Tuesday, December 23, 2008

BLESSINGS TO COUNT

It is difficult to believe that Christmas is two days away, and the New Year is just around the corner. I guess the expression “TIME PASSES QUICKLY WHEN YOU ARE HAVING FUN” is very accurate. To say that LIFE IS GOOD is an understatement.

As each year passes I know that I will have fewer holiday seasons to enjoy but, God willing, I intend to appreciate a number more. Life on this wondrous planet Earth is a unique privilege that we all too often take for granted.

My dear Father has been gone for thirty-two years just short of his 83rd birthday and my Mother passed nearly 11 years ago at age 94, and I can tell you that I miss them more with each passing year. Frequently I find myself talking with them in my mind when I need advice, because I know now that their council was always very sound.

I remember that when the holiday seasons approached Dad seemed to go into a blue funk. It took me several years to understand that shortly after I was born he was the very last living part of his family, and had no remaining “first” family. I now know how much he missed his father, mother and sister, and that was the reason behind his mood swing.

Fortunately, I do not have the same problem facing me, because I am blessed with a loving wife, two wonderful children, and three living grandchildren. The holidays will be forever sad, because we lost our oldest grandchild when he was only 24 years old, and his passing came just three years ago at Christmas time. Rob was a unique child, and he is now at peace after suffering with severe illness most of his life. Some days I sit in my study and talk to his picture too, and I am not ashamed to admit that to you.

Our great country is currently going through a very difficult economic period, but I remain confident that we will get back on track soon. This is a time for all Americans to appreciate the many blessing we have here in the United States. One only has to look at the different situations confronting citizens in underdeveloped countries. I have been honored to have traveled to many places in this world, and I can assure you that there is no place on earth that has the quality of life that is found right here in our own backyard.

This is a time for all the peoples of the world to join hands, and work objectively to solve the deficiencies that confront our collective future. As the year comes to a close it is a good time to re-read the founding documents of our country, such as the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence. Following the words of our Founding Fathers will serve us well. They got it right and we must be vigilant to see that we do not stray away from our Founder’s abiding principals.

May GOD BLESS AMERICA, and may he guide us to learn how all peoples of the world can live peacefully together. Life on this gorgeous planet is too unique or valuable to waste. What ever your religion be, may I wish you a joyful holiday season, and for me may it is Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. As Tiny Tim might say, “God bless us everyone.

COMMANDER GRANGER

Friday, December 19, 2008

CHICAGO CLOUT FACTORY

Having lived in Chicago for over fifty years, I can still remember the smell of the Chicago Union Stockyards. As a boy who grew up in Chicago, I am quite familiar with noted author Carl Sandburg’s references to the Chicago as THE CITY WITH BROAD SHOULDERS and THE HOG BUTCHER OF THE WORLD. Most memorable, however is the cloud that has darkened Chicago politics for longer than I can remember.

My first home in Chicago was on North Pine Grove Avenue near the famous Lincoln Park totem pole, then north to the Western Avenue/ Peterson Avenue neighborhood, then way south to Avalon Park, back north to suburban Lincolnwood, downtown to the Outer Drive East Apartments, and finally back north to Rogers Park. Having moved to different parts of the City, I was exposed to different political factions and influences. Throughout my experience clout always counted, and was exercised daily.

I still remember as a new resident of Lincolnwood being quickly called upon by the local Democratic Precinct Captain. He wanted to know if I was a registered Democratic, and I told him that I was not. The Precinct Captain told me that it would be of substantial benefit if I registered as a Democrat, because he had the muscle to impact my Property Tax, since he was the Tax Assessor. What would you have done?

Most Chicago residents kept a ten or twenty dollar bill paper clipped to their driver’s license, and tickets were frequently avoided without discussion or negotiation.

Living on the South Side of Chicago the prevailing wind was from either the northwest or the southeast. When it came from the northwest the stench of the Union Stock Yards prevailed, and when it was from the southeast the aroma of the huge City dump on South Doty Avenue dominated. As a citizen of Chicago I learned just what sensatory adaptation meant. People in the City accepted the stench of both the air and their political leadership as a way of life or survival.
Neither was pleasant, but no one ever felt they could do anything about it, so sadly no one ever put up a fight to correct either problem.

The dominance of the all powerful Democratic Machine in Chicago goes back decades. It has deep roots with the early immigrant Irish, but it consists of several ethic groups such as the Polish, Germans, African Americans, Hispanics, Italians, Slavic, and Jewish in various ethnic enclaves around the City. The Machine has long thrived with very close ties to organized labor unions. There are two very good books about the earlier days of political influence in Chicago. Check out “Clout: Mayor Daley and His City” by Len O’Connor, and “We Don’t Want Nobody Nobody Sent” by Milton Rakove.

While the Daley Machine has ruled for decades they are only part of the story. I remember clearly the day Mayor Richard J. Daley died in the office of his doctor, and the city came to a total and stunning stop. Some citizens thought that was the end of life in Chicago without their beloved Mayor Daley. Today one of his sons rules with a strong, behind the scenes velvet hammer. The Daley Machine is well entrenched, but I suggest you read Kenneth R. Timmerman’s revealing book “Shakedown”, which is an eye-opener about the antics of the influential Reverend Jesse Jackson. Did you know that he never completed his formal studies in Theology? After reading the book, I asked myself why no law enforcement official has ever taken any legal action against the Reverend Jackson. Political clout and the fear of arousing racial tensions thrive in Chicago. Politicians have successfully been playing one ethnic group against another for years.

I have never understood why the African American community has so strongly supported the Chicago Political Machine, because they have gotten little or nothing for their loyalty. One point of view indicates that the Machine permits the Black constituency in on a cut of the action, and that keeps them under their thumb.

The Chicago Tribune ran a poll of its readers on December 13th asking the question “Do you think Illinois politics can ever be clean?” The results were:

Yes 21.9%
No 78.1%

While that is not a scientific piece of research, I find it very interesting that the citizens of the city have little faith and it seems no desire to clean up corruption anytime soon.

The Blagojevich scandal will not go away quickly. There is the familiar Chicago stench swarming around this situation, and it has the potential to take down a lot of high ranking individuals. I pray that I am wrong when I say that President-elect Barack Obama has much to fear. I see no way for him to not be negatively influenced by this Blagojevich scandal. When he takes the Presidential Oath of Office, President Obama will not receive the normal period of grace that newly elected Presidents are granted. The main stream media that so overtly supported Obama now smells a good story, and he must divert his attention to getting this scandal settled and/or his administration cleared.

With so many vital issues confronting the new administration and our nation, it is tragic that a diversion of attention from vitally important issues is already taking so much of Obama’s time. Experience has taught me to be very suspicious when so many questionable characters converge around one individual. Just consider the well established close relationships or questionable dealings between President-Elect Barack Obama, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers, Tony Rezko, Reverend Michael Pflagger, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr, Mayor Richard M. Daley, Congressman Rham Emanuel, Advisor David Axelrod, the labor unions, Alderman Dick Mell, Patti Mell Blagojevich, and Governor Rod Blagojevich. Everyone on this list is from or deeply associated with the Chicago political machine, which I call the Chicago Clout Factory.

Remember Illinois is a state that convicted three Governors, and they were sentenced to prison. Governor Otto Kerner, Dan Walker, and George Ryan all were guilty of corruption, and now there is a fourth accused, Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Our President-Elect has already made a huge public relations blunder in not getting out in front of the Blagojevich scandal. He should have addressed it immediately, firmly, and with total transparency. Instead Obama has stalled for time to consider his options. Why has Rham Emanuel been hiding? Now it has been disclosed that Emanuel did have numerous contacts with the Governor on the Senate seat succession, but that should have been stated immediately not days later. Doesn’t it disturb you that Campaign Manager David Axelrod said Obama had talked with the Governor about his replacement, and later claimed he misspoke? I hope I am wrong, but there is suspicious involvement here, and Obama is starting his “administration of change” on a very cloudy footing.

This scandal stinks to high heaven with deepening roots, and the man who promised CHANGE is delivering less than clear answers. The early record of the next administration does not represent the CHANGE the electorate was promised. America deserves honest answers, and definitive transparent action to get us back on the President-Elect’s promised proper course. Remember, Chicago politicians have a long history of eating their young. The aroma of Chicago politics lingers, and it will not clear until all the interwoven facts are exposed.

COMMANDER GRANGER

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

GET A BIGGER TURKEY

As the Holiday Season draws near our supermarkets have an abundance of turkeys ready for sale. Yearly I love to position myself near the turkey display cases, and listen to the ladies debate, handle, caress, inspect, and analyze the selection of their festive bird.

Normally, I get to participate in this event at least twice each year, first just before Thanksgiving and again near Christmas. Surprisingly my dear wife is becoming increasingly concerned that my actions will be misunderstood. I wonder why? Hell at my advanced age I am no longer a threat or danger to a flea. Here is a summary of my modus operandi.

As I said, ladies take a considerable amount of time selecting their turkey and I usually hover nearby observing their period of scrutiny. Once they select a bird, I step forward and politely ask the lady if the turkey they selected is really big enough. I have said; “Excuse me madam, do you like leftovers? Don’t you think you may need a little larger turkey, because you surely do not want to run short?

It is amazing to see the immediate reaction of the ladies, because they almost always agree with my suggestion that a larger bird is the prudent course of action. I would say that about 80% of these lovely ladies replace their original selection with a much larger turkey. No one ever gets mad or questions my actions, and everyone leaves smiling with a nice holiday glow. Thus far no one has whacked your Commander with a purse.

The 20% who keep their original selection do frequently give me a strange look and move off quickly. I just consider them to be anti-social, cheap, old blue haired beaters. Obviously they do not have the holiday spirit.

