I’ve come to the conclusion that the vast majority of the critical problems we face in the United States — economic, societal and ecological — can be traced back to two basic bodies: We, the people and a very, VERY tiny subset, the U.S. Congress.
Oddly, the existence of the problem with the subset can be tied to the issues with the parent. But let me touch on the subset first.

The Congress

Our Congress is supposedly comprised of elected representatives of the populace, endowed with certain powers to fulfill various responsibilities. It is the heart of the Legislative Branch of the federal government, one of the three key foundational groups establishing the checks and balances of our government. As such, the expectation was that it would exercise its powers to limit the other two branches’ potential for abuse, while in turn, being limited by them.

Over time, however, we, the people, have allowed them — by our blindness, apathy or stupidity — to manipulate their explicit powers to a degree that has both expanded their ability to influence the other two branches and neutralized the ability of the other branches to limit the actions of the Congress.
Let me use an analogy to demonstrate just one way in which this is true.

Imagine you’re the owner of a business, employing workers, providing a product or service with sufficient demand to make the business profitable. From time to time, as any business owner does, you have to make decisions regarding promotions and raises, hires and fires, expansion and shrinking of operations… all the day to day issues that go with the territory.

But suppose that the decisions regarding pay raises aren’t yours. Instead, that power rests with a committee of employees. Their decisions are absolute, with you having no ability to modify or override them when at least 3/4 of them agree.

So one day, this committee decides there should be a limit to the period of time you’re allowed to sit as president of the company. They propose the change, a company-wide vote is held and the vast majority of employees agree. Instead of being in operational control of your company for as long as you own it, you are suddenly able to only sit as the titular head of the company for, say, eight years. After that maximum timeframe, a new president must be selected. However, the members of the committee decide that there shouldn’t be any limitation on how long they can remain on the committee.

See the parallel? This is what our Congress did in 1947 with the 22nd Amendment. Granted, they didn’t do it all alone… 36 of the 48 states at the time had to ratify it. But they successfully excluded themselves from the term limitation. Interestingly, much of the delay in that ratification process stemmed from concerns by many that the Senate and the House of Representatives should also be limited. One Senator considered that lack of Congressional term limits to be “most highly and dangerously oligarchic”. That Senator may have been prescient, judging by the present situation.

It seems that our Congress has the somewhat unique ability to not only eliminate challenges to its own power, but to also bestow special, exclusive benefits and privileges upon its members. In some instances, they’ve managed to provide themselves with benefits not available to the general populace. Some of those benefits may be judged by the average American to be justifiable… many are not. Determining their own pay raises is one (that’s a power granted to them constitutionally, so changing it would require an Amendment). But it adds to the sense of frustration felt by many Americans. And to be fair, there are many citations of a similar nature that are false or exaggerated, yet accepted by many Americans as true.

The bottom line: very few Americans feel that their interests or well-being are being considered by their elected officials, particularly by Congress. And the willingness of the Congress to deliberately set aside the desires of their constituencies to play political roulette doesn’t help. The Senate Judiciary Committee deserves to be driven out of office for their recent shenanigans. Both sides of the aisle are guilty of gross negligence on several fronts. In earlier days, tar and feathers would come into play, and with good cause.

We, the People

The problems here are much easier to identify, although there are many facets. In a nutshell, I think they’re covered by apathy, a lack of belief in the power of the people to affect change, a lack of critical thinking skills, laziness and in some instances, an astounding level of ignorance (if not stupidity). Watching the 2016 electoral process, it occurs to me that there may also be a higher level of stupidity at play than I would have believed.
Let me say here that I fully realize that there are some folks that are not guilty of any of those issues. In fact, there are some that are extremely active in trying to change things, raise awareness or promote others to act. But sadly, there aren’t nearly enough.

At least not yet.

During this campaign between the aspirants to the nomination as their party’s presidential candidate, this has become even more obvious. There seems to be more participation in the rallies and online discussion than in most previous elections, but there’s still a lot of evidence of the same issues: laziness to sort out the fact from fiction and truth from lies, apathy in accepting some very serious flaws in the moral makeup of some of the candidates, acceptance of same-old, same-old, and a lack of critical thinking. Too many people that do seem interested are willing to let others do their thinking for them. Oh, and the bit about stupidity… apparently, that’s contagious, and may be reaching pandemic status.


Want to know if you’re part of the problem or part of the solution?
• If you’re willing to unquestioningly accept virtually any statement that supports your pre-existing opinion, you’re part of the problem.
• If you’re too lazy to research the candidates and their platform, you’re part of the problem.
• If you’re willing to accept that “this is just politics” and as such, is inevitable, you’re part of the problem.
• If you’re willing to abdicate your vote to the established “party line”, you’re part of the problem.
• If you’re ignorant of the issues, that can be corrected, with a little effort. Until then, you’re part of the problem.
• If you’re stupid, then I’m afraid you’re stuck with being part of the problem. I think (hope?) you’re in the minority.

