Category: politics

Separating Parents from Children is Wrong

I get that life is complex sometimes, and we all have to make decisions that can be incredibly difficult. But at the same time, I’d like to think almost everyone can recognize when something rises above the quandary to show itself as being strictly a question of right or wrong.

Much of what the Trump administration does somehow remains solidly at the quandary level. Some of this is because he or his spokespeople claim anything that paints what he does as bad is nothing more than Fake News. If it makes you look bad, say it’s a lie. It doesn’t matter how clear the evidence is that it’s true. Claim it isn’t, and stick to that claim regardless of what may come.

This approach works. It works because we live in a world where people will question anything. A world where people honestly believe the earth is still flat, and never mind the mountains of proof to the contrary. For many, belief has superseded verifiable fact. As a religious person, I can see where there are areas belief might win out. But there’s a big difference between belief and politics, or at least there should be. But the conservatives tied themselves tightly to a number of religious groups, and over time it appears to me like those ties have bled through, inserting Belief into politics to an unhealthy extent.

Of course, the vicious rhetoric around politics also makes it problematic. When DeNiro comes out and says “F*** Trump,” and everyone goes wild and says it’s great, that does nothing to actually solve problems. It further enflames both sides of the argument. When comedians and bystanders point out (correctly) that Fox News lambasted Obama when he proposed meeting with North Korea, but praised Trump when he decided to do it, they miss the natural other side of that coin. What liberals were all for Obama bringing peace to the world but now say Trump is terrible for sitting down with a dictator?

Remember the views you have now, and try to keep them straight, regardless of which party is in power. Because there are some things that transcend politics. Basic questions of right and wrong. There must be.

Trump meeting with Kim Jong Un and deescalating a situation that was looking worse every day is a good thing. Sure, both Trump and Kim are in large part to blame for how bad the situation had become, but it’s okay to celebrate the fact that we’re further away from nuclear weapons being used today than we were a few days ago.

But at the same time, we can’t let that cloud our view of other things that are happening in our country. Immigration issues that are huge, and seem to be flying under the radar for so many of us, judging by my Facebook feed and the relative little attention I see to it on national news sites.

Wonder what I’m talking about? Read this article and wonder no more.  Or read this one. Or read any of the other slew of articles out there on this topic.

The Trump administration has decided to take a “zero tolerance” policy on illegal immigration. If someone is caught entering the country illegally for whatever reason, they are prosecuted. If they have children with them, the children are taken away and put with a foster family or in a detention center. In large part, it appears this separation is being used as part of the deterrent. Don’t come here illegally, or else we’ll tear apart your family.

I can understand some of the thought process behind this. Taking a hard line on illegal immigration and protecting the border is exactly what Trump said he’d do when he ran for office, so he’s delivering on a campaign process. But the way this has been put into practice is brutal, and it needs to stop. Surely there’s a way officials can continue to enforce the law without needing to rip families apart. Detain illegal immigrant families in separate complexes if they must. Or make exceptions for children under a certain age.

But don’t think this is an isolated incident, either. Do some research into the tactics currently being used by ICE against immigrants in this country, illegal or otherwise.

Illegal immigrants have been dehumanized by many politicians. Their identities stripped away to the point that they can be handled however the government sees fit.

I understand some of them broke the law. But I don’t care if you broke the law or not. You still deserve to be treated like a person, not a playing piece. It’s when people stop being seen as human that real atrocities begin. And from where I’m standing, those atrocities have already started.

We should be deeply disturbed by this. We should demand that policies are changed. Instead, the articles I read on Fox News about it say essentially, “Obama did the same thing.” Okay. If that’s the case, he shouldn’t have done it then. I didn’t realize it was happening. I do now. Does my failure to know an evil is being done previously excuse the person committing it now?

This is beyond politics, and it has to stop.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

In Support of Ranked Choice Voting

I’m friends with a wide range of people on Facebook. Everyone from staunch conservatives to arch liberals. And as we’ve approached the vote tomorrow, I’ve seen more and more posts crop up around Ranked Choice Voting. For those of you outside the state, know that Maine will become the first state in the nation tomorrow to try out a new system of voting in America. Instead of just picking the one candidate you like the most, you can rank them in order of preference. As many as you like. Here’s a quick overview:

Let me state this right off: I voted for this back in 2016 back when it was on the ballot the first time, and I’m going to vote for it again tomorrow, since politicians have tried to insist they don’t want to let this voting system stand. (How many times do citizens have to vote on an issue before it’s finally approved and finalized? Apparently many more than I thought.)

