Voter ID and ME… with update.

UPDATE: The following was written a year and a half ago. Since then I’ve tried three more times to correct the disparity between my driver’s license and my voter’s registration. As it stands now, my driver’s license spells my last name all one word but my registration separates the ‘De’ from the rest. The poll workers know me but tell me if Pennsylvania’s voter ID law goes into effect, I will not be permitted to vote.

Yeah. Don’t tell me voter ID is about fairness.

 

 

I AM PISSED!!

I’m a registered voter in Pennsylvania, one of the numerous states whose Republican Governors have proposed laws to require voters to present “State Approved Identification” in order to cast a vote in upcoming elections. On the surface, these sound like common sense laws. In reality, they are bureaucratic nightmares. These laws are solutions to problems that do not exist. But that’s not what this post is about.

During last November’s general election, the courts had put a stay on Pennsylvania’s new Voter ID law. They found that there wasn’t enough time to provide proper ID to the thousands of Pennsylvanians who didn’t have it. The lines at the PA DMV were so long that people were being turned away. It was decided that voters would be asked for ID, but it would not be required to vote. Poll workers were also instructed to ensure that each voter’s ID correctly matched what was on record, and to advise the voter to rectify it before the next election. There were leaflets and everything.

I didn’t think this would be an issue for me. I had my ID. So, with ego properly inflated, I confidently marched up to polling place and proudly presented my driver’s license.

The woman behind the table carefully examined my driver’s license, expelled a sigh, and looked up into my smiling face. “It appears we have a problem,” she said. “The way your name is printed on your driver’s license does not match the way it is printed on our records.”

What?

Apparently, my middle name is spelled out on my driver’s license, but my voter’s registration shows only an initial. My registration also shows a “Sr” after my name, as in Frank Senior. This is ostensibly a problem because I don’t have a son named Frank Jr..

NOTE: Other than my address, the information on my voter’s registration has not changed in almost three decades.

After voting, I thanked the nice woman and promised I would fill out a new registration form with the correct information. All was well with the world.

Being the procrastinator that I am, I filled out the new registration form at the end of March. There were a myriad of reasons why I waited. There always are. Three weeks later my new voter’s registration arrived by mail.

The new registration is printed exactly the same as my old one, with the exact same errors. What gives? How difficult is it to copy information from a piece of paper? How hard is it to check the information found on my driver’s license, and enter it into a database? Wasn’t that the reason I was asked to provide them with my license number?

I contacted the Election Commission and spoke to a very patient gentleman who was as puzzled as I was. He accessed my driver’s license information to verify my identity. He looked at a scanned image of my new application, which had the correct information. and couldn’t understand why the records hadn’t been updated. After a few questions, I was told that my new registration should arrive within a week.

It took almost four weeks for the new voter registration to arrive, just in time for Pennsylvania’s Primary Election. This time, my last name was altered.

I have an Italian last name with a “De” prefix, as in DeNiro, DeLuca, or DeAngelo. Pennsylvania driver’s licenses use all capital letters, and the De is not separated from the rest of the surname. On the new voter’s registration however, the prefix IS separated. You wouldn’t think this was an issue. Apparently, the poll workers thought it was enough of an issue that it needed to be addressed. I was told that I could be turned away because of that simple technicality. REALLY??

Now I have to contact the Election Commission AGAIN, and walk them through the correct spelling of my name.

Does anyone else see the problem, here?

I vote every election. I take it very seriously. It’s about more than just selecting a new Mayor, Judge, Senator, or President. There are ballot questions and referendums. The voting booth is one of the few places in which my opinion matters. In the words of ronsuperman, I don’t vote “because campaigns have been drilling it into our heads reasons why we should or should not vote for a particular candidate. But I will be voting because voting = power, and I cannot sit back while decisions are made around/about me, and I have no input.”

I also don’t want some inattentive paper pusher’s mistake to prevent me from casting my vote.

How can they ask for proper ID if they’re not going to ensure that the information they record is correct? Why must I jump through hoops if a bureaucrat can’t get it right?

If we can’t ensure that everyone can easily obtain the proper ID required to cast a vote, then we need to stand down on aggressive laws designed to make it virtually impossible to engage in our Federal Voting Right.

