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History Politics

Letters and History

I was worried last night about the accuracy of our history for future generations. How will they know what really happened? I, for example, living in this historical time have no idea what is really happening around me.

In the past, our country’s history has been confirmed and re-created through letters – letters from observers of history written mostly without ulterior motives and simply as observations or opinions. The best example that comes to mind are the letters between John and Abigail Adams.

The following is an example.

Letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams, 8 February 1795


Quincy 8 February 1795

My dearest Friend

Mr. Thomas Welch came up this Evening and brought me Letters from our Sons’ dated the 13 December from the Hague. I presume Letters are gone on to Congress Philadelphia to you, and Dispatches to the Secretary of State, but least you should not have any by this vessel, the most important intellegence which Mr. JQAs letter contains is that there is no prospect of Peace at Present tho at Paris the Moderate Party Mantain their assendency. Yet he considers Moderation like all other Principals in that Country for 5 Years past, a Watch Word of a Faction, used to oppress an other faction, whose Watch word was Terror. He adds that he should not be surprizd to see the Jacobins restored in the course of six Months to all the Plenitude of their Power and Glory.

(I hope to Heaven for the Sake of Humanity, that, that will never be.) In England he says the People are for Peace, the Administration for War. In Holland all the Provinces have recommended Negotiations for Peace. The Government Party pretend that they are going forward. The Patriots think that the French will not not [?] that but with them, and they most devoutly hope that the first article of the pacification may prescribe the extirpation of the present ruling power.

He supposes Mr. Jays Treaty is before the Senate; long ere His Letter reaches me, wishes his Friends to write to him by way of England as often as


opportunity offers. Says tho he has not received any Letters that he had news from America as late as November. Thomas Letter is chiefly taken up in discussing the Dutch Character and their predominate passion which will not even permit them to sacrifice a part of their property to secure the remainder. He finds himself embarressed by not speaking the French. Tho he understands a conversation, he can not hold one, is delighted with the Hague, receives Civility and politeness from Your old Friends there, but feel rather a State of Enuie, and What all of us have felt, but few can describe. I should pitty either of them more were they there singly.

Mr. Welch informs me that there is a vessel in to day from England with the papers to 5 Janry. The Kings speach, which Breaths nothing but War. He Mentions the Treaty concluded on between G. Britain and America. In France there has been an attempt by the Jacobines to Awe the convention, and to prevent the trial and Execution of one of the Nanty Murderers. The People broke in to the Hall of the Jacobines, drove them all out an locked up their Hall. This is only a verbal recount from Mr. Welch. I presume the papers of tomorrow will carry the accounts on to you more accurate.


I see Col Humphries is returnd upon business of importance tis said. My compliments to him.

Adieu most affectionatly Yours
A Adams

Even though the point of this is not Abigail Adams; Fool or Saint, I would like to provide the letter I would have sent to John if I were Abigail. Keep in mind when she wrote this letter, she hadn’t heard from him in months, he was across the ocean, and she had no idea when he was coming home. She was out of money, and she was miserable.

Dearest John,

Where the X&$% are you? I have not heard from you in months. Your brother is tired of running our affairs, and I can only wonder at who you are sleeping with at this moment in time. The kids are a mess, I’m lonely as hell and tired of milking the cows, planting the crops and wondering at the pontification of you and the other fat ones with wooden teeth that love to hear yourselves speak. Enough. Get home or I’m getting a lawyer.
Much love,
Abigail
PS. I went through menopause and have no desire to sleep with you anymore.

Yes, I’m divorced – twice. However, I know a lot of different kinds of women, and none of them would have put up with what he put her through. Not a one. Except maybe John Edward’s wife, but that will be another post next week.

Next point. I haven’t received a handwritten letter of a personal nature since I went to Girl Scout camp forty-five years ago. And, that letter was dictated to his secretary (but signed personally) by my dad. The letter spoke of nothing happening in the world but rather what my sisters were up to and how he hoped I wasn’t gaining weight eating a lot of bread.

