A Challenge to President Obama and the 114th United States Congress

Dear Elected Officials,

Election Day has come and gone, and regardless of the outcome, we exercised our right to vote. We took the time to express our opinion on the course of the country and hire those who we believe will lead us in the direction we want to go.

Well, to be fair, one-third of the eligible voters in the country did. Yes, it troubles me that so many in this country feel so disenfranchised, but this year’s numbers follow the trend of previous midterm election participation, so that’s not my focus.

I’m a political moderate who usually votes slightly left of center. I have voted in every Presidential election during which I have been eligible. I have participated in midterms when I wasn’t moving between states with the Navy. Most importantly, in my opinion, I have never voted a straight-party ticket.

That same mentality applied to the 111th Congress: I value honest and sincere discussion and debate between ideologies, and that was lacking with one party running two branches of government. Quite honestly, it had been lacking since the 2000 Presidential elections established a single-party supermajority for six years. I realize that they have been happening for a long time, but that was before the time that I could (or, frankly, was intelligent enough to) vote.

That said, since the 2010 midterms, I have been dismayed and frustrated by the state of our government. I’ve never been a fan of the TEA Party because I feel that their methods, in general, are too extreme. I believe that the polarizing attitude brought to bear on both sides since the 112th Congress was sworn in has done more harm than good.

Time and time again since the Republicans took control of the House in 2011, we’ve seen last minute deals to avoid fiscal emergencies, blocking of presidential nominations, and even a sixteen day shutdown of the government. We’ve also seen at least 33 attempts to repeal Obamacare, each of which has failed.

Ladies and gentlemen, I truly understand the public face of your discontent. I also have my reservations about how things have been done under this administration, but I also strongly feel that secret meetings to sabotage a presidency before it even begins betray the trust that the American people put in our legislators.

Since (at least) the 2008 Presidential elections, the polarizing attitude has been growing, and it spiked in the 2010 midterms. In the public sphere, there no longer appears to be room for ideological debate, as the people of this country have adopted the words of President George W. Bush in 2001 – “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” – as political gospel. There is no middle ground, and no room for compromise.

As a veteran, the son of a veteran, and the most recent in a long family tradition of proud American veterans, I’ve almost lost faith in the dream. I don’t believe that the leaders of the people, a talented group of men and women who were hired by the people to work for the people, have the interests of the people at heart. This doesn’t feel like the country I agreed to fight for and die for, and no single person – Democrat, Republican, or Independent – has failed that ideal.

Instead, all of them have.

Enough is enough.

As I see it, the 114th Congress has the potential to get a lot of work done. Holding the majority in the House and Senate allows the Republican Party to make great strides for important conservative measures, and having a Democrat in the Oval Office means that to pass those bills into law, you need to successfully sell them to the Democrats.

To that end, the President is the current face of the Democratic Party, and he needs to work with the Republicans to get the wheels turning. Additionally, we were promised the most transparent administration ever, so let’s do that. If something doesn’t pass muster, we the people deserve to know why exactly it doesn’t work, and what steps are being taken to find a mutually acceptable solution.

The legislative majority does not have the power to override a Presidential veto. Similarly, unless the Senate breaks out the infamous “Nuclear Option” – an act which I believe would highlight an inability to lead and work together – the majority faces the threat of filibuster and further gridlock. Work can get done, but it can’t be “my way or the highway.” The American people need you to be the leaders you promised us you could be.

Compromise is not a dirty word. Anywhere else than Washington, it is a well-developed method to achieve progress. As it stands, the United States needs to improve our poorly-aged transit and energy infrastructures, needs to find solutions to the rising incidents of gun violence, and needs to meaningfully address immigration, tax, and election reform. I also believe that we should be seriously investigating climate change.

In my opinion, job one on day one also needs to be the Federal budget. It’s been a major sticking point over the last six years, and now is the time to put your money where your mouth is. Prove to us that it can be done.

We’re asking you to do the jobs you were hired to do. I know that there is great potential in this Congress to show us that you work for the people. Not for interests and not for parties, but for the men and women who live, work, play, and die for the dream of the men who founded this nation.