Speaking of constitutional rights…

The logic of the GOP astounds me. :\

I threw that last thought in there as an expression of my angst.

Seriously though… If anyone, regardless of criminal background, can order an assault weapon online without proper identification, why should my middle initial, or the prefix of my ethnic surname cause so much trouble at the polling place?  #smh

PS: The point of this rant is simple. I’m surviving on minimal resources. If I’m having trouble meeting the requirements for “State Approved Identification”, what about the people who don’t even have what I have?

What About Protection For LGBT Families??

*Note: this piece has been sitting in my drafts folder for almost a year. Since then the U.S. Supreme Court has deemed The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional and several more states have struck down their anti-same sex marriage laws. A lot has changed since I wrote it, but the sentiment remains. I’ve witnessed the damage that happens to gay couples because they didn’t have the legal protections afforded to their heterosexual counterparts. This isn’t about hurting straight couples. This is about protecting LGBT couples. Nothing more.

lineAnyone who has lived through the height of the AIDS crisis understands why Same Sex Marriage is necessary.

I’ve witnessed countless gay men lose everything as the families of their deceased partners swooped in like vultures, devouring everything in sight. It reminded me of the peasants picking through Scrooge’s things in the Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol. These family members weren’t close to the deceased. In most cases they had disowned their gay son. Some were so fearful of AIDS that they refused to come visit their son or brother in the hospital, leaving the survivor to care for his sick partner alone. — Strange. Where was their fear of HIV/AIDS when they were picking through the dead man’s belongings?

It pissed me off to no end seeing these cowards walk in after the fact and claim property simply because they were family. Where was their “Family Values” when their relative was sick??

One woman had the arrogance to tell a friend of mine that his 15 year relationship with her brother was nothing more than playing house. “My husband and I have been married for ten years,” she said. “You two may have lived together, but it was not love.” WHAT?? Was she out of her friggin mind??

One of my friends challenged his deceased partner’s family. The father, who was a lawyer, told his son’s partner, “I have infinite resources. You will go bankrupt if you try to challenge me.” My friend’s case never made it to court. He was forced to move less than a year later.

Those are just two examples of the complete disregard for and discrimination of LGBT families. Did you know it is legal to fire someone simply because he or she is Gay in 29 states? Twenty-Nine States! That’s the reason ENDA is so important. AND… Gays and Lesbians can be DENIED housing in another 29 states. What the hell!

“But what about the children?”

Yeah. Conservatives love to hold children hostage over every issue they don’t approve of. For some reason, they think legalizing Same-Sex Marriage will somehow interfere with the raising of their children. I don’t understand the resistance to educating children, in an age appropriate way, about the world around them. Besides, what of the Gay and Lesbian couples who are raising children? Where is the protection for their families?

If the foundation or your marriage so fragile that it would crumble under the weight of another couple’s happiness, I feel sorry for you.

Here’s the thing. Same Sex Marriage is a conservative idea. It’s personal liberty. It’s “Family Values”

Fifteen years ago, when the idea of Same-Sex Marriage was in it’s infancy, I may have settled for Civil Unions, but Civil Unions are NOT equal to Marriage. A Marriage grants you 1,138 federal rights, protections and responsibilities   A Civil Union does not.

Depending on which state you live, it will cost you between $50 and $100 for a Marriage license. In order to acquire some of (but not all) those rights an LGBT couple must hire a lawyer and spend hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars. Why do I need to make a lawyer rich just to enjoy the same rights as any two strangers can get just because they said, “I Do” at a Las Vegas Drive-Thru wedding chapel?

lineIt heartens me to see that we have accomplished so much since I first drafted this post. At this moment nineteen states and the District of Columbia have given the ‘go ahead’ to same sex marriage. We still have a long way to go, but I cannot overlook the accomplishments of just this last year. LGBTs and their allies have much to be proud of.

Happy Pride Month Everybody!

What Kind of Ass**** Shoots a Gun Into a Car Full of Teenagers?

There is an ongoing battle in my neighborhood between residents and teenagers in parked cars blaring loud music. Not once, in the years that I’ve been living here, has any of us pulled a gun on one. single. teenager.

Not once!

