I have an ancient telephone in the kitchen. It’s on the wall. It has a long wire that goes from the kitchen to somewhere. It gets kinked and coiled and very messed up … but the sound on that old telephone is 100% better than the sound on my electronic Panasonic OR my expensive “smart phone.”
Movies have pathetic sound. Loud, except half the time you can’t tell what anyone is saying. The music is too loud, the voices too soft. And the quality is, well, pathetic. It’s the same on television. They don’t seem to care about it. I don’t understand. Surely they know how to make good sound? They do it for music, so why can’t they do it for voices?
Is it just me?
Half the time, my telephone breaks up. No one can hear me. It’s 2017 and I’m yelling into the phone “Can you hear me? Hello? Hello?” This is the “good phone.” The expensive one. On the cell, sometimes, someone can hear it. The rest of the time? Good luck with that.
Let’s hear it for good sound. On television. Movies. Telephones. The British and Canadian television shows have much better sound than we do in this country. It’s something we might want to think about.
I keep reading the same crap. Why is this so hard to understand?
So you believe term-limits will solve our political problems. Why would you think that? Are “old timers” in congress the big problem — as opposed to the bloated egos and narrow minds of those you voted for? How about those inexperienced, right-wing religious nutters? The Tea Party crowd? They were recently elected , have no understanding of how government works, and care nothing for the American people. Look how much they’ve fixed everything. Yeah, that went well.
Exactly what problem do you think you solve by making terms shorter? Will that attract a better quality of candidates for office? Will it convince people to vote for better candidates? Doesn’t this past presidential election prove that people will vote for a bad candidate even when all logic and reason should tell them he or she will not to serve their interests?
So you believe we will get better government if no one in congress gets to stay for a long time. Why would inexperience result in better government? Would you choose an inexperienced surgeon? A lawyer fresh out of law school? A barber who has never cut any hair? In what field do we prefer raw recruits to proven veterans?
Oh, right, the presidency. How’s that working for you?
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 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 aims to get professionals into government.
Term limits remove any hope of building a career in government. It becomes a 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 Dole, Ted 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?
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. You only have to watch the news once or twice to see how our wonderful, inexperienced government is doing. If that doesn’t argue against the treasured (but stupid) belief that what Washington DC needs are outsiders, I don’t know what will convince you. Assuming we survive 45s reign, we will desperately need intelligent, knowledgeable people to set America back on course.
We don’t need term limits. We need better candidates, better representatives. We need men and women willing to learn the craft, who have ideas and can work with each other and other nations to get America’s business done. Our government does not rest on the Presidency. It rests on 435 congressmen and 100 senators.
The President isn’t supposed to 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.
We have mid-term elections in 2018. You want term limits? Vote the morons out of office.
Vote for people who believe the good of the country is more important than their personal agenda. Vote for intelligent people who understand about compromise, who have an understanding of law, justice, and believe in the constitution. That will produce change in a hurry.
It seems we have inadvertently (or advertently?) begun to write new mini-episodes of an old radio show we did a long time ago in a galaxy not that far away — and that Marilyn wrote what was probably the first parody of Star Trek.
When the original Star Trek went into syndication in the early 1970s, Marilyn and I (and many others of our tribe) watched them. Constantly. Repeatedly. Usually under the influence of Romulan Ale.
I’m just kidding. It was usually Acapulco Gold.
We all loved all of them. Back then I was doing a one hour weekly radio show called “Fulton’s Folly” at WVHC. Our college radio station. (Note: Our alma mater is on Fulton Street, hence … )
It was a sketch comedy show. Most of it was pretty dumb, but sometimes it was truly funny. One of our most popular recurring skits was the previously mentioned Star Trek parody. Marilyn and a friend of hers had the idea, and called it “Sterling Bronson, Space Engineer.”
Why? First, it was an inside joke about the radio station’s real chief engineer. Second, we figured if we called it anything with “Star Trek” in it, we’d probably get sued. Looking back “Star Trek, Oh God Not Another Generation!” would have been cool. The episodes recounted the adventures of the merry band of miscreants who flew a United Federation Organization Star Ship, the UFO Sloth.
Its crew consisted of:
Captain James P. Clerk,
Science Officer Mr. Spook,
Chief Engineer Sterling “Scotty” Bronson,
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Femur,
Communications Officer Lt. O’Hara
Helm Officers Ensign Tolstoy & Lt. Guru
They were not the sharpest pencils in the Star Fleet box.
Hell, they spent the first 6 episodes just trying to get out of the transporter room and beam down to a planet. Marilyn and her friend wrote the first dozen episodes.
Our listeners really liked them. After a while a young aspiring writer who worked at the radio station began writing longer, more complex episodes. One story is was a humorous send up of “The Caine Mutiny Court Martial.” The young writer went on to become a successful science fiction and fantasy writer. His name is Simon Hawke.
He wrote one of my all-time favorite book series called “Time Wars,” available on Amazon.
