Archive for the ‘ Essay ’ Category

On Poetry

On Poetry,
An Introduction to Eliza’s Fancy

Dearest Reader,

There was once a time in history when poetry filled so many vast and endless pages of books that one couldn’t step into a family library without the very ink singing in meter and stomping in beat. But those days have long faded, and the rhythm of the song-stories is no longer easy to distinguish, as our ears have grown accustomed to the crashing marches and brass pitches of the ever forward-moving novel. The average book talks, whispers, and occasionally gives a nearly unidentifiable yelp that startles you into confusion, but it rarely flutters its voice in sweet-spun melody. Even modern poetry has exchanged form for freedom, and thus lost that which made it poetry in the first place while still grasping pointlessly on to the word whose meaning it has rejected. Yet because both the novel and the modern poem can be done with such outstanding talent and gripping emotion, they have often brought with them a deriding sneer towards the very literature that paved the way for their rise. For the very first stories that shook the artistic world were poems, set to song, and accompanied with a tapping foot. And when one loses the ability to read music, it seems like a droll mess instead of the framework for a symphony.

It has been to many peoples surprise when I explain that the book herein is written with some semblance of meter, and that I try and use rhythm as a musician would use it. There are verses, choruses, bridges, introductions, codas, and every other structural support found in music both on the radio and in the concert hall. And while I make no assurance that such things are written particularly well or sung with a particularly smooth tone, they are nonetheless composed with a particularly meticulous plan: to make the poetry as natural as possible to a completely untrained reader.

It is my hope, and here is where all criticism of my form should rest, that the beat will flow as naturally as speech while still imparting that sense of structure. To those of you who have not touched poetry since you were forced to stand in class and recite a Shakespearean speech in a manner that would have saddened even Shakespeare, do not try and read this with any forced timing or dramatic bravado (ah, how the ill-trained have ruined the greatest of the Bard’s monologues with the dreary pseudo-beat taught in schools). Such an attempt will only make you lose your interest, as well as your place in the story. Instead, read it as you would a speech: pause where the sentences demand a pause, stress where the words want the stress, and inflect as the emotion imposes inflection.

Though it may take some small amount of practice, know that learning to read as you sing will open up an entirely new world itself filled with a thousand worlds. The greatest fictional works in history have all mixed the quick wit and sharp tongue of a storyteller with the practiced ability to use word-harmonies as they would a piano, striking melodic notes with rhyme and creating thick, heart-rending chords with structure. While I am the least of these, I hope my own simplicity of form will aid in training your mind to work with your ear in singing songs to your soul.

Author

P.S. The only time you may need to speak unnaturally is in the rare cases that -ed endings must be pronounced to maintain the beat. I avoid this as often as I can, but on occasion it becomes a necessary sacrifice to the tidal movement of the song. These will be written with a dash, as in ‘blame-ed’, and are to be pronounced with the -ed as an extra syllable (blame/id).

In The Hands of Fearful Men

Our country is now led by men who fear Death as they fear Poverty – a sinking, gut terror; this is not a child’s fear of the haunted house, nor the sailor’s fear of the unmapped sea. This is the guilty man standing before the jury. This is the frightened doe with the wolf snapping at her heels. This is the dread of the unavoidable.

Since the start of the last century, the creeping ideal named Communism has split the world asunder, often by splitting their skulls first. All of their electioneering, all of their politiking, all of their rabble-rousing done in an abject hatred of wealth; with grand words from golden tongues they denounced, detested, decimated the rich.

Yet beneath this righteous facade was a deep-seeded anxiety, a trembling notion that Poverty was the worse that the world could offer – that if some man smoked cigars while another smoked Salems, Fate was busy laughing. That if in some parlor in some city, a businesswoman drank bourbon while another drank Bud, God himself was waiting to exact Justice.

Envy is a sly fox – like oil sitting atop water it slips above Justice as if it belongs, as if it is but another layer to virtue. But where Envy and Justice mix, there lies Vengeance. And oh! how the man afraid of Poverty will bring his Vengeance down upon his fellow man – how the ringleaders of the masses will destroy the very foundations of society to put off for but a moment longer the day when he will look around him and see ashes, the hour that he will rise from his chair and notice nothing of worth beneath his dais. And how inevitable that day is.

Now, at the turn of a new century, we are once again in the hands of fearful men – men scared of Death to the point that they will sacrifice Life for a fleeting chance at Health. Their Envy now pollutes their Justice, blackening it like boiling tar in a dying sea, and their Fear overwhelms every sense of Right they once had.

