All the Way to the Bank.

All the Way to the Bank.

Did you hear them laughing?

At the RNC, did you hear them scoffing at community organization? Did you hear them interrupt Rudi Giuliani with loud scoffing and booing when Rudi mentioned Obama's community organization record.

I did.

I heard Giuliani say "perhaps that was his first mistake" and the Republican convention cheered and jeered in unison.

The audacity!

They are laughing at me, and they are laughing at you. They are laughing at every American who has been put out of work because their job was shipped overseas. They are laughing at every American who has lost their home in the housing downturn. They are laughing at every victim of Hurricane Katrina, whose lot was made a thousand times worse because the White House was derelict in its duty.

They are laughing at every American that has been hurt by the Republican Party's eight long years of dereliction in their duty.

They are laughing at YOU.

And the Republicans laugh... all the way to the bank.

They make the mess, community organizers clean it up, and Republicans laugh... because for the most part, the mess they left behind has made them a packet of money.

And they laugh.

Never mind the human cost of their actions, never mind the pain and suffering it inflicts upon whole communities,

they laugh... because their bottom line is better for the pain and suffering the rest of us endure.

Palin and Giuliani both scoffed at the pain and suffering of ordinary Americans,

And then they have the nerve to call Obama "Elitist."

They must be beyond the scope of economic downturn, they must be wealthy enough to endure the train-wreck that is the Bush Administration's economic policy, they must be so damned rich and powerful, that they don't get it at all.

And then, there was the chant.

Regardless of the McCain-Palin stand on "standing up to big oil", it is pretty clear that the Republican Party is still run by big oil, and that Palin and McCain are both up to the gills in it.

"Drill baby drill" chants the crowd, whenever anybody mentions energy policy.

It might have worked in the 60's folks (it was bad policy then) but it can't wash now.

Oil interests in the White House have led this country to the brink of economic collapse, and the Republican answer to employment, the economy, and the energy crisis is "Drill baby drill."

Has America become so inured to politics that we can no longer spell cynical?

And they laugh... because their bottom line is better now than it ever was.

The cynical jokes of Big Oil Republicans have cost this country everything it holds dear,

and they're still laughing...

...all the way to the bank.

Its time to wipe that stupid grin from their faces.


Rodney B. Smith
Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA


Here we go again !!!

UPDATE: I have been informed by a council member that enforcement of this ordinance would be the responsibility of the School Liaison Officer, who apparently spends her time in school, where she would not find any truant children. So what is the point of the legislation? Does the city want to leave the door open for draconian, community-wide law enforcement because the school district can't take responsibility for those in its charge? This is even more preposterous, not less so!!

They’re at it again.

It would seem that the City of Ypsilanti is really good at proposing bad laws.

Now, mostly, I keep my nose out of City business because I live in the township. However, every now and then the City presents an ordinance that might actually affect me or mine.

This time, the City is proposing a curfew on all children between 6 and 16 years of age during school hours.

The proposed ordinance reads

Sec. 74-325. Generally.

A. It is unlawful for a minor under the age of 16 years who is enrolled in a public or private educational program to be absent from school and in a public place, as defined in subsection B.

Sec. 74-326. Definition.

A public place means any public street, avenue, highway, roadway, curb area, alley, park, playground or other public ground, place or building, amusement place, eating place, vacant lot, or any place open to the public during the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. when school is in session.

This, folks, is a curfew.

Now, the ordinance includes 10 exceptions for various cases where children may be enrolled in other institutions, or may be home-schooled, etcetera.

The fundamental problem is that it is effectively illegal for our children to be on the street during school hours, and the nature of the exceptions is that the burden of proof lies with the child.

What this means is that Chief Harshberger and his police officers are to assume that any child seen in a public place during school hours is in breach of this ordinance, and the officers are obliged to interrogate the child to determine if the child qualifies as exempt.

Lets go through a couple of examples.

An adolescent attends a charter school and his class has a half-day off on some pretext or other. He is in his father’s café, helping out and chatting with customers while his father is at work at another job. A police officer, upon entering that café, is obliged to interrogate the young man to determine whether he is within the law under this ordinance.

What level of stupidity is this?

What is the pressing issue that has our children under the threat of interrogation every time they leave their homes or school premises during public school hours?

Apparently the school district is having a truancy problem, and this is a proposal that is supposed to address it. As far as I can tell, truant children are not a threat to public safety, nor are they gathering in numbers and creating a public nuisance. Even if they were, we already have laws to cover that.

Apparently, then, the problem is an administrative one within the school district, and the school district is looking for a way to enlist the support of the City via the police force in its enforcement of the state’s truancy laws.

Well folks, this is the wrong solution!!

This ordinance makes it a police officer’s duty to interrogate every minor seen on the street during public school hours, whether the minor is making a nuisance or not. As if the officers don’t have enough on their plate as it is.!!

Another example.

I educate my son at home. In a few years, he will be old enough to do simple errands on his own. Suppose our lessons are done for the day, we are visiting Depot Town, and we get caught up yammering politics with someone on the street.