Will our history be confirmed by emails then? I glance through the tens of thousands of emails I’ve sent and received over the past few years in my mind and realize I never really ‘discuss’ world affairs. It’s all about me or them in a more personal nature. And, those amazing men and women in Iraq are not allowed to write about the war and where they are and what is really happening because supposedly it will tip off someone and we’ll lose the war. I’m not thinking it will be through emails.

Twitter? Twitter only allows you 140 characters (letters) to send in your twitter. I think it’s going to be difficult indeed to tell the story of what is unfolding before you in 140 characters. So you’d have to send many, and that will be confusing and they might get out of order, etc.

I saw recently a statistic in a video that said that the average person in the early 1800’s never had as much information in their lifetime as is housed on one issue of the New York Times. So, we have a ton of information from others writing from a distorted point of view (please don’t make me go there; Rush Limbaugh, Joe Scarborough) but who among us is simply writing to another that which we see in front of us, or hear first hand at a dinner table?

And even if we did, who is going to sort through these trillions of emails in search of the ones that are accurate with no one to vouch for their accuracy.

Please do not start talking about video. I saw a march with Sharpton at New York’s City Hall on the nightly news a few years ago. I happened to walk by that day in person. There were ten people in the protest and big mouth out in front. On the news, it appeared to be hundreds (not kidding) of people, because it was all close ups and seemed really loud with the cries of those denouncing something or other.

So, now there is something else besides Global Warming to worry about for future generations. Confirming history. If I see history unfolding, I’m going to write it down in personal script that used to be better when I used it more, and I’m sending it to someone I think will save it in a metal box for posterity.

Categories
Financial Politics

The United States and Numbers

Does it bother anyone out there in the Minnesota’s hinterlands that it’s now six months and one day (see how accurate math outside the government is?) past the election and you still don’t know exactly how many people in Minnesota voted for Al Franken and how many voted for Norm Coleman? I live in New York where I suspect we fix elections before they happen so we avoid these messy aftermath issues, but if I lived in Minnesota I’d be opening my window (I think it’s warm enough now) and screaming that line about not taking it anymore. Rise up, Minnesotians, be heard!

Voting is really very simple. You either push a lever or check a box in person or send in an envelope with your vote.  Minnesota’s election boards says that 2.8 million people voted. Already I’m nervous.What are the odds that exactly 2,800,000 people voted? It had to be 2,857,394 or something. And, each time they come up with a voting number for the Senate race, it’s a little different than the time before. “The gap is widening with each new recount” they say with pride, and that’s supposed to make me feel better about the accuracy of the results? Everyone knows that if the balance sheet is off a penny it could mean it’s off by millions. Just get the same count twice, and I’ll feel better.

Last week more than 42,000,000 votes were cast (see TV rounds out the number too but they tell you they rounded it out) on American Idol. You vote by calling in. You vote by sending a text, or you vote online at the website. Twenty-four hours later we hear the news. What’s his name or other was voted out. I know you must be reading this paragraph thinking to yourself, “Wait a minute? Is it possible that more votes were cast on American Idol last week than in the last highly contested election last fall?” But we are not here today to talk about our messed up American values, but rather numbers, so let’s stick to the numbers’ facts. They are able to get an exact count hours after it is made for a TV show, with twenty times the numbers of voters, and we can’t get an accurate count of votes in Minnesota six months and one day later?

The US numbers problem is not limited to the election results in Minnesota. It was announced this morning that the amount of bonuses given out by AIG was four times more than originally reported. Huh? I assure you that every company who did not get money from government knew right from the get go how much money went out in bonuses the day after the bonus money left their bank accounts.

I worked at Peat Marwick Mitchell in the eighties – although not in the smart accounting section but in the marketing section. I know how accountants worked back then before it was all done through computers. They could tell you to the penny anything you wanted to know in a balance sheet and it was never months later, but days. So now that it’s all in the computer and they need only to click reports at the top of the screen to create a report (I use Quicken and highly recommend it which is why I know how to print financial reports), they can’t seem to get a number that is accurate? Or even better than four times off accurate?