Once the manager of the meat department observed by actions, and offered me a job during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. I politely declined, and suggested that I love my retirement, but do enjoy bringing a smile to the faces of the holiday shoppers.

When you select your turkey this year please make sure that you get one that is big enough to have those delicious leftovers. Additionally your selection of a bigger bird will be a nice little boost for the lousy economy.

COMMANDER GRANGER

Monday, December 15, 2008

WHAT IS HAPPENING TO OUR U.S.A.?

Are you as concerned as I am about what is happening to our United States of America during this lame duck period waiting for the next Administration to take the reins of power?

First it was the financial institutions, then the mortgage houses, next our largest banks, and now the Big Three automobile manufacturers getting huge infusions of printed taxpayer dollars into their accounts. Little or no oversight was attached to the bail outs, until the media finally brought the ire of the taxpayers to the attention of the all knowing, all powerful politicians sitting on their thrones in Washington. As I write this commentary there appears to be Congressional agreement on some sketchy terms to the automobile company grants, and now the Senate denied passage of the proposed bill. Apparently the White House will now bring forward a proposal that will temporarily save the auto industry from bankruptcy.

There are plenty of places to point fingers for determining the source of our financial chaos, and there is little or no indication that anyone will be held responsible, let alone be brought before the Halls of Justice. Don’t you find it amazing that our elected leaders again are pointing fingers in every direction, but at themselves when they had the oversight responsibility in the first place?

Where was the oversight that is the responsibility of both Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), and Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA), as well of every member of their Committees? Additionally, where was the Bush Administration’s oversight?

Late in the night when I am trying to go to sleep, I keep thinking about this entire mess, and I just want to puke. Don’t you? How long will it take for the individuals who elected these incompetent legislators to wake up and initiate the appropriate action by voting these enablers out of office?

I see this country sliding down a very slippery slope toward socialism. We are daily nationalizing our major businesses by the government throwing out vast sums of money, taking substantial stock positions, and now dictating the way the business is to operate on a daily basis. Tragically, our government has a very poor track record running its basic business. What is the difference from what we are currently doing to American business than what has been done for years in China and Russia? Once the government is into the pocketbook of business when will they ever get themselves out? Once a tax has been imposed just how many do you recall being rescinded?

The same government that is telling American business how to operate helped create this economic mess, created the massive deficit, robbed the social security trust fund, and is riddled with unethical, cheating members.

Many of our political elite have sold their souls to the union movement, and thus cannot take the appropriate action to address the automotive companies root problem, namely excessive labor compensation obligations. Until that issue is resolved the Big Three auto companies will fail, because they are not competitive. It seems our government is proposing a stop gap resolution that is doomed to ultimate failure because it does not resolve the root problem.

I do not like the idea of bankruptcy for one minute. It is against my core values, but it may be the only answer if we want an American auto industry. Maybe a federally regulated hybrid type of bankruptcy as proposed by Senator Corker (R-TN) would be more palatable. I suspect that the current Congress and the Bush Administration are trying to provide a temporary funding bill that will put the problem into the hands of the next Administration, which is definitely beholding to the Unions that were major supporters. The new administration will support the Union Check-off Bill, and then the Unions will be paid off for their campaign contributions. This is not sad; it is disgusting because it is only in the interest of a select group, not the nation’s best interest.

The massive amounts of money floating into, and out of government are destroying our country. Just look at what has now been disclosed about the Governor of Illinois. I lived in Illinois most of my life, and I am certain that this story has long legs, and tentacles that will be far reaching. Only time will tell, but I can assure you that nothing will improve until the electorate takes some logical and objective action that demands ethical conduct by all our elected officials.

You and I are the responsible individuals that permitted this rotten situation to fester and persist. We cannot clean this situation up immediately, but over a few years we can root out the true sources of criminal political conduct.

COMMANDER GRANGER

Friday, December 12, 2008

BUSINESS, BANKS, UNIONS, & POLITICIANS

Just prior to the bombshell arrest of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, the big story out of Chicago was the sudden closure of Republic Window and Door Company and its failure to pay proper employment separation funds.

Your Commander has been following this story closely from the beginning, and I have many questions surrounding this situation. It is my opinion that the press has failed again to report the full story, and instead went directly for the sensational aspects to generate maximum readership or ratings for their radio or televisions stations and networks. In lock step with the media, the politicians jumped on the bandwagon to maximize their media/publicity exposure, too.

The first unaddressed question is why did Republic Window and Door Company close their doors so suddenly? Apparently the company was in financial difficulties, and this caused their bank to not extend a further line of credit. That situation has not been addressed in any of the media reports that I have seen.

Not one reporter has talked with Bank of America to ascertain their side of the story, and equally vital to the authenticity of the reporting is the lack of any information emanating from the ownership or leadership of Republic Window and Door Company.

Clearly Republic violated the law in closing the business without notifying its employees of the plan sixty days in advance. Additionally, the Company further violated its contract with the Electrical Workers Union in not paying back pay, accrued vacation pay, appropriate health benefits, or appropriate severance pay to the workers. Then there is the question surrounding the fact that the Company received tax abatements and grants from governments, which they may be obligated to repay.

The press jumped on the story in total support of the Union’s position, the politicians jumped into the fray to garner publicity, and Bank of America was immediately smeared as the bad guy because they apparently saw an increase in Republic’s line of credit as a bad loan. Since the full story has not been reported, I suspect that someone at Bank of America will lose their job for not anticipating the publicity fallout. Was this really all the fault of Bank of America?

Don’t you find it interesting that already tainted Governor Rod Blagojevich had the gall to stand before the assembled media and berate the U.S. Attorney for reportedly listening in to his conversations via wire taps? I wonder if the Governor’s arrogant actions caused the Federal authorities to arrest him the next morning. It appeared to me to be a misguided order, too, for Blagojevich to demand that all Illinois State departments immediately cease business with the Bank of America. That order was pure grandstanding, and clearly represented his effort to kiss the hands of the Unions and their members.

I also found it interesting to see other political figures mugging for the reporters and television cameras before all of the facts were known. This action represented typical political grandstanding and opportunistic theatre.

Now Bank of America has granted an additional $1.75 million dollar line of credit that will permit Republic to pay the fired employees all the money due. I think the Bank was forced into loaning the money because the bad publicity they were getting was far more damaging than the possible loss of the $1.75 million. The Governor’s blackmail won out, but he got arrested in the end.

I am glad the fired workers will be receiving their full due compensation. A tragic sidebar to this story is that the INS may now check into the legal status of the fired workers, and that could be big trouble for Republic Window. If that is the case, some further good will result from the rule of law.

The next chapter of this story is already unfolding with two hundred union protesters now demonstrating outside the main Chicago offices of Bank of America. This is reminiscent of the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s blackmail/extortion tactics so well documented in Kenneth R. Timmerman’s expose “Shakedown”. Union spokesmen now report that they are so pleased with their victory that they plan to expand their sit in protests nationwide. Objective analysis should question whether or not the guilty party is really the ownership of Republic Window, and not Bank of America. Remember the government bail out money was never intended to be paid to support poorly operated companies.

Several questions remain unanswered, but I suspect the media is so involved in the far more sensational Blagojevich story that we’ll never learn the full Republic Window story. If we cannot get full disclosure on a story surrounding 200 terminated workers how can we expect to get complete objective information on the appalling Blagojevich tale? Politics in Illinois has a tainted history with four governors in recent years convicted of criminal behavior. In Chicago, the democrat machine rules with a heavy hand and corruption and graft runs rampant. Right now many Illinois politicians are running for cover and in the process I expect they will turn on each other to escape the hands of justice.

COMMANDER GRANGER

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

SPORTSMANSHIP REVISITED

Way back on April 5, 2008, some eight months ago, this Blog started with its first essay, SPORTSMANSHIP IS DEAD. I have written some sixty-eight different commentaries covering a wide array of subjects with a heavy emphasis on the operation of our government. The work has been very rewarding and I am pleased to see that a growing number of individuals are reading Frobertsworld.

While I have never been a super athlete, I do love sports. I recognize the importance it has to our youth, and our daily lives. There is a natural beauty to a superb sporting performance and purity to an honest sporting effort. Imagine where the world of broadcasting would be without sports and its huge financial impact. Consider the influence sports has on our economy, and the staggering amounts of money that are generated for University, State, County, and City coffers.

While I still hold season tickets to a local university’s basketball games, I no longer attend many sporting events due to physical limitations, the exorbitant ticket prices being charged, and the growing lack of sportsmanship being demonstrated by both fans and players.

If you are reading this essay you can easily look back in the Frobertsworld files, and read that first commentary. I urge you to do so, because being the first work it had little readership. My comments were quite strong, but came about after careful consideration of the state of sportsmanship.

Not much has changed since my April 5th comments. Sports continues to be a very dangerous world physically, and a business model that is fraught with avarice. Little consideration by schools or owners is being given to the individual sports fans or the participating players. I was heartened to see two players ejected from the recent Notre Dame/ USC football game for fighting. It was disgusting to see an NFL Referee fail to penalize a Chicago Bear lineman who leveled the Minnesota Viking quarterback well after a play was over. Then there is the sick story of the New York Giant player Plaxico Burress who shot himself in a nightclub. The New Giants have made a good start by removing Burress from the active rolls, but the legal influences are now taking over and the issue will not be resolved for a long time. It is my opinion that Plaxico should not return to professional football.

Some thugs continue to roam the fields of sports, but little or nothing is done to prevent the accidents that are waiting to happen. Watch the indignation that will follow when some poor individual is killed. What kind of a message is sports sending to the youth of America? Fortunately only a few players are bringing discredit to the sporting world, but they tarnish the clean efforts of the majority.

