What we say and write about the United States is patently untrue. We are not the great nation or people that we love to think we are. This is not a partisan view. The vast majority of Americans want our nation to be good, to be moral, to be ethical. We are not. We have surrendered to war and greed. This is not a new development. Both political parties share in this organized conspiracy.
When Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, was the President of the United Sates of America he tried to hold onto a moral compass, to do what was morally and ethically right. Our democracy has changed bit by bit since that time. With all the fear and criticism of government today, it seems that Lincoln held a different idea:
Top 10 WFB Stories of 2010:
10. Naked Mailman puts Whitefish Bay on the map.
9. Bay Ball comes back with a rumble at the Harley Museum.
8. Armory Park is finished and dedicated.
7. WFB undergoes most infrastructure re-construction in decades.
6. 2009 School Referendum costs 40% lower than expected due to low construction cost and low interest rate loans ranging from 0% to 2.7%.
5. Changes on Silver Spring: Peabody's, Cavalry Games, Schmidt & Bartlett Funeral, Giraffe close. Three Wishes, Minoan, Penzey's open. Fox Bay Condos project dies. Silver Spring Farmers' Market first year is huge success. City Market buys property, Village falls asleep waiting for construction to complete.
4. Leadership changes - Long time WFB Clerk/Treasurer Barb Patin and Village Manager Jim Grassman retire. President Pritchard declines to run for 4th term. Superintendent Jim Rickabaugh retires.
1. Flooding - The deluge in July was clearly the top story of 2010 by a wide margin. The 8+ inch rain was called a 700-year flood by the Journal Sentinel. Hundreds of homes in the Village were inundated by sewer backups and other rain-water related problems. The Village experienced two other rounds of flooding, including the infamous "Manhole Popper" episode, whereby two residents opened a street manhole and drained thousands of gallons of rain into the sanitary sewer, later fined $3,000.
The 112th Congress is about to get started. As always, it is accompanied with hope and aspiration that the right issues will be handled in an effective way. What is important this year? Is it the same thing as last year? Or the year before?
This year will be different. The Republicans will be in charge of the House of Representatives. Already, the Democrats are asking the new speaker of the house, John Boehner, where are the jobs? Yes, job creation is probably the biggest issue facing the country today. And yes, we need results now. But, what were the Democrats doing for the past two years? Weren't they swept into office with an assignment and an agenda to get America out of the recession? Even though the recession has technically ended a year and a half ago, most consumer behavior reflects that of still being in the recession. So, whatever happened to hope? What happened to the change that we wanted to believe it? The time came for change again.
So .. who is the next contestant on Who Wants to be a WFB Trustee?
In America today we are engaged in extreme opinions and perspectives from the right and the left. As we sit on our perch at the extremes, thinking we are right and the other side is wrong, we get crazy. We develop nutty opinions that lose our sense of logic and rationality. Sometimes, though we don't always realize it, our extremes come face to face with one another. Coming from different sides, we nevertheless face each other in a similar position. Often we are so committed to our nutty extreme that we don't realize how goofy we have become.
A case in point is the Mark Twain classic novel, Huckleberry Finn. Coming from the left we have the politically correct people who see in the use of words such as "nigger" to be so offensive that the book should be altered or words changed. Coming from the right are the people who think it is like a swear word or certainly not an appropriate word to be used in public, even in a book that might, for heaven's sake, be read by children!
The attempted assassination on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords represents a sad day in America. Lives were destroyed and America was changed. As a result, we will now be rethinking the way that we approach and have access to our elected officials. What made America great was the access that we had to our lawmakers in the approachability that they made available to us. They are one of us, they are representative of the people.
What was equally shocking is the reaction that people are giving from this. People were shocked, saddened, and disgusted at the attempted assassination of the Congresswoman and the assassinations of six others. But what was not expected was the sharp divisive reaction that the mainstream media was attaching to this.
I am an American. Those were my sisters and brothers who were shot in Tucson. It is a time to stop, reflect, and act in a civil manner. It is not time to over-react.