Why am I in support of this method? Perhaps it’s easiest to run down the arguments I’m seeing against it, and why I find them without merit:

  • “Votes get thrown in the trash”–This is the argument I keep hearing louder than any other. Basically, some say that in this new method, if you just vote for one person and don’t rank anyone else, then your vote gets tossed entirely after the first round (if the vote goes to extra rounds). It’s as if you never voted in the first place. Honestly, I find that argument disingenuous and misleading. I voted for Romney in 2012. Obama got re-elected instead. I voted for Clinton in 2016. Trump won. In both instances, my vote got “thrown in the trash” as soon as my candidate lost. (Maybe because I clearly lack any sort of consistency when it comes to which candidates I choose to vote for . . .) Honestly, I’m baffled by this argument. The only way your vote gets “thrown in the trash” is if the only person you chose to vote for . . . loses. Which is exactly what happens under the old system. Your vote was dead at that point anyway. But under the new system, people who actually care enough to rank more candidates get to keep taking part in the process. This argument isn’t isn’t a reason to be against RCV, it’s a reason to be in support of it.
  • “It’s too complicated”–It’s a grid, folks. Candidates on the left, rankings up top. Fill in the circles. I get that it’s more complicated than filling in a single circle, but this isn’t rocket science. If people still want to just vote for one person, they can. Still, I can see how some people will be confused by the layout, and how they might end up inadvertently voting in a way that will invalidate their vote. I think the benefit outweighs that risk. (More on that later.) What definitely IS too complicated is deciphering the wording on the People’s Veto to keep RCV: “Question 1: Do you want to reject the parts of a new law that would delay the use of ranked-choice voting in the election of candidates for any state or federal office until 2022, and then retain the method only if the constitution is amended by December 1, 2021, to allow ranked-choice voting for candidates in state elections?” In case you were wondering, if you want RCV to stay, vote YES on Question 1. If you want it to go, vote NO.
  • “It takes too long”–It’s true. It takes longer to figure out who won under Ranked Choice Voting. Maybe as long as an extra week. But considering whomever is elected ends up being our leader for the next 4 years, I tend to think taking a bit of extra time is worth the wait. What’s the rush? It’s not like they become Governor the next day.
  • “It violates ‘one person one vote'”–The argument here is that no one’s vote should count more than someone else’s. But if Person A only ranks 1 candidate, and person B ranks 3, and person A’s vote ends up falling out because their choice received the fewest votes, then Person B’s vote gets counted more often than person A’s. Except this is nonsensical. All RCV does is start a runoff election if a majority isn’t reached after the first vote. In this case, it’s as if Person A chose not to vote in the runoff election, but Person B did. *shrugs*

This doesn’t have to be complex. Get to know the candidates in advance. Decide who you like the most. Decide if there’s anyone else you’d like if that person doesn’t win. Decide if there’s someone you really do NOT want to win. Reach your conclusion, and vote appropriately.

Republicans tend to be against RCV at the moment. Democrats are in favor of it. Something tells me that if Republicans had lost the Governor’s seat because their vote had been split twice in a row just barely, then that would be reversed. To me, this isn’t about political parties. It’s about taking steps to make the country less polarized. To allow actual centrist candidates a chance to win. To break the stranglehold the two party system has on our nation right now.

All of that is worth upsetting a few apple carts.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

A Thanks to Senator Collins for Her Net Neutrality Vote

The Senate voted to restore Net Neutrality yesterday, a great step that might have far reaching effects (assuming the House actually got with the program and did the same thing, which I doubt.) But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a short personal experience I had that touched on this. When we were in DC last week, meeting with our Senators and Representatives, one of the points we were emphasizing was the importance of broadband and an open internet. It’s a point we touched on last year as well, for all the good it did. (At least, that’s how I felt at the time.)

Our delegation raised the issue with Senator Collins again, and she immediately spoke of her desire that an open internet return, talking about how important it was to the future of Maine. She spoke of how her first real job was in a library, and how she worked in a public library all the time while she was going through grade school through high school.

I was glad to hear of her support, but I knew as well how often politics ends up steamrolling any personal feelings people might have when it comes time to vote. Things are quite clannish these days, so I wouldn’t have been surprised if she had gone along with the rest of her party on the net neutrality vote. I’ve respected her willingness to depart from party lines on issues that have been important to her.

So I was very pleased to hear she had done so again for the net neutrality vote. Politicians get a reputation for saying one thing to constituents and then going off and voting another way, and I wanted to note that this time that wasn’t the case. She was true to her word and her stated convictions. Her aides remembered what we’d brought up during our visit as well, and they made sure to send along the following statement she’d made:

Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins issued this statement following her vote today in favor of restoring the FCC’s net neutrality rules, which passed the Senate by a vote of 52-47.

“I have long supported common-sense regulations to prohibit Internet providers from prioritizing certain content over other.  I also support regulations to clarify that Internet providers must not manage their systems in an anti-competitive way.  Restoring the FCC’s net neutrality rules will ensure that the Internet will remain open and continue to be a powerful and transformative platform of innovation and economic opportunity. 

