HOW COME THE GUY WHO KNOWS NOTHING GOT THE WHITE HOUSE

To say that we are on the cusp of “old” politics while beginning the “new,” is an understatement. Our world has changed. Fast and hard and it’s barreling down that mountain with every intent of flattening us. What’s next? Is there a next?

There has been this “issue” in American politics for a long time … twenty, maybe 30 or more years. Maybe since we started being a country at all.

Our citizens have always had a fundamental belief that an “outsider” can fix the government because “they aren’t part of the establishment.” If you think, for a moment, about how the United States became a government, it makes sense. We weren’t “released” from our status as a colony to become part of England’s worldwide network. We fought them and threw them out.

We won. They left. Even when they tried to come back (and damned near succeeded), even after we had to abandon Washington DC, we never returned to English over-lordship. We don’t have the Queen stamped on our money. We don’t bow — even reluctantly — to him or her Majesty in London.

We were free and not because they let us go. From that time since, we have viewed other nations as potential oppressors. When we decide we need to be “fixed,” we don’t look for someone who has spent a lifetime studying the system and making it work. Rather, we look for someone who comes from somewhere else. Who knows nothing. The less the better.

This policy doesn’t work. It never did, never will.

Let’s not even go back far in our short history. Look at James Earl “Jimmy” Carter Jr. (born October 1, 1924). He is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States from 1977 to 1981. He was and is an exceptionally intelligent, thoughtful man with a heart of gold. Who was practically run out of office. He didn’t fix the government. No one gave him half a chance. He was the governor of a southern state and he didn’t have the background to make it work. Not a single run as a senator or even congressman in DC. Since leaving office, he has worked ceaselessly on our behalf. He was — absolutely — a really good guy, but he was a miserable president.

If you aren’t part of the establishment, you’ll won’t easily get legislation through congress. Maybe not at all. Many presidents who were governors before election have had trouble getting help from congress. They weren’t half as stupid and bizarre as Trump-O-Matic.

There is a way business gets done in every parliament and congress around the world. It’s the way it has always been done.

Like this.

You give me something, I give you something. We call in our own personal markers — on both sides of the aisle — and voilà, the business gets done. The give-and-take of congress is the essence of democracy — yours, ours, or theirs. The most effective presidents (like Lyndon Johnson) were those who had a lot of markers to call.

Markers are not money. In fact, markers are rarely money but more “I owe you for this one.” Next round? Your guy comes through. Usually. You can’t just strong-arm everyone to “do your will.” Politics and government are not like that. This process is not evil. It’s simply how its done. How it was done back in Rome and Egypt. There is nothing new about this.


The critical thing that made this work well — when it works — is because people running a government care about us, the people. Greedy? Maybe, but they certainly aren’t in it for the money. They are in government to try to do something worthwhile. Many (probably most) were wealthy to start with, so the money wasn’t the issue.

Power hungry? Probably. If you don’t want power, you won’t run for president. Who else would want to run? You have to have a driving need to get to the top and a powerful belief you can do something worthwhile once you get there. Few of us have the will to start the process, much less finish it. I don’t, nor does anyone I know.

It isn’t really so hard to figure out why people would elect someone like Trump-O-Matic.  What’s a lot harder to figure out is why anyone trusted this moron to have some good ideas and to care whether or not he helped anyone but himself and his rich pals.

Trump-O-Matic was never in it to help anyone. I’m not convinced he understands that we — all of us — are his people. He doesn’t know what the first amendment is supposed to do, what an intelligence briefing is about … and I doubt he can read more than a few sentences at a time. He doesn’t understand the Constitution and should never have been president of anything. He’s a bigot, a con man … and worst of all … he’s a fool.

Don’t forget — the only reason Trump-O-Matic isn’t doing even more harm is his party is in fragments. They don’t like him and I’m betting they will do their best to avoid letting him run again in 2020. It’s the one thing in this seemingly endless nightmare for which I am grateful.

THE GRAND EST REGION – RICH PASCHALL

A Visit to Strasbourg by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog


Just across the Rhine River from Germany, in the northeast corner of France, lies the capital of the Grand Est (East) Region.  It is the largest metropolitan area in Alsace and home to the European Parliament, the legislative body of the European Union.  Because of its central location in Europe and proximity to Switzerland and Luxembourg, as well as “Allemand” (Germany), it is a major confluence of architecture, culture and cuisine.

