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Hobby Lobby Update #2: the hits just keep on comin’

I hate to say “I told you so,” but…

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/07/supreme-court-scotus-hobby-lobby-all-forms-contraception

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Categories: Uncategorized

Hobby Lobby: Corporate Personhood with a Prophet as CEO

July 5, 2014 3 comments

For-Profit Corporations that believe in god.

Humans are the only organisms capable of pure imagination – pure invention – the ability to create a separate reality from whole cloth and then act upon it. Elephants do not pray and whales do not dream of an afterlife. Only humans do this. Only humans create religious beliefs. Until now. The Hobby Lobby decision bestows upon corporations the human characteristic of supernatural belief.

By claiming that certain elements of the ACA’s contraception coverage mandate violated their company’s deeply held religious beliefs, Hobby Lobby convinced the US Supreme Court that corporations are capable of having religious beliefs. Their argument was that in regard to these religious beliefs, there is no difference between The Corporation and The Human Owners. And the acceptance of this argument by the Supreme Court represents an astounding shift in legal thinking. Corporations, effectively, now have more rights and privileges than do actual flesh-and-blood human beings because unlike corporations, humans cannot insulate themselves from liability for their actions, which is the essential reason for the existence of the legal status of incorporation.

By incorporating, a person or group of persons insulate themselves from personal liability regarding claims that may arise as a result of their business enterprises. The corporation may be sued, but the founders and stockholders are not held personally liable. The corporation is a wholly synthetic construct, like a marionette, providing a legal separation between it and its human operators. This is rather insidious when you think about it. It is the illusion of the ventriloquist made real. “I’m sorry your husband died in one of our cars, Mrs. Henderson, but it’s not my fault. The dummy did it.”

Yet this is the essential privilege of incorporation: personal immunity from litigation. Corporations are not encumbered by the vicissitudes of ordinary existence: they do not have a limited lifespan, they cannot go to prison for their actions, and they never get called for jury duty. And therein lies the danger of the concept of corporate personhood. It allows corporations to have it both ways. They get to hide behind their artificial facade of existence when they want to shield their human operators from recrimination but don the garb of humanity when it will advance their interests. No other organism on earth, natural or synthetic, gets to do this.

David Green, the CEO of Hobby Lobby successfully convinced the court that there is no difference between himself and his company – that they are both one and the same. The court granted him this concession. But rest assured, should the day come when a shelving unit falls over on a customer and kills them, he will not stand behind this claim. He will say, “I’m sorry about your husband, Mrs. Henderson, but you can’t blame me. The dummy did it.”

 

Religious Offence as Legal Standing.

The ridiculousness of the Hobby Lobby decision is breathtaking. In one ruling, the Supreme Court extended the already ludicrous concept of corporate personhood by granting it the human capacity of religious belief and, at the same time, elevated the intellectually bankrupt notion of religious offence to the level of legal standing.

The concept of legal standing is the requirement that you have skin in the game. A litigant must show that a ruling by the court will either create an injury or redress an existing one. This is a tangible and demonstrative requirement. Lack of legal standing is precisely why the proponents of California’s Proposition 8 lost their case in the Supreme Court. They could not show legal standing. But they did not dare make the argument of religious offence even though, clearly, that was their primary complaint – that gay marriage violated their personal religious beliefs. Perhaps, in hindsight, they’re wishing they had. Hobby Lobby’s argument was religious offence and, it worked.

Proving legal standing, as with all arguments made in a secular court of law, demands exhaustively researched case law, statistics, hard-won data – in short, demonstrative evidence. But this is not the case with religious offence. With religious offence, no evidence is required. One only need to claim belief and it is accepted with the same weight and gravitas as any other empirical data ordinarily demanded by a court of law. Anyone else attempting to present a case before the US Supreme Court would be required to dump mountains of painstakingly acquired research on the bench. But with religious offence, one only need stand and claim belief. The argument from religious offence is nothing more than a semantically elaborate version of “I don’t like it.”

