Brainy Quote of the Day

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

1994 to 2014...

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The second Tuesday then was November 8, 1994. It was twenty years ago Saturday. We were having a meeting of the Austin Alumni Chapter of NSBE at the University Hills Branch Library in Austin, Texas. I had voted a week before.

It became painfully obvious to me from casual conversations at that meeting that I was apparently the only engineer that had bothered to vote. I was in a crowd I respected - colleagues whose work I'd referenced - I thought, "really?" That was the launch of Newton Gingrich along with the current Speaker of the House John Boehner and the affable television personality Joe Scarborough (I'm being very facetious), and the so-called "Contract With America" preceding the first government shutdown, '95 - 96. Then, as now, it was a non-presidential, off-year election, when we were - then, and now - picking the legislative branch of government: Congress, consisting of the House of Representatives and the Senate. That's the congress the next president will be working with largely after 2016.

The House Science Committee will decide how we'll address greenhouse gas emissions and global warming...or, not. Evidence doesn't seem to sway the current members of the committee, most of whom don't have a background in science or an appreciation for it. The House will either empower or further curtail the EPA; the FDA; Wall Street deregulation (because deregulation worked so well in 2008). You think they're going to vote on background checks with the NRA writing checks? The only vote they're clamoring for is impeachment, and we've seen they don't need facts or reality to do anything extraordinarily insane like...another government shutdown. The House and Senate will decide the focus of the K-12 science education curriculum and university research dollars for years to come. That could determine whether we'll remain competitive in the global marketplace with a pipeline preparing a skilled labor force in a highly technological society...or, not. I have my druthers junk pseudoscience pushed down our collective throats as science fulfilling this need. The new Senate will either confirm or stall any appointments to the Federal or Supreme on stall.

We, as an electorate, don't like to think of the army of lobbyists that pull and tug at our legislators on a daily basis, but we have to; that their whole time spent between elections is gearing up and fundraising for another election and watching either their right/left flank respective of party to thwart a primary challenge from an extreme of center. We like to think of our "public servants" doing work for the "common good," not a revolving door connection that they'll use once their government careers are over: for which they'll get a nice retirement at pretty close to their current salaries, premium healthcare and a cushy 7-figure lobbyist's job. "Do not cry for me, Argentina" (Evita).

Sadly, there will be more citizens in long lines after Thanksgiving for things they can't afford and don't need, but won't for their right to vote. The 113th Congress worked a total of 133 days for a full year's 6-figure salary, so I doubt they'll increase their workload in the 114th. Although, carting feces for their beneficent overlords is a bit of heavy lifting. I don't agree with basing voter ID laws on 31 actual cases out of a billion, but enough time has elapsed to where enough ID's could have been obtained. There was no excuse in 1994; there is none acceptable now.

I've witnessed breathtaking verbal Jujitsu and Kabuki dance offs by disingenuous, [obviously now] failed candidates distancing themselves from their party's leader which only means in a red state, they suddenly "discovered" with horror they voted for (gasp) "that guy"(That worked so well for "Presidents'" Gore, McCain and Romney.) It was disrespect shown to both the president and constituents - African American, Asian, Hispanic/Latino - that share in common a higher degree of Melanin and the eventual majority in 2042. It was pure disdain: one party overt; the other clumsy and comedic. It appears in the two-party system, "corporations are [the only] people" politicians care about. These lightweights needed to learn "the dozens": Yes, I voted for him, did you want me to vote for someone else? Your guy? Please! A pathetic display of spinelessness. No analysis post game or naval gazing will be necessary: feckless cowards all! I'm with Bill Mahr on this one.

I remember my sister, a young woman that had quite a made up mind back in the sixties. When you see African American young people getting hosed or bitten by dogs on video, there for most is a detached nostalgia. Because it was my sister with the bites, cuts and stitches, it is cringe-worthy viewing for me.

I remember my wife's grandfather: my mother-in-law saw her father's legs dangling from his truck as it ambled up a Louisiana dirt road. "Paw-Paw" was hanging on to the steering wheel and the door, his head bloodied and bowed. His family got him to the nearest hospital in time - he almost died. Seems the Klan didn't take too kindly a preacher exercising his right to vote. Burning crosses; beating preachers near-to-death: Christian organization...right. Paw-Paw rests now with the honored ancestors, succumbed to natural causes.

Those are two people that "I" know personally that for their sacrifice, I cannot fathom NOT voting. I did my part; my conscience is clear.

If we don't make our voices loud, the only sound our representatives will hear is the clink of coins; the whisper of bills into the reelection coffers. A Texas colloquialism goes: "you got to dance with the one that brung ya!"

It's up to us whether that is a salute to Francis Scott Key's "Star Spangled Banner"...or an oligarch's lap dance.

I hate to be so graphic, but our so-called elected representatives can be either representative politicians or paid-for prostitutes: they cannot be both!

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