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Mar. 9th, 2009

Bluesun

Truth, Justice and the American Way

I found this, part of an old public service comic book ad, on a blog called Polite Dissent which, despite the name, isn't usually particularly political. More like the intersection of comic books and media with medicine.

Faster than a speeding bullet point!

The ad (you can see the whole thing by clicking the link) is from 1952. The statement is still true and relevant, and there are still crotchety old men arguing for strict individual independence because they're cheap and want to hang onto every "red cent" they own.

Personally, I think when it comes to matters of patriotic duty, you rarely go wrong siding with Superman.

Mar. 2nd, 2009

Bluesun

What Schultheis shows us

As you probably already know, Republican State Senator Dave Schultheis shocked the public last week by accidentally saying something he really meant out loud.

He explained he could not vote in favor (a second time) of a bill that would require HIV testing for pregnant women, because it would help them escape from the consequences of their sexual promiscuity. Well, it wouldn't help them so much as their BABIES, but see, dealing with a sick and probably dying child would teach the mother and her family valuable lessons about the right way to act.

What Sen. Schultheis has done, aside from earning the scorn and contempt of anyone with even a modicum of decent human feeling, is give us a sterling example of why separation of church and state is such a good idea.

Where he went so very wrong was in trying to present his faith-based belief as a rational argument. Not ONLY because he's no good at reasoning through a dilemma and coming to a sensible conclusion that matches his avowed belief system. That part is probably due to lack of practice. Among religious extremists, analyzing beliefs is frowned upon. Hey, they're called beliefs for a reason -- you are SUPPOSED to BELIEVE them without question!

What lies beneath the surface of many faith-based beliefs is an attempt at social control, a desire to make everyone join their world view of shalts and shalt nots and nothing in between. What they claim to want and what they REALLY want are often two entirely different things. Trying to rationally explain a belief like this is likely to result in a bright spotlight blazing directly at how the person of faith REALLY feels. As it did in this case. Oops.

Of course those who freely choose to believe the rules of a given religion and follow it have the fundamental American right to do so. But real life in the real world is infinitely complex. No matter how hard they pretend it isn't, try to pretend that ALL answers can be found in their holy text, or the words of their religious leaders, the stubborn real world doesn't give in and simplify itself to suit their need to ignore the hard issues.

That is why making the law, and judging compliance with the law, must stay within the realm of reason as much as possible. It is not the place for wishful thinking, or rigid adherence to one sole way of dealing with the problems of life.

Sen. Schultheis needs to stay in our memories and be held up as a prime example of how dangerous moral conviction without a damn lick of sense can be.

He expressed this hope. "...it may make a number of people over the coming years begin to realize that there are negative consequences and maybe they should adjust their behavior."

Perhaps he will clue up and see how very strongly these words apply to him.

I may be a rationalist, but I do believe miracles SOMETIMES happen.

***

Past Posts (Personal, not Political) can be found at The Neon Nurse’s Charting.

Feb. 26th, 2009

Bluesun

Something old, something new

No, no one I know is getting married. I just ran across an interesting link to a page for some people who want to re-start the Whig party. Interesting stuff!

http://modernwhig.org/

This could be an idea whose time has come. I've seen quite a few online laments in the past few days from Republicans who feel that the Radical Right has swiped the party they thought they knew out from under them. I can understand them not feeling ready to switch over to the Dem side. So maybe a new centrist party is the answer.

What would be needed to make that work, of course, is a radical change in how elections are run (and good luck with THAT). It could be done, though. Ken Gordon from here in Colorado proposed a change only a few years ago that would work well. It's called run-off balloting.

What that means is that voters could add a second choice to their ballot. Let's say in a pretend race we have the A, B, C, D and E parties represented by candidates.

We'll call A and B the long-time traditional parties, who used to be the only games in town. But the new C, D and E parties have strong core groups of supporters and a lot of fresh ideas, plus it's something new so they are getting a lot of media coverage.

So when the votes are tallied, wow, shock! NO ONE got over 50%, which is the minimum required to win outright. It came out like this A: 30%, B: 29%, C: 9%, D: 12% and E: 20%.

The lowest number of votes were for the C candidate, so he's out. Now the second choice votes of that candidate's supporters come into play. They are added to the totals of the votes for the other four candidates. Now the count is A: 31%, B: 30%, D: 12% and E: 27%.

Still no 50%, so we go again, now taking off the D candidate and counting the second choice votes. That brings us to A: 34%, B: 32% and E: 34%. Wow, getting exciting now, eh?

