The House’s Turn

Following up on Senator Murphy’s almost 15-hour Senate marathon. There were four amendments on various aspects of gun control in the Senate on Monday, all of which failed. There is a bipartisan group of Senators trying to craft something that might pass.

Today, the House of Representatives is having an old-fashioned sit-in to force a vote in the House, vowing that they will not go on a planned break next week unless there is a vote on gun issues. Some Democratic senators have come over to support the House members.

It is great that Rep. John Lewis is leading the sit-in. A veteran of many civil rights sit-ins and protests, he is the perfect voice to lead this action.

Bernie, Hillary, and the Democrats

As we are in the final days of Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, with Secretary Hillary Clinton the presumptive nominee of the Democratic party, there is a lot of talk about what the future relationship will be between the candidates, the party, and the Sanders supporters.

I am a supporter of Sanders and posted several weeks ago on some of the things that I wanted going forward.

I realize that Senator Sanders has already had a large impact on Secretary Clinton and the Democratic party. There are multiple issues, such as income inequality, campaign finance reform, and climate action, that would not have gained prominence were it not for Bernie’s leadership and strong, consistent voice.  The Democrats would be wise to heed the counsel of the Sanders supporters on the platform committee and commit to and campaign on progressive ideals. With luck, this will result in a Congress that will enact reforms and set the country back on a path where the common good is the guiding principle.

I have heard some commentators proffer that the proof of the pudding will be if Sanders can deliver his supporters to the Democratic party, but I don’t think that that is a good measure.  Yes, he needs to help convince his supporters to vote for Clinton and her running mate to avoid the catastrophic prospect of a President Trump – and to elect the most progressive Congress members possible so that new laws and budgets put the common good first – but those voters do not need to be registered as Democrats to do so.

Part of Bernie’s strength and consistency of message and values over his long political career is due to the fact that he has been an Independent. While he caucused with the Democrats, he did not have to contend directly with the party apparatus, until this run for the presidency. Because so many Americans agree with his ideas, his campaign exceeded all expectations, both in winning votes, delegates, and caucuses and generating excitement, volunteers, and individual, small-dollar donors.

I don’t think, though, that these voters necessarily need to become Democrats to continue to support Sanders’ ideas. I plan to remain an Independent, although I devoutly wish that my state will change to an open primary system so that Independents can vote for the candidate of their choice regardless of party.

My hope is that, while Sanders won’t be president, his ideals will be incorporated in the next administration, with Sanders taking a prominent role in leadership in the Senate.

I’ll still be “feeling the Bern!”

One-Liner Wednesday Badge – Vote Here!

Are you a fan of Linda’s One-Liner Wednesday? Vote for the first ever badge for the series. You don’t have to be a participant to cast your vote. Join in the fun!

All the entries are in and now it’s time to vote for our new One-Liner Wednesday Badge! The badge that wins will be displayed here on prompt day and everywhere there is a One-Liner Wednesday post published for at least the next year to come, so vote carefully.  Anyone, whether you participate in the prompt or not, can vote.

I’ll name them all to make it easier for voting purposes. Please make sure you look at all of them before you cast your vote. Here are the contestants in order according to when they entered:

Willow, with “Typewriter” https://willowdot21.wordpress.com/2016/02/09/one-liner-wednesday-badge-call-for-submissions/

Dean Kealy, with “Splashes on Purple” http://deankealy.com/2016/02/10/one-liner-wednesday-badge-design/

John Holton, with “White on Blue” https://thesoundofonehandtyping.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/rip-dan-hicks-1linerweds/ (it’s at the bottom of the post)

KG, with “1W” https://booksmusicandmovies.wordpress.com/2016/02/13/two-prompts-in-one-post/

Pamela, with “Squiggly Line” http://butterflysand.com/2016/02/13/design-contest/

Wes, with “Quotes” http://nearlywes.com/2016/02/14/one-liner-wednesday-badge-submission/

And Dan Antion, with “Clouds and Contrails” http://nofacilities.com/2016/02/14/one-liner-wednesday-badge/

The poll will close on Tuesday, February 16th, 2016…

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Update on the nuclear deal with Iran

Following up from my post on the proposed nuclear deal with Iran, we just found out that enough United States senators have expressed support for the deal that the Congress will not be able to override President Obama’s promised veto of a bill that would block ratification of the international agreement with Iran.

