Here's An Idea ... Let Them Represent Us!

 There have been a number of responses to the tragedy in Arizona almost two weeks ago.  Some ... not many, have been partisan.  And that is no surprise.  While there is a lot of talk about a kinder and more civil political atmosphere, everybody seems to be saying "You first."  As Gomer Pyle used to say, "Surprise!  Surprise! Surprise!" However, in the last few days, a small few voices seem to be crying from the wilderness about a simple gesture that might, at least, give the appearance of ... wait for it ... one united country. The gesture? In a week, the President will be addressing both houses of Congress with the State of the Union Address. Here's an idea ... Why not avoid what we've been doing for, oh I don't know, forever, sitting by political party, the Republicans, oddly enough on the President's left, and the Democrats, just as oddly, on the President's right. Why not mix it up, this little voice is whispering.  Why not?

Well, it's the beginning of an idea, anyway.  I, however, have a more specific suggestion.  Why not sit them, not by party, but by state.  Yes.  That's right.  Senators and congressmen should sit in a grouping that shows the people that sent them to D.C. that they did so so that they would represent their regional interests and not their party's.  Is it really that much to ask?  After all, they are called representatives because they are supposed to represent us. I live in New Jersey.  I'd like to see my senators and congressmen sitting together on that night because I sent them there so that New Jersey would have a voice in the halls of power. Yeah, that's the way they should have to sit at all ceremonial occasions.  Instead of acting like a the partisan strophe/antistrophe of a Greek chorus the way they do now, it would be really difficult to see what each of the parties think of what the President is saying.  It would be the unity of one country.  Who knows, they might actually look patriotic.

Besides, if they sit the way I have suggested, it might be a little harder to get up the fool's courage to yell from a crowd that thinks like you, "You lie!"   

Who Really Kills People?

Today, Sarah Palin released a seven minute video explaining how the violent bloody assault at a political rally in Arizona last weekend that left six dead and fourteen wounded was the fault of one deranged young man, and not those who use violent rhetoric to explain their political goals.  She referred to those that blamed this tragedy on devices such as a map of congressional districts with gun crosshairs to indicate the targets of conservative ire (posted on her own website) and the use of suggestions of "hits," and "second amendment remedies" as promoting a "blood libel" on the Conservative Movement.  Thank you, Ms. Malaprop!  I guess there just wasn't room on your hands for notes on the use (and misuse) of that expression.  (A blood libel refers to the medieval Christian accusation that Jews used the blood of Christian children in the baking of their bread.)  What's the matter, Ms. Malaprop, no reference books in Wasilla?

But we are used to the gaffs and mind gas of the ex-governor of Alaska.  But her accusation of this violence as the act of a "deranged apparently apolitical criminal" is not naivety but mendacity. There were all kinds of evidence found in Jared Loughner's home that spelled out what he intended to do, and why he intended to do it.  And, like the person who hires the hit man to kill by way of monetary incentive, or the people who encourage a troubled person to commit any violent act for their own political purposes, there are consequences to own.  Not to own those consequences is to perpetrate a lie.  It is also cowardice. And, like Lady Macbeth found out, not all the "multitudinous seas incarnadine" will wash away the guilt.  Nor all the malapropisms.



Bought and Paid For

The Republicans are brilliant!  They really are.  You really have to admit it.  The independent vote, one that always is a toss-up and most speculated about as an election draws to a close, is no longer in doubt.  Not this time.  Not by the Republicans.  Why?  Because the Republicans have bought and paid for it over the last year.  And the way they did it?  The Tea Party Movement. 

The independent vote is always a worry because of its potential to be an election spoiler.  Just look at the candidacy of runners like Ross Poirot, Ralph Nader, and even Pat Buchanan.  This year, the Republicans decided to insure that the majority of independent voters would vote for the “third party’ which, in actuality is really the Republican Party.  How?  Because it has already been bought and paid for.  And the only people that don’t know it, or understand how it happened, are the independent voters themselves. 

The strategy is brilliant!  Brilliant!  First, rev up the anger of these voters by seeding the hometown district meetings of Democratic senators and congressmen with what can only be described as “outside agitators.”  Knowing that media cameras would cover these events if they knew that there would be confrontation; these agitators insured this confrontation in districts all over the country.   The Republicans, who have, for the last two years, been as obstructionist as possible, without suggesting alternate solutions, ginned up the rhetoric at these meetings and played on fears both real and imagined.  They had no other suggestions to confront a possible depression, rising unemployment, the issue of illegal immigration and healthcare.  They didn’t have to.  All they had to do was criticize what was being done by the Democrats. This is an old tactic in the Republican playbook.  Remember Richard Nixon’s dirty tricks campaign to win reelection?  Or worse yet, remember Hitler’s rise to power in Germany in 1933?

