Monthly Archives: October 2016

HOW MONSTERS ARE BORN

By Sharon Reily, Reference Department

There are a lot of scary things in the world, and I’m not talking about the upcoming election. Literature and films are loaded with frightening monstrosities, but I’ll focus on three “classic” creatures – vampires, zombies, and mummies – and examine the origins of these horrors that have terrified folks for centuries.

Vampires

bela_lugosi_as_dracula_75From Bela Lugosi to Gary Oldman and Robert Pattinson, everyone has a favorite movie bloodsucker. But the original vampires of legend weren’t as forlornly romantic as Oldman or as adorable as Pattinson. Ancient versions of the vampire weren’t thought to be humans returned from the grave, but were supernatural entities that didn’t take human form. There are many vampire variations around the world: an Egyptian vampire that was a demon summoned by sorcery, Asian vampires that attacked people and drained their life energy, the blood-drinking Wrathful Deities that appeared in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and many others.

Belief in vampires surged in the Middle Ages in Europe. Any unfortunate event that befell a person or village with no obvious cause, such as disease or crop failure, could be blamed on a vampire. Villagers combined their belief that something had cursed them with their fear of the dead, and concluded that the recently deceased might be responsible, returning from the grave with evil intent.

“The Vampyre,” the first fully realized vampire story, was written by John Polidori, personal physician to Lord Byron (the haughty Byron often belittled his young employee). In 1816, Percy Shelley and Mary Godwin joined Byron and Polidori at Byron’s villa on Lake Geneva. Byron suggested that his guests each write a ghost story. Mary’s tale became the novel Frankenstein. One theory is that Polidori, inspired by his resentment of Byron’s arrogant treatment, based his character Lord Ruthven, a charming aristocratic vampire, on the poet. But when Polidori’s story was published in 1819, it was credited to Byron. Polidori tried to prove his authorship, but was accused of misusing Byron’s name.

The most famous appearance of a vampire in literature was Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1897. Like Polidori’s vampire, Dracula appeared as an aristocratic gentleman. It’s often assumed that Stoker’s Count Dracula was inspired by Vlad Dracula, a real-life prince cited as an influence for modern personifications of vampires. Known as Vlad the Impaler because of the gruesome method he used to kill his enemies, he is considered a national hero for the extreme measures he used to defend his Romanian principality in the 15th century. Historians have implied but never proved that Vlad drank the blood of his enemies.

interviewwithavampiremovieposteStoker’s novel was popular in the Victorian age, but it wasn’t until the 20th century film versions that it became iconic. The first adaptation of Stoker’s novel, the silent German film Nosferatu, was controversial because of its departures from Dracula – instead of being charming, Nosferatu was a vile character, and instead of drinking his victim’s blood to create new vampires, he spread rats and plague. The most influential adaptation of Stoker’s work was the 1931 film Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi. His performance inspired future actors who took the role and was a factor in making horror films a viable genre in the U.S. market. In the 1950s and 1960s, Christopher Lee played Dracula in a number of violent adaptations. Since then Count Dracula has been portrayed more times in film and TV than any other horror character. Now vampires are everywhere – in Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, in Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels (depicted on TV in True Blood), the Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, the TV series The Strain and Being Human, and countless others.

Zombies

walking-dead-posterThose shambling creatures intent on devouring Rick Grimes and his dwindling band of survivors bear little resemblance to the earliest incarnation of the zombie. The word “zombi” originally didn’t refer to the familiar brain-eating monsters but instead to a West African deity. It later came to suggest the human force leaving the shell of a body, and ultimately a creature human in form but lacking self-awareness, intelligence, and a soul. The notion was imported to Haiti and elsewhere from Africa through the slave trade. In Haiti and the Caribbean, zombies are an element of the voodoo religion and believers take them seriously.

Haitian zombies were said to be people brought back from the dead (and sometimes controlled) through magical means by voodoo priests called bokors, often as an act of punishment. Zombies were supposedly used as slave labor on farms and sugarcane plantations, although none of these zombie-powered plantations was ever discovered. Westerners considered zombies fictional horror film characters until the 1980s when a scientist, Wade Davis, claimed in his book The Serpent and the Rainbow to have solved the mystery of the zombie. The work met much skepticism. Davis asserted that he found the actual powder used by the bokors to create zombies – a neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin that could bring on the appearance of death.

poster_-_white_zombie_01Early zombie films, most notably White Zombie in 1932 and I Walked with A Zombie in 1943, acknowledged the zombie’s voodoo roots. George Romero’s 1968 film The Night of the Living Dead introduced the current popular characterization of the zombie as a flesh-eating creature. Romero’s film established common themes in current zombie films – the zombie as a metaphor for societal unrest and alienation; unconventional protagonists (hello, Daryl Dixon); and humans reduced to “survivalist” mentality. Romero’s zombies attack in groups and can be killed with a blow to the head. Recent zombie films – 28 Days Later, Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland, World War Z, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and of course, The Walking Dead – feature elements of Romero’s films and ignore the voodoo connection.

