Election 2008- The Winners & Losers

Now that the dust is beginning to settle, lets take a look at who the real winners and losers are following this campaign season:

sarah-palin-headshotSarah Palin, Winner

After decrying her critics as “jerks”, Palin remains the party’s favorite for a 2012 run for President.

ma27-homeless1-1004yLower Class, Loser

Joe-six-pack, Joe-the-pumber, and yes, bob-the-builder have been in the spotlight for the past few months. And why not? They are apparently the only people in the country who matter. I can’t think of a single reference to the “lower class” during the debates, or election cycle in general.

alaska_thumbnailAlaska, Winner

Alaska, that pesky state that curiously sits somewhere in the south pacific in all our maps, has risen to a level of national prominence not seen since it first became a state 50 years ago. Alaska’s love for loyalty has become unrivalved across America, as Senator Ted Stevens, recently convicted on 7 felony counts, has likely been re-elected to the Senate. If so, he’ll become the first felon elected to the Senate in history.

alg_turmoil_pollsElection System, Loser

Hours long waiting lines, malfunctioning equipment, voter intimidation, voter fraud,  varying voting requirements, a confusing electoral college- America’s outmoded election system has shown its flaws over the last few elections. Out with the old, in with a new federalized system.

barack_obama_head_shot1Barack Obama, Winner

An excellent orator & a thoughtful intellectual, Barack Obama garnered 52% of the popular vote- the highest of all time for any non-incumbent Democrat. Obama has united and excited the nation in a way not seen before, and is poised to become a great president.

republican_logoRepublicans, Loser

In this election, Republicans lost at least 20 seats in the house (50 since the 2006 elections), and so far- 6 seats in the senate. For the first time in decades, Democrats control the presidency, the senate, and the house. Many noteworthy republicans snubbed the party in endorsing Obama for President, and some are even predicting a split of the republicans into two parties- the republicans, and the conservatives.

. mccain-head-shot John McCain, Winner

In the span of three short minutes, McCain managed to gain my respect for a tasteful & appropriate concession speech. A cancer survivor at the age of of 72,  McCain can gracefully retire after the completion of his senate term.

guns008 Guns, Winner

Following Barak Obama’s election, gun sales have soared. Many gun shops report sales rising by 30% or more, as people fear a Barakdown on gun ownership

barack_obama_head_shotBarack Obama, Loser

After becoming the historic President Elect, Barack Obama has just inherited a whole lotta trouble: the economy, two wars, the housing market, crumbling infrastructure, a broken health care system, a staggering national debt…

socialism1 Socialism, Winner

Although the McCain/Palin campaign attempted to paint Obama as a dangerous Socialist in the closing weeks of the campaign, Socialism, has actually been doing quite well. The United States Government is now in the business of nationalizing banks to the tune of $700 billion, and following $25 billion in loans to the auto industry earlier this year, Democratic leaders are now urging a  bailout for struggling automakers.

sarah-palin-headshotSarah Palin, Loser

Sarah Palin, who came within a few million votes of becoming the first female vice-president. To add insult to injury, the Repulican National Committe is taking back all the clothes they bought her. Finally, her credibility has sunken so low, that she has been forced to deny allegations that she didn’t know whether Africa was a country or continent.

americaathome America, Winner

They just got Barack & Co





blogging, posting, talking, promoting

sleeping, sleeping, get up!

shower, shave, to the polls quick quick!


walking, waiting, sitting, voting

voters in lines, people on corners, volunteer time!

snacking, reading, getting ready

driving, phoning, phoning, driving

to the polls! to the polls! lets swell the ranks!


“this is what the ballot looks like” & “this is how you vote”

& “how do you feel?” & “are you ready to do this?!”


young people, homeless people, old people, ex felons, to the polls to the polls

– you can vote!

driving, driving, north philly, south philly, west philly

at the polls at the booths. judge of elections, thick poll book.

blue curtains around a machine

inside lights red & bright. and then go!

Push the green button! Lights go dark,you’ve done it!


hurry hurry go  go go!

theres more to vote!


sitting down, eating a snack, tired and worn,

“volunteer evaluation”, then

driving, driving  home in philly.


We’re off then-! We’re off to school. lets watch the results tonight

lets eat some snacks and hold our breath.

