“Put your bodies upon the gears…”

There sure is a lot of talk lately about that venerable old document we call the “Constitution.”  There’s a lot of disagreement over how it is to be interpreted, and the intentions of the original Framers regarding language, but one thing everyone seems to 0105-wires-constitution_full_600agree on:  No one is getting it right…except for themselves, of course, whenever anyone wants to use it to enforce their views.

Our Constitution is the supreme law of the United States and defines the rules and separation of powers by which the three branches of federal government will operate.  It is the charter that outlines how our government is to work.

Within the Constitution is Article 5 which defines the Amendment Clause; the process by which the Constitution can be changed.  The first 10 Amendments are known as the Bill of Rights, however, 17 more have been added since.  This was created because the bill of rightsFramers, collectively visionary, knew that the world and their young country would change.

Thomas Jefferson was even more bold and wrote that every generation of citizens should analyze the constitution of their government to determine whether it truly serves the public`s needs.  And he used this image to clarify his assertion: “Because as we grow older, as a republic, you cannot expect a man to wear a boy’s jacket.”

The Founding Fathers realized they could not foretell the evolution of American values, inventions and ethics and they knew that their charter, if it is to remain relevant, would have to have a process by which to reflect societal change and growth.

The 19th Amendment is one of the clearest realizations of that necessary Constitutional function.

thCAPCD7LOThe 2nd Amendment is the only amendment that states a purpose and that is to protect the security of a free state, but the meaning and relevance of a “well-regulated militia” will forever be questioned, leaving the 2nd Amendment like a middle child; a little too social and a little too vague.

The one that I want to talk about here is their Big Brother:

The 1st Amendment.

This addendum is the one that holds the most latitude and relevance in understanding our Constitution.   The First Amendment prohibits the making of any “law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The Framers quickly realized after constructing the parameters for representative government that the principles by which it would govern would have to be as resolute.  Opposition to the ratification of the original Constitution was due to a concern for the lack of guarantees regarding civil liberties and the First Amendment, thereby, established fundamental rules to protect individual freedom.

It made clear that we must be free to worship (or not to worship) as we please, that the state cannot restrict the elocution of the mind to express ideas (including a free press), and finally, it sets the stage for a redress of grievances so as to secure the power of the people within that government.

Religious freedom is the tenet that is most often discussed these days, but it is Freedom of Speech that stands at the center of our agreements and our thCAWY8G6Dmisunderstandings.  What does it mean specifically?

It was recognized as a “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” when it was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, meaning that (according the UN’s Article 19) the right to speak one’s mind is an unalienable right of all people.

There is a gray area, though.  “Libel, slander, obscenity, sedition (inciting ethnic hatred, for example), copyright violation, and revealing classified information” are not included.  Nor should they be, but now we have a problem.  Who is free to say what and to whom?  Who owns an idea?  When does libel or slander impose upon another and where does it not?  What is obscene and who determines it?

Am I free to hate?  Can I assemble others to join me and how far can I, or can I not, go to further that cause?

When the American Nazi Party petitioned Skokie to stage a march was that an exercise of free speech or sedition?Downs-1986

Unfortunately, objective clarity will never exist, but what we can do is investigate why freedom of expression must be upheld.  One of the greatest examples of Free Speech consciousness began in 1964 at the University of California’s Berkeley Campus.

The seeds were planted back in 1958 when Berkeley students formed SLATE as a political party to support Civil Rights, also creating a climate of awareness regarding student’s rights, and when the Berkeley establishment declared in 1964 that strict rules prohibiting advocacy of political causes or candidates would be enforced, the campus erupted.

thCAL5ZXODA young man named Mario Savio was part of a crowd that had gathered as a former student named Jack Weinberg was arrested for manning a table for the Congress of Racial Equality outside Sproul Hall. The University police had just put him in a police car when Savio emerged from the crowd and yelled, “Sit down!” so that the car would be blocked.

Savio then climbed on top of the police car to give the most inspiring speech in the history of the Free Speech Movement; the last 85 words became legendary:

“…There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part!  You can’t even passively take part! And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels…upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop!  And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!”

Savio capsulized the essence of our cornerstone Amendment, from free speech to a redress of grievances:  “And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!”

The People have the power, but only if they exercise that power.  That’s why we must have the authority to speak our minds, why we must covet our individual liberties and challenge the forces that try to contain them.  It also means that people who offend us, people who harbor hatred and ignorance, also have that authority, but as Savio eloquently expressed, that is what can moderate the will of the machine.

The machine can become tyranny and the freedom to express ourselves and to stand up for our rights is the only force with the aggregate strength to overcome it.

FreeSpeech 3A few years ago I made a pilgrimage to Berkeley with a friend so that we could see the gate and Sproul Hall where the Freedom of Speech Movement began.  I stood in awe as I imagined the passion and conviction of Mario Savio and others who created a movement that clearly reverberates to this day.

And what struck me is that it hasn’t changed.  The trees have grown, but, the student’s tables with causes and speakers, inviting passersby to join clubs and rallies to support equal rights, environmental issues and First Amendment freedoms, still line the path…

We are strong, America, but we are corroding the principle of freedom by limiting its relevance in a political dogfight to define it according to our specific agendas.  We will remain strong only if we respect the freedom our Constitution protects, not simply by stating our entitlement to it, but by understanding what it  truly means to be free.

The Tail Wags the Dog

I came to a realization after speaking to a first year government class.  That realization didn’t crystalize, however, until I ran into someone several days later, but first let me set the stage by telling you about the class.

I began the hour by asking the students a question. “What form of government do we have in America?”

No response.

“I mean is this an oligarchy, a monarchy, a theocracy…?”

Finally, a young man in front, probably no more than 18 and clearly wishing he weren’t in this class (and in front), offered, “A Capitalist Democracy.”

Now, I could play teacher!  “A Capitalist Democracy…interesting….”

Before I could continue a young woman chimed in (the ball was rolling), “We are a Republic!”

“A Republic! “ I repeated (I love when teachers just repeat things so as to appear as if they’re leading students down a path).  We were onto something, however.

“What is a Republic?”

Ooops!  I’d gone too far.  The room was even more silent than it was when empty.  No one wanted to venture down that path.  I’ve learned over the years that to most people, a “Republic” is nothing more than the thing “for which we stand.”

