EXTRA TOPICAL

What About Obama?  Huh? by Rich Paschall

You may have heard of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, aka the Great Debates of 1858.  Yes, this is history and there may be a quiz at the end so pay attention.

Abraham Lincoln and the incumbent Senator from Illinois, Stephen A. Douglas, held a series of debates around the state trying to sway voters on the important issues of the day.  Each hoped their party would control the state legislature, as US Senators were chosen by the legislature, not by popular vote.  Lincoln was well-received at the debates, but Douglas was elected Senator.

We know how it turned out for Lincoln two years later.

Abraham Lincoln, Stephen A . Douglas

Now Lincoln-Douglas debates are mostly a high school competition.  They are “values” debates where students often argue the greater good.

“Solvency” is not an issue.  A debater does not have to know how to implement a solution, just should be better for society.  Of course, he/she will attempt to bring into evidence material from authoritative sources to bolster his/her position.

One of the suggested topics for the coming year is Resolved: Civil disobedience in a democracy is morally justified.  There is no need to say how this should be applied, but that there are situations when it should or could be.  Historical examples would provide support.  Law and order arguments may be common on the negative.

These debates, like the Lincoln-Douglas debates, are one-on-one.  The first speaker has a set time. The second speaker a slightly longer period, then the first speaker gets a rebuttal interval.  Total speaking times end up the same.  The first speaker may have a plan. The second speaker may have a counter-plan or could argue that no plan is reasonable under the resolution.

Shouting, name calling, unsupported positions all result in a ballot for the opposition by the judge. Contestants must research, write, think, and propose.  Obviously, acting like modern-day politicians would not produce a winner.

So-called debate

Two man team debate, also known as Policy Debate, will propose a resolution where the tactic not only includes interpreting the resolution but also implementing a solution.  Some debaters may have so many points to make that they speak quickly.  The judge will usually take notes to be sure that the speakers arguments flow logically from point-to-point.  Both speakers on each side of the debate topic make a presentation, both are cross-examined.  Then each speaks in rebuttal.  In many leagues, constructives are 8 -minutes, cross-examinations are 3-minutes, and rebuttals are 5-minutes long.

You’d better come prepared!

A topic for next season’s two-man debate will be Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially reduce its restrictions on legal immigration to the United States

The topics for the debate season are often timely and include something prominently in the news.

Debaters must research both sides of the issue as they will be called upon to be on the affirmative or negative, depending on the debate or round within a debate.  In mid-summer, debaters are already starting to study the issues and gather evidence pro and con.  There will be no flippant remarks, insults of opponents, or made up evidence.  General and stereotypical comments mean nothing without support.  Judges will dismiss these comments. and opponents are wise to challenge them.

Because there are obvious “stock issues” implied with any current events topic, it is incumbent upon the debaters to deal with these intelligently.  Bombast and supposition will not do.  Instead, they must deal with the significance of the issue, solvency of the plan they present, the harms of the status quo or the affirmative plan, and the advantages of one side along with disadvantages of the other.

A key part of any debate is “Topicality.” With time to fill in rebuttals and possibly cross examinations too, it becomes important to stay on topic.  With an audience of debaters and judges taking notes, you can not stray into areas that are “Extra Topical.”  There are no random viewers waiting for a debater to pull out stock arguments on other topics or to launch into inane attacks on the opponent.  It’s just critical thinkers judging the merits of the debate.

Why do we bring you this small lesson in the fine art of debate? Perhaps you have noticed that debate is a lost art in the political arena, television news shows, and especially social media.  In the last election, you saw one party presenting something other than primary debates.  Even as an entertainment show, it was generally lacking in substance.  The other side had two candidates who actually seemed to study the topics, but they also found time to present “extra-topical” discussion points.

The presidential “debates” that followed frequently strayed off topic.  One candidate spent time talking about other administrations rather than what he would do as president.  The attempt to belittle your opponent through insults to family and associates may influence some viewers, but it would not work well with debate judges.

On my Facebook news feed, I see “discussions” of a social or political nature often degenerate into a series of personal attacks and Extra-Topical points.  One friend often posts news articles on current social issues.  A person I am acquainted with will usually make a comment on sanctuary cities.

If I point out the topic has nothing to do with these cities, he tells me to wake up!  For him, that is the only topic which really matters.

Another friend likes to engage me in a debate.  I try not to fall for it anymore.  If he says something about 45, I might respond (on topic), “As a former military man, how do you feel about Trump sharing military secrets with the North Koreans or Russians?”

