2012 POTUS


alberta summer landscape

alberta summer landscape (Photo credit: Jodene)

Yesterday I renewed my driver’s license. I have been here that long. Alberta doesn’t have an equivalent to the DMV offices down in the States. The provinces farm out as many petty bureaucratic tasks as possible to private contractors, so in The Fort, we renew our driver’s licenses at an insurer’s, which allows handles marriage and vehicle licenses in addition to registration for provincial health cards and voting.

Depending on the time of the month and the time of day, wait times range from 5 or ten minutes to literally seconds. I walked in and right up to a woman behind the counter who I vaguely know because her son goes to Dee’s school and they have been in the same class on and off since kindergarten.

She took the notification I was mailed, scanned it, asked me if my height and weight were roughly the same – so I lied about the weight part, which is a bit more now, had me sign twice and took my money. Next came the non-smiling photo in which I look grim but on a good hair day and I walked out with a temporary license and the assurance that within a week or so my new license would appear by post.

Five or six minutes – tops. Couldn’t help but remember my last trip to the DMV in Des Moines, which I had to strategically plan for minimum time suckage and it still took over 30 minutes and required me to pass through security. Everything even remotely governmentally related means passing the inspection of this or that rent a cop. Aside from the passport office, I have yet to need to run a security gauntlet for anything here in Canada. Even then, the security guards were jovial types who allowed Dee to go inside and wave to her Dad as he waited to renew his passport last spring.

As the time comes closer for me to take my citizenship test and acquire Canadian status for Dee and myself, it’s little things like these that reinforce for me that I am more home than I ever was in the Midwest state where I was born in the U.S.

While the Roman circus that is a POTUS election cycle drives the bigger discounts – among that Dee and I have more civil rights here than we did there – the smaller things have bigger impact.

Two weeks ago, our ward councillor threw an open house for those of us who live on the outer edges of our county. Rob and I attended, chatted with him and though it is obvious that he is an ambitious young guy who undoubtedly has a future on the larger provincial stage, it was also clear that he knew our area, its issues and that he wanted us to come to him when we need help navigating the bureaucracy.

Back in Iowa, whether it was Dubuque or Des Moines, ordinary people aren’t afforded access to those that make or influence the rules even at the most local level, which is where it matters most of all. Access comes with status that is acquired mostly by birth but also by wealth and network. Our councilor owns businesses where he can be found and will take the time to talk with you (and take notes while he is doing it). He answers emails personally. He usually knows about the issue before you bring it up.

Even at the provincial level, our MLA representative replies promptly to emails and follows up. I have even gotten prompt replies from our MP’s (Member of Parliament) office offering advice and assistance.

Granted, Canada is smaller and Alberta is smaller still, and maybe that’s some of it, but there is a commitment to the importance of citizens that I never witnessed in the land of my birth.

“You should have been born here,” Rob said once. “Meeting me just set the universe right in that respect for you.”

It’s difficult though to disengage from the U.S. Just stop caring about what a cess pool Congress has become and how corrupted the office of the Presidency is after Bush and now Obama.

There was an article in a UK paper this week discussing the fact that while the rest of world realizes that whoever the POTUS is, he’s nearly powerless to affect matters in his own country let alone the world (unless it is through military meddling), most Americans labor under the delusion that they and their government is a vital player and that other countries care deeply about the outcome of this election. The truth though is that while they think that Obama might be a slightly better choice, nothing catastrophic will happen if it ends up being Romney.

My concern is mainly for the state of freedom, which is losing ground daily down there. People I know, well and only virtually, vehemently believe that the American way is the freest and bestest of anywhere but it’s not. And that they don’t know this … is a bit maddening.

I want to tell people “emigrate!”. If you are young(ish) and have skills, there are countries aplenty that will welcome you. Places where health care is a healthy mix of government control and private enterprise. Privacy is a right worth prizing above all other concerns. The common good is just taken as a given. Court systems routinely side with the people in matter of government over-reach. Your vote actually counts even if you don’t live in a “swing state”.

I have to work on the letting go, but someday I plan to be just as bemused by Americans and their elections as any other Canadian. It’s a process.

 

 


facebook

facebook (Photo credit: sitmonkeysupreme)

In contrast to the 2008 election year, I have barely written a word about politics or the POTUS race here on my blog.

