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I just voted via absentee ballot in my home state of Michigan, a state that’s behind the times with no early voting privilege available. This should change.

I’ll be in Cyprus on Election Day, yet I could not vote early, at least not easily. I had to drive to the local township clerk’s office, secure an absentee ballot by affirming that I’d be out of the community the entire Election Day, and vote on a ballot to be submitted by 8:00 pm November 2.

Now some could argue what’s the difference? I got to vote, and if an early voting option had been available I’d have simply followed a different path to the same end. Fair enough. But there’s still certain criteria under which one must qualify to be allowed an absentee ballot. Fortunately I fit the out-of-community item. But what if I simply wanted to vote early for a variety of other legitimate but not approved reasons? Then I’d have been disenfranchised.

Some 32 states and the District of Columbia permit early voting, generally 10 to 14 days prior to an election. “No excuse” absentee voting is offered in 30 states.

The first absentee ballots were made available to Civil War soldiers in 1864. State approval of “no excuse” absentee voting and early voting options has grown steadily in the past twenty years.

Early voting is convenient—typically no long lines. It’s generally quicker. The electorate likes it: 15% voted early in the 2000 election, 20% in 2004, and about 25% in 2006. In the 2008 presidential election, about one-third of all votes cast were submitted via some non-traditional voting format, i.e. something other than standing in a line on Election Day in order to cast a ballot.

Some people argue early voting results in partisan bias. When it was first tried, maybe, in that only certain kinds of voters tended to participate. Now, though, as early voting has become more common, a more diverse cross-section of the public vote early. No clear partisan advantage can be consistently demonstrated.

Some argue early voting increases state election costs, and people argue on both sides of the encourages/discourages turnout debate. Yet states have found ways to keep costs contained and turnout results tend to follow known electoral patterns regardless of when people vote.

There clearly is, though, one downside of voting early. Thankfully it’s rare, but it’s still possible. It’s not a disadvantage for local, state, or federal governments necessarily, but it could be a bummer for the one who voted early.

What if you vote, say, 12 days before the election and something untoward develops in the campaign on the last day or two before Election Day? What if this development significantly changed your attitude toward the candidate for whom you voted? What if you now wished you’d voted differently, but your vote’s already been counted?

In 2000, just four days before the national presidential election, a DUI story broke about then-Governor and candidate George W. Bush. This story changed some peoples’ minds about Mr. Bush. How many is difficult to determine, and he did, after a few months and a court case, win the election anyway. But it nearly sank his campaign.

Still, as long as voter fraud can be prevented, and it has been thus far, states should adopt an early voting option. If the point is to get people to take their democratic responsibilities and privileges seriously and to vote, why not make it as easy for them as possible?

Early voting seems to be an option whose time has come. I vote for adoption of early voting in the State of Michigan.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at


It’s happened again, a charged showed up on one of our credit cards that I did not approve.

How or why did this happen? Because the company involved, from which I had purchased a software product more than a year ago, sent me an email—an email—saying they were going to “renew” my software unless I responded and cancelled. In other words, my card was going to be charged unless I specifically wrote, in essence, “Don’t charge me for something I didn’t order.” Since I thought the email was spam I didn’t read the fine print, deleted it, and moved on. This seemingly rational act was apparently a mistake.

This kind of unauthorized charge is now happening on a too-regular basis because more companies are operating in an aggressive and, I’d say, unethical manner. Particularly in a tight economy they want to make sales, so they’ve devised new ways not to offer a better product but to trick people into paying for their current product.

Such companies also know that people often don’t take the time or trouble to deal with an unauthorized charge—meaning the company may get away with the charge—if it falls below their particular hassle threshold. For example, are you willing to make multiple calls and chase people, write letters and emails (keeping copies of all of them), threaten to call your attorney, and run up your blood pressure for an unauthorized charge of, say, $22.95?

We get magazine announcements stating “You qualify for continued subscription services,” which means that if you don’t contact to cancel you’ll be invoiced for a magazine subscription you never ordered.

One person on a blog I read said unauthorized credit card charges are “like a roach motel; once you get in you can’t get out.”

As I’ve said, I think this is unethical behavior. Or at a minimum it’s a reminder of that classic capitalist principle caveat emptor, “let the buyer beware.”

But wait a minute—I didn’t buy anything; I was just charged for it. Two thumbs down for companies that practice this bad business tactic.

Credit card companies and business watchdog agencies are at least aware of this questionable practice. Click here for advice on how you can get unauthorized charges removed.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at


For a lot of reasons people don’t like to get older. But there are a few advantages, too, if you look for them. Here are some:

- Getting to know your own kids as adults.

- You know things now you didn’t know then.

- Ideas, aspirations, goals, in time, turn into “successful failures” or achievements, but either way, a life of your own making.

