Sunday, September 30, 2012

Let it rain. On Rick Perry.

The following is satire. I say that just because there are those out there who are dim-witted enough to beleive this type of stuff on the airwavges these days.

Fall has arrived in Texas. With it has come out rainy season. And we need it. We have re-entered the drought situation that has plagued the state since Rick Perry assumed the office of Governor.

It is true. You can look it up.

Now if he were black and or named Obama, or if we thought he was even slightly interested in the Muslim religion, we would of course say that the drought in Texas was because of his presence in Austin. It would be obvious that God was causing us to suffer because this bigoted fool was running the state.  We have heard it for four years. We know how it goes.

Thank goodness we are not like that in Texas.  We know Rick Perry has no control over things like rain or Libya or even the tide of jobless rates that seem to be driving the economy in circles. We know this, because we know the black man in the white House has had little to no control over those things.

Congress and its actions do. The state legislature and its taxation policies do on a local level, just as your school district, water district and junior college districts do.  But the governor – not so much. And the President, only slightly more than that.

And he doesn’t control the rain.

But we can say he does. We can say that because we’ve been in a drought in Texas ever since Rick Perry took office, he is the cause of our plight. And if we say it enough – if we say it loud enough and often enough, there will be those fools who believe it. And they will start marching and demanding Rick Perry’s head.  “He is causing us this misery. Impeach him!...Send him away for good.”

Hum, now that I think of it, it does have a nice ring to it, this strategy. Now, how do we get the Koch Brothers to back it?

It rains on the just and the unjust. And on golfers.

 What is it about humans that we can’t be satisfied with what we have? Or, have the patience to see how things work out?

Today a neighbor of mine was complaining about the rain. The rain?  We’re in a drought in Texas.  We’re about 6.5 inches below our rainfall totals. And he is out there in his yard complaining about a little rain messing up his golf date.

Now I know this article should have been about golf, but I’ll let that one slide.


What could be wrong with a little weekend rain? We need it. We got it. Why the moaning? Maybe because he didn’t get his way. Maybe.

And I got to thinking about the up-coming election. Last time out, the President-elect, Mr. Obama hadn’t even taken office, when a friend of our family was already denouncing him as a Muslim communist who was going to wreck the world. Remember, this was before a single day in office. It was because Bob didn’t get his way.  His man didn’t win.  He was sore.

Now sure, Bob was just echoing Rush, his favorite talk show host, but still.  I mean give the guy a chance.  Hell, I gave the W a whole first term, before I came down on him.  That’s four years of, ‘okay show me your stuff’.  That’s four years of you really didn’t win the election, but we’ll see what you got. And we gave him his space. (Now to be sure, I doubted the whole WMD thing from the outset, but still, the President has a right to be a fool. And W took full advantage of that right.)

So what this means is, regardless who is elected in November, he is going to be my President. (Yours, too.) I will get behind him and support him. I may not like him or all of his policies, but I’ll give him a chance. I will give him his space in history. That’s democracy. That’s how it is supposed to work.

I am not going to stand out in my front yard and complain that my guy didn’t win. And I’m not going to be so shortsighted as to think that the rain that is falling today, which we need, will end golf as we know it.  It may just slow things down on a Saturday.

I hope you can do the same.  Especially if you are on the Far Right, and Obama wins a second term. It is not the end of the free world.  And Christian women are not going to have to sleep with Islamic terrorists. The UN is not going to invade Lubbock and arrest their nutty sheriff. And you’ll still be able to own all the assault rifles you can stuff under your bed.

Regardless of all the Right Wing talk about America coming apart at the seams if Obama wins, I can assure you, life will continue. And America will be strong. And the Cowboys will still need a new quarterback at the end of the year.  Some things don’t change.

Same is true if Romney wins. (True, I haven’t heard a lot of talk from those on the Left advocating attacks and the killing of people and the starting of  the second Civil War just because we’ve got a Mormon in the White House. But I’m giving equal time here.)

So if it rains on your parade, lighten up.  It’s just rain.  It ain’t the end of the world.

It’s not even the end of golf.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Science versus stupidiity

I have a rant this morning.

Here is my premise. Science is a huge part of human development. Our society has been built upon it. Our culture is what it is today because of it. Our standard of living is where it is thanks to people who sat back and asked “Why?” And then went and ran experiments to find that answers. And yes, along the way, they asked even more questions.  And as a species we grew because of it. We haven’t fought a lot of wars because of science.

But we have because of numbskull religious fanatics.

I have recently heard the most nonsensical conversations about science that has ever reached my ears, short of the Republican Presidential Primary Debates. Two guys were talking and one said to the other, “There is no evidence that this West Nile stuff is so dangerous that we need to be spending all of this money on mosquitoes. It is a waste.” And the other guy says, ”Yep. You are right.”

Now two things just happened in that innocent little conversations. (Three actually, but I am not counting the fact that the two guys, church-going pillars in our community, are idiots and showed themselves as such publicly. No, that is not part of the argument here.) The first thing is that speaker number one puts forth a wild opinion based on nothing but his uneducated opinion and his biases against any governmental body spending any money. (He must be a Tea Partier.) His claim seems to be based on logic and reason. Of course they are not. The second point is that his buddy, accepts what his friend as just said as TRUTH. It is as if he heard it from another, it must be true. Now he is indoctrinated and will spread the same empty jargon around as if it were scientific fact.

This is the foundation of Fox News and other right –wing organizations’ attack on science and scientific thinking. It is scary. It is backward. But, it is prevalent in a lot of people across our country, and it is growing. And it growing rapidly from the pulpits of our country’s churches.

“Science doesn’t know anything. It is wrong. It is not finding answers, only raising questions.” That is just some of the belief statements that come out of the mouths of these idiots. (They echo the words of Texas Czar, Rick Perry.) And then they turn to their representatives and says, “Let’s not fund anymore research. Let’s stop all this science stuff.” (I mean a lot of it is based on “evolution,” for God’s sake.)

Our family had a neighbor who used to say that global climate change was just an Al Gore trick to get re-elected. Really? What about the melting polar ice caps? What about Greenland going away in record acreages due to melting ice fields? Hello?  Then I would look at the guy and ask about the science of metallurgy, which was involved heavily with his career and he would say, “We know all we need to know in that field. Known since the 1800’s.  The rest of all that research is just for book stuff.”

Book stuff?

For me, I’ll take more scientists and fewer preachers and clergymen. I’ll take more labs and fewer churches. I’ll take more laws of physics than more printed Ten Commandments. I have had enough of religious folks evoking their stupidly limited knowledge of anything, as evidence that God did everything and that is all we need to know.

Science is about raising questions while looking for answers. Religion is about raising money for new church buildings. And by the way, West Nile is dangerous and mosquitos need spraying. It is science, Hilliard. I know you do not believe that, but trust me. It is. There’s tons of evidence that shows direct correlation to being bitten by mosquitos and the spread of things like West Nile, Malaria, etc.

But Hilliard, you wouldn’t know, because it is book stuff.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bad call. Bad Business.

Over and over and over again, over the last two weekends I have sat and watched the replacement officials in the NFL ruin the brand. Ruin the game.

NFL, it is time to bring the real guys back. for the sake of your game. For the sake of our game and for TV ratings, most importantly. Because until you do, I'm not watching anymore. And I would encourage every NFL fan out there to do the same. Tune off. Turn off and leave the NFL dark your set until they bring the real refs back.

If this is about money (and it always is) then the fans have the last dollar. NO TV for the NFL until the real Zebras are out there.  Trust me, if you hit them in the rating nmbers, the NFL will fold.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Weather forcast

This morning a biker (the pedal kind) broke down right in front of my house. He was standing there starring into my yard. I thought at first he was going to rush into the grass and tear down my Obama/Biden sticker. People just HATE Joe Biden…

Anyway, I went out to have a visit and to protect my property rights.

Come to find out, the guy is a doctor from Philadelphia. We visited and had a very nice chat. He asked about Dallas and I told him that when you consider how mild a summer we had here compared to the middle of the country and to the East Coast, it wasn’t a bad place to live. He asked about last year. I told him it isn’t a good place to live, either.

Funny how weather can affect our view of the world.

I remember being in the mountains late one summer when a freaky snowstorm hit us while fishing the beautiful western rivers. As a Texan who gets to see little snow, I thought it was ‘way cool’, as my daughters might say. The white crusting of snow everywhere, the cold temperatures, erasing the hot afternoons – it was heaven.

But my fishing guide, a man who lived in those environs, hated every minute of it. You see he knew it was a harbinger of things to come – but the first of wave after brutal wave of storms that would pass over his land, dumping countless inches of the white powder. Winter was starting early for him, and he wasn’t pleased.

Compare this to the scene in Spain a few years ago when my family coward on the beach, not wishing to stick even our toes into the icy-cold Mediterranean Sea, while a Russian family, not more than ten meters (I did that because we are in Spain in this part of the blog) from us played and frolicked in those very same waters. Perspective. The water to them, was anything but icy. They had seen temperatures well near Zero Fahrenheit for most of the wintertime, while the coldest we had been in Texas that year was a balmy 21f.

Now all this weather talk is merely a metaphor for America. It is there to remind us that we all have totally different perspectives on many things, the daily temperature is just one of them. The daily onslaught of politics is another.

But whatever your beliefs, whatever your political leanings, I remind you, that things will change. And depending on the temperature in your own soul, it may be comfortable or it may not. You are the one who must adjust. The world does not change for you.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I’d like to buy your opinion.

