Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Thumbs Up

Roeper on Bush hatred.
Ned Roscoe Wonders About Voting

(from last to first, a Gubernatorial Candidate E-Mail Thread)

(Marc Valdez)
I think of American democracy like the Space Shuttle Columbia, accelerating into space, with chunks of foam blowing off the external fuel tank. It's hard to tell which little piece of foam might blow a hole into the wing. When voter participation is high and the know-how to run the democracy is widespread, America's flight possesses legitimacy and is safer as a result. When voter participation is low, and people become alienated from the business of government, America's flight becomes vulnerable to events.

Was September 11th the chunk of foam that blew a hole in the wing of American democracy? Many shields of secrecy fell on September 11th that stripped the electorate of proper knowledge and understanding of what our government is up to. The more-involved electorate of the 1850's or the 1910's wouldn't have stood for it without a fight, but we are more alienated these days (as we have been since WW II, actually), and easier to control as a result. We are now reaping the result (the Edmonds affair, with an apparent coverup by the government of a terrorist group recruiting within the FBI; the Halabi spy investigation, led by an overzealous alleged child molester; the disastrous Plame affair, which sowed distrust between the White House and the CIA, to the point where the CIA has to use serious muscle to bust up Ahmad Chalabi's Pentagon-approved Iranian spy ring; and the attorney-general-who-cries-wolf, whose terror warnings apparently have the sole purpose of distracting public attention when bad news regarding his department's inattentiveness dominates public discussion, such as when Saudi terrorists were learning how to fly).

"America is stable and prosperous enough that we can take it for granted that election results will be accepted peacefully by almost everyone." Remember, this did not happen in 2000! The clarification of ambiguous Florida results was stopped by judicial fiat. We have been living under a government of uncertain legitimacy ever since. How far will we go before, like Venzeuela in 2002, we start experimenting with troops in the palace and mobs in the street? Voter participation helps preserve the American experiment and helps preserve public safety. A safer public, after all, means less demand for blood products!

(Lawrence Steven Strauss)
Considering all of the people who have sacrificed and gave their lives so that we can live in a democratic society, I believe everybody should exercise his/her right to vote.

(Ned Roscoe)
Should I deregister? Should you? What do you think of this argument, you who are so passionately active?

If I was even more cranky than I already am, I’d ask the Registrar to remove me from the voting rolls. I am not disaffected because of my experience as a candidate. Running was fun. Nor did my experience as a proponent of a ballot initiative puts me off. I knew most people disagreed with me before I registered or petitioned. It’s not personal.

Napa’s election troubles are also not a factor. Compared with what I know of other counties, Napa’s election bureaucracy is a model of efficiency and John Tuteur is a stickler for proper procedures. Those who make their living from elections say that if people knew how their votes are handled, they wouldn’t bother to vote. Minor mistakes don’t bother me.

I can predict the election results but that won’t keep me from the polls. I enjoy the pageantry of democracy. Relatively rational people get seized with delusions of grandeur. When the system works well, money and power gravitate towards two poles which may not be very far from each other. The two camps bid for marginal positions without alienating their core supporters. It’s a great game, but I don’t have to play it.

America is stable and prosperous enough that we can take it for granted that election results will be accepted peacefully by almost everyone. We can argue about how decisions are made in Napa, California and the United States, but we know that elections play a smaller part than ballyhooed by editorial writers. As long as government has such tremendous power, the money will find a path to the power.

Duty to God, family, friends, employers, neighbors, regulators, and tax collectors keep me pretty darn busy. People ask me to register to vote and then to vote their way. I wish they’d get their priorities straight. I might vote Libertarian, because I like those people. They need every vote they can get to maintain their position as the 3rd largest political party. And, touch screen voting is fun like a cheap version of Vegas. But first, I ought to donate blood.
How Do Conservatives Know The Confirmation Process is Corrupt?

Priceless stuff!
Back to the Future

Movies of late have been a disappointment. I was disheartened by the way the promising start at that international congress of 'The Day After Tomorrow' was ruined, by riding roughshod over the Arab delegate's request for clarification of the counterintuitive information he was being fed. Angered, with no outlet, I decided instead to start a fight with the people sitting behind me who wouldn't shut up. Maybe when theaters dissolve into shouting and mayhem from annoyed fans who just wasted their money, moviemakers will spend $50 or $100 from their $100 million budgets and ask technical folks how to improve their screenplays. After all, those LA tornadoes in 'The Day After Tomorrow' could have looked so much cooler if the cinematographers understood that tornado funnels in close proximity dance around each other in whirling circles! Moviemakers are fools - we don't have to be fools. Rent more technically-exact movies, like 1953's "The War of the Worlds" instead!

Monday, June 14, 2004

Dear Russo, Marsh & Rogers

Last year, with the recall effort against Governor Gray Davis, many of us appreciated your leadership role in the state GOP in promoting healthy political debate. This year, I'm appalled to learn you are taking a leadership role in trying to get theaters from showing Michael Moore's new movie, "Fahrenheit 911." How hypocritical is that? That's a decision for theater management to make, based on what they believe audience interest is, without pressure from you. It's time you jokers back off!

Marc Valdez
(Former) Candidate for California Governor

Sunday, June 13, 2004

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

On Friday, I saw the documentary "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," an Irish production about the coup attempt that nearly overthrew Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela. The film had a refreshing lack of nuance: Hugo Chavez good, his enemies (the globalization goons called neo-liberals...basically what we call conservatives in the States) bad. The left-right divide is so sharp in Venezuela: like a heightened red-blue U.S. divide! There was a lot of talk on the Right about the corrupt values of the Left: all that was needed was the appropriate "wedge" issue to exploit!

Coup attempts really cause a lot of tension and chaos: In the absence of Chavez, who had surrendered and been jailed incommunicado, the struggling government swore in the Vice President. I liked the attempt at solemnity during the swearing-in ceremony, on recently restored National TV, while an idiotic ringtone interrupted the Oath of Office and people scrambled to find the stupid cell phone. Solemnity was so hard to reach, even though the situation could not have been more grave: instead, with all the endangered lives, people were overwrought with emotion. The twelve or so of us in the theater had a good time, pumping fists in the air. I wish I understood more about the political background, but that would have just complicated things.

Feels like we are in the 60's again! Throw away all that heavy baggage about how things are more complicated than they seem. Be gone, shades of gray! No more malaise! That must mean Michael Moore's new movie is approaching release. They had a trailer for that too, and it looked pretty good, with little irony, and many opportunities to cheer for the good guys.