Another Form of Voter Repression

I’ll have to look into this more, but I’ve just caught an inkling of another way that could be used to limit voting to help keep Republicans in power.

If only Republicans would learn that repressing votes will only work for so long. It will end up biting them in the ass.

Steps to repress votes for Democratic candidates:

  1. Go to areas where people are likely to vote Democratic and register voters.
  2. Don’t file those registrations.

That’s it. It’s real simple.

I’ll update as I learn more.

Fortunately, we live in a country ruled by laws.

Unfortunately, people find ways to circumvent laws to their benefit and there are strong forces pushing back against laws that give people control over their lives. Such as not allowing confirmations of judges. Not just at the highest level, but also in lower courts.

Republicans have been not allowing votes to go forward for judges that have been  nominated by a Democratic administration. They are promising to continue that practice to stymie any progress under a Clinton administration.

I do wonder what would happen under a Sanders administration. There would be massive numbers of very enthusiastic voters to push for a progressive agenda. There would not be the angst that people are feeling right now. Can Donald Drumpf actually become the Commander in Chief of the most powerful nation in the world??? I believe that question wouldn’t be there if Bernie had won the nomination.

I’m not voting for Hillary. Her policies don’t meld with mine. Much of what the Democratic Party has promoted over the years does not meld with what I would choose.

Politics is personnel. Hillary’s choices demonstrate where she is wanting to go. The next president will make more than 4,000 political appointments to fill out the executive branch.

Prior to becoming the VP nomination, Tim Kaine was a strong advocate of giving free reign to the banks. He was forceful in his desire to eliminate restrictions under Dodd-Frank. He was also very vocal about pushing fracking and the TPP. Upon his nomination, those beliefs of his were quickly swept under the rug.

After changing her ‘public’ face to placate Bernie supporters by telling voters that she is NOW against the TPP and fracking, she chose former senator and Interior secretary Ken Salazar to head her transition team. Her choice to control who gets hired is a strong advocate for the TPP and fracking.

What odds do you want to give me that the TPP and fracking will somehow magically become the “gold standard” of economic growth?

The people chosen for posts are indicative of what policy will prevail.

What has either of the two main candidates said about the Dakota Access Pipeline and Standing Rock?

Is that not important to you? There are a number of issues with this that it should be. I’ve been itching to get harvest over with and drive out there to support the people at Standing Rock in whatever way I can.

Update: Illinois Conservative Group Denies Sitting On People’s Ballot Applications Another form of voter suppression.

How to Vote Strategically Where You Live

There’s a bit involved in choosing how to vote, depending on what’s important to you, along with which state you live in.

So first things first. To find out which candidate has your back, there’s a few websites that will quiz you about what’s important to you. I highly recommend that you take at least one of these quizzes. This will give you a good foundation for the choices that you make.

I do realize that this will take some of your time and, perhaps, cause you to think. But I fail to see the downside to that. is a good place to start. It will let you know which candidates, up and down the ballot, best meet the values that are important to you. Just Do It.

To get started, click on the blue button on the right, labelled “2016 Presidential VoteMatch Quiz.” Start with the default selection for Presidential candidates and scroll down to rate your support or disagreement with the statements about Individual Rights, Domestic Issues, Economic Issues and Defense/International Issues. It’s quite painless actually.

Once done, click on the “Score the Quiz” button to get an idea of the Presidential candidates that are more likely to match the way you think and believe. If you are willing, list the top few in the comments section below. Shaming will not be allowed.

Now you have a baseline, which may help you determine how you choose to vote. It can help you decide how to vote strategically, depending on where you live.

Your first choice SHOULD BE the candidate that most closely matches your values. But, there’s a lot of pressure by the MSM to attempt to convince you that is not what’s important. That the important issue, in just about every election, is to not let the “other” candidate win. And, according to the pundits, the only way to do that is to vote for the candidate that opposes the “other” even though you will have to vote for a candidate that doesn’t come close to matching the values that are important to you.

“It’s a wasted vote” or “It’s a protest vote” or … You’ve heard them all.

Here’s my take on why voting for candidates that have values that match your own is important, and ways to vote strategically if that’s important.

When you vote, you are stating that you agree with the values and platform of that candidate or party. The more people vote for that candidate or party or platform gives more of a mandate for those values. With that in mind, why cast your vote for someone or a platform that you don’t agree with? Why not let YOUR values be heard?

As many keep telling you, it’s more important to defeat the “other” than it is to vote how you really feel. That’s what keeps the Democratic and Republican Parties in control, even though it’s not in YOUR best interest.

I had some well thought out strategies to put forth. But as I get back to this draft, I question how important voting strategically REALLY is.

No matter who wins control of the White House, I’d venture that likely less than 50% of the people of this nation will be happy and very likely, 75% will not be enthusiastic of the outcome. How politics in this country has devolved.

