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by normanb

UPDATE: Troubling Irregularities and Some Uplifting Moments: About Voting Today in Massachusetts

4:02 pm in Uncategorized by normanb

UPDATE: Troubling Irregularities and Some Uplifting Moments: About Voting Today in Massachusetts — by NormanB (“Deviations form the Norm”)

 

Lots of people voted early, via absentee ballot. That makes their vote twice as likely to get tampered with, according to C-Span last week.

 

 

In case you didn’t hear, Vegas has been paying off on the Presidential race for two days already. In case you didn’t know, they don’t pay when they lose. In case you’re not aware, I won’t tell you who won – I don’t want to spoil your surprise.

Here in Western Massachusetts – the most “Liberal” or Leftmost part of the state – Republicans often don’t contest political races. Sometimes Socialists do. And Independents. And Greens and Libertarians. Democrats always win.

We had good things and bad things happening at the polls today. My partner and I were planning how we would negotiate the buses to go to vote, and what else we would do during the hours we would need to be out in the world: It looked like it would take hours, to fit in with the bus schedule. Then a friend called. He had just moved to the neighborhood. He had given himself a mission today to carpool-shuttle automobileless voters to their respective polling places. We were in luck. We took the ride. We voted. I heard him offer rides to others.

Then our friend went to vote himself. Nothin’ doin’. He was disallowed from voting, he thought at first it was perhaps because he’d moved within the town in the past year. It was actually because he had been purged from the voter rolls. Amherst removes voters from the rolls who don’t fill out the town census, obviously hoping to skew the voter pool into a much more Conservative body: Twenty thousand or more students can be purged like that. That’ll teach’em democracy!

When I was similarly purged before, and my partner too, we both merely had to say “No” and were then allowed to go ahead and vote. I found it very troubling that that procedure was no longer being followed.

UPDATE: My friend, the Good Samaritan, told another friend about what happened to him, being disallowed. She went to vote at the same polling place. She complained about the way our friend had been cheated [Election-rigged]. The Election official there said that he could vote via Provisional Ballot. She called him. He came in and voted. Happy ending!

I’ve been wondering about these crowded polling places I’ve heard about, and how that restricts voting in Florida. It was never a problem to vote in Florida when I lived there up to 1995. And it has never been a problem for me voting here in Mass. We walked in, and only two or three were in line in front of us. Right away, though, twenty more people queued up behind us. Why doesn’t everybody across the country have enough poll workers to get it done? Is it because in Florida there isn’t enough money appropriated to pay poll workers?

There was a policeman in the polling place. That’s never happened before. There’s usually a friendly, smiling retired cop greeting people out in the hall. This guy was young, maybe his first time at it. If he sticks with it, maybe he’ll be the smiling friendly guy one day.

One thing that troubled me quite a bit was: What happened to the Greens? (The ones I just voted for in the 2012 Massachusetts Green Rainbow Party Primary this fall!) Here’s the problem: I voted in the Primary. I voted for every office. I voted for a Green for each office. Independents may have voted in the Green Primary. That would allow people who are actually not Greens to choose our nominee, which would not be fair, and might be considered Election-rigging. A local attorney who’s a Green was quoted in the paper saying this threatened our ability to name our own nominee.

Be that as it may, we voted a month or two ago, and none of those Green Rainbow nominees appeared on the ballot. This was clearly Election-rigging. Even if the local lawyer filed suit to remove the non-Greens from the Green Rainbow slots on the ballot, that should have still left Greens in all the races on the ballot. Instead, the only Greens appearing on the ballot were the Presidential ticket, Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala (for whom I voted).

Ellen Story, Stan Rosenberg, and Jim McGovern ran unopposed for State Rep, State Senate, and the US House of Representatives, respectively. In the Primary I voted for a qualified Green to oppose each of them today, but, as I said, they [apparently illegally] ran unopposed. They’re all on the side of Marijuana, but we local activists had to pressure Ellen and Stan into their current positions.

We had one of the Leftmost Congressmen in the country, John Olver. If you’re out there reading this, Representative Olver, thank you for your many years of dedicated selfless service in the US House, and thank you for your charitable gift to the local soup kitchen. (I know you were trying to be anonymous and modest; but I saw you!) John Olver has been a supporter of Marijuana, Civil Rights, economic reform, peace, the environment, equal marriage, and many other things good. Thank You God for giving us John Olver. They don’t make ‘em him like that any more.

