Showing posts with label vote. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vote. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lullaby for the working class

Dear Democrats:

No matter what asshats Republican politicians might be (and they are), ordinary Americans still hate you worse. This is Tuesday's lesson from the Wisconsin recalls . . . and from numerous other elections across America the past four decades.

I have opinions on why this is.

One, you hate Joe Six-Pack just as much as the GOP pols, basically. You'll go to the wall for the eugenicist swells of Planned Parenthood in ways you'd never consider going to the wall on behalf of -- for lack of a better word -- the proletariat.

In a world of political priorities, you know and I know that you think it's more important to abort babies (many of them poor and brown) than it is to fight like hell for jobs, education, social services and basic f***ing human dignity for the poor, working and middle classes. Many of these people can't articulate it that way, but they know it just the same.

And this is why so many of them either stay home on Election Day or go out and vote against their own economic and class interests by filling in the oval or pulling the lever for tea-party nutwagons, bomb-throwers and (oftentimes) your average, modern-day "conservative" protofascist.

This is the lesson from Recall Tuesday in Wisconsin. No matter how outrageous the GOP's sins against the poor and working class, regular folk think their chances are better going with their enemies than with their "friends."

Good luck with that paradigm in 2012, Democrats. And God help us all.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Well, that's done with

Unbelievably, Jim Suttle survived his own campaign. Not to mention Tuesday's mayoral recall election in Omaha.

This is testament to the basic decency and even temper of the local electorate, as well as to fate handing hizzoner such an obviously self-interested and vaguely creepy lynch mob. It helped that the recall campaign's money man blatantly wanted Suttle's job for himself.

And the prospect of Dave Nabity as Omaha's mayor is enough to drive a man to . . . Council Bluffs.

Iowa, that is.

Gamblin' joints, trailer parks.

Suttle lived to fight out another couple-odd years
at city hall -- or a couple of odd years, take your pick -- by 51 percent to 49. It shouldn't have been that close. (See "Recall People, Creepy" and "Nabity, Dave.")

But it was that close, and it would be hard not to lay that one right at the clay feet of Forward Omaha, the moniker for Suttle's anti-recall effort, and its insane scheme to round up the homeless at local shelters, bus them to the election commissioner's office to register and vote, and then pay them $5 to "train" as "canvassers."
Wink wink, nudge . . . know what I mean, know what I mean?

That a move as smooth (not) as that was a godsend to the recall forces is evidenced by the election mailer above. Several of those went out in the campaign's waning days. And ads like this one began to flood the Omaha airwaves:

SEE WHAT I mean?

Without Suttle's political "friends" handing Nabity's Citizens for Omaha's Future the baseball bat it used to bludgeon the mayor, the spread -- again -- really shouldn't have been just 2 percentage points. Not even close.

At the outset of the recall effort, an Omaha World-Herald poll found that only 47 percent of respondents favored recalling Suttle, despite his 33-percent approval rating. Some 39 percent in the survey favored ousting the mayor, while 14 percent just didn't know.

Not only that, but according to the World-Herald's poll story Oct. 24, just about everybody had at least some misgivings about the whole thing:

If a recall election were held, Suttle might benefit from uncertainty over his potential replacement. The poll found that a large majority was concerned “somewhat” or “a lot” about voting in a recall election without knowing who the next mayor would be.

That concern was expressed even by about half of those who said they would sign a recall petition or vote to remove Suttle.

THAT WAS A LOT for the anti-recall forces to work with. They squandered it. More precisely, Forward Omaha squandered that public-opinion largess -- all in one swell foop, as a popular Omaha disc-jockey used to say decades ago.

If all the mayor's men had managed to pick up just half of the undecided vote -- which you kind of figure could break that way unmolested -- Suttle wins in a cakewalk. Instead, the undecideds went roughly 10 percentage points to 4 percentage points for the recall-istas.

