Birthday blues

November 02, 2006 by barbara

by barbara

November 2. My birthday, shared with such notables as Patty Wetterling, Marie Antoinette, Daniel Boone, Warren Harding, James K. Polk and k.d. lang. This Scorpio loves birthday pie. Custard. With raspberries.

November 2. Mexico's Dia de los Muertos. Day of the Dead. A time to celebrate those who have gone before us, as they say. Consumable goodies for this occasion include sugary skulls and coffins'"treats for the anticipated one-day visit of the dear departed. Some families even gather at cemeteries to remember. It's a festive holiday. I like that. Maybe I'll do lunch with my dead parents at Fort Snelling.

November 2. The date in 2004 when Americans gave George Bush and company a free pass and a blank check to press on with their helter-skelter agenda. The day that assured many more Years of the Dead and a moribund Congress to boot. November 2, 2004 left us nothing to celebrate. Nada.

November 2. A day with a mixed track record. I'm hoping that whatever November 2's may be left to me, we never again experience the hijacking of the United States presidency, please and thank you.

Today, I drove past a particular neighborhood house as I do most days unless I go blocks out of my way. I don't know these people, but their yard is festooned with Republican campaign signs. I considered Trick 'r Treating at their place the other night.

My fantasy had them opening their door, smiling indulgently, parentally even, expecting a small costumed kidlet. But instead, they would find super-sized me, standing there bagless, shining a big light on their lawn signs. And I would ask them, "What can you be THINKING?? Help me understand this."

This is what I want to know: Is anyone thinking, really? Or is the vast majority of the American populace sleep-walking through these times, holding fast to old habits, i.e., voting strict party line no matter what?

I was raised in a Republican family, so I know how that goes. Point of fact, I was that person for many years. My kin and I were generally well-educated and reasonably well-informed, but everything entered our brains through an immensely fine partisan filter and was further refined in full-strength partisan stew once it got there. How I got from there to here is a story for another time. Suffice it to say, I'm over it.

That said, it's a complete mystery to me how any American'"whatever their political persuasion'"could possibly survey the current landscape and conclude that all is well. It's not.

We're mired in a deadly war that we have no idea how to finish. Our Constitution is under siege. This government operates shrouded in secrecy. It wants (and sometimes illegally seizes) control over our conversations, our emails, our protests, women's bodies and couples' coupling. National debt is at a nosebleed level. Corruption and cronyism in government is rampant. And even as our planet melts, Republican "leadership" denies (except during the days just before the election) that we're knee-deep in environmental trouble, moving toward something catastrophic and irreversible.

In the past 48 hours, pols and pundits and not a few blockheads have expended countless amounts of time, energy and money nit-picking John Kerry's unfortunate gaffe. You remember John Kerry? The man who served in the United States military with honors and distinction? Whose body took hits for his country? Yes, that John Kerry. It is symptomatic of these times and this administration that Kerry's blunder has been elevated into a Big Hairy Deal by cowardly individuals who fled from military service.

The real deal is what the next two years will look like if we empower this administration to continue its blood-letting'"globally and locally. Our soldiers and Iraq's soldiers and citizens have been bleeding to death by the thousands. Our nation is hemorrhaging money on the Iraq war. Our civil rights are being gutted. Florid prose? You tell me.

Here's my deal. An open invitation to Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Greens, moderates, immoderates, the pious and pooh-poohers, the proud and the profane to declare a partisan moratorium for 24 hours on November 7. It's time for a national reunion.

This is the people's country. We have the power to say, "Whoa! Enough. Time for a major course correction." The principal tool at our individual and collective disposal is the ballot, assuming the vote results are tallied honestly. Even that is open to debate under this administration, which underscores the urgency for change.

Think hard before you consider casting a vote for anyone with an asterisk (* Incumbent) or an R (Republican) by their name. Really, really think about it. Consider the condition of this country and the world. Politically, economically, environmentally, socially, medically. Consider the international standing of the United States six years ago compared to now. Consider how you feel at the end of each day. Fearful or hopeful? Proud or apologetic? You know the drill.

Then vote your principles on November 7. Even if it means crossing party lines. I know from my own experience that it's a tough decision. But sometimes it's essential. This is one of those times.

If the next two years don't bring genuine promise of national renewal and an uptick in hope, vote the rascals out. It's the American way, or at least it should be.

Posted in


Anonymous (not verified) | November 1, 2006 - 11:00pm

Happy Birthday!!


BJ (not verified) | November 2, 2006 - 10:22am



Paul H. (not verified) | November 1, 2006 - 11:42pm

Thanks Barbara for your musings of dismay and doubt in Thursday's blog about your neighbors who have the Republican signs in their yard. Thanks even more for speaking the fear that underlies much of what haunts the back of my mind in nightmares about 2000 and 2004. Garrison Keillor referred to it offhandedly the other day in one of the funny bits he does for Common Dreams.

Will some techie, maybe a kid of 20 or so, at the appropriate signal from a Fox Network news manager, tap a key on a board like the one I'm using, that will wipe out my vote, and those of a bunch of other folks? Can they do that in places where there are paper ballots anyhow? Will we wake up on Wednesday, November 8, to find that astonishingly, the Republicans have kept control of both the U.S. House and Senate, and Katherine Harris has overcome a 15-point deficit in the polls to win the Florida Senate seat formerly held by Democrat Bill Nelson?

I appreciated John Conyers' work in 2000 and again in 2004, when Barbara Boxer made similar, short-lived objections in the Senate. Those courageous people are made to seem like malcontents however, while I notice that Chuck Hagel, Republican Senator from Nebraska, has not come forward to explain how his Diebold machines which will tabulate many votes in Florida, Ohio and elsewhere have been tamper-proofed against mis-counts.

Conspiracy theorist? Maybe. I want to hear from the woman from Black Box Voting that all her fears have been allayed, from Greg Palast that he is now reassured that we won't see a re-play of the weird glitches that Ken Blackwell tells us didn't occur in Ohio, before Ken steps into the booth to vote for himself for governor. I want to believe it may be worthwhile to stay in America, that I shouldn't move to Windsor, Ontario, and spell my former country with a "k".

I want to live in a country where people want to hear about the greening of America; where wrongs, like kids getting sick without health care, get righted (or lefted); where young people get enthused about making a difference for a planet that works for everybody, with nobody left out. It may not be impractical at all; it may be the only thing that will save us all. A friend who works at a citizens' lobby in Washington says the greatest insanity may be to act as if our country's reversed priorities are normal not themselves insane, and pretend that everything is going to be alright without ongoing citizen action. I suggest we actually get to say.


BJ (not verified) | November 2, 2006 - 10:21am

Thanks for writing, Paul. We're pretty much on the same page, aren't we, literally and metaphorically?! Here's my deal. I hate feeling paranoid. I hate doubting and doubting some more. I hate being afraid. None of these things is natural. I have railed at our own wingnuts (and we have plenty of them!) who throw around the word "Fascist" as an adjective for this administration. But some days . . . well, you know. Scary times. Much at stake. No margin for error. Yikes.



Paul H. (not verified) | November 1, 2006 - 11:53pm

Happy Birthday Barbara. Feliz cumpleanos. Let's make November 8 a celebration of Dia de los Vivos. The Day of the Living. And let's keep it that way for awhile.


mls (not verified) | November 2, 2006 - 10:30am

Happy Birthday, Barbara. May your present be a change of the "powers" in next Tuesday's election. I'll be making a great
BIG wish along with you.


Anonymous (not verified) | November 2, 2006 - 6:07pm

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