The United States Court of Appeals yesterday just took a bit of your liberty and freedom away. Not Obama. Not the Democrats or Republicans. But the Judges who were sworn in to uphold the Constitution and to protect us, the citizens, blew a big decision. the outcome could become sinisterly dark.

Here’s how it came down.

Congress passed a law that required campaign contributions become more transparent. That means we know more about who gives to certain funds that place all those “issue” ads. Then the Federal Election Commission, made a misstep in an administrative ruling that clouded the matter up. So the court jumped in and made it down right murky.

The court said that Congresses intent was NOT to make the contributors more transparent. Really?  And how the hell did those appellate judges know that? The law was all about making election donations more open and less secretive. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle said so. But they made a slight boo-boo. They gave the Federal Election Commission the job of overseeing how this was to be down. So the FEC passed a series of administrative edicts, one of which ran counter to the original law and a loophole was born. (Don’t you love how your government works?)

So the court, rather than remedying the situation, made it more confusing by sending the whole matter back to the trial court with a admonition that it was not to fix the problem but to settle the dispute. The loophole stands. Your freedoms are again pushed back by big business with big dollars to spend trying to control the hearts and minds of the citizens of this country; and the court has once again joined in the fray. The courts of the People by the People has once again become the problem of the People.

First it was Citizen’s United. Now this. Has anybody wearing a black robe actually read the constitution recently? We can’t be a democracy if we allow the electoral process to be bought and sold by the highest bidder. We will lose the very freedoms that made us great. We need a court to take a stand on the principal of the issue here, not hide behind the intent of the document. Intent can be used in the wrong way in the wrong hands, regardless, which party your support. It will turn around and bite you in the backside.

The principals behind our form of government and the constitution that establishes this government, is very clear. We are a government of the people, by the people and for the people. The word corporation never appears in the writ. And no, I do not believe corporations are people. They are made up of people, but their role in society is to make money and create jobs. They are creations of paper and ink not flesh and blood. They don’t get a vote. And they shouldn’t have a voice. Unfortunately right now they are buying votes and their voice is about all we can hear.

Let this same issue happen against a cause on the RIGHT, and ever talk-show host, every conservative newspaper columnist and every right –wing pundit in the land would be red in the face yelling that the commies are taking away our liberties. And you know what? Other than the commie part, they would be right

Wake up America, this drain on your freedoms, this corralling of liberty, this ability to hide the source of paid-for voices in our land is going to make us weaker and weaker as a nation.  Print this column and store it away and see if I am not right. I hope somebody takes a stand against this foolishness and the need to hold on to my words will not be needed.

Get big dollars out of the dark and let us see who is behind the barrage of messages. And then, somebody, anybody, stand up to the Daddy War Bucks and pass some real laws that curtail spending on our freedom of one person-one vote.

These are my words.
I stand by them.
My names is John Crawley.
How’s that for transparency?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Blinded by the bar code

I am having a bit of a row with one the national package deliver services. It seems that a client paid to have a package air expressed to me. I was to receive this time-sensitive material on Friday no later than 10 am.

It did not arrive.

It did not arrive on Friday morning or Friday afternoon or night. It did not arrive on Saturday or Sunday, either.  It finally showed up at my doorstep on Monday night between 7:15 and 7:30 pm.

That 's right some 81and a half hours late. Not what I would call on-time delivery. So, I called the company (this after they swearing to us it had been placed on my doorstep at 10:15 Friday morning) and I explained the situation to the very unfriendly operator who answered. She had to have had a bad night, I am sure, because no body in America can be that rude and not be a radio talk show host.

"Sir you package was delivered on Friday. At exactly 10:15."

"Nope.  I am holding in my hand right now. Just got here. It's Monday evening. Broncos and Falcons about to kick off."

"No sir. That must be a different package."

"Nope. Already checked. This is the one due me last Friday. At 10. Not 10:15. Even if you were right, you were a quarter of an hour late. As it is, you're only 81.5 hours late."

"Can't be. The bar code was scanned and the package was delivered to your front door last Friday at 10:15."

"Nope. It just got here. Went to walk the dog. No package. Came home. Package. That means your guy came by between 7:15 and 7:30, give or take a day or two."

"Sir, you are wrong.”

Time to escalate the violence. “Do you have a supervisor."

"One moment."

Same conversation so, we go up two levels. The third guy says, give him a minute. He's gone long enough for Payton Manning to throw three interceptions. The world must be coming to and end. And yeah, while we're on hold, NFL, get the real officials back. These clowns you got couldn't control a curling match.

Guy comes back and says, "Sir, if you look outside, that package has just been delivered to your house." He repeats the address like I might not know where I live.

"I know its here. I was the one to call you. It was suppose to be here on Friday. At ten am. It got here on Monday night between 7:15 and 7:30 pm. PM as in after the sun goes down. That’s over eighty hours past due."

"We're sorry. But sometimes out system gets backlogged.  Give me another second." he puts me on hold again and the Broncos fumble and truly start to implode.

He comes back on the line, all happy and smiley face and says, "Sir that package was delivered to your home on Friday morning at 10:15. Have a great day and thanks for calling."

If I had been a Islamic extremist or even just an East Texas Baptist, I would have blown their company up. As it is, I just won't use them ever again.

Visit my new website at

Sunday, September 16, 2012

No New Ideas in the GOP?

The Dallas Morning News reports in its Sunday Edition that Texas Republican representatives Jeb Hensarling wants to become the next chairman of the powerful House Financial Service Committee. And in such a role, Hensarling wants to roll back the regulations placed on financial institutions under the Obama administration. (Passed, by the way, by the way by a bi-partisan congress and Senate.)

So we’ve got Romney and Ryan wanting to go back to Trickle Down, which has never worked, and now a Republican Representative wanting to deregulate the banking system– the very people who got us in this financial mess to begin with (with the help of Two Wars and no way to pay for them…) It seems the only ideas that the Republican Party can come up with are backward facing ideas. Ideas that are intellectually and fiscally bankrupt.

So, if you thought this election is not important, think again. 

The GOP wants to line the pockets of its rich friends and contributors and leave the rest of America to fend for itself. I don’t know about you, but I trust the small businesses along main Street a heck of a lot more than the Goldman Sucks on Wall Street. And for a fellow Texan, who claims to represent us, say he wants to tear down the safety net we’ve put in place to protect us from the greed monsters of the big board, is ridiculous. He does not represent the smart thinking middle class of Texas anymore than Romney (the one that is on this side of the most recent flip flop) represents America’s working class citizens.

The GOP is out of touch, and apparently out of ideas.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Jew, a Christian and a Muslim walk into a blog...

A friend posted this the other day. I approve and pass it along.  A Jewish idiot makes a film that a Christian idiot posts on You Tube that upsets the Muslim idiots and now we have this mess.  It is time we get rid of religions. 

They foster idiots.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Yesterday I wrote a blog about Michael Ennis’ new novel, The Malice of Fortune a Doubleday release.

I made a mistake.

Here is what I wrote on Tuesday: Ennis’ book is a mystery set in 16th Century Italy with non other than Michelangelo and Machiavelli turning into sleuths to solve the caper. I’ll let you buy the book and figure the rest out. But there is more to Ennis’ story that should captivate us.

It should have said: Ennis’ book is a mystery set in 16th Century Italy with non other than Da Vinci and Machiavelli turning into sleuths to solve the caper. I’ll let you buy the book and figure the rest out. But there is more to Ennis’ story that should captivate us.

My bad, but I wanted to make the correction so you know you can generally trust this blog.   

Like when I say Republicans’ policies are out to lunch – well you can take that to the bank.  It is fact, not just hyperbole opinion. And that Romney and Ryan don’t have a clue about what they are talking about when it comes to the balancing the budget with regards to reinstating Trickle Down economics, you can take that to the bank, too. Trickle Down has not worked for three Presidents. It will not work for Romney. That means it is going to cost you in the short run and in the long haul. Trickle Down is a bankrupt intellectual exercise.

So you see that it is good that I corrected the article on a new book coming out by Dallas author, Michael Ennis.  By giving you a correction, you know I am watching the details. And that is good to know, if only the Republicans had some details.

By the way, Ennis’ book is wonderful. Buy it. Read it. It has more facts in it than anything that came out of Tampa. Promise.

Check out my new website at

Book It, Danno.

Today we celebrate a fellow Dallasite (is that what we are called?) for a truly amazing breakthrough in the literary world. I am talking about Michael Ennis and his new novel The Malice of Fortune a Doubleday release.

Ennis has a book signing and reading this evening at the Barnes and Noble across Northwest Highway from North Park Shopping mall. He has already been featured in the Dallas Morning News and will soon have an interview on All Things Considered on NPR with Lynn Neary. This is huge for the hundreds of North Texas writers who sit behind a typewriter everyday grinding out their due diligence. One of us has made it BIG.

Ennis’ book is a mystery set in 16th Century Italy with non other than Michelangelo and Machiavelli turning into sleuths to solve the caper. I’ll let you buy the book and figure the rest out. But there is more to Ennis’ story that should captivate us.

I found it interesting as a former self-published author, that Ennis and his agent turned to self publishing to get the big publishing houses interested in his work. He had quite the creative strategy. It seems that Ennis had about 50 hardbound copies printed and sent to booksellers around the U.S. He got responses from over 20 of them, which he used as proof to the New York publishing houses that they were missing the boat in not taking a hard look at The Malice of Fortune. He landed a deal in three days with this effort. Three days! (Notice I used an exclamation point. I never use an exclamation point. Never!!!)

