Where Do My Readers Come From?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Voting Day

Tuesday November 2nd is election day. Things are a little different in Oregon because of our vote by mail system. So rather then going into your local precinct headquarters we get a ballot in the mail a few weeks before the election that we are supposed to fill out and mail back in. If we do not mail it in early enough then you can drop it off on election day at different drop points all around the state.

Earlier this month after I had filled out my ballot and mailed it off I raised a question on my Facebook page about purchasing a stamp to mail in my ballot. This made for an interesting discussion and one that I want to bring over to the blog. So first I will put in some of what people said on my post and then hopefully we can get some comments to address the different points people made.

So what I said was this

"Lance Cummins has voted and now would like to begin the conversation about the vote by mail process in Oregon and why he has to use his own stamps to mail it back in."

I received several different comments some from people letting me know that I didn't have to mail that I could go drop it off. Which was already aware of. On a personal level it doesn't really bother me to buy my own stamp and I like the flexibility of doing my research and being an informed voter and then mailing it in as opposed to going to the HQ and voting in the booth. I mainly was just wanting to see what people thought.

My friend and regular commentator on this blog, Joel, had this to say:

"if they wish to use the VBM process, make the ballot postage paid. It in essence a poll tax. I do understand that if we had to go to a polling place we would have to expend resources to do so as well."

I felt like that was a valid point. By buying a stamp I am in effect paying for the privilege of voting.

Another friend and regular commentator Macy had this to say:

"for me, I just am not seeing how a stamp is more expensive/intrusive than the old system of having to show up at the ballot box at a specific day, taking time out of your schedule (and maybe hours off work) in order to stand in line. It seems I never turn my ballot in early, so I always drop it by a drop-site, which isn't inconvenient as they have them all over the place and I can just combine it with another errand."

I thought she made a good point that is does come down a little bit to what it feels like for each person. Some people really felt like going to the HQ was a hassle and too to much time out of the day. I have heard stories about people voting in other states, never Oregon, and having to wait 4 and 5 or more hours to vote. Now for me that is unacceptable. I like to vote I enjoy it. But I can't imagine that I would wait that long to cast my ballot no matter how important it was. I mean lets just be honest. How many of us would wait that long?

My friend and fellow blogger Christopher closed with this thought:

"If I were king for a day I'd burn the vote by mail law and go back to the old system. I really liked going to vote at the local voting booth, it made me feel like a citizen."

I can understand where he is coming from. I do not agree. I like to vote by mail. But, I also like feeling like a citizen and right now with politics the way they are it is very easy to feel unconnected to government and to feel like your vote really counts for nothing. Which is really to bad. In Australia and Venezuela voting is mandatory and I do not think that is a good thing. As much as I think everyone should vote I also like that in America I am able to not vote if I feel so inclined. Though I also think you void your right to complain if you do not vote. I know it is easy to be cynical and say that special interests control government and I do feel that the Supreme Courts ruling about the person hood of corporations does not help things. But voting is the only way I have, you have, to be heard. I am not going to use violence to get my message across. So for me being involved by voting is how I say part of the solution. So get out and vote people!! Do it for me.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Direct Democracy

There was an article in yesterdays paper. The Oregonian to be exact that I linked to above. It is written about Direct Democracy in Oregon and asks if it is a good thing for the state. I think the author asks some good questions but his overall position is one that after 1912 all the good that the initiative system brought to Oregon politics was done and now the system has just brought us a bloated constitution and a budget that is out of control because state legislature is handcuffed by the whims of the public at large. In the interest of full disclosure I must add that I have been employed in the past by a signature gathering firm and will do so again if the opportunity presents itself.

I have to disagree. I realize there are problems with the system in Oregon. But, there are problems with every states system and nothing is going to make every voter happy. But DIRECT DEMOCRACY is what makes Oregon special. It is what allows the average voter to have a voice. I may disagree and often I do with where the money is coming from or what the particular issue is that we are going to be voting on. But, I get to vote. In other states I am not afforded even that. There are laws passed without any discussion or input from the voters who put the politicians in office in the first place.

To get rid of this would take the state backwards to a time when the elite where the ones voting and they liked it that way. Yes, Democracy is messy and ugly and that is how it should be. In truth if you want things to be run smoothly then we should install a benevolent dictator. Because, believe me, then things would run smoothly. The budget would be balanced, trains would run on time, and most likely Oregon would be a much quieter place to live. But, this idea goes completely against the so called origins of the United States. I believe that Direct Democracy serves the people best as messy as it is. It allows the people a voice and that voice is loud and sometimes unorganized and ugly but it is a voice.

