Judas Iscariot, promiscuity and Eric Clapton

Over the course of the past several months, a few experiences made me want to discuss personal responsibility. Some of this is going to be satirical, some theological, some philosophical; all of it will be real to me, and I hope you enjoy the “diversity” in this post. For my non-Christian readers, don’t run away so fast – there are some lessons here I think all can enjoy.

It all started in October at a church conference. A leader of the LDS Church, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, gave a talk discussing personal responsibility and submitted we should quickly consider our role in situations we experience. He began by discussing the night Christ fellowshipped with his disciples for the last time:

It was our beloved Savior’s final night in mortality, the evening before He would offer Himself a ransom for all mankind. As He broke bread with His disciples, He said something that must have filled their hearts with great alarm and deep sadness. “One of you shall betray me,” He told them.

The disciples didn’t question the truth of what He said. Nor did they look around, point to someone else, and ask, “Is it him?”

Instead, “they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?”

In a time (today) where pride is often in the way of responsibility and blame is easier than personal reflection, most of us (Christian or not) can learn something quite valuable from this part of Christian history and the lesson it teaches.

While I believe in Christ – that He is man’s Savior – I fully recognize the belief isn’t shared by several of my readers. I am going to address this story and the lesson we can all learn (including me) in a fashion hopefully all people will have an open mind to, without dismissing it due to the faith-based foundation it carries.

Here we have a leader who freely allows His followers to come and go with no requirement, no coercion, no force of government to stay. He teaches and doesn’t rule. He offers spiritual guidance, not earthly gain. Whether the reader believes His words or not, his followers apparently do… to the point of leaving their earthly possessions behind to follow Him, learn from Him and fellowship with Him.

Imagine that amount of dedication to a cause, doctrine, and man. Imagine you are so sure of what you’re being told that in your heart you are willing to leave all that you have known behind, be chastised and ridiculed publicly, and still follow.

Now, imagine the man you had that much faith in says, “Hey, one of the dozen of you are going to betray me.”

(On a personal note: I have been truly betrayed one time in my life. It hurt so terribly bad; it took quite some time for me to come to grips with the fact it had been done. I say that to say betrayal is no small matter to me.)

Now back to the story at hand.

So here we are: a teacher teaching a foreign doctrine that is feasted upon by twelve disciples who are willing to leave everything they have in the belief that following His teachings will bring eternal exaltation. Now he is saying that one of the twelve of them will turn their back on him in the worst way imaginable.

Place yourself in this position. How easy would it be to take pride in your faithfulness and hope in what this teacher has taught to brush aside the idea it may be you who actually betrays Him? Yet, in this situation, each of these disciples personally reflects, is concerned with their dedication, and questions their own loyalty.

“Is it I?”

Not, “Surely it’s not me… which one of these rascals is going to do this?”

How meek. How humble. How “poor in spirit.” How much we could learn from this lesson, regardless of our theological doctrine. How different would the life we live and relationships we have be if instead of dismissing the possibility of us being wrong, we look at ourselves first in disagreements we have with our significant other, disputes with our employers, differences with our children.

“Where am I wrong in this situation?”

“What if I’m completely misguided in my position?”

“What have I done to contribute to this problem?”

What a phenomenal shift in relationship dynamics we could all experience.

Fast forward about 1,985 years!

Not long after this talk, I read a blog by Matt Walsh, a cynical and sarcastic blogger who addresses everything from politics to relationships. He calls them thoughts on “absolute truths (and alpaca grooming tips)”. Yes, much of his writings are amusing; all of them are very logical and thought provoking. The blog I’m discussing here, Ladies – it’s time to take responsibility for your failed relationships, is very crass – but something to think about.

The article was prompted by a woman who emailed him in reference to a previous article of his about men and their need to man up.

The lady emailed him, very bluntly, writing all about how men are to blame for her relationship failures and how the last “first date” she had didn’t even offer to give her a ride home in the morning.

WAIT WHAT?! Yeah, read that one again!

Matt so wonderfully responded to her via his article. What he says isn’t as profound as the fact that he said what so many of us would be thinking had we read any similar letter addressed to us. Her real problem is obvious.

What does he say that I’m sure this lady’s parents, family and friends probably wouldn’t say to her? “Sweetie, you’re creating your own world full of non-virtuous, disrespectful, childish, video-game obsessed men by the choices you make. By the way, that mouth on you isn’t doing you any favors.”

Seriously, the lady rants for quite some time with foul language, assumptions and accusations that ensure any reader the woman has no concept of what her choices have done to her “love” life.