CSPAN, FOX, CNN, MSNBC…wait…Canadian cpsan? calling the election?

fipping flipping through the channels. its true! obama! obama!


quick quick hurry hurry get out, lets shout!

phone call, home call,  call those who care

west philly, center city and down town- beeping horns in the air

park the car, walk walk walk , join the crowd! join the fray!


Join the fray- its in the air! Dancing, Laughing, and shouting in the air

a parade of cars, wearing youth for jewlery, hanging, dangling in the night

Shouting yelling celebrating! Celebrating tonight in the streets.

Outstretched hands, hoarse throats, nervous police.


This-is-what-democracy-looks-like! clap-clap-clap-cla-clap-clap-clap!

This-is-what-democracy-sounds-like! clap-clap-clap-cla-clap-clap-clap!

High fives all around, the outstretched fingers on cars wizzing by,

horns and pots and pans wake the night


a melody of sound, a medley of people

such a beautiful thing

drive, drive home its late

honk the horn 1 more time, 1 more time for the dispersing crowds

arriving, finally arriving home its late

lets go to bed, lets go to sleep

because now we know what democracy looks like!


Election Day

your_vote_counts_button_3Let’s Do This.

American Prayer

So I don’t mean to get all sentimental, but tomorrows gonna be a big day. The results of the election will be one of the defining points of America that I have seen in my life so far, right up there with 9-11 & the Iraq War.

I’m not religious, but I appreciate the sentiment of a prayer for America. I pray that we will come together on November 4th as a nation & vote for a better future. I hope that we will vote no on ballot initiatives that would make gay marriage illegal, that would shut down affirmative action, that would limit ESL classes for children in our schools.

I pray that the majority of our country will stand up & demand we stop seeking out war, that we don’t suspend civil liberties, and that we become an ally to the world. I pray that this election will inspire people to action, and that it banishes apathy and desperation.

I pray we will not be silent about discrimination in all its forms, and we demand equality for all. I pray for the safety of Obama & his family from hate, and that we will hold hope above fear.

That is my American prayer.


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



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:


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


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)


A Bunch of Nobodies

Did you see the debate last night? Who do you think won? Obama? McCain? I can’t tell you who won the debate last night, but I can tell you who didn’t: Charles Jay, Ron Paul, Charles Baldwin, Alan Keys, Gloria LaRiva, Gene Amondson, Ted Weill, Bob Barr, Brian Moore, Roger Calero, Jonathan Allen, Ralph Nader , Jeffery Boss, Richard Duncan, Bradford Lyttle, Frank McEnulty, Cynthia Ann McKinney, and Thomas Stevens .

Who are these people? They are all candidates for President of the United States of America. Several, including Barr, Nader, and McKinney will appear on ballots across the nation on Election Day. However, none of them were invited to speak at any of the debates, and now none stands a chance of victory.

It is a curious phenomenon that the American people settle for two choices every election cycle. Sure we vet out the various democratic and republican candidates during the primaries- but what about third party and independent candidates? Is it really possible that the collective views of hundreds of millions of Americans are neatly summed up by two men, year after year, decade after decade? I would venture a guess that the answer is no. I would also venture a guess that this might have something to do with our nation being polarized…

Across the world other nations have recognized this reality, and have adjusted their political process accordingly. A quick summary of some of the world’s leading nations, and how many parties are represented in their government: Canada- 4; France- 9; Japan- 7, Germany- 6, India- 40+. It would be a hard sell to convince me that these countries are employing some sort of backwards system that wouldn’t work in the real world.

Actually, I would beg to differ & would go so far as to suggest that several of these nations have done a better job running their economy and political affairs than we have over the past 8 years. Further, when the World Health Organization ranks us 36th of all nations in terms of meeting the needs of its citizens, it might be a hint that we need to start thinking outside of the box.

So how has this curious system come to pass in the United States? After all, in the past there have been numerous political parties in America such as the Green Party, Constitution Party, Libertarian Party, Boston Tea Party, & Socialist Party. If I were cynical, I would tell you the system was rigged.

So here goes: the system is rigged.

