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November 2004, Volume 12 Nr. 3, Issue 138

 Casting a Ballot.  Rejecting the Fraud

Jozef Hand-Boniakowski

I cast my ballot in the 2004 presidential election early in October, almost one month before election day.  Vermont allows registered voters to cast absentee ballots without reason for up to 30 days before the election.  All voting in Vermont's town and cities is accomplished with a paper trail.  There are no touch screens anywhere in the state.  Instead, local citizens meticulously count, check and double check by hand the vote count.  I listened to the two war party vice presidential candidates in their so-called debate as I checked boxes on my large yellow ballot.  Neither Dick Cheney nor John Edwards said a word during their meeting about the tragedies in Palestine and Haiti, two countries in which the United States government is complicit in continued human misery.  Listening to the parallel interviews of the two millionaires sent my thoughts toward the arrogance of wealth and power.  I thought about the rich and powerful, mostly men, who economically enslave millions around the world with self-sanctifying mendacity.  The rich ruling elite say they are exporting democracy and freedom code words for capitalism and neo-liberalism.

Ever lower wages come through controlling and oppressing workers often by way of proxy dictators and paramilitary forces.  The United States has little objection to dictators who make their nations amenable to neo-liberalism.  Trujillo, Abacha, Batista, Amin, Diem, Botha, Pol Pot, Park Chung Hee, Pahlavi, Marcos, Suharto, Sukarno, Saddam, Noriega, Stroessner, Al Zu Haq, Martinez, Cerezo, Bolkiah, Pinochet, Samoza, Musharaf, quickly come to mind.  Dictators become evil when they are no longer proxies of the superpower.  A useful dictator is a good dictator, beyond tolerated and well supported.  Bad dictators are dictators that fall from grace and must be replaced.

Manipulating misery guarantees ever lower wages a mandatory component of  capitalism.  Abject poverty provides a never-ending pool of available and cheap labor,  always understandably willing to accept submission in exchange for sustenance.  Good paying U.S. jobs disappear as workers struggling to survive on pennies per day in so-called developing countries suck decent paying jobs out of the United States.  Entire families survive on the trivial wage of $3.00 per day.  Hundreds of  millions of workers around the world earn such meager wages.  Capitalism commodifies all resources including labor and must by necessity transfer jobs to where labor is cheaper, the cheaper the better.  What does it matter if human rights are violated and human dignity made irrelevant in the process?    

Using biblical prophecy that the "Poor will always be with us" as justification, U.S. foreign policy adopts a divine self-fulfilling mission to make it so.  We are a  nation of believers convinced that God has picked the United States as his favorite amongst all creation.  We are special in the vast universe.  Chosen!  Manifest destiny demands we honor God's will.  Who better to lead in God's name than the current occupant of the White House who talks to the Lord daily and receives  guidance directly from the almighty?  God, he would have us believe, wants the world to be  exploited so believers can get richer and richer.  It matters not whether the resource is land, bauxite, gold, diamonds, fruit, hard wood, oil, labor, etc., God wants those who belief in him to get wealthier and more powerful until they own and control the world.  Corporate believers in the Lord deserve as much.

What type of mind revels in wealth attained off of the backs of the downtrodden?  What ethic adopts a divine paradigm under which imperialism flourishes at the expense and suffering of poor people?  Is it not the height of absurdity that the top U.S. leaders wear their Christianity on their sleeves while Jesus advocated giving up everything and, "Come follow me"?  As slaughter takes place in Jesus' name the war in Iraq is called a crusade.  The magnates and CEOs of the military-industrial-complex plan more crusades, more of the same, in perpetuity, well, at least until the rapture.

The U.S. government and their religious Reich talking heads want us to believe that God is on our side.  Neo-fascists are good at telling us what God wants and what we should do to please him and them.  I can see no better rationale nor reason to dismiss the existence of a deity than by using God's name in justifying killing, carnage and mayhem for profit and wealth, for victory in "perpetual" war in the Lord's name.  It is a sick and twisted mind that prays for success as it preys with religious justification upon the impoverished of the earth. 