Mummies

mummyUnlike vampires and zombies, mummies are not based on myth or legend. They are actual human corpses, preserved by a special method of embalming. Mummies have been found all over the world. But in ancient Egypt the mummification process was honed to a fine art over centuries, with the best prepared and preserved specimens, including Tutankhamen and other pharaohs, dating from around 1560 to 1075 B.C. The technique worked so well that after 3,000 years, we can still tell what the deceased looked like in life.

The elaborate procedure, as much a religious ritual as a technical process, took at least 70 days. The basic method was to remove organs except the heart through a slit in the body’s side. The brain was removed through the nostrils with a hooked instrument. The organs were preserved in jars and placed inside the body. The body was covered in natron, a salt with drying properties. Once the body was dry, sunken areas were filled with linen, sawdust, and other materials to make it to look lifelike. The body was then wrapped in hundreds of yards of linen strips. Finally a shroud was secured to the body and it was buried in a tomb along with objects the person would need in the Afterlife. Throughout the entire process, rituals and prayers had to be performed precisely. Why expend so much time and effort to preserve a body? The Egyptians believed that the mummified body was the home for the soul or spirit, and if the body was destroyed, the spirit might be lost.

mummy_32How did a person so honored turn into the malevolent creature we know from films? Napoleon’s conquest of Egypt at the end of the 18th century sparked a European interest in ancient Egypt that was still strong in Victorian England, where public “unrollings” of mummies were held. In 1903, Bram Stoker published The Jewel of Seven Stars, the first novel featuring mummifies as supernatural antagonists. Howard Carter’s discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922 fueled even more interest. Then came the famous Boris Karloff film, The Mummy. Released in 1932, it was based on the concept of “the pharaoh’s curse” (that anyone who disturbs a tomb would die) and featured the mummy Imhotep as an evil high priest. It set the stage for a slew of mummy films through the 1940s and 1950s.  Imhotep recently reappeared in the 1999 remake of The Mummy and its sequel, The Mummy Returns.

Early film depictions of vampires, zombies, and mummies may seem a little dated and not that terrifying compared to the ultraviolence common in today’s horror films. But that might change. In 2014, Universal Pictures announced it would be rebooting its library of “classic” horror films, bringing new life to standard horror characters. The first release in this effort, The Mummy starring Tom Cruise, is due to hit theaters in 2017.

Click here for a list of resources at WCPL for further reading and viewing.


SOURCES:

Presidential Election 2016

By Sharon Reily, Reference Department

Unsure? If you haven’t been able to decide about a candidate in the presidential election, here is a sampling of the many titles at the Library on both candidates and the 2016 election. Learn more about Clinton and Trump from these books and other resources at the Library.

THE ELECTIONpresidential-1311753_1280

  • Killing the Messenger: The Right-Wing Plot to Derail Hillary and Hijack Your Government by David Brock (324.70973 BRO)
  • We’re Still Right, They’re Still Wrong: The Democrats’ Case for 2016 by James Carville (324.2734 CAR)
  • The Wilderness: Deep Inside the Republican Party’s Combative Contentious Chaotic Quest to Take Back the White House by McKay Choppins (324.2734 COP)
  • Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party by Dinesh D’Souza (324.2736 D’SOU)
  • The Year of Voting Dangerously: The Derangement of American Politics by Maureen Dowd (324.973 DOW)
  • Talking Politics? What You Need to Know Before Opening Your Mouth by Sheila Suess Kennedy (320.973 KEN)
  • Armageddon: How Trump Can Beat Hillary by Dick Morris & Eileen McGann (324.973 MOR)

hillary_clinton_official_secretary_of_state_portrait_cropHILLARY CLINTON

  • Love Her, Love Her Not: The Hillary Paradox ed. by Joanne Cronrath Bamberger (324.973 LOV)
  • A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton by Carl Bernstein (92 CLINTON)
  • Unlikeable: The Problem with Hillary by Edward Cline (92 CLINTON)
  • Hard Choices by Hillary Clinton (92 CLINTON)
  • Living History by Hillary Clinton (92 CLINTON)
  • Alter Egos: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and the Twilight Struggle Over American Power by Mark Landler (327.73 LAN)
  • Thirty Ways of Looking At Hillary: Reflections by Women Writers ed. by Susan  Morrison (973.929092 THI)
  • Big Girls Don’t Cry: The Election That Changed Everything for American Women by Rebecca Traister (324.9730931 TR)

donald_trump_by_gage_skidmore_10Donald Trump

  • In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome! by Ann Coulter (324.973 COU)
  • Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit Of Success by Michael D’Antonio (92 TRUMP)
  • Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money, and Power by Michael Kranish & Marc Fisher (92 TRUMP)
  • Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again by Donald Trump (320.973 TRU)
  • The American We Deserve by Donald Trump (320.973 TRU)
  • Trump: The Art of the Deal by Donald Trump (92 TRUMP)
  • Trump: The Art of the Comeback by Donald Trump (92 TRUMP)

It’s National Friends of the Library Week!

