Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Uptight Parents Brigade Fights Common Sense

This entry was first released at, part of the AOL Family. (Link)

I worked the late shift security for the Methacton's After-Prom this weekend. When I reported in, the buzz was a large number of kids didn't make it to the Prom because a parent rented a bus after allowing kids access to booze.

I saw my kid at the After Prom and he told me about a few kids who were fall-down drunk. The cops clipped them at the prom.

Ok, alcohol consumption is against the law. Personally, I think it is a stupid law, but kids are going to get swept up in this. Lawyers and the Justice System will get a payday. The kids will get racked up with records that will hold them back. And the idiot Uptight Parents Brigade (UPB) will get to click their tongues.

The local paper has been championing one such idiot who wants all the kids' names in public - just to make them feel worse. Maybe this person needs to feel morally superior. The funny thing is this parent's identity is being shielded behind the reporter's skirt. The reporter is giving this UPB member their secrecy. But that doesn't stop this person from whining that this is the somehow the worst prom they have ever seen. (I guess this person is lucky they haven't heard about the Prom Night tragedies that were the impetus for holding an After-Prom).

Meanwhile, another UPB idiot is talking to every camera that will power on. This one is putting her kid out there as some shining example. It is the same story - these kids have to be punished and their names exposed. The irony is the second UPB Member ran for school board and got trounced. In this case, the voters could not be more right in their assessments. I feel sorry for the kid.

Also - when you trot your kid out there, you are tempting Karma. Most parents of kids from about age 13 to 24 hold their collective breaths. Parents with sense whisper the phrase, "There but for the grace of God..." when something stupid happens.

When something stupid does happen - you don't need some UPB squawking about how you raise your kid.

The school so far is acting responsibly and intelligent in the face of these UPB's. Hey are giving no information out. It should stay that way.

Kids are stupid. It is axiomatic. It's nothing personal against your kid. In fact, we all go through that stage in life where we do stupid stuff. That's how we make our transition to being 'grown-ups'. That is why we used to have rules protecting kids from adult punishment. We don't have that anymore.

Kids test their limits. Every child is parentally guided on this transition from toddler to self-sufficient differently. It is growth for a parent too.

Anyone who has a clue knows that Proms will have booze. I am not excusing it - it is just a fact. The UPB's have forgotten what it was like to be a kid.

I am not going to directly excuse the kids who messed-up. They messed-up. I just think the penalties are too much for the kids.

I am sure the parent who ran this stunt will end up doing time. (So much for having at least a little sense to rent a bus to keep the compromised kids from getting behind a wheel.)

The kids messed-up in part because our society has messed up. To any post-boomer, the movie Dazed and Confused is our American Graffiti. It accurately reflects what it was like to be 15 in the mid-70's. (I was 15 in '76.) None of these UPB members can remember what they did. I guess the nastiest of them never got to do anything and are compensating.

It's not just the local Methacton UPB's, it is all the Law-and-Order types who take discretion out of the hands of Judges. If you are going to elect and pay someone based on their wisdom - let them use it.

I am not calling for the kids to get off scuff-free. But a record to trail them around for life when they are not out of high school yet is unfair - especially for a first offender. Messing up college for them - NO! Holding them back from Graduation? What does that really do? It puts a bad taste in the kid's mouth for good as the last high school experience.

But, it will make the hyper-punitive happy - and they are the ones who scream the loudest. Meanwhile the rest of us who worry and know moderation is the key in anything remain quiet. We can't seem to stand up to these people.

Instead of being punitive, why don't we get to the cores of the problem? There is nothing wrong with putting kids in a class to help them reflect on what any addiction (booze, drugs, gambling, etc.) can do. There is nothing wrong with getting some free labor for the community out of these kids via a service term. It would be a good thing to assign a stint at a rehab hospital where people recovering from DUI accidents are paying the real price for stupidity are healing. Scared Straight can work.

An unintended consequence of this may show up next year. If kids are going to feel pressured and hassled about the prom, maybe they don't go? Maybe some kids get tuned up in the parking lot and instead of going into a Prom where they'll get hassled, they stay behind the wheel for something worse. The whole point of the After Prom was to get the kids off the street after the Prom so there won't be tragedy.

You can accuse me of being soft on this topic, but if a kid has a problem with drugs or booze, I would rather see them inside on Prom night where they can be looked after and helped - not punished. Sometimes we have to have a No Questions attitude instead of a Zero Tolerance policy.

