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of the week

Website of the week is Face The Issue. New (well, at least previously undiscovered by me) music of the week is The MC5; a Rebel Spell from the ’60’s…

There’s these US Coast Guard ads running on local radio; these short audio vignettes of Coasties in action, with voiceovers from both some parochial voice and declarations of role from (apparently) young serving Coasties themselves.
Example: (audio track of helicopters and waves, “We’ve got, you, ma’am”, etc.) Young voice: “We are the rescuers!”; (audio of clanging bootsteps, radio static, “Looks like 80 kilos, sir”), voice: “We’re keeping the streets clean!”, (audio of more bootsteps and generalized firearms-readying, “Sector 8 is clear!”), voice: “We are the first line of homeland defence!”, Parochial bit: “The US Coast Guard: On the frontlines to protect our American way of life.”
Now, whoa there. Being a mariner, i have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for the branches of the USCG who man and service Lights & Aids, who perform Search & Rescue, and who regulate and administer marine traffic and safety. But this paramilitary “On the frontlines” BS? Gimme a break.
So, everyone knows by now that the USCG is a branch of Homeland Security, which to me sounds like the emphasis has shifted from those traditional and honourable roles to all this drug-sniffing, terrorist-busting, self-fulfilling “threatened security” fantasy. Hell i always thought that the American Way Of Life (AWOL?) was all about drugs, violence, and hedonism anyways. Yeah, i know the dream is supposed to read something like, “Here is the land of opportunity for the average guy to work hard and realize all his dreams”, but in modern parlance it sounds more like, “Here is the land of opportunity for the rich to get richer and blow it all on gluttonous excess”. More recently, it’s starting to sound like, “Here is the land of homogenization and Federal ID systems, where the best bet for the average guy to get steady work is with some contracted paramilitary security firm”.
Every time i hear some voice calmly invoking the thrall of “homeland”, i’m immediately reminded of another land, a “fatherland” in the central Europe of the 1930’s.

Last night (election night) i was watching a bit of C-Span, and caught a couple interesting lectures by political science profs. It was only just then, on the night of the election that i actually came to understand what the Electoral College is all about.
i feel left with the feeling that America, the so-called champion of freedom and democracy, is actually the worst example of democracy that i can actually understand first-hand. i voted for the first time this year, out of principle more than anything else. However, i now understand that my voting in a “locked” Democratic state didn’t do fuck all towards dethroning Bush. Maybe if i’d been a voter in Ohio, i might hold onto some belief that my vote wasn’t worthless.
Then there’s the salt in the wound; the popular vote went to the Republicans! If the Electoral College hadn’t been in play, Bush still would have won. What’s with that? i can feel disenfranchised, and point a finger at a failed democratic process, but who do i blame for a popular Republican victory? The politicians? The media? The spin and hype? Nope… there’s only one place to put the blame.
Americans. You sheep. We sheep. What a bunch of fucking losers. All of us.
Americans represent the utter pinnacle of the 3% of the “haves” in this “have-not” world. In a few states, Nader got 1-2% of the popular vote. How does this read to me? 3% of the world has the power to make everything better for the other 97%, but only 3% of those elites are voting their conscience? What does that work out to? Something like less than 0.1% of the global populace is both able and willing to affect positive change in our world through direct democratic action! The rest are essentially just doing as they’re told.
Yeah, okay, Serious and Professica; you told me so. Still, what’s better; be on the losing team, or rant from the sidelines? i’m not so sure myself.

For a Canadian, i did something politicaly interesting and important today. i voted in the American general election. i filled out my absentee ballot card and sent it off to be counted in the election of November 2nd. By dint of my American birth, and one American parent, i am a Canadian who happens to hold a US passport, SSN, and the right to help affect changes for all Canadians by voting in the USA. (more…)

In Canada, i have voted with my conscience for arternative parties for years, typicaly for the Green Party. i don’t do this because i think they have a chance in hell of winning, but because of the simple fact that the mainstream parties are having to pay attention to the ever-growing portion of the popular vote that goes towards alternative parties. In some Canadian elections of recent years, the percentage of the popular vote going to all alternative parties combined has been nearly equal to the percentage difference between the top two mainstream parties. In some way, i hope this shift will force the mainstream parties to widen their definition of “mainstream”.
For you American readers, a brief explanation: The Canadian Prime Minister (roughly equivalent to the Pres.) is not voted into that office. In a Cdn general election, citizens vote for local federal representatives (MP’s, equivalent to members of Congress). The ridings in which the MP’s run for office are roughly apportioned by population, and the MP’s are usually, but not always, members of some political party. Sometime previous to any federal election, members of political parties (MP’s and citizens alike) gather in convention to elect a party leader. In the actual federal general election, the party which has elected the most MP’s forms the government, and the leader of that party (an MP themselves) becomes the Prime Minister.
Unlike the USA, the Prime Minister’s powers are less executive, and depend more upon the voting power of the MP’s. The really interesting development that this can lead to is actually happening right now; the party with the most elected MP’s has more than any other single party, but less than 50% of the total amount of MP’s! Furthermore, in this last election, a single independant MP was elected, becoming, in essence, the swing vote upon which the whole works swings. That one independant vote in Paliament can seriously impede the Prime Minister’s usual ability to push through bills and ammendments by brute majority vote. This year’s Canadian federal election was an example where one non-partisan person has come to have a huge say in how the government runs.
Well, the above tactic of voting for the percentage may not work for this, my first US voting experiment. In preparation for my American voting, i did a lot of research. In state issues, i have clung more tightly to my conscience, selecting Libertarian and Green candidates where i feel they deserve support. In the federal arena, however, i felt that i had to modify my tactics. There are some decent alternative presidential candidates out there, with compelling arguements. In many ways, i’d rather see Nader in the White House than either Kerry or Bush. Still, the blunt fact is that Bush must go; i hate to feel as though i’m voting against a candidate rather than for one, but there it is. If the anti-Bush vote is divided, Bush will win, and such are the executive powers of the President, even given a Democrat majority in Congress or Senate, bad things will continue to happen to the world. Since all the Presidency requires is a bare majority, every vote against Bush must go towards Kerry, even if he’s simply the lesser of two evils.
Now, i’m still trying to understand the whole Electoral Vote thing, and am still not sure if my presidential vote goes towards the candidate or an electoral voter, or somewhere else. Can anyone explain that one to me?

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