Sunday, September 28, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
A few month ago I was missing family and home quite a bit. We are about to begin our 3rd year in Glasgow and I love it but was longing for sunshine and sisters and cousins and parents and family visits for the holidays. . .etc. So, when I heard the big news about my sister Charla moving to The Netherlands I was elated and still am. Feeling totally lucky I was already mentally planning to visit and have her close to us. THEN, another surprise fell from the stars making me the luckiest girl in town! For those of you who don't know my sister Bridget I have big news because she just moved to Glasgow and we live in walking distance from each other. And, she has 4 gorgeous children that are now living here too. Soren is in heaven and we're excited beyond belief. Going to the park with cousins has just quadrupled in fun and Soren is now part of their posse. He is doted on and is learning to go with their flow as they help him along. It's so heartwarming to see them together and he has taken a particular liking to Paris who is almost 5yrs now.
They share his imagination and love natural surroundings as well. Fairies live in the mushrooms and we bring Gruffalo eggs home from walks. Jason and Soren spotted the hot red mushroom (above) at The University of Glasgow campus the other day and had to bring me to see it also. Isn't it unbelievable!? We finally got a picture of it on the way home from church today. Sadly it had been knocked down but we put it back where it had been growing for the photo and added a picture of another enchanting smurf colony. For more mushroom photos check out Bridget's blog. Apples are growing on trees as we walk by and we picked four for the road. The beginnings of Fall are so wonderful here and with short days coming I'm getting ready to go inward physically and mentally (out of necessity).
I have so much to catch up on with my blog and I feel a bit overwhelmed. I'm 7 months along with my pregnancy and feeling healthy. More posts are coming. . . xo
Friday, September 19, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
With Ralph Nader in the race, Democrats are fuming and no doubt preparing to use the same legal tricks they used in 2004 to keep Nader off the ballot in many states. Republicans are cackling with glee.
But Republicans shouldn't cackle too loudly. They've also been hurt by the spoiler dilemma. In fact, the GOP lost control of the U.S. Senate due to Libertarian Party candidates in Montana, Washington, Missouri, Nevada and South Dakota spoiling things for Republicans. And many observers believe that Bill Clinton beat George H.W. Bush in 1992 only because Ross Perot drained away enough votes from Bush.
The problem is that the winners of our highest offices are not required to win a majority of the vote, either nationwide or in each state. Without a majority requirement, we can't be certain in a multi-candidate field that the winner will be the one preferred by the most voters.
How ridiculous: We can map the human genome, and send an astronaut to the moon, but we can't figure out a way to hold elections that guarantee the winner has a majority of the vote?
Naturally people are having flashbacks to the 2000 election, when George Bush beat Al Gore in Florida by only 538 votes, even though Bush lacked a majority of Florida's popular vote and Ralph Nader won 97,000 votes.
So much is at stake in a presidential election that we have to make sure that the winner this November can legitimately claim the presidency and try to heal a polarized nation. Yet despite the spoiler problem playing out in the 2000 presidential election and in various Senate races, neither Democratic nor Republican Party leaders have done anything to fix this defect of our electoral system.
Fortunately, it's not too late to address this problem. Since the U.S. Constitution delegates to states the method of choosing its Electoral College electors, each state legislature could pass into law - right now - a majority requirement for their state to ensure that whichever candidate wins, he or she will command support from a majority of that state's voters. We don't even need to do it in every state, since the race will boil down to a half-dozen battleground states, including the perennials Ohio and Florida.
Rather than asking Nader or any candidate to forego his democratic right to run for political office, the Democratic and Republican leaders could legislate this right now. What are they waiting for? Time is growing short, but it's in the public interest to protect majority rule.
One approach would be to adopt a two-round runoff system similar to that used in most presidential elections around the world and many southern primaries and local elections in the United States. A first round with all candidates could take place in mid-October. The top two finishers would face off in November, with the winner certain to have a majority.
But two elections would be expensive and time-consuming, both for taxpayers and candidates. So a better way would be for each state to adopt instant runoff voting (IRV), which accomplishes the goal of electing a winner with majority support, but getting it over in a single election. IRV allows voters to pick not only their first choice but also to rank a second and third choice at the same time, 1, 2, 3. If your first choice can't win, your vote goes to your second choice. The runoff rankings are used to determine a majority winner with only one election. Nader or Perot-type voters are liberated to vote for their favorite candidate without helping to elect their least favorite. IRV is used in Ireland and Australia for national elections, in San Francisco, Cary, N.C., and elsewhere for local elections, and in South Carolina, Arkansas and Louisiana for overseas voters.
Interestingly, IRV is supported by John McCain, Barack Obama and Ralph Nader.
Many people are criticizing Nader for risking a repeat of 2000, but only Democrats and Republicans have the power to change the rules of the game. We've seen this movie before and don't like how it might turn out. It's time for the Democrats and Republicans to produce a new ending by fashioning a fair, majoritarian system for electing our nation's highest offices
Originally published in the Philadelphia Daily News.
Steven Hill is director of the Political Reform Program at the New America Foundation and author of "10 Steps to Repair American Democracy" (www.10steps.net).
Friday, September 05, 2008
Where to begin. . . My dad came to visit for the last week that Jason was gone and we did some traveling around Scotland. The River and Loch Tay are so beautiful and we enjoyed Scottish pies and pastries along our drives. I always enjoy my dad's visits because of his free spirit and open mindedness. We rented a car and he took me to two of my short dance classes that I taught and the rest was fun free traveling. Soren was so happy to see his grandpa again and have some more company around the house. My dad took Soren fishing for the first time and he was excited, amazed, shocked and stressed about the fish after being caught. Poor little fishies! We brought home 2 big fish. My dad caught the first one and I caught the second one. After catching his fish he baited the line and got everything ready and then gave it to me. He said that if the float on the line goes under the water that means a fish is biting. So, while we were talking I looked out at the water and couldn't see the float! I tried to get my dad to take the line but he wanted me to catch the fish and so I did. I have mixed emotions about catching it.
This was my dad's 3rd trip to Scotland for a visit and he's been wanting to go fishing and take Soren to catch one. It was definitely a learning experience and I'm glad we realized that goal.
Here's a part of Soren's prayer that night after we got home:
Heavenly Father, Sorry that the fish bleeded. We cleaned it, no big deal. . .
Yes, he really said "no big deal" and was concerned very much for the fish. In his precious little voice it was the sweetest thing ever. Fishing is sad for me too but we were extra grateful and I must say that my dad is an excellent chef when it comes to cooking it.
After our journeys around Scotland he flew to London to meet Jason. London is fantastic with so many great museums that are FREE! We had a great time touring and reuniting with Jason--we missed him so much. We're all big fans of city bus tours and loved relaxing while seeing so many historic sites. The week with my dad flew by and saying good bye is always sad. I cried and that always makes my dad cry too. Thanks for everything dad!
Jason had our camera in Oxford while we were traveling with my dad so I'll be sure to post more green and lovely photos of Scotland when my dad sends them. . . and stay tuned for some great shots of Oxford from Jason as well.