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The archaic structure of the US. senate worked against the will of the vast majority of the American people yesterday when the Senate rejected legislation that would have required minimal background checks for purchasing a gun.
A 21st century democracy requires more of a Senate and Federal government than what we are getting.
Is it time for a new American government, one that is a 21st century evolution of our original American Revolution?
We need a government that reflects the popular vote, not the archaic Electoral College. We need a government with a Senate that reflects the population distribution in our country. We need a House of Representatives that is not gerrymandered to serve partisan political interests. We need a government where elections are federally funded and that rejects being purchased by special interests. We need term limits for Congress, to restore civilian rule of our country.
Our government is not doing its job. Both parties are failures. It’s time — we need a new government, a Constitutional convention, a re-invention of America.
On Morning Joe today, someone suggested we should celebrate Congress, which is apparently getting together on background checks applicable to gun show and gun shop weapon purchases. I guess we are so disillusioned with our Congress, that any little progress at all is cause for celebration. BS. What little Congress has the potential to do to stem gun violence they have proven largely incapable of (biG surprise). What happened to assault gun sale prohibitions, and restrictions on large magazines?
Even if our impotent Congress did everything possible legislatively, it would hardly make a dent in the gun violence issue. Until private ownership of assault guns, large magazines, automatic weapons, and pistols (except small caliber target pistols) are restricted to the police and military, gun violence will continue substantially unabated.
The 2nd amendment calls for “well-regulated militias” to be allowed to be armed. That means the military. Is that so hard to understand? Someone said to me yesterday, “do I think knives should be restricted, too?” No. Guns offer the opportunity for remote killing, and can be wielded with vastly greater efficiency and effect than knives, or bows and arrows. That’s why guns were invented. So let’s get real — guns extend and increase our human ability to damage others, exponentially.
Yes, people deserve to be able to hunt with guns, and defend themselves, but they don’t have to be armed to the teeth with military-type and concealed weapons to do so. People, and even Congress, know this, and our collective failure to act on this knowledge could be the death of us, and not just philosophically.
My personal essay, “All That Glitters,” relates the story of how Nixon’s cynical political deal to postpone a truce in Vietnam ultimately cost 20,000 Americans lives and perhaps a million more Asians. Now the truth is all out, that covering up Nixon’s deal led to Watergate. An excerpt from Robert Parry’s new article, putting it all together, is below. You can find the full article at www.smirkingchimp.com and search under Robert Parry’s blog. My essay can be found at www.chilit.org, and search under my essay title.
“A favorite saying of Official Washington is that “the cover-up is worse than the crime.” But that presupposes you accurately understand what the crime was. And, in the case of the two major U.S. government scandals of the last third of the Twentieth Century – Watergate and Iran-Contra – that doesn’t seem to be the case.
“Indeed, newly disclosed documents have put old evidence into a sharply different light and suggest that history has substantially miswritten the two scandals by failing to understand that they actually were sequels to earlier scandals that were far worse. Watergate and Iran-Contra were, in part at least, extensions of the original crimes, which involved dirty dealings to secure the immense power of the presidency.
“In the case of Watergate – the foiled Republican break-in at the Democratic National Committee in June 1972 and Richard Nixon’s botched cover-up leading to his resignation in August 1974 – the evidence is now clear that Nixon created the Watergate burglars out of his panic that the Democrats might possess a file on his sabotage of Vietnam peace talks in 1968.
“Shortly after Nixon took office in 1969, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover informed him of the existence of the file containing national security wiretaps documenting how Nixon’s emissaries had gone behind President Lyndon Johnson’s back to convince the South Vietnamese government to boycott the Paris Peace Talks, which were close to ending the Vietnam War in fall 1968.
“The disruption of Johnson’s peace talks then enabled Nixon to hang on for a narrow victory over Democrat Hubert Humphrey. However, as the new President was taking steps in 1969 to extend the war another four-plus years, he sensed the threat from the wiretap file and ordered two of his top aides, chief of staff H.R. “Bob” Haldeman and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, to locate it. But they couldn’t find the file.
We now know that was because President Johnson, who privately had called Nixon’s Vietnam actions “treason,” had ordered the file removed from the White House by his national security aide Walt Rostow.
“Rostow labeled the file “The ‘X’ Envelope” and kept it in his possession, although having left government, he had no legal right to possess the highly classified documents, many of which were stamped “Top Secret.” Johnson had instructed Rostow to retain the papers as long as he, Johnson, was alive and then afterwards to decide what to do with them.
Nixon, however, had no idea that Johnson and Rostow had taken the missing file or, indeed, who might possess it. Normally, national security documents are passed from the outgoing President to the incoming President to maintain continuity in government.
But Haldeman and Kissinger had come up empty in their search. They were only able to recreate the file’s contents, which included incriminating conversations between Nixon’s emissaries and South Vietnamese officials regarding Nixon’s promise to get them a better deal if they helped him torpedo Johnson’s peace talks.
“So, the missing file remained a troubling mystery inside Nixon’s White House, but Nixon still lived up to his pre-election agreement with South Vietnamese President Nguyen van Thieu to extend U.S. military participation in the war with the goal of getting the South Vietnamese a better outcome than they would have received from Johnson in 1968.
Nixon not only continued the Vietnam War, which had already claimed more than 30,000 American lives and an estimated one million Vietnamese, but he expanded it, with intensified bombing campaigns and a U.S. incursion into Cambodia. At home, the war was bitterly dividing the nation with a massive anti-war movement and an angry backlash from war supporters.”
These lunches and dinners with Republicans President Obama is having are a shallow, cynical ploy to garner points for crossing the political divide. It is a transparent bit of public relations crisis management, obviously designed to make the White House look convivial with “reasonable” Republicans.
Such meetings need not have been publicized, if substance trumped image, and they clearly could have been held before the sequester disaster. It’s unfortunate that White House communications operatives are sinking to the same level of insincerity as Congress has become so well known for to date.
As a retired public relationships professional, I’m embarrassed to see such amateur and transparent communications tactics taking the place of real substantial political dialog and a sprit of patriotic cooperation between the White House and Congress.
In my previous observations on the drone mess, I briefly passed over the Reagan-era Star Wars bundle of laser technology that wound up at nearby Yerkes Observatory, here at Geneva Lake, Wisconsin. Yerkes is the founding home of astrophysics in America, and still houses the world’s largest refracting telescope. Jim Gee, who runns Yerkes for the University of Chicago, is a friend and saw my “Droning” blog. He added some valuable detail on what lies beneath those giant telescopes at Yerkes, as a portion of what taxpayers spent a billion or so on in hopes of being able to “kill” Russian missles with a space-based laser system. Yerkes has put that tech equipment to some good peaceful use, thank the heavens! I suppose we may hear some more about drones in the State of the Union address tonight. Here’s Jim’s comments:
The equipment at Yerkes is the Star Wars declassified Wave-front Correction System (referred to as the WCE). It was awarded to the University of Chicago in 1994, it is the “adaptive optics” instrument from Star Wars, which I would describe as the “eyes” of the system. It was designed to spot incoming missile plumes and accurately direct the laser to zap the bad guys before the missile could hit the U.S. The WCE now lives ground level in the South Tower and was used through the 90’s to clarify CCD images taken with the 41” reflecting telescope. It takes the “twinkling” out of star images.
The WCE rests atop a very heavy and solid optical bench; no card tables are used.
The whole system connects to the 41” telescope (4 floors above) through an evacuated stainless steel tube which provides a stable light path. The top of the tube connects to the coude focus of the telescope, the ground level (bottom of the tube) focuses the telescope images back to the WCE via a series of strategically placed mirrors….. but I drone on………
Apparently, Ackerman McQueen of Tulsa is the long-time PR agency for the National Rifle Assn. Their new video, suggesting that the Secret Service protection given the President’s children justifies similar armed protection for all children in schools, seems to me to reflect how out of touch the NRA is with reality, or else that they have No Respect for America!
Have you wondered how the red and blue states came to be? And why those colors? I wondered too, and discovered that we owe the current U.S. political color palette to Tim Russert. And I learned a lot more about the use of colors in politics, going way back in history.
The whole story can be found in my essay called “Red, White, Blue and You — or The Color of Politics,” which I presented before the Literary Club of Chicago on election eve 2012. And yes, Cleaopatra had a hand in the story, too. And so did the obsolete and dangerous Electoral College system of electing our Presidents. And why is purple in our nation’s future?
Read about all this and more in my essay at http://www.chilit.org, then search for the title “Red, White, Blue and You” under “Ebeling.”
When I would visit Dick McDonald, the co-pioneer of the McDonald’s restuarant concept, at his home in Bedford, New Hampshire, where he lived in retirement, he would often mention his admiration for Warren Rudman, his feisty New Hampshire Senator, author of the famed Gramm-Rudman-Hollings federal balanced budget bill. He and Rudman knew each other pretty well, and had somewhat similar personalities — they bnoth were caring people, but often outspoken and blunt. Rudman, 92, died today.
I recall in the early 90s going out to D.C. to meet Dick for the premiere of a new Smithsonian World PBS film called “A Moveable Feast,” produced by Linda Ellerbee. It was the story of the history of food service for people on the move, and Dick was interviewed in the film. Dick also invited Rudman to the opening at the Smithsonian Castle. The next day, Dick in turn was Rudman’s VIP guest in Congress, and I went along. We dined on Navy Bean soup inh the Senate Dining Room, as legislators and aides gathered around Dick for a look or a word, or an autograph, from the man whose name was vastly more a household word than his host, the famous Senator. Dick enjoyed riding the miniature underground rail line used by the legislators.
I just ran across a package of matches, now resting on a tray next to my tie rack, from the Senate Dining Room that I’d kept from that day, some 20 years ago. Warren and Dick were a pair of New England characters, all right.
For more on Dick McDonald, see my essay, “Breakfast With Mr. McDonald,” at http://www.chilit.org. Search under “Ebeling.”
– federal financing for national elections
– reform or end zone the distorting Electoral College
– initiate term limits for President (one 6-year term); two terms for Congress and Senate
– align retirement and medical benefits of Congress with private sector
– require Senators and Congressmen to live and work full time in D.C.
Of course, I voted in Illinois, not one of the handful of swing states, where every vote REALLY matters.
Down with the Electoral College! (go to http://www.nationalpopularvote.com)