Let’s be clear: religious offence is precisely the same logic used by Muslims to justify going bat shit crazy over a cartoon.

Hobby Lobby’s owners didn’t have to prove that the legal, vetted, tested, FDA approved, and widely used contraception methods that they objected to were an affront to humanity. They only needed to stand before the Supreme Court and, state for the record that, they think they are. By stating that he “considers” these particular forms of contraceptives to be abortion, and that he “considers abortion to be murder,” David Green is playing prophet. Only by claiming to speak for god can anyone stand in open court and make such baseless claims and still be taken seriously. This is the poverty of the argument from religious offence. In no other arena of human discourse or endeavor are the standards of evidence so blatantly ignored. Religious offence becomes, then, the perfect defense – no evidence, logic, research, or comparative analysis is required. The statements made by the believer are accepted without question and, more importantly, assigned the same value of evidence demanded of others.

Religious beliefs are man made and exist outside objective reality. Religions that reject broad sectors of modern medicine (Scientology: Psychotherapy) or medical practice entirely (Christian Scientist) already abound. This decision sets a dangerous precedent. Anyone can now claim standing for whatever unsubstantiated fantasy they can cook up provided they can successfully couch them in the guise of religious belief. So, next up: the anti-vaccine crowd.

 

Corporations and the ownership society.

David Green’s argument was that he shouldn’t have to pay for medical processes he believed were sinful (and yes, sinful is exactly the right word). But is that really true? Corporations have a host of people who come to work everyday and labor in order to generate revenue for the company, which includes the workers themselves. Workers work for themselves. David Green’s workers don’t labor everyday to ensure that he is able to buy a new Mercedes Benz. They do it to pay their rent. The revenue they generate on a daily basis goes into a general fund from which all company overhead is paid. This overhead includes the pay and benefits that the workers receive. Workers work to generate their own pay and benefits. None of that money belongs to any particular person until it’s portioned out, including Green himself, who presumably receives a salary. Until then, it belongs to the collective for the benefit of the collective: the workers who earned it, the individual stores for the light bill, the company for future growth and finally, Green himself. This is his reward for founding the company. The ACA never called for Green to come out of his own, personal pocket to pay for worker benefits. It only called for his company to set aside a certain portion of the gross revenues the workers generate on a daily basis for the security of their future employment. Green’s contention that his pocket was being picked is specious and a modern leftover from the Antebellum South.

In the days of slavery, slave owners claimed that the fruits of the worker’s labor were theirs from the moment of creation and forever. When workers themselves were considered property, this argument might have made sense, but no longer. After slavery, this attitude persisted throughout the gilded age and the rise of the robber barons and it was precisely this attitude and its accompanying behavior on the part of the ownership class that resulted in the establishment of worker’s unions. Today, worker’s unions are on the decline and this idea that whatever the worker creates is automatically and instantaneously the property of the owner still persists.

This proprietary attitude that workers are beholden to the company for their every breath ignores the reality that the owners would have nothing without them. Certainly, Green never consulted his workers on this issue because he never considered their contribution to the general fund from which these monies would be distributed for their benefit. He only thought of himself.

Thus, Green becomes a prophet to his employees. This is the hubris of religious mentality – a mentality that declares, “I know what is best and it’s my responsibility to protect you from yourself.” Green successfully argued before the Supreme Court that the dollars generated by his thousands of workers was his, and his alone, from the very moment it was collected from the customer and that only he knows best how to spend it. Forget about allowing each worker to decide, along with their doctor, which procedures are best for them according to their medical needs and, if they feel, their religious views. No, David Green has made that decision for them without regard to their input, even though they’re raising the money to pay for it.

Going into the future I foresee more and more corporations, each one larger than the previous, lining up at the door to the Supreme Court to demand their own exemptions. For-profit corporations have a well-documented history of looking for ways to socialize their overhead and weasel out of government mandates. Now they have a whole, new tactic.

