America is at a turning point; and as a people, we must decide what direction to take. Some mistakenly believe we can return to some past period, when America was great – say the Fifties. But those who long for that past need to be reminded things weren't so great for many Americans in the Fifties.

They also need to be reminded that in the Fifties, unions were powerful; and because of that, workers by the millions were able to move their families into the middle class. That was also a time when income tax rates were much, much higher on the wealthiest Americans. Indeed, the top tax rates are now about a third of what they were then.

But as much as some might like to return to some supposedly perfect past, life is not a movie, and it is mission impossible to try to go back to the future.

We must not only decide where we want to go as a country, we must also decide who we are as a people ... decide what it means to be an American ... and decide who gets to be an American. That will require us to communicate with each other and try to build bridges that unite us, rather than build walls that divide us.

Given how divided we are at this moment, that won't be easy, but we are fortunate to have avenues of communication available to us that previous generations couldn't have imagined. The Internet and social media have the potential to promote honest, heartfelt communication, and it's high time they were used for that purpose – rather than to tear each other down. And above all, we cannot afford to have these tools stolen from us by those who would use them to further divide us and bring this country down.

It is time to set our national priorities, as we did in the Great Depression, World War II, and the space program. If we can put a man on the moon, surely we can … well, we need to fill in the blanks. Fortunately, most Americans already substantially agree about some of those goals – universal healthcare, rebuilding our aging infrastructure, regulation of firearms and prohibition of assault weapons, and the need to address climate change.

Many Americans also believe it is high time to make some fundamental changes in our political system. It is abundantly clear the Electoral College has outlived whatever usefulness it once may have had. It has also become obvious that candidates for major offices, including President, Vice-President, Senators, Congresspersons, cabinet officers and Federal judges, should be required to show tax returns for at least the previous ten years.

These officials should also be required to divest themselves of their financial holdings, or at least place them in a true blind trust while serving. These officials and other high-ranking officials and members of their immediate families should also be prohibited from lobbying for at least ten years after leaving office, and preferably be prohibited from lobbying for life.

While these broad outlines are a step in the right direction, the genius, as always, is in the details. To ensure we get the details right requires that we elect people who first and foremost understand that public service is a privilege, and not a turn at the hog-trough. It also requires that we choose people who have the education, energy and experience necessary to fulfill our lofty goals.

To that end, each of us must put aside our prejudices and our partisan past; we must behave in a way that honors all that has been given us ... the blessings that have been bestowed upon us in this land of the free and home of the brave. We must demonstrate that we are worthy of the trust our forefathers placed in us, and we must honor the many who came before us who sacrificed so much so that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from this earth.

Views: 205

Comment by Tom Cordle on January 11, 2019 at 9:39am

One more comment, briefly.

We have 100 Senators, how about we increase the House to 1,000 Congresspersons, just to pick a nice round number that would make calculations much easier? That would reduce the present US average of 747,184 citizens per Congressperson to roughly 310,00 per Congressperson. That would certainly make for a much more representative House. So how to pay for that increase? Well, instead of dividing total Congressional pay by 435, we could just divide it by 1,000. Thus, the present $175,000 salary would be reduced to about $76,000 (off the top of my head) – bringing their salary more in line with their constituents – and more in line with what Congresspersons are actually worth. 

I'll save the rest of the details for a future post.

Comment by Ron Powell on January 11, 2019 at 1:09pm

Just look at where the population growth and expansion has occurred and the demographic composition of the growth and expansion....

There's a reason why aging white men have dominated in both houses of Congress...

Comment by Tom Cordle on January 11, 2019 at 4:09pm

Ron  As you well know, the game has been rigged in favor of smaller population states from the beginning, including the notorious 3/5ths rule States Rights defenders don't mention these days. Remember when the Reptiles read the Constitution at the start of Boehner's reign as Speaker, and the glaringly omitted the reading of that part of the Constitution?

Comment by J.P. Hart on January 13, 2019 at 2:54am

Tom A 57% salary slash would not incentivize the would be best and brightest.

And there's always that screechy screed that lobbyists run the big show anyhow.

My inclination would be to raise the salary for Congress Peeps to $249,000 in order to relax under the table tidbits.