There is so much money flowing into and around sports that it has poisoned the well. Player salaries, coaching salaries and contracts, team clothing sales, ticket prices, broadcast rights fees, bowl team fees, and the University Presidents greed to secure revenue through sports have all contributed to the corruption of sports. Little constructive leadership is coming from the heads of the NCAA, the NBA, the NFL, Major League Baseball or the Players Unions. Even the Olympic movement has been bought out by the desire to secure the inflated broadcast rights fees to the Games and the individual pressure to cheat to win the Gold. There is a smell to sports that is far worse than the aroma of hard earned sweat.

Greed rules all of sports today from the Universities, the professional team owners, the individual player’s excessive salaries, the fan’s demands for victory, the players’ unions, failure to enforce the rules by the governing bodies, etc. It will not stop until we stop feeding the pig.

COMMANDER GRANGER

Sunday, December 7, 2008

NEVER FORGET PEARL HARBOR

Few of you will remember December 7, 1941 unless you were born back in the 1930’s. I will never forget that day, and I still remember exactly what I was doing that Sunday morning.

Our family resided in a wonderful eight room apartment on the third floor of a three-story apartment building in the Chatham/Avalon Park neighborhood of Chicago’s south side. Dad and I had gone out to get the car washed and when we returned home Mother was leaning out of the window calling us to hurry upstairs because America was under attack. I remember Dad telling me immediately that he would be leaving soon to serve with his Illinois Army National Guard Field Artillery Unit.

Once upstairs we sat around our big floor model Philco radio and listened to a popular Sunday morning radio program titled “Hawaii Calls”, which emanated from Honolulu. The attack by the Japanese carrier based planes was in full force and we could hear the sound of the planes and bombs exploding on American soil.

Looking back, I cannot say that we were surprised by the Japanese attack, because there was much discussion that relations with Japan were deteriorating day by day. Immediately the entire nation was up in arms and ready to join together cohesively to defend our nation. There was never any alternative discussion, but a strong positive response that the United States would defend its sovereignty and honor. Japan was doomed to be defeated from the first day of the War and there was never any consideration that the result would be different. I wanted to join the Army immediately, but that was the foolish reaction of a 10 year old impressionable boy.

Aside from attacks during the Revolutionary War, brutal fighting in the Civil War, and the Mexican incursions in Texas, America had never been directly attacked and the American people were aroused and determined to defend their country at all cost. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt went before Congress and said that “December 7th, 1941 will be a date which will live in infamy,” he was definitely correct. War was declared with unanimous Congressional support and we entered into a devastating period lasting into mid 1945 with the ultimate total defeat of both Japan and Germany.

Not since that time has this great nation joined together so totally and boldly to defeat aggression and protect our democracy. Millions of lives were lost or totally disrupted, but we acted as a strong, cohesive unit with one purpose. There was little or no dissension and the press supported virtually everything our government did in the pursuit of the Wartime goals.

In hindsight there were numerous mistakes made that caused the loss of lives, but Americans turned their heads at the time. Only years later were the errors addressed and or discussed openly. In fact, a debate continues today as to whether the attack was a surprise, or if our government had knowledge of Japan’s plans. The internment of Japanese Americans and some German citizens proved to be wrong. Some military plans were seriously flawed, but swept under the rug during the pursuit of victory. Americans gladly supported wartime rationing of food and fuel. Millions of men and some women flocked to the recruitment centers and joined the military. Women quickly replaced the men who had joined the military in manufacturing positions.

September 11, 2001 was the wake-up call for the current generation. This time our country is fighting an enemy without a country and an enemy that likely walks among us. We are in combat with zealous, religious extremist ideologies…people who cannot stand our success and way of life. World War II killed millions. Let’s hope that the War on Terror does not tally that kind of human loss.

Complacency, naivety, and unpreparedness can be our biggest enemy. It is more important today that at any time in the history of our great nation to REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR.

COMMANDER GRANGER

Friday, December 5, 2008

MISPLACED VALUES - THE CHARLIE WEIS STORY

Your Commander recognizes that he is walking on very thin ice in writing this essay. A number of my readers are Notre Dame alumni or worked for the university, and thus they see this issue through very colored glasses. Let it be known that I am not an alum of Notre Dame, but I fully understand the impact the university has to the Northern Indiana economic vitality.

For the past few months the newspapers, radio, television, sports publications, and individuals have had specific conversations on one subject only.…Will Charlie Weis come back as the Head Coach at Notre Dame? Considering the win/loss record of the Weis led football team the hullabaloo is understandable.

Currently our country is going through one of the most horrific economic downturns since the Great Depression of the early 1930’s. We are still fighting a War in Iraq, combating worldwide terrorism, experiencing record setting home foreclosures, a national healthcare crisis, the potential collapse of the American automobile industry, continued problems with our banking institutions, a new President is organizing his administration, and many very serious significant issues confront our democracy. I ask you just how important is it really if Charlie Weis continues as the Coach at Notre Dame?

The South Bend Tribune has carried a Page One story everyday for the past week addressing the speculation, and finally, the announcement that Charlie will be retained. News about very important national and international issues is buried on Page Three or even further back in its ever thinning daily editions. The Sports section has been dominated by at least two well written critical analyses daily, and none of them have been flattering to the Weis debate. The dominance of the Weis question flooded the USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Sun-Times. No one seemed to be in Charlie’s corner.

Clearly, the University has once again mishandled a public relations nightmare, and the remarks of new Athletic Director, Jack Swarbrick, have been weak and evasive at best. His failure to handle the issue adroitly has sadly permitted the question of race to enter the dialog comparing the treatment of ex-Coach Willingham to Weis. The debate is bound to grow as Notre Dame and Coach Weis enter into a 2009 football season with another somewhat weak twelve game schedule starting with Nevada, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, Washington, USC, Boston College, Washington State, Navy, Pittsburg, Connecticut, and Stanford.

Unless there are some big changes I can see another losing season, and the Weis debate will return and only become more intense. Maybe one more year will give the University administration time to hit up some deep pocketed alum for the speculated $20 million necessary to buy out Charlie’s contract. Someone within the administration should be required to answer the question…Why did they renew Charlie’s contract for ten years, if Charlie was so dedicated to his alma mater?

The whole issue is ruled by greed. The Weis question will be quickly addressed and settled if the University starts to see or experience the erosion of their hugely profitable football revenue stream. Charlie surely should have learned a lesson that his huff and puff approach does not work in Hoosier land, and it is time to hold his players and coaches accountable and responsible for delivering results. I believe it is time to take starting quarterback Jimmy Clausen out to the woodshed for a good talk about humility or assign him a seat on the bench. If Charlie Weis thought he had heat about being the Head Coach in 2008, next year will be even more demanding because the fans will be throwing more than snowballs in 2009.

Now look at what I am doing. I am just as guilty as the people I am critizing when I give any time and consideration to the Charlie Weis question. What is really important? It would be interesting to know just what the founding Fathers of Notre Dame, like Father Sorin, would have to say on this topic. I sure don’t think Charlie’s future employment is really important in the big picture scheme of things. Do you?

COMMANDER GRANGER

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

STREAMLINING GOVERNMENT AND SAVING MONEY

It makes little difference where you live, because the subject of this essay applies to every State in our magnificent Union.

Way back on December 11, 2007 the report STREAMLINING LOCAL GOVERNMENT by the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform was released (also known as the Kernan Report, after the Commission’s Co-Chair, former Indiana Governor Joseph Kernan), and virtually nothing has been done to improve the efficiency or effectiveness of Indiana’s local governing bodies since that date.

I do not know how much money was spent to create the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform, but it was probably significant, and we the taxpayers have paid the bill. Recently our local NBC affiliate, WNDU-TV, made a copy of the extensive report available on their website. This 46 page report is very interesting and carries a solid list of specific recommendations to improve local government within Indiana.

The essence of the report recommends the following:

COUNTIES: Create a clearer, more accountable structure with fewer elected officials. Better coordinate public safety services.

TOWNSHIPS: Transfer all present responsibilities to the county executive.

SCHOOLS: Establish districts that are large enough to provide high-caliber education at a lower cost and enhance fiscal accountability.

CITIES AND TOWNS: Strengthen accountability of elected officials, and eliminate the cost of separate election dates.

LIBRARIES AND SPECIAL DISTRICTS: Establish library districts that are large enough to provide high-caliber services to every Hoosier at a lower cost, and improve fiscal accountability.

ALL LOCAL GOVERNMENTS: Encourage additional voluntary action to increase efficiency and effectiveness.

SUPOPORT AND MONITORING: Facilitate the implementation of these recommendations.

All in all there are 27 specific recommendations within the above subjects, and they are all being ignored by the elected officials.

The only exception I have seen to my statement is recent action by the City of Mishawaka to consolidate their Department of Weights and Measurements into the same entity that operates in the City of South Bend. Substantial money will be saved and a more efficient operation should result. A logical question is: Why does Mishawaka continue to prosper while South Bend continues to fall further behind economically?

With local governments crying the blues about their economic health, immediate actions are not being taken to incorporate any of the suggestions so clearly outlined in the Commission’s recommendations. Within the past week the Mayor of South Bend had the unmitigated gall to suggest that an increase in the Income Tax should be considered, while he has failed to address any of the report’s recommendations. I suggest that the reason there is no action on the report is local provincialism, poor leadership, greed, fear of losing one’s job, and just plain stubborn attitudes. Reports of this nature quickly arouse opposition when segments of the populous realize their ox will be gored.