The last item, stupidity, is the only one that you don’t have the power to correct — you have the ability to rectify all the others. If you lack the motivation to do so, then I strongly suggest you fix that. Because the 2016 election may be one of the most important decisions made in our country in generations. It will, without a doubt, have the potential to dramatically affect the lives of you and those you care about.
If you’re either one of the few that is actively seeking to solve the problem, or are willing and able to recognize your part in the problem and fix it, then you can be part of the solution.
In short, this election isn’t about Republican or Democrat. It isn’t about this candidate or that. It isn’t about Muslim or Christian, gay or straight, 1% or 99%. It isn’t about any particular issue.

It’s about all of us! It’s about you!

2015 has been a socio-political maelstrom, with terrorism events scattered between occurrences of corruption, police brutality, a relaxed Cuban embargo. nuclear deals, assassinations, same-sex marriage, pot legalization, gun control, state-sponsored hacking and surveillance, state bankruptcy, relaxation of China’s one child policy and a massive refugee exodus from Syria and its surrounds.

Oh… mustn’t forget Starbucks’ alleged war on Christmas, as heralded by their new plain red cup. <insert facepalm here>

That’s certainly not an exhaustive list of the issues that have had social media channels smoking over the last year — there are plenty of other issues that surfaced. Many…

Elections in the U.S. have taken on an air of a medieval court… the part of court that dealt with entertainment by jugglers and jesters. Except those actors didn’t deserve to be called “fools”… they actually provided some value. The same can’t be said of the vast majority of candidates these days.

Looking just as the 2 largest parties, we find a flood of aspirants for their party’s nomination. Let’s take a look at who is seeking to be the Leader of the Free World.


The Republicans originally had 23 hopefuls, but Rick Perry and Scott Walker pulled out early…

A few ideas on investigating possible leads for the Ghost Boat:

  • After determining the radius in which the boat could possibly have been located after departing for Italy, check with all known sea traffic — cruise vessels, fishing vessels, military patrol craft, private yachts, to see if any sightings occurred. Document all sightings, if possible, including vessel description, speed and heading. Was the vessel alone? If small, was it low in the water? Was it disabled/drifting? Was it spotted where it would be expected in that time-frame?
  • Do the same with any low level air traffic that passed over the…

We argue about gun control, gay marriage, illegal immigrants, police brutality, NSA surveillance, media bias and racial prejudice. We bicker over climate change, abortion, capital punishment, health care and the deficit.

Those are just some of the greatest issues… there are plenty more to choose sides on.

In the midst of all this divisive squabbling, is there anything that most Americans agree on? Yes, there is. Although it’s no cause for celebration.

Our Common Ground

Poll 100 Americans and you’re unlikely to find more than one or two (if that) who will deny being concerned about the direction our government is going, on…

Ask ten people what they consider to be the important components that constitute happiness and you’re likely to get ten different responses. Some people get very granular, listing components like health, sex or comfort. Others may wrap those aspects into just one — physical. A very basic representation might be physical, emotional and intellectual. The truth is, the answer is different for every person.

Some people put great emphasis on faith as being a critical element in their happiness. …

That’s not as simple a question as it may seem to be, for a couple of reasons. First of all, let’s limit it to just U.S. Presidential elections. There are plenty of reasons behind how we choose which candidate to favor with our vote. Oh, and the word “for” in the title is the operative word here.

I’ll go on record as having cast my first vote in a Presidential election for Richard Nixon. But why might I have done that? Was I a die-hard Republican, voting the party line? Did I think he had done a bang-up job in…

Back in the ‘60s, I was on a camping trip with my dad and we came across a secluded swimmin’ hole in the Davis Mountains of Texas. You’d have to be familiar with the Davis Mountains to imagine how astonished we were at the sight. Bodies of water bigger than a breadbox aren’t real common there.

This one looked mighty inviting. Heavily shaded with some decent sized trees, obviously deep in the center. And best of all, a great spot to dive from, about 25 feet above the water.

It took me about 10 seconds to shed my clothes and…

First off, I should admit that I’m not an economist. However, I’ve been sleeping with an economist for over 26 years, and I’m sure that at least some of her wisdom has rubbed off on me by now.

Besides, I rarely let a lack of in-depth knowledge keep me from airing my opinion.

Greece is in deep financial shit. And there’s no denying that their irresponsible spending is partly to blame. …

Okay, while I have no horse in this race, I’m still going to weigh in on the same-sex marriage thing. After all, I’ve been married to my wife for more than 26 years, so I applaud any marriage that has any sex involved!

Seriously, though, I’m struck by a few things in this issue…

Keep in mind, I was raised in the 50s — 60s, when “coming out” was almost never voluntary. More often, it involved surreptitious photos or baseless accusations. If it was ever a popular thing to do, I missed seeing it.

A little story…

By chance, we happened to have…

Doc Sheldon

A cheerful curmudgeon, able to make dogs howl and babies cry by just lookin’ at ‘em!

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