For Death is a determined collector, and all men know this. To enslave ourselves to running from it is no better than to lie down and wait for its icy touch.

Still, now they slap on the healthy their shackles of Fear and Envy. They will drive us before them while shouting “For Justice! For Health! For the Children!” But one by one men will fall to their empty philosophy, their dark future that averts its eyes from the inevitable and hides amidst platitudes and purposeless gesture of goodwill. For where Liberty is attacked, Life is the first casualty.

Yet there are we who do not fear Death, as we do not fear Poverty. We no more Envy the rich than we Covet the healthy. For the Lord has beaten Death just as He dwelled in Poverty, and so we are in Awe of Him, and we tremble before Him, and not the childish worries of these cravenly men.

May we fear God as we do not fear Death.

The Flight of Meaning

There is an empty idea traipsing about in the political world today that seems to be accepted everywhere with nods of heads and polite claps, yet it seems to be like a hot air balloon, floating further and further from reality with every blast from the newspaper-fed furnace. On Christmas Eve it culminated with a ‘gift’ from our president, which is much like a robber stealing your nice winter coat and handing you back the hood ‘in the spirit of Christ.’ I feel less grateful, and more annoyed that the Spirit doesn’t get a say in the matter.

This idea began, as most ideas do, firmly planted on the ground in the days when ideas were allowed to do such a thing. Our forefathers called them ‘rights,’ and kept them squarely lined up and penned in, shoo-ing off unnecessary additions and otherwise being quite miserly and judicious in their use of the word. Like every child, we grew up and decided to spite our fathers, and now we have rights spilling from our noses and ears, and there may very will be more ‘rights’ than ‘wants’ left.

It is quite curious that, in the golden age of liberalism and revolution, the Rights of Man were grounded in ‘God and nature’. How ‘inalienable’ and ‘inherent’ they were, the basis of freedom and justice, spread out upon our hearts and planted in our minds, so that we knew who was slave and who was free. Ah, how that knowledge has gone, and now the Free-man is slave to the State, and the State slaves for the politician. For now, the word ‘right’ has spread its wings and taken flight from its meaning!

In a newspaper just the other day, I stumbled upon this: ‘Despite all the compromises, it has finally been possible to ensure something so fundamental, as the right of every American not to be financially shipwrecked when their health fails them.’ Here we see the flight of meaning – nonsense on the back of an eagle, a ‘tongue dropping Manna.’

Let us propose, for fancy’s sake, that it is a Right to be granted health care without means of payment. Now, let us suppose that this doctor wished to vacation – perhaps a week to rest his wearied body from providing all the patches and band-aids his poor hands could wrap up. But a crisis of sorts occurs, perhaps a mass golfing-accident, or an epidemic of broken noses, and the hospital is short a doctor. How far does this ‘right’ go? Is the doctor recalled from his vacation for the good of the state? If none of these men can pay, does he work for free? What if, in a strange occurrence, all the doctors were to disappear to, say, the Bahamas. What of our ‘right,’ now? Do we ship the sick to the warmer clime to follow them? Or maybe we take the Bahamas by force, so that we once again have a population of doctors ready to work for us?

If it is fundamental for every American to be provided for, who is to do the providing? Why, this doctor of course, and fie on his rights!

For this ‘fundamental right’ does nothing more than trample on the rights of other men. A ‘right’ that requires a service is no more than the imposition of slavery. We do not have the ‘right’ to blueberry pies on Tuesday nights, though I often desire one, and feel it would vastly benefit the humour of the population. We do not have the ‘right’ to whiskey on long days, though I often fume that Templeton cannot provide it, and curse their heartlessness for being short of it. And we do not have the ‘right’ to a doctor to care for us, though I may be sick as a dog and wheeling rapidly towards deaths door.

The Rights of Man are grounded, and once uprooted they wither and die. That God granted man Life does not mean he granted him Health, for to say that is to ignore the very fabric of life. That God granted man Liberty does not mean he granted him Housing, for to say that is to ignore the very world surrounding us. That God granted man the Pursuit of Happiness does not mean he granted him Happiness, for to say that is to ignore our own hearts.

Yet this is what is being spouted and applauded by our politicians and our journalists, absent of sense and absent of support. They pulled an idea out from the ground and let it fly to the air, telling us it is more beautiful brown and brittle than green and glossy. For ‘their thoughts are low; to vice industrious – to nobler deeds timorous and slothful; yet they please the ear’.