Indiana is a lovely place to live, but it has long been famous for its provincialism, and a strong tendency to cling to the past. That fact was clearly documented in Richard Longworth’s fine book CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE. Indiana, and many other States cannot thrive, or survive in the quickly changing global economy without shifting their focus to the future. Indiana has far too long clung to the past, frequently celebrating failure, and not embracing change. Indiana must adapt or it will ultimately perish economically.

Every citizen will have their own list of things they think can be done to consolidate or improve the effectiveness of local governments, but the Commission Report is an important document. It is a good starting point, but little is really being done to embrace the suggestions. Why? We must ask ourselves why some states are prospering or feeling a lesser impact during the economic downturn. Some states, especially in the south, recognize and accept the need to change, but Indiana does not.

Indiana is not alone in facing these problems, because virtually every state in this country could benefit by a similar Commission Report. If you live in Indiana your Commander strongly urges you to insist that the elected officials embrace the Kernan Report, and begin to implement at least some of the recommended changes as quickly as possible…not in political time.

COMMANDER GRANGER

Monday, December 1, 2008

HYPOCRICY GROWS

In the midst of the worst economic predicament since the Great Depression of the 1930’s the citizens of this country grow more hypocritical every day. Let me list a few of the problems we are fostering that makes our economy fall even further into a black hole.

We all readily admit that America is facing a huge energy problem with a limited, diminishing supply of petroleum. Even with gasoline prices falling, I believe the oil producing countries will find a way to return the per-barrel price to a much higher level. Recognizing these facts, why do our major automotive manufacturers continue to stress horsepower, and their cars can achieve great speeds within seconds? Why does Chrysler’s Jeep Division continue to air advertisements that depict young people speeding recklessly across sand dunes that are nothing short of suicidal actions?

Would it not be more responsible for our failing automobile companies to be stressing safety and conservation of fuel? Maybe they could sell more cars if their sales approach did not insult the buyer’s intelligence with their hyproicy.

When you’re driving down the road do you notice the increasing number of drivers who are talking on their cell phones? It does not take a brain surgeon to know that the distraction caused by talking and driving is causing increases in motor vehicle accidents, as well as vehicular deaths.

Have you noticed the fact that our fellow drivers continue in ever increasing numbers to totally ignore the posted speed limits? Recently I was driving in my local community observing the posted speed limit of 40 mph, and I received two honking horns, and an additional three different one finger salutes. In my suburban community there is a stop sign that few individuals observe.

With our local governments crying for more and more revenue to operate their bloated administrations I support the installation of surveillance cameras. Here is an excellent method to feed the local government’s coffers, and keep police officers free to chase criminals. The cost of the cameras will be quickly recouped, and our politicians will have more money to cover their pet projects.

Surely you have a long list of the hypocritical circumstances confronting you, too, on a daily basis. Let us not even talk about our elected political officials when it comes to hypocrisy. The current televised public hearings being held in Washington to investigate potential bailouts are the height of hypocrisy. Political grandstanding leads my list, and still we keep re-electing these same self-serving, money hungry, so-called public servants.

When it really comes to hypocrisy it is time for every one of us to look into the mirror, and ask ourselves what we can do to change things.

COMMANDER GRANGER

Saturday, November 29, 2008

WHAT HAPPENED IN 29 DAYS?

It seems that the presidential election was a long time ago, but it has only been 29 days. Within that short period of time the dialog has changed dramatically, and it defies my imagination that there is so little discussion appearing in/on our main stream media sources explaining the shift in emphasis.

Prior to the election Barrack Obama was calling for significant change and promised tax relief for 95% of our citizens, although a substantial percentage of those people did not even pay income taxes. Back on November 5th I pledged my support of our new president-elect even though I did not vote for him. On that same day all the media outlets were praising the arrival of a new day and the fact that a wondrous, unique event had occurred with his election.

Now the media (newspapers-magazines-radio-television) have taken a substantially softer tone, and there is even talk that President-Elect Obama may not increase taxes on the upper 5% and may decide to permit the Bush tax cut policy to run its course until it is set to expire in 2011. All of a sudden Obama has softened his position on the immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, and he is now talking about an orderly withdrawal over an extended period of time. The man who called for big changes is now appointing many old Washington hands to his Cabinet and/or top level positions.

Don’t you find it interesting that reality has set in with the coming administration’s pronouncements? Your Commander finds it most revealing that the message that got Obama elected is no longer appropriate for the Obama that will lead our nation.

Prior to the election the main street media was falling all over itself praising Obama as the answer to all our needs and the solver of all problems, but now they have the unmitigated gall to say “We do not really know who Barack Obama really is”. That is a direct quote from NBC’s Tom Brokaw the day after the election. If that is true, then the media did a damn poor job vetting Obama, and thus failed to meet their obligation to serve the electorate. It is now my opinion that our media is already running for cover. Why?

Now that President-Elect Obama awaits inauguration and is briefed daily by the current administration, he realizes that his future job will be much more difficult than he originally anticipated. Uninformed perception is not reality. Obviously our president-elect is recognizing that all the things he promised to get elected are not going to be possible once he steps into the White House, because there is just so much money to go around. It should be interesting to see what our new president will do when all the sources of voter obligations start appearing in the Oval Office demanding their share of the spoils. I’m betting the Unions and the entitlement crowd will be the first to turn on their President when he cannot deliver their promised pork.

Our Democrat controlled Congress is running for cover too, because they cannot wait to throw money at the current economic crisis. Lack of Congressional oversight by Committee Chairmen is partially responsible for our current economic crisis, but don’t expect any acceptance of responsibility from Washington, only fingers pointed at other sources. With over 70% of the voters opposing the bail-out of the automobile industry, our Congress does not have the guts to tell the union leadership that they must face the facts and accept huge concessions.

Apparently our new President realizes the buck stops at his desk in the Oval Office, and already members of his own party like Reid and Pelosi are demanding a strong voice. Good luck President-Elect Obama, because the ball is now in your court and you can no longer continue to blame the Bush administration for all the problems on this planet. I can only wonder what will happen in the next 29 days?

COMMANDER GRANGER

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

TO BAIL OR NOT TO BAIL

Every newscast I have seen lately indicates our Washington political pundits are bending over backwards to find a way to bail out the ailing the automobile and financial industry. This problem is staggering.

I am not an educated economist, but I can add and subtract simple mathematical problems. The world knows that our automobile industry has been riddled with mismanagement, and totally unrealistic union contracts and expectations. Additionally, we keep hearing that the foreign owned automobile companies are operating profitably, so why can’t American companies do the same? Hey dummies…the business models of the two are not the same. Foreign automobile companies are operating with their government’s sizable support in right to work states in the U.S., and they are not burdened with huge employee benefit programs like the American manufacturers.

Just yesterday I saw a poll on the Dallas, Texas Fox Television station that asked the question as to whether the government should bail out the auto industry. There were over 2,332 respondents and the results indicated that 70.32% said no, 17.58% said yes, and 12.10% had no opinion. Let’s assume that this reflects the opinion of a similar percentage across the country. Take into consideration that the results would be different in Michigan, but remember that Dallas has U.S. auto plants, too.

I wonder how our political leadership can push for bail outs when the over-whelming percentages of American citizens do not support rescuing the auto industry. Apparently many Americans think bankruptcy is preferable.

You need not be a Republican or Democratic solely to know that our elected officials have a big time obligation to the American Union movement. The massive Union financial support for political elections is obviously influencing this debate.

In yesterday’s edition of NEWSBLUEZETTE (a subscriber based daily insider newsletter for TV news professionals) there is this: “If the US auto industry goes in the crapper, will TV stations and networks, which rely heavily on automobile advertising, need federal bailouts?”

The noon news on WGN-TV Chicago yesterday asked their viewers: “Do you support the government bailout of Citigroup? The results reported were 24% supported and 76% were against the bailout. Here is another example of a huge disconnect by the voters to government actions.

Our government just gave Citigroup a ton of money again, and I just cannot figure out where all this money is coming from. Are we not digging a deeper hole for our future financial obligations that we, our children, grandchildren and beyond will have to pay? Surely the people working in the automobile industry directly and indirectly would be dramatically influenced if they are not bailed out, but where does this end?

Who will bail you and me out?

COMMANDER GRANGER

Sunday, November 23, 2008

SOCIAL SECURITY IS A PONZI SCHEME

The entire subject of Social Security is of little interest to most Americans until they get closer to retirement. Once you’re at that point in your life it is actually too late to really do much about securing your financial stability in retirement.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received from my father was to convert my U.S. Government Term Life insurance policy which I held following service in the U.S. Air Force to Straight Life insurance. Today I receive a yearly dividend check that is more than twice the annual policy premium amount. While insurance is not any part of Social Security it is an investment in your future financial security.

Hopefully some of my readers who are much younger will become more informed about Social Security and act to protect their financial position during their senior years. I know that as a youth I never expected to die nor did I think I would live long enough to reach senior citizen status, so the subject of Social Security was never important. Experience has proven that the subject is vital, and if you do not take appropriate action you will pay a frightful price in your senior years.

Yes, SOCIAL SECURITY IS A PONZI SCHEME. Let me draw your attention to a most important article written by Craig Steiner. It is well worth your time to read his article on the subject at: http://www.craigsteiner.us/articles/15

All of these statistics are within Craig’s article, but bear repeating…currently the U.S. Government has a National Debt of well over $10.578 trillion as of November 13, 2008. Since the inception of the Social Security Trust Fund back in 1940 our elected leaders in Congress have borrowed from that Fund a staggering total of $3.8 trillion dollars. There are I.O.U.s in that amount sitting in the Treasury, but the government has already spent that money, and has little or no intention or ability to pay it back. Thus, the Trust Fund will obviously run out of money, because there are more people becoming eligible for payments than there is money in the fund to pay them.