The response is likely to be “What about Obama?  Huh?  You never said anything against him when he was president.”

“Yes, I did.”

“I don’t remember that.”

“You weren’t listening.”

“Well, what about Obama? Huh?”

There is no staying on topic sometimes.  It is particularly frustrating if you are a debate coach or judge.

ABOUT THAT SUPREME COURT APPOINTMENT …

People have been joking about it, as if it couldn’t happen. Appointing Barack Obama to the Supreme Court when he’s no longer president. What most of the people who say this don’t know is that it wouldn’t be the first time. Not only could it happen, it already has happened.

William Howard Taft, the 27th president of the United States, was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court following his term as President. He is the only U.S. President to have served on the Supreme Court.  I have quite a fondness for Mr. Taft as he was a local kid, from … you guessed it … little Uxbridge, Massachusetts.

william howard Taft

It’s true. The Taft family is our primary claim to fame, if indeed Uxbridge has a claim to fame. But I digress.

There is no reason why a former president cannot be a judge, Supreme Court or otherwise. Or for that matter, anything else he might choose. Most presidents are well beyond retirement age at the conclusion of their terms in office. Many former presidents are happy to spend their remaining years writing their memoirs and donating time and energies to worthy causes. Those that are young and healthy enough to do more, often go into private corporate work to make some of the big bucks they don’t make as president.

POTUS earns $400,000 per year while in office. Compared to the CEO of any major company, this is chicken feed — even though it sounds like a lot of money to you and me. It represent slightly less than half his annual income. Obama, like most American presidents, has other sources of income, including investments and book royalties. He is not one of the wealthier presidents we’ve had through the years, but he’s doing okay — especially compared to the average working stiff.

That being said, there isn’t enough money in the treasury to make me want that job. There’s a reason why presidents go into office looking young and vibrant … and leave office looking old. Not older. Really old. You couldn’t pay me enough.

The First Lady gets a measly $10,000, which isn’t sufficient to cover a couple of nice gowns, much less shoes to match.

So if POTUS and FLOTUS were not rich when they took office, they may want to make up for lost income in subsequent working years.

William Howard Taft’s heart belonged to the law. He was an unhappy, unpopular president following the larger-than-life footsteps of Theodore Roosevelt. Getting appointed to the Supreme Court made up for much of what had gone wrong in his life. He served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1921 to 1930.

Official portrait of President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, Dec. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

Official portrait of President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, Dec. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

So … for all those who’ve thought the idea was humorous that Mr. Obama might yet play a major role in American history, it may be humorous. It would certainly for many people be ironic as well. It’s also a good idea. Assuming Barack Obama would accept the job.

Regardless, I doubt he’ll have a hard time finding work. He looks pretty employable to me.

BEHIND THE SCENES OF OBAMA’S HISTORIC 2008 CAMPAIGN

AN INTERVIEW WITH

CONNIE CORCORAN WILSON

Author of “OBAMA’S ODYSSEY: The 2008 Race for the Whitehouse”

QUESTION – What do you think accounts for the degree of anger in the electorate? It seems to me and my husband (who was also a 40-year on the air professional reporter) that the “anger” is way out of proportion to anything going on in this country.

ANSWER –  A lot of it comes from the collective reside of the unwise wars in which we’ve become involved and the near-collapse of our economy in 2007-2008. That’s covered very well by the movie “The Big Short” (adapted from the book). If you haven’t seen it, absolutely do. Take notes.

Connie Corcoran Wilson

Connie Corcoran Wilson

We bailed out the big banks, but who on Wall Street paid for their near-lethal greed? No one. It’s intrinsically unfair — as Bernie Sanders keeps pointing out.

People are pretty P.O.-ed at Wall Street banks. Those voters should think carefully about the mess Obama inherited from his Republican predecessor; how he literally had to “save” our nation. Fortunately, he was a smart, highly educated guy who knew what needed to be done to rescue the economy from the brink. Find and kill Bin Laden. Pass the Affordable Care act. He’s been trying hard to get rid of Guantanamo, but has been stymied by the GOP. He also tried to get Republicans to meet in good faith with his nominee for the Supreme Court, but you know how well that’s going. It’s disgraceful to treat a sitting President with so little respect.

Wall Street’s greedy dishonesty plays to Bernie Sanders’ appeal to young voters, especially when he calls for free college and universal health care. My 28-year-0ld daughter has a far less bright future than I had on graduating college.