Did you notice the wide difference between the public statements made by Sarah Palin and Barack Obama regarding last Saturday's shootings in Tucson, Arizona? How do you account for that?
It is clear that the ice at both geographic polar regions is melting. This is very clear from aerial photos from airplanes and satellites. Scientific measurements of air and ocean water temperatures are rising. This all puts more water into the atmosphere. It may only be a degree or two, but this is a trend that finds more and more water in the air, and into the oceans.
The term "global warming" is difficult to discern over the short term, but CLIMATE CHANGE is occuring.
After getting to know the Martin Luther King family in the 1960s, it is special just to type in his name at the head of my blog. Besides the many great contributions of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., I have trumpeted for over 40 years the fact that someone, someday is going to recognize the impact "Daddy King" had on his son's life. Not many people know that the Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. was also a special man in the tradition of a proud, poor Baptist preacher who held firmly to moral and ethical principles. If you knew the family, you also would recognize the impact the elder Martin Luther King had on his son.
In this time slot each year Martin Luther King Day is being celebrated, and many people will compose treatises far better than I about his legacy. Only sick white supremicists would deny King's greatness. But his legacy has been commercialized, prostituted and made more comfortably "white."
Recently there was a story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel which discussed new teaching methods. In the coming years, it was reported that teaching methods and learning methods for longer include a pencil and paper. What hath God wrought?
While it almost always seems like a good idea to have technology make our lives easier, it comes with a price. The price is losing the way that we have always done things. Some of us can remember back when we were kids, when we wanted to change the channel on the TV, we had to get up and walk across the room. Nowadays, you have to get up and walk across the room to find the remote control. Certainly, nobody misses that.
It was my intent to write a very different blog this morning [Wednesday]. However I was tuned into NBC-TV's "Today Show" and caught the interview with Glenn Beck. To say his boorish behavior was nauseating would be an understatement. He had a very difficult time allowing Meredith to finish her questions of him before butting in with his arrogant, self-congratulatory "answer." There actually were not answers, there were self-proclamations about himself and how great he is. And FOX and others pay this buffoon about $25 million a year for such self-boasting. Disgusting.
And then I turned on the computer and read that the newly elected Governor of Alabama, swept in with the Tea Party tide, speaking at Dexter Street Baptist Church in Montgomery where the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. once served as pastor, ...the Governor stated that if you do not believe in Jesus you are not his brother or sister. He refered to whom he will serve as the governor. How's that for a "take" on Christianity ...to say nothing of the U.S. Constitution? Such distortion and self-elevation is becoming commonplace in today's political, cultural, and religious climate. It is indeed sickening.
The Fairness Doctrine had prevailed for many years to keep some fairness and sanity in the media, in political campaigns, etc. Ronald Reagan fought to get rid of it when he became president, and he succeeded. Since then the media and elections have spiraled out of control, impacted by the influence of money, extreme perspectives, elections purchased, civility disappearing from public discourse, etc. We now stand amidst the hateful debris left from that action in 1987. We are no longer a united nation, we have become alienated from each other, and our ideas and perspectives have been swindled away by the biggest bidder and the loudest louts. The fairness that was not always fair, was now completely gone. In a certain sense we hate each other. And I am not guiltless in this morass.
We are now splintered, a scattered people reaching out for some semblance of identity with disappearing ideals, and the passing of the "American Dream." The hope for a piece of this Dream no longer exists for many. We see our viewpoint as holding the only "facts" and therefore we feel we can try in any way possible to destroy anyone or any group different than us. We don't have enough wars elsewhere, we now start wars against ourselves. It is not enough to have the biggest guns, we have to carry them secretly. It is as though we are on a crazy drive to find weapons that will give us a physical extension of our sex organ. I do not disagree with you, I want to destroy you. And the media is accommodating our hateful "taste." The new "intellect" is wrapped up in "I've got mine, too bad about you."
