Monday, October 23, 2006


Don't waste the vote

Many people, moreso for this election cycle than any in living memory, are expressing disgust and anger at the lack of choice being offered by the two major parties. This note is meant for each person whose disgust or anger may cause you to stay away from the polls on November 7th.

Don't waste the vote. Go to the poll, and vote for a write-in person for every office where the other candidates have nothing politically acceptable to offer you for your vote.

We hear or see almost nothing concerning the write-in vote. It remains a legal option in every state of the Union. It should be available to every voter for every elected-office race on every election day. If it is not, go to your local election enforcement officials and complain loudly.

Now, here's the thing: a write-in vote requires much more effort on the voter's part than just choosing a candidate. You have to actually find someone who you think deserves your vote, who will -- if elected, and don't laugh because it is always possible -- serve in the office effectively. You may be surprised in your search to find several people actually running as independent, write-in candidates, and you just might find one for whom you can vote.

Vote. Don't let the cut-from-a-mold idjits in the Republicrat and Democan parties force you to stay away. If you think voting for a write-in is a waste of your vote, at least it's better than not voting, and get this: if enough people use the write-in, even if no one person gets any significant number of such votes, the media will have a field day writing about how the major parties have failed.

Wouldn't that be something?

If you like this idea, and can think of someone who can benefit from it, please, pass it on.


"Defense" of marriage

I'm rather sick of the whole "defense" of marriage schtick as it is, what with a 50% divorce rate embedded in our social consciousness well before anyone thought about "non-traditional" marriages in any context, let alone in the context of civil rights.

Where were the religious right when divorce began to skyrocket? Were they perhaps too busy having their own divorces to bother with it?

Inquiring minds would like to know.

Friday, October 20, 2006


The Superiority of Christianity

Over the last several years, and particularly in the most recent couple of years, I've heard and read a number of commentaries on how the US is descending into a pit of sin, and that the only way to reverse this descent is through Jesus Christ. That's a terrible over-simplification of the rhetoric, and I apologize for that, but it does capture the gist of it.

I'm here to call for proof. I want to see numbers. I want to see actual, verifiable evidence.

Here's what I do know:

Somewhere between 75% and 80% of all Americans self-identify as Christians.

The vast majority of crimes in the US are committed by Christians (hereafter meant as a direct reference to self-identify as Christians).

The vast majority of our political office-holders, judicial appointees, law enforcement professionals and legislators are Christians.

The vast majority of all places of worship are Christian.

100% of the men involved with the sex scandal in the Roman Catholic Church are Christian.

What I want to know is the actual foundation in observable fact that being Christian will make my society better than it is. And to those who choose to answer, I give fair warning: vaguely worded statements, vague references to holy text, and assertions made without direct citations will be rejected out of hand. The "promise" of salvation is not evidence; indeed, believers in Jesus Christ seem to me to be the bulk of the problem up to now.

Friday, October 06, 2006


Compulsory public education: yes or no?

I was going to stay away from this discussion, because my opinion is rather far from most extremes, and I don't know of anyone who both agrees with me and has the chutzpa to implement the ideas.

I'll just throw it out there. Anyone who wants to pick it apart, all I ask is that you come up with alternatives that will work. I don't much care whose idea gets used, so long as it addresses the key issues.

1) Self-esteem. This has become the defacto "family value" of choice in the whole education debate. It is predicated on the worst possible concept: that all children in a given peer group are equally intelligent, equally mature, and capable of progressing at an equal rate. We push them not to do their best, but to do as well or better than their peers. This is the single, most destructive influence in education.

2) Authority. I don't care what else you do, I don't care if you bust all the unions or fire the whole damn faculty, so long as you institute a simple rule and enforce it to the max: if you give a teacher or administrator responsibility, you must give hir the authority to match it.

3) Respect for expertise. Teachers and administrators go to college, take certification exams, and are interviewed by veterans before being hired. Teaching majors spend at least a full semester apprenticed to an experience teacher in a live classroom. Some of them read all the horror stories out there, and still deliberately vie for positions on the front lines. You (general) could have the basic decency and courtesy to believe them when they say a theory, program or approach wiil or will not work, and keep your (general) untrained and ignorant paws off of them while they try to do their jobs.

In general, there are glaring examples of each of the following all over, and sometimes in the private sector as well: desparate need for fiscal accountability (as in, someone is lining their pockets with your tax dollars to the detriment of your children: why aren't you doing something about that?); a small but vocal minority of parents are behind the politicians who are not hesitating to promote their personal agendas on the backs of failing children, with no intention of actually doing something about it; there are good, decent, successful schools out there who are being aggressively and vindictively attacked because they are successful, because they are surrounded by a district that is killing itself and can't abide this glaring and local comparison for their failures...

I am by a long stretch not the first one to say these things, nor am I alone at all in being public about it... but if more people don't start seeing and hearing this message, then I'll just have to take my words and eat them, for all the good they might do.

I know, I've managed to bore you (general) to tears and not actually say a thing about compulsory education. Try reading it all the way through with this thought in mind: if education were actually the way it should be, "compulsory" would be the last word on anyone's mind.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Dead girls and handguns

Okay. The emotions have run their course -- well, really, I've gone from boiling to a simmer -- and I read something this morning that made me look in the mirror and see my own hypocrisy. There must be a dialogue on the issues, and (as one online acquaintance put it) making political hay is not the answer.

As of this writing, five Amish girls between the ages of 6 and 12 are dead, two are out of danger and three more are listed in critical condition after surgery. A man who has left copious evidence of suicidal depression went into their one-room school with a handgun, a shotgun, a third weapon and 600 rounds of ammunition, with -- as one law enforcement official put it -- no intention of surviving his actions. His targeting of the school and the girls, by all accounts, was dispassionate and convenient. A 20-year grudge, and the death of a daughter three years ago are mentioned as motivating factors.

Those are the facts.

Banning handguns would not have been enough to prevent this and similar events. My own desire, strictly regulating both guns and users just as we do with automobiles and drivers, would not prevent all such events, but it would make them more difficult to carry out. Calling for a school violence summit to be held next week with education and law enforcement officials to discuss possible federal action to help communities prevent violence and deal with its aftermath, as spoken by Bush administration representatives on Monday, is not the answer.

The answer is difficult. It requires us to reverse a trend that from my POV has been strengthening over the last 40 years and more. In fact, the answer is so difficult that only the conscious commitment of every citizen, with the fullest pressure from the rest of society, will make it work.

Every one of us is responsible for every child around us.

Every one of us is responsible for law enforcement.

Every one of us is responsible for the actions of our elected officials.

And every one of us must take the appropriate actions to exercise those responsibilities.

Anyone who disagrees with any part of that deserves neither the status of citizen nor the rights and protections that go with that status. No voting. No use of the administrative functions of government. No access to anything but temporary aid and assistance in time of need, to end once that person is capable of leaving the country.

No more free rides. Put in what you expect to get back. No more privilege or special treatment due to accident of birth, wealth or popularity. No assumption of privilege for convenience. No more tolerance for inherent bullying behaviors.

No more standing on the sidelines, waiting for someone else to make the hard decisions, do the difficult tasks, take the difficult responsibility.

The list could go on much longer, and should be delineated clearly, because this is not some emotional desire for a band aid on an isolated situation or issue. This is the heart of what it means to be a member of a community, a citizen of a state and nation. It crosses all lines, gender, age, ethinicity, language, and religion. Dare I use those three simple words, a phrase that has been poked, prodded, spun and spat upon by generations of greed and lust?

We the People...

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