Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Up Side of Calamity

Few people relish the thought of getting caught in a hurricane, tornado, tsunami, flood, earthquake or a man-made disaster. Most of us try to avoid pain, sorrow and misery. Yet, for all the negatives a calamity bestows, there IS a silver lining.

Calamity tends to bring out the best in many people. If you don't believe this, consider the recent example of Hurricane Katrina.

While the response of the government (federal, state AND city) was woefully inadequate, this cannot be said of everyday citizens. Many people took it upon themselves to reach out to others in need. The media reported about many who drove hundreds of miles to make a positive difference in the lives of strangers.

More importantly, the labels we often utilize in our social relations seemed to vanish in thin air. Republicans and Democrats, young and old, black and white, straight and gay, Christian and non-Christian, rich and poor came together to lend a helping hand. People, who might normally never interact with each other, stood arm in arm and shoulder to shoulder.

The experience of calamity tends to reinforce the idea that we share more in common with our fellow beings than there are arbitrary things that separate us.

It's too bad that, once the adrenaline rush of calamity passes, we return to our self-built fortresses of intolerance and exclusivity.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Learning to Bite My Tongue

I haven't written anything on my blog for 2 weeks. It's not that I haven't had anything to say, but my life is about to undergo some significant changes. For starters, I'm moving to Washington state. Beyond that, I'm entering a new "job" in which I am not allowed to voice PUBLIC political opinions.

For these reasons, I've altered my profile to mask my identity. I'm sure this sounds rather strange (maybe even fishy), but hopefully, in about 1 year, I'll be able to explain it to those of you who regularly happen by.

For now, I'll be posting entries less often, probably every week or two. I'll probably curb my political passions a bit. I think I'll focus on more arcane subject matter...just to be safe.

Yes, I'm going to have to learn to bite my tongue. I just hope that I don't find myself one day biting it off altogether!

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Voting -- It No Longer Matters

Wanted to pass along another indictment of America's so-called "democracy". I found this article at the Coastal Post. It documents that George W. Bush is not the duly elected president of our nation. It's sad that a person, who LOST both presidential races in 2000 and 2004, has occupied the White House for two terms, nonetheless.
New Data Shows Widespread Vote Faud In 2004
By Peter Phillips

In the fall of 2001, after an eight-month review of 175,000 Florida ballots never counted in the 2000 election, an analysis by the National Opinion Research Center confirmed that Al Gore actually won Florida and should have been President. However, coverage of this report was only a small blip in the corporate media as a much bigger story dominated the news after September 11, 2001.

New research compiled by Dr. Dennis Loo with the University of Cal Poly Pomona now shows that extensive manipulation of non-paper-trail voting machines occurred in several states during the 2004 election. The facts are as follows: In 2004 Bush far exceeded the 85% of registered Florida Republican votes that he got in 2000, receiving more than 100% of the registered Republican votes in 47 out of 67 Florida counties, 200% of registered Republicans in 15 counties, and over 300% of registered Republicans in 4 counties. Bush managed these remarkable outcomes despite the fact that his share of the crossover votes by registered Democrats in Florida did not increase over 2000, and he lost ground among registered Independents, dropping 15 points. We also know that Bush "won" Ohio by 51-48%, but statewide results were not matched by the court-supervised hand count of the 147,400 absentee and provisional ballots in which Kerry received 54.46% of the vote. In Cuyahoga County, Ohio the number of recorded votes was more than 93,000 greater than the number of registered voters.

More importantly national exit polls showed Kerry winning in 2004. However, It was only in precincts where there were no paper trails on the voting machines that the exit polls ended up being different from the final count. According to Dr. Steve Freeman, a statistician at the University of Pennsylvania, the odds are 250 million to one that the exit polls were wrong by chance. In fact, where the exit polls disagreed with the computerized outcomes the results always favored Bush - another statistical impossibility..

Dennis Loo writes, "A team at the University of California at Berkeley, headed by sociology professor Michael Hout, found a highly suspicious pattern in which Bush received 260,000 more votes in those Florida precincts that used electronic voting machines than past voting patterns would indicate compared to those precincts that used optical scan read votes where past voting patterns held."

There is now strong statistical evidence of widespread voting machine manipulation occurring in US elections since 2000. Coverage of the fraud has been reported in independent media and various websites. The information is not secret. But it certainly seems to be a taboo subject for the US corporate media.

Black Box Voting ( reported on March 9, 2005 that voting machines used by over 30 million voters were easily hacked by relatively unsophisticated programs and audits of the computers would not show the changes. It is very possible that a small team of hackers could have manipulated the 2004 and earlier elections in various locations throughout the United States. Irregularities in the vote counts certainly indicate that something beyond chance occurrences has been happening in recent elections.

That a special interest group might try to cheat on an election in the United States is nothing new. Historians tell us how local political machines from both major parties have in the past used methods of double counting, ballot box stuffing, poll taxes and registration manipulation to affect elections. In the computer age, however, election fraud can occur externally without local precinct administrators having any awareness of the manipulations - and the fraud can be extensive enough to change the outcome of an entire national election.

There is little doubt key Democrats know that votes in 2004 and earlier elections were stolen. The fact that few in Congress are complaining about fraud is an indication of the totality to which both parties accept the status quo of a money based elections system. Neither party wants to further undermine public confidence in the American "democratic" process (over 80 millions eligible voters refused to vote in 2004). Instead we will likely see the quiet passing of legislation that will correct the most blatant problems. Future elections in the US will continue as an equal opportunity for both parties to maintain a national democratic charade in which money counts more than truth.

Peter Phillips is a Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University and Director of Project Censored. Dennis Loo's report "No Paper Trail Left Behind: the Theft of the 2004 Presidential Election," can be viewed at

Sunday, October 2, 2005

Two Wrongs

Growing up, I was taught that two wrongs don't make a right. I don't think this was a lesson passed down only in my family. I think a lot of families try to instill messages of this kind.

Lately, I'm beginning to wonder. It doesn't appear that Salem Mayor Janet Taylor or any of her merry men were taught such things.

Case in point -- Keizer Station. This new mega-development on the outskirts of Keizer is sure to hurt many Salem downtown businesses and Keizer businesses along River Rd. It will pull people away from each ciy's core which will mean more people driving more vehicles more often and for more miles. If all this wasn't bad enough, most of the stores that will populate Keizer Station are not local businesses, but big chains.

With all this in mind, one would think that the Salem City Council would decide to make a stronger commitment to downtown Salem to mitigate the future effects of Keizer Station. Unfortunately, the Council is discussing doing the EXACT opposite. Instead of focusing on downtown business, the Council has decided to consider putting a mega-development ACROSS I-5 from Keizer Station.

This would mean even more people driving more vehicles more often and for more miles away from our city's center and away from our shiny new convention center.

As national columnist Dave Barry often writes, I'm not making this up.