Posts tagged ‘politics’

Community Organizer vs. Leader

After watching Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech March 3, I’m feeling a little political. Feel to agree or disagree, but do not feel free to be angry in the comments. Convince us, don’t hit us over the head, all right?

This link has a transcript of his full speech.

Community Organizer                                                  vs.                                                                          Leader

Tells those around him what they need Listens to those around him to discover their needs
Writes off the opposition (or calls them names) Listens to opposing points of view to learn and improve his own ideas
Organizes the people around him Surrounds himself with smart, motivated people to sharpen and strengthen the country (or organization) and himself
If you disagree with him, you’re hateful in some way. If you disagree with him, he seeks to understand your point of view, in the interest of finding truth. You might even be friends.
Does what it takes to win, to get his point of view across Does what is right
Argues Discusses and persuades (again, in the interest of finding truth)
Sits at the head of the table Sits around the table
Manipulates Motivates
Goes for the win Works for a win-win
Works to gain political power Works to serve
Doesn’t negotiate—he’s right Negotiates when right and necessary

Word Nerd Wednesday: Govern. My Take on Election 2012

Benjamin Franklin.

Benjamin Franklin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that “except the Lord build the House, they labour in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this.   Benjamin Franklin

After all the disappointments of yesterday’s elections and the resulting fears, I needed the reminder of this quote from Benjamin Franklin. How very important it is to remember that God governs in our affairs, EVEN when we can’t see it, or don’t understand what He’s doing.

Govern came to us from the Latin (via Old French). Gubernare means “to direct, rule, guide, govern.”It was originally a Greek nautical term, meaning “to steer.” (Here’s a link to the Online Etymology Dictionary)

[BONUS: from Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary— (first definition of “govern”)

To direct and control, as the actions or conduct of men, either by established
laws or by arbitrary will; to regulate by authority; to keep within the limits
prescribed by law or sovereign will. Thus in free states, men are governed by
the constitution and laws; in despotic states, men are governed by the edicts or
commands of a monarch. Every man should govern well his own family.]

Christians have always believed that the Republicans and the Democrats do NOT direct, rule or guide our country. We have always believed that God directs, rules, and guides our country through the electoral and democratic processes—the same processes that still allow us to stand for right.

How will melting into puddles of fear and woe convince others of the truth of our faith?

How will melting into puddles of fear and woe allow us to continue to stand for right in an environment where it may become harder and harder to do so?

Instead, let’s busy ourselves teaching our sons and daughters to think Biblically and critically so they may become attorneys and judges, politicians and business leaders. Let’s teach our sons and daughters compassion and bravery so they may become doctors, nurses, police officers, soldiers—first responders. Let’s teach our sons and daughters love and intelligence so they may become teachers and ministers and missionaries. Let’s teach them to allow God to direct, rule, and guide their lives.

In fact, how is God steering your life? What is God calling you to do that will truly impact your community, and thus our country?

In other words, let’s get busy about living the Christian walk of faith that we profess.

But, then, shouldn’t we be doing that, regardless of who won the election?

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. Psalm 20:7

English: This is a photo copy of part of a wal...



P.S. While we’re at it, let’s start acting Biblically and pray for our country, and its leaders specifically and by name!

WORD NERD CHALLENGE OF THE WEEK: Check out the etymology of the word vote. I’d love to hear your thoughts. That’s what the comment section is for!

Word Nerd: Debate

How could today’s Word Nerd blog be about anything other than the word debate, after last night’s “fisticuffs” between presidential contenders President Obama and Governor Romney.

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary says the word debate comes to us from the Old French in the 14th Century, both as a verb and a noun. The 15th Century brought its usage as a formal dispute.

De- means “down, down from” and even “to the bottom, completely.”

Batter comes from batre, which comes from the Latin battuere, meaning “to beat, to strike.”

So a debate is all about beating down your opponent’s ideas.

Or striking down to the bottom of the issue at stake.

However you want to see it.

[My snap opinion after seeing the debate referred to as “fisticuffs”: Where are the fisticuffs? I enjoyed seeing some actual debate, rather than the usual joint-appearance-called-a-debate. I saw some vociferous speech and some disobedience to the time rules, but I saw no name-calling or even harsh words. Of course, I’m a former competitive debater, so maybe I’m skewed. Here’s an awesome video that explains why I feel this way. It’s short and well worth the view.]



WORD NERD CHALLENGE FOR THE WEEK: Find other words that come from battuere. I dare you!

An unscheduled political vent

“If you have a business, you didn’t build that.” Really, President Obama?

Of all the  things to say. To a crowd of business owners.

I’m hardly ashamed of my conservative politics, but I don’t generally get this mad and actually write about them.

(If you’re not in the loop yet, try this link to the Heritage Foundation)

It’s true that government  built electric lines, bridges, roads, public schools…

But it was Bill Gates and Steve Jobs who took us from room-sized computers to hand-held ones we “can’t live” without.

