To Infinity and Beyond…Then Back Again

April 5, 2012 at 5:55 PM | Posted in Political | Leave a comment
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Just a friendly warning to anyone who may have stumbled here via a tag about faith, religion, and God:  There is some bad language in this.  But it’s real and it’s true and it’s about my struggle, and if you can get past these indiscretions, I hope you will find it an enjoyable, thought-provoking read.

I’m not sure what this has to do with, and I’m fairly certain that this will require extensive editing before it gets to the viewing public.  The reader.  To you.

I am…I’m not religious, in the strict biblical sense.  And I’m not going to go that that tired old “but I am spiritual” route because I’m not a 20 year old college girl exploring her new found freedom by getting piss-drunk and letting a fraternity gang-bang her.
In fact, I might be the opposite:  I’m not very spiritual, but I am religious.  I believe in God.  I’m a Christian.  I believe that Christ is my savior, and everything else that goes with it that atheists and secularists love to make fun of.  But there is something else that goes with it, something that the atheists have been missing out on that I think they are just in recent years starting to catch up on.
My good friend is Catholic, and active in her church.  In fact, I’ve helped her with some functions and events, and some of the catering, and I see something wonderful.  It’s not–listen, you hardcore militant atheist assholes who just want to deride everything church-related and read subtext and subterfuge into everything, no matter how harmless and innocent it is:  It’s not all about fairy tales.
It has to do with the sense of community and society.  The common thread–church and belief–is what brings them together.  But the togetherness–friendship, comradery, fellowship, and sense of community–is an end unto itself.  These things are important.  People seek them out.  Most people, anyway, but I’ll get to that later.
In general, most people want to belong.  Are you with me so far?  I hate to generalize, and there are exceptions, but the misanthropic segments of the population rarely stand together to be counted, or have rallies.  *MOST* people don’t choose to be Tom Hanks in 85% of “Castaway.”

And so, here come the atheists, proudly boasting about their intellectual superiority, their inner strength that has no need of a fairy-tale support system, and the fact that they have never killed millions of people in a holy war.  (Well, to be fair, neither have I.)
But here they come, knocking what they don’t understand.
Don’t understand?  *Don’t understand?* Ha!  Why, most atheists are very well-versed and scholarly and learned in all aspects of all religions.  They have to be so they can intelligently refute and mock them against the ignorant masses of primitive, mouth-breathing believers…
Yeah, I hear you.  You’ve read.  You’ve bowed at Richard Dawkins’ feet.  You belong to several atheist websites.  There really isn’t a way for me to say “good for you” without it sounding sarcastic–but maybe it’s just me.
But you don’t understand faith.  Don’t tell me you do, because it’s obvious you don’t.  If you *UNDERSTOOD* faith, you’d have some.  I’m not wrong.  And this is my essay, so I get the last word.  Get your own fucking soapbox (or blog–same thing.)
My point being is that atheists are missing out on the larger sense of community and fellowship.  Compound that with the fact that, much like homosexuals or Scientologists, their numbers aren’t as great as they like to boast.  So that’s the crux of it:  Atheists, besides having a hole in their hearts where Christ should be, also have a hole in their heart where their connection to society should be.
(BTW–notwithstanding that I am a Christian, I do have a sense of humor.  A biting, harsh, and sarcastic sense.  I phrased that last paragraph exactly the way I did because I am a dick.  If I offended or pissed off any atheists–well, I guess it worked.)
I used to say this, “I know I’m not the best example of a Christian–”
And for that reason I wouldn’t usually divulge the denomination of my church because I am NOT the standard by which to measure.
However, like other things, I have given this up for Lent.  I won’t review all of my sins here because this not the place and they are numerous.  But I think that is the very same thing that makes me a g–
Ha!  I was going to say, “good.”  No, I’m not a “good” Christian.  I’m not a “good” example.  But I am an example.  A real-world example.  The kind that atheists can point to and sneer:  “See?  He’s not living his Christian values and tenets!  He should just give up and become an atheist!”
I’m also the kind of Christian that fundamentalist would point to and whisper about and judge behind my back, all the things that atheists think all Christians do.  The Fundies would say that I have not truly taken Christ into my heart.
But I say to all of them:  It’s not really for you to judge me now, is it?  It’s betwixt me and God.  God and I.  What a great road-trip, coming-of-age, buddy move that would be:  “Me and the Big G.”
I’m not perfect, and have never professed to be–other than to pick up chicks.  I live in the world.  I drink, I smoke, and I cuss.  I fornicate.  I fornicate like a mother-fucker, in fact.  I have, on occasion, lied.  I’ll lie to your stupid face if it’ll get you to leave me alone.
None of these things make me a Christian.  The fact that I believe in God, and the fact that I have taken Christ as my personal savior is what makes me a Christian.  I try to be a better person.  Most days, I don’t try very hard.
But I try.  And that’s the point.

I haven’t been to my Church in a dozen years or more.  I’m what they would term “inactive.”  And since then, I’ve gotten divorced, I live in sin with a woman, I occasionally drink and smoke–albeit lightly, and I’ve had occasion to view a provocative website or two.  Combined with my various other indiscretions, I’m certain that if/when I do go back, I would be excommunicated.  At the very least, I would be disfellowshipped.
I always thought there would come a day when I would go back.  A day when the doors wouldn’t necessarily swing wide for me, but at least they would unlock, and perhaps creak from disuse when I pried them open.
A day when my fiancé’s divorce would be final (I said don’t judge me), and she could make an honest man out of me.  A day when I might quit smoking and only drink in secret.  A day when my browser history might be proudly displayed.  A day when the light of Christ would shine through me and I would stand as a pillar to uphold all that is good and pure and decent.
A day when I wouldn’t have so many dirty thoughts going my mind.  All the time.  Constantly.  Really, it’s non-stop.

Many people that leave The Church or stop going have had some kind of falling out over some slight, real or imagined.  Often, it’s not the doctrine, but rather the misapplication of it by people, or the mishandling of some social situation–again, by people.  People, after all, are imperfect creatures.  Except atheists, of course.  Atheists, ironically, are the highest, most exalted and perfect of God’s creation, who have evolved to a point where they no longer need him.
My own experience was nothing like that, the leaving.  It was just a gradual waning of the light of my faith.  I don’t “blame” God, and I certainly don’t hate him.  Nor do I blame or hate anyone in the church.
I don’t mean to generalize, and of course I can create a lengthy disclaimer–in fact, I believe this entire essay is a disclaimer–if I really need to so that it will protect your delicate baby feelings, but *it has been my experience* that *in general* the *typical militant* atheist is *least likely* to get this:
This is about forgiveness and acceptance.  It was my fault and mine alone, and I accept responsibility for my actions.  I blame no one else for creating the circumstances unduly influencing me.  This is not an affidavit for the admission of guilt of any crimes.  I also acknowledge that despite the atheists’ view, I do answer to a higher power, and while I may have done nothing wrong in their eyes, I know that I face judgment from a higher power.  Even if they think it is my own conscious, there is harm and there are consequences from my actions.
As I am imperfect, I understand also that other people are imperfect as well.  I have forgiveness n my heart for people who are careless with my feelings and thoughtless with their actions towards me.  I forgive people that are too stupid to function in the world and I accept that no matter what I do, I can’t fix them and probably shouldn’t kill them.
Likewise, since I’m not perfect, I ask that Jesus–and you people–forgive me when I’m not as tolerant and patient with all the idiots, dumbasses, fuckballs, assholes, bitches and bastards as I should be.  The world is full of them, and chances are real good that you’re one.
I know I am.

When I was active in my church–
You know, it was a long time ago.  But I remember that it was pleasant.  It was fun.  It was a good experience.  It wasn’t like everyone was wretched and evil but put on a fake face to go to church.  It was more like we were living our lives, every day being dragged down a little bit.  But when we finally made it to church, it was like crossing a finish line.  Made it!  Safe, for another week.  The smiles were real.  Once you crossed the threshold, all the problems of the outside world slipped away, and only the important things remained.  The important things are family, and love, and God.  The rest didn’t matter.
We had activities all the time.  Before we got married, my wife and I gathered with the singles group.  Every week we went out together.  We would meet at church, have a prayer and a spiritual lesson, plan some activities, then play volleyball and go out for pizza.
There was always something going on.  Big Christmas and other holiday plans, excursions, activities for the kids that needed sponsors and volunteers, dinners and other things happening.  The thread that brought us together was our faith.  The Velcro that bound us was the fellowship.