When Forward Omaha showed up at the homeless shelters with those school buses, the only bum's rush ended up being that of undecided voters into the "throw the bum out" camp. No doubt that brought a smile to even the angriest recaller's face.

In the end, though, the anti-Suttle camps garnered fewer votes by Tuesday night than signatures collected on recall petitions, and just 8,000 more votes than the final number of names verified by the Douglas County election commissioner back in December. Basically, the Mayor Suttle Recall Committee and Citizens for Omaha's Future didn't accomplish too much during the electioneering phase of the recall effort.

NOT ACCOMPLISHING much, however, beats beating yourself every time. Except in Omaha, by God, Nebraska, where the Good Lord watches out for little
children, fools, drunks . . . and Jim Suttle.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Beware this New Year's resolution

We're screwed.

Omaha's embattled mayor, Jim Suttle, has a New Year's resolution as he steels himself for a recall vote this month. It's to better listen to us, the citizens of this fair city.

Like I said, we are so screwed. I mean, we thought the city was broke. That things were bad enough to recall Suttle for, among other things, not listening to us. Wait until he
does start listening to the vox populi -- we ain't seen nothin' yet.

Trust me, the city will be bankrupt in a week if the mayor is sincere about all this listening stuff.

FOR YEARS, the Omaha taxpayer has railed about high property taxes. The Omaha driver has railed about high wheel taxes. The Omaha consumer has railed about our high below-average sales taxes.

During all those years, nobody cared that city hall was making sweetheart deals with the police and fire unions to buy labor peace (and defer pay raises) in the name of holding the line on property taxes, because that's what the voters wanted. It was the municipal version of taking out a home-equity loan to pay down the credit cards --
after all, what could go wrong?

We're entitled, don't you know? Since the last economic slump -- the one before this, the mother of all modern economic slumps -- the Omaha voter has demanded, and gotten, almost-annual property-tax cuts.
And then. . . .

Chickens. Homaha. Roost.

You know what started to fly then. In fact, it started to hit the fan. The tax revenue stopped flowing, and the bills kept on coming. The city pension fund was about broke.

"Cut the budget!" the angry voter says.
"Not THAT part of the budget!" a hundred angry neighborhood associations and civic groups demand.

"Where's my property-tax cut?"

"Fill the damn potholes!"

"Don't close my library!"

"The cops and firefighters are making out like bandits! Stop giving away the store!"

BUT WAIT . . . the cops and firefighters won't agree to that. The contract fight will end up in arbitration. Omaha will get screwed in arbitration -- it always has. Take the concessions the mayor got.

"The cops and firefighters are making out like bandits! Stop giving away the store!"

No, really, this is the best we can do. We bargained the Cadillac owners down to a nice Chevy.

"The cops and firefighters are making out like bandits! Stop giving away the store!"

You're not making sense. The Commission of Industrial Relations will not rule kindly for the city. That's almost a lock.

"Recall the cop-coddler!"

IF IT were me in the mayor's office, I'd be tempted to resign and let the next sucker try to figure out -- after carefully listening to the fine citizens of Omaha -- exactly how one goes about letting the people have their cake and eat yours, too.

Good luck to Mayor Suttle. He's going to need it, particularly if he survives the recall election.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Last (re)call for alcohol!

You want to know why reporters drink?

It's because the jackasses they often have to cover make their brains hurt, and alcohol helps to deaden the pain. A little.

Take the
Omaha World-Herald's Maggie O'Brien, for instance. She covers city government . . . and the people who try to blow up city government whenever they get in a toot about something. Usually, it's taxes.

LOOK AT what the poor girl has to deal with daily. If she's not at The Dubliner swilling black-and-tans right now, she's a totally amazing woman:
A group exploring the possibility of recalling Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle has launched a website that will take donations.

The site,, was launched Tuesday. Organizers said donations will be accepted online by Tuesday afternoon.

