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LiberalEsto's Journal - Archives
Posted by LiberalEsto in General Discussion
Sat Oct 01st 2011, 06:04 PM
If a U.S. president can order a drone strike against any individual, including American citizens regardless of how evil or repugnant they might be, it sets a dangerous precedent. Particularly if this individual happens not to be a military combatant.

What's to stop some future Republican/teabag/crazed right wing president from ordering drone strikes against thee and me?



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Posted by LiberalEsto in General Discussion
Mon Jul 18th 2011, 09:05 PM
of the Pastafarians, known collectively as the Holy Mostaccioli,

'Arrrrh! Thou shalt place the Pasta directly into the boiling water,

and thou shalt anoint the water with a dab of Olive Oil to prevent the woeful transgression of Boiling Over,

and thou shalt cook until the Pasta is al dente, neither raw, nor mushy,

and thou shalt tip the contents of the sacred Vessel into the chosen Colander,

making certain to collect the holy waters in another Vessel beneath.

And thou shalt dine upon the divine Pasta according to the prescribed rites,

but the Water from the cookage, thou shalt allow to cool, and thou shalt preserve it, and use it

for anointing those who come to confess and truly repent the eating of the vile Rice-A-Roni,

and also those who hath failed to Talk Like a Pirate on the Extremely High and Mighty Holy Day of 19 September,

and yet those who hath failed to sing with proper reverence our great FSM hymn, "On Top of Spaghtetti, all covered in Cheese, I lost my true Meatball when somebody sneezed."

Thusly have I instructed to you, and thou shalt keep the holy waters of the pasta pot, and as a sign that thou wilt keep this Covenant, thou shalt cover thy head with the Colander.'

Thus spake the FSM, all honor to Her Greatness. Arrrh!

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Posted by LiberalEsto in General Discussion
Thu Mar 10th 2011, 10:48 AM
Doesn't it look like we're being slammed from all quarters? If it's not threats to collective bargaining and pensions, it's threats to womens rights including the right to choose, or Social Security.

There are threats to the LGBT community, Muslims, immigrants. Services to the poor, the mentally ill, the disabled and other vulnerable populations are being slashed. Gas prices are skyrocketing. Genetically modified foods are popping up everywhere.

Name an issue that concerns progressives, and you'll find that the Repukes are busy stirring it up to a fever pitch.

You see, they want to keep us busy.

If I'm busy fighting genetically modified food, I might be too busy to deal with cuts in mental health services.

If you're busy fighting to keep your right to organize a union and bargain collectively, you may be too busy to fight to save the right to choose legal abortion.

That's the way the GOP likes it. They want to keep us too busy to notice that Social Security is being destroyed, or that homeless shelters are being closed for lack of funding, or that needle exchange programs are disappearing.

We can't allow ourselves to be splintered into one-issue resistance.

In order to win this fight, progressives have to come together to recognize that the destruction of one group's rights diminishes the rights of all.

Please, folks. I know some of us disagree with other people on DU. Can we focus on the real enemy?

It will take many mallet wielders working together as a team to successfully whack all the GOP Whack-A-Moles into oblivion
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Posted by LiberalEsto in General Discussion
Thu Mar 10th 2011, 09:30 AM
Now that the Food and Drug Administration approved a commercial version of a progesterone drug intended to prevent high-risk women from going into premature labor, raising the cost per weekly dose from $20 to $1,500, it raises some VERY interesting questions.

It might be heaps o' fun to try these out on your local anti-abortion folks or right wing radio hosts and watch them twist themselves into pretzels of illogic.

Given that some states are trying to pass laws requiring criminal investigations into ALL miscarriages, and some state or other is trying to make it legal to kill someone who is participating in an abortion, and

Given that the FDA is letting K-V Pharmaceutical charge $1500 per dose for a formerly $20 per dose drug that helps prevent premature labor,

Does this mean that women who can't afford the drug and consequently lose their pregnancies will be subject to criminal investigation, or legally shot dead by vigilantes for failing to come up with the price of the drug?

