Sunday, January 14, 2007

January 14, 2007 Who's on First

Consider This for January14, 2007—Who’s on first?

Abbott and Costello did a routine many years ago about baseball. It was called, “Who’s on first?” The recent presidential primary and caucus events remind me of a comic routine.

This is one you might want to cut out and tape to your refrigerator. You might even want to e-mail it to all of your equally confused friends and relatives. Election season is upon us and here is a brief discussion of why things happen the way they do.

Iowa and New Hampshire have laws that require that they be the first in the nation for Presidential Caucuses and Primaries.

All fifty states have some version of a Presidential Primary or Caucus.

Primaries and Caucuses only determine delegates to the national Democratic and Republican conventions and have no direct bearing on who becomes the next president.

Independent and third party voters are disenfranchised from this process as you must declare as a Republican or a Democrat to vote in a caucus or primary.

In our Democracy the current presidential primary and caucus system is about as undemocratic as you can get.

Colorado has its caucus on February 5 also known as Super Tuesday along with more than twenty other states.

Unaffiliated voters are the second largest group of voters in Colorado after Republicans and before Democrats. You cannot participate in Colorado if you are not a registered Republican or Democrat. All of you Independent or third party folks can take the day off and go skiing or sit at home and just be an observer because you are not allowed to play.

Our nation was formed as a federalist nation. In simple terms it means that each state is almost like its own country. It is what is commonly referred to as states rights.

Under our system each state can make its own rules when it comes to elections. We saw that in Florida in 2000 and when it could not be sorted out the decision on the winner of the election had to be made by the Supreme Court.

Iowa and New Hampshire have their election times in their state law. Both states have passed legislation that says that they will always be first each presidential cycle. If another state would decide to be first then both Iowa and New Hampshire would shift their dates to again be first. If it became a real nose to nose battle we could end up with presidential primaries and caucuses two years before the election rather than our current ten months ahead of the real election.

Now here is where it gets really confusing. Iowa has a caucus. A caucus is where you and your neighbors get together in a living room at your neighbor’s house and decide who you will support for president. But in Iowa the Republicans have a different system than the Democrats for picking candidates.

New Hampshire has a primary. A primary is run like a regular election with ballots and voting machines. It is much more efficient but it fails to provide the same coffee and cookies down at Mrs. Johnson’s house on caucus night.

Another thing is that the caucus or primary is only to decide which candidates will be supported at the national convention of each of the parties. It is normally only binding on the first ballot at the convention. After that it is a free and open process and the delegates can vote for Daffy Duck if they want to as they are no longer bound to the caucus or primary.

The real kicker is that the caucuses and primaries are only open to members of the Democrat or Republican Party. That’s right folks. If you happen to belong to the Prohibition Party you can’t vote. Ron Paul is a good example of that. He is a Libertarian but serves as a Republican so he can get in on the process.

I am convinced that the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primary are both more media events and a test ground to determine who is willing to spend the most money and who is willing to drink a lot of coffee and eat a lot of donuts in two very cold states in December and January. Neither event truly determines how the nation will go in the general election. A good example of this is that Bill Clinton lost in Iowa and New Hampshire and went on to win two terms as president.

So who’s on first? It was either Abbott or Costello. I can’t ever keep track.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

January 7, 2007 Teaching Responsibility

Consider This for January 7, 2007-Teaching Responsibility

In the spring of 1956 I bought my first car for $200 from Chuck Bigelow. It was a 1949 Ford Capri coupe with a flathead V 8 and a four speed manual transmission. I thought that I had died and gone to heaven.

Within a week I had blown the clutch and my new used car was parked in my parents driveway totally disabled. I had spent my entire life’s savings on the car and did not have any money to get it fixed.

I finally earned enough money working for Chuck’s brother Ray in his machine shop that I could buy the parts to fix my car. After several days of trying to do the repair myself I decided to ask Chuck to do the work for me. I think it took him about two hours to accomplish what I had failed at over a week or two.

Owning your own car is a great way to learn responsibility.

I owned two more cars in the next couple of years and I know that I learned more about life from those cars than I ever did in school.

I have always thought that the most important factor in creating a great society is having the very best education system that money can buy. That refers to public and private education systems as well as what you might learn in life on your own. The school of hard knocks. The kind of education that exacts a quick and painful lesson that you will never forget.

Some examples might be the first time someone punches out your lights for having a smart mouth. You might learn a great lesson by not slowing down on an icy curve and totaling your car. It might be fun to run up the balances on your credit cards only to find out that at some point you will get a bill. The second half of that lesson on that one is when you decide to pay off your Visa with one of those handy dandy checks you get from MasterCard. Now you have double the pleasure, double the fun and double the pain of having to pay off several credit cards instead of just one. A deep dark hole is that one.

For about fifteen years I facilitated the local Tough Love group for parents in Summit County. We met weekly to discuss the latest and greatest challenge parents were experiencing with their children. The youngest child whose behavior we discussed was about five years old. The oldest was a forty year old son who regularly beat up his seventy year old mother.

The common thread running through the group was that each and every parent believed that they had done everything possible for their child. That was the good news and the bad news. The good news was that they loved their child enough to give them any and every thing that they wanted. The bad news is that they loved their child too much to ever let them learn personal responsibility by letting them have to work for what they had in life. To love them enough to let them fall down and get hurt because falling down and getting hurt might do them some good in life.

The second most common thread was that there might be five children in the family and only one was having problems. All had the same parents and were raised in the same house yet one would end up in prison while the other four would go on in life and succeed beyond their parent’s expectations.

Yet most of us learn the same lessons without going to jail or prison.

It has been over fifty years since I owned that 1949 Ford Capri but the lessons just keep coming on a daily basis.

During our most recent snow storm I managed to step off my rear deck twice into waist deep snow. That is an interesting lesson when you are totally alone and struggling to get back above the snow.

About the same time I learned that my daughter’s Saturn does not have the traction that my Honda Accord has on an ice covered Dickey Curve north of Farmer’s Korner on Highway 9. As the car was sliding sideways I realized that I was learning another of life’s lessons. My greatest hope is that I can survive those lessons and emerge alive.