Thoughts At Large

Passionate thoughts on random topics

Month: November, 2012

Road Rage

I must admit to a certain bias.  Not to open the age old rift, but I fancy dogs more than cats. While I can accept the anthropomorphic attributes of wisdom, solitude and supremacy that we impose on cats in an effort to embrace them as something other than the self-centered, personality restricted, hangers-on that they truly are, I rather prefer the capricious, attention seeking, connection of a dog. The dog yearns to become part of a family, to participate in activities, offers affection and seeks attention.  Is this any different than me?  And while I anthropomorphize them and admit to attributing human emotion to their actions and reactions, I will not apologize.

I confess that I was fortunate enough to have been raised with dogs, and while their names (Bozo, Booker and Pandora) mean nothing to you, they engender warmth and familiarity on par with that of siblings to me.  Their deaths were no less painful than those of my grandparents, having occurred during the same era of my life. Now, as a father, the addition of our dog Delbow to our family offered no less enchantment.  When we welcomed him into our hearts, he was only eight weeks old and my twins were only nine years old.  Missing only the white picket fence, our future was a pastoral Rockwell painting.

Unfortunately, the past nine years has seen us leave our wonderful home, family and friends in Rhode Island and move to Texas to fight my wife’s aggressive, single-minded (though unfathomably suicidal) breast cancer, forced my children to uproot their lives and face parental mortality sooner than should be required and witnessed the various medical afflictions with which our beloved dog has had to endure (from blindness in one eye due to a retinal detachment, to emergency surgery to save the other, to two tibial plateau leveling osteotomies following two ruptured cranial cruciate ligaments, to surgery and radiation for a cancerous tumor in his neck).  In short, the life we had planned vaporized with the unwelcomed arrival of that insidious cancer and we have done our best to remain a family, drawing strength from each in our times of weakness under some unnecessarily painful and harrowing conditions. My wife fights on, my children pursue their lives and Delbow continues to offer his boundless affection.

It is against this backdrop that I share with you now my vexations at the way in which dogs are treated here in Texas (or at least in the area I travel daily to and from work). Not a week seems to elapse without my seeing the body of a dog lying by the side of the road. My anger comes in waves, my heart breaking.  Unanswerable questions flood my mind.  What home did this dog belong to? What must the family be thinking? Do they know their dog is missing? Do they know he is dead? Are there children in the home, facing the loss of their beloved boon companion? How could they not have secured their dog? Did he escape by accident? Did someone leave the door or gate open and now must endure the timeless misery of guilt?  Why does he lie there, day after day? Does no one care to retrieve him?

Sometimes the dog looks like he simply put his head down on the side of the road and slipped into a peaceful eternal slumber.  Other times, the carnage left by the accident leaves me hoping that pain was inhibited at the moment of impact. Either way, there is no excuse for these creatures to remain in their final repose for weeks on end. Soon bloated and fetid, and eventually transforming into a fur bag holding only bones, accumulating the dust and road grime wafting ever over them each day, they seem to linger there, pleading for exemption, crying in silent strains for finality as I hurry on my way, unable to avoid the scene, unable to look away.  Like some highway of death, this well-traveled road tears anew the gash in my heart every time I see the next victim.  Left there to die, and just left there.  Will I become accustomed to this over time?  Will I no longer see death’s hand by the side of the road?  Will I no longer have all of these questions surge through my mind?  I hope not. To have your heart broken requires a heart to begin with and and while mine tears anew, I defend against the nerve dulling scars and callouses that repetition imparts.  I am grateful for my Delbow and yearn to get home to give back to him that which he freely offers.

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

According to legend, the pilgrims and puritans of Plymouth, Massachusetts, following a good harvest, celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621.  George Washington issued a proclamation in 1789 naming Thursday, November 26, 1789 as an official holiday of “sincere and humble thanks.”  Here is the proclamation:

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor – and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be – That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks – for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation – for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war –for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed – for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions – to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually – to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed – to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord – To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us – and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go. WASHINGTON.