What if they need it for, say, 10 weeks at a cost of $15,000 in order to keep their pregnancies going? Will Right-to-Life pay for the drug?

Will there be criminal investigations into K-V Pharmaceutical for making it unaffordable for a woman to continue a pregnancy?

Will they also investigate the FDA for criminal activity for allowing the high price?

How about the pharmacist and the doctor?

How about the insurance company that almost certainly will refuse to cover the exorbitant cost?

Does this mean that in some states it could be considered justifiable homicide to kill members of the FDA decision-making body and the executives of K-V Pharmaceutical? And will Right-to-Lifers go out there and bravely pull the triggers on them?



Link to article about the drug price increase:
http://www.latimes.com/health/boostershots...
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Posted by LiberalEsto in General Discussion
Sun Jan 09th 2011, 03:19 PM
Spitting cobras are poisonous snakes that spew blinding venom from their fangs toward the eyes and face of victims. They spew with amazing accuracy up to a distance of 6.5 feet. There are numerous species of spitting cobras in Asia and Africa.

I believe we have at least one home-grown species of spitting cobra right here in the U.S. of A. - Cobra Rightwinghatemongerensis.

Examples of this vicious domestic spitting cobra include Sarah Palin, Glen Beck, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh. There is no shortage of these spitting cobras in the United States. Their favorite environment is the public airwaves of radio and television, though they can also be found on the internet and at large rallies of their worshipers.

When I started casting about for words to describe people who issue toxic and dangerous hate speech from their mouths, I found that American English lacks a precise and accurate word for them. There are words like hatemonger and demagogue, inciter and provocateur, but they don't quite fit the bill. These people are malevolent, incendiary, and vituperative. But what exactly are they?

I'm trying to find a name for the kind of person who deliberately speaks poison. A person who speaks poison and aims it, with deliberate intent to cause harm, or to create an atmosphere that encourages harm to others. Writing the definition isn't a problem.

Discovering the true name of something gives one power and control over it, as the gifted writer Ursula LeGuin declared in her Earthsea trilogy about magic and wizardry.

By accurately naming the phenomenon of people who spit poison in their speech, we may begin to better understand the mechanism, the processes, the causes and, I fervently hope, the antidotes.

Do we call them spitting cobras? Hatemongers? Toxies? I made up that last one, but it seems too cute to describe these savages.

DU is a great source of collective wisdom. I'd love to hear your suggestions.





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Posted by LiberalEsto in Astrology, Spirituality & Alternative Healing Group
Wed Dec 15th 2010, 01:37 PM
I met her in 1974 when I was a college student and she was part owner of a jewelry & candle store. I used to go there to buy candles and incense. We got to talking one day. She noticed I was carrying a book on witchcraft for an anthropology course, and I told her about my interest in wicca. She offered to teach me what she knew -- she had been taught by her Scottish grandmother. I studied with her for many years, attended countless rituals at her home, and was initiated by her alongside one of her daughters. She was a kind and gentle teacher, and she introduced me to Marion Weinstein's book "Positive Magic," and the concept of not using spells to harm or even to influence unwitting people.

Jezebel (her Craft name) was 21 years older than me, and had 8 children from a previous marriage. Her oldest daughter is two days younger than I am. In 1982 she designed and sewed my wedding dress while working on a wedding dress for one of her daughters. She also made our wedding rings. She was a woman with an amazing variety of talents and interests. She sewed beautifully, made handicrafts of all sorts including delicate bead work, worked as a professional silversmith, was a great cook, and wrote short stories that were published online. She had a beautiful speaking voice and was a devotee of Dungeons & Dragons. She loved life, and lived it to the fullest. She had lived in Texas and in Ecuador, but her favorite place was New Orleans. She also loved Scotland.

