Thursday, May 29, 2008
Since full disclosure is appropriate…I have never cast a Democratic candidate vote in my life, but due to developments of the past seven plus years I now consider myself an INDEPENDENT (sorry Dad, I suspect you’re turning in your grave). While I am truly disappointed, I am not as disturbed with President George Bush as I am about the lack of responsible legislation coming from the Democratic controlled House and Senate. While the President is our designated leader, it is naive to think that one person alone is responsible for all actions and developments in Washington. Congress holds all the real cards and I feel the American public is not appropriately holding those elected officials responsible.
I wish I could be around fifty years or more from now so I could learn just how historians rate the Presidency of George Bush. It is my suspicion that he will ultimately receive far better reviews than his presidency currently gets. The divide within our political parties is so poisonous that vital issues are not being debated, addressed or, most importantly, resolved. My readings of historical tomes by Doris Kearns Goodwin, David McCullough and Michael Beschloss establish that the political discourse has always been stringent, personal and cutting, but our past effective leaders did work to determine common ground and move forward. Currently our Congress is in a state of political paralysis.
Although I have only read excerpts from the new Scott McClellan book, I do not think it passes the smell test. The fact that his mother’s most recent political adventure ended in defeat with little or no Republican Party financial support may be a significant factor, as well as the fact that Scott McClellan was fired from his job as Presidential Press Secretary. The timing of the book’s release to me just adds to that aroma.
You may be interested in Vanderbilt University Professor John G. Geer’s insightful book IN DEFENSE OF NEGATIVITY - Attack Ads in Presidential Campaigns. Geer’s conclusions are both interesting and logical.
We are confronted by the recent Clinton introduction of race into its frantic endeavor to ignore the statistical facts of her nomination. Obama has substantial unresolved baggage with Rev. Wright, his William Ayres relationship, talking directly to Iran and other terrorist, dangerous nations, and his wife’s “I’ve never been proud of my country before” comments all cast a shadow over his electability. The idea that John McCain would continue a third Bush term is absurd. McCain has many stands very different from Bush. For Obama or Clinton to campaign on a withdrawal of troops in 16 months or less is absolutely ignorant. We are there, we seem to be making progress, however, where we need to turn over responsibility is for the country, legislation, legal process, utilities, construction, etc. This is NOT all about oil. It IS about the protection of our country, our allies, and the viability of democracy. To try this in this region of the world is bold, but can succeed. It will take time, it will take American lives, but we already see losses decreasing. As we all have heard many times… ”Freedom is not free.”
Thus far, I have not heard any candidate really address his/her ability to standout and above as the leader we need to tackle the myriad of problems facing the USA today. I cannot endorse hope and platitudes. We certainly do not see any leadership coming from the currently dominated Democratic Congress. The Republicans seem to have lost the compass which was so effective under President Ronald Reagan.
While your vote in November for President will be critical, I firmly believe your vote in the November election Congressional and Senate seats may be even more important. The President leads, but the Congress legislates. It is time for us, the voters, to STEP BACK AND TAKE A DEEP BREATH before we make our next voting decisions.
In the meantime, is it too much to expect that any legislative action of significance can be accomplished between now and the November election? You can join me in writing your Congressman and Senator and demand that they get off their lethargic backsides and do something now to address the economically staggering gasoline prices. Congress can authorize responsible legal oil drilling on US soil (i.e. ANWR in Alaska) now and stop feeding the pocketbooks of our foreign suppliers (mostly Arabs and possibly terrorist strongholds). Gasoline prices would fall the day after Congress finds the spine to face up to the hysterical environmental special interests. And we must delve into the feasibility of the many alternate fuel sources available. This is not the ultimate answer to our energy independence, but it is at least a start in the right direction.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Nearly seven years and eight months ago the United States suffered one of the most heinous terrorist attacks in our history when commercial jetliners flew into the World Trade Center Twin Towers and the Pentagon, and United Flight #93 crashed in Pennsylvania.
Surely you will remember the next day American Flags were flying outside homes and on automobiles across the country. Everywhere there was substantial evidence of America’s strong patriotic spirit, but as time has past we see fewer and fewer flags or representations of America’s pride and determination.
I think this is a sad state of affairs. I believe that it is more important than ever to continue to demonstrate our patriotism proudly to the entire world. Time heals all wounds, but it should not enhance complacency. Will it take another attack to reestablish both our visible and psychological resolve?