However, it was Sarah Josepha Hale, writer and editor famous for penning the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” that deserves credit for creating a national day of thanksgiving.  Following a forty year letter writing campaign to all manner of politicians, Hale wrote the following letter to President Abraham Lincoln in 1863:

Private

Philadelphia, Sept. 28th 1863.

Hon. Abraham Lincoln

President of the United States

Sir-

Permit me, as Editress of the “Lady’s Book”, to request a few minutes of your precious time, while laying before you a subject of deep interest to myself and — as I trust — even to the President of our Republic, of some importance. This subject is to have the day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.

You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution.

Enclosed are three papers (being printed these are easily read) which will make the idea and its progress clear and show also the popularity of the plan.

For the last fifteen years I have set forth this idea in the “Lady’s Book”, and placed the papers before the Governors of all the States and Territories — also I have sent these to our Ministers abroad, and our Missionaries to the heathen — and commanders in the Navy. From the recipients I have received, uniformly the most kind approval. Two of these letters, one from Governor (now General) Banks and one from Governor Morgan are enclosed; both gentlemen as you will see, have nobly aided to bring about the desired Thanksgiving Union.

But I find there are obstacles not possible to be overcome without legislative aid — that each State should, by statute, make it obligatory on the Governor to appoint the last Thursday of November, annually, as Thanksgiving Day; — or, as this way would require years to be realized, it has ocurred to me that a proclamation from the President of the United States would be the best, surest and most fitting method of National appointment.

I have written to my friend, Hon. Wm. H. Seward, and requested him to confer with President Lincoln on this subject As the President of the United States has the power of appointments for the District of Columbia and the Territories; also for the Army and Navy and all American citizens abroad who claim protection from the U. S. Flag — could he not, with right as well as duty, issue his proclamation for a Day of National Thanksgiving for all the above classes of persons? And would it not be fitting and patriotic for him to appeal to the Governors of all the States, inviting and commending these to unite in issuing proclamations for the last Thursday in November as the Day of Thanksgiving for the people of each State? Thus the great Union Festival of America would be established.

Now the purpose of this letter is to entreat President Lincoln to put forth his Proclamation, appointing the last Thursday in November (which falls this year on the 26th) as the National Thanksgiving for all those classes of people who are under the National Government particularly, and commending this Union Thanksgiving to each State Executive: thus, by the noble example and action of the President of the United States, the permanency and unity of our Great American Festival of Thanksgiving would be forever secured.

An immediate proclamation would be necessary, so as to reach all the States in season for State appointments, also to anticipate the early appointments by Governors.

Excuse the liberty I have taken

With profound respect

Yrs truly

Sarah Josepha Hale,

Editress of the “Ladys Book”

Moved by the carnage suffered during the recent battle of Gettysburg (and with the rudimentary foundation of the Gettysburg Address formulating in his brain) Lincoln embraced the idea of a national day of thanksgiving.  On October 3, 1863, Lincoln issued the following proclamation:

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

Abraham Lincoln

By the President

William H. Seward,

Secretary of State

However, because of the Civil War, the states of the Confederacy did not honor the “national” day of thanksgiving and a truly national celebration would have to wait until the Reconstruction of the 1870’s.

And while I agree with Christopher Hitchens that everything that does not kill us does not necessarily make us stronger, experiences, like the concrete piers of a well-built home, forms the foundation upon which we face the ever more difficult, whether by choice or chance.

Here, then, are several quotes of Thanksgiving for your enjoyment:

Rest and be thankful!

