any participants in this forum--that I would have acted totally on principle.

I'm not proud of how I made my decision, but I felt that I owed the participants in this forum total honesty, just as I have tried to do in in the past.

I truly loathe Mitt Romney. But I loathe--and fear--Obama even more, for reasons that I think you--and other participants in this forum--should probably understand.

I also think that I tried to make this clear to you before, when I said (in an earlier e-mail, just as I said in my most recent post) that:

"[Mrs. Zee] and I have decided that we will cast our votes for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for President. New Mexico is quite "in the tank" for Obama, so our votes don't matter one way or another. Better to give them to Johnson--who was an excellent, two-term Republican governor who left New Mexico with a surplus--that to Mittens with his anti-gay, anti-choice, pro-Wall Street agenda."

I think that it is implicit that I might have done something different had New Mexico not been "quite 'in the tank' for Obama."

The simple truth is, I just don't know...

So be mad at me if you will, but there it is.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

I'll echo your yawn over this election, Karen. I turned in my "early" ballot today, voting for Jill Stein. My situation is similar to that expressed by Zee --- that is, it didn't require any particularly lofty motives, and won't make any direct difference in the presidential contest, because one of the two main parties (here, the Republicans) has a lock on the outcome. There were a couple of people running for the school board who might actually produce tangible benefits, but most of the other contests were same old, same old, with regard to the candidates, the likely winners, and the likelihood of any achievements significantly beneficial to the people.

Well, at least it felt good to begin to break out of the LOTE mentality and cast my vote for Jill Stein. Until the Democratic voters begin to demand a progressive program from their officeholders and candidates, the powers that be --- that is, the bankers, the corporations, the military-security complex, the wealthy, and their lackey politicians, Republicans and Democrats alike --- will just continue to move the political center rightward, until we wind up with undisguised fascism.

And I understand @Barbara Mandeloni's comment. When I posted a comment on Krugman's Monday column saying that I intended to vote Green in the presidential race, no fewer than thirteen people sub-posted, many taking me to task for such a vote. Those criticisms ran the gamut of what we commenters at Sardonicky have come to expect. Given NYT comment moderation, they were generally polite, but it was nevertheless indicative of the Democratic lemming mentality, willing to support politicians and policies far to the right of traditional Democratic (let alone progressive) ones, a mentality that will take both the Democratic party and the nation over a rightist cliff.

The Ian Welsh posting linked to by @Denis Neville probably will, unfortunately, turn out to be fairly accurate, unless we of the progressive bent can succeed at turning things around fairly soon. As a start, it seems that voting third party, at least in all non-swing-states, is the least that we should be able to do. As @Jay-Ottawa said, "The best measure of disgust and resistance will be found in the tally for Third Parties. The stay-at-home No-Vote will be the measure of ignorance, laziness and defeatism in the land. The vote for the Duopoly will be the measure of collaboration. Among the collaborators are learned and wise citizens pledging their honor for small favors." Well said.

I'll probably spend the evening reading a couple of academic ecology papers. It'll do me more good than being glued to the TV watching results dribble in and highly-paid but clueless talking heads pontificate on the meaning of this vote.

Valerie said...

"The Democrats have been much more successful than Bush ever was in exciting fear as the primary motivation for voting." Yes, Barbara, I agree. Everyone I knew who swallowed their beliefs and voted for Obama did so out of fear of the destruction Romney would reap.

Zee said...

@All--

So, it appears to be four more years of the "same o', same o'".

Not that it would have been any different had Romney won, but at least it would have been a faux change, which is, perhaps, the best we can hope for any more.

Once again, time to switch from cheap Chardonnay to generous helpings of cheap Scotch.

I don't think that I'll make it to the gym tomorrow AM.

Good night, all...

James F Traynor said...

Our government is a disaster. Habeas corpus has all but disappeared at the federal level. It awaits only the Man to put an end to what remains of our democracy. And that Man, in this case, may well have been Romney. We have only temporarily averted that disaster - the throne still awaits the Leader. What has briefly saved us is not rationality or fear, but our growing diversity.

And all this about fear. Fear has a purpose, especially when the danger that instilled it is real. It is not fear that is the problem. It's what instills that fear. Fear is the alarm signal. It prepares us to fight or flee.This country was not prepared to fight the Man and there is nowhere to flee. The temporary danger has been averted, but the greater danger, the throne, is still there, awaiting the emperor. Am I afraid? You're damn right I am.