Oh, Thank Goodness!

Thank Goodness, Thank Goodness the House approved a spending bill just before deadline. Could you imagine? How disastrous! I really did not want to have to start blogging daily again about it!

I know for certain I would not have been able to keep my tone civil. Up to this point, I have argued that somebody somewhere must provide a match light’s flare of reasoned discourse, and better yet if multiple people (dare I wish for “many” people?) strike a tone of civility. Some consider this a trifling exercise, but as the current modus operandi of unyielding non-compromise has proved unsuccessful, why not try a different tack?

Thank Goodness I don’t have to spend hours editing a post that, in a vain attempt to be “family-reader friendly,” would never be so. My anger would spill. It wouldn’t be pretty. And I doubt I would apologize for my curt and unceremonious missives.

At what point do I completely “lose it” and succumb to the very tactics I abhor? One of the most telling moments of my life came when I shouted at a mother carrying her child out of a line. This mother carried her young daughter past the hundreds and hundreds of us holding official purple tickets as we stood in a freezing tunnel in Washington, D.C. waiting to be let into the VIP section to witness the first inauguration of President Obama. The mood inside the “Purple Tunnel of Doom” changed as time passed, from joyful anticipation to a speculation that the sheer numbers of ticket holders could never proceed through the line and security in time, then to the stark realization that we were not going to get into the inauguration at all, and finally to a controlled but palpable near-panic that we would not be let out of the tunnel. I believe I was overcome by an initial sense of injustice. We had all waited so patiently, and here was this woman, leaving the line, just walking and pushing her way through the crowd, going on ahead of us. This was a wrongdoing.  And so I shouted at a mother carrying her daughter. It was only after this moment passed that I realized that this mother was securing her own, and her daughter’s safety.  I will forever remember my deep frustration, my anger, my fear for my own safety, and my almost immediate embarrassment, remorse and shame.  When pushed to the brink, I blew it.

Talk about your life lessons. This is not a surprising finding; there is often the threat of violence in large demonstrations. Reasoned and reasonable people, passionate over a cause, fervent, find themselves engaged in escalating arguments. Right now people are convening throughout the U.S. and abroad, raising their voices every night in response to Grand Jury findings related to the death of black men by the hands of police officers. Scary things can happen when people are angry. This country has a proud history, and this history includes stories where members of the highest political office engaged in debate that went beyond charged rhetoric. There was a wild floor brawl in the House that progressed from insults to blows to general melee.  I’m not talking about the House and Senate now, this happened in 1858.* And this continues to happen around the globe today.

I had figured the Congress would strike a budget deal. Everybody seemed to be fairly certain of it. But the fact that our elected leaders waited so long, with what appears to me, anyway, to be a “thumb your nose” attitude, once again not seeming to care that peoples’ lives are on the line, that our country’s image is reaching new lows, and that folks are getting sick and tired of business as usual, is disturbing. So knowing that I once yelled at a mother holding a child while she tried to escape a tense and dangerous situation, I’m not sure I can keep my goal of “showing the leaders how it’s done” in line.

I’m not condoning violence – far from it. I was scared in that Purple Tunnel of Doom. But I don’t know how to “attack” this situation. I’m getting really tired of business as usual. My efforts to model proper behavior to legislators might be a useless exercise. My pen may have to drop the “Miss Manners” approach. The question is, how do I ensure that I don’t sink to lows that rival elected legislators’ tactics?

* U.S. House of Representatives: History, Art, & Archives

http://history.house.gov/Historical-Highlights/1851-1900/The-most-infamous-floor-brawl-in-the-history-of-the-U-S–House-of-Representatives/

Kathy Galgano

December 12, 2014

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Something We Can All Agree On – (Please, read to the end)

Dear Democratic Leader Pelosi:

I write to you here because as I do not live in your Congressional district,  my attempt to email you failed.

Congratulations on your election to remain the House Democratic leader.

Having said this, please know that I am removing myself from this email list, sadly. I am personally surprised at my fatigue in all things politics, especially now, after this month’s mid-term elections, when my Party’s numbers in Congressional representation have been reduced so significantly. And while I want and need to stay informed, I feel that there is a constant free-for-all in the emails that are sent to me. I am done with the emails that sensationalize everything, that always request a contribution, and that appear to divide the gap between the two parties even further.  

I received the news that you have been re-elected as House Democratic leader, and was asked for a contribution. I am always asked for a contribution, no matter what the news. I appreciate your hard work and tenacity, but, (and yes, there is a “but” here) must all emails include a request for money? Perhaps an announcement, and a call to rally would have been sufficient, and not tipped me over the edge. I am unsubscribing to these emails.