I Don’t Get It

March 4, 2014 1 comment

   I don’t get it. I made the mistake of  tuning  in to network news, only to be greeted with the fact that the  Russian army has invaded the Republic of Ukraine. As expected, our own “fearless leader” responded with the usual condemnation of “aggression” against a sovereign country by an outside force. Great!!! Just what we need; Another pissing contest between Putin and Obama and a reverting to the good old days of the Cold War.  

   This got me to thinking, which usually gets me into trouble. I am nearing my sixty-fifth birthday now and if memory serves me correctly, in that span of six decades America has exhibited a great deal of aggression in just about every corner of the globe. I am too young to really remember the Korean conflict. It can’t be called a war because a formal declaration of war was never issued. Nonetheless, hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives in the “police action”.

   The 1960’s saw my coming of age and a new battlefield in the headlines, Vietnam. Just what the hell American forces were doing there, no one has provided a satisfactory answer to. It was justified by bullshit and outright lies by the intelligence community and the military. I use the  term “intelligence’ in the loosest possible manner. As a result, over 58,000 Americans lost their lives. For what?

   In the years since, I seem to remember almost unilateral aggressive actions against Granada, Panama, Somalia, Iraq,(not once, but twice) Afghanistan, and threats against both Iran and North Korea. I omit other covert actions that we aren’t made aware of. All of the above are justified by simply using the time worn cliché, national security. We were spoon fed lies about Weapons of mass destruction and imminent threats to the security of the United States. And true to form, we seem to swallow the crap, hook, line, and sinker every single time.

   I guess what my rant is leading up to is simply this. Man has built for himself a society based upon competition, brutality and aggression. And aggression is aggression, regardless of who is inflicting it upon others. Until the human race awakens to the reality that we can no longer accept the old ways of doing things, the old norms, aggression and brutality will continue to be the way of the world. Is the President of the United States correct in condemning the Russian government for its actions in Ukraine? Absolutely so. But the pot is calling the kettle black here. And both Russia and America need to step back and try to see the world from a global point of view. Is this ever going to happen? Probably not. At least I can dream of a world free from aggression, a world safe for my children and their children.

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Weddings Are the New Treasure Hunts

September 4, 2013 Leave a comment

     My daughter is getting married December 1st.  She is not in her home state at present and will not arrive home until the end of September.  Phone contact is spotty as she works in the mountains.  Texting gets through once in awhile.  She wants a big, white wedding with a dinner and dancing and formal attire and her groom is bringing his guests over from Europe.  We don’t even have a dress yet.  

Anybody who has ever put together a wedding recognizes the insanity of the above paragraph.  

How will this all happen, you say, in such a short amount of time?  Jesus, that question is why I am frazzled, writing for therapy, and have been drinking coffee in my nightgown since 2 this morning.   Well, apparently, I am doing this.  

Yesterday was the day from wedding hell.  After having two venues fall through (Ashland Springs Hotel who insisted I sign a contract saying that -if the wedding never even happens at all – I STILL owe them very penny of the 5 grand it costs) and Callahans Lodge whose owner was all smiles and gave me a grand tour and told me it  would easy, the banquet rooms free with just the cost of the dinners, everything done for me, no worries – sent me off in a cloud of euphoria – and THEN HAS NOT RETURNED MY CALLS AGAIN FOR THREE WEEKS!    I had to venture out and look for new places to have a wedding.

Firstly, most people marry in the summer.  I now see why.  Theoretically you could just host the thing on your dang lawn if all else fails.  In the winter you are forced into hotels,  restaurants, wineries.  bed and breakfasts that are massive enough to host you inside, churches, –  mmm –   how about under bridges?  bus stations?  the airport lobby?  big coffee shops?  after hours at the mall?   –  These things now pop into my head at odd moments.   Sort of like a facial tic or something.

We aren’t religious and, even though I would work with a church, my daughter states she “has no emotional connection with a church.”  Well – Gees!  Does she have an emotional connection with a hotel?  I don’t know.  I am getting snarky now because I am on the line alone now.