But her love life isn’t the point right now… though I would encourage you to read the article (for a head-shaking moment if nothing else).

The point is she is representative of so many people I have come across over the past few years. Not necessarily with people’s love-life problems, per sé, but in general it’s the fact many people seem to think that their problems are typically due to the actions of others.

Sad; truly very sad. I say sad because people that refuse to self-reflect are ones that continue making choices that bring their life to the same conclusions that are self defeating. It’s almost an addiction to severe emotional self-destruction; the first sign of the addiction is denial. You do something, the results make you hurt/mad/sad, you blame others for those feelings and that outcome, then turn around and do the same thing again.

I want to take a minute to clarify that I did specifically say, “I have come across [these attitudes] over the past several years.” It’s not that I just now started to encounter these things; it’s that before these past “few years” I was the same type of person. I didn’t notice it in me or others – it was a subconscious way of life.  So, as much as I’m talking, I’m talking to myself – a reminder of what can happen to me if I’m not vigilant of my own flaws.

Here’s the point: for us as individuals and as participants in relationships (and society) to continuously seek self improvement, we have to be willing to nakedly look at our self. Our flaws. Our faults. In every situation we happen to experience, regardless of success or failure of outcome, we need to consider the true impact we’ve had on the situation.

Don’t over overcompensate for pride in success; don’t ignore reality to save face in failure.

The fact of the matter is that we can accuse others, we can blame a ubiquitous adversary, we can even blame “luck” or “fortune”, but the reality is that we can only control our own actions, behaviors and attitudes. To assume luck, fortune or others can be changed easier than we can change ourselves is about as “non-virtuous, disrespectful (to ourselves) and childish” as it gets.

Let us all take a hint from one of the masters of music, Eric Clapton: Before we accuse others, let us look at ourselves.

Murder, gay rights and… scooters? Seriously?!

I don’t think I need to go any further on the “gay rights” part of the title than to mention a quick skim of previous blogs (here and here) will give you an explanation of the happenings in the Springfield, Missouri community.

So on to the “murder” part of the title.

Over the course of the past two months, six people have been murdered and two more shot within walking distance of my home (here, here, and here). Our local officials are split on whether public safety should be a priority, and if so how making it a priority should be carried out (here). The Police Department union has recently picketed outside City Hall (here) due to their disgust of city government.

You would think this would be enough to keep our City Council on their feet, busy, trying to find an extinguisher to put out whatever fire they can and as soon as possible.

So, imagine my surprise when I open the paper today and see two of our councilmen playing with matches.

Yep! Apparently the nanny state concept has once again popped it’s little head out in Springfield.

It seems we now need to discuss how to regulate scooters! Yes, as if our city officials didn’t have their hands full, we are now going to discuss whether or not we need to regulate scooters by telling their operators they need helmets, insurance, and can’t have more than one person on a scooter at a time.

I want to laugh and cry at the same time. What a joke!

Here’s an idea. Given the fact we have as many, if not more, bicycle riders on the road than we do scooters, and given bicycles go just as fast as scooters (30mph for bicycles, also stated as the top speed for a 50cc scooter in the News-Leader article linked above), and given many of the bicyclists I’ve come across think they have the right to ignore traffic laws (especially stop signs), let’s place the same rules on bike riders as we do scooter drivers. And if we don’t or aren’t willing to do the same, we have a false argument.

It’s about safety and needing to cover costs in accidents – so say the advocates. I would argue that at 30 miles per hour a bicycle would do damage to a car and also would have the same impact to a human head in an accident. So there is now a need to use police to babysit bike riders who don’t have helmets on… and they will need to “show their papers” when pulled over.

Further, we should tell all children to stop letting other children ride on pegs as passengers.

Honestly, I don’t even really know how else to argue such a ridiculous concept. Do we really need to have our city council deciding trash like this? Yes, this is trash.

My thought is all the people in favor of this… all ten of them… are people who simply get irked by scooters on the road. It’s about their pet peeves, not about any true concern for safety.

That’s what I submit to you.

While I write this, I do have a request to the city to get some stats on bicycle vs car accidents and also scooter vs car accidents.

I can’t wait for the results; if I was a betting man I would bet it will confirm to us all this is exactly what it sounds like: Trash!

Me, Jess Rollins, and the world around us

In August, News-Leader reporter Jess Rollins wrote an article titled Me, Nick Ibarra and the shame of a nation. I thought I would reciprocate, hence the title of this post.