I am relieved to know that diplomacy wins and that a lot of suffering will be alleviated by the lifting of sanctions and the much diminished threat of war.

One could hope that those in Congress who opposed the deal due to politics rather than analysis will take a second look and vote for the deal.

One could hope, but it may be in vain.

One-Liner Wednesday: Women’s Equality Day (USA)

“As we celebrate the last 95 years of progress in advancing women’s rights, let us rededicate ourselves to the idea that our nation is not yet complete: there is still work to do to secure the blessings of our country for every American daughter.”
– President Barack Obama, from the declaration of today, August 26, 2015, as Women’s Equality Day in the United States, in recognition of the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, barring sex discrimination in voting rights.

This post is part of Linda’s One-LIner Wednesdays. Join us! Find out how here:

One-Liner Wednesday: Voting

“Voting is a civic sacrament.”
– Father Ted Hesburgh

(Apologies for being US-centric in the timing of this, but, given that the vast majority of people reading this live in democracies, voting will be pertinent at some point in the year.)

Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesdays! http://lindaghill.com/2014/10/29/one-liner-wednesday-eh/

school district election day

Today, across New York State, voters are heading to the polls for school district elections. For some reason I have never been able to ascertain, school budgets are the only ones that are voted on directly in New York. Unfortunately, sometimes this means that school budgets fail as a general statement against taxes, forcing second votes on revised budgets or austerity budgets that cut all extracurriculars and all-but-bare-bones transportation.

This year, there has been an unusual amount of advertising to pass the school budget. I think it is to convince people not to use the budget vote as an opportunity to take out their frustration with the contentious rollout of common core standards in the state. For the record, I no longer have school-aged children in my household, so I haven’t experienced common core directly in my family. I do support the concept of common core, to cover fewer topics in a school year, but in greater depth, in contrast to the current trend toward a mile wide but an inch deep approach. New York State’s curriculum has long been infected with survey-itis. For example, in the social studies curriculum, a survey of US history is taught in fifth grade, again as a two-year sequence in seventh and eighth grades, and then again as a one year Regents course in high school, locally usually taken in 11th grade. Because so much time is devoted to rushing through large amounts of material, there isn’t time to engage in in-depth analysis of any time period or theme. When I was in high school in Massachusetts several decades ago, we had options for semester-long US history courses in Civil War and Reconstruction, Minorities in America, Presidential Greatness, or several other options. Already expected to have an overview of our country’s history, we were able to develop deeper understanding of the hows and whys of history, which also helped to inform our lives as active citizens.

The upset over the implementation of common core seems to mirror two statewide changes that happened during my children’s school careers, the ending of local high school diplomas in favor of more rigorous Regents diplomas for all graduates and reform of state-wide tests in fourth and eighth grades and high school Regent exams. It also mirrors the transition to a new high school honors program on the local level. The root of the problems with all these changes was not that the final goals, but the transition itself, in which students are tested in the new framework without the benefit of the years of preparatory study that is in place when the transition is complete, resulting in lower test scores as these students catch up to the new standards. It seems that the same mechanism is happening with the transition to common core.

The other oddity of this election locally is that we have eight candidates running for four board of education seats. Given that candidates often run unopposed or with only one more candidate than seats available, this year is a hot contest. Even more unusual, there is a group of four being presented almost as a slate, advertised together in mailings, on yard signs, and in hand-delivered fliers, and endorsed by the local teachers’ union.

Voting is from 12-9 PM today at the local elementary schools. It will be interesting to see how this all turns out.

UPDATE:  The budget passed by a wide margin. All four of the candidates endorsed by the teachers’ union were elected; the two incumbents who were running for re-election got only 50-60% of the voting totals of the successful candidates.

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