Do what you can to pay attention to the issues, platforms and your own desires about how you’d like this planet move forward, and vote accordingly. As difficult it is to find any enthusiasm, it is important that you let your voice be heard. Please do vote.

Local and regional issues and candidates have a great deal of influence in our lives, so pay particular attention to them. Maybe that will inspire you enough to get active, even if it’s only enough to get you to check the boxes and put the ballot in the mail.

It’s getting close to where you need to drop it off. Hood River County Ballot Drop Boxes Wasco County Ballot Drop Boxes Klikitat County Ballot Drop Boxes  Skamania County Ballot Drop Boxes


Taking Selfies in the Voting Booth: Legal or Illegal?

If it’s legal, should it not be? If it’s illegal, should that change?

What a rapidly changing world we live in. A short time ago, this issue would not have been on anyone’s radar. Will it be up to the Supremes to decide?

Richard Hasan, Terry Gross’ guest on Fresh Air tonight, made me realize that I didn’t have a thorough understanding of it.

My first thought was, “come on, what’s wrong with taking a picture of yourself doing something you are proud of?” One of the most patriot actions a person can take is to make it known how they want to see the country move forward. We do celebrate more mundane actions.

Something that I had not considered, though, was how the use of selfies could allow someone to control the vote.

What if a dominant family member demands voting in a particular way? A selfie from the voting booth could verify that. Or what about a vote buying operation paying after a selfie verifies the voting?

The full interview with Richard Hasan can be found here: Rigging An Election? It’s Not So Easy, Voting Law Expert Says

There are instances that require a choice when not all choices are apparent. Search for those unknown choices. And, as always, question your beliefs, for that’s where you will often find hidden choices.

Property Tax Information

Received my property tax bill this evening. Looking through the statement, I noticed that the Real Market Value (RMV) of the land decreased by $5700 and the RMV of the structures increased by $7710.

I found that interesting since I’ve put much more effort toward improving the land than I have toward improvements to the structures. Just a curiosity.

Taxes this year are only $22 more than what I paid last year. Costs do go up, and that’s only a 1% increase. I don’t mind paying taxes. They help pay for the services and resources that we as a community receive in return. Especially so for the children.

Looking over at the expense column, more than half of my property tax dollars goes toward helping people get educated. Can’t say that I have any problems with people getting educated. Hopefully, that education will help some of them improve the well-being of this country. Whether that be on a national level or being able to help others improve their lives.

Pay it forward.

Getting back to what really got my fingers hitting the keys… after I went through those thoughts, I turned my attention to the pink Property Tax Information sheet. What can I say, I’ve been trained as an engineer. I read the manuals. 🙂

Going over each bullet point, I started feeling uncomfortable. That feeling only got worse as I continued reading.

With the intensity of this year’s election’s insanity, and the knowledge gained, I’ve been prodded into speaking up.

I really don’t have much of an issue with what the Property Tax Information page actually says. It’s more about the way it’s worded. It comes across as another governmental agency making demands. Another agency that has no empathy for people who might be having a difficult time. Do it this way or we will make your life even more miserable.

I don’t believe that was the intent. In fact, I do think that I may understand the county’s perspective. Being forceful now might push someone considering putting off paying until they end up in foreclosure for back taxes and then having to deal with the loss of their home find a way to pay them now.

After spending time taking glimpses of the State of the Union from many sources lately, I have become concerned with how easy this country could erupt in violence. Much of that violence would be directed at a government that  often to not be very caring about the people who it’s supposed to be caring for.

Documents worded like this Property Tax Information is don’t help ease that tension.

Some of that violence would also be directed at people that some might consider to be ‘others.’ Some might be carried out by those who have been treated unfairly for way too long.

Fortunately, most women know that violence is not the answer.

With all that in mind, I became uncomfortable with reading this document and propose some changes so it doesn’t come across so harshly.

I’d like feedback from those that read this. Suggestions of how to better word the Property Tax Information sheet so that people already agitated, don’t become more-so. So people in dire straits might have some semblance of hope that their government is looking out for them as best they can.

Also suggestions for any grammatical improvements.

Having just spent some time looking for this document online at the Hood River County Website, I have come to realize that the county could use some IT/web management help. This also became apparent to me, in the past few weeks, with the email notices I’ve received about jury duty that could be managed more efficiently. I’ll be working on that issue personally. Back to the issue at hand, I was unable to find the Property Tax Information document online within a time frame that didn’t cause me to give up, and I’ve been blessed with a lot of patience.

My suggested changes for improving this document:

Begin with having this document in Spanish as well as English.

I’ve also changed the order of some items to give more importance to those that gave me the impression that they were inserted as afterthoughts.