The last time we spoke by phone was a year ago, and she was worrying that her youngest son, who had lung cancer, would not live much longer. I also got the sense from her that she would soon be gone as well. I found out her son died in February. I live about 200 miles from her, and I tend to avoid using the phone, so she and I generally communicated by email. She had been focusing inward in the past few years, and I've been mired in serious depression, so I haven't stayed in close touch with almost anyone.

For some reason, in recent months I felt a huge void whenever I thought of her. I'd sent her a birthday card back in the spring, and was about to send her a long letter along with a Winter Solstice card. Last night I decided to check in the online Social Security Death Index. I typed in her name, and was not surprised to learn that she had passed away on June 2. I remember that day through a haze -- I'd just arrived at my cousin's house in Estonia, and was struggling to sleep away the aftereffects of the change in time zones. For some reason I felt depressed and miserable that entire day, even though I should have been ecstatic about this long-planned trip. I wish her oldest daughter had let me know, but I'm guessing she would have notified me in reply to my holiday card.

Dear Jezebel, I hope you are healed and happy in the Summerland. I will always bless you and think of you with love. Goddess bless you, always.

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Posted by LiberalEsto in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Tue Nov 02nd 2010, 09:48 AM
The front page of today's Washington Post makes clear what any observant long-time reader must have realized years ago: the paper is a shill for the GOP.

The lead headline states "Democrats bracing for losses". Sub-head: "GOP likely to win back House and narrowly miss capturing the Senate".

I don't even need to go into the details of the accompanying article by writer Dan Balz. This headline is nothing less than a voter intimidation tactic. To me it says clearly: "Surrender, Democrats. Don't bother voting, dear reader, because there's absolutely no hope that it can possibly change the pre-ordained results."

Balz's article begins:
"The campaign of 2010 ended as it began: loudly.

"But the nationwide barrage of last-ditch attack ads and the sniping among the country's political leaders appeared to have little effect on the dynamics of the year. Republicans enter Election Day confident that they will recapture control of the House as Democrats struggle to face what appears likely to be a significantly smaller majority in the Senate."

In the center of the front page, the Post warns in a second article that companies that were too cooperative with Democrats over the past two years face retribution and "wrath of a new majority". Even Wal-Mart, long the darling of the right wing, might feel the GOP lash for its recent sin of "breaking ranks with industry groups by speaking out in favor of a minimum wage increase and health-care reform." The Post claims Wal-Mart allegedly - for the first time in its history - gave more election money this year to Democrats than to Republicans. This, according to the Post, puts the retail giant in an awkward position with Republican Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan, who is poised to be the next chair of the Ways and Means Committee.

Oopsie, Mall-Wart! You're in hot water if the Dems don't win.

Inside, the Post takes its chosen theme of Republican victory even further. In the Style section, Reliable Source columnists Roxanne Roberts and Amy Argetsinger speculate that House Minority Leader John Boehner, the Post's Anointed One, is already measuring for new drapes in the House speaker's office and choosing new furniture, paint and carpet.

Well, I say, In your dreams, Roxy and Amy! We haven't surrendered, and we aren't going to, no matter how many red paint swatches Boehner's got in his pockets. (and remember, no paint from Wal-Mart).

Our supposed mission as Democrats is made obvious by the Post: Surrender! Lie down and let the Repuke Train run over you. Get your crying towels out, but don't buy them from Wal-Mart. The Greedy Old Party is going to take over and make life a living hell for the remaining Democrats in Congress as well as the White House with investigation after investigation. I'm sure some addled editor at the Post is already masturbating over the vision of a Special Prosecutor to investigate President Obama's birth certificate for the foreseeable future.

It's a safe bet that the Post already has tomorrow's headline written: "GOP sweeps House and Senate."

Well, Virginia and Maryland, there is no GOP Santa Claus. You're not polling the young people with cell phones, and it's their energy and vitality that we Democrats take heart in.

Democrats can read tea leaves as well or better than teabaggers. And what I'm reading is:

DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH, REPUKES. WE'RE FIGHTING THIS TO THE FINISH, AND BEYOND.