Oh, you think that that last sentence is extreme?  Watch the news at night.  Tea Party signs either depict the President of the United States; Barak Obama is either Hitler, The Joker or an African witch doctor.  Good tactic.  Demonize the opposition.  Make them “the other.”  After all, his father was an African.  So question his birth certificate, his patriotism and the legitimacy of his election. And make people afraid.  Very afraid. 

But I get ahead of myself.  Back to the story.  So activists within the Republican Party like Dick Armey, former U.S. Representative from Texas’s 26th congressional district, Sarah Palin, briefly Governor of Alaska and the Fox News (and I use that word humorously) Network like Glen Beck and Bill O’Reilly promote a new political organization with a name that has positive patriotic history in this country, the Boston Tea Party, a genuinely patriotic exercise in the cause of freedom from Britain in the 1700’s.  However, this new movement is not aimed at the British but at their own government.  And the mantra used, “Throw the Washington insiders out!” except the Republican insiders, of course.  Now many of these angry voters could not be counted on to vote Republican unless this movement appeared to be a genuine third party.  Never mind that it was being bought and paid for, slowly, oh so slowly, by backers controlled by the Republicans themselves.

The strategy had some rough moments.  In Republican primaries, some of the incumbent Republican candidates for office were beaten by Tea Party candidates.  No problem.  Just have the Republican Party abandon the incumbents and back the Tea Party candidates.  And so we have ended up with candidates like Rand Paul from Kentucky, Sharon Engle from Arizona, Joe Miller from Alaska, Marco Rubio from Florida and Christine O’Donnell from Delaware, to name just a few.

But it really is about anger.  All about anger.  Frustration about an economy that seems to be slow to recover, of unemployment rates that are too slow to fall, and of home foreclosures that are on the rise.  And about the “other.”  An African American president and “marauding bands of brown-skinned gang members that are streaming across our borders” as in Sharon Engle’s most recent TV ad.  Again, remember the German election of 1933.  Then the ads that showed in German movie houses across the country were about their “other,” the Jews.  They were depicted as hooked-nosed foreigners in their midst, and finally as rats teeming through the streets.  Too much?  Too soon?  I don’t think so. 

But this election really isn’t about the frustration or anger of the people of this country.  If it is about anger at all, it is about the anger of a party that lost control of Congress in 2006 and the White House in 2008.  It is really all about power.  It is about who will decide, for the American People, what our country will look like in the next few years.  It is about exclusion, not inclusion.  In short, it is about sore losers who want revenge.  So they gave birth to, co-opted and finally controlled a third party movement, in an attempt to regain power. And they did it in the only way they knew how.  They bought it and they paid for it.  




A Personal Memory of Senator Kennedy

As I watch the motorcade taking the mortal remains of Senator Edward Moore Kennedy to Boston for viewing at the JFK Library this afternoon, I remember being a college student at St. Peter's College in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1968.  A 36 year old Senator Kennedy spoke at the college on the issues of the day: the war in Viet-Nam, civil rights and the campaign of his brother, Bobby, for President of the United States only a few months before his brother's violent death in California.

After the speech, he was taken to a blocked off section of the front cafeteria for a brief lunch before his return to Washington, DC.  Three of my friends and I, unable to find room in the larger back cafeteria, sat alone at a table in the front cafeteria and talked about what we had just witnessed, and what we thought of what Senator Kennedy had said.  Suddenly, the door opened and out came the Senator along with the college officials who had lunch with him.  He was still a very young man, broad-shouldered with a jaunt in his step and the awkward smile of youth on his face.  We were thrilled that he was going to pass us on his way out of the school.  Suddenly, he stopped at our table and, standing over us, asked us what we thought of his speech.  We were dumbfounded, but stuttered out our praise for what he had said.  Slowly, he pulled out a chair and sat with us for a few minutes to follow up on some of our observations. His easy manner and personable nature made us forget who we were talking to as we discussed with him the issues of the day, issues that would, in time, have a profound impact on our history and our own lives.  

"I'd better get going." he told us as he rose from his seat. "I think they are waiting for me." We rose too, and each shook his hand and thanked him for stopping to talk to us.  "Wait a minute." he said as we said our goodbyes.  He walked back into the private dining hall and returned with the floral centerpiece that was on his table.  "No sense in wasting this." he said, as he put it in the center of our table.  We thanked him as we watched him leave the room.  