And so now I have a question–a question that I didn’t know I had when I started this, but I think it was inside the whole time, the impetus and purpose of this whole exposition.
First, Given that there is some importance to the fellowship aspect, and I miss that and I want to be a part of something like that again;
Second, as painful as it is for me to acknowledge, if/when I choose to (or feel called to) return to my church, I know I would face some kind of disciplinary action.
And an atheist or just a regular non-church going bloke might wonder why, or how would they know about my misdeeds?  Well, I would have to tell them.  Why don’t I keep my ridiculous pie-hole shut?  Well, that’s dishonest.  I have to tell my [local church authority].  I *have* to.
So what are my possible courses of action?
Is excommunication permanent?  There is also disfellowship, which allows a member to return, after a period of…probation and censure.  Could I ever be re-instated?  If not, would I then be forced to join another church if I wanted to go to church?
Would it be better for me to remain inactive (but still a member, at least on paper) than to go back, only to be kicked out?
Could I join another church, with a different doctrine and different beliefs, knowing what I know and believing as I do?  Would I merely be paying lip service to this new church?  The gist of our beliefs are the same, although some Christian churches are vehement about the differences, no matter how nuanced.  One doctrine from my old church is that we believe in worshiping according to the dictates of our own conscious, and believe that people have that right–let them worship who or what they want, in whatever manner they want, or not at all.  This I firmly believe.
Another doctrine is more of a reminder:  even if we don’t agree on all things, we know we agree on many major things, and let us use those to join us, rather than allow the differences to separate us.  All beliefs possess some part of the truth.  (Of course, my caveat is, “all beliefs…within reason.  I’m sorry, but I swear to God, calling Scientology a religion is like calling date rape a sport.)
Would I be betraying my inner core of beliefs if I joined a different church?  And how firm am I, really, in those beliefs, when I’ve been inactive for so long and not living my life and conducting my affairs according to Church Doctrine anyway?
It’s almost but not quite like I had applied to MIT, and by some fluke I got in.  Then I flunked out, of course.  Of course I did.  Then I hung around the campus and wore an MIT sweatshirt for 20 years, proudly.  But they don’t like a scruffy-looking dropout hanging around, wearing their swag, bragging about the glory days.  If I go to re-apply, they will look at my transcript and say, “Not on your fucking life.”  I’ll end up going to the local community college, where the classes aren’t as tough and you don’t learn as much and it won’t help you get a good job.
As long as I don’t push it, I can still say I went to MIT.  But I’ll never finish–I’ll never get my degree.
So–
So, what do I do?  I think I have myself talked into at least going and talking to my church leader, informally.  And I guess–the thing that should have occurred to me first–I guess I need to pray about it.

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Cease Fire

November 5, 2010 at 8:56 PM | Posted in Political | 1 Comment
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Time After Time

I’ve worked a couple of elections this year–there’s always something in April, and then just recently, at the end of August, was the primary.  Yesterday was the General Election.  The Mid-Term.
You’ve already seen and read and watched and heard all kinds of analysis about the election results.  But I’m an election judge.  I’m going to tell you about the election itself:  a worm’s eye view from the ground.
Before the primary, we had to go to a class, because some things had changed.  Fine and dandy–and then, in order to get paid for the class, you have to work the election as well.  If you no worka de election, you no getta paid for da class.
But then, before the General Election, there was another class.  I thought we had done learned all we needed to know.  My head was full.  How can I possible learn more?
As it turns out, I can’t, at least not for long.  The class was in early September.  By the time this election rolled around, I remembered nothing of what we had learned that was new.
But that’s cool–they sent out memos.  In a big manila envelope marked “Memos.”
Election Day is a long day for poll workers.  I imagine it’s even longer for candidates and their staff and followers and groupies.  I can’t imagine believing in anyone that much that I would work that hard for them for free.  Everybody Knows the World is Full of Stupid People.
Speaking of Stupid People, I agreed to do this–so Monday night on the way home from Pizzarama, I stopped at the store to get some supplies for the next day:  water and soda, both in small bottles, some snacks, and some tissue.
I went to bed early (for me); by 10pm I was out like Barney Frank.  I had to be up at 4am, to be at the poll at 5am, to open it at 6am.  And we run till 7pm, and are usually done by 8pm.  Six hours’ sleep is enough for me lately.  I must be getting old.  But what is that?  From 5am to 8pm, that’s a 15-hour day.
Poll-workers here in St Louis County get 100 bucks per day, Supervisors get 130.  I’m not sure what the Assistant Supervisors get.  One-twenty, maybe?  And then we get 50 for the class, which is usually three hours, a few weeks prior.
So, 130 divided by 15 is 8.67 an hour.  No wonder, then, about what I observed that I will explain momentarily…
I got up at four and took a shower.  I usually do the night before but this was to help me wake up.  I just hoped I didn’t get all sweaty like I did last time, setting everything up in the first hour.

Put Me In Cold

I went out early enough and got my coffee and a breakfast sammich.  I like my coffee like I like my women.  In the morning, I like my coffee to shut the hell up.  Actually, on a cold morning I get a big cup at Quiktrip, get about half hot chocolate, half dark roast–and a tiny bit of Vanilla cappuccino, for my homies.  Then I add cream and sugar because I like it sweet and creamy.  Yo.
I arrive on time.  A few minutes early, even, which is a departure from my first time doing this, I know.  I think I showed up about 530ish that time.  Here I am, bright and early, and ready to work.  Some people are already setting things up.  Here are the teams:
Everything is done in a bipartisan manner.  The Republican team is four white people:  I’m the Supervisor, Steve is the Assistant Supervisor, and John and some older woman are the regular workers.  Let’s call her Erma.  She looks like an Erma.
The Democratic team is four black people, oddly enough.  Pat (a woman) is the Supervisor, John is the Assistant Supervisor, and Doug and some other girl are the poll workers.  For the sake of clarity and stereotyping (like I did with Erma), let’s call her Shanika.
I jump right in and start with the set up.  We are in the library of an elementary school.  There is no school today.  The facilities people had already made room for us, and moved chairs and tables out of the way.  However–
The main maintenance guy showed up.  “Need anything?”
Yeah.  We need some rectangular tables, like we had last time.  And a couple of trash cans.  And a power strip.  He was on it.
We set up the Opti-scan booths, which is for the paper ballot, and the touch screen.  We have to offer people a choice, because old people and paranoid delusional conspiracy people  like my friend The Dude don’t like the touch screen because they think there is “no proof” of their vote–
Despite the fact that for every selection you make, you can hear the printer inside it making line on the paper, and the paper rolls are official ballots that we have to sign and handle securely just like the paper ballots.
It’s a Matter of Trust.
I said “we” set everything up.  White John, Erma, and Shanika put up all the required signage and posters.  Part of the Assistant Supervisors’ training–and one of their main jobs–is setting up the voting equipment.  Steve set up the Opti-scan Reader, while Black John looked at the touchscreen machines.  By “looked at” I mean he looked at them, did not unload them.
He started to–he took one off the cart and laid it down.  As soon as I started to help him, he stopped working and assumed a supervisory role, telling me what to do.  “Get the rest of them off first.”  Then, “No, turn it around the other way.”  I’ve done this before, you see.  He says, “That’s not the–they need be the other way.”
Finally I said–with a smile, “I know what I’m doing, John.  I’ve done this for you before.”  I made sure I slipped in that “for you” part.  He thinks this is home, and since he’s an old man (what is he, like 60?) that he’s the patriarch, and he can sit back and tell us what to do and benefit from his wisdom.
It’s a great theory–too bad he’s a dumb-ass.
After I set those up, I helped White John set up the Opti-Scan Booths.
Doug showed up late, after Pat called the office to tell them we were one short.  Steve and White John and Erma all look like teachers:  prim, well-groomed, conservatively and cleanly dressed.  You know what I look like.  But I was wearing a nice shirt and clean jeans.  Pat was dressed–and she acted like–she had a job in a government office.  Shanika was dressed normally–I didn’t pay attention to it, so it must not have been to strange.  Black John was wearing jeans and t-shirt.  Doug–when he showed up–looked like a man recently out of prison.  Thug in the real sense, not thug like in a rap video.  He was quiet and soft-spoken I guess.
What is the thing with–and look, it’s only black men that are like this:  his voice was so low I had trouble hearing him.  He sounded like he was whispering through a mouthful of jello, and seemed like he was always about to clear his throat.
Except he never did.

