Happy Halloween!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’m heading off to CT for the weekend, and will be taking a break from the blog until early next week.

In the meanwhile, explore the new links, videos & comics on the Media page…

Also, I challenge you to my latest Action of the Day!!

~~Finally, a thanks to my readers: In the two weeks since I started this blog, you’ve generated over 600 hits on my website!!!~~~

-kd-

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The Pitfalls of Straight Ticket Voting

Most Americans have a pretty good idea where they stand on the issues. Most of them have a pretty good idea of who they want for president. And many of them will be voting a “straight ticket” on November 4th. The ultimate act of party loyalty and partisan politics, a straight ticket ballot is one where the voter indicates they are automatically casting their lot with one party across the board- for all positions from President to Senator to Attorney General.

I must admit until today I had planned to vote a straight ticket, and I had no qualms about which party I would be voting for. Today I had the good fortune to be enlightened by one of my friends as to the danger of voting a straight ticket: not everyone in a party stands for the same thing. She was right, and I realized for all my preaching, I hadn’t done my homework. I was shocked to learn about a democratic candidate I had planned to vote for had an abysmal record on an issue of utmost significance.

I’m pleased to share the thoughts of my colleague Amy Jones, as she discusses the implications a straight ticket vote could have for immigrants in Pennsylvania. While the candidate is in Pennsylvania, the lesson is the same nationwide: know who you are voting for.

Why you shouldn’t just vote straight ticket: news for immigrant’s rights advocates in PA

-kd

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What frightens you?

27 million people worldwide are enslaved?

Or

2 men marrying?

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1% of the world’s population controlling 40% of global wealth?

Or

Taxing people with earnings over $250,000 a year?

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America’s prison population of 2.3 million representing 25% of the worlds total?

or

Leveling the playing field for women and minorities?

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18,000 people in America dying every year for lack of health care insurance?

Or

Making health care available to all Americans?

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The genocide in Darfur leading to 300,000 deaths over the past 6 years?

or

Allowing a rape victim to terminate her pregnancy?

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1,900 immigrants dying over 6 years trying to cross into America

or

Immigrants working in our country?

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1,000,000, American homes in foreclosure?

or

The specter of electing a minority to the White House?

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If the right wants to run a campaign on fear,  go ahead think about what really worries you.

The national discourse in America today couldn’t be further from what truly matters as human beings in this world. But not to be deterred, the religious right, fiscal conservatives, and closet racists have become galvanized in their quest to suppress the most dynamic and promising candidate for president that our nation has seen in nearly a decade. If the McCain/Palin ticket is successful, four more years of reckless guidance, international arrogance and wanton disregard for human rights, civil liberties, and equality will be ushered in.

The Democratic Party is by no means a panacea, but try as I may, I cannot wrap my head around the republican line of reasoning that believes a 72 year old self-proclaimed “maverick”, and mind numbingly unqualified governor can bring us the “change” we need.

The economic divide between the impoverished and the rich has grown steadily over the past decade, millions suffer from lack of health care, hundreds of thousands are homeless, women still make less than eighty cents on the dollar to men, more black men in America are incarcerated than in college, civil liberties have been slashed by the Patriot Act… the list goes on.

Conservatives have decried the liberal nominee as “inexperienced”, “unknown”, and most recently “socialist”. Absentee ballots mailed out to three hundred voters in New York, even “mistakenly” spelled Barack’s last name “Osama”.

During the 2000 election I was dumbfounded at how the election was stolen in plain sight. In 2004 I was confident America would reject Bush’s four years of “leadership”, and again was crushed. Now we have Obama and the nation has not seen the kind of unity, excitement and collective hope for a new, respectable course in the world since the nomination of JFK.

I’m not sure how I would take another Democratic  defeat, especially one clouded by suspicious behavior. Meanwhile, the right is decrying the registration of false names nationwide (which will have no bearing on the election- “Mickey Mouse cannot cast a ballot on the 4th) while meanwhile, states are purging thousands of registered voters by “accident” (6,000-Ohio), or simply rejecting applications for voter registration (35,000-Arizona).

Conservative politics have brought us slavery, second class female status, xenophobia, market deregulation, imperialism, George Bush, John McCain & Sarah Palin. Liberal politics have brought us women’s suffrage, the New Deal, the civil rights movement, Bill Clinton, Al Gore & Barack Obama.

The choice couldn’t be clearer for me, and it breaks my heart that some will read this post and still conclude that the conservative McCain/Palin ticket will move us into the future.

