November 2nd, 2006

Brad @ Burning Man

If I ever thought I had it bad.

I've had some truly awful bosses. The worst of them even looked suspiciously like Dilbert's "pointy haired boss." Another of them put me in the awkward position of having to work closely with a guy from another department whose wife was pretty openly cheating on him with my boss. And my bosses right before the breakdown were managing entirely by threat, when they weren't manipulating everybody beneath them in junior high school type clique wars. But you know what? At least none of my bosses ever used the personnel records of their subordinates for identity theft purposes, stealing at least $100,000 from them in the form of fraudulent credit card charges, like the CEO of Compulinx just did.

I've also had some very seriously weird and unpleasant things happen to me in my life. I've been thrown out into the snow by a friend who owed me his life, during the Christmas season. I've had a girlfriend murdered by a drunk driver. I've been pushed so far into mental breakdown that I was injuring myself for distraction, and not long thereafter went so comatose that I needed an emergency intervention by psychiatric social workers. I've had two businesses disintegrate out from under me, and once I was handed my layoff notice and my five year service pin in the same meeting. But I've never woken up in a strange city, not knowing my own name or where I was, with no ID of any kind on me and only $8 in my pocket. Twice. And still unable to recover my memories from before the dissociative fugue. Nope, none of the things that happened to Jeff Ingram have happened to me, nothing anywhere nearly that bad.

It's worth remembering that no matter how bad you've had it, somebody had it worse.

I'm also feeling a lot of anger, and fear, and creeping despair over next Tuesday's election cycle. I've got things I want to say, but I'm having the same problem that a lot of people are having: I'm losing my faith that it matters. I just got done watching Guerrilla News Network's documentary about the "Swift Boating" of Cynthia McKinney, American Blackout. The filmmakers strongly suggest that McKinney was singled out by Republican dirty tricks squads mostly because of her determination to get to the bottom of the outright theft of tens of thousands of black votes in Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004. Whether or not you think it's true, the situation with regard to Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004 has me deeply depressed for two reasons.

For one, it is literally crippling my faith in democracy that neither Kathleen Harris nor Ken Blackwell has been indicted. There is more than enough physical evidence and sworn testimony already on the record, thanks to Ms. McKinney's investigations and others, that any halfway competent prosecutor should have easily been able to get a grand jury to indict either of these treacherous criminals. Nor can I, by any stretch of imagination, bring myself to imagine that any jury presented with this evidence would acquit. In an America where the vote still counted, Kathleen Harris and Ken Blackwell and their unindicted co-conspirators would all be serving jail time by now, or at least well on their way to joining Jeff Skilling. Not only are they not indicted yet, let alone convicted, they've both been rewarded for their monstrous crimes, appointed as candidates for the US Senate and for state governor by the Republican Party in their respective states. And no matter how much I read and study, I truly can not comprehend how they've gotten away with it. It shouldn't be possible.

The other reason is that I can not shake the feeling that no matter how carefully we watch them next Tuesday, no matter how many people program 866-OUR-VOTE into their cell phones on speed dial before heading to the polls (as I strongly and humbly beg you all to do), they're going to do it again on Tuesday and they're going to get away with it ... because just as happened in 2004, we'll be looking in the wrong direction. After the 2000 election, we were determined not to be fooled again, so we were watching Florida like a hawk. So instead, they stole Ohio. This year, we'll be watching Florida and Ohio like hawks. Will that mean that it'll be as easy for them to steal some other state, maybe even my own, as it was for them to steal Ohio? I'm already hearing reports from multiple sources, from precincts that allow early voting, of voting machines with suspiciously consistently miscalibrated touch screens that register any vote, no matter which spot is touched, as a vote for Jim Talent. But no matter whether it's Missouri or somewhere else, this election is going to be so close that all they have to do is pull off another coup, another hideous travesty of justice, in one or two states where we're not looking hard enough and it won't matter how many people voted or tried to vote Democratic, it'll still be the Republicans who "win."

But no matter how angry and sick and frightened I am about that, I'm not as bad off as Keith Olbermann. He did yet another special comment segment tonight, and even after the New York Post and the fake anthrax attack on him he wasn't this angry. I think he's afraid of the same things I am. Only, apparently, even more so.