Tags: politics

Can you vote? Make damn sure.

 Given the Republican Party's overt attempts at voter suppression (check here, here, and here), you might do well to just make sure you're eligible to vote in your county or parrish. Go to canivote.org, and take a few seconds to find out. I just did, and it works quite well. For those who are unsure, the site will also provide you with your polling place, what kind of identification you need to bring (because the poor folks are big into voter fraud, don't you know), and information on early and absentee voting. 

It never hurts to be sure. Especially not against these evil fuckers. 

Thanks to realthog  for the link.

Let's intimidate the college kids

 In Virginia, someone is trying to scare college students into staying home on November 4. According to InsideHigherEd.com, a press release in Montgomery County read:

“The Code of Virginia states that a student must declare a legal residence in order to register. A legal residence can be either a student’s permanent address from home or their current college residence. By making Montgomery County your permanent residence, you have declared your independence from your parents and can no longer be claimed as a dependent on their income tax filings — check with your tax professional. If you have a scholarship attached to your former residence, you could lose this funding. And, if you change your registration to Montgomery County, Virginia Code requires you to change your driver’s license and car registration to your present address within 30 days.”

Some responses: 

(The program director for the Student Public Interest Research Group's New Voters Project) added: “In 25 years of registering young voters around the country, none of the staff has ever heard of a single incident where a student has lost their tax status or their scholarship because of where they’ve registered to vote.”


(The Virginia spokesman for Obama campaign) said that while students should check with their individual health insurers, in the campaign’s calls to 10 top health insurance companies, none indicated that registering to vote at a college address would be grounds for dismissing students from coverage, “and in fact some of them laughed at us.”

When are we going to start throwing some people in jail?

"America, now is not the time for small plans."

Obama nailed it. In a convention full of great speeches, he did not disappoint, and gave the best of them. I was especially heartened to hear him take a direct, explicit shot at the top-down economy that has guided American economic policy since Reagan took office. I was heartened to hear him refer several times to obligation: of citizens, and of government.

"For over two decades, (McCain has) subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy - give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is - you're on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps - even if you don't have boots. You're on your own."


"It's a promise that says the market should reward drive and innovation and generate growth, but that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road. Ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves - protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology."


"And Democrats, we must also admit that fulfilling America's promise will require more than just money. It will require a renewed sense of responsibility from each of us to recover what John F. Kennedy called our "intellectual and moral strength." Yes, government must lead on energy independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and businesses more efficient. Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for young men who fall into lives of crime and despair. But we must also admit that programs alone can't replace parents; that government can't turn off the television and make a child do her homework; that fathers must take more responsibility for providing the love and guidance their children need. Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility - that's the essence of America's promise."

And finally:

"America, our work will not be easy. The challenges we face require tough choices, and Democrats as well as Republicans will need to cast off the worn-out ideas and politics of the past. For part of what has been lost these past eight years can't just be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits. What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose - our sense of higher purpose. And that's what we have to restore.

"We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. Passions fly on immigration, but I don't know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers. This too is part of America's promise - the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort."

I'm proud of him. I only pray that, come November 4, I can be proud of us, too.

The Shock Doctrine, by Naomi Klein

I'm hip-deep in Naomi Klein's perspective-altering book The Shock Doctrine. Klein is a columnist for The Nation, so her political bent is clear, but this is definitely not a preaching-to-the-converted book. Reading this stuff reminds me what people mean when they say there are so little differences between the Republicans and the Democrats. Obviously Bush II has made painfully clear the devastating consequences of the differences that do exist, but the economic policies of both parties have, over the last thirty or so years, encouraged the drift of wealth away from the national infrastructure and into the private coffers of the rich. We hear this a lot, and though many of us know it intuitively to be true, we can't speak with any specificity about the apparatus that makes this true.  

Klein addresses that in very clear terms in this book, beginning with the displacement of Keynesian economic thought with Milton Friedman's pro-corporatist theories. Klein also illustrates, quite convincingly, that Friedman's economic policies thrive in totalitarian states. This was proved in the South American Friedman "laboratories" of Chile and Argentina in the 1970s, in which established and highly-regarded social-welfare structures were dismantled after violent political upheaval, and replaced with aggressive privatization and corporate empowerment. There are disturbing parallels between what happened there and the privatization efforts in places like post-Katrina New Orleans (especially on the public education front) and, nationally, in the post-9/11 United States. 

I haven't finished the book yet -- I'm not even halfway through, actually -- but it's already had a strong effect on me. I can't recommend it enough. 

The above video is a "short film" (really more of a long commercial) based on the book, from Alfonso and Jonas Cuaron. (Alfonso is the guy who directed Children of Men and Y Tu Mama Tambien.) It addresses Klein's contention that radical economic change is easiest to apply after major upheaval, such as what follows catastrophic natural disasters or campaigns of fear and repression. The malleable mindset brought about by these conditions is similar, she contends, to that which follows torture. She devotes hundreds of pages to this thesis; it makes for fascinating, terrifying reading. 

Read it!

So I'm a radical liberal. Who knew?

I saw this meme on Jack Haringa's blog and thought it would be fun. The results are hardly surprising. The good thing about this particular online test is that, based on the results, you're provided with a bunch of links to political sites, essays, nonficton, and even science fiction novels that reflect your basic ethic.  So all in all not a total waste of time, unlike most of these memes.