WHY TERM LIMITS ARE A TERRIBLE IDEA — AND ALWAYS HAVE BEEN

Too many people believe we will get better government by making sure no one in congress gets to stay there for a long time. I don’t know why inexperience would mean better government. In what other field do we prefer raw recruits to veterans? Would you want an inexperienced surgeon? A lawyer fresh out of law school?

Why do you want amateurs making your laws?

Our founding fathers specifically excluded term limits. Their experience under the Articles of Confederation (the document that preceded The Constitution) showed them that good people are not interested in temp jobs for lousy pay in a distant city. Those elected to office walked away from their positions — or never took them up in the first place. There was no future in it.

When the Constitution was drawn, its authors wanted to tempt the best and the brightest to government service. They wanted candidates who would make it a career. They weren’t interested in amateurs and parvenus. The business of governing a nation has a learning curve. It takes years to get the hang of how things work, how a law gets written. How to reach across the aisle and get the opposition to participate.

The Articles of Confederation contained exactly the ideas people are promulgating today. They failed. Miserably. Do we need to learn the same lesson again?

The absence of term limits in the Constitution is not an oversight. The writers of the Constitution thought long and hard about this problem.

A little more history

Under the Articles of Confederation, our country fell apart. Elected representatives came to the capital (New York), hung around awhile, then went home. Why stay? The job had no future and their salaries didn’t pay enough to cover their costs, much less support families.

Term limits were soundly rejected at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. They were right. The Constitution’s aims to get professionals into government.

Term limits remove any hope of building a career in government. It becomes a very hard temp job with no future.

Myth Busting 101: Congress isn’t overpaid

Maybe they are paid more than you and me, but compared to what they could be earning elsewhere, they are paid poorly. What you cry? How can that be?

Most members of congress are lawyers. The 2011-2012 salary for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate was $174,000 per year. A third year associate at a good law firm will do that well and after six to twelve years (1 – 2 senate terms), a competent attorney in a good market makes much more.

Senators and representatives have to maintain two residences, one in their native state, the other in DC. If you think $174,000 will support two houses and send the kids to college, you are living in a fantasy world. Which is why many members of congress have other income streams.

Curiously, our Founding Fathers expected congressmen, especially senators, to be men of means. They felt only wealthy people would be able to afford government service. And they would be less susceptible to bribery. On the whole, they were right. What they didn’t foresee was how many kinds of corruption would be available. Bribery is the least of our problems.

Skill and experience count

Writing a law that can stand up to scrutiny by the courts and other members of congress takes years. You don’t waltz in from Anywhere, USA and start writing laws. Moreover, great legislators are rare in any generation. A sane electorate doesn’t throw them away.

We are not suffering from an entrenched group of old-time pols stopping the legislative process. We are suffering a dearth of old guard, the folks who understand how to work with the opposition to make the process work. It’s the newly elected morons who are stopping progress. Sadly, our experienced old-timers got old and retired. Or died. They have been replaced by imbeciles.

Above and beyond the skill it take to write legislation, it takes even longer to gain seniority and peer respect. Frank Capra notwithstanding, Mr. Smith doesn’t go to Washington and accomplish miracles. Newly elected congresspeople hope to build a career in politics. With luck, one or two of them will become a great legislator, a Tip O’Neill, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Bob DoleTed Kennedy or another of the giants. Anyone you name connected to important legislation was a multi (many) term representative or senator.

Term limits eliminate all chance of having great legislators

Term limits guarantee a bunch of amateurs — or worse — fumbling their way around congress. As soon as they figure out where the toilets are and get reasonably good at their jobs, they’ll be gone. Does that make sense? Really?

Garry and Tip O’Neill

If you think your congressman or senator is doing a crappy job, replace him or her with someone you believe will do better.

If you don’t elect them, they won’t be in congress

We have term limits. These are called elections. Throw the bums out. Vote for the other guy. Term limits were an awful idea in 1788 and they haven’t improved with time. Among the biggest concerns Democrats had about Barack Obama in 2008 was he didn’t have enough experience, hadn’t been in the senate long enough. With term limits, no one would ever have enough experience. Where would we get candidates suitable to be President?

We don’t need term limits. We need better candidates. We need men and women willing to learn the craft, who have ideas and can work with others to get America’s business done. Our government does not rest on the Presidency. It rests on 435 congressmen and 100 senators.

The President doesn’t run the country

Congress writes legislation and votes it into law. Ultimately, it’s you, me, our friends and neighbors who choose the people to make laws, pass budgets, approve cabinet members and Supreme Court justices.

Whatever is wrong with Congress, it’s OUR fault

The 535 members of congress are chosen by us and if you don’t like one, don’t vote for him or her. If someone gets re-elected over and over, you have to figure that a lot of people vote for that candidate. You may not like him, but other people do. That’s what elections are about. It doesn’t necessarily work out the way you want, but changing the rules won’t solve the problems. Make the job more — not less — attractive so better people will want to go into government. Otherwise, you’re creating a job no one will want.

It’s close to that already. Mention going into politics to an ambitious young person. Watch him or her recoil in horror.

Ultimately, it’s all about America. Partisanship, special interests, regional issues, party politics and personal agendas need to take a back seat to the good of the nation … and we need to agree what that means, at least in broad strokes. Term limits won’t fix the problem, because that’s not what’s broken.

Image

ONE NATION PRESUMABLY INDIVISIBLE

One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Whatever happened to that? If you want to get a good look at the way we are, check out just this single page on Pinterest. If this doesn’t give you the willies, nothing will.

A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward. Franklin D. Rooseveltradio address, Oct. 26, 1939, 32nd president of US

A liberal is a man who is willing to spend somebody else’s money.
Carter Glass

Conservative, n: A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal who wishes to replace them with others.
Ambrose Bierce

I’m a social liberal. I believe it’s the obligation of government to take care of its citizens. It has a special moral obligation to protect those who cannot protect themselves, the most vulnerable amongst us. If government doesn’t do that, what’s it good for, really? Believing that doesn’t mean no one but me has a good idea. I learn stuff by listening, not by proving I have a louder voice.

