War Is The Cost Of Freedom
It is unsettling when I hear the phrase, "The Costs of War".
And every year around Memorial Day, discussions inevitably turn to whether or not wars are worth the costs. What bothers me is the misuse of the language. We should never suggest that war has a cost; in America, war is the cost of freedom.
Yes, it is very expensive! Just ask the millions who have died for the cause, and the millions of survivors of those who died in the defense of freedom.
Americans are unique in the world because we don't settle our political differences with violence. We only use or partake in war when some other group tries to restrict our freedom, or the freedom of one of our allies. And we do pay a heavy price, which is something some younger citizens can easily overlook. Since the Revolutionary War, America has sacrificed just under three million Americans to secure the freedoms too many of us take for granted.
Think about that for a moment; three million men and women voluntarily suffered a brutal death so you and I could spend this weekend barbecuing hot dogs and hamburgers. And that doesn't come close to accounting for the millions and millions of servicemen and women who have been seriously maimed, psychologically damaged, and their families fractured by the damages incurred by war.
And what about the children, maybe two or three times as many people, most of whom, were very young at the time, having the direction of their lives drastically changed by the loss or destruction of a parent.
So the 'Costs of War' is a terrible phrase, a misplaced and misleading characterization of something that is very noble. Talking about war in that manner is an insult to our friends, our fathers and grandfathers, our sons and daughters, and our moms and other family members who paid the ultimate price only because they believed so strongly that if there was anything in life worth sacrificing their life for, it was the concept that all men should be free.
They gave their lives for us, freely and with the conviction that we would continue to do whatever was necessary to protect that basic human right for ourselves and our children, and those who come behind us. People who cherish the notion, the precious idea that all men are created equal by God, and deserve to live in freedom, to pursue happiness and health and to have their government, made up of like minded men and women, help them by answering to them, not the other way around.
The next time you hear someone use that horrible phrase, please, stop them in their tracks, and politely refresh their memory, correct their grammar, and set them right.
War is a horrible thing. It is disgusting, sickening and repugnant. But living in servitude is not living at all. The best way to prevent both unacceptable conditions is to fiercely protect freedom once you have it, because losing your freedom is cheap, and in most cases it cannot be bought back at any price.
God bless our lost and damaged brothers and sisters of freedom! We love you and thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
We pledge to honor your sacrifice and service, not just this Memorial Day, but every single day of our lives.
Shameless Media Perversions
Hillary Clinton's campaign team has, and is, using daytime TV stars to promote her agenda. This conscious blurring of lines between news and entertainment is so insidious, she apparently has no shame in exploiting it.
In memos from a 2009 drafted by Clinton's campaign media spokesman (reported by Breitbart Jerusalem), she was advised that the State Department could use "Specialty Media" to get her foreign policy message out to the American public.
It noted that the star power of TV personalities like Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres, and the talk show The View, had immense influence and were willing to feature stories that would advance her policies, such as the then controversial nuclear agreement with Iran.
The memo stated, "These outlets can create vital support for official policy or pending legislation among key domestic constituency groups but also create momentum for policy abroad."
The writer went on to recommend Clinton's department "...utilize daytime talk shows with large female audiences."
Allowing officials and dignitaries to speak about issues on talk shows is not new, but using the program itself as a platform for any politician to push for or to influence legislation directly, raises 'fairness' issues within the government controlled broadcast arena. Especially since the shows are clearly designed and promoted as entertainment programs, and are not subjected to the same standards and scrutiny as programs hosted by news journalists.
In the most recent event, the New York Times spun a story about "claims that Trump" degraded and abused women in private. Of course there is no clear connection between the Times and Hillary, but it is apparent the Times is acting as a proxy to do damage to her presumptive Republican opponent. As are the 20 or so reporters at the Washington Post who are currently dedicating their time to digging up dirt on Trump.
Besides the clear ethical considerations, this sort of bald-faced media perversion illustrates the conflict of crossing boundaries between true news programs, journalism, and propaganda.
Our Larger American Story
President Obama's commencement speech to Howard University has many facets. It was both inspirational and sobering. It was incisive and divisive. He managed to effectively touch the students and motivate them, which is precisely what a commencement speech should do, and he is to be commended for that.
In fact, it was a great speech, maybe one of the best of his Presidency. I say that because I think he made many very important points. He was congenial, humorous and easy to listen to. His message was tailored to the audience, but in many ways spoke to all of America.