“If I said that a Republic is a Representative Democracy what would I be saying?”

The young woman started wiggling around and was encouraged a little—

“It would mean that we elect representatives to….represent us in government…”

“And…?” I coaxed.

“And…that is why we are…free?”

“Pretty darned close!” I said. “The people elect representatives to create and vote on legislation in the public’s interest. I want to go back now to what the young man in front said. He said ‘a Capitalist Democracy.’ Can anyone tell us what Capitalism is?”

The room was now buzzing a little and the young man had more confidence.

He offered, “Capitalism is what built this country.  It’s free enterprise!”

“Yes, indeed!  That is correct.  But is it a form of government?”

No response.  Suddenly another young woman threw her hand in the air—

“No!  It’s an economic system.  The opposite of Socialism.”

“Well…” I corrected, “Socialism is a form of government but it does control certain economic principles. Capitalism, on the other hand, is an economic system based on the private ownership of production and distribution of goods, facilitated by, as my young friend pointed out, a free market and motivated by profit.  But it is not guided, necessarily by moral principles, and a government of the people must hold itself to ethical and moral guidelines.”

That landed with a thud.

As I said, I didn’t have my little epiphany until later when I was in a rather heated exchange with someone.  This person echoed the thought of the young man who said this is a “Capitalist Democracy” only he put it in words I hear more often these days: “This is America where our system rewards hard work and success!”

To many people that is a “Right on!” statement and Republicans have made it their battle cry.  A mistake is being made, however, and it’s a big mistake, a huge mistake, and it’s a mistake that has been cultivated and nurtured for years- for decades!

The mistake is in thinking that our country was founded on the principles of an economic system and not a system of ethical governance. The mistake is in thinking that the roots of American independence were planted in a paradigm of financial success; a system that has no moral allegiance and does, indeed, reward the hardest working and the strongest, while those who fail…fail.

Not long ago I read a quote from Newt Gingrich:  “I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time [my grandchildren are] my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.”

There is a disconnect in America between how we were created and where we should be heading.  Although we were created by original Christians escaping religious persecution in England, they, themselves, became exclusionary as different, predominately Christian sects began to emerge.  And over time the colonies produced Theists, Atheists and Agnostics, as well.

From the ranks of this theological melting pot emerged our Founding Fathers who had the wisdom and vision to create our Great Charter of Freedom.  It was predicated on government that protected religious freedom, freedom of speech and guaranteed an equal voice to the least powerful among us; demanding a system of impartial justice.

Nothing in this Charter said, “And it shall be a nation founded by the free market, where capitalism is governed only by the margin of profit; and where access to freedom and its benefits is determined by financial success.”

My example sounds a little extreme and silly, yet that is exactly how half of America is defining America’s greatness and what we should be inspired to return to.  They view the meaning of American freedom as an unbridled Free Market, where profit becomes their moral directive; where success is measured by accumulation rather than compassion or justice.

The America I am proud of, however, is a nation that endures the complexities of her fight for Freedom and Tolerance; that has risen from conflict to champion human rights; a nation that has proven its sovereignty with its realization of individual freedom and has the capacity to shine as a beacon of justice around the world.

To my students, my friends and foes- Capitalism is the natural and fitting economic model for a free nation, but let’s not let the tail wag the dog.  While merchant capitalism gleamed across the American coastline well before our thirst for freedom was realized, that economic structure was welcomed by the theory of governance that emerged from a nation longing to be free…not the other way around.

To Hell in a Left Hand Basket

Last night I was talking with someone who has an active mind that I very much respect.  I always enjoy our discussions whether about politics, sports or women.  Politically we are polar opposites, but we share passions and at the end of the day, we share many concerns.  This was not an angry or contentious discussion by any means, but toward the end I realized, perhaps for the first time, that our views of the state of America are as opposed as our solutions.

There is a rightwing- fringe movement in America and that has captured the center of Republican-conservatism and has successfully moved it toward their extreme ideological edge.  It believes that America is in such serious and dire straits that we are likely to implode, explode or spontaneously combust in the matter of a few short years.

They sincerely believe that liberal economic and social policies are taking us to thedanger-will-robinson3 brink of extinction and that our demise will be fast and furious unless a completely conservative direction is taken in 2016.

They believe that health insurance mandates, immigration compassion/reform, Dodd-Frank regulations on Wall Street, and clean energy development is the agenda of a socialist President who is Hell bent on destroying production, privatization, and wealth accumulation in order to create a fascist, nanny-state.

And they mean it.

Allow me to clarify my own position.  I have grave concerns and have criticisms regarding American policies, but I, and most liberals I know, believe that America is a great country, with great accomplishments and we hold the tenets of America’s promise of freedom and equality high.  We see America as the gold standard of a Republic of, by and for the people.

We also see that our history is peppered with contradictions and human rights failings that had to be overcome in order to improve; and constantly improve, we must.  We believe that our ideology has been integral in moving our collective consciousness toward greater realizations of our best destiny.

We have been called “un-American” for not blindly accepting platitudes of American Exceptionalism, but we don’t believe that America is heading to Hell in a hand basket.  Instead, we believe that serious course corrections always need to be made.

If our history has shown us anything it’s that we can endure missteps, misappropriations and mistakes that result from this complex experiment in democracy, but we must be vigilant in holding ourselves up to the light of justice.

My friend, as we were parting to go to separate engagements, wrapped up his evening thesis by reiterating the severity of this liberal/socialist conspiracy.  He believes that the America we love will soon be laid to waste unless we drastically alter our course.

I was surprised by the conviction in his view, but my reaction was more quizzical than alarmed.

“But….aren’t we in a nice bar right now?  Haven’t we been getting our drinks without incident?  Did the streetlights work as you drove here?”

I continued.  “Do you feel that you could be threatened by missiles tonight?  Do you expect your work to be there tomorrow?  Won’t Starbucks be open in the morning?  I mean…how bad is it for us, really? Shouldn’t our attention be on those who don’t have what we have already?”

My point was that his reactionary view of the state of the nation with a Democrat in the White House is not rational, but that’s when something occurred to me that gave me a new insight into the ideological conflicts we are having.

That’s when it occurred to me that the entire political belief system of his movement is predicated on the idea that the state of affairs in America are so dire that we must react swiftly and severely with the broad sword of extreme conservatism in order to survive.