Here’s why I am tired — through this constant barrage of emails, the appearance is that elected representatives from both houses cannot do their jobs without airing dirty laundry, without constantly asking for money, without inane and sensational “Subject” lines that are at best humorous, and at worst, infantile and embarrassing. I am tired of reading multiple times a day that all is lost. I am also tired at the lack of respect for the offices of representing citizens; that respect has been whittled away by infighting, and also by these so-called “chummy” emails. Remember, citizens get these emails multiple times a day. Representing the people of the United States is serious business, and the behavior of elected officials as portrayed in these missives is unprofessional. This goes not only for the legislative branch, but also for the executive branch. Compound this constant campaign of ridiculous emails with the work that is not getting done in the beautiful and historic chambers in the Capitol building, and one might begin to understand why voters, well, I can only speak for myself here, why I am tired of the way business is being done today,

While something deep inside me knows that money is needed and campaign reform laws are paramount, I have been worn down to the point that I can no longer spend energy every day sorting through these missives, reading accounts of how the political parties continue to fight and how nothing is getting done, and then cringing as I am asked for and yet another contribution. 

Again, I sincerely congratulate you, Congresswoman Pelosi, and I wish you all the very best. I appreciate your hard work and tenacity and service. I also hope that a sense of decorum can be re-established, that people can see that the Congress is willing no longer to use the citizenry to jump in and take sides as if this were a big sporting match where we shout each other down. I fear that we have become a laughing stock. I look forward to a day when, while entrenched in vehement disagreement, there will be some respect for each other and for the electorate.

As you prepare for a new Congress, my thoughts are with you as you attempt to negotiate policy in a profound climate of non-partisanship, and urge you to take a new tack. I also urge your party members to do the same. Who knows? Perhaps this is something to which both sides can agree.

Respectfully,

Kathleen M. Galgano

Wanna Help the Government? Buy a Cheeseburger. Day Five of Shutdown

Buckle your seat belts, kids. We’re in for a long ride.

The House just passed a bill that would give the 800,000 furloughed government workers back pay. Did you hear that collective sigh of relief?

There’s another side to this, though. Both Republicans and Democrats have just dug their heels in the muck a little deeper. They are in no hurry to let tourists into the Capitol Building, or call their staffs back to work so they can read my emails, or reopen the parks so brides and grooms can have their dream weddings, or reschedule blood drives at government offices, or reopen the dorm at the NASA Ames Research Facility so fifty brilliant interns have a place to sleep. They are in no hurry.

One sage government worker describes it this way. Both parties are taking the heat for the shutdown. Think of it as a lidded pot under pressure, and to keep the lid from blowing, they let off some steam and pass a bill offering back pay to employees. If the House members voted against giving back pay, they would have said to the nation and the world that they are benefiting from the shutdown. They can’t do that, so they are blunting some of the anger coming their way.

What’s going to end this shutdown? Public opinion. I’m keeping up my personal barrage with my daily blog postings and emails to Congress and the White House, plus my requests for readers to participate, but I admit, that’s not going to do it. How about if Wall Street investors take a 10% hit, will the government reopen fully then? Sure. But that better not happen. Will the government fully reopen if our Wall Street investors state with one voice that this current practice is bad for business? Probably. How do we get the Fortune 500 crowd to do this? I’m working on it. Let me know if you figure something out.

In the meantime, I’m thinking about driving to Groveland, the home base of the Rim Fire still not fully contained in and around Yosemite National Park. The Iron Door Saloon makes great burgers and sweet potato fries; it’s purported to be California’s oldest operating saloon, and we usually stop there on a drive to Yosemite. If you sit in the bar you’ll see all these dollar bills tacked to the ceiling. It’s a great place. The businesses in Groveland are suffering because Route 120 was shut down due to the fire, and then there’s the smoke. This blaze began on August 17 and it’s supposed to be contained by tomorrow, but the containment date has already slipped. The wildfire is massive; four hundred and two square miles have burnt. Local news reports that businesses are laying off workers in Groveland, and many owners fear they will have to shut their doors for good. The road is open, but with Yosemite closed, things look bad. 

I’m really happy the House has passed this bill; I know people who have been sweating finding rent money. But it’s not going to help the town of Groveland and all the other Gold Rush towns in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada range losing business every day because Yosemite is closed.

Keep up the pressure. I’m ordering a cheeseburger.

Kathy Galgano

October 5, 2013