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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Fighting for Democracy? Two Presidents of the League of Women Voters

Left: Ms. Odinga from Kenya (L) and Laura Blackburn, President of the League of Women Voters

I was watching TV last night (BBC at 5 pm because i wanted some real news instead of a long series of shootings and traffic wrecks), including footage of citizens shot while protesting an election fraud in Kenya when I realized that I had met the wife of the Kenya Presidential candidate who was defrauded from winning -- Mr. Odinga. I met her at a dinner (which lasted for hours) in Houston last fall.

Mrs. Odinga was speaking at an event and she wanted to meet the President of the Houston League of Women Voters since Mrs. Odinga is the President of the League of Women Voters in Kenya. The Houston President invited me and I enjoyed listening to her talk about issues in Kenya that sounded a lot like our own. She had said something her husband running for office but I forgot about it until I saw TV footage of soldiers shooting civilians in the streets of Nairobi on BBC TV.

Our President has said that he is committed to a strategy of supporting the spread of democracy as a basis for our continued presence in Iraq, etc. Yet I have heard nothing from him about supporting fair elections in Kenya.

How can people trust us as the world leader for democracy when we do so little to see that elections are not frauds, and that police are not used to shoot peaceful protesters? The U.S. Ambassador was quoted as saying "Another election would be too expensive." Apparently, cost is more important than fraud.

We need some action by our leadership to resolve this issues even in countries that don't have huge oil reserves, if our statements are to have any true meaning.

On the local scene, it has come out that the Texas Attorney General (Greg Abbott) does not review the U.S. Constitution when reviewing our laws for legality. Whoa! (That Lisa is on a roll!) What are they drinking in office these days? From the Harris County District Attorney's office to the Attorney General, our legal officers seem to have a strange view of the world of "rule of law" and such things as "equality" and "discrimination." How is this a good role model for Iraq and places like Kenya? Standby for more strange headlines.

The breath of fresh air was hearing new Harris County Judge Ed Emmett at the lunch yesterday, where he called for an ethics taskforce. He struck me as real - and the fact that he spent the last 20 years as a small business owner instead of a paid bureaucrat or politician is refreshing. He even applauded Mayor Bill White. We need more like him in office (and fewer of the others before-mentioned)!

In the meantime let's do something for democracy in Kenya - the election was widely regarded as fraudulent, designed to keep the incumbent in power.

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