The sky HAS to be falling for the imminent anarchy point of view to have any validity.  We must be in a state of emergency, not an Orange Alert, but RED, or their measure of the chickenlittleeconomy, immigration, social justice, and foreign affairs becomes irrelevant.

We had other plans for the evening, so rather than open up this can of Crisis Worms, we parted ways.  I got in my car, drove without conflict to a community theater production of “Les Miserable” and ultimately found myself at home at the end of the night.

My TV worked, the late shows I enjoy were still on and the neighborhood was quiet.  I fell asleep, confident that the next day would be productive and safe.

I did check the stock market in the morning, though, and…well…it’s fine for those of us who don’t panic.

Backstage at SNL’s 40th

Last weekend I went to the SNL 40th reunion.  I had two Willy Wonka Golden Tickets to the biggest event on earth (that weekend, at least) and I took my 15 year old son, Chris.  To summarize what I will soon detail, it was the time of our lives.snl 40

This wasn’t my first Saturday Night Live reunion.  I went to a 15th anniversary show and a 25th, and they were big deals, to be sure, but nothing like this one.  I’ve never been given any attention on any of them and nothing I did on the show ever gets shown, but I go to see old friends and admittedly I get misty seeing the hallways which were once a crucible for my career dreams, and so I go.

I have a very clear perspective of my SNL career and I harbor no ill will toward the experience, in fact, if anything, I am critical of myself for not figuring out how to emerge from a show that is a one-way ticket to stardom.

needlemanBut, I can also forgive my friendly Iowa nature for not being able to navigate those sometimes dangerous waters. The shadow of Eddie Murphy loomed large and there wasn’t enough wattage in the universe to support another star like him, and truth be told, the entire Ebersol era was not a time to nurture a neophyte like me.

I credit Dick Ebersol for identifying the talent of Murphy and also of Joe Piscopo (the hardest working person there) and for keeping the show alive.  Later he hired Billy Crystal and Marty Short to achieve that same end.  And in retrospect (and at the time, as well) I was thrilled to be in their company.

Even after a show where I had nothing to do I could say, “I’m being paid nicely to live in New York City and now and again I get to be on tv.”

That, in the scheme of things, doesn’t suck.

And now here I am back at 30 Rock with my teenage son and about to walk down the Red Carpet….

red carpetThe Red Carpet was like nothing I’d ever seen before.  Except for glimpses on Entertainment Tonight, I had no idea what to expect.  I handed a nice young woman our “special” credentials, she whispered my name to a guy with a dry erase board who then proceeded to write “Gary Kroeger” and show it to the row of photographers.

I was given, with my son, a cue to start walking the carpet.  In front of me was Melissa McCarthy and Billy Crystal and so I was surprised when I heard, “Gary!  Over here!  Up here!” and rows of flashes went off.

What happens is that you hit a small mark on the carpet and when that gallery of photographers have their shot, you move about 3 feet to the next marker and repeat the process.  There are about 5 marks to hit before you are finally through the venue.  I felt a little embarrassed actually, but I looked over at my son and saw the coolest 15 year old kid on the planet soaking it in.

Once through, we proceeded to the Pre-Show Party.  If I had to choose one event alone on this evening, this would have been it.  As soon as we walked up the stairs, we saw Mike Meyers.  I extended my hand and said, “Hi, Mike, Gary Kroeger” and he beamed and said, “Yes, of course, we met at the last one of these.”

I was flattered to say the least.  I introduced my son, who shook his hand, and as we walked away, Chris, said to me, “Dad!  I just met Shrek!”

“And Austin Powers and Dr. Evil,” I reminded him.

No sooner had we walked into the main bar area when we noticed the Manning brothers, Payton and Eli, standing alone in a corner.  I thought to myself, “This is never going to happen again” and so I pulled my son by his lapel and walked right up to them.

I extended my hand.  “Gary Kroeger and this is my son, Chris.”

Payton Manning gave me a firm shake and said, “I’m Payton Manning and this is my brother, Eli.”

Really?

The humility of their nature was apparent.  Two southern gentlemen who never assume that they are special.  Of course I wanted to ask Payton about next season, but this 20150215_185912-1event is one where everyone feels safe from the scrutiny of media and adoring fans and I wisely chose not to.

No sooner did we say our farewell to the Mannings when Bob Odenkirk appeared.

“Bob, Gary Kroeger” as my hand thrust forward again.  I have a reflex where I always do that in order to avoid an awkward ”and….you are….?” moment.

“Gary!  Yes!  How are you?”

I looked at my son, a huge “Breaking Bad” fan, and saw his appreciation of the moment.  Bob was genuinely thrilled when I told him how much I love “Better Call Saul” and we even exchanged emails.  A nicer guy there has never been.

An announcement was made that it was time to head toward Studio 8-H because seating was about to begin.  Chris and I headed toward the elevators when emerging from a small coterie was Eddie Murphy.

Again, the hand thrusts forward.

“Eddie, Gary Kroeger.”

“Kroegs!  How’ve you been!  It’s been like 30 years!”

“Eddie, I’ve been great.  This is my son, Chris.”

“How ya doin’, Chris?  Nice to meet you.”

A few more pleasantries and Chris and I moved toward the elevators.

“Dad!  I just met Donkey!”

“And all of the Klumps,” I reminded him.

We turned to the elevators and Paul Rudd was right on top of us.

“Paul.  You went to college with my ex-wife’s brother.  Matthew Bailey”

“Matty!  Oh my God!”

I glanced over at my son to be sure if he was connected to this moment, and his smile said it all.  He had the “It’s Paul Rudd and we’re talking to him” look on his face.

Paul Rudd is one of the most down to earth celebrities you will ever meet.  Chris said to 20150215_233603me as we exited toward the elevators, “He is exactly the guy I hoped he would be.”

Once on the studio floor, we stepped out into what was an all too familiar hallway for 3 years of my life, and Jim Belushi seemed to appear from nowhere.

“Kroeger!”

“Hey, Jim!”

Years ago, Jim had approached me in a restaurant in LA and said, “Hey, I’m sorry I was such a dick at SNL.”

20150215_191706-1Well…he was kind of a dick, but I knew that he was being sincere and any resentment I may have felt toward him and his…ever-present ambition….melted away.  Now it was just two old friends looking for the cast pictures in the hallway of our years.  We found one and posed together.