Do you know how you order invitations these days?  You call a printer.  He is nice, but refers you to his wonderful comprehensive website.  He tells you that – AFTER the final draft has been approved – it will take two weeks to print these out.  He gently disengages from your gasp of tortured surprise.  You go to his website.  How many forms of invitations for weddings can you find one ONE little local printer’s website?  1,112.    Yup.  I am supposed to choose from over a thousand invitations for my daughter’s wedding.  And, whoa be to ME if I choose incorrectly.   A pissed off bride is NOT what you want arriving home end of September and living with you for the next year or so until they get on their feet.  Uh uh.  Want to do it right.

I visited tons of places yesterday.  Started at the Jacksonville Inn, a historic hotel restaurant in downtown Jacksonville, Oregon.  Nice guy named Platon (he is Greek and charming!  Calls everyone,   Daaahling!)  is the event planner.  He showed me the dining room and it was fine.  Bride and Groom could marry in one part of the room in front of the fire and dine in the other part.  Would work great.  Where would we dance, I asked?     “Oh, Daaahling!  You can’t dance in this hotel.  It was built in the 1800’s and the floors would not take contemporary pounding music.  Somebody would go through the floor with Gangnam Style, you know, daahling?”  

   Paton was helpful, though.  He got into his address book – he knows everybody.  I went out on his referral to a  historic mansion – beautiful, but $2,000 just to walk in the doors.  Food, decorations, everything on top.  Figured the wedding would be open ended cost time.  Too Scary.     On to a winery.  Beautiful views, lovely facility, same drill.  $1,500 just for 3 hours of rental.  Includes nothing.  Another money pit.  A beautiful suite of rooms in Medford regularly hosts ballroom dancing.  Our wedding would not be that big, but I wondered if they maybe had a smaller set of rooms or something.   The guy asked my wedding guest number.  I told him it could be as small as 25.  He just kept laughing.  “We could stick you in a corner?  Which corner would you prefer?”  

    Okay, today I have some tenters coming.  Yes, tenters.  They could make me a big tent on the lawn or something.  We’ll see.

    I am sure everything will be okay.  The lady from Callahans might decide to call me after 3 weeks.  Maybe she had the flu or something.  Jacksonville Inn could let us dance on the street?  Ashland Hotel could drop the contract because who else is going to put a wedding on a Sunday night mid winter?  

Invitations?  I will just open my browser onto the Printer’s website, pick a midway  price point,  close my eyes, put my finger on the screen and – choose those!  Oh, woops, those were for recommitment ceremonies – okay try it again.   How about …..those?  Well, pumpkin is a little weird for the color.  I’ll try it again.

Today I tour another winery!    It is historic.  It is affordable.  It is set up exactly like a neighborhood bar, though – kind of looks like  Cheers inside – I know because I have been to “tastings” there.    I can just SEE my Mormon sister arriving for the wedding.  Oh,  crap.  Maybe not.  

Wish me luck, people.   And if you know of any abandoned old haunted houses or anything – I will be happy to check them out.  I could RENOVATE for the cost of this wedding.  

Kaye D Proctor

 
 
Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

Now, I’m pissed.

September 3, 2013 1 comment

Warning: this post contains very strong language.

It’s been a while since I posted to the blog, mostly because I didn’t have anything to say.  Now, I do.  This is a photograph I took last year:

Root formation along the McKenzie River Trail.

Root formation along the McKenzie River Trail.

This is a natural root formation along the McKenzie River trail.  It has been here for hundreds of years.  Thousands of people have stopped along the trail to marvel at its beauty and all have shown the sense and courtesy to leave it alone.  Until now.

Today, my wife and I took the dog up to the trail for a Labor Day family outing and I discovered this (DJ took this photo with here cell phone):

2013-09-02 14.08.33Now, I’m pissed.  No, let me rephrase that.  I’m fucking livid.