Last month, the Mayor Suttle Recall Committee announced it had raised $5,000 by Aug. 17, triggering the group to file with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission. The group plans to take out recall affidavits later this month.
IN CASE you've not apprehended the irony here, let me help.

The Mayor Suttle Recall Committee wants people who allegedly are so strapped that they can't pay another farthing in any kind of a tax -- no matter how dire the city's financial situation -- to donate money to them to recall the mayor. For raising taxes.

Because we're all broke.

But not too broke to give what you'd likely spend in higher taxes to a bunch of well-off cranks and cynics to blow up city government because you don't want to pay higher taxes.

Because you're broke.

Destitute. A $15 wheel-tax hike from losing your car to the repo guy, losing your house to the bank and being reduced to wandering the streets of River City filling a hijacked grocery cart with castoff aluminum cans -- which you desperately hope you can turn into enough cash to buy a Big Mac and a Budweiser tall boy.

JUST REMEMBER this one important thing, all ye poor, desperate, taxed-into-nothingness wretches of Omaha:
If you are concerned about having your name attached to the recall, donations of $249.00 or less do NOT have to be reported to the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Let's have a psychotic reaction!

Since we're hell-bent on dragging Omaha back two decades into the bad ol' days of civic strife, dysfunction and stagnation, why doesn't the Recall Army just drop the Big One now and put us all out of the taxophobes' misery.

That's right, none of that Rodney King
". . . can we all get along? Can we get along?" crap from back in the day. No, what Omaha needs now is some Lawrence King teenage mutant ninja buggery crap from back in the day.

I'm talking Franklin Credit Union II, baby!

Bring out Alisha Owen. Sell John DeCamp's book and put the profits toward suing anybody who ever had anything to do with raising a tax.

Cut the police department's budget to zero, because you
know what police chiefs do with their paycheck in this Great Plains Gomorrah.

And who's Jim Suttle been sleeping with, anyway?

DAMMIT TO HELL, I'm too damned taxed out to go to the movies, and I want some entertainment value out of my municipal government -- just so long as it doesn't cost me anything. We need us some chaos right about now. Chaos -- now that's some cheap entertainment!

And all we need to do to get the ol' mayhem rolling is to start recalling everybody in sight. Hey, Alisha! Wasn't Suttle at some of those kinky hoop-de-doos? Think hard.

Ask Paul Bonacci. Maybe he can come up with something.

I mean, you got to give us something to work with here if we're gonna have us some chaotic kicks and giggles.

After all, you just don't recall a mayor over the budget and raising some taxes to balance the budget, do you?

Do you?
A grass-roots group announced plans Thursday to explore a recall campaign against Mayor Jim Suttle.

A separate group took out recall affidavits Thursday against Suttle, as well as City Council members Jean Stothert and Pete Festersen.
I DUNNO, maybe you do. That's what the World-Herald is reporting. Then again, we know how the local rag likes to cover up the real reasons for stuff that goes on in this town.

Maybe Suttle has gotten to the "journalists" there. Maybe they only
want us to think the recall efforts are actually over the budget.

Yeah, that's the ticket. Let's see what else the cover-uppers want the people to swallow whole. (Just like at those kinky parties, no doubt.)
The grass-roots group, the Mayor Suttle Exploratory Recall Committee, held a press conference at Anthony's Steakhouse. The event was planned quickly after the group raised $5,000 as of Aug. 17, which required it to file with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission.

“The city could use new leadership,” said spokesman Jeremy Aspen, an Omaha real estate agent, who said the group is a grass-roots effort.

It includes some familiar faces: Pat McPherson, a longtime supporter of former Mayor Hal Daub, is a consultant. Also involved is Jim Cleary, a former Daub aide who spearheaded a successful recall against former Mayor Mike Boyle.

Aspen said Daub was not involved in the effort.

Aspen said the group organized out of concern about Suttle's financial decisions. The committee says Suttle didn't look hard enough at cutting costs before raising taxes. The committee also disagrees with the recently signed police union contract.
C'MON, PEOPLE! We need the truth. And some real live-and-local Jerry Springer-meets-Bob Woodward action to get us through these challenging times.

