Friday, October 31, 2008

About ACORN...

fall Leaves 2
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Donna Brazile has an excellent response about the non-controversy surrounding ACORN...

Experts who have examined the allegations against ACORN have concluded that there is no significant threat of voter fraud. For the fraudulent registration forms to turn into fraudulent votes, they would have had to get through the election officials' vetting systems and make it onto the voter rolls.

Next, someone would need to arrive at the assigned polling location with valid identification that lists the same name and address as the fraudulent registration. (This is fairly difficult to do if you're dead or named Mickey Mouse.)

Then, having passed all these hurdles, that someone would cast a vote that will cost him or her 10 years in jail. Just find me someone willing to spend 10 years in jail just for a chance to vote for Obama or McCain?

Let's look at the facts.

* ACORN labeled as "suspicious" the fraudulent registration forms a few of its paid volunteers submitted.

* Moreover, ACORN delivered them to election authorities under that heading.

* ACORN offered to help election officials pursue prosecutions against those who filled out the fraudulent forms.

The so-called ACORN scandal is no more than a few canvassers trying to meet their quota and make easy money by cheating the system.

Ask yourself how likely is it that someone would go through the effort and risk of submitting multiple false registration forms, find an accomplished forger capable of producing IDs of sufficient quality to trick election officials, and then spend Election Day racking up a couple extra votes at the potential cost of spending a decade in jail?

A simple cost-benefit analysis tells us this is not a reasonable or significant threat. The real threat here is the Republican Party using attacks on ACORN as a calculated strategy to justify massive challenges to the votes cast in Democratic-leaning voting precincts on Election Day. And this is what is truly outrageous, but where is John McCain's concern when it comes to people being harassed at the voting booth?

The same Republican Party shouting "Voter fraud!" is also furiously trying to prevent Ohio from registering voters at early voting sites and suing to shut down some early voting sites in Indiana...

Let them sputter and fret. A swelling of the voter rolls strengthens our democracy. The more eligible voters we have participating in the process, the stronger we are as a nation -- and the more accurately the results on November 4 will reflect our nation's choice for president.

Read the full essay here

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dear Undecideds...

A letter to undecided Americans, from a dear sister in Morocco:

In the Middle Atlas Mountains of Morocco, where there are more sheep than automobiles, you might think elections happening in America, half a world away, might hold little interest for ordinary people. But you would be wrong. I know more Moroccans than Americans here who got up at 3:00 in the morning our time to watch the last debate. Even shepherds in the village of Tarmilat (population 120) ask me who I’m voting for.

I recently took a group of visiting Americans to that village to see a women’s weaving project Americans and Moroccans worked together to create. The women graciously received their guests, displaying looms and rugs, serving tea and fried bread. As we looked out over the sheepfolds and the rolling hills, a car with a blaring loudspeaker passed below us on a dirt road. “Elections,” I explained, meaning local elections. One young man commented, derisively, “I bet these people are for Obama.”

His words angered me. They felt egocentric, assuming that ours were the elections in question, and prejudicial, presuming that “these people” would all automatically prefer a candidate he clearly disliked. Did he mean that Arabs wanted Obama because Obama has been accused of having terrorist links, and for him Arabs were terrorists? Was it because the shepherds are dark-skinned? Was it because they are poor?

But he’s right about one thing: the vast majority of Moroccans hope that Obama will be America’s next president, not because they are terrorists (they aren’t, just as Obama isn’t), and not primarily because of their skin-color or poverty. Moroccans want Obama to be president because they realize our world desperately needs change, and much depends on the course the US will now choose to take, for Morocco and the world.

Morocco was the first country to recognize the sovereignty of the United States in 1777 and is still a significant ally of the US in the Arab world. Morocco supported America’s war on terror from the start. But the war in Iraq and the death of countless Iraqi civilians, with subsequent images of Abu Ghraib and the revelation that the CIA operates secret prisons here, all this has caused America to lose all credibility in this part of the world and beyond. The radical change in what America symbolizes is hard for Americans in the USA to understand, but it is obvious to those of us who have lived overseas through the transition: America has become the occupying enemy, the oppressor, the evil empire in people’s minds.

Americans may ask, “Why should we care what they think about us?” 9-11 is one answer. Al-Qaeda may well have been carrying out its own suicide mission in 9-11, attacking the US to intentionally provoke a precipitous response of such overwhelming force as to, perhaps, annihilate the Al-Qaeda organization while at the same time creating a generation of bitterly angry and resentful young men and women around the world who will rise up to take up the mantle of anti-American hatred and violence. We squandered all the good will the world felt for us after 9-11 and turned it into a groundswell of malice.