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Over the past ten years, I became a good friend of Jim Baumgartner, the Volunteer Coordinator at the College Football Hall of Fame. We conversed frequently about our love of sports and our families and we talked by telephone just days before Jim passed about his idea for a radio program. He was one of the most courageous, positive individuals I have ever been associated with and he always had a friendly greeting to all he met. Jim never failed to extend greetings to “my Mrs. and the family.”
Mike Kiley has been my dear friend for over thirty years, dating back to our serving on the Alumni Board at Culver, fellow Trustees at Holy Cross College, being neighbors at Lake Wawasee, and in addition my personal attorney. Mike never met anyone he did not like and he had a legion of friends across the country. I am rich in memories of hilarious occasions with Mike at The Lake, Notre Dame Football games, the Indiana Society in Chicago, the west coast of Florida, and Chicago’s old Golden Ox Restaurant where we shared a “touch of the creature” on more than one occasion.
Both men suffered long with serious health issues, but always presented strong, positive attitudes. I never heard them complain and their wives and families were always the center of their universe. Jim and Mike were true gentlemen and fervent alumni of their respective Universities.
I already miss these gentle giants who I am certain are resting peacefully in the strong, gentle, warm arms of their maker. Jim is forming a Fan Club for Indiana University in heaven while Mike has the best seats in the house for Notre Dame Football games coached by Knute Rockne and Frank Leahy. My thoughts and prayers go out to their wives and families, and it saddens me that I never told them enough just how special our friendships were and that I loved them.
May God bless Jim and Mike, who were the best things a man could ever have…, good friends.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Consider the topics (not in order of importance) the War in Iraq, Immigration, Border Security, Inflation, Social Security Insolvency, Health Insurance/Medicare, Cures for Cancer, Crime/Gang Violence/Prison populations, Illegal Drugs, Real Estate Foreclosures, Education, Foreign Aid, United Nations Effectiveness, Poverty, Funding Entitlement Programs, National Debt, World Terrorism, Election Process, Earmarks (Pork Barrel Projects), Agricultural Subsidies, Entitlement Programs, National Debt, Extension of Tax Cuts, Increasing Gasoline Prices, Oil Dependency, Energy Policy, Congressional Accountability, Local and Federal Governmental Reform, and the issues requiring solution and prompt attention go on and on.
If you have not noticed with the never ending primary election process and lame duck Presidency, nothing is being accomplished in the House or Senate. Our House and Senate, and the Congressional Leadership promised only two years ago longer work weeks and bipartisan solutions. Currently there is little or no legislation of consequence being addressed or accomplished.
The USA desperately needs leadership and we need it now, not after the inauguration in January 2009. Let’s begin with the issue of high gasoline prices as a starting point. This is a basic economic supply and demand issue. Rapid economic growth in India and China plus environmentalist objections to drilling in Anwar are root causes for our high gasoline prices. Further, the failure of Congress to establish a National Energy Policy adds to the problem’s severity.
Congress should act now and start by demanding the State Department contact all the oil producing countries and tell them that all US foreign aid will stop immediately, until they increase oil production. More supply means lower prices. Additionally, Congress can and should immediately legislate a temporary reduction of speed limits across the nation that will improve miles per gallon statistics and reduced consumption. American’s won’t like this, but both actions will cause gasoline prices to fall immediately. We need political guts and leadership now, because gasoline prices are currently destroying our economy.
Anyone who does not recognize the fact that the Islamic and Socialist countries who are producing our imported oil want high oil prices and the direct negative impact they have on the USA economy is naive. There is only so much oil available in those countries and they are milking it for all it is worth, because when it runs out their economies could collapse, unless they prepare now for that day. Look at Dubai building a tourism industry, as an example.
Next, we must accept the fact that Terrorism is a huge and real threat to the very existence of the American Way of Life. It is naive to think we can get out of Iraq immediately after the coming election. This current call by politicians is pure political speak to generate votes over an unpopular war. I do believe we can start bringing some troops home immediately. We must firmly tell the corrupt Iraq government to get their act together NOW and stop giving them anymore money NOW. Let them learn to live on their oil revenue or face the reality of becoming a part of Iran. Believe me, Iraq does not want to renew their years of war with Iran, never mind having their homeland taken over by Iran.
Next, before the coming election we must seal and secure our borders with both Canada and Mexico. Some of the troops can come home from Iraq to support the under staffed Border Patrol, and they could be further re-enforced by various National Guard Units on a rotating basis. The next Congress must reach an acceptable solution to the Immigration problem, because it is unrealistic to ship over 12 million illegal immigrants home.
