Letters from the Lunar Outpost

Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own; and from morning to night, as from the cradle to the grave, it is but a succession of changes so gentle and easy that we can scarcely mark their progress.
- Charles Dickens, English Novelist (1812-1870)

politics

MEMO TO THE PLAYERS OF THE NFL:

When you are on the field, you are at your job and you are earning your salary.

While most of us who are fans of the NFL are not as privileged as you are to be making millions of dollars doing what we do, most of us do understand the basic fact that when we arrive at our workplaces, we are there to perform a job. Regardless of race, color or creed, most working Americans understand and abide by the simple rule that when we go to work, we leave our politics at home.

You, Mr. NFL Player, are getting paid millions of dollars to play a game. The people of America pay good money to see you play that game, so when you get to the stadium, act like a professional, play the friggen' game and then just as soon as you leave your workplace, you are as free as anyone else to exercise your First Amendment rights.

Sincerely,

The Working Americans Who Make Your Salaries Possible

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My buddy Miles is an incredibly talented musician living in the United Arab Emirates, Miles is a guy whose entire heart and soul are focused on music, he could care less about politics, especially politics half a world away. He tells me he reads my blog posts and doesn’t know what to make of it.

Well, Miles emailed me last night about a dream he had – it seems my political rantings are working on the subconscious of even my most non-political friends.

Hey mike

I dreamt about you last night and
You were running for president…

and we were eating dinner in new yorks most posh place

you were going I am gonna make this country so special

that, all the poor people will never have to struggle again.
and the rich guys eating in this posh place wont be the rich anymore
and putting down poor people `like they do .. the poor
will be eating in the same joints as the rich and wealthy
cause we.ll be taking all their bucks and secretly
giving it to all the poor folks in the world…

and you said tomorrow when i become the president
this will be done…

i said mr president we got no money to pay the dinner bill
hey Miles you said, do not worry , one has to go thru chains
and lots of pain to rise to the top.. so you take the dishes
and I,ll do the light work like wiping and drying the plates
i have to do the super thinking to get us out of here
a real quick.

I said I hope this is a dream.. heck no you said
think about tomorrow… and I went oh yeah
you will kick me out when you become president

ha ha your wrong miles
then I woke up

right up until now Im thinking
man you should run for President

so long President Mike

nice dream buddy
take it easy

Miles

I just love that, and who could have ever guessed I would become the stealth candidate for Occupy Wall Street in my good friend’s dream?

Rest assured, Miles, you’re going to be greeted as the highest foreign dignitary when you get back to the states and you know there’s always an open bedroom for you in President Mike’s White House.

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Washington Is Broken

One simple change could fix 90% of what’s wrong in America’s political system today – I know this sounds like a grandiose claim, but I honestly believe it’s true. It’s not a new idea, as a matter of fact, it’s an idea as old as Democracy itself, dating back to around 508 B.C., but to our modern minds, it’s almost hard to fathom things working with such beauty and simplicity.

First we should define what’s wrong with the way things operate in Washington, D.C. and you can narrow it down to two incredibly large failings – corruptions that borderline on evil.

First, politicians go to Washington, and even the most idealistic of politicians eventually begins looking at their re-election prospects and abandons the ideals they campaigned on in favor of campaign cash and kickbacks from unions, lobbyists and special interest groups. The politician becomes a prostitute for big money and more power at the expense of the constituents he had once sworn to serve.

Now big money buying the souls of politicians is as old as American politics itself, but the second major failing of our political system is something that’s worse now than it’s ever been since the issue of slavery split the nation in two, and that’s the polarized state of our elected government. The politicians are sent to D.C. from districts that get redrawn by the state politicians in ever more contrasted lines. This process of gerrymandering has created districts split into more and more demographically opposed and politically opposed representation. Add to that the death of journalism and the fact that news channels have found better ratings in partisan reporting and you have an increasingly polarized electorate which sends highly partisan politicians to our nation’s capital. Where once there used to be a healthy dose of goodwill and compromise, we’ve ended up with a Congress of complete intransigence and gridlock.

Cleisthenes, "The Father of Athenian democracy."

Cleisthenes, "The Father of Athenian democracy."

So how do we fix the two-headed monster of big money corruption and partisan gridlock in our national politics?

It’s called allotment, selection by lot, and it’s the system that was born in Athenian Democracy. You throw out all the career politicians in place of a lottery, and representatives in the legislature are selected randomly from America’s entire population. Before you immediately cast this off as some crazy scheme, consider the fact that this is the exact same method we use to determine the fate of a defendant in a death penalty case whose very life is placed in the hands of a randomly selected jury of their peers.

