Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election Day, 2006

So I voted the other day. It was quite easy this time, as there were no waiting lines, as had been during the presidential elections in 2004. The polling was conducted in public schools here in New York City (all school kids have the day off on Election Day, though that might vary from state to state). The voting booths were set up in the school’s gymnasium, and staffed mostly with retired folks, who took visible pride in conducting their duly-sworn, civic duties. The old African-American lady who verified my registration must have been about 80 years old. It was obvious that the other ladies gave her that honorific little job to do, though they stood by to assist. In a sentimental way, that little gesture kind of moved me.

I counted 10 different political parties with candidates in the fray. They were:

Working Families
Rent Is Too High
Socialist Workers
Socialist Equality

The voting was done in these quite antiquated, mechanical lever devices which had a heavy curtain draping the voter in front of the lever board, displaying all the 30-70 or so candidates . Although voter fraud cases in New York City have rarely been reported (and I have a feeling no one wants to mess with the ladies in charge with electoral conduct), I’ve always wondered how long a state like New York will rely on these mechanical hulks. It seems there are so many ways where fraud is possible, - and if it’s possible, maybe probable - if New York ever becomes a state where key national voting decisions are made. It’s a worry, for anyone, of any party, who cares about democracy.

Later, in my busy day, I was surprised to find that almost all of the people I dealt with had taken the trouble to vote (though admittedly, I deal with a lot of hard-working, thinking people. My favorite bartendress, though, said she wasn’t going to vote, simply because she has no idea what the issues really are. Fair enough.) It’ll be interesting to see how this mid-term election compares in tally with other mid-terms in the past.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Terse Assessment on Iraq

If you're willing to look past the ongoing distortions in Main Stream Media, things are going rather well in Iraq. Significant oil revenues are now flowing into the coffers of the Iraqi government, surpassing pre-war levels. That could not be happening under wartime conditions. And most of that oil is not going to the US, but India. Additionally, China is now interested in investing over $1billion in developing Iraqi oil reserves. It's obvious that they've a different assessment of the situation on the ground than what we hear from MSM.

Mostly the fighting is of a low-level, criminal kind of gang/clan warfare (not counting the foreign terrorists). It would be nice to let these folks kill each other off, but the danger is that - unless they're repressed by some impartial force from the government - they could (and probably would) develop in organization, thus providing a threat to the central government which, for all its faults, is working rather well. Unfortunately, the only force impartial enough for this task are US soldiers, at the moment.

The foreign terrorists are, of course, being dispatched rather efficiently, if Al Qaeda's own internal memos are to be believed. And that was one of the better arguments for creating a warzone in that part of the world.

In either case, what the militants don't realize is that their continuing activity only provides more of an excuse for an American military presence. Even if all patrols would finally be conducted by Iraqi police and military units, the threat posed by the militants will be used to justify the long-term entrenchment of US bases in Iraq for some time to come.

Which is not that bad at all, for the US, as long as the area is of strategic concern.