Posts Tagged ‘concern for America’

Is It Time to Vote Yet?

October 25, 2016

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Rob Dougan: Furious Angel (music from The Matrix)

Do the Right Thing

What could be more timely and apropos than a blog about the 2016 national election, eh! I’ve been reading (actually listening) to a Tom Robbins book titled Tibetan Peach Pie (2014). What a treat! Long time since I read Another Roadside Attraction or Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. Robbins is 84 and living in La Conner, Washington, more or less in my neck of the woods.I only mention him because he was a newspaperman for many years and talked a bit about how much fun journalists have with writing headlines for their articles.

I was thinking about what the title for this piece should be:

  • Election 2016: Anyone Have a Good Write-in Candidate
  • Synonyms for the Word “Circus”
  • My Namesake (Bernie) Dropped Out of the Race – Dammit!

As an aside, let’s look at the word “circus” as in political circus. According to Merriam-Webster (MW) online one of its definitions is: “a place of uproar or confusion”. Some of the synonyms are:

“Babel, bedlam, madhouse, scrum (British), and three-ring circus”.

The Related Words are even more interesting and nonetheless applicable to what we, as Americans, have been subjected to in this election year:

“Bustle, commotion, pandemonium, racket, ruckus, tumult, turmoil, brouhaha, clamor, clatter, din, hubbub, noise; chaos, confusion, disarrangement, disarray, disorder, havoc, hell, mess, muss, shambles.”

I hear a voice saying, what’s the point. Be patient.

What’s My Take On It?

In the days when I was working in an office – I’m more or less retired now – I felt that my political and religious beliefs were personal and therefore not up for discussion or debate. Besides, have you ever noticed that when you discuss politics or religion with anyone, close relative, friend, or total stranger, the discussion is usually one-sided or unidirectional? The other person talks, stops talking, and you talk, but they’re not really listening to what you say, they’re thinking about what they want to say next to reinforce or emphasize THEIR point.

However, having said that, I think we all have a moral obligation to examine the issues and stick to our own beliefs. You may alienate or disagree with a friend or relative by taking a stand, but that shouldn’t matter. As someone once said, “do the right thing”.

To restate my main point, should we vote our conscience regardless of any distracting and probably very biased information about the issues and the persons for whom we are casting our votes? (Anyone know of a good write-in candidate for president?) Spoiler alert – beyond that last question, I’m not telling you who I’m voting for, as I said, it’s personal.

How Does One Make an Intelligent Choice?

I could do an entire blog on information sources, can you trust the media, etc. etc., but I’ll do that one later. In the following short list, I’m including links to an Oregon site (voter’s guide) and some non-local sites, including one about media. There is so much out there (in the internet universe), but obviously, not all sources will be trustworthy and/or unbiased.

A Few Sources You Can Look At

Oregon Family Council Voter’s Guide

League of Women Voters Education Fund (very informative and user friendly source of national election information)

Independent Online News Sources (good information about independent news sources)

A Closing Poem

This poem was sent to me by a close relative, it has nothing to do with politics, but take it to heart. This poem is best read outside, in a loud voice, with your arms out-stretched. Lowercase letters and punctuation were intentional by the poet. Enjoy.

e.e. cummings (1894–1962)
i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening inimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
Canned Heat: Let’s Work Together

What Happened at Crystal City? (Part IV)

August 12, 2016

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The Monkees: Last Train to Clarksville

Saying Goodbye to Crystal City

On February 27, 1948, the Crystal City Internment Camp officially closed. I’m writing this 68 years later in August 2016. I’m not by nature a history buff, never was when I was in school, and I’m only a bit more of a history buff now. However, the whole story about Crystal City got under my skin and made me want to try to understand why it happened.

Stuff Happens, but All Lives Matter

Try this, to put it in perspective for you, to make it personal. Think about something that happened in your life, perhaps a turning point, a wrong decision, a happenstance that sent you down a whole different path. Maybe it was temporary and your life later returned to “normal”. I can think of several episodes in my life – serving a year in Vietnam as a sailor, moving my family cross-country not once but twice. Give it some thought, and you’ll probably come up with at least one episode. How would it have affected your life if you had been one of the thousands of Germans, Italians, or Japanese who were interned (confined) in a camp during WWII?