Gare de Strasbourg

Whether you arrive by train from Paris or other city or town around France, or come via the Lufthansa bus from Frankfurt, Germany, your first stop will be at Gare de Strasbourg (or Strasbourg railway station).  You can get a nonstop train from Paris, but you may find it easier to fly to Frankfurt and take the bus direct from Frankfurt airport.  Having made this trip many times, my preferred route is via Frankfurt.  While the French have made it easier in recent years with a direct train from Charles De Gaulle airport, rather than having to go into the city to Gare de L’Est, you are likely to find the air fares from USA TO Frankfurt to be cheaper than going to Paris.

Like most European cities, there is no need to rent a car.  Public transportation will get you around town and around the region.  Strasbourg is a great walking city and small enough to reach most of the sites on foot.  Tram and foot power will take you where you want to go.  Of course, a local friend with an automobile is a plus, but not necessary in the city proper.

Rue du Vingt-Deux Novembre

From the train station there are many reasonably priced hotels within a short distance, even if you are toting luggage.  Straight ahead from the station is the Rue du Vingt-Deux Novembre. The picturesque street will take you past shops, restaurants, a large and very old church (of course), as well as hotels.  From this area you will enjoy many lovely trips around town.  If you do not have phone service outside the country, download a city map to your phone or tablet and use it as your guide.  If you are lucky, your hotel or other tourist stop will have a map that is actually printed on paper.  Strange, I know.

Place Kléber

Of course, it you forgot your iPhone or whatever electronic device you can not live without, you can always make your way to the large public square known as Place Kléber to visit the Apple Store.  I guess the techies will know by this stop that city is up to date and not just filled with ancient churches and quaint restaurants.  I will just sit by the fountain as you go in and gaze at all things Apple.

Wine Producers exhibition

The large convention center is home to many events.  We were lucky on one trip to make it to the wine producers convention.  Here the wine makers try to interest stores and restaurants in their latest wines.  Of course we could not stop at all of the many hundred booths to sample all of the products.  Fortunately, my friend was familiar with the wine producers of the region and was able to point me in the direction of the best ones.

If you appreciate a good stroll through town, you will find grand architecture and important historic sites.  There are cozy restaurants and side-walk cafes.  You can walk east and see the Rhine and another country across the way, or amble past the rivers and canals.  Going by on a car or tram means you may miss the beauty of the ancient city.  If you can, take a walk with friends.

A tour with friends
Cathedral selfie

Almost any walk around Strasbourg will bring you to the spectacular Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg. The height of its tower makes it visible from almost anywhere in the city.  It is 466 feet and it was the tallest building in the world from 1647 to 1874.  At present it is the 6th tallest church, and the tallest building surviving since the Middle Ages.  Other structures were on the site previously, but this cathedral was begun in 1015 and celebrated its thousand-year anniversary in 2015.  Much of the first structure burned to the ground in 1176 because of the wooden framework.  Construction began again on the current structure and was not finished until 1439.  This remarkable edifice was 424 years in the making.  It is the pride and joy of this region and a must stop for your travel itinerary of Alsace.

The complex west façade, or front of the building, is decorated with thousands of figures.  Do any of them represent actual people of that era?  The Gothic style of the front of the building is considered a masterpiece.  Some see the design as random, perhaps it is not.  The north tower rises to a great height, but the south tower was never built.  The result is a uniquely shaped building.

When I see these old structures, I truly wonder how they built them without modern construction equipment.  On the other hand, only craftsmen of that era could have built this.  Nothing like it is built in modern times.  During World War II the stained glass windows were removed and stored in a salt mine in Germany.  They were recovered and returned after the war by the American Military.  Seeing these windows today, you have to wonder how they got them in originally, as well as removing them to safeguard them.  The church suffered damage during air raids by British and American military.  It was not until the 1990s that the repairs were complete.

From Rue Mercière

I have seen the structure often and been inside a few times.  There can be lines of tourists outside, and they now employ a level of security that was not there the first time we visited.  If you encounter a line, be patient.  The trip inside is worth the wait.

Source: Strasbourg Cathedral, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strasbourg_Cathedral
Related: Destination: Friendship

PATHS AND TRAILS – BLACK & WHITE

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Walking Paths and Trails


I love trails and paths. There’s something about them that speaks wordlessly for the future we never quite find, but for which we always look.