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Posted by LiberalEsto in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sun Oct 31st 2010, 12:08 PM
You have to hand it to the corporate minions at the Washington Post. Once again they managed to downplay a major public rally in the nation's capital.

The lead article in today's Post is, naturally, not about the hugely well-attended "Restore sanity" rally. Instead it's about the elections. The headline: "GOP HOLDS EDGE AT FINISH." The sub-head: "Democrats Play Defense." I imagine the Post thinks that if it really wishes hard enough, clicks its ruby slippers three times and prints headlines like this, fairytales could come true.

The article about the rally is deliberately placed below the front page center fold, with a photo that carefully avoids depicting the size of the crowd. Instead, it shows only a dozen or so people standing behind a temporary railing, one person holding a large and pointless sign saying "GOD hates Snuggies". The camera is angled up toward these people, which means they block the vast crowds behind them. By shooting from this angle and including only that one sign, the photographer successfully makes it look like the rally was nothing but a small gathering of nuts.

But wait, that's not all. Underneath the headline "Sanity and fear, meeting in the middle", the article starts with the following paragraph:

"Jon Stewart and Stewart Colbert, the founding fathers of fake news, drew throngs of exuberant supporters to Washington on Saturday for a joint rally that crowded streets, taxed the transit system and flooded the Mall."

Okay, the sentence does make the point that the rally drew lots of people, but as usual, the Post avoids giving any kind of number from fear of legitimizing this gathering.

To call Stewart and Colbert the "founding fathers of fake news" is disingenuous to say the least.
Not only does a large segment of the country's young people call Stewart's program their main source of news, making the claim of fake news an insult to these viewers, but the sentence also avoids citing the glaring example of Fox News as the be-all and end-all of manufactured news. Give me a break.

There were more photos accompanying the continuation of the rally article on page A-14. None of the 4 photos makes the slightest effort to depict the vastness of the crowd, which had people hanging from trees, flooding cross streets and being turned away because the Mall was deemed at capacity. About halfway through the article, the Post reported, "Authorities would not estimate the crowd size, though the National Park Service decided to open an extra section of the Mall that was not included in the initial 60,000-person rally permit, according to Bill Line, spokesman for the Park Service."

Gee, thanks for letting us know there were more than 60,000 people, WashPost!

The paragraph adds: "By 2 p.m., Metro ridership had already reached 330,000, comparable to an entire day's tally for a usual Saturday, according to Metro spokeswoman Angela Gates."

Since the article likely went to press sometime late in the evening, wouldn't it have been appropriate for the Post to check back with Metro and see what the ridership tally was at 6 p.m., or 8 p.m.? Heaven forbid they might actually do a bit of extra phone dialing to get a more recent ridership count.

The Post described the start of the rally as "a variety show of shtick and song" and noted that the crown was "overwhelmingly white." The rally overall, it reported, was a "mass demonstration of noncommittal cleverness, quirk and irony." At LEAST the rally wasn't a mass demonstration of stupidity like certain teabagger events.

I should mention that the headline on Paqe A-14 says "On the Mall, a rally to end all fake-news rallies". Fake news? I guess the Washington Post is itself so well-versed in the production of fake news that the paper believes it recognizes fake news when it thinks it sees fake news.

Overall, I'd say the Post article did a thorough job of minimizing and trivializing what some veteran crowd observers have described as one of the larger political gatherings on the Mall in recent years. I didn't go this time because my arthritic ankle was acting up. But I've been to some humdingers of rallies on the Mall starting in November of 1969, through the Million Mom March and many others. And from the crowds I saw depicted in honest photos of this rally, I can sincerely say that it looks as big as some of the largest I've attended.

Just to make certain that the Post's points about the rally ("shtick") were hammered home, it sicced one of its more conservative local columnists, Robert McCartney, on the story in the Metro section to denounce the event as "decidedly partisan and decidedly liberal". How horrible. Liberals. Eek.

