When ‘Against the Voice of the People’ isn’t

DavisCoonan_CauseAndEffect

We are doubly blessed (or cursed, depending on your outlook) in this household. Among us we have had voters registered as both Democrats and Republicans, so come campaign time, we get mail from both parties.

So it came to pass that a Republican sent mail to our home, hoping for our vote for him as Bay County Commissioner. Our next-door neighbors have a sign supporting him, and I didn’t give it much thought. I’ve spoken to him in person and he seems like a decent guy.

But oh, the vitriol he sent out. First off, anytime I hear “liberal agenda” I sort of twitch, because I’m fairly liberal and if there’s an official agenda, I’m not getting the memos. “Gay special rights” made me wince, and “against the voice of the people” made me wonder, “Just which people?” Although by now I had a strong suspicion.

It’s an odd little postcard, because its whole topic is a measure that was DEFEATED. I understand if your opponent has differing views you point them out, but this is a dead horse these folks are beating. Isn’t there something more current to debate?

Nonetheless, here it was so I was reading it. By the time I got to the end of the first actual sentence and hit “people who think they get to decide what sex they are that day,” I was so pissed off I just HAD to get one of his opponent’s signs.

I have friends who are deeply conservative. In fact, sometimes I’m a little alarmed how many of my childhood friends have turned out to be Bible thumpers. But I do have friends of pretty much all ilk and even on matters upon which we cannot agree, as long as the tone is respectful I’m cool with that.

This postcard was not respectful. Worse, for a candidate, it displayed a woeful ignorance of those he was protesting. Hey transgendered folk, show of hands: How many of you switch back and forth day to day on what gender you are? (For a good explanation of what “perceived” really means, check out this ThinkProgress story.)

If Joe Davis or anyone else wants me to take his or her views on this topic seriously, then get the language right. To do otherwise shows me a lack of the most cursory research, which is as I said a poor quality in a candidate. To read and understand is not necessarily to adopt and believe; if nothing else, know thine enemy.

This could have been handled differently, respectfully, and still conveyed the same basic message. Joe Davis could have sent out a postcard pointing out this measure Kim Coonan backed, and he could have said, “As a God-fearing man, I believe this is an abomination and I cannot in good conscience stand for it.” I’d have thought, “huh, you and I have different ideas about a loving God and tolerance,” but I wouldn’t have had the frothing reaction that he provoked instead.

Against the voice of the people? Not my voice.

I do my due diligence on candidates, and I’m not done checking out these two. I also shy hard away from being a one-issue voter.

But intolerance and ignorance? Those are two issues.

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Teaching Tuesdays: Labor Day, not that many of us care much

So approaches Labor Day, one of the lesser holidays.

Oh, come on. Even if you’re a diehard shop steward, Labor Day is no Christmas.

For the three Americans who have no clue why this holiday exists …

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. [The History of Labor Day, U.S. Department of Labor]

Catch that? “A creation of the labor movement.” Created by a special interest group, like so many other American holidays, yet strangely unsullied by the greeting card/flowers/candy machine.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t used to hawk ANYTHING, of course. As the unofficial end of summer, it is attached to promotions for beer, hot dogs and furniture … because, well, every holiday is an excuse to mark down furniture. Which is just as well, because no rational person would pay what many furniture stores charge on non-sale days.

That “end of summer” perspective is the most popular one, according to at least one 2012 survey of 1,000 adults:

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of American Adults shows that 35% celebrate Labor Day as a holiday honoring the contribution of workers in society. Fifty-two percent celebrate the federal holiday as the unofficial end of summer. Thirteen percent are undecided. [Rasmussen Reports]

Personal note: I think in the survey above, “undecided” roughly translates to “I don’t give a shit.”

Anyway, of all the celebrants of Labor Day, you’d think top of the list would be the U.S. Labor Party, right? Never heard of them? Some of their accomplishments:

From 1996 through 2007, hundreds of union affiliates – including six national unions – dozens of chapters and local organizing committees, and thousands of individual members joined the Labor Party. We launched national campaigns around the right to a job, just health care, free higher education, and the right of all workers to organize and bargain. [about page, Labor Party]

You might have noticed the past tense. The article Labor Party Time? Not Yet outlines reasons for the decline and a look toward the future that is both stubborn (“There is no alternative”) and realistic (“… this is not the time to dust off the Labor Party”).