This has hurt not only America, but also Morocco and other nations allied to the US who find their populations becoming increasingly disapproving of their country’s support of the American agenda. Supporting the US provides fuel for the fire of radical elements in the region. Unwise US foreign policy puts the security of its allies at risk.

If Moroccans support Obama, it is for the very same reason that I, as an American do: We see in Obama a chance for America to regain its integrity and stature on the world stage, to use its might and influence to lead the world as a member of the community of nations, to further America’s interests along with the interests of the rest of the world, not at the expense of the rest of the world.

A McCain presidency would only deepen the despair, resentment, and hostility the image of America currently evokes around the world. And we would all suffer the consequences.

But there is an alternative: Barack (which means “blessing”) Obama.

Karen Thomas Smith grew up in Lebanon Junction and Owensboro and is a graduate of Georgetown College. She serves as Christian Chaplain at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Leaving Babylon

Originally uploaded by paynehollow
One of my favorite cranky sages in the blogosphere is Eleutheros, found over at How Many Miles from Babylon, who explains quite poetically the benefits of leaving Babylon, or the System under which we mostly all toil.

His latest entry is a must-read. I'll excerpt it here, but you should check out the whole thing. He is writing in response to someone who asked him, "How does one go about 'leaving Babylon?' Good stuff.

To walk away from Babylon, you must have choices. Alas, it is likely you don't even if you most certainly think you do. Babylon, as with any exploitative and controlling system, can only exist by limiting and eliminating your choices. After all, if you actually have choices, you may in fact choose the things that benefit and enhance you and your family rather than things that benefit Babylon.

Babylon must eliminate your ability to choose. It does so with the help of two effective ploys. First, it will offer you false choices in order to distract you from the fact that you have no real choices at all.

A desperate maneuver of failed parenting is when a child is adamant that he does not want to go somewhere, you say, "We need to get ready to go now, do you want to wear the blue shirt or the red one?" The hope being that the child will become absorbed in choosing which color shirt to choose and forget for the moment all his objections about going in the first place...

For example, people are always asking us what sort of alternate electrical energy we are using, because, after all, if you are going to escape from Babylon, you surely don't want to be connected to the grid! It's a false choice to choose, say, solar electric or grid electric. If you "escape" being tied down to a monthly electric bill, you are saddled with the expense of a depreciating and deteriorating electric system you own...

The second way in which Babylon enforces its no-choice policy is when there really is a choice you might make, Babylon convinces you that you really don't have that choice at all. To be able to raise any of our own food we have to borrow money for land, right! You have to go to college, right? Gotta have wheels, gotta have a credit card, right?

Wrong. Those, and many more, are all things Babylon chants over and over until the idea that you could do without them entirely is just beyond belief...

...Your escape from Babylon begins when you can say, "No, I have a choice. Oh, I can dine around Babylon's table if I choose, but if the Babyonian terms and conditions are odious, then I don't have to."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

If it Walks Like a Duck...

Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Was Thomas Jefferson a socialist??!! Did he believe in "soaking the rich" and that paying taxes is patriotic??!!

Say it ain't so, Tom!

"Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise."

~Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1785

"The collection of taxes... has been as yet only by duties on consumption. As these fall principally on the rich, it is a general desire to make them contribute the whole money we want, if possible. And we have a hope that they will furnish enough for the expenses of government and the interest of our whole public debt, foreign and domestic."

~Thomas Jefferson to Comte de Moustier, 1790

"The rich alone use imported articles, and on these alone the whole taxes of the General Government are levied. ... Our revenues liberated by the discharge of the public debt, and its surplus applied to canals, roads, schools, etc., the farmer will see his government supported, his children educated, and the face of his country made a paradise by the contributions of the rich alone, without his being called on to spend a cent from his earnings."

~Thomas Jefferson to Thaddeus Kosciusko, 1811

"The great mass of the articles on which impost is paid is foreign luxuries, purchased by those only who are rich enough to afford themselves the use of them. Their patriotism would certainly prefer its continuance and application to the great purposes of the public education, roads, rivers, canals, and such other objects of public improvement as it may be thought proper to add to the constitutional enumeration of federal powers."

~Thomas Jefferson: 6th Annual Message, 1806

And on and on I could go. Apparently, Jefferson also thought the rich paying more taxes was patriotic.

Darned socialists, sneaking into our history books and "founding fathers" all sneaky-like!