Let’s talk census bureau numbers. Here is what I don’t get. When someone dies, we enter it in the computer (or should). When someone is born, it’s entered in the computer. When someone is naturalized, it goes in the computer. That means all you need to do is take the base number from the census however many years ago (go back to 1960 when things were simpler, I don’t care), add in the number of those added through birth and naturalization, deduct those that died (may they rest in peace) and voila, you have the number of people in this country. I hear you. I hear you. “What about illegal aliens?” you shout? (Why do we call them that? There are no legal aliens. Aliens are little people with strange heads that most of us don’t believe exist. Shouldn’t we start calling persons here without permission illegal immigrants?) I assure you illegal immigrants do not invite the census taker in for coffee when he or she comes knocking. And, they do not generally have telephone land lines, but rather cell phones, which are not used in census taking, so who are we kidding? I don’t want to complicate the point I was making by also pointing out that the census takes three years to conduct, and therefore it’s obsolete by the time they hold the press conference anyway.

I could go on and on about how our government (I call it my government when I’m filled with pride and our government when I’m vexed) has made a mockery of the Numbers Code that my exacting math friends find so comforting. For example, I could get back to election numbers and discuss the Gore/Bush election, but I’d have to take to my bed for days and just can’t afford to go there. And, my (love the guy, thus the my) President has asked me to look forward angel.

I think a lot about the fact that the world supposedly looks to us for how to do things like run elections, world financial markets, and do math really really well. Either we are kidding ourselves as a country and they don’t really look to us at all (you know what I mean, when you think someone really likes you and find out later through a supposed real friend they talked shit about you behind your back), or the rest of the world is stupid. Either way, it’s not exactly uplifting.

Look forward Americans! Start a petition to have the producers of American Idol run our next elections! Demand that we do census by Facebook or Twitter! Ask Peat Marwick Mitchell (it’s called something else now, but I can’t remember what) to take over government accounting! What to do about AIG in general? I’m clueless. Totally without words.

Categories
Politics

Obama’s First Hundred Days

Much was made all weekend on the political talk shows about the conclusion of Obama’s first hundred days.

You must understand that I’m a nut about voting, elections and my country. That includes the President.

In case you don’t believe me, this is the picture and email I sent out on Election Day, November 11, 2008.

Me voting
Me voting

Hey, it’s me, Christine, voting for the first black man running for President.

Thanks Martin, Bobby, & JFK for making it possible. You should know, I didn’t vote for him because he’s black, but I know without you guys I wouldn’t have the opportunity to vote for him at all.

And here’s the thing. Obama might not remember my name, but it doesn’t matter, because I know his. And, win, lose or draw, he has made me feel better about my country again.

Vote, friends and family. Except Mom, Uncle Gerry, Aunt Molly, John P and Dee. Conservatives are supposed to vote TOMORROW, not today.

Love you all.

Christine

It took me a long time in the voting booth to get the picture. I kept leaving part of me or the voting machine out. I was facing the wrong way under the curtain so finally someone asked me if I needed help. “Yes,” I said, “I need lots of help, but not with this vote. Thank you though.” (Always use a thank you at the end of sarcastic remarks in a predominately Republican town. Always.)

Anyway, you now get that I’m a bit nutty when it comes to our country, which means I have thought a lot about the first hundred days of the Presidency. Here is my review, which not surprisingly, didn’t seem to be addressed at all by any of the Pundits.

Obama’s First Hundred Days

In this new inclusive; it’s all about all of us Obama rhetoric, we must look at more than just Obama’s actions, but those of everyone involved.

Kudos galore to President Bush (the one who just left, and I join those that couldn’t wait for him to be gone.) You have handled yourself with dignity and elegance by not getting involved as Obama tries to deal with the mess my US has become.

Kudos to Michele … love the garden, love the strong arms every picture shows holding up the hopes of us all.

Cheney. What do I say to you? I do wonder if when you wake up in the morning your wife looks at you and says, “Dick, Dick, Dick. Keep it shut today. You had your chance and will have to live with the perception of who you are and what you did. And, if I were younger, I’d divorce you in a heartbeat.”

Vice President Biden. You are the only thing that really scares me. Thinking before you speak can really assist you moving forward. And, I do hope that Obama is telling you to stop or he won’t have those weekly private lunches that mean so much to you anymore.