The trend in this country toward demonizing anyone whose opinion differs from ones own has been eating the heart out America for a long time. The growth of cable and the Internet has sped the process until it seems there are no limits to which people will go to make their point. Civility, good manners and common sense no longer apply. We rant, shout, call names, and insult each other and apparently, it’s considered okay. I don’t think so. I believe almost everyone wants the same things: a good country, a better world. A place for ourselves, our children, our grandchildren to live in safety with reasonable prosperity and peace. We aren’t going to get it by denigrating anyone with whom we don’t agree. We are all Americans and we are constitutionally entitled to disagree.

No one gains by raising the level of hostility. Our world is not improved by rage. We can argue without name calling and accusations. People with whom we do not agree do sometimes have ideas worth listening to. Instead of treating each other as enemies, why not show respect to everyone on principle? Because being nice, being polite, being civil doesn’t cost anything and improves the quality of life for everyone.

Argue if you choose. Use facts, not invective and insults. If we don’t work together, we will lose everything important. Empires fall. Once-great nations lose influence and become historical footnotes. Most of us have watched it happen, so don’t believe we are exempt.

It can happen to us. We are well on our way to losing our position as a leader among nations. We have already lost much of the respect we enjoyed. Who could argue we don’t deserve it? We’ve done it to ourselves and refuse to rethink the road we’re on.

Election Day 2012

On a personal note, I don’t always live up to my best self, especially if I’m angry. But I do sometimes succeed — and these days, more often than not. That makes the effort worthwhile. Doing nothing is always the easiest path. It’s not better, though.

We won’t solve problems by hating each other. Meanness is contagious. So is kindness. Give kindness a chance. I’ll continue to believe (almost) everyone means well and deserves respect. Even people I don’t like. I promise to do my best to respect you. Remind me if I forget.

 

Republicans and Democrats can be friends? OMG!!

When I read this comment, it was posted in regard to the YouTube video of President Barack Obama’s dedication speech at yesterday’s MLK Memorial. I was horrified :

“… the Republicans and Democrats hold hands behind your backs. It’s like pro wrestling, they act like they’re enemies in front of you but are good friends behind you. Why do you think they always agree on the key issues and have been seen many times spending time together, attending functions together, and even eating together. It is all a hoax to control the people. Research Obama’s evil policies he has instilled without the public knowledge. He will end life as you know, impeach this traitor!”

Is anyone really that naïve? It’s not his politics that appall me, though they are appalling. It’s his belief that people who disagree can’t be friends.

Of course they are friends. They work together, eat together and know each others’ wives and kids. They are human beings, not only politicians. Just as the district attorney, the defense attorneys and the judges are friends.

75-ElectionNK-2A

Does anyone really think otherwise? Why would they not be friends? They are not on opposing teams. Quite the opposite: everyone in Congress is on the same team. American. The good of the nation is what they are supposed to stand for, not their party and its politics. They represent us, but ultimately, they represent the country.

Does this person also think baseball or football players on opposing teams don’t socialize off the field? That our professional lives so dominate us we don’t also have personal lives?

To know there are so many people who hate so much they have lost touch with reality scares me more than anything else going on in this country.

Regardless, it’s a fine speech, no matter what your political persuasion may be. I have posted it so if you missed it, you can catch up.

We are all people first. We aren’t what we do or even what we believe. We aren’t Republicans, Democrats, Liberals or Conservatives. We are men and women, parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents. Sisters and brothers. Friends. Above all else, human. There are — and ought to be — allegiances which supersede political labels. Too many people are too busy hating to remember tolerance, reconciliation and love.

Intolerance is the evil we must forever fight. It’s the cause of war, murder, genocide and cruelty. It has saturated all of history with blood. It’s the thing that is fundamentally wrong with the world.

Inauguration Day 2013

While I was deep into the A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time), the final volume of Robert Jordan, now Brandon Sanderson‘s epic story of good versus evil, Garry was watching the Inauguration. I had forgotten today was Inauguration day but he had not. My bad.

When you aren’t working or going to school, it’s easy to not know what day of the week it is, much less if it’s a holiday. I often don’t know what day of the week it is, though because I blog and pay bills, I’m pretty aware of the day of month.

Inauguration on Capitol Hill

Inauguration

As much as Garry dislikes political mud-slinging, he loves the ceremonies that mark America‘s traditions. For him, an inauguration is not the inauguration of a Democrat or a Republican … it’s the inauguration of an American President and he enjoys it, even if it isn’t a candidate for whom he voted. It’s American, not political.

He wrote something about it on Facebook and at least one person went into a political tirade about how he voted for Obama but wished he’d had another choice. Garry pointed out this wasn’t political. It was a celebration, the peaceful affirmation of our power that is far more American than apple pie.

Granted that other countries now have peaceful transfers of power, but only the U.S. from its birth made this a symbol of what we are as a nation … that no matter how hard-fought the campaign, when the votes are counted, the winner takes his place in the White House without violence or bloodshed. The ballot box is where we settle our differences, not the streets and not with weapons.

My take on this is simple: there are far too many people who have forgotten how to be Americans. They are so wedded to party politics, to a set of “positions,” that they are incapable, even for a single day, of just being Americans.

It seems that these folks are constantly gloating (“my guy is IN and your guy is OUT nyah nyah nyah!”) or whining (“We wuz cheated!”). Whether you fall on the side of the gloaters or whiners, if you want to make any claim to being an American or any kind of patriot, you need to be an American first and foremost, with your political affiliation secondary.

If you cannot do that, you really have no idea what this country is about.

We live in a nation of laws … even when it’s not easy or convenient.

Today I read a rant on Facebook by someone who still can’t accept the cruel reality that the election ended and his candidate lost. He declares that President Barack Obama is not his president, will never be his president. As if he gets to pick his own personal President, separate from the inconvenience of a legal election.

Flag

I feel obliged to point out that if you are an American citizen, the legally elected President of the United States is your President, whether you like him, voted for him — or not. If you are unhappy with the results of the election and you are a citizen of this nation, you have only two choices.

  1. Obey the laws of this country including accepting the duly elected President as your President and as your Commander-in-Chief.
  2. Abandon your identity as an American, renounce your citizenship, and move to another country if you can find one that will have you.

