Americans Need to Take a Deep Breath II

Further to my post about Americans going too far in their political partisanship, I see that CNN has reported on the issue, airing a segment that highlights vandalism and arson attempts against both Kerry and Bush campaign properties.

Andrew Reeves makes a good point in his comment to my post: that the media which focuses on violent events such as these (“if it bleeds, it leads”) could well be perpetuating the cycle. It’s likely that, despite the number of Kerry and Bush campaign headquarters that have been the targets of violence, that most have seen little more than angry shouts from isolated passers by. On the other hand, highlighting violent incidents could well give the impression that one or both parties are under siege, leading to defensive behaviour, and more such incidents.

So, maybe I’m overreacting. The problems are probably smaller than they appear. They still amount to asking Americans to stop seeing their political opponents as “the enemy” but as fellow Americans. What’s the answer to this? I’ve no clue.

With that in mind, this story bears watching.

Voters Outreach of America AKA America Votes tears up Democratic voter registration forms in Nevada.

Company claiming affiliation with non-partisan ‘America Votes’ to register voters in Oregon is actually GOP consulting firm Sproul & Associates, Inc.

West Virginia and Pennsylvania:
Sproul & Associates AKA America Votes workers in WV and PA refuse to register Kerry voters.

Democrats in Oregon have complained that canvassers for Arizona based Sproul & Associates have been pressuring residents to register as Republicans so that they can get paid.

Arizona Nader campaign was assisted in its petition drive by an unlikely figure: the ultra-conservative former executive director of the Arizona Republican Party, Nathan Sproul.

I’m less concerned about Arizona. Getting more people on a ballot is not a serious crime against democracy in my eyes, and if Democrats feel threatened by the prospect of Nader splitting their vote, they should ask themselves why they failed to keep the Nader voters, rather than why Nader is “stealing” their votes. Alternately, they could try promoting the Libertarian on the ballot. The Oregon incident sounds more like a simple misunderstanding to me, but the incidents in Nevada, West Virginia and Pennsylvania are pretty serious accusations that should be looked into. Although some have tried to deflect the Nevada accusation by saying that it came from “a disgruntled employee”, the test still has to be done. If the “disgruntled employee” is wrong, he needs to be charged with mischief. If he’s right, then Americans everywhere need to sit up and take notice.

The incidents of Democrats possibly registering dead people in Ohio, (this article exaggerates the actual number of real problem registrations) shows that the Democrats are no angels themselves, but this does not in any way excuse these incidents, as some have sought to do.

It’s one thing to disagree strongly with an opponent. It’s quite another to disagree so strongly with an opponent to seek to silence them illegitimately. When this happens, a line gets crossed. But when further steps are taken to physically prevent people from voting, you not only cross the line but, as Marge Simpson says, you throw up on it. It doesn’t matter if the tool is intimidation or dirty tricks. If the accusations listed here have any truth to them, then it’s a big black eye in what is supposed to be the greatest democratic nation of the world.

Most Americans are better than this, and they deserve better treatment than this.

One comment on Kos caught my interest, about the need for election day registration.

During the Canadian election, as a deputy returning officer I had the ability to register people at the ballot box. They only needed to show a valid ID with proof of address, and they only needed to be at the right polling station, and I could fill out the correct forms, get them signed and witnessed and give them a ballot.

On the day that I handled 152 ballots, I processed something approaching a dozen registration forms, mostly to people who had moved into the area; some to people who hadn’t voted for years.

Although I’m sure that American returning officers are overworked as it is, it would defuse the registration controversy significantly if people could register when they got to the polling station. The fact is, a number of people, Republicans, Democrats and others, run the risk of being disenfranchised by accident or dirty deeds, and they may not realize it until the time comes to vote. At which point they’ll be sorry-out-of-luck.

Wired Bush?

Tom Tomorrow was one of the first to pick up on the suspicious bulge in George Bush’s jacket during the first presidential debate. There has been speculation that Bush was getting answers relayed to him through some sort of wireless device. As the days go by, the media is getting a little more interested in it.

Whether Bush cheated or not is not my concern. I’m just watching the debate over the incident with amusement. I got a chuckle over Tom Tomorrow’s comment:

if I were on the Kerry campaign, I’d be working doubletime today to figure out a way to either jam the signal or to break in on it. Imagine Bush trying to stay focused while someone recited old Beat poetry in his ear, or maybe just read names out of the phone book. What could he do? Complain that someone was unfairly interferring with the system he’d set up in order to cheat?

Lehrer: How do you respond to Senator Kerry’s accusation, Mr. President?

Bush: (Hand to ear) … I’m… a little teapot… short and stout. Here is my handle… Here is my — hey, wait a minute!

Of course, the Bush Administration might see Kerry’s (ahem) breakthrough as an opportunity to improve diplomacy at the U.N.

Khadafi: (In Libyan) “I am telling the world that we have abandoned our weapons programs. We have stopped funding terrorist organizations. We welcome the full attention of the U.N. The World! George Bush can look anywhere in our books. Tony Blair can look anywhere in our books! Jacques Chirac too! We have nothing to hide, now would you please, please let us back into the international community? Please?”

Voice of Translator: “We’re developing weapons of mass destruction as fast as possible and are going to use them against everybody! How dare you tell us what to do? We’ll show you! We’ll show you all! George Bush is a weenie! Tony Blair is a weenie. Jacques Chirac is a really big weenie! You want to invade us? Go ahead! We dare you! We double dare you! We triple dog dare you! Nyah!”

Canada Racks Up $9.1 Billion Annual Surplus. Why Are The Conservatives Mad?

Well, one reason: in the last election campaign, their platform was pasted because their five year plan was $50 billion more optimistic in its base numbers than the Liberals. If they were wrong, what would they cut? These financial numbers put them just $1 Billion shy of the numbers they would need to enact their policies without serious spending cuts.

Still, I congratulate Prime Minister Paul Martin for his prudence, and I am pleased to see that our country remains healthily in the black. I believe it’s good policy to overstate expenses and understate revenues. Would that the Ontario Conservatives have done this during their last year in power. Then the $5.6 Billion provincial deficit in Ontario might not have come to so many as such a surprise.

Dan thinks that we should perhaps spend this surplus on a few good submarines. I’m inclined to agree with him.

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