It was John Macarthur who built a Christian radio ministry and offers free MP3 downloads of his sermons to spread the gospel.

It was Henry Ford who figured out the concept of mass production.

It was Walt Disney who created movies and amusement parks for families.

So, the government provided teachers to teach employees (though private and home schools are doing more than their fair share). Government built roads and bridges so people could get to their jobs, strung electric lines and phone lines so we could use those computers we can’t live without. Sure. The government is how we work together to build our nation’s infrastructure.

So, what’s got me mad about President Obama’s statement? What’s left out of his government-benefits-everyone story President Obama was trying to weave?

and leadership.

This is what Walt Disney, Henry Ford, Bill Gates, John Macarthur and Steve Jobs had that the government doesn’t have.

Because business is much, much more than infrastructure.

On the other hand, I have a hunch that if the government hadn’t built infrastructure that they could use, those entrepreneurs would have built it. In many cases, they did build it.

Yep, they either had the vision to use the tools at their disposal, or to build their own.



Czars: Checks and Balances

A couple of weeks ago, I fussed/editorialized/blogged about having czars in our US government in a Word Nerd entry, here. Now, this week, up pops this article from the New York Times, Obama Takes on Congress over Policy Czar Positions.

The new Congressional budget does not include money to pay for czar positions overseeing several areas of policy. President Obama chooses to fight them on this, saying it’s limiting his ability to act as chief executive–never mind my feelings over the fact that the positions are either unfilled, and have been for awhile, or have already been closed down, yet the President is still fighting Congress on it.

Why is he fighting Congress over the budget to fill positions he apparently doesn’t even really want to fill?

As chief executive, the President has the right to appoint czars–never mind my feelings over the use of the word czar–over areas of policy that are important to him. Of course, Congress has the Constitutional responsibility to approve the budget including those czars’ pay.

Check, meet Balance.

It’s about power, plainly and simply: Our founders included a system of checks and balances to prevent the executive, judicial, or legislative branches of our government from gaining too much power over the others, and thus, over us.

The President has the right to make appointments in the executive branch. Congress checks that power by controlling the purse strings that pay those people, and by approving nominations. Check! 

Congress has the right to make legislation that we, as citizens, are bound to follow. the Supreme Court has the right to determine the Constitutionality of that legislation. Check!

The Supreme Court has the right to decide the Constitutionality of different issues before them. The President has the right to appoint those Justices. The Congress approves those appointments. Check! Check!

Even the Congress itself balances large states (which have an advantage in the House), and small states (which have an advantage in the Senate).

But we citizens have the biggest check of all.

It’s called the ballot box.


Weren’t the founders smart?



Word Nerd Wednesday: Budging Congress

Everyone else is talking about it, so I will, too…


Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about the failure of Congress last year to pass a budget for 2011. Barring a last-minute maneuver of some kind, the money that runs the government “runs out” this weekend. Things like passport offices, national parks, and other government services that rely on non-military federal employees will simply…shut down. The employees will be on furlough until Congress gets the budget passed.

Naturally, my inner Word Nerd became intrigued and I simply had to look it up in my Webster’s New World College Dictionary.

Budget comes from the Middle English bougette. From the spelling you can guess, correctly, that the Middle English got it from the French–the French bouge, meaning “leather bag.” It’s a diminutive of bouger, “to move”, which is what I guess is what you’re doing with money when you put it in a leather bag. The French ultimately took it from Latin bullire, "to boil."  Makes sense if you think about the tiny movements of water when it boils.

Speaking of that, bouger is where we also get our word budge, as in what you can’t do you when you have a 100-pound golden retriever at the end of the leash who refuses to go into the vet’s office.

But the most intersting thing about budget was the definition.

The first definition is a “bag, pouch, or purse or its contents,” but that’s obsolete. No wonder I’ve never heard it: “Grab your budget and let’s leave.” “Rats! I left my budget in the car.” Just not used today.

The second definition is “a collection of items; stock.” I’ve never heard anyone say, “I have a budget of three cans of beans in my pantry.” "How much flour in the budget?" Maybe storekeepers?

Finally, we get to the third definition of the word: “a plan or schedule adjusting expenses during a certain period to the estimated or fixed income for that period.” Ahhhh….a spending plan.  There we go. But it gets more interesting. Watch!

The New World Dictionary says its definitions are listed in historical order, and Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary confirms this history of the word:

“1. A bag; a little sack, with its contents. Hence, a stock or store; as a budget of inventions. 2. The papers respecting the finances of the British nation. To open the budget, to lay before a legislative body the papers of the Executive Government.”

See how the financial definition of the word in the 1828 dictionary was focused on government specifically, as though individual people and families didn’t have budgets? I wonder when it began to be used as a general term, not just a technical governmental term?