No religion has a corner on such twisted thinking as religions provide fear and the opiate of redemption drugging and inciting the masses into following along.  Like sheep they go slaughtering and being slaughtered.  Religious oppression and fanaticism of all stripes exploit the people's existential angst.  Televangelists peddle  simplistic answers to life's major questions.  Better to be handed fairy tales than doing the hard work necessary in making sense of our lives.  It is easier to accept "truth"  handed down by snake oil ministries than to critically think for oneself.  After all, who has the time to use one's brain!  Let someone else use theirs for us.

While filling out my absentee ballot, I imagined the neo-con and liberal crowd that brought us "Shock and awe", "Bring 'em on", and perpetual war to the world.  I imagined Dick Cheney, George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleza Rice, Karl Rove, Paul Wolfowitz, John Negroponte, John Kerry, John Edwards, and the rest of the pro-war team standing barefoot on soapboxes in central square Baghdad or in Port au Prince.  I imagined them  reading Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount".  I wondered if Jesus in his daily conversations with Resident Bush would say, "You know, George, I supported you in your policy of Shock and Awe.  I'm with you on preventive war.  Bomb first and I'll sort it out later.  God bless!"  

What would Jesus do?  Who would Jesus bomb? What stocks would Jesus invest in?  Would Christ have a diversified portfolio?  Would Jesus own holdings in corporations doing work at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in Oklahoma which stores 22-million pounds of uranium and manufactures depleted uranium weapons?  Would the Prince of Peace drop 1,000-pound bunker buster bombs on residential neighborhoods?  How many millions of cluster bomblets would the apostles be willing to spread onto the innocent children of Iraq?  Would Mary, mother of God approve of depleted uranium munitions?  Imagine Jesus in the Garden of Eden today somewhere in the Middle East, perhaps Iraq.  Imagine him as he witnesses the carnage around the world looking skyward saying again, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do" as he inhales depleted uranium dust and picks up a cluster  bomblet.  

Jesus, victim of capital punishment, is being called upon by the divinely selected "president" for guidance in punishing the masses of innocent Iraqis for the audacity of  having our oil under their land.  Perhaps, Jesus reminds George: "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.  Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods.  Thou shalt not kill."  But, listen J.C., how dare the poor Iraqi and other West Asian people keep our Texas tea hidden under their desert?  Ashes to ashes.  Sand to sand.  We'll get our oil out, the world be damned!  And by the way Jesus, "We do need to spread Christianity in the Middle East before you officially return.  Should we invade Iran next?  Why not?  They have our oil under their sand too.  So much oil in so many countries."  Sooner or later, the United States public will awaken from its credit card-indebted consumerist stupor and SUV-drugged oil addiction and realize that the U.S. government's policies and our consumption lifestyle are neither Christian nor ethical nor conducive to a peaceful planet.  

Aleida Guevara, consultant pediatrician and the eldest daughter of Ernesto Che Guevara, the Argentinean born Cuban revolutionary, based at the William Soler Children's Hospital in Havana speaking about imperialism writes, "It is only because of the wealth looted from our lands and our people that their present high standards of living are possible."  By our people, she means the salt of the earth, fellow workers struggling to have a decent basic life.  Guevara stresses that, "A better world is possible. The challenge lies in being able to act, rather than just talk."

John Kerry said, "We’ll never go to war because we want to; we’ll only go to war because we have to”.  What he doesn't say is that oil is a commodity that the superpower must have.  Kerry offers pretend antiwar sympathies while fostering an aggressive posture that rivals and often exceeds Bush.  The propagation of the lie that Iraq and 9/11 are connected continues even after all the evidence concludes otherwise.  God bless the propagandists.  The major party presidential candidates fail  to mention that Iraq had nothing to do with September 11, 2001.  Fifteen of the nineteen hijackers who attacked the Twin Towers came from the country of the Bush family's closest friends: the Saudi family of Saudi Arabia.  None of the hijackers came from Iraq.  Kerry does not admonish Bush for going to war under false pretenses.  Rather, he criticizes Bush for poorly conducting the war and offers the alternative of a more effective violence.  Bravo John.  Have you also been having late night chats with J.C. lately?  Perhaps, Jesus is sharing his notes on his conversations with George?

