Inauguration Day

Tomorrow is Inauguration Day for incoming President Barack Obama. If you are alive and breathing in the US, I’m sure you know this already. I’m not going to carry on about how he’s this or that.  I don’t trust him, personally; his agenda is far too liberal for me to accept from a man who proclaims to be Christian.  I know, I know, there are lots and lots–oodles & gobbs, scads & scads, even– of good Christian people who call themselves Democrat.  I just struggle with how the two can be side-by-side.

That’s not what I want to get at.  I’m going to speak my mind, and risk sounding like some sort of hater bigot.  Call me that if you think you must, but I’ll disagree, and reserve the right to delete comments.  Comment if you like, but keep it clean: no vulgarity, no swearing, no playground-esque name calling.  Here goes…

I’m worried that some of my more liberal friends are going to become self-righteous smug caricatures of themselves in their bubbling rapture at Mr. Obama’s swearing in.  I’m not sure if the root of their joy is a deep despisal of President Bush, their giddy joy in a non-Anglo President or a combination of the two.  I just don’t want to see a bunch of ‘sore winners’ dancing around the Washington Mall over the next two days.

President Clinton had the same Svengali hold on his party, and with some across the aisle.  There just wasn’t a throng of people a million strong crushing on Washington DC for his inauguration– either of them– and he came into office after 12 years of Republican presidencies, war, economic recession and terror attacks.

I am celebrating with our country over breaking the racial barrier for our highest elected office.  I can not celebrate having a Democrat move into that same office.  So I hope we can revel in this moment as an historic achievement, but please, no “Booyah! We win, you guys suck!” attitude.

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Politics and Pipe Dreams

I have been reading “The Case against Barack Obama” and find it to be very compelling and revealing. I know hardcore devotees will think it as lopsided propaganda, but I do suggest you read it, even if you are one. If there were one on John McCain I’d read it too, just so you’d know.

Up until the book, I was somewhat neutral on the man and his campaign. I’m beginning to dislike Mr. Obama and his legislative track record the farther into the book I get. Many of the people who could complain the loudest are Democrats, and they won’t rat out one of their own. The Republican’s who are speaking out are being accused of running a smear campaign. The author is letting Mr. Obama’s record speak for itself. And for the record, the “record” isn’t just how he voted on legislative issues; it includes his campaigning tactics, his candidate endorsement record, among other things.

The farther into the campaign season we travel, the more I dislike both sides of the aisle. Michigan ends up being kind of “purple”— Red in the West and U.P and Blue on the more populated East side. There has been a growing trend of voting Blue on the West side as of late, but I still think we’re more Purple.

I wish there was a viable party that fits what I believe in. One that supports and values all life; holds corporations to good stewardship of the environment without radicalism; believes the gov’t is meant to lead and assist but not be primary source of income for individual citizens. I want equity in education spending, and pay based on performance of teachers. There are districts paying some of its tenured teachers $75,000+, and still the students are failing. Would it violate the rights of citizens to require teachers to send children to the schools in which they teach? How much would change then? Don’t police officers have to live where they serve? Judges too? It will never happen because the teachers’ unions are too powerful and politicians know where the money comes from.

There are days I wish PAC’s could be disbanded too. It seems the lavishly funded ones are the ones telling the Senator’s how to vote, because of the campaign contributions made and therefore expect the favor of a vote in return. That’s not “of the people, by the people, for the people”.

I also think the system of 2 Senators, and 435 members in the House in DC do not adequately represent the population as a whole. The Senators are overworked and hold too much power when partnered with their like-minded representatives in the House. I don’t like that Representatives serve two-year terms. It seems they are always stuck in campaigning mode and can’t devote enough time to the work at hand. Of course the requirement of 2 Senators and the two-year terms are written into the Constitution (Article 1, Section III and Section II, respectively). Just imagine what fun both Houses could have with 150 Senators and one Representative for every 250,000 citizens. With a population nearing 305 million, our Rep’s are representing just over 701,000 people—EACH! If the ratio were brought to 1:250,000 we’d need to elect 785 more to the U.S. House of Representatives. The Constitution provides that there may not exceed one per 30,000! I’ll do the math for you real quick: that comes to over 10,166 Representatives in Washington DC. Even if the ratio were moderate at 1:500,000 there would still be over 600 elected officials in Washington. If there were that many working for the people, do you think the Political Action Committees would carry as much clout? I don’t think so; they’d still exist, but with less strength.

Currently Michigan has 15 officers elected to the H of R in DC, ranking 8th in population according to the 2000 U.S. Census. These places have only one, (estimated populations in parenthes.)

Alaska (670,000)
American Samoa (60,000)
District of Columbia (580,000)
Delaware (854,000)
Guam (174,000)
Montana (945,000)
North Dakota (635,000)
Puerto Rico (3,960,000) [Rhode Island has 2 Reps in DC, with a population of about 1.1 million]
South Dakota (782,000)
U.S. Virgin Islands (109,000)
Vermont (624,000)
Wyoming (515,000)

That’s 9,908,000 people, nearly the same as Michigan in 2000. All things being equal, Puerto Rico should have 6 Reps in DC, yet they have just the one.

If we reconfigured for the 1:250,000 ratio, Puerto Rico would have 15, Michigan would jump to 39 and California to 153. I suggest the district lines be redrawn to make them larger with multiple Reps per district, so the work load can be shared, with staffing and office needs reduced. *Thinking to self: Perhaps even limiting the total number of districts per state*

If people aren’t voting because they feel they aren’t being heard, would changing the number of Representatives in Washington DC make a difference. We won’t know unless someone successfully runs for office, implements the changes and makes it happen. Pie in the sky dreams, aren’t they.

All that said, because I started reading a book about one candidate…

Un-ordinary People

I went for a walk with Sugar Bug a couple of hours ago. We went up the main street past the city cemetery. After I told her I love cemeteries, she wanted to know why.

“There’s so much history buried in there. People who have lived their lives, gone places, done things. You know, just ordinary people who went about their business.”

“What kind of people?” she asked.
“Well, some were parents raising their families, dads who went to work. Some were in the military and fought in wars.”

“I don’t think they would be ordinary. I think that makes them un-ordinary”

“Which ones are ‘un-ordinary’?” (I knew she meant extra-ordinary, but I didn’t want to correct her; grammar lessons could wait. I wanted to hear what she said.)

“The ones in the military. That makes them special, because they were there ready to give up their life so someone else could be free. That makes them un-ordinary.”

“I suppose that does, then, doesn’t it. There are a lot of people who don’t think the same way today.”

“Why don’t they?” (She has no idea how loaded that question is in a post-modern 21st Century USA.)

“Well, back when those people were alive, they –and the culture and society — used to think it was a privilege and a duty to serve their country. It was an honor for them to be in the military. They did it out of respect and honor for their country.”

“O, that definitely makes them un-ordinary.”

[ I thought of telling her that back then they didn’t think about whether it was the nations business to be there, if the military action could be politically and socially justified, or if it was ‘the right thing to do’. They left that to politicians and government to sort through; they joined because they wanted to serve, not earn a free college education. That’s what I wanted to add, but I didn’t. I’ll let her 10 year old innocence stay intact for as long as it can. I’ll let her patriotism stay strong, so she can still think people today serve their country in the military because of love of country– nothing more, nothing less. ]

Un-ordinary indeed! To her, they are heroes, and that’s the kind we need to look up to more often.