Recently, Jess wrote another article, What does a veteran think when taps are played.

As I read it, I started to get the same feelings he talks about in his article: a bit of anxiety, a dash of panic, and a sadness that comes with the meaning of Taps.

Soon after the article, I began a conversation via email with another veteran, one who is now in television media. We talked about the disappointment many had when I went downhill personally, leading to my resignation as the Zone 1 City Councilman in Springfield, Missouri.

Last night, at church, a newly elected county representative spoke to the church Boy Scouts and stated the one thing he regrets in life is not joining the military and that doing so – in general – is an honorable thing. Knowing that, at minimum, there was me and one other veteran with PTSD in the room, I was fascinated by the truth to the statement, but also the caveat two of us in the room live with because we believe in that statement.

These three things, along with the feelings that come with them, prompted this writing.

I remember when I was a kid and loved watching war movies. The heroics, the patriotism, and the idea that one man could become a part of something bigger than himself were all things that made the concept of military service appealing. That, along with the long train of military men and women in my family, led me to join the Marines in 1998.

After I was discharged in 2002, Iraq and Afghanistan started to heat up. Watching reports day after day, I got to the point of “being the football player on the sidelines of the Super Bowl I had trained for years to participate in” syndrome. So I called the recruiter, told him to send me to Iraq, and told him I wanted to go outside “the wire”, or outside the confines and safety of the military base and into a hostile zone.

I got what I asked for.

This writing is not to reminisce, so we’ll suffice to say that after 47 convoys, I saw more than I needed to in order to understand that war is a phenomenal (remarkable and extraordinary) experience.

What is more phenomenal is the fact that the brain does things that are beyond the understanding or awareness of the person it is doing those things to.

I will never forget reading the police report from when I was charged with assault (part of my downhill sprial). In particular, the statement from my stepfather, who is a Vietnam Veteran with PTSD. When interviewed, he stated that I had been “mad” since I came home from Iraq.

I read it, re-read it, and re-read it. He was right. However, I didn’t realize it until that moment.

At the time I read the report I had just started to come to terms with the fact I had been diagnosed with PTSD. I mean, what “others” said was PTSD. I knew what PTSD was… and I wasn’t having flashbacks and thinking I was literally back in Iraq, hiding under tables, waking up choking people; none of that.

All I was dealing with were small things that were “supposedly” what PTSD “is supposed to look like.” As I learned more about PTSD and about myself, I realized that what I thought was PTSD is not the “only” PTSD that exists.

I was always anxious. I was always with a gun because “who knows when the store is going to get robbed or a carjacking is going to happen, and I need to be there to protect those who need help.” I could at all times tell you who appeared to be the biggest threat in a crowd. I would see trash cans curbside for pickup and think about how many explosives a terrorist could fit in to it for the perfect roadside bomb. I got stomach butterflies when watching movies like Black Hawk Down or Hurtlocker. I would get sad at the sound of Taps and cry thinking about the “bombs bursting” when the National Anthem played. I would need to control things… all things… because not controlling them meant I didn’t have control. I could continue with symptoms, but the point is I never took it for me having a problem. Until I was forced to.

As difficult as the circumstances were that brought me to having to deal with it, the stubborn Marine in me probably wouldn’t have been able to do it any other way. Regardless, I did and am dealing with it and wouldn’t trade the journey of recovery for anything – it’s mine and it’s unique.

Going back to Jess’s article on Taps: he hates Veteran’s Day… and loves it, too. I agree.

I hate war movies, and love them to.

I love the concept of young men and women wanting to serve their country, and hate it, too.

I have respect for Jess that he wrote the article, but hate the fact that the concept of what he is really saying is beyond the comprehension of most.

That last part is what I want to conclude with. I hate the concept that as well written as the article was, most people do not truly understand what he means. I don’t know how to explain it, but I’m reminded of a quote from a Soldier at the Battle of Khe Sanh (Vietnam): “For those who fought for it, freedom has a flavor the protected will never know.” That flavor doesn’t go without a bitter after taste.

Thanks, Jess, both for the article and for the continued effort to keep in the spotlight what so many men and women are dealing with.

Thanks, Jess, for reminding me that I’m not the only one who has a love/hate relationship with the world around me.

Saw it coming from a mile away

You ever find yourself in a situation that, if you were a betting person, you would go all in on what is about to happen? Well, this is one of those stories.

I’m was in a hurry yesterday. After several meetings for local politics I had to hurry back to the store and get some merchandise packed and off to the post office before they closed. I scurried about from the store to the library (to print postage) then to the Post Office.