A Hard Day’s Night

We are set up and ready to go before six, which is good.  The polls open at six.  A line has formed outside the library door.  Okay, it’s only four or five people, but still–we have a line.  One of the rule changes is that the official voting booth time is now based on the cell phone they give us.  Before we went by the clock on the Number One Touch Screen Booth.  The cell phone was handier.
I walked up to the small group and told them that we can’t open until the official time of 6am.  And they have about six minutes left.  Finally, it’s time.
We had a steady stream of voters all day.  Unlike other elections, I can’t recall any moment when there were no voters for any length of time–no more than a few minutes, at best.  The first few voters that came in were what I call the cemetery vote.  I know it means something else.  But this one couple had a combined age of 423.
Of course, later I changed how I did this, partially based on this couple and also because of how Black John was not doing his job.  But this old couple filled out paper ballots, and I was standing right there by Steve so I got to see what they did.
The old man was giving his wife a lecture on how to do this, because obviously he knew better.  Then he turned to submit his ballot.  On the paper ballots, you use a pen and darken the oval next to the candidate of your choice.
He didn’t do that.  He put a checkmark in the oval.  The machine spit his ballot back out before we noticed it.  Steve explained to him what he had to do.  He turned to fix it.  He got it right–or right enough that the machine took it.  Then his wife gave us her ballot.
She did the same thing.  A checkmark in the oval.  I understand that they didn’t have computers when you were young.  But did they not have paper, either?  Or pens?
We corrected her–we thought–and explained that she had to fill in the circle.  She must not have heard everything we said, however.  When she gave it back to us, she had merely circled the ovals that she had put a checkmark in.
Do it again.
Surprisingly, when she was done, the scanner actually took the ballot.
The job of the assistant supervisors is to run the voting booths in an orderly fashion, keep the flow going, HELP people manage the equipment, and make sure people don’t have a problem casting their vote.  After I helped those first two earlier in the morning, I didn’t stay over there, but I was going back and forth, because the paper booths were basically unmanned.  Steve had his hands full with the touch screen, and Black John should have manned the paper, as busy as we were.
I decided to come over full time a little later in the morning when Steve motioned to me and brought me a ballot.  I could reconstruct what happened.  It was an older white man, so Big John looked at him with disdain and dismissed him with a hand motion after he gave him the ballot.  No instructions, no help.  The old man took the ballot, and tried to fill it out.
I have more respect for older people now…now that I’m getting closer to that.  I understand that their memory and cognition and eyesight aren’t always what they used to be.  They can get by on most things they have to deal with through routine and habit–it’s how I live.  But throw an election their way and it might as well be immersion into a foreign culture.  They can’t see well enough to read the instructions, or see the little circles to fill in with a pen.  If they can, they can’t aim their arm and exert enough control to fill in the circle where the circle actually is; usually, they are close at least.
This gentleman’s ballot we found sticking out of the Opti-scan.  You vote, you put it in, it takes it, it reads it, done.  If there is a problem, it spits it back out.  He pushed it in and walked away.  He left.
And didn’t hear the ballot being pushed back out.  Steve showed it to me.  The man didn’t understand the instructions very well.  There were check marks next to names, and in the spot for “write in” he wrote the name of the candidate that he had put a check next to.  I put the ballot in the spoiled ballot envelope but didn’t spoil it–I hoped that someone at the office would be able to salvage it.
Because of that, though, and how Black John was, Instead of staying at the supervisor table or taking turns at the main table, for the better part of the day I stayed by the Opti-scan area to help people with the paper ballots.  I don’t know what Black John does on his regular job (if he has one), but he acts like he works for the government.  He doesn’t know much, but acts like what he does know is invaluable.  He wants to help people as little as possible, figuring if they do it wrong it’s their fault.  He was constantly impatient with people, motioning them to hurry along, and his voice would rise half an octave, revealing his temperament.
Mostly he sat at the end of the main table, where basically the job was to take their voter ticket and hand them a paper ballot.  And most of what we did was touch screen.  Of course, he couldn’t do this part right.  We were busy so I made a separate line for people doing paper, to clear up the area in front of the table.  All six paper booths were full, and I had two people waiting.  He gave someone a ballot and basically just motioned in my direction.  The lady walks over to the booths, which are between me and Black John, right as one opens up and goes to it.  I had to gently direct her to the back of my line.  I got that straightened out, then walked over to Black John.  Politely, with a smile, I said, “Hey, John, go ahead and send the people voting paper to come to me.  I have a line there.” He nodded, and said, “That’s fine.”
Really?  Really, is it fucking fine?  I wasn’t asking your goddamn permission, and I wasn’t running the idea past you for your motherfucking approval.  I was acting as a supervisor trying to keep order telling your lazy assistant supervisor ass how it’s fucking going to be.  “That’s fine” is not the correct response, you arrogant son of a bitch.  Try this: “Okay, I’ll do that, and I’m sorry I’m so fucking lazy and incompetent that you have to do my job.  Sir.”  That would be better.  Asshole.
Just as Steve had a routine with the voters at the touch screen, I developed one at the Opti-scan.  At previous elections, I had always been a little jealous of Steve, because he got to be out there interacting with people.  The main stage!  That should be me!
I was doing this out of necessity, but I did enjoy it, and was glad to finally be actually doing something.  A voter would come over to vote paper, with a ballot in their hand.  Usually they would try to hand it to me, because Black John would halfheartedly motion in my direction and mumble to them, “Give it to him.”
No, dipshit, they don’t “give it to me.”  They come over to me WITH IT, and I would show them what to do.  Three things:
“Good morning, ma’am, how are you?  Nope, that’s yours.   Right this way, we have an opening.  Let me explain briefly what we have here.  First, make sure you fill in a good dark circle on your choices–”
I then would show them the large example printed on the cardboard privacy sheathing.  For anyone below the age of 50 I would  add, “Because you wouldn’t believe what I have seen today.”
Next, I would turn the ballot over for them.  “Don’t forget that there are items on BOTH sides of the ballot.  When you are done, stick it in this cardboard sleeve for privacy and bring it to me, and I’ll show you how to enter your ballot.”
Of course–of course I said that to every single person.  We had over two hundred people vote paper, and over four hundred vote touch screen.  Most people wanted touch screen, but older people and paranoids wanted paper.  I think I would recommend touch screen to the older people, especially those with a touch of palsy or other shaky conditions.  It’s bigger print on the screen, and an easier, surer way to vote.
But people would stand in line for the touch screen.  Usually people would take paper because it was quicker, but often both were full and people would have to wait regardless.  However, a few times there were openings on paper, and a line for touch.  On those occasions, I would walk over to the line.
“So you all are in line for the touch screen?”  Nods.  I deepened my voice.  “Who wants to join me on the dark side, and do paper?  No waiting.”  I entertained the crowd and did what I could to keep the line moving.

