More to the point, what do we want our United States government to be?
Two documents are the foundation of our democracy, the Declaration of Independence, and our Constitution. Both of these documents have a preamble that attempts to sum up what the founders of our nation had in mind.
The preamble of the Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
The intent of that paragraph is quite clear. We had been under the thumb of the monarchy of England, an authoritarian plutocracy that was anything but free.
Preamble to the Constitution for the United States: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
A third document that has come to represent the dream of our founders was the Gettysburg Address that President Lincoln gave in 1863. Eighty-seven years after we fought and died to gain our freedom from England, we fought each other in the bloodiest war in our history with an estimated 620,000 fatalities. It was a war fought over the freedom of all the people.
In Lincoln's address, the line that is best remembered is, "that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
The single thread running through all these statements are the words "people" and "equality." We are supposed to be a nation devoted to freedom, to the idea that no one class of people or entity within our society is better or above all others; we are a nation of, by, and for the people, all the people residing within our borders.
That idea should be the principle upon which all of our elected leaders, CEOs of corporations, and people in positions of influence, be they celebrities, sports stars, or religious leaders, should make their decisions and pronouncements. They should be asking themselves, "Is what I am about to do or say in the interest of all the people, or is it to benefit one particular interest group?" Will it fulfill the vision of our founders and the words of Abraham Lincoln?
That is also how we voters, the people referred to in all these document must measure the success or failure of our leaders. When we vote, or when we gather in public meetings to discuss policies in our towns, counties, states and federal government, we must ask, have our political, civil, and religious leaders shaped the policies and laws for the good of all the citizens, or only for a select few?
Yes, the details can be complicated, but the outcome should be measurable against those three basic statements. When we vote in our local and federal elections, that is the template we must use in evaluating those in office and those aspiring to hold office.
If we get that right, we will have lived up to the founder's dream of a United States that is, of, by, and for all the people; the rich, the poor, the able and disabled, all the genders, all the races and nationalities, and all the religions.
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I think I posted something about the Diamo espresso machine in the past, but I thought I'd give you a short video to show you how easy this thing is. I'm just doing an improv thing, not a big scripted production, so ignore the stumbles.
I love my espresso. It's mocha Cortado in the morning, and if I have one after dinner in a nice Italian restaurant, it's a doppio or double shot of espresso and a shot of grappa if they have it. There used to be a cigar involved in the old days, but I quit smoking, and then they outlawed everything, and I'll be damned if I'll stand in the rain to smoke a cigar.
The history of coffee, in general, is murky, though there are a few legends, it does look like it all began in the Middle East. My version of the story is that the beans grew wild and a hungry goat herder tried to eat them green, and they tasted horrible, so he tossed a handful into the fire where a few beans roasted just at the edges of the fire. Seeing that, the herder chewed the bean again and loved it. Here's another version of the story, but I like mine better.
By the 19th century, Europe was going nuts for coffee. As it is today, the traditional method of boiling or extracting the coffee with hot water was time-consuming, so the Italians, in particular, began to look into a quicker process using steam. If you want more on that history, see it here. Coffee has to be the worlds most consumed drug.
Without undo chatter, here's the video. No muss and no fuss and a terrific cup of espresso.
Well, we Democrats now have our very own version of the Republican stampede that we saw in the 2016 election, something I enjoyed calling the 'clown car' at the time. I'm happy to say that while it looks like the Dems have matched the GOP in sheer numbers of candidates, I find our field decidedly brighter and offering more than just filling the airwaves with complaints about the current president who is more than worthy of any mudslinging that may come his way.
While most of us are very hopeful of seeing TrumPutin limited to one term (or less if we can get on with impeachment), this group of candidates will need to devote a degree of time to lambasting TrumPutin to convince voters he should never be allowed a second term. Given that scenario, we should expect the field to devote time to point out what is wrong with TrumPutin and his circle of jerks.
While it is very early in the election season; we will know more around next February and March who is likely to survive the free-for-all that is our election process. That will be determined mostly by money, but also their message and how well it resonates with voters. A couple will undoubtedly drop off either because they said something amazingly dumb, or because the press uncovered something in their past that takes them down. That is the job of the media concerning government regardless of the political party. And, let's not ignore what we learn this time.
That being said, I have looked at the candidates and arranged them in order of my preference based on what I know at this point in time. I won't go into a long dissertation on each; not now and not until the field shrinks to about four people. Here is a graphic that shows my stand at the moment.
As you can see, I've put them in tiers, one through four with one being my top picks for now. And, yes, I do discriminate between the candidates on several fundamental levels. First is what I've heard from them, their message, and of course like everyone to some degree, how effectively they deliver their message.
Gender: Yes, I am looking at gender. I think it is high time we put a woman in the White House assuming we can find the right one, and I think we already have several terrific candidates. We've had an African-American president, finally, and we've certainly had our fill of old white men, and old crazy white men; it's time to change.
Age: I know that with age comes a degree of wisdom, or it is supposed to, but I really want someone younger. We need a president who is in tune with technology, and with the changes we have achieved in our society. We don't need a president committed to turning back the clock to the 1950s. Full disclosure, I'm closing in on 77, and I want youth in leadership.
As for the rest of the crap that FOX Faux News likes to rant about, religion, partner preferences, socialism (which we already have) or any of the other political flak the opposition wants to throw in the air to distract us from the truth doesn't mean a damn thing to me. I care about democracy, civil rights, human rights, women's rights, and honesty in government.
Michael Bennett didn't make the cut because he announce just about the time I was writing this, so we'll se in time how he fits in the pyramid. Others may move up or down, depending. I'm not likely to do much with this for a number of months until the field starts to sort itself out. The so-called debates which usually amount to little more than stump speeches may or may not change my brackets.
We need leadership at home on the environment, everyone's rights, economic and tax reform, immigration, health care, infrastructure, renewable energy, and technology. And it has to be worked in the light of the impact on humanity and not just corporate profits. Yes, we need corporations and their job markets, but not at the cost of our democracy.
We need leadership for our relations around the world. That has to be a combination of strength tempered with compassion and a desire to develop an understanding of what other nations and people are experiencing.
In closing, let me say, MADA! MADA! MADA!
I think and write and talk and then do it all over again.