On Building Cribs for Men

An idea has been repeated often in the last few years, a thought that is true, but has managed to wind its long tentacles around the hearts of the learneds, and twist their wills for the worse. It is a curious realism in its base form, but has transformed into a sort of horrid pessimism, a black curtain that hides hope behind it, far away from the eyes of those who need it most.

This line of reasoning starts with a rather un-opposable foundation, that adults in our culture act like children, unable to choose what is best for them, and subject to fickle trends, so that in one moment they want a blue house, and the next moment a brown one, or on Monday they wish for soup to be served the rest of the week, and on Wednesday they are clamoring for stew.

Now, such an observation is indeed a grounded reality, the manifestations of which are far too numerable to point out. Suffice to say that, since Greek times, the grand circus that is Direct Democracy has had ample opportunity to flesh out the specifics.

Yet the insidious pessimist has snuck in and grabbed this observation, and decided to stick it in cement, declaring that since men act like children, we must treat them as such; that since these infants will choose to eat sugar instead of greens, we must ban the candy and force the carrot down their throat. The more childish the desires, the harsher we must come down. In a sense, it is a forfeit of democracy in exchange for the desire to coddle man-kind, a wish for mother-hood gone wild. In short, they wish to build cribs for men.

Given that the founding fathers rejected Direct Democracy for this reason, it is curious to me that their solution, Representative Democracy, is now being thrown to the sewers as if it is a hopeless dream. The toddler that is man, being apparently unfit to grow up, is now not even able to find an adult in a crowd of children to look up at. The given solution seems to be either let the government baby-sit us from cradle to grave, or to ban the uneducated from voting, for fear of their making a bad choice. The first of these options already being tried and failing all across Europe, I am seeing that the second is becoming as trendy as the first.

I’m unsure why the educated class seems so sure of their ability to govern well – little in their lives that I have witnessed makes me prone to accept their judgments any more than that of a poor man. As Alexander Hamilton said, ‘Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.’ All of the Ivy League politicians, and their Political Science Degree carrying associates, have done little to create any trust for a successful, benevolent educated aristocracy.

But at root, they have entirely missed the other possible solution for this problem – instead of taking a fact and wrapping it in depression, perhaps it is time to begin unraveling the perpetual infancy that mankind loves to slink into. By this, I mean treating men like men – dismantling the cradles and striking down the curfews, and should they burn their hand on the oven, or stay up too late and miss a test, or, dear me, elect a corrupt politician, instead of taking them by the hand and leading them to bed, force them to grow up or fall down.

It would be simple to write a story about a boy who was treated like an eight year old ‘til he was eighty – a sort of Peter Pan with no choice in the matter, forever forced to spend his life in a perpetual Neverland, only this time, Pan is the boy who couldn’t grow up. Instead of choosing between adult love and perpetual childhood, Wendy is kidnapped before he gets any naughty thoughts in his head, and Hook is the hero, trying to free the Lost Boys from their cradles. Such is the world modern man is shuttling towards – so let us be this new Captain Hook and break the cradles of mankind.

On Politicians Doing What They Do Best…

It has lately become all too apparent that politicians have only one useful skill – getting re-elected. Once they have clawed their way out of local obscurity and grasped onto the golden crown of incumbency, beating off the flies from the dead they abandoned in their wake, the ability to reason is quickly shoved into their pocket so that they can use any and all tools available to them in their quest for re-affirmation – and both past promises and personal conscience are the first casualties on the journey.

Today, we are blessed with the mask not just slipping from their faces, but it quickly being trampled and spit on by those involved, while they simultaneously pretend the mask never existed in the first place.

Arlen Specter, previously a so called Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, has switched from Elephant to Donkey in name, although he has always been an Elephantine Ass in form and spirit. This, unsurprisingly, was preceded by the news that his primary opponent for 2010, Pat Toomey, was dancing on his political career’s corpse, playing with skulls and claiming to own the grave site. ‘Where be his quiddities now?’

In reaction to the news that his career held only a spoonful of life, our honest Senator did the only sensible thing he could do – switched sides. Being far too important of a man to face his current constituents disappointment with his utter failure to listen to their pleas, and being entirely unqualified to live an honest mans life, he instead crossed the aisle into the land of infamy, all the while bleeding lies from his mouth.

‘In the course of the last several months … I have traveled the state and surveyed the sentiments of the Republican Party in Pennsylvania and public opinion polls, observed other public opinion polls and have found that the prospects for winning a Republican primary are bleak.’

