Before I moved down to Florida, the only political weirdness in the sunshine state of which I was aware was the widely-known 2000 chad counting controversy. In retrospect, some might look back on the 2000 election and call that time in Florida politics the good old days. From comments made by political commentators in the national media that Ohio was supposed to be this election year's Florida, I may have been lulled into my state of Zen Apathy prematurely. Looking closer at the 2004 election myself, I find I am counting cubans, conspiracies, and crazies.
First, just so you don't think I'm being some ranting, angry white man from America's red state south -- because this is your first visit to Thunderstorms, you see my face in the header image, and instantly assume I must be making a racist or xenophobic comment -- everyone seems to counting cubans. I just wanted to state that upfront because I know from past experience that people read my entries weeks and months after a topic is fresh in people's minds from some obscure word phrase hit on internet search engines. To be perfectly honest, I used that phrase simply because I am apparently becoming a big fan of using alliteration in my blog entry titles.
Nonetheless, people are counting cubans in Florida. One cuban, Mel Martinez, is now Florida's first cuban Senator. If you think the Bush and Kerry campaign advertisements on television were negative and nasty, let me tell you that the Senate race between Betty Castor and Mel Martinez aired some television ads that were also particularly vicious and extremely ugly. Whether those ads made a difference in the election of Mel Martinez to the U.S. Senate, I leave for others to analyze.
Personally, it's going to take a lot of legislative wisdom from Martinez to erase the initial feeling I have that he may just be yet another Republican Lackey and Bush Buttboy, based upon the campaign he ran. His campaign staff may have just been star-struck from the attention their little sunshine state race received from the architect, Karl Rove, and the producer, Stuart Stevens.
So, let's count cubans. On Google, the headline is "Hispanic vote vaulted Martinez into Senate". Less enthusiatic is the headline in the actual story to which that Google assertion is linked -- the Palm Beach Post. If you happen to be a Hispanic voter living there, you're only given credit for having "probably propelled" the good Senator into his new job. However, if you live in Daytona Beach, you'd be sold the same story and minimized further with "Conservative vote aids Martinez's narrow win".
Hey, I don't mean to be too Chomsky-esque about all this, but if I were a cuban living anywhere, I would be a little pissed. As a mattter of fact, I might even ban the U.S. dollar in my native Cuba. If you thought a few Florida newspapers manufactured consent, how would you like to stand in this line to convert your horded emergency cash into Cuban monopoly money?
Why that would be like voting in the 2004 election and not having it count, or something. I will leave us counting conspiracies and crazies for tomorrow. Probably I will have to file those things under the "Conspiracy Theories in the Imajica" and "You can't make this shit up" (YCMTSU) categories.
As a sidenote: I think the big conspiracy is the president staying out of the news and chilling while the media forgets about the election in its ADHD manner only to blast your soft malleable brain cells this week with Operation Phantom Fury in Falluja, Iraq. Public statements by Bush will undoubtedly stress the grand autonomy of the Iraqi PM Allawi and how he and 'commanders on the ground' made the decision on the timing of going into Falluja. Plausible Deniability.
When it comes to shaping reality, remember Neo -- There is no spoon.
For now, though, I would like to draw your attention to 5.82 MBs of audio goodness that you can download. You get a free MP3 download without the pesky RIAA lawsuits. I wanted to do something cool for this MP3, but I'll just give it to you without fanfare for reading this far. It's my reaction to the 2004 election.
When you listen and think about Evil Stevie, imagine a mix between South Park's Timmy and Stephen Hawking with a Taxi Driver mohawk haircut -- watching a streaming pirated copy of Sid and Nancy, scootering frantically back and forth in his electric wheelchair, and plotting the next big hack. If you don't understand any of those pop-culture references, google them yourself. I can't do all the work for you.
Unlike the prepared speeches that the Bush administration carefully crafts for the president, like Karl Rove's stirring victory speech this week, there are times when the leader of the free world can display a little of his own personality. Usually, after George Bush stumbles through the prepared remarks for a press conference announcing some agenda or policy -- carefully trying to pronounce those pesky foreign words or straining to hold back his nervous snickers during nuanced economic phrases -- the president can then just relax a little. He seems most comfortable with himself during the conversational post-press conference question and answer period. During a recent press conference, a reporter erroneously asked the president what his thoughts were concerning the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
The president snickered and replied, "Ding Dong. The wicked witch is dead."
Oddly putting a finger in his ear, he then said, "Oh. I mean, God bless his soul."
I'm so glad the Mandate Monkey kept his job. John Kerry would have been all serious and broke into a boring explanation of the history of the Israeli people post WWII, mixing in concerns for Palestinian economic projections, and the latest intelligence coming in hourly on the tense mood of the region. Nobody wants to hear that shit. We like our president to be unplugged from reality and able to explain what snacks he likes to eat while watching Nascar racing with his dog, Barney.