I suggest you read Craig’s article, because he clearly outlines politically unpopular ways to address this dilemma. The question that I would like to pose is…Now that the election is behind our elected officials why has this subject dropped off their agenda? The problem is not going to resolve itself, but there is not one politician who wants to address a solution. Why has Congress failed to repay or even acknowledge their obligation to return the Social Security Trust Fund to solvency?

Your Commander contends that our Congress has repeatedly dipped into the Trust Fund to increase their pay, perks, and self-serving earmarks. We have no one to blame but ourselves. We keep re-electing these selfish, ego-driven public servants, so now is the time to demand appropriate resolutions and constructive actions. When will we the voters demand accountability from our Congress?

COMMANDER GRANGER

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I SEE A DIRECT CORRELATION

This could be the shortest essay I will ever write.

Our economy is in the porcelain convenience with the stock market virtually in free-fall every day. Millions of fellow citizens rely upon their long established financial investments for their daily existence.

Have you noticed the very direct relationship between the stock market’s direction, and announcements from government committee meetings, press conferences, and just Friday afternoons? When Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reed, President Bush or Barney Frank, Henry Paulson or Ben Bernanke speak the stock market drops like a spent rocket.

Apparently there is a direct correlation, and it tells the Commander that the stock market does not think any of these people are solving our problems or know just what in the hell they are doing.

COMMANDER GRANGER

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

WINTER READING SUGGESTIONS

The leaves have fallen, and the harsh winter winds are blowing off Lake Michigan here in Northern Indiana. It is time to bundle up, light a nice fire in the fireplace, and snuggle up with a good book.

Recently I told you about my enjoyment in reading Ted Bell’s new offering TSAR. I was so impressed with his work that I purchased one of his early works entitled ASSASSIN, and it is another wonder. I’m so impressed with this author’s creative endeavors that I have ordered some of his other books from Amazon.

Upon return from vacation my copy of Vince Flynn’s new book EXTREME MEASURES was waiting for me. Once we got through the accumulated mail, I started reading and was unable to put the book down. Flynn has hit another home run, and it is a must read for anyone who enjoys the action/adventure genre. Flynn clearly understands the dangers confronting our nation from the committed world-wide terrorist organizations. Unfortunately, far too many of our political leaders seem to wear blinders when it comes to this vital issue. I believe we will be hit again, and then the politicians will cry for immediate action…after the cat is out of the bag.

While roaming the aisles of Barnes & Noble I came upon a paperback written by the late Margaret Truman. Her book MURDER ON K STREET caught my eye for two reasons. Way back in 1950 I met Margaret and her mother Bess at their home in Independence, Mo. I was visiting my former room mate from the Culver Academy Summer Naval School who happened to live across the street from the Truman’s. Mrs. Truman invited us in for iced tea. Neither Bess nor her daughter Margaret liked living in Washington, so they spent as much time as possible in Independence while President Truman toiled away in Washington serving our republic. We sat in awe sipping tea with the First Lady and “First Daughter.”

Additionally, Margaret’s book was of interest because I worked for several years in Washington as the Chairman of the NBC Affiliates’ Government Relations Committee representing the interests of some 208 local NBC television stations. That was an eye-opening period for me, and the impact of the revelations experienced has never left me to this day.

I strongly recommend you pickup a copy of MURDER ON K STREET; because it clearly exposes the appalling impact lobbyists have on the political process. Margaret’s book was so good that I intend to pickup copies of her other Washington based mystery tomes.

It is purely coincidental, but all three of the books I am suggesting happen to contain storylines that address the negative influence lobbyists have on Washington politicians. It is becoming clearer and clearer everyday that many of the most important issues of the day will not be addressed, or resolved, until there is definitive legislation reining in the inappropriate activities of the overly influential, all powerful lobbyist organizations.

Enjoy your relaxing hours with these books or whatever else you choose to read.

COMMANDER GRANGER

Monday, November 17, 2008

REMEMBER THE LITTLE GUY

To say that our economy is under stress is certainly an understatement. When you watch the talking heads on the television talk shows you hear all kinds of predictions as to when the stock market will take a swing upward. Personally, I do not think anyone really knows, and we must have confidence the end is within sight.

Across America you see stores closing, and of course we are all well aware of the substantial number of foreclosures in the housing market. Our neighbor just lost his job, and prospects for his employment are not bright. While watching CNBC, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and the major evening newscasts they are all focused on the big companies, such as relief for AIG, GM, Ford, Chrysler, numerous big banks, etc.

With the election over, our politicians are now running for cover and trying to point fingers at some high profile individuals so as to divert our objective attention to government’s failure to provide appropriate over-sight. Our government (I mean the current administration and the incoming leadership) are all trying to throw huge sums of money at the problems, and no one really knows just what will stem the tides of the various problems in our economy. I personally wonder when our leadership will learn that throwing money at a problem is not always the answer. For example, can you believe that more than $200 billion of the $700 billion bail-out package has been distributed with no definitive oversight in place?

Already there is a substantial softening of President-Elect Barack Obama’s pre-election pronouncements and/or promises that got him elected. Just where his administration will end up is anyone’s guess. Only time will tell.

What is lost in this very serious nationwide economic calamity is the little guy. The little guy is the individual that got Obama, and all the other politicians elected, but it appears that he has been shoved to the side until the next elections nears. It is the little merchant, shopkeepers, and service providers that are the backbone of our economy, and they are hurting badly. Their problems are right now and not six months or one year from now, but Washington postures while the core of the economy is suffering. Small businesses cannot secure bank loans or lines of credit to expand or continue their business through the turmoil.

My wife and I try everyday to support our local merchants, because they do not have the financial cushion to survive an economic downturn of today’s severity. As an example, we support Felicia and Chuck Stones’ Stones Old-Fashion Donut Shoppe, because these are two hard working individuals that are delivering a superior array of products at a fair price. I have no personal financial interest, but if you want the best strudel or donuts you should get to their store on McKinley in Mishawaka right away. These two local entrepreneurs work long hours, and deserve our collective support.

There are hundreds of local merchants like the Stones everywhere in America, and they all deserve our support. We believe that the little local business man beats the big stores every time on service and product quality. The big stores are important for some specific shopping, but let us never forget it is the little guy that is the backbone of our economic engine.

In just our community I could name numerous business sites that shine, such as Maury’s Pat’s Pub, and you can do the same where ever you reside. I do not see Washington suggesting bail-out packages be provided for the little guys. They especially deserve and need our collective support now more than anytime since the Great Depression. Hard work is at the core of the American Way, and the work ethic of our fellow citizens will bring us through our current economic malaise.

A study of history should help us not repeat our mistakes, but we seem to never learn from our errors. Economics is not an exact science, but it is clearly apparent that GREED got us where we are today.

COMMANDER GRANGER

Sunday, November 16, 2008

POLITICAL WILL vs. LEADERSHIP

Well, I have finally finished reading James M. McPherson’s very interesting book “TRIED BY WAR: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief”. Being totally honest, I am conflicted, confused, and somewhat disappointed in our hero, Abraham Lincoln, after reading this well researched work.

If you’re interested in both the Civil War, and Lincoln, I suggest you get a copy of this book at your local book store or library. It quickly becomes apparent that when the Civil War started, the Union Army was very short on leadership and the Confederate Army, while much smaller had a far superior leadership cadre. Many of the finest West Point graduates were from Southern states, and chose to fight for the Confederacy.

Politics reared its ugly head in the appointment of many untrained and untested northern individuals to command Union positions purely on the basis of political influence. A few went on to successful careers in the Union Army, but most were so totally incompetent that they caused great loss of life and victories for the Southern Confederate forces. Many of the north’s politically appointed generals were ultimately transferred or relieved of their commands, often following disastrous defeats.

Shortly after assuming the Presidency Lincoln immersed himself intensely into the study of military theory, because he had little or no confidence in his Army’s leadership or ability to create battle plans. Repeatedly Lincoln was conflicted by political issues, and delayed or failed to replace ineffective Union Army Generals because of the possibility of causing political fallout to his party.

A question that kept coming into my mind as I read this book was why did it take our government from 1776 until Lincoln came into office to address the issue of slavery? The Declaration of Independence clearly stated ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL, but every subsequent President and administration failed to address the issue squarely. Several Presidents and many governmental leaders actually owned slaves and regretfully deferred the issue to later administrations. Political considerations caused the delay of 85 years before Lincoln stood firm on the Abolition of Slavery.

Of concern and disappointment is the fact that Lincoln repeatedly delayed the replacement, retiring, or reassigning General George B. McClellan, the ineffective Commanding General of the Army of the Potomac. There are numerous examples cited by McPherson of Lincoln’s acknowledgement of McClellan’s failures to follow direct orders and battle plans. The delay in the ultimate replacement of McClellan caused the needless loss of tens of thousands of Union soldiers and Confederate troops, as well. McClellan is but one general that should have been replaced far earlier.

Lincoln and his Republican Party ran on an anti-slavery platform, and upon his election Southern States began to secede. He determined that the elimination of slavery was the thing to do, but he put his plan in his desk drawer for many months due to political concerns, and hoped the Civil War could be won quickly. Lincoln’s plan became known as the Emancipation Proclamation. Why did he delay when his re-election was far into the future, and why didn’t he provide the appropriate leadership in replacing underperforming Generals?