-

There is no other choice until 2016 and there’s no guarantee that you’ll like the results of that election any better than you liked this one. Until then, Barack Obama is your president, my president, and the President of every other citizen of this country. You do not have a choice. This is a nation of laws which we follow even when it’s not convenient or easy. That is the price you pay for living in a democracy.

You cannot claim to be a patriot while simultaneously rejecting our system of government. I have lived through presidencies of men I thoroughly disliked, for whom I didn’t vote, and who I thought were harming our nation and myself, but I never had the temerity– or disrespect — to declare that the President wasn’t my President.

I believe in our system of government, laws, and justice system. It’s not perfect, but it’s way better than most. I don’t make a big deal about it. I don’t wrap myself in the flag. I just follow the laws, try to work within the system to effect change. I vote. I don’t trust people who make a big fuss about how patriotic they are. The more noise they make, the more I wonder what they are hiding.

I’m fed up with self-declared patriots who are not merely unpatriotic, but actually treasonous. If you don’t like our system of government, go somewhere you like better, but don’t tell me you’re a patriot. You’re not.

Laugh and the world laughs with you; behave like a sore loser and the world laughs at you.

I am terribly disappointed in a lot of my fellow Americans. They seem bound and determined to cause as much trouble as they can because their candidates lost the election. They don’t seem to care how many problems they make for the rest of us because they don’t recognize we have rights too, or that our opinions matter. They don’t get the whole “democracy” thing. They want what they want, everyone and everything else be damned.

"Residence of Washington in High Street, ...

Residence of Washington in High Street, Philadelphia.

I’m no expert, but I’ve been around a while. As far as I recall, the  way our electoral process works, each time we have an election a lot of people come up on the losing team. One side wins; the other loses. This has been true since John Adams.

George Washington ran unopposed so it wasn’t an issue for him, but don’t think that protected him from being shredded by the press while he was President. By the time he was done with his second term, he said he’d rather be hanged than serve a third.

The battle over a strong central government versus more power for the states was the primary issue dividing Americans in 1792. It was the issue that pushed this country into two opposing political parties and this split viewpoint preceded the revolution itself.

It has always been with us. In its own way, this division is as fundamental to the structure of our body politic as our laws. It resulted in the two-party system and is the primary political issue today, just as it was more than 200 years ago. I doubt it will ever be settled to everyone’s satisfaction.

That’s okay. We are allowed, even encouraged to hold differing opinions. It keeps the dialogue going, it forces us to find solutions despite our differences. It encourages creative problem solving on a national level. Sometimes one position prevails, sometimes the other is ascendant. But trying to do an end-run around the constitution because you didn’t get what you wanted is very uncool. Push it too far, and it slides imperceptibly from controversy and debate to obstructionism and outright rebellion. The line is thin; it’s wise to tread gently.

George Washington faced the same issue and the result was a most unhappy President. He didn’t want the job. He strongly objected to having to do it twice. He hadn’t been thrilled to lead the Continental Army either, but his sense of duty trumped his personal desires. He was the very best kind of leader: reluctant. A leader who’d rather go home to his farm is someone you can trust. Washington hated politics and who could blame him?

In 1792, George Washington was prepared to retire as the first President of the United States. To that end, Washington, with James Madison, wrote a farewell address to the public of the United States of America. Faced with the unanimous objections of his Cabinet, however, Washington agreed to stand for another term. Finally, in 1796, Washington refused a third term. Dusting off his previous address, Washington and Alexander Hamilton rewrote the address.

It wasn’t really an address or speech. It was an open letter to the public that got published in nearly every American newspaper. Washington’s fellow Americans dubbed it “The Farewell Address,” as it if was our first President’s valedictory address, but it was actually a letter of resignation. George Washington was done with politics.

Painting by John Trumbull of Washington resigning

James Madison talked him into a second term. But when a third term was proposed, Washington dug his heels in and said the equivalent of “No man should be forced to serve more than 8 years. Stuff your Presidency. I’m going home.” If you carefully read his farewell letter to the nation, it’s a most elegant way of saying “Hell no, not me!”

Because we prefer to print the legend, this was interpreted to mean “No man should be allowed to serve as President for more than 8 years” whereas a more accurate reading is “no man should be forced to serve more than 8 years. Washington considered the Presidency akin to cruel and inhuman punishment and believed that no man should have to endure it more than 8 years and probably couldn’t imagine why anyone might want to.

That’s a pretty major disparity between legend and truth. But we prefer our history clean and tidy. We like our heroes heroic, swords shining, mounted on bright white horses. Presidents are not supposed to have feelings. They aren’t allowed to get tired or discouraged.

We can tear them to pieces in public debates and media criticism, circulate vicious, often unfounded attacks on their character, but Presidents unlike mortal men, aren’t allowed to get angry, fight back, or even get discouraged. They have to take it on the chin and keep smiling. Moreover, no matter how horribly we treat them, we expect them to keep doing their job and keep taking care of our business. If a President takes a vacation, millions of people act as if it is a heinous crime. He’s made of steel, right? No vacations required.

George Washington

If you look at before-and-after pictures of Presidents, all of them appear to have aged 20 years during their 4 to 8 years in office. It’s a killer of a job for anyone, regardless of affiliation. The Presidency is a marathon performed on a tightrope over an open trench full of rattlesnakes while the entire world trains its cameras on every move he makes and onlookers throw rotten tomatoes.

Most sane people don’t want the job. Would you? I know I wouldn’t.

So now we have tens of thousands of so-called Americans in a snit because their guy lost. They show no respect for the country they claim to love and no concern for how much they are embarrassing the U.S. Without regard for whatever their issues are, however weirdly paranoid they are and whether or not they believe the Anti-Christ is in office in Washington D.C., they throw their rotten tomatoes and go out of their way to make a hard job as difficult as possible.

If I were President,  I’d lock them all up. Together.

I’d keep them together, isolated from everybody but each other until they learn how to keep a civil tongue in their heads. If I had a child behaving like that, I’d lock the little creep in his or her room until the kid was ready to apologize and remember his or her manners. Pity we can’t do it on a national scale.

This image was selected as a picture of the we...