Now this is not to say that every writer reading this blog go out and inundate the booksellers of America with your self-printed, bound masterpieces. But it does show that a bit of ingenuity in marketing is sometimes required these days to awaken the sleeping giants in Manhattan– to get them to open their eyes to new writers with new works, many of which are breathtakingly wonderful, such as Ennis and his Renaissance mystery.

I salute Michael Ennis in his success of breaking into the BIG time.  I salute him on producing what many believe will be a best-seller on all charts. I salute him for the creativity of researching and placing a story in such a rich historical period. I cross my fingers for him that Hollywood will discover his story, too. But what I truly applaud him for, is the sheer tenacity in marketing a great idea.

Hats off to you Mr. Ennis. You inspire all of us who toil with the verb and adverb, the gerund and the pronoun. You have done us well.

Check out my new web site at

Monday, September 10, 2012

The devil is in the details

This is short but sweet today. Both parties, both candidates are woefully short on details about how thier pans will work and what they will actually do to the debt reduction.

Come on Obama...come on Mitt... let's have real deatils for the people to examine and see what it is you are proposing.

Let us have details spelled out in open letters on or about October 1st, so the electorate can see your plan, evaluate it and decide it they agree with it or not. Do not cut corners. We want the real skinny on what you are planning to do for us and to us.

We are tired to the name-calling, finger-pointing and junior-high level of campaigning.  Give us facts. Both sides give us facts.

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Friday, September 7, 2012

Pay the Piper

 If you are like me, you do not like paying income tax. I don’t like to pay sales tax, either. Or highway tax on gasoline or any of the other taxes we have to fork over on a daily and annual basis in our lives.

But we are going broke in the U.S. We have a debt that is eating up a huge chunk of our national budget, and sooner or later we are going to have to dance with the devil that brung us. 

We are going to have to pay it off.

And the best way in which to raise revenues in a country is to raise taxes.  I do not like it; I will scream and complain with the best of you, but it has to be done. Let me give you a simple example of how this works.

Let say you make $60,000 a year net. (That’s after taxes.) That means you bring home $12,000 a month or roughly $3,000 a week.  And you are spending all of it. Putting nothing aside for a rainy day.

Now lets say you have a credit card that has maxed out at $75,000.  Don’t know how you got into that kind of debt – don’t care. But you owe it.  And the interest rate on it is causing you to pay bills of $1,300 a month. But that is just the interest. You haven’t paid down the bill at all.  It is still $75,000 at the start of the next month. Now lets add your mortgage and your car note and your Macy’s credit card to all of that and you are paying about $7,500 a month just in interest. See the problem? You are swimming up stream.

Suddenly you have an emergency medical procedure and now you owe an additional $25,000. You are now going backwards.  That is what happened when we had our economic meltdown in 2008-2009. Suddenly any breathing room we had as a nation just went away.

We got no more money, honey.

Now in the real world you’d get a second job. Your wife and kids would get work. You would try and make as much money as you could to pay off the debts.

America has to do the same thing. We have to get more people back to work. And we have to raise revenues from those workers and pay off our huge national debt. We’re not going to do it all in one or two years either. It stands at $16 trillion right now. The President says his plan can lower it by $4 trillion in ten years. That means a decade from now we will only owe $12 trillion – and that’s if we don’t go into another war somewhere around the globe.

So here is what all this means. President Obama or President Romney – doesn’t matter which – he is going to have to raise taxes. On the rich. On the middle class. Even on the poor.  Corporations are going to have to pay more.  Loopholes are going to have to close and we are going to have to slash government programs we all enjoy.

I love NPR.  But it might be better to let is become totally public supported and not have any tax money going to it; that money should go to deficit reduction. National endowment for the arts. The Pentagon, the Medicare/Medicaid plans. Farm subsidies. Depletion allowances for the oil and gas industry and many more things we love, like and cherish are all going to have to have their belts tightened. And tightened a lot.

Sorry. That’s the way it is.

If your family owes all that much money and you are trying to pay it off, you can’t go to the movie every night. You have to eat at home and not dine out all the time. You might have to buy used cars instead of a new one.  It is called being smart with your money and doing what is right.

Paying off the debt is right.

But there is a right and fair way to do that.  And asking the upper 1 to 2% to carry more of the load than they are carrying, to request that corporations using the infrastructure of America all pay up a little more, there is nothing wrong with that.  And don’t be surprised if Congress and the President (whichever one is in the White House) asks you in the middle class to pony up some more, too.

I hate to start your weekend on such a downer, but let’s get real. We owe $16 Trillion dollars. We all ran up that number together. We’re all going to have to pay it down together, as well.

Did I mention I hated paying taxes.  But I know I’ve got to.

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

The proof is in the pudding, Mitt.

So, almost as soon as Bill Clinton got through speaking to the DNC the other night in North Carolina, a friend wrote me and said, “More of the same old Democratic lies.”  Forget that fact check bore out the former President’s claims.  Forget that he has been there in the oval office facing the pressures just like President Obama has. Forget that he pointed out the Republican math just doesn’t add up.

Forget all of that; just show me what the other side plans to do. Real plans not stump speeches. Give me the facts and I WILL LISTEN. I PROMISE.

So I asked my buddy, what’s Romney’s plan on tax cuts?  Who gets them how will they work? And what are the revenue consequences to the Federal Treasury with these massive cuts?

He didn’t know.

The loopholes he wants to close to tighten the federal budget to make up the difference in lost revenue from the tax cuts; what are they? 

He didn’t know.


Because the Republicans haven’t discussed them. Their answer is, “See us after the elections.”

The huge increase in military spending, where are the revenues going to come from, Mr. Romney? 

See me after the elections.

The roll back of Medicare and Medicaid insurances without losing any benefits; how are you going to do it?

See me after the elections.

How are you going to put 23 million Americans to work while downgrading infrastructure investments in roads, bridges, cities, transportation, schools and scientific research? What about education and retooling the American worker for the new jobs of the 21st Century? What is your jobs plan? How will you put America back to work?

See me after the elections.

How are you going to get the middle class to carry more of the weight of the increasing debt load while the upper 2% get a huge break?

See me after the elections.

You say you want to dismantle Obamacare (a plan you instituted in Massachusetts, in case you had forgotten, Mitt.) You say you are going to repeal it. And replace it with what?  It has already saved American businesses and individuals billions in cost savings and direct cash back from insurance companies. Billions.  And what will you do to replace this groundbreaking, free enterprise system?

See me after the elections.

Well, here’s some bad news for you, Mr. Romney. We want answers now.

I am on your soon-to-be board of directors. I’m a stockholder in this corporation you call America. I want answers before I turn your loose in the boardroom at the White House. American deserves to know what you are really going to do and how you going to do it before we give you the most important job in the free world.

You see, I don’t trust you.  A lot of us don’t trust you. We think you are an empty suit.

Oh, you’re a good guy and all. We just don’t think you have a clue as to what you are going to do.  You want to return us to Trickle Down economics. Well get this, Governor – it hasn’t worked. It is a bankrupt idea. You know all about bankruptcies, don’t you, Mitt.  You’ve taken a ton of businesses down and cost America thousands of jobs in the name of putting profits in your pockets, during forced bankruptcies. Heck, Bain Partners made an art form out of this act.

But hear me when I say, you can’t do that as President. You have to represent ALL the people. You have to look out for the children and the elderly and the unemployed. It comes with the office.  You don’t just get to govern your buddies at the yacht club.

So, I’d like to have some answers before November 6th.

I’d like to know how you are going to do things. The competition has laid out a detailed plan as to how they are going to steer us back on course. So what is yours?

I know, your friends on the far right in Congress will do everything in their power to disrupt the President and his policies of trying to get us to turn the ship of state around. They have even said they don’t care about putting Americans back to work as long as the can get Obama out of his current job. That’s real mature, now isn’t it, Mitt? But even with that interference, President Obama has a string of major success for America and its middle class.  I mean members of your party even voted against six job bills that would have put millions of Americans back to work and would have done it now.  Not after November 6th.

So you see, there are a lot of us who question you and your party’s ideas about restoring America to its greatness. We’re waiting to hear some details. We want to know where all this extra income is going to be coming from and where it will go to buy down our huge national debt. We want to know what you are going to be spending all that hard-earned money in the military build-up on. The Pentagon has even said that they don’t need it. But you must think they do. Or is it more pork barrel chits for your buddies in Congress to spread around to their districts? Is that It, Mitt?  Is all this about gland handing the American people and giving us the old wink and nod while you go and grease the palms of your friends?

That is so old school, governor. So very old school. We need modern, new thinking. Not backward thinking.

We need some concrete facts, sir. Not any more of your Right-wing sound bite rhetoric. We had enough of that from W and Chaney and Rove. And even though your speeches have avoided mentioning them, theirs were the same policies that got us into this mess to begin with – the same ones you advocate today. (Is that why they were not invited to the convention?) As a good business man you should know that if a plan has failed three times, it is high time to move on to something new and different. Or do you want us to fail? Do you want to take America itself into bankruptcy?  What’s in it for you, Mitt?

I’m afraid you’ve flipped flopped so many times; we don’t know what to believe from you, Mitt. So, show us your plan.  Let us see if you have an idea with real substance backing it.

