Can we all just get along?
Dissent has its role, but so does healing, afterward

Politicky 2008 to 2012
God bless America
We cannot learn from one another until we stop shouting at one another --
until we speak quietly enough so that our words can be heard as well as our voices.
[Richard M. Nixon]

Deja Vu

Can we all just get along?


Dissent has its role, but so does healing, afterward

From: (Robin Shepherd)
Date: Jul 25, 5:39 pm ....

Election season is upon us, with all the rivalry and argument that goes with it. Competition may well bring out the best in us, but at election time, it also brings out the worst in us.

No wonder the early critics of young America said our idea (of government of the people) could never work. Every election was like a small civil war. Contrast that with the "peace" (to speak euphemistically) that often prevailed under the authoritarian despotism and dogmatism of Old Europe. The American experiment, in effect, scheduled a "fight" every four years. Or two years for Congress. Were those Americans insane?

Indeed, as the critics claimed, democracy is awkward and painful and messy. Ask the Iraqis now trying it out for the first time. Lo and behold, for the first time in 1,300 years, it is Shiites rather than Sunnis in the driver seat.

But settling our differences with words and votes is just a bit less vicious than resorting to violence and open warfare. An early defender of American democracy, Tocqueville, was so enamored with Yankee middle- class democracy that he prophesied that one day all the states would be like New England, and then one day all the world would be like America. These days many of us might say to other nations bent on emulating America's good life, "Are you sure you want to be like us?"

In America, our saving grace has been that Democrats and Republicans generally, given enough time, take turns. The public grows tired of one side, and (like a pendulum) gives the other side a chance. Ideally, there is enough continuity, or enough good sportsmanship, that healing and reconciliation can follow after the election- year quarrels.

What Lincoln said sounded like a warning to married couples: A house divided against itself cannot stand. Lincoln's quote (from the Bible) is also a timely reminder for the left and right -- for Democrats and Republicans. Each side has its message, its role to perform. But be gentle with each other. [7.6.08]


Date: Jul 25, 2008 8:37 pm
From: Stanley F. Nelson

American presidential elections have been described as "bullet-less revolutions." This is a fairly appropriate idea, and it has become more pronounced since adoption of the two-term limit (which should be extended to Congress). Although there is a great deal to be desired in the way we elect governments, it is very significant to note that America has never missed a scheduled national election (even during and after the Civil War and World War II), and we have never had a change of government under force of arms.

No other major nation can claim both such accomplishments.

May God bless those Americans who put their faith and trust in Him, and through them, may God bless America!

Stanley F. Nelson

Robert Shepherd - 2011Webster: Robert Shepherd, offers this view in August 2011:

I happen to think that Democrats like Barack Obama as well as Oprah, and a substantial number of others, particularly with a black church heritage, are right to try to lead us back to the gospel roots in this country. Why should the Republicans be the only once to invoke biblical authority for themselves. It was a moral message that Dr. King used when he called on his followers, for one brief shining moment, to be BETTER than America, and thereby he ultimately called America back to her own highest ideals, without in any way disparaging the great principle of religious freedom. We each must look inside for the deeper wellsprings of our spirituality, and seek again within the ethics of the ancient paths.

  [See importance of faith]

There are many fine things which we cannot say if we have to shout
(Henry David Thoreau)
see Sage of Walden

Robert Shepherd writes:

Being a bit of a library addict, I peruse a fair number of books. Well, a fun book I came across back in June of 2008, I think, is titled Crazies to the Left of Me, Wimps to the Right: How One Side Lost Its Mind and the Other Lost Its Nerve It was written by Bernard Goldberg, a network esxecutive who in the course of his life has been (for a while) liberal, then (for a while) conservative, and finally rather centrist. Like so many others, time prompts shifts and adjustments. Winston Churchill is one of the most famous political pilgrims, having found himself for a considerable while a strong liberal, then an empire-defender, and finally a fairly staunch conservative.

Here in the states, this 2008 election is, to me, exciting. One candidate, Barack Obama represents a historic and unprecedented landmark for America. The first African American nominated by a major party for president, Obama is articulate, charismatic, and (to me) quite inspirational. (I'm not jealous .... much). His poise, his stage presence, and the calibre of his candidacy clearly place him in the top rank in terms of being "PRESIDENTIAL" material. If only he were stronger in the experience department.