There is a very interesting report titled “American Civil War Stories” that establishes the fact that more Americans (north and south) died in the Civil War than in all other U.S. Wars combined since our country was founded. (http://civilwarstories.blogspot.com/2007/10/civil-war-more-troops-died-than-all.html )

I draw your attention to this alarming report because it specifies those killed and wounded in all the Wars with U.S. involvement from 1775 through March, 2007 Operation Iraqi Freedom. In the Civil War the Union Army suffered 363,020 killed, and the Confederacy lost 199,110. Additionally, the wounded totaled 281,104 for the Union, and 137,102 for the Southern forces. Just consider the impact upon families, wives, and children with the loss of 562,130 men killed in the North and the South, plus the disabling of another 418,206 wounded. Combined, the nation was impacted by the death or wounding of 980,336. Can you imagine any politician surviving in office today with those individual statistics during their term in office? Granted, you cannot compare today’s medical treatment, facilities, etc. to 1775, the Civil War era, or even World War I.

I urge you to take a look at the numbers outlined by The American War Library, and go to their link http://members.aol.com/usregistry/allwars.htm . The information covered in this report is very revealing, and a sad indication of nations not solving their issues without War.

Another website of interest that outlines the start of the Civil War and, in particular, events surrounding the Emancipation Proclamation is http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4p2967.html .

Maybe I am too hard in my appraisal of Abraham Lincoln, who is still a President of great note, but in my opinion his image is somewhat tarnished after reading TRIED BY WAR. Political considerations all too frequently cause greater harm than necessary.

COMMANDER GRANGER

Saturday, November 15, 2008

WHERE DID AUNT TODDY GO?

Part of our recent trip included several visits with my 94 year old Aunt Toddy. She is my mother’s sister, and was recently moved to a nice facility for those with memory difficulties (dementia/ Alzheimer’s). A little background is appropriate. Toddy’s real name is Catharine, but her younger sister could not say Catharine, and somehow the name Toddy stuck. She was the third child of four with my mother the eldest, followed by a brother, Toddy, and the youngest sister. They were raised in a small Illinois farming community. The only brother was spoiled and in his own way became a living legend with, we think, ten marriages. My mother (gone nearly 11 years) and Toddy were very close, although 10 years apart, and they talked or visited each other frequently during their adult lives.

Aunt Toddy has lived a wonderful, happy life with her husband, a WWII veteran and was the World Sales Manager for a major international corporation (sadly he passed away in late 2000). Her loving spouse provided very well and was most generous. They traveled the world, and entertained or were entertained extensively. Aunt Toddy loved to cook, and have big parties in their home in Larchmont, N.Y. and later in retirement in their large Gulf-side condominium apartment in Florida.

About a year after dear Art’s passing, Aunt Toddy moved to a beautiful senior citizen facility operated by the Hyatt Corporation on Hilton Head Island. She could not remain alone in Florida and their only child, Tom, moved her to be near his home in South Carolina. Her son has provided for every need under trying medical conditions. On previous trips to the area we visited Toddy often in her apartment, however her physical health and mental condition deteriorated with advancing age. Toddy loved her Florida apartment and wanted to go back to the way, and times that used to be. Those happy carefree years were missed deeply, but could not be recaptured.

On each visit over the years we noticed significant changes in Toddy’s condition. Those changes were not necessarily physical, but mental. Each visit brought less recognition, and more repetition. Just as I experienced with my own mother, there is discussion of events way back in her youth, but less definitive talk about the present or near past. Over time the discussion has drifted to some specific true facts that were interwoven into stories that were definitely not factual, but bits and pieces of various true details made into a totally new story.

Toddy’s new home is in a lovely facility specialized to meet her needs. She has a cozy room with private bath and a few pieces of favorite furniture, but it is much smaller and she realizes that. “Where is all my lovely furniture…who stole all my things?” she will ask.

On a recent visit, I left, and sat in my car with tears in my eyes thinking WHERE DID AUNT TODDY GO? While she is blessed to be in this wonderful facility, many in her condition cannot afford the superior professional care she is being given. I wonder what she is really thinking about during the hours she sits each day. Is she anguished with frustration, because she realizes that all the circuits are not working properly, or is she content in her own world? Then, too, I think about the huge responsibility placed upon my cousin, and the monumental decisions confronting him each day.

I look back fondly to wonderful memories of Aunt Toddy and Uncle Art. We had many fun filled days together from the time I was a young boy and they were dating and occasionally babysat for me. It breaks my heart to see her mentally deteriorating like this.

No one could be receiving better care, or living under better conditions than Aunt Toddy, but what happens to the hundreds of thousands of people in this world who are experiencing similar senior citizen mental health problems? The seriousness of this dementia/Alzheimer’s issue is only growing as the health care industry allows us to live longer, but there is too little attention given to this rapidly escalating world-wide dilemma.

Fortunately, Aunt Toddy’s estate and her only son can provide for her, but what is happening across the world to thousands of families facing similar problems? In many cases this responsibility will break up families and destroy them financially. Toddy is blessed to be where she is, but she does not understand or appreciate that. What happens to those of less means?

The government’s leadership regarding senior dementia issues must increase, despite our troubled economics. Entitlement programs flourish carrying little or no accountability, and yet this growing responsibility to our seniors is ignored. These are the people who made this country and world the magnificent place it is and they should not be overlooked or left to die on the vine. Government authorities continue to authorize pay-off earmarks and drain our treasury, while disregarding seniors crying for attention and who deserve our loving care. Is it because many are unable to vote?

There are Aunt Toddys all over the country today. She is just like all the other people suffering dementia issues. She was a vibrant, fun loving human being who is no longer really with us. We know where Aunt Toddy is and who she once was, but how do we know where we will end up? May God bless and protect these poor soles who are all children of a loving caring God.

COMMANDER GRANGER

Thursday, November 13, 2008

THANK YOU PRESIDENT EISENHOWER

Our recent journey from Michiana to Dallas to Spring Island, S.C. to Baltimore and back covered about 4,100 miles, and nearly 3,400 miles of it was almost exclusively on Interstate Highways, thanks to the late President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Ike as a young Army Officer in 1919 participated in a very difficult and lengthy cross-country convoy from Washington, DC to California, essentially traveling all the way on the original Lincoln Highway. The purpose of the convoy was to determine the durability of the military vehicles to make such a journey, but it was very lengthy and resulted in numerous equipment breakdowns.

There is a very good book about the Lincoln Highway written by Michael Wallis and Michael S. Williamson and entitled THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY: Coast to Coast from Times Square to the Golden Gate. It covers the road through each state it crossed with fascinating stories and many interesting pictures.

In subsequent duty as the Commanding Officer of the Allied Expeditionary Forces during World War ll, Eisenhower became intrigued with the German Autobahn system. This interest and the experience of his cross-country convoy years before led him to establish, support, and promote The Clay Commission recommendation for the country’s highways. That ultimately led to Congressional backing for a 41,000 mile system to be paid for by a $0.01 increase in the fuel tax, which was deposited into a Highway Trust Fund. That initial program cost $25 billion, and was completed by 1969. The federal government paid 90%, and the states matched 10% of the total.

Today there are over 160,000 total miles in the Eisenhower Interstate System, thus we only traveled about 2% of this wonderful highway system. When you see the volume of semi truck travel, you realize the significant value the highway system has to our national distribution system, and potentially our national defense should the need develop. We were struck, too, by the numerous trucks with “wide-loads” delivering huge new parts and equipment all across the South. Obviously, some businesses are prospering and conducting a lot of commerce during this economic slowdown.

It has been interesting to note too, the large number of individual drivers far exceeding the posted speed limits. While I have been known to hedge 70 mph to 75 mph, there are many individuals cruising well over 80 mph, and there was little or no indication of police issuing tickets. No wonder there are frightful accidents, because at that speed there is precious little time to react and avoid a collision. We viewed a frightful accident on I-55 just north of West Memphis, Arkansas. There was a helicopter removing the injured, and at least twenty police cars, bodies in the road, and cars totally destroyed. Fortunately, the accident was northbound, we were southbound. Cars and trucks were at a total stop for at least 5 miles behind the accident. Surely, someone was killed, and all for what seemed to be excessive speed.

We also witnessed numerous individuals talking on their cell phones, and we even saw one person reading a book as he drove down the Interstate. According to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System of the National Highway Transportation System Agency, 37,248 individuals died in automobile crashes in 2007, and that number has been essentially flat each year since 1996. That represents a horrific loss of lives, and unnecessary financial expense. Just think, that annual number is roughly equal to ½ the attendance at one Notre Dame home football game. There were more than 6.1 million police reports of motor vehicle collisions in 2005, but fortunately only 1% resulted in injuries. We can thank the 50 state laws requiring seat belts for that low statistic.

Something as simple as obeying the laws of the highway could, and would reduce the number of fatal crashes, but there are always some individuals that think they can beat the statistics or system. Speed kills, and still the failing automobile industry continues to run exciting advertising stressing speed. The current commercial for Jeep is, in my opinion, unconscionable, because it portrays young people speeding recklessly over sand dunes, dirt roads, stream of water, etc. Shameful, but all the car companies promote speed when they should be suggesting gasoline conservation.

Fortunately, our journey has benefited from the substantial reduction in the gasoline prices. We saw $2.08 per gallon, and I bet the Arab oil producing nations are going nuts. I predict they will do something to get the price of oil back to higher levels soon.

We have seen substantial indications of economic growth and stability across the southern states. Yes, times are tough, but not as tough as they are in the rust belt. I find it very interesting to see the concentration of foreign automobile manufacturing plants in the southern states, which has a huge flow-through to other support businesses. Effective economic development is paying off big time in the southern states.

Drive the speed limit, and live for another wonderful day. Your life would be a terrible thing to waste just to save a couple of minutes.