This video was shot on a college campus 1 hour from Philadelphia:

Stand up for justice, acceptance, and progress in this election.

-kd-

Prescription for Revitalizing, Promoting, Strengthening, and Securing America

Cutting through all the rhetoric, campaign promises, and political punditry, one fact remains: our nation will require serious reform to favorably reposition ourselves at home and abroad. I encourage our presidential candidates to adopt the following reform principles:

Housing Market

-In order to restore confidence in the mortgage industry, no individual with less than $250,000 annual income shall be allowed to purchase a home.

-Individuals who make more than $250,000 are eligible only if they meet the following requirements: they are aesthetically pleasing, they are related to the lender, and they have been pre-approved by members of the community they are planning to move into.

-To order to strengthen communities, and increase home values, all subsidized housing units serving over 5 people shall be demolished.

Iraq

-Troops shall remain stationed in Iraq indefinitely, unless they request a dishonorable discharge.

-A second surge should be coordinated in early January in order to increase the morale of Iraqi citizens.

Afghanistan

-The CIA shall train and arm rebel forces in Afghanistan, and encourage them to seek out Osama bin Laden.

-In order to increase Afghan stability, all poppy crops shall immediately be burned.

Health Care

American responsibility will be promoted through the “Health Care Responsibility Act”, which will allow individuals with incomes below $10,000 to save up to ½ of their income tax free, to pay for health care costs.

-In order to stabilize health care costs for all Americans, the following individuals shall not be permitted to purchase, or use existing health insurance: Individuals with terminal illnesses, any individual with a family history of disease such as breast cancer, prostate cancer or diabetes, any individual who has suffered an injury or common illness within the past 90 days.

Gay Rights

-In order to ensure healthy population growth, gay marriage, civil unions, and other gay arrangements shall be forever prohibited.

Abortion

-Any individual requesting abortion must undergo a 6 month “cooling off” period. During this time counseling services will be made available for individuals that will encourage them to rethink their decision

-Following the “cooling off” period, individuals over the age of 18 may apply for a “Permit to Kill a Baby”. Applicants over 6 months pregnant are ineligible for this permit.

North Korea

-The United States shall officially adopt a “cold shoulder” policy to North Korea. If during the course of this policy, North Korea does not formally apologize to the United States for its attempts to develop nuclear capability, further action will be authorized.

-Further actions include, but are not limited to nuclear strikes on nuclear research facilities within North Korea.

Homeland Security

-Federal wiretapping activities will be increased through legislation requiring all cell phone companies to direct traffic through the Office of Total Information Awareness’s switchboard.

-Individuals suspected of engaging in unpatriotic criticism may be indefinitely detained without habeas corpus at San Francisco Bay.

Financial Markets

-Deregulation of the financial sector will be made a priority in order to stimulate the economy.

Affirmative Action

-Due to the leveling of the playing field, and elimination of racial bias and nepotism, all forms of Affirmative Action shall be immediately eliminated.

Death Penalty

-To curb violence and crime in our neighborhoods, local crime watches will be set up in all residential areas. Members interested in serving on crime watch committees will contact their self elected block captains.

-Block captains who believe criminal behavior is being carried out, may refer suspects to the crime watch committee for the death penalty. All executions carried out by the committee shall be irreversible.

Election System

-To streamline the election process, the Democratic and Republican parties shall be merged into the Republicratic party.

-Due to their only being one political party, further elections will be unnecessary.

Penal System

In order to help turn the lives around of thousands of youth, two years of mandatory prison time shall be imposed on all teenagers at the age of 16, who are currently residing in inner cities, or whom immigrated from southern nations.

-In order to jumpstart the careers of promising youth across the nation, two years of optional employment at prisons will be offered to all teenagers at the age of 16, who are currently residing in suburbs and can trace their ancestry back to approved European nations.

Iran

– On the 2nd day of the next president’s term, Iran shall be bombed incessantly.

Tax Code

– Serious correction to our discriminatory tax code shall be made to require a 35% tax of all citizens, as opposed to just the wealthy.

-Individuals making over $500,000 a year shall be exempt from taxes, if they agree to help trickle money down through the system.

-Accepted trickle down activities shall include: personal savings accounts, investment in securities and bonds, renovation of homes, purchase of luxury vehicles. A full list of acceptable activities may be found at your local country club.

Social Security

-With Social Security threatening our nation’s fiscal future, the minimum age for retirement shall be incrementally increased over the period of 2 years to the age of 74.

