A Political Revelation

October 20, 2008

I’ve had a day or so to review how maudlin I’d become due to the prospects that either Dumbo or Grumpy will occupy the White House, how disenfranchised America seems to be with the two-party system’s entrenchment into our political process that has pretty much eliminated alternative (and perhaps better) choices, and how government policies which caused the financial crisis in which we find ourselves are being altered in order to try and fix it…but whose meddling will likely not be the panacea that politicians believe.

Because, while we’re in the depths of despair at the moment, there is a light.  A signal in the darkness that shines brighter than that of any other nation.

“America is a shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere.”

Ronald Reagan said those words.  And no truer words have been spoken, in my opinion, on what America is, and will continue to be.

We’ve weathered storms, real and political; survived hurricanes, real and spiritual; and fought back from adversity, financial and military. 

We are the shining city upon the hill.

We are the Grand Experiment that nobody thought would last.  We are the nascent nation who, in its adolescence, has far out-produced, out-earned, out-performed and out-witted.

We’ve seen dictators come and go while our system of bloodless power handover has continued unabated since our foundation.  We helped win the War to End All Wars.  Then we did it again.  Our economy tanked, but we bounced back stronger than ever.  And we did it again.

We are the shining city upon the hill.

We landed the first man on the moon.  And the second.  And the third.  We built a reusable space vehicle, an orbiting space station, and launched satellites that make us the most powerful nation on earth. 

We are the shining city upon the hill.

We cured polio, can land tons of food aid anywhere in the world in a matter of hours, and have the finest medical services available to mankind.  We split the atom, for good and bad. 

We are the shining city upon the hill.

We are America, a nation founded upon Christian principles yet accepting of all faiths. 

We are America, a nation founded of the people, by the people and for the people. 

We are America, where we live not by another man’s leave, but by hacking our way out of the wilderness, bearing our children along the way. 

We are America, the nation for which people willingly risk death to get here, all for a chance at the American Dream.

We are the shining city upon the hill.

I refuse to believe two cartoon characters have so much influence that they can destroy this nation.  To believe otherwise is to doubt the very essence of what makes our nation what it is. 

I refuse to believe that we are incapable of overcoming the pettiness demonstrated by career politicians who have “erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.”  To believe otherwise is to cast aside the very document that began this great experiment.

We are that shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere.

And I will never, not ever, believe otherwise.

I leave you with the parting words of the greatest president I’ve known in the few short years I’ve spent on this rock.  There may have been others greater than he, but he brought into office with him the one thing that America needed more than anything else at the time, and what we can most assuredly use again: 

Hope.

I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it and see it still.

And how stands the city on this winter night? More prosperous, more secure, and happier than it was eight years ago. But more than that; after 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm. And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.

We’ve done our part. And as I walk off into the city streets, a final word to the men and women of the Reagan revolution, the men and women across America who for eight years did the work that brought America back. My friends: We did it. We weren’t just marking time. We made a difference. We made the city stronger. We made the city freer, and we left her in good hands. All in all, not bad, not bad at all.

And so, good-bye, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

—Ronald Wilson Reagan, President, United States of America, January 11, 1989

TimW
Phoenix


Relieving Your Galt Bladder

October 15, 2008

Who is John Galt?

In Ayn Rand’s classic, Atlas Shrugged, John Galt decides to protest the actions of those who take from the producers to “spread the wealth around” by stopping work…”stopping the motor of the world.”

What would happen if that actually occurred?

Now, I don’t want to step out of my lane here, but if it were possible, the results might be very interesting for some, and downright unpleasant for others.

Several months ago in Phoenix, Arizona, protesters of a recent employer-sanctions law (which held companies responsible for hiring illegal aliens by imposing fines, etc.) promoted a “day without an illegal”.  The concept was similar to John Galt’s actions…illegal aliens, and presumedly their supporters, would stay home for a day.  I think it made the local news.

But as far as I could tell, that’s about as far as the impact when, at least for me.  However, I did notice a substantial improvement in the traffic flow, heard of fewer accidents on the news, and didn’t see anyone hanging around the local home improvement centers.  I didn’t go to any restaurants, hotels or construction sites so I can’t gauge the impact on those businesses, or if there was an impact.

But I will say that it was a nice day to be driving around given the lighter traffic.

This example, however, focuses on a very small part of our country’s labor force.  So what would happen if everyone who “produces” something took the day off.  Your coffee shop would be closed, as would your dry cleaner, the super-market, gas station, restaurants…many of the places that real people frequent on a daily basis.  And many of these places supply significant tax revenues to local, state and federal government agencies.

How long could the United States put up with a general strike? How long would the government?

I think that the American populace is getting angry, and not just at “Wall Street”.  They are angry with the entrenched political establishment that bailed out failing business, is forcing banks to take bailout money even if they don’t want to, and now says that the three-quarter trillion dollar bailout package won’t work as quickly as people want.

Really? Even I knew that…why didn’t they say anything when they were passing it? Perhaps because the American people would have screamed even louder against the idea?

I think there’s a large number of Americans who normally just go-along-to-get-along when it comes to government action and taxes/spending.  But the bailout awakened a sleeping giant, in my opinion. A giant that may not go back to sleep until after November 4th.

If it does.

So, who is John Galt?  He is none of us. He is all of us.

TimW
Phoenix


A political awakening

October 15, 2008

I wrote this in response to a thread started by a guy who has come to the realization that politics sucks, and that the Republican party has left him. 

– – – – – –

Welcome, brother.