Of course, we have had presidents whose experience in national security was weak, and they rose to the occasion. One thinks of Teddy Roosevelt. One thinks of John F. Kennedy. Lincoln was forced to be, for a time, his own General (of last resort), and historians credit him with having risen to the occasion. In classical history, Julius Caesar was a military neophyte, yet by some stroke proved to be a veritable genius fighting the Gallic Wars.

Obama also has problems with his own core constituency. Perhaps not realizing how moderate or "centrist" their man was, some more traditional liberals have been heard to grumble -- people like Ralph Nader and Jesse Jackson. There is an implied threat here, the worst case being a with-holding of support. Lipstick Jungle : Obama, ironically, has been the whipping boy FIRST of Hillary Clinton to his left, and LATER of Sarah Palin on his right. One could smile at the twists of politics. (Talk about "women problems"!!)

John McCain has a lifetime of experience in the service of his country, is much more at ease in the foreign affairs and national security department. He had all too much first hand experience in war. He knows its horrors. His critics on every side have pointed out supposed weaknesses. He has been divorced. He shows signs of a crankiness all too symptomatic in the aftermath of abuse (or PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder). But as a survivor, McCain has achieved a fairly high level of functionality in many realms, despite the tortures he endured.

Politically, however, McCain was an exasperation to conventional conservative Republicans, often forging a rather independent path all his own. Often he found himself allied to Democrats, much to the consternation of the Republican core, who expected a greater loyalty than McCain was willing to give.

McCain has also had his problems with the Christian Right, whose focus on such social issues as abortion and gay marriage simply did not resonate to the same degree with McCain. As a result, the Arizona senator was suspect, seen as harboring sympathies too liberal for the hard right Christians. Now, the senator has made huge efforts to demonstrate his conservative credentials, seeking to mend fences with evangelicals, and affirming his "Biblical" position on the issues dear to the Christian right.


Not one to wear his heart on his sleeve
Though never glib in speaking about own faith (McCain prefers to keep his own spiritual convictions private), the Arizona Senator has been very outspoken in other areas. He sided with liberal Democrats on the immigration bill. He also has been a consistent advocate of Native American issues. For example, he led in showing his Senate colleagues a documentary, "In the Light of Reverence," which depicts the Wintu tribe's struggle for religious freedom.

My own thoughts (Robert Shepherd): What strikes me about Barack Obama is not so much his liberalism, which like JFK's is moderate and rather centrist. What personally strikes me about Obama is the quiet depth of his spirituality. To me, despite whatever lacks or lacunas one sees in his resume, I find the sincerity and warmth of his spiritual side to be a breath of fresh air on our present political landscape. Surely we need the other types too, the doubters and hard-headed wits and critics. But after so much coolness toward matters of the heart, how represhing to hear the word faith spoken with so much appreciation from a candidate's lips.

John McCain, who appears far cooler in his expressions of faith, has sought to mend fences with the Conservative Christian Right that he so long has been at odds with. He has reached out to evangelicals and biblical Christians, and has sought to hear their concerns. In early September the latest scandal to rock the McCain candidacy has been Sarah Palin, whose daughter Bristol has been targetted by Democratic bloggers. Barack Obama has reprimanded the Democratic bloggers, coming to the defense of Palin and her family. (Thank you Senator O.)

The Republican Convention, slow to get underway due to McCain's call for Republicans to act on behalf of hurricane-pounded New Orleans, will try to make up the damage done by the Palin scandal. As one teen-ager asked, "How can Palin control the country when she can't even control her own children?"

John F. Kennedy

Democrats and Republicans can work together
Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us. Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce. Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah -- to "undo the heavy burdens ... and to let the oppressed go free." [Isaiah 58:6 full quote Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?]

Father's Burden

City Set on a Hill?

Authority is of God

Iraq Turnaround

Reversed Roles

An Obama Page

Sarah Palin
serving our military families

In trouble in the heartland (Obama) View in 2010
Has Obama gone too far?
When he was elected two years ago, Barack Obama was under intense pressure from liberals to correct a number of major flaws railroaded through by the hard-right, some of it over the qualms of former President Bush. When Obama sided with some of the positive policies of his predecessor (for example his support of Petraeus), his own liberal core became restless, and threatened to balk.

Now in 2010, with health care enactments underway to appease his own liberal base, Obama may well be in trouble with his broader constituency. His poll numbers currently stink. Some of his friends on the Republican side have criticized the massive spending. (Yet liberals had been on the outside so long, they felt it was their turn for a change.)

