“A choice between two fundamentally different visions of America.” Barack Obama
It has taken a couple of centuries of struggle by abolitionists, suffragettes, civil rights workers and union organizers, to bring this country out of its Founding Father ideal of only white male property owners being “created equal,” to a point where now women, African-Americans and even the working class and poor have the right to “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
But if you’ve been listening to Republican candidates around the country, whether it’s Todd Akin speaking of “legitimate rape” or Richard Mourdock saying pregnancy from a rape is something “God intended” or Paul Ryan saying that the best way to help the inner cities, “Is to help teach people good discipline, good character,” or, of course, the infamous capture on digital of Mitt Romney say exactly what he thought about half of America when he spoke of the 47% of people who don’t pay federal taxes, a group that includes the armed forces on duty, the elderly, the poor, “I don’t care about those people,” he said. So what we have in this election is a choice in an old struggle, between a slave owner’s idea of equality and everyone else. And we do not want to be an alarmist, but the major media keep telling us that this presidential election is too close to call.
Look at the electoral map and you see the country divided between the strongly Republican (Red states) and the strongly Democratic (Blue states), with the winner of a presidential election being determined by about seven so-called swing states, where neither party has a lock and which can go for Governor Romney or President Obama. Recent polls put the president slightly ahead in 6 of the states, but all within the polling margin of error which means it can go either way.
Now even if we believe Obama should sweep all the states, the pollsters tell us this election is coming down to the wire and being ahead by one or two points means nothing, particularly when you factor in the voter suppression strategy of the would-be kings, who have worked so hard to finally have their guy as a standard-bearer for the Republicans, and their widely-reported relationship to the manufacturers of voting machines. What is worrisome here is that the Wall Street Journal reports that the Diebold company’s former chairman Walden O’Dell, once wrote in a fund-raising letter for President Bush that he was “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president.” Diebold makes ATM and voting machines. The ATMs have secure software that give an accurate paper receipt for billions of transactions with a precisely traceable trail. The voting machines which tally the bedrock source of power in a democracy, can’t give a receipt and have a computer code that has been easily hacked. The company says everything is fine and we should take their word for it. That wouldn’t work with bank deposits and it’s unclear why it should work with voting. That it does, suggests it does so for a reason and these are the kind of men, who with a nod, a knowing glance, or a statement like O’Dell’s, encourage others who will stop at very little to make master happy.
When this uncertainty is added to the voting equation, polls that are within the margin of error provide excellent cover for voting machine mischief. We know New York State is overwhelmingly for Obama, and that a large popular vote, gives legitimacy to the office, but with the Red and Blue states virtually offsetting each other in the number of electoral votes, it’s the following seven states, the swing states, that finally decide a close election: Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin, Colorado, Iowa and New Hampshire. If you know anyone of voting age in those states, give them a call and confirm that they are among the 99% who need forward-thinking health and education policies, a twenty-first century energy policy, rational foreign and taxation policies, and then urge them to vote for Barack Hussein Obama for President. He’s going to need every vote he can get.
Whatever happens in the election, whoever wins by whatever margin or methods, we know that we will have to fight for everything we get. And that’s going to require organization and determination and the actions of individuals. Because what holds a community together are the actions of those committed to positively affecting the lives around them, bringing information, guidance or a helping hand. Whether it’s the Black Solidarity Day organizers or the message of attorney Benjamin L. Crump at the Men’s Day Celebration at Siloam Presbyterian Church, both are examples of the personal responsibility needed, especially now with the statistics that African-American communities around the country are faced with and the special economic forces that are transforming Bedford-Stuyvesant. Whoever wins, there will have to be plans, demands, unity and personal commitments, if African-Americans are going to remain as a significant population in central Brooklyn.
Hurricane Sandy: A portent of things to come?
“The beach is a mile away from my house! What’s the water doing here!?” this was the cry of a woman whose home was flooded out by the surge of water that brought devastation and the loss of life along the east coast. But New York City is unique in the majesty and complexity of its infrastructure both above the ground and below it. And the second devastation was underground in the labyrinth beneath the city. The New York City subway system is unmatched in the world, but in an age of rising seas, it has developed a design flaw, it runs on electricity and is now subject to occasionally being below sea level.
Even if you know nothing about electricity except what is written on an appliance label, you know that soaking electrical connections in salt water is contraindicated, and Hurricane Sandy has soaked a good portion of the electrical infrastructure and subway system in lower Manhattan from floor to ceiling. That Con Ed and the MTA are able to provide any service at all is amazing, and once they get the system fully running, I bet they don’t want to have to do it again next year. And if the engineers can’t solve this puzzle, then lower Manhattan will not be attractive for businesses or residence and the high points of Brooklyn— Clinton Hill through Bedford-Stuyvesant and out to Brownville— will become even more desirable now, because added to everything else, they are able to shed the rain into rushing storm sewers.
Hurricane Sandy has now made global warming a sudden fact for many people, and there is an opportunity to push hard for the transformation of energy production away from fossil fuels, and toward the conversion of sun, wind, water and tidal energies that are constant and unending. If that transformation is not made, then there is the likelihood that storms like Sandy, fed by the warming of the oceans and the laws of physics, could become regular occurrences for our grandchildren, who might find it normal to schedule their lives around the stormy season on the east coast. Sandy suggests it may already be too late.
David Mark Greavesdgreaves@ourtimepress.com