The answer is “dramatically” of course. Read the following quotes from the book.

More Quotes from Jan Russell’s Book

“Eb Fuhr, who was 17 when he was interned and 22 when he was released said, ‘No one can appreciate the intense terror of government power and the despair of hopelessness that we felt behind that barbed-wire fence’. Then he said, ‘By the same token, no one can appreciate the thrilling sense of freedom I felt when it was over.'”

“Carmen Higa Mochizuki was eleven years old when her father, a poor farmer in Peru who made his living selling milk from his cows was arrested. The government seized her father’s assets. They lost everything in an instant. Her mother, father, and nine siblings were transported to the United States, under American military guard, from Callao, Peru to New Orleans. Their passports and visa were confiscated.”

“At the port in New Orleans, the women, and children were marched to a warehouse, forced to strip, and made to stand in line naked. ‘Then we were all sprayed with insecticide that stung our skin,’ remembered Carmen. ‘Since we had no passports or proof of identity we were arrested as illegal aliens and put on a train to Crystal City. During the train ride, the sister thought we might be killed there.'”

“Politics” Defined: Merriam-Webster
  • “Activities that relate to influencing the actions and policies of a government or getting and keeping power in a government
  • The work or job of people (such as elected officials) who are part of a government
  • The opinions that someone has about what should be done by governments : a person’s political thoughts and opinions”

Does politics enter into any of this? Was Executive Order 9066, the order that allowed FDR to set up Crystal City even legal. I decided to do some research to answer that question.

Some Wikipedia Stuff

“United States presidents issue executive orders to help officers and agencies of the executive branch manage the operations within the federal government itself.”

By the way, don’t feel obligated to use the links, but you might find the information edifying.

Use this link to see a list of the number of executive orders issued by past presidents and the current president. By far the most, FDR issued over 3,000 executive orders. You might note that the Federal Register, especially if you’re a “research hound” like me, makes for some very interesting reading about what has been published by various agencies.

There is no constitutional provision nor statute that explicitly permits executive orders. The term executive power in Article II, Section 1, Clause 1 of the Constitution refers to the office of President as the executive. He (or she) is instructed therein by the declaration “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed” made in Article II, Section 3, Clause 5 or face impeachment.

From ThisNation.com (August 8, 2016)

“Executive Orders are controversial because they allow the President to make major decisions, even law, without the consent of Congress. This, of course, runs against the general logic of the Constitution — that no one should have power to act unilaterally. Nevertheless, Congress often gives the President considerable leeway in implementing and administering federal law and programs. Sometimes, Congress cannot agree exactly how to implement a law or program. In effect, this leaves the decision to the federal agencies involved and the President that stands at their head. When Congress fails to spell out in detail how a law is to be executed, it leaves the door open for the President to provide those details in the form of Executive Orders.”

Wrapping it Up

Remember Howard Beale in Network. See my earlier blog, America, Part 2, August 1, 2013. Are you madder than hell and not willing to take it anymore?

I told myself I’d let this piece about Crystal City speak for itself and not politicize over it. But I felt compelled to add a bit of political content to educate and make sure the issues were clear.

For me, the bottom line question is, if in fact the U.S. government was instituted (from day 1) to serve the needs of the American people, are the American people’s needs being served?

That’s it, I hope Crystal City was a good read for you!

Blogger’s Note

I  am admittedly a “train freak”, something about the sounds, the vibrations as it passes, etc. If you happen to be in Sacramento, I highly recommend you go to the California State Railroad Museum. I was there in 2008 and was very impressed with the exhibits (several full-size engines) and a well-presented history of the transcontinental railroad. The museum sits on the site where it ended.

Blind Faith: Can’t Find My Way Home

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What Happened at Crystal City (Part III)

May 30, 2016

First Things First

In Part I, there is a picture with the caption, “What is It?”. Maybe you weren’t fooled ..

It was merely a garden ornament masquerading as a miniature planet (somewhat earth-like).

The Power of Love (from the Back to the Future soundtrack)

What’s the Big Deal?

OK, so what, the federal government decided to imprison a lot of people against their will because they might be a threat to America. That seems reasonable and justifiable, right? Obviously, not the power of love.

I had to think about what all of it meant to me after I started reading Jan Russell’s book, which as I said before, is really quite interesting and revealing. Note the following passage from her book. Go to Amazon if you want to snag a copy.

“By August 1945, the machinery of internment implemented during the run-up to the war in December 1941, was already being taken apart. Already many of the fifty-four internment camps  operated by the US military and the thirty camps operated by the Immigration and Naturalization Service had shut down. The camp at Crystal City, the only family camp, was still open, but with a reduced population That summer 2,548 Japanese, 756 Germans, and 12 Italian internees were left.”

The author estimated that there were approximately 6,000 internees incarcerated at Crystal City during its six years of operation. It was officially closed on February 27, 1948. I had just turned three at the time and was living in Texas.

In her preface to the book, the author talks about the 120,000 Japanese (62% of them American-born) who were forcibly evacuated from the Pacific coast after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. She also talks about the executive order signed by President Roosevelt, which permitted the secretary of war to arrest and incarcerate Japanese, Germans, and Italians who had been declared “enemy aliens”.

Just an aside, as you mull over the previous two paragraphs, I want to comment on the effort and methods used to write the book, which author Russell describes in detail in the sources and notes. As a writer, I thoroughly appreciate the effort it took to compile the information. Interestingly, another book, Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, also involved internment during World War II and was very well-researched and written and also relied heavily on personal interviews.

It Is a Big Deal!

The answer of course is yes, it is a big deal. I may do more Crystal City installments, after going through the book in more detail and gaining more insights into how I feel about what happened and how I should respond. OK, it was just plain wrong, all of it – there, I’ve said it. Am I going to recommend to others how they should respond? No, it’s up to each individual to make up their mind how to respond.

Back to the Future Main Theme (City of Prague Philharmonic)
A Quick Tour of Washington and Yamhill Counties in Oregon

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What Happened at Crystal City? (Part II)

May 9, 2016
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Gospodor Monument

Note about the pictures and the music: One of the structures in the monument represents the Holocaust, which seemed to be an appropriate photo for this blog. Please Google Gospodor Monument for more information. The picture in Part I, if you’re still curious about it, will eventually be explained. I guess I’ve always had The Police song on my favorites list, and one day while I was swimming laps I decided it was a good choice for this blog. Did I hear someone say “what an understatement”!
The Police: Every Breath You Take

Introduction to Part II

Giving the appropriate credits and attributions is always a necessary part of what I write about in my blog. Without good sources for information and inspiration, the creation process would be much harder if not impossible. One of my sources is a book by Jan Jarboe Russell, The Train to Crystal City, published in 2015 by Scribners, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. I will annotate any direct quotes with her name in this and any succeeding installments. Other credits will be included as needed.

The Five W’s and the H

I highly recommend Jan Russell’s book. The following synopsis comes from Amazon where I bought my copy.

“During World War II, trains delivered thousands of civilians from the United States and Latin America to Crystal City, Texas. The trains carried Japanese, German, and Italian immigrants and their American-born children. The only family internment camp during the war, Crystal City was the center of a government prisoner exchange program called ‘quiet passage’. Hundreds of prisoners in Crystal City were exchanged for other more ostensibly important Americans—diplomats, businessmen, soldiers, and missionaries—behind enemy lines in Japan and Germany.”

Jan Jarboe Russell focuses on two American-born teenage girls, uncovering the details of their years spent in the camp; the struggles of their fathers; their families’ subsequent journeys to war-devastated Germany and Japan; and their years-long attempt to survive and return to the United States, transformed from incarcerated enemies to American loyalists. Their stories of day-to-day life at the camp, from the ten-foot high security fence to the armed guards, daily roll call, and censored mail, have never been told.

Combining big-picture World War II history with a little-known event in American history, The Train to Crystal City reveals the war-time hysteria against the Japanese and Germans in America, the secrets of FDR’s tactics to rescue high-profile POWs in Germany and Japan, and above all, ‘is about identity, allegiance, and home, and the difficulty of determining the loyalties that lie in individual human hearts’ (Texas Observer).”