I made this mental, philosophical and spiritual journey some years ago.  I grew up in Southern California in the 1970s.  Back then, the Golden State was fiscally conservative, yet socially liberal.  Nobody cared if you lit up a bong or slept with someone of the same sex, so long as the government kept is hands out of your wallet.  Basically, a libertarian philosophy.  By the time I left California in 1988, it had changed…a lot.

I can’t really put my finger on when my “conversion” started, exactly, as it’s not like I just woke up and said “Damn…I can’t stand the Republicans anymore”.  It was more a slow erosion of the trust, hope and promise that Reagan brought when he wiped the floor with Jimmy Carter, which was a great event that the country needed after Nixon, Ford and Carter (I watched Nixon resign on TV, though at 11 years of age I didn’t really get it).  I lived through the gas lines during the shortages, remember the home loan interest rates in the mid-teens.  America needed changing, long before Tehran happened.

If I had to put a start on the corrosion that started eating at my political soul, I’d have to say it started during Bush I, with his “read my lips” lie, his “assault weapon” ban and his “vision” thing.  In 1992, during the election, a short man with a funny voice brought out all sorts of charts, looked under the hood, and said that America needed changing.  A lot of Americans agreed, and we ended up with Bill Clinton.  I voted for that little man, and while I disliked Clinton, I do not regret my vote, mostly because I don’t know that Bush I would have been any better.

I’ve voted third party/candidate in several elections, especially at the state level.  Doing so has helped cause Arizona to elect a governor who is very into sensible shoes (not that there’s anything wrong with that).  My vote during the election where Matt Salmon, a conservative Republican, lost to Janet Napalitano was a vote against Salmon, not for the third party.  Salmon had really done a blatant about-face about gun rights, leaving gun owners high-and-dry when we needed him most, after promising (repeatedly) never to abandon his staunch RKBA stance.  We believed him, and in him, since he’d kept so many promises as a US Congressman, and when he walked away from us, gun owners let him know their disdain, loud and clear.  It’s actually a lesson we believe Republicans in Arizona have learned.  But I digress.

I’ve long disliked both parties, but had some hope when Bush II was elected, and continued to support him right up until the Patriot Act was rammed through Congress in October 2001.  I know there are many here who support the Patriot Act, but in my opinion it’s done as much to increase the scope and reach of government into our lives as it has in “saving” us from terrorists.   We will disagree on this, and that’s fine.  But the sheer scope of what was passed, and how quickly, with so little scrutiny, demonstrates that all these things had been sitting on a shelf…waiting for the right moment to be dusted off and presented to Congress.  On September 11, 2001, 19 members of the “Religion of Peace” provided that moment.  And while Bush, I believe, had the country’s best interests at heart in passing/signing everything he had thereafter, I just don’t like it.  But, again I digress.

So, since the late 1990’s, my political philosophy was much like yours now…I refused to vote the lesser of two evils because, well, the choice is still “evil”.  I likened the Republican party to an abusive husband, and Republican base voters as battered wives.  The GOP could always count on the base’s vote because, what were they going to do, go vote for a Democrat…especially after 1992?  The base was always hopeful that “this time will be different. I know he loves me, and he’s just doing this for my own good and he otherwise provides a reasonable life for me.”  I think voters have become tired of being battered wives.

I think many in the base became disillusioned with the continued hard-right turn (religious wise) that the party took, such that it was even more extreme than what Reagan promoted that caused my Democrat college friends to seethe.  Whether this was true or not, I can’t say, but it appeared so to me.  Vague references to God always came about in the presidencies, but George W. Bush’s blatant invocation of God as being a guiding influence (perhaps not in those words) on his politics caused many in the GOP to do a double-take, even those who understand that the country was founded in Christian principles.  I think the religion thing was what killed Romney’s chances, and what I think might hurt McCain via Palin. It’s my opinion that most Americans believe in God, but don’t want it to be a blatant part of political philosophy and action.  Again, my opinion only.

So, the result is an inexperienced leftist who professes a belief in God, yet attended a church for 20 years whose pastor preached hatred of America and that Whitey was the oppressor of Black America, on the top of a ticket that wants to raise taxes, cut military and move our country toward something that’s an anathema of everything upon which our country was founded.  His second in this duel is a lying older guy who’s made a career out of trying to control people’s lives.

But on the other side, we have a lurching old man who’s willingness to throw his own people, platform and party under the bus is matched only by his ability to see the Ghosts of Corruption Past, Present and Future, and do everything in his power to evade the founding principles of the party whose policies he claims to represent.  His second is an inexperienced right-winger who wears her religion as a badge of honor, and if not on her sleeve then certainly as a shiny lapel pin.  The upside to Palin is that at least she has walked her talk, something worthy of a lot of respect.  I’d say that she’s the only real honorable candidate of the entire bunch.

Both parties, who unashamedly hosed the American taxpayer by passing this “bailout” against the wishes of the public, are basically offering the same thing:  two entrenched political systems willing to tell you how to live your life, spend your money and raise your kids promoting an old man and inexperienced newcomer as our Saviours who will lead us to the Promised Land.  The saving grace is that at least the Republican’s inexperienced person is not at the top of the ticket.

In the end, I think the GOP’s stance is pretty much “Vote McCain: He sucks less!”  Hardly exciting enough to make one want to go to the polls.

However, it’s the prospect of alllllll the judges at the federal level, including SCOTUS, that the next president is very likely to appoint, that has me leaning toward voting for Palin, I mean for McCain.  The prospect of Obama’s Legions of socialist and communist judges having sway over our way of life scares the shit out of me…more so than the prospect of a doddering rich dude wanting to buy up all bad home mortgages to help solve the housing crisis.

So, as much as I don’t want to, I will likely vote McCain.

Because I know the Republican party really loves me, and is just doing it for my own good.

TimW
Phoenix