Friday, October 29, 2010

Electoral Fraud: Around the Globe?

I bet you any serious primer on electoral fraud or voter fraud worth its salt would contain most if not all of the following examples; and this would be relevant to any place in the world where some form of democratic voting is regularly provided for and exercised.
1. Commands to Vote - Where election judges or election officials sign voters in and instruct them on whom to vote.

2. Mass Illegal Assistance – where for example voters are herded into booths by political operators and instructed on how and who to vote.

3. Phony Voters – like when voters are not properly ID’ed.

5. Absentee ballot signature mismatches – Signatures on file not consulted.

6. Cash for votes – buying of votes whether inside or around premises of polling places.

7. Loiterers – where regulations on who can enter polling places are disregarded.

8. Intimidation of poll watchers – by political operatives.

9. Poll workers voting for voters – Workers themselves instructing voters not only how to vote but who to vote.

10. Software glitches – Many charges claimed where electronic voting is used.

11. Counting errors – where manual counting is still being done.

12. Politicking inside the room – Political operatives not only loiter but engage in campaigning.

13. Would you like to vote a straight party ticket? – In some places where straight voting is still practiced election officials favor only their party of choice.

And after having gone through with some disgust at the rather long list one is probably thinking this as typical in some obscure developing country where elections usually are messy, chaotic, and maybe violent, or littered with illegal practices. And one could be right to assumed so. I myself had just witnessed my first local election ever after having been gone for over 30 years from the old homeland. And the verdict in media and other sources has been almost unanimous – the election was rigged, or more benignly, tainted because of massive vote-buying which has over time become the common fare in elections hereabouts. And mind you, these were elections for the lowliest political subdivisions in the country – the barangays. Served with some unique side dish called election for Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) (Youth Council) where underage residents also vied for positions and got elected, supposedly to form part of a national youth legislature. Anyway, there were claims that vote-buying permeated through that level, too. What a way to start future voters on the road to civic duty!

A local Jesuit priest had thrown in some nuggets of wisdom on the just-ended elections which prompted my quick personal response that somehow got stuck in inertia and never got out. So here it is:

From all appearances electoral fraud epitomized by vote-buying and cheating has become the handmaiden of Philippine elections. Thus for “good” candidates to stay above it is hard and difficult. The “daang matuwid” people speak about is narrow and precipitous and thus daunting to travel.

The dilemma is that if “good” candidates find it near to impossible in getting elected, governance is then littered with people infected with their own nefarious agenda. And I would be bold to say that that is precisely our situation, if not nationally then for sure, locally. Elected “public servants” gunning for their own self-interests.

The solution then is as much a function of “good” candidates as the very people who have been empowered to choose. The electorate deserves the governance it voted for.

Given the realities, there is the huge task of re-educating and re-calibrating the minds of an electorate long poisoned by the tempting allures of petty cash and sappy promises. And in tandem, of stirring the long-lost virtue of eternal vigilance in the segments of the electorate that continues to care about honest elections and dedicated public servants.

Going back to the original topic, allow me to disabuse any knee-jerk judgment that those examples of voter fraud listed above must of consequence come from third-world countries. Because in this one particular case, this list came from this source in the US of A and is a cautionary tale for the coming mid-term elections scheduled on the 2nd of November. All those examples listed have precedents in the US setting and for some examples, already in the running in the context of the forthcoming elections where early voting is allowed. So this shining example of the grand experiment on democratic principles and representative democracy is currently toiling and groaning under electoral vicissitudes most common and vile in developing countries.

From the start these bitterly-contested elections exploded in ways one would find atypical and not likely in a more stable and experienced state like the US. But they did.

And this commenced some 2 years ago when this current president was historically and surprisingly elected. The interim period has been wracked with ugly political fights and wide dissensions that have cut across the country and divided it into clear and marked battle lines. And now even illegal aliens have thrown their weight into the fray. Cautions in ethics, civility, propriety, you name it, and yes, even law have been thrown to the winds, producing a dirty, savage, and brutal free-for-all not seen during my entire stay there.

So it appears that all’s well with the world.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pre-Sarah Palin Era

Long before even astute Presidential candidate, John McCain, knew enough of Sarah Palin so as to list her as a VP contender, this little blog already considered Sarah a possible good choice.

While Sarah’s VP candidacy may have lost out to Barack Obama’s historic but now considered by many, misguided win, few will doubt and question that the former is now a force to reckon with in US politics. Friends and foes alike cannot anymore afford to disregard the quiet power and driving influence that a Sarah statement and presence now wield as she stumps around the country, galvanizing and electrifying the electorate with her popular causes. Kinetic causes and issues which resonate loudly with majorities of the American people.

Who would have believed that this unassuming pretty face from faraway Alaska would in a few years command the respect from like-minded voters and sow fear and intimidation from those who oppose her? Now, even her hard-fisted or clueless detractors are beginning to see the light and acknowledging what was quite obvious to many regular folks like us.