Suppose I send Jack to the café to grab an ice-cream. He ends up yammering to Forrest, (who has, by this time, graduated but Jack has known Forrest for years.)

An officer is obliged to interrogate Jack for being in a public place during school hours.

Yep, you heard right, my son could be interrogated for buying an ice-cream.

Now, suppose my son were to get defensive if the police officer starts to ask him about curriculum, then the officer is obliged to come to me and find out if I am in compliance with the law.

The ordinance reads that I must be educating Jack in an “organized educational program” according to exemption 10

10) The minor is being educated in an organized educational program at the minor’s home by his or her parent, legal guardian in accordance with Public Act No. 451 of 1976 (MCL 380.1, et seq.).

I have no problem complying with that, it is a requirement of state law.

I would hate to think, however, that an officer of the City of Ypsilanti Police Force might feel the need to come to my home in Ypsilanti Township to determine whether or not I am educating my son in a manner consistent with the law. I may also feel reluctant to believe that such an officer was qualified to make such a determination.

Now, if they just struck the words "in an organized educational program", then there is no obligation from the officer to determine anything more than that I am home-schooling.

So, recapping our hypothetical, I sent Jack to buy an ice-cream during public school hours, and it could end up that I face court on truancy charges because a police officer may not be qualified to make a judgment on my home-school curriculum.

Do you see why I am torqued about this?

It is the most extreme case, but it is possible under the ordinance as it is written now.

A curfew is the type of extreme measure that civilized societies reserve for times when all reasonable avenues have failed to address an issue of civil unrest or public nuisance.

A curfew is a heavy-handed measure to address a problem within the public school administration, which, as far as I can tell, causes no public nuisance.

Truancy laws are designed to bring to justice those abusive and reprobate parents/guardians who refuse to educate those children in their care.

Interrogating children who are going about their lawful business in an orderly manner is a high price for our community to pay for the failures of our school district.

No citizen should suffer police interrogation while going about his or her normal, lawful business, least of all a child!!.

Take Care



Paul Allen Curry, 1949-2008

Paul Allen Curry was a friend of mine.

In the strange new world that I had imported myself into, Al represented that very authentic Irish-working-class ethic that had permeated my previous existence. It was for this reason, more than any other, that Al and I shared a lasting friendship.

I came to the United States to marry my wife. It sounds a little gooey when I write it like that, but that was really the crux of it. This brought me into a strange new environment, not only America, with seasons, directions, and road-laws all done backwards, but also the middle class in the Midwest, where forthright is a swearword and subtext is everything.

Disoriented doesn’t begin to describe it. I had come from the Australian working class, where a man’s word was his bond, actions spoke louder than words, and subtext was a luxury that no-one had time, energy, or inclination to indulge.

Not long after Misti and I were married, her friend Shelly announced her engagement to Al Curry, and not long afterwards, I had a chance to meet the guy.

Shelly knows from manners and graces, and much of what I know about getting by in the middle class, I learned from Shelly (the rest of it I learned from my wife).

You can imagine my utter amazement, then, when I met Al. Al had learned the right language and the respectful way of doing social niceties, but he left no-one, ever, in any possible doubt, about what he thought; be it about them or about what they thought.

We hit it off immediately. I could have the conversations with Al that I had previously had with my bothers back home, where the shouting and emphatic language of ardent debate eventually gave way to rollicking laughter and the clatter-and-hiss of making more coffee and opening more beer.

For the first time since landing in America, I had found the flavour of home.

Al and I spent many a night exchanging yarns a devouring good whiskey while our wives nattered and did… whatever it is the womenfolk do when the guys are in thick and furious debate.

Of Al Curry, I would have to say that he was as true to himself as any mortal person could be. He was what he was, you could like it or lump it, but he wasn’t going to give a damn either way. He took responsibility for all of his own actions, and demanded that everyone else, from president to beggar, should do the same.

Al was a story-teller. His yarns about raising hell as a irreverent farm boy, and the various incidents and accidents that form the fabric of his life were a delight to hear. Al and I spent a lot of time exchanging yarns, but as a storyteller, he made me look like a rank amateur, though he never made me feel that way.

Al was a curmudgeon. He didn’t see the point in being nice for the sake of it, if he liked you, well and good, if he didn’t, that was perfectly obvious as well. He didn’t much care for the company of kids, he saw no point in liking people just because they are small, and he made no secret of that; though our Jack was well enough behaved that he didn’t mind him, and his grandchildren were the apple of his eye.

Al was forthright. He left no doubt in anyone’s mind what he thought about any issue. Unlike many opinionated people, Al could back his words with sound reason, and while I may not always have agreed with him, I could always see why he believed what he did.

Al was spiritual. You had to know him well to know that side of him at all, but the things that mattered to Al, mattered very deeply indeed. Being raised a Baptist cured him of any liking for religion. This did not stop him believing in God, but he had a real hard time believing in any church.

Al was, most of all, a writer. Shelly tells me he wrote every day. Writing is not something he did, a writer is what he was. Al had a CD published, he was an accomplished musician and a damned good songwriter, he also had a manuscript kicking around called “the free lunch chronicles” which was an aptly named collection of autobiographical yarns, the sort of stories that will get you a free lunch on a regular basis. The yarns are, of course, embellished just a little, but they make an entertaining read, and the core information is factual.

