It is an expression that rolls off the tongue. Thanking someone in uniform as they trek through an airport or walk down a sidewalk has become commonplace.
The expression can take many different forms, from a simple ‘thanks’ and maybe a handshake to a fireworks popping flyover, flag-waving spectacle at a professional football game.
It is certainly most often a gesture made in hopes of lifting the spirit of a service member, a tiny step forward to express appreciation for what a soldier has done for the country, whatever that might be, from suffering the horrors of warfare to shuffling papers at the Pentagon.
The 150th Anniversary of one of the most important events in American history and arguably in world history slipped past the public consciousness July 3, without much attention or appreciation.
The event was the Battle of Gettysburg, actually a series of the most bloody battles of the Civil War that occurred just outside Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, beginning with Picket’s Charge up Cemetery Ridge on the afternoon of July 1, 1863, and ending with the retreat of the Confederate Army under the command of General Robert E. Lee in the early morning hours of Independence Day, July 4.
Father’s Day is the product, not surprisingly, of a woman’s effort, a daughter raised by a widower in Seattle a hundred years ago, but it took 60 years for the day commemorating fathers to be celebrated nationally.
I have enjoyed the observance of Father’s Day 32 times. And in most of those years, my children have presented me with cards, hand drawn with color crayons in the early years; gifts, many handmade, and a hearty Sunday brunch.
I have accepted all with gratitude, a few tears, some embarrassment for being the center of attention, and some guilt for accepting love and kudos when I know I wasn’t the best father I could have been or my children deserved.
“Illegal aliens have always been a problem in the United States. Ask any Indian.”
There is as much truth as humor in those words from my friend and former colleague Bob Orben, a brilliant political speechwriter and comedy script craftsman (sometimes they are one and the same, but I digress).
The point is that Americans have been both immigrants and native population. Many of us are the progeny of immigrants. But despite our heritage, we still struggle with immigration, both legal and illegal, how we feel about it and what we should do or not do to integrate new arrivals into a burgeoning and diversifying American society.
“You hate to think that the President would purposely mislead the American people, but it sure looks like it to me.” — House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon 9/21/2012
Let’s give the President the benefit of the doubt for now on whether he is coming clean on events in the Middle East that led to the death of our Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three others. But Chairman McKeon should hold that thought.
We should focus first on UN Ambassador Susan Rice, who on Sunday, September 16th, went on a national media bender to deliver three messages: One, the violent protests in Libya were spontaneous. Two, the protests were caused by the release of an American video that insulted the Prophet Mohammed. Three, the two former Navy Seals who were killed in Libya were part of a security detail protecting the Ambassador to that country. Continue reading →
Mickey Edwards has always marched to a different drummer. He was a Republican Member of Congress, who didn’t quite fit in with the new breed of neoconservatives that came to dominate the Republican Party in the 1990s. He marched in the same parade as they did. But he sometimes had to do one of those skip steps to keep in sync with his fellow marchers. He instinctively could not conform.
So it comes as no surprise that Edwards, in his latest book, The Parties Versus The People, argues that we rethink the whole concept of party politics and the influence it has over American government. But Edwards is no longer marching to a different drummer. He is a drummer.
The weeks and months following the September 11, 2001 attacks were extraordinary, filled with anger, revenge, heartbreak, sadness, patriotism, national unity and spiritualism. We were America again, all for one and one for all. That was the good that rose from the ashes of tragedy. Survey researchers said we had changed forever.
It wasn’t just the high degree of patriotism, but the spirit of civility and common cause that permeated both political thinking and behavior. President Bush threw his arm around a retired firefighter when he visited the twin towers site, reflecting how strongly Americans felt about working together and uniting against a common enemy. There were pledges and promises to keep that spirit alive, to work together and treat each other better. It was even evident in Congress.
You want a plan to create jobs? Here’s a good one:
1. Simplify the tax code, reduce capital gains, corporate and dividend taxes, and improve the climate for American businesses overseas.
2. Open up domestic exploration of oil, encourage use of natural gas and clean coal technology, increase use of biofuels, and increase supplies from our friends, like Canada.
3. Repeal burdensome regulations spawned by Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley laws, repeal and replace Obamacare, and repeal regulations that inhibit economic growth, particularly those recently promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National labor Relations Board.
4. Improve our relations with Asian economies and finally ratify pending agreements with South Korea, Panama and Columbia.
5. Enact patent reform, reform the Federal Drug Administration and privatize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Continue reading →
What I saw of the Iowa Republican Presidential primary debate, and it wasn’t much, brought to mind two unsavory aspects of American political campaigns that politicians, the press and the public ought to try to temper before we go full throttle into the 2012 races.
The first was incivility. The media carnival barkers and fire-breathing partisans were anxious for the candidates to brutalize one another, particularly fellow Minnesotans Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty. From news reports of the debate—again, I missed some of the exchanges, they got some of what they wanted, but not much. I am told the two Minnesotans went at it, dropping the Minnesota nice persona—isn’t that special—but they really did not beat the bejesus out of each other.
A friend who runs a small business told me recently he’s going to make some really tough decisions next week to cut expenses. Those decisions are going to hurt good people.