- You come to understand that “This too shall pass,” a maturing and an enormously liberating grasp of reality.

- You learn giving really is better than receiving. (BTW, I have a cat to give to you—give me a call).

- Come to understand that most parents and most pastors were right after all.

- Learn that grandchildren are great when the come (to your house) and great when they go (to their house).

- See more rainbows.

- Realize that the pursuit of happiness can be an unending tyranny, whether briefly attained or not.

- Learn that money matters, but not as much as we think.

- Realize that “Just Married” is great, but “Still Married” is better.

- You get to see “how you turned out.”


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at

It's my birthday. Getting older, sometimes but not always wiser, enjoying life more. Blessed with wonderful wife, good kids, fun grandkids, and parents still engaged. To God be the glory.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

Some 70% of leisure travelers and 63% of business travelers say a free hotel breakfast is important in their choice of a hotel. It’s convenient, generally saves a few dollars while saving a lot of time compared to breakfast in a restaurant, and gives you the option of grabbing a bite and going back to your room to work until a later check-out.

Some say a “free breakfast war” might develop among mid-priced hotels. Hope so. It would be good for road warriors. Here are a few ideas hotel executives could consider:

Better coffee. No one expects hotels to compete with Starbucks, but too often you get coffee that’s weak, not hot and at times actually tepid, or offered in cheap styrofoam cups with flat lids that are difficult to use.

Real eggs. You wouldn’t believe how many times you reach for the scrambled eggs only to discover they’re powdered, dry, and inedible.

Real Orange Juice. The watery orangey stuff that passes for orange juice—actually some kind of bad kool-aid—in most hotel breakfast bays is, well, awful.

Whole Milk. Some hotels provide a whole milk option but most do not. Most offer skim and 2%. Adding another choice wouldn’t cost the hotel more because people wouldn’t drink both, just the one they really want.

Variety. Hotels apparently think people stay one night only, yet most business travelers regularly stay in given cities for multiple nights. The same breakfast choices each morning is disheartening.

Hotels can't be expected to turn into restaurants unless they add a restaurant and charge accordingly. But "free" hotel breakfasts have been a welcome accommodations innovation in the past twenty years. Here’s hoping they take them to the next level.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at


I love to read Westerns. Since at least the 8th Grade I’ve read hundreds of them, along with a mountain of other books. Through the mind and pen of Louis L’Amour and a long list of other authors I’ve reveled in the glorious history of the exploration and settling of the western frontier.

But the story of the exploration and settling of the West is also the story of the subjugation of the American Indian.

It’s like there’s two sides to the story. One is uplifting: rugged individualism, heroic figures, courage, risk, sacrifice, unspoiled natural wonders, “Go West young man, go West,” horses, guns, endless buffalo herds, Indian culture, wagon trains, Conestoga Wagons, trains, cowboys, cattle drives, gunslingers, Texas Rangers, the Cavalry, hope of a better tomorrow, and much else that went directly into the formation of the American character.

Then there’s the other side: cultural imperialism, racism, savages, village massacres, broken treaties, lies, dishonest Indian agents, spoiled meat and diseased blankets, land theft, “the only good Injun is a dead Injun,” might makes right, trails of tears, genocidal military orders, cultural assimilation-qua-destruction in Indian boarding schools, reservations, end of a people.

Not all White Eyes hated or were involved in killing Indians. Not all Indians hated or were responsible for killing Whites. There was wrong, evil, and brutality on both sides. Not all treaties were negotiated in bad faith, but most were, and even those established with good motives were eventually ignored. There were compassionate, gifted leaders on both sides, and there were ruthless killers in both camps. It’s a complicated history.

It’s real history, so it’s no wonder a checkered picture emerges in fiction too. But the sad story of the Native American taints an otherwise glorious era.

Most Western fiction writers don’t write with recognizable racism. But the time frame invites it.

Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan books are similar. Burroughs, writing in the early decades of the 20th Century, lets his worldview shine through in the jungles of central Africa. Blacks are ignorant, less than human, and fodder for the daily violence of the jungle. Yet Tarzan is one of the great characters of popular fiction, and Burroughs prescience created a superhero more than thirty years before Superman and all that came after him.

In more recent years we’ve seen some efforts to redress the story, presenting a more balanced picture or telling the story from the Indian’s point of view. Films like “Dances With Wolves” or “Geronimo: An American Legend” are two worthy cinematic examples. Authors of fiction literature, including Westerns, have made similar adjustments. Authors like James Alexander Thom, Allan W. EckertElmore Leonard, and Larry McMurtry have written widely acclaimed historical fiction that takes care to present characters and culture as accurately as possible.

So in the end, reading fiction is like reading non-fiction. It’s a mixed and messy story involving both noble and ignoble aspects of human nature. I don’t always agree with the author’s or the fictional character’s values, but they make me think, and that’s part of the joy of reading.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at