Archive for November 2012

Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park   4 comments

Tiburcio Vasquez

25 million years ago, California was struck by an earthquake that sent the North American and Pacific Plates on a collision course.  The resultant uplift, due to the Elkhorn fault, has weathered away from the top, revealing a unique sandstone formation.

The Gorn could not defeat Captain Kirk.

The Rocks were named for a desperado that used them as one of his hideouts back in the 1850s, Tiburcio Vasquez.  He was a Californio bandit popular in the Mexican-American community, and styled himself a defendant of immigrants rights. He was caught by a sheriff’s posse near Newhall, CA and put in jail for horse rustling.  After his release he continued to prey on travelers up and down California, and was finally of convicted of murder in 1875. He was hung in San Jose at age 39.

After law and order was restored, the geological formation has been a favorite of photographers.  Given its location in LA County, it’s been featured in the movies since a 1905 Rudolph Valentino film was shot there. It’s been the setting of innumerable westerns and science fiction sets, from Bonanza to Wild, Wild West to Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure to The Flintstones.  Star Trek shot there many times, including the episode that included perhaps the worst fight scene ever shot, with Captain Kirk conquering the Gorn.

My family has toured the Rocks many times; we’ve had Cub & Boy Scout camp outs there, and Michael’s Eagle Scout service project was there.  My eldest, Christopher, met his bride there; they both frequently worked babysitting the film crews that did everything from commercials for Taco Bell and Budweiser to films to television series to music videos. I love Vasquez Rocks!

If you’re in LA, visit the Rocks.  You’ll realize that you have seen them many, many times before!

The Rocks rise at a 45 degree angle from the desert.

You can follow the erosion in the seams of the sediment to climb to the top of the Rocks. Yes, you can get to the tip … but be careful! Search & Rescue teams are not infrequent visitors to the Rocks.

The 900-acre park has many smaller uplifts and other interesting formations.

Cool Links

Fun Blog post on the Rocks: Geek with Curves

Santa Clarita History: Vasquez Rocks

Wikipedia: Vasquez Rocks

Our Wonderful, Horrible Schools   1 comment

It all happened before we moved into California, so I can’t take credit, and I’m not to blame.  Proposition 13 is the subject, of course.  What did it do?  Turn California politics upside down.  Destroyed the status quo.  And now, almost 35 years later, we’re still dealing with the aftermath.  California’s budgeting process is broken.

Proposition 13 is so important in California … it has its own website 34 years after it passed. And a gun-for-hire “we hate all taxes” team that owns the site.

Public Schools, K-12

Prop 13 basically destroyed the funding previous paradigm for California public schools.  Perhaps it’s just as well:  there was a California Supreme Court case that found that prior funding mechanism unfairly gave more funds to cities with high property tax collections, and less funds to cities with lower collections.  The problem:  depressed neighborhoods were forced to charge higher tax rates but still had lower collections.  Combine that inequity found by the courts with a series of scandals in several county’s assessor offices, and there was a total mess.

In spite of that, California’s schools were viewed as some of the best in the country.  But then the funding fell apart.  Today, in measure after measure, California has fallen behind.  Here are a few:

  • In the ’70s, California averaged more funding per student than the rest of the country.  Today, we’re ranked 48th.
  • In 1975, California only spent 35% of the budget on education.  Today, it’s 55% of the budget … and we’re STILL behind the rest of the country per pupil!
  • In 1970, the US averaged 20 students per teacher while California averaged 26.  Today, the US averages about 14 and California averages 21.

Rand Corporation had this observation:

Since the 1970s, California schools have been buffeted by legal, political, and financial turbulence, along with rapid demographic change. Home to major shifts in educational policy in the last few decades and to 13 percent of the nation’s students, California has become an immense laboratory for nearly everything that can go right or wrong with education in America.

Where is California in the ranking of advancement towards the goal of the No Child Left Behind act?  46th of 50 states.

I think it’s pretty clear that California is failing our public school children.  Tragic.  The educational establishment continues to resist change.  The teacher’s union continues to resist any kind of performance-based evaluation of its members.

And our children suffer.

Public Universities

However, California’s Universities are fabulous.  The US News rankings just came out, and 5 of the top 10 public universities are part of the University of California system:

  • 1. UC Berkley
  • 2. UCLA
  • 8. UC Davis
  • 9. UC San Diego
  • 10. UC Santa Barbara

The University of California has 9 undergraduate campuses; 8 of them are ranked in the Top 50.