From the early days of the country, Congress has engaged in passing symbolic measures. Such measures have declared holidays, recognized accomplished citizens, and passed other measures which at the time may have seemed important but have actually had no impact on day-to-day life for the long-term.
Last week's expected vote on the repeal of the health care bill provided no surprises. It was regarded as a symbolic vote that the Republicans made to fulfill campaign promises and is not expected to make it to the Senate floor. So why did they do it?
You cannot dip your toe into the water of guns in the U.S. without offending someone or some group. Nevertheless, I plan to do so here. I offer these words to open the discussion. Increasingly, evidence and events insist that we have this discussion about guns and gun control. Even extremists should be open to discuss the subject objectively. Here's my try...
It usually begins with the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It does NOT state what most gun advocates say it does. Here it is exactly as written, every word:
A man and his young son are out early in the morning on a journey that they both hope will be enjoyable and the father especially hopes it will be informative and bonding. The father speaks to his son...
Isn't it wonderful, son, to be out in the woods together? I hope you learn from me. This is a marvelous way for us to get to know each other, and I can teach you some of life's lessons. I want you to know how much I love you. And I want you to know that I want you to learn from my example.
Some years ago, after already having met some heavyweight political leaders in the U.S., I had a private audience with Willy Brandt, then Chancellor of West Germany. Instantly I recognized his leadership attributes. And I was intensely aware how most American political leaders paled by comparison.
Now, many years later, I review the field of top political leaders in the U.S. today. What a depressing review it is. Over and over through the years, as I saw presidential candidates come and go here, I always thought to myself, "Is this the best we can do?"
Since the 1990s we have more and more been faced with the onslaught of a new age in communication, news, correspondence, media, privacy, reading, language, ad infinitum. Depending on many things, your reaction to this dramatic change may be quite varied. Some observations...
Newspapers no longer are the main source for news...today it has been reported from major book sellers that newly printed books are in a minority in sales...because of the anonymity in cyberspace we have become much more hostile and confrontational with each other...people with cell phones do not seem to have any concept of their talking invading my space and I have to listen to inane conversations...we have no idea what we are doing to our children who more and more are addicted to and overly focused on cyberspace...people are using proper language less and less...kids do not know how to spell...we no longer realize what we are doing to education...adults and especially kids cannot keep focused on anything for more than a few minutes...accurate history and documentation have been replaced by Wikipedia and other far less reliable reference sources that have information that is often not only inaccurate but lacks authentication...immediate information is seen as more imporatant to accurate information...we make tons of excuses for the negative aspects of the cyber invasion...we seem overly concerned with aspects of our own and others private lives...we have no concept of how permanent are things we unload into cyberspace...there is an ongoing battle between parents and children about computer use and selection of subject matter...pornography is rampant in cyberspace...naive or immature people are duped and taken advantage of via cyberspace...we no longer practice interpersonal niceties in cyberspace and in our "regular" lives...temptation abounds in cyberspace...children are exposed to things that they are not equipped to handle...opinions on political matters have become more confrontational and hostile...one can be uneducated and uncultured and find a world of ignorance within which they can live a self-directed life and lifestyle...cyber-hostility is creeping into our daily lives in all areas...it is thought by many that it isn't important unless "confirmed" in cyberspace...it has created a chasm between generations...it has made us lazy...study habits are seen as less and less important...our "discoveries" are more and more self-reflected and less about broader science...in a sense there is a war going on between generations and levels of education and genders and religions and families and cultures and aptitude, etc....we are losing our empathy for others...greed more and more rules!...who are our enemies and where are they?...
We have seen the state of the union and apparently were not spending enough money to sustain it.
In his address to Congress, President Obama set to sound optimistic. Well, of course we want to be optimistic and upbeat about the direction of our country. Coming out of a great recession, we are still at a paradigm that we are not confident about the economic status of the country. Unemployment is still too high, housing prices are still depressed, and we still do not feel confident about expanding small businesses and taking on large debt. In short, we are still in the recession mindset.