As I walk in, I realize I’m not the only one that is making the last minute rush to the mailman. I am about 20th in line. But, to be honest, I didn’t mind; I was glad to have made it in time after promising two overseas customers I would have their items shipped that day.

As I walk in I notice two men sitting at a desk, not in line. As we move forward in line the two men remain sitting there. Younger fellas, they appeared to just be hanging out at the desk and not in line.

Well, as I move forward about five or six places, they get up and get three places in front of me.

The lady directly in front of me, an older white lady, turned around and asked me if I saw what she just saw. I told her yes, it appeared to me they decided the line wasn’t going to get any shorter so they chose where they wanted to be in line and took that place.

The lady in front of me then turned to the two gentlemen and mentioned, “Typically we start in the back of the line, not just in the middle.” The two men then said they were already there and had just taken a seat waiting for the line to move forward and away from the door where the breeze was blowing in. This lady asked them again, then raising her voice, she said that they needed to go to the back of the line.

At this point a gentleman, appearing to be not with the two “line cutters”, turned around and said the two men who appeared to be cutting had actually been in line, got out of line to sit, then decided to get back in line as the line became shorter.

Well, not only did this upset the lady in front of me, but so did the fact that even as they were in line, they were not “in line”… they were standing to the side goofing off, playing on their phones, joking around. My thought is that they were some young kids that, like many other late teen/early 20 year olds, have little etiquette or appreciation for the social norms those of us a little more… “vintage”… might have. (Now, I know many of my readers are a little more “vintage” than me, but let’s just say I believe my generation (late 70s early 80s) are some of the last who appreciate social norms and appropriate behavior, and believe they still have a place in society.)

At this point the lady, now irate, asks me to watch her stuff and keep her place. I told her sure, not knowing what she was doing. She was getting a manager to complain.

It was at this time I realized that if this escalated any more, I could see where it was going to go from a mile away. What I saw from a mile away did not happen because I’m good at psychology, but because it is that “simple” to read the general public.

No sooner did the thought cross my mind did comments from those in front of me start. They went in just the direction I thought they were going to go. to The patrons were “sure they knew just what this was about.”

What was it they were so sure about, you may ask? Oh, yeah, forgot to mention the two guys we’re talking about who were “cutting”… they were black.

And yes, it went there very quickly. The old white lady returned, visibly more upset than I thought it was worth. She continued to tell them they had cut, and those in front of the two men who had “cut” began to tell her that she needed to tell everybody present what “this was really about.” The words “simpleton” and “close minded” came out and in the direction of this one lady.

At one point the manager had to come out and tell everybody to calm down or she was going to get the Postmaster. Eventually it died down, but not before the line itself died down.

As people were leaving, the same manager was at the door apologizing for the disruption. When it came to my turn to receive her apology I told her she handled herself well. I also mentioned that I saw the race-card coming from a mile away. She said she saw it herself.

After I left I got to thinking. Maybe the older white woman in front of me was racist. Maybe she was an old KKK member. Fact is I don’t know and neither did anybody else. All that was clear was an older white lady tried to correct some young black men. That, in itself, is apparently racist.

As I left I had a heavy heart. Sure, it was apparent that maybe those kids were in fact there before we were. However, I don’t believe that gives them the right to assume their place in line is going to be held. It doesn’t. And what’s more, it deeply saddens me to know that regardless of the fact they were sitting down, away from the line, and until they decided it was convenient to get in line, what really mattered to three or four people is the color of the skin of those who were involved.

We say we want to get past race; however, we throw race in the mix any time something is awry and the cards are stacked against the minority. We can look to national stories and local stories and see that if race can be made a factor and you’re white, you lose in the public’s eye.

Until we can truly look past the color of one’s skin, and I mean all sides of the aisle, all races, in all situations, we are not going to ever truly know what it’s like to live in a society that judges men “by the content of their character” and not the color of their skin.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I come to this post as a half white/half Mexican kid who was a “cracker” in California, a “Spic” in Missouri, and been in fist fights with people because my step dad is black, making my mom a “Nigger Lover.” I have faced the racism from black people and white people alike.

What saddens me most is the close-minded attitude that people have when they think that they are providing some type of social justice and believe they are somehow more enlightened with their attitudes and dispositions, rather than seeing the reality: that they are as “simple” as they are accusing others of being.