One of the reasons is the fact that I have decided not to vote. After all, I am working toward the disgruntled American liberal’s unicorn known as Canadian citizenship.  In terms of immigration, a person should – in my opinion – be all in or all out.  I am moving towards “all in” and this means I need to disengage from America politically though I concede it is difficult for me not to give voice to my concerns and frustration as I watch the land of my birth spiral down the toilet.

But mostly I haven’t written much because I have Facebook, which makes it easy for me to share, cut/paste and move on.  Writing a blog post requires more of my time because I have to explain my views in my own words where Facebook just needs a link and a blurb.

This morning I shared yet another article stating that President Obama still isn’t hope, change or all that remotely different from Mitt Romney despite the valiant efforts of the MSM (main stream media) to keep actual facts about the man’s first term from a public that it has stirred into an irrational frenzy over vagina politics and health care.

After my husband read the following quote:

“…during the transition itself, Bush’s Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson offered a deal to Barney Frank, to force banks to write down mortgages and stem foreclosures if Barney would speed up the release of TARP money. Paulson demanded, as a condition of the deal, that Obama sign off on it. Barney said fine, but to his surprise, the incoming president vetoed the deal. Yup, you heard that right — the Bush administration was willing to write down mortgages in response to Democratic pressure, but it was Obama who said no, we want a foreclosure crisis.”

He looked up at me and said, “Is this true? You should really blog about this rather than waste it on your Facebook friends if it is.”

It is true.  The article goes on to state that Neil Barofsky’s book, Bailout, discusses how that tax cheat, former Goldman Sachs employee and now Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner, revealed that the foreclosure mitigations were never about homeowners but about slowing down the process to allow banks the ability to slowly absorb the pain.  It was all about financial institutions for Obama – because he was their candidate not yours – before he even took his oath.

Obama the hope and change was only about hope for Wall Street, who backed his horse, and the change has allowed corporations to come to the point that they are at today. A place that allows them to pocket 93 cents of every dollar  as opposed to the mere 63 cents they collected during the administration of Bush II.

That Obama and Romney approach the near twinship on more topics than not was neatly driven home during the third Presidential debate when Romney seconded the POTUS so often it was almost embarrassing, but my Facebook friends, the majority of whom are female, many bloggers and/or political commentators in one form or another, have been drinking so much MSM kool-aid that a person might think they were already living in a Margaret Atwood dystopian novel, have their fingers in the ears or have muted my feed via the “unsubcribe”.

The truth can’t free them because the truth is too depressing to contemplate and they don’t want to hear it.

That they have been duped by yet another male politician who only finds his inner vagina when he needs actual vagina-possessors to vote for him.

If a person stops believing in the mirage the media pushes so relentlessly, the real Obama is not that inspiring. He professes to be in favor of immigration and making things easier for long-term undocumented workers to become legal Americans while sanctioning the aggressive deportation of them.  More illegal aliens – 93% of them law-abiding and productive – have been deported under the Obama regime than any other POTUS.  He’s launched a hard-ass crackdown on perfectly legal under state law medical marijuana businesses and their customers in states like California, for example, despite the fact that he has been an admitted casual drug user in the past and used that admission to sell himself as a friend of medical marijuana to get himself elected in 2008.

His administration has softly and covertly promoted Chinese investment in American infrastructure and actively pursued trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that would off-shore American jobs even while it accused Republicans of being the reason so many American manufacturing jobs have disappeared over the last decade.

He favored charter over public schools and the linking of teacher pay to standardized test scores, removed labor protection from the FAA authorization bill, promotes the punishment of whistle-blowers, lied repeatedly about NDAA and has second term plans for expanding his kill or indefinitely incarcerate list over which he, and only he, is judge, jury and prosecutor.

In terms of women’s rights and issues, Obama is no less a man than any other man in Washington D.C., refusing to back Plan B for over the counter until it began to cost him political points with women and then refusing to make it available to teens under 17.  He supports the Hyde Amendment, which means that women who access health care via Medicaid programs have no access to abortion – even if their lives are in endanger.  He’s done nothing about predatory lending practices, which disproportionately affect women, nor has he done anything of consequence to stem the corruption in the foreclosure industry that hits women more than men as well. His amped up drug war and deportation jihad are also “women’s issues” because of the disproportionate effect that he chooses to ignore while touting instead his “johnny-come-lately” stance on birth control access.  Because it’s an election year.  And he crows about a health care act that is losing teeth by the day as employers began to strategically shift to the “part-time is the new full-time job” regime to avoid having to provide health insurance to workers once the HCA kicks in.

