Thursday, July 20, 2006

At Least Grant Saw Combat

My friend Jerry proposes this book title: At Least Grant Saw Combat: Corruption and Mismanagement in the Administration of George W. Bush. It would be an easy book to write...

He also sends along these cartoons:

Good Prose Is Like a Windowpane

Again, some quotations that caught my eye. Most, though not all, are from A Word a Day.

Good prose is like a windowpane. -George Orwell, writer (1903-1950)

One of my greatest pleasures in writing has come from the thought that perhaps my work might annoy someone of comfortably pretentious position. Then comes the saddening realization that such people rarely read. -John Kenneth Galbraith, economist (1908-2006)

Ink is handicapped, in a way, because you can blow up a man with gunpowder in half a second, while it may take twenty years to blow him up with a book. But the gunpowder destroys itself along with its victim, while a book can keep on exploding for centuries. -Christopher Morley, writer (1890-1957)

I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be. -Thomas Jefferson, third US president, architect and author (1743-1826)

Today I bent the truth to be kind, and I have no regret, for I am far surer of what is kind than I am of what is true. -Robert Brault, software developer, writer (1938- )

The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life. -Muhammad Ali

Disappointed (Temporarily?)

I have been lately disappointed with my lone delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, Stephanie Herseth (D-SD). First she goes and co-sponsors a House Resolution to amend the United States Constitution to ban flag burning (HJ RES10); now she’s gone and voted in favor of an amendment to ban gay marriage (HJ RES 88).

Now let’s get a couple of things clear: I don’t much care how Rep. Herseth feels about these issues. I'm well past the point where I think that "my" representatives at any level of government must agree with everything I think. Personally, I think both of these "issues" are non-issues -- from what I’ve read on the subject, a mere handful of flag burnings occurs in any given year (a number I would expect to actually increase if a constitutional amendment is passed -- sort of like putting a wet paint sign on a freshly painted wall: it’s an invitation to touch it); and I hardly see where the so-called institution of marriage is in any danger from same-gender couples who want to be married…indeed, it seems to me that their desire to be married in fact strengthens the institution, and will do more to promote the benefits of marriage, commitment, monogamy, etc., than to somehow undermine it* -- both are merely political-hay makers, and Ms. Herseth is probably wise to play to her audience, which is mostly conservative and mostly Republicans.

Anyway, I don’t care where Stephanie stands on these issues. But I do care about the Constitution of the United States…apparently more than a great many members of Congress, who seem eager to bowdlerize and undermine it at every turn, if they think it will curry favor with the voters back home. The Constitution should not be treated so cavalierly. It is, if you will, the nation’s secular Bible, and just as one does not willy-nilly rewrite the Bible so that it agrees with one’s opinion (or what one believes his or her constituents’ opinion might be), one needs also exercise prudent restraint in tampering with the Constitution.

So my disappointment with Stephanie -- for whom I have voted twice, and probably will again -- is not in that she holds a different opinion than mine on the issues in question, but rather that she seems to hold the Constitution is rather low regard, and seems willing, even eager, to clamber aboard that bandwagon that is already overloaded with unseemly politicians who appear to view the documents as just another political stepping-stone. I thought she was made of better stuff than that.

And, in fact, I think she is made of better stuff than that. I'm hoping that when the election is behind us, that fact will start to show again.

*I also believe, as expressed elsewhere, that if you really want to “save” marriage, you should be looking at a constitutional ban on divorce…but I digress.