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I am much more concerned with the legislative gridlock than I am afraid of the results of any Congressional agreement.

The US Congress, however, needs a housecleaning… Either the President or the People need to insist that there needs to be forceful deadlines that have some teeth. If a ‘super committee’ cannot come to an agreement, then they should not be allowed to continue in Congress. We have moved for term limits, let’s go for expulsion or for a penalty censures committee members with a black mark that *ends* their political career.

The pain of legislative failure must outweigh the political reward of legislative failure… At this point I am more afraid of ‘no decision’ than I am of any compromise between them… If they cannot agree, fire them all and start again…

Someone in my past suggested that there were two types of people:

  1. those people who, when their neighbor gets a fancy new car, dedicate themselves to working harder to buy an even fancier new car [the old addage of “keeping up with the Joneses”], and
  2. those people, when their neighbor gets a fancy new car, quip “I hope your garage burns down.”
     It is this second group that troubles me.
     In my lifetime there have been a number of incidents where a mob has reverted to wholesale destruction of property: Detroit during the 60’s, LA after the Rodney King beating, and now London.
     What makes someone think that destroying someone else’s property is any solution worth considering? If they could just channel that energy//rage into something constructive. As it stands now, it is just a domestic form of terrorism. How is it any different than the bombings that happen almost daily in the middle east?
     It seems that some people would be content to burn their way back to the middle ages… or maybe even the stone ages…
     As in the line from the operetta “Mikado,” maybe we should “let the punishment fit the crime,” and have those anarchists spend their sentence cobbling their existence from a burned out building. And as they complete a harvest or a building that they are proud of… make them burn it down.
     Anger and hate should have consequences. We, as a community, should demand that our citizens be the ‘constructive’ type, not the ‘destructive’ type. Let’s build not burn.

Personally, I believe that the interest difference between AAA and AA+… is due to Congress’ malfeasance. I suggest we take the difference out of their pay for as long as it takes [let’s see… $100 billion / (535 Congressmen/women * $200K/year) = 935 years]… that means we will have a volunteer congress til almost the 31st century… Maybe we should ‘clawback’ their pensions too… that’s a good start. Let’s let them feel the pain resulting from their fiddling.

Posturing and rhetoric no longer have a place at the legislative budget negotiations. The time has come where our representatives’ personal pain of no agreement needs to be greater than their pain of pissing some people off.

I suggest jail time, say 30 days in stripes for all of our representatives, including the President, for ‘economic malfeasance’ or, more generally ‘legislative malfeasance’ if there is no agreement by 11:59pm Sunday, July 24th, 90 days if no agreement by the end of the 26th, 180 days for failure by the 27th… you get my drift… Let them spend their campaign and vacation time behind bars for the next few years hobnobbing with people who cannot vote (felons). They wanted this job, let them perform or face hard time. The message needs to be “find a timely agreement or go to prison.” There is a point where brinkmanship is distinctly unpatriotic. Now is that point.

The question is how to trigger such a painful measure to get to a solution, and for what reasons. I would suggest that there needs to be some judgement about what would constitute a critical legislative event and a critical timetable. Federal Government has known for months about the debt ceiling and about August 2, 2011. I would suggest that the Federal Reserve could select the topic and trigger the countdown. Another option would be that the President could initiate the action, and a third option would be the Judicial Branch could arbitrate the solution. We have ‘checks a balances…’ let’s use them.

As much as there are pockets of representatives holding specific ideological perspectives, everybody needs to be ‘encouraged’ to come to the middle. I profess some rather unpopular opinions about government and its role, but there are times when all ideology must take a back seat to the welfare of the whole… the greater good. This ‘back seat’ is called compromise. Not moving toward the middle is a legislative form of blackmail… and right now there is no place for this legislative blackmail.

There is precedent for this kind of action. In the working world, if Labor and Management cannot come to an agreement where a strike would cripple the Nation, then the President can call for a “90 day cooling off period.” Well, this suggestion places those 90 days for cooling off be *after* the crisis solution, not before. We need the belligerents at the negotiating table, working toward a solution. We need the clock to be their worst enemy… more than a block of ‘no compromise’ caucus members. We need cooperation to have a chance to prevail over our adversarial form of government.

Our legislative process has succeeded in finding solutions to difficult issues in the past, but it has also failed (slavery comes to mind… and more recently both immigration and energy policy). I want to take ‘failure’ off the table.

I am reminded of a old business saying: “The beatings will continue until moral improves…” OK, you suggest something better to ‘get to Yes’ on difficult legislation.

Citizens, it is time to let the belligerents know that there is one thing worse than compromise… and that is not to compromise… and to that end we will lock your sorry ass up with real criminals if you do not get the message. What is it about ‘come to an agreement in a timely manner’ that you don’t understand?