JP, whoever the fuck you are, I hope you’re reading this.  You are a colossal piece of shit.  You hear me?  You are a miserable, festering pile of human waste.  You have forever destroyed a spectacular natural work of art.  No one will ever be able to enjoy the beauty of this root formation without having to stare at the disgusting ass wipe you left behind.  You deserve to spend the rest of your pathetic life living in a cold, colorless world where neighborhood gang bangers tag your stupid pickup once a week.

Fuck you, asshole.

Book Review (Yeah, Book Review Bitch)

August 28, 2013 Leave a comment

 The Forever War

Joe Haldeman

Before I begin a review on this book, I want to explain why, in heavens name, I feel compelled to write a book review on ANY book.

I am a book addict. If I am not absorbed in a book, I feel unfulfilled, dissatisfied, vaguely unhappy. Books somehow plug that emotional cavity that is empty and aching without a story to fill it up. This function is served for some (my kids for example) by television or movies or even gossip. For me, it always has been books. When I am reading a good book, I am content. When I put down my book, I can’t wait to get back to it. I get through my dreary activities of daily living just to make it back to THE BOOK. When I finish a book, I begin my quest to find another.

Usually fiction. I can get into a good biography, but it has to be a damn good biography. It has to be as good as – well – fiction. History can be very diverting, too. Also stuff like travel books. These work because they TAKE you someplace. Sort of like, well, you know, ‐ fiction. You’ve got the idea.

Where does one find suitable books to salve the soul? Oh, my! This should be easy. Well, it is not. A few sources of book recommendations include: A friend can tell you about one they loved (usually unbearably trite!). A bookstore can display the best sellers (this just means a bunch of good folks have been hoodwinked into buying stupid books !) My ipad can tell me about the same shit the bookstore is peddling. Websites like Good Reads can narrow it down for you (are publishing companies paying these people?) You can find literary lists like “100 best books of all time.” Man, that is a crap shoot let me tell you.

Okay, before you think I am an egomaniac with the fixed notion that I am the only arbiter of good literary taste in the universe, I must humble the tone here. I am sure that these books appeal to a great many people and these great people of whom there are many are not wrong. They are just not ME. Or YOU. So, they pick the books that rang their chimes – maybe 100 years ago by the way – and it just doesn’t set the bells off for me reliably. Of course, some of the novels from lofty lists of all time literary achievements, DID strike a cord and even construct a sonnet in my brain or the strains of a symphony. So, I am only saying that these types of lists are well intended and researched and the recommendations have stood the test of time, but still offer a roll of the dice. If there is any good news from the “100 Best Lists”, the books recommended are typically cheap these days or gathering dust at your local library.

Oh, yeah, libraries. I forgot that one. I seriously did. Unless you live in Oregon you probably have never had your libraries shut down. We had ours shut down for the better part of a year due to lack of funds. That was a year where many peopleincluding me – broke their library habit. This is a shame and I will get back to it, I promise. Hey, I am retired now. Maybe I will volunteer.

Okay, I know I was reviewing a book and got sidelined, but I MUST say a few words about libraries. They are my lifelong friends. When I was a young girl, I could walk to our town library. (a small rural town in Idaho). I thanked God everyday that we did not live in the countryside because if we did I could NOT walk to the library (and I might have to feed pigs or something, too, but that is a whole different topic). From about the age of 8, just walking INTO a library produced rapture. My heart rate speeded up, seriously. Sometimes my hands and feet perspired. I probably had the same reaction a junkie has just before they plunge the injection needle or a sex addict walking into an Adult Video store. The sight of all of those books with stories in them – stories of people I would never meet or understand otherwise, of lands and cultures I would probably never see – times that I would never live in – ideas from outside my claustrophobic community. The library was my window to the world and being raised in a very restrictive religion among folks who prided themselves on uninformed faith based opinions, it represented the intellectual’s equivalent of holy sanctuary. I spent hours there just selecting the books I would read and invariably checked out as many as they allowed – and once as many as I could carry because I couldn’t make it home with the whole stack and my sister had to help me back to the library to return a few thick ones so I didn’t strain my back.

