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“Nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people.”

On this day of our nation’s rockiest Presidential Inauguration, I turn my thoughts to John Adams.

“Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak; and that it is doing God’s service when it is violating all his laws.”

George Washington served as our first President for eight years, so popular he could have continued on forever, yet he established the precedent of two terms and a graceful hand-off to his Vice-President. Four years after the first Number Two became the second Number One, John Adams had a far more distasteful task: to turn over the reins of an office he fought for and desired to his bitterest opponent: Thomas Jefferson. …


September 10, 2020

Cambridge, MA

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A chilly drizzle sprinkles discomfort over our Black Lives Matter evening vigil. The number of people taking a knee since late May has shriveled to five. My meditation wanders from the horror of Officer Derek Chauvin’s knee pinching George Floyd’s neck to whether — or why — we should keep this going. Gone are the halcyon summer days with dozens of kneelers, a parade of encouraging car horns, accolades from people of color, spontaneous applause. Summer’s collective energy has morphed into quiet persistence. …


This is the letter I sent to my Representative and Senators regarding the Capitol insurrection on January 6. Feel free to use any or all portions with which you concur in reaching out to your own elected officials.

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January 10, 2020

Dear Senators Markey and Warren; Representative Clark,

What we allow, we enable.

We allowed domestic terrorists to storm our Capitol. We allowed them to disrupt a peaceful government process. We allowed them to enter, deface, and ransack out nation’s most prominent public symbol.

It is only dumb luck for us that they were so disorganized. They had no real plan. The next time we allow such a breach, the terrorists may not be so aimless. …


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A tall elderly man approaches the desk. Patrician in bearing, not a millimeter lost to the gravity of age.

“I’d like to find out how to get the vaccine.”

“Do you work at the hospital, sir?”

“No, but I’m seventy-five.”

“At this time, the hospital administers vaccines to health-care workers according to the governor’s priorities.”

“But I’d like to get one.”

“I suggest you review the guidelines to find your priority. Perhaps you can contact your physician.”

The gentleman gives me a look I’ve seen before, though usually from immigrants or non-English speakers, folks unfamiliar with American culture. A bafflement, an incomprehension of a world that mistreats him. He opens his mouth. I sense that he wants to protest, to argue, to have his way. But he can’t voice the injustice to me: another aging, albeit less distinguished looking, white guy. Besides, pubic displays of anger are likely not his style. The man turns and leaves. Withholding a polite, ‘thank you” is the extent of visible protest. But I feel his brain spin in disbelief. …


A Google Search for MacKenzie Scott yields the following headline:

MacKenzie Scott, Philanthropist and ex-wife of Jeff Bezos…

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Two years ago, those among the general public who knew MacKenzie Scott (I did not) described her as Jeff Bezos’ wife. Then, in July 2019, she got a whopping $38.5 Billion from Mr. Bezos (4% of Amazon stock) in their divorce and she became famous as his savvy and wealthy ex-wife. During 2020 she gave away over $4 Billion to various charities. So now, the adjective ‘philanthropist’ gets plopped in front of Ms. MacKenzie’s name before the less flattering ‘ex-wife.’ …


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2020! 364 days ago, I hoped this ocularly significant year would help the world see things straight. I was so, so wrong. Still, all was not lost. Consider this listicle of experiences that we never even considered, yet 2020 delivered.


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I’m not a fan of Christmas. But in our culture it is unavoidable. So too, I’m not a fan of religion. But again, in our culture it is unavoidable. So despite my secular psyche, even I ponder the Great Almighty at this dark time of year. Not as one of the faithful, mind you. More like an anthropologist observing a curious species — believers — from a detached distance.

The most obvious bifurcation of my sixty-five years on this earth is that I spent the first half living as a straight man and the second half living as a gay man. Yet more profound than flipping my terms of sexual identification, has been my journey into spiritual dissonance. As the devout third son in an Irish-Catholic family, I was groomed for the priesthood. …


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A band-aid is a beautiful thing: sterile pad ample enough to cover over a wound and protect it from infection until it heals. A tourniquet is entirely different. A rag, a shirtsleeve, a whatever’s available to put pressure between a torn arm or leg and a person’s torso. A stopgap measure to staunch bleeding. An acknowledgement that conditions are grave and medical support remote. A gamble to buy time until the body can be tended, even at the increased risk of losing the limb.

In the first of this three-part post, The Awkward Poser made the case that the United States deserves a new, proscriptive Constitution, and then proposed to warm-up that process by reinvigorating the amendment process. The second post described three amendments to champion as band-aids: the ERA, the 28th, and uniform Federal elections. Today, I take on the electoral extremity in need of a tourniquet in our beleaguered Untied States: the Electoral College. …


I recently made the over-the-moon suggestion that we reinvigorate the Constitution. First, by amending it. Eventually, by replacing it. This post offers three band-aids. Amendments past, present, and future, if you will. Each of which takes a step toward making our government more reflective of, and responsive to, the people it serves.

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Band-aid number One: Revise and pass the Equal Rights Amendment.

At this time, the ERA has actually been approved by the minimum required 38 states. However, the time restraint on achieving those passages has expired.


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Sunday December 6, 2020

Dear Anna,

I was baffled after our phone visit yesterday, and your detailed recount of Thanksgiving. I listened to what happened to you and your family: how you decided to celebrate in person together; all took COVID tests in your respective states and then flew from California or drove from DC and New York to Massachusetts. I heard the terror in your voice when your son received a late test result by email after you’d been together a few days. Positive. I followed the frenzy of everyone immediately separating and then fleeing on Thanksgiving eve to places of quarantine. …

About

Paul E. Fallon

Seeking balance in a world of opposing tension

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