Ah. Yes. So instead of returning to the work force you helped destroy, and joining the job market you pushed into the abyss, you instead have decided to sell out the men and women who elected you to do a job that you refused to perform, and vote against the very principles that you were sent to the Capital to defend.

For this is not about the Republican Party moving one way or the other – they have not changed their platform in any significant manner since you took to the spotlight thirty years ago. You were elected with the aid of Republican money, Republican time, Republican name-dropping – yet when have you ever returned the favor by voting on Republican principles?

No, Mr. Specter, the Republican party did not move to the right. In fact, you never moved to the middle, either. Instead, for the last thirty years you have bought and bamboozled your way to victory, and your underhanded dealings have finally come to bite you in your newly-minted Ass. The people who had voted for you have finally seen your scam, and want none of it.

Sadly, I have no doubt that, should the opportunity present itself, nearly every individual in those two houses of depravity would follow suit, and shed their skins, emerging a ‘more moderate’ snake, twice as venomous and half as honest.

It is sad, but I truly never expected such wanton pissing on the voters. But, as Ben Jonson said:

No, Silius, we are no good inginers.
We want their fine arts, and their thriving use
Should make us graced, or favour’d of the times:
We have no shift of faces, no cleft tongues,
No soft and glutinous bodies, that can stick,
Like snails on painted walls; or, on our breasts,
Creep up, to fall from that proud height, to which
We did by slavery, not by service climb.
We are no guilty men, and then no great;
We have no place in court, office In state,
That we can say, we owe unto our crimes:
We burn with no black secrets, which can make
Us dear to the pale authors; or live fear’d
Of their still waking jealousies, to raise
Ourselves a fortune, by subverting theirs.
We stand not in the lines, that do advance
To that so courted point.

We the People

History, it seems, is quite the sardonic teacher.

America is quickly approaching a precarious edge in ideology – in a country that once valued the individual as the center of society, we are concertedly moving towards a removal of man, and institutionalizing the community in its stead.

In the beginnings of Rome, there were kings of who traced their ancestry back to the founders of the city – men of great blood and lineage, the aristocracy of the city, lions among sheep. The eventual overthrow of this blood-lineage opened the history of the Republic of Rome, a period where, for the first time in their history, the commoners were given a voice in the government, called Tribunes. While the voice started small, and often hushed by their political elders, it eventually became a politically powerful seat from which great men could push reforms, and had the right to veto legislation in the over-powerful Roman Senate, who had replaced the monarchy of old with an aristocracy and oligarchy of new.

The Romans had, as we are doing today, separated the population into the patricians and the plebeians, the powerful and the common, often the rich and the poor. Representative from each grouping would defend the rights and serve the wants of their people, for the individual had no power, no voice of its own. The Tribunes were the voice of the people, the shield of the poor and downtrodden, the protector, guardian, Paladin, the Sword for the individuals who made the country run.

Yet, inevitably, the position of the Tribune became corrupt, and put down their shield, laid their swords at the feet of Power, of Money, of Aristocracy. They drowned out the voices of those they represented, and drowned themselves in wine, land, money – all at the expense of the sheep they had been chosen to shepherd.

A man named Gaius Gracchus, disgusted with the state of these fallen men, spoke an idea that resonates through time – Gaius stated that when the Tribunes went against the will of the people, they no longer represented the people. That when the voices of the individuals were no longer listened to, and the government ran on votes designed to solve the problems of crowds, the problems of communities, the problems of societies, but not the problems of men, that government was a sham.

Our constitution begins ‘We the people.’ Yet it does not mean the group, the community of people as a whole, the herd, the mass – no, the Founding Fathers mean ‘We, the people who, with single voices, do sing together as a chorus.’ Their writings cry out with the love of the individual, for the equality and freedom that they based the Constitution on. How often they warned of the need to protect the individuals, to protect equality as a bastion of liberty, and not to use the desire to be equal to level the forests so that none may stand tall.

How proper it seems, with their voices echoing emptily in valleys long abandoned, that we follow the footsteps of the Romans. Our Tribunes today, our Congressmen, our Senators, are not the Tribunes of old, the shepherds and shields set out to protect us one by one, but are like the fat leeches that drain the blood from the community, steal our money, our time, and our lives, all in the name of our Common Well Being. They group the people into rich and poor, white and black, man and woman, and take from one group to give to another. These devils will bleed the middle-class dry to give to the poor, forgetting that both are made of men, and that to attack one is to attack humanity. To steal from one community for any purpose is to tear down any semblance of respect for the individuals, and to shred the very basis of this once-great country.