In 2008 he decried the Patriot Act, which as POTUS he fought to extend to 2014. He said he’d close GITMO but instead he is having it renovated. He said he’d get the troops out of Iraq, which he did, but only because the Iraqi’s kicked America out when it wanted to leave a few thousands troops behind and expected the Iraqi government to grant them immunity if they broke Iraqi law or … killed people without cause.  Apparently both things were a problem.

One of my Facebook friends responded to the article I posted with the following:

“The final point of this article is to vote for a 3rd-party candidate.  I have done so in the past, and found that my ideological stance did nothing to change things.”

But the point of voting is not to change things as much as it is merely a granting of permission or assent. Voting for X candidate or Z candidate means you are okay with what he/she is going to do and/or has already accomplished, and I find it hard to believe that anyone can be okay with the steady erosion of privacy, civil rights and the wholesale power grab of the Executive Office that includes – but isn’t restricted to – the arbitrary slaughter of civilians in the pursuit of alleged terrorists who haven’t been publicly charged or legally adjudicated.  Fine with that?  Dead children?  Or the support of Al Qaeda groups (the terrorists who supposedly caused 9/11) to topple the governments of other countries like Libya and Syria?

I wouldn’t begin to claim that Romney will be an improvement. He is such an enigma his own party is afraid of what he might or might not do, but knowingly casting a vote for Obama is to sanction all that he has done and all that he plans to do. It’s saying that you totally approve things like murder and skirting the Constitution whenever it is inconvenient.

My father, who died four years ago today, stopped voting for mainstream candidates after casting his ballot for Gerald Ford in 1976, which he did even as he encouraged my 12-year-old self to stump fervently for Jimmy Carter. He was quite proud of me despite not agreeing with me.

From 1980 on, he voted third-party. It was John B. Anderson in 1980 by the way. Unlike me, he went to his grave knowing that he never sanctioned politics that have effectively ruined what little credibility America has left as an actual democracy and plunged it -perhaps prematurely – into its twilight years though arguably that might not be a bad thing for the world in the longer run.  Dad changed nothing in the grand scheme but his efforts locally – through his work in building up a small parish credit union to an independent banking institution that has supported the efforts of thousands in my home town – counts for more than any ballot I ever cast – including the one for Obama in 2008.

Change is local. Your local candidates matter because you can access them, and they are more directly responsible to the people in their community than any POTUS ever was.

A week from this coming Tuesday, you will vote. Although I have promoted defensive and lesser evil voting before – I won’t ever again.  It’s bad for one’s karma, which always circles back at some point and it’s often bitchy when it does.


Or maybe just I am.

Dad’s first cousin on his mom’s side, Joe Fagan, got up in GOP hopeful Mitt Romney‘s eager to be POTUS face today on the subject of Medicare and Social Security. While I don’t disagree with Romney that given its current trajectory Medicare and SS benefits aren’t particularly sustainable given the current and projected worker to retired person ratio, I applaud Joe for exposing Romney for the corp whore twat he is.

“Corporations are people, my friend.”*

Dear Universe, hear me while I scream until my tonsils burst into flames.

My earliest memories of Joe are his visits when he was attending seminary in Dubuque. He would stop by in the evenings, sometimes bringing along a fellow classmate, and he and Dad would reminisce and argue about current events and politics. It was the late 1960’s. Joe was ten years younger than my Dad, who’d served in the Navy in the last months of WWII. To say that they disagreed in those turbulent times would be understating.

Joe admired Dr. King and supported Bobby Kennedy. Dad didn’t understand civil protests and voted for Nixon – every single time.

But Dad always said, “Joe stands up for what he believes is right.”

The organization Joe worked for in Des Moines for decades until his retirement not long ago has been accused of being “socialist”, which in Iowa – indeed anywhere in America these days – is code for “not American”. But they fought for the underprivileged, the working poor, the over-looked and the people who are and will continue to bear the brunt of the economic slide.

He never sought fame or power or riches. He was a working guy with a wife, who taught school before becoming a principal, and two kids.

By standing up and not letting Romney shush him with charm and platitudes, Joe Fagan was doing what every American has the right to do – question the motives of those who seek to lead us. To rule us.

Good on , cuz!

*This statement – destined to be a POTUS 2012 classic – is apparently already available on t-shirts with bumper stickers to follow I imagine.