Down the Ballot

Friday, April 26, 2013

Students Rally in Oregon

I recently participated in one of the many annual student activism events Thursday in Salem. Overall, aside from some confusion about when exactly the rally was starting and where people were suppose to meet up, I thought the rally was a good show of energy. A rally of several hundred students and education advocates descended on the capitol to fight to advocate for $510 million in funding for Oregon community colleges, $850 million for Oregon universities and $15 million for the Oregon Opportunity Grant.

Yellow balloons flew over students with the amount of student loan debt they are carrying and will be carrying for years to come. The crowd of about 400 chanted that education is a right not a privileged; that legislators needed to stay on track and not roll back funding this session. Student debt has always been a problem, but in the last decade it has ballooned into a monster of a hindrance to graduating students being able to become productive members of society. Students can't buy homes, cars, make investments if as soon as they leave school they are saddled with, on average $25,000 in debt. It would be one thing if students could get a living wage job after graduation, but far too many students are leaving school directionless. Some even question if they should have gone to college in the first place if they knew the job prospects would be so grim.

Adventures in Politics: Politics & You #24

OHS Archives
My birthday was on Tuesday and I decided to treat myself this week and as I was searching the Book Bin in Salem I found a book I had been looking for quite a while for, it is by United States Senator Richard Neuberger (with assistance from his wife, Senator Maurine Neuberger). I had been looking for this book because inside is an neat Appendix entitled Politics & You. Both of them were serving in the State legislature at the time of this publication. He in the State Senate and she in the State House. As of the time of the publishing in 1954, the Council of State Governments could find no records of any other husband and wife serving along side each other in a state legislature in United States history.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth is Where We Must Make Our Stand

Carl Sagan said, "The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand."

For this moment, in our short few seconds of eternity there is no where else to go friends. Our Earth is all we have and if we don't find better ways to treat each other or it, we may burn ourselves right out of existence.  The hard part for many of us is recognizing this reality.

Take a look down the brown band for the small blue dot. That's all of us on Earth. There is something even more important about Earth Day than picking up litter or recycling cans. Earth Day is also about taking care of each other and all the life on this little dot.

Hopefully, we'll figure out better ways to help us cherish and protect our home from the inevitable progress that is to come. Have a positive Pale Blue Dot Day.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Background Checks Lose out to Politics

Well, tougher background check standards lost out by 4 votes in the United States Senate yesterday. For all the handshaking and meetings the Newton families held with lawmakers it just wasn't enough to overcome long held fears and questions of the constitutional rights of gun owners. Let's get one thing clear from the get go. I come from a family of gun owners, I target and skeet shoot in the summer. I have no qualms with anyone wanting to purchase a firearm. At the same time I recognize that we do a horrible job of managing our guns. It is this mismanagement that allows for people who shouldn't have guns (i.e. criminals, and mentally unstable, and the uneducated) to get their hands on guns.

The Toomey-Manchin background check amendment was an acceptable start to putting our personal armories in order. It should not have been considered the final word on the subject of background checks. Most folks in opposition to background checks cited one of two or both of the following arguments.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tom McCall for President? What a Tease!

Few Oregonians have been able to capture the nations attention like Governor Thomas Lawson McCall. For three decades he dominated the scene here in Oregon; towards the latter end of his provocative and curious career, when he was looking for a next step to capitalize on his popularity, his staunchest supporters had plans to help keep their hero in the spotlight. They would make him Vice President of the United States.
McCall with Vice President Spiro Agnew.

You may recall that during the mid-70s the United States was going through some pains. President Richard Nixon was engulfed in the largest scandal of the modern day presidency: Watergate. It was in these waning hours of the Nixon Administration that McCall loyalist Phil Freeman of Eugene and his associates began an 11th hour campaign to get McCall elected Vice President. The 17 member committee was called "Citizens for McCall for Vice President". The group composed a letter to House Speaker Carl Albert in Washington D.C. I'm still trying to track down a copy of the letter, but all we have right now are these snips found in the Eugene Register Guard.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Creative Writing: Eulogy for John Smith

When I feel that I haven't been writing much in a while, I like to write eulogies for fictional characters. Here is one for John "Hannibal" Smith of the A-Team. Written from the perspective of a former client of the A-Team.