The California State Universities fare just as well in the regional university rankings.  Seven of the Top 10 western universities are from California:

  • 1. California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo
  • 3. California State University – Chico
  • 5. California State University – Long Beach (tie)
  • 5. California State University – Fullerton (tie)
  • 8. California Polytechnic State University – Pomona
  • 9. California State University – Fresno (tie)
  • 9. San Jose State University (tie)

This success apparently has come at a high price:  California State University fees have gone through the roof — literally.  The 1979 fee was only $144 for a full time student, and the 2010 fee was $4,335.  That means they have increased 30x fold over thirty years.  And, for the record, my family was paying those fees in the ’90s, in the ’00s, and stopped paying them in  2011.  Thank goodness.

In comparison, the University of California fees are a bargain, they’ve only increased 10x over 30 years, from $720 in 1978 to $8,020 in 2008.

So, we’ve got great universities, even though we’ve had dramatic tuition increases.  But how do we fix the public schools?

Public School vs Charter Schools

Charter schools are being opened at a record rate; over 484,000 students are now served by the 1,065 charter schools that have sprung up in California (the leading state for new charter schools!).  These schools are generally fiercely opposed by established public schools — and especially by the extremely influential teacher’s union.  The charters, you see, siphon resources from the public schools.  Parents seek out the charter schools for their more innovative, results-focused approach.  And when a charter school attracts more students, it gets the tax dollars allocated for the education of those students.  Seems fair, right?

The charters are also helping to train their own teachers; they’re not relying on the education establishment to provide them with trained professionals.  Good thing:  the number of certified teachers is now dropping year-to-year.

The Money

California Gov. Jerry Brown during a rally on Monday in support of Proposition 30. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

California voters passed a tax increase this week, Proposition 30, after voters had been cajoled, threatened, and, uh, persuaded by Governor Brown.  He worked with the Democratic state legislature to craft a budget that if this proposition didn’t pass, then $4 billion in education spending would have to be cut this year.  This game would be budget brinkmanship, the advanced edition.

Thankfully, the proposition did pass, so this year’s budgets will not have to be cut midyear.  Students will not lose a week or more of classes, and Cal State tuitions will not have to go up again (well, only sometimes) and classes will not have to be cut.

Is that money going to be enough to fix the schools?  Of course not.

But I hope it’s a start.

I wish we could take the people that run our wonderful universities and get them to solve the problems with our public schools.  They’re already state employees!  Wouldn’t that make sense?

Velda was bored….   4 comments

Sometimes, she just gets these ideas.  I am generally a fan of her ideas … but this time I had no choice.  Lauren was in.  I was, therefore, participating.

Velda loves the things that don’t sell.

We were having a garage sale!

Things to do instead of hosting a garage sale

1. Pile all of your “extra” stuff in the driveway.  Put a sign on the mailbox:  “Take our stuff.  Please.”  Then, go to a movie.

2. Take everything to Goodwill.  Then, go to a movie.

3. Build an addition onto the house so you have more storage space.

4. Encourage Velda’s hoarding tendencies.  Embrace goat paths through the house.

5. Tell Lauren she needs to keep all of her prom dresses, since she no longer has her Beanie Babies.

6. Plan on going to a lot of Hallowe’en parties next year, and wear one of the three colors of graduation gowns in the closet.

7. Go see some AYSO games.  It’s soccer Saturday, after all.  Then, go to a movie.

8. Mizzou has the early game.  Must watch the Tigers!  No time to babysit unwanted stuff to make sure we get fifty cents for everything.

9. The forecast is rain.  Sorry, dear, we have to stay inside.

10. Continue to frustrate your wife.  Move to a motel.

11. Research alternate uses of 20-year old Tupperware.  Make your own reusable Christmas tree decorations with the lovely red and green lids.  And, uh, figure out something for the orange and the blue ones, too.

12. Hide behind the piles of boxes in the garage.  No one will ever find you.

So, like I said, we’re having a garage sale.