And what of May Day, that Communist holiday devoted to labor? Turns out it’s actually an American invention:

Today we see tens of thousands of activists embracing the ideals of the Haymarket Martyrs and those who established May Day as an International Workers’ Day. Ironically, May Day is an official holiday in 66 countries and unofficially celebrated in many more, but rarely is it recognized in this country where it began. [The Brief Origins of May Day, Industrial Workers of the World]

Why do we turn our backs on this holiday, which had its roots in reasonable measures such as the establishment of an 8-hour work day? Just a guess, but I’m betting it’s because those roots also include socialism, and that’s the real S word in our country today, isn’t it?

Myself, I am grateful that I have not been asked to write a newspaper story about someone who has to work on Labor Day. Just watch, the vast majority of U.S. news outlets will have some such thing, delivered by people who themselves work the holiday.

Am I off the mark? If Labor Day has some particular meaning for you, please feel free to share it below.

Yeah, country first

It’s been an interesting day politically. First I was collared by someone conducting a survey, sucking away 20 minutes of my time as my son tapped his wrist about tennis practice, but I truly was intrigued by the questions.

Then as we went channel flipping, we tripped across the Republican national convention on PBS and stayed, just as Joe Lieberman was taking the podium. I spent the weekend camping but with access to newspapers, and I was eager to jump in the truck and find out who McCain had chosen, fearful he had tapped Romney. I was as invigorated by his choice as I was disappointed by Obama’s selection of Biden.

Excuse me, but I could have taken him before and declined; get a clue.

I sat on my porch tonight talking with a friend and realized we hadn’t talked about the VP candidates yet, and it was fun to go over things. She is thrilled, not just for this campaign but the next one. She really feels now like anyone has a chance. When is the last time people felt like that about national politics?

No thanks

My, the gas tax holiday is a fine piece of pandering.

The first wave came from John McCain, who proposed a summer holiday – Memorial Day to Labor Day – for the federal gas taxes. That’s a whopping 18.4 cents for gasoline, 24.4 cents for diesel.

Tiny hangup: He didn’t say how to pay for it. So we have Hillary Clinton to the rescue, saying she will propose legislation to pay for the holiday by imposing a windfall profits tax on big oil companies. And she once again bashed Barack Obama for not jumping on this bandwagon.

Well, hurrah for Obama. At least one out of three is making some sense.

Not that the “few hundred bucks” he says the plan will save is insignificant. Most of us non-millionaires find it significant.

But come on, a three-month break from one tax? When gas prices are their highest, when we still have other fuel taxes to pay, when we still want money to repair our roads? Way to suck up – not.

And personally, if I were Big Oil, I’d be plenty sick by now of being the whipping boy all the time. When did we stop liking capitalism, and being grateful for companies that still choose to base their operations in the United States instead of overseas?

If someone, candidate or not, can find a way to make gasoline cheaper all the time, without shifty bookkeeping or little holidays that will hurt us later, I will be happy.

But stop insulting my intelligence and dignity by assuming any dollars dangled out ahead of me will turn me into a bouncing lap dog – and that includes the economic stimulus plan, too.

This post originally appeared on ourMidland.com, the online home of the Midland (MI) Daily News. Republished with permission.

I can almost hear the quiet (except for those candidates)

It’s so quiet here, it almost has a sound of its own. I can hear my computer, a lovely Mac G5 whose workings I don’t believe I’ve ever heard before.

The ability to work at home is a gift. Believe me, looking at the snow outside, I am very grateful.

Actually, looking at the snow outside is a little difficult. I am farsighted, so I wear glasses for computer work and reading. If I look up from the back wall of my living room and out the front window, the trees are blurry. Factor in that the top pane of glass still is the original and a bit wavy, and it’s almost like being underwater.

The Lab pup is at my feet, gnawing on the stick I allowed her to bring in since I couldn’t keep an eye on her galomphing in the yard. Her boy can clean up the bark flakes later.