If not, then I am afraid your fifteen minutes of fame are over.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

To spray or not to spray...that is our country.

I keep hearing mixed reports as to whether or not the aerial spraying in Dallas County was affective in eradicating the West Nile carrying mosquitos. Some reports say yes. Others aren’t so sure. I know around our swimming pool in the evening, they are gone. Like zero in attendance. Before the spraying we were being driven inside with the buzzing creatures attacks.

But one thing is for certain, a centralized body of government made a decision for the health of us all to try and ease the problem of deaths due to this dreaded disease.  That is communism according to some who have objected to the spraying. While I am not sure it ranks up there with the theories of Karl Marx, it was a bit off putting to some to have bureaucrats make decisions for us like that.

The good news is that they looked at it long and hard and made a well-informed decision based on science, medicine and a real population need. They also had a lot of open dialog and forums to hear from all sides – including doctors and scientists. But many of my “liberal” friends objected. Too much intrusion into our lives, they scolded.

I reminded them, this is how the Right sees Obamacare. It is part and parcel the same. Government taking over healthcare for society. And while those of us with half a brain know that is NOT what is happening, there are still those fundamentalists who argue that just because it has a mandate in it, it is socialism. And because the skies were filled with government planes spraying chemicals it was a plot to poison us all. (No, really, I heard that.)

Spraying in Dallas County was NOT an act of social upheaval and conspiratorial attacks on our freedoms. It was an act of county-wide health control practiced sparingly in our state. It is little different than crop dusting. Now I know the Green Party will stand up and shout for Organic America, but a recent article in the New York Times explained that there seems to be no real benefit between organically grown vegetables and those using the more modern methods. While I am not sure I’d side with that piece of science totally, I will say that the spraying did much more good than any harm it might have caused to your carrots and radishes in your organic garden.

It wasn’t DDT. It wasn’t a carcinogen. It was an organically developed pesticide that kills mosquitos – and more importantly kills the carriers of West Nile Disease: a disease that was killing hundreds of citizens in Dallas, Tarrant and Denton counties. And it does its work without affecting people, pets and most pollen carriers – namely bees, although to hear the bee industry and regular people talk, it was the end of the world as we know it. (Thanks to R.E.M. for the lyrics.)

I do hope our country can get back to harmonious discussion of issues and that things like spraying for mosquitos do not carry the life and death arguments as seen between neighbors here in Dallas. Let’s save those really big arguments for whom we should invade next. We’ve got a war winding down in Afghanistan. It’s time to send our troops somewhere new.


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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

There are a few strings attached

I heard today that they have placed three more woods on the endangered species list, which means guitar makers will be without the use of Madagascar Rosewood and Honduras Mahogany soon. The third wood is an African wood not used in the making of guitars, mandolins, lutes or pianos.

Might not mean much to my non-guitar playing friends, but it says to me that alternative woods are going to have to come on line faster than ever. It also says we are cutting down a lot of trees.  To be sure, most of them are cut for furniture and housing, but still, without these precious woods for instruments; carbon fiber guitars are the wave of the future.

So the next time someone comes along talking about regulating the things we use– the natural resources we consumer, the next time you poo-poo them for being liberal and a jerk and an alarmist…remember, guitar players, your next guitar may be plastic, because we cut down too many trees.


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Not So Fast, Mr. Tea Partyer

 I received a response from a gentleman in Nebraska about my Labor Day Blog– the one yesterday about the ten moments that changed America’s ability to have reasonable discourse about our goals and future. Let me quote from his letter:

“America is not about Social Security or the wars we have fought and won or lost and it is not about the men who served it in the White House. It is about the people’s will to get the government off their backs and leave them alone. Your attack on the Tea Party is un-American and shows the leftist leaning of your political views. It is the Tea Party that is saving America from itself. The reason the Tea Party has not gotten behind Obama’s job bills is that they cost money. That’s tax payer (sic) money, and we don’t want that. … The only thing that can save America today from its Godless ways is returning to Jesus and his bible.”

I think James Tally’s letter proves my article’s point.

The Tea Party member is too concerned about the cost of helping another American than he is getting both a neighbor and a country back to work and on her feet. A nation working will pay off the debts and raise revenues faster than a nation on unemployment. But the Tea Party is too focused on Grover Norquist’s no new tax pledge, that they can’t see how ground up economic policies work.

Theirs is not a simple idea; it is a simple-minded notion.

A country going through the type of near-depression we encountered in 2008-2010 has to be given a spark to get the economic engine pumping again. (Even Ronnie Reagan knew that and acted upon it to get America out of Stagflation in the early 1980’s.) And I stand on my notion that the Right has helped sit on job creation, tax reform and economic stimulus, because they knew it would get the economy revved and that would get the Democratic incumbent reelected by a wide margin, if not an outright landslide.

Mr. Tally, I am neither un-American or a Leftist; however, I am a bit left of liberals on a lot of issues facing America today. (I don’t think the Affordable Healthcare Act went far enough and I want Guantanamo closed yesterday.) I am not a communist, a Baptist or a hands-off free market junkie. I am a free thinker. I realize that America needs to lower taxes. We need to cut spending. And I would imagine that if I said let’s begin that cut with bringing world-wide troops home and diminishing the Pentagon’s budget, you, Mr. Tally, and those like you, would put up the biggest howl.

No, you want your way or no way. Big military spending makes you feel safe and secure and protected. No new taxes and lower taxes makes you feel economically privileged. In both cases they, in the long run, make our wonderful country poorer.

This is a complex world, Mr. Tally. It has complex problems. And while you bring the name of Jesus up in the latter part of your letter as the only hope for America, I still believe that he would have us pass a job’s bill to help our neighbors out of the tough times of unemployment. But then again, he would have us feed them, clothe them and house them. And I am afraid that Jesus would never fit into the Tea Party’s agenda for this land. He would be called a socialist. His ideas and ideals are far too radical for you to stomach. So, I’d be careful evoking his name in your cause.

I borrowed this picture from the Internet and from the show The Newsroom. It says a lot about the Tea Party in it. It has to be stopped.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Punitive Politics

Ten moments that have brought us to where we are.
By John Crawley

This essay is a big thing to digest. I was going to publish it in bite-size portions, but decided not everyone eats at the same speed. So here is the whole meal. Enjoy it and feel free to return to it as often as you like. I promise that the destination is worth the journey.


There is a practice in America today of Punitive Politics: getting even through power.

It is deadly.

It is dangerous.

And it is dividing our country into camps that refuse to compromise and meet halfway. Punitive Politics is destroying the fabric of the democracy. I believe I have found the ten moments in our recent history that have led us to this destructive path.

You, by no means, have to agree with my selection of the top ten moments that have molded our political debate into the firestorm it has become. They are arguably the moments that have set us up to be the society that we are today– right or wrong, agreed or disagreed, these ten moments capture the most disagreeable and castigating nature of a people.

To be sure, these ten have anchored to them five or six other moments each that have also shaped our country. And many are over lapping and just as important. But I wanted to narrow it down to ten for focus reasons. Too many points and people’s eyes begin to glaze over. We have the top ten in football, basketball and Miss America, so I think the top ten moments of our recent history could well play into the hands of those with short attention spans– myself included.

These ten moments could well have stretched back as far as our Civil War, but I chose to look at recent history to glean from it, the directions we have taken and why. The Civil War affected (and still affects) many of the points on this list. But it is past. I gave myself the beginning of the 20th Century as a place from which to start. World War I and the Great Depression could have made the list, and of course World War II. But none of these things alone, changed our discourse as a people. If anything, they united us for a brief time with common causes. The Great Depression gave birth to the Social Security Act, that, as a moment, changed the way in which we thought of government and society. So I have decided to start there for the thesis of this exercise.

Two friends who advised me with this article suggested the dropping of the atomic bomb and the bringing down of the Soviet Iron Curtain. Both hugely important on a global basis and for balance of power, but I do not believe either actually changed who we are as a people. 

Then both of these friends separately and emphatically believed that the election of Barrack Obama, the first black President of the United States, should be one of the moments. I spent a long time considering their plea in this case. Even though his election was important and a pivotal point for many in our nation, I rejected it for two reasons. A) There would be a racist overtone to the discussion that I didn’t want to fuel. I think it is there – I feel it lying just under the surface as a subtext to many arguments against his administration, but I do not believe it is the cause of the rancor. The hard feelings where there long before Obama became the Commander-in-Chief. People hated Gore, hated Nixon, hated Reagan and hated Clinton and none of them were black. There are people who hate Obama because he is black, but it does not define us as a nation. It does define a few red neck racists. B) If people feel that he should not be President because of his race, or because of his policy, then they have the option to vote him out of office and replace him with someone else. That is how democracy works. So there is an immediate resolution to the problem of having a black, liberal President. Get rid of him. By contrast, the moments I have written about here have lingering consequences that I do not believe the color of President Obama’s skin has.

The problem is, white or black, the same fissure divides us. So the race of a President is not the missing ingredient. It is, to be sure fuel for the fire, but within itself is not one of the moments of which I write. If Obama’s election is a moment, then it is an outgrowth of the civil rights moment that is discussed here. But I do believe that if Condoleezza Rice had been elected President, both her race and her gender would be ingredients for someone to have a problem with. Therefore, I think that is a personal problem someone will have to struggle with and is not one of the defining moments of us as a people.

The ten I picked, I do believe, molded us into the country we are today and are in part and parcel responsible for the rancorous direction our country is taking.