The purpose of this entry is to recognize and celebrate the life of Dick Rubottom. He and his wife Billy were great friends, wonderful examples, and among the finest people that I have known.

I learned Thursday that at age 98 Dick had passed to his heavenly reward. It is both a sad time and a happy time.

I met Dick at a Friday morning Bible study group at Highland Park United Methodist Church. I did my best to be prompt for the 7:00 starting time. Dick, on the other hand, had already taken his morning swim and read five papers before our 7:00 start. The group was small and intimate. We shared much of what was going on in our lives as well as exploring different books and different themes of the Bible. He was wonderfully open and completely engaged. He listened and understood as well as any friend that I have had.

During that time in the Friday Bible study and Sunday HPUMC services, we shared much. There were discussions about finding, reinforcing and growing our Faith… and there were discussions about job loss, suicide and homosexuality among our group. Among many topics, we discovered we were Brothers of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity. While he was active in the fraternity matters, he had worked with John Hand who had been president of my Alpha Pi Chapter my senior year.

During that time we also shared books and thoughts on politics. He treated me like a peer. Visits to Billy and Dick’s home and apartment in Dallas and their residence in Austin were structured to have a glass of red wine and discuss the events of the day. To this day they are the model both of hospitality and of a cordial, loving couple. Their openness and selflessness made an indelible mark on my heart. I can only hope that something that I did began to repay their generosity and example.

Both Dick and Billy were wonderfully supportive of my decision to return to school to research and finally earn my PhD in the use of information technologies in business. It was difficult moving from a challenging/well paying position at Dell Computer back to school and teaching full time. I remember them attending a graduation party at Mary Kay Mars’ home. Billy had very recently returned home from painful knee replacement surgery and complications, yet they managed to attend to show their support.

Dick and I also shared our Rotary Club of Dallas involvement. He was the sage, past president. He encouraged me to become more involved. He would save a seat at his table and introduce me to all the special people who would be seated at the table like I was somebody special.

I particularly remember one Easter Sunday when I had picked Billy and Dick up from the Forum to drive them to the HPUMC services so they would not have to worry about parking or walking to the basketball arena where the Easter Sunday Service was conducted (to be sure that all would be able to attend the one, large, Easter Service). They always sat in the fourth row on the right side on the isle. I regularly joined them. On this Easter Sunday, they took their normal place in the seats on the right about half an hour before the scheduled start of the services… and for the next thirty minutes hundreds of attendees paraded up and greeted them personally and warmly. I have never seen greater respect for members of any Congregation than I saw on that Easter. The well-wishers were both the most powerful and the most humble in the community. It was quite apparent that they were, as a couple, a hub of both the Church and the Community.

Every person has a handful of people that in retrospect have shaped their lives. Usually it happens earlier in life, but in some cases it also happens later in life. For me Dick and Billy were a model of love and grace and compassion that leave me with but one question: How could I have been so fortunate to know and love Dick and Billy Rubottom? They touched so many people and in doing so, they filled us with the Spirit of the Lord as few people do.

In the News & on the Web:

The purpose of this post is to express my heartfelt thanks to the men and women in uniform for their service and sacrifice.

As a Vietnam era gray hair, I am sensitive to the lack of thanks from the ordinary citizen of these United States. So I have decided to thank the service men and women… and call for some additional action to make the career efforts of these citizen soldiers just a little easier.

First, during this holiday season, thank you for defending my liberties from all enemies foreign and domestic. I am a big believer in Teddy Roosevelt’s adage of “walk softly and carry a big stick.” Our military is the best in the world because our organizations know how to learn and adapt, our personnel are trained to know what to do and when to do it, and our equipment is as good as any. I am thankful for an enlightened military under the leadership of some enlightened citizens. As a student of both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, I realize that today’s sacrifice is not as broad as in times past, but for individuals today it is just as deep. Again my thanks…

Second, for as good a job as the military does in preparing those in uniform for action on whatever theater of operations, there needs to be a similar effort to retrain and redirect each individual back into the peacetime economy. Individuals that served in 18th and 19th century conflicts came off the farm and returned to the farm. Today however they are coming from urban and rural settings that do not really start a career… and when they return, they have exceptional fighting skills, but very little that they can market to a peacetime economy. I remember talking to an Army nurse who had served in Iraq who was unable to get a job in the healthcare industry because all the field experience accounted for nothing that hospitals were looking for in their nursing staff.  We, as a nation, need to express our thanks by transitioning those in uniform back to citizen status with equal skill.

We, as citizens, live in a marvelous country that is buffered from threats by an effective corps of men and women so that we might continue our daily lives largely uninterrupted by whatever conflict is threatening our nation. Let us give both our thanks and our promise to reward those who protect our flanks. It builds our greatness and it deserves our thanks and gratitude.  J

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