The boy and his sister greeted the school closing news with “Are you serious?” That was more than two hours ago, and I haven’t heard a peep from them since. There’ll be noise later when they get punted outside to shovel, but it’s powder so the grumbling should be minimal. Should be.

In listening to the morning news, it seems like the Democratic debate got exciting, and I’ll go poking about for more about that after deadline. Which reminds me, here’s something I wanted to say last Wednesday, but I didn’t want to blunt the effect of the A Tradition in the Making blog that had just launched, so I held off. Anyway:
Is Michigan on crack?

Clinton and Romney? I really wanted to pull the covers over my head. I don’t want either one of those people. And then listening to the financial news this morning, there were chirps about how this could be a boon to Romney because he can tout his business experience. Eeyagh.

It’s gratifying that my kids are looking forward to this madness. My daughter pointed out yesterday that the first year she can vote, there will be a presidential election, which she finds exciting. The Boy Who Can Almost Drive also mentioned the thrills that await him in three years. They took some interest in the last big doings, so it will be really cool this year now that they have a more complex outlook on things. I’ll have to alert them to the Dem smackdown and see how they take it.

Once they’re vertical, of course.

This post originally appeared on ourMidland.com, the online home of the Midland (MI) Daily News. Republished with permission.

Turnout sucks

I just voted – 2:48 p.m., to be exact. Mine was the 70th ballot fed through the machine for my precinct.

70TH. “That’s sad,” I told the worker, and she nodded.

I told my husband this morning to be sure to vote today. “It’s important,” I said, and he nodded. He doesn’t always make it to the smaller elections, but we are paying close attention to a race that is projected to be tight, and I know he wants to be there.

SEVENTY? In nearly eight hours? I am unhappy for our state.

This post originally appeared on ourMidland.com, the online home of the Midland (MI) Daily News. Republished with permission.

How NOT to campaign

I got the worst political campaign call I’ve ever heard the other day. It had nothing to do with the candidate; the person calling was just incompetent.

On Wednesday, I got about half a dozen calls from “unknown caller.” I’d pick up the phone and there’d be just music, then a few seconds of silence and a disconnect. I started letting them go to the answering machine without any better results. Curious, I answered another later, still hearing only music.

Thursday, nothing.

Friday morning, as I played on the computer and listened to morning news reports on the Iowa caucuses, I wondered if the calls had been political in nature. Within the half hour, “unknown caller” returned with music – and then a live voice.

He promised this wasn’t a sales call, noted that I would have the opportunity to vote in the Michigan primary Jan. 15 and asked for 30 seconds to tell me about a candidate. Then he started rattling off bullet points, asking whether I’d vote for a candidate who would bring the troops home from Iraq, X, Y, would eliminate the IRS …

He kept listing but I had to interrupt. “Did you say eliminate the IRS?” I asked. “Yes,” he replied, without offering any details, and finished his list. Would I vote for such a candidate?

Hmm. Well, that “eliminate the IRS” part told me the candidate likely was more conservative than I am, and there was no mention of a magic money pot to replace those funds. Still, I’m trying to be very open minded this campaign, and said I needed lots more information than he had offered, and was there a website I could look at?

“Would it make a difference to you if I said the candidate was Ron Paul?” he replied.

Well, no. I told him I had seen people campaigning for Mr. Paul, mostly by holding signs in parking lots, but that the name alone didn’t mean anything; I wanted to know more about his positions. Website, please?

He didn’t know. “I guess you could try http://www.ronpaul.com,” he offered.

I let a laugh creep into my voice. “I hope that’s not a porn site, like whitehouse.com,” I said. (That one since has changed, I found when I checked later, but once upon a time it was a porn gateway. It’s my job to know these things.)

He assured me it wasn’t, but really, how could he know? A look later showed it to be an “under construction” site for a Portland consultant. Want the candidate? Go to ronpaul2008.com instead.

