Archive for May, 2006

Will Vote for Beer Money

A novel idea and one with (some) merit: an Arizona political activist, Dr. Mark Osterloh, proposes to increase Election Day turnout, in his state, by giving everyone who votes a shot at a million dollar prize.

The question will be posed to voters statewide in a yes/no referendum on the ballot this November. If passed, it will be effective retroactively – which means the amount, drawn from unclaimed state lottery prizes, will be awarded that very day.

The proposal has its detractors — like the columnist who asked,

‘What sort of voters will this prize attract? The kind who fill out their ballots like a pick-3 ticket? Yikes!’

Yikes, indeed. What sort of voters will it attract? The Legally Eligible sort. You uppity fuck.

Specifically, I’d guess it’ll attract voters who stand to gain the most should they win a cool mil. In other words, Poor People — the ones statistically least likely to go to the polls.

Trouble is: what happens when they Lose?

The proposal’s crafter seemingly hopes to tap into America’s potent electoral Wild-Card — the 50% of those who’re eligible but regularly don’t vote. An admirable strategic ploy; one wonders — had they been so enticed — whether a few thousand more voters would’ve braved the conspiratorially long polling-place lines, in cities like Cleveland, and won Ohio for Kerry in ’04.

But what if they waited twelve hours, voted for Kerry, and lost anyway? That is, lost both the election and the million dollar contest — which, after all, will be won by just one lucky voter.

Permanent Psychological Disenfranchisement: they’ll never vote again.

The best way, to involve the entire electorate in America’s political process, is for candidates to address the entire electorate’s needs. Failing that, they should just pay us cash.

Or, better yet, try both.

Spare us the television & radio commercials, for one month each campaign season. No direct mail, no newspaper ads. Go out & campaign the old fashioned way — by getting drunk with your constituents at their neighborhood bars. Go to their art shows. Be a guest lecturer in their political science class. Visit our workplaces — spend an hour doing our job, and think real hard about how much you would like to be paid for that hour of your time.

Then take the money you save, on advertisements, and divide it equally between whoever casts their vote — for anyone — each Election Day.

For a mere $25 bucks I, for one, would not only vote but — even if every candidate I voted for lost (as per usual) — I’d walk away from the polls feeling positively giddy.

This year’s will be the most expensive mid-term congressional contests in Vermont history. Already, Republican US senate hopeful whoever Tarrant has dropped $4 million. Bernie Sanders lags slightly behind, having raised only $3 million. And, though Sanders – the best known & most loved politician in modern VT history – could whoop Tarrant soundly, without spending a dime, he recently announced plans to invoke the so-called Millionaire Provision The obscure clause – which applies when a wealthy candidate, like Tarrant, lavishly finances their own campaign – enables their opponent to accept donations in excess of federally mandated limits.

Looks like the bourgeois versus the bourgeoisie.

In the race for the House seat Bernie is vacating, Republican Martha Rainville, buoyed by a recent Laura Bush visit, raised $150,000 in a day. Rainville’s opponent, VT state senator Peter Welch, hosted an online chat/fundraising lunch, during the First Lady’s visit, which netted $6 grand.

At so torrid a fundraising/spending pace, I figure they’ll for sure save enough money, in that one commercial-free month, to treat the entire state to a free night of beer drinking. There are roughly 400,000 eligible voters in Vermont. That brings the vote-rebate total, at $25 a pop, to around $10 million. I bet VT’s four top candidates for national office have that much, between them, in the bank tonight.

May we have it, please?

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the wandering degenerate gambler

Just came across The Wandering Scribe — that homeless chick in London who parlayed her blog into a book deal…

…And I read some skepticism from critics who wonder whether her gig is for real, or some kind of Pity Ploy to sell her story for money.

I read her few most recent entries, and found them genuine — but what do I know? Her critics point out that she couldn’t possibly be both homeless and in possession of a cell phone & law degree. It’s possible. I am homeless, and in possession of a cell phone. I have no degree, but do have a recommendation from my former o-chem teacher, who is currently Dean of Pacific University, for a free ride studying chemistry. My mom pays for the cell phone (she’s nowhere near Well Off — a Methodist pastor — but helps where she can). And, for a variety of good reasons, I haven’t been able to take responsibility for the scholarship — yet. I don’t know the Wandering Scribe’s whole story, but comments like…

The poor blighter is so out of touch with friends and family that she’s holed up in a car – so what’s the cell phone for? Apparently not potential employers…

…Sound like pompous bullshit to me.

As if a homeless person would have no need for a telephone, except to Get A Job!

Anyway, the Wandering Scribe had the bright idea to solicit pay-pal contributions to cover the cost of moving into an apartment. I thought to myself, ‘Well hot damn — why don’t I do that?’ But quickly realized that if I did, I would be a Fraud. Not because my homeless story lacks authenticity. But because I would de-fraud my contributors, by spending the money on things other than rent.

However: if my readers wish to Pay-Pal donations to cover my gambling & drug habits, well golly — fuckin Go nuts!

COUNTERPUNCH OF THE WEEK

A little background:
Skateboarding is illegal in my southern Vermont hometown. I have a theory about Why; when kids shred around & visibly have Fun, for hours on end, in parking lots frequented by Shoppers, it reminds the public at large that there’s something to Do besides spend money.

Situated in the center of town, Harmony parking lot is surrounded on 3 sides by 4-story apartment buildings. The bottom floors of these are populated by coffee & pizza shops, bookstores & boutiques. If you want to get hassled by cops, for loitering in some dumb parking lot because you’re a Kid in a town where’s there is shit better to do, Harmony is a perfect hang-out spot.

Recently, someone smart proposed we build an outdoor skate park at Memorial Park; a year-round, multi-use recreation area a mile or so from downtown. Besides being home to the town’s public pool, a playground and winter-time sled-hill & ski jump, Memorial Park hosts the adult softball league.

A condo complex abuts Memorial Park. A bunch of Hoser wank-offs, who unamously oppose the skate-park, live there.

“This is going to be a nighttime, daytime throughway,’ complained spokesperson Ed Luciano, in this local newspaper article, ‘With the wrong kind of kids comimg through. It’s going to be like Harmony parking lot.’

But Brent Johnston, a member of the Green Mountain Skateboard Coalition, said that’s generalizing.

“That’s like saying people who play softball drink Bud Light in their cars,” he said.

Fuckin A Right if they do!

Give me 5 — I’m still ALIVE!

At this moment, he is very comfortable in his leg. He practically jogged back to his stall. He pulled us back to his stall. Right now, he is very happy. He is eating. Things right now are good, but I’ve been doing this too long to know that day one is the end of things.”
–Dean Richardson, veterinary surgeon

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For 2 vastly different, yet equally valid & honest perspectives, on Barbaro’s awful bad no-good day at the races, check out Left At The Gate — the best Racehorse blog on the Web; and National Nitwit — for original satire, a genuine Hoot, and one more reason to steer clear of Toledo, Ohio.

One idea comes immediately to my mind: declare his Preakness race a Non-Start — so he’ll retire with his hard-won, undefeated record intact.

The beloved Kentucky Derby champ, who broke down a few hundred feet into Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, suffered multiple leg fractures his veterinarian described as ‘both career ending and life threatening.’ He’ll undergo surgery later today.

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All fun & games, until the horse I stood publically & enthusiastically against broke his leg. Dudes, like I wanted him to Lose — not die!!
Spooky.
Best wishes to the great Barbaro! May he have a happy & Fat Future in the Breeding Shed.