The Democrat-controlled Massachusetts legislature gerrymandered John Olver the hell out of here. Yes, in the state legislature, they’re Democrats, but not necessarily “democrats,” if you get the difference. John Olver and Barney Frank had served the Commonwealth for decades, good Liberals, good Democrats and good democrats, longtime Marijuana Legalization supporters: Olver and Frank had already announced their intentions to run in today’s Election, but then came the closed-door meeting in the smoke-filled room: The state “Democrats” redrew the districts of Olver and Frank. Both Olver and Frank then announced their retirements. Here they gave us McGovern, who’s from nowhere near here: We’ve had a local Rep forever, but no more.

James McGovern is pretty good. He’s damn good: He’s spoken out on the US-sponsored War Crimes in Bahrain, perhaps the only elected official in the entire nation with the guts to do that. War Crimes are not cool. I’ll support McGovern in trying to stop them.

I don’t approve of McGovern and Olver going along with the other Democrats on the Congressional investigation into Attorney General Eric Holder’s apparent Felonies and War Crimes in the Fast and Furious case, calling the procedure against Holder a “Witch Hunt.” It looks like there’s sufficient evidence that he is actually a witch, and that a special prosecutor needs to be brought in immediately to prepare the case against Holder.

Besides offices big and small, we also got to vote on five questions or initiatives. Question 1 would Legalize assisted suicide. Question 2 would allow auto repair shops not associated with auto dealers equal access to repair parts and information. Question 3 Legalizes Medical Marijuana. In the state’s published voter guide, the opponents of Question 3 claimed that if it passes, practically anyone in the state can Legally grow Marijuana in the back yard. (And that’s supposed to get us to vote against it?!) I don’t think that back-yard scenario is exactly correct, but I voted for the new law anyway.

Massachusetts is one of eighteen states where people are voting today on Marijuana and Hemp measures, North Dakota would have made it nineteen, but the scheduled Election was [I think improperly] removed from the ballot.  http://my.firedoglake.com/normanb/2012/11/04/debates-today-tomorrow-plus-2012-marijuana-voters-and-investors-guide-plus-a-right-to-left-look-at-presidential-candidates-parties-factions/

We’ve seen a horribly disturbing case of attempted Election-rigging here at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst: For decades, the UMass Cannabis Reform Coalition (CRC) [to which I belong] has had an office on the ground floor of the Student Union building, the most traveled area in the center of the University. A particular student with an apparent Nazi bent got control just weeks ago the University’s Student Government Association. New though he was, somehow the University embued him with extraordinary power: He evicted the CRC from its office of decades of tradition:

This greatly restricted the availability of information and the electorate’s ability to organize on behalf the ballot issue there, the office where more organizing had happened on this issue than anywhere else in the state. But then came the Nazi tactic: The Election-rigging student claimed that someone unknown had painted a Marijuana leaf on the door of the CRC office (where one had years earlier been painted). Then came the Nazi tactic: Collective Punishment: No one knows who did the ‘defacing,’ but everyone in the CRC [and everyone depending on us to keep up the struggle for their Rights] is now being punished through the University’s allowing the use of this Nazi tactic:

The club may lose its official accreditation, through these Election-rigging efforts. It seems lawsuits could be in order, perhaps from voters interested in the issue, and from the general student body, and from the CRC members, and from the town citizens, whose longstanding annual Marijuana celebration, Extravaganja, is sponsored and carried out by the CRC. Saturday night, somebody knocked over my “Vote YES On Question 3″ sign and the garbage bin too, which probably weighs over 100 pounds: It took some work to knock it over.

Question 4 on our ballot today was a non-binding but very important instruction to our incoming US Senator: Introduce legislation and/or an Amendment to the US Constitution ruling that (1) Corporations are not People; and (2) Money is not Speech: That is, that spending on Election can be limited Legally.

Question 5 is another important non-binding question, instructing our incoming Senator and all of our elected officials to immediately institute the Green New Deal, which is part of Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein’s platform. The text of Question 5 does not use the words “Green New Deal,” but it does call for hiring millions for environment and health and safety and manufacturing, and to divert money from the Military, etc.

I was born in Virgina, and lived in Florida most of my life. I lived in Ohio too. I’ve lived in the “battleground states,” where they get Presidential ads, and where their votes really count a lot more toward electing the President than ours do here in Massachusetts. But you know what? In Massachusetts, I can wear my beard as long and scraggly as I want – not that it’s anybody’s business, but sometimes I get acting gigs when my beard impresses people. In New England, I can walk around dressed any way I want. I feel more relaxed being around like-minded people who aren’t likely to discriminate against me.