COMMANDER GRANGER

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

HOME SWEET HOME

Vacations are wondrous adventures, because you experience new sights and sounds. They are very therapeutic with hours of grand relaxation. Some vacations afford an opportunity to renew old friendships and visit distant relatives. With all this said…there is NO PLACE LIKE HOME, and the expression HOME SWEET HOME is most appropriate.

After an absence of one month and one day, my wife and I have just returned to cold, rainy, spitting snow showers and dark gray winter skies in northern Indiana, but home certainly looked very good. Our travels covered just over 4,100 miles and some 16 states plus we experienced a life long lasting adventure. Surprisingly, lower gasoline prices followed our travels, with the exception of unconscionable tax driven prices of $2.44 per gallon for unleaded gas on the Pennsylvania turnpike. Adjacent states were selling the same grade of gasoline for $2.08 or even $1.99 per gallon.

While the Presidential election and the general economic problems were the major topics of conversation everywhere we traveled, we noted a strong economic climate across the many southern states. In Dallas construction work is evident everywhere from roads to buildings, and there was a very strong optimistic attitude with everyone we encountered. Clearly, the foreign automobile companies with their numerous southern plants are a significant influence to this development. More importantly, the southern states are becoming more and more influential as more northern citizens move south for the weather or employment opportunities.

Texas is not as we remember it from the movie GIANT, because it has become a huge business-focused center that sees no bounds to its real potential. People of all colors blend into a smooth functioning Texas economy that continues to boom while the economy of northern cities experience rusting plants and population loss.

While being long term mid west residents, we are used to hearing of the historical racial tensions in the south, but certainly in all of the public places we found ourselves we did not see real evidence of it existing today. Quite the contrary, we sensed a convivial atmosphere, and only courteous situations when meeting with people of color. People in the south just seem to be happier or more content than they do up here in the north.

Our visits to South Carolina Low Country are always special with great hospitality, and the magnificent golf facilities are beyond belief. In addition to being a beautiful place with unbelievable live oak trees, it is most relaxing.

Our last stop was in historic Baltimore where we dined with our grandson who is a math teacher in the Baltimore inner-city elementary school system. He’s in a two-year program sponsored by Johns Hopkins University, but the stress levels and lack of support cause needless frustration with unbelievable working conditions. He’ll stick out his commitment, and may even elect to continue teaching, but few, if any in this kind of environment, can continue long-term under demanding conditions with 7th and 8th Grade students reading at the 2nd Grade level. We are most proud of his commitment to improve the lives of his underprivileged students.

We love Texas and South Carolina and feel we could live there quite comfortably. The advantage of weather and affordable costs of living are most attractive, but we still love our home in northern Indiana. We love Hoosier Land, because of our wonderful friends, and a strong bond to our Doctors. We have everything we need for a good standard of living, with wonderful food stores, shopping, and superior health care facilities. The latter becomes more and more important with each passing year, as do our bonds with good loyal friends.

After a 600 plus mile drive from Baltimore our bed felt wonderful. With winter setting in we’ll have to remember the great hospitality we experienced to help keep us warm, not to mention the great Mexican food, seafood, and golf until we see our out of town family and friends again.

COMMANDER GRANGER

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

THANK GOD THE CAMPAIGN IS OVER

I do not know about you, but I for one am truly happy that the presidential campaign is over. Personally, I am sick and tired of the politicians telling me that they are fighting for me. It is time for them to stop fighting and get to work for me and on behalf of every citizen, whether blue/red or left/right. The problems facing our great nation are so significant that “fighting” is detrimental, and an honest, objective bi-partisan working effort is now essential.

Although I felt Obama would win, the outcome of the presidential election was not as I had hoped. However, it is time for all of us to band together behind our president elect. May God give him the strength, and good reason to serve all the people with objectively. It is also time for us to look upon our new president not as a black man, but as our democratically elected leader. Historians will someday dissect this election, and if ACORN possibly impacted the results. Our national and worldwide problems are of such a serious nature that we must work together, move forward, and seek solutions promptly.

Yes, today I consumed a healthy serving of humble pie, and it did not taste very good. Your Commander will continue to cast a weary eye toward all of our politicians, because the track record requires constant vigilance.

While I call for a by-partisan effort with President-Elect Obama, I caution you… there are some dangerous issues on our immediate horizon. Already, House Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) are threatening revenge and using their majority positions with prompt liberal legislation. I suggest they be very careful, because excessive action could cause a substantial backlash from the electorate. Yes, Obama won. But, there are over 55 million citizens who voted for McCain, and to ignore them or grind them into submission would he a huge political error.

All is not bleak, because the Democrats did not achieve the goal of a filibuster- proof majority of 60 seats in the Senate. It is beneficial that the Senate still maintain a vocal opposition that permits the checks and balances to exist in the legislative process.

Beware of the claims of Sen. Charles Schumer D-NY for the need to re-establish the Fairness Doctrine (presenting issues with equal time for opposing views). Schumer and others have the goal of silencing conservative and middle of the road talk radio formats. But they should ask themselves why liberal Radio Air America fail and go bankrupt? An essay or two will be posted about this issue in coming weeks.

Hopefully, our new president will move with caution in removing our troops from Iraq. While I have changed my original position on this War, it would be extremely dangerous to withdraw too quickly. While it is time for the Iraqi government to begin to cover much of the expense involved in saving their very existence, we must not be put into a position of having to return should the situation turn ugly once our troops leave. We have won the War, and it is time for our forces to start coming home, but more importantly it is time for Iraq to stand up to their responsibilities. It is my experience that individuals and countries that rely on welfare tend to do little to get off the dole rolls without a firm nudge.

Attention must promptly focus on solving our economic shortcomings. Your Commander is vehemently opposed to income re-distribution. The American people understand need and are renowned world-wide for their charitable generosity. I refuse to be accused of being selfish, and will fight to my last dying breath to support an honest days work for a fair days pay. If the European style welfare state is established, it will destroy the American Dream quickly.

I do not know about you, but I turned the television off at 11PM (EST) last night just as the presidential results were being called. I could no longer comprehend the confusing, quickly switching graphic presentations of all the networks and cable stations. Graphics ruled over content, and the screens switched so quickly that my feeble old mind could not keep up with all of them trying to out-graphic one another. The growth of the internet’s influence has the network and cable operators trying to save their business model, and they are currently in a death spiral.

Onward. Let us give this new guy a chance. America will welcome CHANGE, but only just so much, so I caution Obama and his advisors. If he fails to deliver his pledge to CHANGE the country for the good, we will have a chance to vote his party out of office beginning with the Congressional elections in just two years, or make him a one-term President in four quickly passing years.

COMMANDER GRANGER

Friday, October 31, 2008

I HAD A DREAM

Last night I had the damdest dream of my life, but I have attributed it to the very rich French dinner we had last evening. I started with a wonderful lobster/crab bisque soup, a great salad with raspberry vinaigrette dressing, and then the best chicken crepes covered with melted gorgonzola and b├ęchamel cheeses. As I write this my taste buds are still reeling, thus it is no wonder I had a dream last night. Surely, my cardiologist back home is twitching, because that meal is surely not on my approved menu. Enough background, on to the dream.

The election was over, and Barack Obama had been declared the winner. Immediately the main stream media NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post declared the winner ‘THE GREAT LEADER’, and predicted grand and glorious things for the country. Then President-Elect Obama, or BO, announced that he had received a mandate from the people. He failed to mention that was due to the assistance of ACORN and their questionable voter registration tactics, and that over one million illegally registered voters were included in his vote totals. ACORN was the group that received millions of dollars in earmarks from then Illinois State Senator, and later U.S. Senator Obama.

After publically accepting the will of the voters, Obama (who from now on will be referred to as TGL-The Great Leader) met with Senator Harry Reid D-NV, and Representative Nancy Pelosi D-CA to plan a world-wide tour of foreign capitals to meet and greet the various leaders prior to Inauguration. That trip would take place using both Air Force #1, and #2, which outgoing President Bush had offered as a good-will gesture. Off they went on their round the world tour with numerous plane loads of working main-stream press consuming thousands of gallons of expensive jet fuel. The fuel consumption was not an issue of concern, because increased usage would result in decreased supplies, thus increasing the per-barrel prices for TGL’s good friends and illegal campaign donors in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela and China.

While sunning themselves, and enjoying the lavish hospitality of Vladimir Putin at his sea side home on the Black Sea, TGL and The Cozy Couple, Reid & Pelosi, (to be referred to in the future as TCC) hatched up the idea that it would be a great to totally convert U.S. highways and roads from driving on the right side of the road to the left side. This switch would show TGL and TCC’s great love of the European Lifestyle and way of doing things, not to mention the irony that the left side would now be the “right” side of the road. Additionally, the change would provide the opportunity to reinvigorate the American automobile industry, because it would be required by government edict to make cars with the steering wheels on the right side. All citizens with automobiles over five years in age would receive a government check of $10,000 to purchase one of the new cars that cost at least $25,000 each.

The three brain surgeons were totally gleeful thinking about the trickle down impact of their new plan. The government could provide the states with millions of dollars to install all new signs (in dual languages), and many jobs would be created to make the signs, paint the roads, and teach people to drive on the left side of the road.

Almost immediately the United Nations met and unanimously passed a resolution of their total support and admiration of this plan that indicated that the United States finally was joining their way of thinking and doing things. Additionally, upon hearing of this resolution, TGL and TCC agreed to provide amnesty for all unpaid parking tickets that UN Representatives had accumulated over the years of service in New York City. The Mayor of New York, not a Democrat, screamed like hell, because he was giving up tens of millions of dollars in potential revenue with this benevolent action.