By Jeffie Nicholson, Reference Departmentfotl-wcpltn

What is a Friends of the Library group?  They are outstanding individuals who value the services a public library provides to a community.  They are willing to volunteer their time and talents plus dedicate themselves to the promotion and support of their local library.

To recognize and celebrate the volunteer and fundraising work of Friends in local community libraries, the United for Libraries division of the American Library Association designates one week in October as the National Friends of Libraries Week.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has proclaimed October 16-22, 2016, as Friends of Libraries Week in Tennessee and encourages all citizens to join in this worthy observance.fotl-1

Our own Friends of the Williamson County Public Library group was established in 1961.  They held their first meeting on December 3 at the War Memorial Public Library. Over the years, they have contributed thousands of dollars to our  library.  Nearly $15,000 for books was raised this year. They also provide support for staff training and education, and other endeavors as they arise.fotl-2

Our Friends raise these funds via membership fees, their book sales and events such as the Special Children’s Book Sales and by selling t-shirts and book bags. Members volunteer to help out with these and library events plus special Friends events like October’s “Boo Books” on October 24.fotl-summer-2012-book-sale

“The library has always played such an important role in my life and in my family’s life,” said Friends president Debbie Eades. “I truly enjoy being able to give something back – and being an active member of this group is fun!”

Our Friends of the Library are truly priceless and our library system would be bereft without their contributions. Did you know that the value of a volunteer hour is now assessed at $20.56? It leaves you speechless when you think about all the time our Friends give to the library.

“Our library would be much poorer without the Friends,” said Library Director Dolores Greenwald. “The funds they raise are such a valuable contribution to our community. I think most patrons would be surprised to learn how much support is provided by our local Friends groups.”

— andrew gold video : Thank You for Being a Friend!


Want to learn more?

Want to join your local Friends group? Here are the groups in our Williamson County Public Library System:

 

Internet Safety for Kids

By Katy Searcy, Children’s Department

Let’s talk about the Internet for a minute. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know what I would do without the Internet. We have access to information literally at our fingertips, and it’s absolutely fantastic. I love being able to find answers to the random questions zipping through my head. Of course, I don’t have to list off all the benefits of the Internet, and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you the dangers of the Internet either.

The Internet can be a scary place for anyone. There are creeps and weirdos galore, and who knows whether or not our information is really private? It’s tough enough for many adults to navigate, so it’s no wonder we receive lots of requests for books about Internet safety for kids. Kids use a variety of online services, from social media to games, and each one hosts its own safety concerns. Below are a few basic tips parents can be sure to implement no matter how their kids use the Internet, as well as a list of resources to use for talking about Internet safety with kids:

  • Keep the computer in a high-traffic area of your home.
  • Establish limits for which online sites kids can visit and for how long.
  • Remember that the Internet is mobile, so make sure to monitor cell phones, gaming devices, and laptops.
  • Surf the Internet with your children and let them show you what they like to do online.
  • Know who is connecting with your children online and set rules for social media, instant messaging, email, online gaming, and using webcams.
  • Continually talk with your children about online safety.

The following websites provide more in depth tips and suggestions for talking about Internet safety with children:

  • http://www.netsmartz.org/Parents
    • A program of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, NetSmartz Workshop provides interactive, age-appropriate resources to help teach children how to be safe online. This website features videos, games, presentations, and other activities for kids ages 5 through 17, as well as guides for parents and educators.
  • http://www.pbs.org/parents/childrenandmedia/
    • PBS Parents is a great resource for information about all aspects of child development and early learning, and the “Children and Media” section is especially helpful for talking to kids about online safety. Featuring numerous articles and age-by-age tips for helping children and teens get the most out of media and technology, this website provides information for parents of children ages 3 through 18.
  • https://www.commonsensemedia.org/privacy-and-internet-safety
    • Common Sense Media is a non-profit organization that provides information and advice to help parents navigate the issues surrounding raising children in the digital age. The website’s extensive FAQ section features questions from real parents that are broken down by age group or topic.