The Prep

I do claim to know something about marketing.  Here’s what we did:

  • Ad to run in the Newhall Signal, the local paper, Friday & Saturday. Unfortunately, due to a clerical error on my part, the ad only ran on Saturday.  Good news:  you saved $5.50.  Cost for a one day ad:  $24.50.  It was succinct:  “Garage Sale- Saturday 11/10, 7am. Clothes, books, kitchen ware. *Address* *City* *Zip Code*”
  • Post to Craigslist.  Free.
  • Signs are needed on the major cross streets; park a car at the main traffic junction with signs front and back.  We had to buy signs, packing tape … and masking tape for price tags.  Lauren claimed $17 for this; I’m guessing she expensed a Starbuck’s coffee, too.
  • We got a bunch of change: quarters, singles, $5 & $10.  No sales below 25 cents, we agreed.

5:30 AM (O Dark 30)

We were already on the driveway, setting up tables and moving outside all of the items that we’d preset in the living room the night before.  Lauren went to go post the signs (and tear down the 2-weeks out-of-date signs that were taking up the prime spots on the light poles).

The driveway was set up an hour later … and we had our first customer at 6:30 AM for our 7 AM garage sale.  We started putting up the shade structure on the grass and Lauren started hanging the soft goods at that point.

The Sale

I’m not a garage sale person, so I don’t know much about this sub-culture.  It was a fascinating view of humanity.  A few observations:

  • Three languages were spoken, not including whining and sarcasm.  Welcome to LA.
  • Loved the guy that bought the iPod belt case for his Droid.
  • Highest priced item:  a Nintendo 64 console with bad controllers.  $15.
  • Lowest priced item: Velda’s Food Digest magazines.  She gave them to the first lady that walked near them.
  • No one knew what a cot was.  Didn’t buy them, either.
  • Loved the neighbor that walked over, bought 4 books … and then sent his wife to buy a few for herself, too.
  • People buy used shoes.  Who knew?
  • Coats moved quickly @ $3.  They didn’t move at $5.
  • No one bought Shakespeare.
  • People buy Nintendo 64 games.  One guy collects Nintendo instruction manuals from Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64.  It’s a big world out there.
  • People don’t buy books.  Or, actually, they don’t buy enough books.  Or I have too many.  You decide.
  • Top requests: tools (no, I still use them), bikes (no, not for sale) and guitars (huh?).
  • Big traffic until 10am, and then it slowed down until 12:30 when we shut it down.

The Bottom Line

Total Sales:  $231.75

Expenses:  $41.50

Profit:  $190.25

Posted November 10, 2012 by henrymowry in Living Life

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Liars vs. Winners vs. Me   3 comments

I don’t believe people should lie.  It’s what my momma taught me.

I am fascinated by a line of thought I’m seeing in the media that we WANT our President to lie.  I mean, what???  Didn’t President Clinton get in a speck of trouble over that?  Didn’t President Nixon actually get booted after he lied to the American people?

Perhaps the world’s most famous liar, Pinocchio.

And yet.

The Worst Lies Ever

An article in Monday’s New York Times by Kevin Kruse, a professor of history from Princeton, espoused the belief that the lies in this Presidential campaign were the worst ever … here is his conclusion:

To be sure, the Obama campaign has certainly had its own share of dissembling and distortion, including about Mr. Romney’s positions on abortion and foreign aid. But nothing in it — or in past campaigns, for that matter — has equaled the efforts of the Romney campaign in this realm. Its fundamental disdain for facts is something wholly new.

I don’t want to get into a political tit for tat on who lied the most in the campaign.  It’s over, it’s done, and who wants to go back?  However, it’s certainly true that both President Obama and Governor Romney stated things directly — and approved ads to run — that stretched the truth beyond the breaking point.  Websites are devoted to tracking statements and evaluating their truthfulness.

“Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire” is the category used by the fact checkers for what they consider the most egregious lies in the campaign.

We need professionals for that, apparently.

Now, we have factcheck.org and Politifact.com, who tell us what they think is true and false.  Many other websites do this, but some have obvious, slanted agendas, like MoveOn.org and Newsmax.com.  Soon, you have spin doctors telling their version of a truth that is based on the implication of the other candidate’s statement after it is taken out of context, rotated and mutilated.

Walter Cronkite was called “The Most Trusted Man in America” as he anchored the CBS Evening News, 1962 – 1981. He ended his broadcasts with “And that’s the way it is….”

Journalism, I mourn for thee.  We used to trust Walter Cronkite to tell us what was right, and he didn’t let us down.  Those days are gone, unfortunately.

Today, we have Presidential debates where both candidates confront each other, saying things like, “That is simply not true!”  In the tightly formatted debates, however, there is no one moderating to require either candidate to respond directly to such basic allegations.  Truth has become a matter of perspective, not a matter of being correct.  And since we now know both sides lie … who cares?  Everyone is doing it.

