Long Way from Shiloh

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Wed, 2012-11-07 03:23 -- John Batchelor
Wednesday, November 7, 2012


The 2012 election results point to unchanged in Washington.  A re-elected partisan Democrat for POTUS, a dominantly Democratic Senate that leans more left with the addition of Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin, and  the House more Republican, more conservative, more confident, all this adds up to a much more divided government than ever with no incentive to  compromise or even confer in order to raise money for the next election cycle.  The witty and tireless Zero Hedge writes that this is the Titanic, and we have just chosen the new captain and crew.  In the first 31 days of Fiscal 2013, we have added $200 billion in debt, on the way to the next $1 trillion.  Meanwhile, ten thousand people per day have started receiving mandatory entitlement payments.   Raising taxes does not move the story no matter how it is presented, because the rate will remain approximately 17.7% of GDP.  This is the scale of the "fiscal cliff" that is so much mentioned.  What is to be done?  Will Washington change course?  Nah.  The Unchanged Election is now the problem that will not be solved.  In POTUS Obama's victory speech, does this sound like a man ready for compromise: "And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together. Reducing our deficit. Reforming our tax code. Fixing our immigration system. Freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We’ve got more work to do."  This is a wonderful version of the exuberant captain carrying on to the passengers while the lookouts shout to no one in particular, "Ice!  Dead ahead!"

Shiloh Church

I began the Election Night broadcast with a tale from April 6, 1862, when Ulysses Grant rested his bad leg while seated under a tree in the pouring rain along the Tennessee River.  Grant's Union Army had been mauled that day by Johnston's Confederate divisions, and there was reason to give up and retreat.  When Grant's friend, General William T. Sherman, approached in sympathy, Grant said, "We'll lick 'em tomorrow."  What this story means to me is that 150 years later, we have succeeded as a nation thanks to the sacrifice and dare of the Americans who have shaped and preserved our democracy, such as Grant and Sherman, so that we can resolve our differences in the ballot box and not on the battlefield.    All those men and women of the Civil War, and all the struggles since, have purchased our Election Day for us, and we are lucky men and women to celebrate a new government without violence.  It is a long way from Shiloh Church, and there is far to go to a more perfect union.  What is to be done?  Remember how we got here, and who did it, is a start.