Doubling and doubling with laborious walk,

Who, that has gained at length the wished-for Height,

This brief this simple wayside Call can slight,

And rests not thankful? Whether cheered by talk

With some loved friend, or by the unseen hawk

Whistling to clouds and sky-born streams that shine,

At the sun’s outbreak, as with light divine,

Ere they descend to nourish root and stalk

Of valley flowers. Nor, while the limbs repose,

Will we forget that, as the fowl can keep

Absolute stillness, poised aloft in air,

And fishes front, unmoved, the torrent’s sweep,–

So may the Soul, through powers that Faith bestows,

Win rest, and ease, and peace, with bliss that Angels share.

William Wordsworth

I can no other answer make but thanks,

And thanks, and ever thanks.

William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night. Act III, scene iii

When our perils are past, shall our gratitude sleep?

No- here’s to the pilot that weathered the storm.

George Canning, May 25, 1802

Happy Thanksgiving

Death of a Party

Really Texas, really?

It is the inevitable third act of every recent election.  The defeated side demands a recount or legal recourse.  It’s the adult version of “It’s not fair. Do over!”  Whether it’s the Democrats (remember Florida in 2000 with their “dangling” and “pregnant” chads) or Karl Rove’s on-air hissy-fit last Tuesday, sometimes facts are ignored and argued as if unfixed.

The presidential election last Tuesday saw a decisive win for President Obama, winning 332 to 206 in the Electoral College and 62,613,406 to 59,140,591 in the popular vote, garnering 62 more electoral votes than he required and winning the popular vote by 3,472,815 (roughly the same as the populations of Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont, Washington, D.C. and Wyoming combined).  These are the facts. To ignore them or dispute them is unproductive folly. Like it or not, President Obama (and the Democrats) will continue to control the White House for four more years.  But before the Republicans began to lick their wounds and regroup, or begin the painful process of self-exploration, too many of their adherents have taken to crying publicly and stomping their feet.

Bertrand Russell said, “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.” Truer words have never been uttered.  When someone is convinced of the sanctity of their position with absolute certainty, expounding with vitriol and ferocity against the “uneducated masses,” I instinctively dismiss them, protect my children and grab for my wallet.

I always thought that the young, in their idealistic naiveté of wanting to save the world voted Democratic until they began to make some money of their own.  Gradually, their position would change from “save the world” and “help the downtrodden” to “not another slice of my pie” and a NIMBY attitude.  I used to think of Republicans as the party of Alex P. Keaton and Gordon Gecko; market-based capitalists firmly in the Ayn Rand camp of egoism, self-control and material gain.  Perhaps it is a consequence of my having to relocate to Texas in search of the country’s best medical care for my wife, but I now find myself redefining my definition of Republicans.  Nationwide, there has been a shift in the ideals of the Republican Party, carried on the heels of right-wing Christians centered in the Bible-belt.  Every Republican running since Ronald Reagan has run on an outdated, idealistic, fantastic, revisionist historian view of American life in the 1950’s. “If only we could go back to the way it used to be.”  Forgetting, for example, the treatment of women, homosexuals, blacks, Asians, Hispanics, Native Americans, (essentially, everybody who was not a white man), a government that took us to the brink of nuclear annihilation and created a foundation of lies for what would become the Viet Nam war.