People Who Need People

Our crew went to lunch at various time, according to a sign-in sheet.  I’m going to make the next sign in sheet, and bring it with me, with markings for party affiliation, because two people of the same party aren’t supposed to go to lunch at the same time, and leave the poll that unbalanced, like Black John and Pat did when they left at four.
And why four o’clock?  That’s not a goddamn lunchtime.  What the hell were they thinking?  I didn’t notice it because we have two Johns, and I thought it was the other one.  But they both left at four.  Of course, even with them gone, things went well.  The only problem we had was when Steve went to lunch.  Black John had to get off his ass and work for an hour at the touch screen, and I had to manage the mess and control the crowd while he thumb-fingered his surly ass around.
When other people went to lunch, I filled in and did other jobs, but still jumped up and went over to the paper booths to help.  No one else was.
I take that back.  Steve was back and forth whenever I wasn’t there.  We kept things moving.  But I sat at the first position and refreshed myself on that job.  At the first position, you take their ID (there is a list of acceptable ones), filled out a voter ticket, had them print their name on it, and then directed them to the next person, depending on their last name.  The books went A-G, H-O, and P-Z.  Pretty much every time I was saying the alphabet in my head–
The voter ticket is initialed by a republican and a democratic poll worker, usually sitting in alternating spots at the table.
And I spent some time with the books, too.  You take the voter ticket and ID, look up the name, and initial the book, let the Dem next to me initial it.  Turn to the voter, and have them sign on the line, and initial next to the address acknowledging that the address is correct.  In the book would be the ballot style also, but since there were no city-wide elections, the ballots were all one style.  It simplified things greatly.
Then based on the type of voting they chose, I would direct them to Steve or Black John.
Of course, there might be a problem.  Like their address is wrong, or their name isn’t in the book, or their name is wrong because they got married.  In that event, I would switch hats back to my primary job as supervisor.  We did a lot of affidavit voting that day, as well as directing people to the correct polling place.
One young man came in, said he was sent here by another polling place.  He’s not in our book.  I get the PDA, ask him for his name and address.  He doesn’t vote here.  He votes exactly where he came from.  I wanted to call the office, but the phones had been busy all day–essentially we were on our own.
I had some confidence here:  I’ve delivered pizza everywhere, I know where everything is.  I know from his address that logically he is too far away.  And the place he is supposed to vote is close to him.  And, that’s how the shit works.  In the PDA, it says that is where he votes.  I gave him my personal cell number.  “Go back there.  Tell them you vote there.  Tell them to call me if they have a problem.  I’m the supervisor here.”
They never called.  I guess they got it right.
But as adept as I was, I understood that other people could have problems.  Every time a voter came to the problem table, I tried to grab the PDA before Pat, because she couldn’t–you know, she just not good with machines.  The little tricks about searching a database are what I do on my day job.  Eventually, she just started handing it to me.
We had one voter problem that might bring about a change in policy, or at least a clarification.  A woman had just been in recently with a driver’s license that had expired four days ago.  Erma asked me about it.  “Well, I know you have a certain amount of time–30, 60, or 90 days–to renew that.  So we’ll take it.  No problem.  And the woman was grateful, because she didn’t realize it had expired.
Shortly after that, a very old woman came in, handed Erma her license.  It was expired.
It expired ten years ago.
Shit.  What do we do?
We couldn’t find anything in the book about it.  Did she have anything else?  A utility bill?  (A utility bill is valid ID if it is current and has the correct address on it.  Meanwhile, a Driver’s license doesn’t have to have the correct address on it.  And mine doesn’t.)
Her daughter had driven her up, and said they would go home and look, and return.
She did, still with nothing good.  The Election Board sends out a voter ID card, which is yellow, and an election notification, which is white.  The white one is not ID, but the yellow one is.   She had the white one.  Crap.  One lesson I remember from all of our classes is that you do want to do what you can to get people to vote.  And I surely did not want local news vans showing up outside my poll.  Oh, Hell no.
She had her prescription bottle.  No.  She had an insurance card.  Geez.  She had a something so old it was rolled like papyrus.
I turned to Pat.  “The intent and purpose of showing ID is to prove they are who they say they are.  Based on the evidence, I believe she is who she says she is.”
Pat nodded.  “I do too.  Okay.”  We let her vote.
When the roving officials came by, the last thing she wanted was a problem, because there had been problems all over.  But I explained what happened and what we had done.  And also this:  “It just says ‘driver’s license.’  It doesn’t even say it has to be valid.  Nowhere does it specifically say if it can or cannot be expired.”
She was astounded.  This was something new they were going to have to look at.  I had set a precedent, I guess.
Just then an angry young man came in, so he happened to be there when the roving officials were there and the Pat and Black John were at lunch.  I asked her, “That’s not supposed to happen, is it?”  No.  But the angry young man interrupted and got my attention.  He said he had called a week ago, and whomever he talked to said he would be in the supplemental pages.  He was not.  He should be in the PDA.  He was not.
Angry Young Man was getting angrier, feeding on self-righteous indignation and hoping to be able to go to Channel 4 for a voter fraud case.  I knew we wouldn’t get through to the office when I called, but I tried everything, with the officials watching me, and–I sensed–they didn’t want to get involved.  They wanted this to go away or be handled by someone else, and not have their names dragged into it.  The lady looked at me blankly, and her bipartisan companion looked for a bus to throw me under.
Angry Young Man produced his iPhone, and played the message of the call from the Election Board for me on speaker phone.  It was enough for me, and I told them.  “I’m going with it.  I’m going to fill out an affidavit, mark it as “call from Election Board”, and the person on the message said their name is Michael.  We’ll get him voted.”
Angry Young Man was less angry as he filled out the form, and the election officials were relieved that this was handled.  The lady (I never did catch her name) confided to me that there had been some problems with this election.  Not necessarily irregularities, but some technical glitches.  The phones, for one, and not being able to get anyone from the office on them.  We had an inordinate number of voters that I had to send to other places that used to vote here, but the boundary lines had changed.  And the booklet with the voting places had some errors in it that had caused me more than once to scan through it completely rather than going straight to the number for verification.  The number didn’t match the number in the PDA.  She told me, though, that there were other problems, like numbers of voters had been dropped completely off the rolls.  They were going to go next to drop off more affidavits at a poll that had run out–and we had all been given a pad of them.

It’s Twilight Time

Finally, it was almost over.  At ten minutes to close, a young woman came to the problem table.  She wasn’t in the book.  I looked her up in the PDA; she lived on my street.  “Hey, you don’t vote here.  Do you have time?  What time is it?  Ten till?  Can you make it downtown in ten minutes?”
Her eyes went wide.  I’ve been here 15 hours, I’ve worked my ass off, and I’ve been (mostly) professional.  I can have some fun.  Right?  Before she had a heart attack, I told her, “You need to go to Jana.  You can get there.  It’s about three minutes away.”
She paused.  “Jana?  Oh, I know–”
“GO!”  She went.

Working In The Coal Mine

We aren’t allowed to discuss the numbers at all on election day, but that was a few days ago, so now I can talk.  There are about 1400 registered voters in our precinct, and we had over 600 voters.  That’s about a 45% turnout.  Not bad for a non-Presidential election.  At that one in 08, we had an 80% turnout.  It was the first one I worked.  All of the little ones I’ve worked since then have been less than 200 people–about ten to fifteen percent.
This time, I didn’t even have time to read a book.

ELECTION DAZE

April 7, 2010 at 9:15 PM | Posted in Political | Leave a comment

 ELECTION DAZE
  I worked the election as a judge the other day.  How was it?  Slow.  How slow?  Well, I had time to read two novels and write all this as well.
  My conspiracy friend isn’t registered to vote and doesn’t want to vote because he doesn’t trust the process, or the system, or the government, or anything.  Like all liberal nut jobs, he “feels” (not “thinks” and definitely not “knows”—just “feels”) that most people are like him:  liberals.  When you have a set of whacked-out beliefs, it’s more comforting to know that other psychotics share them.  This is commonly demonstrated with Muslim extremists who want the world to be converted to Islam.  If even one person doesn’t believe, it makes you question why.  That’s why it’s better to kill them all if they won’t convert.  Do you see how logical this is?
  Therefore, when a liberal or a Democrat gets elected–why, that is an obvious example of the process working.
  However…if a conservative or a Republican wins an election, it is obviously fixed.  There’s just no way that there are enough Republicans to outnumber Democrats, because there can’t be that many evil people in the world.  Can there?
  In 2000, in the hotly contested, mostly dubious and obviously illegal “election” that selected GW Bush, all the voting machines used in Florida were made by Halliburton, programmed by ENRON, and operated by Blackwater.  And now, with even more electronic voting where there is no paper trail and no proof, it is obvious that the fix is in.
  I am an election judge, and I get to see first hand the checks and balances, security, and safety measures that are in place.  Let me explain what I know:
 