I clearly support immigration, but I insist it be fair and legal. Congress must determine a way to identify everyone in this country and that can be done with a tamper proof National Identification Card for a small fee. The ACLU will scream, but I believe our citizens will support the program. In reality, only people with something to hide should fear a National Identification Card. The ACLU will not pay for the damages caused by the next terrorist attack or the costs we now absorb from the illegal immigrant community. It is foolish to think we can send all the illegal immigrants home, because if we did most restaurants in America would have to close. Mexico must be told sternly to cooperate or we could start sending their people home, which would collapse Mexico’s economy.
Sealing the borders will immediately reduce illegal immigration, many illegal immigrants will return to their original homes. The flow of illegal drugs will be quickly reduced eliminating a great source of funding for gang activity. Reduce gang activity and you reduce prison populations, court/police protection expenses and some of the funding being absorbed by taxpayers for emergency room visits by drug victims and illegal immigrants.
Securing the border will immediately have a trickle down impact on several of our major national problems. The added expense to our national treasury will more than be offset by the corresponding reduction of numerous federal expenditures.
Much is to be gained and little if anything is lost. America is long overdue in running our government like a business and if any businessman ran his business like Congress they would be fired, not reelected. It is time to consider your Congressional vote more seriously and demand performance accountability. Experience has proven that Congress immediately starts huffing and puffing after a tragedy and demands immediate action. History has shown that their action has often been hasty, ill conceived and does not solve the problem. Surely, it is far more prudent to act aggressively now, before it is too late. When will we ever learn from our experiences?
WHAT COMES FIRST…THE CHICKEN OR THE EGG?
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
I knew that she was a good student, but I quickly filled with pride when it was announced that she was graduating Summa Cum Laude with a double major in Economics and Mathematics. Additionally, it was announced that she was being inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. While I’m bragging, these distinctions are a continuation of her brother’s achievement as a Presidential Scholar who graduated 2 years ago from Southern Methodist University majoring in Biomedical Engineering. We have one more granddaughter just entering her college experience at Triton Community College in suburban Chicago.
It has been said that I can be a cynical, grumpy old man, but I am not apologizing. I’m most concerned about the problems we are passing on to our children to address and resolve. We all want a better, happier, healthy world for mankind.
After this past weekend, I want to tell you that THERE IS A BRIGHT LIGHT at the end of the tunnel. All across these great United States of America young adults are graduating from colleges and Universities and moving into the work force to hopefully start their climb up the ladder of life. I found it to be a most exciting experience to see the fresh faces with eagerness in their eyes to accept the challenges of the future.
Reading the graduation program, I found it both enlightening and promising to see just what our youth have studied and the magnificent achievements they have made. Some of the Master and Doctorial Thesis subjects I do not even understand, but they are the foundation to making life on the Planet better and sustainable.
It has been a long time since I spent a weekend witnessing so many happy, smiling parents, grandparents, relatives and friends beaming with pride at their student’s magnificent accomplishments. I witnessed students who expressed joy at their achievements and a strong desire to face with confidence the challenges ahead.
I was equally impressed by the degree of comprehension and intention to participate in the current political process by these VU graduates. Additionally, I noted a significant willingness to look forward and think of what they can do to improve the community around them, i.e., participate in the Teach America program, participation in charitable fund raisers like the Cancer Marathon, and civil activities such as Habit for Humanity. Our student bodies clearly have a broader focus than just academic achievement. Back in the 50’s when I matriculated all we wanted to do was makeup for lost time caused by two Wars and join the workforce.
My faith in the future was firmly renewed by the quality and values of the graduates I met. Despite the Herculean problems facing our country and world, we are in good hands with a strong, inquisitive, knowledgeable next generation stepping forward to improve and reaffirm its legacy.
Saturday, May 3, 2008
One of our most admired Presidents is frequently referred to in both Republican and Democratic campaign rhetoric, but I suspect few of us have ever heard the following quotes….
"You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich"
"You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong"
"You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift"
"You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down"
"You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred"
"You cannot build character and courage by taking away man's initiative and independence"
"You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves"
Who made these statements? Those are the words of President Abraham Lincoln. I find it interesting that most of the candidates love to wrap themselves in his cape, but then clearly espouse diametrically different platforms.
I suggest that if we think about Honest Abe’s words when we vote next November, we will all be in a stronger position to make an objective, rational decision in selecting our next President.
That is just FOOD FOR THOUGHT.