Having learned our lessons, through the hard fought civil rights movement, the women’s liberation movement and the return of 11,000 body bags from Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos (and a generationally divided country where the youth (who were called upon to fight in the war) mistrusted a government that abused it), capitalistic market forces marched on, taking us from the upheaval of the 1960’s to the anti-war crescendo of the mid-1970’s with the overthrow of a sitting president, to the debauchery of the 1970’s and drug-addled 1980’s. The 1990’s saw baby boomers acknowledge that they were the capitalists after all and return to making money, content that they could save the world once their summer home in Maui was paid off.  This brings us to that historical fulcrum, September 11, 2001.  All at once, as the second plane hit the South tower, our insulated, global ignorance shattered with the World Trade Tower glass.  When 3,000 of our neighbors were incinerated that day, we saw in all its naked anger the effects radical religion can have on society.  We did not deserve this assault, but neither did we prevent its happening.  Content to let our government back one Middle Eastern dictator after another (from the Shah in Iran to Saddam Hussein in Iraq, from the Saudi family to Mubarak in Egypt) we lived our lives in happy oblivion under the dated misconception that we were protected by two oceans. Once we circled the wagons and held each other for comfort in the new and terrifying world order where enemies did not march under a recognized flag and so-called “smart bombs” assuaged any guilt we had bombing civilian neighborhoods where our enemies used schools and hospitals as human shields, the Republican party reverted back to a world view that neither existed nor should have existed; a world where minorities, women and homosexuals were heeled under by white middle-aged men and religious zeal validated any injustices.  Unfortunately, or fortunately, the ensuing six decades since the 1950’s saw the “melting pot” of America change the flavors of the stew.  As the number of Asians and Hispanics increased, the percent of the population comprised of whites diminished accordingly.  Republicans continued to ignore this demographic paradigm shift and catered to an ever decreasing slice of Americans.  Emboldened by the Christian right and using all manner of euphemisms for “middle aged white men,” the soundly beaten Republican Party now finds itself at a crossroads.  One road leads to a future based on personal responsibility and social accountability while the other terminates in a dead end in less than ten years.

Nowhere is this battle more evident than in Texas.  In fact, with California (and its 55 electoral votes) and New York (and its 29 electoral votes) solidly blue, Texas (and its 38 electoral votes) is the future of the Republican Party.  As the immigration wave continues to push northward through the country and the young migrate south, typically Republican Texas demographics dwindle.  Seen as reliably red since Lyndon Johnson proclaimed to Bill Moyers after signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, “I think we just delivered the South to the Republican Party for a long time to come,” minorities now hold sway over the party’s very existence.  And rather than face this fact, some Texans threaten to do again what they did in 1861, that is to say secede.

Welcome to the new country of MadaNASCAR!

The White House website has created a “We the People” site allowing citizens to create petitions for government consideration.  A cursory view of the site shows that forty-two states have petitions (some multiple as if their citizens cannot read) requesting to “peacefully be allowed to secede from the United States and form their own government.”  However, while most of these petitions will fail to reach the 25,000 signature threshold, upon which a formal response will be generated by the administration, the Texas petition is closing in on 100,000 signatures as of this writing.  Only those petitions from Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, Texas and Louisiana have eclipsed the 25,000 signature mark, the second highest tally being Louisiana with just over 33,000 signatures. Ironically, and no doubt created with some caprice, there is a petition which has gathered over 4,000 signatures requesting that the city of Austin be allowed “to withdraw from the state of Texas and remain part of the United States!”

Current Republican intransigence and Texan hubris guarantee the party’s extinction.  There are estimates that Texas will transition to a blue state within the course of the next presidential election cycle.  If that is allowed to occur, if California, Texas and New York are solidly blue, there is virtually no mathematical chance for a Republican to garner the requisite 270 electoral votes to become president.  Covering one’s eyes does not prevent the bus from hitting you.  Threatening to secede does nothing to prevent your losing your seat at the table.  Republicans must acknowledge that it is not 1950 any longer and that minorities (who will not remain “minor” for very much longer), women and homosexuals may soon make up the lion’s share of the electorate and have learned to make their voices known.  Mitt Romney won the male vote 52% to 45%, the 65 and older vote 56% to 44%, the white vote 59% to 39%, the religious vote 59% to 39%, the anti-immigrant (self-deporting is a good and viable idea) vote 73% to 24% and married people vote 56% to 42%.  However, it was clearly not enough. Will we look back upon the 2012 election as the last run by Republicans using the old game plan, having embraced change while encouraging personal responsibility or as a sacrosanct platform used again in 2016 and saw the party of Lincoln fade from relevance and disappear?  In a word, should we help those wanting to secede pack or show them their seat at the new American table?

Perhaps…

Perhaps the Republican Party will reflect on this election loss and consider its implications on their future.