All together, now!
Where have you gone, Miss Alisha O?
A city turns its lonely eyes to you (Woo woo woo).
What's that you say, Mr. John DeCamp?
"Alisha O has left and gone away" (Hey hey hey, hey hey hey).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

There's no 'I' in 'team.' There are some in 'idiots.'

I was all ready to start out this appeal for civic common sense with a high-falutin' reference to John Donne and "never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee," yadda yadda yadda.

Then it occurred to me,
"This is Nebraska, stupid. John Donne? Really?" I mean, John Deere, maybe. But John Donne. . . ?

But I get ahead of myself.

The deal here is that Omahans' taxes are going up. Why? The city, like most cities these days, is tapped out.
Broke. In the red. It's called a budget deficit.

To balance the books, being that the city already has cut the budget to the bone the past two fiscal years, Mayor Jim Suttle proposed tax increases -- a property tax hike . . . a dining tax . . . a higher wheel tax, including one on those who work in Omaha but don't live here.

The city council made some additional budget cuts but passed the tax increases Suttle asked for, more or less.

And in this age of the tea party, it goes without saying people are furious.

The council should have cut the budget more! Government is too big! Balance the budget!

How? Who the hell knows, just do it. Cut off the freeloaders! Just not me and mine.

PEOPLE ARE so mad, there's lots of talk now about recalling Jim Suttle, as reported by KETV, Channel 7:
A group said Wednesday it will hold a news conference to announce the formation of a committee to explore the possibility of recalling Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle.

Under the title Recall Mayor Suttle, the group will announce its intentions Thursday morning at Anthony's Restaurant in Omaha.

The announcement comes one day after the Omaha City Council approved a budget plan that includes a new, 2.5 percent restaurant tax, a property tax increase of at least 2.3 cents, a wheel tax increase, and a wheel tax expansion, requiring those who live outside the city, but who work in Omaha to pay.

The Metropolitan Omaha Property Owners Association will attend the meeting. MOPOA said a poll it commissioned weeks ago showed dissatisfaction with the mayor's handling of the budget.

But political experts said such an effort likely wouldn't be driven by the masses.

"My sense is that it's more that maybe Suttle hasn't been responsive enough to some of the local business interests, and they want to make it clear that they really are calling the shots," said University of Nebraska-Omaha political science professor Dr. Loree Bykerk.
IT GETS BETTER. Says Joe Jordan over at Nebraska Watchdog, one of the people behind the latest recall effort aimed at Suttle is Jim Cleary -- the guy who spearheaded the last successful recall of an Omaha mayor, back in 1987:
Nebraska Watchdog has learned that at least part of Jim Cleary’s decision to work for the recall of Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle was made by the numbers, polling numbers.

On Monday Nebraska Watchdog reported exclusively that Cleary, who was one of the key players in the successful 1987 recall of former Omaha Mayor Mike Boyle, is now working behind the scenes with a group of Omahans who are in the early stages of formulating a strategy to recall Suttle.

Nebraska Watchdog is told that an early August poll was a key factor in persuading Cleary to get involved. According to the poll of 400 likely Omaha voters, 70% said the city was on the wrong track and 67% disapproved of the way Suttle, who was elected in May of 2009, is handling his job.

Those polled also strongly disagreed with Suttle’s 2011 budget plan which initially included a 9 percent property tax increase and a 4 percent restaurant tax. On Tuesday the City Council lowered the property tax increase to about 5 percent, trimmed the restaurant tax to 2.5 percent, and found an additional $13.5 million in budget cuts. In a statement issued following the Council’s decision the Mayor would not say if he intends to pull out his veto pen. ”I will review (the Council’s) changes to the recommended budget and will respond within an appropriate timeframe, “said Suttle.