And, now to the book review. “The Forever War.” How did I find this book? Most book stores have a Staff Picks shelf. I actually find these fairly reliable. I have good luck with the recommendations and many of them I see on the shelf are ones that I have already read and enjoyed very much so the credibility is again bolstered. I hadn’t read The Forever War because it is science fiction and I don’t get around to reading many of these. Also the title is somewhat dated now. Forever War made me remember the great science fiction that I HAVE read and prompted me to start adding some of these titles back into my reading time.

Joe Haldeman wrote this book in 1974. He is a Vietnam War veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart. He also has a huge knowledge of physics and currently is a tenured professor at MIT, but teaches writing, not science. He has written many books since this one and all have critical acclaim. People who read science fiction are probably rolling their eyes right now and pronouncing me the village idiot because I only just now discovered him But, hey, I did. And, there may be other wandering idiots who could use a tip.

The book is said to be an allegory of the Vietnam War. Okay, if they say so. Honestly, I didn’t get that. It is just a great book about lots of things, human nature being central. Human sexuality also goes center stage and Haldeman’s beliefs about sexual orientation are surprisingly forward thinking for a book this old. And, the nature of war, of course, and the soldier’s place as pawn in a game plan written almost entirely without his welfare in mind.

The book is written in the first person,  the narrator’s inner dialogue supplying all we know about the complicated world (even to him) we are traversing.   You like him immensely and  want to jump into the book and make sure he gets out okay. But, the militarized world described in the novel is so treacherous, so high‐wire and rigged, that the reader is just forced to hold her breath and watch Private Mandella give it his best shot. Because of the nature of space travel, Mandella’s life spans centuries although he ages naturally. We meet him at 20 and say goodbye at 40 something , but hundreds (thousands?) of years pass while he is in the military service. The world changes and changes again and then becomes unrecognizable and Haldeman makes it all sound not only plausible, but almost inevitable. The book was frightening in that respect. I suppose much of science fiction answers the question: What will become of us?

Forever War finds a commonality today, I think, with us oldies. I am 61 and trying to decipher technology that changes every week. I no sooner feel competent than the game changes and young people lead the way in an incomprehensible labyrinth of electronic gibberish. The only thing stable is the inherent instability of trusting anything to remain the same. Private Mandella would arrive back on earth hoping to find a job only to learn that people no longer worked. Everybody not fighting a war was just pensioned out. He would arrive again to find that nobody lived on earth at all, the atmosphere too compromised. He would join a new regiment in space and learn that – since he had traveled 600 years from his last assignment – everyone was now either a well adjusted homosexual or a pervert. Mandella also falls victim to the same trick most of us have suffered during our lives. We get promoted based solely on survival. We can never quite figure out how we end up in charge and the yoke of power is not what we expected. We regret every evil wish we have ever cast upon former bosses. We see things from new eyes. At the end of the book (spoiler) Mandella broadcasts to his troops “This is Major Mandella” and then asks himself why that always sounds to him like a bad joke. I am new at this reviewing business and don’t want to ruin it for anybody. Just saying that the book cost me next to nothing on my ipad. It was a surprise to me that I liked it so much. It got me back into science fiction as a genre. It represents excellence. The author is a brilliant, sardonic, scientific minded man who can also spin a good yarn. I will read more from him. 

I read TONS these days.  More later on other titles I loved.   Maybe a mention of books I just finished without loving so much and even others I bought and then couldn’t get through it.