Here's another Jefferson quote, for the road:

"Those seeking profits, were they given total freedom, would not be the ones to trust to keep government pure and our rights secure. Indeed, it has always been those seeking wealth who were the source of corruption in government. No other depositories of power have ever yet been found, which did not end in converting to their own profit the earnings of those committed to their charge."

"I am not among those who fear the people. They, and not the rich, are our dependence for continued freedom."

Monday, October 20, 2008

Wild Places

Northern Flicker
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
The wind was rising, so I went to the woods.

So begins Wild Places, by Robert MacFarlane, which I'm currently reading.

I like that.

"The wind was rising, so I went to the woods." A man after my own heart.

The sun was shining, so I went to the woods.

It was a full moon on a snowy night, so I went to the woods.

The leaves rattled on the autumn trees, so I went to the woods.

Spring was breaking through all over, a gentle shower dripping from the trees, so I went to the woods.

What possible reason could there be for not wanting to go to the woods? The woods are ideal places to meditate, to hike, to explore, to write, to inspire, to pray, to dance, to be.

As Thoreau noted:

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

Or Burroughs:

Every walk to the woods is a religious rite, every bath in the stream is a saving ordinance. Communion service is at all hours, and the bread and wine are from the heart and marrow of Mother Earth.

Yes, yes, yes, let's go to the woods.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Can You Haiku?

Spiderweb 3
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
The People for the American Way (PFAW) organization is sponsoring a McCain/Palin-themed haiku contest.

Here are my entries.


Are You Qualified?

aw now gosh darn it
elite media, dontchaknow -
I can see Russia!

"Energy Expert"

Just 6000 years
The age of our old planet
or so says Palin

100 Years

One lone century
How many lives can be lost
'til we leave Iraq


Anyone else want to take a shot at it?

Or how 'bout a limerick?


Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Yer killin' me! Some comic politicians in the news...

"Well, I’m very very pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing, any hint of any kind of unethical activity there, ...if you read the read the report you will see that there was nothing unlawful or unethical about replacing a cabinet member..."

~Sarah Palin

[The report actually said that "Palin had the authority to fire Monegan, but the report by former Anchorage prosecutor Stephen Branchflower concluded that she abused her power as Alaska's governor, and violated state ethics law by trying to get Wooten fired from the state police."]


"Let me give you the state of the race today. We have 22 days to go. We’re 6 points down. The national media has written us off. Senator Obama is measuring the drapes, and planning with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid to raise taxes, increase spending, take away your right to vote by secret ballot in labor elections, and concede defeat in Iraq. But they forgot to let you decide.

My friends, we’ve got them just where we want them."

~John McCain



Bwa ha ha ha! Phew... great stuff.

They're not serious, are they?

On a more serious and uplifting note, check out an excerpt from a recent sermon at Jeff Street.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Buckley for 'Bama!

Originally uploaded by paynehollow
No, not the late William F. Buckley, but his son, Christopher Buckley, is the latest conservative to not only reject McCain/Palin but gone on so far as to endorse Obama!...

I’ve read Obama’s books, and they are first-rate. He is that rara avis, the politician who writes his own books. Imagine. He is also a lefty. I am not. I am a small-government conservative who clings tenaciously and old-fashionedly to the idea that one ought to have balanced budgets.

On abortion, gay marriage, et al, I’m libertarian. I believe with my sage and epigrammatic friend P.J. O’Rourke that a government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take it all away.

But having a first-class temperament and a first-class intellect, President Obama will (I pray, secularly) surely understand that traditional left-politics aren’t going to get us out of this pit we’ve dug for ourselves. If he raises taxes and throws up tariff walls and opens the coffers of the DNC to bribe-money from the special interest groups against whom he has (somewhat disingenuously) railed during the campaign trail, then he will almost certainly reap a whirlwind that will make Katrina look like a balmy summer zephyr.

Obama has in him—I think, despite his sometimes airy-fairy “We are the people we have been waiting for” silly rhetoric—the potential to be a good, perhaps even great leader. He is, it seems clear enough, what the historical moment seems to be calling for.

So, I wish him all the best. We are all in this together. Necessity is the mother of bipartisanship. And so, for the first time in my life, I’ll be pulling the Democratic lever in November. As the saying goes, God save the United States of America.


Wow. How about that?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Storm Damage

Storm Damage 4
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
From various Right-ish folk out there in Bloggyland:

"I thought the questions were crappy and although it was fair, it was rather boring. That played right into Obama's hands. At this point in the game, this is Obama's election to lose and unless John McCain starts getting his hands dirty, we will see an Obama presidency..."