His brother Jack had been brutally assassinated only a few years before.  Within a few months, his brother Bobby would be gone too. In retrospect, this incident is so trivial and so seemingly unimportant, that it barely seems worth mentioning. But,in that moment in time, the conversation between the Senator and a few college students had an importance all its own to each of us who sat at that table that day.

He went on to make a failed run for President of the United States as his brothers before him had done,to become a great Senator, the Lion of the Senate, to endorse the present president, Barak Obama, and to be the patriarch of the Kennedy clan. He will be pictured in the minds of many Americans as the senator with the thick grey main of hair, the craggy face that would be right at home on Mount Rushmore, and that broad Kennedy smile.  To the few of us that sat at that cafeteria table that day, he will be the awkward young idealist who didn't see himself as too important to sit with three college students and share a lunchtime discussion.

And that is a memory I will treasure forever.

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Maybe it is we that should be afraid.

Recently, I was sent this email.

Letter from Procter & Gamble Exec to Obama

Please read, even if you are an Obama fan.  
It is legitimate,  written by respected, Lou Prichett, formerly of Proctor and Gamble.   Lou Pritchett is one of corporate America's true living legends- an acclaimed author, dynamic teacher and one of the world's highest rated speakers. Successful corporate executives everywhere recognize him as the foremost leader in change management. Lou changed the way America does business by creating an audacious concept that came to be known as partnering. "Pritchett rose from soap salesman to Vice-President, Sales and Customer Development for Procter and Gamble and over the course of 36 years, made corporate history.

Dear President Obama:

You are the thirteenth President under whom I have lived and unlike any of the others, you truly scare me.

You scare me because after months of exposure, I know nothing about you.

You scare me because I do not know how you paid for your expensive Ivy League education and your upscale lifestyle and housing with no visible signs of support.

You scare me because you did not spend the formative years of youth growing up in America and culturally you are not an American.

You scare me because you have never run a company or met a payroll.

You scare me because you have never had military experience, thus don't understand it at its core.

You scare me because you lack humility and 'class', always blaming others.

You scare me because for over half your life you have aligned yourself with radical extremists who hate America and you refuse to publicly denounce these radicals who wish to see America fail.

You scare me because you are a cheerleader for the 'blame America' crowd and deliver this message abroad.

You scare me because you want to change America to a European style country where the government sector dominates instead of the private sector.

You scare me because you want to replace our health care system with a government controlled one.

You scare me because you prefer 'wind mills' to responsibly capitalizing on our own vast oil, coal and shale reserves.
You scare me because you want to kill the American capitalist goose that lays the golden egg which provides the highest standard of living in the world.

You scare me because you have begun to use 'extortion' tactics against certain banks and corporations.

You scare me because your own political party shrinks from challenging you on your wild and irresponsible spending proposals.

You scare me because you will not openly listen to or even consider opposing points of view from intelligent people.

You scare me because you falsely believe that you are both omnipotent and omniscient.

You scare me because the media gives you a free pass on everything you do.

You scare me because you demonize and want to silence the Limbaughs, Hannitys, O'Reillys and Becks who offer opposing, conservative points of view.

You scare me because you prefer controlling over governing.

Finally, you scare me because if you serve a second term I will probably not feel safe in writing a similar letter in 8 years.

Lou Pritchett
Procter & Gamble Exec

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When are we going to grow up?

We are now in the last four days of a very long and contentious presidential election season.  With the success of Barak Obama as a viable Democratic presidential candidate, attacks from the "Republican Slime Machine" were inevitable and have been coming at a regular rate since the spring of this year.  Senator Obama has been "linked" with both a domestic "terrorist" and Palastinian "terrorist", and been called inexperienced, a celebrity, a rock star, messianic, unpatriotic, dangerous, a socialist and a Marxist by both Republican presidential candidate, Senator John McCain as well as vice-presidential candidate, Governor Sarah Palin. And to little or no apparent effect.  Now, with four days left, and desperation setting into the Republican presidential campaign, they have "dug up" a Kenyan aunt of Senator Obama that apparently is living in the US illegally.  And yet there is no evidence that Senator Obama has anything to do with her entry or her extended stay.