Most of us older types and others, perhaps younger history buffs, know about the internment camps that existed during the war, on the west coast and other locations. Manzanar in California is the one that I remember. However, Crystal City was the only family internment camp during World War II. I’m including a Wikipedia link. Be sure to check it out. Wikipedia has included a very interesting map and photos. The number of locations is kind of mind-blowing.

Also, the following caption from a photo in the Wikipedia piece is interesting and ironic.

“The 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which was composed primarily of Japanese Americans, served with uncommon distinction in the European Theatre of World War II. Many of the U.S. soldiers serving in the unit had families who were held in concentration camp in the United States while they fought abroad.”

More to come in Part III. Read the book if you get a chance.

Two parting quotes

The first quote is off-topic but appropriate for the holiday (May 8), and the other quote is on-topic and also very good.

God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers. Rudyard Kipling
The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men. Lyndon B. Johnson

 

California Dreaming

February 5, 2016

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It’s Good to Take a Break

We Oregonians brag about our wonderful state, its beauty and all the things there are to do there, and it’s all true – come up and see us and we’ll give you the grand tour. My dad (God bless him) used to call it “God’s country”. Perhaps God lingered a bit when he created Oregon. Speaking of lingering . . .

Mamas and the Papas: California Dreaming

 

Has Anyone Seen my Sunscreen?

Sunshine is probably overrated, but I have to admit I do like it. Sitting in the courtyard by the pool, with a cup of coffee, writing in  my journal, it felt great! I actually had to go to Walmart and buy sunscreen yesterday – hey, it’s February, and I live in Oregon, what can I say, I wasn’t prepared for the sun.

What about People?

I wrote a blog post last year about people – you can go take a look.

Personas

I’ve always considered myself a “people” person, perhaps growing up in Texas gave me that personality trait, that willingness to talk to a total  stranger. Everyone you meet can be your friend, just say hello. Anyway, we were in SoCal last year, same place, same hotel. We came down for my brother-in-law’s celebration of life. I’m glad we did, it was a well-said goodbye to Chris, who was a good man. One of my favorite quotes says it better than I can. Here’s a piece of it – “the people we meet along the way will be the traveling companions of our lives forever.” Use the link to see the whole quote and some other quotes that talk about life and people.

Case in Point, about People.

As I was saying, I like meeting people. On that trip about a year ago, I was sitting out in the courtyard enjoying that wonderful morning sunshine and drinking coffee. I got into a conversation with Jack. He was a Spurs fan, but he wasn’t from Texas, said he had driven down from Seattle the night before. Anyway, he told me about himself, ex-Navy, an Aviation Mechanic who served at Oak Harbor and El Salvador but no carrier duty. We talked about how boring that long drive on I-5 was, which is why we decided to fly on this trip. Maybe our paths will cross again in the future.

I met Theresa on the way out on the plane, she was in the seat next to mine. She was on her way down to California to see two of her eight grandchildren. The people you meet . . .

On this 2016 trip I’ve met a bunch of people, some who are friends of relatives, spending time at our favorite pub in Santa Clarita, enjoying the dart tournament (Bob throws underhanded), music and food and drinks (I got to try three new craft beers!). I met Terry, an ex-Alabaman, who is thinking about moving to L.A. and came out to look for a house. In the hotel fitness center, I met Mo from Simi Valley. He asked me about the thing going on Burns, if it was affecting me where I lived. We got into a brief political discussion about the federal government and the “compulsory” laws that we were supposed to obey. I decided not to argue the point since he was lifting a lot more weight than I was. :}

What’s Next

Not sure what my next blog will be – content now to enjoy one more full day of sunshine before we leave to return to the rain.

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That small bird was really proud of himself – I drank the whole thing!

 

Celebrate Veterans Day – November 11, 2015

November 11, 2015

Is it an important holiday and how should we celebrate it?

I think most, if not all of us, would answer “yes” to the first part of  the question. It’s the second part that I want to focus on. I’ll explain what prompted me to do this blog today. Don’t miss the important web link at the bottom.

Supertramp – Take the Long Road Home
United States of America

United States of America

I was not shuffling around my house (doctor’s post-surgical instructions) but sitting in my lounger with my legs elevated and my cryo cuff with ice cold water firmly attached to my right knee joint, and I looked at my crutches that were propped up on the couch. Obviously, this being November 11, Veterans Day, I had been thinking about stuff – for example, my crutches are temporary (hopefully), but how about the vets who are permanently disabled.

Let me briefly interject a thought here. I’m hoping that my readers will be open-minded about war. Whether you are pro-war or anti-war is none of my business. All I’m asking of you in this modest, non-political piece is to respect and honor what others have done on our behalf.

How about some word pictures? A double amputee in a wheel chair rolls up the ramp and into the airport waiting area. He has a family there to greet him, which is a good thing. His young daughter bends down to give him a big hug. They both have tears in their eyes. On the same flight a young woman walks off the plane. One side of her face is disfigured. No one is there to greet her, and she is disappointed, but she manages a smile. She’s back in America and so glad to be here.

I’m a vet and proud of it. Ironically, I wasn’t always patriotic. However, I received my draft notice from the “BBQ King” (that’s what we called LBJ in those days). I’ll skip the details about how I failed my induction physical and ended up in the Navy Reserves. Those details are in another section of this blog.

What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?

And your point is?

It’s time to get to the point. Here’s what I would like to suggest. Make it your mission to honor a vet, any vet, not just today but often. It could be something as simple as saying hello, shaking their hand, or patting them on the back to acknowledge what they did. If you have time, buy them a cup of coffee or just spend a few minutes talking to them. Ask them about their service. If they don’t want to talk about, don’t push it. For some the memories are too painful. Remember, you’re recognizing the fact that they gave of themselves in serving this great country.

Ending Notes

I would like to end with music and a web link. The music is an old piece that brings back memories from my shipboard life in Vietnam. One of the pasttimes of the sailors on my ship was to record music (reel-to-reel tape in those days) to send back home. It was a nice diversion.

Blind Faith – Can’t Find My Way Home

Here is a link to a local charity that works with vets. I’ve done volunteer work for them and can vouch for their mission, which is to help our vets to survive (literally) and to be able to reassimilate into society after their service. Consider donating in whatever way you can to their very worthy cause.

Returning Veterans Project

Rufous-sided Towhee

Rufous-sided Towhee

Birthday Blog: February 23, 2015

February 24, 2015

I think I can blame my birthday and various media for inspiring this blog.

  • A broadcast news item about raising the flag at Iwo Jima (see the Wikipedia piece).
  • Bachman Turner Overdrive’s Taking Care of Business coming out of my PC speakers.

OK, get over it, I’m old school, it’s a Dell desktop, and the music is coming out of external speakers my son was nice enough to install, small but with an impressive bass response. Thanks, son!

I won’t name all the songs I was listening to, but there were 3 BTO, 3 Canned Heat, and 3 Chicago tracks, obviously music I like. One of the Canned Heat tracks was Let’s Work Together (Let’s Stick Together). I believe it’s on Disc 2 of Uncanned: The Best of Canned Heat album if you’re interested. Music and images (Iwo Jima) is a segue . . . possibly.

Today was a pretty darn good birthday. Even work was kind of fun – go figure, eh! I got happy birthdays from my Facebook friends, which I was checking out on my lunch break of course. I liked it and got a little buzzed about having 34 people wish me a happy birthday! I should try to move along in this modest literary exercise, tomorrow is another workday. Perhaps you glanced at my 2015 Preview – here are a few snippets to wet your curiosity.

“Who is Peter Finch?” – The title of this upcoming post should be, “Who is Howard Beale?” because he is the character that Peter Finch played. You should at least google it or read the imdb.com summary of the film. Better yet, buy a copy or rent it on Amazon. The movie was highly acclaimed, winning several academy awards that year. But why was he shouting “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.” Remember it was a “satire”, but you should look up the definition if you aren’t familiar with that word.