According to several sources the recall group is expected to announce Thursday that it is forming an exploratory committee which will begin laying the groundwork for its anti-Suttle campaign.

That committee will examine the pros and cons of a recall effort, prior to launching an official petition drive. In order to recall Suttle, the Mayor’s opponents would first have to acquire the signatures of 26,642 registered voters in the City of Omaha. Those signatures must be gathered within 30 days. Sources close to the recall tell Nebraska Watchdog that a petition drive might be timed to coincide with Election Day November 2nd. That would allow those gathering the signatures to set up operations near polling places in Omaha where registered voters are casting their ballots.

Nebraska Watchdog contacted Cleary to ask him about several of these items but Cleary refused to comment.
WELL, I GUESS it was too much to ask that the national snit fit and every-man-is-an-island nervous breakdown (see, I worked in the Donne thing after all) would somehow bypass the place where I live. Insanity is afoot, and it's catching.

Nevertheless, the moment "calls for a stupid and futile gesture on somebody's part," and I guess I'm just the guy to do it.
Here goes.

There is a fine line between a progressive, livable city and a dungheap that proves itself totally resistant to economic growth and successful self-governance. Indeed, civilization itself is a thin veneer over the barbarian rabble we once were . . . and could be again.

Over a couple of centuries, Americans have developed municipal services like police, fire departments, parks, libraries and social-welfare programs because we figured we needed them. Because we thought they made the places where we lived more orderly, more livable.

These things evolved all across America because we decided, for the overall good, that everyone should have a right to certain services, certain "safety nets" -- that by investing in our communities, we were investing in our, and our children's, future.

This is not the case everywhere in the world.

In some locales, those who have, keep it. All of it. And those who have not . . . have nothing. They're just flat out of luck.

Some such places we call the Third World. Other such places we call "banana republics."

They all got there when enough people -- at least enough people with means -- decided that "me" was a lot more important than "we." That is the thin line between "the American way of life" and the abyss.

I'M NOT getting through to you at all, am I? I completely lost you at John Donne, didn't I?

Well, this is Nebraska, so let me put it to you this way:

What do you think would happen if there was an "I" in "team"? Yes, I'm talking football.

What do you think would happen if Zac Lee and Niles Paul decided that giving Bo Pelini 100-percent effort was just excessive, and that instead, they'd give just 73 percent, but only when it would directly benefit their individual stats?

How do you think that would reflect on the Huskers' win-loss record?

Do you think Nebraska would be fielding a product worth the price of admission? You think anyone would care to take up residence, so to speak, at Memorial Stadium if the whole program went to hell in an every-man-for-himself hand basket?

What if bunches of first- and second-team players adopted the same attitude? Decided they were in football just for themselves? Rejected Pelini's expectations that they'd all do their bit in the name of the common good?

And what if Pelini came under suspicion for demanding players all do their part for the team?

WHAT IF Jim Cleary were Nebraska's athletic director and decided that Pelini was just a "tax-and-spend" football coach and recalled him? Well, you'd probably end up with a replay of the Bill Callahan era, that's what.

Which, of course, would be a lot like what happened to Omaha after Cleary engineered the recall of Mike Boyle -- several years of civic stagnation, instability and a revolving-door cast of mayors.
And there's more!

With your electoral snit-fit, we'll include years of political mayhem and strife for free . . .
all because we know you wouldn't pay for it anyway!

So, go ahead. Take care of No. 1. Recall that big-tax mayor who's so incompetent he can't do the fiscally impossible, and so arrogant he opted for the socially responsible instead.

Go ahead. Pitch a fit; sign a petition. I can't think of a better prescription for what ails us.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Aw, that really sucks

The American Catholic Church is going after the Dutch Schismatics over the inerrancy of colloquialisms in the English language. Because, as St. Walker Percy warned us in "Love in the Ruins," the center would not hold.

Neither, apparently, would Catholics' sense of nuance in . . . everything.

