Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ballot. Cast.

And so it was that I cast my first presidential election ballot while sitting on the floor of the farm living room in The Crags, South Africa. Straining to read the ballot measures in the darkness and skipping over the section marked "President of the United States" for fear that I would make the wrong decision, I slumped against the couch and took as long as possible to enjoy the moment.

On the ballot measures, my votes broke down as follows:

Question 1 (to eliminate the State Income Tax by 2010): NO
Question 2 (to decriminalize marijuana possesion): YES
Question 3 (to ban dog racing): YES

Not much to report on Senate, Congressional, and Statewide races, but the decision of picking a President did slow me up. Neither candidate stood for all the positions that I support:

- Energy independence through alternative energy subsidies, a corporate carbon tax, and domestic oil drilling
- No timetable for Iraq withdrawal
- Comprehensive immigration reform that a) doesn't create two classes of Americans and b) that puts the emphasis on strengthening our southern border with Mexican
- Education reform utilizing charter schools, vouchers, and teacher pay incentives
- A foreign policy of limited intervention and ending the United States' policy of nation-building

You can't always get what you want, but one candidate did edge out the other for me. So what did it come down to?

Well, it was as easy as asking what a certain woman/Senator would have wanted me to do...


Magic said...


I need to tell you I was once of the opinion that the dogs were abused. But I went to the track and as you should be aware of, Massachusetts has its say in everything in this state. So why not the dog racing. The state police and state vets are on site at both tracks. Believe me nothing gets by the state! The laws that govern these dogs is very strict and adhered to.
The spell out everything. Grey2k states that they are in the crates 20hours a day...sorry wrong. The laws state they must be out at least five times a day and usually it is seven. The law states: "Specific requirements for exercise areas, crates, kennel buildings, bedding, feeding, watering, and transporting must be followed." An Eye Opener
Back in June of 2008 we were presented an opportunity to make a visit to one of the two remaining greyhound racing tracks Massachusetts. We had adopted Magic four years ago thinking we had "saved" or "rescued" him from a miserable existence. I was ready to get a first hand look at how our "poor puppy" had been treated.

We were met by the volunteer coordinator and given an overview of our day and then brought to the weigh in area where all the dogs are brought before racing. Here I learned that the dogs are weighed in and checked by both the track veterinarian as well as the state racing commission vet. After they are weighed and examined, they are placed in kennel crates-- one dog per crate with the measurements which were set by the MSPCA and Grey2K USA-- to await their chance to race. I was shocked at the level of security and the regulations that help to insure the safety of the dogs.

We were then taken to the post race area where the dogs are brought to cool down. They are walked by their handlers after the race so that they can relax their muscles, get some fresh cold water, a bath to clean any dust off their coat, paws. They even get their eyes washed out as well. There is another area sectioned off and controlled by the state racing commission. This is where they bring dogs selected at random for urine testing.

We were told about the training and schooling that the dogs go through, the selective breeding process which is also very tightly regulated to prevent inbreeding and over breeding. We were given an opportunity to ask questions and express our concerns and receive honest and straight forward answers.

We took a break for lunch and had the opportunity to watch a couple of the races. This was a first for us. We had seen our own retired racer sprint and run with some of his greyhound friends. Nothing compares to the beauty of these dogs at full speed. It is truly amazing and even more so that they really seem to enjoy doing it. As we watched the dogs walk to the starting gate I could see that they were excited. It was a beautiful sight-- seeing these dogs do that which they were created to do (run).

After lunch we paid a visit to one of the kennels. Now I was ready to see the horrible conditions we have been told about. The turn out area was clean and free of any piles of waste. There was an odor of dogs, we were, after all in a a kennel, but it was not a foul smell. The trainer allowed us to let several of the dogs out of their crates a couple at a time. All of them were very happy and playful. Not one seemed skittish or scared at all! If a dog is abused, you can usually tell by the way it acts around its owner, and also around strangers. Happy, friendly and playful. Every last one of them.

The trainer told us about his days, often twelve to fourteen hours long. You can see his love for the dogs and their love for him in their interactions. The kennel and the crates are cleaned every day. (I wish our house was cleaned that often!) They are subject to unannounced inspections by the State Police and MSPCA.
I came away with a different opinion that day. So please before you are set to say Yes read the laws at:

and try to visit the track and one of the kennels. You may walk away a changed person like my husband and I did.


Anonymous said...

I would have voted for Ms. Clinton too, but that doesn't mean I'd vote for who she wants me to vote for. Ultimately, I've found her insistence that the Democratic party is a "family" moderately offensive. While I understand that she is required to endorse Mr. Obama if she wants to stay in the Democratic Party and have another term in the Senate, I also think it's important that we see political parties as brands intended to keep government from those who disagree. Other than aiding incumbents, partisanship does little else. And Luke, you have to trust your own judgment more than Ms. Clinton's even if you do respect her.

I had a loyalty to Ms. Clinton in the primaries, but her name is not appearing on the ballot. Moreover, because I have a loyalty to myself and a respect for my own thoughts I have no loyalty to the group, family, or corporation of Ms. Clinton, whatever you want to call it, which has nominated a different man for the job of president. That's not my perogative.

Luke Vargas said...


There's a big difference between listening to my own judgment and blindly following Senator Clinton's public positions. I happened to think her first few "I will vote for Obama" speeches after she pulled out were extremely weak and unconvincing, but it was with time and a good deal of thought that I've realized that (despite there being differences between Clinton and Obama), my 100% support for Clinton and 75% support for Obama is still more than my hot/cold attitude towards John McCain.

Going back to late-June I never naively jumped on the Obama bandwagon simply because Hillary Clinton was standing beside him.


Read the last line of my post however you like, but I certainly didn't chose to vote for Obama merely because of Hillary Clinton, but that supporting her in the Primaries showed me the kind of things that mattered to me in politics. Barack Obama shares many of those same beliefs.