My most memorable experience of Al’s writing was in e-mail. Every now and then we’d be treated to an acerbic, irreverent, opinionated article about one level of government malfeasance or another. Al’s way with words and imagery was a delight to read, and well worth a re-read. His language was often strong, and his commentary was over-the-top, but it was so beautifully crafted you had to admire it.

Al died in the wee small hours of March 18, 2008, the day after St Patrick’s day, the day Al often referred to as the festival of amateur drunks and once-a-year Irish. This didn’t stop him getting plastered, flirting with the girls, and yammering in Gaelic to any who would listen.

Four of us sang “Danny Boy” to close his funeral, and that first sense of familiarity, the one friend I had in this country who could fill the place of a brother, was laid to rest.

I liked Al a lot.

I miss him.


Its not just republicans!!

Open letter to the Michigan Legislature

The Michigan Legislature has before it House Bill Number 5912, a bill that would require home-schooled children to be registered with their school district.

My first question is why?

The United States of America is built on the principle of freedom, and Michigan has fought, from its very inception, to maintain as much independence as is feasible from federal government inteference.

Are we not aware of the young Governor Mason, who was deposed briefly by federal intervention for purposes of political expedience, who was re-elected in a landslide by the people of Michigan who, on the same day, voted for the constitution which serves our state so well? We, the citizens of the State of Michigan, don’t like government interference unless we can see good reason for it.

It alarms me that the state legislature now intends to have home-schooled children registered with the state, a requirement that flies in the face of our freedom and can serve no useful end.

There is no good reason to register home-schooled children with the school district. It therefore represents a needless intrusion into the privacy of Michigan's citizens.

For any tale of woe about an irresponsible family who neglects their children by failing to educate them, there are a thousand such tales of publicly educated children who enter high-school without basic literacy skills.

Registering home-educators with the state system will not, nor can it, improve either situation. While home-education will continue successfully as it always has, the already burdened state system will have the increased workload of registering its home-educators and their students to no useful end. The increase in burden may not be great, but any increase is too much for a system that is already struggling.

As a home-educator, I can assure you that government registration represents a significant barrier to home-educating families who may consider moving to Michigan. Home-educators tend to be the very type of "can-do" people that are needed in this state as we pave a brighter future for our children.

There is no evidence to suggest that home-education in Michigan is broken. Registration of home-educators serves no useful end.

Registering home-educators with the state system can only serve to burden an already under-funded system with useless information, and present one more barrier for the families who want to immigrate to our state in these difficult times.

Please reconsider your co-sponsorship of this bill that flies in the face of our freedom, intrudes on our privacy, and adds to the already substantial burden that the people of the State of Michigan bear in these difficult times.


Rodney B. Smith
Home Educator

Please feel free to hijack any part of this for your own protest letters.

Representative Brenda Clack is the major sponsor of this bill.

Rep. Brenda Clack
N0798 House Office Building
P.O. Box 30014
Lansing, MI 48909-7514


CO-SPONSORS OF H.B. 5912 are:
(There are 24, you might want to select those who represent you.)

Joan Bauer: 517-373-0826, joanbauer@house.mi.gov
Bob Constan: 517-373-0849, bobconstan@house.mi.gov
Marc Corriveau: 517-373-3816, marccorriveau@house.mi.gov
Robert Dean: 517-373-2668, robertdean@house.mi.gov
Kate Ebli: 517-373-2617, KateEbli@house.mi.gov
Barbara Farrah: 517-373-0845, barbarafarrah@house.mi.gov
Richard Hammel: 517-373-7557, richardhammel@house.mi.gov
Ted Hammon: 517-373-3906, tedhammon@house.mi.gov
Shanelle Jackson: 517-373-1705, shanellejackson@house.mi.gov
Bert Johnson: 517-373-0144, bertjohnson@house.mi.gov
Robert Jones: 517-373-1785, robertjones@house.mi.gov
Kathleen Law: 517-373-1799, davidlaw@house.mi.gov
Richard LeBlanc: 517-373-2576, richardleblanc@house.mi.gov
Gabe Leland: 517-373-6990, gabeleland@house.mi.gov
Mark Meadows: 517-373-1786, markmeadows@house.mi.gov
Fred Miller: 517-373-0159, fredmiller@house.mi.gov
Gino Polidori: 517-373-0847, ginopolidori@house.mi.gov
Joel Sheltrown: 517-373-3817, joelsheltrown@house.mi.gov
Mike Simpson: 517-373-1775, mikesimpson@house.mi.gov
Alma Smith: 517-373-1771, almasmith@house.mi.gov
Virgil Smith: 517-373-0589, virgilsmith@house.mi.gov
Aldo Vagnozzi: 517-373-1793, aldovagnozzi@house.mi.gov
Lisa Wojno: 517-373-2275, lisawojno@house.mi.gov

All of them can also be reached at:

N0798 House Office Building
P.O. Box 30014
Lansing, MI 48909-7514