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James

December 1998

This is a first for me, I'm starting the column before 9:pm on the due date! This month's article will be a random collection of things (I hear you saying: "This is different how?"), so bear with me.

GSA:

I went to the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America, held in Toronto this year. Now, I would never choose a career because of the attractiveness of my would-be peers, but Damn!, there are a lot of really cute geologists!

In addition, Toronto is full of cute guys. Cute gay guys. I've been stuck on the border of Appalachia for so long I had forgotten that most people are actually attractive! (I'm not referring to my fellow students, but the local citizenry, just so you know.)

I did get a lot out of the conference, both in grad school opportunities and the science itself. However, I know most of you don't care so I'll just skip all that.

Take back the party!!

I'm about to come out of the closet to many of you. I know it will be hard to accept, but I am a Republican. (This time, however, I will freely admit that this is a personal choice.)

Why? Because I believe in keeping power in the hands of the States, pursuant to the 10th amendment of the Constitution. I also believe in personal liberty and responsibility and limited government.

There's only one problem. The Republican party has sold its soul to the radical right. Don't get me wrong, I am a Christian and I am rather conservative. However, after listening to the leaders of the party in Congress and the head of the Christian Coalition, I am sickened. It seems that these yahoos have lost track of two simple facts: 1) Church and State are separated BY LAW in this country; and 2) Our system of laws is not based on morality. It is based, instead, on equality, civility and the assurance of civil liberties.

There is hope, however. In last month's election gay voters were second only to Hispanics in number of minority voters. Of those g/l/b people who voted, fully one third voted Republican. That's over a million people! These votes helped elect moderate Republicans across the nation, and to defeat radical candidates in State primaries.

I may be giving our elected officials too much credit in the 'brains' department, but I would think that this would say something. We cannot be excused as a small and inconsequential minority. Nor can we be written off as default Democrats. We are a viable and large sector of the public, and our voice will be heard. If the Republican party wishes to entrench itself deeper in the stance of the far right it will be alienating voters, gay and not. If people won't vote for you, you are he political equivalent of the living dead (even if in really good suits).

The Constitution:

This is for the readers who are citizens of the United States. On second thought, the details apply to those from the several States, but the message is applicable to all.

With all the brouhaha over the impeachment proceedings currently before congress I have realized just how ignorant most Americans are of our Constitution, as well as our set of laws governing those who serve in our government.

I'm not going to get into the details of the case because this isn't the place, but I do want to clear one thing up: Impeachment of the president by the House of Representatives does not mean he is removed from office. The Senate must convict the president by a two-thirds majority before he is removed. An impeachment by the House is simply to decide that sufficient evidence exists to warrant a trial before the Senate. You would not believe how many people I have heard make that mistake, some of them supposedly educated political analysts. And why did they make that mistake? Because they don't know jack about our Constitution.

To understand this issue, as well as many others, I urge you to get a copy of our Constitution. Buy it, or look it up on the web (here's one place to get it: <http://www.law.emory.edu/FEDERAL/usconst.html >), read it, and learn it. For Pete's sake, this is the supreme law of our land! It is a very short, easily understood and magnificently well-written document (unlike most of my articles). Most of all, it is ours. It defines our government and its limitations of power. It enumerates certain rights, and leaves room for the States or the people to claim more (For example, I think the 9th amendment was a magnificent forethought on the part of the framers). It is not a document of and for the government. It is a document of the people and for the people.

And if you are not a citizen of these wonderful United States, learn what you can about your own government, laws and (where applicable) constitution.

It is not enough that governments empower the people to decide the fate of their nation. The people must be knowledgeable enough in the ways of government to effectively utilize that power.

Well, that's enough rambling for now. See ya! (by the way, even though I wrote is early, I still sent it to Jeff late.... Go figure.)

James
jsammons@wlu.edu
octavius3@hotmail.com


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