The elections at the end of President Barack Hussein Obama’s second term are likely to be very significant. Yet, that is not provable in the same way as one can prove rainfall or other natural occurrences after the fact. We also know that elections are held when the person’s term has not yet happened. The incumbents are running on a record but still one does not know what the term will be like and it is not so clear how much one’s vote will impact the outcome. However Democrats, Republicans and lots of groups and organizations are very concerned about and aware of the elections. So we who live in this system and this country look at the days ahead and those remaining until the next election and we presume that we will follow it with interest and be involved in some way. Not every one votes. Entire communities, religious groups, classes of felons and expatriots without real poll access really never can or do vote. Others do not start thinking about this so early and in fact this year we have governors and senators and all of the House of Representatives being elected. In my state all to these three important offices will be on the ballot. We also have lots of other elections and votes before the presidential election.
Many of our most important issues and best stories are related to these other elections. I probably will write about them. Yet I will choose to write about the presidential elections in this blog.
The amount of spectacularly impressive and heavily reported crime in the United States is definitely up since Obama has been elected. Fort Hood One and Two, The Navy Yard, the Aurora, Colorado movie theater, Sandy Hook, the Boston Marathon, the Sikh Temple, Oikos University, the Carson City IHOP, the North Carolina Nursing Home, the Congressman Gabby Giffords shooting and many other events form a fabric together in a society long troubled by mass killings I have proposed a new approach under a changed legal system. that recognizes this crisis. But I also have an axiom I will bring to bear as I decide how to vote:
Pro- crime Legislation exists although it is not announced as such.
1. Where there is an established conflict between the law-abiding and criminals outlawing anything used in that conflict is a great benefit to the criminals.
Violent crime and other forms of homicide affect all of our lives and not just our votes. All of us have to deal with them and not only vote about them. But I will want all officials and the President to be thinking in ways I can respect about our problems. Because as hard as these problems are to solve we have to face them bravely and those in office who do not face problems like the many acts of mass violence all over the country may prevent others from reacting to these problems. that brings me to another principle which applies in other areas of politics as well.
The Dog in the Manger Fable Applied …
2. The one who takes responsibility and protects his office but does not fulfill his responsibilities very well often makes the problems he was supposed to solve much worse than if nobody was responsible.
American and other citizens of countries which vote do not just sit around and wait for elections. Life is pretty fully absorbing most of the time. This post is about politics. It is about what is going on in my mind as I look at the next presidential election. It is about region and regions play a big role in presidential elections. It is about healthcare and that has played a big role recently and will for a while longer. It is about voting behavior. It is a post about my life and how I look through this life of good and bad at the next election for president. I have far more than enough to do without looking at future politics and in many ways should not take the time and energy. So if I am so far from fully engaged now and yet not doing what I need to do why am I thinking of elections in November of a future year?
Well elections are not the whole solution to any problem I am concerned about but they are part of what I can do to address those problems. It is worthwhile to be voting and electioneering along with many other activities. I have a political principle related to that as well.
A Map is a Map …
3. Having a simplistic model of a complex situation is often helpful. Acting as though the simple model is the complex situation is often evil.
The truth is that even in politics there are many things I do and others do besides vote that have some political impact. Town hall meetings, correspondence and this blog are all ways I reach out to make a difference. But I do vote a lot although I missed the most recent library tax vote in Vermilion Parish despite my strong interest in that institution. May is a very busy time and there are elections nearby but not for me and when I checked the online official calendar for my precinct on May first I found no scheduled elections this month and was a bit disappointed. But despite my interest in small and local elections we all know what the big elections are in our current system and the next one is getting nearer in time. America is in the process of building up a number of new tensions in anticipation of the 2016 election. The future of this set of contests which decide the occupant of the White House is seriously important to us and the world but it is also a focal point for a vast variety of trivial inquiries. But if as I have already written I believe that I really I have far more than enough to do without looking at future politics and believe that in many ways such concerns distract me from all the things I have to do why am I posting this? If I am so far from fully engaged now and yet not doing what I need to do why am I thinking of elections in November of a future year?
Prisons are full of those who believe they are innocent….
4. Just because you do not believe in evil does not mean you are not evil.
I do not expect the next President of the United States to agree with everything I think is important in terms of policy. Oddly enough I find it very important that he or she can evaluate themselves in some sense more real and meaningful than by whether or not they feel good about themselves and their pals and followers like them. Such integrity can be costly but it is important as well.
It is hard to know how things will play out exactly in terms of what is remembered and what is not. Who will remember what about a given presidency. I am not glad to have been involved in the period of time of this presidential administration in the way I have but certainly I have almost no connection to the administration itself. But I wrote about President Obama as recently as the Ukraine Crisis, not only once although he was not the central topic of my blog posts on that subject his administration was highly relevant to my discussions of the subject. That foreign policy crisis is far from over now. I have a principle that I will hold in mind when voting in the next big election. A principle related to foreign policy:
Lazy governments want to resolve conflict. A good one wants to make peace.