This is Important Information That Homeowners Should Read

If you have past due property taxes, or need assistance, you might qualify to receive help.

Oregon Homeownership Stabilization Initiative (OHSI) has developed a Hardest Hit Fund program to assist property owners facing tax delinquency due to financial hardship. Visit or call 503-986-2025 for more information.

Additional assistance might be available from the Records & Assessment Department (see contact information below).

  • Paying your taxes as soon as possible will save you money.
  • If you pay in full on November 15, 2016, you will receive a 3% discount. Payments need to be postmarked or delivered by 5pm to qualify.
  • If you pay two-thirds of your tax bill by Nov 15, 2016, you will receive a 2% discount.
  • If you choose to pay your property taxes in three monthly payments, those payments are due Nov 15, 2016, Feb 15, 2017, and May 15, 2017. No discount will be earned with this method, but neither will interest be added. [Original document is too wordy about if the dates fall on Saturdays or a holiday. Looking at the calendar to check will make it easier for those reading]
  • For your information, all county offices will be closed in observance of Veterans Day, Friday Nov 11, 2016.
  • The date on a bill payer check will count if payment is sent from your bank, financial institution or bill payer service.
  • If you send a post-dated check, it will be processed immediately, regardless of the date posted. A processing fee of $30 will be added to your tax bill for any check that is returned by your bank for any reason.
  • Checks are to be made payable to Hood River County and mailed to the address listed above. Please include the payment stub or a listing of the account numbers with payment amounts for each account to ensure accurate posting of your payments.
  • Payments can be made by debit or credit cards online at or in person. An extra fee of 2.49% will be added to cover the fees for this convenience. Unfortunately, we cannot accept payment over the phone.
  • The 2016-17 tax year runs from July 1st 2016 through June 30th 2017.
  • Please call the Records & Assessments Dept at 541-386-4522 if you need to change your mailing address. [Original wording was too onerous.]

Hood River County Contact Information as per sheet.

Please let me know of any corrections or changes that you’d like to see by commenting below.

Why I Joined the WTO Protest in 1999

In the early to late 90’s, trade agreements like NAFTA were being proposed. The agreements were being worked out in total secrecy. The players involved were mostly provided by corporate elites. Labor, human rights and environmental groups were not invited. This was no different from how today’s TPP was negotiated.

The WTO, which I gave the nickname – The World Trashed Organization, was very much a part of these global trade agreements. In 1995, the WTO replaced GATT- General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. GATT was formed after WWII to help improve post war economies and foster trade.

GATT likely was started with the intention to benefit most people, and many economies did well. Large parts of the populations of many nations began to prosper. This was during an era where finance didn’t have as much control as it became to have. It was a time when people trusted each other because, in large part, people were honest, hard-working folk.

There were inequality issues, for sure, but in general, it was a prosperous time for many Americans. College was free for returning GI’s, and inexpensive for others. Large numbers of people became educated, which not only helped expand the economy, it also helped to expand awareness. Like the awareness that not everyone was receiving the benefits from a growing economy, nor being treated equally.

But that lasted only until greed took over.

From Investopedia, The WTO  “rules become a part of a country’s domestic legal system.” “…if a country is a member to the WTO, its local laws cannot contradict WTO rules and regulations, which currently govern approximately 97% of all world trade.”

If a country’s labor, human rights or environmental laws interfere with a corporations ability to make money, that corporation can sue the country, through the WTO, to either change the laws or pay them an often very large sum of money.

Countries lose their sovereignty because of the WTO and trade agreements. Corporations file suit against a country with the WTO and the process takes place, once again, in secrecy. Three corporate lawyers are chosen to hear the case and decide which side has the stronger case. On other days, these same lawyers often bring suits against countries on behalf of corporations.

Once a decision is made, there’s no appeal process. It’s a done deal.

These are some of the reasons I was proud to stand with thousands of citizens to let our distaste for what the WTO stands for be known.

I am encouraged that maybe enough people have finally woken up to the fact that this is a very important issue that we need to deal with.  An article in Financial Times, by one of Britain’s most influential economists alludes to this awakening. Capitalism and democracy: the strain is showing:

Meanwhile, those of us who wish to preserve both liberal democracy and global capitalism must confront serious questions. One is whether it makes sense to promote further international agreements that tightly constrain national regulatory discretion in the interests of existing corporations. My view increasingly echoes that of Prof Lawrence Summers of Harvard, who has argued that “international agreements [should] be judged not by how much is harmonised or by how many barriers are torn down but whether citizens are empowered”. Trade brings gains but cannot be pursued at all costs.
Both the Sanders and Trump campaigns have understood, to various degrees, the importance that trade issues resound for many American citizens. The Green Party has been at the forefront of this battle for a long time. Hillary realized that she needed to change her outward appearing stance to get elected. (More on this later)