jennythereader: (Default)
I'm not going to tell you who to vote for, but I do have three suggestions to make this election day.

1) VOTE! - If you are a U.S. citizen who is registered, you have an obligation to vote. People have fought and died for 236 years to get us that right in the first place, to expand it beyond white property owning men, and to it keep from being taken away from those who already had it. Make your voice heard! Even if you feel your vote won't make a difference to the presidential election, depending on where you live there are state and local races, initiatives, and constitutional amendments on the ballot.

2) If you can't vote because you aren't registered, today would be a good day to fix that so you'll be able to vote next time around. This site has information on how to register. If you live here but aren't a citizen, spend a few minutes thinking about whether you want to become one.

3) Consider voting for candidates from parties other than the Democrats or the Republicans, especially in county and city elections. I think adding more voices to the political conversation is a good idea, and at the local level they can actually make a difference.
jennythereader: (* I Don't Want Your Morals: I Have My Ow)
I'm not going to tell you who to vote for, but I do have three suggestions to make this election day.

1) VOTE! - If you are a U.S. citizen who is registered, you have an obligation to vote. People have fought and died for 236 years to get us that right in the first place, to expand it beyond white property owning men, and to it keep from being taken away from those who already had it. Make your voice heard! Even if you feel your vote won't make a difference to the presidential election, depending on where you live there are state and local races, initiatives, and constitutional amendments on the ballot.

2) If you can't vote because you aren't registered, today would be a good day to fix that so you'll be able to vote next time around. This site has information on how to register. If you live here but aren't a citizen, spend a few minutes thinking about whether you want to become one.

3) Consider voting for candidates from parties other than the Democrats or the Republicans, especially in county and city elections. I think adding more voices to the political conversation is a good idea, and at the local level they can actually make a difference.
jennythereader: (Professor Cat *)
Do you think it would be valuable to have more political parties with a real chance at the presidential level? If you do, what would you change to make it happen?

In my opinion, third parties could make the biggest difference at the local level, but most of them don't really seem interested in local politics. I also think it would be a good thing for third parties to be taken more seriously at the national level.

One way to get voters to think more seriously about third parties would be to have their candidates participate in the debates with the Democratic and Republican candidates. Unfortunately, the way the rules are currently written a candidate has to be polling above 15% for a certain period before the debate. This pretty much means that no third party candidate is ever going to participate.

I think one change to the debate rules would help solve both of these problems. Instead of a polling threshold, use an officeholder threshold. The one I thought of is allow any political party that has constantly had a member in office at the state (state legislative bodies, Governor or other state-wide office, judge [if they're elected and declare a party affiliation]) or national level (House or Senate) for the last 5 years to participate in the presidential debates. I might even count mayor of one of the 10 biggest cities in the country. If that leads to an unwieldy number of people on stage, than either increase the number of officeholders or the amount of time required.

This would help with what I feel is the biggest problem, by giving the third parties a strong motivation for getting people elected to lower levels of office. It would also help with the secondary problem by making it more likely that a third party politician who doesn't have high name recognition would be visible in the presidential campaign.

(Edited to remove some the "I thinks." There were way too many...)
jennythereader: (Professor Cat *)
Do you think it would be valuable to have more political parties with a real chance at the presidential level? If you do, what would you change to make it happen?

In my opinion, third parties could make the biggest difference at the local level, but most of them don't really seem interested in local politics. I also think it would be a good thing for third parties to be taken more seriously at the national level.

One way to get voters to think more seriously about third parties would be to have their candidates participate in the debates with the Democratic and Republican candidates. Unfortunately, the way the rules are currently written a candidate has to be polling above 15% for a certain period before the debate. This pretty much means that no third party candidate is ever going to participate.

I think one change to the debate rules would help solve both of these problems. Instead of a polling threshold, use an officeholder threshold. The one I thought of is allow any political party that has constantly had a member in office at the state (state legislative bodies, Governor or other state-wide office, judge [if they're elected and declare a party affiliation]) or national level (House or Senate) for the last 5 years to participate in the presidential debates. I might even count mayor of one of the 10 biggest cities in the country. If that leads to an unwieldy number of people on stage, than either increase the number of officeholders or the amount of time required.

