31 October 2008

There are not red states, and blue states, there is:

The United States of America

There is a special feeling pervading the polling place on voting day, a sense of participation that transcends the partisan posturing of the preceding weeks and months. If you’ve never voted before I hesitate to shape your anticipation, but Election Day we are ALL Americans!there’s no denying the sense of being a part of something that’s happening nationwide. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I wish that there were fewer people exercising “early voting” options, though I grant that there are fine, legitimate reasons that every state and territory should make that not merely possible, but easy.

I also understand the desire to flash your allegiance in a year when the focus is on national politics, particularly as the rhetoric from certain candidates has been more inflammatory than inspirational. I feel strongly about who I’ve campaigned for - there are signs in my yard right down to the level of my choice for city council, my car is practically a rolling billboard, and there’s no time I’m seen in public when there’s any doubt which candidate I support in the presidential election.

But on Tuesday, to puzzle the prognosticators and express my pride as a citizen, I’ll wear purple to the polls. Let the exit poller work that one out!

The United States of AmericaNo matter who you think is the best candidate or party there is one truth Barack Obama articulated way back in 2004. “The pundits like to slice and dice us…" It makes for better television coverage, and they want you watching their network(s) to insure their ad revenues are high, so every year they seek to make it more compelling coverage of what they seek to portray as a more dramatic election. Despite that, on Tuesday when we make our communal pilgrimage to express our preferences, “there are not red states or blue states. There is the United States of America.”

On Tuesday, November 4th, what will you wear while you cast your ballot?

Got purple?

29 October 2008

If you lived through the depression, who would you support in 2008?

It's a question of style versus substance.

If one person working the Obama campaign could actually be said to deserve to meet Senator Obama, Charles Alexander is that person.

Everybody my age is dying off. Everybody. Next four or five years, I probably won't be around. These young people are gonna take the lead. That's what I love seeing about all these people sitting here as volunteers - 'cause they are our tomorrow.

25 October 2008

Voter's Rights: Minnesota

Voter's GuideAny U.S. citizen who has been resident in Minnesota for 20 days prior to the election who will be 18 by November 4th, 2008 has the right to register on election day 2008 in the precinct they live in. (There is information pertaining to other states at the bottom of this post.)

You also have the following rights:
  • To be absent from work for the purpose of voting during the morning of Election Day without a deduction in wages.
  • To vote if you are in line at your polling place prior to 8:00 p.m.
  • To vote without proof of residency if you are already registered.
  • To receive a replacement ballot if you make a mistake or spoil your ballot before it is submitted.
  • To cast an "absentee ballot" if you are unable to vote in person on election day for any of the following reasons:
    * away from home (your precinct)
    * ill or disabled
    * an election judge serving in another precinct
    * unable to go to the polling place due to a religious holiday or beliefs
    * you are in the military or otherwise outside the U.S.A.
  • To bring your minor children into the polling place and into the voting booth with you.
  • To vote without anyone in the polling place trying to influence your vote.
  • To take a sample ballot into the voting booth with you.
  • Know your voting rights!To take a copy of the official Minnesota Voter's Bill of Rights into the voting booth with you.
  • To orally confirm your identity with an election judge and to direct another person to sign your name if you are unable to sign your name.
  • To receive special ballot assistance when voting because of an inability to read English or physical inability to mark a ballot.
  • To have a person of your choice accompany you into the voting booth if you need assistance, except an agent of your employer or union or a candidate.
  • To large print or audio instructions and assistance if you have limited vision (provided by the AutoMARK ballot marker.)
  • To have election judges come to your vehicle with the ballot if you cannot easily leave your car.
  • To vote after a felony conviction if your sentence has been completed. (Also known as being "off paper.")
  • To vote even if you are under guardianship, unless a court order has specifically revoked your right to vote.
  • To file a written complaint at your polling place if you are dissatisfied with the way an election is being run.
Anyone lawfully in a polling place can ask an election judge to make a challenge to a person's eligibility to cast a vote in that precinct (including other election judges and designated Republican or DFL observers.) However, "challenges" must be based upon that individual's personal knowledge that the voter is not eligible.

Challenges may not be automatic, or frivolous. They may not be based upon lists developed by political mailings - including those returned as either undeliverable or refused. They must be in writing, and under oath that the challenge is based on the challenger's personal knowledge.

Home foreclosure is not a sufficient basis for a challenge, since not only may the voter intend to return to the home, but they may legally be in residence in a foreclosed property for many months; knowledge of foreclosure does not constitute knowledge of where the voter lives.

Students are often challenged as "non-resident" but by Minnesota law may vote in the precinct they live in while they attend school, even in school-provided housing. Students still residing in a parent's home should vote in the precinct that home is in.