These people, humiliating reminders of how unevolved some of our neighbors are, deserve a country of their own.  I suggest an uninhabited island that lacks all communications with the outside world. Let them enjoy self-rule without benefit of law. They would have exactly what they say they want: freedom from government interference. If they feel they need guns, I think they should have them. All they could do is kill each other.

Does anyone happen to have a large uninhabited island lying around unused? I think we have just the right population for it. Best remove the wildlife first, though. We wouldn’t want to foist these losers on poor unsuspecting animals. That would be too cruel.

 

How many states were trying to secede after the 2012 election?

Not one single state filed anything suggesting secession.

Why? First, because no state government was stupid enough to lose the benefits they get from the central government. Secession is illegal. The Civil War decided the issue and there’s no going back. All of those petitions were put together by groups of discontented sore losers who didn’t understand in the United States, an election decides the issue.

We don’t govern by petition. We protect your right to petition (thank you, First Amendment), but that only means we don’t throw you in jail for doing it, not that your petition has force of law.  We don’t govern by opinion. We vote. No matter how often or how loudly you tell the world about your dissatisfaction on the Internet, on social media sites, or anything else, it’s the ballot box where we collect and count votes. We have a constitution. We have laws. We vote. We count votes. The winner is decided, the loser takes his marbles and goes home.

A petition by the losers of an election does not trump the right of the people of the United States to freely elect their representatives. That you have the right to petition doesn’t mean your petition is going to change anything. Its existence is a testament to how free a country this is. Most other places, you’d be jailed or shot.

75-ElectionNK-6

The reason that not a single state government has petitioned for secession is because no one running a state is as stupid as these petitioners. They know they can’t go it on their own and aren’t going to try. Not to mention that a state trying to secede is considered to be in rebellion, for which there are serious penalties. As for the argument that we seceded from England, we were never part of England. We were a colony, a far different legal position than that held by a state. We did not secede from England. We rebelled against English rule. We are heroes because we won, but had we lost, it would have been ugly. Rebellion is a serious matter and the price of losing is dreadful. Rebels are hanged or shot, pretty much universally, so anyone who thinks they ought to rebel needs to be prepared to die.

AN HISTORICAL NOTE: The American colonists’ first choice was not to break away from England. We wanted the rights of full British citizenship and full representation in Parliament. In other words, far from preferring rebellion, we wanted inclusion. We wanted our status as a colony upgraded to the British equivalent of statehood … something that our American secessionist wannabes already have … and are too ignorant to value.

No one is going to secede. Not now, not in the forseeable future. Maybe after the alien invasion, things will change. Until then, secession is a non-issue.

As for all the mindless, blood-thirsty idiots who think a civil war is a good idea:

The Civil War cost more than 620,000 American lives, above and below the Mason-Dixon line. Death doesn’t care what color uniform you wear or what color skin you have. Dead is dead. The war between the states caused more American deaths than all other wars this nation has fought combined. ALL of them combined. I don’t know the actual percentage of the population that perished in that hideous conflict, the gory legacy of which we are still dealing with 150 years later, but it was a very substantial percentage. Anyone who suggests that doing that again is a good idea is a criminal.

I don’t care what you believe. No one who values human life, believes in God, or has any kind of conscience or moral compass would suggest we take up arms and start slaughtering each other.

The Peacemakers.

If we are unable to live together, we will not survive as a nation. How can anyone claim to care about this country and then suggest we destroy it because they don’t like the President? Does this sound like patriotism?

There are too many people who have yet to grasp the concept that in a contest, there are always winners and losers. You, over there, with the sign and the sour face. You lost. Deal with it.

Respect the constitution. Work within our excellent system of laws. If you don’t respect our government enough to honor its fundamental principles, you really should go live somewhere else, if you can find anywhere else that will have your sorry asses.

Does it surprise anyone that the “leaders” of this bogus “movement” to secede are largely from the same states that produced the glorious Civil War? You think race might have something to do with it? The number of signatories, assuming that they could be verified as real people, does not come close to a majority of citizens of any state nor even enough to elect someone to congress. It’s just a bunch of malcontents trying to get media attention.  In other words, losers.

Our house is divided … what next?

U.S. Presidential flag, 1960-present (not usua...

I got more than a thousand hits the other day, more than half for a reblog of Presidential Election: “Sad and Tragic Day for Our Nation” ? The article resonated, so I picked it up as soon as I read it. I couldn’t have said it better and thus didn’t try. Apparently millions of other people felt the same way and the post went viral, which is good but not enough.

I feel obliged to point out to those who have failed to notice: THE ELECTION IS OVER.

Barack Obama won. Mitt Romney lost. The winner gets 4 years (or in this case, 4 more years) as President of the United States. The loser makes a gracious concession speech then retires, hopefully to serve his country in some other way and perhaps make another run for office down the road. For now, it’s over. The nation returns to normal.

That’s the way it’s supposed to work. But this time? Apparently not.

There’s a level of hysteria, anger, and raw racism I’ve never seen before. I’ve voted for candidates who won and voted for candidates who lost. I was upset and angry when G.W. Bush stole an election, but I got past it. I ground my teeth, survived 8 years of what I thought was a terrible presidency. When national elections came around, I voted for Barack Obama. That’s democracy.

The losing team this year can’t cope with defeat. They are having a temper tantrum, except their pique at losing seriously and negatively impacts the entire country. If a team was behaving like this because they lost the World Series or the Super Bowl, we’d be mortified at their lack of sportsmanship. They be sanctioned. The sports channels would be all over them and fans would be up in arms. Yet we put up with it from a major political party? Why? If this kind of behavior is unacceptable in a baseball team, how can it be okay for a political party?

Why the frenzy and desperation? Surely everyone who runs for office knows losing is a possibility. In politics and horse-racing, there’s no sure thing. Why the hysteria? Why not let the wounds heal and let everyone settle down and go back to living?  NOTE: There are more than a few on the Liberal side of this shouting match who need to shut up too. Let it go. Even if I agree with you, I’ve had enough. We don’t need to raise temperatures any higher. You won. Stop crowing and beating the drums. Go home. Relax. Let us all take a break from the insanity.

