And To The Republic…One Nation?

 Constitution, Featured, General, Politics  Comments Off on And To The Republic…One Nation?
Jul 042009

One can’t be as opinionated as I, and not post a message on Independence Day. As I have stated before, I remain concerned about the condition of our Republic. We no longer seem to be one nation…we have devolved into red and blue states, with the extreme right and left pulling the center apart. We’ve become a nation of “haves” and “have nots” We have lost touch with that primary Constitutional principle of “the common good.”

U.S. Flag“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.”

Two days before this date in 1776, the Continental Congress had actually voted to break with Britain. It was on this day in 1776 that the assembled adopted the Declaration that set in motion the events that would forge this republic. What does it mean to be a Republic? The word ‘republic’ is derived from the Latin phrase res publica which can be translated as “public affairs”. In its broadest definition, a republic is a state or country not led by a Monarch, and in which the people have influence on their government. Are we there yet, or did we have it and lose it?

I think we still have some ways to go, and sometimes I think we are losing ground. People of color have made progress, but make no mistake that racism remains alive and well. Gay people are only just starting to gain the legal rights to equal treatment. In that great document adopted on this day Jefferson talked about unalienable rights, and cited as examples “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” If we all merely stepped aside and granted to each person those three things, we would be closer to a perfect union.

The primary and stated purpose for creating a Republic from the many states is in the preamble to Constitution.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The founders were intent on insuring several things for their and future generations. First is Justice and securing the Blessings of Liberty. The founders had previously cited King George’s unfair legal system that denied people fair trials, locked people away without charge or trial, took them to foreign soil without trial…sound familiar?

The others, “the common defense” and “promote the general Welfare” impose on Americans a need to care for one another. The idea that America is about nothing but individual freedom is not true. Each man is and should be free to pursue happiness, unless and until his goals come in conflict with the common good, or the rights of others. We seem to have so much lost sight of this part of our founding, and in that is where I find my fear for the survival of the republic.

We all complain that the government wastes money, and certainly in many cases they do, but so do big corporations. Any organization, once it’s large enough, supports a bureaucracy that is prone to waste and indifference. The hope of our founders is that the people would hold the government and their representatives accountable, and we can. With corporations, we have little recourse. So people go without healthcare and insurance because we allow our representatives to be bought and paid for by the insurance industry. We fail in educating our children because we don’t want to pay taxes, and we attend “tea parties” that are actually sponsored by wealthy corporations fomenting support for lower taxes on themselves, in the name of protecting “the little people.”  Continue reading »

Jul 042008

Today is a day or ironies. George Bush is visiting Thomas Jefferson’s beloved Monticello on this the 232nd anniversary of our declaration of independence from a king named George. As Jefferson warned that Americans would have to be ever on their guard against those who might turn the presidency into the tool of their “elected despotism,” I doubt he would be greeting Bush.

We live in a time where the very freedoms bought at so great a price by the founding fathers are being left in shreds. Dick Cheney has successfully convinced Americans they are safer with a “unitary executive.” How have American’s bought into this lie? This is the thing the founders were most interested in guarding against.

We have become a country comfortable with torture, willing to accept indefinite detention of both Citizens and non-citizens without benefit of habeas corpus, and we have come to believe we can trade our freedoms for security. We now have neither.

In another ironic twist, Jesse Helms, 86 year old retired Senator from North Carolina died today. All the pundits will take to the airwaves to talk of how Jesse Helms was a great American…a real patriot. Jesse Helms was neither, and will be someday acknowledged as the father of divisive politics in America. It is from Helms that political operatives learned how to use scapegoats and fear mongering to turn Americans against some enemy (even themselves) in order to further their own political aims.

Karl Rove perfected the technique, but Jesse Helms is the man who developed it. When the Soviet Union fell and Helms lost his primary enemy, he learned he could create an inside threat. First, it was gay people in general, then, as manna from God came AIDS, and Jesse could attack Gays as public health enemies who deserved what they got. Despite what you will read and hear, on this 4th of July, America lost not a patriot, but one of it’s greatest enemies.

Some find hope in the Obama candidacy. I hope it sparks a renewal of the American Spirit, but great damage has been done, and it will take much to reverse the decline of the great American Experiment. I hope he can inspire an American renewal, but my enthusiasm is tempered.

On this day when we pause to consider Patriotism, I find it being attacked on all sides. The first great precept of Patriotism is the right and obligation to question the leaders of government. The current government insists that to question them is to be unpatriotic. We squabble over what a person wears on his lapel, but I tell you that those who demand these superfluous shows are usually the least patriotic, but we take up their cause with enthusiasm.

Patriotism, true patriotism, is not found in a lapel pin, but in the soul. I find patriotism in the trembling hands of an American Veteran wearing his American Legion hat and proudly raising his hand in salute during the Presentation of The Colors. I know patriotism when I feel that chill run up my spine as I look at the flag flying in the mountain breeze against a brilliantly blue North Carolina sky while the ASU Marching Band plays the National Anthem. I see patriotism in the people who write their representatives and demand better from them.

On this day when we celebrate patriotism, I try to maintain hope, knowing it’s easier for me than for those founders 230 years ago as they took those tentative steps towards a brave new form of self-government. But we have traveled a long way from those innovative thoughts. Perhaps this generation doesn’t have the courage or strength for self-government, but I will continue to hope, I will continue to do what little I can, and I invite you to demand a return to the found ideals of America. The served us well for the first 200 years.

Where Have I Been?

 Family, General, Places, Tampa, Weather  Comments Off on Where Have I Been?
Jul 072007

Well, I realize it’s been quite some time since there were last updates to this blog. I apologize for the absence, but it was due to work. The previous several weeks involved some very long days, and most of those were spent writing proposals…so by the time evening came around, I was tired of writing.

There hasn’t been a ton of news to report on the personal front. My Mom, who had knee replacement surgery a couple of months ago, had to go back in for an adjustment. The Doctor thought he had it too tight. Somehow he manipulates her leg to loosen it. Mom was doing very well, but now reports she’s doing great. This was an outpatient thing.

I took most of this week off for some much needed rest, but as usual, didn’t get as much rest as hoped. We had most of Lay’s family over for the 4th of July. I picked up his nephews Tuesday night. They swam for several hours between short thunderstorms, shot fireworks, and then watched a movie until late into the night.

Lay has this little mouse that is dressed in a karate outfit. If you squeeze his hand he yells, dances and sings “Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting” while spinning numchucks in his hand. On a previous overnighter, the boys snuck to the door outside Lay’s room, put him down, and squeezed his hand. This time, Lay did it to them before they were awake, and they were none too happy. I guess getting to sleep in since they are out of school had reset their clock.

Of course on the the 4th they were ready to start swimming at 9am. We held them back a little. Lay’s sister brought her 13 month old little girl over. She already has a charming personality, and she discovered that she loves playing in the pool. I’d take her out of the float we had for her, and she would just splash and laugh. The more that got on her face, the more she laughed. We took her out to eat, and she just screamed to get back in. She’s going to be a lot like her nephews. When they finally got her out for good, she’d grab the little bathing suit top off the table and give it to her Mom to put it back on so she could go back in the water. We got a few pictures, and you can see them here>>

Our friends Mike and Jeff came over, and I grilled corn and chicken wings (three kinds). It was a pretty fun day, but it was so hot it was quite tiring.

Today is very hot too. There is stuff I’d love to be doing in the yard, but the between a hot 90 degree temperature, and very high humidity, it’s just too hot to be outside digging in the yard.