Monday, July 09, 2007

"And now, on a sour note..."

At the end of my junior year in high school, I attended and actively participated in Massachusetts Boys State. As you may know, Boys State is a venerable civics program held every summer in every state of the Union. Boys State offers a select group of handpicked high school boys the opportunity to hone their leadership skills by organizing a mock state government and waging campaigns for statewide and federal office. In essence, Boys State is a summer camp for political junkies. Though participation in Boys State is limited to young men, young women with an interest in public service take part in an identical program - Girls State. Boys State and Girls State are sponsored by the American Legion, which leads me to a somewhat lengthy explanation of this post's title.

Conducted under the auspices of a veterans' organization, Boys State was a fairly regimented affair. To encourage a sense of esprit de corps, attendees were assigned to fictional "towns" that functioned like military brigades and were expected to wear the official Boys State t-shirt to all of the week's events. We all had to get up early in the morning to stand in formation at a flag-raising ceremony, and each night ended fairly early with lights-out. (I no longer remember the time of lights-out, but it was earlier than I usually went to bed at home.) We also had daily assemblies that included talks from state officials (the Lieutenant Governor, for example) and from representatives of the American Legion. One of the people we heard from most often at these assemblies was the American Legion official who served as the effective commander-in-chief of Boys State, an older gentleman with the improbable name of Eugene McCarthy. (His moniker was improbable inasmuch as he bore no resemblance, personally or politically, to the dovish former senator and sometime poet.) In his daily remarks, C-in-C McCarthy would offer updates on the schedule as well as relevant news items. Boys who were derelict in their duties - those who showed up late for reveille, for instance, or who didn't clean up after themselves - could expect to receive public admonishment (albeit not by name) from Eugene McCarthy. After a couple days, we all knew that harsh words were coming whenever McCarthy said, "And now, on a sour note..."

And now, on a sour note, it seems some electoral chicanery has been going on in balloting on the Campaign For Your Cause website. The other day, I saw a note there cautioning people not to try to get around the one-vote-per-day rule by deleting cookies. Now Campaign For Your Cause is no longer posting voting results online because of "the process of verifying votes," a process that will evidently also delay the announcement of the winners until August 1. For the first time, I also see a fine print notice saying that only Louisiana residents are eligible to vote. On a certain level, this makes a lot of sense - even though it prevents me and many others from voting - but it will make "verifying votes" a bit more of a hassle. If you're a Louisiana resident - or if you at least have a Louisiana IP address - keep logging on each day to cast your vote for the Harry Tompson Center. I suppose that non-residents can keep on voting, but your votes are apparently going to be weeded out and not counted. Of course, if you really want to help out the Harry Tompson Center, I still say you should visit their website and learn about how you can be of direct service to this important ministry. Anyhow, thanks for your interest and support for a very good cause. AMDG.


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