One thing has been troubling me, though. If Red State America gave George Bush a historic victory and a mandate to continue to fuck the country sans vaseline for four more years, who didn't vote for him?
According to projections and analysis, about 60% of all the people in our country got off their ass and voted, and 40% did not. I'm not entirely positive about the exact numbers, but let's do the math in the easiest way possible. Not including about a half-million people that apparently voted for Ralph Nader, about half voted for Bush and the other half voted for Kerry.
The voters basically broke down into three groups: 30% (plus some) for Bush, 30% (minus some) for Kerry and lastly, the Nader hippy commune -- who we'll leave alone while we're doing mathematics -- so as not to create any troubling karma and harsh their buzz as they design hemp camping trailers.
If you add the two groups of people in the country who did not vote for George W. Bush in 2004, 40% plus 30%, that equals 70% of the citizens of the United States. I'd argue that Bush's 30% doesn't equal a historic mandate for shit. I'm sorry, but it just doesn't add up. Cheney can lie, but math doesn't.
Now, I have been busy with my own life and not having any children of school age means that I'm a little ignorant to what new math curriculum is popular now. This topic totally flies under my personal radar for the most part. I do know most kids go to public schools, some go to private schools and some are home schooled. However, what I don't know, or must have missed, is this: when did the No Child Left Behind program start teaching creationist mathematics?
If you read Zen Apathy carefully, you may notice something is missing from that sarcastic rant. True, there aren't any links in the entry. That's the apathy part. I don't honestly care if you believe a word I blog because I know you are too lazy to follow any off-site links anyway. But, also nowhere in it do you read me mentioning the president by name. And not thinking about the Dubya is very zen. Unfortunately. I mistakenly thought I was going to be able to take some well-deserved time away from even blogging the name George W. Bush. Since the president snuck in a quicky news conference before his own upcoming 4-day vacation at Camp David, I had to make one quick observation while it was on my mind. Every once in a while there is a germane convergence of current events, reality, and the things about which I blog.
This doesn't happen too often -- even though I read basically the same news as everyone else -- but when it does happen, it's my duty to help you connect the dots or look at a given situation through the eyes of the Unbeheld. Besides having a little creative fun with mixing reality with absurd sarcasm, I figure all the cool kids are doing it nowadays anyway. I was never very good resisting peer pressure.
First of all, many commentators, pundits and politicians may have made the mistake of reading too much into Karl Rove's victory speech that the president read aloud in front of the class on November 3rd. There were people incorrectly assuming that some magic olive branch of bi-partisanship had appeared in the victory speech.
Reaching these goals will require the broad support of Americans. So today I want to speak to every person who voted for my opponent. To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support and I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust. A new term is a new opportunity to reach out to the whole nation. We have one country, one constitution, and one future that binds us. And when we come together and work together, there is no limit to the greatness of America.
Moderate political commentators, obviously brain-addled from a long election night, must not have realized this speech was likely written on several cocktail napkins in a trendy bar within the Republican National Convention green zone, earlier this year, in New York City. Each sentence fragment short enough for Dubya to read aloud was likely passed around to each GOP delegate sitting at the table and if they could repeat the words with a straight face, without laughing their ass off, they had to drink a shot. George W. Bush's victory speech is no political olive branch -- it is the cynical product of a GOP drinking game.
Right-wing conservatives, more than simply being brain-addled, are deliriously joyful but absolutely delusional with the president's successful retention of his job. Media Matters has a great post on conservative media rushing around to declare Bush's victory 'historic' and a clear 'mandate'.
Proving these moderates wrong and these conservatives delusional is easy. One need only to read a small portion of the owner's manual for the Perpetual Delusion Machine (PDM) and apply it to the election and some of the first words out of Bush's mouth after being elected.
It's incredibly laughable when you make the comparison between right-wing rhetoric and propaganda with reality. However, if I were a right-wing Red Stater who voted for Bush, I'd be fairly pissed off if I were actually able to shake the fog of faith out of my mind long enough to truly see the light of reality. It's just laughable to me because I have been practicing my Zen Apathy.
For example, on GOPUSA, in Moral Values Important Issue to Voters:
"In the state of Ohio, where marriage was on the ballot, there can be drawn a direct line between voter turnout in support of the amendment and President Bush's small margin of victory there," Perkins commented. "Without Ohio, and the president's public support of marriage, President Bush could not have won."
