(Photographs copyright 2010, all rights reserved.)
For anyone that's interested in the pictures....
These were taken on a recent trip to Portland OR. We had one sunny day, and that's the one we decided to spend at Washington Park, which is huge and gorgeous. Sadly, we were early for the roses, even though it was the first week in May. Spring there was so cold and wet that everything slowed down.
The pictures were taken at the Japanese Garden. That azalea is actually two plants. Over the years they've been pruned into a perfect ten foot diameter circle. The second is a Japanese Maple and it looks overexposed because it is. I was standing inside the canopy looking up when I took the picture. I was more interested in the structure of the tree than the leaves.
Some of this is prompted by the fact that The Boy and I have applied for citizenship. Our forms are in, and we got fingerprinted by Homeland Security a couple of weeks ago. If things go at their normal pace, we will probably be sworn in by the end of September/beginning of October, in time for the November elections. We'll see.
A couple of weeks ago, I got a very official looking envelope in the mail, addressed to me by name, that looked a lot like the Census form. Now, I sent that in as soon as I got it - it was in the mail the very next day. This envelope looked about the same, so I opened it, figuring that it was either a duplicate (strange but I imagine it happens), or I'd screwed something up so they were asking me to re-do.
I opened it, and there was an official-looking letter inside with a huge black heading that said "2010 Congressional District Census". In very tiny little black print underneath that it said "Commissioned by the Republican Party". Now it was addressed to me by name and signed (by machine) by a Michael Steele, who I've never heard of. I'm sure he's a nice man, even if he IS a Republitard.
The cover letter was filled with loaded language that interspersed the usual paranoid idiocy with things like:
" Barack Obama was barely in the White House a month when he dropped all pretense of "hope" and "change" and laid bare his real agenda of massive tax increases, government-run health care, amnesty for illegal aliens (it's ok, The Boy and I are legal), and bigger, more intrusive government."
You get the gist. It's a three page letter, demanding that this "census" be returned by 28 May and also begging for money. We've seen it all before. Still....when I looked at the survey it was STILL iffy as far as I was concerned.
The form LOOKS like the real Census form. There's a blurb at the top about being selected for the survey and so on, and in small print with a white line through it that was meant to look like a copier malfunction and so virtually unreadable; "This is not a U.S. Government document."
Neat, hey? Oddly, this "malfunction" is present ONLY on that small line of text.
The rest of the printing job is beautifully done with not one error as far as I can see. It has all sorts of numbers on it, a tracking code, due date etc. I know that this is an old advertising/marketing trick. No one reads the text of the letter, right? Most people just toss that out. No one really pays attention to the exact wording at the top of the survey, either. They just fill in the boxes. It's even postage paid.
There are 21 questions, and they read like the typical paranoid Republican bullshit we've been hearing since the last election was called.
"5. Do you think the record trillion dollar federal deficit the Democrats are creating with their out-of-control spending is going to have disastrous consequences for or nation?" (Like the Shrub didn't start that whole sleigh ride.)
"9. Are you concerned that as other countries like China buy up hundreds of billions of dollars of our national debt they will have more control in directing our nation's future economic policies?" (Hmmm. A new take on the Yellow Peril bullshit that was around a hundred years ago?)
I found these questions hilarious, but that's just me. No, they really ARE hilarious. So there. The funniest part of the whole thing, though is Page 4 of the "census". It's a donation form that is designed to take credit cards. Gotta love political parties! The whole thing seems like a lot of work to ask for money, don't you think?
It's also funny that this is coming to me. Not only am I not registered to vote, I CAN'T do that. I'm not a citizen!
However, this got me thinking, and I have questions about politics here. I'm Canadian, so give me a tiny break here before mocking me.
1. Do you have to declare a party before you go into a polling booth?
2. When you register to vote, is that done by a civil servant or do you have to register with party officials? If it IS a civil servant, do you have to tell THAT person what party you're affiliated with?
3. Why do party officials count the ballots? Isn't that begging for trouble, or at least corrupt counting practices? Shouldn't the people counting be neutral? In Canada, that means civil servants.
I am genuinely confused by this. I've voted in a lot of elections in Canada, and we were always taught that the secret ballot is sacred - that no one has a right to ask how you're going to vote. Ever never. It's not just that no one answers the question, no one asks because it's considered so rude.
Also, Elections Canada used to (I don't know if they still do) count damaged and defaced ballots. Defacing a ballot- usually by drawing a big black X through it) is considered a legitimate form of protest. Essentially, if you deface your ballot, you're making it clear that all of the candidates are idiots so it doesn't matter who gets in.
There are no exit polls in Canadian elections - again with the secret ballot. All campaigning has to stop before the vote and the bars are closed. Apparently a favorite tactic among the politicians of yore was to park a wagon full of kegs of beer outside polling stations.
So anyway, what gives? I was raised believing that it's nobody's damned business how I vote or for who.
That's right - you got it. Messy asks for help AGAIN.