On My Tombstone, please carve  TELL ME A STORY

Kaye Debra Proctor,

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized

One Woman’s Right to Vote

October 19, 2012 3 comments

One Woman’s Right to Vote

I was 21 before I could vote and this luckily coincided with a Presidential Election! It was Nixon’s second term. His challenger, a principled, soft-spoken man named George McGovern, seemed like a savior to me. He would deliver us from the unpopular Vietnam War. Although few Americans were in favor of the conflict, it was viewed more as a messy liability to conservatives that must result in victory lest America lose face in the world. To liberals, it was a moral abomination that should end immediately even with our heads bowed in supplication. At 21, I was newly split from my family’s life long fealty to the Republican Party and was convinced that George McGovern should and would win the election.

Well, I was living in San Francisco at the time. We were all convinced that George McGovern could win.

I don’t remember how much information I actually had then about McGovern’s chances. I did read newspapers and watch television and I am sure the polls told us something about how well he was doing, but I was very young. What did polls matter when moral certitude was on your side?

Two weeks or so before the election, I walked over to a little office downtown run by the League of Women Voters. Their ads said they had pamphlets and literature that explained issues and offered helpful advice about how one might vote. They did offer their own opinion up, but they also tried to explain both sides. I took all the pamphlets they had. I remember they even charged a small fee for one particularly thick one and I paid it. I was desperate to be an informed citizen. Yes, really.

Looking back on that young woman, my former self, I like her. She was earnest, honest, hopeful and a believer in the democratic process. (She breaks my heart a bit now, as she has changed a lot.)

The day of voting, I was elated. I would be a voter today! I would help decide the fate of our great nation. I was discontented at work and wanted to get out early to go vote, but I did not get lucky. The secretarial grind went on until the clock was straight up 5 o’clock. I was already starting to lose the light, when I set out to my designated polling station.

The address I was given took me to an old hotel in the “tenderloin” section of San Francisco. It was once respectable, but now the home of vagrants, alcoholics, down at heel humans to state it kindly. I checked the address twice, not quite believing I was meant to vote in this establishment. Having taken the 10 city blocks at a brisk clip, I was panting and regretted not sufficiently catching my wind before entering. I needed speed, though. God forbid I would miss my chance to give George my vote!

The lobby was furnished with old chairs, mostly overstuffed and all in disrepair or ragged and filthy. The chairs themselves seemed elegant next to the residents they contained. The permanent renters had descended from whatever hell they inhabited upstairs to watch the voters file in. Entertainment had never been so good at The Uptown Hotel. I glanced over at the wrinkled faces, toothless smiles and hairy visages and then looked away in a concealed wince. Jesus.

There were three people sitting at a table officially labeled “Voters Check In Here.” Thank God! They looked like stable, employed adults. The sole woman of the group asked my name and I felt vulnerable saying it in this place, but offered it up politely – Kaye D. Elder. They verified my address and smartly matched me up on their voter rolls. I was actually impressed that they found me. I would not have been surprised if they said they lost the E’s and I would have to just wait four years.

One of the men, identifiied by a safety pin badge saying Proctor, rose importantly up from his folding chair and said, “Come this way.” He lead me over to one of the four voting booths. All of them were empty, I noticed. I had absolutely no experience with voting booths. He nudged me inside this ridiculous little curtained container and I was faced with a machine that seemed comprised of switches. He affixed a form to the top of it, adjusted it down over pegs until it was alligned, and I could see that a switch corresponded with each vote.

He said, “Just pull the lever after you vote.” The lever was a big handle on the side. Oh my! I could not have been more nervous to fly a jet plane. I unfolded my spiral notebook sheets from my purse. On each issue I had written down my votes in advance so that I could just efficiently proceed and would not hold up anyone or cause another citizen inconvenience or unnecessary wait time. (Oh, Lord, I was SO earnest.) The first measure was not one that I cared much about, but I flipped the switch to correspond with Yes and pulled the big lever to lock in my vote. Well, I thought! One down.

Footsteps sounded outside my private voting sanctuary. Then, without warning, the curtain opened. It was the man who escorted me in. “All done then,” he said? “ I will take your ballot to store.”

I was aghast. I blurted, “No. I just started.”

Now, he was off balance. “You pulled the lever. You have locked in your votes.”