Here are some ironies. Many of the seniors (who don't get totally jammed up over this) will become college freshmen next year. Some will be going to schools participating in the Amethyst Initiative.
"The Amethyst Initiative (Link) supports informed and unimpeded debate on the 21 year-old drinking age."

Many of these signatory schools turn a blind eye to drinking in campus dorm rooms. Hmmm.
How about the military? Are they seriously carding 18 year-olds in uniform? Be real.

What the state and federal legislatures have done is bred contempt into the system. Laws about booze need to change. We are giving quazi-adults (18-21 year-olds) full adult punishments and records. The whole point of not having adult rules on kids is that they can't handle them.

If we as a society are saying that kids in this age group can't handle their liquor, why are we punishing them as if they can?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Enraptured with Local Politics

Origianlly posted on (Link).

I had a good time this weekend with all this Rapture stuff.

I worked my kid's post prom on Saturday Night. I don't think the public school would have taken kindly to getting a firehose to wash all the kids down in a last-ditch attempt to get them baptized. Although, I think the kids would have been agreeable to the idea because it was pretty hot in the gym.

On Facebook, I ran a couple of joke questions - feel free to participate.

Are you going to get Raptured tomorrow night? Link

So - How does it feel to be Raptured? Link

But after the (non-)event I began to think about something.

None of us were Raptured.

We were all Left Behind.

I find the entire Left Behind "literary" series almost self-mocking because of all the non-Christian stuff they do with pretzel-like logic precision for their own self-justification. It was written by modern Pharisees who care only for their own self-adjusted rules.

That means all the self-righteous boobs who climb on their crosses to tell the rest of us how wrong we are - well - they are - well - wrong.

As evidence - they are still here.

Do we have a body count of GOP Caucus members who disappeared? I think the number is somewhere around zero. Hey - maybe they aren't as perfect as they are saying.

Last week we had a Primary Election here in Pennsylvania. My town didn't have a strong local Democratic presence before the election. We had 5 School Board slots and 2 Supervisors running as the main local attractions. A week before the election the Democrats had one guy on the ballot for the school board race. Another woman stepped up late in the game. The party was running a write-in campaign for a woman with a long Italian surname.

There were 3 GOP candidates running for the 2 supervisor slots. No Democrats. One of the 3 GOP members was a Tea Party candidate. She opted to run a write-in on the Democratic side. The other two candidates who were endorsed by the local GOP followed suit.

By the end of the campaign things got murky as a local evangelical church began to politic for the Tea Party candidate. Evidently, they had her on the stage of the church getting the Pastor's blessing. The assistant pastor sent emails on how to help this person at the polls - to help convince Democrats.

It gets really murky because last fall this pastor had reached out to the local Democratic Party for assistance. He made noises that he wanted to run for school board. In fact, all this man had to do was say that he was running and the local Democratic Party would have given him an endorsement. He was qualified as he represented himself as having an advanced degree in Government. (In Pa., School Director is a non-partisan position and it would have been ok for him to run on both sides.)
It gets really, really murky because the church is located in the same building as the local trash hauler. The principles involved with this trash hauler are politically active. The firm uses an elephant as a trade mark (I can't make this up). After the last local election cycle the principals of the trash hauler actually sued a couple of the people running for supervisor. They are fighting for residential single-payer trash care for more towns in the area. (Wonder why more people don't step up to run?)

These factors combined themselves and the local Democrats finally got fed up. They were offended at what the Tea Party Candidate attempted to do and were even more offended at the bald nature of the politics practiced by the people in the church / trash hauler campus.

At 10:15 the night before the election, 2 Democrats stepped up and decided to run. The Democrats did phone calls to their own letting them know to get to the polls. This was not just an election - it was a literacy test. The Democrats ran 3 write-in campaigns at the same time.

By the time the dust cleared the Democrats had one candidate for School Board - the guy who properly filed with the most Democrats by far going for him. The woman with the long Italian surname had a remarkably strong showing but did not make it.

For Supervisor, the Democrats successfully took the first position by a wide margin and lost the second position by a short number to a non-Tea Party GOP member. On the GOP side the Tea Party person won with the other non-Tea Party member taking the second position. The Tea Party person was shut out of the Democratic ticket.

The fact is: had the Evangelical Church NOT gotten involved the Democrats would not have woken up.