The state always goes Democratic in the Presidential race. Sometimes it goes Republican in the statewide races, Governor and Senator. Though Scott Brown was the first Republican Senator elected in a long time, we’ve had three Republican Governors since I moved here in 1995. I think Scott Brown got in, not on his own merits, but largely in reaction against President Obama’s improper imposition of an interim Election to replace Ted Kennedy. Voters reacted against this manipulation as they did in Wisconsin during the attempt to recall of Governor Scott Walker: People don’t want their local Election cycles disrupted for the purposes of the national Parties.

The Special Election was staged for his [Obama's] convenience and prestige, in clear violation of both the Massachusetts Commonwealth Constitution and the United States Constitution: Our law and state Constitution had a clearly defined procedure for replacing any Senator who might die in office. But President Obama demanded that we change for him, which the state did, in clear violation of the US Constitution’s ban on ex post facto laws in Article I (written more than a decade before the Bill of Rights). It is unconstitutional to change the rules relating to an Election after the fact, i.e., after the Senator to be replaced upon death has already died.

We’ve held Elections wherein the electorate overwhelmingly voted to instruct our elected officials to Legalize Marijuana. Democratic US Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, Scott Brown’s opponent, has said that if elected she will defy the will of the voters on this important issue, and instead will not seek to Legalize. She did say that she would probably vote For the Medical Marijuana Legalization measure on today’s ballot, but that’s a largely empty gesture on her part, when coupled with her pledge not to try to Legalize it.

No Green was listed on the ballot today for US Senator. I voted for a Green anyway.

by normanb

“Liberals” Attacking Romney from the Right

11:40 am in Uncategorized by normanb

“Liberals” Attacking Romney from the Right — by NormanB (“Deviations from the Norm”)

 

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, and even some writers here at FireDogLake.com [both of which are usually considered to be hosting views from the political Left] used Right-wing propaganda from the Obama campaign, continuing to recycle the meme “gaffe.” Yes, even Amy Goodman reported that Mitt Romney’s statement of concern over a labor strike in Great Britain is a “gaffe,” a term today used widely within the Obama campaign (and apparently in the shadow campaign as well). Here’s the story from two unofficial components of the Obama campaign: Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and the Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/26/mitt-romney-olympics-gaffe-harry-reid_n_1707996.html

My question is: Why didn’t President Obama voice any support for the abused workers, as Romney did? Why was Amy Goodman into attacking Mitt Romney for his bringing the plight of these abused workers before the world? Why was Democracy Now! not concerned with the plight of the abused workers? Why did she use this as an opportunity to campaign for Obama? Will she continue to be awarded for such work? http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/26/sports/olympics/british-customs-workers-call-off-strike.html

And Romney brought up the legitimate concern about security, a big story over there, as cited days earlier by high-ranking officials in Britain. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/07/17/parliament-assails-buckles-over-olympic-security-snafu.html Why should Romney, or the news, or Obama, or anyone else, want to Cover this Up?! Speaking out on it is appropriate and correct.

Obama’s propagandists, and many people who would have us believe that they are “democrats” (or Liberals or Progressives or on the Left), apparently think that Mitt Romney should not have offended his hosts by mentioning problems. But with the security there announced as failing and falling apart just as a US Presidential candidate was heading there to take part in the Olympics [the Equestrian Dressage event], he would have been remiss not to mention the worrisome situation. These are not gaffes. I worked against Romney when he ran for Governor and I’m working against him now. These are not gaffes.

Look at this disgusting piece of Right-wing pro-Obama propaganda, from the BBC/British Government. And once they finally let you, pay attention to what Mitt Romney actually says.

 

 

What I found even more bizarre the other day was to hear President Obama attacking Romney from the Right, using almost identical words to what Republicans usually say when attacking Democrats: Obama claimed that the tax plan Romney [that tax-and-spend Liberal(?)] was touting would send jobs overseas, making us anti-competitive. He said that Romney is too Progressive on taxation. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303612804577531393388570440.html

It was ironic and duplicitous for Obama to say that Romney’s plan will create 800,000 jobs overseas, after he himself has just completed Free Trade Agreements to send US jobs to Korea, Colombia, and Panama, where workers have few rights. Note that Florida’s neo-Fascist Governor Rick Scott praised Obama for this Right-wing Atrocity. http://www.flchamber.com/print/3737

http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/story/2011-10-12/trade-deals/50747414/1

Meanwhile Bill Maher and the HBO show Big Love have spent millions of dollars in television time convincing Americans that Mormons are disgusting and not worth trusting. Mitt Romney is a Mormon. I was kind of surprised when I learned that Romney was a Mormon. I heard it from a fellow Liberal several years ago, when Romney was first running for Massachusetts Governor. My friend cautioned me that Romney could get elected in Massachusetts, and then, use that to catapult him toward the Presidency. And he was a Mormon. http://www.myfoxboston.com/story/19122451/poll-few-think-romneys-faith-resembles-their-own

I’m only going to say this once. It’s not appropriate to discriminate against someone based on religion. (To do so is a tactic of the far-far-far-Right.)