Just before the entrance to Studio 8-H is another hallway to the right where the dressing rooms are located.  I decided that I wanted to see mine.  I had inherited it from Garrett Morris and Chris Farley from me.  The 30 Rock from my era was the same 30 Rock that was built in the 1930s, but now everything was remodeled and very contemporary.  Nevertheless, I knew the space and peeked inside.  I saw the wall where I once threw a chair out of frustration after all my sketches were cut.

I kept that remembrance to myself.

Chris and I turned back to go to the stage and in front of us was Fred Armisen.  Out came the hand, but before I could say, “Fred, Gar-” he cut me off.

“It’s so great for you to be here,” he said.  “That really means a lot.”

I looked at him quizzically.

“You were my cast,” he continued.  “You were the cast I grew up watching, wanting to be part of this.  It means so much to me that you are here.”

Boom.  This moment was indelibly imprinted onto my consciousness.  It had never occurred to me that I was noticed by people that I admire today.

Once inside, we were shown our seats.  To get there we walked by Jack Nicholson. Christopher Walken, Donald Trump, Taylor Swift, Kristen Wiig, Paul Simon.  We were seated next to David Koechner of “Anchorman” fame who gave us a big (Whammy!) hello.

I 20150216_003420whispered into David’s ear that my son was a big fan and David, without missing a beat, launched into a tirade about how he could only get one ticket and now “You are in my wife’s seat!”

He proceeded to try and occupy my son’s space in order to feel more included.  Chris was keen to the bit and grinned ear to ear.

Another one of life’s truly nice people.

The show…was the show.  Some parts were good, some were great.  Some were….why?  3 1/2 hours is a long time even if you’re getting a foot massage and I could have left after “Celebrity Jeopardy” but my son was enjoying every second.  I mean, Tina Fey and Larry David were just in front of him, Matt Lauer was to his right.  Bill Murray was singing the theme from “Jaws” so what’s not to enjoy?

20150215_194510For me, there is one thing that’s a little difficult at these anniversary shows and that’s the fact that I want to be part of it.  I want to be on that stage making this crowd laugh.  There is a tinge of jealousy toward those who earned that privilege, and it is then, and only then, that I wish I’d been more aggressive back in the day.

For the last two minutes of the show, though, every cast member was asked to come to the stage for the goodnights.  I hesitated…and then I ran onto the stage.  I was suddenly with a swarm of the most famous people on earth.  Billy Crystal was the first that I saw and he said, “Kroeger, I hear you’re running for office!”

Wow.  News spreads fast.

Then came Marty Short who said the same thing.

I looked to my right as the familiar goodnight music began and was face to face with Sir Paul McCartney.

I thrust out my hand….

“Sir, I’ve waited 50 years to shake your hand.

He smiled and replied, “Well, it’s about time then” and he took my hand.

What a great, glib, Beatle-esque thing to say, I thought to myself.  I could tell that he was willing to engage in a conversation, but my edit function kicked in. “What hasn’t he heard?” I thought.

I considered for a second doing my Ed Sullivan impression of their first introduction in 1964 (which I have done since that first introduction in 1964), but the moment passed,  Dana Carvey moved in and the two of them started playing air guitar.

I worked with Ringo on the show in 1985 and I was perfectly satisfied with having met two of four Beatles.  Not bad for a kid from Iowa.

20150215_233420-1At the coat check was Jim Breuer and his wife and they graciously offered that we share their limo to the After-Party at the Plaza Hotel.  My son has now flown First Class to New York, been to the biggest SNL show ever, and is going in a limosine to the Plaza where McCartney, Taylor Swift and Jimmy Fallon will eventually get onstage to sing.

Not bad for a kid from Iowa.

We get inside to the most opulent event I could ever imagine and worked our way into the main room.  There was Joe Piscopo and Don Novello at the bar.

“Kroeger!  I hear you’re running for office!  You should come do my radio show!” said Joe.

Joe was great on SNL and I loved him.  He always included me and here he was, 30 years later, including me again.

But here’s the defining moment of the evening for me.  My son and I are talking to Andy Breckman, one of the great SNL writers, when in walks Sarah Palin.

palinAndy said, “I know Governor Palin, let me introduce you!”

“No!” I said.  “Absolutely not.  What would I say to her?”

“C’mon, I want you to meet her, ” Andy insisted.

“No! I have said and written terribly critical things about her. This is a party and there is no reason for–”

“Governor Palin, this is Gary Kroeger from SNL.  He’s a Democrat who might run for Congress.”

(Thanks a lot, Andy)

“A Democrat, huh?” came the familiar Alaskan/twangy accent. “They’re not all bad.”  She smiled a very warm smile and we shook hands.

“Governor, it is very nice to meet you.”

“And who is this fine looking young man?” she inquired, reaching for my son’s hand.  Chris didn’t need Dad to do his introductions anymore and he returned the greeting.

“I’m Chris Kroeger and I’m here with my Dad.  A real pleasure to meet you.”

Governor Palin introduced us to the people she was with and at no time looked around to see who else might be in the room; she was 100% committed to this conversation.

We talked about our kids.  She asked me about my consideration for Congress and I offered this:  “Governor, we may disagree on several issues, but I’ll bet there are a lot of things we have in common.”

She chimed right in:  “We love our families, don’t we?”

“And we love America and our home states, too” I replied.

“We sure do.  I wish more people could see things that way.”

“Governor, I think we’re all a bit lazy.  I think that government, and the electorate, are afraid of the hard work and like to rely on shortcuts to find answers.  I think we could sit down and talk about what we agree on, what we disagree on, and stay in the room until we solve some issues. I’ll bet we could all try harder to find common ground.”

Governor Palin looked at me and I sensed that she wished she had said that first.  I saw her eyes log the idea into the back of her brain.  She then looked at my son.

“Chris, you’ll do well.  You have a good father.”

We said our goodbyes.

When we decided the evening should end, we worked our way out, running into Timcarrey Kazurinsky and writers from our day, Barry Blaustein, David Sheffield and Pam Norris.  Jim Carrey was just coming in and as he posed with my son for a picture there was a tap on my shoulder.  It was Ellen and Steve Higgins.

steveSteve, of course, is an SNL writer and Jimmy Fallon’s side kick on the Tonight Show.