McCartney raised the point that "it's self-delusional to think progressive policies are going to be achieved just by agitating nobly for a more positive style in politics." Oh wait, reason and positiveness and progressive views are out of style. The political fashion trend, led by the teabaggers and disrupters of congressional town hall meetings, is stupidity, demagoguery and violent threats. Silly of me to forget.

McCartney thinks Stewart contradicts himself by promoting reason in politics while also having fans with the audacity to want the liberal side to win. Dearie me! What is McCartney thinking? Are progressives stomping the heads of young women with opposing views? Are liberals shutting down town hall meetings by throwing pitched tantrums for health care reform? Just who in heck does McCartney think is creating all the noise and rage and general nastiness flooding the political realm?

I gather from his column that McCartney wants us wimpy liberals to ball up our fists and start slugging it out with the right-wing nuts of the nation. Oh, wouldn't that make swell political fodder? The libbies and the teabaggies smiting each other to the death, while the fake-news corporations lap it all up to sell papers.

I plan to use today's Post to clean up dog poop. At least it's useful that way.

LiberalEsto thinks she's qualified as a media analyst because she spent more than two decades as a newspaper journalist (back when real newspapers existed) including 11 years at a major metropolitan daily. Not the Post, thank heaven.
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Posted by LiberalEsto in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Mon Jul 12th 2010, 10:32 AM
and I'm replacing it with a sticker that says "War is Not the Answer".

This administration (read: Rahm Emanuel and the DLC) obviously doesn't give a shit about creating jobs.

Even with a mid-term election coming up, they bitch about the deficit. Yeah, the Deficit brought to us by Dumbya and the Rethugs. The selfsame deficit that replaced the surplus created during the Clinton administration. The deficit that's being bandied about as an excuse not to do anything about millions of unemployed Americans.

Is it too fucking much to help end the deficit by cutting back military spending?

Is it too fucking much to come up with some kind of serious jobs program?

Pardon my cussing. I'm beyond pissed.
I've been out of work for almost 2 years, and don't qualify for unemployment benefits.

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Posted by LiberalEsto in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Tue Jun 29th 2010, 05:57 PM
So many of us are out of work, struggling, and wondering whether there is any relief in sight.

I've been out of work for 21 months and am ineligible for unemployment benefits. My husband works, but he is doing the work of 3 or 4 people because he is afraid of losing his job. My younger daughter is unemployed, my older one is a nanny. They don't know if they will ever have middle-class jobs in their lifetimes.

I've written to my congressman, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, about developing a bill to create a serious, substantial job creation program, but only got an automatic reply.

I would like very much to see a DU forum where people can talk about jobs, or lack thereof, share strategies and ideas, find out about job advocacy programs and just commiserate.

Would you please, pretty please, give this suggestion consideration?
Thanks for all you do,
LiberalEsto
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Posted by LiberalEsto in General Discussion: Presidency
Thu Apr 08th 2010, 01:23 PM
And so do millions of other Americans.
I want you to do something about creating more jobs in this country.
We need a new, New Deal. Another Works Progress Administration.

There are too damn many people out of work.

My daughter just decided to give up her education major after this semester. She's looking for some kind of trade school that can get her up and working as soon as possible. Originally she wanted to teach 5th grade math. But she found out that our school district is laying off 500 teachers, even though it's one of the wealthier school districts in the country. She figured that, with another 2 1/2 years of college before she can apply for certification, she will be out of luck when she starts hunting for a teaching job.

I've been out of work since October, 2008, and even then I was only working part time. I didn't sign up for unemployment benefits, because I thought the public relations company would have some new assignments for me in a short time.

I'm 58, female, and have a background in journalism. No paper's going to hire me, because they're too busy laying people off. Plus, they'd have to pay me at the top of the Newspaper Guild salary scale because of my years of experience, and a paper could probably hire two or more newbies for that price. And I just don't have the physical stamina for a fast-paced full time job any more. I figure if you help create full time work for others, someone might need me part time.