And finally, here’s a list of books we have here at WCPL about Internet safety and security for both kids and parents:

  • “Berenstain Bears’ Computer Trouble” (part of 5 Minute Berenstain Bears Stories) (J E BERENSTAIN)
  • Savvy Cyber Kids (J E HALPERT)
  • What Does It Mean to be Safe? (J E DIORIO)
  • Online Privacy (J 005.8 MAR)
  • Safe Social Networking (J 006.754 LIN)
  • The Smart Girl’s Guide to the Internet: How to Connect with Friends, Find What You Need, and Stay Safe Online (J 006.754083 CIN) American Girl nonfiction
  • A Smart Kid’s Guide to Social Networking Online (J 006.754083 JAK)
  • Information Insecurity: Privacy Under Siege (YA 323.448 JAN)
  • iRules: What Every Tech-Healthy Family Needs to Know About Selfies, Sexting, Gaming, and Growing Up (004.678083 HOF)
  • Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives (302.2310835 PAL)
  • It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (302.30285 BOY)
  • How to Protect Your Children on the Internet: A Roadmap for Parents and Teachers (305.235 SMI)
  • Cyber Self-Defense: Expert Advice to Avoid Online Predators, Identity Theft, and Cyberbullying (613.602854678 MOO)

Sources:

Zen and the Art of Winnie-the-Pooh

By Stacy Parish, Children’s Department

After a particularly nerve-shredding week that saw citizens foaming at the mouth over the divorce announcement of a high-profile celebrity couple, schools placed on lockout over bizarre and inexplicable clown sightings, and a media frenzy surrounding the alleged armed robbery of millions of dollars in jewelry from a woman who is famous merely for being famous (and saying and doing obnoxious things), I was desperate for some calm.  (Fans of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” may insert a quote here from the delightful and unparalleled Daryl Dixon:  “Am I the only one Zen around here?  Good Lord!”)   I needed some Zen and I needed it fast.  How utterly fortuitous it is that I am employed in the Children’s Department of Williamson County Public Library, by which I was granted an unrestricted, all-access pass to some books about Alan Alexander Milne’s deceptively simple but actually quite wise “Silly Old Bear,” that delightful creature who has won the hearts of readers for more than nine decades, Winnie The Pooh.

pooh1

Winnie the Pooh, aka Pooh Bear, first appeared as Edward Bear in a poem in A.A. Milne’s1924 children’s verse book When We Were Very Young.  The first collection of stories about Pooh and his friends was Winnie-the-Pooh, published in October of 1926 and followed by The House at Pooh Corner in 1928.  Milne named the character for a teddy bear owned by his son, Christopher Robin Milne, who was of course the inspiration for the character Christopher Robin.  Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, and Tigger were also toys belonging to Christopher Robin Milne and were incorporated into A.A. Milne’s stories.  Owl and Rabbit were created from Milne’s imagination, and Gopher was later added in the Disney theatrical adaptation.  Some of Christopher Robin Milne’s original toys have been on display at the Main Branch of the New York Public Library in New York City.

pooh2

Dear Reader, you’ll be thrilled to learn that after spending some time reminiscing with Pooh and his friends (and a delicious cup of black chai tea), I was able to regain my sense of Zen.  While contemplating a second cup of tea, it occurred to me that Pooh is quite fond of snacks, and I think he would wholeheartedly encourage me to have another, and accompany it with a “smackerel” of something.  If you recall, Pooh makes it a habit to eat a snack at around eleven in the morning.  Seeing as how all the clocks in Pooh’s house “stopped at five minutes to eleven some weeks ago,” then pretty much any time of day or night can be considered Pooh’s snack time.

“Christopher Robin was at home by this time,

because it was the afternoon, and he was so glad     

to see them that they stayed there until very nearly

tea-time, and then they had a Very Nearly Tea,

which is one you forget about afterwards, and

hurried on to Pooh Corner, so as to see Eeyore before

it was too late to have a Proper Tea with Owl.”

–“The House at Pooh Corner”

So as my tea was brewing, I pondered to myself (ok, I might have actually verbalized some of my random thoughts to my cat Blackie Lawless, who was hovering around hoping for a “smackerel” of something herself, and was more than willing to hedge her bets and pretend to listen to my idle musings, if it resulted in her getting some food) how fabulous it would be if we all—librarians, movie stars, Department of Motor Vehicles employees, politicians, pizza delivery guys, rappers, and plumbers—were to manifest more of Pooh’s characteristics in our own lives.  For instance, Pooh is portrayed in Milne’s books as naïve and often a little slow on the uptake, but occasionally Pooh has a really clever idea, often sparked by urgency and fueled by common sense.  Pooh showed remarkable initiative the time he used one of his honey pots, which he christened The Floating Bear, to navigate to Christopher Robin’s house during a flood, and then together they utilized Christopher Robin’s umbrella to rescue little Piglet from rising floodwaters.  How glorious it would be if we all shared our umbrellas, so to speak, with friends and strangers alike.