With the non-Rapture this weekend, will GOP / Evangelical types reconsider their hell-bent self-righteousness in the political system? Will they be able to ask themselves why they weren't taken this weekend?

Can these folks see how they take the name of the Lord in vain (violation of 2nd Commandment - 15 year penalty with a demotion of 3 rings in hell with a heavy dose of bad karma) as they try to render more from the hand of Cesar than they are entitled (violation of the Word of Jesus - another 15 yard penalty with a potential IRS visit to talk about tax-exempt status)?

November is coming. Will the Democrats be able to stand up to these zealots as they pervert the political system?

Get involved to find out.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

It's the Bullies

Published: The Huffington Post 2011.05.05

Two weeks ago all we heard about was Birther garbage 'The Donald'-style; will President Obama cave to Paul Ryan on the budget/debt ceiling; can we get anything right as Seth Meyers was writing his jokes poking fun at the president's inability to get bin Laden.

I got sick of watching it. I got sick of seeing the president get pushed around. I was dreading the next year and a half as I was thinking to myself, why help this guy? Hell, the ONLY reasons I re-activated as a Democrat was because Joe Sestak as a Congressman stood up to some big interests in my hometown and I thought President Obama could actually do something. (I am fed up with my county and area parties.)

Sestak is gone -- replaced by GOP functionaries. Month after month of seeing this president absorb body blow after body blow made me punch drunk. It made me angry that he wouldn't hit back.

He was being pummeled by the school yard bullies. I am happy to stick up for someone who's getting hit, but I can't see extending myself for someone who won't at least attempt to stand up for themselves.

I don't know if it was the plan from the start to sucker the GOP so far down the rabbit hole that they cannot come back up with any credibility. Any of the GOP contenders now have a bankable array of spewed stupidity that can be used against them in a series of Willie Horton style attack ads next year. (The Democrats damn-well better be in the gutter fighting with this stuff.)

Was it The Donald's whining accusations that finally got the president to ball his fist, plant his back foot and start swinging?

I dunno -- but it sure looks good.

How politically coordinated was all this? After all, President Obama had a bead on bin Laden last August. Had this raid been conducted in October of last year would it have saved the Democrats in Congress? Even if it failed, President Obama would have gotten major points for at least showing he is in the hunt for bin Laden.

President Obama knew when the White House correspondents' dinner was marked on the calendar. He knew the GOP would start fermenting their presidential brew shortly.

In retrospect, Seth Meyers' prodding about bin Laden followed by the president's toothiest smile ever will certainly be worth buying the book of President Obama's Memoirs. I want to know what President Obama is really thinking at that moment. 

Humor is a sword that does a great deal of political damage. You just don't know who it is going to damage. Poor writing or delivery is public hari-kari. Would you pay to hear the comedy musings of Michael Dukakis or Rick Santorum? This president can hold his own with anyone.

The surgical political castration of Donald Trump performed by Dr. Obama was something to behold. Was Dr. Steven Colbert DFA, taking notes on that one? It will make for a good peer review session.

But all that means nothing and everything in reality. It means nothing because it doesn't create or save one job, or get our guys home a moment sooner from overseas, or pay for another breast exam. But it means everything because now President Obama has finally bought the political ammunition to fight the real battles ahead.

Now that President Obama has exorcised our national boogeyman he can get down to really governing (btw, all the confusion on Osama/Obama can be solved by using the surname of the man who's head we have gotten into).

When you punch back at the bullies, they tend to fade away.

President Obama has finally stood up and taken his ground. Can the Paul Ryan led GOP really offer any resistance? Can President Obama call these bullies out for what they are when they try to attack Medicare to give their buddies more tax breaks?

President Obama had the best arguments against the GOP a couple of weeks ago when he put the Mediacare/Fatcat fight in terms of how many seniors will be giving up $6,000 apiece to give people who don't need it more money. That argument went into the tidal wave of information overload never to come back.

The seismic shift in the political landscape has the GOP down on the ground as they were in February of 2009. The president cannot let these guys back up. 

Since the GOP likes getting into wars so much, President Obama can use the GOP language against them. President Obama can start by telling Congress what he will veto upon arrival. 

He can start with the Ryan Budget by renaming it the GOP War on Seniors Act quickly followed by the equally obscene HR 3 -- also known as the GOP War on Women Act.

And we all know that GOP Wars tend to fight the wrong people.

These bullies need to be put in their place.

Please do it Mr. President.