As far as I am concerned, I would not have it any other way.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Back in the Coffee Shop

Well it is Monday morning and I am drinking my cup of coffee and reading the news and trying to figure out what jobs I want to apply for today. Overall it feels like a pretty good morning. One thing that I do miss though is the drive to Wilsonville and then the train to Beaverton. I always enjoyed the fall and winter mornings and watching the leaves change color and looking at the fog as the train moved along.

I got nothing else you folks have a nice day.

Monday, October 11, 2010

What to write.

Well it is Monday the 11th of October. I am sitting in my coffee shop and trying to decide what I should write about this morning. It seems like there is always some political issue I could get fired up about or perhaps a new movie or television show that I want people to know about. But, I sometimes do not feel led to go in that direction. The problem is that while I may not be led to go in that direction I am not led to go in another so I just sit and my mind spins its wheels.

My last post that I did about the argument I had on the Facebook really got me thinking about why I post and why I find political things interesting. It isn't that I like to upset people or to make myself upset. Sure there is some energy that goes along with being fired up about something and making myself righteously indignant about an issue. I will freely admit that it can be kind of fun to put myself in that position. But, really, I do not like being upset. I do not enjoy hurting someones feelings or having mine hurt which I think is often why I try to be dispassionate in my discussions about politics and social issues and why I think the talking heads on television (I. E. Beck, Olberman, Riley, Maddow) tend to make me so crazy.

I realize that they are entitled to their opinion along with everyone else but it feels like there opinion is given so loudly that no one else can get a word in edgewise. I do love a good discussion and listening and being able to join into a good intelligent conversation about politics or religion or entertainment is really one of life's great joys for me. I think that is one of the really great things about the Internet because it allows for people from all over the world to meet in a sense and just talk. Take my tiny little blog for instance. I do not have a lot of readers I get a few a week but according to my tracker thing I have had readers from Europe and South America as well as all over the United States. I mean that just blows my mind. I would like it even more if everyone would comment so conversations would develop but I also understand that often a person needs to be really upset to reply to a post.

That is where a problem can start for me because in my desire to get a response so I know people are reading I sometimes feel like I need to post things to get people angry. It isn't that I want to be a "muckraker" but it feels like that in my attempt to generate conversation.

Well that feels like it is about for today. I need to do some job searching so off I go.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Facebook Fight

Most of my regular readers and really anyone who knows me or who has taken the time to read my blog or any of my writings know that I tend to lean toward the liberal side on some issues. But I do not think of myself as a super liberal. I am a registered independent and I feel like if things in American Politics were a little more balanced then we would not have the amount of anger and fear that infects both sides of the political realm. That being said I wanted to share with you a little conversation I had on Facebook last night. I will give you a little bit of background and then post the conversation in its entirety as it appeared on my friends comment page.

Okay here goes. Well my friend Teresa Lucas works for the Chris Dudley Gov campaign and she really is a nice girl. I had classes with her at Western Oregon and worked with her during my time at Vote Oregon. She is more conservative then me but she also is open to discussion which is really all I ask of anyone. Well she posted as her status "Don't forget to register to vote or re-register before Oct. 12". Now that is a pretty innocuous statement and one that I totally agree with. People should register to vote and or re-register if there party affiliation has changed or they have moved. The very first comment on her page was by a fellow named German A. Vanegas. He wrote:

"IF you hope for a real POSITIVE change you have to vote. We have to take control of Congress to stop Emperor Obama from reigning basically unopposed! ON NOVEMBER 2nd WE THE PEOPLE WILL SHOW WHO REALLY IS IN POWER... US!!!

Now I noticed that and thought well that is just silly. Obama was unable to get his health care reform passed and he has been unable to do really hardly anything that he has wanted to do. This is when he is a President that has had Democratic control of both the House and the Senate. So to call him an Emperor just seemed so silly to me and I let German know what I thought. What I will post below is exactly as was written with no editing on my part I copied and pasted it straight across.

German: "IF you hope for a real POSITIVE change you have to vote. We have to take control of Congress to stop Emperor Obama from reigning basically unopposed! ON NOVEMBER 2nd WE THE PEOPLE WILL SHOW WHO REALLY IS IN POWER... US!!!"

Lance: "@German, Really emperor Obama? He had full control of the house and the senate and was unable to pass health care reform his pet issue. It is silly to even call him that."

German: "‎@Lance, Obama's reformed health care ill-bill was passed and became LAW! And IF you know anything about what is in it, then you owe to know Obama made false promises concerning what was in the health-care bill before it was approved, proving what a liar he really is. Among the many lies, the truth is, it will very costly, even though Obama assured the people it would actually "save money"... Last, I couldn't care less for your personal opinion!"

Lance: "Let me get my stick so I can keep poking the bear, I seem to have stirred something up. Love it!!"

German: "‎@Lance, other than you showing you are a liberal progressive, who believes in social medicine, you haven't stir up anything. You don't even know what is in the bill, let alone how Obama screwed YOU! LMAO!!!"