Pooh is also an extremely social animal (see what I did there?) and also very loving toward his friends, who are really more family than friends, in my opinion.  In Pooh’s own words, “It’s always useful to know where a friend-and-relation is, whether you want him or whether you don’t.”  Although Pooh chooses to spend most of his time with Christopher Robin and Piglet, he habitually pays visits to Kanga and Roo, Rabbit, Tigger, Owl, and Eeyore.  Pooh’s thoughtfulness and kindhearted nature compel him to go out of his way to be especially friendly to gloomy Eeyore, visiting him frequently and even building him a house (with Piglet’s help), despite getting lukewarm sentiments from Eeyore in return.  How fabulous that would be, if we all followed Pooh’s example and put the needs of others ahead of our own from time to time, with disregard to personal gain.

Dear Reader, thanks for dropping by for another installment of my kid-lit-inspired mental meanderings.  I believe that this charming, thought-provoking Silly Old Bear and his friends will continue to delight and inspire readers far beyond the century mark.

pooh3

 

*All opinions and viewpoints advanced herein the above blog belong solely to the author and her cats: Blackie Lawless, Roxy Blue, Jack Bauer, and Pearl.

Sources and suggested reading:

  • A.A. Milne, Author of Winnie the Pooh by Marlene Toby (J 92 MILNE)
  • The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne (J F MIL)
  • Disney’s Winnie the Pooh:   A Celebration of the Silly Old Bear by Christopher Finch (791.43  FIN)
  • Pooh and the Psychologists (In Which It Is Proven That Pooh Bear Is a Brilliant Psychotherapist) by John Tyerman Williams (823.912  WIL)
  • The Pooh Dictionary:  The Complete Guide To The Words Of  Pooh & All The Animals In The Forest by A.R. Melrose (J 828.91209  MEL)
  • Postmodern Pooh by Frederick Crews (823.912  CRE)
  • The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff (828.91209  HOF)
  • Winnie the Pooh:  The Essential Guide by Beth Landis Hester (J 791.4372 HES)

(Informed) Decision 2016: Part 3

By Lon Maxwell, Reference Department

It’s an election year again and whether you’re thrilled with your presidential options or depressed by the slate of candidates, someone needs to be elected and it’s our civic duty to elect them. Everyone needs to get out and vote, not just this election but every election. If you need to register to vote you can get an application from the Williamson County Election Commission, from your LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY or just click here and print one. The deadline to register to vote in the November elections is Oct. 11.

If you’re new to voting or an old pro there’s no need to go into that voting booth uninformed. This is my Joe Friday, “Just the facts, Ma’am” review of the candidates for president in this year’s election. The information is coming from the web sites[i] and first person writings of the candidates themselves and their parties[ii]. The issues chosen to be presented here are the top ten issues relevant to electors as determined by the Pew Research Center in July of 2016.[iii] There is no attempt to influence anyone in a particular direction and no bias is intentional. While there are many other parties running I am only including those candidates who are on the ballot in enough states to gain the necessary 270 Electoral College votes to win the election (presented in alphabetical order to avoid hints of bias)[iv].

The Republicans

Trump/Pence

donald_trump_by_gage_skidmore_10Donald Trump was born in Queens, New York, in 1946. He attended the Kew-Forest School for several years before moving to the New York Military Academy. After graduating as a captain from NYMA he began studying at Fordham University in the Bronx before he transferred to the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in economics in 1968. He began working at his father and grandmother’s real estate company, Elizabeth Trump and Son, while still in college. Three years after graduating he was given control of the company and changed the name to the Trump Organization. Since then he has expanded from his role as a real estate speculator and developer to add sports owner, entertainment promoter, and television personality to his resume.

mike_pence_official_portrait_112th_congressMike Pence was born in Columbus, Indiana, in 1959. After graduating from Columbus North High School he went on to Hanover College, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in History in 1981. He then went on to the School of Law at Indiana University where he received his Juris Doctor. After working in private practice he unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 1988 and 1990. In 1991, he became the president of a think tank called the Indiana Policy Review Foundation and a member of the State Policy Network but left in 1994 to host conservative political radio shows. In 2000 a third run for Congress was successful and Mr. Pence took over the seat for the Second Congressional District (now renumbered the sixth district) of Indiana. He remained in Congress until 2012, even declining to run for one of Indiana’s Senate seats in 2010. During these terms he was elected to the third-highest-ranking Republican leadership position, the Republican Conference Chairman. He left Washington in 2012 to run for Governor of Indiana, the post he currently holds. He abandoned his gubernatorial re-election campaign to accept his nomination as Republican Vice Presidential candidate.

