Monday, June 12, 2006

Like you needed a reason...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

On a less serious note...

A couple weekends ago Eilleen and I, along with several of our friends rented Jim's Party Trolly to celebrate Eilleen's BA, my second BA, Cindy's 21st B-day, and just to cause mayhem in general. It is basically a psychedelic, open-air, death trap of drunken madness!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Wanted: Retired Lawyer to Run Country Into Ground

I have a dilemma. Recently I have been having discussions with people regarding the current state of affairs of our government, specifically on the federal level. My dilemma is this, if you cannot conscientiously support any of the candidates running for a given office is it better to choose who you consider to be the lesser of two evils (based on whatever criteria you may set) or to simply abstain from voting for either candidate? In the past couple of federal elections I have found myself doing the former, and not merely in terms of voting for president. It seems that there are valid reasons for choosing either option and while I have practiced one over the past several years I am becoming more and more convinced that perhaps I should reconsider my voting strategy and go with the other option (abstaining).

Many people would accuse me of being politically lazy or say that if I do adopt that strategy then I have no room to criticize our government, but I think that is a pretty short-sighted view of what it means to be politically active or to have a political voice. That view assumes that the only valuable political opinions are those that fall within the narrowly outlined platforms of the Republican or Democratic party, which is absurd (for more reasons than you might think, but I'll get to that later). It also does not take into consideration the power of passive resistance, or the refusal to cooperate with what is perceived to be a corrupt system. Also, as those who know me best will tell you, I am no political slouch. I follow politics very closely, I have worked on campaigns (for both Republicans and Democrats), and I have been involved in various types of political activity (letter writing, protests, etc.) for most of my adult life. However, I am also very careful about the people, movements, or agendas to which I lend my voice and my support.

Which leads me back to my dilemma. Why should I be forced to choose when neither option is really acceptable? Shouldn't I believe in the candidate I am voting for rather than simply voting to say that I have done my civic duty? And doesn't voting simply to say that I voted degrade the whole concept of civic duty anyway?

The problem is this, as I have followed politics over the past several years I have become increasingly disenchanted with our legislators and with our election system. Given all of the scandals and the overwhelming evidence that there is really very little difference between the two parties I have found it harder and harder to not be cynical about the whole thing. Both parties run on the same platitudinous platform (education, health care, military, national defense) and neither party ever delivers on anything. They run on whatever platform will get them elected in their particular state and then vote however the lobbyists want them to vote.

As I see it, the real root of the problem is that there is no honor, no higher purpose in being an elected official anymore. Taking a public office no longer means working toward the betterment of our society and our way of life. Rather, it is a way for the wealthiest among us to be paid to enact laws that will mostly benefit them and their cohorts, with little regard to what a vast majority of the citizens of this nation either want or need. Political office has become nothing more than what middle-aged lawyers do at the end of their careers.

This gets right to the heart of why I think we have one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the "free" world. I'm not one of these people who complains by saying, "my vote doesn't count anyway so why bother?" I have made it a point to vote whenever possible on the assumption that my vote does count. But I am becoming more and more convinced that my vote is only really counted in a quantitative sense. But that is the problem. People want to know that their vote is going to count in a qualitative sense, that the person they vote for has their best interests in mind and that they are going to fight for legislation that will help, not only their constituents, but all citizens. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the state of affairs within our government. Honestly, I am ashamed of our government right now for so many reasons and I am sad that people have so little faith or trust in our government, myself included. But the truly sad part is that our government, as a whole, has given us no reason to believe otherwise.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Poor elephant

This made me burst out laughing in my office:

Sagittarius November 22 - December 21

The pleasure you get from playing the two-finger waltz on the piano is astounding, especially considering it cost the life of an elephant.

I'm sure the other people near my office think I'm going crazy. Oh yeah, it's from the Onion.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Followup to College Republican Story

For those of you interested, here is a story published in the publication Inside Higher Ed about the mess with the College Republicans down here:

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Open Letter to the NMSU Community

To the NMSU Community

I would like to bring to the attention of the NMSU community a dangerous and frightening trend that has been building within the organization of the NMSU College Republicans and within the Republican community at large in Dona Ana County. First of all, several months ago the Dona Ana County Republican Party (and more recently the NMSU College Republicans) elected to officially endorse the Minutemen as a means to police our borders and to ensure "homeland security". These are both extremely suspicious justifications given that we already have a government funded and operated organization policing the borders and that, historically speaking, none of the people who have carried out acts of terrorism have gained access to the United States by sneaking across the U.S.-Mexico border. Not to mention that, if they are truly interested in securing our borders from terrorists, they seem to spend little time on the much more extensive border to the north as well as our extensive coastlines, all of which seem just as vulnerable or likely to be used by terrorists attempting to sneak into our country. But I digress.

