Yes, I know it is way too early to be bringing up the subject of the 2016 presidential race. There are still eight months to go until the 2014 Mid-Term Elections when all of the House of Representatives and a third of the US Sentate are up for a vote of confidence or to fill what are now open seats.
Hey, it's the second weekend in March. March Madness is not in full swing yet. The Mid-Terms aren't generating much buzz yet. CPAC is going on in Washington DC where there will be a straw poll of who conservatives would like to run for president. The crisis in Ukraine is dominating the news broadcasts.
So for a diversion, let us look through the cornstalks not yet planted this year.
Whether a Republican, Democrat or independent or some other political party, let's play a game of Pin the Tail on the Politician.
No matter your political persuasion or ideology, I have set up another Cornfield Poll to let you choose your preference for both the Democratic and Republican nominee to face-off in 2016. There are two questions which provide a choice of a Democrat and of a Republican. A third question is an open text to allow you to write-in a candidate, whether aligned with one of the two major parties or any other party or no party.
To cast your vote for the next presidential hopeful go to: http://fromthecornfield.com/polls/index.php/survey/index/sid/751364
The poll will run through next Friday, March 14, 2014 and end at midnight Eastern Time.
I will tabulate the results over next weekend and release the findings on Monday, St. Patrick's Day, March 17.
From the Cornfield, I hope everyone will participate and for the moment forget all the upheaval in the world abroad and the concerns we have here at home in the US of A.
It is horrific that Russia is apparently invading Ukraine.
So far, thankfully, no blood has been spilled.
But how long before troops on the ground, on orders from Russian President Vladimir Putin, begin to not just take control of Crimea, a semi-autonomous region which is majority ethnic Russian, but to forcibly mount a campaign for the entire country to reclaim it as part of a new Russian empire?
Late today President Barack Obama took to the press room at the White House to warn Russia not to send troops into Ukraine or "there will be costs".
But what costs?
Watching Russian helicopters flying over Crimea and unknown armed, but clearly organized militarily, men taking control of a Crimean airport and surrounding a television station, the threat from the President rings hollow.
Did not the President warn Syrian dictator Bashir al Assad to not use chemical weapons on his own people because this would cross a "red line" which would invite dire consequences?
When the Syrian regime ignored the "red line", what happened?
Yes, al Assad agreed to get rid of his chemical arsenal, but he has already breached and continues to breach that agreement.
From the US Administration silence - no consequences.
Why would Putin believe that President Obama's warning is anything more than a toothless threat?
Putin may be emboldened further when the former President George W. Bush, in the waning days of his Administration, in August, 2008, stood by when Russia launched a war on neighboring Georgia, which lasted five days.
Yes, Ukraine could appeal for help from NATO.
If the Ukrainian government does, what then?
Will this President allow action or will he, as in the past, once more come out and say he is still studying his options while Ukraine is grasped in the clutches of a new Russian empire?
From the Cornfield, I am not advocating we send in American troops.
What I am saying is that the President has lost all credibility of threat on the world stage. His warning sounds more Chicken Little than a big stick with the resolve to use it.
For the moment, the best we can do is to pray for the people of Ukraine. Relying on the Administration to take foreceful action is relying on air.
Sadly I am afraid now that the President has given his warning, the prestige of US strength and might has been set up to once more be given a black eye.
Across the nation sides are drawing lines and staking claim to be on firm constitutional ground over legislation passed this week by the Arizona legislature and vetoed by Governor Jan Brewer.
Supporters of the bill say it is necessary to protect religious freedom from an assault by gays, lesbians and bisexuals to force believers to sin by providing accomodation in businesses open to the public for same-gender couples and even single GLBT persons. Proponents cite the 1st Amendment prohibition against any law which would restrict "the free exercise thereof" a particular religion.
Opponents of the bill, mostly GLBT and Democrats, see this as state-sanctioned discrimination based on religious belief contrary to the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment which bars the establishment of a state religion as well as violating the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
This is clearly a case of "when rights collide".
It is said there is a fine line between insanity and genius. In this situation, I do believe, that both sides have crossed the line into the insane. Not that all have, but some of the more outspoken of each camp have gone beyond the reasonable into the shrill and unreasonable.
Growing up the son and grandson of ministers in the Cleveland, Tennessee-based Church of God, a fundamentalist, evangelical, Pentecostal denomination, I do understand where many Christian conservatives are coming from, though many Christians of other religious organizations do not read and interpret the Scripture the same way. Not all Christian bodies find homosexuality a sin or something God condemns. Many believe the opposite that God loves all and created all just the way they are.
At the same time being an openly gay male in a long-term committed relationship living in a decidedly socially conservative state where same-gender couples have no rights under state law, I understand why some see the Arizona law yet another way to bash and continue to subdue GLBT as second class citizens.
Businesses open to the public are just that - open to the public - no matter who the clientele. Churches and other Houses of Worship are a different story.
Businesses awarded a license by the state to serve the public must serve all the public.
Religious organizations, their ministers, rabbis, imams, priests, pastors and preachers are free to practice their faith and not ask God's blessing on any couple if it goes against their religious belief.