After the Inauguration, TCC presented the necessary legislation to both Houses of Congress and it passed with 100% of the Democrats voting yes, and 100% of the Republican minority voting no. So America started driving on the left side of the road, and the immediate result was nothing short of mass slaughter. Thousands of accidents occurred on the first day and within the first month almost one-hundred thousand U.S. citizens were killed. TGL and TCC held an emergency meeting and announced that the government would immediately require free driver training for every citizen holding a drivers license. What ever it cost no one cared, because it benefited mankind. ACORN exploded, because the legislation did not include coverage for the illegal immigrants, or the illegal phantom voters who ACORN planned to charge the government for their re-training.

Key leaders of the ACLU were hospitalized with heart attacks, because they were overwhelmed with grievances from Community Organizers across the country. Immediately funeral directors were having a field day with the sudden increase in their business nation-wide, and the future business prospects appeared to be unbelievable. Unfortunately, they all suddenly made over $250,000 and thus fell into TGL’s increased tax bracket, which prevented them from hiring more people to address their growing workload.

Pork barrel dollars flowed freely from Washington, because every donor to TGL’s campaign wanted a piece of the new revenue stream. Money flowed so fast out of Washington they had to increase the size of all the U.S. Mint operations across the country.

Despite all the training and spreading of pork across the nation, business for tow trucks, ambulances, and attorneys was thriving. Hospitals were full, putting a further strain on Medicare and Medicaid, and the insurance companies were deluged with the number of claims and payouts.

The Europeans and Japanese were beside themselves with laughter because they already manufactured autos with right side drive and could easily increase production. The US manufacturers were forced to re-tool and that took a lot of time. By the time they were ready (thanks to Union interference) there was hardly a market remaining for US made cars. TGL and TCC were in a political pickle, and the entire electorate was furious. The United Nations passed another resolution praising the vision of TGL and TCC for their efforts to create a world-wide village. The U.S. Treasury was totally bankrupt, but TGL held a prime-time address to the nation to tell everyone to have HOPE, and CHANGE was coming once the citizens opened their pocket books further and sent him a check.

The main-stream media hardly mentioned this entire story, but Fox News was wall to wall with live shots from the scene of accidents across the nation. The FAA grounded all News Choppers due to the fact that mid-air collisions occurred in seven major cities. Hospital choppers had been given special air corridor clearance, because there was an increase in crashes with them, too. Chaos rained across the fruited plains.

A blue-ribbon Committee was immediately formed to recommend a corrective course of action. Appointed to this group were Senator Larry Craig R-ID, Cong. William Jefferson D.LA, Senator Ted Stevens R-AK, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse (I’ll cut his nuts off) Jackson, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Rev. Father Pflager, William Ayers, and his wife Bernadine Dohrn. This group was to travel to the left-lane driving capitals of the world with their spouses and staff with a report due to TGL within two-years. All expenses would be paid by the American taxpayers.

In the meantime, former President William Jefferson Clinton was named Roving Ambassador (without portfolio) to investigate sexual perversion in the under-developed nations. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton resigned her Senate Seat, and was appointed Ambassador to Outer Mongolia with a promise to be nominated to the Supreme Court once one of the Jurists croaks. This astute action by TGL got the Clintons out of his hair and Washington immediately.

At that point, your Commander woke up, and that was a good thing. Thank God it was only a dream, but what do you think the possibilities are of it really happening?

COMMANDER GRANGER

Thursday, October 30, 2008

THE PARTY'S OVER

I know that this blog usually contains MY opinions. However, listed below is a very interesting article by noted constitutional scholar Linda Monk. I received it via e-mail from a good friend. I feel it is so significant just a few days before the election that I am posting it to my blog site. The Party may be over, but it is not too late to influence the results of individual elections.

About Linda Monk

Linda R. Monk, J.D., is a constitutional scholar, journalist, andnationally award-winning author. A graduate of Harvard Law School , she twice received the American Bar Association's Silver Gavel Award, its highest honor for law-related media. Her books includeThe Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution, Ordinary Americans: U.S. History Through the Eyes of EverydayPeople, and The Bill of Rights: A User's Guide. For more than 20years, Ms. Monk has written commentary for newspapers nationwide,including the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times,and Chicago Tribune .

THE PARTY'S OVER
By Linda Monk

The Crash of 2008, which is now wiping out trillions of dollars ofour people's wealth, is, like the Crash of 1929, likely to mark theend of one era and the onset of another. The new era will see a more sober and much diminished America.

The "Omnipower" and "Indispensable Nation" we heard about in all the hubris and braggadocio following our Cold War victory is history. Seizing on the crisis, the left says we are witnessing the failure of market economics, a failure of conservatism. This is nonsense.

What we are witnessing is the collapse of Gordon Gecko ("Greed IsGood!") capitalism. What we are witnessing is what happens to aprodigal nation that ignores history, and forgets and abandons the philosophy and principles that made it great. A true conservative (Rep or Dem) cherishes prudence and believes in fiscal responsibility, balanced budgets and a self-reliant republic. Hebelieves in saving for retirement and a rainy day, in deferred gratification, in not buying on credit what you cannot afford, in living within your means.

Is that really what got Wall Street and us into this mess -- that we followed too religiously the gospel of Robert Taft and Russell Kirk?

"Government must save us!" cries the left, as ever.

Yet, who got us into this mess if not the government -- the Fed with its easy money, Bush with his profligate spending, and Congress and the SEC by liberating Wall Street and failing to step in and stop the drunken orgy?

For years, we Americans have spent more than we earned. We save nothing.

Credit card debt, consumer debt, auto debt, mortgage debt, corporate debt -- all are at record levels. And with pensions and savings being wiped out, much of that debt will never be repaid. Our standard of living is inevitably going to fall. For foreigners will not forever buy our bonds or lend us more money if they rightly fear that they will be paid back, if at all, in cheaper dollars. We aregoing to have to learn to live again within our means.

THE PARTY'S OVER!

Up through World War II, we followed the Hamiltonian idea that America must remain economically independent of the world in order to remain politically independent. But this generation decided that was yesterday's bromide and we must march bravely forward into a Global Economy, where we all depend on one another. American companies morphed into "Global Companies" and moved plants and factories to Mexico, Asia, China and India, and we began buying more cheaply from abroad what we used to make at home: shoes, clothes, bikes, cars, radios, TVs, planes, computers. As the trade deficits began inexorably to rise to 6 percent of GDP, we began vast borrowing from abroad to continue buying from abroad. At home, propelled by tax cuts, war in Iraq and an explosion in social spending, surpluses vanished and deficits reappeared and began to rise.

The dollar began to sink, and gold began to soar. Yet, still, the promises of the politicians come. Barack Obama will give us national health insurance and tax cuts for all but that 2 percent of the nation that already carries 50 percent of the federal income tax load. John McCain is going to cut taxes, expand the military, moveNATO into Georgia and Ukraine, confront Russia and force Iran to stop enriching uranium or "bomb, bomb, bomb," with Joe Lieberman as wartime consigliore.

Who are we kidding? What we are witnessing today is how empires end. The Last Superpower is unable to defend its borders, protect its currency, win its wars or balance its budget. Medicare and Social Security are headed for the cliff with unfunded liabilities in the tens of trillions of dollars. What we are witnessing today is nothing less than a Katrina-like failure of government, of our political class, and of democracy itself, casting a cloud over the viability and longevity of the system.

Notice who is managing the crisis. Not our elected leaders. Nancy Pelosi says she had nothing to do with it. Congress is paralyzed and heading home. President Bush is nowhere to be seen. Hank Paulson of Goldman Sachs and Ben Bernanke of the Fed chose to bail out Bear Sterns but let Lehman go under. They decided to nationalize Fannie and Freddie at a cost to taxpayers of hundreds of billions, putting the U.S. government behind $5 trillion in mortgages. They decided to buy AIG with $85 billion rather than see the insurance giant sink beneath the waves.

An unelected financial elite is now entrusted with the assignment of getting us out of a disaster into which an unelected financial elite plunged the nation. We are just spectators. What the Greatest Generation handed down to us -- the richest, most powerful, most self-sufficient republic in history, with the highest standard of living any nation had ever achieved -- the baby boomers, oblivious and self-indulgent to the end, have frittered away.

Added Comments from the Monk article:

How do WE THE PEOPLE put the villains who are responsible under oath and sit them down at public hearings to determine whose necks should meet the guillotine?
Hypocritically, those who had oversight responsibility - such as Senator Chris Dodd [Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee] andBarney Frank [Chairman, House Financial Services Committee] who helped get us into this mess - are on every TV channel voicing their righteous indignation and pompously sitting on their elevated platform glaring down at those they are chastising and grilling, trying to pass the blame to others.

WE THE PEOPLE should be on the elevated platform in judgment and execution of the likes of Chris Dodd, Barney Frank and the rest of the band of thieves and conspirators who are responsible for the financial collapse of the USA.

To name just a few of the culprits: Henry Paulson Jr - Secretary of the Treasury, Alan Greenspan & Ben Bernanke -- Chairmen Federal Reserve, Christopher Cox - SEC Chairman.

But not to worry -- YOUR PUBLIC SERVANTS who fear being voted out of office will take their self-awarded Golden Parachute Congressional Retirement, give WE THE PEOPLE the finger one last time - and head for their safe havens as the World Citizens they are. However,before they waddle off into the sunset, they will go on record one last time denouncing corporate greed, lavish salaries and bonuses for their key felons at Fannie May, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers & AIG. Meanwhile, WE THE PEOPLE fiddle while Rome burns and are too lazy and indifferent to vote the scum out of office.

This is not just food for thought, but an entire meal.

COMMANDER GRANGER