Archive for January 11th, 2008


On This Day 1-11-08

1815 – U.S. General Andrew Jackson achieved victory at the Battle of New Orleans. The War of 1812 had officially ended on December 24, 1814, with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent. The news of the signing had not reached British troops in time to prevent their attack on New Orleans.

1861 – Alabama seceded from the United States.

1867 – Benito Juarez returned to the Mexican presidency, following the withdrawal of French troops and the execution of Emperor Maximilian.

1902 – “Popular Mechanics” magazine was published for the first time.

1935 – Amelia Earhart Putnam became the first woman to fly solo from Hawaii to California.

1964 – U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry released a report that said that smoking cigarettes was a definite health hazard.

I usually don’t talk about politics.  It’s kind of like arguing on the Internet.  You may win the argument, but people will view you as an idiot in the process because you were dumb enough to get into the argument in the first place.

I’m not a big fan of politics.  I don’t even like to vote.  I do remember the first time I voted though.  I had just turned eighteen and there was a runoff election for county judge in my home county.  The incumbent judge was the same guy who four years earlier had slammed his gavel down and given the man who murdered a best friend of mine two years for involuntary manslaughter.  If you’re thinking about murdering someone, shoot them seven times with a twenty-two rifle and then claim you thought you were shooting a bear.  You’ll only get two years.

I walked into that polling booth and of course the little old gray hairs knew my dad.  “You look just like him.”  I registered right then and there because Wisconsin isn’t one of those Nazi states that has all those rules about registering way before the election so people will be denied their right to vote — although they’re trying to Nazify the voting process here too.  One of the gray hairs handed me a ballot and explained how it worked.  I entered the booth not even knowing who was on the ballot.

I slipped the ballot booklet into the punch card apparatus and opened it to the instruction page.  I carefully read and followed the instructions.  I opened the next page and saw that judges name.  I think that is the day I began understanding my personal anger.  I pushed that punch through his opponents name and felt satisfied.  I didn’t care about political parties and still don’t.  I just voted my conscience and still do.

That judge lost.  After eleven years of being the county judge, we threw his butt out.  I like to believe that the other kids who turned eighteen that year and remembered that boy left face down in a trout stream also voted against that judge.  Oddly enough over the next five years we got them all.  From the dog catcher to the mayor to the state legislators.  We got them all, including a state legislator who had held his seat for twenty-three years.

This election will be historic.  The first time a woman or a black man will be running for president.  But no election has held any meaning for me since those first five years of my voting history.  Every time I voted in those days, I walked out of the polling place feeling satisfied.  These days I leave the polling place feeling like I need a shower.

January 2008

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