These ten moments have led to the bickering, the inhospitable dialog and the stalemate in which America finds itself. These ten are both hero and culprit in the way in which they are interpreted and the way in which people, not professional historians, view them. From and anthropological point of view, these ten are the shapers of the argument– perhaps, not the argument themselves, but rather they are the volatile matter that goes into the cocktail which has become so vitriol in our society.

The Ten Moments are:

Passage of the Social Security Act

Vietnam War and Resistance

Civil Rights/Voter Rights Acts

Watergate and the Impeachment of Richard Nixon

Roe v Wade

Iran Hostage Crisis

Trickle Down Economics

The Monica Lewinsky Scandal


Affordable Heath Care Act

So who are we? What are we?  And how did we get this way?

We are a country divided now as deeply as we were during the 1860’s over slavery. Our ideology and discourse is as acrimonious as ever and we have stopped listening to the other side; instead, we merely point the fingers at them and say they are either idiots or they are un-American. It all depends upon which side you are standing at a given moment. But the problem is them.

They caused it.

Who is the ubiquitous they?

Anyone who disagrees with you.  Anyone who takes another side that causes your side not to win – anyone who supports a candidate and a cause, which you do not believe in or have the profession of faith in. Both sides have become entrenched in a religious state of “we are right and they are wrong”.  Period. No questions asked and no prisoners taken.

Pick a topic: slavery, gun rights, abortion, death penalty, immigration control, government spending, healthcare, equal pay, equal rights and the list goes on – it doesn’t matter. The lines are drawn and there is no backing down and no crossing over. Instead of the Blue and Gray of the Civil War, we now have the Red and Blue of the Ideological Wars. But the divide is just as real as anything that the Mason Dixon Line separated a century and a half ago.

We the people, is no longer a concept. Now it is we (the people who believe like I believe) are the solution. The only solution. There is no reason to listen to the other side.  The other guy’s ideas are seriously and dangerously flawed. They are  wrong.

And if they win, it is time to get even.

That’s America today.

Chapter One

The Social Security Act

My parents came of age during the Great Depression. They had little. Times were lean; the means to provide for a family was paper-thin. Life savings had been wiped out. Fear ran rampant in the streets. There were bread lines. There were work lines. There was a myriad of unemployment lines. And for the start of the Great Depression, there was little, if any, safety net for the American Worker and his family. Very little.

Then came Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The fist of the ten moments was Roosevelt’s passage of the Social Security Act, giving a safety net to millions of Americans for the first time.  Along with Social Security came work programs, CCC. CAA. WPP. If it had an initial and put people to work, Roosevelt championed it. It was less about the money, he told aides, but more about giving a man back his dignity by allowing him to work.

But even in those early days, there arose the Archie Bunker mentality (mostly from the opposition party who had left the country floundering in debt and depression)  that Roosevelt was turning America into a socialistic nation. Under his guidance, we would soon be a commie land, full of pinkos and socialists and the American Dream would be gone forever, replaced with the teaching of Karl Marx and worse.

America saw the rise of the John Birch society, the Hollywood black list and the rise and return of the Klu Klux Klan, as well as witch-hunts across the land looking far and wide for signs that socialism was creeping in, just slightly ahead of and leading the way for its big brother, communism.

And it was all based on the fear that the great social safety net that FDR spread out before the country – Social Security– was the first step in destroying America, by taking away the country’s freedoms.

But it was also the first step seen by others as the way in which to build America into the future. With the government leading the way. The Federal government paving the metaphorical roads taking us into tomorrow. Spending and lots of taxation to fuel that spending would lift us out of the depression and beyond our selfish and greedy nature – the very nature that had led us to the brink of disaster with the fall of Wall Street and the destruction of the U.S. banking system.

Keynesian economics stepped to the forefront with monetary control of business cycles and individualism and its hero, Ayn Rand took a step back.  The shift became formalized as Washington began more programs to protect the public with controls over banks, businesses and public institutions with regulations and centralized control. Washington wasn’t going to let a great crash happen again. Washington was going to provide a safety net. Washington was going to be the stopgap.

And so, the division was laid –between those who wanted a liaise faire, individualistic approach to society and those who looked to institutions for increased role in shaping our lives, especially the federal government. Of interest, at this time, as never before in the history of the country, institutions such as labor unions and churches showed tremendous growth, so the group concept of collectivism, wasn’t just related to Washington and government, but rather it permeated society as a whole.

Social Security was the lynch pin – the keystone to the New Deal. Society would forever have a safety net. The future would be protected. And following the Social Security Act came many other acts aimed at protecting the American way of life. Welfare and government backed assistance loans, banking rules, FDIC insurance for deposits, The Security and Exchange commission’s reinvigorated control of stock trading and leveraged borrowing for large block stock buying. The eye of Washington began to scrutinize more carefully, the goings on of commerce in the United States. The free-for-all was over. Now it was going to regulated for the good of all.

And with this ever-increasing scrutiny, came rumblings from the likes of the Chamber of Commerce and other conservative organizations that FDR had gone too far in inserting Washington into the daily business of America and Americans.

He was called traitor, villain and even Un-American. But he had something happen that turned the country back to him: Pearl Harbor.

World War II resurrected Roosevelt as savior and leader and the right wing propaganda machine was lost in the washout of the war and its aftermath. By that time Social Security was a part of the fabric of American life. And Roosevelt himself, the great big target with the huge bulls eye on himself, was gone. A populist by the name of Harry Truman took over the White House and our emphasis as a nation turned to stamping out foreign intruders coming ashore. Real intruders from real countries, not ideologies hidden in Aunt Wilma’s Leftist closet.

We were entering the Cold War. But even as communism from abroad raised its ugly head, the rumor mill on the right once again began to churn and several remnants of the old order took up the new cause.

Welcome to Washington Joe McCarthy who believed under every bed in America there lurked a communist. As outlandish as he became, McCarthy had a huge following. In fact, the wilder his claims became, the more popular he became. (Reminds one of Rush Limbaugh, no?)

It took Edward R. Murrow and the Senate Army hearings to finally turn McCarthy back out to pasture. And America settled down to wait for their next big moment in history.

But the damage had been done. The social safety net was poisoned. Social Security was forever branded by the Right as evil and dangerous to the America principle of individualism.

Chapter Two:

Vietnam War and Resistance

The Domino Theory goes like this. You set up dominos end-to-end and push one down and they all start to fall in order, one-by-one until they have all fallen.

That, according to hawkish advisors to Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson was what was going to happen in Southeast Asia unless America intervened and stopped Ho Chi Men from taking over that corner of the world. Without the aid of America, the balance of power in that dark jungled nation and then other nations around it would fall into the hands of the communists.

There would be no stopping the Red Menace if we failed to win in Vietnam.

The Domino Theory. Eisenhower didn’t buy into it. He warned Kennedy about it at the transition of power and then the young President totally forgot what the old general had told him and put America on the path to one of its darkest wars in our country’s history. Soon, JFK saw the error in his ways and was about to pull the plug on the CIA activity in Vietnam, when the Cuban Missile Crisis averted his attention. And while that was going on, we assassinated (or had him assassinated) the president of South Vietnam, because he was beginning to talk about possible negotiations with the North.

The people who believed in the Domino Theory, wanted no part of negotiating with the North.

On the streets of Dallas, power in our own country was again transferred, this time by the bullet instead of the ballot. And it handed to Lyndon Johnson the reins of power and the Domino Theory was alive and well again.

Build up after build up. Bombing run after bombing run.  Billions of dollars on top of billions of dollars and still there was no real progress in the swamps and rice paddies of Southeast Asia. To be sure, on nightly news the anchors of the day reported the figures the Pentagon manufactured as for the kill rate of enemy combatants. But the troops from the North kept coming.

And before long, the students who were being drafted into the long, endless battle began to protest on the college campuses. And protest loudly.

Enter into the fray a Presidential election that featured cold war warrior, Richard Nixon. He saw the anti-war movement as anti-American.

He won. He increased the troops. He increased the carpet-bombing. He raised taxes to pay for it all. Most American went along with it. But a radical fringe began to push back. And push back violently. Hippies were dirty and not productive members of society. All one had to do is look at Grant Park in Chicago during the Democratic convention of 1968 and you could see that anarchy was just around the corner. Nixon was about law and order. His laws. His order. But the anti-war movement and its slogans began to grow beyond the beards of the hippies and college professors and it soon began to be chanted in suburbia by husbands and housewives, tired of losing their children.

Still Nixon held to his beliefs that the US could win in Vietnam. With enough troops poured at the problems. Enough bombs dropped on the enemy, he could wear them down. What he didn’t count on was that the American public was getting worn down with a war that had gone on in one form or the other for close to a decade. The American electorate was tired of Vietnam. They were tired of war. Tired of seeing their kids come home in pine boxes.

Four turbulent years passed and America began to listen to the radicals. It stopped and saw and heard the parents. But Nixon won over peace candidate McGovern in a huge landslide. The Domino Theory champion had four more years. (Oh yes, there was that pesky little break-in at the Watergate Apartments, but it would be swept under the carpet and long forgotten. It was nothing to be concerned about.)
Democrats on the hill just wouldn’t let go of this silly little plumber’s unit break-in. They kept asking questions and wanting more and more information. And then came Woodward and Bernstein and The Washington Post and the allegations. And there with Senator Baker from Tennessee and Senator Sam Ervin from North Carolina, sat a senate lawyer in her stylish large round-rim glasses from Chicago, who kept feeding them questions and data to keep the harassment going – her name: Hillary Rodham Clinton.