The Governor did it.  The President did it.

An article in Tuesday’s Reason.com postulates that we expect our politicians to lie, in that we expect them to do any reasonable thing to win so that they can represent our shared interests.

Here’s how Johnny Schad, my co-worker and the Democratic Committee Chair for Iowa’s Palo Alto County explained it:

“We the people have to be willing to take some responsibility for our government. Politicians (Republican or Democrat) don’t lie because they want to; they lie because we demand that they do.

For example, Gov. Romney had a 59 point economic plan that few people would even consider until he cut it down to a simple 5 point plan. That means over-simplifying to such a ridiculous level that the result cannot be entirely true.”

The Awful Truth

Thomas Jefferson said “The government you elect is government you deserve.”

This scares me to death.

I certainly hope that we do not deserve a government that lies.  I absolutely expect our President to tell us the truth.  Don’t you?

And, finally, I certainly hope that our elected officials learn that telling the truth is better than the alternative … because we need to teach them exactly that!

Hawaii’s Botanical Gardens   6 comments

The Na’Aina Kai Botanical Garden is what I wanted to see: exotic plants, manicured gardens, statuary and lovely vistas around every corner.

When we first went to Hawaii, I didn’t really know what to expect.  I mean, I had seen Hawaii Five-O (and played that wonderful theme song, like every high school band in the ’70s).  I’d even seen surfing contests on ABC’s Wide World of Sports, back when that was the only Saturday afternoon escape available for a nascent sports junkie.

But what was Hawaii really like?  I mean, a tropical paradise?  That’s what I saw when I watched South Pacific (and in spite of a spirited discussion we had one night with the family, that is a GREAT musical … but a dated & lousy film at this point!).

Given our love of photography and, uh, pretty things, Velda and I have visited several gardens in Hawaii.  Here is our ranking and recommendation for your visit to Hawaii:

1. Kauai – Na ‘Aina Kai Botanical Gardens

This is what I think a wonderful botanical garden should be.  It’s probably too big:  we did a guided tour that was about 2 hours long, and I don’t think we saw 30%, and I know we didn’t enjoy fully most of what we did see.

This garden has it all:  it’s got a huge variety of plants.  It’s got waterfalls.  It’s got statuary.  It’s a working hardwood plantation.  It’s pretty.  Gorgeous, really.  I recommend it without reservation — which you will need when you visit.

The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden has a dizzying array of exotics, such as these Rose Grapes from the Philippines.

2. Hawaii (Big Island) – Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden

This garden is truly a tropical paradise.  You follow a creek through a meandering path with little grottoes liberally sprinkled around the path with exotic flowers and plants everywhere you look.  The path goes all the way to the ocean.  The views are gorgeous.  Do not miss this garden.

3. Maui – Garden of Eden Arboretum & Botanical Garden

Worth the price of admission, but not an essential part of going on the Road to Hana.  Pretty plants, wonderful paths to wander around.  See some pictures, below.

4. Hawaii (Big Island)World Botanical Garden & Waterfalls

This 3-tier waterfall is unusual for 2 reasons: it’s a 3-tier waterfall, and it can only be seen after you pay the admission to enter the World Botanical Garden.

I wrote about this garden previously, in 30: Hawaii.  As I said there, this is the least appealing garden we have visited.  Not all bad, but probably not worth the price of admission.

National Tropical Garden

5. Kauai – National Tropical Botanical Garden

There are 3 sites for the NTBG on Kauai:

South Shore – McBryde Garden
South Shore – Alerton Garden
North Shore – Limahuli Garden and Preserve

We visited the office on the South Shore without knowing what we were walking into, and decided that we didn’t have the time to spend on what seemed like an expensive guided tour.  We passed, and haven’t found time to go back.  I’m sure we will … but for now, I’ll simply state that their tours seemed expensive and their marketing hasn’t been persuasive.  We did spend an hour or so in their free access public area around the office, and that was, uh, worth what we paid for it.

The paths through the Garden of Eden are cinder-lined, which means they are not treacherous when wet; it does rain frequently here!

Norfolk Island Pine trees were planted by sailing ship captains who prized them for their long, straight trunks, and needed a ready supply of replacement masts when they stopped at the Sandwich Islands, as Hawaii was known in the 19th century.