-Individuals over the age of 80 shall be ineligible for further benefits due to the law of diminishing returns.

Medicaid/Medicare

– Due to wasteful spending on medications and medical procedures, individuals must pay out of pocket for all health care expenses. Individuals may file requests for reimbursement from Medicare or Medicaid on an annual basis.

-Reimbursable expenses shall include: (1) doctor visit per year, and the individual’s choice between (1) emergency room visit, or (2) prescriptions. A full list of acceptable expenditures are available by sending a SASE to “Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 7500 Security Boulevard Baltimore, MD 21244”.Letters will be responded to on a first-come-first serve-basis.

Welfare

-As welfare represents the slow moral decay of society, all social welfare systems including: unemployment compensation, temporary assistance to needy families, and section 8 shall be immediately eliminated.

-Individuals receiving such services will be given 2 months to transition into a “dependent free lifestyle”, and will be automatically enrolled in complimentary “America & Personal Responsibility” courses.

Immigration

-Second only to Iraq and Iran, Immigration must be immediately addressed by the incoming president. Following the bombing of Iran, rubble from Tehran shall be flown back to the Mexico-US border, for use in the construction of a sturdy wall.

-Immigrants found illegally in the country will be permitted to stay if they agree to engage in our Unpaid Labor Program (ULP). Immigrants who refuse to cooperate with ULP shall be invited to San Francisco Bay for “conversation” prior to deportation.

Employment

– In order to encourage the expansion of business, the minimum wage shall be decreased to $4.00/hour. Employers may petition against the $4.00/hr requirement if it will pose financial hardship to their business.

– Individuals found not to be working for more than 1 week in any 2 month period (with the exception of corporate ceo’s) shall be subject to immediate detention. Serious delinquents will also be transported to San Francisco Bay for “encouragement” activities.

Bureaucracy

As the cornerstone of American productivity, bureaucraticy will be systematically increased during the next presidency at the rate of no less than 3 agencies per month (to be established by executive order).

– The San Francisco Bay Welcoming Committee (SFBWC) shall be created within the second week of a new administration, as well as the Unpaid Labor Program (ULP). Other programs to be created will include: Federal Aviation Administration Oversight Board And Commission (FAAOBAC), Department of Homeland Security Sister And Support Connector Agency (DHSSASCA), and the Republicratic National Committee Advisory Board On Matters Pertaining to Political Dissent Suppression (RNCABOMPPDS).

-The new president will be required to establish agencies that make sensible use of the following acronyms: ZZTOP, JAYZ, CCR, ABBA, and TEB.

America: it may be bitter going down, but this prescription will make you better. The RNCABOMPPDS promises.

-kd-

The Controversial Survey

Okay: I figured I’d try something new. I read this survey on another blogger’s page, and figured I would give it a go. Try it yourself if you’d like!

1. Do you have the guts to answer these questions and re-post as The Controversial Survey?.

I’m saying yes now, but who knows by the time I get to the end…

2. Would you do meth if it was legal?

Absolutely not, I’ve worked in a drug rehab and seen the terrible impact it has on individuals and families. Meth is especially physically bad for the body.

3. Abortion: for or against it?

Okay, now its getting tough. I have been conflicted about abortion for a long time, but this is were I stand now: I don’t know. Morally, I feel that abortion is wrong after a certain point in the pregnancy, but as a man incapable of being impregnated through rape or incest, I’m not sure that I have the right to impose my morals on half of the human population…I think I am not for abortion, but I am against banning it. I think in general, abortion should be allowed up until a certain point in the pregnancy, unless the life of the mother is at risk. At a certain point though, the baby is a new life & it is wrong to kill it. Deciding when that point is however, is the tricky part.

4. Do you think the United States would fail with a female president?

Depends. If it is Sarah Palin, then yes. If it is Hilary Clinton, then no. Politics trumps gender.

5. Do you believe in the death penalty?.

Another tricky one, I’ve worked against the death penalty, and am morally opposed to it, but I am not sure that I am in a position to tell the family member of a slain individual that the perpetrator could not be killed. I could theorize about this forever, but in the end, my answer is no, I do not support the death penalty.