5.Conflict resolution and peacemaking are not the same thing. Survival of all ecosystems including human ones and the balance of civilizations depends largely on unresolved conflicts.
I have written a lot about foreign policy and geo-politics in this blog. that subject is important to me. I have also written about other aspects of the Obama Presidential Administration here in this blog. Some of those posts date from early on in his years in the White House. Some are related to other foreign policy crises that have come up. I have commented on appointments and other matters that were made relevant for relatively trivial reasons. In addition I spent a lot of space and time and energy covering the BP-Macondo Oil Leak and sometime I discussed his response and my comments on him and his choices which are mostly negative elsewhere were often favorable in this context though some were disparaging, the links here would put you in among the many varied posts for trying to figure out what I was writing about then. I also wrote about race in America in ways responsive to the facts of Obama’s administration.
The Peter Principle is it…
6. Very often in many civilizations important decisions are made by those certain to do the worst possible job.
But most of my blog posts have not been much related to the Presidency. A large exception is that the Obama administration has drawn me into writing a set of model constitutions. That is a bridge crossed and burnt behind me. Whatever the next administration is like I will forever be someone who honestly and seriously proposed changing the system a great deal. Of course the political system, my politics and all things political do not cover all aspects of my life or anyone’s life.
This is being written in May when my nephew Oliver has a birthday, My brother Joseph turns 30, my sister Sarah has a birthday, some of my family have anniversaries and most of all my niece and godchild Anika graduates from high school. Coming up soon is the ordination of my second cousin Charles William Massey to the permanent diaconate. With all of those distractions and my father’s current ill-health and many recent surgeries and medical procedures I am busily engaged in many things that ought perhaps to take all my attention off of politics. While healthcare has been a big political issue lately it is not only issue. Sickness, health and medicine are very much issues in my daily life in recent months. Mostly this is through my father’s experience. Family which is tied to love, sex, marriage, relationships and the like has a lot do with defining and shaping human life. I care about that and it affects my voting. I have a principle I keep in mind:
A star quarterback is not also coach, referee and commissioner…
7. Beautiful young women of all types play a very important role in any healthy human culture but are not supposed to invent and police the entire role they play all by themselves.
Going back in time through April my father’s health has formed the content of my status updates on Facebook. I reproduce a few here: May 1 I wrote: Dad went to sleep here last night and woke up here this morning. He walked a bit around the property looking at blackberry bushes to assess the ripeness of the berries. He is not doing great but seems better. April 30 I wrote: I just spoke to my mother. Sarah was with them, they have been discharged and on working their way homeward. April 29 I wrote: I stopped by the hospital and dropped off some things for my mother and father. I also prayed with Dad and told him I cared. I am off schedule right now and trying to feel my way through the day. This goes on for a long time as the main or a principal theme of my Facebook timeline: April 27 Dad is spending the night in the hospital tonight. They are treating him for symptoms of blood loss. This was a readmission after he had already come home from the last of quite a few different surgeries and procedures. Thus on April 24: My father is home. He is not exactly well but hopefully is recovering. I am off to run some errands and to drop a boiler, spices and a tank of propane off with my sister Susanna and her hubbie Mike and their family. Having done some cleanup this morning and returned another tank unused I am finishing up the holiday weekend. We had all gone crabbing at Rockefeller Refuge on a day when Dad was most recovered from one recent surgery and going in for another one. So, I could not even get set up for Obamacare before the deadline and my life is largely interrupted by other people’s healthcare and medical needs but although I am alienated from DC and its solutions and protests I am thinking about them. Why if I am so far from fully engaged now and yet not doing what I need to do then one asks why am I thinking of elections in November of a future year?
I have a foreign policy principle that I also apply to the politics of healthcare. I hope there will be some good recognition of the principle in the next reace for the White House:
Never use a hammer to kill the mosquito on your friends forehead and never seek to be seen as the cowardly bully …
8. Maximum concentration of force is always bad policy. One want to use exactly the smallest force in any war which will achieve all desired objectives. The secret is not to have so many ideas based on false optimism and bad applications when estimating what is needed.
This week has already been a double feast week. Mom made the Mexican chicken tacos for lunch we seldom eat anymore in honor of the Cinco de Mayo and after numerous failed collaborations to achieve the goal she bought and treated the rest of us to boiled crawfish on the weekend of the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival yesterday to raise funds for the speech team at the school where my niece and godchild Anika attends which is Abbeville High School. Both the crawfish and the tacos were very good. I have had the chance to think about education and opportunity and family and foreign relations with many of America’s most significant foreign partners including Mexico.