  First of all, I live in St Louis County, and it is the third—number 3—most complex voting and election system in the world.  Not the country—the world.  Why is that?  Often an election can cover many issues and many levels of government.  On any given ballot, you might vote for a president, senator, congressman, state senator, state representative, a county official, a city alderman, and a school district board member.
  Other than the president and the US senator, all of these positions are specific to their district, and they all have different borders.  In St Louis County, there are over 400 polling places, and these don’t seem to follow any of the other borders although many are closely aligned with elementary school lines.
  In 2008 at the polling place I worked, we had four different ballot styles.  Meaning, depending on where you lived even within that district, you might get a different ballot.  Two people who live right across the street from each other might get different ballots.  Although they would have the same federal issues and likely the same for their state choices, they might have different city alderman.  It’s a complicated affair. 
  Now, about the process itself:  Several days in advance of the election, all the polling equipment is delivered to the polling place.  Everything is there, and it is locked and sealed.  “Sealed” means there are numbered and cataloged plastic seals in the locks that have to be broken and removed to open.  If it is broken before we get to it, that’s a problem, and that’s a call to the election board.  Whenever we open a seal, we have to sign off on it.
  All of the equipment—and imagine what an undertaking it is:  this is equipment for 400 plus polling places—is prepared, checked, rechecked, verified, and sealed by a bipartisan team:  An equal number of Democrats and Republicans.  And EVERYTHING is done that way.
  Now, you might wonder why it is just the two major parties and none of the other lesser parties, or the scrappy little unknown ones.  Is that fair?  Well, if you put the two biggest cheaters together and make them work with each other, they’re going to watch each other and keep each other honest.  Besides, the communist party doesn’t want an election, the anarchist party doesn’t believe in them, and the hemp party got high and forgot that the election was today.  I call myself a Republican for this sense because I more closely align with them, but you can bet your sweet bippy that I’m a Libertarian.
  As I said, the equipment is delivered and left untouched and covered.  On the morning of the election we show up, we election judges.  We band of merry—
  We open the case and remove all the contents:  various color coded canvas bags for specific purposes.  We open the seals, and record the seal numbers on the seal verification sheets, and they have to match.  We match serial numbers on the memory cards and FEB keys for the touch screen.  Serial numbers on packets of votes for the opti-scan.  Serial numbers on the keys.  And all of this is done in a serious, bipartisan manner, to make sure there has been no tampering.
  While we do all the checking, we also set up the equipment.  The janitorial staff at the school has already set up the tables and chairs and cleared the room for us.  Luckily we are in an elementary school library, so the chairs are the perfect size to cripple my knees, thigh, and hips after sitting in them for 13 hours straight.
  Now comes the actual voting.  People come in, grab a ballot, and vote.  Right?
  Oh, there’s much more to it than that.  People come in, and first they show some form of ID.  A numbered voter ticket is filled out that they sign and a member of each party initials.  The judge asks what type of ballot they prefer:  the evil touch screen computer thing with no proof of what choices you made except for the printout, or the good ol’ fashioned opti-scan, in use since Colonial times.  (This is how the Constitution was ratified:  opti-scan.  The Founding Fathers used a number two pencil and filled in the oval on the ballot, and then it was fed into the opti-scan reader.  It was invented by Ben Franklin.  True story.).  Most people picked the touch screen.  Then a judge looks up their name in the book of registered voters.  The voter signs on the line, and also initials next to his address, verifying that it is correct.  A rep from each party also initials in the book.  If there is more than one ballot style because of districting, the ballot style will be listed in the book next to their name, and this will be written on the voter ticket.
  Finally, the voter slides down to the end of the table, and the assistant supervisors take the voter ticket, select the appropriate ballot for the voter, and usher them to the appropriate voter-booth-thing and instruct them in the technical operation, if necessary.
  If there is a problem—the voter is not registered, or not showing up as registered, or wrong address, or some other issue—the voter goes to the supervisor table where there is a rep from each party there to help them out: an expert in the voting process.
  Lord help them, that would be me.
  I don’t do much under normal circumstances.  Occasionally we make a call to the election headquarters.  We have voter affidavits that we use for some circumstances, and a Palm pilot that has the up to date listing of all the voters in the county and where they are supposed to vote.  In the most common situation, we send them to another polling facility.
  At the end of the night, we count.  The opti-scan votes must equal the number of opti-scan voter tickets, and the touch screen number on the touch screen screens is verified and must equal the number of touch screen voter tickets, and the total of those two must equal the number of signatures in the book plus the number of affidavits.  All of this is counted twice, once each by—you guessed it—a rep from each party.
  So—
  The opti-scan votes are sealed, and the number is recorded and signed for.  The unused ballots are counted and verified. 
  The touch screens are closed with the electronic key (FEB), and the FEBs are sealed and the seal number is recorded.  The printout from the touch screens is sealed and recorded, as are the memory cards from them.
  Everything is put away according to the lists and all of this is done by people from both parties.  The green canvas bag, the orange canvas bag, and the orange canvas pouch are sealed, and these are delivered to a drop point by the two supervisors riding together in one car.  I imagine there are a dozen or so drop points around the St Louis County area.  The drops I’ve been to have had several vehicles with several people from both parties, with clipboards, and St Louis County Police are in attendance for security and traffic control.
  Every effort is made every step of the way to eliminate the opportunity for vote tampering.  So much so that I’m sure there are a few steps I left out.  Now what happens to the ballots after they leave my possession?  I’m not really sure, but based on the experience of the structure at my level, I’m confident that the security and precautions are just as rigorous, if not more so.
  I forgot to mention—because there weren’t any this time, but I saw them in 2008—that there are provisions in the election rules for “observers.”  The major parties can select people to be observers in the process at the polls; to be sure that everyone is treated fairly and given every opportunity to vote.
  Of course, the only observers I’ve ever seen are from the Democratic Party because…since they are lying, sleazy, deceitful sons of bitches that can’t be trusted, they don’t trust the fair and impartial election process to give them the advantage they deserve.  They were on a fishing expedition, I’m sure, looking—waiting—for the change to call someone out (and hopefully a Republican, for their sake) for treating a voter in a racially insensitive manner.
 
  Now this is not to say that all elections are fair and honest, moral and ethical.  Chavez winning 100% of the vote in his country comes to mind, for one.  It reminds me of that Wizard of Id cartoon:  the guy steps into the voting booth, and there are two levers.  One is marked “The King,” and the other one is marked, “The Other Guy.”  The man in the booth pulls the lever marked “The Other Guy,” and a trapdoor opens up underneath him, dropping him into the dungeon.  One hundred percent, right.
  And never mind the whole 2000 election thing.  Just—never mind.  Listen, libtards:  you don’t understand enough about the complex legal process involved so you just call it “illegal” and “fixed.”  I understand more of it than you do, but not enough to explain it to you patiently without slapping the silly shit out of you while I do it.
  (By the way—the whole “selected, not elected” thing that you cling to was pretty much rendered moot when GW beat Kerry in 2004.  And nothing was better than the crestfallen face of Dan Rather when he had to announce the winner.  It was like he was reporting on a puppy assassination.  Priceless.)
  Meanwhile, the media didn’t even bat an eye about the Senate race in Minnesota between Franken and Coleman.  How come EVERY TIME the votes were recounted, there were more and more votes for Franken, but no change—none added, none lost—for Coleman?  How is that possible?
  And let’s not forget all the completely outrageous stunts pulled by ACORN.  They were going to win in 2008 no matter what, and they proved it.  All the illegal voter registration and duplication, and people who admitted to voting more than once with no shame, like they were supposed to.  Unconscionable.  There are too many stories about illegal and unethical stories about ACORN to list them all.
  Again, everything they accused the Republican party of doing, they were going to do.  And more.  But that is all about politics, not the election.  This is about the election.
 
  In conclusion—and back to my original theme:  whacked-out, conspiracy-believing, tin-foil-hat-wearing, Alex Jones fan club members get a hold of a small amount of distorted misinformation and build a web of intricate and ultimately incorrect theories around it.
  If they never leave the basement or go outside, how can they know with any certainty anything about the real world?  A fish in an aquarium can theorize and guess and fantasize about the world on the other side of the glass…but they’re never going to know the truth until they experience it for themselves.  And until then, they’ll never believe and never be capable of understanding that world outside the glass:
  The one where you don’t breathe water.  The one where you don’t float in the air.  The world of breathing air is as alien to fish as the real world is to conspiracy nuts.

I’m Not Wrong

September 24, 2009 at 1:58 AM | Posted in Political | Leave a comment
  But you probably are, if you disagree with me.

  Imagine you live in a nice neighborhood–you think.  But there are some problems, so you want to start a neighborhood watch.  No one else wants to host the party, so you have it.  And it’s not a party, you keep telling them, but the guy across the street shows up with a keg and a young couple from down the block order a bunch of pizzas and pay for it with your credit card that they stole from you.
  During the meeting–which gets a little rowdy and out of control–two convicted felons that don’t even live in your neighborhood volunteer to house-sit for people when they go on vacation.  Everyone nods about what a great idea that is.  This creepy pedophile says that he’ll handle the after-school safe house program and everyone agrees.  The neighborhood retarded kid is charged with keeping the minutes.  Your neighbor’s cousin who lives in the basement that had served time for embezzling is unanimously elected treasurer.
  The guy who lives behind you complains that your fence is too high because he can’t check out your wife in the pool.  Someone else agrees and says your house looks too nice, it makes the rest of the neighborhood look bad.  What are you trying to do, lower everyone’s property values?
  You’ve already offered to help some neighbors–you’ve lent them a lawnmower and they broke it, and you’ve loaned out a ladder and never seen it again.  Another neighbor–does he even live here?–cut down the tree in your front yard for firewood.  You just got subpoenaed because he is suing you because his house burned down.
  And even though there is no water shortage in this state, everyone votes to keep you from watering your lawn because no one else does either.  The lady next door takes this opportunity to sell cookies for her daughter’s school fundraiser.  Everyone claims they can’t afford to buy any, but they get all in your face when you say you don’t want any either.  "You can afford it!  You need to buy some!"
  You have some mail that belongs to someone else, so you try to return it.  They say, “No, that’s my bill for drug rehab.  You can pay that, right?”  Everyone agrees you should, and they all want to forward their personal property tax bills to you.
  Two neighbors from down the street start to fight over whose tattoo is the most accurate representation of living for the moment, and it turns into a brawl in your house that spills into the yard.  Prized possessions are broken or stolen, and your lawn turns into a muddy pit with all your flowers and landscaping destroyed. 
  The cops come.  When questioned about who started it, everyone points at you.  You want to put up your house up for sale and move, but you KNOW what the open houses will be like. 