“Net neutrality could also make it easier for broadband providers to expand service in higher-cost areas, such as rural Maine, by reestablishing FCC’s oversight over interconnection points that allow rural carriers to connect with the rest of the Internet.  Without this protection, rural carriers’ ability to deploy broadband in underserved areas will be hindered, undermining efforts to bring adequate broadband to all Americans. In December, I joined my colleague, Senator Angus King, in sending a letter urging the FCC not to set aside its net neutrality rules without addressing the legitimate concerns of rural providers and the tools needed to support continued buildout of rural broadband.

“We must also do more to protect consumer privacy on the Internet. Facebook’s role in allowing Cambridge Analytica to access its user data illustrates the need to strengthen consumer protections.

“Congress should not use net neutrality to pick winners and losers among these competitors, but must instead adopt bipartisan legislative reforms to the 1934 regulations that put consumers first.

“A careful, deliberative process involving experts and the public is warranted to ensure that consumers have strong protections that guarantee consumer choice, free markets, and continued growth along with meaningful consumer privacy and data security protections.  With a bipartisan commitment, I believe Congress can enact legislation to achieve these goals.”

Thank you for your vote, Senator Collins. It is noted and very much appreciated.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

A Report on National Library Legislative Day

I’m sitting at the airport waiting for my now delayed plane to arrive (of course), so why not take a bit of time to tell you lovely people how things went yesterday. As a refresher, I’ve been in DC to meet with Maine’s Senators and Representatives in hopes of getting them to support libraries as strongly as possible. It’s part of the American Library Association’s National Library Legislative Day.

Really, they have it down to an art form. We had a big conference on Monday to go over the main talking points they wanted everyone to push when they met their representatives. Last year it was a laundry list of about 8 or 9 points. This year, they had boiled it down to just three: Reauthorize the Institute of Museum and Library Services, support an open internet with greater reach of broadband, and come out and visit a library the next time they’re back home.

These visits usually only last about fifteen minutes, and some of that is eaten up with introductions, etc, so it was great to be able to keep things focused. Last year, I’d left feeling like we’d had a fine set of meetings, but not necessarily that we’d accomplished anything groundbreaking. This year, it felt different. We met in person with Senators King and Collins and Representatives Poliquin and Pingree. All of them were attentive and eager to support libraries. True, it’s an election year, so the cynic in me says they’d all be more likely to be receptive no matter what, but it didn’t feel like that.

I was particularly impressed with the depth of knowledge Senator Collins had for funding libraries, and how well versed Senator King was with the issues around broadband. Everyone we met with was respectful and gushing about how much they loved libraries, and they all said they’d support our requests.

Representative Poliquin took us over to the House, where we got to go inside and watch the floor debate. (Side note: they did a vote by voice while we were there. It was just like the voice vote for the school budget, right down to each side yelling as loudly as possible to make themselves sound more numerous than the opposition. I found that amusing.)

In any case, it was a good trip. I really do feel like we accomplished something, and I’m very pleased I had the chance to come down. At times it’s too easy to assume laws are passed by people who don’t care and just listen to the loudest lobbyists. This year, meeting with everyone in person, I didn’t feel like that. It felt like they all cared about the issues and wanted to know as much as possible about them. That was encouraging.

We had a great delegation of people down with us from Maine (five in all), and I had a very good time. A special shout out goes to our State Librarian, Jamie Ritter, who coordinated the whole show and did a fantastic job guiding each conversation. I was very impressed with his poise and tact, regardless of whom we were meeting with. A huge chunk of the reason for our success is due to his efforts.

Thanks for reading!

Legislating It Up

I’m back down in DC for the next few days, attending National Library Legislative Day once again. If you forgot from last time, that means I’m down with a contingent from Maine, learning about the issues the American Library Association wants to push on with Congress. That’s on today’s slate: the learning. Tomorrow, I’ll be meeting with Senators King and Collins and Representative Pingree (no word on whether Poliquin is making time for us yet) to do the actual pushing.

On the one hand, it sounds far more Important than it feels like in real life, speaking from some experience now. We’ll sit down with their aides mostly, going over our talking points. And we’ll meet with the Congresspeople themselves for ten minutes or so, most likely. On the other hand, this is how things get done. You meet with people and say what’s important to you, and you remind them that there are a lot of other people who think the same way you do.

It’s pretty cool to see it all play out. To see all those librarians from across the country (each state sends its own delegates) gather together one day to get On Message, and then to see them all scurrying around Capitol Hill the next, spreading that message far and wide. It’s a well oiled machine, and all I have to really do is step in and not screw things up.

So anyway, if I’m less present on social media or whatever until Wednesday, now you know why. Thanks for reading!

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

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