Sunday, September 1, 2013

Foggy Sunday. September already. Sickly blueberry. Our contradictory view of the Presidency. Is the car culture dead?

It is foggy but cool.  And not expected to go above the mid 80s.  We turned off the air conditioning and look forward to a week without.  Welcome to September.  With the latest batch of tomatoes I have almost six pounds of stewed tomatoes in the freezer.  I will check things out in the gardens but I don't plan to pick anything.  That may change depending on what I find.  The hummingbirds and goldfinches are feeding frantically which makes us wonder what the winter will be like.  We have noted the changing leaves for about three weeks now.  It has been slow but will soon pick up speed.  In three weeks (by the autumnal equinox) my patio will be in shadow and I will be cleaning up and preparing the gardens for winter.  I hope my blueberry makes it.  It looks rather poorly right now.  I think the soil is way to alkaline for it.  I don't know if I can modify the soil enough and keep it at a low enough pH to grow blueberries.  We have very hard water here which is the equivalent of adding lime to the soil every time I water.  I have to research the problem.  I would love to water with rain water but collecting it would be a problem because we don't own our place.

Well, let's see what I find on the 'net worth commenting on.

The headline on is fascinating.  It asks if Obama's decision on Syria diminishes the Presidency and poses six related questions.  The questions aren't what fascinates me.  It is the underlying attitudes.  I have heard and read carping on the increasingly "imperial" presidency since Nixon.  But in all that time no one has commented on an inherent contradiction in the Constitutional role of the President.  We have seen it on occasion before as when Jefferson interpreted Presidential powers to allow him to purchase Louisiana without relying on Congressional powers to ratify treaties.  He simply didn't call the purchase a treaty.  Or when Andrew Jackson ignored the Supreme Court ruling that the Cherokee removal was unConstitutional daring the Court to enforce its decision.  We seem to want a President powerful enough to act forcefully on the international stage and, in fact, we glory in Presidential expressions of aggressive power.  But we don't think about what that means for our so-called democratic system.  As Presidents gather power into their role other parts of our delicately balanced system of institutional checks and balances lose power.  The results of a poll this week (sorry, I didn't keep the link) which showed that a majority of respondents wanted Obama to get Congressional approval while at the same time most of us have a very negative view of the Congress we want to pass judgment on the President's plans.  The Onion had a spoof that hits this contradiction very nicely. (Again, sorry, didn't keep the link.)  Their fictional poll revealed that most of us would rather have a charismatic dictator rather than an elected leader.  I wonder if anyone has thought to construct a poll on that theme.

Another interesting headline screams that Americans are driving less although the economy is rebounding.  My first response was: what economy is recovering?  The economy below the statistics doesn't seem to be improving all that much.  If you cherry pick the stats you can make a case either for an economy recovering or one on the verge of another dip.  But the story is much more interesting than just how the driving statistics are not following the economic statistics as they have in all previous recessions.  The author lists a number of intriguing reasons for the lag between driving miles and the economic statistics.  They indicate a possible cultural shift away from the automobile.  But I also note that the "fact" of an economic recovery is not questioned at all.

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