This would help with what I feel is the biggest problem, by giving the third parties a strong motivation for getting people elected to lower levels of office. It would also help with the secondary problem by making it more likely that a third party politician who doesn't have high name recognition would be visible in the presidential campaign.

(Edited to remove some the "I thinks." There were way too many...)
jennythereader: (Professor Cat *)
A challenge for all of my politically minded friends-

Define the other end of the political spectrum is as positive a way as you can. For example, I'm progressive, so I would define conservatism. Here's my attempt:

CONSERVATISM: The belief that societal changes are not always for the better, and that generally the potential negative consequences outweigh the potential good. Therefore changes must be implemented slowly, incrementally and only where absolutely necessary.
jennythereader: (Professor Cat *)
A challenge for all of my politically minded friends-

Define the other end of the political spectrum is as positive a way as you can. For example, I'm progressive, so I would define conservatism. Here's my attempt:

CONSERVATISM: The belief that societal changes are not always for the better, and that generally the potential negative consequences outweigh the potential good. Therefore changes must be implemented slowly, incrementally and only where absolutely necessary.
jennythereader: (Default)
Today is the 132 birthday of Helen Keller, one of my childhood heros. She overcame huge obstacles to become a public figure, advocating for people with disabilities and travelling the world to speak. Everyone admires her, right?

What's been left out of the popular perception of Helen Keller is her politics. No one seems to remember that she was a suffragette, a member of the Socialist Party, a supporter of birth control and family planning, a founder of the American Civil Liberties Union, and a member of the Wobblies. Having all of these political opinions doesn't negate the strength of character it took to overcome the challenges she faced, so why does this aspect of her life get ignored? My theory is that it has something to do with people wanting to protect children from controversial ideas.

Thinking about Helen Keller led me to another of my childhood heros, Mary McLeod Bethune. In 1904 she started a school with 6 students, and over the next 37 years built it up into a 4 year college, now Bethune-Cookman University. She was a personal friend of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, and an advisor to both of them. She was the first African-American female head of a federal agency (the Division of Negro Affairs, which was a subsection of the National Youth Administration.) She worked to integrate the Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the precursors to the United Methodist Church. She's been included in several different "most important women" and "most important African-American" lists, and has had a stamp issued in her honor. So why have I never met another person my age who's even heard of her? I have no theories about that. If anyone does, I'd love to hear them.
jennythereader: (Default)
Today is the 132 birthday of Helen Keller, one of my childhood heros. She overcame huge obstacles to become a public figure, advocating for people with disabilities and travelling the world to speak. Everyone admires her, right?

What's been left out of the popular perception of Helen Keller is her politics. No one seems to remember that she was a suffragette, a member of the Socialist Party, a supporter of birth control and family planning, a founder of the American Civil Liberties Union, and a member of the Wobblies. Having all of these political opinions doesn't negate the strength of character it took to overcome the challenges she faced, so why does this aspect of her life get ignored? My theory is that it has something to do with people wanting to protect children from controversial ideas.

Thinking about Helen Keller led me to another of my childhood heros, Mary McLeod Bethune. In 1904 she started a school with 6 students, and over the next 37 years built it up into a 4 year college, now Bethune-Cookman University. She was a personal friend of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, and an advisor to both of them. She was the first African-American female head of a federal agency (the Division of Negro Affairs, which was a subsection of the National Youth Administration.) She worked to integrate the Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the precursors to the United Methodist Church. She's been included in several different "most important women" and "most important African-American" lists, and has had a stamp issued in her honor. So why have I never met another person my age who's even heard of her? I have no theories about that. If anyone does, I'd love to hear them.
jennythereader: (White Owl 1)
If you could make one change to the US electoral system to increase voter turn-out, what would it be?

I have two major ideas:
1) Have the polling places be open for 24 hours. Every polling station in the country opens at 12:00:01 am Eastern Time and closes at 11:59:59 pm Eastern Time. That triples everyones opportunity to get to a poll, and would have the side benefit of reducing the influence that early results can have on people who vote later in the day. I would let stations close early if everyone who was registered at that location had already voted.

