Saturday, November 29, 2008


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?


Tuesday, November 25, 2008


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?


Sunday, November 23, 2008


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:

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?


Saturday, November 22, 2008


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.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008


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.


Monday, November 17, 2008


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.


Sunday, November 16, 2008


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. ( )

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 . 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 .

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.


Saturday, November 15, 2008


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.


Thursday, November 13, 2008


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.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008


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.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008


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.