I suppose it is entirely coincidental that we Americans celebrate Thanksgiving so soon after election day. Or perhaps not. Perhaps some politician weary from the wars of campaigning thought, "Enough. It's time to regain perspective."

Thanksgiving done right forces us to at least think about how much we have -- no matter how little that may be in some cases -- and to set aside for some period of time -- again, no matter how little that might be in some cases -- the rancor of political battles.


It's getting harder and harder these days to tell the political players without a scorecard, as they say.

Back in the olden days, about a decade ago, it used to be that if you voted for a Democratic candidate, you were pretty well guaranteed to be voting for someone whose political ideology fell somewhere within the Democratic philosophy spectrum. The same was true if you voted for a Republican, or a Libertarian, or a Green Party candidate. You knew what these people stood for. It was an easy way to know if you wanted to vote for a candidate.


I have been watching with great interest, and more than a little nostalgia, the news coverage of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the event that finally captured the conscience of a nation in the ongoing battle to recognize that equality was more than just a word in our most historic documents.


There is a common saying among attorneys that "bad facts make bad law." What this means, in a nutshell, is that when appellate judges are swayed by a particular factual situation and change the law to accommodate those facts, they generally end up making a very bad law that fails to accommodate many other related factual situations, and creates a whole lot of problems for attorneys who are trying to interpret the law. One bad appellate decision can throw a whole bunch of people into a tailspin.


A couple weeks ago, I decided it was finally time to stop denying reality and cut down the dead plum tree in my front yard. It had been on its way out last fall, but I really liked that tree and I was hoping it would come back in the spring. Such was not to be the case, and I was left with a reasonably sized dead tree in my front yard.


I was not yet old enough to vote the first time I became involved in a political campaign. It was 1972, and at that time you couldn't vote until you turned 21 -- which meant I had a whole lot of years to go before I could get to the place I most wanted to be, the voting booth.

Fortunately for me and my limited patience, by the time I turned 18 the law had changed. It was a presidential election year, and as a freshman at Pitt I had a world of political activism right outside my window. It was heaven.


I planned to blog about politics and the upcoming election this week. I thought it might be helpful to provide a brief civics lesson about the two-party system in America, and warn about hysteria and paranoia running rampant in the streets of Bellevue. I planned to urge people to remain calm and think before going to the polls.

Then my life got rocked by an unforseen crisis or two, and my desire to be the voice of reason waned just a bit.


A friend and I joke during our conversations that we have to "change hats" in order to discuss different topics, because we are both involved in so many different things, and take on so many different roles.

That, of course, is true in most of our lives. We are at different times in the same day -- sometimes in the same conversation, as with my friend -- a parent and a child, a professional, a volunteer with several groups, a sibling, a friend, a neutral observer.


"These are the times that try men's souls"

When Thomas Paine wrote these words during the American Revolution, well over 200 years ago, I wonder if he had any inkling of how deeply they would resonate throughout the centuries? Did he have any idea that, perhaps, the worst was yet to come? That men would create bigger and better ways to torture each other?