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And this is why I watched the inauguration on the TV!

January 20, 2009, 8:04 PM

As many of you know, I said in this space about a week ago that I was going to watch the inauguration on the TV. And you know what? It was a smart move. Check it out:

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Categories: National politics

So I find out that Augusta County is planning on killing an elementary school…

January 1, 2009, 4:28 PM

While my father and I were out today, he told me that he had heard that Augusta County might be closing Ladd Elementary, which is in Waynesboro.

First of all, before I even researched it, I said it was probably a good idea to abandon the site. First of all, the facility is indeed an Augusta County school, but it’s located within the independent city of Waynesboro. That happened because the area that the school is in was annexed by the city of Waynesboro in the 1980s or so. So it’s an anomaly for being a county school that’s no longer in the county. But it’s also now in the middle of a large shopping district, with Wal-Mart directly across the street, and Home Depot, Martin’s, Target, Kohl’s, Lowe’s, and a plethora of other smaller retailers within a short distance from the school. Traffic is hideous outside the school, with signs for tractor-trailers telling them that the school is not a turn-around. Plus I’m sure some other retailer would snap up the school site in a heartbeat to peddle more crap to people.

Then I found an article in The News Virginian about the plan. How interesting. They want to close and sell the Ladd location in Waynesboro, close Beverley Manor Elementary School near Staunton, and expand Wilson, Cassell, and Riverheads elementary schools to accommodate more students. They say no teachers will lose their jobs, since it’s more of a consolidation than a closing. And the idea of moving the Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School into the old Beverley Manor building was tossed around as well. Currently, that facility shares a building with Valley Vocational Technical Center.

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And so we enter… end game.

November 4, 2008, 12:01 AM

The day that I’ve been anticipating for a long time is finally here. Election day! Oh, how I am so tired of this campaign. After all, we’ve been dealing with this race almost as soon as the 2006 midterm elections ended. And now it all comes down to this. Now it’s time for everyone to do their thing and vote. After all, umpteen polls by various organizations are in the end, meaningless. It’s the vote that counts.

And now, hopefully in less than 24 hours, we’ll know who George W. Bush’s successor will be. I’m hoping it’s Barack Obama, but we’ll see. If it is John McCain, though, then we’ve got problems. After all, the man has admitted he doesn’t know much about economics, and we’re in the midst of a big economic crisis. Perhaps if he gets elected, we could all mail him various macroeconomics texts to bring him up to speed. But hopefully, that’s going to be a moot point.

Meanwhile, I took the opportunity to look at the Web sites for the two newspapers that serve Stuarts Draft – The News Leader in Staunton, and The News Virginian in Waynesboro – to see what the endorsements were. After all, I may live in the Washington DC area now, but the two newspapers that I did a lot of growing up with still hold a place near and dear to me. The Staunton paper endorsed Barack Obama for president, and Mark Warner for the Senate. Meanwhile, Waynesboro endorsed John McCain for president, and Jim Gilmore for the Senate. Thus between the two, it’s a wash. Many in Augusta County get both papers, and so it’s kind of a toss-up down that way, I suppose. Still, it’s interesting to see what people are thinking.

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Categories: National politics

It appears that I am ready to vote!

October 25, 2008, 6:50 PM

With a little more than a week to go before the election, I went online and made all of my final checks and such, and it appears that I am ready to vote in Montgomery County for the 2008 election. As a first-time Maryland voter, I was concerned that something might have gone wrong in the process when I registered to vote, and I would, for some reason or other, be unable to vote. So this is a good thing. I’d voted in Virginia on numerous occasions, but this is my first time voting in Maryland, and it will be good to again exercise my right to vote.