You go Hillary!!!! Those frequent flyer miles are adding up for sure and it seems you are doing a great job of not upstaging anyone. That said, add a colorful scarf now and then ok? To think I thought you were a sore loser. Well done.

Mr. President Obama. I have no friggin’ idea if what you have done this past hundred days is fabulous or a disaster. No idea whatsoever. And neither does anyone else. But, I will tell you that I love the way you have done it all. And, if that is any measure of the results that will surface over the coming few years, you are winning big time.

And, me and you and the rest of Americans? Not sure I did much in the first hundred days to assist you. Tell me what to do.

Categories
Politics

Congratulations Eugene Robinson. Way to go.

I was so pleased to see Eugene Robinson win the Pulitzer for his columns following this past election. I went to the Washington Post to read them. They are wonderful, and I urge you to go and take a moment to read them and travel down memory lane from last year’s exciting and challenging election ups and downs.

Robinson’s Pulitzer Winning Columns

My personal favorite is the one following the election night. Paragraphs such as, “Then, when Michelle’s mother, brother and extended family came out, I thought about “the black family” as an institution — how troubled it is, but also how resilient and how vital. And I found myself getting misty-eyed again when Barack and Michelle walked off the stage together, clinging to one another, partners about to embark on an adventure, full of possibility and peril, that will change this nation forever.” He saw through my own tears in that moment and put the perfect words to them.

What does it all mean? This mild-mannered man who patiently waits for Joe Scarborough to finish his narcissistically long-winded tirades on MSNBC’s Morning Joe always seems to be pleasantly surprised by the simplicity of his expression of the obvious. I always look forward to him on the show; and I always marvel at his calm. Is it real? Or, is he just so guarded that he knows better than to show emotion around those of us who mistake emotion in a person of color as anger?

My father built a large resort in St. Maarten in the mid seventies. Arthur Ashe was one of the touring pros. I had dinner with him twice, and he exhibited that same calm no matter what the conversation held. He also suffered from bleeding ulcers which are often brought on by keeping emotions buried. I noticed it in Obama all through the campaign. Where was his passion? His anger?

We might see a change. Robinson’s column today calls for Obama to be angry, which in view of his own demeanor is interesting indeed. Be bold great people of color. Find the passion now and let it show.

Regardless of what all this calm brilliance means or costs those who should not have to watch their words, I wish you congratulations Eugene Robinson, and I also have a sense of pride for this new country and world that is looking beyond color, or maybe within color, to see what is brilliant and best for us all.

Categories
Politics

NOW & Kennedy’s Endorsement of Obama

Ok, now I’m mad. NOW’s announcement today that Kennedy’s endorsement of Obama means he doesn’t support women is so outrageous that I’m compelled to take pen to paper and set the record straight.

Have women sunk so low that we have to attack those that do not support Hillary as anti-women? Can we not believe, truly believe, that Hillary is the best because her ability to lead and attack the terrifying issues of our time is the strongest among those running?

Must she be handicapped to win? And, if so, what does that say about us?

I remember my now ex (having nothing to do with this conversation) explained to me that after his investment banking firm spent millions to train a woman, she generally left before making partner to have a family after marrying one of the partners. I realized he was right; why should the company waste money training those that really don’t have the fire to be a partner simply because of their gender. Run the numbers. Bankers make decisions on numbers, not on the feminist issues of our time.

My daughter’s first horse show was the Hampton Classic where every youngster riding in the lead line division received a blue ribbon after the real blue ribbon was given out. I remember being disquieted thinking that she should not think because she showed up she deserved to win. Isn’t that part of the entitlement issue in this country?

Hillary must earn this nomination – if it is to be hers – because she is the candidate that we voted for over others based on how she handles herself; what she stands for, and the belief that she is best to lead us forward.

So far, I’m not impressed and will not support her. And, it has nothing to do with her gender. Are you NOW going to tell me I am not a supporter of women because I refuse to make this a gender issue and support Obama over a female?

Shame on you and any woman who votes for anything other than the person who she thinks could do the best job. And, if Hillary is elected because she’s a woman, we have set back our freedom much farther than those that seek to take away rights that are inalienably ours.

Please can we get back to issues and hope that she can run on those instead of her pant suit status?