In this region a good number of us eat frozen crawfish tails all through the year and eat boiled crawfish throughout an ever expanding season. But this first weekend in May is a special time for crawfish among other things. In any given year for those in the region or who could get here the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival and VC-Carmel May Festival in Abbeville are held on the first weekend in May, which was this past weekend. Both different and both worth attending. I will not be getting to either one I suppose. I have been to the May Festival more often to support two local Catholic schools and associates of various kinds who go there but I would have to say the BBCF is one of the premiere product-related festivals in the state and the country. King Crawfish is a good documentary for people from far away to access all that BBCF celebrates. This link is for the school I attended for the longest time in my life although not by as large a margin as some former classmates who were quicker through undergraduate and stayed all nine available years at MCES or those who just did those nine years and high school. The May Festival as far as I know has had crwfish for sale as well as other items like steak and burgers for most of the most recent decades. As I wrote earlier, I enjoyed some crawfish to benefit the Abbeville High Speech team and Anika’s trip to two national league championships (CFL and NFL) but once again did not get to promote the sale in advance as I was not sure about the time and location etc. The last few weeks and the next few weeks are certainly challenging in unusual ways and yet many Americans equally busy or busier are starting to think of politics.
Alongside school fundraiser and church sponsored events the festivals are important to all aspects of society in this state and region. On the last evening of April I was involved in buying flowers, dressing up and listening to Anika and the AHS speech team. I attended Anika Claire’s final speech team performance in the Abbeville High School auditorium and also the rest of the Speech Team extravaganza. I also saw the distribution of recognition and other things. I was very pleased to be there and happy with all she has accomplished. This month already crammed with distractions also had Star Wars Day on the Fourth of May. “May the Fourth be with you!” and the same day was Audrey Hepburn’s 85th birthday. Audrey Hepburn what a movie star she was.An old acquaintance and former colleague, supervisor and urged the greatness of her comeback movie as Robin Hood’s (Sean Connery’s) lost love in Robin and Marian. Personally, I missed that film and do not doubt that it was very good. But I know “Gigi“, “Roman Holiday“, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s“, “Funny Face“, “The Nun’s Story“, “Sabrina“, “Wait Until Dark“, “My Fair Lady“, “War and Peace” and “Charade” are well worth watching largely because of stellar performances by this actress. In addition she has the distinction of being discovered by a novelist when this young Belgian girl was selected to play the title role Gigi in the film adaptation of the novella of the same name by a Francophone female writer. She was to become deeply attached to America and Hollywood.
But from the French speaking Hepburn to the next day flips the table on French connections in my calendar. Surely almost no Americans are unaware of the historic significance of the Mexican victory over the French forces at the Third Battle of Puebla in 1862 where French Empire acted with the support and authority of the Spanish and British and the Tripartite Alliance formed by these powers. Zaragoza’s Republican army defeated a larger European invasion force despite the economic crisis, civil war and fiscal problems that encouraged the enemy to invade in the first place.Oh wait a minute — some Americans might be fuzzy about a few details. I spent some time in Puebla which is most famous in Mexico for having 365 churches where one could go to mass at a different church each day of the year. It is a pretty place with good food music and scenery.
This holiday is barely celebrated in most of Mexico except in bars that cater to Americans and more generally in or around Pueblo itself and in a few other circles. Mexico had achieved independence long before the battle remembered today but was possibly going to lose it in one of many wars in the history of our southern neighbor. It makes virtually no sense that we remember this day so much in the USA except for reasons I will not get into. However, If I had the chance to eat lots of Mexican food and drink a few to many margaritas on any Fifth of May I suppose I would. Feliz Cinco de Mayo . . . All of this seems like a lot doesn’t it? There are a lot days in my life worth marking that are not election days at all. I have a political principle related to those facts that will be on my mind when I vote in the nest election. It is a foreign policy principle but it also has applications for politics itself and has to do with remembering who and what people are:
Those who always speak in serious absolutes seldom say worthwhile things …
9. If war is not a game then do not expect anyone to win, don’t expect time out, rule discussions or referees. If war is not a game it is just slaughter and it is hard to understand what that really means — but I do.
Of course my life is not only celebrations and calendar based events even this month. I work a great deal many days to keep this house and make this yard presentable and functional. Work outside is harder when I do in the mild drought we are having than it would be with more rain. Sometimes this dry weather which diminishes what I would do means that I am here at home half glad that the lack of rain served as an excuse not to do things I had planned to do after some small rain first predicted for a recent day and the previous night. I often turn to blogging, may wide reading and correspondence. But my life is neither very lucrative or satisfying and I often hope to end my evening in the same slower than usual pattern occasioned by the forced semi-idleness brought my the dry weather and the lack of resilience it brings to soils and plants.
I also have spent a lot of time with small children and I keep thinking about them and those who care for them. I also take care of horses in the winter as well as the lawn and garden. All of these things matter to me and I have a political principle related to these connections that I will bring to the polls in 2016:
“Let the little children come unto me. For of such is the Kingdom of God…”
10. Many people do not ever want to be reasonable — not ever. However, none of those people are children.
So far I do not know who will be running and I will have a lot more to say over time. But this is my first look in this blog at the 2016 elections. So if I am so far from fully engaged now and yet not doing what I need to do why am I thinking of elections in November of a future year?
Maybe because there is a lot on my mind to consider and I want to see that it all forms part of the process for me at least.
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