The way I see it, voting is key to all the various issues that I attend demonstrations about (except Scientology, since that’s a completely different can of beans). You see, if you are eligible to vote and don’t actually go vote, you don’t really have much room to complain when things don’t go well and it becomes time to demonstrate on an issue. Even my anarchist buddies should make sure they are at a voting booth on November 4, because even though they question the legitimacy of the powers being conferred, a lot of their demonstrations involve the actions of elected officials, especially with anti-war demonstrations and some of the discussion regarding controversial highway projects. There, voting the “right” candidate into office might help their causes. So thus I’ll be voting at Bel Pre Elementary School on November 4, and then I’ll see you in the streets.

Meanwhile, I also got to take a look at the Montgomery County sample ballot, available on the University of Maryland‘s site. Besides voting for president and vice president (where there are six candidates on the ballot, plus a write-in), we’re also voting for our member of Congress, a circuit court judge, two referenda on special appeals court judges, three school board candidates (one running unopposed), as well as state referenda on early voting, and slot machines, and two local referenda on repealing “legally ineffective provisions” of the county charter, and on property taxes.

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An absentee ballot form in a packet critical of the Democratic Party. Hmmm…

September 25, 2008, 7:25 PM

Well, as you know, it doesn’t take great intelligence to be a member of the Republican Party. George W. Bush is living proof, after all. But the reason I bring it up is because yesterday, I got something in the mail from the Republican National Committee. It was a packet made out to “The Schumin Family” (or current resident) located in Silver Spring. On the outside is a piggy bank with the line, “What are Washington Democrats doing with your money?” Then on the inside it says, “Democrats are pigging out”, with a smaller flyer that says, “OUTRAGEOUS DEMOCRAT WASTE” and shows a smashed piggy bank. Then on the other side is a detachable envelope with an absentee ballot form inside of it.

So what’s the problem? Well, the problem is that the absentee ballot form is for Virginia, and the address the envelope is made out to is for the Augusta County registrar in Verona. The problem is that I am no longer a Virginia resident. I am a Maryland resident now. I haven’t been a Virginia resident for nearly a year and a half, and I am registered to vote in Maryland – as an Independent, no less.

Thus to fill out the form that the Republicans sent me and send it in, it would be playing right into the hands of the GOP. After all, if I did that, they would probably be able to challenge my right to vote in Maryland as well as in Virginia, and get my vote disqualified or otherwise disenfranchise me.

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Categories: National politics

John McCain picks Sarah Palin as his running mate. Interesting…

August 29, 2008, 11:38 PM

Finally, the battle lines are completely drawn for the 2008 election. Barack Obama has selected Joe Biden as his running mate, and John McCain surprised us all by picking Sarah Palin of Alaska, whom most of us have never heard of, as his running mate. Interesting move.

What got me was in reading this AP article on the VP pick. Specifically: “She mentioned that she followed in the footsteps of Geraldine Ferraro, who was the Democratic vice presidential running mate in 1984[…]”

It’s always a good idea to invoke the name of a vice presidential candidate whose ticket lost by a HUGE landslide in the 1984 election. Not to mention that this is the same person who, back in March, left-wing pundit Randi Rhodes described as “the David Duke in drag” due to Ferraro’s comments about why Barack Obama has gotten as far as he has. Excellent strategy, bringing a failed VP candidate’s name into the mix.

I say that if we’re going to invoke the name of Geraldine Ferraro, let’s see if we can’t make sure that they go the whole way down that Ferraro road. We do that by making sure that the McCain-Palin ticket goes the same way as the Mondale-Ferraro ticket did in 1984. Recall that in 1984, Ronald Reagan won in a landslide victory. Let’s see if we can’t secure as big of a landslide victory as Reagan did in 1984 for the Obama-Biden ticket in 2008. It’s doable.

Categories: National politics

And while I’m on vacation, the Democrats put an end to the nomination fight once and for all…

August 28, 2008, 1:43 AM

Let me say that the fourth day in Virginia Beach was a lot of fun. It started with a walk down the beach. Recall that on Monday, I took Duckie into the water for a swim, and got those amazing wave photos. Today, I again took Duckie to the water, though this time I was mainly out to cover the beach. I got people making sandcastles, as well as completed sandcastles. Some people made forts for themselves, while one person dug a small tunnel system in the sand. Metro for the sand crabs, maybe? Looked as though he had just completed his system’s equivalent of Metro Center when I passed by. And most people, by and large, were very friendly, even offering to pose with their creations as they were building them. However, considering the style of photos I normally like to take, the phrase “act natural” became a fairly common phrase for me.