Bernie’s eventual fortunes, (should he become the Democratic nominee), are murky. Republicans have taken it easy on Bernie so far, preferring to focus on Hillary who they see as the logical nominee. If Bernie is nominated, he’ll be crucified. The opposition will have him branded a Commie in no time, even though it’s Donald Trump whose in-laws are actual card-carrying Communists.

I’m not sure Sanders has the international expertise Hillary Rodham Clinton possesses from years as Secretary of State. Nonetheless, I find it encouraging that young people are getting involved in the election and supporting a 74-year-old candidate with such enthusiasm.

Voters are sick of the stagnation in Washington. When a Republican like Mitch McConnell openly announces as his main goal to prevent President Obama from achieving any of his programs, designed to help Americans (that is, you and me), I think we could perceive it as racism, partisan politics (at the expense of the country), or just plain stubbornness. The Grand Old Party in days of yore believed in compromise. In getting things done. Sadly, there are no more Bob Doles or Tip O’Neill’s in Congress.

QUESTION – How much of the “anger” is really thinly disguised racism (in YOUR opinion … I’m not looking for evidence, just opinion)?

ANSWER – Your words, not mine, Marilyn; I cannot disagree with you. As Bernie Sanders said on Seth Meyer’s show on April 7, 2016: “The Republican obstructionism towards Obama over the past 7 and ½ years is unprecedented in American history.” Is there a way to explain this deplorable behavior beyond merely Obama’s policies?

You’ve suggested one. Because, as Bernie said, Obama tried to negotiate with the Republicans at first but their mindset was obstruct, obstruct, obstruct. I’m ashamed at how our President has been treated by Congress.

As of the last CNN Poll I read, Bernie would beat Trump by 20 points, [says Bernie], which ignores the fact that the Republicans will do everything in their power to deny Trump the Arrogant the nomination (successfully, I feel). “The truth is there is nothing radical about our agenda,” said Bernie on the April 8th Seth Meyers program.

Bernie also added graciously, “On Hillary Clinton’s worst day she’d be 100 times better than any of the Republicans.”

QUESTION – I still see a lot of that residual “not liking” of Hillary. I’ve met Hillary a couple of times (back in the 90s when Bill was Prez) and I liked her. She’s not warm or cuddly, but she’s smart, and professional. How much of the “not liking Hillary” is because she’s a tough woman and how much because she isn’t “one of the gang”? Again, I’m looking for what you think, not statistics or evidence.

ANSWER – In 2008, I reported what voters told me about their feelings and impressions of Hillary Clinton, especially in Iowa. Not necessarily my views. I was trying to be an impartial reporter — until McCain selected Sarah Palin. After which all bets were off.

Iowans didn’t like Hillary’s laugh, her screechy voice, or her vote for the Iraq war. Some felt she exuded a sense of entitlement. Others — especially Hispanic voters — thought she was great. It was interesting that those who should have been her biggest supporters (that is, mature white women) were her biggest detractors.

I think she is one of the most qualified candidates to come down the pike in years and it’s time we elected a woman as President. Despite one person’s claim (a Canadian) that I am, somehow, trying to “derail” Hillary’s campaign, nothing could be further from the truth.

I followed the presidential campaigns of ’04, ’08 and ’12, but there’s no way I could follow the campaigns of Trump and Cruz, let alone vote for either one. I think Kasich is the most reasonable of the GOP lot, but he vetoed funds for Planned Parenthood in Ohio– while campaigning. He may be reasonable onstage, but offstage Kasich mentions wanting to take Christianity to the Muslim world. Which smacks of the medieval Crusades — not something I can support.

It’s a sad commentary on politics in America today and the status of the G.O.P. in general ( not to mention a terrible example to set for the rest of the world) when Trump talks about using nuclear weapons in Europe. His hateful, bigoted remarks are being used as a recruitment video for ISIS. His rallies are egotistical, non-events for people who would vote for a Kardashian because they’ve seen them on television.

QUESTION – Give me four things you want people to know about Obama’s Odyssey?

ANSWER – That these books lay out the behind-the-scenes adventures, complete with entertaining, often funny stories.

Another thing. It’s very unusual for someone my age who’s just a “regular citizen” to be granted access to the future president of the US. To rub shoulders with the power brokers at the caucuses and conventions of 2008. I also covered 2004 and 2012, but not inside the Big Show of the conventions.

Everyone should recognize — acknowledge — the power of the word on the Internet, if that word is widely distributed. I’ve written about the campaign on my little WeeklyWilson.com blog. My “Associated Content” writing let me be inside in Denver, St. Paul, and elsewhere. Which was not on my “to do” list when I began.