Both situations are rooted in constitutional protection.
The idea of "we deserve the right to refuse service" has its place, but there are consequences. Unless there is a legitimate reason for refusal of service, a business owner, a company, is subject to civil action and may be found wanting. What this law does is codify the right to discriminate without reprecussion simply because a business owner or company does not like people who are GLBT and claim it is on religious grounds.
That is a big difference.
Do we want to begin granting accomodation for discrimination - any discrimination - with no oversight or redress or recourse under law?
I think not.
Individual freedom and equal protection must be protected and upheld. Freedom to exercise one's religious beliefs must also be protected and upheld.
It is not all or nothing.
The law already provides for religious accomodation. The law already provides for redress by those who think they have been discriminated against without justifcation.
My fellow GLBT who seek to force religious organizations to go against heartfelt religious belief and conduct ceremonies of unity are wrong.
My fellow evangelical Christians who attempt to hide behind self-righteous indignation should remember what Jesus said when people were talking about Him for eating with sinners and tax collectors and consorting with prostitutes. The Christ pointed out it's not what goes in the body that defiles a person, but what comes out of a person's mouth when his Disciples were chastised by the religious leaders of the day for not washing their hands before eating.
There is no equality when either side attempts to deny the other side accomodation and equality. There is no right when either side attempts to trample the right of the other.
Governor Brewer was right to veto this bill, as written, because it would have gone too far and pitted rights against rights in a battle that need not be.
From the Cornfield, times are changing.
Both sides run the risk of turning off the middle if either side pushes too far or crosses that line between genius and insanity.
What is normally a 15-20-minute ride turned into a two hour crawl this Valentine's Day after an SUV ran into a school bus on US 41 South between Terre Haue and Farmersburg in the Cornfield. According to the latest news report, both drivers were transported to the hospital.
After the mercury rising to above freezing for the first time in weeks on Thursday, the Cornfield was once more covered with another 4 inches of snow this Valentine's Day with temp hovering in the mid 20s. The snow and icy conditions made driving treacherous at times.
Being the special day that it is, Ryan's, where Iohn, my life partner works, was serving up prime rib dinners. Iohn and I decided to take advantage of the rare treat. We finished dining before 4:30 and began our 10-mile trip back to Mark's Den.
As we proceeded south from Terre Haute on US 41 toward Farmersburg. We were nearly to Pimento about 5 miles down the road when the traffic came to a complete halt. Nearly two hours later we finally were coming into Farmersburg and pulling into the parking lot of Dollar General.
We are now safe and sound, back in Mark's Den. No more going out for us tonight.
To see the images I took along the long, slog home you have to view the entire video piecing the images together.
From the Cornfield, Happy Valentine's Day! And for iReporter, NuYwk, Happy Single Awareness Day!
For more information on the accident: http://tribstar.com/local/x488690965/U-S-41-closed-south-of-Terre-Haute-after-crash-involving-school-bus.
With 2014 only a month in, members of the iReport community were asked to share their thoughts, ideas and suggestions for Team iReport. The request was first made to iReporters who are members of a Facebook group exclusive to iReporters and former iReporters. The request for input was next put to the entire iReport community (The Community Speaks - Well, the Community Should LOL).
The overarching subject centered around communication. Members expressed the need for better and more frequent communication between the Team and iReporters. There came across a frustration by many in the community that the Team was not responsive or did not do an adequate job of addressing questions, concerns and issues raised by individuals or several iReporters collectively.
The suggestions which came from the comments on the iReport asking community members to speak out and from the Facebook group expressed pessimism that the Team would be responsive to what the community had to say.
Here is a synopsis of the top suggestions, which as you can see fall under the communication mantle:
1. Bring back the old round table format which used the iReport blog's chat/comment feature allowing iReporters to directly address the Team and the Team to directly respond to the community. Though the system is awkward and slow, iReporters who commented on this suggestion expressed little to no love for using Google Hangout.
The community much prefers the more direct give-and-take of the previous format. Having the round table once a week or month is what the community is asking the Team to do.
2. Better explanation and reason provided for what is and isn't acceptable on iReport both in reports and in comments. The community comments stated it was difficult to determine why an iReport would be pulled with no notice and no apparent reason to later be put back after a Team member was contacted.
What is it that triggers moderators to pull an iReport?
Same goes for comments which seem to disappear and reappear for no reason and with no explanation. The Terms of Service do not seem to spell out what has been happening with iReports and comments.
A round table on this issue with detailed explanation is needed. Also when an iReport is pulled or comments deleted an explanatory email or private message should be sent.
3. A need exists for a better "Explore" function. Instead of lumping all new iReports together, a drop bar or new tabs which allows readers to jump directly to a subject of interest.
An example would be a link to all political iReports or all breaking news iReports or all photo-only iReports or all travel iReports or all health-related iReports. This way people could go directly to the topic or category of interest rather than having to wade through a sea of irrelevant to the community member's interest.
4. When a Team member sends out an email for more information before vetting an iReport, it has been suggested that the iReporter is notified the response has been received. There has seemed to be more and more time between when an iReporter responds and the vet occurs if at all.
