In this season of cynicism and spin I would like to point those that aren’t already familiar to Factcheck.org. Thankfully I’m not subject to the droves of “context-free” political ads on TV, as I don’t get any channels at home, but I always check Factcheck.org after political debates. It provides excellent coverage on both candidates and what was said, not said, and totally mischaracterized.
As with all things, DEMAND CONTEXT, check the facts, and make up your own mind. Above all, pay attention. This election requires more effort on your part than listening to the talking heads, sound bites, and believing that when someone says “you can check” that they’re telling the truth and not just hoping you won’t actually check.
We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.
Go there now.
The Iraq War turned 5 years old this week.
While driving I heard something on the radio that moved me and brought a different level of reality to the war for me. A soldier named Brian Turner writing a blog for the New York Times considers the last American soldier to die for that war. This is what I heard:
Who can say where that last soldier is now, at this very moment? Kettlemen City. Turlock. Wichita. Fredricksburg. Omaha. Duluth. She may be in the truck idling beside us in traffic as we wait for the light to turn green. He may be ordering a slice of key lime pie at Denny’s, sitting at a booth with his friends after bowling all night. What name waits to be etched on a stone not yet erected in America? Somewhere out in the vast stretches of our country, somewhere out in Whitman’s America, out among the wide expanse of grasses, somewhere here among us the last soldier may lie dreaming in bed before the dawn as the sun sets over Iraq.
As soon as I got home I tracked down the whole piece. You can read it here: “Requiem for the Last American Soldier to Die in Iraq” and I hope that you do.
I’m breaking the silence!
I’ve been quiet for quite a while.
I’ve been back for over two months and no posts? Yeah, honestly, I wanted to avoid it for a while. That, and I really have been incredibly busy!
I ended up leaving the country again three weeks after I got back. Summer and I flew down to Cabo for a week and, I have to say, it was an incredibly relaxing time! It actually felt like a vacation. All inclusive food and booze, we ate and drank and lay in the sun.
After that trip it was back to work. There was some adjustment to the return to responsibility and actually having to be places at specific times but it happened quickly.
Life sped up immeasurably at that point. It really was interesting to go from a leisurely snails pace to the fuel-injected speed of what is everyday life for Americans. I got to see it happen.
Since then I’ve been re-exploring my many hobbies and developing new ones. Summer and I are buying a house (keep your fingers crossed). Those of you that have been through that know what an educational experience it can be. We should know in the next weeks if we got the one we wanted.
And finally, in a couple weeks, I’m off to Washington D.C. for Super-Tuesday to see how that town deals with the playoffs for this country’s political Super Bowl.
Well that’s the update. I’ve been staring at the blog for a while now thinking “I should write something” so I did. Now… let’s move on…
As we enter into the throws of the Mid-Term elections, I have a question. How can you prove to me that my vote was actually counted and counted correctly?
In Oregon we use a Vote-by-Mail system that has been heralded as an enormous success in raising voter turnout and easing stress. I find the system terribly convenient as I drop my ballot into a collection site at 2am, but I’m still left to wonder if the ballot will ever make it back to be counted. And if not, how do I rectify that situation and make sure it was counted?
I think about all the issues we have with voter registration, polling place contention, voting machine error, dangling chads and the like and think that we should have some system of accountability for our votes.
Note: This is not a fully developed idea. There are some holes in my process.
Why couldn’t my ballot have a uniquely identifiable number on it that, once cast and counted, I could validate it? I could easily log onto a website or dial in to an automated telephone system, and verify that yes my vote had made it through the collection process and into the categories I wanted.
I realize there would be problems in correcting the vote if it appeared incorrectly. Why not attach a pull-off tab that had my copy of the uniquely identifiable number on it? Or put the same serial number on the paper receipt that some states have required from the new electronic voting machines?
Basically I just want to know that my vote counted and I see no other way to do that than to just “trust” that everything went according to plan.
Anybody else have any ideas?