“Gary!  Hi!,” said Ellen, “Isn’t this an amazing Iowa connection out here?”

“Yes, it is.  How great to see you guys.  Steve, I am thrilled at what you’re doing at SNL and the Tonight Show.”

“Yeah, it’s quite a ride.  Hey, I’d love to get together next time we’re in Waterloo”

(Ellen is from Waterloo)

Yeah…being from Iowa is okay.

As my recollection of this adventure comes to an end, the epilogue to this story is actually the prologue.  I had been asked to appear on “Upup With Steve Kornacki” on MSNBC that morning, before any of the SNL festivities.  The story of another SNL alum-turned politician (on the heels of Senator Al Franken) was a pretty decent angle that had been getting some press.  In fact, Senator Franken was on the show the week before.

The interview with Steve was short and sweet and not substantive, but it was fun and I enjoyed it.  My son sat behind me in the studio and apparently he was Tweeting about the experience.

I only saw the Tweet the other day.  It read: “Proud, inspired, awestruck.  These are all words that describe me watching my dad this morning.”

No, son.  It is your father who is so proud of you.  Finally, I became the biggest star of the biggest show, because you were there to see it with me.

chris

 

“Press Two for Hmoob”

Several months ago I was traveling on business with an associate and we were in the Minneapolis airport looking for our terminal.  We stood at a large sign that contained directions with instructions in Chinese, followed by Spanish, French, then Arabic and finally after, perhaps, even Serbian, was English.  My friend was exasperated and turned to me.

“Doesn’t it piss you off that we are in the United States and we can’t find directions in English?”

I quickly responded, “Actually, I love it. I think it’s great that this airport shows that respect.”

Knowing that I was being contrary to his position, I then said, “What did that take us?  All of three extra seconds to find English?  Are we that impatient that we feel inconvenienced because we had to make a tiny effort?”

He got my point.  He may not have agreed with me entirely, but maybe, just maybe, he will have more tolerance in the future.

Just previous to this I had returned from Italy where I was on business with two other American colleagues and on our first evening in Turin we stopped in a little café and it was immediately clear to the Italian staff that we were American.  The young hostess approached us and said, “I am sorry….My English-a no good.”

Being gracious we replied, “Don’t be sorry, we are in your country, we should speak some Italian.”

She then surprised us by saying, “No. English…is…a…universal language.  I should know better.”

That hit me like a ton of terracotta tiles.  Is it because our economy has dominated the world for over a century and the dollar is still the standard measure for trade?  Or do we have an arrogant culture that assumes the rest of the world will meet our needs with the least amount of effort from us?  Could it be that American pride limits our ability to become more worldly?  Or could it be all of the above?

I would venture “yes.”

A problem we are facing in American trade liaisons was evidenced by the work that I actually had to do with the Italian company.  While we three Americans spoke, everyone understood what we were saying, but when the Italians spoke, we had no idea what they were sharing.   In a strictly business sense they had the clear upper hand.

At times, the Italians (gracious, by the way) laughed amongst themselves, leaving me and my two associates wondering, with a little bit of insecurity, if we were being laughed at.

Our insecurity was exacerbated when a Chinese business partner joined the group.  The partner from China and the Italians spoke enough Italian or Chinese to communicate clearly, but the three Americans, the professionals putting this project together, were lost in translation.

I asked our Italian cameraman, who was fluent in English how many languages he spoke.  He said, in addition to Italian and English, “Spanish, French, some German.  We are taught all of these in school. Everything is pretty easy because we are so close to these countries, but we are made to learn English because it is so important for business.”

Because it is so important to business…”  Hmmmmm….I had the choice to learn Spanish or French in high school, and my teachers were excellent, but to be honest, there was little to no expectation that we would have any fluency when done.

I’ve traveled all over Europe and even though I’m the guy who tries his best to pick up key phrases out of respect for different cultures (and it’s fun), I haven’t HAD to in order to have my steak sent back or to find the men’s room.  The world came to me; I didn’t really have to come to them, but that is changing every hour of every day as we move into a Global Economy.

The truth is we are a Global Economy already and if the United States is to lead we will have to learn how to come to the rest of the world with as much knowledge as they have coming to us.  Our “America is Number One” attitude may serve as a barrier that diminishes our ability to compete.

I had a personal experience regarding language barriers many years ago when I lived in Los Angeles.  I was fortunate to have a part-time cleaning lady from Mexico who also, occasionally, took care of my young son.  One day, when Chris was only 2, we were in a McDonalds and a little Mexican boy was complaining to his mother in Spanish.  I had no idea what they were saying but Chris turned to my ex-wife and said, “The little boy is angry because his mommy won’t let him have a Happy Meal.”

My son had picked up enough Spanish from our cleaning lady to understand without effort what was going on.  I said to myself, “THIS is the world I want my son to grow up in. This is my vision for America.”  I was emboldened by what my son had done so effortlessly; he inherited an ability to communicate that can lead to cultural respect.

Americans are the ones who will be at a disadvantage if we don’t, just as I was on an Italian soundstage.  We should (we must) value the diversity for which we claim to stand, and we should (we must) emphasize the need for young Americans to become multi-lingual in a world that is moving forward…and will move forward whether we know what they’re talking about or not.

“I give you the next President of the United States…”

I introduced then-Senator Joe Biden at a rally in Waterloo, Iowa, in 2007 when he was running for President.  Recently I found my introduction and I thought it would be interesting to post it here.  Today, as I talk around the state to Democrats about the last midterm elections, I find myself saying many of the same things.

I think that Senator Biden expected a short comment, followed by his political resume, but….well…it became a long wind up to a short introduction to the Senator.

“I’ve always maintained that it is harder to be a Democrat. Our ideology requires that we look deeper into issues; that we actually try and solve the problems at hand; and that we must practice what we preach. Unlike the Republicans, when Democrats say one thing and do another we tend to disappear.

The last thing anyone wants to do is have to defend the nobility of compassionate ideas, but unfortunately, we have to…and Republicans have understood for years that Democrats are poor at that. They have taken advantage of the fact that Democrats aren’t particularly inclined to defend themselves and don’t define their ideology with easy to repeat sound bites and platitudes, and the Republicans have been all too happy to do it for them.