I did my best to make my book lighthearted. If you can’t have fun while doing something, what’s the point? I wanted to get at the truth in 2008, have fun, and be part of what I consider one of the most historical election cycles of this century and my lifetime. If you’re looking for an expert? Look elsewhere.

If you’re looking for a person with Iowa roots who could follow the campaigns in Iowa? I’m your girl! I live across the I-74 bridge from Davenport, Iowa (the Quad Cities). My Sylvan Learning Center #3301 is in Bettendorf, Iowa. I grew up in Independence, Iowa. I graduated from the University of Iowa. Like most Americans, I’ve become skeptical about getting the truth when we watch Fox News or, for that matter, MSNBC. I wanted to find out for myself. I had no idea my articles on would become so popular and well-read. That I’d get so many hits and so many comments. That I’d be invited to Denver and St. Paul. It just happened. It wasn’t my goal or my assignment.

I’m tired of “the tail wagging the dog” with election results announced prematurely which then influence the outcome of the actual election. I still believe Al Gore won in Florida. I think The Donald has repeatedly referenced the dirty trick played on Ben Carson in Iowa by the Cruz campaign in which Cruz’ people announced Carson had suspended his Iowa race — just before voters went to the polls to caucus — and it was not true. You learn this stuff in far greater detail if you’re actually there.

Off I went, Nikon in hand, navigating the Iowa caucuses all over the state and writing about it for “Associated Content” blog. I interviewed real voters and tramped around in bitterly cold weather.

I learned how to get to 3 rallies in separate locations on the same night (Hillary, Edwards and Obama). I was on a first-name basis with the Bidens. They sent me e-mails telling me where to be and when. I include amusing articles such as “Alternative Titles for the Sarah Palin Documentary”and recount some of the better “jabs” on late-night television shows.

The books contain 88 new, never-published photos. The information in the books should be preserved for future historians. It’s the only way anyone will get a true taste of what 2008 was like.

I was there and I work hard to make sure that you, my readers, are part of it too.

OBAMA’S ODYSSEY: THE 2008 RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE

Obama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the White House – Connie Corcoran Wilson


It wasn’t what I expected and after I started reading it, I had to revise my approach to the book. I had been expecting the author’s journey, starting in Iowa and ending with the 2008 general election. Instead, it’s a compilation of blog posts written by the author over that same time span. It covers the same time period and material … but not as expected.

Obamas Odyssey book

Rather than a continuous, sequential narrative, the book comprises series of snapshots. Interviews and events with candidates, wannabes, politicians, volunteers, voters, support staff, and political operatives. Connie Corcoran Wilson’s posts are witty, amusing, perceptive, and enlightening, especially when she focuses on the realities of life as a working journalist covering a presidential campaign.

I could very easily relate the long hours, the short sleep, the rapid changes of venue. The mental agility required to keep up that grueling pace for all those months. Rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, being a working reporter is far from glamorous.

Ms. Wilson captures the character of the people with whom she interacts with charm, humor, and grace. But there is, nonetheless, a choppy quality that is the inevitable result of a compilation of posts rather than a story. There is also a bit more repetition of subjects that is, again, the inevitable result of compiling blog entries rather than writing the story as a story with a beginning, middle, and end.

Connie Wilson is a fine writer and she excels at her medium … blogging. I’m a blogger too. I “get” it. But blogging is not authoring. It’s the same church, but a different pew. Blog posts are free-standing, short subjects. You can collect them and put them in a binding to form a book-length volume of material, but it will still lack a continuous story. This lack becomes more increasingly problematic as the book progresses. The jumps between posts are sometimes a bit jarring.

The result? Despite excellent writing, the book doesn’t feel like a book. It feels like what it is: a huge collection of political blog posts. The posts are good, many excellent. A lot of perceptivity and sensitivity raises her writing well above the so-called news writing you find on the Internet … or for that matter, in much of what you’ll find in print or on television. I would have appreciated more “connective tissue” to give the book an easier-to-follow timeline and structure.

The good news? The insider views of the campaign are priceless. The people. The voters. The volunteers. The politicians and their operatives. The process itself with all its quirks. The information is timely and might help you put the current political frenzy in context.

The material and author’s insights make Obama’s Odyssey a worthwhile investment of time. It’s a good, albeit flawed, book that covers the extraordinary 2008 campaign with a rare intimacy.

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.

 

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.