Every election since 1988 has been hosted by the non-profit Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). This sounds pretty innocuous until you learn that the Commission is run by a former head of the Republican National Committee (Frank Fahrenkopf) & a former head of the Democratic National Committee (Paul Kirk). These were the two guys you saw at the pre-debate introductions last night.

Every election cycle, the CPD negotiates a “memorandum of understanding” with the major candidates over who gets to participate in the debate, among other things. Surprisingly, independent contenders usually do not make the short list. The most recent exception- Ross Perot, was only allowed into the 92’ debate because the other candidates agreed to let him participate. Now, it is true that the CPD has only been in existence since 1987- so does that mean 3rd parties were part of the scene before the CPD took over? In a nutshell, yes.

Prior to the CPD, the non-partisan League of Women Voters hosted the debates, and in 1980, when independent candidate John Anderson wanted to participate in the debate, the league allowed him to participate over Jimmy Carter’s objections and eventual boycott. This willingness to do what is right, and not bend to the wishes of the two major political parties was lost when the League refused to continue to sponsor the debates after learning that these “memorandums of understanding” were being created.

So what do we do about the fact that the American people are forced year after year, to buy into a political establishment run by two major parties who are content to fight over congressional and executive seats?

I’m not sure. In the word of Eugene Debs:

“I do not want you to follow me or anyone else; if you are looking for a Moses to lead you out of this capitalist wilderness, you will stay right where you are. I would not lead you into the promised land if I could, because if I led you in, some one else would lead you out. You must use your heads as well as your hands, and get yourself out of your present condition”

I would suggest however, that you educate yourself on this topic if it matters to you. Try some of the following links:

Democracy Now

Open Elections

Presidential Candidates

Commission on Presidential Debates

Knowledge is the first step towards achieving change. Martin Luther King put it best when he said: “In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action”.

I would submit to you, by reading this article and the attached links, you have begun step one.


Voter Registration, Fraud, and Politics

Few people can forget the 2000 election when Gore lost to Bush as a result of Supreme Court intervention.  Original returns indicated that despite reports of voters being turned away from the polls and intimidated, that Bush only had a margin of victory of 1,700 votes out  nearly 6 million ballots. An automatic recount was triggered, with the Governor warning any recounts taking longer than 7 days would not be accepted. After a series of suits and appeals, the re-count in several key counties was halted, and Bush was declared the winner in Florida: 2,912,790 votes to 2,912,253- a margin of victory of .01%. The rest is history.

With perhaps the most historic election of the century upon us, many are worried that voter fraud, intimidation and irregularity in swing states may decide the presidency- as opposed to the will of the people. Both sides have been accused of playing dirty- ACORN, the largest low to moderate income community organizing group in the nation, has supposedly registered thousands of deceased individuals. In Indiana, it was alleged that “large numbers of voter registration forms bore signatures all in the same apparent handwriting style” and “apparently the organization’s canvassers broke rules to meet ACORN-set voter registration quotas to get paid”.Whether these allegations are true or not, it is bad news for recently registered voters with ACORN. Thousands of registered voters may find their legitimacy challenged on voting day when they show up to the polls. In fact, according to the AP, attempts to make sure that voter rolls were kept up to date, have resulted in tens of thousands of legitimate voters being purged from the rolls “by mistake” in at least 6 swing states…

On the other hand, misinformation  has recently been circulated on the campuses of Drexel & Upenn, in addition to several low income neighborhoods in North and West Philadelphia. The flyer, written as if a supporter of Obama, “warned” individuals not to go to the polls if they had outstanding warrants or unpaid parking tickets.

However, the biggest concern this election might not be dead people showing up at the polls, and those with parking tickets staying at home- but rather faulty election equipment. CNN reports that  “a new study by Common Cause and the Century Foundation finds that 10 very vital swing states have significant voting problems that have not been addressed since the last election. Those 10 states, according to Common Cause, are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.”

The problem of faulty voting equipment is not new, the infamous “chads” and “butterflies” of 2000 are not likely to be forgotten soon. The 20,000 who left the Colorado polls in 2006 due to faulty equipment will find that a completely new computer system has been put into place for this election- that is yet to be proven.

With experts stating that in any given election about 10% of voting machines fail, this election may not come down to who can register, or scare away the most voters, but whom the touchscreen gods favor.