With Nixon trying to fight Vietnam with one hand and hold the senate at bay with the other, he began to sink. He told Kissinger to make peace at the Paris talks, but the North Vietnamese could smell victory. They saw that the American people had no more stomach for the war. So, they stalled. First they wanted a square table, then it was a round table and then it was ice in the water and next it was bottled water. The talks could not get off the ground.

And everyday the talks stalled in Paris, American troops backed up in Vietnam. Nixon secretly ordered bombing in Cambodia. When it became public, there was rioting in the streets and across college campuses. Americans wanted the war over. Get out now, was the battle cry. But Nixon persevered.

Then the break. Deep throat told the guys at the Washington Post where the bodies were buried (figuratively) and the house of cards came tumbling down at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Nixon resigned.

The Right was disgraced and yet, the war drug on. Gerald Ford, Nixon’s replacement, saw the handwriting on the wall and withdrew American troops as quickly as he could. Then on April 30, 1975 the Vietnam War came to an abrupt end.

America had lost its first war.

There was celebration in the streets by young people. But their elders grew pensive and wary. We had never lost a war before. We had never had a President brought down in disgrace. We were truly at crossroads where the nation had never traveled before.

Sides were drawn and as they say, the elephant never forgets.

Chapter Three:

Civil Rights/Voter Rights

Before the calamity of Vietnam drained his administration of its sanity and vitality, Lyndon Johnson enacted sweeping legislation to make every person in America a part of the great American Dream. It was called the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

As one Democratic Senator told his colleague at the time of the vote, ‘Johnson just handed the South to the Republicans for the next 100 years.’ But as dire as that prediction seemed, the turmoil that led to that momentous day, was even more dividing on America. Race riots. Black versus whites. Jim Crow laws. Segregation. Separate but equal schools. Sit-ins. Campus riots. They all were the fodder for the days’ headlines. And with each passing day, Americans became bitterly divided over the notion that all men should be free and have equal access to the bounty of the American life.

The signs read “Niggers are commies.” “Darkies go home.” And the water cannons and attack dogs were unleashed onto the black protesters in towns now famous for the battles, Selma, Birmingham, Montgomery, Greensboro and Little Rock. But it was Washington that solved the problem. It was the Democratic President – Johnson – pushing a Republican Congress to change the law of the land.

And they did.

Schools in the south were integrated. Bussing started. And a grumbling from deep within southern culture could be heard and felt across the land. The Civil Rights Act may be the law of the land, but they didn’t have to like it.

Then to make matters worse, the Voting Rights Act followed that gave the negro the same right to vote as his white neighbor. In the North it had been practiced that way for years, but the old Confederate States were hard to knock down. (Boston was no walk in the park, either, for that matter.) Poll taxes and voter ID manipulation and literacy tests were just a few of the tricks, ultra conservatives placed in the way of blacks to cast a vote. And with his signature in 1965 of the Voter’s Rights Act, Johnson did what no President before him had ever attempted. He gave the Blackman a voice in American Politics.

A real voice.

Politicians in the South hated it. A revolt was growing. Johnson knew that with this new legislation passed and signed and with Vietnam stalled and crawling into the quagmire of lost body counts, he would not win the nomination of the party. So he stepped aside. His Vice President, Hubert Humphrey, a life-long supporter of human rights, civil rights and the American Left, lost in a bitter contest to former Vice President Richard Milhous Nixon.

A new day was dawning in America. The Republicans were back and back with a vengeance after close to a decade of being out of power; although, with a strange hybrid foundation of southern conservatives and northern moderates. The party, itself, faced a showdown.

Trouble was, their victory would be short lived. There were several million new voters out there, who thought of the Republicans as the devil.

And they still do.

Chapter Four

Watergate and the impeachment of Richard Nixon

I can still see him standing on the top step of Marine One, the Presidential  helicopter, resting on the damp grass of the White House lawn. His arms raised in a double victory salute, in that most awkward way he had of moving. Richard Nixon was going home. Going to California for his final stop. He was no longer welcome in Washington.

King Richard had been deposed.

A President who had opened China, who had all but brought the Vietnam conflict to an end, who had tuned the tide in the Cold War with his (and Henry Kissinger’s) theory of Detente – that same man who gave birth to the clean water act, the EPA and the fairness in lending act, the President who had overseen the desegregation of America’s southern schools – he was also the President that oversaw wage and price freezes to help halt the runaway deficits and inflations created by the war in Vietnam – this same President ordered a handful of men in his close company to break in and spy on the Democratic national headquarters, officed in the Watergate tower.

As any historian will point out, it was a terribly stupid thing to do. He was going to win re-election by a landslide. It wasn’t even going to be close. Although never loved as a great man by the public, Nixon was a crafty politician and had a well-oiled machine running beneath him. Legislative power and the power to get the vote out had always been his strengths. So to send a group of bumbling idiots into the competition’s headquarters with the risk of getting caught was stupid– petty and stupid.

But the bigger mistake is that Nixon lied about it.

Nixon claimed to have no knowledge of the incident.  Then there was the investigation by the Washington Post. Then the Senate got involved. Then it was discovered there were thirteen minutes of the secretly recorded tapes of Nixon giving the orders that were suddenly missing from the files.

Nixon was doomed.  Watergate was bringing the King down.

The country became divided. Those who loved Nixon said it was a coup. Those who disliked him said it was good riddance. The verbal battles grew in intensity. The meanness of the spirited discourse could not be lost on the White House, and the cacophony meant that the President could not concentrate on the job at hand. Ending Vietnam and building his domestic agenda was being pushed to the back burner with the sounds and fury of the fight over his pending impeachment.

Nixon confided in his top aids that his “…days were numbered. The Presidency can not and should not be put through this.” He told himself he could beat the rap. He was Richard Nixon, after all. He had been down before. He could rise over this.

But the Senate persisted. The Watergate committee, as it was called, headed by Erin and Baker, demanded answers. They smelled blood. They circled. Even Nixon’s most ardent defenders in the Senate told White House staff they could not stop the wolves at the door.

He had two choices. Go down with the ship in a huge constitutional fight – or – resign and save the Presidency.

Nixon chose the latter. He had never been a quitter all his life. But he knew when the fight was over. And in Washington in 1974, there was no room to wiggle and no support for the long fight.

He resigned.

And in the background playing a very quiet but important part was a young lawyer identified to conservatives as Hillary Clinton. She became a marked woman.

As Nixon left Washington, battle lines were already being drawn. The Right’s mantra was – “Us versus them. Never again will we let them get to us this way. The media, the democrats and the lawyers, they did us in. The establishment did us in – but soon we will become the establishment. Soon the Right will come back and we will rule the day again.”

They just need a cause to give them momentum.

Chapter Five

Roe V Wade

For years and years the way a woman got an abortion was to go to some dark corner next to a gloomy ally and wait on a shadowy figure to emerge with a coat hanger and do the deed.

Little to no antiseptic, anesthetic or common sense was applied to the process.  Hundred got infected and died each year. The theory was, “You got yourself in trouble, this is your only way out. Suffer, baby.” If you were rich and could afford it, there were places that would perform abortions and heads were turned and silence was kept. But for the most part, the murky, dangerous backroom surgery clinics were the horrible norm.

Then a young woman in Dallas decided enough was enough. The state had no right to tell her what she could or couldn’t do with her body. That was a private matter. She took the matter to court and it wound its way all the way to the United States Supreme Court. That august body of nine men (in those days) ruled in favor of Roe over the arguments of Dallas District Attorney, Henry Wade, although by then several solicitors representing the state of Texas, as well as every religious group in America were at the beck and call of Wade. Basing their decision on the privacy clause of the Forth Amendment, the Court declared a state could not stop a woman from having a medical abortion. It was her right. It was a private matter.

And the war started. The Right had its cause.

At first the feminist movement raised the victor’s banners.  They marched and proclaimed a new day for women and women’s rights. But Republicans blocked their Equal Rights Amendment. Pay back.  ‘You kill babies, we don’t give you your rights.’ But the movement pushed on.

Slowly the other side began to organize. After several failed attempts in getting the Supreme Court to side with them on limiting abortions, the Right got a slight victory in limiting the trimester approach in determining if a fetus was viable to live outside the uterus. This was important, for now the Right had wiggle room to get cases before state legislatures and courts to begin a new crusade. State-by-state cutting away at the foundations of Roe v Wade. It was death by a thousand paper cuts.

If abortions were going to be legal, states would and could make them almost impossible to get due to red tape and fundamental problems in interpreting the law by and for doctors.

Month-by month, year –by-year, state house pundits pushed legislation popular among Catholic clergy and extreme right-wing Christian zealots. No one was going to kill any fetuses on their watch. They were, after all, Pro-Life.

Planned Parenthood became the targeted body because of their size and strength. Dozens of clinics across the United Sates were bombed. Doctors and nurses murdered. But it was all in God’s master plan, because the anti-abortion group wrapped themselves in the flag and the bible. If you opposed them you were Un-American and Anti-Christian. There was no room for discussion.

But the real explosions were quit. Causing at first hardly a ripple.  They came in new laws enacted state-by-state to deny women access to what was covered legally in national law. Limits were placed on every step of theprocess.