I am familiar with people who have started new businesses that are now teetering on the brink of collapse.
Businesses, big and small, in the housing industry are hurting because of consumer angst about buying or selling.
I know a couple afraid of losing so much of their retirement savings that they won’t be able to slow down when they’d planned. I talk to young people every week who can’t find jobs and have nowhere to turn.
There are millions like them across America who don’t know where the next paycheck is coming from or how they will support their children or how they will avoid being dependent upon their children in old age. They are feeling the anxiety of not knowing, the fear of failure, that agony of defeat. They are real people with real families in real communities, struggling every day because of the uncertainty over the American economy. They are consumers who won’t spend and manufacturers who won’t produce and bankers who won’t lend because of doubt.
In the spring of 1981 Office of Management and Budget Director David Stockman sat for weeks at a long table in room H-228 of the Capitol, his beady eyes peering over stacks of thick, black 3-ring binders containing the detail on most every federal program.
Stockman was holding over budget negotiations with his former colleagues in the House of Representatives. His mission was to cut spending, cut taxes, increase defense, and help his President, Ronald Reagan, usher in a new era of smaller, limited government, entrepreneurial innovation, individual freedom, and global prestige.
Piece of cake.
Few if any at the table, maybe with the exception of Jack Kemp, knew they were making history at the time. But they were, in the same way congressional leaders did for Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and Roosevelt’s New Deal and McKinley’s and Teddy Roosevelt’s regimes of political and regulatory reforms.
When you follow politics, it is easy to become consumed by all of the charges and countercharges, accusations, innuendo, name-calling and character assassinations that dominate the headlines.
The challenge is to sort out what in the political theater has broader meaning or a lesson worth learning. President Obama’s insinuation that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is injecting foreign funds into American campaigns offers a little of both.
I sent a letter to the President, obviously not for his benefit, but mine, on his repetitive rhetoric about taxing the rich, partly inspired by a letter someone sent me some months ago. This isn’t my exact letter. I edited and updated a bit, but it’s the thought that counts.
Dear Mr. President:
I listened pretty intently to your speech in Cleveland, and I’ve heard you say over and over again you are not going to back down from taxing the wealthy. It seems to be one of the central themes of your Administration: There are victims and villains in America, the lines between them are clearly drawn and you are dedicated to protecting the victims and punishing the villains, among them, the rich.
Have you noticed where the focus of the traditional media is just nine weeks ahead of the mid-term elections? While there seem to be only two driving concerns in this election – the economic condition of the country and the role of government in fixing it – the media is fixated on noise. Just look at the news that’s been dominating the front pages of the newspapers and the evening news broadcasts.
The focus of attention is on the anniversaries of Social Security, the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream Speech (partly because of the provocation of infotainer Glen Beck’s Restore America rally that same day). There’s also continued coverage of the aftermath of the Gulf oil spill, gay marriage and the sexuality of former RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman; the politics of race, the religious affiliation of President Obama and, of course, the pack-journalism story of the decade, the development of an Islamic cultural center in Manhattan.
Carlos Martinelly Montano is an illegal immigrant from Bolivia. On August 1, he was allegedly driving drunk on a Prince William County, Virginia, road and slammed into another car, killing Sister Denise Mosier and injuring two other Catholic nuns.
There’s nothing that makes you think more soberly and seriously about the illegal immigration crisis in this country than a senseless human tragedy in your own back yard.
The tales run the gamut. There are seemingly endless horror stories of brutal killings along the Mexican-American border spawned by trafficking in drugs, guns and human beings, up against the story of the young student at Harvard, also here illegally, but on the precipice of becoming a valued member of American society.
I don’t know who is advising Rep. Charlie Rangel in his defense against ethics charges, but my guess is that he or she or they got a hold of a book on political campaigns by political scholars Jim Thurber and Candy Nelson of American University.
There’s a chapter in the book on playing defense in a campaign, featuring four classic categories of a good defense. The defense strategy was the creative invention of Jay Bryant, Buddy Bishop and Paul Newman. For those of a younger generation, Bryant, and his wife, Susan, Bishop and Newman were among a vanguard of political strategists in the pre-Reagan era, who helped sow the seeds of a Republican majority strategy.
I wonder if there is a family somewhere in America whose son’s or daughter’s life was put at risk because of the Wikileaks.org release last month of 76,000 classified documents?
I wonder if there is an Afghan family whose son’s or daughter’s life was put at risk because of those leaks that we are told contain the names of Afghani citizens who have tried to help U.S. soldiers in their war against the Taliban.
I’m the father of five and I wonder about those things because war must get very personal and very heart wrenching for parents with children—age doesn’t matter and adulthood doesn’t exist for parents—involved on the violent fronts of the conflict.
So it was especially alarming to read the reactions of those detached observers suffering from chronic arrogance and elitism who thought the release of the documents was boring, telling us little we didn’t know already. “Overall, though, the most shocking thing about the ‘War Diary” may be that it fails to shock, wrote columnist Eugene Robinson. His colleague Richard Cohen went further: “The news in that massive data dump…is that there is no news at all.”