Perhaps the religious right will no longer be the centerpiece of the Republican Party.  America largely ignored Romney’s Mormonism as an issue.  Perhaps Republicans can learn to ignore everybody else’s religion (or lack thereof).  As America becomes increasingly secular, perhaps we can dispense with the politically correct insipidness that it is alright for anybody to believe in creationism after they have attained the age of two and played with a toy dinosaur.  Perhaps the fanaticism employed by the right in their attempts to include God in every discussion should be left to the Islamic fanatics of the Middle East.  Perhaps the frenzied somnambulist’s nightmare of sharia law infiltrating American jurisprudence can be left to the conspiracy theorists.  Surely we can agree that while American’s rejected Romney’s attempt to return the United States to the social constructs of the year 1950, are there any circumstances under which we would accept a return to the Islamic laws of the year 632?  Someone once said that one conspiracy theorist is a schizophrenic, whereas a group of them is a Republican convention.  Perhaps it is time to change that.

Perhaps the right wing will clear themselves of their paranoid miasma of a national “confiscation day,” where President Obama personally goes door-to-door collecting every gun from the self-proclaimed “sane,” 2nd amendment loving, NRA financing, gun lovers.  Perhaps we can have a rational discussion on gun control and agree that ordinary citizens probably do not need a semi-automatic assault rifle with a 100 round clip in order to defend themselves from a burglar, unless the burglar is China, in which case we have an exceedingly well armored military.

Perhaps Republicans can agree that rape is not a topic on which there can be two rational sides.

Perhaps Republicans will see women’s rights and control over their own bodies as sacrosanct and not fodder for white men to debate.

Perhaps marriage equality will extend its foothold in the less religiously rigid states and plant the seeds for a national discussion devoid of homosexuality being considered a moral abomination and “curable.”

Perhaps Republicans will see Latino’s not as a monolithic Democratic voting block consisting of “wetbacks” and illegal (I hate this term) aliens, but rather Americans.  A look at any of the maps used by the networks in last night’s election coverage shows that America, beyond Tim Russert’s Red State/Blue State analogy is really about urban versus suburban, white versus everybody else (captured as that all-encompassing and grossly misrepresentative term “ethnic”).  For example,  white suburban Virginia versus the “ethnic” northern part of the state, white suburban Ohio versus the “ethnic,” blue-collared northern part of the state, white suburban western Pennsylvania versus the “ethnic” Philadelphia region.  See a pattern?  White’s comprise huge swaths of territory, but with few inhabitants versus the “ethnic” and densely populated cities.  The Red State/Blue State paradigm is flawed.  Perhaps, it should be county based, or perhaps it is time for white Americans to stop trying to return America to the “good old days” of segregation and oppressive “white power” and embrace their place in the prismatic colors that are America’s skin tones.

Perhaps Republicans will take this opportunity to unite with Democrats and engage in meaningful arguments about the cataclysmic topics facing America, represent their constituents without abandoning the greater good and moving the needle on America’s march into an energy independent future.  Perhaps we can dispense with the banal name calling and talentless idolatry rampant in America and engender personal responsibility as a manifesto for our children.

Perhaps Donald Trump will donate his $5 million to a charity of his choice and sit down.

Perhaps, but probably not.

Game Day Quotes

The election is finally upon us.  We vote today and await the results tonight.  Tomorrow all the political placards will vanish from our lawns.  All of the candidate commercials on television will give way and our TV’s will once again be bombarded with advertisements for erectile dysfunction prescriptions, Fords, Chevy’s, pizza and college football promotions.  Before we move on to another sporting season, here are a few select quotes on the political process for your amusement and consideration.  As always, comments are appreciated.

“Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.”  ― George Bernard Shaw

“I do not know if the people of the United States would vote for superior men if they ran for office, but there can be no doubt that such men do not run.”  ― Alexis de Tocqueville

“Our great democracies still tend to think that a stupid man is more likely to be honest than a clever man.”  ― Bertrand Russell

“Democracy is reproached with saying that the majority is always right. But progress says that the minority is always right.”  ― G.K. Chesterton

“Every election is determined by the people who show up.”  ― Larry J. Sabato

“In a republican nation, whose citizens are to be led by reason and persuasion and not by force, the art of reasoning becomes of first importance” ― Thomas Jefferson

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser men so full of doubts.”  ― Bertrand Russell

“Omnia praeclara tam difficilia quam rara sunt (All things excellent are as difficult as they are rare)”  ― Baruch Spinoza

“We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”  ― Thomas Jefferson

“I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.”  ― Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Those who will not reason, perish in the act. Those who will not act, perish for that reason.”  ― W.H. Auden

“All I have is a voice.”  ― W.H. Auden

“The governor of Texas, who, when asked if the Bible should also be taught in Spanish, replied that ‘if English was good enough for Jesus, then it’s good enough for me.” ― Christopher Hitchens

“The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks.”  ― Christopher Hitchens

“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.”  ― Sinclair Lewis

“If you are bored and disgusted by politics and don’t bother to vote, you are in effect voting for the entrenched Establishments of the two major parties, who please rest assured are not dumb, and who are keenly aware that it is in their interests to keep you disgusted and bored and cynical and to give you every possible reason to stay at home doing one-hitters and watching MTV on primary day. By all means stay home if you want, but don’t bullshit yourself that you’re not voting. In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard’s vote.”  ― David Foster Wallace

“You have to remember one thing about the will of the people: it wasn’t that long ago that we were swept away by the Macarena.”  ― Jon Stewart

“A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.”  ― Edward R. Murrow

“On Undecided Voter​s: “To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broke​n glass in it?”  To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.”  ― David Sedaris

“In politics we presume that everyone who knows how to get votes knows how to administer a city or a state. When we are ill… we do not ask for the handsomest physician, or the most eloquent one.”  ― Plato

“If pro is the opposite of con, what is the opposite of Congress?”  ― Will Rogers

“If you actually are an educated, thinking person, you will not be welcome in Washington, D.C. I know a couple of bright seventh graders who would not be welcome in Washington D.C.”  ― Kurt Vonnegut

“The whole dream of democracy is to raise the proletariat to the level of stupidity attained by the bourgeoisie.”  ― Gustave Flaubert

“Come senators, congressmen

Please heed the call

Don’t stand in the doorway

Don’t block up the hall

For he that gets hurt

Will be he who has stalled

There’s a battle outside ragin’.

It’ll soon shake your windows

And rattle your walls

For the times they are a-changin’.”  ― Bob Dylan

“Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.”  ― Otto von Bismarck

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.  – Nelson Mandela

“It is a great danger for everyone when what is shocking changes.”  ― Graham Greene

“But, Jefferson worried that the people – and the argument goes back to Thucydides and Aristotle – are easily misled. He also stressed, passionately and repeatedly, that it was essential for the people to understand the risks and benefits of government, to educate themselves, and to involve themselves in the political process.  Without that, he said, the wolves will take over.”  ― Carl Sagan

“Even a purely moral act that has no hope of any immediate and visible political effect can gradually and indirectly, over time, gain in political significance.”  ― Václav Havel

“They deem him their worst enemy who tells them the truth.”  –Plato

“In a democracy, the most important office is the office of citizen.”  ― Louis Brandeis

“Ideology is the science of idiots.”  ― John Adams

“History is changed by martyrs who tell the truth.”  ― Miguel Syjuco

“A thinking man never be a party man.”  ― Friedrich Nietzsche

“Let no one misunderstand our idea; we do not confound what are called ‘political opinions’ with that grand aspiration after progress with that sublime patriotic, democratic, and human faith, which, in our days, should be the very foundation of all generous intelligence.”  ― Victor Hugo