6. Do you wish marijuana would be legalized already?

As corny, chessy, and overused as the phrase “marijuana is a gateway drug” is, the truth is that for many kids it truly is. That being said, I think that criminal penalties for possession should be dramatically lessened. My initial response is no, marijuana should not be legalized, but I am also forced to consider that gambling, alcohol, and motor vehicles kill more people and do more harm to society than marijuana does- and they are all legal. However, if we continue down the road that this particular drug “isn’t so bad”, then we open the door to legalizing all sorts of drugs that truly hurt people like cocaine, heroin, and meth. So my conditional answer is, no, except for limited medical use.

7. Are you for or against premarital sex?

This is a decision to be made by the individuals in question.

8. Do you believe in God?

I believe that humanity and life is eclipsed and enveloped by an essence that is great and beyond my comprehension. If I would call that God, I don’t think so. I don’t think a name, or a value laden word like “God” can accurately describe my spiritual beliefs.

9. Do you think same sex marriage should be legalized?

Absolutely. Read my piece on it HERE

10. Do you think it’s wrong that so many Hispanics are illegally moving to the USA?

I think it is wrong that America has made it illegal for them to be here. As one of my friends says: “a person cannot be illegal”. I think we need serious immigration reform that is just and truly reflects the contributions many newcomers make to our nation.

11. A twelve year old girl has a baby, should she keep it?

A decision for her, her family, and a doctor. I would be inclined to suggest that she does not, provided she is not late-term, but I wouldn’t venture to mandate one option over the other.

12. Should the alcohol age be lowered to eighteen?

Yes. If you can pay taxes, go to war and kill people for your government-or be killed, you should be afforded all rights and burdens of adulthood.

13. Should the war in Iraq be called off?

You can’t call a war off after 7 years. It’s not like a baseball game you can cancel due to the weather. We’ve already been there for years, and over 80,000 civilians have died. So yes, I think we need an immediate exit strategy, but it’s a little late for the calling it off bit.

14. Assisted suicide is illegal: do you agree?

Nope, it is the ultimate act of human arrogance to demand that another not kill themselves, and even more so that someone cannot assist them if they wish. Although I would not wish the situation on anyone, I think it would be interesting for someone who opposes assisted suicide to one day find themselves in the shoes of a terminally ill suffering patient who wants the dignity of presiding over their own life and making any choice that affects it- including suicide. I’m not endorsing suicide, I just don’t think I have the right to make someone live.

15. Do you believe in spanking your children?

Where do these questions come from? I believe that some amount of “spanking” is okay, and there are obviously lines that should not be crossed. This is what child protection laws are for.

16. Would you burn a flag for a million dollars?

If it was Confederate.

17. Who do you think would make a better president: McCain or Obama?.

Seriously? This shouldn’t even count as a question.

18. Are you afraid others will judge you from reading some of your answers?

Nope.

Hope you enjoyed!

-kd-

Ballot Initiatives- Friend or Foe?

On November 4th millions of Americans will be walking into polling stations, ready to declare their preference for President. Many will also cast ballots for senators, representatives, and other party officials. Some however, will also be casting their votes on various measures, initiatives, and propositions.

In Colorado they will be deciding the fate of affirmative action:

Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning a prohibition against discrimination by the state, and, in connection therewith, prohibiting the state from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting…?

California voters will again be looking at gay marriage:

LIMIT ON MARRIAGE. CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Amends the California Constitution to provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: The measure would have no fiscal effect on state or local governments. This is because there would be no change to the manner in which marriages are currently recognized by the state.

South Dakota residents will be voting on abortion:

An Act to Protect the Lives of Unborn Children, and the Interests and Health of Pregnant Mothers, by Prohibiting Abortions except in Cases where the Mothers Life or Health is at Risk, and in Cases of Rape and Incest.

Massachusetts residents get to choose if they want to pay taxes:

This proposed law would reduce the state personal income tax rate to 2.65% for all categories of taxable income for the tax year beginning on or after January 1, 2009, and would eliminate the tax for all tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2010.

And Oregon Residents may choose to replace English as Second Language(ESL) classes with English Immersion Classes:

The measure would limit the use of foreign language instruction in public schools to: 1 year for students in kindergarten to 4th grade. 1.5 years for 5th grade through 8th grade. 2 years for high school students. It would also prohibit ESL (English as Second Language) teaching programs for longer than the mandated time.

You may have noticed that every website I linked to above is opposed to the measures. This IS on purpose. Why? Because the reality of ballot initiatives is that by in large they represent the efforts of a small number of conservative citizens who seek to roll back basic civil liberties or otherwise hurt vulnerable populations in their state.

