President

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.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Sign Says Vote For Me

Bringing back memories of the election we thought would never end.

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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.

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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.

30,000 hits … Go figure.

It seemed appropriate — what with getting all these awards during the last few days — that this is the week I hit another landmark. On November 9th, I passed 20,000 hits and today, exactly 3 weeks later, I hit

30,000

From February 2012, through the end of September, I gathered 10,000 hits. It took me a slightly more than a month to get the next 10,000. On November 9, I was at 20, 783.

At 11:38 pm — right now — I am at 30,044, which is just about 10,000 hits in three crammed weeks.

When there’s a lot of stuff going on, people come looking for more than information. We all want explanations, validation, confirmation that what we believe is right or what we disbelieve is wrong. Those of us who put ourselves out there gain a certain amount of popularity, maybe notoriety or at least a degree of attention in return for fending off a lot of flak for having expressed opinions with which others do not agree. I try to back my opinion with facts, at least as far as I am can establish whatever facts exist. In the end though, facts are slippery as eels, subject to innumerable interpretations. Statistics are easily twisted to support virtually any position. Numbers are neutral, but what we do with them is not.

November 2012 was a newscaster and blogger’s dream. The richness of the available subject matter for a writer was unlimited.  It gave me a lot of room to stretch my writer’s wings, to try writing about things that would normally not fall in my purview.

The dreams of writers and reporters inevitably are built on events that are someone else’s nightmare. Sometime since the advent of electronic media has come to dominate the news industry, news no longer means information about current events … what’s happening. It used to be that news might be good or bad. News was merely “new.” It was the newness that counted, not any predetermined content.

It’s different now. Today, all news is bad news. “If it bleeds, it leads” is the unofficial motto of newsrooms around the nation and probably the globe. Violence and death draws an audience. If a story has a happy ending, it’s likely relegated to feature status or considered “not newsworthy” and thus completely ignored.

Lacking fresh disasters, the next hot ticket in the news biz are scandals, financial crises, sports, weather, and anything happening to a celebrity. These days, we have celebrities who are famous for being famous. They’ve never done anything noteworthy. They don’t act, sing, play an instrument or invent things. They aren’t politicians or scientists. They are nobodies. I hope I am never desperate enough to write about any of them. Since I have pretty much no idea of who is currently famous, I’m unlikely to write about them. Most of the time, guests on talk shows are strangers to me. I can’t tell one from another. Neither can my husband. If you are looking for the latest gossip, I’m afraid you’ll have to look elsewhere. I have neither information nor opinions on the subject.

Election day 2012I plead guilty to enjoying lively discussion and controversy, though I require civility however much we disagree. I figure we should be able maintain the same level of manners in public disputation that we would demand of a 5-year-old. That has turned out to be an unreasonably high expectation when issues of national importance were under discussion. No kindergarten teacher would allow such appalling behavior from her charges, but we not only tolerate, but actually encourage worse behavior from public figures.

As angry as I have been about policies and issues, I have been far more upset by the bad behavior of public figures, many with advanced degrees slinging mud, calling names, and clearly trying to incite violence. There ought to be limits, there ought to be a level below which we will not sink. Watching “Lincoln” yesterday reminded me how uncivil our public behavior has been over the years. The difference between then and now is the presence of electronic media that allows everyone to immediately see — in real-time — how ill-mannered we really are. It used to be a dirty little secret; now it’s an international embarrassment.

The sheer energy generated by so many major events occurring at the same time helped me gain an audience at a faster rate than I could have done had there not been so many important events occurring. There was Sandy, the giant storm. A storms is inherently uncivil. Storms have an excuse. They have no brain cells, just mighty wind, rain or snow … so a storm has an excuse for mindlessness, but what excuse can there be for people like Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck?  Perhaps they too lack brain cells. But more likely, they simply like a conscience and the level of manners required of a pre-schooler.

I get a reasonable number of regular visitors these days. I’m not exactly viral but I have an acceptable following. The number of visitors rises and falls according to some invisible tide over which I have nominal control . When Serendipity’s visitor count first popped up from 70 or 80 on a good day to over a thousand, I figured it was a fluke and would fizzle. As I expected, the visitor count has leveled off, but apparently people who initially dropped by for a particular post continued to return for other things. I am more inclined to trust the new, steadier numbers I get now than the wild up and downs surges of early and mid November.Here, Griffin!

It’s harder to find relevant, exciting content when there are no super exciting events in progress, but I try to stay relevant, try to find interesting subjects. Maybe make a few people laugh or at least smile. I like offering historical background for whatever is going on, the rest of the story we didn’t get in elementary school. Understanding the world is easier if you have the perspective of history. Context counts.

Thanks for reading, thanks for being my friends and making me feel that I’m still a real live part of the living world.  Let’s all hope that this year is going to be a better one than last year. Maybe less full of news, but more full of joy!

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.

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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.