Webster’s 1828 definition of “budge” as a verb is fascinating, too. He says: “To move off; to stir; to wag. In America, wag is much used as equivalent to budge; but the use of both words is vulgar.” And he offers it as an adjective, saying it can mean “surly; stiff; formal,”  (hearkening back to its French origins from bouger). The way we use "budge" has certainly changed through the years. “He’s a budge old man,” would never be heard today; we would never say a dog was “budging” his tail, and we certainly wouldn’t call it vulgar if we did.

Absolutely fascinating how the English language took a French word meaning "to move" and ended up with a word meaning a spending plan, leaving behind several uses of the word in the process. This is why I’m a Word Nerd. I had a lot of fun learning these historical definitions.

Thanks, Dictionary People! Your fellow Word Nerds salute you!

WORD NERD CHALLENGE: Discover the definition of Congress for yourself, and be the first to post it on my comments, using the "please comment" button below the blog entry. Everyone who comments on my blog this week gets a freebie!

Tune in next week…I’m going to discuss “furlough,” another highly intriguing word, and I’ll return to the fictional Kanuk, Alaska for Short-Story Tuesday. See ya!


Word Nerd Wednesday: Democracies and Republics

After last week’s Word Nerd entry, I was inspired to look into the origin of the words we use to describe our form of government here in the good ole U.S. of A.

First, we call ourselves a “democracy.”

The “demo” part comes from the Greek demos, meaning “the people” (or “the common people”). It comes from the Indo-European root da, which has to with cutting, or dividing. I’m not sure how to think about that, except that democracy in Greek was done in city-states, or divisions of society. Only in America did we try to apply it to an entire nation. 

[Bonus—The English word “demon” comes from the same root. No wonder some of the founders were untrusting of allowing the common man the vote. I’d never put those two words together before. Thank God for Jefferson, who did trust the common man with the vote…though not the common woman…but that’s a different story.]

 The “cracy” part of democracy comes from the Greek root kratein/kratos, “rule/strength”, and we’ve turned into a combining form that means “government by” or “rule by.” We get our word “hard” from the same root, interestingly enough.

 So: Democracy: rule of the common people, government by the people.

 In his 1828 dictionary, Noah Webster gave this meaning for democracy: “Government by the people; a form of government, in which the supreme power is lodged in the hands of the people collectively, or in which the people exercise the powers of legislation. Such was the government of Athens.”

 In 1969, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language said this about democracy: “Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives…a social condition of equality and respect for the individual within the community.”

 In 2006, Webster’s New World College Dictionary gave this meaning: “Government in which the people hold the ruling power either directly or through elected representatives, rule by the ruled…majority rule…the principle of equality of rights, opportunity, and treatment, or the practice of this principle.”

 Notice how we’ve added “or through elected representatives” to the definition, along with giving the word sociological meanings about equality? Maybe Webster was just trying to keep things simple, but it’s an interesting notation, anyway.

 Next, we fashion ourselves a “republic.”

 This word comes from the Latin, res, “thing/affair,” and publica, “public.” I know a touch of Latin, so I’m going to editorialize here, and say publica is in the genitive, so “republic” means literally, “the thing is for the public.” The affairs of America are put before the public by way of our elected representatives.

                  [Of course, it’s not a shock that publica means “public”; it’s just that we get so many of our English words from Latin. 
                  But that’s another Word Nerd topic for another Word Nerd day.]

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary says “republic” means: “A commonwealth; a state in which the exercise of the sovereign power is lodged in representatives elected by the people. In modern usage, it differs from a democracy or democratic state, in which the people exercise the powers of sovereignty in person. Yet the democracies of Greece are often called republics.”

In 1969, American Heritage defines it this way: “Any political order that is not a monarchy…a constitutional form of government, especially a democratic one…”

In 2006, Webster’s New World says this: “a state or nation in which the supreme power rests in all the citizens entitled to vote (the electorate) and is exercised by representatives elected, directly or indirectly, by them and responsible to them…” (this is only one part of the first definition but, their 3rd definition is so interesting, I want to mention it: “a state or nation with a president as its titular head.”)

Any form of government that is not a monarchy? Any nation who calls her leader “president”? That’s like defining a Christian as “not a Jew.” Assuming that the dictionary makers only note the ways we are using the words, America is very confused about our form of government.

Let’s go back to basics by going back to the words themselves. Democracy worked in only limited parts of Greece because it’s literally rule of the people. You get too many people, you have too many rulers, and it just doesn’t work—it never would have worked in its pure form in America. That’s why our founders wisely kept America’s affairs in front of the public by having us elect representatives who are responsible, and hopefully responsive, to us.

Looks like Noah Webster got it the most right back in 1828.

WORD NERD CHALLENGE: How many other words from “demos” can you list? Send me your list via the “Please comment” button. Can’t wait!

By the way, if you’re interested in Noah Webster’s dictionary, really America’s first dictionary, check out,republic free online.