Now let's check the Perpetual Delusion Machine owner's manual:
The leaders of the backlash may talk Christ, but they walk corporate. Values may "matter most" to voters, but they always take a back seat to the needs of money once the elections are won. This is a basic earmark of the phenomenon, absolutely consistent across its decades-long history. Abortion is never halted. Affirmative action is never abolished. The culture industry is never forced to clean up its act. Even the greatest culture-warrior of them all, Ronald Reagan, was a notorious cop-out once it came time to deliver.
One might expect this reality to vex the movement's true believers. Their grandstanding leaders never produce, their fury mounts and mounts, and nevertheless they turn out every two years to return their right-wing heroes to office for a second, a third, a twentieth try. The trick never ages, the illusion never wears off. Vote to stop abortion; receive a rollback in capital-gains taxes. Vote to make our country strong again; receive deindustrialization. Vote to screw those politically correct college professors; receive electricity deregulation. Vote to get government off our backs; receive conglomeration and monopoly everywhere from media to meatpacking. Vote to stand tall against terrorists; receive Social Security privatization efforts. Vote to strike a blow against elitism; receive a social order in which wealth is more concentrated than ever before in our lifetimes, in which workers have been stripped of power and CEOs are rewarded in a manner beyond imagining.
Dubya: "With the campaign over, Americans are expecting a bipartisan effort and results. I will reach out to everyone who shares our goals and I'm eager to start the work ahead."
I guess you could call that a conditional olive branch. You could also read that to mean in the "If you're not with us, you're against us" way, too. So, now that those pesky gay men who are silly enough to desire to get married riled up the right-wing backlash vote in 11 states, like Ohio, and helped retain the mandate monkey-in-chief, on what 'moral values' issues will the Bush administration spend its political capital?
According to CNN: He said his administration would focus on economic recovery, fixing an outdated tax code, allowing younger workers to invest their Social Security withholdings, and building on education initiatives.
And true right-wingers are alreadybitching about the recent post-election comments coming from Arlen Specter concerning Roe v. Wade and possible Supreme Court nominess that might overturn it. Today, I did see one person who seems to understand the Perpetual Delusion Machine -- Paul Craig Roberts.
So, if anyone of you have followed any of my handy-fucking-dandy off-site links in this entry -- and aren't being total 1102 Slackers by actually doing something like reading the information there -- you won't be all left-wing explody over Bush being re-elected. And, I guess, if you're a right-wing person -- gloating time may already be over.
Not that you care, or that I care that you don't care, but just as information -- it's back to Zen Apathy tomorrow for me.
Like everyone else, I stayed up as late as I could channel surfing between television news stations watching millions of Americans casting their vote for President of the United States. After a marathon session of alternating between being a couch potato and a nervous coffee-drinking butt monkey, it became agonizingly apparent I was watching the United States of America swallowing the friggin' red pill, state by state.
I also realized I was becoming extremely irritated with the television news anchors bringing me the play-by-play of the electoral action to the comfort of my sofa -- and I wasn't even watching FOX news. In my state of looming dread and frustration, I wanted to reach through the TV and kill these messengers. Trying to avoid the 2000 election night embarassment of calling a state for one candidate erroneously while at the same time teasing me with breaking news in the upcoming segment, these talking heads began exacerbating the surging acid reflux in the back of my throat by continually telling me this time that the election in a growing number of states were "too close to call" or "to soon to tell".
"Shut up!" I screamed, seconds prior to swallowing my mouthful of stomach bile. Couldn't they see the big electoral map of the country was bleeding out in red, time zone by time zone? Rather than spitting on the television, I thought I should conserve my powerful stomach acids for the final tally.
The country was going -- some would say falling -- to the incumbent president. The immense fractal blob of red states on the electoral map was not simply a hallucinatory trick of vision seen through my own increasingly tired, itchy and red eyes.
"What about the battleground states?" I asked the annoying television through a burp of gastrointestinal stew. What about Ohio, and Florida, and Michigan, and those other places you effin' hairsprayed wimps are too scared to tell me about? If only I could see just one state on the electoral map blink blue instead of red in the middle of the country, there might be some hope to staunch the right-wing hemorrhaging. Doesn't anyone here have a friggin' Blue Band-Aid?
As Florida seemed to be going red and before the battle could be totally lost without hope, the blue states pulled a left flanking maneuver. They obviously must have had airport security delays in making the trip from the East Coast to the West Coast of the United States. U.S. Homeland Security Director, Tom Ridge, is from Pennsylvania. Clearly he impeded the electoral process by forcing people to stuff the overhead bins with their heavy boxes of provisional ballots. I have Ridge's memo on this.
Right about the time that California went blue, despite the Govinator's illegal use of time-travel to sway his state's voters is when I heard the phrase "nail-biter" for the two-hundred-and-sixty-third time from the election day color commentators. Something physical inside my head popped. I heard it.