If you look at a map of red versus blue states, the underlying reason is apparent. If anyone doubts for a minute that this election was about race, look at the map. Compare the map of the “red states” to the old lines of the confederacy. With minor changes, it’s the same old, same old. Just when you think you’ve gotten that piano out the door, it comes right back in through the window. 620,000 Americans died fighting the Civil War, more than all the losses we’ve taken in all the other wars we’ve ever fought, from the Revolution through Vietnam. Are we are still fighting it?

Notice a certain consistency? Thought you might.

I hereby declare that not only is the election over, but the Civil War is over. It has been over for a long time and if there is a merciful God, we will never have another. The fundamental changes in our demographics have decided the issue for good and all. This nation will never be “white.” It never really was. The government was dominated by white people, but that’s finished. It will not return. Diehards may continue to try resurrecting it. They can keep disrupting the functioning of the government to the detriment of all, but it won’t restore the status quo they so dearly loved.

I’m grateful and if you examine the election results, so are most people. Splintering of the U.S. into groups who can’t even talk to each other just makes this an ugly place to live and undermines our credibility with other nations. Surely no one really wants that.

The United States of America is built on the premise that unity is strength. The motto “E pluribus unum” means “Out of many, one.” It is the phrase on the Seal of the United States and was adopted by an Act of Congress in 1782. “E pluribus unum” appears on the front of the Seal. Its image is used as the national emblem of the United States. It appears on official documents such as passports. It is on the seal of the President, as well as the seals of the Vice President, Congress, House of Representatives, United States Senate, and U.S. Supreme Court. It’s part of our national identity.

Is it obsolete? Are we ready to trash unity? And with what shall we replace it?

“A house divided against itself cannot stand,” is taken from Mark 3:25 “And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” When Lincoln said it, he was referring to the division of the country between slave and free states. The “house divided” phrase has a long history in this country.

Lincoln used it in another context in 1843, most famously during the Senate debate on the Compromise of 1850.  Sam Houston used it too, proclaiming: “A nation divided against itself cannot stand.”  Thomas Paine, in his famous 1776 , in  Common Sense said, “this hath all the distinctions of a house divided against itself . . .”

It’s hardly a new concept dating as it does back at least 2000 years. It is as true now as it was then. Those among us who continue to sow dissension are not patriots and are not working for the common good. They are stuck in the past. They cannot accept a changed world and try to play on the prejudices, fears, and passions of anyone willing to listen until they pull the house down around us.

The Conservative wing of the GOP led their constituents down a road that turned out to be a dead-end. They believed that they could rouse enough ire to bring down the house, but they were wrong. They lost. Despite their wailing, it isn’t the end of the world. It’s a defeat, certainly, but a tragedy only if they make it so. It’s time for them to show a little class, accept their loss, take responsibility. Regroup. Rethink positions. Become a more inclusive party. Come up with some fresh ideas that appeal to a wider population. If they do that, maybe they won’t lose next time. That’s how it’s done in a Democracy. It’s the definition of a democracy. Republican cry babies, man up, repair your party and move on.

Hate and blame are easy. It’s harder to give up your personal agenda and seek common ground. Working with people who have different ideas will always be necessary because we will never have a consensus. No country has a consensus. Tyranny can force the appearance of consensus, but no one and nothing can make everyone agree. To govern in a nation founded on diversity requires intelligence and creativity, qualities that seem to be in short supply. For every voice calling for reconciliation and coöperation, there is another strident one trying to drown it out. It’s stupid. Time for solutions that include all kinds of people, not just grumpy white folks who feel threatened by the growing population of non-white citizens who expect their fair share of America.

That is the promise we make: everyone gets a piece of the American pie, regardless of race, religion, or country of origin. If we aren’t that country, what are we?

We’ve got a good thing going here.  We used to have a common sense of purpose. We need to find it again, to discover what unites us rather than eternally focusing on issues that divide us. There have always been and always will be differences and disagreements. It’s up to us to get past them, to unite and be Americans.

In immortal words of Pogo (Walt Kelly): “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

Obama wins second term!

See on Scoop.itIn and About the News

Elected on hope in a season of despair, President Obama won his first term by being the right guy at the right time. He won his second term making Mitt Romney the wrong guy.

Obama turned what could have been a stinging referendum on his economic stewardship into a pass-fail test on Romney’s character. A multi-million dollar media blitz casting aspersions on his extraordinary wealth and successful business career began weeks before Romney had even earned enough delegates to claim the nomination. In a campaign reminiscent of former President Bush’s takedown of John Kerry’s military record in 2004, Romney was not only stripped of his greatest asset in a race about how to stimulate economic growth, it became a liability.

“Obama won by thoroughly and completely trashing Mitt Romney and his reputation,” said Republican pollster Whit Ayres. “It is the classic definition of winning ugly.”

But to exclusively blame the attacks from Obama and his super PAC allies for Romney’s defeat overlooks the Republican nominee’s own shortcomings. The smoothly coiffed, buttoned-down financier struggled to come across as a man of the people, a problem exacerbated by his vow to perpetuate tax breaks for the wealthy, several foot-in-mouth gaffes on the campaign trail, and a secretly recorded video of him at a tony fundraiser dismissing “47 percent” of Americans whom he said pay no income taxes and consider themselves “victims.”

The first African-American president also capitalized on an increasingly diverse electorate and used sophisticated turnout tools to make sure supporters, even casual ones, cast votes. “It’s like the demographic changes are making the old rules about unemployment sinking an incumbent obsolete,” said Democratic strategist Joe Trippi. “The Obama campaign knew they weren’t supposed to get re-elected, so they figured out who they needed to register to vote and turn out to change that.”

Again, Romney didn’t help himself amid the changing demographics, alienating the fast-growing Hispanic community by shaking an iron fist at illegal immigrants during the GOP primaries. He would have persevered over his more conservative but politically implausible Republican rivals, anyway — though as a Mormon who had spearheaded a government-led overhaul of health care as governor of Massachusetts, Romney was ill-suited to tap into the energy of the social conservative and tea party movements. He accepted the nomination as the least popular nominee from a major party in decades. Wrong guy, wrong time.