When I get an interview, which is seldom, the employers always have the same look on their faces when they see me. They see someone who's older than anyone in the office. They see someone whose computer skills are likely to be inadequate. They see someone who might not be willing to take a lot of crap about long, unpaid hours, like the terrified young workers they end up hiring and working half to death. They also see someone who will probably use a lot of health benefits and cause the company's insurance provider to raise rates.

Please, Mr. Obama, I need a job. An awful lot of people need a job. Jobs aren't going to appear by magic.

Corporations aren't going to hire more people if they can keep on squeezing unpaid extra hours out of the people they've still got. Maybe the government should enforce 40 hour work weeks and ban unpaid overtime.

Corporations aren't going to hire more Americans if they can keep getting those cheap foreign tech workers in on H1-B visas. Maybe we need to cancel those visas until the jobs crises is over.

The government can't continue to ignore us. Our numbers are growing, even though this might not be evident in the numbers of people collecting unemployment. There are a lot of invisible unemployed people like me.

Mr. President, you've got to help us.
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Posted by LiberalEsto in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sat Mar 20th 2010, 07:20 PM
Here's a solution that I've come up with to the recent Supreme Court decision that allowed corporations to pour huge money donations into political campaigns. This fall's mid-term elections look likely to be awash in corporate campaign spending like never before, and I hate to think what this bodes for our democracy's future.

Corporations are regarded by the law of the land as "persons," right?

And individual persons are limited to $2,500 donations, right?

So either corporations should relinquish their claims to personhood, or, as "persons," be restricted to the $2,500 donation limit.

They can't have it both ways. They can't pick and choose and say that certain parts of one set of laws apply to them, while other parts don't count.

They can't on the one hand continue to insist on corporate personhood, yet on the other hand refuse to abide by the rules imposed on individual American persons.

I am increasingly sickened by the amount of control that corporations maintain over our elected officials and over our entire nation. Good, effective health care reform would be in effect already, were it not for the big money spent by the health insurance industry on keeping the horrible status quo.

Thom Hartman is absolutely right when he says members of Congress should wear NASCAR-like sponsor patches listing their corporate masters.

Maybe some campaign finance reform lawyers can take this corporate person/individual donor limit theory of mine and see if they can work up a case that can shoot down the recent Supreme Court decision.

I can only dream...





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Posted by LiberalEsto in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Fri Dec 25th 2009, 09:34 AM
because she didn't have enough money to make her car insurance payment last month. So they imposed a penalty for not having car insurance, and threatened to cancel her car registration.

The logic escapes me. If she didn't have enough money to pay her monthly car insurance payment, where was she going to get the money to pay a $423 fine on top of that? Luckily for her, we were able to bail her out, this time. But how many people don't have any fallback option? Most of us don't.

The system punishes punishing a person for being poor by making them poorer, while at the same time making them less able to earn the money to pay the fine and the car insurance, by taking away the means of transportation to their job.

THIS is the kind of thing we will be facing with mandatory health insurance.

I'm old enough to remember when car insurance was optional, not mandatory. When the car insurance companies decided they wanted to force everyone to have coverage, they started refusing to write policies for all kinds of arbitrary reasons, while significantly raising prices. I remember when insurance companies told New Jersey they would no longer write policies for NJ residents, unless the state legislature passed a law requiring everyone to have car insurance. And making the same threats every time they wanted to raise their rates beyond what the state allowed, like a kid throwing a tantrum.

I'm not saying that having car insurance is a bad thing. If you get hit by someone without insurance, and you don't live in a state with a no-fault law, and you can't afford to hire a law to sue the person, or the person is poor and/or an illegal immigrant, you are screwed on medical bills and car repairs.

But now we will be at the utterly merciless mercy of the health insurance companies. And I don't trust them one iota.
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Posted by LiberalEsto in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Thu May 28th 2009, 10:02 AM
We're not going to fix the economy or get single-payer health care for all unless we manage to overcome the power of corporate lobbyists and corporation-owned members of Congress.

