Sunday, November 16, 2008
Bush's Fire Sale: selling out America, piece by piece.

I know that every outgoing president rushes to utilize the last remaining shreds of power to achieve some agenda, such as ramming through regulatory policy changes. Clinton, for instance, pardoned 140 people on his last day in office, most notoriously Marc Rich, a disgraced commodities trader whose wife had made generous donations.

But Bush has (once again) gone beyond the pale: the New York Times has termed Bush's last-minute policy changes a "wrecking ball." Now, you might think that a president who has squandered all the "political capital" he thought he'd garnered through his reelection four years ago (and leaving aside whether he knew what the term actually means), would not be so bold as to further besmirch his reputation by selling off national resources to the highest bidder. But, of course, you'd have to think again--because as low as George W. Bush goes, he can always go lower.

In his final weeks, Bush is making it easier for mining companies to dump toxic waste into streams; for the FBI to spy on citizens without any evidence of wrongdoing; and for big banks (you know, the ones we just bailed out to the tune of $700 billion) to get tax breaks on bad loan losses. At the same time, he's making it harder for women to get abortions and emergency contraception.

Bush is also putting up for sale oil leases on public lands in Utah that are located near national parks. The proposed sales were not even announced to the National Park Service, which in the past has always had the opportunity to review and comment on such sales--the NPS had to learn about it through an environmental group. The BLM at first rejected the NPS's request to first study the impact on air, water, and wildlife before selling leases near the parks. Finally they agreed to allow them to do a review of those tracts--but that has to be done by Nov. 24. Lots of time!

And, as if that weren't enough, Bush is also moving forward to allow oil companies to begin drilling off the Virginia coast--and disingenuously claiming it was Gov. Kaine's idea. But Kaine didn't call for resource exploitation, he wanted the rules loosened so the potential for natural gas drilling could be studied. Bush's actions go far beyond that.

We all know that Bush wants to help out his oil industry buddies--isn't that what he went to Washington to do in the first place? --but the total lack of shame is somehow still shocking. I guess when you've already sold your soul there's nothing you won't do. Oh well. Just one of those presidencies, I reckon.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Post-Election Day Thoughts...

well, I haven't finished processing this yet, and am too tired to really even think about it. Still a little punchy, and stressing about the close Perriello/Goode race that is stuck awaiting canvass/provisional ballot results. Aargh! But, impressions: people standing in the rain, sometimes for hours... the gentleman in Lunenburg who gave me his Obama lyrics to 'people get ready'... the concern for my safety of the sheriff's deputy when he learned I was going to monitor the election in Appomattox... the little boy who asked if I was going to vote for "Arak Obama" and told me that he was too... the really hopeful and excited way in which everyone I met with in southside Virginia, from Appomattox to Mecklenburg, spoke about the election. The tears streaming down people's faces, including my own. Sappy, I know--and it started early in the day, just seeing big-D Democracy in action, feeling a restoration of my faith in the process, and in the people of this country. I called my mom from somewhere in Mecklenburg or Charlotte and told her I thought it was really going to happen in Virginia. And it did. We did it.

Monday, November 03, 2008
Pre-election day random thoughts:

1) The Virginia State Board of Elections. So, suddenly, for the first time, the SBE is interpreting the rule that prohibits electioneering inside the 40' perimeter to mean that voters can't wear buttons or Tshirts with their candidates' names on them? Election officials are being told to have jackets and trashbags on hand for those who come to the polls wearing tshirts that need to be covered up in order to comply with the rule. Well, that's a wonderful thing to task election officials with on a day when the polls are going to be jammed! And, what about that little thing called the First Amendment? Uh, doesn't it kinda trump state election laws? I've been told that election officials, if they choose, can eject voters refusing to remove their flair without allowing them to vote, and even arrest them (tho at least several jurisdictions are saying they will allow them to vote but take down their names). Several organizations say they will take this ruling to court, after the election. But you know, all it really would take, it seems to me, is a few courageous folk who insist on being able to vote without covering up, and are willing to be charged (uh, please, vote first, then open your jacket to reveal...). Will the law be enforced? Martinsville and Henry county prosecutors say they won't enforce this law by charging anyone; our local prosecutors say they will. But that's great--maybe they're doing it intentionally so someone will be charged and challenge the Constitutionality?

2) Democrats=Democracy. Hey, we're Democrats, people. Although, yes, that means some disorganization that can be frustrating, it doesn't mean hierarchical, top-down bullshit. Though I've heard a few people, frustrated with the Dems' lack of electoral success in the past few elections, express that what we need is our own Karl Rove, we really don't. (I must confess that even I voiced this thought a few years ago, but no--we must learn to win on our own terms, not by borrowing from our enemies' Machiavellian playbooks--after all, Machiavelli was a republican (well, but, to be fair, with a small r).

3) The poll numbers, or, will we win? Everyone keeps asking me this. Do I think we'll really win? Is it really possible? Could the polls be right? It's kind of heart-rending, the desperation behind the questions. I understand the fear, and the desperation, the pain of previously dashed hopes. Hey, I cried my eyes out for hours in 2004. It shows how damaging to our psyches the 2000 election debacle was, as well the subsequent 2004 loss (in the movies, the underdog always wins after the first defeat... what happened?). Well, we'll know for sure on Tuesday (I hope! please no Floridas or Ohios!). But, here are some thoughts about the accuracy of the polls--first, the massive numbers of newly-registered voters. Here in Virginia, at least, these are not just 18-yr-olds, or people newly moved in. These are people who have never bothered to register before. Polls don't count these people, because they have no voting history, thus they are not "likely voters" based on statistical probability. But, who are they? Many are those who have felt disenfranchised by the political process, so much so that they've never bothered to vote before, like this Albemarle county voter.

At this point, I'm afraid to be too excited about Virginia's chances... but I'm cautiously optimistic. I'm excited to be casting a vote in a presidential election in which, for the first time in my life, that vote will actually count. I think my faith in the American people is about to be vindicated... and that I'll be crying tears of joy this time.

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