Romney badly misread the electorate, assuming the dragging economy would automatically turn voters against the president. Yet many still blamed the recession on former President Bush and were growing accustomed to incremental economic growth. It was a pitiable recovery, but a recovery nonetheless. Offering few details about his economic agenda, Romney didn’t look like a tempting alternative.

“The Romney team was convinced it was a time when likability was a secondary factor,” said Republican strategist John Brabender, who advised Romney’s one-time GOP rival, Rick Santorum. “They forgot they had to give people a reason to vote for Romney, not just against Obama.”

While Romney was still fending off Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, Obama was quietly opening campaign offices all over the country, re-launching his vaunted ground game from 2008. Then the Obama campaign went into overdrive; from the time Romney emerged as the likely nominee in April through most of September,

Obama outgunned him on television nearly three times over with predominantly negative ads, according to Kantar Media CMAG. Republican super PACs evened the score but didn’t control the damage. The Obama campaign and its allies branded the former chief executive of Bain Capital as a tax-dodging, job-outsourcing villain who would shred the safety net holding up the elderly and the poor.

Romney also blew silver-platter opportunities, fumbling through a high-profile trip overseas and allowing a cringe-worthy bit by Clint Eastwood to overshadow an otherwise carefully choreographed convention. In contrast, Obama made hay of his accomplishments, touting the auto bailout to overcome resistance from blue-collar workers and brandishing Osama bin Laden’s death to shore up his party’s traditional vulnerabilities on national security.

Democrats also drove wedges between Romney and two influential swing voting blocs – women and Hispanics – with ads attacking his positions on abortion and immigration. The ads suggesting Romney opposed birth control and abortion even in cases of rape and incest simply weren’t true, but he, not Obama, paid the bigger price.

It wasn’t until after the convention in September that Romney got serious about investing in Spanish-language advertising, and it wasn’t until the October debates that the self-described “severely conservative” candidate narrowed the gender gap by pitching himself as a political moderate. Then came Hurricane Sandy. In the pivotal homestretch, the focus moved off of Romney’s momentum and onto Obama’s role as commander-in-chief.

In the end, the damaged wreaked by the storm on the New Jersey shore was an apt metaphor for what Obama and his allies had done to Romney’s reputation.

See on www.theatlantic.com

Election day in a small town …

Our polling place is at the intersection of “Fair Street” and “Dead End.” No kidding.

We are, in some ways, a microcosm of the nation … yet we are also very different. We’re living in a liberal, highly educated and urbanized state, yet this is essentially a rural community. We express the commonalities of both urban and suburban communities. We are everyman and everywoman … and yet we are entirely different and unique.

We voted, as did most people in the United States – or so I fondly hope. The polls were busy, but the lines moved briskly and our wait was minimal, even on long lines.

Barack Obama was reelected. This is good news, but the election results are troubling. Troubling because the country is obviously so divided along traditional racial lines. The Old South is still voting white and white men are still voting for white men.

Troubling also because old, and I thought long-settled issues are still with us.

How come we’re still debating a woman’s right to have an abortion or have access to birth control? At what point are we finished with this? When are women, who are not actually the majority in this country,permanently free to choose what we do with our own bodies?

How did religion get so twisted up with politics? How did we let a religious fundamentalist minority become so  kingmakers in a country where freedom of religion, and separation of church and state are fundamental tenets of our nation? Why are we still fighting the civil war? How is it possible that so many people are so ill-informed about our Constitution and have never heard of the Articles of Confederation … how badly it failed … and their proposed “fixes” to today’s problems were historical disasters.

Around here, voting is a different experience than in more populous areas. First, and probably most important, Massachusetts is about as far from a battleground state as you could get. While there are no doubt die-hard Republican votes who went for Romney, he has been personally very unpopular in the Commonwealth since he abandoned Massachusetts to try to get an ambassadorship from Bush II.

Scott Brown’s signs dominate the area immediately in front of poll.

He was a bad governor. I’d like to think that the truth of this had something to do with his loss last night. He not only abandoned his office without completing his term, but he proceeded to badmouth  the people of Massachusetts, something that was universally resented across the state regardless of party.

One of the most interesting things I noticed when we voted was that there were plenty of signs for Scott Brown (R) and Elizabeth Warren (D) and signs for Barack Obama and Joe Biden, there were no signs at all for the Romney-Ryan ticket. Not a single one.

Obama and Warren, both democrats, at the intersection before the polling place.

Interestingly, not a single sign for any candidate indicated the party affiliation of that candidate.  The sign’s information included a website address and sometimes, the candidate’s email address … but not his or her party affiliation. Not even for Obama.  Okay, I’m reasonably sure that most or all of us know with which party the national candidates are associated, but for some of the local candidates, I was not sure whether they were Democrats or Republicans.

I didn’t notice this peculiarity until I downloaded the pictures. The absence of party affiliation on any signs for any candidate was suddenly glaringly obvious. I don’t know if this is normal. I don’t think so because I never noticed before. Does anyone know if this is usual or something different?

Democrat or Republican? I didn’t know for sure until I looked at the ballot!

Around here, quite a few local incumbents are running unopposed. Most of these are Democrats, but at least one was a Republican and a couple appeared to be unaffiliated. That’s a local anomaly perhaps more common in rural areas. If your representative is doing a good job, no one sees any reason to argue the point.

With the madness of the election over … will the virulence of partisan politics ebb and enable everyone to remember we are all Americans first and foremost?

If we can’t work together, we shall all hang separately. History has shown it time and again. Great empires have been destroyed by dissension within … it can and will happen here unless everyone calms down.

All the frothing at the mouth rage and rhetoric is doing no good for anyone. Unless we can let go of our hates and remember who we are and what we stand for,  I fear greatly for our future. We need to become one nation again. Under God or not, we neet to be a single nation, not a bunch of badly behaved children hitting each other with our shovels in the sandbox.

 

If you are human, you know right from wrong …

I voted for Obama four years ago and I don’t regret it. I thought we needed to do something different. I didn’t think that continuing to do the same things that had landed us in a mess were going to get us out of it. It’s foolish to believe that repeating the same behavior will eventually produce different results.

If Obama had lost and McCain had been elected, aside from living in fear that he’d die leaving us with Sara Palin, John McCain was qualified to be President of the United States. He was not my choice, but he was not ridiculous or evil, just not the guy I wanted as President.