Variegated Ginger

Rainbow Eucalyptus tree

President Obama’s Victory Speech   1 comment

U.S. President Barack Obama waves to supporters after his victory speech at McCormick Place on election night November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Obama’s victory speech last night was great.  The man is a wonderful orator, and his ability to communicate on the world’s largest stages is one of his greatest strengths (which he needs to use more, I would think).  Read the complete text of his remarks here. 

After the obligatory thanks to his supporters (and a very nice nod to the Romney family), he really hit his stride in the middle of the speech.  Here are some key passages that resonated with me:

“And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learned from you, and you’ve made me a better president. And with your stories and your struggles, I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do and the future that lies ahead.

Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours. And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together. Reducing our deficit. Reforming our tax code. Fixing our immigration system. Freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We’ve got more work to do.

But that doesn’t mean your work is done. The role of citizens in our Democracy does not end with your vote. America’s never been about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us together through the hard and frustrating, but necessary work of self-government. That’s the principle we were founded on.

This country has more wealth than any nation, but that’s not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that’s not what makes us strong. Our university, our culture are all the envy of the world, but that’s not what keeps the world coming to our shores.

What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth. The belief that our destiny is shared; that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations. The freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights. And among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That’s what makes America great.

I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America….”

Posted November 7, 2012 by henrymowry in POTUS

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First Tuesday After the First Monday in November   1 comment

Love this article from NPR:  Why do we vote on Tuesdays?  Because of the horse & buggy.  Read the story here.

Me, I voted on this Tuesday, in the garage of a neighbor’s home, just as I’ve done in every major election for 25 years.

Parking place?  Nope, today it’s the polling place.  No ID required … at least, none required if you hand them the sample ballot you got in the mail, as I always do.

Seven booths, no waiting at noon. The lines do get long after 5pm, and longer ballots often result in longer lines.  Today, we voted on 3 federal, 2 state and 1 county race, as well as 14 different propositions.

We mark a scannable form with a black ink stamp. We’ve got hundreds of varieties of ballots and voting mechanisms across the country. That seems wrong … but at least we’ve never had to deal with hanging chad in California!

It’s all about getting this low quality, poly lingual sticker.  It is so California.

John Wooden’s Statue   4 comments

John Wooden created the UCLA basketball program.  He inherited a program that was mediocre, at best, in the Pacific Coast Conference, going 12-13 the year before Wooden came in.

Under Wooden’s leadership, he began by winning 4 straight conference championships.  From that ostentatious beginning, Wooden built the UCLA program to unprecedented levels.

  • Four undefeated seasons.  No other college basketball coach has more than one
  • Ten national titles
  • And his never-to-be-broken record:  Seven straight national titles

Part of Wooden’s lore is that he recruited Lew Alcindor — one of, if not the greatest college player of all time — by saying that he was building a new basketball arena just for him.  If he would only come to UCLA!

Of course, Lew Alcindor came to LA, was a part of 3 national championship teams, and was the MVP of the tournament each of those 3 years.  Imagine that!

A careful watcher could have seen this coming, though.  After the June 1965 completion of Pauley, it hosted its first basketball game that fall:  an exhibition between the NCAA Champion varsity team, and the freshman team led by Lew Alcindor.  The freshman team won!

And Pauley Pavilion became an icon of college basketball.  That began with the building’s dedication in 1965.  A renovation was announced in 2007, and completed this year.  The first game is on Friday against Indiana State … ironically, the first college team coached by John Wooden.

Here’s a photo collection of the new Pauley Pavilion, taken today at the public open house.  A new statue of John Wooden was unveiled a few days ago; it’s on the north side of the building, facing UCLA’s intramural fields.

John R. Wooden
UCLA Head Basketball Coach 1948 – 1975
“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.”

The concourse is filled with testaments to John Wooden and his legacy at Pauley Pavilion.

The new expanded concourse surrounding the court features huge murals dedicated to the sports that play in Pauley, which will host the 2013 NCAA Men’s Volleyball championship.  The John Wooden quote at the bottom: “Winning takes talent, to repeat takes character.”

Pauley will also host the 2013 NCAA women’s gymnastic championship. The Wooden text: Make each day your masterpiece.

The Wooden text under the basketball mural: “Be at your best when your best is needed.”

UCLA celebrates “Champions Made Here.” They have currently earned 108 NCAA championships, the most of any university.  Each of the 108 championships are listed on the northern side of the concourse.