When the vet does not happen, there is no reason given as to why. Sometimes iReporters have pointed out the need to respond more than once before the vet occurs several hours later. This goes back to the need for the Team to step up its communication with iReporters.
As you can see the top suggestions all deal with communication. Several noted that in years past the Team seemed to be more connected to the community, but have become more distant in recent months.
Here are excerpts from the comments made by the community:
I think the "iReport Team" could take a closer look at some of the reports posted. Some I feel are overlooked. I have heard on a few occasions that they have and follow favorites. What does an iReporter have to do in order to be followed? What is it that they actually look for to be vetted? There are many fine iReporters here...
OK, I'll suggest it. Nobody laugh. Although, I can't help it. Help enforce civil debate. I will happily put snarky-ness on hold; however, there must be uniform application. I won't be able to hold my tongue if I keep getting snide remarks. The body of the iReport should not be generally insulting to any demographic. ****
I have been involved in the roundtable discussions before. Rarely has anything become of it. Discouraged? Yes I am. I actually miss the "good old days" went it was pretty much open season on all.
iReport is like a newspaper( sort of) There are sections for most all interest's. Headline New's, Breaking News, sports, politics, food, entertainment, human interest, photography, travel, world, USA and local, even the funnies. It takes everything. I participated in most round tables before the big change. It had it's draw backs but I did see changes made. Now the community is so far fetched from team ireport, seems they are all but untouchable. Out of millions of ireporters there are but a few of us that really give a rats ass. One thing that bother' me is how long assignments stay up, especially open assignments.It get's old and boring. I am seeing a lot of spam, promotions for business, a lot of posts with few or 0 views and no comments. It is sort of like shoveling through all the ads to get to a story of some kind.
Maybe break up iReports into sections? A menu bar with all the selections on it. On the iReport home page. "I think I'll see what's going on in gardening."
Mostly bring back the old Roundtable!
I'd like a tool to access my comments between certain dates. I've got some real winners I would like to share.
I don't use the "report" button very much......but I think when you report there should be a required comment field......especially when it is an oops I didn't mean to hit it. But also to point out the reason.
They should also reenergize their programs to foster the ireport community......seems they have lost steam and maybe focus.
I would like to have more boxes to put in photos rather than the 10 that is given say about 15 or 20.
Transform the iReport main page to prominently show a menu of iReport sections. IReporters will only be able to tag an iReport for one section. This would make the site resemble a newspaper. The front page would be what everyone sees and they would need to go through a gateway for any other section desired. We could have sports, opinion, religion, science, news, gardening and a host of other options. I want the opinion, with sauce, section where no one under 18 is allowed. The rules would be the same as 2008. I want to call it the fight club. Currently, we can do similar by configuring the front portal ourselves by selecting groups. I want it automatic. A new rule should be added where those who intentionally post iReports in sections to cause trouble will be warned then booted. Except the fight club where such things belong. LOL
I would like to see assignments changed more often, Sometimes the open assignments are long past the news and never mentioned again. Would love to see a weekend assignment for fun of or bring back 'off beat', for those of us that like the photography part of ireport.
Should be something for all and easy accessible.
Yes please bring back our old Roundtable on ireport blog.
I suggested a recurring topic of book reviews and got the standard " we will look into that " but nothing ever occurred with it.
I would like to see this 'random' flagging brought to an end for the sake of the entire community.
I think the moderators have been inordinately tolerant. They only remove comments deemed inappropriate. It is only the degree of inappropriateness that is in question.
Asking the moderators to deal with those who flag comments for no good reason is one of my suggestions.
A good debate is welcome, attacking someone's integrity in any way is not permitted from anyone or any party, race, religion gender or sexual preference.
I'd like to see a bit more of decent, honest, open, debate on issues. For example, I do enjoy discussing the topics of the day. I also really enjoy the photography iReports.
Divide iReports into sections, or at least have a better way to access those sections (assignments) you do currently have rather than having to search for them. A simple drop down box may be helpful.
I would like to seem them vet reports from a larger variety of I-Reporters. Out of all of us regulars, only a few regularly get vetted, video or no.
I would like to see better assignments: I have little to contribute to most of them.
I have to agree with the drop down box that was suggested.
Instead of, or in addition to, the latesy, on Cnn, most commented...and so on.
There should be topics:
Political | Health | On the Front Page | Photo | Humor
And have the assignments linked to those topics.
The search engine on this site...is lousy.
I also believe that if they do not attract more new comers....that want to participate in the discussion ireports....this place will die off.
In the end it will be mostly uploading pictures, or breaking news images and videos.
I would like to suggest that when a questionnaire is sent out to us, filled out and returned to the staff member that sent it out, that they would do us a professional courtesy by acknowledging they received that filled out questionnaire.
Those of us that have been here for a while...know exactly where others stand on just about any topic...there is not point in participating if you do not bring new reporters and ideas to the debate.
From the Cornfield, there you have what the community thinks.
Will Team iReport respond?
Will Team iReport implement any of the suggestions and ideas?