-

This year is different. Rather than feeling like an election, it feels like a referendum, the results of which will define who we are as a nation. We are about to make a statement that will tell the world whether or not the U.S. retains a moral compass.

No government is entirely on the side of the angels, though every government will protest otherwise. Regardless, there are obviously better and worse governments. No one will argue that Germany under Hitler was merely expressing a difference of opinion with other nations, or that Idi Amin was a bit wrong-headed but his heart was in the right place.

I’ve studied, read, argued and reargued this issue for the past 50 years. You don’t have to agree with me, but I believe knowing right from wrong is the essence of being human. I think it has little or nothing to do with your upbringing. Bad kids come from good homes and good kids emerge from bad ones.

Here’s a personal example.

My husband was raised by Christian parents, attended church regularly. He credits many of the values that have guided his life to his upbringing. He doesn’t push his beliefs on anyone else, including me. He would never presume to force anyone to his way of thinking.

On the other hand, I was raised by wolves. I’m kidding. Only one of my parents was non-human and he was a snake, not a wolf. I like wolves.

My mother called herself an atheist, but blamed the God she claimed to not believe in for failing to prevent the world’s ills. We attended neither synagogue nor church. I have spent most of my life trying to understand why God seems to be persistently MIA when bad things happen to good people. I’m not an atheist, but I am a skeptic.

Garry and I have been married for 22 years. I don’t believe anyone who knows us who would call either of us immoral or without conscience. We hold different beliefs, but respect each other’s points of view.

Garry thinks he developed his morals, conscience and understanding of right and wrong because his parents provided positive role models. He also gives credit to his church. I, on the other hand, believe we are all hard-wired — designed by our Creator — to know right from wrong. I think that is what distinguishes human beings from other species. If we were created in the image of God, but God has no physical aspect, then in what other way than by our ability to know right from wrong could we resemble God?

I don’t think it matters whether you are brought up Christian, Jewish, Muslim Buddhist, nothing at all or any combination of the aforementioned. If you are human, you know it’s wrong to murder, steal, cheat, lie or for that matter, let your neighbor die of starvation or lack of medical care. Even — maybe especially — if it costs you something to save someone else, you know in your head, your heart, and your guts that it’s the right thing to do.

The irony — or perhaps one of many ironies — of this election is that a group of so-called Christian Conservative fundamentalist whack jobs are leading a charge against the very things that every religion on earth values. The very things that Jesus advocated are the things that these phony Christians would abolish.

In a few weeks, we get to choose a president — and whether or not we are the kind of people who throw our elderly, sick, disabled, and just plain unlucky fellow citizens under the bus … or throw them a lifeline. We choose whether we will be ruled  by fear, prejudice, and hate … or by our inherent understanding of right and wrong. It’s awful that we’ve come to a point where we are so divided along racial and religious lines that such a choice is part of the electoral process. We appear to be standing at the edge of a deep chasm . I’m not sure we could climb out of that hole once we are in it. No one is pushing us over that edge. If we wind up in the chasm, we get there because we chose to jump.

I have always loved elections. They are my favorite spectator sport. During Presidential election years, I am usually glued to the television watching debates, analyzing political advertisements, reading the latest poll numbers.

I have watched many candidates for whom I voted lose. I was not thrilled about it, but I wasn’t scared to death, either. We’ve had a lot of Chiefs of State that were not my choice, but that’s the way the process works. You win. You lose.

Losing is disappointing, not catastrophic, It is one of the reasons this country is great. In the United States, we peacefully pass the reins of power from one administration to another. We don’t need a revolution to change the composition of Congress or the President. Good choices or bad, we have always managed to retain our fundamental principles, our sense of purpose and identity. We have regularly scheduled elections at which time we can replace former elected officials with different ones. Between elections, we cope and get on with our lives. In the end, to quote Tip O’Neil, “All politics is local.” No matter who is president, we have local representatives to help us. Most of the time, all we need to do to get help, is to ask for it.

This year, it’s come down to moral choices about what kind of people we are. Do we really, truly not care if everyone suffers as long as we advance our own agendas? Are we actually willing to vote for someone entirely because of his skin color? Have we gone so far backward that we don’t remember that we fought a bloody war that was supposed to settle that issue?

You don’t have to agree with me and I don’t have to agree with you. I shouldn’t have to worry that you’ll kill me because I don’t agree with you or vice verse.

Except, this year it is different. The amount of hate in this campaign shows a massive failure of basic civility, of our fundamental sense of fairness. The willingness to believe anything as long as it supports our position without regard to facts, right, wrong, or common sense demonstrates how far we have NOT come.

How many people see that our first amendment right to freedom of religion  is under attack? It’s as if we no longer have a constitution. The conservative fundamentalists who are pulling the strings in this election support the right of everyone to have a gun or, for that matter, an assault weapon, but not the separation of church and state. When did my rights go up for grabs? Didn’t we settle that 250 years ago? Didn’t we duke it out with Great Britain on this very subject? And yet, here we are again. What happened? How can we let ourselves be so manipulated and used to support an agenda that the vast majority of us disagree with?

I am trying to hang on to my belief that Americans are not fools, that we won’t elect a government whose principles are contrary to those of the nation we all love.

The system isn’t bullet proof. We can ignore our own better selves in the name of saving a few bucks. We can let our worst impulses, our hatred, our bigotry, our ignorance dominate our world. We can destroy ourselves. It isn’t easy, but it’s doable.

Here’s how. Instead of reasonable people, elect fanatics, haters,  and folks with lots of loose screws. When the haters, fanatics and crazies comprise a group large enough to form a swing vote, they will be the ones who decide what laws are passed. They will tell us what we can do with our lives, what to believe, what we can do in our bedrooms and of course, with whom we can do it.  They can upset the balance of powers to such a degree that the system stops working.

voting day in a small town

Small town voting. It looks like home to me! (Photo credit: Muffet)

However you choose,  VOTE. Vote for principled men and women who take the job of governing seriously and will work for the common good. Vote for positive reasons, not out of hate. Never in human history has hate been the foundation for anything good. It does not work that way. Karma is a bitch. Finally, don’t assume your vote doesn’t matter. We are as strong as our willingness to participate in the process. We have a good system. Support it. Be part of it. Whatever your feelings, our current problems are a bump in the road. A big bump to be sure, but not the end of the world unless we make it so. Win or lose, it’s a good system. It is my system, your system. Treasure it. Keep it strong. 
.