"Sorry but he [McCain] didn't hot the home run that I wanted him to hit.
He wasn't bad,was just OK. And I'm afraid that's not going to be good enough."

"I'm not going to pull any punches here. I think the debate was terrible! The questions were the same old stuff. I think Brokaw could have done a lot better in picking the questions. I'm writing this right after the debate and I am very disappointed. I honestly don't even have an opinion on who won it."

"In light of his dismal performance in last nights debate debacle, It appears John McCain may be conceding the election...

We might grudgingly have to get used to the possibility that Barack Hussein Obama may be our next President. As distasteful as that is, it nevertheless is a distinct possibility."

"If this was McCain taking off the gloves then maybe he should put them back on.

It was an opportunity wasted and time is running out."

"We have a nations of idiots. Period. In one month from now this nation will get what they vote for. G-d help us all.

No home runs people for McCain - not a one. Sorry, but I believe even Sarah Palin and all her intelligence and charm cannot bail him out."

"As depressing as last night’s debate was (and I only lasted 10 minutes) it was a wake up call. Why am I so intent on keeping Obama from the reins of power? Will a McCain presidency only stave off the inevitable? Am I still putting my trust in princes?"

"I'm afraid that John Mccain lost by not winning. Just ot go in there and chat with Obama was a waste of tiem."

"The MSM spin is Obama won the debate which means McCain is done because he can't Win against the Bias support Obama receives.."

Do I perceive a bit of towel-throwing going on? Does it sound to you as if some on the Right are beginning to give up? That McCain is beginning to give up?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Shadows and Mists

Cool Shadow
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Has anyone heard this report?...

I was listening to the radio this morning and heard that McCain wants to change the debate topic for tomorrow night's Second Presidential Debate. The debate is to cover all topics (or perhaps specifically the economy?). According to this news report I heard today, McCain would like to change the topic from The Economy to Why Does Obama Have Pals That are Terrorists? (Roughly that - according to the news story, McCain would like the topic to be Obama and his ties to terrorism, or something like that.)

Well, yeah, I guess McCain at this point WOULD like to change the topic to something like that. Perhaps a second topic could be, Has Obama Quit Beating His Wife?

I tried to find this news story online and have not found it yet. Is this serious?? McCain is really grasping at straws here. And one could hardly blame him, he's having his bottom handed to him.

What I don't think he gets is that it is exactly this sort of behavior that is driving normal people away from McCain (and this sort of Republican action).

Now, if McCain seriously wanted to look into the associates of BOTH candidates - both his and Obama's - do you think he'd think that would be a worthwhile debate topic? Does McCain want to spend part of the debate talking about his involvement with the Keating Five? How about his endorsement from Oliver North - a man who McCain has not rebuked for his involvement in illegal selling weapons to IRAN so that he could illegally fund terrorists in Nicaragua? Terrorists that eventually killed tens of thousands of people!

Does McCain really prepared to make these topics of discussion in a debate? No, of course not. He wants the debate to be about Obama and his terrorist "pals."

McCain's candidacy is officially toast.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Democracy is a great institution and, therefore, it is liable to be greatly abused.

Democracy is an impossible thing until the power is shared by all, but let not democracy degenerate into mobocracy.

Democracy is not a state in which people act like sheep.

Democracy and violence can ill go together.

Evolution of democracy is not possible if we are not prepared to hear the other side.

Experience convinces me that permanent good can never be the outcome of untruth and violence.

I do believe that woman will not make her contribution to the world by mimicking or running a race with men.

Democracy, disciplined and enlightened, is the finest thing in the world.

Economics that hurt the moral well-being of an individual or a nation are immoral and, therefore, sinful.

The spirit of democracy cannot be imposed from without. It has to come from within.

My notion of democracy is that under it the weakest should have the same opportunity as the strongest.

The spirit of democracy cannot be established in the midst of terrorism, whether governmental or popular.

A reformer cannot afford to have close intimacy with him who he seeks to reform.

Peace will not come out of a clash of arms but out of justice lived and done by unarmed nations in the face of odds.

Today machinery merely helps a few to ride on the backs of millions.

If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man's superior.

If nonviolence is the law of our being, the future is with women.

My earthly possessions consist of six spinning wheels, prison dishes, a can of goat's milk, six homespun loin-cloths and towels, and my reputation which cannot be worth very much.

Happy Birthday, Gandhi.