Not a movie review; rather, a submission for modern classics

As the movie came to a close I looked over to see tears in my wife’s eyes. Now, to say that a lady cried at a movie is one thing, but to say that a young, business owning, assertive, strong woman has tears is another. And that is what I’m saying.

The movie was that good, and I’m sure the book is better.

The Giver, starring Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes, and Jeff Bridges, is a movie adaptation of the book by Lois Lowry. Though I haven’t read the book, I plan to in time. However, the movie itself (which books always outdo movie adaptations) was phenomenal. I’m sure that after reading the book, I will place it in the same area of my bookshelf that holds 1984, Atlas Shrugged, Brave New World and Animal Farm.

In this movie, what I’m going to concentrate on, we have a society in which things are utopian: there is no pain, no war, no hate, no differences in people – everything is in perfect harmony.

At the end of childhood, each teenager is taken from their assigned homes and given work assignments… from the lowest to the highest of jobs, the “Chief Elder” (Streep) assigns the future of each young adult. That’s right, this is when you start to see that utopia has it’s flaws… choice is no longer existent, even when choosing one’s own career path. In the words of the “Chief Elder”, “When people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong.”

Jonah, the main character, is assigned as the new Receiver. He is teamed up with the current Receiver, Jeff Bridges. The Receiver is the one individual in this utopian community that has the knowledge of past events – the history of man.

As the plot unfolds, Jonah realizes the dystopia in what is supposed to be the utopian society he has always known. As he learns more and more from Bridges, he finds that the community he lives in  has taken away the meaning of life – personalities, feelings, emotions, family.

I won’t ruin the movie for those who wish to see it, so I’ll stop with the review and leave you biting your nails.

As I watched this movie I thought much about our society – the current American way of life. I thought about how far away we have gotten from the America we once knew. It is my firm belief that the utopia presented in The Giver is one that many people seek to embrace in our world, and trying to reach that distant place is why we are where we are.

It is fearful to me that we will continue going down this path, and I’ll attempt to explain why I fear the loss of many of the things that have made our world great. I’ll give a second shake at poetry for my blog. I hope it is enjoyed.

In a world where we have climate control,
We risk losing snowflakes and Autumn leaves.

In a world where there is no feeling of defeat,
We can’t embrace the value of victory.

In a world where there is no pain,
We lose the excitement of joy.

In a place where differences are taken away,
We lose the art of celebrating diversity.

In a land in which we lose our ethnicity,
We have the inability to celebrate multi-culturalism.

In a world erased of hate,
We find the intensity of love is lost.

In a land where we can find utopia,
We really find we have lost individuality.

May we not find utopia,
For in doing so we will lose ourselves.

A veteran’s thoughts for Veteran’s Day

As we approach the coming holiday in which we celebrate veterans who served our nation, I hope that each of us takes the time to ponder what that actually means.

I am one who served with the Marines for five years; four during peace time and one serving as a vehicle commander running convoys out of Fallujah, Iraq. Those convoys, many of them hostile, changed who I am and how I will forever view life.

I’m no different than the millions of other veterans who have experienced similar situations. Many of these veterans are not in good situations, and I personally count myself blessed to have been through what I have and, as my counselor has put it, still be at the card table refusing to fold. But hey – I’m a Marine; expect any different?

However, there are as many as 22 veteran suicides per day, equaling pretty much one per hour. The men and women who served come home to a situation they are not prepared for, many times leading to broken homes, homelessness, and legal trouble (so often that many communities are implementing Veterans Courts).

In short, the price paid has been massive. In our time off of work (for some), attending parades, or while we see all the signs about Veteran’s Day Sales, I do hope we take the time to recognize the sacrifice those who served have made. Specifically, I do hope that when we see the remaining WWII and Korean Vets, we thank them for their service. As much as that, when we see Vietnam Vets, I hope we can all give them the “welcome home” they never received.

As I end this post, I do want to leave you with a poem I wrote during my final days in Iraq. I hope you enjoy.

The Marine
From the Lexington Green to Fallujah,
Patriots have stood by one another,
In defense of our nation’s liberty,
Fighting with each man as a brother.

Now it is my turn to go,
And to stand for what I believe,
I will do my part to defend my nation,
And won’t quit my post until properly relieved.

The sand makes the sun a little more bright,
And beads of sweat roll down my face,
It is my first time outside of “the wire”,
This feeling I will forever embrace.

Time has passed, missions have gone,
Repetitive motion has taught me to stay calm;
Thoughts often revert to family and friends,
And also to the 91st Psalm.

