Friday, November 30, 2007

Degenerate senate

Texas Senator Trent Lott announced his retirement this past Monday for his seemingly queer private endeavors. Yet another political figure who furtively partook in unorthodox sexual acts. Oh the horror. Paging Larry Craig, table for two.

Senator Lott allegedly had an affair with some male escort, “Private” Benjamin Nicholas. When asked about his relationship to Lott, Nicholas waffles by first confessing to a relationship with Lott, only then to deny the whole affair. You have to wonder why Nicholas would suddenly and completely change his story. These kind of things make my skin crawl and my body shudder. I guess senators hold some clout.

There is a blurred and almost nonexistent line between a celebrity’s personal and public life, and I am afraid that many celebs such as Lott just cannot cope with that. I realize that sen. Lott engaged in illicit affairs, and obviously that’s a no-no. But is Lott’s behavior really that deviant? Is consensual sex between two people, whether it involves money or not, ever not okay? People will participate in sexual activities as they see fit and no amount of force to the contrary can deter that completely. It’s is almost an usurped civil liberty. And we all know that when people are denied something that they feel they inherently have the right to, well, the result is not pretty. Escort systems and prostitution are together an inexorable wave that will remain pulsating irrepressibly underground.

As a guy man myself, I can conceive why Lott and other “gay”, “bi”, "whatever" men/women are forced into perchance illicit dealings. It is not enough that we as a society aren’t wholly accepting of homosexuality, but we lawfully push and expect conventional heterosexual-like relations in the gay arena. Hypocrisy abounds.

Resource and credit to: In the Pink Texas, "Big Head Lott" blog

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Response, blog

I hate to seem like I'm always railing on Texas' politics but this is my blog, so I thought I would call into question the way elections go here in celebration of this coming Tuesday's elections. At the risk of sounding like Dennis Miller, Andy Rooney or some horrible hybrid of the two I will proceed.

First of all, who are we voting for? I understand electing the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor but some of the other stuff is absurd to me. The Attorney General? I don't really feel great about entrusting the selection of the state's top law enforcer to what amounts to a fund raising and popularity contest. Then when he or she gets elected it's only to build name recognition to run for some higher office. I didn't even know what a comptroller was when I moved here as we didn't have one in NH, but once I found out it seemed kind of foolish to be electing someone to be in charge of our tax dollars. There are a bunch of other examples but the most heinous to me is the idea of electing judges. All of these positions I mentioned require education and special skills that would seem to make selecting people for them better suited for a meritocracy than democracy. Don't get me wrong, I like being able to influence my government but I don't trust many average joes or even myself to be picking who is the best person to decide court cases, try them or manage public accounts. It's not just that... the more things people have to vote for, the less they research each one and just pick the nicest name or something equally random.

Second thing is that it seems like people try to keep the election a secret here and the paltry voter turnout is evidence that speaks to that. I hardly so any ads in the recent elections save for presidential ads in 2004. Back in NH elections - and not just the "world famous" primary election - were veritable holidays. I ask people if they voted on election day here and they look at me like I'm crazy. They either have no interest or no idea that elections are taking place. I just don't know how people can't know or aren't old an election is coming up and how important it is. I remember people standing out in 20 degree temperatures just to hold their candidates signs at the polling place or waiting in lines in that cold to go vote. Here I see no people with signs and I can scarcely find the polling place and it's usually empty when I go in. It boggles my mind.

One thing I like about the elections here and that might be skewing my evaluation of turnout and interest is early voting. I understand how a lot of people can't get out of work or get transportation to a certain place on a certain day, so stretching it out into a window of time like Texas has done is a fantastic idea to me. Anything that gets more voters to the polls is a good thing in my estimation. That way we're coming closer to a consensus on who we've elected.

So in review, I think Texas would do well to follow the model of the federal government and give the Governor the levity to appoint people to jobs that ought to be based on merit rather then have us elect them. Also I'd like to see a little more promotion of the elections, whether by the state or the individuals' campaigns. Lastly, I commend Texas on the early voting system and admit that it could be why turnout looks low to me. Overall though, I think elections could be more voter friendly here.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Now that's un-American

Apparently I am mal-informed and/or slightly ignorant of Texas' current events. But, unbeknownst to me until a few days ago, there are elections this month. Not a presidential election, God no. We have to suffer through a full and long year of presidential campaigning. Up for vote this month are 16 ballot propositions. This year’s Proposition 2 will allow the “Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to issue bonds providing low-interest, low-fee student loans,” so says the TX Higher Education Coordinating Board’s propaganda sheet. Specifically, loans will have 6% interest and a six-month grace period with “income sensitive” repayment schedules.
Ideally, college should be accessible to most if not all individuals. There are many countries, as you may know, that have national universities where tuition is free. That’s right, FREE. Not thousands of dollars a semester, but free. Of course, when it comes to tuition, cheaper is better. But what are the downsides to proposition 2? If it were so easy to afford cheap loans, why start now? Reasonable student loans may increase college’s attractiveness but at what non-fiscal cost? Proposition 2 will not, purportedly, increase taxes. All responsibility rests with the borrower and not innocent bystanders. But proposition 2 runs the risk of annexing college and high school. Not actually, but theoretically. Education should be available and affordable for everyone; proposition 2 has its allure. Ideally: college matriculation and graduation increase; specialized job industry and employment increase. In summary, education should be less a matter of expense and accessibility and more a matter of necessity and desire. Graduating college students (the supposed leaders of tomorrow) shouldn’t start their careers the debt-laden burdens of society. No, that’s a paradox of American society.

Reference: In the Pink Texas blog: