English Pilgrims set sail for their New World in September of 1620. They must have been consumed by fear for their lives and trepidation about what lay ahead, yet they were propelled through their doubt by the promise of a better future and by their unbounded faith in God.
They started from the Dutch port city of Delfs-Haven on the good ship Speedwell, destined to write one of the opening and best known chapters of American history.
The trip didn’t go well.
The Speedwell only made it to England’s southern port of Southampton where it sprang a serious leak. It set sail again only to spring another leak. They made it to the port at Plymouth. There the passengers and freight were transferred to the sister ship Mayflower, bound for America (some accounts say the Speedwell was only intended to go as far as England to meet up with the Mayflower, while others indicate that both were headed across the Atlantic).
The 102 passengers and 37 crew members spent 66 days on the frigid seas of the North Atlantic, sick, hungry, cramped, and cold in the lower gun deck of a vessel designed to carry only lumber, fish, and French wine on short trips along the European coastline. The Mayflower was just 100 feet long and 24 feet wide. Of the 102, only 41 were considered true Pilgrims, seeking separation from the Church of England. The remainder were called “strangers”, merchants, craftsmen, indentured servants, and orphaned children. Continue reading →
“If we do not join now, to save the good old ship of the union on this voyage, nobody will have a chance to pilot her on another voyage.”
— President-Elect Abraham Lincoln February 15, 1861
It is probably not ‘woke’ to quote Lincoln.
San Franciscans are still thinking about scouring his name from schools. Elsewhere his statues are being pulled down like Hussein’s were in Baghdad.
The rail-splitter’s name and legacy are being purged from history by pseudo-progressives who prefer their own version of antebellum and Native American history without the benefit of pertinent facts or an ounce of reason. They’ve concluded Lincoln must go.
Those of Us—also a great band once upon a time in the Great Plains—who came of age in the 60s and 70s try to keep an open mind, but it’s tough. We recall how our elders damned Elvis and his gyrating hips (under their breath, of course) and how we thought they were so out of touch glued to the black and white watching Lawrence Welk. What was with the bubbles? Continue reading →
“I get it. You’re mad. The President is mad. My Democratic friends are mad. My wife is mad. My kids are mad. Even my dog seems mad, and Luna is a golden-doodle and they don’t get mad.” — Professor Jonathan Turley, testifying on impeachment before the House Judiciary Committee December 2, 2019.
The intensity of hate and anger that Dr. Turley experienced on Capitol Hill when he testified late last year in the impeachment proceeding against President Donald Trump has been subdued by the COVID-19 pandemic…for now.
Little did we know just four months ago that while national attention was in the clutches of the political theater being staged in the Capitol, the deadly virus was already creeping into the lives of people on the west coast.
What better time for an old cliché:
If we had only known then what we know now…. think how different things might be.
My education in politics and government began in earnest working at the White House and mostly on Capitol Hill in the generational orbit of Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, and Bush 41 and Congressional leaders Rhodes, Michel, O’Neill, Foley, Wright, Baker, Byrd, and Dole, all of the “greatest generation.”
Seven of them served in the military during World War II, three of them—Dole, Michel, and Bush—had harrowing experiences in combat that shaped the rest of their lives.
What distinguished them from generations to follow was that most of them—but not all—had in common a strong belief that governing could only be effective in an atmosphere civil enough for opposing sides to reach consensus. They relished vigorous and contentious debate, but never let it get personal, and they engaged in tactics that would have passed muster with the Marquess of Queensberry. They knew when to put down the swords and lift the plowshares. Continue reading →
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”
Bible, (Matt. 7:12)
It was taught to my siblings and me by my mother back in the 1950s, but the Golden Rule or versions of it have been a lantern for life’s journey for 2000 years or more, a version of which was propounded by the Greek philosopher Aristotle, according to an Internet search. I am not sure if my mother read Aristotle. She was probably introduced to the Rule by Catholic nuns who schooled generations of us back in South Dakota, but who often let it lapse in their own behavior in the classroom where weapons-grade yardsticks were always close at hand. Continue reading →
People are not sure what to call it—excessive partisanship, bad behavior, negativism, gridlock, polarization, stridency, intolerance, ideological extremes.
It is collectively, incivility and it is, arguably, worse now than it has been in American history.
Something must be done about it.
Pundits such as the Washington Post’s George Will and the Washington Examiner’s Michael Barone have argued otherwise. Barone, for example, recently bemoaned the bemoaners of what he called ‘hyperpartisanship’ in American politics, suggesting that the problem is not as bad as it may seem and attempts to rectify it in the past have just made matters worse.
The weeks and months following the September 11, 2001 attacks were extraordinary, filled with anger, revenge, heartbreak, sadness, patriotism, national unity and spiritualism. We were America again, all for one and one for all. That was the good that rose from the ashes of tragedy. Survey researchers said we had changed forever.
It wasn’t just the high degree of patriotism, but the spirit of civility and common cause that permeated both political thinking and behavior. President Bush threw his arm around a retired firefighter when he visited the twin towers site, reflecting how strongly Americans felt about working together and uniting against a common enemy. There were pledges and promises to keep that spirit alive, to work together and treat each other better. It was even evident in Congress.
What I saw of the Iowa Republican Presidential primary debate, and it wasn’t much, brought to mind two unsavory aspects of American political campaigns that politicians, the press and the public ought to try to temper before we go full throttle into the 2012 races.
The first was incivility. The media carnival barkers and fire-breathing partisans were anxious for the candidates to brutalize one another, particularly fellow Minnesotans Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty. From news reports of the debate—again, I missed some of the exchanges, they got some of what they wanted, but not much. I am told the two Minnesotans went at it, dropping the Minnesota nice persona—isn’t that special—but they really did not beat the bejesus out of each other.
rerprinted from Loose Change, Twin Cities Business
What a shame that it takes the attempted assassination of a public servant and the murder of six people, including a federal judge and a lovely little girl aspiring to be a politician, to divert our attentions from the polarizing political climate we’ve created.
My Facebook page receives three or four hundred posts a day, and over the past year it has been populated mostly by political grinding of one sort or another. Because my Facebook friends lean mostly to the left, you can well imagine what the general rant du jours are. The “righties,” however, are no less virulent—and often move the dial well past reason. Both sides—and isn’t that really the problem: “sides”?—are terribly polarized, a condition brought on by the flashpoint issues of the past few elections. Continue reading →
The Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration last month turned an official hearing on a serious issue—migrant farm labor—into a 3-ring circus starring comedian Stephen Colbert. Colbert didn’t even testify, he performed a comedy routine as a character from his television show, mocking farm workers, immigrants and the U.S. Congress.
The Colbert comedy performance left absolutely no doubt why the American people are disgusted with Congress and some of those who serve there.