To be sure, blaring your music at top volume, with the bass up so high it shakes my house, is inconsiderate at best. It shows a lack of respect for your neighborhood. It shows the world that you’re the worst kind of ass who’s probably trying to overcompensate for some major insecurities. But it’s not reason enough for me, or anyone for that matter, to take a life.

Most of the time, as with Mr Davis and his pals, it’s just teenagers being teenagers. They haven’t had enough life experience to understand that the people who live in these houses have to get up in the morning to go to jobs they hate, jobs that don’t pay very much, so that they can pay an outrageous amount of rent. They don’t need to listen to some punk kid showing off his bad taste in music. Oh… Don’t think you have bad taste in music? Just wait until you’re an old head like me and some snot nosed kid blasts your house with whatever passes for music at that point.

But I’m in a residential neighborhood where there’s a certain expectation of a reasonable noise level. Something just above a whisper would be nice, but probably unrealistic. Mr Dunn was at a gas station where there is no such expectation.

He was at a friggin gas station convenience store, for crying out loud! It is reasonable to expect that there will be lots of noise! Hell, it’s almost guaranteed!

I wasn’t on that jury so there’s no way of knowing what the hell was going on during deliberations. But there’s one fact that I just can’t get past. After shooting ten rounds into an SUV full of teenagers, Dunn left the gas station and drove 40 miles away to a bed and breakfast in St. Augustine, where he “walked his dog, ordered a pizza, and drank rum and cola.

A normal human being would have called for an ambulance.

But then, a normal human being wouldn’t have fired a gun into an SUV full of teenagers over loud music.

What an ass****!

WTF! No… seriously, W – T – F?

When I created ADignorantium I set a few guidelines for myself. Two of the most important are, I don’t bully and I don’t use language that I’d be embarrassed to let a grandmother read. Don’t get me wrong. I do plenty of cussing at home. Some of my favorite words have only four letters. Lately though, it’s been difficult to maintain the latter. The political climate has devolved into a childish temper tantrum, and I am pissed!

I am so friggin pissed I could spit nails!

I never truly understood that expression until those unbelievably shortsighted tea party republicans decided to put the screws to the United States. I can’t even put thoughts into words, I’m so angry. This is not how America works! We don’t allow a few extremists to shut down the entire government  Do we?

Instead of passing a clean appropriations bill, house republicans attached an ACA rider that doomed it to fail. The unrelated provisions guaranteed the bill would not pass the senate. All they had to do was pass a continuing resolution (CR) that was clean of extraneous nonsense, but they are blinded by their hatred of anything Obama.

Truth be told, I’m not exactly thrilled with every bit of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but it’s a good start. It’s a step in the right direction. When you’re not happy with something, you don’t fix it by killing it. And before you throw “corporate exemptions” at me, those exemptions were concessions to republicans. If you want to get rid of the exemptions, you write a bill, separate from the appropriations bill, and send it to the senate. But that’s not what they want. They want to undo the healthcare law. After trying and failing to repeal the ACA forty two times, they try this stunt!?

Now the government is shut down. National parks, museums, and landmarks are closed to the public. Millions are now without work.

  • Don’t they understand that a government shutdown affects more than government employees?
  • Don’t they know that everyday Americans like hotel staff, bartenders, waiters, and store clerks depend on tourism to make a living?
  • Do they even care that their stubbornness will have a negative effect on the economy?

There is no doubt in my mind that this bullisht is racially motivated. I wasn’t sure at first. I just chalked it up to politics as usual. But after six years of stubborn resistance, there can be no other explanation.

So now I owe some very good friends an apology for all those late night conversations about “race in America” in which I was so certain that things had improved since my father’s generation. Apparently, I was wrong. I was wrong and it sickens me. I am so f*king ashamed of my own country. MY OWN COUNTRY!

I’d like to think we’ll remember. I want to believe we will carry this rage with us to the voting booth. I know I will. But America has a short memory span. We are more worried about Miley, Kim, and Kanye than we are about what our local politicians are up to. More Americans know the names of the Real Housewives than who their representatives are.

So why am I surprised when this isht happens?

~end rant~

Thanks to all for bearing with me. We now return to our regularly scheduled blog.