As long as the US government continues to favor corporations over people, and corporate profits over the economic well-being of each and every US citizen, we don't have a prayer of getting universal single-payer health coverage, affordable college education, or decent-paying jobs. Or a clean environment and clean energy.

Corporations will continue to block all efforts for affordable health care. They will continue to ship our jobs overseas with impunity. They will continue to receive huge tax breaks, benefits, government contracts and research grants, even though they treat average Americans like dirt.

Congress bailed out the banking industry because bank corporations are SO much more important than an average American who is losing a home to foreclosure.

Many other nations respect their individual citizens and treat them decently. Their citizens get 4-week paid vacations, significant paid parental leave, free college educations and free health care as well as government pensions that allow them to retire without starving. This is definitely not the case here. I for one am sick of the way our country has been taken over by the corporations.

To paraphrase from the Monty Python Meaning of Life song, "Every Sperm is sacred",

"Every corporation's sacred,
Every corporation's great.
If a corporation gets taxed or forced to take responsibility for its actions
It gets quite irate.

Every corporation's powerful.
Screw the little folk.
If they think their votes count
well, that's just a joke.

Corporations rule us.
Their lobbyists ride high.
If you get in their way somehow,
Just kiss your ass goodbye."
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Posted by LiberalEsto in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sun Oct 19th 2008, 01:04 PM
I just got home from UU church, all fired up about the preciousness of our democracy and our right to vote.

Because damn it, our right to cast those ballots is shaky these days. I don't trust these electronic cheating machines, which can be pre-programmed to flip votes from one candidate to another. I don't trust our nation's patchwork of voting regulations. I have little faith in election officials, who can decide virtually on a whim whether a person can vote if their middle name is spelled differently on their driver's license than on their voting registration card.

I believe Al Gore and John Kerry are our rightfully elected presidents, and were deprived of their office through cheating and chicanery. And I'm certain the republicans will try to do the same to Barack Obama, although I like to think that Obama is not going to take it lying down and slink away without raising holy hell.

What got me started this morning was the sermon by Myron, our interim minister. It was about our Unitarian Universalist Fifth Principle: the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large. Or, as we tell our children, our right to vote about things that concern us.

It was a carefully non-partisan sermon, but it centered on the value of our right to cast votes. The minister talked about the struggle that women had in the 19th Century, trying to win the right to vote. He talked about how UU Susan B. Anthony cast a ballot in 1873, even though it was illegal. She was arrested for voting.

This started me thinking about my own grandmother, who was a suffragette in Estonia. She died when I was 2. My mother proudly told me how my grandmother traveled to right-to-vote rallies, only to be followed and physically dragged home by her angry husband.

Compared to Susan B. Anthony and my grandmother, I've had things ridiculously easy my entire voting life. Since 1972, all I've had to do is register, read the sample ballots, go to the polling place and vote.

Since 2000, however, I've lost my faith in the process. I've lost faith that my vote or the votes of others will be counted honestly and accurately. Sure, elections here in blue Montgomery County, Maryland will likely go the way I want. But how about statewide and national elections?

So here's what I want:

WHETHER BARACK OBAMA WINS OR LOSES, I WANT HIM TO RAISE HELL ABOUT ELECTION FRAUD IN OUR COUNTRY. If he's cheated out of victory, I want him and our party to sue the bejeebers out of everyone responsible, including the manufacturers of the machines. I want to see them go broke and go out of business.

AND IF, GODDESS WILLING, OBAMA WINS, I want to see the following:

-- A special commission to examine all cases of voting fraud, and come up with recommendations to put a stop to it.

-- A special prosecutor charged with pursuing all election cheats and making them accountable.

-- A national election law with a single set of voting and registration rules for the entire country.

-- A single national voter registration form.


Why? Because I want to have faith and trust in our American election process. And because I owe my grandmother and her suffragette sisters around the world for this precious right to vote.

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