Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
Thanks to Roger Carlton for his informative and interesting articles this past year. He is a columnist for the Graham Star Newspaper.
This has been a difficult year for most folks. The only good news to some is that the year is nearly over.
In a few days, we move on to 2021. We tend to segment time and history into decades. The Fabulous Fifties and the Roaring Twenties come to mind. What historians and pundits will call the last decade will be interesting. How do you find a phrase that melds hope with despair? That will be the challenge.
This column is about moving forward in a positive manner that will allow us to find emotional peace in difficult times.
Here are a few thoughts that help me to be positive and maintain a sense of balance:
- Who cares if the glass is half-full or half-empty? The key is which direction it is going. Try to keep the glass filling up.
- History and its impact on our lives is like a pendulum on a well-wound clock. The pendulum can only go so far to the right or left until it swings back to the center. The key is to keep the clock wound up and not let it run down.
- Always tell the truth. Then you don't have to remember what you said.
- Follow the wisdom of our new Secretary of the Interior Designee Deb Haaland regarding the environment in which we live. Think of the world in terms of the Seven Generation rule. Make all decisions with the next seven generations in mind. What we do today will impact our descendants whom we will never know.
- Don't try to eat elephants. It can't be done.
- Turn off your devices and news feeds for at least 30 minutes in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Use the time to think and chill a bit. Whatever riled you up may not be as important later or may change more to your satisfaction in the time it took to relax.
- Schedule only what you can accomplish each day. Not everything can be finished in one day, but progress can be made. Jot down what you haven't finished at the end of the day and walk away. There is no need to obsess over the undone if it is on your "To Do" list for the next morning.
- Learn from the past but don't live in it.
- Read Carlos Castaneda's Journey to Ixtlan. He profoundly writes "We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same."
- Listen to the Bee Gees wonderful song Words if your challenges seem insurmountable. "This world has lost its glory. Let's start a brand new story. Now my love, right now. There'll be no other time. And I can show you how my love." We all need to start a brand new story in some way.
This columnist would be remiss if he did not thank his wife Beth for her editorial insights. Further thanks go to Glenda Beall for her being the muse who helped me learn what "Creative Non-fiction" was all about. Thanks also to Kim Hainge and Jim Kreiner. Their dedication to the natural wonders of the world in which we live is an inspiration. Finally, thanks to David Brown, Kevin Hensley and the Graham Star staff for keeping our local paper alive and remembering that sunshine is always the best disinfectant.
Friday, December 11, 2020
|Roger Carlton, newspaper columnist|
This article first appeared in the Cherokee Scout newspaper published weekly in Murphy, NC/
The debates are debated. The conventions have convened. The election is over. The canvassing boards have canvassed. Frivolous litigation has been adjudicated. Yet we still don’t have a final decision on who our next President will be. Something is wrong with this picture and it is not Hillary’s e-mails or President Trump’s unwillingness to accept reality.
What is wrong is an anachronism that our Founders named the Electoral College.
The Electoral College is made up of 538 members. With the exception of Maine and Nebraska, each state is a winner takes all situation. Whoever wins in the general election gets all the votes for that state. To win in the Electoral College, 270 votes are needed. The vote will be held December 14, 2020. That is eight days after the deadline for the states to certify their elections and more than a month with a lame duck POTUS. If a state doesn’t certify, the decision goes to Congress so states always meet the deadline to certify.
The Electoral College origins come from fear by the Founders that the big population states would overcome the smaller less populous rural states. That theory certainly bombed in 2016 when some bad strategy on the part of Hillary Clinton led her to ignore some of the smaller states and she ended up winning the general election and losing the Electoral College vote. Winning one and losing the other is not like eating a box of Cracker Jacks. There is no guaranteed prize for the loser of the Electoral College vote.