This, by the way, is the pièce de résistance when it comes to Virginia Beach sandcastles today:

Sandcastle

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The fact that this primary process is still going on amazes me…

May 6, 2008, 11:42 PM

The fact that the Democratic Party has not yet come up with a nominee amazes me. But what can we say? It’s the first serious female contender for president against the first serious black contender for the same. So unless John McCain wins, we will have either the first woman president, or our first black president. Of course, if Grandpa McCain wins, he would beat the record for oldest elected president. Ronald Reagan was 69 when he was first elected in 1981. Grandpa McCain would be 72 if elected. But we’re not talking about McCain. He’s got his nomination sealed up. Let’s discuss… THE DEMOCRATS!

I first began dissociating myself from the Democratic Party in 2007 after the Democrats took power in Congress and proceeded to be an amazing disappointment. And with the way this election has been handled, I’m quite proud to now call myself an Independent. The hell with the party.

First of all, their system has issues. I never thought I’d be praising the Republicans on something, but they do have a simple, straightforward nominating process. It’s winner-take-all, where the person with the most votes in a given primary takes all the delegates for that state. It’s very similar to our electoral college system in every state except Maine and Nebraska (let’s not even go there on the electoral college – we’re not to that point yet). There are also no “superdelegates” in the Republican nominating process. Thus John McCain has had it all sewn up for months now.

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Categories: National politics

Done for another year, and good riddance to it.

April 6, 2008, 3:26 PM

You know what they say. There are only two certainties in life: death and taxes. The former only comes once, and most of us try to put it off as long as possible. The latter comes annually, and it comes due on April 15. And so I can now put it behind me again.

What’s weird, though, is doing it now, vs. in January when I usually do taxes. But this year was more complicated. I changed jobs and states, after all. I left Wal-Mart (yaaaay!), and found work with Food & Water Watch. And I moved from Virginia to Maryland. So for that, I bought TurboTax, and did the whole thing on the computer. Usually, I just sit down with a 1040, a calculator, and a pen, and do it. For the forty bucks or whatever TurboTax cost, it’s normally worth it to just do it manually. But for more complicated years – I was more worried about the state stuff than the federal stuff – TurboTax is handy.

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Since when have I been an active contributor on Conservapedia?

March 3, 2008, 9:36 PM

Answer is, I’m not. But someone on there obviously wants to make me into a conservative windbag, as someone has gone onto Conservapedia and registered an account called BenSchumin. My “alter ego” considers the left to consist of druggies, and has deleted a link to a debate about masturbation, calling it “liberal filth”. This person actually calls anything he disagrees with “liberal”.

Now if this were the first time that the right wing has blasted me, this might be shocking. But no, this is nothing new. Three years ago, I was dissed in a conservative blog. Then a little less than a year ago, we had Michelle Malkin and her followers making me the poster child for every black bloc that has ever brandished a can of spray paint. And that spilled over into Free Republic and various other pockets of right-wingers on the Internet.

Still, I find it funny when people do this to try and discredit me. Who they’re trying to fool, I don’t know, but based on the others’ reactions, this person’s not very good at it. Of course, Conservapedia is a site I find amusing anyway. I consider these people so far out there in being right wing nutjobs that they’re practically harmless because no one would ever take them seriously. And they will always be an underdog, because rather than just do their thing and promote their view of conservatism, they spend pages upon pages complaining about alleged “liberal bias” on Wikipedia, while simultaneously placing Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Rush Limbaugh on pedestals.

So, yeah, the jig is up, Schumin impersonator…

Categories: Netculture, Politics

So the question is, how super will “Super Tuesday” be, i.e., will we have nominees by then?