An even better question is, “why aren’t we mad as hell and shouting I’m not going to take it anymore”? For now, I will mention just this one more thing, which is a carryover from my college days at a military school. People used to say things like, “Your head is so far up your _ _ _ that you need a glass belt buckle to see where you’re going.” Now as I recall more clearly, that was often what an upperclassman (usually a sophomore) would say to an underclassman (a freshman) when the cadet couldn’t answer a question about some obscure fact related to the college. Do we as Americans have our heads up our _ _ _ _ _ about what’s going on?

Remember my blog post on December 21, 2014, about mindfulness – try this just for fun. The next time you’re in a serious conversation with someone, really listen to what they’re saying and try to respond, rather than, while they’re talking, thinking about your own ideas and what you want to say. More in my next installment about mindfulness.

I’m about done. Two more items to complete the segue from the two bullets above. The Canned Heat songs (titles and music) speak for themselves, as does the Iwo Jima photograph. Think about it. There are six people raising the flag in the famous photograph, five Marines and a Navy Corpsman. Three of the Marines were killed in action over the next few days. Any flag raisers out there? God I hope so!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raising_the_Flag_on_Iwo_Jima

America – I Like the Old America, What about You?

July 29, 2013

I was working on my thoughts for this post Sunday night (7/28/13), and I realized I needed to sleep so I could get up and go to work tomorrow . . . but stay tuned for the rest of the story in a day or so. It will be worth the wait, trust me!

America, Part 2: August 1, 2013

Something on Facebook, a post from an old acquaintance from my high school days, literally old (about my age), inspired me to write this blog post. I forget exactly what his post said, you know how we blitz through things on our computers – actually, I was on my Kindle. Anyway, I had this strong desire to post a blog about America.

Do you remember the movie “Network” with Peter Finch and Faye Dunaway (released in 1976)? Here’s the tweet-length synopsis:

“A TV network cynically exploits a deranged ex-TV anchor’s ravings and revelations about the media for their own profit.”

The scene that sticks in my mind and the reason why I’m even mentioning it is the scene where Howard Beale (Peter Finch) opens a window in his office building and says “I’m madder than hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.” Are you madder than hell and not willing to take it anymore?

Stay tuned for the next installment!

America, Part 3: August 3, 2013

I have to pause to answer a question posed by a friend – think of this as an interactive blog. The question is: so what part(s) of Old America do you like better than now?

The short answer is that I like the traditional values and sense of community that I experienced when I was growing up. A neighbor was someone you talked to often and invited over to your house or someone you helped when they needed a hand.

I’m thinking about this a lot. I haven’t written us (America) off and there are many examples of caring communities who demonstrate these values, who volunteer themselves to help when help is needed. I just read an article in the August 2013 Reader’s Digest by Phillip Caputo titled “What Unites These States?” He and his wife traveled across country to find out the answer to that question. You’ll have to read it to find out the answer, but I was encouraged by the article.

Maybe the government, the media, the doomsayers, and the conspiracy theorists have colored my perception of the current state of good ole USA. And maybe we’re not so bad off in terms of our grass roots values as a people, but I’m thinking that our values need to be looked at, thought about, and evaluated. What is truly important to us and where are we going as a nation, as Americans?

More to come.

America, Part 4, For the Record: August 12, 2013

Whew! What a summer, actually, what a year! You ever have one of those periods in your life when it seems like it’s all happening at once without a break? No matter, here’s my entry for today.

In our current political climate, there are many forms of dissent and some very prolific dissent – left, right, peaceful, and radical. Just surf the Web or turn on your TV. I’m not advocating dissent, at least not in an extreme form. What I am suggesting is that people speak their minds about what America means to them. Jeffersonian democracy or Hamiltonian democracy, what is your preference (please excuse the rhetorical question)? Remember, Thomas Jefferson’s belief that the government that governs best governs least and Hamilton’s belief in centralized power. Too much of one leads to anarchy and too much of the other leads to tyranny. Oops, I’m politicizing and I told I myself wouldn’t do that, so I need to get back on track now. For the record, I’m not advocating liberalism, conservatism, or any other “ism”. I’m just trying to take America’s pulse on how its people feel about grass roots values and our future.

Next: A Journalistic Approach


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