2) When people register to vote, let them pick a secondary polling place in addition to the one based on where they live. I suspect most people would chose one near work. It would have to be limited in a couple ways, to prevent people from voting twice and from voting on purely local issues that don't affect their lives. Maybe you would have to declare a month (or a week) in advance which of your options you'd be voting at, and if you chose the non-residential one you'd be given a special ballot with only the races/issues the two locations have in common.
jennythereader: (White Owl 1)
If you could make one change to the US electoral system to increase voter turn-out, what would it be?

I have two major ideas:
1) Have the polling places be open for 24 hours. Every polling station in the country opens at 12:00:01 am Eastern Time and closes at 11:59:59 pm Eastern Time. That triples everyones opportunity to get to a poll, and would have the side benefit of reducing the influence that early results can have on people who vote later in the day. I would let stations close early if everyone who was registered at that location had already voted.

2) When people register to vote, let them pick a secondary polling place in addition to the one based on where they live. I suspect most people would chose one near work. It would have to be limited in a couple ways, to prevent people from voting twice and from voting on purely local issues that don't affect their lives. Maybe you would have to declare a month (or a week) in advance which of your options you'd be voting at, and if you chose the non-residential one you'd be given a special ballot with only the races/issues the two locations have in common.
jennythereader: (* Who Can Tell What A Day Might Bring)
There's a lot of awful stuff going on in the world right now. I'm fighting really hard to not get cynical about it.

This particular recording of Pete Seeger's song "Well May The World Go" is being especially helpful. Lyrically any version of the song makes pretty good mental medicine, but this version also includes Pete himself talking about some of the wonderful things that have happened in his lifetime that no one ever expected. To me, that's magic.

If you can I strongly recommend buying it. If you really can't buy it right now let me know and I'll see what I can do for you.
jennythereader: (* Who Can Tell What A Day Might Bring)
There's a lot of awful stuff going on in the world right now. I'm fighting really hard to not get cynical about it.

This particular recording of Pete Seeger's song "Well May The World Go" is being especially helpful. Lyrically any version of the song makes pretty good mental medicine, but this version also includes Pete himself talking about some of the wonderful things that have happened in his lifetime that no one ever expected. To me, that's magic.

If you can I strongly recommend buying it. If you really can't buy it right now let me know and I'll see what I can do for you.
jennythereader: (Giles 012)
The recent wedding of England's Prince William got me thinking about this.

Assume that for some reason the American public has decided that we want a monarch of our own. You have been put on the committee implementing it. Who do you chose to be the first monarch, how will the line of succession work, and what duties will the monarch have?

My answers are behind the cut )
Wow. I had no idea I'd put that much thought into this.
jennythereader: (Giles 012)
The recent wedding of England's Prince William got me thinking about this.

Assume that for some reason the American public has decided that we want a monarch of our own. You have been put on the committee implementing it. Who do you chose to be the first monarch, how will the line of succession work, and what duties will the monarch have?

My answers are behind the cut )
Wow. I had no idea I'd put that much thought into this.
jennythereader: (Default)
I've been waiting to post about this until I saw a "just the facts" news story, but that doesn't seem to be happening. Rather than linking to a news story with any particular slant, I decided to just link directly to the bill.

This bill, under consideration in the Georgia General Assembly, would re-define abortion as "prenatal murder" and therefore make it illegal in the state of Georgia. I think it's a bad idea, but that's not actually what has me outraged.

What has me outraged is that section 2.14 seems to say that all miscarriages should be assumed to be induced (and therefore murder) until an investigation proves otherwise. I can't imagine what this would do to a family already dealing with the trauma of the loss of a desperately wanted baby.

NOTE: I do not want to get into an argument about abortion. I know what I believe, and you aren't going to change my mind. You know what you believe, and I doubt anyone is going to change your mind. I will freeze any and all threads that turn into arguments. I will ban commenters who continue to argue.
jennythereader: (Default)
I've been waiting to post about this until I saw a "just the facts" news story, but that doesn't seem to be happening. Rather than linking to a news story with any particular slant, I decided to just link directly to the bill.

This bill, under consideration in the Georgia General Assembly, would re-define abortion as "prenatal murder" and therefore make it illegal in the state of Georgia. I think it's a bad idea, but that's not actually what has me outraged.

What has me outraged is that section 2.14 seems to say that all miscarriages should be assumed to be induced (and therefore murder) until an investigation proves otherwise. I can't imagine what this would do to a family already dealing with the trauma of the loss of a desperately wanted baby.

