Why I Vote in Iraq

9 03 2010

I admit to being conflicted about whether or not to vote in the Iraqi “OCV” or out-of-country voting elections held over the weekend here in Chicago (and in dozens of locations around the world), an admission that would earn me pretty nasty accusations of being uncaring or betraying the Assyrians still in Iraq. Iraqi Assyrians are counting on a strong turnout in the OCV voting to balance the regular vote theft that happens locally and to give an extra nudge to the most popular Assyrian slate, al-Rafidain, the slate of the Assyrian Democratic Movement, the largest and most active Assyrian political organization in Iraq.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Iraqi OCV Voting in Chicago“, posted with vodpod

Nevertheless, I don’t live in Iraq. And while I do care deeply about what happens there, the results of the election won’t effect me in any way as deeply as it effects the people who do live there. Why should my vote, made half a world way and with no understanding of the day-to-day life of people in Iraq, count as much as the vote of some nineteen year old whose only life experience is war and occupation and who desperately wants to believe that democracy can make a difference in his life?

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In Defense of Saturday Night Live

6 03 2010

I was a bit of a homebody, periodically, as a kid. I watched, admittedly, a lot of television–or, at least, I used to leave the television on a lot when I did whatever it was I was doing. From about the age of ten, the only show that consistently held my attention was Saturday Night Live.

Saturday Night Live, because it has lasted so long and nurtured so many sense of humor in their formative phases, gets accused every handful of years of being stale, with people hearkening back to their own personal “golden era” of the show. When I was a kid, people still remembered the early cast fondly. When I was in college, people used to reminisce about Sandler, Farley, Spade, Nealon. Now, people look back at the Ferrell or Fey era as the “last time” it was any good.

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Never Mind the Millionaires, Here Come the Teachers Unions

1 03 2010

The crusade to privatize Chicago’s (and America’s) public schools is not the same thing as a desire to reform our schools. You can believe in charter schools within a public school system to innovate curriculum (I do) and believe that there has to be some peer review process to allow schools to get rid of bad teachers more easily (I also believe this) without buying into the massive privatization scheme being sold as the only way to reform education. Our schools are failing and we need to address that problem. Is injecting the profit motive into school districts, unraveling civil service protections and slashing pay and benefits for teachers, and allowing “problem” children to fail the only way to do it? Privatization zealots want so desperately for you to believe that, but in order to believe it, you have to make some extraordinary and irrational assumptions.

For the school privatization behind Renaissance 2010 to make any sense, you’d have to think that something in the order of 1/3rd of Chicago’s teachers are bad teachers that should be fired (the union has shrunk by an estimated 5,000 teachers in the last ten years), you’d have to answer “yes” to the first follow up, and have to be oblivious to the fact that it was highly-paid “education professionals” who hired them (and kept them long enough for them to get tenure).

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