A 129% expansion of seats possibly would exasperate our efforts toward accountability.

Though on a world-wide comps basis we're behind the representative curve and CHANGE is imperative, the American thing to do.

As good as the structure has been, now as we write it's sad and broken.

This manufactured border wall stalemate is bully pulpit hysterics to a narrow (and diminishing) sliver of the electorate.

Five billion would buy ten million $500 solar powered drones and a tall guy like Paul Ryan on his horse could trot about keeping the peace.

Geeze, the sky would be dark with drones - who'd want to sneak in?

Comment by Tom Cordle on January 13, 2019 at 10:48am

JPH  Your points have merit, but I must take issue with a couple of them. First, $175,000 has certainly not attracted the best and the brightest; instead, it's attracted slime like Steve King and Louie Gohmert. And I suspect raising the salary would attract even more slime. As for your supposition that raising the salary to $249,000 would "relax under the table tidbits", more than half the House members are millionaires and they still take under the table tidbits. The cynic in me would suggest that taking under the table tidbits is how many of them got to be millionaires.

Furthermore, your position flies in the face of the position James Madison expressed in Federalist No. 55:.

[T]he size of the House of Representatives has to balance the ability of the body to legislate with the need for legislators to have a relationship close enough to the people to understand their local circumstances, that such representatives' social class be low enough to sympathize with the feelings of the mass of the people, and that their power be diluted enough to limit their abuse of the public trust and interests ... so small a number of representatives will be an unsafe depositary of the public interests; secondly, that they will not possess a proper knowledge of the local circumstances of their numerous constituents; thirdly, that they will be taken from that class of citizens which will sympathize least with the feelings of the mass of the people, and be most likely to aim at a permanent elevation of the few on the depression of the many [emphasis added]

I'd say Madison nailed it. If we are bound by original intent, as some like to argue, then it's safe to say most if not all the Founders would be appalled to learn that instead of the 30,000 constituents per Representative they originally agreed upon as a starting point, now has risen to nearly 750,000 constituents per Representative.

Comment by Maui Surfer on January 13, 2019 at 12:15pm

You ask that we "re-unite" with those we have NEVER been united with- The self anointed elite Southerners, who have disabled Government from its inception in this version of a North American country (Herstory is, well, old, we are young, and too many acts have been pure evil) love to say, either by wealth or "proven" lineage, We Are Cavaliers ... who were the Cavaliers? No, not the Knights of the Round Table descendants, but, instead the scum and vermin who brought slavery here in mass quantities from Barbados, all for profit on the backs of humans with different backgrounds. In the North, the Blue Bloods, Our Ancestors Arrived on the Mayflower ... these are the old money Nor'Easters who won't let little boy Drumpf into their social circles, no matter how much he inflates his monetary value, they still see him as what he is a nouveau riche cad.

So, those are the "upper crust" ... now you want me to re-unite with the fucking scum who voted for an absolute clown who called out Mexican cousins Rapists? With Northern Michigan Militiamen one high step away from the Third Reich?

No, fuck reconciliation, and never mind what I could tell you about Hawaii and how it can actually happen ... when it comes to the "mainland" and you have a proven over and over number of 53% of whites who are in favor of all things hate on their neighbors who were either here first or built the place, "You Didn't Build That! Yes we did Yes we did- fucking lying Libertarians"

I recently drove back to LA from Kansas, wow, what a trip. The Scum are everywhere, digging in. They are leeches, all live off California (6th largest economy in the world) and New York, those they claim to hate, and the rest live of Tejas, which itself lives directly off the Feds.

Never has such a bunch of sore losers of a War they started for the most heinous reasons held on to hate of those who provided everything they have in the past that I'm aware of, and a lot of stupid shit has happened on this Earth, Europe and South America have certainly had their share but I'm afraid they can't compete with the type of White Trash that supports a Confederate Yankee who is right now channeling Ebeneezer Scrooge in what may become an Oscar winning performance before it is done.