No more symbolic gestures. No more votes in futility. No more partisan games. No more spin.

Help me to believe again. Help America to believe again.

Now, get to work.


Timestamp #21: The Daleks’ Master Plan

Doctor Who: The Daleks’ Master Plan
(12 episodes, s03e10-e21, 1965-1966)

Timestamp 021 The Daleks Master Plan

It’s a fantastic adventure with a lot of intriguing twists and turns that the Doctor and crew stumble into. It nicely capitalized on the thread started in Mission to the Unknown, even if it used the trope of missing an important message due to lack of attention. As a result, one special agent dies and the other almost does, and once again I issue the memo to the future to install annoying ringtones on the communication consoles. If in doubt, ask Nokia.

Meanwhile, Mavic Chen, the Guardian of the Solar System and unfortunate recipient of the yellowface treatment, sides with the Daleks over his own people after preaching about peace and harmony. Politicians never change, I suppose, however I did like how masterful he was in convincing his staff that otherwise faithful agents had betrayed the government.

I did like how Katarina, a girl from ancient Troy, was puzzled over modern medicine. Katarina’s motivations for remaining with the Doctor are unique: She believes that the Doctor is a god who can get her to heaven. It’s quite fitting, given the deus ex machina nature of the Doctor, and particularly chilling in the first-ever companion death in the series. It was an understandable move given how shallow Katarina’s character was, but I was just as shaken as the Doctor and I think it was because of the pure innocence Katarina embodied.

Actually stealing the key from the Doctor was an interesting way to keep TARDIS around, and while I appreciate the creativity in blocking the obvious solution to keeping our heroes out of trouble, I am growing a bit weary of it. The old switcheroo to get the Doctor into the meeting is creative, but how does no one notice the change in his gait or his feet?

I loved Sara Kingdom, a powerful take-charge female character, and her end was chilling as well. It’s a shame that the spin-off series that would have featured her never got off the ground. I also like the footprint effects for the invisible creature, which were impressive for a show of this era and budget.

The re-introduction of the Monk is a bit odd, and it seemed like filler to get the Daleks and Chen in position to chase the TARDIS. Luckily, the writers capitalized on the story point. He did have a suitable end, and as much as I want to see more of the Doctor’s people, I think I’m done with the Monk.

“The Feast of Steven” is an episode that should be excluded from this serial. It doesn’t add to the Dalek story, and the reconstruction doesn’t do it justice. I get what they were trying for since it was broadcast on Christmas Day, but it just doesn’t fit with the plot. On a minor note, the breaking of the fourth wall was a nice touch.

Also, Steven is still an idiot. Why, why, why(!), when he knows that there are Daleks around, would he call attention to himself by yelling for the Doctor? He’s ranking up there as my least favorite long-term companion.

A few minor notes: The cricket pitch scene was humorous, and reminded me of a similar scene in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; The Doctor’s magic ring is a little too convenient for my tastes; and the final episode is a perfect conclusion to this epic story.

To wrap it up, I finally get the Daleks I know as they betray their allies in their true xenophobic and genocidal fashion.

Rating: 4/5  “Would you care for a jelly baby?”


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve



The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.




An Update on the Timestamps Project

Reports of my surrender are greatly exaggerated. I haven’t given up, nor do I plan on it.

The Timestamps Project was delayed due to an unfortunate hard drive failure that eliminated about half of the content on my media server. Within that data the was consigned to the digital abyss was the Doctor Who collection.


Fear not, as the Timestamps Project will continue. Between efforts to recover the data (apparently, I would need to sell a kidney to afford it) and rebuilding the drives, along with busy season at work, I’ve had to take some time away from the adventures of the Doctor. But that ends tomorrow.

My review of The Dalek’s Master Plan is now in the publishing queue, I have watched The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve, and will lay eyes on The Ark in the near future. In the rebuilding phase, I have also picked up some backup drives for the server to delay Murphy from visiting again.

This TARDIS is back on track, and I apologize for leaving all of you waiting in the interim. I’m looking forward to getting back to it.

Stay tuned.