“I take criticism so seriously as to believe that, even in the midst of a battle in which one is unmistakably on one side against another, there should be criticism, because there must be critical consciousness if there are to be issues, problems, values, even lives to be fought for… Criticism must think of itself as life-enhancing and constitutively opposed to every form of tyranny, domination, and abuse; its social goals are noncoercive knowledge produced in the interests of human freedom.”  ― Edward W. Said

“In the early ages of the world, according to the scripture chronology, there were no kings; the consequence of which was there were no wars; it is the pride of kings which throws mankind into confusion.”  ― Thomas Paine

RED, white and BLUE

The presidential election is in four days and the divide in America has once again been colorized for our dim amusement.  It’s the red states versus the blue states! We should all get t-shirts for the $10 billion being spent on the race, a patriotic “shirts versus skins” game for the world to observe.  Is this a case of north versus south, east versus west, the egomaniacal one-per-centers versus the torpid proletariat, big business versus farmers, cities versus the heartland?  Classify it however you want.  Categorize it until it meets your expectations.  But the differences are there.  First, the facts:

Blue States Red States
Population 63.4% 36.4%
Land Mass 35.9% 64.1%
Population Density, people per sq. mile 659 75
Median Age 37.4 36.0
White America 67.9% 73.8%
Black America 10.6% 11.7%
Latino America 12.6% 8.3%
Asian America 5.4% 1.8%
Foreign Born Americans 11.5% 5.5%
High School Graduation Rates 87.4% 85.5%
Bachelor’s Degrees 30.6% 24.2%
Home of Top 50 Universities 40 10
Veterans 62.2% 37.8%
Military Recruits, per 1,000 eligible 18-24 2.07 2.49
Median Home Value $260,089 $141,129
Median Household Income $56,293 $46,696
Unemployment 7.8% 7.0%
Poverty Rate 12.2% 14.9%
Obesity Rate 25.5% 28.7%
Businesses 66.8% 33.2%
Women-Owned Businesses 15.7% 15.2%
New Home Construction 50.8% 49.2%
Marriage Rates, per 100,000 7.9% 7.3%
Divorce Rates, per 100,000 3.5% 4.1%
Belief in God 66% 78%
Gun Ownership 28.0% 47.1%
Deaths by Firearm, per 100,000 9.5 13.7

One could spend all day searching for correlations among these characteristics; however, a few do stand out more prominently than others.  For example, combining several characteristics, one can state that the Blue States tend to be better educated with higher high school graduation rates, more bachelor degrees and more of the top universities.  Blue States also tend to spend more on their houses (4.6 times their median income) versus Red States who spend only 3.0 times their income on a home.  True, this could be due to the fact that there is more available land in the Red States presumably making lots cheaper to build on.  However, then isn’t it strange that new home constructions are split about evenly between Blue and Red?  And while the overwhelming numbers of businesses reside in the Blue States, their unemployment rate is higher than in the Red States.  However, the poverty rate and obesity rate is higher in Red States.  There is also a strange dichotomy in the Red States.  While being comprised of the “Bible Belt,” they yet have lower marriage rates, higher divorce rates, higher gun ownership and more deaths caused by firearms.  What would God think of that combination?

Blue State Propaganda

Politically, it is also a mixed bag.  When polled, Americans consider the economy to be the overriding theme of this presidential election season.  To borrow a phrase from Bill Clinton’s White House, “It’s the economy, stupid.”  But while you would think the states with the highest unemployment would lean toward Mitt Romney and his job creating (albeit mathematically mystical) juggernaut, it is quite the opposite.  Is this a case of mass delusion or a schadenfreude miasma?  Similarly, if Barack Obama is the embodiment of a socialistic welfare state, why then would the region with the highest household income, the most businesses and a lower poverty rate bother to look at him? Were they all working late and missed his soporific first debate?

Red State Propaganda

It is in these mysteries that this election is wrapped.  God bless the RED, white and BLUE.  Now go vote.