B is now eliminated. (Let me pause a second to say this is an over-simplified explanation, because some of the D 2nd votes might have been for the C candidate in the second round, and some of the B's 2nd votes might have been for Ds and Cs. So it would take a lot of figuring and rules to work out the details, and probably computers as well, and...yeah. Plus it would come down to individual votes rather than percentages. But let's press on, shall we?)

Basically whichever candidate, A or E, gets at least 16% of B's voters 2nd choice votes gets boosted to the magic 50% number and wins the election. Since A and B have historically been rivals, E stands a very good chance of being the winner!

Like I said, a highly simplified version of the process. I probably won't see it in my lifetime, but who knows? Fun to think about!

Feb. 25th, 2009

Bluesun

How 'bout that speech?

The man can talk, you have to give him that.

Used to be I didn't really care about watching political speeches. I figured I would get all the highlights online later. But Obama is actually making it interesting, giving people a reason to tune in and vicariously take part. With a little luck, that will translate over time into people making a little effort to take part and help out more in Real Life.

If you also watched, did you notice how by the end the Republican side was joining in on the standing Os? Maybe that's a good sign too.

We can only hope.

Feb. 23rd, 2009

Bluesun

Sunday funnies

I'm not that into sports, but I still like Tank McNamara. Strips like this one is why. (Width adjusted for your reading convenience.)

Whole new ballgame

Past Posts (Personal, not Political): This week on The Neon Nurse’s Charting: One catch-up post, mostly complaints. Not exactly riveting stuff.

Feb. 19th, 2009

Bluesun

Markey Meeting Marathon

Wow, Betsy Markey, our new CD-4 rep, is really maximizing her Colorado time while Congress is on break. During her visit here to Lamar today, she said she'd been in La Junta the day before, and in Campo this morning. Next up were Eads, Kit Carson, and Fort either-Collins-or-Morgan...and that's all TODAY! Seriously, if you notice a crowd forming in your town, wander over there. It could well be Betsy holding a meeting!

There was a good-sized, varied crowd in attendance here today. Our local elected officials were hoping to hear good news about stimulus funds coming our way. Betsy did know of one big chunk of change, $1.3mil for the four Prowers County school districts, mainly for Title 1 and special ed. That sum is in addition to $$ to be named later for school construction and upgrade projects! Other subjects discussed included credit card regulation for both consumers and small businesses, the Farm Bill, our county museum expansion project, water (always!), and whether the CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) will be renewed. People pointed out that in some places around here on Tuesday, when the wind was blowing 40-50mph, there were blackout conditions near acreage that had been recently plowed. If farmers and ranchers can't afford to keep their land unplowed and in grass, we could see a quick return to the bad old days of the Dust Bowl.

Betsy was only flummoxed by one question -- mine, and that was only for a moment. Being well-acquainted with the 'only so many hours in a day' problem, and guessing that every meeting Betsy has attended and will attend would just keep the requests piling up, what I wanted to know was how those of us who want to see progress happen could best join in the effort. What could WE do to help HER?

"No one has asked me that before," Betsy said. But she's a quick-thinker, and came up with some suggestions. We can provide information on the problems we want to see addressed, by sending it in to her office in DC by email, OR by visiting one of the new regional offices she is setting up around CD-4. Due to Federal rules they can't accept volunteer help from the general public, BUT if high school or college students want to come help at the offices for school credit, that's a possibility.

After the meeting some of us went over to check out where Betsy's new Lamar office is going to be. It's a good space, right across the street from the Post Office and the SE Colorado Enterprise Development offices. I'm thinking this visit from Betsy is going to turn out to be the first of many!

Betsy and her posse

Feb. 17th, 2009

Bluesun

Report from PoliGeek House

Before he left for the bus to school this morning, MrMike woke me to remind me that Obama was going to be in Denver today. He was almost as excited about it as if he was going to be there himself.

When I (eventually) got up and turned on my computer, I checked Twitter, as I always do. One of the first things I noticed was @DenverChannel (7, The Denver Channel) tweeting that @speakercarroll (Colorado's Speaker of the House, Terrance Carroll) was livetweeting from the museum. So I jumped on to add him to my Following list.

DenverChannel also mentioned they had a live feed going at their site. For some reason, a live feed fascinates me like bubblewrap fascinates our cat Sandy. Not just because it comes in more reliably than regular TV on a day when the wind is blowing 40-50 mph. Yes, like today. But there is something about sitting here in my personal home spot with LIVE unfiltered camera feed RIGHT HERE on my personal screen that makes my inner geek squee uncontrollably. I almost feel like I could go outside and find a flying car parked in my driveway!