A few years later I wrote and produced a full length one hour episode of the series. It was called “Sterling Bronson, Space Engineer.” Original, right? It’s online and you can hear it here.
If I can ever find the tapes of the original series Marilyn wrote, I will put them online too. They are in my basement somewhere. I found them once. Damn it, I’ll find them again.
Years and years ago, I wrote the beginning of a Sterling Bronson episode that I never finished. I found the script a while back. It was printed on old dot-matrix computer track paper.
(Yeah, it’s that old). I’ve always regretted having not having finished it. What cracked me up is that it’s based on the same point that Marilyn’s blog made. That being how Spock has an annoying habit of constantly counting things down.
All of our recent Star Trek blogs have made references to, our “So Called President”.
In that light I’ve updated the episode. A smidgen. Here it is: the “Lost Sterling Bronson Episode”. It’s supposed to take place in real time. (“24” ripped me off!).
ENSIGN TOLSTOY: Captain! A Trumpulan ship has De-cloaked and is arming its weapons!
CAPTAIN CLERK: Trumpulans? Who the hell are they?
MR SPOOK: A recently discovered species sir. They are an off-shoot of the human race. Apparently, hundreds of years ago a small group of humans left Earth and colonized a remote planet. They worshiped some long-forgotten despot they referred to only as “The Donald”. They are known for their lack of attention span, their rejection of anything factual and their tradition of wearing dead animals on their heads. They are easily offended and will attack anything that does not worship them.
CAPTAIN CLERK: Great. A bunch of narcissistic alien assholes. God, I miss the old days when we just had to deal with Klingons.
ENSIGN TOLSTOY: Sir, the Trumpulan ship is firing!
MR SPOOK: Shields are down to 90 percent. At this rate we will lose shields in 75.1243575789
CAPTAIN CLERK: ROUND IT OFF SPOOK!
MR SPOOK: A couple of minutes Jim.
CAPTAIN CLERK: Arm photon torpedoes! Lock all phasers on that ship! Ensign Guru, FIRE!
ENSIGN GURU: But sir, if we fire on them, then they will fire on us. And we will fire on them. We will just be creating very bad karma.
CAPTAIN CLERK: Damn it Guru, I know you’re from the planet Gandhi Five but I don’t have time for your left-wing peace and granola crap right now. If you don’t fire the phasers, we are all going to die!
MR SPOOK: In 69.268 seconds captain.
ENSIGN GURU: I’m sorry sir. It is against my beliefs to attack anyone. Even if they are narcissistic alien assholes.
CAPTAIN CLERK: Then why the hell are you the Weapons Officer?? Never mind! I’ll fire them myself.
LT O’HARA: Now old on sir. You can’t fire those phasers. You’re not in the union. You’re senior management.
CAPTAIN CLERK: WHAT? Are you serious?
LT O’HARA: Yes sir. Article 15, section 5 of the contract states …
CAPTAIN CLERK: OK. Fine. Whatever! Then you do it!
LT O’HARA: I Can’t sir.
CAPTAIN CLERK: Why not??
LT O’HARA: I’m in a different union.
CAPTAIN CLERK: I don’t believe this! There must be something I can do!
MR SPOOK: There is sir. But I suggest you hurry. Shields will be down in 51.7865 seconds.
CAPTAIN CLERK: Stop telling me the time and tell me what the hell I can do!
MR SPOOK: I believe you might be able to get something called “A Waiver”. It would allow you to fire the weapons systems on a provisional “one time” basis.
CAPTAIN CLERK: Great! Get me one of those!
MR SPOOK: I’m sorry sir. You would need to get that from the ship’s shop steward.
CAPTAIN CLERK: Shop steward! Who the hell is that?
MR SPOOK: Chief Engineer Bronson.
CAPTAIN CLERK: Attention Chief Engineer Bronson. This is the captain. I need to get a waiver to fire the phasers immediately! If I don’t we are all going to die!
MR SPOOK: In 52.7685
CAPTAIN CLERK: Shut up Spook! Can you do it Scotty?
SCOTTY: I can sir, but I’ll need more time! There’s a lot of paper work involved. I get can get it for you in about a week.
CAPTAIN CLERK: We don’t have a week!
MR SPOOK: We have 41.3454
CAPTAIN CLERK: SHUT UP SPOOK! OK, listen Guru, how about this. We don’t shoot the Trumpulan ship. We just “wing it”.
LT GURU: Wing it?
CAPTAIN CLERK: Yeah! We “wing it”! Just like they did in those old holographic 20th century Westerns you love to watch. We just target the weapons systems. We “shoot the guns out of their hands”!
LT GURU: Hmmm. That sounds reasonable.
SFX: Phasers being fired.
MR SPOOK: Direct hit on all weapons systems sir. And I might add with 1.209384765 seconds to spare.
LT O’HARA: Incoming message from the Trumpulan ship sir.
CAPTAIN CLERK: Put it on speaker.
LT O’HARA: It’s an old-fashioned text message sir.
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