For they, like the Roman Senate, protect only themselves. They will lie and steal and murder and bribe their way through history. They purchase the goodwill of the poor with bloodmoney, lifted from the sweat of working men and women with names, birthdays, children – they wave the flags of Socialism, willing to protect societies, and by that, destroy mankind.

Gaius Gracchus was assassinated for trying to give a voice back to the people – back to those whose labor ran his country he so loved. He worked, not to give a voice to a community, not to buy the love of a group, but to create a system whereby the individuals could once again not fear the strong-arm of the powerful.

This government, for the last many years, has gone against the will of the people all too often. They have lied and bribed their way into protection, and have refused to submit to the laws they pretend to uphold. They live off of our money, our time, our sweat, put our children into debt, and take away our futures from under us, all the while living removed from the pains of the world.

We the people are no longer protected, as individuals, from the government that We the people gave its power to. And it is time We the people sing out in chorus once again, with our voices as one, but made up of individuals, straining to be louder than our neighbor, but still working together so that the sound can finally pierce the ears of the Tribunes who have long since abandoned us.

On April 15th, the New American Tea Party will be on the West Side of the Capital, from 11AM-1PM. With no specific goals, no organized manifesto, no ring leaders pushing for a specific agenda, this meeting is to protest the shepherds abandoning their flocks, and nothing more. Come share your voice, and let the people once again assert that this government is given power by us, for us. Our will is ignored, and therefore this government represents us no longer.

On pots and kettles, elephants and asses

On the tail end of Obama’s speech last night, a wily reporter asked the brilliant President Obama a question concerning the difficulty of getting the dirty Republicans to vote for a bill that contained only rainbows and unicorns and debt, wondering if it was so hard to flip a few on such a ‘relatively easy’ bill, how nasty would they be in the future. Already the question was bordering on inanity, as if conservatives had heard that the bill was ‘spending tons of money and cutting people’s taxes,’ and therefore lined up to cast ‘no’ out of some unrelated desire to kill small, starving children in the streets. Silly elephants, don’t you know that you have to empty your pockets, burn your home, take a mortgage out on your oldest child, and drive your car (filled with all the electronics from your husk of a house) into a lake in order to get yourself out of a depression?

No, that wasn’t even the sweetest piece of this stupidity pie, amazingly enough. To such a lovingly crafted question, Obama rambled on and on, careening down the Roads of Non-answers, crashing through the Forest of Boring, blazing straight by the Fields of Straw Men, and finally cutting his way deep into the Jungle of Wishful Thinking. It was an epic journey; although as far as political answers go, it is unfortunately still amateurish. Most politicians would have at least refrained from repeating the same answer ten times in one press conference. Back to the point, somewhere in there, this gem came tumbling out of his mouth:

‘When it comes to how we approach the issue of fiscal responsibility, again, it’s a little hard for me to take criticism from folks, about this recovery package, after they presided over a doubling of the national debt. I’m not sure they have a lot of credibility when it comes to fiscal responsibility.’

…Ah. Yes. The pot is getting mad that the kettle has a point in saying that they are both waist high in black, charred shit. You heard him right – to the criticism that his plan will be burning through money like a frat house through a keg, he pointed out that a President he didn’t run against did only slightly better than he is currently doing at accounting. Thank you, Mr. Obama, now that you have reminded me your predecessor also mangled this issue, I suppose I need only high-five my neighbor and thank the heavens for the change that you have brought crashing into the White House.

It is reassuring to know that our President currently employs the same tactic the Elementary School children I work with use when they are caught red-handed. When one gets in trouble for fighting, the young boy points to his friend and claims they were hitting too, expecting my Sword of Justice can only be swung once, and hoping they can deflect it elsewhere by a well-timed tattle-tale. But time can’t be veered off with a pointed finger, and regardless of how cultishly-well liked the man is, Obama will be complicit in any failures of the future.

I suppose if you read the whole transcript of the press conference, the only solid plan Obama has is to continue running against George, as if Mr. Bush is going to be running against Obama in the Democratic primaries of 2012, so he had best get a jump start on bad mouthing him. Although if Obama keeps answering criticisms in this manner, Bush will probably have the upper hand, and we could see the man return with a (D) after his name. Lord knows they seem to have the exact same economic plan. But I won’t get my hopes up.