Smart campaign workers don’t make potential voters work that hard. Smart campaign organizers make sure their candidate’s URL is on everyone’s lips, just in case a smart voter says gosh, keeping our soldiers alive at home and keeping my hard-earned dollars in my own pocket sounds good, but just how does Mr. Whizbang plan to accomplish that? And as Dick DeVos found out, “just trust me and you’ll find out after I’m in office” is not the magic answer.

I like the grassroots charm of the waving signs. I even didn’t mind the repeated autodialer since I eventually did get a live body, not a recorded message. But Mr. Paul’s chances are mighty slim if his campaign workers don’t get just a little more polished. That’s not elitism talking, it’s a desire to stake my vote on solid information, not just whims and faith, and he is falling short.

This post originally appeared on ourMidland.com, the online home of the Midland (MI) Daily News. Republished with permission.

Trickledon, and all over the floor

My home page at home is set to The Onion now, just for some variety. I stumble across random amusement that way, so I was tickled to find Reaganomics Finally Trickles Down To Area Man this morning. I never was a Reagan fan, and was stunned when I visited Washington to find the homage still lingering (flags at half-staff for a MONTH?), so it was nice to be reminded I wasn’t the only one saying, “Mmm, you’re not helping ME.” Trickledown, no. Trickled ON, maybe.

As I type, heat swirls around my feet. When I had to remove a skim coat of frost from a windshield at 6 a.m. yesterday, I knew it might not be long, and it wasn’t. I dread paying for it, but 58 degrees was just a bit too chilly for the house. And as I expected, when it kicked on yesterday afternoon, the smell was less than delightful.

We have a humidifier. I forgot about it, which means it didn’t occur to me that the drain hose likely had been moved over the summer. But last evening, someone went into the basement and came back up noting there was water all over the floor. I promised to remember next year. Add this to the list of reasons we don’t keep anything of value in the basement – all reasons water-related, of course.

This post originally appeared on ourMidland.com, the online home of the Midland (MI) Daily News. Republished with permission.

Presidential dis

Unbelievable.

Incredibly rude.

Are there THAT many living ex-presidents that their state funerals are such a burden?

I couldn’t believe it when my husband told me President Bush skipped President Ford’s funeral. Come to find out, lots of other officials did, too. (Not the VP. Attending funerals is one of the things the job is best known for, after all.)

I know having a funeral fall during holidays is inconvenient, but with air travel these days – hello, Air Force One? – being unable to tear yourself away for a day is the height of disrespect.

It’s not like Bush was attending some high-level foreign affairs powwow. No, he was on his ranch biking – like he can’t do that in Washington – and cutting cedar. Man, that man likes to cut wood. If he had sawn off one of his OWN limbs, I’d have bought that as an excuse, but a cedar emergency keeping him from paying respects to one of his own party?

I don’t wish Senior any ill will – not that I voted for him, either – but somehow I’m thinking that when his daddy’s state funeral comes, Shrub will be taking notes as to who’s attending, and not buying biking and chopping as more pressing pursuits.

This post originally appeared on ourMidland.com, the online home of the Midland (MI) Daily News. Republished with permission.

Not buying it

    South Dakota’s Legislature has approved a ban on virtually all abortions, and their governor is expected to sign it into law. The end plan seems to be to force the issue in the U.S. Supreme Court, which has had a more conservative swing lately.

    I don’t want to open the entire abortion debate. I believe that for roughly 98 percent of adults, their minds are made up past the point of swaying.

    But a woman from South Dakota who works with victims of family violence and sexual assault said something so ludicrous it bears addressing. She contends that the new law should have more exceptions built in than to save a woman’s life, currently the only one listed. She specifically cited a hypothetical instance in which a woman becomes pregnant through a rape, and the rapist has the same parental rights as the mother. The fear for the child’s safety, the argument goes, means the option for abortion must stay open.

    Excuse me? South Dakota can try to overturn Roe v. Wade, which remains contentious after 33 years, but doesn’t have the gumption to figure out how to keep a rapist away from his offspring?

    People all over the country have parental rights severed for much less violence than a rape. Surely South Dakota could find a way –- if protecting children really is the issue.


    This post originally appeared on ourMidland.com, the online home of the Midland (MI) Daily News. Republished with permission.