Why are ballot initiatives used? In states like California, where gay marriage is legal, it would be very difficult to have the legislature vote to revoke that right. The reason is that by in large the public supports gay marriage, and so the legislators support it. But, unhappy with these results, conservatives (often from out of state- as in the case in Colorado’s anti-affirmative action initiative), collect a few thousand signatures, and hope that higher conservative turnout at the polls will allow the general will of the public to be usurped.

Just take a look at these initiatives: anti-gay marriage, anti-affirmative action, anti-foreign language, anti-taxes, anti-abortion: they are all the work of conservatives bent on removing social protections, basic civil liberties, and in general, a just society.

Passage of any of these propositions will represent a loss for many. Gay couples in California will be in limbo again, and unable to marry, teens and others in South Dakota who realize they are not prepared to raise a child will be forced to carry the baby and give birth, minorities in Colorado protected from institutional discrimination will be vulnerable again, immigrant children in Oregon will have their ESL classes terminated on the governments terms- not when they are ready, and hosts of low income and vulnerable populations in Massachusetts will be negatively impacted if the state loses $12 billion annually in revenue because some decide they don’t want to be taxed any more.

Get the facts about ballot initiatives here, and find out what’s on the ballot in your state:

Ballotpedia

Otherwise, you might wake up to more than one nightmare on the 5th.

-kd-

First Thing First

So its 11:30 & I just got done uploading new videos, links, and an Action of the Day to the website (thanks for your patience!).

I’ve been putting off writing a new article today because I wasn’t sure I had the energy to write a scathing critique of U.S. domestic & foreign policy. Honesty, I wasn’t even sure that I could choose which the most important issue was.

So here’s a quick poll- which of the following is the most serious issue to you? What would you want at the top of the president’s to do list?

Health care costs are spiraling out of control. A) Between 2000-2006, health care insurance premiums have risen over 70% B) 20% of our nation’s GDP goes towards health care costs- $2.3 Trillion annually C)For every dollar in insurance premiums collected by the private sector- 30% goes to “overhead” (such as CEO compensation), compared to only 3% in federal health care programs (Medicaid/Medicare). D) 47 million Americans have no health care. E) Insurance companies can legally deny health care insurance to people who are ill or have diseases.

-For years people have been trying to raise the alarm about the erosion of civil liberties and the constitution. A) The Patriot Act is widely regarded as a serious infringement upon the constitution & rights of citizens, and yet it still stands on the books. B) Guantanamo Bay, which has violated the constitution by indefinitely imprisoning individuals is still open 6 years later, (currently detaining at least 520 people) – and the Bush administration continues to refuse to close it. C) For the first time in U.S. history, an active military unit is scheduled to be deployed this month within United States borders. Their mission: to train & prepare for “crowd control”.

-Despite the War on Poverty, and the supposed burgeoning middle class, income inequality is still growing in the nation. A) Today, the top 1% of the population own 47% of the wealth, the top 19% own 44% of the wealth, and everyone else (80%) only control 9% of the wealth. B) An American working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year at the federal minimum wage ($6.55/hr), with no vacations or sick days, would only bring home $13,642 a year- and that’s before taxes. C) In America, the average CEO of a large company makes 364 times that of a line worker.

-Our stature in the world has greatly fallen, and many would say that our foreign policy needs to be completely revamped. A) Last time I checked, we were still in Iraq, spending $10 billion a month. B) Rhetoric is increasingly being directed at Iran, painting them as a serious national security threat (kinda like Iraq) C) The United States continues to make cross border raids into sovereign territory (Pakistan), without consulting with their government (Pakistan isn’t a huge fan of this). D) The United States has essentially acted unilaterally for the past 8 years, talking loudly & carrying a big stick. It hasn’t endeared us to anyone.

-The subprime mortgage crisis that spawned a worldwide market meltdown demonstrated the dangers of market deregulation, and endless pursuit of profit. A) In less than two weeks time, Congress passed out a bill that would authorize the spending of $700 billion in a financial bailout. B) The national debt clock in New York is no longer valid- the debt won’t fit on the digital ticker- $10,469,604,562,348.63 (Don’t worry- they are ordering a new clock). C) Iceland (yes an entire country) is just about bankrupt as a result of holdings in risky investments D) Retirement portfolios have been heavily hammered by the resultant stock market volatility – indications are that many are delaying retirement hoping for better days.

-Okay, so I’m biased, and slightly left of center. The major issue is something else. (tell us what you think it is)

-kd-