The big population fear was compounded when the Founders compromised on the slavery issue. Slaves were counted in the population of the southern states but only 40 percent of the actual number of 400,000 slaves were included in the count at the time the Founders worked on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. That number had grown to nearly 3.5 million by the time the Civil War ended.
There was great concern that if the slaves were freed and allowed to vote in the future, the numbers would shift in a popular election to give more power to the South.
To avoid this potential from happening, the Electoral College was originally created to balance the popular election outcome with an elite process wherein the voters were a small number of hand-picked folks. After all, why should we trust the unwashed masses to vote for their President? Let’s control the rabble by setting up a second-tier process with voters whose numbers and loyalties reflect the distribution of U.S. Senators and Representatives.
We need to do away with the Electoral College and let the plurality of votes be the end of the $14 billion dollar exercise in the democracy we call the 2020 Presidential election. That is what was spent on the 2020 election. That number is appalling.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will win the Electoral College with 306 votes which is the same number President Trump got in 2016. We already know the outcome, so why waste the time and money? Let’s move on with bringing our country back together and regaining our leadership role in world events. There is too much to do to wait even one unnecessary day.
Friday, November 6, 2020
Monday, October 26, 2020
The best conversations with someone of opposing views begin with the discovery that there might be some areas of agreement. For instance, we might all agree that political ads painting your opponent as the devil incarnate don't garner many votes. These ads do more to demean the candidate who campaigns on their opponent's alleged faults rather than their own strengths.
We might also agree that the Biden Harris ticket and what it stands for is the polar opposite of the Trump Pence ticket. We can also most likely agree that any more debates will shed no illumination on the candidates and be thankful that the final two debates have been called off.
- Trustworthiness is critical. What is the ratio of truth to outright lies, distortions, political hyperbole or just plain gaffes? Reviewing the past four years, there is one candidate who has a demonstrable record-breaking track record of excuses, blaming others and distortions of the truth. When caught, we hear about fake news or walking something back or it was just a joke. This criterion is pretty easy to judge.
- Developing a great leadership team. Expertise that is listened to, people of integrity, people that our allies respect and our enemies fear, people who are not afraid to tell the President that he is wrong and people that are loyal because the loyalty has been earned are all characteristics of the leadership team we should expect. The group surrounding the White House incumbent has come and gone voluntarily, been fired or indicted and convicted. Hardly the team that should be continued for a second term.
- The ability to respect expertise and develop policy based on scientifically proven facts. For those of us with friends and families that have had their loved ones die , who are experiencing the economic impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic or have their children and grandchildren failing in school, the sad conclusion is that the White House has failed to develop a national program to deal with this tragedy. No, it is not the Chinese disease. It is the world's disease and we are part of the world.
- Showing empathy. Empathy means you care about those less fortunate than yourself. This means the 30 million who remain unemployed and may soon be evicted. This means immigrants who want to come to this country and are willing to follow the rules. Desperate people do desperate things. To separate them from their children is not empathy. It is inhumane.
- Having the foresight to recognize that we need to address climate change and sea level rise. Consider people in California or along the Gulf Coast. Continuing to support fossil fuel use rather than alternate energy sources will put us behind a world that is quickly moving away from the old technologies.
- The ability to acknowledge the pain of others. Calling the folks who want to find a solution to police abuse of force a "bunch of thugs" ignores the reality of both the Black and Blue Lives Matter movements. Branding your opponent a "socialist" because he won't abandon the 20 million people who have taken advantage of the Affordable Care Act does not solve the issues of improving medical care for all our citizens and taxpayers. There are 440 people in Graham County who would not have insurance without this program and every one of them should beware of the White House goal of killing this benefit.
- Respect for the voters' intelligence. Dissing a patriot like Senator McCain because he was a prisoner of war and showing disrespect for Gold Star families is a slap in the face to our military. Abandoning treaties and organizations causes our allies to lose their trust in us and our enemies take advantage. Bragging about a tax reform package that made the rich richer and did nothing for the middle class. Ignoring income inequality only angers the workers who see the corporate titans become wealthy as Midas while they struggle to put food on the table and provide a better education for their children. Paying your fair share of taxes is not being a "sucker and a loser." It may be "smart" but it is not right and certainly does not earn my vote.