As is evidenced by canon lawyer Edward Peters' contention that National Catholic Reporter writer Joe Feuerherd was damning the American bishops to Gehenna in a column he wrote for The Washington Post. Here's
what Peters contends:
On February 24, National Catholic Reporter correspondent Joe Feuerherd, writing in the Washington Post, expressed his desire to see the bishops (of the United States) literally damned before he would fail to vote Democratic this Fall.

Feuerherd's words of contempt were not shouted in a heated argument wherein, say, a lack of time for reflection or "anger hormones" might mitigate one's culpability for uttering invectives. No, Feuerherd's curse, "the bishops be damned", was expressed in cold, deliberate, prose intended for maximum effect in a prominent national publication.

Now, Canon 1369 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law states that "a person who . . . in published writing . . . expresses insults or excites hatred or contempt against religion or the Church is to be punished with a just penalty." Canon 1373 states that "a person who publicly incites among subjects animosities or hatred against the Apostolic See or an ordinary because of some act of power or ecclesiastical ministry . . . is to be punished by an interdict or other just penalties."

I believe Feuerherd has gravely violated both of these canons.
HERE'S WHAT Feuerherd actually wrote:
The bishops seem to have forgotten that it is not simply aspirations that matter, though they seem more than willing to accept rhetoric ("I am pro-life") over results.

Why should non-Catholic Americans care about the bishops' right-wing lurch?

Because the bishops can influence a good number of the faithful, many of whom happen to be concentrated in large, electoral-vote-rich states. In the key swing state of Ohio in 2004, for example, bishops vigorously supported an anti-same-sex marriage amendment to the state constitution, which helped drive Republican voters to the polls. Bush won 55 percent of the Catholic vote in the Buckeye State, up from 50 percent in 2000 and enough to provide his margin of victory.

There's little hope, unfortunately, that the bishops will adopt a more pragmatic approach to achieving their aims anytime soon. Younger American priests, the pool from which future bishops will be chosen, overwhelmingly embrace the agenda enunciated by John Paul II.

So what's a pro-life, pro-family, antiwar, pro-immigrant, pro-economic-justice Catholic like me supposed to do in November? That's an easy one. True to my faith, I'll vote for the candidate who offers the best hope of ending an unjust war, who promotes human dignity through universal health care and immigration reform, and whose policies strengthen families and provide alternatives to those in desperate situations. Sounds like I'll be voting for the Democrat -- and the bishops be damned.
(Emphasis mine -- R21.)
IF YOU BELIEVE Feuerherd literally meant to damn the bishops to hell when he said "and the bishops be damned," I shudder to think what pictures are in your head when your teen-ager declares that something "sucks."

Take your shoes off. Pour yourself a double of something, put on some Sinatra and chill.

In the context of Feuerherd's op-ed piece, "be damned" no more means a literal wish for the fires of Hades to turn the bishops into Krispy Kritters than "sucks" -- some 30-plus years removed from my junior-high days -- connotes the full . . . er . . . glory of what it did in 1974.

AS A LINGUIST, Ed Peters is a hell of a canon lawyer. Who should have common sense enough to know that if some bishop -- using all the moral authority that Catholic bishops possess these days (Hint: little to none) -- moved against Feuerherd on such specious grounds, the resulting derision would just add to the litany of woe the American Church has brought upon itself in recent years.

I am pretty sure that I skew much more orthodox Catholic than does Joe Feuerherd. Likewise, I am much less inclined to blithely cast a vote for Barack Obama than he -- which is not to say I intend to even consider casting a vote for John McCain and the Party of Endless War, Torture and Greed. As a Catholic, I have to take the Church's teachings seriously and consider what the bishops say carefully.

But if those bishops, like Ed Peters, can't find anything better to do than crack on a liberal Catholic reporter who colorfully throws some important questions their way -- questions that deserve an answer from shepherds who need to, you know, shepherd -- then to hell with them, indeed.

In the colloquial sense. Not the literal.