But I have to remain ready,
For when it happens, it happens fast;
And there is nothing I want less,
Than for any of us to become a memory of the past.

Now time is getting short,
Though my posture remains erect,
And looking back on time,
I begin to reflect.

I have received the command “Lock and Load”,
A total of 94 times,
I wouldn’t choose to do it again for a million dollars,
But wouldn’t trade the memory for that 10 times.

I’ve witnessed the wounded and carried the dead,
Helpless on the stretchers they straddle,
I’ve been close enough to being one myself,
To make my ears ring and my brain rattle.

In time I will look to these days,
A time when I kept my honor clean;
It will always make me stand taller,
Not only because I’m an American, but a United States Marine.

Sgt. N. Ibarra, USMC
Fallujah, Iraq
October 2005

The Thinker’s Picks for Election Day

Here are my thoughts on the Amendments we will see on Tuesday’s election ballot. I am only covering the Amendments given several factors, however I will say that generally speaking the Republicans in the area have done better at representing us than Democrats – but that’s all I have to say about that.

Here goes:

Amendment 2: I struggle with this one, but come down on the side of voting no. Basically what this Amendment will do is allow courts to consider previous charges of those who are on trial for sexual crimes. Now, on it’s face it is something I agree with – the fact is that sexual predators tend to repeat crimes and tend to have a pattern. However, the first issue I see is that the previous charge that can be considered doesn’t have to be one that the defendant was actually found guilty of… it can be a charge he was found not guilty of or even a charge that was dropped. I get that the guilty can get away with crimes, especially sex crimes. However, I can’t bring myself to the point that my conscience allows me to okay somebody being judged by a jury or judge for a crime he wasn’t found guilty of – that’s a real reach for me and I’m not okay with it. Further – sex crimes are what is at hand right now. However, I always ask myself, “will this be it?” The biggest concern I have is that in five years we will have lawmakers and activists try and do this same thing for other, less nefarious crimes, and say, “Well, we did it for sexual predators, why not do it for [drug dealers, those who assault others, thieves, etc.].” I will openly say I’m an advocate for avoiding the slippery slope. Now, I’ll say ahead of time, I’m sure this issue will win handily because of the emotion attached to it, but I do hope that those who read this will at least give my point of view reasonable consideration.

Amendment 3: I’ll be straight that in a situation where employees are going to be judged on merit, we need to vote for just that. Voting yes on Amendment 3 will do that. It will place teachers in the same boat as most of the rest of the non-union world; a boat where you keep your job and get promoted based on performance. It will put in place specific reasons they can be terminated (for failure to produce good results, basically). And it will disallow teachers to change this law through collective bargaining with their union. The fact is that if we don’t make clear our children are the priority, teacher unions will continue to think they have the upper hand with our children. These same unions often think as Al Shanker does; Shanker was a longtime president of the second largest teachers union in the nation. Along with openly admitting many teachers are highly underqualified, he was once quoted as saying the following: “When schoolchildren start paying their union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of the schoolchildren.” I am passionate, yes, but time and again we can find issue and example – one after another – of reasons our schools are failing to actually teach our kids. This is a vote in which we can say, “Yes”, teach our kids. Again, I believethis is going to fail – after all, the teachers unions are some of the most powerful unions in the nation, and they are opposed to this idea. But one can hope, no?

Amendment 6: Take note, my friends, because I agree with Democrat Sec. of State Jason Kander – vote no. We agree for different reasons, but none the less, we agree. Amendment 6 would allow early voting for no other reason than you want to. In my mind, not cool. It’s quite simple: with such mass amounts of voter fraud going on around the country (easily found all over the internet), the last thing we need is more ways to fraudulently vote. It’s that simple.

Amendment 10: On this Amendment I’m conflicted. This Amendment restricts what the Governor of Missouri can and can’t do with funds the legislature passes, limits his ability to spend money not yet authorized, and limits him from increasing or decreasing line item costs. I’m conflicted because I see two sides. I see the side that says Governor Nixon regularly withholds/threatens to withhold funds for education for political purposes. For that reason I would vote yes. However, I always look at the opposite – what happens if in the future the legislature tries to spend (let’s say) $387,000 on rabbit massages, and a future Governor wants to withhold those funds… for that reason I would vote no. What I think is that each person needs to do their own research (here and here) on this particular Amendment and make their own decision. However, I would personally vote no simply because a yes vote would be due to Jay Nixon – a particular individual – and not the concept itself.

And those, my friends, are the Thinker’s picks for November 4th.