Something Pavlovian happened next. With the growing storm of right-wing red engulfing the rural middle countryside and millions of good people seemingly falling victim to the perpetual delusion machine, the continued use of the phrase nail-biter triggered an unconscious Rorschach desire deep inside me to hunker down.
Perhaps because I have not fully achieved my 12-step program of media de-programming since the intensity of enduring the recent quadruple hurricanes in Florida, I decided to employ the same strategy to hunker down that seemed to have protected me through Hurricane Jeanne. After all the stressful pre-storm preparation has exhausted my mind and body, hunkering down is not bad adivce. So, I fell asleep.
I awoke to a new day of hope and co-operation in the United States of America. John Kerry gave his concession speech, sparing us all the insecurity of electoral litigation and the price of a stamp on the get-well-soon Hallmark card for Supreme Court Chief Justice Rehnquist.
Although I was busy at the time, I did watch and listen to John Kerry thank his supporters and say other sincere concession speech-like things. Likewise, Dick Cheney gave us the new president and Karl Rove's speech seemed equally as moving. So, that was nice.
Now that all the high-energy politix is over, I can curl up on my couch and stare at the perpetual delusion machine without worrying about a renewed presidential mandate for empire building. There are no more "I approve this message" messages to share with me with scary wolves, and ostriches, and eagles.
I can return to my long-pursued goal of attaining Zen Apathy. Now, I don't care and I am perfectly happy. Well, don't bet all your money on that.
It has been estimated that nearly 20% of American voters have already cast their vote in the presidential election before a polling place even opened its doors this morning. Some have voted using mail-in absentee ballots because they are not physically able to cast their ballot in their own voting precinct today. Absentee voters could be the elderly or disabled, people simply travelling today on business or pleasure, or our U.S. military personnel scattered all over the globe.
In some 32 states in the U.S, of which Florida is one, early voting was permitted. Even without hard data to cite at this time, I can confidently suggest that tens of thousands of people in every county within each early voting state took advantage of that opportunity. Anecdotally, my local news has been running stories of people waiting in line for three or four hours to cast their vote early.
These tenacious people have already found their reason to vote.
Today, my only sincere worry is that some people may find any lame excuse not to get off their fat ass and cast their vote. By all accounts, voter turnout will be high -- compared to previous elections. If voter turnout is about 60% of the population and 80% of them still need to vote, the little live countdown clock on CNN showing that there is only 6 hours left before the first poll closes makes me nervous. Tens of millions of people need to vote today. You need to find your reason to vote and hang onto that reason in your mind. You may find yourself standing in a long line, in terrible weather, and perhaps in the dark.
Our respected blogdrive friend, Brandon Starr, has been thoughtfully categorizing his top ten non-policy reasons to get rid of George W. Bush. He found his reasons to vote. Read them. Maybe you will find your reason to vote. Sinister Ninja has a reason to vote. His girlfriend is being deployed to Iraq, for the second time time, in less than two weeks.
I also imagine that these people can also tell you a reason to vote. They don't confuse or equate patriotism and supporting our troops with the political psychological warfare being waged by Cheney and his cronies. These warmongers: who meet in secret, use fear against our own citizens, and create more death for the sake of corporate profits and personal wealth -- while at the same time -- they foist the psychologically stunted, born-again, idiot son of an ex-president in front of the country to innocently smile like your next-door neighbor, snicker, and thank everyone for their prayers.
Some of you, during your busy day today, may actually see the Perpetual Delusion Machine about which I blogged yesterday, if you go shopping. I didn't know it at the time, but Walmart's contribution to the electoral process -- being such a good corporate citizen -- will be to broadcast the FOX news coverage of today's election on the innumerable televisions in the thousands of its superstores. How absolutely considerate of them. If you go to Walmart today, you can observe the Perpetual Delusion Machine in action.
I urge you not to fall victim to fear today -- fear of the PDM liberal boogeyman, that is. I can safely assure you that if you vote for John Kerry today, the world will not stop spinning. I've looked everywhere, and I haven't found any suggestion that John Kerry wants to take away your bible, force your daughter to have a late-term abortion, or make your son marry your wife's hairdresser, Charles.
On the other hand, if you've prayed about it and feel compelled to vote for George Bush -- please take at least the next 1100 minutes to pray for the families of the dead U.S. service personnel already killed in Iraq. If you're still compelled to vote for George Bush after that, take another 100,000 minutes before you vote for Bush-Cheney and pray for the Iraqi people who have also been killed.
War and death are contagious human situations that grow exponentially like a viral disease. I honestly don't think our planet can survive four more years of this insanity, but that just my reason. You have to find your own reason to get rid of George Bush and his warmongering puppet masters. Once you have that reason, do whatever it takes today to make your own reason known by voting.