The Different Drummer
Politics, Family, Music and other Musings.
By Carl J. Petersen
-The United States Constitution
The members of the Republican party may want the voters to believe that the country was founded as a Christian nation (or if they are feeling generous, a “Judeo-Christian nation”), but this view was not unanimously shared by the Founding Fathers. For example, the Constitution specifically prohibits a religious test for “any office or public trust.” Religious freedom was further expanded with the passage of the First Amendment, which prohibited Congress from making laws “respecting an establishment of religion” and building what Thomas Jefferson called “a wall of separation between Church and State.” In 1797 the Senate ratified and President John Adams signed a treaty between the United States and Tripoli that stated “the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded in the Christian Religion.”
“Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton said Tuesday she is ‘sorry’ for using a private email server, going further than ever before to express remorse for the controversy that has rocked her campaign.”
Ironically, I decided to support President Obama in 2008 based on the assumption that Hillary Clinton was such a magnet for controversy that if she were to become President she would become so bogged down in defending herself that little would get done. I clearly remembered that Bill Clinton’s Presidency was a string of manufactured scandals that resulted in an actual impeachment and, with the exception of a certain encounter just outside the Oval Office, his wife was often included in the scandal du jour. If Democrats were going to regain the Presidency, it was best to do so with a candidate who represented a fresh start and who was free of scandals.Read more
“We have to give strength and power back to the police. And you're always going to have mistakes made. And you're always going to have bad apples. But you can't let that stop the fact that police have to regain some control of this tremendous crime wave and killing wave that's happening in this country.”
When I was born in 1967, there were 2,989.7 crimes committed, including 6.2 murders, for every 100,000 people in the United States. By time I graduated high school in 1985, in the middle of Reagan’s presidency, the crime rate had increased to 5,207.1, including 8.0 murders. As Obama took his second oath of office in 2013, the crime rate stood at 3,098.6 and the murder rate had fallen to 4.5. Nowhere has these crime reductions been more apparent than in New York City where the murder rate fell from 14.5 in 1990 to 3.3 in 2013. On a national scale, improvements in the violent crime rate continued into 2014.Read more
Apparently, Iraq is not a subject that the Bush family discusses at family gatherings since they cannot seem to learn from their collective experiences. During the first Bush administration’s Gulf War, our quickly advancing troops stopped short of Baghdad because “we were concerned about the long-term balance of power at the head of the Gulf.” These concerns were lost on his son as W pushed for a second war in Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein without bothering to plan for its aftermath. The result was an insurgency that “greatly increased the spread of the Al Qaeda ideological virus.” In a second declaration of “mission accomplished,” W signalled the approach of “a successful end” to the war by signing a Status of Forces Agreement that stated that “all the United States Forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory no later than December 31, 2011.” He said this withdrawal was “possible because of the success of the surge” and left “the next President with a stable foundation for the future.” Almost seven years later, Jeb, rhetorically asks why these troops left. Shouldn’t he just ask his brother the next time they have dinner?Read more
-Oliver Wendell Holmes
Sadly, the death of two people last week in a shooting at a Louisiana movie theater will not do anything to start a meaningful dialog about gun control in our country. If the 13 people in Binghamton, 13 people in Ft. Hood, three people in Huntsville, eight people in Manchester, six people in Tucson, eight people in Seal Beach, seven people in Oakland, 12 people in Aurora, six people in Oak Creek, six people in Minneapolis, three people in Brookfield, 27 people in Newtown, five people in Santa Monica, 13 people in Washington, D. C., three people in Ft. Hood, seven people in Isla Vista and nine people in Charleston were not enough to spark a discussion about who has access to guns, why should another two lives matter to our politicians? When Obama initially ran for president, the NRA warned that we have never “faced a presidential candidate...with such a deep-rooted hatred of firearm freedoms,” but as President, Obama has only expanded the rights of gun owners. And the carnage continues…Read more
Under President Obama, there have been a record number of deportations. He has also employed the largest amount of border patrol agents. These have combined with other factors to drive a zero percent migration rate from Mexico, a trend that some expect to continue into the future. However, none of this is good enough for the xenophobic wing of the Republican party who still see the value of a good scapegoat - especially one without the power to vote. According to this point of view, we should ignore the hard working people in search of a better life whose labor is exploited by American businessman and instead claim that “they’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bring those problems with us [sic]. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”Read more
It is hard enough to get Americans to fulfill their obligation of voting in elections. In one poll four percent of the respondents would not even take the step of registering to vote because they felt that their “vote wouldn’t make a difference.” Even less of our fellow citizens take a more active role in the democratic process under the assumption that their voice is too small to be heard. However, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges could not have happened without the grassroots activism that had taken place 28 years ago.Read more
Through my childhood, my Dad and I were not particularly close. In a lot of ways the experience of his childhood haunted him and he did everything possible to make sure that mine would be different. In doing so, he left his own minefields for me to negotiate.Read more
Nicole eased me into the challenges of her family during our first online conversation. First, she casually worked in the fact that she had triplets. When that did not chase me away she mentioned in passing that two of them were on the autism spectrum and waited to see if I would find a way to end the conversation. It did not end and six years ago I married the woman of my dreams. I was now a father of five.
Prior to meeting my daughters, only one child had been introduced to me as being on the autism spectrum. According to the Center for Disease Control autism now affects 1 in 68 children. With such a high rate of occurrence, how is it possible that I had only previously met one child with this disability? Part of the answer is ignorance; without knowledge of what autism is, I probably met a lot more people with this disability and did not realize it. Additional explanation is provided by the fact that included in the statistics are highly functioning individuals who do not present their symptoms in a casual encounter. Unfortunately, the final part of the answer is that many of these children are simply hidden from view.Read more
In George Carlin’s routine, he says that a house is just a place to keep your “Stuff.” “If you didn’t have so much stuff, you wouldn’t need a house. You could just walk around all the time.” Then you go vacation and have to come up with a smaller version of your house that fits into a couple of suitcases. Last weekend my family did just that. We packed enough of our stuff to fit into two cars and headed towards Lake Tahoe.
When you travel with seven people spanning three generations, some of the stuff you inadvertently pack is the baggage of interpersonal conflicts. No one knows how to push your buttons like family and there is little room for escape when you are together for a week straight. As a kid, the time was three times as long as we took marathon driving trips across the country. It is against all odds that someone was not left purposefully behind somewhere around North Dakota.Read more