If there has been one issue that had united the Right base, it is that Roe v Wade must be overturned. Even to the point that for the last decade or more, every President who sends a Supreme Court nominee to the Senate Judiciary Committee for vetting, is grilled and re-grilled on the constitutionality of abortion as far as Roe v Wade is concerned.  Some years the Left wins.  Some years the Right wins. But in no years do they ever agree.

They can’t.

It is an argument that doesn’t have room for compromise, as it is currently structured.  If the left caves in an inch, Roe v Wade is dead.  If the right says, enough, we will just live with what we have, then the law stands and they have lost.

It is a fundamental impasse: a game of Mexican Standoff. And that has the entire legislative process in a molasses. Every spending bill, every tax bill, every piece of legislation that comes down the pike, the Right adds an anti-Roe v Wade measure to it. Nothing gets done. The process has to strip the bills of the Pro-Life amendments and then push on – and the rancor boils over and Congress returns to its finger pointing and name-calling.

The issue will not go away. The Arabs and Jews will work out their problems before this is settled.

Chapter Six

Iran Hostage Crisis

“They have taken our embassy and our people.”

That was the word that came out of Tehran on November 4th when between 300 and 500 students began protesting in front of the U.S. Embassy in the capital city of Iran. The protest grew into a full scale riots and soon the embassy guards fell back to a deep defensive posture and files were shredded to keep the intruders from gathering valuable intelligence about U.S. activities in the country.

Since the days of the overthrow of the Pro-American Shah and his family, (The Shah had been restored to power in a 1953 coup organized by the CIA at the American Embassy against a democratically-elected nationalist Iranian government, so there had been for a long time an undercurrent of hostility toward the American Government, but not her people.) American interest had been strained in the Muslim country. And with a Revolutionary council run by Ayatollah Khomeini there was even less dialog and there was further drifting apart between the two countries.

Most observers thought it was just rhetoric and posturing until the mob sized control of U.S. soil.  Khomeini called the U.S. an infidel and raised the noise level to the point that the students broke through the gates and ransacked the embassy. For 444 days from November 4, 1979, to January 20, 1981, rhetoric became armed resistance and 52 Americans were held hostage by the Iranian revolutionary government.

President Jimmy Carter, who himself was in a dogfight for the Presidency, waged a diplomatic war, seeing that the U.S. and its allies squeezed the Iranian people with embargos and other sanctions. Those seem not to have the effect Carter wanted. The resolve of the Iranian people grew. Carter was burned in effigy and the hostages remained locked up.

America was seen as week, especially to a fringe on the right in the United Sates.

As this was happening Carter’s popularity in the poles began to slip. The slippage became a nosedive and suddenly a former governor of California and an old cowboy actor, Ronald Reagan was in control. The no-nonsense Reagan made overtures during political stops and stump speeches that if Iran didn’t release the hostages; all hell was going to break loose in the desert. The joke of the day was, “Do you know how much glass Reagan could make out of the sands of Iran with a couple of nukes?” While he never advocated violence and he left the Carter administration alone to negotiate for the hostage release, the crafty communicator would smile at the joke and nod and say, “Under my watch we’ll get them back home.”

It is the kind of positive promise the American people wanted. A do something President who would take charge and bring dignity back to the USA. There was a remarkable surge of patriotism behind the campaigning of Reagan. The flag was seen everywhere.  The nation stood tall and proud behind what it perceived to be the stronger of the two men running for the White House.

In early January 1981, a breakthrough happened. Diplomats from Canada and Germany working along side U.S. State Department officials worked out a complicated liberation of the hostages. The hostages were released on the day President Carter's term ended.

And from that day the perception grew that Democrats were soft on foreign policy.

Regardless, the benefactor in all of this was President Reagan, who on his first day in office could announce that the hostages were free and coming home. To this day many people will tell you Reagan freed the hostages. That is what they remember, because of his pronouncements. Many on Capitol Hill were amazed that the Reagan White House politicized the event in their favor, when, after all, the lion’s share of the work had been done by the unsung heroes of the Carter administration, who knowing they were working for a lame-duck President still pushed through the torturous task of negotiating with the Iranians.

One Democratic lawmaker at the time was heard to exclaim, “If Reagan can take credit for this, he’s libel to think himself God before the end of his term.” But credit he did take and two things happened.

Ronald Reagan became the Right’s hero. Their knight in shinning armor. And to the Left, he had a huge target painted on his back.

There would be retribution. That’s how Punitive Politics works.

Chapter Seven

Trickle Down Economics.

To say that America loved Ronald Reagan in the early 1980’s is like saying dogs like bones. It was a love fest. And the President knew and used it to his advantage. Even with an embattled Democratic controlled Congress, he was able to sell many of his programs through the legislative halls simply on the power he had with the electorate. And Congress knew it and was scared of it.

But together they had to solve the one problem that had haunted Jimmy Carter. Stagflation. A stagnant economy and out of controlled inflation. Many economists theorize it came about from uncontrolled spending during the Vietnam War era and tax decreases that left budget offsets in the negative. Nixon, Ford and Carter had all tried to remedy the growing problem by shifting emphasis from revenue to spending then back to revenue. Nothing seemed to work. It came to a head in 1979 under the leadership (or lack there of according to Republicans) of Jimmy Carter. The economy sputtered and went into a freeze. A deep freeze.

On the campaign trail, Reagan promised to fix all this. He told America he had a plan that would turn the nation, its economy and its tax code on its ear. Prosperity was just around the corner. And Ronnie, on his white horse was riding in just in time to save the day.

One of Reagan’s chief planks to his worldview was that true economic recovery and growth came top down. This flew in the face of long-held beliefs of Keynesian economists and the legions that followed the original thought leaders of the New Deal. Regan saw the world as a giant river. And the more liquid you had at the top, the more that would flow down to those below. It became known as Trickle Down Economics.

And it didn’t work.

Let me let that last sentence stick with you for a moment.

It did not work. It did not work in theory or reality or in any practice the Reagan Administration wanted to put it into. It was a bust. But Ronald Reagan believed in it so it must be right. He couldn’t be wrong.

There was an almost god-like aura around Reagan among Republicans. Ronnie couldn’t be wrong. His theories must be right Trickle Down just needs more time.

So between his first and second term, the administration revamped trickle down and tried it again with a whole new package of economic stimulus including a huge tax break for the wealthiest Americans and for corporations and a spending increase to get America’s economy back to work.

It failed again.  Failed miserably. At the time it was the largest economic regression in Americas history short of the Great depression. (It happened again almost two decade later when George W. Bush tried to revive the practice of Trickle Down and sent America’s economy into the largest tailspin in close to sixty-five years. Same theory. Same results. We don’t learn from our mistakes, too well in America.)

Unfortunately the fall out of Trickle Down economics didn’t land on Reagan as much as it did his successor, George H. W. Bush, who had promised, in his campaign, “Read my lips. No new taxes.”

With the economy tanking again and the warning signs of debt build up, Wall Street became alarmed that America might be drifting back into double-digit inflation and backward growth. The days of Jimmy Carter were predicted all over again. So Bush had to raise taxes. The increased revenue was needed to pump resources into the flaccid economy to create a boost. And that cost Bush the Presidency to a Rhodes Scholar from Hope, Arkansas – Bill Clinton.

Trickle Down was a bust. A bankrupt notion. A means to lining the pockets of the wealthiest 2% of Americans, while the rest of the country waited for anything, if at all, to trickle down.  The famous Clinton campaign line was “Trickled Down Has Petered Out.”

The good will and fortune the Right had been building and banking was suddenly gone – spent on the excesses of Trickle Down. There was a new charismatic President in town: a pragmatic lawyer from Arkansas with a wife the Republicans remembered all too well. Hillary.

Time to retrench and get ready for warfare.  Trickle Down would live to see another day.

Chapter Eight

The Monica Lewinsky Scandal

Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan had two similar traits that served them quite well in their presidencies. Both were excellent communicators. Perhaps, and even including Kennedy and FDR, the best America has ever produced. They also had a trait that they didn’t suffer fools.

Reagan didn’t and proved it by carrying on his own diplomatic agendas and foreign policy missions without the permission or funding of Congress and without the blessings of the U.S. Senate. It nearly cost him his presidency.

Clinton did it by placing his wife, Hillary in the forefront of the public healthcare debate and trying to arrange through her actions a government heathcare plan similar to Canada’s. The Republicans were waiting in ambush for her.

The battle had begun. But Hillary was a great fighter, and Bill was Mr. Teflon. As a team they thwarted the Republicans even after a mid-term disaster in losing the House of Representatives to a band of radical Republicans led by Newt Gingrich of Georgia and his “Contract with America.”

The victory allowed the Republicans to smell blood in the water and it forced Clinton to circle the wagons and go on the road to build his base in middle America; something he was so adapt at that his rivals marveled as they, right after winning the house, saw their own numbers begin to plummet.

It was time to strike while the iron was hot. The Right attacked Hillary and her socialized medicine plans, and took the whole argument away from healthcare and placed it squarely on the back of patriotism and the free enterprise system. (Has a familiar ring to it, doesn’t it?)

While the war of words was raging on healthcare, Bill took a break from his road warrior days of shoring up the base for the next election. He eased back and helped himself to a White House aide by the name of Monica Lewinsky.