With a country in two wars (declared ones, that is) and conflicts now on the Syrian and Pakistani borders, with Iran developing nuclear capabilities and Korea much further along the nuclear trail, with China emerging as a world power and owning almost half of our national debt, with Russia looking beyond its borders with renewed attempts to dominate Eastern Europe, with a loss of millions of domestic jobs here in the US, a flood of defaulted home mortgages, a crisis in health care, global warming, an increase in the price of energy and the worst financial crash since the Great Depression, are we still paying attention to petty mud-slinging and name-calling?  And, are we considering any of this important in our selection process of the person that will have to face and solve all of the above problems we face?  If the Democrats chose to respond in kind to these kinds of attacks, such as mentioning the present president's past alchol problems, Cindy McCain's former dependance on proscription drugs, John McCain's first marriage and divorce, the Republican party's problems with bathroom assignations and page boy romances, adultery, lobbying, illegal campaign contributions and kick backs, and a host of other scandals that I am sure the Democrats could "dig up" on the opposition.  And what if they did?  No matter who won this election, the future president would be so compromised that it would be hard for him to get the nation's support in this time of multiple crises that affect our country.  Besides, isn't the motto of one of these parties "Country First?"

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A Message to the Candidates: Get Serious!

Boy, it didn't take long for this campaign to roll into the gutter. So far, McCain has called Obama a "flip-flopper" because he voted for the latest "warrantless wiretapping" bill and now seems to have seen the possibilities of off-shore drilling sites as a part of an energy plan.  Yet McCain has flip-flopped on the same issues and more of them.

McCain has goaded Obama into visiting the Middle East again this summer.  Obama accepted the challenge and went to Europe as well, where he was treated as a rock star.  Now the McCain campaign is comparing him to Brittany Spears, Paris Hilton and even Moses parting the Red Sea, and telling us when we ask the relevance of these ads, to "get a sense of humor."

After Fox News three times "mistakingly" put a picture of Osama Bin Laden on the screen with Obama's name under it, Republicans are blogging about his middle name (Hussein for those who are not keeping track)and the New Yorker Magazine published a cover of Senator Obama and his wife Michelle dressed as Arab terrorists, Obama warns audiences that the opposition will portray him as "different." The McCain campaign counters by whinning "Foul! He used the race card!" (As if we all haven't been waiting for someone to use it.) After all, he is the first African-American to be a major party's nominee for the White House.  And why do you think that while the country and the news media can't "take their eyes off" Obama? According to the polls, it still seems to be a close race.  Race.  That's it, isn't it.  The majority of Americans are still mulling over in their minds whether they can take the next step to a color-blind society and vote for "the black guy."

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Shame on you, Chris Matthews!

You know, I have been watching Chris Matthews on "Hardball" for many years now.  During that time, he seemed balanced and fair to me, asking the tough questions that many would not ask of politicians and pundits alike.  He even was the first, if I am not mistaken, that admitted on national television, that the newsmedia was partially at fault for the Iraq war because they didn't ask questions, they just jumped on the bandwagon.  I thought that that observation was courageous and right on target.

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"Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"

    "On June 9, the hearings reached their moment of greatest drama, when McCarthy attacked a young legal aide of Joseph Nye Welch (Army Chief Counsel). The aide, Fred Fisher, had once worked for the National Lawyers Guild (an organization with communist ties) and Welch had advised him to stay away from the hearings for his own good. Even though the man was not present, McCarthy impugned his character. Welch's reply became famous: "Until this moment, senator, I think I never gauged your cruelty or recklessness .... Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?" When McCarthy attempted to respond, Welsh cut him off demanding that the chairman call the next witness. Hesitating for a moment, the silent gallery broke into applause. McCarthy was stunned. The hearings drew to an inconclusive finish shortly afterwards." ( tml)

Well, it is the eleventh hour in this mid-term election,and the Republicans have sunk to a new low.  They are using "robo-calls" or automatic calls that pretend to represent the Democratic candidate but just say the candidate's name and hang up, again and again and again.  Potential Democratic voters are calling Democratic headquarters complaining and threatening not to vote for the Democratic candidate.  And then there's the flyers and phone calls to minority neighborhoods telling them that their polling places have been changed, or outright threats to them if they vote.  

How desperate are these people to stay in power.  Isn't this what the Nazi's did to win the elections in pre- World War II Germany.  What were their motives for resorting to these illegal, unethical and dispicable ploys?  What are the Republican motives for the same actions? Is this the only thing they stand for?  And is this what they have to resort to when their lies have failed?

Have they no sense of decency, at long last? Have they left no sense of decency?

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This Says it All

This might be the strangest entry I have ever written (or not written).  Here it is: read Keith Olberman's "special comment" entitled "Bush owes troops an apology, not Kerry." He is by far more eloquent than I could ever be.

In fact, read all of his special comments on the MSNBC website.  They are worth the time and effort it will take.  If you are a Republican, it will enrage you.  Yet, while you are enraged, please, for all of our sakes, think!  If you are an Independent, it will make you think (or it should) what kind of country we have had under the Republicans, and what kind of country we want to have.  If you are a Democrat, it will give you the warm feeling that you are not alone, or crazy, or delusional.  You are simply right!

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