Blame Everyone and Don’t Forget to Look in the Mirror

Everyone is pointing fingers at everyone else: Where did our jobs go?

Hey people, you know perfectly well where our jobs went. They went to the far east, to China, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Burma, Malaysia … wherever child labor laws are loose or non-existent and people work cheap. The exodus of American jobs began long ago, but became a mighty river under Bush senior, went into higher gear under Clinton (who I loved but IS responsible). Bush II pushed the throttle higher, and although Obama hasn’t made it worse, he also hasn’t stopped it. I’m not sure he could if he wanted to. These are largely corporate decisions, not governmental.

English: In January 2009, President of the Uni...

January 2009: President George W. Bush invited President-Elect Barack Obama, former Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter for lunch at the White House. (Photo: Wikipedia)

There’s plenty of blame to go around if you’re big on pointing fingers. Rewarding companies for shipping jobs overseas was an idea so awful that most normal people could see the looming disaster without any special economic education, but we had nothing to say about. No one asked US.

This is a “bottom line” driven society. Until and unless something becomes more important to our nation than maximizing profits, if and when such a miracle should occur, then there is some a very small chance we’ll start to re-employ Americans, maybe even rebuild a few of the dusty, closed factories where we used to work.

Until then … IF then ever arrives … jobs will remain scarce no matter who is in the White House. You can’t fix the economy without places to employ people. We’ve sent our manufacturing base overseas where labor is cheap. You can and should blame the entire government for this one, Democrats and Republicans share in the blame … but mostly, the blame fall solidly on Capitalism implemented without the human cost being calculated as part of the equation.

English: Photograph from the records of the Na...

From records of the National Child Labor Committee (U.S.)

As long as the goal of business isn’t merely making a profit, but making the biggest possible profits, as long as employers feel no responsibility to their workers and do not care whether they live or die, we will continue to have massive unemployment.

It’s not Obama. And sadly, if elected, it wouldn’t be Romney’s fault either. It’s the system itself that’s broken.

It does not have to be this way. Capitalism does not require utter ruthlessness. Profits can be made without completely ignoring any semblance of morality or conscience. But that is the way we do it here … and it no longer works for any but those who own the companies making the big profits.

It sort of worked to some degree as long as we only exploited Americans who at least got jobs as part of the deal, but now that we can exploit anyone anywhere, U.S. workers don’t reap any benefit at all.

Two girls protesting child labour (by calling ...

Two girls protesting child labour (by calling it child slavery) in the 1909 New York City Labor Day parade. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You can say whatever you like about our socialist European friends: their systems do calculate the human cost of doing business. We don’t. If you like what you have, keep mouthing the same stupid platitudes and you will get the same, stupid poverty, unemployment, and loss of American prestige on the world stage.

It’s payback time, except guess what? YOU are the one paying the bill, not the guys who ran up the tab. Funny how that’s the way it always seems to work out.

Give us your tired, your poor, then kick’em in the ass …

 

The news is so evil and demoralizing, that I cannot process it. I try, to the best of my ability, to avoid watching, listening, or reading about it. I can’t fix it, so all it does is make me angry and upset. I avoid it but am not always successful. Even comedy shows are dangerous. Comedians mention current events and I don’t want to know.

Refugees greet their new nation.

I seem obsessive about taking pretty pictures rather than discussing what I’m thinking. I’m not so much obsessive as trying desperately to avoid dealing with a reality I find too awful to confront. I’m trying to NOT think about anything meaningful. Can you blame me?

I really deplore what’s going on this election year. I am sickened that racism has become okay if not outright trendy. Catch the code words people use that are thinly disguised hate-speak. They fool no one but themselves.

The ocean liner Queen Mary passes the Statue of Liberty as she enters New York Harbor after completing her first voyage to the United States on June 1, 1936. (AP Photo)

Today … again … hating immigrants is fashionable, expressed by people whose parents and grandparents were themselves immigrants. ALL of us are immigrants — really, worse than immigrants. We are despoilers who dispossessed and slaughtered the native population to take their lands and destroy them.

President Franklin Roosevelt, speaks on the 50th anniversary of the erection of the State of Liberty in New York, on Oct. 28, 1936. He declared that, “To the message of Liberty which America sends to all the world must be added her message of peace.” (AP Photo/Preston Stroup)

Who granted us that right? It seems we granted ourselves the right.  We wanted it and declared it our God given right to grab it. To the best of my knowledge, God never weighed in on the issue. More’s the pity.

We have an ugly track record and much to answer for, something we completely ignore as we self-righteously treat newcomers to this country as if we ourselves are not the bloodiest of intruders.

I take pictures of waterfalls and trees. Of the oncoming of a new season that I hope does not herald another appalling chapter in man’s inhumanity to man and my reluctant participation in a process that makes me alternately depressed and ashamed.

A steady stream of tourists from everywhere in the U.S. and many from foreign lands, visit the Statue of Liberty (background) in New York August 4, 1946 which rises from an almost 150-foot pedestal. This height of the base of the 152-foot figure was necessary to make Miss Liberty impervious to the high winds of the bay. (AP Photo/FS)

As my neighbors … the people who wave the flag of which I’d like very much to be proud …  spout words that are mindless repetitions of crap they’ve heard on propaganda machines like Fox news, I wonder what went wrong? How come we seem to have bred a generation of morons too stupid to recognize their own best interests? Do they realize that they are spitting on the flag they claim to love?

As a nation, we have lost ourselves. We have traded our souls to the Devil … and I hope we have one Hell of a long spoon, because as you may recall, dining with the Devil rarely works out well for the dinner guests.

Our flag flies over our local Revolutionary War era cemetery in the middle of town.

As for me, I’m back to pictures of waterfalls and autumn leaves. They won’t hurt me. They remind me that the earth somehow endures, despite our best efforts to kill it. Maybe our nation will survive too, even though we seem determined to destroy all the good we ever represented.