The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan political organization that encourages the informed and active participation in government, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. I strongly urge you to visit their website for additional information. There is information in the following video regarding voting in both primaries and the general election.
Do you know where your Minnesota precinct polling place is?

Elsewhere around the country...

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has information on voting in all 50 states collected in one handy location. They are a non-partisan organization committed to helping all eligible voters cast ballots, and working to limit and mitigate disenfranchisement as the ultimate anti-American activity. Here are shortcuts directly to the information in a few states likely to be in the limelight due either to being closely contested on election day 2008, or to recent history of balloting problems:

10 October 2008

All that is necessary for evil to triumph

"Those of us who know better can't afford to sit silently or look the other way while it's happening..."
AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Richard Trumka,
July 20, 2008

Obviously, his support is for the Obama campaign, and his message is intended to inspire partisan support. Underneath that reality, however, is the color-blind foundation of the value of unity.

"We've seen that when we have the courage, the good sense, the trade union values to cross the color line and stand together, arms locked, no one - no one - has ever been able to keep us down."
AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Richard Trumka,
July 20, 2008

We've also seen the use of code words intended to convey and condone racial bigotry as basis for making a choice about who to vote for. Questions raised with no intent other than to smear a man's character, and raise fears among those listening. That's wrong.
"Obama has set the bar high for his campaign. So, precisely because Barack isn’t just saying what’s politically expedient, if the country dares to put him into the Oval Office he will bind us all to this higher standard. That change - Senator Obama’s audacious challenge to each and every citizen to be more, to live better, to aspire higher, to deal candidly, respectfully and honestly with each other, and to surrender some of our self-interest - scares people.

We must examine, “where we are and whither we are tending.” Can America live up to Barack Obama’s vision, his belief that we’re all connected as one people?"

As Edmund Burke said, "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing..." no matter if the problem they see is in the Middle East, or at a political rally in North America. Resentment - possibly racially motivated - against Obama's rise in the polls, as reported from McCain~Palin rallies, seems to also be "spilling into down-ticket races," with one woman yelling "bomb Obama!" during a Thursday debate between Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss and his Democratic challenger.

John McCain has made the following observation:
"It's easy to rile up a crowd by stoking anger and division. But that's not what we need right now in the United States. The times are too serious. The challenges are too great. The American people aren't looking for someone who can divide this country -- they're looking for someone who will lead it. We're in a serious crisis -- now, more than ever, it is time to put country ahead of politics. Now, more than ever, it is time to bring change to Washington so that it works for the people of this country that we love."
What he has not, however, done, is react to condemn angry anti-Obama outbursts at his rallies this week. If he really is ready to put country ahead of politics, the change will be welcome. I'd say he has less than a week.

United we stand.

04 October 2008

Do the causes of global warming matter?

Let's try a little hypothetical situation:

You're standing on a riverbank and you see more and more people who appear to be trying to get out of the river, but they're tired and can't swim to shore so they're being swept on out to sea. Do you
  1. go upstream and figure out why they're all in the river, or
  2. blame the policies of the Bush Administration, or
  3. ignore the cause and hope sound-bites on the 6:00 news will make it clear that you're not pointing fingers but definitely in favor of keeping people from drowning?
Global warming looms as the biggest threat to thefutureIf you picked "3" you were likely impressed by Governor Sarah Palin's amazing winking soundbite show in what was supposed to be a debate Thursday night. I suggest you move to Alaska where you can rest assured you'll be hearing a lot more from her in the coming months and years.

If you picked "2" I sympathize, but you'd better be out working to get Obama elected, and working to add forward-thinking progressives who think about energy and the environment in terms of the future to both the U.S. House and Senate or you'll be whining on November 5th.

If you picked "1" feel free to add me to your friends list, we just might have something in common.

    We urgently need a comprehensive energy policy for the United State that will, at a minimum:
  • Provide short-term relief to American families facing pain at the pump
  • Help create new jobs by strategically investing to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future.
  • Provide incentives to save more oil than we currently import from the Middle East and Venezuela combined.
  • Put hundreds of thousands of Plug-In Hybrid cars on the road sooner rather than later. Our government must work to encourage those vehicles are being built here in America.
  • Ensure 10 percent or more of our electricity comes from renewable sources within 5 years, and aim for 25% within 15 years.
  • Implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to substantively reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The causes of global warming do matter. And while there is more than one reason people may fall in the river, making sure other people aren't pushing them in and figuring out what the main causes are -- and preventing those -- will save us a lot of time and risk we'll otherwise invest in hauling drowning people to shore.

Mixed Greens

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