Who would have thought that after the social awareness that sprung from the left in the 60’s and 70’s and the optimism of creating a better world from progressive activism, that “liberal” could become a dirty word?  The Republican propaganda machine re-defined us and they did so with a brilliant understanding of what people wanted to hear.

Who would have thought that 30 years after Roe v Wade we would be defending a woman’s right to choose? And that we would be effectively labeled “pro abortionists” or “anti-lifers” for upholding that right?

Who could ever have thought that after Watergate and Iran/Contra that Republicans could lay claim to being the party of “high moral standards”?

And who would’ve thought that the entire nation would not be appalled when another Republican administration spun lies that led to the invasion of Iraq?

The answer is simple. Republicans have never pretended to be anything but Machiavellian in their approach to politics; where the end justifies the means.  They present truth on one hand and lies on the other and value both as reasonable options.

As Paul Simon once sang, “A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest” and the Republican Party has celebrated that by giving people exactly what they want to hear while disguising their true policies in the cloak of that promise.

Republican conservatives will lead this country in the wrong direction; away from civil liberties (they curse the American Civil Liberties Union!).  They will label disagreement of their views as un-American.

They will legislate for Christian-specific doctrine with Constitutional bans on gay marriage and they will exploit our fear from 9/11 with Patriot Acts.

They will enable profiteering from imperialist expansion and nation building.

They will cut taxes for the rich and spend irresponsibly, yet will pin the debt on Democrats while doing everything they can to destroy Social Security and Medicare.

And they will attempt to brand those of us trying to expand America’s promise as “un-American” even “socialists.”

For these reasons, in this election, it is imperative that we support Democratic candidates on every level. From the grassroots to the White House we must stand tall, defend our beliefs and stand together.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you a candidate today who understands what it means to defend our civil liberties and our freedom, who has legislated responsibly and compassionately, and who has stood up to the forces that would deter our progressive mission to hand a better America to future generations.  I give you the next President of the United States- Senator Joe Biden!”

My Love/Hate Relationship

I love Politics.  I love the practice of influencing one another on civic and individual issues. I like the debate over what is best for the common good because it is from this politicsdialogue that we can emerge stronger and more secure in our pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.

I hate Politics.  I hate the loggerheads created from opposing views and conflicting interests.  I hate the accusations that fly from having different perspectives and the castigation of individuals and groups of people that can be the consequence of our fear and misunderstanding.

I like Government.wordcloudgovfresh  I like the concept of representative democracy where power is held by the people themselves and they elect representatives to protect and improve their interests.  I like that we have a system of governance that is designed to defend the rights of even the least influential among us while protecting opportunity for all, predicated on principles of freedom and justice.

I don’t like Government.  I don’t like when it is corrupted by greed that panders to special interests.  I don’t like that it is imperfect and run by imperfect people who can be susceptible to the seduction of power.  I hate that its inequities can compromise the common good.

I like Big Corporations.  I like them because Big Business creates 50% of America’s Gross National Product and employs nearly half of all working Americans.  I like that the opportunity in America to be entrepreneurial and to expand with ingenuity literally created the world’s economy and the capacity to industrialize.thCAG9NPIW

I don’t like Big Corporations.  I don’t like them because without regulations mandated by the People they become a rogue government of their own, too often replacing morality and justice with margins and profit.  I hate when the strong arm of their influence contradicts the tenets of our Republic by serving the special interests of an elite-minority.

csp_savio-rallyI love Freedom of Speech.  I love that I live in a free country where I cannot be incarcerated for voicing my opinions and I have the right (Nay, obligation!) to protest and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.  I love that I can openly influence others with ideas and I love that others can openly influence mine.

I hate that Freedom of Speech also allows for bigotry to have a forum and prejudices can bethCAW4UKDP shared which fan the flame of intolerance.  I hate that the free press, protected by our First Amendment, does not continually hold itself to standards of accountability and I hate that it can propagate misinformation as freely as facts.

I like and I don’t like some of the things that are sustained in the realization of our Republic; things that have been created from this grand democratic experiment to live with freedom and to be prosperous.  But, it is within this conundrum that we might find some of the solutions we are looking for.

There is nothing unusual about this polarity; I believe that every human being carries a duality where we struggle between light and dark; a fight in our souls between fear and faith and we conform our guiding principles to follow one direction over another so that we can give that conflict rest.  And so we take sides:  Republicans face off with Democrats, Liberals challenge Conservatives, and Bears battle Packers.

Taking sides, however, can make us feel threatened by the “other side” and so we digcalvin_arguing in deeper, creating wider separations to protect our ideals.  Perhaps, if we recognized this about ourselves and took time to realize that there are qualities we can embrace within some of the things that we dislike, and that there are ideas that we should question within some of the things that we cherish…maybe…we could start to move toward more shared values, greater tolerance and less fear of each other.

Maybe we could improve our conversations, our government…and ultimately our lives.

I’d love that.

 

My American Hero

In August of 2011 my family met in the Rockies to spread my Dad’s ashes in the mountains that he loved.  He had passed away 10 years earlier but it took that long for my brothers and our mother to coordinate schedules with our own children, work, and all that comes with adult lives.  Finally, we had found a week in late Summer.

The service was casual, but very meaningful as tears, bottled up for a decade, flowed from each of us.  My father was an extraordinary man who lived a fairly ordinary life, and except for too few years living it, it was exactly the life he had hoped for.

His greatness is a legacy of justice, open-minded thinking and tolerance that he imprinted on his sons and I encourage you to spend the next few minutes reading these words.  A great American will be revealed to you.

Glenn Kroeger passed away from congestive heart failure just before the Spring of 2001.  He was a lifelong smoker whose system had collapsed, like dominoes, with one ailment leading to another.  Phlebitis, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and prostate cancer conspired to take out his heart.

He was too young at 72 and there have been so many times in the past decade when I’ve yearned for his wisdom, but he had also lived a full life and had given his family so much.

Just under 6 feet tall, he was a curly, black-haired, olive-skinned second generation German with hairy forearms.  The kind of arms that fathers have who get immediate respect from children.

He grew up during the Great Depression in abject poverty, enlisted in the Army (was discharged because he was only 14), put himself through college to receive an engineering degree and carved out the American dream.

I grew up admiring his mind, but could barely endure his pedestrian-existentialist philosophies.  He’d say, “Stop flicking that light switch!  Every time you do is one less time it will be turned on and off in its life.”

