Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Republican Part Agenda

A little over a year President Obama was inaugurated and the Republican party was in its grave. Now the polls are saying the citizens of our country are dissatisfied with government and think it's broken. No shit! It has been broken ever since Newt Gingrich proposed the Republican Contract with America in the early 90's. The macho position taken by the conservative Republican members of the party is like the adage to the younger boxer about the enter the ring, "Don't lead with you chin."

In addition, the Republican's embraced the so-called Religious Right to help get elected in the 90's. That was a mistake. The party that once stood for individual rights and anti-interference on the part of government came to espouse legislating so called Traditional American Values. Who in the hell put them in the position of deciding that Traditional American Values are acceptable. So now they support anti-gay legislation, anti-abortion legislation, and the incursion into my individual rights that defies my understanding. Let's build a fence around our country to keep out immigrants. Immigrants who, by the way, take the lowest paying jobs that Americans don't want to earn their way and have a work ethic that I wish many Americans exhibited. Labor unions want to protect a bloated union system that is bankrupting companies like General Motors, and threatening many state governments who have promised unwieldy pension programs that aren't even funded. Oh yes, and then lets puff out our chest and declare many countries to be against the American way of life and create massive defense systems to blow the world up instead of trying to resolve our difference by reaching out. Believe it or not there are some pretty moderate Arab countries, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and others I cannot think of.

Seems to me we need to take a look at solving the problems instead of treating the symptoms.

So what should the Republican stance be?
  1. Don't be so "hawkish." Drawing a line in the sand has never resolved a problem but has resulted in a gun fight. I support Obama in this regard about reaching out to other nations to begin a dialogue on how to resolve our difference. There may be some exceptions to my statement, namely North Korea. That country, in my mind, is a paranoid, unstable country its population so indoctrinated that perhaps it is like a cancer and should just be eradicated.
  2. Enter into a positive dialogue with the Democrats to resolve the Health Care issue. Left alone it will simply get worse. Polarized political decisions will lead us to ruin or to some politically expedient decision that won't resolve the problem. Why hasn't Congress resolved the problem of cutting payments to Dr.'s under Medicare permanently instead of band-aiding year after year.
  3. While I support smaller government and more restrictive spending we didn't get sick overnight, we are not going to get well overnight. I would like to see Republican's adopt a more realistic program of reducing government spending and its impact on my personal life. Our economic well being and functioning of our economy is so complicated you cannot do any one thing without impacting some other part of the economy. If we are going to limit spending then let's make sure everyone gets whacked, including Defense.
  4. Dump the Religious Right. It became obvious in the Bush administration that attempts to push the Religious Right's issues was a token effort. In the meantime schisms have been created that are not in accordance with our country's founding philosophy, "equal treatment under the law," "separation of church and state," and "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." There may be enough dissatisfaction with government that well thought out strategy will entice those disgruntled folks into the Republican fold.
  5. I do believe there are three areas that the federal government needs to take a lead in, Health Care with a single payer system, the regulation of our financial institutions, the defense of our country. I also think a larger transition to people being self-supporting in their retirement years is proper, however I do not want to be abandoned as I am going to rely on social security for the majority of my retirement income. I do wish there I better understood the investment vehicles in my younger years and maybe I would not find myself in the position of reliance I am in now.
I have more specific thoughts, but they wouldn't work. I am not naive to think my ideas by themselves will find acceptance by all. So I don't put forth specifics as there are better minds than mine to address the problem.

I do believe that Congress should be term limited. I do have some specific ideas there. The members of the House should be allowed no more than three two-year terms. The Senate should be limited to one six-year term. They should be well compensated, pay them a million dollars a year for their services. Let's attract the brightest and the best. Once they are no longer a member of Congress for whatever reason they may not work for, nor lobby for any organization that derives revenue from government contracts or seeks to influence legislation on behalf of organizations that derive income from government contracts.

I have some friends who would like to see citizen direct vote on issues. Using our communication technology we would vote in place of our Congressmen through the internet. It sounds Utopian to me. The founders of our country feared minority rule and the tyranny of the majority. They sought means to moderate extreme philosophies from controlling the country. The only way direct vote would work is if the initiation of legislation were controlled and voting while based on a simple majority rule would not take effect until 65% of the eligible electorate had voted on a proposition. Then it might work.

These are thoughts I've had on our recent political upheaval. They make sense to me, but perhaps not to many others.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I Wish

We are such a fragmented body politic in this country that we are subjected to minority rule. What ever minority at the time makes the most noise seems to rule. It seems to me that the party in power, democratic, and the party of loyal dissent, republican are so at odds that they seem to take delight in simply negating the power of the other party without regard to the will of the citizens. I wish the voters of the U.S. would somehow come together and take back control of our country. I think it is important that the two parties work together to fashion legislation that reflects the will of the citizens instead of the will of the representatives.

I know that there are republicans who say they are representing the will of the people by blocking issues from coming up in Congress. Someone explain to me how the "super majority" of 60 votes is representative of the will of the people. It in fact drives minority rule to the extreme. One senator can command payoffs by withholding his vote. If the filibuster is a tactic in the Senate, then I think they should actually have to filibuster, the old fashioned way. Senators take the floor, hold the floor, through the night, through the day until finally one side has to negotiate a position as the business of the Senate is simply not going to happen until the issue is resolved. The way the filibuster rule works now, it has just added a layer obstruction to the work of the Senate. At least under the old method nothing got done as long as senators held the floor. Now, they just have a vote and go on to obstruct other important work.

Vote them all out, vote for term limits, don't allow an elected official to become a lobbyist until five years have past from his end of term, and tell them to get on with the business of the country.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Continuation of spiritual thoughts

I have just finished blogging about our Yellow Labs on my blog Wags N Tales. Seeing that it is a quiet snowy day in Arkansas, the music is fine, and the thought process seems to be rather inventive I guess I'll continue my thoughts here.

The snow we are getting today has enough moisture in it to stick to branches, but it is not what I call a real wet snow. The outside world is a canvas that holds a miraculous painting in detail so great a human hand could not fashion the picture. These kind of days get me wondering about our existence and purpose.

There are many in our world who would walk through the scene on our landscape and view it as negative. My wife is grousing about snow, spring is just around the corner and here we face the difficulty in getting around due to snow. I see enjoyment. We'll get around, we will find food to eat. We will stay warm in our homes, and rest secure that our world will remain comfortable. There are many in this world who will not experience that sense of security and freedom from hunger. The Bible teaches "the poor shall always be with us."

I tend to view life as good. I tend to view life's experiences as good. Some do not. Some are overwhelmed with grief at the poverty and illness and tyranny that seems to exist. I do not like it, however, I don't feel guilty about this thought but often I'm left with "that's life." It may seem like an oversimplification, but then life is not complicated. In a very real sense, we are born, we live, we pass on. It is a pretty simple process.

Our behavior tends to complicate life. Our behavior at times seems to be beyond our control. Genetic markers make certain women susceptible to breast cancer. There are certain genetics make ups that predispose a person to mental illness like schizophrenia. People are commonly seduced by power and alter their behavior in view of the power they possess. A man I know who was a lawyer in our town ran for state political office. He started in state legislature as a man with ideals and working on behalf of the people who elected him. He ended up in jail for trying to subvert state law and line his own pockets. I don't believe he started out a crook, but he ended up that way.

I think that throughout life we are presented choices. How we choose can complicate our life and drive it into behaviors we had never contemplated. On the other hand we have the remarkable ability to learn from our behaviors and choose to change our life style. Those that do possess a remarkable insight and strength. Some fall victim to their behaviors and values and say they cannot change. It isn't that we cannot change, it is that we choose not to. So then, what makes us so unique? It is our minds ability to be influenced by our surroundings, our up bringing, our own observations of life unfolding, our own interpretation of life's events. Those are unique.

I do not think that God chose us to be unique among the creatures we reside with on this planet earth. I think it evolved. To a certain degree all creatures have the ability to learn, and we see most of them exhibiting a thought process. Much of the behavior of creatures on this earth is learned. Dogs are not programed to fend for themselves even though they descend from wolves. We know that domesticated dogs turned loose in the countryside can starve to death if some human doesn't care for them. Yet other dogs born in natural settings and left to develop hunting and survival skills will fend for themselves and live in spite of the lack of human intervention. That tells me that genetic programing of species can be altered. So whatever set of circumstances existed a million years ago when some forebear of ours stood up right and walked for the first time the behavior was learned. So it goes.

It would be a mistake to say then that all behavior normal and abnormal is learned from external events. Pain can alter our behavior, we walk with a limp. Psychological pain can alter our behavior. The chemistry in our body can alter our behavior, so it is too simple to say everything is learned. Some behavior is in response to some set of stimuli. In the broad spectrum though most of what we does is learned and influenced by some choosing mechanism.

Life is neither good nor evil. It just is. Our interpretation, our choices, and our ability to alter our surroundings make for opportunity. The more we become interactive with the whole world, the more we are exposed to, the greater the pattern of choices. We find many helping others once they realize choices. We find our selves coming to the aid of others in the world in need because we choose to. Our behavior is always the product of a decision, even if that decision is influenced by abnormalities or events beyond our control, out behavior is the product of a decision. Let us hope for the future sake of mankind that we make good decisions.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Dreary Days

The weather in Paragould is overcast, cool and wet. Oh, so wet. We had between 8 & 12 inches of snow a week ago. I was icy and difficult to get around as we do not have the snow removal equipment in this area that other areas of the country have. I had to laugh at an article in the local paper describing how thrilled the county was to have purchased two used fertilizer spreaders at a local FHA auction in January. They would be put to good use spreading sand on the roads and intersections. Sand! Heck we spread sand on the roads when I was a kid, what happened to salt? Well wouldn't you know it they did not have a vibratory device to keep the sand sinking down to the outflow so it would spread. As a result when the equipment was brought into play during the recent snow storm a man had to walk along side the spreader hitting the sides with a shovel to get the sand to settle to the bottom of the spreader. Ain't technology wonderful.

The dogs go out and play and come back dirty, wet and want in the house. We use towels to dry them as best we can. The dogs are now used to it and patiently stand in line to get toweled off before entering the house. I wonder what the neighbors think? Molly and Lily dry quickly and their coats are so rich that the dirt sheds rapidly and in an hour they are nice and white. Of course the couch is taking a beating, but what the hell.

The weekend is upon us. It is supposed to be cool and overcast all weekend. Perhaps this is a weekend to get into the trailer and go through the old files I have of our past history and sort and toss. I have our financial records back to 1987 when I moved to Arkansas. I'll create a three-ring binder that holds our W-2's and tax records, but pitch everything else. Might be kind of nice, turn on a basketball game, make some coffee and take care of a nagging chore.

Such is the rhythm of our days right now. Not much to do but stay warm, stay dry and tackle the chores that won't come to mind in May.