Many of the residents of Graham County rely on the Good Book for guidance when conflicts occur. Consider Mathew 7:15. "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." Predictions of massive voter fraud, unwillingness to agree to a peaceful transition if you lose, creating distrust in wearing a mask until you get the disease, wild conspiracy theories that stoke up hate groups are all behaviors that seem to define false prophecy.
We all need to look deeply into our hearts and have a conversation with ourselves and people we respect. Are the lifelong mountain values inherited from generations past best continued by the incumbent? Was America made great again in the past four years? Should we trust the next four years to someone who has had few leadership successes and many failures? The unavoidable answer to these questions is that the risk is too great. That is why the Biden Harris ticket is the best way forward.
Thursday, September 24, 2020
Saturday, August 29, 2020
Monday, August 17, 2020
Friday, July 24, 2020
We welcome Roger Carlton back for another of his interesting posts. Roger is columnist for the Graham Star Newspaper in Robbinsville, NC
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is one of three branches of the Federal Government. Congress and the Executive Branch are the other two.
One thing is certain. The Founding Fathers had great experience with an all-powerful monarch in the form of King George III. They wanted nothing to do with repeating the tyranny of that leadership so they created a form of government with balance of powers. The Congress made the laws, the President carried them out and the Supreme Court settled disputes. Pretty close to a perfect construct at the time. Not so good today because many of our leaders have forgotten that deliberation of issues based on scientific facts and compassionate implementation is the necessary foundation of democracy.
My conservative friends rejoiced over the Senate's confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Samuel Alito. They rent garments and gnashed teeth over the appointments of liberal Associate Justices Steven Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Ginsburg and Elena Kagan. Yet, until recently, the past six presidents, of which three were D's and three were R's, did a pretty good job of bi-partisan appointments of fair and balanced people. The labels conservative and liberal don't seem to apply to all votes of the current SCOTUS.
Recent decisions by the Supreme Court have my conservative friends in a dither. They have concluded that the conservative majority on the Supreme Court has sold them out. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Supreme Court has acted responsibly and defied their pundit-imposed labels in these controversial cases. Most importantly, one of the three branches needed to put on its adult britches and avoid the chaos being created by the other two.
Here are a few of the controversial cases. The first is letting our President know that he does not enjoy blanket immunity to avoid responding to subpoenas for his tax records. The Court acted responsibly by sending the debate back to lower courts so that the tax filings would not be released until after the election in November. To quote Chesterfield Smith who was President of the American Bar Association during the Watergate investigation, when the Supreme Court ordered President Nixon to release certain damaging Watergate information for which he claimed executive privilege, "No man is above the law."
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recent decision stopped the White House from ending the program which has kept 650,000 young immigrants in limbo for years. Ending the program would have sent them back to the countries from which they were taken by their parents. The Supreme Court made it clear that the Administration had not made a rational case to justify the harsh decision. The same reasoning caused the 2019 decision to remove the citizenship question from the 2020 Census.
The Louisiana abortion legislation that doctors had to have privileges in nearby hospitals "to protect the women" was overturned because the exact same law had already been overturned in Texas. The majority opinion regarding expansion of the Civil Rights Act to include employment for the LGBTQ community was written by President Trump's appointment Neil Gorsuch. The ability of employers to deny providing insurance coverage for contraceptives based on religious or moral beliefs was upheld. One other case allows states to use public funds for scholarships to attend religious schools where only private schools were allowed before. There have been decisions by the SCOTUS that make both liberals and conservatives happy and unhappy.
So, save your garments and don't wear out your teeth. Let's respect the Supreme Court as our last line of defense against the chaos we see in the other two branches.
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