By Sam Burnham
We are rapidly approaching the transfer of power. This transfer will mark the ending of the presidency of Barack Obama. This is not a political piece per se. I don't want to hash out his policies or even discuss his philosophies or actions while in office. I want to ask you to look at two pictures and then consider, from a standpoint of humanity, my ideas about the constitutional limits of the executive.
Here we have a picture of Senator Obama, shortly before he was elected as the 44th President of the United States. You see a young man. His face is vibrant and filled with the bright hope that he mentioned so often in his campaign. His head is covered with dark hair. He is the embodiment of the generation who brought him to power - youth rising to oppose the establishment of of aged politicians and leading the nation into the future.
And then last night, the president stood before a gathered crowd to deliver his farewell address. In the picture to the left, we see a very different figure. I realize that the expressions are not the same but really look at him. We see a gray haired man who appears to have aged more than eight years. His face has lines that were not there before. His eyes may still project hope but they do so from lids that are far more tire than they were when his administration began.
And it's not just Barack Obama. Making a similar comparison between he two immediate predecessors will yield similar results. But let's focus on the current office holder. Let's look at him as a human. Let's see the physical external effects of the office and contemplate what might be happening internally. This about his stress levels. Think about blood pressure, elevateed risks of stroke and heart attack. Think about possible panic attacks that go on in corners of the White House that aren't in the public view. This about what this man's life is like late at night when no one is watching.
And then answee this question: what have we done to this man?
I believe, after pondering this question, my answer is that we have centralized executive power to the point that the job of president is not one that can be conducive to the health of any one man. I think we have taken too much responsibility and and stress and put it into one seat. At that point the idea of a constitutionally limited executive becomes not only a matter of liberty but also of humanity. We cannot continue to inflate this role and erode the health of the office holders on this level, not and call ourselves humane.
Just a thought for this week...before this newly aged man hands over the reins of the executive over to a 70 year old.
By Sam Burnham
Sitting here waiting on the "Snowpocalypse", blizzard, Breadandmilkotopia or whatever the trendy thing to call this latest bout of winter weather is. The Weather Channel is calling it "Helena" since they've gone to naming snowstorms as if they were hurricanes or something. That's kind of silly. Hurricanes are dignified. You can evacuate. They might miss you, take a last minute turn and go another direction. These winter storms hit every other week up north. You can't evacuate. You just have to sit there and take it like when the preacher starts preaching on giving the Sunday after payday. you can't get up and walk off in the middle of it. You're just stuck.
It's not "Helena". It's just snow.
That has me thinking that we need less Blizzard and more Grizzard. That great Georgia writer that blessed us all with his marvelous tales of a great American named Weyman C. Wannamaker Jr as well as his own unwarranted and undeserved exile in Chicago where the snow easily reaches the third architectural tier of the Sears Tower on a biweekly basis and the negative wind chills are measured in Kelvin.
His name is even spelled a lot like blizzard. But they didn't rhyme. He stressed that his name was not pronounced like blizzard as there are different meanings in the pronounciation of that spelling. /griz-ZARD/, the correct pronounciation. means "Wild Stallion". To say it in the manner that rhymes with blizzard means "sissy welfare recipient". So let's remember him as the wild stallion that he was.
But he is gone and in heaven where it never snows or even drops below 50 degrees for any reason and no one ever has to wear socks unless they just want to. We are left to try to navigate frozen roads in search of milk and bread (and maybe find the unusually crowded liquor store) in order to survive until the sun comes back out and that most southern of weather phenomena - sublimation - restores order to the universe.
And this year there is talk of brine. The road crews are out pretreating the roads with a mystical solution that will supposedly keep the roads from freezing over to begin with. Like pixie dust but in convinient water form. It seems to me that all these chemtrail fanatics could talk their Area 51 buddies to dropping the magic brine from airplanes to keep the snow and sleet from falling to begin with, at least in the South.
I noticed that next door in Alabama, Governor Bentley delared a state of emergency in all 67 counties. 67 counties in the whole dang state. Governor Deal started picking Georgia counties and after designating a state of emergency in 78 he figured he had beaten Alabama bad enough that he stopped in Central Georgia, near Macon. If he had gone on down near Lumber City, folks would have accused him of running up the score. Including Ludowici would have just been embarassing to our neighbors and they would have tried to retaliate in the ongoing courtroom battle known as the Water War in which we fight over which state is using too much water.
And now we're waiting on frozen water to come kill us all. The irony.
Ok, I'm already stir crazy and we haven't seen anything more than a few random sleet pellets and a bad gust of wind. It is so cold that I saw a Democrat with his hands in his own pockets earlier but that's another story for another day.
So I'll go now. Y'all stay warm and look out for each other. We're all in this one together.
By Sam Burnham
We're entering a new year with a lot of beginnings. This post will be the ABG beginning for this year. A lot of folks are trying to turn over a new leaf with different resolutions. There is also a new government coming together in Washington - a new president and a new Congress.
There has already been a little upheaval, complaining, accusations, maybe a few names called, one great big spitting contest and the circus hasn't been in town a week yet. The GOP started to eliminate an independent ethics panel that eveyone seems to have an opinion on, whether they understand anything about it or not. Then the same people who moved to eliminate the panel pulled a reverse and kept it in place. But the complaints have persissted.
There is a need for accountibility in our government. I believe that the vast majority of people who go to Washington, from both parties, are honest, ethical people who sincerely want to make a difference and improve this nation according to their idealology. But I also believe that there is something inherent in the power of our overcentralized government that tends to corrupt people after they have been exposed to the monster that Washington has become.
So many reforms are batted around these days with term limits likely being the most popular.
But there is one that remains overlooked. in the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson was enumerating the grievances being levied against King George III. Among the list is found: "He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures." While George III was doing more than just placing power far from the people, the sentiments, and the result, are the same Our government has centralized power far from us. It has placed power far from our eyes and limited the number of representatives that can carry our voices to the seat of power. The power of state and local governments has been seized by the central government. The abil;ity of the people to hold their governemtn accountable has been diminished.
We saw the results of the presidential election in which the popular vote differed with the Electoral College. The immediate response was to repeal the Electoral College, the cornerstone of the republic, rather than take actions to make presidential politics less of an influence on our daily lives. Any one role that matters that much is placing too much power in the hands of one imperfect human being. Why not enfore the Constitution, limit executive power to the standards laid out in Article II, and restore the checks and balances inherent in the federal system the Founders established? If the election shrinks the influence of your state on the nation it's because we've removed too much authority from your state and placed it in Washington.
This is not a sustainable model of government. Government of the people, by the people, and for the people should be as close to the people as we can get it. That is the solution we need to be discussing.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire