Friday, February 29, 2008


The right to vote?

Here's a shocker from Leon County Florida Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho: The Constitution of the United States does not guarantee citizens the right to vote in a presidential election.

You heard me right. The story I wrote on Sancho's talk got me arguments in the office. Everyone thinks the Constitution affords us that right, and perhaps the spirit of the Constitution does. But it doesn't explicitly give or imply that right.

Sancho quoted the infamous 2000 case Bush vs. Gore, the one that decided George Bush won the election.

In the decision, it was noted in Per Curium, Section II-B (page 104), "The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States unless and until the state legislature chooses a statewide election as the means to implement its power to appoint members of the Electoral College." [Bolding is mine.]

According to the 1892 Supreme Court decision in McPherson v. Blacker, state legislators can select the electors, an option which several states chose for many years — not the voter. The state can take back that power any time it chooses.

If there is a vote, equality in voting is protected; there can be no discrimination. But, the overall right to vote is not protected.

Big Brother can decide he knows what's better for us.

Sancho is calling for a constitutional amendment to ensure the right to vote for president. He believes it was an oversight by the framers of the Constitution that there is no guarantee of the right to vote. It's left up to the states.

If some partisan state officials were to decide to invoke the right to select members of the Electoral College, instead of allowing the voters to vote, there would probably be an outcry, now. But give it a few years of spin, and who knows?

Who'd have thought 10 or 15 years ago we'd have given up so many rights in the name of "Homeland Security," or that an attorney general of the United States would stand there and argue we don't really need the Geneva Convention?

Losing the "right" to vote for president could happen.

Get out and VOTE this fall.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My teachers done teached me good

Your Language Arts Grade: 100%

Way to go! You know not to trust the MS Grammar Check and you know "no" from "know." Now, go forth and spread the good word (or at least, the proper use of apostrophes).

Are You Gooder at Grammar?
Make a Quiz

Yes, it's true. Moi, not a graduate of Florida's public schools, knows a wee bit of spelling and grammar.

Thanks to Janis at Juanuchis' Way for the link.

Schools are so different now than when I was in high school (back in the days of horse and buggy). I'm afraid many high-school students would not pass that grammar quiz.

I was in Blockbuster a few evenings ago. As I checked out Becoming Jane, I remarked I was really getting back into Jane Austen. The clerk, who looked to be about 19 years old, looked at me blankly.

Now, I thought even if she hadn't read Jane Austen, she might know her name from the movies -- this one and The Jane Austen Book Club, (which I saw a few weeks ago, and enjoyed) and maybe the movies based on Austen's novels.

But no. She was not only clueless (heh-heh, the name of a modernized movie version of an Austen novel), she was huffy about it.

"I wouldn't know anything about that," she said.

What a shame. I fell in love with Austen's gentle novels when I was in high school. Of course, I was a nerd, even then.

Still, I feel sorry for these kids, who seem to know only Britney Spears and reality TV shows.

I've been watching Jane Austen's novels come to life on PBS-television's Masterpiece Theater. Currently, we're in the middle of Pride and Prejudice, with smart and spunky Lizzie Bennet and the melancholic Mr. Darcy falling in love.

We know Mr. Darcy's dour demeanor is about to change.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Florida: the land time and sense forgot

Mark Twain said, "God made the Idiot for practice, and then He made the School Board."

A number of Florida school boards are trying to prove that saying. They are stuck in the Victorian era, outraged that scientists say they are descended from monkeys. Yah, it's like the Scopes trial never happened.

This is their grasp of the concept of evolution, which they vigorously oppose being taught in the schools -- though it already is taught. Just the word "evolution" is avoided in curriculum guides.

Today, the state board will vote on new standards for science teaching in the state, and some of those new standards require that students be able to explain the theory of evolution by the time they graduate from high school.

When that news hit, the fur began to fly. School boards in some districts, especially in north Florida, passed resolutions against the measure. They demanded Creationism and intelligent design be taught as equally valid "scientific" explanations of the origins of humankind. Hearings around the state on the new standards ran hours and hours, as anti-evolutionists railed against these new-fangled teachings.

The local school board proved an exception to Twain's dictum, at least in this matter.

I imagine the state board will pass the science standards, including the one on evolution. Florida students are lagging too far behind in science not to.

While we may not be descended from apes or chimps, it's clear that genetically, we're not too far from these primates:

Update 2-20-08: the new science standards are in. Evolution will be taught, albeit with the emphasis that it's "the scientific theory of evolution," as a sop to its opponents.

It's all just a theory, children. Hush, now; everything will be all right.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Disenfranchised in Florida

I'm getting pretty put out with the national Democratic Party. First, they told us Florida Democrats our votes in the presidential primary wouldn't count. As if disenfranchising the faithful Democratic voters would be an effective punishment or deterrent to state officials in a Republican administration, who made the shift to an earlier primary date! (though I kinda like Gov. Charlie Crist.)

The latest was talk of a special caucus, as party leaders tried to back-pedal a bit.

Bah, humbug! Why should votes already taken be thrown out? Take the results you have, Democratic Party, and quit jerking us around. Your voters will lose faith in you.

And no backroom deals. No superdelegates deciding for us.

I don't say this out of partisan politics -- I will support Obama or Clinton, and was undecided what my vote would be until I got into the voting booth and had to make some sort of decision.

But I went to the effort to vote, like so many others. These votes should count.

Ali Gator: Making soup

Ali Gator says stop on by.

"I'm making a big pot of soup for a Lenten feast. None of that wimpy vegetarian stuff. I like a nice stew. Come on over for lunch," he says.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Good times and not so good

Yipes! Dear friends, I didn't realize how long it's been since I last posted.

At least it hasn't been all work and no fun, just mostly.

I had a good time last Sunday, down by the St. Johns River, listening to friend Rog Lee perform.

Rog is one of those people who has a special gift. He's not just a singer-songwriter, he's a poet, who tells us of Florida as it is, and as it should be. You might get to see him on the TV-show America's Got Talent - Rog got a private audition for the upcoming season!

Now, it's Lent, which is probably pretty fitting for my mood, which has been introspective and another of the reasons I haven't posted much, I guess. Feb. 2 was the anniversary of my dad's death many years ago, and mother's death a few months ago stirred up grief over dad's death, too. He was younger when he died than I am now.

Things have been pretty quiet in the Diocese of Central Florida. The convention came and went without getting a constitutional change to make us members of the Anglican Communion, in place of, and not in addition to, being a constituent member of the Episcopal Church. A handful of parishes are set on leaving, apparently without big fights over property, and one parish that earlier announced it would leave, changed its mind. A good thing.

I don't think the would-be Nigerian-bound contingent has all gone away. They've just gone to re-group.