Positions:

Economy: Mr. Trump intends to create 25 million new jobs by increasing the GDP by 1.5%. He also plans to reform taxes and trade agreements to fit an America first ideal and boost growth to 3.5-4%

Terrorism: The Trump campaign wants to establish new screening procedures to keep terrorists out of the United States, temporarily halt immigration from the states where terrorism is most prevalent, and “establish a Commission on Radical Islam to identify and explain to the American public the core convictions and beliefs of Radical Islam, to identify the warning signs of radicalization, and to expose the networks in our society that support radicalization.”

Foreign Policy: Trump believes that our foreign policy should be built around a core of peace through strength.  Our current strategy needs to end and we need to rebuild our military all the while advancing American national interests and lessening tensions through more stability in the world.

Health Care: Trump/Pence supports the repeal of Obamacare, working with Congress to create a new health care system,  allowing people to purchase health care in any state to allow for more competition and allowing states to tailor their own Medicare plans to meet the local need.

Gun Policy: Trump is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and does not believe that the right to keep and bear arms should be modified. He does, however, support enforcing the current laws more stringently and bringing back programs where illegal possession would be a federal crime with a mandatory five-year sentence.

Immigration: The Trump campaign wants to promote a legal system of immigration that keeps incoming populace at a percentage within statistical norms. He intends to do this by selecting immigrants who have the best chance of success in the U.S.

Social Security: The Republican Party believes that no option for saving Social Security should be discarded, including privatization.

Education: Mr. Trump believes in school choice, allowing students to choose the public or private school they want to attend and repurposing federal funding to allow this. He also believes higher education needs to look at reducing college expenses.

Supreme Court Appointments: Trump has stated that he intends to replace Justice Scalia with a person of comparable political stance and opinions.

Treatment of Racial and Ethnic Minorities: The Republican party decries discrimination in any form.


Sources & Notes:

[i] https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/, http://www.jill2016.com/plan, https://www.johnsonweld.com/issues & https://www.donaldjtrump.com/issues/

[ii] https://www.democrats.org/party-platform, http://www.gp.org/platform, https://www.lp.org/platform & https://www.gop.com/the-2016-republican-party-platform/

[iii] http://www.people-press.org/2016/07/07/4-top-voting-issues-in-2016-election/

[iv] All website information was retrieved between 10 September and 1 October 2016.

(Informed) Decision 2016: Part 2

By Lon Maxwell, Reference Department

It’s an election year again and whether you’re thrilled with your presidential options or depressed by the slate of candidates, someone needs to be elected and it’s our civic duty to elect them. Everyone needs to get out and vote, not just this election but every election. If you need to register to vote you can get an application from the Williamson County Election Commission, from your LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY or just click here and print one. The deadline to register to vote in the November elections is Oct. 11.

If you’re new to voting or an old pro there’s no need to go into that voting booth uninformed. This is my Joe Friday, “Just the facts, Ma’am” review of the candidates for president in this year’s election. The information is coming from the web sites[i] and first person writings of the candidates themselves and their parties[ii]. The issues chosen to be presented here are the top ten issues relevant to electors as determined by the Pew Research Center in July of 2016.[iii] There is no attempt to influence anyone in a particular direction and no bias is intentional. While there are many other parties running I am only including those candidates who are on the ballot in enough states to gain the necessary 270 Electoral College votes to win the election (presented in alphabetical order to avoid hints of bias)[iv].

The Green Party

Stein/Baraka

jill_stein_by_gage_skidmoreJill Stein was born in 1950 and raised in the Chicago area. Stein did her undergraduate studies at Harvard, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1973. She continued at Harvard, attending their medical school, where she would later teach. As a physician she specialized in internal medicine. Her connection to politics came when she became interested in environmental concerns and how they were affecting her patients. Since 1998, she has served on the board of the Greater Boston chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility and co-founded the Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities in 2003. She was elected to two terms of the Lexington Town Meeting and has run for Governor of Massachusetts twice, in 2002 and 2010, State House member in 2004, and Secretary of the Commonwealth in 2006. She was the Green Party candidate for President in 2012.

static1-squarespace-comAjamu Baraka was born in Chicago in 1953. After serving in the U.S. Army in Vietnam he attended Clark Atlanta University. While there he became involved with political activism. He has served on the boards of Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Africa Action. He was the founding executive director of the United States Human Rights Network. In 1998 Baraka was honored by then-United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan for his years of human rights work. Before his nomination he was an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

Positions:

Economy: The Stein campaign suggests paying a livable wage, tax reform, economic assistance for local communities and small businesses to help the economy.

Terrorism: The Greens plan to freeze the bank accounts of countries that are funding terrorism, including the Saudi royal family.