Another worrisome development within the local chapter of College Republicans is their stated intention to collect and publish the names and contact information of professors at NMSU whom they feel are too liberal or are using their classrooms as a bully pulpit from which to preach their leftist ideologies and to indoctrinate students. If carried out, this will be a blatant attack on the intellectual freedom afforded to all members of the NMSU community and can be seen only as an attempt to stifle opinions with which the College Republicans disagree.
While these are just two examples of the sorts of policies currently being considered by the NMSU College Republicans it is obvious, upon reflection, to see why such policies are dangerous and why we should be concerned about the proliferation of such ideas at NMSU. It was just these types of policies that led to atrocities like the holocaust of WWII and the murder of thousands of dissident students and educators in Argentina during the so-called "Dirty War", to name a few examples.

Given the nature of my letter I am sure that I will receive angry rebuttals and denials of the above stated allegations. However, the reason I decided to write this letter is because the NMSU College Republicans have now moved beyond mere rhetoric and vocal support of such policies and are now actively participating in stifling opposing opinions and expelling members from their group on the grounds of race. On the evening of Monday, November 7, 2005 all three of the Hispanic officers of NMSU College Republicans were impeached. For several reasons I believe that they were impeached illegitimately.

First of all, the impeachments themselves were not enacted in accordance with Robert's Rules of Order (the instruction guide for parliamentary procedure used by all NMSU organizations in the conduct of meetings). Robert's Rules of Order requires that any officer being impeached must be given prior notification of the intent to impeach, they must be presented with specific charges against them, and it requires a two-thirds vote for impeachment of all present, voting group members. The three impeached officers where never given notification of the intent impeach, but rather were subjected to an on the spot, up or down vote at the meeting. They were never given any reason for their impeachment, and the attending members voting for impeachment failed to meet the two-thirds requirement. But this is the least of the problems with the way in which these impeachments were carried out.

Second, the officers were not impeached on the grounds that they had in some way violated the charter of NMSU College Republicans, nor had they violated any local, state, or federal law. The call for impeachment was made when the two impeached officers who were in attendance refused to support an official endorsement of the Minutemen by NMSU College Republicans. In other words, the impeachment was used as a means of silencing opposition within the organization, which, as far as I can tell, is a blatant violation of the two dissenting officers' constitutional protection of free speech.

Finally, for a couple of different reasons I believe that the impeachments were racially motivated. First of all, the two impeached officers who were attending the meeting were subjected to personal attacks prior to the motions for impeachment. The legitimacy of their own citizenship was called into question as well as that of their families. They were also ridiculed and questioned about their religious and cultural beliefs. It should be noted that all three of the officers are natural born citizens of the United States. Another reason for believing that the impeachments were racially motivated is that one of the officers who was impeached was not even at the meeting. He was impeached on the basis of his ethnicity alone.

To many of you it may not come as much of a surprise that these sorts of actions would be perpetrated by Republicans. Many feel (myself included) that covert racism and overt anti-intellectualism have been staples of the Republican institution for decades. Some of you may be wondering why we should care what the Republican party does to its own members or why we should not just let them destroy themselves from the inside, given that that seems to be what is happening. My argument is that the political affiliation of those who have endured these injustices is irrelevant. It is exactly the indiscriminant nature of their actions that should give us the most cause for concern. The attacks against the three members of College Republicans were of a very personal and intentionally hurtful nature. They were singled out because of their ethnicity and were subjected to ridicule and were made to feel like pariahs within their own group. Since the impeachments the NMSU College Republicans have attempted to cover up their misdeeds. At the behest of the chairman of the Federation of New Mexico College Republicans (who obviously realized the gravity of their error) they have attempted to rescind the impeachments, not because they have had a sudden change of opinion about Hispanics but rather in an attempt to avoid any controversy. But the damage has been done. Even if the impeachments are rescinded the three impeached members will never feel respected as full members of the organization. They will be afraid to dissent on any matter, big or small, because a clear message has been sent about how dissenters will be dealt with. It has been made clear by their actions that Hispanics and anyone else who dissents from the majority opinion of the NMSU College Republicans will be chastised, ridiculed, and driven out of the organization. They have also shown that they will suppress opposition in any way possible, even if it means violating the rights of those with opposing opinions.

