Monday, February 29, 2016

Rights? Whose?

What are 'rights' anyway?  Webster takes a crack at an answer with; "Conforming with or conformable to law, justice, or morality.  Being in accord with fact, reason or truth."  So one might assume that those who purport to be Christians might have some sense of morality, justice and truth.  History suggests otherwise.

My major work in progress, a historical novel set in the late 17th century in Ireland, the Caribbean, and America, revisits the denial of rights to the native born people of those lands. From the endless schism between Catholic and Protestant in England and Ireland, to the impact of European invaders to the western hemisphere, denial of rights to the indigenous has been rampant. 

From even before Strongbow and the Norman invasion, through Oliver Cromwell and his new model army to continuing strife in modern Ulster, Irish Catholics have been denied rights.  Early laws set by invaders denied Irish ownership of land that was already theirs for generations, or even the right to sell a horse for a fair price. They could neither govern nor vote for or against those who did govern. The planting of Scottish protestants in Ulster started rebellions, civil wars and diaspora of Irish Catholic population.  'Adventurers', as they were called, financed many of the wars of the English Kings, (and 'Lord Protectors if you include Cromwell), were repaid with grants of Irish land and dwellings.  Rightful owners were evicted.  Resistors were imprisoned.

Cromwell demanded the eviction of all Irish Catholics to the rocky land west of the Shannon River.  Refusal led to enslavement.  The Irish had no rights in their own land.

Concurrently across the sea in the Americas, similar tyranny was happening.  Land generously given to white settlers was never enough.  Indigenous people were ultimately driven from their lands.  some times by force and sometimes with empty promises disguised in treaties that were usually broken. Native people lost control of their own existence as more white invaders flooded into America to escape tyranny in Europe.  And true to form, Andrew Jackson followed Cromwell's lead, ignored all previous treaty promises and banished Southeastern woodland tribes to west of the Mississippi.

Again, indigenous people had no control of their futures.  And the inequities continue even today.  Some tribal people are to this day struggling to gain even the basic rights that we who call ourselves 'Americans' take as a given.  Native people were not even considered citizen of the country until well into the 20th century.   The rights granted by treaties have been violated again and again.  Poverty stricken Reservation communities still campaign for donations to keep their families fed.     Basic human rights should not be denied to anyone, but particularly the people we invaded, stole land from, and lied to over and over.

America should be ashamed.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Sick of the Polls

The so called 'news' on TV these days, with all the debates and poll results are so tiresome.  No one talks about the statistical validity of their polls.  The average person who makes political decisions based on what they see on TV likely would neither listen nor comprehend how polls are conducted.  What is the universe of the data?  What demographic was polled?  How large was the sample?  What is the margin of error?  Is the result cumulative, the mean, the mode, or the median?

To get current worldly news, you must go to an alternative source like the BBC, or other international sources

I realize that this appears to be erudite ranting, but I don't have the confidence that people who go to the election polls really understand the process.  A couple of points to keep in mind when you go to vote:

  • In the primaries, you might think you are voting for the candidate, when in reality you are voting for the delegate that will vote for the candidate at the parties convention.
  • At the convention, many delegates are committed to their candidate only on the first ballot, or for a limited number of ballots.  Then they can change their vote to support someone who you might have opposed in the primaries. Or the delegates can place the name of a 'favorite son' from their state who didn't even participate in the primaries. The party conventions are a Political carnival.  And understand that not only the Democrats and Republican are convening, so are the Green party, The Libertarians, and other obscure political interests.  And their names might well be on the ballot come November
  • Even after the party's nominee is chosen at the convention and runs in the general election in November, the ultimate choice of a President is in the hands of the Electoral College.  So it is possible for a candidate to get a majority of the popular vote and still lose the election.
I'm no expert.  Your neighborhood Political Science professor can explain the process much better than I am able.  All I am saying is, 'Do your homework, Americans'  Understand and participate in the process.  Go to the polls and vote according to your values and not based on what you hear in the media.   You can make a difference.