Thursday, April 10, 2008

No point in voting

I was hoping to vote absentee for Barak Obama in the general election in the state I last lived in, Utah. I was shocked and saddened to learn from WIkipedia that all but two states have a winner-take-all system for allocating their electoral college votes.

Therefore, as Utah is a firm red state, my vote would not count.

Sometimes I don't understand the world. While I'm sitting here in my little blog space dreaming about how nice it would be to have a fair voting system for leadership elections, something like cardinal/range voting or condorcet/ranked pairs, the rest of the American people don't care about their vote enough to demand an end to winner-take-all elections, let alone the electoral college. While I dream of a congress elected by direct representation, the American people consciously pigeonhole themselves into only two categories, "Democrat" and "Republican".

They seem content with a two-party system in which neither party cares very much about reducing poverty, defending the constitution, playing fair on the world stage, or acting ethically according to a wholistic worldview. While only the Republicans are especially known for their taste for war, their focus helping the rich and their disregard for the constitution, the Democrats on the whole seem to acquiesce to such things. Many say this is because the Democrats are spineless; I don't think so. I worry they don't fight these things because they don't care that much. And the majority of Americans ever continue not to demand better. The majority is not just silent, but apathetic.

And I don't know why. After 7.5 years under George Bush, 70% (only 70%?) of the people have finally figured out that his performance is not worthy of their approval. Many even disapprove. But who is taking notice that Bush's policies require, and have historically required, the assent of Congress and a lack of critical examination from the media? How is it that so many people follow after John McCain when he has been uncritical toward Mr. Bush and wants, for the most part, to continue his policies?

Barak Obama may yet win the election. But the strength of the Republicans in the race is disheartening.

I am most of all baffled by the strong degree to which Latter-day saints support everything Republican, even Neoconservative Republicanism. As a Mormon myself I am horrified by the Republican and Neoconservative ideologies. Detaining people without charge, without trial, without rights in Guantanamo Bay? Manipulating the media and lying to the American people about weapons of mass destruction, linking Al Qaeda to Iraq, causing a war that costs 720 million dollars a day, a war that has killed more Americans than 9/11, a war that resulted in the deaths of as many as 655,000 Iraqis, a war that has harmed America's economy? Running an illegal domestic spying program whose scope is still secret, and then demanding that huge telecom companies be granted retroactive immunity from the law for helping run it? Sowing confusion among the people by habitually using spin, misrepresentation, and ignorance of fact? Failing to do anything whatsoever about genocide in Darfur?

Admittedly, the Democrats did nothing about the Rwandan genocide, so Mormons can't be expected to vote for them on that account. And admittedly Republicans are not in favor of abortion or gay marriage, so in some ways it fits with our religion. But if you took anything home from the Book of Mormon, it should have been that war is bad. That God never goes with you when you go to war in order to pillage other lands. In the Book of Mormon I see a progressive Nephite nation that was ahead of its time in recognizing the value of freedom and liberty. A nation that had a lot of defense spending only because it had to defend itself frequently, not because Halliburton and Lockheed Martin needed to maintain a large workforce and steady profits. Regarding the Republicans' low regard for the constitution and civil liberties, haven't church leaders expressed their beliefs that the constitution was inspired of God? Regarding media manipulation and yes, lying, to cause the war--I think there is something in the ten commandments about that.

By the way, if you still aren't convinced that the case for war was not made merely by stretching the truth but was, in fact, a big lie promoted with a major media campaign, then watch this program, "Buying the War", by Bill Moyers on PBS (transcript). After seeing this program, you might ask yourself how men like Bill Kristol and Richard Pearle can still be treated as men of credibility and even integrity in the press.

You cannot separate the actions of the Bush Administration from the Republican party, because Republican congresspeople have supported his policies all along, continue to do so today, and never apologize for their past actions.

Isn't this war and this assault on the constitution a greater evil than abortion, or gay marriage? Is the Republicans opposition to these things even relevant, given that the Republican congress did not ban abortion or gay marriage? On what basis should Mormons be opposed to universal access to medical care? I cannot parse Utah's continuing support for these things. The nature of people in general, I suppose, is something I will just never understand. Why do people ignore the big issues to focus on the small ones?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Time magazine invents the facts

No matter how corrupt and sloppy the establishment press becomes, they always find a way to go lower. Time Magazine has just published what it purports to be a news article by Massimo Calabresi claiming that "nobody cares" about the countless abuses of spying powers by the Bush administration; that "Americans are ready to trade diminished privacy, and protection from search and seizure, in exchange for the promise of increased protection of their physical security"; and that the case against unchecked government surveillance powers "hasn't convinced the people." Not a single fact -- not one -- is cited to support these sweeping, false opinions.
Click the title to read more.