“But…if I flick it again,” I would ask, “…won’t that be one more time it’s flicked in its life?”

That’s how he saw things; limited and finite resources that must be conserved.

He died right after George W. Bush was elected, but before 9/11.  I’ve always thought there was a strange blessing in that because the horror of that day and all that has followed would have been a mortal wound.  Just before he died he said to me, regarding the new President, “He is not the result of Americans’ concern, but the result of their apathy toward leadership.”

Before anyone dismisses him as a left winger who simply opposed any victory of the right, let me offer some perspective.  My father was a conservative man by nature and found his politics evolving, after the death of FDR, to the platform on which the Republican Party stood in the 50’s:  Fiscal conservatism, military restraint, and a responsible role in human rights around the world.  He hated being categorized but he called himself “an Eisenhower Republican.”

His conservatism was not so much a political ideology, however, as simply who he was. He never carried even a dollar in credit card debt, never had a parking ticket, and always lived within his means; he played by the rules. That meant that I had a secure childhood, but I was never going to be the kid with the newest bike or anything that I hadn’t “earned.”

He once said, “I will never reward you for doing what you’re supposed to do, and you’re supposed to be a good person, you’re supposed to work hard, and you’re supposed to do well in school.”

My allowance sucked.

But, my young father’s political perspective was jolted again after Kennedy was assassinated.  The topics discussed at dinner were about this new anger and mistrust in politics, a demagoguery emerging from social conflicts, and Vietnam. family-around-tv

It was during this time, as civil rights issues moved front and center, that my father drifted away from the Republicans.

He saw the new Republicans becoming entrenched in a platform based on fears; a fear of defining or extending civil rights or anything that did not support the status quo; and a too irrational fear of Communism leading toward a new kind of imperialism.  He saw conservatism falling into policies that supported those fears and moving away from what he embraced above all other issues, egalitarianism; the belief that we are all, indeed, created equal and deserving of equal rights and respect.

In the mid 60′s he became a reluctant Democrat.

He bristled, however, if anyone lumped him into the “bleeding heart liberal” category.  His human rights ideas aligned more closely with the new liberals, but he thought that they were just as dangerous when extreme.  He hated spending a dime on anything that he didn’t think was absolutely necessary.

Over the years that followed, my father was deeply troubled by President Johnson’s escalation of the Vietnam War, and while he recognized President Nixon’s intelligence, and even saw him as a moderate, he was repulsed by his personality.  After Watergate, he was thoroughly disgusted with the Washington establishment and he voted for Shirley Chisholm.

My father, once a Republican, always conservative, voted for an African-American woman for President in 1972.

In 1993 my parents came to visit me in Los Angeles.  Before they left Iowa I had mentioned to them that Sylvester Stallone had just negotiated 20 million dollars for a single movie.  I think I told them that to bolster their own hopes for me after so many ups and downs in my career.

My parents got lost in downtown LA before finding their way to my West Hollywood apartment and in their journey they had accidentally “toured” east LA and west of downtown.  They witnessed poverty and homeless people under bridges and on the off ramps in a way they hadn’t before.

My father got out of the car wearing his signature pork pie hat and came straight up to me with a strange look on his face.  Before even saying “hello” he said, “In a country where one man can make 20 million dollars for a few weeks work -there is absolutely no excuse that anyone should starve!  It’s inexcusable!  Inexcusable!”

That was as angry as I’d ever seen him.

Finally, allow me to share a story that will reveal his character, and what I attempt in my life to emulate.

The first time my parents visited me in LA was in the mid 80’s when AIDS has just entered the public consciousness. It didn’t even have its acronyms yet (AIDS, HIV) and was being labeled as strictly a “gay disease.”  The values of both of my parents were solid and their sense of responsibility and fairness, resolute, but like many Americans they had a narrow view of homosexuality.

One evening at dinner we got into a discussion about the “gay disease.”  Although my parents certainly didn’t feel that any disease was “deserved,” they saw it as a consequence of behavior that should be corrected.  I proceeded to tell them about people that I knew in Chicago, New York and LA; people who were good, honest, hardworking, generous and gay.

I told them the story of one of those friends who was full of humor, talent and love who had just died the most painful and humiliating death.

I told them about the hundreds of gay men and women that I’ve known, all of whom are as they were born to be; I told them about people, who happened to be gay, who were just living their lives but were now dying from, or terrified of, an unknown and gruesome disease.

I told them that even though their son is straight, this disease affects, challenges and scares him directly.  And those people suffering are his friends.

My father quietly nodded his head.  My mother looked at him with a knowing smile.  I never had to say another word.  From that moment on, Gay Rights became woven into the quilt of their convictions.  They marched for, voted for, wrote letters to the editor for- Gay Rights; Civil Rights; HUMAN rights. It’s all one and the same.

These moments are the ones that have shaped my own ideologies and give me the resolve I need to keep the discussion moving, even when the frustrations of disagreement make solutions seem impossible.  My father lives in every breath I take and I will always be a soldier in his egalitarian fight.

Thanks for reading this.  My father deserved the attention.

Trade Agreements, American Workers, and Pete Carroll

1285-KRAVITZ-Seahawks-doom-themselves-blow-the-Super-BowlOkay.  I’ll set this up as briefly as I can because I already know where you stand.  You think that Pete Carroll made a bonehead decision because he didn’t run Marshawn Lynch at the 1 yard line.  I agreed with you when it happened and I immediately posted on Facebook:  “What????  A pass????”

But, something happened to me….

I have this “thing.”  The “thing” is an alarm that goes off in my head when everyone is in agreement on something, but that something is unknowable.  In this situation the “unknowable” was whether or not Lynch would have scored on that play.  We all assumed that he would because he’s in “Beast Mode” and we saw him carry 3 Patriots on his back for 3 yards just minutes before.  In fact, we assumed that it was a sure thing.

But, it wasn’t.

Marshawn Lynch averaged over 4 yards per carry, but when the Patriots put in their run defense, Lynch was stopped on several carries.  Now, with little time on the clock and pete-carroll-super-bowl-49one time out remaining, Pete Carroll’s offensive coordinator had a strategic idea.  With the Patriots run package on the field, if a run is stopped the Seahawks have to burn their time out.  If the Seahawks then call the logical pass on 3rd down, they’ll have given the strategic advantage to the Patriots.