Foreign Policy: Stein’s foreign policy is one of peace and disarmament, working on Middle East peace settlement, and reforming the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB) to end exploitation of labor.

Health Care: The Green Party believes in treating health care as a right, and plans to expand Medicare to cover all Americans.

Gun Policy: no stated position

Immigration: Supporting immigrants’ rights, creating a welcoming path to citizenship for immigrants, and halting deportations and detentions of law-abiding undocumented immigrants are all parts of the Green Party plans for immigration.

Social Security: Stein opposes the privatization of Social Security.

Education: Similar to their health care beliefs, Stein/Baraka believes in treating education as a right, including preschools and universities.

Supreme Court Appointments: Dr. Stein disagreed with the decision to not vote on a replacement for Justice Scalia.

Treatment of Racial and Ethnic Minorities: Ensuring equal pay for equal work, ending discrimination based on race, gender, or generation, ending police brutality and mass incarceration and institutional racism within our justice system, and supporting the Black Lives Matter Movement are all parts of the Green plan for race and ethnic tensions.

 


The Libertarians

Johnson/Weld

gary_johnsonGary Johnson was born in Minot, North Dakota, on the first of January 1953. Later in his childhood the family moved to New Mexico where he graduated from Sandia High School in Albuquerque. From there he attended the University of New Mexico, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in political science. It was while he was at school that he began his career as an entrepreneur, working as a door-to-door handyman.  After school he took his know-how and formed a construction company. It started as a one man operation and became one of the leading construction companies in the state. In 1994 he entered politics and ran for Governor of New Mexico on the Republican ticket. He won that election and the succeeding one in 1998. Since leaving the governorship he has served on the Advisory Council of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and on the board of directors of Students for Liberty. He has run for president before, in 2012, on the Libertarian ticket.avatar-jpg-320x320px

William Weld was born into a prominent New England family in 1945. He received a Bachelor of Arts in the classics from Harvard in 1966, studied economics at Oxford and completed his Juris Doctor in 1970 after returning to Harvard. Both times he was at Harvard he graduated Cum Laude.

Positions:

Economy: The Johnson campaign believes in reducing the governmental oversight and regulation of business to allow more competition to create more jobs. They also believe in closing tax loopholes and eventually moving to consumption-based tax rather than an income-based one in order to make taxation help the economy by putting more money in the hands of consumers.

Terrorism: The Libertarian party states that they condemn the use of force, and especially the use of terrorism, against the innocent, regardless of whether such acts are committed by governments or by political or revolutionary groups.

Foreign Policy: The official statement from Mr. Johnson’s website states that he believes our foreign policy is, “To protect us from harm and to allow us to exercise our freedoms.” He also states an intention to remove us from foreign conflicts.

Health Care: The Libertarian stance on health care is that it should be based on a free market allowing Americans to choose all aspects of the personal health plans.

Gun Policy: The Libertarian policy has opposed all laws at any level of government restricting, registering, or monitoring the ownership, manufacture, or transfer of firearms or ammunition.

Immigration: Johnson states that we should focus on creating a more efficient system of providing work visas, conducting background checks, and incentivizing non-citizens to pay their taxes, obtain proof of employment, and otherwise assimilate with our diverse society.

Social Security: It is a belief of the Libertarian party that the Social Security system should be phased out and replaced by a voluntary, private system for retirement savings.

Education: The Johnson/Weld campaign stands for a return of control of educational standards to the state and local governments, and eliminating Common Core and the Department of Education.

Supreme Court Appointments: Johnson has stated that he’d appoint originalists to the Court (in the context of United States constitutional interpretation, originalism is a principle of interpretation that views the Constitution’s meaning as fixed as of the time of enactment).

Treatment of Racial and Ethnic Minorities: Libertarians stand against discrimination of any kind but do not believe in the imposition of regulation to enforce antidiscrimination. The Johnson campaign also believes that a change in drug laws will help reform a justice system that unfairly deals with minorities.


Sources & Notes:

[i] https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/, http://www.jill2016.com/plan, https://www.johnsonweld.com/issues & https://www.donaldjtrump.com/issues/

[ii] https://www.democrats.org/party-platform, http://www.gp.org/platform, https://www.lp.org/platform & https://www.gop.com/the-2016-republican-party-platform/

[iii] http://www.people-press.org/2016/07/07/4-top-voting-issues-in-2016-election/

[iv] All website information was retrieved between 10 September and 1 October 2016.

(Informed) Decision 2016: Part 1

By Lon Maxwell, Reference Department

It’s an election year again and whether you’re thrilled with your presidential options or depressed by the slate of candidates, someone needs to be elected and it’s our civic duty to elect them. Everyone needs to get out and vote, not just this election but every election. If you need to register to vote you can get an application from the Williamson County Election Commission, from your LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY or just click here and print one. The deadline to register to vote in the November elections is Oct. 11.