The Left-to-Right line-up in the Presidential race is getting really crazy now. Not only are Obama and his supporters assailing Romney for being too far Left, the nation’s top Nazi philosopher former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Don Black told Cenk Uygur that both Obama and the Republicans are too far-Right for him. He said he supports Ron Paul. Congressman Paul stands significantly to the Left of both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on Marijuana and peace. Then there’s (former?) Presidential candidate Rocky Anderson, who just named a running mate last week, before appearing on the weekend fake news program Up With Chris Hayes, a show hosted twice each weekend by Hayes from The Nation magazine, whose apparent job is to trick Liberals/Progressives/Left voters into voting for the extreme Right: Barack Obama. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkJb1m0o_m4

The Hayes show is actually a long commercial for Obama’s reelection. Rocky Anderson didn’t even mention that he was running for President, he just attacked Mitt Romney for not being more Obama-friendly. Hayes [posing himself as a non-biased Journalist] identified Anderson as a Democrat, and brought him back on at the end of the segment, to defend Mitt Romney against the worst charges that others had made on the show. Anderson didn’t say he was running, but was clearly positioning himself between Obama and Romney. Pundits have long told us that a plurality of voters are Independents, and that the preponderance of them are actually between the Democrats and the Republicans, Left-to-Right speaking. I dispute that. I think most voters are actually to the Left of Republicrats like Obromney on most issues. When Rocky first started running, his website said that he didn’t run as a Green because he didn’t want to be associated with the Left. They took that down, and he ran Left, for a while.

So here’s our revised Left-to-Right Presidential candidates line-up (I’ll insert the Nazi philosopher where he says he fits. Remember, while they are apparently to the Left of Republicrats, Nazis are still way too far Right to be trusted with the Presidency.)

L – Jill Stein/Green – Stewart Alexander/Socialist – Jimmy McMillan/Rent Is Too Damn High – Gary Johnson/Libertarian – Ron Paul/Republican – Don Black/Nazi – Mitt Romney/Republican – Rocky Anderson/Justice – Barack Obama/Democrat – R

As Johnny Carson used to say: “Man, that is just wild!

by normanb

Without Funding, True Activist Progressive Leftists Are Challenging Progressive Democrats in Massachusetts

11:45 am in Uncategorized by normanb

Without Funding, True Activist Progressive Leftists Are Challenging Progressive Democrats in Mass — by NormanB (Deviations from the Norm")

Here in Western Massachusetts, we’ve had a one-party system for a long time. Nearly everyone registered is a Democrat. Sometimes in political races, Republicans don’t field a candidate. For instance, in 2002, the Republicans didn’t even run someone against Senator John Kerry. Though Republicans might not run, sometimes Socialists do, or Greens, or Libertarians, or Independents. Democrats usually win. But Massachusetts and Vermont are quite Left-leaning, and it is our responsibility to pull the country forward in our direction if we can.

Leftist candidates usually have no money, no funding at all, no campaign ads. They rise only based on desire for reform.

Good luck to Jerry Brown and Russ Feingold. If only more Democrats were like them, we wouldn’t need this radical break-away movement.

Progressives across the country swept Democrats into office two years ago in hopes the Party would make positive changes. To our horror, instead of stopping Human Rights abuses and Right-wing shenanigans, the Democrats jumped in and got every bit as dirty as the Republicans. I have been a Democrat all my life, and I have never been so disgusted with my Party.

With all the disgraceful War Crimes, the media suppression to help BP hide its crimes, the continuing filibuster scam, why don’t honest Democrats stand up to oppose the Human Rights abuses, the War Crimes, the media suppression, and the filibuster scam? Are all Democrats in Government as thoroughly dishonest as those in the Obama Administration? The Democratic attitude of ‘We’re not going to investigate at all, because he’s OUR crook!" is not winning anyone over. When an Administration is corrupt, it is the duty of those in Government to bring it down, irrespective of party affiliation.

And so it is a breath of fresh air that our Massachusetts Democrats, progressive compared to those in the rest of the country, and their nominal opponents the centrist Republicans, are being challenged from the Left. We’ve had a quiet subdued far-left pro-peace, pro-pot Congressman, John Olver, for many terms. He’s done well, but many complain that he’s too quiet, too timid. Where’s our national reform of Marijuana laws? Where’s our investigation of Torture and other War Crimes?