And if they run on 3rd and it fails, the clock runs out and the game is over, leaving a play on the table.  In other words, three Marshawn Lynch runs could never be a possibility.

By calling for the slant, the Seahawks can catch the Patriot’s off guard, and if Wilson has to throw it away, they’ve saved the timeout.  Now the Patriots defense spreads, however, and a run by Lynch has an even greater chance of success.  Carroll’s call gives Lynch the same two chances at the end zone, plus a surprise throw against a run defense.  It wasn’t the intuitive call that everyone expected, but it was an intelligent one.

Opposition to Carroll’s call is based on what we cannot know; that Lynch was a sure thing.  Support of his call, is based in logic; what the variables of the game actually produce.  Yet, in sports analysis, politics, religion, business, or just about anything that engages our passion, we react according to intuition and not logic.  Because when we don’t win, it’s because of a bad call, rather than a better defense.

Which brings me to the newly proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

(Alright, I’ll admit that I’m pushing this segue a bit…)

Trade Agreements appear as a slam dunk plan by expanding the import/export geography, thereby expanding US corporations.  Trade Agreements are the Beast Mode of economic growth (I know, this seems like a reach, but stay with me!).  They are the surefire way to increase goods as more consumers are created.

But are they?

Statistically, we can look at the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as having an impact on economic growth in the 90’s, but when we drill deeper into the game plan we also see that the increase in imports displaced US production that employs US workers.

TPP has been called “NAFTA on steroids” and everyone seems to be onboard with it.  The President and Congress can have a rare agreement, corporations are open to more territories to do business and profits increase.  And so everyone is happy, right?

Not the American worker.unions

Unpopular as it may be to those who want to believe that the “sure thing” of expanded trade is the only play in the book, government should look for a strategy based on real consequences.  What has really been happening is that trade agreements have stopped labor at the line.  Production increases overseas, jobs are exported due to cheaper labor; increased imports decrease domestic production; domestic jobs are lost; wages become stagnant.

In the words of Senator Bernie Sanders:  “The TPP is a treaty that has been written behind closed doors by the corporate world….Let’s be clear: the TPP is much more than a “free trade” agreement. It is part of a global race to the bottom to boost the profits of large corporations and Wall Street by outsourcing jobs; undercutting worker rights; dismantling labor…”

Once again, the American Worker has to line up at the end of this economic bread line, hoping for the scraps of what’s left.  And maybe a bread bag for their feet.

And there is another consequence as unexpected as an interception, but it ends theFotosearch_k9869452 (1) game, as well:  The prestige of being “American Made.”  American products are marginalized as they compete against cheaper imports and the American export economy loses in a race to the bottom.

Stop TPP.  Keep jobs in America and defend the American worker.

Oh…and let Pete Carroll off the hook.  The Seahawks didn’t lose the game because of a bad call; the Patriots won the game because of a great play.

“I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together”

What are you?  Are you a Republican because you are conservative?  Are you aligned with liberal causes because you are a Democrat?

bigstock-A-green-two-way-street-sign-po-20683979Which came first?  Your party affiliation or your conservative ideology?  Are you a liberal, by nature, and, therefore a Democrat?

Where did your socio-political philosophy come from in the first place?  Was it inherited from your parents or your life experience?

Are you more of a liberal than you are a Democrat?  Are you more of a conservative than a Republican?

Is it even possible to separate liberalism from being a Democrat or conservatism from being a Republican?  Could you be a conservative Democrat or a liberal Republican?

These questions have been on my mind for a long time.  I ask them because public policy debates have confused different philosophies into an amalgam of political agendas, and that is leading us down the road toward ideological meaninglessness.

The differences are crucial, however.  Conservatism and the Republican Party are separate concepts.  The same is true of liberalism and Democrats.  While, today, each party holds those principles close to their heart and clearly we predominately consider them to be exclusive to each, the historical journey is very different and must be examined if we are to ever find common ground.

In the beginning of our country we had the Federalists that included Washington and Adams, and the party of Jefferson who were Democrat-Republicans.  Federalism, it should be noted, wasn’t really a political party, but a philosophy that believed in strong central government along with the promotion of commerce and industry.

washington-adams-and-jeffersonThe Federalists became Whigs who evolved into the Republican Party.  The Democrat-Republicans, who today would be considered Libertarians, became strictly Democrats.  The original Democrats, formed by Andrew Jackson, coerced the US into using its power in foreign affairs when American interests were threatened, but in economic and social policy they stressed the responsibility of federal government to act cautiously, if at all.

It was Democrats in the early 19th century who argued that the national government should do nothing the states could do for themselves, and that drilled down into localities believing local government better served its people than state government.

And in the cracks of our party histories we’ve seen the National Republicans who became the Free Soil Party which rose to vehemently oppose the spread of slavery and in time that gave way to the People’s Party which eventually became the Progressive (or Bull Moose) Party of Republican Teddy Roosevelt who fought for social reforms and was opposed to excessive corporate power.bull_moose_party

Woven into the fabric of Republican history is progressivism and part and parcel with Democratic history, from the Revolution until the New Deal, was conservative, small government, philosophy.  Political parties and socio-political philosophies do not share continuous and consistent histories and one need only to go back 150 years to the creation of the modern Republican Party to realize that Republicans embraced progressivism in their purpose to end slavery, while, in fact, it was Democrats who opposed Emancipation and held on to conservative values with regard to state rights.

So today when one party holds the philosophical guidance of conservatism or liberalism over its head to declare a consistent connection throughout history, it is sheer folly.  While our political affiliations may appear to be extensions of our political-philosophical beliefs, there is no core set of principles that exist within any of our political “disciplines.”

CONSERVEI offer this with the hope that, perhaps, some of the vitriol in our disagreements could be eliminated.  One side rarely speaks of the other, be it Republicans concerning Democrats or Liberals with regard to Conservatives, without an angry tone or sarcastic dismissal of all they have brought to the policy table.liberals

Difficult as it may be to accept, or even comprehend….Republicans are responsible for much of our country’s progressive movements that many Republicans hold in contempt today.

And Democrats have in our history fought against some of the social reforms that they now embrace.

So…let’s get over ourselves.  Our ideological history isn’t a straight line from the cause of the Revolution to the cause of our Revulsion today.

“Coo coo ca-choo!”