Some Republicans, including Obama's friend Colin Powell, have voiced concerns -- and sought to bring Obama back toward the middle of the road. According to Powell, (excess) liberal spending is a red flag the President should be concerned with. According to estimates, 60% of all Americans now receive more in income benefits than they pay into government.

On the other hand, as former President George W. Bush once said, "When people are hurting, government has got to move."

But how much is too much? Where does personal responsibility kick in?

Arthur Schlesinger, Jr remarked how time and again, American liberalism has proved that there is an essential conservatism at its core,
yet still it seeks to elevate the ordinary American, to lift him into the mainstream, without harming prosperity -- but advancing it.

America Repent
Time to Repent, America

Join the Ring


Betty Ford -- gone to her eternal rest, July 2012
by LINDA DEUTSCH, AP Special Correspondent

Betty & Gerald Ford LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Former first lady Betty Ford, always known for her take charge attitude, chose the people who will eulogize her and the subjects they would discuss, focusing on the power of friendship to mend political differences even in these hyper-partisan times.

Ford, who died on Friday at 93, chose former first lady Rosalynn Carter and journalist Cokie Roberts from the political realm and a former director of her Betty Ford Center to address her passion for helping others overcome substance and alcohol abuse.

First lady Michelle Obama will also be attending along with former first ladies, Nancy Reagan and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Laura Bush will not go due to longstanding travel plans that she couldn't break, but former President George W. Bush will be in attendance, his spokesman Freddy Ford said.

Roberts, a commentator on National Public Radio and member of a noted political family, said Ford asked her five years ago to talk about a time in Washington when Democrats and Republicans were friends and partisan politics did not paralyze government.

Ford's instructions for her eulogy pointed to the strong friendship that developed when her husband, Republican Gerald R. Ford, was House minority leader and Roberts' father, Democratic Congressman Hale Boggs, was majority leader.

"Mrs. Ford was very clear about what she wanted me to say," Roberts said. "She wanted me to talk about Washington the way it used to be. She knew there were people back then who were wildly partisan, but not as many as today.

"They were friends and that was what made government possible," said Roberts, adding that the topic seems particularly appropriate this week when the two parties are divided over dealing with the debt ceiling.

Another speaker at Tuesday's funeral in Palm Desert who is symbolic of the bipartisan past will be Mrs. Carter. She and President Jimmy Carter became close friends with the Fords after Carter defeated Gerald Ford for the presidency in 1976.

Carter, the former president, spoke of their friendship at President Ford's funeral in 2007.

The two families were so close that before his death, Ford asked the Carters to join his wife aboard Air Force One, which flew his body to its final resting place in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Roberts said she expects Mrs. Carter to talk about life in the White House and the important role of first ladies in "greasing the wheels" for their husbands' accomplishments by forging bipartisan friendships.

Among the notable guests will be former California first lady Maria Shriver as well as former President Bill Clinton. The four Ford children will attend both this ceremony and another in Grand Rapids, Mich. on Thursday.

Alongside Carter and Ford as speakers will be former Betty Ford Center official Geoffrey Mason.

Mason, a former member of the center's board of directors, is expected to extoll Mrs. Ford's vision and determination in building a substance abuse and alcohol treatment center after her own recovery.

Ford's funeral will be similar to the final tributes for her husband. The ceremony, to be held at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, is billed as a private affair. Many luminaries are due but a full guest list was immediately available.

Following the funeral, members of the public will be invited to file past her casket and sign a guest book until midnight.

On Wednesday, her body will be flown to Grand Rapids where her husband is interred at the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum. At another church service Thursday, Lynne Cheney, wife of former Vice President Dick Cheney, and historian Richard Norton Smith will eulogize her. Barbara Bush will also be in attendance.

Later Thursday, her body will be interred at the museum on the day that would have been Gerald Ford's 98th birthday.

Associated Press writer Beth Fouhy contributed to this report.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

We All Wish for a Peace Dividend
(But not at the price of forgetting those who served)

Mitt Romney

get along?
can we all just get along?

Out of Darkness the Light Hath Shined
Fiat Lux

Robert Shepherd
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no veteran left behind

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Robert Warren Shepherd

The principles of true politics are those of morality enlarged.
Lord Acton, (John Emerich Edward Dalberg)