This is exactly what the UN is like.

ESPN-Word

March 31, 2009 at 1:51 AM | Posted in Political | Leave a comment
  I’m not really a hypocrite.  I have my problems with American Black Culture, but I don’t want them to be 2nd class citizens, I don’t consider them animals, and I don’t want to own them.  I don’t think they are "beneath" white people, even though I think most of them are beneath me; in fact I feel that way about most people of all races.  Black people are no different.
  (In fact, my newest fetish that edged out Asian women is a black woman with an accent, like Jamaican or…West African.  While that is neither here nor there, I just thought I’d mention it because I met a sweet girl born in West Africa, living in the US since she was twelve.  A REAL African-American.)
  I was on the intarwebs the other day–much like I am right now, and much as you may be if you are reading this–and I StumbledUpon some video of ESPN doing a special report on racism in sports.
  In Europe.
  Soccer, the "world’s sport," is wildly popular all over the world except the United States where we don’t kill people for losing a game because we aren’t insane and recognize that a sport is just that–a sport.
  In this report I saw, black soccer players are frequently booed, called "monkeys," and have bananas thrown on the field at them.  Even by the supporters of their team.  Their own "fans."  All over the more enlightened Europe this happens.  These people were close to breaking out a robe and putting hoods on.  Where was the Confederate flag?
  Now, I would expect this from the French, because they have xenophobic hatred about everyone that isn’t a hairy smelly obtuse Frenchman.  But everywhere in "white" Europe it is prevalent.
  Meanwhile, in the backwards, uncultured, barbaric good ol’ US of A, sports stars are stars and treated with respect–probably far more than they are due–regardless of their color.  Many of our greatest athletes are black.  In fact, most of them are.  They are treated like rock stars.
  I have personally witnessed very racist people who would (in almost the same breath) heap praise upon someone like Orlando Pace, Left Tackle for the St Louis Rams, and curse about the black people in the store we were just in using the traditional epitaphs.  This was my dad, and he saw no irony in this.
  But my point is, very liberal people in this country–the enlightened ones, the smart ones, the elitist ones, the ones marching towards socialism–these are the people pointing to Europe saying we should be more like them. We should follow their lead.
  Now I’m not going to say that is THE reason why Europe is a horrible place and we shouldn’t try to be like them.  Not when there are so many other reasons.  That is just one of them; in fact, it’s more of a symptom.
  Let’s run down a few reasons, shall we?

  Let’s start with the EU.  I’m sure it sounded like a good idea on paper to take a bunch of bickering children that haven’t been able to get along for 1500 years and form central government that carefully looks at the wants and needs of all parties involved to make sure they ignore all of them equally.
  The EU was a good idea because all of the socialist governments that exist in Europe had taxed themselves out of usefulness voting bread and circuses for themselves.  Socialism isn’t working for us, so let’s try…more socialism.  Shooting myself in the foot hasn’t made my headache go away, so I should shoot myself in the other foot also.  Fair is fair.

  Ever since BEFORE the Crusades, when the Persian Empire was on the rise, Muslims have been trying to overrun Europe.  Afterward they were beaten back, and the Crusades were an attempt by Christians to regain some Holy Land taken by the Muslims.  This is the truth, by the way, and if you disagree you are completely ignorant of history.  Go read before you come and talk to me.  Then go away and don’t talk to me.
  Now, Muslims are overrunning Europe in a more peaceful way.  Just moving in, emigrating, and refusing to assimilate.  Then they have more babies while the Europeans aren’t even making enough babies to replace themselves.  Muslims will own Europe, and for all intents and purposes enslave the hapless natives.  It’s gonna really suck to be them.
 
  I was going to put something here about the European attitude towards America.  In fact, I know nothing about it, other than some generalizations; however most of this article is broad generalizations anyway.
  I gather that for the US, there are mixed reviews in Europe.  That’s fair, isn’t it?  Lots of people there like us and look to us for support and protection.  Others look to us for support and protection and resent us for it.  Most are probably indifferent, and still other outright hate us, for a myriad of reason, most of which have to do with the fact that they really don’t understand The Cowboy Way.  I haven’t seen a Frenchman yet that knows how to man up.

  Around St Patrick’s Day, I made this statement:  "Hm-mmm.  You know what’s better than corned beef and cabbage?" 
  "What?"
  "Just about everything.  There’s a reason why everyone left Ireland."
  And I don’t mean to pick on Ireland.  Aside from the food, to me Ireland is one of the more desirable places in Europe.  There, and Iceland.  But there are reasons why everyone left Europe and came to America.  There are reason why people risk their lives to get in here.  Is anyone dying to cross the border into Spain?  Truly?  No?
  People left Europe in droves to create a better life here.  Why do you want to turn this into the place your ancestors fled?  "You know, since I escaped the pits of Hell, I sure do miss it.  Mind if I turn the heat up and light some sulfur-flavored incense?"
  I understand that we have a heritage from Europe, and I am grateful for that.  My own ancestry is mostly Finnish and French.  But the most important thing to learn from history is how not to repeat it.  We should look to Europe with that in mind.  How many millions–billions–have dies on Europe’s crusty soil, stained from war after war after war, bitter feuding from misunderstandings and mistrust and greed and lust for power.  How many times have the borders changed, the names changed, the power structure changed?  They are old, they have a long history of–
  You know, this question just occurred to me:  Are we, America, a young Europe?  Will the things that have happened to them eventually happen to us?  Are we doomed to experience Balkanization, plagues, and a hundred years’ war between New York and Miami?  Crusades?
  The Grass Is Always Greener–
  You unhappy elitists snobs who yearn for the sophistication of European sensibilities–do have any idea what their plumbing is like?  Do you know many of them are jealous of us, want to be like us, and want to take us down because they are no longer the imperial power?  If you remember history, you know that Spain, and France, and England, and Germany–these were once forces in the world, forces to be reconned with.  We are friends with England.  Spain has become inconsequential, and France is downright ridiculous.  Germany–?  Well, Germany is as Germany does.
  A friend of mine from work is going to France this summer with his wife.  I said, "Remember, a first class hotel anywhere else in the world (besides the US) is like the Bates Motel but with worse room service."
  We here in the United States have many problems.  But our blessings far outweigh them.  If you don’t believe that, you are what we call "a sorehead."  If your station in life is low, if you life in poverty in the ghetto, I just want to say, "Suck it up."  Do have any idea whatsoever how much worse off you would be in any other country in the world?
  If you are rich, you should thank God every day that you live in the US.  If you are poor, you should thank him even more than you aren’t living in a grass hut with dirt floor with no food and dirty water and no electricity but more insects and diseases than you have names for. 

Founding Fathers

March 27, 2009 at 11:04 PM | Posted in Political | Leave a comment
  Oh, yeah, a few weeks ago the Election Board called, wanting to know if I wanted to work the next election.  April 7th, the first Tuesday in April.  Obviously, it’s not going to be a big election.  I didn’t even know there was going to be one; chances are most people don’t.  But my handler must have liked the sound of my voice, or else she just heard reports from my last engagement, because she asked me, "Would you be interested in being a supervisor for this?"
  "Uh…I’ve only worked one election before–"
  She explained that this was no problem.  While the last election (The big presidential one, ‘member?) had a turnout around here of 80%, for this one we expect 10 to 15%.  That means instead of over a thousand people, we’re expecting about 120.  "Plus we’ll send you to a training class."
  I’m in.  I want to do my civic duty, Honda.  And I want to learn a bit more about the election process.
  I went to the class, actually, about two weeks ago.  There were about six of us in there. I learned quite a bit, and we had a re-enactment so I could showcase my acting skills.  Afterwards, they gave us all a DVD as well, with all the training info on it.  I get paid more for the supervisor class (50 bones instead of 30), but I don’t know if that means I get more for the election or not.  But I’m not in it for the money, I’m in it for the babes, just like the Founding Fathers were.
  I need to watch the DVD to freshen up on my skilz before then, and make sure I bring a cooler and snacks and food and drinks.  And a book.  It’s going to be a slow day.  I’ll tell you all about it later.  You know, when it happens.

Isn’t It Ironic?