Two Days Later…

Falwell and Robertson on The 700 Club just two days after 9/11

“The most disgusting rhetoric that came out of 9/11/2001 was the assertion by Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson that America somehow brought the terrorist attacks upon itself. On September 13, just two days after the terrorist attacks, they appeared on The 700 Club and claimed that God smote America because of all the “Pagans, Abortionists, Atheists, Feminists, Gays, and Lesbians, the ACLU, and People for the American Way”. What?! I thought my head would explode when I heard this. How could purported “Men Of God”, mock the memory of so many innocent lives with such hatred and vileness? I’ll let God settle that one.”

May the people, and their families, who were affected by the events of that day somehow find the comfort that they need. – Frank (@ADignorantium)

What is it about drugs that makes people stupid? …oh, right.

Can someone please explain to me the need to roll and smoke a blunt -or do any drug for that matter- on other people’s property? Seriously. Is this just a South Philly thing? …or does this happen everywhere?

I wasn’t brought up this way. I was raised to respect others. I was taught that people treat you the way you treat them. If you act like a thug, you can’t get angry when people treat you as such.

I often lament having to live within blocks of a crack house simply because we can’t afford to move. Don’t get me wrong. we live on a great block – mostly. But every once in a while reality comes wandering along with the sweet smelling cloud of ganja gas suspended above his head.

I’m not a prude. Mary Jane and I are old friends. It just would never occur to me to get blazed on the steps of a stranger’s house. It’s arrogant. It’s inconsiderate to your neighbors. It calls attention to yourself, and it’s just plain stupid. Why do it?

At the risk of sounding like the old head that I am, when I was young we smoked weed in private. We knew it was illegal, so we kept it on the down low. These days, young turks think nothing of whipping out a crack pipe while strolling down the street! What the hell, man? Get it together! Little kids live on our block! Do that shit in your own house!

Hanging out on our steps is usually enough to dissuade anyone from toking up on the street. But every now and again some idiot will think we don’t notice and light up. In those cases, just asking the person if (s)he can “please do that somewhere else” is usually enough to send them on their way. But occasionally, some little punk thinks his need to get high is more important than the rights of our neighbors.

The worst is when they try to hide on the steps of the small pentecostal church at the end of our street. Here’s where insolence rises to new heights! What the hell is wrong with people? Seriously! Have some f*king self respect!

I grew up in an Italian household. Wine was served with every meal. It was a normal part of life. As children, we were never made to feel left out. Our wine glasses were somewhat watered down, but we each had one. If we wanted to taste any of the “adult” beverages, all we had to do was ask. My family knew that the way to make something more desirable is to ban it, so nothing was forbidden. As a result, the mystery was taken out of alcohol. If there’s no mystery, it’s no longer special. We were free to pursue more important things.

Any child psychologist will tell you, the quickest way to get a child to do something it to tell him he’s not allowed to do it. When you remove the restrictions you take away it’s importance. I’m a firm believer in the legalization of marijuana to abate it’s importance. Decriminalization will help reduce drug related crime. Taxing it will help add much needed money to our treasury.

But when I see these kids hiding in doorways or shuffling down the street like zombies, I have to wonder if maybe I have it all wrong.

A Message To White People

We, as caucasians, have to understand that we don’t know all the answers. We need to recognize when to speak up, and when to shut the hell up and listen.

The Zimmerman trial verdict picked open a scab that has not had a chance to heal properly. The anger of non-whites is not an overreaction. It is a valid emotion stemming from centuries of systematic mistreatment, and downright cruelty.

Just because we elected a Black President does not mean we’ve evolved into a “Post Racist” America.

You can’t just say you’re not racist and make it so. It’s easy to find out if you are, though. Just ask any person of color you regularly come in contact with; any non-white person at all.. But be prepared for an honest answer. And don’t get pissed off if you don’t get the answer you wanted to hear.

Whether or not you use the six letter N word doesn’t determine if you’re a racist. Your actions, how you treat people, are a reflection of your true nature. Treating people as a group, instead of individually, is indicative of racism.

Here’s the deal. We all have our own truths; our own experience, if you will. The only way for us to understand is to listen. When people tell you there’s a problem, you can’t solve it by being defensive. Yeah. Sometimes it’s a pain in the ass. But life’s not easy, so get over it.

If someone says or does something offensive, don’t let it slide. Speak up.  If someone is trying to tell you there’s a problem, shut the hell up and listen.