Not that I would flive it on a windy day like today.

So I sat here gawking and marveling at the shots of Air Force One (?) on the ground at Buckley, and the motorcade rolling off across the flat prairie like a modern wagon train. When they cut over to them getting onto Colorado Blvd near the I-70 exchange, I trilled to The Clone how amazing it was that the Prez and his crew were driving on the SAME STREETS I myself have driven on many, many times. I recognized the scenery, see?

OK, I'll try to calm down.

Of course there were a lot of speeches once it started. The text of those are posted all over already, so you can easily find them if you want to. I'll just hit some highlights.

MrMike will be very happy when I tell him one of the things VP Biden emphasized most was various kinds of rail improvements he hopes we will see come from the stimulus bill.

When it was finally Obama's turn to speak, he thanked all the Colorado pols. I thought it was funny when he said, "Mark Udall -- he's not here, but give him a big round of applause anyway."

Obama has good comedy instincts. He said it was nice to be back in Denver and deadpanned, "I was here last summer. We had a good time." The crowd didn't seem to be sure whether that was a joke or not. Obama had paused a little, as if waiting, but when there was no strong response he just smoothly moved on and got into his speech.

It probably won't get the play it deserves, for something that I think is pretty ground-breaking in terms of how We the People can interact with government, but Obama said we can expect to be able to hold our elected officials accountable at all levels by seeing exactly where all this money will be going, through the new link at Recovery.gov. I for one am bookmarking it. We'll see.

Again using the miracle of COMPUTERS!YAY! I watched the actual signing up close and personal. Obama wrote with one, picked up another from a tray, and grinned at the cameras, saying something about using ten pens. And he did. I'm kind of curious how that works. Does he just write a few letters with each one, or what? Must Google.

Afterwards we got to see him and Joe work the crowd a bit. I recognized Betsy Markey, our CD4 Congresswoman, and Gov. Bill Ritter, and maybe Jared Polis if that was him standing beside Betsy. There were several others I glimpsed that I think might know, but my doubt proves I am really not THAT much of a player in the big political picture.

OK, I have to get back to work trying to stimulate our personal economy now. These books won't wrap and mail themselves.

Feb. 16th, 2009

Bluesun

Reorg news at last

The main purpose of county reorg meetings is to establish the party's Central Committee for the next two years (or is it one? I think it's two). Our group re-elected the whole slate by acclimation. We also added Mendi Choat, one of our up and comers, as Public Relations Director and named Delaine and Randy Dunning as our reps to the state Appointments Committee.

The meeting was a little extra fun for me because I got to meet someone I had only known as an online name, Wade Norris. He is working in our area for the CASA project, which helps keep at-risk kids from getting sucked in and squished flat by the system which is theoretically there to help and protect them. (Yes, I AM a bit prejudiced in this regard. Sorry.)

We discussed a bunch of other ideas for future projects too. Wade kindly offered to help us start a Young Dems branch. When I told my son MrMike this later, he got so excited he could barely fall asleep that night. I also got approval to get to work on my idea for a Meetings Committee. So now I suppose I have to actually DO something....

Think good thoughts.

Past Posts (Personal, not Political): This week on The Neon Nurse’s Charting: Not really a lot. Some mildly amusing pics and me complaining about this and that.

Feb. 14th, 2009

Bluesun

I <3 Tom Toles!

If I could I would have his cartoon babies.

Nuthin&apos; but net!

I'll be back in the game myself soon, with the update on the Prowers Dem Reorg. At least I hope so....

Feb. 10th, 2009

Bluesun

Not a quote from last night's press conference


"This shit's getting WAY too complicated for me." (Click to hear)

OK, here's the back story. In his book, Dreams From My Father, Obama quoted a friend of his several times. A friend whose mama was not standing there to make him tone down his language. Since Obama did his own reading for the audio version, clips came into existence of him saying these naughty words aloud. Those of us who are secretly twelve are highly amused.

Go HERE for the details and more sound bites with extra bite.

As far as the press conference went, I didn't get to hear it all because we had a typical windy day going on. That makes the satlink go all wonky, so you miss 10 second chunks of what you're watching. On the whole, I thought Obama did pretty well. Yes, he paused a lot in some places, and talked for too long in others. But I would bet some serious money that the first chance he had, he started reviewing his tapes and making notes on how to do better next time, and I would bet even more money that he will!

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