Just a slight dalliance, except that Republicans were looking for anyway at all to find a crack in Teflon Bill. There had been trouble in Arkansas while Clinton was governor of that state that led to an investigation about bad real estate dealings known as Whitewater Controversy. That investigation had brought out into the open a young woman by the name of Paula Jones, who claimed to have had an illicit affair with the governor while he was in office. Clinton denied it and denied it and denied it some more. The information from that investigation and then from the knowledge that Lewinsky had been involved with the President led special prosecutor, Kenneth Starr, to go after Clinton to get him to trip over his own ego.

Starr won.  Clinton lied under oath. A felony. And a big enough felony that the U.S. Senate began to debate impeachment proceedings.

The thing that saved Clinton was something that Nixon never learned. Confess your sins and ask for forgiveness. Clinton did and America forgave him – but the sinful deed rubbed off on Democrats and political experts think it cost Al Gore the White House in the next election.

America was ready for wholesome, family values. There were not any more wholesome a couple in the world than Al and Tipper Gore. Heck, Tipper had even burned records with suggestive lyrics in the 70’s. One problem, however, they were Democrats.

Thanks to Monica and Bill, America Got George W. Bush. It also got Trickle Down Phase III.

The Republicans won the trifecta. They got to Hillary. They got Bill. And they won the White House back on their own terms. Nothing was stopping them now. The world was their oyster.

As Karl Rove, Bush’s political advisor boasted, …’we have the White House now and will for the next generation – perhaps the next 100 years.’

America belonged to the Right. What could possibly go wrong?

Chapter Nine

September 11, 2001

The twin towers collapse into Wall Street. A plane slams into the Pentagon, and another in a field in Pennsylvania. America was under attack. We are at war with terrorism.

Surrounding George W. Bush was a team of battle-hardened veterans, who had stood with his father in the first Gulf War. Chaney at the Vice President desk, Colin Powell, a national icon as Secretary of State, and Donald Rumsfeld a life-long government strategist and leader of America’s armed forces at the Pentagon. If you were going to war, this was the team to have on your side. Smart. Brave. Tough as nails and didn’t take crap from anyone, and unlike their counterparts from the Johnson and Nixon days, these guys wanted to win. They wanted a sure victory. They wanted to have Mission Accomplished plastered across their records.

But first, who was the enemy?

Even before 911 Dick Chaney had called his energy business buddies to the White House for a secret meeting. Chaney refused to tell the members of the news media what the discussions were about. Speculation arose that Chaney knew about the President’s plan to heap some trouble on the head of an old family enemy, Saddam Hussein of Iraq. George Bush’s father had been to war with him some ten years earlier and had not finished the job. The guard on watch now in W’s administration were not going to let him get away that easily. It is believed that Chaney was warning his energy friends to batten down the hatches for a few months, while America paid back an old debt in the Middle East. Afterwards, all the spoils go to the victor.

Then 911.  Then came the famous Axis of Evil speech before Congress, where Bush started laying out the plans for going after Hussein, because he was developing weapons of mass destruction.

Forget that the CIA, FBI and NSA were all telling the White House that the perpetrators of 911 were from an organization called al-Qaeda, which was believed to be spearheaded by an American-educated Saudi by the name of Osma bin Laden. The intelligence community delivered information that the bulk of the hijackers had been Saudi and Egyptians. There was not one Iraqi on the panes. Still, Bush wanted war with Iraq.

The 9/11 Commission Report stated that there is "no credible evidence" that Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq collaborated with the al-Qaeda terrorist network on any attacks on the United States. In September 2006, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence concluded that "there is no evidence that Saddam Hussein had prewar ties to al-Qaeda and one of the terror organization’s most notorious members, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi" and that there was no evidence of any Iraqi support of al-Qaeda or foreknowledge of the September 11th attacks.
Still war clouds loomed on the horizon. But the White House needed a reason. It was called Weapons of Mass Destruction. Bush said they were there. Colin Powell said they were there. He even told a session of the General Assembly of the United Nations that Iraq was developing Weapons of Mass Destruction. Condoleezza Rice, the National security Advisor, told us they were there. But United Nations inspector Hans Blix, who was on the ground in Iraq, couldn’t find any evidence what so ever of any WMD.
Now to be sure, Hussien had used chemicals on the Kurds earlier in a gas attack, but those weapons had been confiscated and destroyed after the first Gulf War in 1994. With the United States threatening an all out war if the Iraq’s didn’t turn over their weapons, Blix, said, ”Slow down, Mr. President. There are none we have found to date.” Bush didn’t care. He attacked anyway. And for ten years the U.S. has been at war in Iraq and as of this writing not one Weapon of Mass Destruction has been found, nor was there ever any evidence discovered that Iraq played a role of any kind in the 911 attacks.
Bush had waged a private war. It would be great to say financed by the American people; however, trickle down was back in vogue in Washington, and a huge tax cut had all but made paying for the war in Iraq, as well as the sister war in Afghanistan, virtually impossible. Debts started climbing higher and higher and everyone at the White House ignored it. Trickle Down would pay for it eventually. China was buying our debt so fast that the joke in the halls of the White House was that the Chinese were financing the war on terrorism for us.
Then came October 2009.  America’s economy tanked. Two months later it crashed.
Bush scrambled to keep the US out of the second great depression. He loaned banks billions in the largest bailout in US history, as well as helped fortify other US businesses.  But the hemorrhage was too much. The patient was on life support.
And Bush was headed back to Texas.

Chapter Ten

Affordable Healthcare Act

There was a new sheriff in town. A man named Barrack Obama. A freshman Senator from Illinois who ran on the campaign of change.

But instead of change, the first thing President Obama did was continue the enactment of the Republican sponsored bailout. And the debt kept climbing. He even enacted the keeping of the Bush Tax cuts in order to win approval of key legislative ideas he wanted past. He created loan packages for the automotive industry, the banking industry, as well as home mortgages. The debt kept rising.

With support strong in the House and in the Senate, President Obama pushed for and won a legislative milestone. He reformed the United States healthcare system. And he did it by eschewing the socialized model of Canada and England and instead, used the free enterprise system that had been a plan of the Heritage Foundation, a Republican think tank. The same Heritage Foundation that had gotten a governor in Massachusetts to use the exact same system there in reforming his state’s healthcare. That governor’s named – Mitt Romney.

As soon as the Affordable Healthcare Act passed, a grass-roots movement surge, fueled by right-wing radio and TV talk show hosts who decried the “Obamacare’ plan was the next step toward socialism and communism. “Not since the Social Security Act have we moved so close to being a communistic society,” quipped one right wing radio talking head.

And so the Tea Party movement was begun and has invaded (or infect, depending upon your political point of view) the Republican Party on the extreme right side.

No new taxes. Cut spending (except of the military) and get rid of government in our lives (except for abortion laws that tell a woman what she can and can’t do.) On that simple platform the Tea Party swept the mid term elections and has held Congress and the President captive in passing any new job creation bills or major tax reform. Even dealing with extending the debt ceiling has proven to be almost impossible to get through a Congress so focused on one issue.

And while the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has stated that Obamacare has actually saved the country millions, the Right has used it as another reason not to trust the “leftist” President who is trying to force us into a European socialism. The most ardent, even claim he is destroying the U.S. constitution. (No one remembers, Nixon or Reagan {Both Republicans} and their trampling all over the separation of powers clauses in the Constitution.)
So we have come full circle. From the Social Security Act that was going to make us the next satellite of the Soviet Union to Obamacare, the final move of America becoming a communist country.

They got rid of Nixon. We will retaliate. We got rid of Clinton, expect them to retaliate. They want affordable healthcare, but it will help the black man to get reelected. But it is the same plan that Republicans pushed six months before Obama won office. The Democrats want a job bill for the unemployed, but that will get Obama re-elected. So, Nobody does anything for America.

And so, that is where we are today: Punitive Politics.


You versus me.

Right versus left.

Neighbor versus neighbor.

Roe versus Wade.

We can’t find common ground.  Is all about getting even. All about getting power. All about keeping power. Not at all about trying to make America a better place for everyone, but rather making it better for MY party and a chosen few.

These are the ten major events that have led us to where we are today.

Here’s what we need to do:

We need to spend less.
We need to raise more revenues.
And raise it across the board, fairly.
We need to revamp the tax code. Close loopholes and make it as close to flat as possible.  And take it out of the political spectrum of favor-giving.
And we need to quit trying to police the world. Not our job and it is bankrupting us.
We need to work together and forget about who gets the credit.

We don’t have the time left to do such petty things.

We need to work out a compromise on Roe v Wade which allows for people who do not want abortions, not to have to have their money go to providing them, but in all fifty states, allow the law of the land to stand and women who choose abortion as a medical route, have the freedom so to do. And then get over it and leave it alone. For good.

Ten windows, we looked through in our recent history, that have led us to this point. We can’t go backward and open or close any of them. All we can do now is move forward. So lets all quit looking backward and demanding to get even. That is probably the big number eleven if there was one.

We, as a country always want to get even. Those days are gone. Let them go. Lets move on.

I don’t care who you vote for President. Both guys are competent. But do this. Do not be fooled by either party with their “ours is the only way” slogans. IT IS NOT. And get rid of the Tea Party. They will destroy the America you and I know and love with their tunnel vision and petty politics. They are NOT good Republicans NOR are they good Democrats. They are selfish bastards that only want their way or no way.

With the problems facing America, we do not have room at the table for the noise and inaction of spoiled children. And that is what the are.

These are the ten things that got us where we are today. Here is the one thing that will get us to tomorrow: Forget them.

Move on. Learn to compromise. It is not a dirty word.

End Punitive Politics.