Congress returns to work after Labor Day faced with economic (Tax Reform), political (the 60-vote rule), social (violence) and International (nuclear annihilation) upheavals that have left too many Americans battling one another rather than working together at every level to build a better, stronger, more productive an cohesive Republic.
However, a glimmer of hope has erupted in Texas where the outpouring of togetherness has "drowned" out the violence of white supremacists, the alt-right, the KKK and Antifa. Can this glimmer of hope in the midst of such devastation translate to our elected representatives to do their jobs for the "common good" by retrenchment of self-aggrandizement and partisanship? What has happened to the "lost art" of compromise?
We need but to look at the words of the 19th century French diplomat, Alexis de Tocqueville, who admired the resilience of our Republic: "The greatness of America lies not being more enlightened than any other nation, but in her ability to repair her faults." If we cannot repair our faults and work together as brothers and sisters we will, as Martin Luther King Jr. averred, "perish together as fools." What is missing and so rare today is the moral courage to complete the task.
Our Senate is controlled by the minority, as 60 votes are required to pass much-needed legislation. Eight Democrats control the Republican majority. Should the Democratic mantra of "resistance" persist, the Republicans will be forced to repeal the 60-vote rule. Such a tectonic shift in the democratic process would reduce the Senate to a state of savage torpor. It would recall the words of the Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa: "Stupidity has become the ruling value of post-modern life, and politics is one of its main victims."
Joseph Liss, Columbus
Can’t make it up
This just in from USA Today, Thursday, August 31:
“Texas Open-Carry Sword Law takes effect Friday.”
That was not a typo, as an open-carry measure, HB 1935, was passed, allowing carrying blades longer than 5-1/2 inches in most public places.
This would include Bowie knives (9.25 inches long by 1.5-2 inches wide ), daggers, dirks, stilettos, Poignards (20 1/2 inches long, needle sharp), swords, machetes and spears.
Crocodile Dundee would feel right at home.
There was some pushback due to a stabbing at UT-Austin by an attacker wielding a hunting knife. The compromise was to reword the definition from illegal knife to "location-restricted knife." Really?
Michael Wade, Ellerslie
I worked my summer job, when I was in college, for the Miami-Dade County Flood Control. We had a serious situation because of the Florida Everglades. Hurricanes would dump water in the Everglades and through a unique system of canals, creeks, a river and a large waterway with tributaries emptying into it, the excess water would drain out through Miami and into Biscayne Bay. I was impressed with the flood control team because they worked most every day seeing that waterways were dredged to prevent silt buildup that would slow the drainage of water, grass buildup around bridge pilings removed and ground elevations above sea level established throughout the county in order to tell where surface water will flow, based on the simple theory that water flows downhill.
It is the job of the local hydrologists to insure that, even with maximum rainfall, no highways, railroads or homes would be flooded. Florida is now dredging more canals through the southern tip of Florida just as an added precautionary measure. Houston seems to solve their water problem by concentrating on helping victims rather than constructing a permanent solution. This is not their first flooding.
Richard Tieken, Columbus
Costly, deadly habit
The tobacco plant (nicotiana tabacum) originated in the Americas. It was first introduced to France in 1559, and within a decade it spread throughout Europe. It wasn't until 1828 that chemists isolated the active (and addictive) ingredient nicotine.
The amount of nicotine in a cigarette is about 10 milligrams, but a cigar has 100 to 200 milligrams. Most of the nicotine in a cigarette goes up in smoke, with only one milligram inhaled by the smoker. People who chew tobacco absorb three to four times the amount of nicotine as do smokers.
Inhaled nicotine causes the brain to release the hormones dopamine and adrenaline within less than seven seconds. This is why nicotine is more addictive than alcohol, marijuana or cocaine. Although nicotine does not cause cancer, the tar in cigarettes does. However, nicotine suppresses the process of apoptosis that removes damaged cells that can become cancerous.
In America, about 17 percent of men and 13 percent of women smoke. The most likely to smoke are adults age 24 - 44. About 80% of smokers start the habit before the age of 18. Although it is not illegal for minors to smoke, it is illegal to sell tobacco products to them.
Cigarettes are one of the most traded items in the world, and one of the biggest industries. A carton of cigarettes costs about $50. Smoking a pack a day costs the smoker about $5.
Salman Elawad, Phenix City