February 4, 2008, 11:49 PM

So that’s what I’m wondering. With more than half the states having primaries tomorrow, and with this race being as it is, we might end up with nominees tomorrow… or we might not. After all, it’s been a downright ugly race at times, as on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has accused Barack Obama of representing a slum-lord, and Barack Obama has pointed out that Hillary Clinton was on the board of directors of Wal-Mart. Then on the Republican side, it seems that if they’re not trying to amend the Constitution to match the word of “God”, then they’re trying to compare how each matches up to Ronald Reagan, the great Republican god.

Meanwhile, I’ve officially adopted a wait-and-see attitude. I’m not particularly enthused about any of the remaining candidates. I was really excited about Dennis Kucinich’s candidacy, as exemplified by the fact that I got on the iStump for him, but now Kucinich is out, and neither Hillary or Obama really sends me like Kucinich did. I’m probably going to just hold my nose and vote for someone, but at this point, I genuinely don’t know about this current crop.

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Categories: National politics

World’s best bumper sticker ever…

January 20, 2008, 8:33 PM

Tell me this isn’t the best bumper sticker ever:

"The road to hell is paved by Republicans"

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Categories: National politics

You know, you’d think I lived here or something…

November 20, 2007, 11:30 PM

Yeah, based on my activities today, you’d think I lived in Maryland or something. Today, I finally got a Maryland driver’s license. Emphasis here on “finally”. I’ve lived here for what, six months now, and I’m just now finally getting the Maryland license. So that took me a while.

Of course, I’m pleased to have a license that once again agrees with the state where I actually live. Now whenever I get carded for the Manischewitz that I occasionally buy, the birthdate will be nearer the center, vs. in Virginia, where it’s towards the edge and partly blocked by the edge of the pocket in my wallet. Likewise, when I go to the bank and they ask for my ID, now it agrees with what’s in their systems, since I changed that to my Maryland address right away online.

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“Staunton” and “Augusta County” are mutually exclusive…

April 6, 2007, 10:47 AM

Katie and I went to Staunton Mall yesterday evening, and had a great time. Then we went to Applebee’s for dinner, which was fun (though we ended up having to sweeten the sweet tea!).

One thing that led to an interesting discussion was when we saw a Sheriff’s deputy’s car parked outside the mall. I made the comment about the fact that seeing that is a reminder that technically, Staunton Mall is in Augusta County, to which Katie replied, “Well, yeah, Staunton’s in Augusta County.”

My little ears kind of perked up on that one, and my mind with its background in public administration kicked right into gear. I was like, “Noooooooo… Staunton is an independent city, therefore by definition it is not part of Augusta County.” And being in the car and being on the Belk side of the mall made it much easier to describe, because the boundary roughly runs along the edge of the mall’s property on that side. What better place to have this discussion than right at the city limits, no? I was like, “We’re in the county right now, but that CVS over there is in Staunton. Therefore, if you call Staunton Police for an incident at the mall, they’re out of their jurisdiction, since that’s Augusta County. They’ll refer you to the Augusta County Sheriff’s office.

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“Stop the funding, stop the war, what the hell is Congress for?”

April 2, 2007, 9:59 AM

I was out and about on Thursday, and heard on the news about two similar spending bills passing the House and the Senate that included the withdrawal deadline. Now it must go to conference committee to get all the differences ironed out between the House and Senate version. I was quite pleased, though I highly doubt it will make it to law, because President Bush has promised a veto on the bill should it make it to his desk with a deadline in it.

I’ll be the first to tell you that we shouldn’t have been in Iraq in the first place. Saddam didn’t have anything to do with the price of tea in China when it came to the “war on terror”, and we’ve facilitated the country’s fall into a civil war, which is something that the Iraqi people are going to have to figure out for themselves if it’s ever going to get settled.

Still, I’m pleased to see that the new Democratic Congress is taking steps to end this war. We got the message out loud and clear at J27 and M17, and it seems that it’s taken hold. Good…

Categories: National politics