No, I think I will have to content myself with half-assed re-issues of the failures of Bush, an irony that will probably only be noted by us sad political nobodies who just want to be left alone in life, but are stuck with a wild elephant trying to be a mule, and a donkey playing like he is bigger than the tusked giant, and succeeding in only being an ass.

In case you think I am mis-characterizing the immense amount of imbecility bursting out of the exchange, I’ll take the pathetic pleasure of re-printing it here. If I were so inclined, I could map out Obama’s answer like a Family Circus cartoon and demonstrate the various stages of politic skullduggery employed.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. If it’s this hard to get more than a handful of Republican votes on what is relatively easy — spending tons of money and cutting people’s taxes — when you look down the road at health care and entitlement reform and energy reform, those are really tough choices. You’re going to be asking some people to get less, and some people to pay more.

What do you think you’re going to have to do to get more bipartisanship? Are you going to need a new legislative model, bringing in Republicans from the very beginning, getting more involved in the details yourself from the beginning, or using bipartisan commissions? What has this experience with the stimulus led you to think about when you think about these future challenges?

MR. OBAMA: Well, as I said before, Mara, I think that old habits are hard to break. And we’re coming off of an election and I think people want to sort of test the limits of what they can get. You know, there’s a lot of jockeying in this town and a lot of who’s up and who’s down and positioning for the next election. And what I’ve tried to suggest is that this is one of those times where we’ve got to put that kind of behavior aside, because the American people can’t afford it. The people in Elkhart can’t afford it. The single mom who’s trying to figure out how to keep her house can’t afford it.

And whether we’re Democrats or Republicans, surely there’s got to be some capacity for us to work together — not agree on everything, but at least set aside small differences to get things done.
Now, just in terms of the historic record here, the Republicans were brought in early and were consulted. And you’ll remember that when we initially introduced our framework, they were pleasantly surprised and complimentary about the tax cuts that were presented in that framework. Those tax cuts are still in there.

I mean, I suppose what I could have done is started off with no tax cuts, knowing that I was going to want some, and then let them take credit for all of them. And maybe that’s the lesson I learned. But there was consultation. There will continue to be consultation.

One thing that I think is important is to recognize that because all these — all these items that you listed are hard, that people have to break out of some of the ideological rigidity and gridlock that we’ve been carrying around for too long. And let me give you a prime example.

When it comes to how we approach the issue of fiscal responsibility, again, it’s a little hard for me to take criticism from folks, about this recovery package, after they presided over a doubling of the
national debt. I’m not sure they have a lot of credibility when it comes to fiscal responsibility.

Having said that, I think there are a lot of Republicans who are sincere in recognizing that unless we deal with entitlements in a serious way, the problems we have, with this year’s deficit and next year’s deficit, pale in comparison to what we’re going to be seeing 10 or 15 years or 20 years down the road.
Both Democrats and Republicans are going to have to think differently in order to come together and solve that problem.

I think there are areas like education, where some in my party have been too resistant to reform, and have argued only money makes a difference. And there have been others on the Republican side or the conservative side who said, no matter how much money you spend, nothing makes a difference, so let’s just blow up the public school systems. And — and I think that both sides are going to have to acknowledge we’re going to need more money for new science labs, to pay teachers more effectively. But we’re also going to need more reform, which means that we’ve got to train teachers more effectively; bad teachers need to be fired after being given the opportunity to train effectively; that we should experiment with things like charter schools that are innovating in the classroom; that we should have high standards.

So my whole goal over the next four years is to make sure that whatever arguments are persuasive and backed up by evidence and facts and proof, that they can work, that we are pulling people together around that kind of pragmatic agenda. And I think that there was an opportunity to do this with this recovery package because, as I said, although there are some politicians who are arguing that we don’t need a stimulus, there are very few economists who are making that argument. I mean, you’ve got economists who were advising John McCain, economists who were advisers to George Bush — one and two — all suggesting that we actually needed a serious recovery package.

And so when I hear people just saying we don’t need to do anything; this is a spending bill, not a stimulus bill, without acknowledging that by definition part of any stimulus package would include spending — that’s the point — then what I get a sense of is that there is some ideological blockage there that needs to be cleared up.

But I am the eternal optimist. I think that over time people respond to — to civility and rational argument. I think that’s what the people of Elkhart and people around America are looking for, and that’s what I’m — that’s the kind of leadership I’m going to try to provide.
All right?