Upon writing this I am reminded of one of the most horrific moments in Saddam Hussein's rule of Iraq. In one of his first party meetings as the undisputed leader of Iraq, Hussein called out the names of people within his own party who had vocally opposed his policies and had them escorted out of the building by the police. Many of these people were never seen nor heard from again and I can only imagine what became of them. We should also keep in mind that these actions represent a direct and open attack on some of the very principles upon which our nation was founded, namely our First Amendment protection of Free Speech, a respect for the rule of law, and a respect for diversity within our nation's institutions. As citizens who enjoy and respect such rights and principles we have an obligation to defend and protect them and to oppose any such violations, regardless of the affiliations of those who these violations are perpetrated against.

So what is the goal of all of this? Am I suggesting that the College Republicans be disbanded? No. Am I suggesting that we run the Republicans off of our campus and out of town? No. It would be hypocritical to argue that they not be allowed to hold or espouse whatever views they want. However, they should not be allowed to act on their beliefs if, in doing so, the end result is a violation of people's rights. What I am suggesting is that we as a community speak up and make it known that, while we respect their right to espouse whatever belief they may have regardless of how misguided we may think it is, we will neither tolerate nor condone any action that violates the above mentioned principles or any of the other basic rights and principles that we afford all people.


Jason Wyatt
Undergraduate, Senior, Dept. of Psychology

College Republican Madness in LC and Beyond

As many of you may have read on Joe's blog (here and here)I have recently been involved in some political activity regarding the impeachment of three hispanics in the local College Republican organization. They were the only three hispanic officers in the organization and they were impeached under questionable circumstances. One of them has written on her blog about the situation. As far as I and many others are concerned they were impeached for no other reason than that they were hispanic and disagreed with the organization's intention to officially endorse the minutemen (a citizen group that has taken it upon themselves to "protect" the US-Mexico border).

After hearing the details of the situation and the story surrounding the incident I decided that something should be done. As a first step I decided to write a letter discussing the issue and disseminate it as widely as possible. I sent it to newspapers, professors, the university president and a host of other political organizations and individuals. I have also discussed possible courses of action with an activist friend of mine.

I sent the letter out about ten days ago and since that time I have received a much larger and more positive response than I ever could have imagined, which is encouraging. I have received supportive letters from professors, political organizations, and activists. I was informed that my letter has been distributed and read at the meeting of an organization concerned with civil rights. I have also learned that that actions undertaken by the local Republicans is not an isolated event but is rather a part of a larger agenda of silencing opposition through scare tactics such as blacklisting professors and (as we have seen here) expelling members with opposing opinions.

In order to give those of you who may be interested in more specific details and insight into what is going on I have decided to publish the letter I sent on my blog. Do with it what you will.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Back in the Pop Culture Swing of Things

You know it is much easier to update your blog on a regular basis when you have an internet connection at your house. This may come as a surprise to some of you (given that I have worked in the tech industry for almost six years) but I have not had an internet connection at my house in almost 3 years. Not to mention this is the first time ever that I have had a high-speed connection at a place of residence (yes, ever). For the time being it is still a novelty and I can't get enough of it. For the past two days I have been almost obsessively working on my computer trying to get it back up to speed, installing security updates, new software, etc. It was ridiculous how many security updates I had to install, it literally took me almost four hours to get my computer completely updated (stupid microsoft). It was insane, within literally seconds of connecting my computer to the cable modem and configuring it to connect I was getting pop-ups. Literally, seconds (stupid microsoft). Luckily I have not had any since updating and installing various software to stop them but it was just ridiculous how quickly they started.

Since I got a cable connection I also got cable television to go with it. For me this is the really weird part. I have not had cable television since 1999 (I think). I have been in pop culture overload for the past two days. I have watched movies that I don't think I would ever watch under normal circumstances. I have seen television shows that I have only heard about in newspapers and magazines. It occured to me today how long and to what extent I have been separated from pop culture. There have been entire sitcoms, successful by any tv exec's standards, that I had never heard of and that have come and gone without my ever knowing they even existed. Entire careers of actors that I have never heard of have been made and broken since I last had cable. I originally got rid of cable because I was spending a lot of money and never watching anything. Usually I would just put it on one of the music channels and go about my business. Now I have the opposite problem. Now the first thing I do when I get home is turn on the tv and crank up the computer (I am watching a show about vampires as I write this). I AM OBSESSED!

Oh well, I'm sure it will work itself out. The internet connection is useful but I will have to see how the tv thing goes. If in a couple of months I am still obsessed with tv, or, on the other hand, have stopped watching it at all again I will probably just have it disconnected. But, in the meantime, I am going to soak up as much pop culture as I can get! ;)