If you’re new to voting or an old pro there’s no need to go into that voting booth uninformed. This is my Joe Friday, “Just the facts, Ma’am” review of the candidates for president in this year’s election. The information is coming from the web sites[i] and first person writings of the candidates themselves and their parties[ii]. The issues chosen to be presented here are the top ten issues relevant to electors as determined by the Pew Research Center in July of 2016.[iii] There is no attempt to influence anyone in a particular direction and no bias is intentional. While there are many other parties running I am only including those candidates who are on the ballot in enough states to gain the necessary 270 Electoral College votes to win the election (presented in alphabetical order to avoid hints of bias)[iv].

The Democrats

Clinton/Kaine

hillary_clinton_official_secretary_of_state_portrait_cropHillary Clinton was born in Chicago in 1947. She was educated in the Park Ridge School District where she was a student and athlete and was active in the Brownies and Girl Scouts. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Wellesley where she had been the president of the Young Republicans club. She also received a Juris Doctor degree from Yale. In her youth she worked on many national election campaigns for both political parties, first Republican then Democrat. Her legal career began with a focus on children’s rights before she began working for the House Committee on the Judiciary on the impeachment inquiry staff during the Watergate affair. She moved to Arkansas where she became an employee, then a partner in the Rose Law Firm. For twelve years she was the First Lady of Arkansas followed by eight years as the First lady of the United States. She was the first First Lady to hold an advanced degree.  Throughout this time she maintained a devotion to child advocacy. Clinton successfully campaigned to be the U.S. Senator from New York, a post she held for one-and-a-third terms before being selected for the office of Secretary of State after failing to secure the Democratic nomination for president in 2008.

606px-tim_kaine_official_113th_congress_photo_portraitTim Kaine was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, in 1958 and primarily raised in the Kansas City area. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. He went to Harvard Law School and received a Juris Doctor in 1983 after taking a year off to work with Jesuit missionaries in Honduras.  After working as a law clerk for the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Macon, Georgia, he went to Richmond to practice law, specializing in fair housing law and discrimination. He taught law at the University of Richmond for several years. He began his political career locally, serving four terms on the city council and two as mayor of Richmond. From 2002-2005, he served as Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia and became Governor from 2006 to 2010. Kaine was the chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2009 until 2011, when he ran for and won a seat in the U.S. Senate for Virginia in 2012.

Positions:

Economy: Clinton is for gender pay equality and a higher minimum wage, but against reducing public spending to reduce the debt. She is in favor of higher corporate taxes as well as those for real estate sales, stocks and bonds, but against the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Terrorism: She is in favor of working harder to rid Syria and Iraq of ISIS strongholds as well as creating greater cooperation at home and abroad to stop the spread of terror incidents.

Foreign Policy: Clinton and the Democratic Party intend to stand with the international organizations we have already committed ourselves to (i.e., The United Nations, NATO, etc.) and meet countries that pose threats with necessary actions. The main focus is to keep acting on the world stage to maintain our interests abroad.

Health Care: The Democratic Party stands for universal health care, lower prescription drug prices, supporting local health centers, funding medical experimentation, securing reproductive rights, and working on care for autism, addiction and Alzheimer’s.

Gun Policy: Clinton advocates stricter background checks and keeping guns from the severely mentally ill, domestic abusers, violent criminals and people on the no-fly list.

Immigration: While the Democratic campaign supports enforcing the immigration laws humanely, they also stand for comprehensive immigration reform, naturalization and an end to several of the policies affecting families.

Social Security: Clinton is against any privatization or cuts of the social security system.

Education: The most obvious planks in the Clinton platform for education are universal preschool for 4-year-olds, making higher education debt free, and reforming the existing student debt.

Supreme Court Appointments: “I’m looking for people who understand the way the real world works,” Clinton said. “Who don’t have a knee-jerk reaction to support business, to support the idea that you know, money is speech, that gutted the Voting Rights Act.”

Treatment of Racial and Ethnic Minorities: The Clinton campaign has stated they have a commitment to reform the criminal justice system to remove racial prejudice, protect the voting rights of minorities and make sure that minorities no longer face an education/achievement gap.


Sources & Notes:

[i] https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/, http://www.jill2016.com/plan, https://www.johnsonweld.com/issues & https://www.donaldjtrump.com/issues/

[ii] https://www.democrats.org/party-platform, http://www.gp.org/platform, https://www.lp.org/platform & https://www.gop.com/the-2016-republican-party-platform/

[iii] http://www.people-press.org/2016/07/07/4-top-voting-issues-in-2016-election/

[iv] All website information was retrieved between 10 September and 1 October 2016.

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