November 11, 2008 at 1:17 AM | Posted in Political | Leave a comment
  Don’t you think?
  The liberals won the election, and are still bitter.  By and large, liberals are bitter people.  Not the conservatives that they claim are clinging bitterly to their guns and religion.  I’m not bitter.  If anything, I watch with wry anticipation the fascism that will precede the coming Obamaggeddon.
  For instance, it’s not enough that Obama won, but the liberals want us to admit defeat, admit our ideas our wrong, admit that they are better.  Sorry, can’t do it.  Not gonna cry uncle.  You won the election.  Now fix the country, bitches.
  They call the country free and democratic when they win an election–but in 00 and 04 the election was fixed.  And here is a very telling dichotomy:  Prop 8, which passed fair and square in California.  It’s not good enough that it passed.  The people that opposed it can’t accept it.  They don’t believe in democracy, they believe in having things their way, no matter what.
  Do I care about Prop 8?  Not in the least bit.  I’m not gay, and thankfully, I don’t live in California.  Protesting because they lost a fair election sounds alot like they are crybaby bitches.  Trying to shut down and destroy anyone that disagrees with their position sounds alot like fascism.
  Obama won, and that’s democracy.  Their pet project didn’t, and that’s a travesty.
  Do you see conservatives rallying, rioting, and protesting because Obama won?  No? 
  The liberals were right about one thing:  It is about class.  We have it.  They don’t.

Turn And Face The Strange

November 8, 2008 at 3:41 AM | Posted in Political | Leave a comment
  I may change my mind again, as I sit here bitterly clinging to my guns and my religion, but for now I don’t really want to go down the political dirty back road.
  Maybe if something happens that really affects me, or just really irks me–but other than that, this blog is about me.  It’s my diary, my journal.  My heart’s deepest layer of bullshit.  Occasionally politics does bubble to the top, but that’s not me.  At least, that is not me *in my entirety.*  I have many interests.  I am multi-layered, multi-faceted.  I’m multi-personalitied, even.
  But politics is an interest of mine, a hobby.  I follow it.  I think what I may be more interested in is not politics in general, but the media’s reaction and bias to politics.  I watch it, I track it.
  Although I am a Republican, and a conservative, I don’t begrudge Obama his win.  He almost won it fair and square. 
  I don’t want to turn into a political blog, for a few reasons.  One, the comments you get are just nasty and brutal.  It’s not the kind of thing that people do in a polite society, and sadly, we not, any longer.  The comments are also not the kind of thing the commentors would say in person, to my face.  How do I know this?  Because most of them are thin, pale, weak little bitches that are cocky as hell with a keyboard in their laps.  If they met me in person, they would cry and wet themselves a little.  I would make sure of it.  If you read this, you know me.  You know how I am.  I am exactly this way in person, as well.  I’m not putting on a facade.
  Also– I have enough knowledge for short, brief commentary, and I’m smart enough to know that I don’t know as much as I’d like to know.  Plus, political commentarians–is that a word?–generally start with their conclusion and work backwards to support it, discarding any facts that contradict their thesis.  As a scientist, that is dishonest.  Yes, bitches, I am a scientist.  It’s more in the attitude than the knowledge.  My training as an engineer and my desire to seek knowledge make me a scientist.
  Thinking back on some previous posts–and I shan’t delete them–I see where my emotions may or may not have gotten the better of me.  I do, however, feel that the conclusion is correct:  Fascism in this country will not come from the government, it will come from the media and the people, and the government will see it as a way to increase power and control, and seize that opportunity.  While they may not be able to completely stifle dissent, they can certainly discredit it, as well as intimidate it.
  It is frightening and amazing to me how many people want things to be a certain way "for my own good."  Demonizing any view that is askew from theirs in subtle (and not so subtle) ways in order to present for the public the propaganda that only their point of view is valid and "enlightened."  Yes, but will it work?  Doesn’t matter, it’s enlightened.  It’s also frightening the support that socialism has, either outright, or clandestine.  Clandestine meaning people are supporting various socialist beliefs and policies without knowing and calling them socialists.  It will lead them down that road where they will eventually pick up the banner and say, "Workers of the World, Unite!" and not even question why when they are asked to spy on their neighbors.
  We may not be heading for a Baracolypse.  But we might be headed for an Obamaggeddon.

The Shape Of Things To Come

November 6, 2008 at 1:53 AM | Posted in Political | Leave a comment
  For my father’s sake, I’m glad he’s no longer with us.  My dad was a lifelong Democrat.  A Teamster, too.  Pro-union as all get-out.  Decided he was a liberal when the Democratic party became more and more liberal.  Called himself a progressive, without really knowing what it was.
  He passed away before Obama was really a contender in the election–just one of a handful of faces, and not really a standout.  But during this election, he would have had to–
  You know, I don’t know what my dad would have done.  He’s a Democrat, sure.  But he’s also an old school racist.  Would he vote for Obama?  Would he vote for McCain for his self-respect but hope Obama wins?  Or vice versa?  Although I would much rather that he still be here, this is the one bright side I can look at.

  Look, I’m not a political maven by any means.  But I read, I watch, and I pay attention.  These are some of my conclusions:
  FACT:  The media is liberally biased.  The only way you cannot understand this is if you are like Keith Olbermann, or The Dude–my friend Karl.  In each case, they are so far to the left that not only is EVERYTHING, even liberals, too right-wing for them, but they are going to fall off one day and come back around on the other side, like Pac Man.  This is a fact.  If you disagree, you are wrong, and stupid, and brainwashed.  What, you don’t want to believe it, so it isn’t true?  Even though the actual facts have proven it?  Independent studies, facts. opinion polls, plus just plain observation mean nothing to your firmly held "beliefs"?
  A corollary to this is that FOX news actually *IS* fair and balanced.  They have both conservative and liberal commentators, and they show both sides.  The fact that all the rest of the media–that is biased to the left–called FOX biased to the right should be a telling indicator to anyone with half a brain.  That is, anyone who is not a liberal.  Go ahead and scream.  Or mock me because you *know* you are right.  Whatever.  Since you can’t show me any proof to the contrary, all you have is your angry diatribe.  Shouldn’t that go away now that you have won?
  Oh, I get it.  It’s not enough for you to win.  You also want to change my mind.  You want me to believe as you do, because it’s more comforting that way.  Sorry.  I have independent thought.
Oh, by the way…
  Obama outspent McCain 600 million to 86 million, going back on his promise not to take public money.  Plus, he appeared on over 50 magazine covers, including Time six times.  When was the last cover McCain was on?  The one where the "artist" intentionally lit him poorly to make him look evil.  The late night talk shows made fun of McCain/Palin over Obama/Biden 7 to 1.  Seven to one, people.  All of that, and he won the popular vote by…a margin that would be considered close if McCain had won.  I’m just proud that Obama didn’t win Missoura.  Fat lot of good it did me.
  FACT:  Neither party, and neither candidate, are as evil as they are made out to be.  Listen, assholes:  The standard tack of the liberals is to demonize any conservative as Stupid or Liberal.  Reagan was stupid.  Cheney is evil.  Bush is stupid.  Palin is stupid.  These are out-right lies.  
  The vicious attacks on Palin while Obama (and Biden) got a complete pass from the media was not lost on everyone.  Some people are finally starting to notice, even though it may be too late.
  Of course, neither of them (the parties) are as perfect as the believers would believe them to be.  My friend Karl calls this evil, and corrupt, and "a conspiracy."  I call it the way of the world.  You can’t please everyone.  Based on some of the whacked out beliefs that most people have, that is for the best. 
  There are going to be some hardcore whacked out left wing commie pinko fag junkie socialists retards who are going to call Obama a sell-out when he doesn’t exactly harken to their agenda.  I hope, anyway.  These are the ones who are too stupid and self-absorbed to realize that:
  A)  what they think and what they want are both wrong and stupid
  B)  right-thinking, lucid people have a better understanding of how the world works and don’t feel the way they (the nutjobs) do
  C)  in the real world, compromises have to be made; you can’t just run off and throw a fit, Al Franken.
  D)  the utopia you envision won’t happen, because SOMEONE has to work
  FACT:  What Obama really wants, what he believes in, is socialism.  Marxism.  In his actions, his speeches, his teachings, his associations, and the books he has written all support this. [And Christ in a Bolshevik sidecar:  WHO writes their autobiography in their twenties?  Is he one of the Olsen twins?  Who is that conceited?]
  I can’t believe how many people out there are *for* socialism.  Idealistic morons who have never had a job.  If you don’t understand how the world really works, and how people really are, then you will never understand why socialism will never work.  Here it is, in a nutshell.
  Basically, you want me to work so you can sit on your ass.  If I see this happening, I’m going to start shooting some fucking socialists.  Sitting targets are easy.