NOTE: I do not want to get into an argument about abortion. I know what I believe, and you aren't going to change my mind. You know what you believe, and I doubt anyone is going to change your mind. I will freeze any and all threads that turn into arguments. I will ban commenters who continue to argue.
jennythereader: (Success)
For some reason I have Tom Delay's retirement speech on my iPod. I think Tom downloaded it, and since we share our mp3 collections, that means I have it too.

Mostly it was a typical politician speech, but one section really caught my attention:

"For all its faults, it is partisanship - based on core principles - that clarifies our debates, that prevents one party from straying too far from the mainstream, and that constantly refreshes our politics with new ideas and new leaders.

Indeed, whatever role partisanship may have played in my own retirement today - or in the unfriendliness heaped upon other leaders in other times, Republican and Democrat, however unjust - all we can say is that partisanship is the worst means of settling fundamental political differences... except for all the others.

Now, politics demands compromise, Mr. Speaker, and even the most partisan among us have to understand that. But we must never forget that compromise and bipartisanship are means, not ends, and are properly employed only in the service of higher principles*.

It is not the principled partisan, however obnoxious he may seem to his opponents, who degrades our public debate, but the preening, self-styled statesman who elevates compromise to a first-principle. For true statesmen, Mr. Speaker, are not defined by what they compromise, but what they don't."
 

I think President Obama and the rest of the Democratic leadership in Washington need to remember this in the next two years.

* Emphasis added.
jennythereader: (Success)
For some reason I have Tom Delay's retirement speech on my iPod. I think Tom downloaded it, and since we share our mp3 collections, that means I have it too.

Mostly it was a typical politician speech, but one section really caught my attention:

"For all its faults, it is partisanship - based on core principles - that clarifies our debates, that prevents one party from straying too far from the mainstream, and that constantly refreshes our politics with new ideas and new leaders.

Indeed, whatever role partisanship may have played in my own retirement today - or in the unfriendliness heaped upon other leaders in other times, Republican and Democrat, however unjust - all we can say is that partisanship is the worst means of settling fundamental political differences... except for all the others.

Now, politics demands compromise, Mr. Speaker, and even the most partisan among us have to understand that. But we must never forget that compromise and bipartisanship are means, not ends, and are properly employed only in the service of higher principles*.

It is not the principled partisan, however obnoxious he may seem to his opponents, who degrades our public debate, but the preening, self-styled statesman who elevates compromise to a first-principle. For true statesmen, Mr. Speaker, are not defined by what they compromise, but what they don't."
 

I think President Obama and the rest of the Democratic leadership in Washington need to remember this in the next two years.

* Emphasis added.
jennythereader: (* Jesus Was A Liberal 001)
Originally posted by [livejournal.com profile] neo_prodigy at Spirit Day
 


It’s been decided. On October 20th, 2010, we will wear purple in honor of the 6 gay boys who committed suicide in recent weeks/months due to homophobic abuse in their homes at at their schools. Purple represents Spirit on the LGBTQ flag and that’s exactly what we’d like all of you to have with you: spirit. Please know that times will get better and that you will meet people who will love you and respect you for who you are, no matter your sexuality. Please wear purple on October 20th. Tell your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors and schools.

RIP Tyler Clementi, Seth Walsh (top)
RIP Justin Aaberg, Raymond Chase (middle)
RIP Asher Brown and Billy Lucas. (bottom)

REBLOG to spread a message of love, unity and peace.


jennythereader: (* Jesus Was A Liberal 001)
Originally posted by [livejournal.com profile] neo_prodigy at Spirit Day
 


It’s been decided. On October 20th, 2010, we will wear purple in honor of the 6 gay boys who committed suicide in recent weeks/months due to homophobic abuse in their homes at at their schools. Purple represents Spirit on the LGBTQ flag and that’s exactly what we’d like all of you to have with you: spirit. Please know that times will get better and that you will meet people who will love you and respect you for who you are, no matter your sexuality. Please wear purple on October 20th. Tell your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors and schools.

RIP Tyler Clementi, Seth Walsh (top)
RIP Justin Aaberg, Raymond Chase (middle)
RIP Asher Brown and Billy Lucas. (bottom)

REBLOG to spread a message of love, unity and peace.


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