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The Starbuck's Round Table meets again
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          I wasn’t sure I could attend this meeting of the Starbuck’s Round Table group. I had made plans to wash and wax my car. The rains were over, the sun was out and shining every day now. Great days to care for my car, but the phone call from my good friend and fellow Round Table member, Dick, spurred my interest.
          “I think we should discuss what’s happening all over this country.”
          “What do you mean? What’s happening?”
          “You know, Senators quitting. Tea Parties forming, states going broke. We should be discussing these things. You gonna be there?
          “Okay, count me in. I’ll be there. I can wash my car tomorrow.”
           Dick and I got to Starbuck’s first. We pushed a couple of tables together outside in the Starbuck’s small patio area. Next to arrive were Helaine and Mary. We each ordered our drinks. Cafe Americano for Helaine, Mary had her usual Cappuccino, Dick, his straight, black coffee. I had my usual bland small decaf, loaded with Splenda and fat free cream.
          Within minutes Helen, Steve and Aimee ordered their drinks and joined us.
          As usual we sipped our drinks and discussed the weather, the empty stores in the mall and the wild-eyed drivers looking for parking spots.
          Also as usual, Dick was bursting to begin the conversation.
          “What the hell is going on in this country? I’ve never seen things this bad. The state of California is broke and getting broker. Eventually we’re going to get hit with a massive case of inflation. Our troubles started a long time ago, but everyone, including our past presidents just ignored what was happening.
          Steve, in his middle forties, black, a graduate of Harvard and a serious thinker, tried to appear calm. “I think there’s a big problem brewing in the country. People are fed up with fighting wars that are none of our business. The bailout of the big banks and investment houses bothered a lot of us. And now we have hundreds of thousands of Republicans and Independents forming this Tea Party.” Things are a-changing, folks.”
          Aimee, Asian, forty-six years old and pretty. Her family is rich. Her father is said to own half of Hong Kong. She sees the flaws in most arguments.
          “The problem starts with our presidents and then our country’s inability to rise above partisan politics. Our Senators and Representatives are trading their votes for appropriations for their constituents - as silly and as wasteful as they may be. Common sense is out the window. It’s all money and the pursuit of votes…oh, and exchanging votes for money. Our government no longer works.”
          Dick, slender and tall, recently celebrated his sixtieth birthday He took a long drink of his strong, black coffee and said, “Personally, I’m sick and tired of the bull crap that’s going on in Washington and Sacramento as well as in other states. I’m surprised at how long it takes Americans to get angry. This isn’t a problem that only a few smart people know about. All America is talking about the out-of-touch governments we have. The Democrats are spending trillions to get the country out of the doldrums and they will pay for this spending at the polls. The country will go Republican next election. Then the Democrats will be the obstructionists, as the Republicans are now.”
          Helaine, usually not the most vocal of the group, pushed her chair away from the table and said, “I’m fed up. I voted for McCain last election. I’ve always been a Republican. There was a time when there was an actual difference between the two parties. Now all the two parties want to do is beat the other party, regardless of the topic. All they want is to get re-elected. They’ll sell their souls to keep their jobs. And as far as the Republicans go, they abandoned their principles of tight budgets thirty years ago. The Republicans are now the “don’t tax” us party, but they spend just as much, if not more, than the Democrats. I’d just as soon get rid of the whole bunch of them and start over with new people.”
          Mary, by this time, was filled with thoughts of the decline of the nation. “Personally, I’m sick and tired of hearing about what a bad president Obama is. A year after he took office people are bitching that he hasn’t ended the recession yet. Don’t they know their history- that the Great Depression started in 1929 and didn’t end until the war started in 1945. That Depression went on for sixteen years. What the hell do people expect of the President? Look, I didn’t even vote for Obama, but I think the guy has been doing a pretty good job considering what he had to work with when he took over. Those jokers in Congress have to take a major portion of the blame. They’re a bunch of ‘do-nothings’ except for trying to get re-elected.”
          I could feel the Starbuck’s Round Table folks getting worked up. I added, “Ya know, there are now 320 million people in the United States. When our Constitution was written there were four million people in America. Could it be that our government just doesn’t work anymore? Maybe we need to make some changes, like Senators and Representatives can only serve for two years and that’s it. Maybe television and radio stations have to donate a certain amount of time equally to each candidate and we drastically reduce the amount of political donations each candidate can take. And maybe we have to get tough on these politicians. No gifts, no freebie travel perks, no bribes and everything they do is noted on the internet. A complete list of their votes and deals they’ve made. Break the rules and you have to give up your seat and all your benefits. It doesn’t work now, so why not change things?”
          Steve crumpled his empty paper cup in his strong left hand and tossed it into the nearby trash container. “There’s something going on in this country. This “Tea Party” is basically a Republican organization, but it has the same feel of radical groups from years past. The “Tea Party” represents the angry voices of all Americans. Tired of the stalemates and rhetoric in Washington. Tired of the blame. Tired of the partisanship that has fractured the very foundations of our country. The “Tea Party” may not be the answer, but it is sending a message to Democrats and Republicans. Let’s hope our politicians get the message.
          Dick, his passion elevated by the strong, black coffee, rose and said, “During the past few presidencies our Senators and Representatives have seemingly had one goal in their collective minds – to either defeat the opposition party or defeat whatever that party tries to accomplish. The enactment of good legislation has become of little importance. Defeating the opposition party seems to be the goal.”
          Aimee, smiled and turned towards Dick. “An important part of our United States is the freedom of speech that we enjoy, but I have to tell you, I’m sick and tired of hearing that everything that every Democrat does is ill-advised, socialistic and stupid. From President Obama to a lowly Representative serving his or her first term the far right takes aim and attempts to destroy them. People like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and their compatriots who resort to rude, uncivil, bludgeoning of liberals. Keith Olberman does it for the left side. Comity has been replaced by acrimonious, ill-tempered, bitter accusations. Could any listener to these men have a single shred of respect for our president? Can a nation survive when the populace is fed a daily diet of hatred and scorn?”
          Helen stood. “What worries me regarding the inability of our political parties to work together is the dangers we still face from our enemies abroad. We must unite our people so we can better be prepared to fight the terrorists. We spend so much time and energy insulting each other that we might lose our national pride and spirit.”
          Mary offered a brief bit of applause for Helen’s remarks. “I wonder what a Republican president would be doing differently that what President Obama is currently doing.”
          Dick, his cup of strong, black coffee gone, decided that it was time to draw the meeting of the Starbuck’s Round Table to a close. “Well, I think we’ve each reached the conclusion that our country is in trouble. What remains to be seen is will the American public demand change. Do we still have that spirit of the Revolution, of the Boston Tea Party? Are Americans fed up enough to do something to change America. Can all Americans, regardless of party, fight for what is good for all Americans. Time will tell.”