Lance: "‎@German, Well despite you denying it you are still talking about what I said. It seems like you do care about my personal opinion. Thank you for your noticing little old me. I love when those who are smarter then me and who really understa...nd all of the secret goings on in American Govt can fill me in on how much I am being screwed. It really isn't that I believe in social medicine but that I do not think Obama has been nearly as effective as the Democrats hoped and the Republicans feared. So that is why I think it is silly to call him am Emperor he has basically done next to nothing in office."

German: "I don't care about your opinion, Lance. I am just expressing my own, which counters your love for Obama. I know exactly what YOU mean, to you, Obama hasn't move far-left enough as desired by his supporters, like you. Tough luck! LOL!!!

Hey, ...a friendly advise, lose some weight Lance, because under Obama health-care you may not be cover for certain ailments originated from being overweight ;>)"

(Now I must admit that I got a little upset here due to what I felt was an uncalled for attack on my weight issues. I feel like I controlled myself and gave a pretty decent response.)

Lance: "Wow! Now a personal attack based solely on seeing a few pictures of me. Without any knowledge of who I am or what I could possibly have going on in my life. Classy, very classy, and I believe pretty typical of your ilk.

Please tell me what ...political party I am registered with? You seem to have such an insight to my character. I await with anticipation your I am sure most clever retort. Perhaps you could lock me up into some sort of verbal anaconda choke. May trap me with an intellectual knee bar. Please fill me in on all of the things I need to do to fix both the American Govt and the world."

German: "‎@Lance, I tell you who you are. You are the kind of "man" you present in your profile picture, hiding in fear, "behind the scenes." You pretend to be the "intelligent one" with pseudo-intellectual remarks, but are not worth much as an opponent; other than innuendos and being full of shit, you don't state anything of substance! LMAO!!!!"

Lance: "WOW! Speaks for itself I guess. *shrug*"

German: "‎@Lance, you are truly an ignoramus, just like your idol Obama."

Lance: "Keep it coming. I love it. Every sentence just proves your point."

(At this point another person jumped in. A conservative who I went to school with who knows me personally.)

Andre: "Wow German, your baseless, idiotic attacks coupled with an inability to spell make me embarrassed to be in any way associated with you; even if it is only on somewhat of an ideological level."

German: "Who says I want to be associated with you Andree?! You are another "pseudo-intellectual" coming across like a buffoon! LMAO!!!"

I just had stopped replying at that point because I figured what was the point. I guess I am telling my readers about this because I want to know a couple of things.

1. Was I out of line? I really feel like President Obama has been ineffectual and at this point may be not get a second term.

2. Do I come across like this sometimes in my writings because I do not want to. I want to have reasoned debate and civil discourse.

So please fill me in. Where did I go wrong?

Monday, October 04, 2010

Oct 3rd, 2010

I had an interesting conversation with a friend last night about political campaigns and the shape that they are taking right now and have taken in the last few years. He contends and I tend to agree with him that it has become an issue of marketing not of policy. That while people give lip service to policy and facts about the issues that often voting is such an emotional response that we are led more by the marketing of the candidate or issue as opposed to the actual reality of the situation.

As we talked and as I look back on both the Obama campaign as well as the angry health care summer it seems even more true to me. The Obama campaign was masterful in its use of catch phrases, "Hope and Change", and visual imagery. So much so that you can see the present Republicans parroting some of the same lines in the campaigns going on right now. As I watched Chris Dudley give his closing statement during the Oregon Gubernatorial debate I was struck by the similarity of his plea that Oregon couldn't handle four more years of the same and that we needed to join with him to move to a new future. A future of Capital Gains tax cuts and Corporate tax cuts and where I believe we will all get a pony. So how can you not want a pony.

I feel like the truth between Dudley and Kitzhaber lies somewhere in the middle but I am not sure either candidate is going to be allowed or able to achieve that. One of the problems being the nature of the primaries and how to be able to win in the primaries the candidates must often out liberal or out conservative their opponents. Which can be okay if the middle independent voter base is so disgusted by the partisanship and craziness of the fringe on both sides that they decide not to vote at all. I admit I have been there in years past.

I do not know or have answer that is for sure. I wish I had a magic wand that could solve Oregons budget shortfalls. But, I dont. The truth is I like Kitzhabers temp jobs plan to weatherize some of the buildings and get back savings from the lowering of the energy bills. I also understand that that could be some tax cuts in Oregon to bump the spending up a little. But I do not see either candidate enacting the plans of the other and probably to do so would be the death of them politically. Only time will tell what is going to happen in the future. I am not convinced that Kitzhaber will be business as usual for Oregon or that Dudley will be a complete mess as a first time Governor.

For me though....admitting that I am not sure about something is often a success.