“But, I haven’t even voted for the President yet.”

A voice sounded from the gallery in the lobby. It was more of a croak. A woman said, “Don’t matter! Nixon already won anyway. Didn’t you hear? It is all over. You didn’t need to even come in.” The force of her proclamation caused her to cough and hack and then blow her nose loudly. The room broke into murmurs of protest (“Mimi, you are not supposed to talk!” and “Leave Mimi alone. She is just telling the girl the truth.”)

Everyone was staring at me – the sole late voter – now exposed for public ridicule, showcased in the curtain of my PRIVATE voting booth. I was mortified.

The man read my expression and offered, “You are supposed to wait until you are finished voting to pull the lever. Now I have to go and record an error and start all over. Do you want to wait?”

I should have just picked up my purse that I had placed on the chair and run out to the safety of the night. But, no! I was a voter. I knew all the issues and I was prepared and it was my right to vote as a citizen of the United States of America! I said, “I would like to finish voting if I could. I am sorry.”

He huffed a bit, but performed his “extra task” without too much strain that I could see. He came back, affixed another form to the machine and yanked the curtain closed. My back was swimming with sweat now. I had not only disgraced myself, but my candidate – the wonderful and charming and completely CORRECT PERSON for the job of President had already lost. Tears streamed down my face and I was very grateful for the privacy – at last – of the booth. I concentrated as much as I could, worked through all the measures, the minor public servants, the major public servants, the statement that I was who I said I was and then – finally – I flipped the switch beside George’s name. What the hell did old crone know anyway:? She is probably drunk or high or something. George did NOT lose. Nixon was a creep and a coward and a liar. Our country would NOT put him back in office. I wiped my tears, blew my nose on a tissue and pulled the fucking lever – this time for real.

I timidly opened the curtain and stepped out, pretending not to notice the bemused audience and the slightly pouty faces of the three volunteer proctors who now had TO DO EXTRA WORK. I said, “Hey thanks! I am really sorry.”

Old Mimi could not let the moment pass. “She don’t believe me,” she stage whispered to the room, “He already lost!”

I walked home with a slow pace, the sidewalk harder than concrete beneath my disillusioned feet. I walked past a department store that had televisions set up for people to view the results. I stopped and peered in the window. It took no more than a minute or two to see the caption scroll across the screen. “With East Coast and Midwest counted, Nixon proclaimed winner.” In those days, there was no rule that results could not be publicly broadcast before all the polls closed. Many Californians, indeed, did not bother to vote because old Mimi was right. All hope was lost. I wonder now just how badly McGovern needed to lose if the entire Pacific Northwest and probably most of the Mountain time people had not been discouraged from voting already.

You would think that after such a rocky start, I would have been reluctant to vote again. You would be wrong. I vote in every election, every time. I vote in the “big one” and I vote in the middle one. And, I try to weigh in on special ballots, too. I still believe, improbably enough, that my vote matters. I study issues and I talk about issues. I participate in internet chat groups now, but it was more informal processes before. I am the person who violates the rule that you should not talk politics at work (everybody violates that rule.) They say that politics and religion lead to arguments. They are right about that. So what? I also argue about religion.

Why am I so dogged and determined? Remember history.

When Nixon won that election, I was so sad. How could I have known, as I wept in that lonely voting booth, that Nixon would fly off in a helicopter during the second year of that term, forced out of office by public scorn. I remember that moment so well. He literally ran out to the helicopter, saluted us all watching his flight, and left the job that I did NOT endorse him for in the first place. American majority was dead WRONG. I was so glad to see his ass out of the White House and I thought, “I knew it! I knew it! I was right.”

And, so even though my guy sometimes loses the election, I never lose hope. There is a helicopter waiting for every President who disgraces himself and you just never know who it will land for, who will run out to its sheltering protection, and fly off to San Clemente until he dies. You just never know.

George McGovern was the right man for the job. You hear me, Mimi?

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