Comment by Tom Cordle on January 13, 2019 at 1:35pm

Maui  By now you ought to know me better than to think I'm advocating compromising with, let alone uniting with the Rabid Right. My point is that there are reasonable people on the other side (not end) of the political divide that we can find common ground with. Polls certainly suggest a substantial portion of the electorate – 65% and more in some cases – supports goals like universal healthcare, rebuilding our aging infrastructure, regulation of firearms and prohibition of assault weapons, and the need to address climate change. And I'm pretty damned sure a substantial portion of that 65% or so doesn't identify as Liberals, Progressives or Democrats.

The problem remains, as I've discussed in my post and in my comments, that our political system as presently configured, gives way too much weight to the fringe element, the third or so of the electorate that continues to support Hairball, in spite of his demonstrating absolutely that he is unfit for the job, and more to the point in their case, that he doesn't give a shit about them or their problems.

Comment by J.P. Hart on January 13, 2019 at 2:06pm

Tom I'm on page 121 chapter (& verse?)...Copyright _ 1987 Macmillan Publishing Company ~ A Division of Macmillan, Inc. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 87-5719 ~ Robert A. Rutland's James Madison The Founding Father {sic} '...This superb portrait of Madison reveals a man of enormous wisdom and common sense, possessed of an innate understanding of the workings of government.'
'More perfect' {not} more progressive union. (at least I located my autographed RFK portrait ~ a book-Mathew). Hence, why not Michelle & Melania?? Helen Reddy on the sound system! DNC convention @ MKE spankin' new super-charged Forum!
O that's right.
Melania is not native born. And Michelle is a female, too.
Rains down in Africa,no?
Of late, 'yam just conjecturing that Vladimir Putin's 1st and surname initials are VP.

Be careful out there guys,

JPH
(gone to pawn shop to barter-back my: 1958 Topps Orlando Cepeda #343 Baseball Card )
(just flashed on For-rum(: Bacardi mit Coca-cola --- minor riIF mood ---

Comment by Maui Surfer on January 13, 2019 at 5:43pm

T- of course, they are suddenly, as they see they are in BIG trouble, again, they'll never learn, suddenly willing to change their "undecided" votes, because they are after all, so "Independent" ... BULLOCKS!!!

They voted for a genius Hawaiian who went to the best school in the world, while they thought, in quite a complete error, that he was black, out of desperation, as R.I.P. McCain made the double disaster decision to first say, as it crashed around him thanks to Shrub, "I don't know much about the economy ..." and then doubled down by naming PALIN as his second ... the beginning of all this if you think back, the first time the Idiocracy themselves thought they could be led by one of their own.

But, me? to forgive the slight against our Latino brethren, the jabs at everyone else from Blacks to Intellectuals, you see, I can NEVER forgive, never. They killed babies, again. Beyond humans, they are killing the Earth itself as it sustains us, they can't blow it up, it could become Mars, but, we won't be breathing, or surfing.

These are OUR enemies. If I was 25 again I would join Anitifa in a heartbeat, I still have my anti-war sympathies with the SDS intact ... terrorism does not justify terrorism, but, it sure as hell does engender it.

The sooner the numbers flip, which will be when enough of the Nixon/Wallace leftovers finally kick, the better chance this country will have of not just surviving, but returning to saving the whole world. We did some bad shit, United Fruit Company/Vietnam, but we did a HELL of a lot of good stuff, and practically on our own. Now we have Western Europe, Australia, parts of Asia, New Zealand, a lot of great people, all of Polynesia, behind us ... one we jail these criminals, no pardons.

And these dumb fucking White Blinder Wearing vote with the wind motherfuckers better wise up, they got less than two years ...

Comment by Tom Cordle on January 13, 2019 at 9:59pm

JPH  It may well be that the Founders were the singular most brilliant group of men ever gathered in one place, and Madison may have been the best of the lot, with the possible exception of Hamilton. But that didn't keep them from shaming themselves with the inclusion of the vile 3/5ths rule in the Constitution. Nor did that prevent them from otherwise infected the future of the country with a system that put property rights before the rights of people, the first ten amendments being an exception. We still suffer from the advantages that system gave citizens in rural parts of the country, to the detriment of city dwellers.I could go on, but .........

Be careful out there, indeed. My advice is to strap a 2x 4 across your ass 'cause were in for some rough seas.

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