In the third and final debate on October 13, 2004, George Bush claimed the high moral ground on stem cell research.  Bush opposes new stem cell research.  Is it not hypocritical and ironic that Bush professes the sanctity of blastocysts while dropping 1,000 pound bombs from 40,000 feet on heavily populated Iraqi cities?  George W. Bush as governor of Texas signed 152 execution orders making him the most prolific state-sanctioned killer in United States history.  Bush favors the execution of people whose IQs are less than 62 or who are mentally ill.  The claim that all human life is precious somehow rings hollow.  

My mother-in-law, Mary, reminds me that over a thirty-year period, Saddam Hussein killed 30,000 of his own people.  She is quick to point out that in a year and a half the United States killed 15,000 Iraqis, mainly civilians including children.  At this rate, it will take the U.S. 2 years to surpass the butcher of Baghdad's record.  We are to believe that the people of Iraq will be eternally grateful to the United States for bringing "freedom and democracy" to them through the barrel of the gun and the blast of a bunker buster.  Shock and awe?  Shame and awful!  Bush and Kerry both want to lead us to victory in Iraq.  What does that mean?  What would victory in Iraq look like? 

Pat LaMarche, the Vice Presidential candidate of the Green Party, said the current U.S. president is the worst president in history and that this election has a serious competitor for that title in John Kerry.  It did not take me long to place an "X" next to Ralph Nader's name on my absentee ballot.  The act of voting for Nader maintains my dignity.  I cast my vote in hope rather than fear.  My not voting for "more of the same" advances slightly the possibility that democracy will move forward.  We need not continue walking in two lines as if lemmings heading over the edge of the cliff.  

More people than ever question the broken two party system.  More people than ever see presidential elections as frauds perpetrated by a one party system offering two similar options: candidates of privilege and wealth, puppets of megacorps who occupy the  government.  Bush and Kerry, both members of the secret Yale society Skull and Bones, offer only more of the same as each casts the other as being the problem.  Either way, the duopoly insures the corporations win.  The Republican and Democratic parties enable each other for they are beholden to the same cash cows that finance both their campaigns.  Every favor deserves a return on investment.  Such duplicity of the duopoly brought us the PATRIOT Act, NAFTA, the WTO, No Child Left Behind, and the War on Iraq, which according to Bush ended on May 2, 2003.  Advancing democracy requires people having courage in freeing themselves from what Peter Camejo (Nader's vice presidential running mate) calls the electoral prison.  My vote for Ralph Nader and Peter Camejo is a ballot cast for hope and a refusal to no-longer sanction the fraud of the two major parties.  

George Orwell wrote, "In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act".  Voting for Kerry or Bush, knowing that neither candidate's positions are acceptable, strengthens the chains and the stranglehold the Democratic and Republican parties have over the electorate.  Voting against our conscience invalidates it.  It lends credibility  to the embedded corrupt electoral institutions that stifle and limit other options.  How can freedom loving people tolerate enabling those who oppress other than Republican and Democratic voices and choices?  How many more years will the delusion continue?  How much longer will we perpetuate systemic electoral malfeasance by providing our stamp of approval onto the farce that elections have become?  I reject the so-called "two party" system.  I cast my ballot in the 2004 presidential election in the hope that the people will some day expunge the Republican and Democratic parties' stranglehold on elections.  I will not sanction the fraud ever again.  A free people should never to have to.  It is time to rise up against King George.  It is time to throw some tea overboard.  This time let it be Texas tea.

"The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them."  - Karl Marx

"I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers." - Ralph Nader

© 2004 Jozef Hand-Boniakowski

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