Enter Michael Engel, Independent candidate for Olver’s Congressional seat. Engel is a true grassroots reformer, a democratic socialist in the mold of Bernie Sanders. Below is his first YouTube video:

Another progressive Democrat not usually challenged is State Representative Ellen Story. She’s a friend of the Left, far Left of the national Democratic Party. Her opponent is longtime hard-working dedicated Cannabis activist Dan Melick:

http://melickforma.com/

Cannabis reform is on the move in Massachusetts. This election cycle, one of every eight voters in the Commonwealth will be able to vote on a Cannabis question. In the more progressive parts of the state, many will be voting on a non-binding resolution instructing their elected representatives to support legislation to legalize, tax and regulate Marijuana. In the more conservative parts of the state, people can vote on whether they want to legalize medical Marijuana. 53 State House districts and several State Senate Precincts will make Marijuana choices in November. Scott Brown’s former local constituents will vote on a pot question. We expect Cannabis reform to win widely.

More than two decades ago at a wild party benefiting Leftist Community Radio station WMNF at the Cuban Club in Ybor City, Tampa, I opened for an ecstatic abstract jazz genius called Sun Ra, who told people he had been taken up onto the "mothership" and interrogated by "a guy who looked like Spock." Be that as it may, the son of one the members of Sun Ra’s space band, Governor Deval Patrick, has turned out to be kind of middle-of-the-road. The same can be said for both his Republican and Independent opponents. The powers that be would prefer to keep Green-Rainbow candidate Jill Stein out of the debates, but the debates need her, for the taste of honesty, so it won’t just be three men agreeing with each other.

Below is a link to the first debate in which Jill Stein was included, the Cape Wind Debate. Stein asked the Governor to give back political donations from sources trying to influence his decisions, including Cape Wind. One can see in this debate three candidates who want to sell us a bill of goods, and one who wants to reveal the truth:

http://www.massinc.org/Events/2010/08/First-Gubernatorial-Issues-Debate.aspx

by normanb

Those of Us Who Study History are Condemned to Watch the Rest of the World Repeat It

1:57 am in Uncategorized by normanb

Those of Us Who Study History are Condemned to Watch the Rest of the World Repeat It — By Norman B

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
– George Santayana

“Those of us who study history are condemned to watch the rest of the world repeat it.” — Me.

Here I am in the liberal bastion of Amherst, Massachusetts. Yet Islamophobia and related hatred of people who are different is in full bloom. I am not Muslim or Arab, but you can’t tell that from looking at me, because I have a long gray beard that can strike fear into the 10,000 or more Freshmen in this University town, who’ve never before lived in such a multi-cultural Mecca (if I can still use that term). Lots of times during my daily walk across the UMass campus, a new Freshman has seen me, and turned to run away in terror. It will probably happen again next week. I can laugh at it, but it hurts immensely.

Earlier this year, a mosque was proposed, but the haters – I mean "the neighbors" – prevented it, falsely claiming that the traffic would be a problem.

And even at the most liberal place in town, Hampshire College, I am severely discriminated against. To put into perspective just how liberal Hampshire College is: For several years Saturday Night Live aired a continuing skit with a running gag about Hampshire students: No grades, no tests, no departments, students openly smoking pot. It’s all true; and it’s alright with me.

As it happens, I am a Minister in a radical church, the Church of the Tree of Life. Hateful opportunist politicians have attempted (unconstitutionally, I think) to ban the Church by illegalizing its Sacraments, the most famous of which today is Salvia Divinorum, an herb that doesn’t hurt anyone, but makes most of its users uncomfortable and scared, because it takes them to the place of prophecy. The Church began in San Francisco around 1970, and has operated without problems here in Amherst more than 15 years. Three-quarters of the attendees at our events have been Hampshire College students.

So when a local newspaper ran a disinformation article about Salvia, I was compelled to act, including placing fliers at Hampshire College, as I’ve done for more than a decade. Ah, but I don’t look like a college student, even a Hampshire student, and I don’t dress like a professor. So, as I was boarding the bus to leave, a Hampshire College policewoman approached me with her hand on her gun, trembling profusely. I felt like I was facing that poor McCain rally attendee who, speaking of Candidate Obama, stammered “He’s – he’s a – a Arab!” John McCain, of course, said “No he’s not; he’s a good man,” as if the two are mutually exclusive.

Well, I was banned from Hampshire College, despite my history there. (I had worked there, I had performed there, had been involved in political organizing there, and my activist/performer career had been the subject of a student’s dissertation, among other connections.) And if you think that’s bad, you should see what happens if I try to get onto a plane.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
– George Santayana

“Those of us who study history are condemned to watch the rest of the world repeat it.” — Me.