You select randomly from the population a group of citizens to serve in our nation’s Congress – lawyers and plumbers, garbage collectors and doctors, airline pilots and bus drivers, all selected by lottery to serve their nation, a group of individuals perfectly representative of our national demographic, and for most of these citizens, it would be the highest honor they would ever have as a citizen. Pay them a salary better than most of them will ever make in their lives, but give them one term and one term only and they will never become slaves to the perpetual re-election campaign.

It would put an end to career politicians, an end to politicians whoring themselves out for big money donations from groups that do not represent the interests of the nation as a whole. Give them one term and they’ll do their duty to the best of their ability just the same as any jury does.

Leadership under the new system would be no problem any more than finding a foreman on a jury. (In this case there would surely be multiple positions of leadership selected by the representatives themselves.) And if you wonder about people selected who are mentally incompetent or mentally ill or whose hearts just might not be into it, you have a basic aptitude test (with no politics on the test whatsoever) and have an alternate group selected as a backup, just like you have a group of alternate jurors.

It would be beautiful, my friends, because instead of having a Congress elected of nothing but rich elites who either have always been detached from the average American or for whom this detachment is only a matter of time, you would have a Congress representing the people of America, a Congress that would look exactly like the face of America.

There have been 27 amendments to the Constitution, 12 in the last century alone. The only problem is, those in power like to hold on to power, so it may sound like a pipe dream to imagine the entrenched politicians giving up their power to system of representation by allotment, but just visualize it . . . a government that would be truly representative of the people. If only I had a magic wand, I would wave it, but maybe it’s not such a pipe dream after all. Maybe we can get it done in Texas, secede from the Union and show America how real a real representative Democracy is done.

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Mike Cornelison and the Political Crack Pipe

When I started this blog, I tagged it with the line, “Literature, Lyrics & Lunacy” making a conscious decision to avoid any mention of “Politics” in the tag line.

Even with a political reading habit of 20 or 30 news stories a day, I wanted to avoid writing about politics on this blog at all costs.

Why? My thinking was, when you put out a blog with your name on it, unless politics is your profession, not much good can come of posting your political views for all the world to see. Sure, you may get a few, ‘atta boys and pats on the back from the like-minded, but most of the tangible payback will come from people who will either shun you for your views or, in the case of those sad folks (of which there are many) who think politics is worth hating people over, they’ll just lump you in with all the other people they hate.

So blogging under the name of mikecornelison.com, from the beginning, I sought to avoid any mention of politics whatsoever, but my friends, I just could not keep leave that political crack pipe alone for very long. It started with a hit off the pipe on a post over here, a couple more hits on a couple more posts over there until next thing I knew, my entire blog was enveloped in the smoke of my political rantings.

It’s because of this that I’ve decided to put myself into political rehab. I’ve challenged myself to quit the politics and make 30 posts in 30 days that will have nothing to do with anything politically related. This will take a Herculian effort of will power on my part, especially as some inevitably intriguing stories start coming down the line in the next 30 days. So I ask you, dear reader, do you think I can make it through the 30-day program?

 

Can the hardcore political junkie who is Mike Cornelison make 30 politically-free posts in 30 days?

View Results

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Robert Penn Warren’s “All the King’s Men” is a fictionalization based not loosely at all on Huey Long, one of the greatest characters in all American political history and a man who was truly larger than life by even the largest standards.

Following our narrator Jack Burden, we witness Burden’s transformation from that of a political journalist to the trusted right-hand man of Governor Stark, who takes the strong-arm tactic to levels that would impress Machiavelli himself. As Burden moves from merely recording history to acting as one of Stark’s most powerful agents in steamrolling all that dare stand in his way, we see the evolution of a man’s conscience, from a man who once, as a journalist, managed to stay clean, aloof and detached from the seedy dealings of politics, to a man who now must make sense of his ever growing role in all of it.

You can call this passage original sin as described by our seemingly atheist narrator:

Long back, I had made up my mind that when Lucy Stark asked me to do something I was going to do it. It was not exactly that I felt I owed Lucy Stark a debt, or had to make restitution, or do penance. At least, if there was a debt, it was not to Lucy Stark, and if there was restitution to be made it was not to be made to her. If there was a debt, it was, perhaps, due to me, from me. And if restitution was to be made, it was to be made to me, by me. And as for penance, there had been no crime for which I should do it. My only crime was being a man and living in the world of men, and you don’t have to do special penance for that. The crime and the penance, in that case, coincide perfectly. They are identical.

“All the King’s Men” – Robert Penn Warren, 1946.

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Currently Listening To:

Team of Rivals
by
Doris Kearns Goodwin