Pillars in the concourse have signs dedicated to noteworthy events in the illustrious history of Pauley, including Lew Alcindor’s 1967 record of 61 points in one game, which still stands today.

Pauley Pavilion is unique in college sports:  only national championship banners hang from the rafters.  Conference championships — of which there are many — are not showcased.

The home and visitor’s benches have been moved to the north side of the Nell and John Wooden Court. A video ribbon has been added around the arena.

My President   9 comments

Natalie Maines, the lead singer of the Dixie Chicks, got her group into a lot of trouble in 2003 when she loudly, publicly and internationally declared that she was ashamed that President George W Bush was from Texas.

She was not happy with the policies of President Bush, so she proclaimed her dissatisfaction from the bully pulpit of her London concert stage.  The result:  she insulted a great percentage of Americans, including a whole bunch of the Country radio community.  Those Country radio listeners expressed their unhappiness quickly and loudly … and within hours, you did not hear very much Dixie Chicks music on Country radio stations.

There was a public debate on Ms. Maines’ right to free speech, which she lustily engaged in for many months.  Free speech was never in question; I support her right to express her opinion 100%.  I also support the right of the listeners of Country radio to say that they don’t want to listen to her music.  Free speech won, but the way we view our President was tarnished.

In 2006, Maines also retracted her earlier apology to President Bush, stating, “I apologized for disrespecting the office of the President, but I don’t feel that way anymore. I don’t feel he is owed any respect whatsoever.”  This appears to be Maines’ final position:  that President George W Bush was not owed any respect whatsoever.

Other entertainers jumped on the bandwagon, by the way … Julia Roberts and Carlos Santana are both quoted as saying that “W” was “not my President.”  That began a whole slew of back & forth partisanship about who was, or wasn’t, or wouldn’t be, “my president.”  That inflammatory rhetoric continues to this day (buy a t-shirt!  buy a bumper sticker!).  And as celebrities and politicians feed the media escalating and bombastic rhetoric, we are left with an emotionally exhausted society that believes the end of the world will come if their candidate does not win.

When you wholly invest yourself into the political process, you run the risk of losing track of your values when your candidate does — or does not — prevail.  If your candidate wins, you may feel you can dictate “how it’s going to be” to everyone else.  If your candidate loses, you may feel disenfranchised from your government.  You may feel you have no hope.  Such is not the case:  the strength of our country is based on the balance between the three branches of government, and we believe that balance will save our republic, come what may.  And we have been proven right through civil war, world war, assassination, economic turmoil and social upheaval.

Let me tell you about my President.

In his farewell address to the American people given in January 1953, President Truman gave his philosophy on being in charge of our government, “The President–whoever he is–has to decide. He can’t pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him. That’s his job.”  This sign was on his desk throughout his Presidential term, and is now in his Presidential Library in Independence, MO.

He is, first and foremost, the defender of the Constitution.  He swears to protect the Constitution when he takes the oath of office. He will do whatever it takes for the United States of America to survive.  To thrive.

He is the Commander-in-Chief, and directs our armed forces.  Hopefully, he will use them sparingly.  But he will use them to protect American interests here and abroad.

He is the head of one entire branch of our government:  the executive branch.  He is the face of America to the world.

These days, it seems that he must be a referee, as he attempts to balance the odious extremities of both parties and work with the Congress to craft the laws that govern our nation.  Today’s rhetoric is not the most spiteful in our country’s history (Lincoln was denounced as a “military dictator … grasping at the power of a despot,” for example. ), but today’s political statements are certainly the most insulting and divisive in the memory of most Americans.

I regret that today’s citizens believe they must speak in an extreme fashion in order to be heard.

I regret that today’s presidential candidates feel they must spin their opponent’s statements and implications into a twisted version of “truth” that has little to do with the original statement’s intent.  And many journalists are eager to feed the monster and escalate the statements even more with screaming headlines proclaiming the other guy a liar, an idiot … well, you’ve seen the headlines.  They look the same to me, whether you’re reading the Huffington Post or the New York Times, Newsmax or the Drudge Report.

I know that I’ll disagree with our next President on many issues.  That’s not really news:  I disagree with everyone, including myself, sometimes.  Disagreement is not the same thing as discourtesy.  Or defamation.  Or destruction.

I don’t know who’s going to win the election on Tuesday.  But, I can tell you this:  he will be my president.

Posted November 1, 2012 by henrymowry in POTUS

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