A cursory walk-through media in its many manifestations will undoubtedly yield pieces about Sarah Palin – where she is at, where she is speaking, and her anticipated comments on the daily important issues oozing out of Washington DC and the White House. They cannot now seem to have enough of her, though she continues to be a private citizen without the traditional bully pulpits establishment politicians usually with carry with them wherever they sidle into.

The way things are shaping up, Sarah will deliver for the GOP the wins needed to put this country back to its traditional and enlightened path, one election at a time. Today, the midterm, and next the presidential. Just you wait and see.

UPDATE: This just in . . .
I was told on the record that the fire Marshall allowed 6600 in the main room, it was full, there is also an over flow room that hold about 2400, there were 800 people or so there plus another 200-500 outside. So figure maybe 8000. That means that president Barack Obama, Deval Patrick and Barney Frank were unable on a Saturday 3 weeks before an election to outdraw Sarah Palin on the Boston Common in April on a Wednesday. Democrats be afraid, be very afraid.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Doing our Darnest Best At Getting By

In one’s honest examination of one’s own life, one is constrained to cede that most times, one is content with getting by with what life throws around. Finding ourselves innately flawed and gapingly wanting in many respects, we can’t help but be resignedly accepting of less than stellar performances in our many responses to innumerable events.

While deep in our dark psyche many of us would rather confront life’s challenges armed to the teeth with skills, resources, preparation, including the kitchen sink, and thus be utterly well-prepared to do eternal combat with our many challenges, we typically end up with results which are largely less than excellent, though some maybe a tad better than being mediocre but definitely littered with many failures. For the countless many of us that appears our default role. We never really become what we had envisioned for ourselves when we started tackling life’s adult challenges.

Those that do show stellar performances stand out way above the levels of madding crowds and are also far fewer than many would like to imagine. And it is in their scant numbers that the rest of us can readily spot and recognize their outstanding achievements and their brightly-lit personas. We can only sigh and gape in awe at what these few have garnered for themselves.

Ensnared in this lowly lot assigned largely by fate (of course, a number from the same lot are able to aim higher and do end up higher), many of us aim to do our best – at simply getting by.

It is not a spectacularly pretty sight, but what can one do? True, we still can dream our fanciful dreams and expend our darnest best to execute herculean tasks. But let us be pragmatic, for the many of us it will not be as expected . So best to expect the worst, while aiming for the best. And thus, failure materializes as more palatable and acceptable.

Many will holler and dispute this kind of a defeatist or fatalistic attitude and would rather we engorge ourselves with inspirational and motivational programs designed to lift us higher. And I can agree with that but extra efforts notwithstanding, the majority of us will still fall by the wayside in the category of achievements or accomplishments. And in consolation, for life after all is not in the accomplishing, but rather in the trying where one is measured and sorted out.

But does it denigrate any noble purposes if we are also accepting of the realities or maybe realistic possibilities that we will not be able to accomplish what we have envisioned? Or get what we aimed for?

Does it detract from or put a damper on our efforts the fact that we are also accepting of the odds involved? Many would say that what we are sliding into could be considered self-fulfilling prophecies.

It may be the envied choice to be of determined singular minds in pursuing goals and shunting aside feared possibilities of failure, but the pragmatic person should be humble enough to take into account the odds on failure. Prudence dictates that we take into account all the factors at play and not be blinded by the glare of sterling virtues that could steer one into reckless and imprudent actions.

That’s all I am saying, in a sort of roundabout way.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Remembering Tony Curtis

After hearing of the demise of Tony Curtis on cable, I immediately and dutifully walked to our little den where I kept “old” stuff from my youth. Plucked out one item from an array of old pocketbooks comprising the few artifacts I have which catalogued those heady days of youth when we spent whatever free time and money we had watching Hollywood movies in the few theatres we had in the city.

For Tony Curtis, it was of course, the black and white Wilder film, Some Like It Hot, with three very popular stars in their own rights – Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon. Friends and acquaintances liked it so much, I had then thought of and decided on memorializing our exciting experiences by purchasing the pocketbook version of the movie. So here it still is almost as fresh as when we first viewed and talked about Tony in the movie.

Needless to state, as teenagers we tried in our own little ways to look like Tony. His lush dark hair was just right for us since we all had dark black hair. And even better that he did not grow sideburns because very few of us could.

And when Elvis came with his equally stunning good looks, it made us even happier that Elvis himself would admit to his idolizing Tony’s dark looks, tarrying inside a theatre where he served as usher to watch Tony on the big screen. And also imitating his hairstyle and all. He was known to dye his hair black in his later more popular years until his untimely death in 1977.

Personally, Tony is equally remembered for his earlier films. Houdini - where he starred with the actress who would to be his wife some years later, Janet Leigh. And in a comedic movie, Don’t Make Waves, where he was paired with rising but ill-fated starlet, Sharon Tate.

True, Tony starred in many lightweight costumed movies, but for us then he personified and made somewhat real some of our fanciful escapist fantasies.