Barak-alypse…
  My friend The Dude is a liberal, and I’m sure he’s gloating.  Plus, waiting for the freebies and handouts that Obama has promised him.  He laughed at me.  But before the election I said, "Dude, for me it’s a win-win."
  "How’s that?"
  "Well, if McCain wins, the Republicans have the white house, thank God, instead of a socialist.  If Obama wins, when civilization is destroyed I can say ‘nyah-nyah–told you so.’  So either way, I win."
  Kids, we’re in for some tough times ahead.  Of course, all the bad things that happen will be blamed on Bush for a long, long time.  More than that though, the same people who were bashing Bush, McCain, Palin, and any other Republican with unprecedented harshness and glee while standing behind the 1st amendment will now [and I’m not kidding here] defend Obama’s every move and try to silence every critic *for the good of the country.*
  It won’t be the government doing it, but the fanatic supporters, and the media will squelch with loudness, fear, intimidation, and even violence anyone who deigns to disagree with the Great One.  It won’t be the Obama administration, but they will be complicit.  They will silently support it.  That’s how it starts.
  Welcome to your new fascist state.

Election Night Coverage III–Son of Election Night

November 6, 2008 at 1:46 AM | Posted in Political | Leave a comment
  I told a guy I work with at the bank that on Election Day I worked the poll.
  He said, "Really?  Did you make alot of money?"
  "Uh…no, not really.  Some, I suppose.  What–?"
  "It was all in ones anyway, right?"
  I said, "I don’t understand.  I worked in the election polling place."
  "Oh.  I thought you meant you worked the stripper poll."

  Five in the AM is pretty fucking early.  It’s early even when you normally get up at six.  Fifteen.  On Election Day I got up at 4 AM.  I had to be at the poll by five, because they open at six.
  We were expecting to be busy all day, and therefore warned to pack a lunch, snacks, and drinks.  I took a shower and padded around, packing my bag up.  I finally walked out the door about twenty till.  I headed to the newly reopened White Castle for breakfast, and sat in the drive thru for quite some time.  Finally, I get my food and it’s about five till.  What the fuck?  The black girls working the drive thru were giving me a hint of the Shape of Things to Come.
  I show up and immediately get to work, helping to set up the voting booths.  We have two kinds:  four of the new-fangled touch screen, and ten of the old-school Opti-scan, the paper ballot.  Many people chose the paper ballot because they don’t trust anyone, especially the machine people, and want to make sure their vote gets counted.  Of course, it’s an optical scan, so their vote gets read by a machine, but they don’t concern themselves with the esoteric.
  We had to declare what party we were with, because each poll has a equal number of Republicans, Democrats, and Communists–oh, wait, those last two are the same.  Republicans and Democrats.  We Republicans were out-numbered, however–I think the score was …
  Hold on.  Steve, Republican.  Joe, the old black guy, Democrat.  Lloyd, the middle-aged black guy, Democrat.  Me, Republican.  Dorothy, the old black woman, Democrat (I mean, honestly–what else would they be?).  The old white woman–I forget her name–Republican.  John, the old white guy, Republican.  Miriam, the black lady my age, Democrat.  A white chick my age who may have had the hots for me–Democrat.  How many is that?  Four Republicans, and five democrats, plus our high school teen helper, a cute young black chick.  Obviously a democrat.
  Once the polls opened, I learned quickly.  After three people, I had it down.  Each lucky contestant comes in and goes to the front.  They show ID, write their name on a card.  The card has name, location, ballot style, ballot number, voting style (the two choices, touch or paper), and a place for a representative from each party to initial. 
  Yes, everything is done in a bipartisan manner.  Every ballot marker and every paper ballot was initialed by both a Dem and a normal person.  Since we were low on normal people (as evidenced by the campaign), I did alot of initialing.  I began to feel important.
  Then, the hapless voter would slide down to one of us that had the roll books.  We would take their card and their ID again, and look it up.  We write the ballot number in the book, make an x for them to sign, and put our initials in the book.  Then we write the ballot style on marker and initial it in the spot of our party, if it hasn’t already been done.  Dorothy sat next to me, and had to slide all of hers to me for me to initial, which is what tells me that the chick who had the hots for me was a Democrat, because they all had her initials on them in the DEM spot. 
  Having passed all the trials, they now proceed to vote, either down the line to the paper, or to the middle of the floor where Steve was wrangling the touch screens.
  Dorothy and I had a good time.  We talked and got along.  She did say to me, "If your fiance saw how you was flirtin with all these women up in here, she’d kick you but."
  I laughed.  "She knows how I am.  Trust me, she knows."
  Every single woman–and by that I mean each and every one, not just the ones who were unmarried–that came to my table and showed me ID, I told them, "What a lovely picture!"  And I was sincere, and I meant it.  Even the fat ones, even the ugly ones.  All of them.  Towards the end of the evening, a cute–in a trailer-trash kind of way–redhead showed me her ID, and her picture was stunning.  Beautiful.  I gave her the line and she smiled, showing me that most of her teeth were missing.  Kids, don’t do meth.
  Towards the end of the day, I would say, "Even though I have said this to every woman who has passed through my line, please accept this with the spirit in which it was intended:  What a lovely photo."  The line between sincerity and sarcasm had started to blur.

  Oh, the lines!  The throng of people!  Oh, the huddled masses!
  Starting at six am, there were lots of people waiting to get in.  It was kind of like…ever seen a zombie movie with lots of dead people banging on the doors of the mall trying to get in?  Yeah, it was like that.  The only choices we had were to shoot them in the head or let them vote.
  Since it was Election Day, I was outvoted.  But any other–
  If it had been Arbor day, or Yom Kippur. we would have shot them all.  The unwashed masses approached and thusly voted.  We were really busy until about 930 or 10am.  Then it tapered off.  It was slow, but steady.  We were expecting a big rush again in the evening, after three.  Okay, after four.  Hmmm….Okay, well definitely after five.  By six, my thought was that everyone who wanted to vote had voted, perhaps twice.  Looking through my book I estimated an 85-90% turnout.  And then…it was over.  The last few stragglers voted and unceremoniously ushered out.
  We of course had heard the horror stories of lines around the block at other places, and people waiting for hours.  Not here.  Everyone got in, got out.  As I told one voter/fan, "It’s all due to my long experience as a restaurant manager.  I know how to handle a rush.  I get people in, get people out."
  "I have a question."
  "Get out."
  If I’m going to take the blame for a few mistakes I made, I damn sure am going to accept all the praise when things go right.
  We packed the shit up.  Most of it stays behind, to be picked up in a few days.  The results were packed into bags that were sealed and locked, to be delivered to the central office.  Only if the election is close–a 3% margin or less–or contested are the individual ballots audited and checked.
  Throughout the course of the day I met some people that I knew.  Now, this was the location I would have voted in, so it was in my neighborhood.  I met a lot of neighbors and so forth.  I saw Darryl and his wife, a couple from church.  He is my age, and we were in the same groups.  I always liked Darryl.  Then I saw Jim, the guy with whom I had worked at Domino’s, and then he got me a job at Papa John’s.  I got his phone number–I should call him some day.  I also saw the mayor or our town.  I didn’t know he lived near me.  He looked…what’s the word?  Smarmy.  I mean, likable, yet slimy.  He looked like a cartoon of a politician who is on the take from the mob in Chicago in the 30s.  A cross between that and the gopher from Caddyshack.
  I also saw my neighbor down the street whose daughter Miranda plays with.  And during the middle of the day, a guy named Tony Columbo came in.  TC is on a talk radio station I listen to.  He brought us some water with the station logo on it, and then decided to go ahead and vote–he lives in the neighborhood.  I chatted with him briefly, and helped him out.
  Speaking of voting…
  Looking through my book, M-R, I happened up a page in the N section.  A guy who used to live in my house.  He’s the one my parents bought it from, 14 years ago.  I look over, and wonder of wonders!–he is registered to vote still at that address.  Which, if you aren’t paying attention, is my address.  Hmmm.  But that’s not all.  What made it stand out is this:  In the middle it was preprinted so we didn’t miss it–this guy had already voted absentee.
  Curiouser and curiouser…
  If I hadn’t been working the poll, I never would have known.  He’s been doing this for 14 years.  I’m going to do something about it.  It comes to an end.  Now.

  So I called my dear one to come and pick me up, and I bid adieu to my co-workers and compatriots, and went home.  Detroit cooked dinner, and she made whatever the hell it was she made specifically to piss me off.  Then I went to the freezer to look for something else to eat, a backup plan.  But it was gone.  Now I was more pissed.  I went to bed.  Without knowing the results or caring, I went to bed.  I figured it’ll be a bright shiny day tomorrow regardless.

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