Having said that, I also relate to a number of Americans of all colors, who find his constant emphasis on race disconcerting. They worry that focusing on skin color is by default, divisive.
Obama is, by any measure, a truly great speaker. I believe he is the best orator we have seen in the Oval Office since Reagan and JFK. And I also believe he is extremely effective at capturing the angst most young black students and social activists feel about the state of affairs in America.
He said he wanted to point out a very salient point, that "if you are young, gifted and black" you are living in a very good period of American history. And that the reason for that is that many people had fought long and hard to create the climate of opportunity that exists in this country and the world today.
And he went on to challenge the students to be active, to vote, to be engaged. He mentioned that they do not have to face the adversity of their fathers and grandfathers to be heard, to vote. That those battles were fought for them. That they now have no excuse for apathy.
Then he angrily mentions one of his pet peeves, how too many successful people act self sufficient and arrogant, they don't recognize the community effort that paved the way for their success. And he suggested that anyone who is successful didn't do it by themselves. They had help. Noting that being a student at Howard University is just such an advantage, and that it has been doing good work for over two hundred years, and has spawned numerous black success stories, none of which would have happened without the help of Howard University.
What is so ironic to me is that every analogy the the president made about how much work it took for this generation to have the opportunities and freedom that they enjoy today, came from the sacrifices of earlier generations, but never mentions how they are all just as applicable to the larger American story.
The entire social construct that is America, for all of us, no matter what our heritage, our culture or our religious associations, all of our freedoms, our social milieu is unlike anything else on the planet, because generations of brave, unselfish dreamers gave of themselves and their families so all of us could enjoy the country we have today. They did that so we could benefit, we could live in a prosperous, secure and happy place. So we could jettison ancient hatreds, feuds and tribal anxieties.
And we could ignore race.
They had a dream, because up until that point in history, nothing like the United States of America, the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the melting pot that is America today, had ever existed.
Those previous generations were idealistic and flawed. They too had their share of racists and bigots. But overall, they were made up of a wide variety of racial and culturally diverse men and women. They had a vision that was untested, idealistic and seemingly impossible.
They called it America.
Just as he noted, if you, as a black person, could choose when you were born and in what era you could live, this would be the best time. In my mind, that applies to all young people, white, black, red or brown.
And I wish he had said that is why we need to embrace our 'Americanism' more than ever! Not be ashamed of it, to wear it proudly!
So the one social construct, or ideal that I found missing from his otherwise excellent speech, was the recommendation that it takes some integration for the unique American Dream to be fulfilled. We should be proud of our cultural heritage, but we need to be most proud of, and unify behind our constantly threatened American heritage. Particularly now when our form of government and social fabric is under attack, and especially if we want to continue to forge new paths of social continuity, to bring our brand of Liberty and Justice for all to more people across the globe.
It is OK to recognize your roots, but being an American means subjugating those tribal tendencies to the values and ideals that make America so unique, and so precious and fragile.
It's Time For An Intervention
Because of the divide that both the Republicans and the Democrats are experiencing during this, the most interesting Presidential Primary Race in American history, we hear the term "qualified' a lot. Bernie says Hillary isn't 'qualified' to be President, and a slew of Republicans accuse Trump of being 'unqualified' to become the Republican Standard Bearer, let alone the President elect.
This is astonishing because for the average voter, most of the candidates who are presented to us as 'leaders' who could take the office of the 'most powerful leader on earth,' are politicians. And surveys continually point out that Americans simply don't trust politicians, period.
Why should they?
Like Laurel and Hardy, America finds itself in 'Another Fine Mess.' We are addicted to spending ourselves into oblivion, the world is on fire, our infrastructure is crumbling from neglect, our cost of living is in the stratosphere, and our ability to unite over social and civil issues has all but been abandoned, and robots are rapidly replacing middle class jobs. Millennials think capitalism is unfair and socialism may be preferable. Women feel under siege, as do most men. Our business community is shrinking as is our job base. The list of challenges is endless, so much so that the establishment, on both sides of the isle, recommend we turn it over to one of those career politicians who got us into this mess in the first place!
Isn't that the definition of insanity?
So just what 'qualifies' a man or woman to be the leader of the modern world? Is it political experience? If so, how did Dwight Eisenhower get elected? Is it charm? Dick Nixon was elected twice, so I don't think that criteria is important. Is it intelligence? According to Democrats, it can't be because they lost to George Bush twice! Is it expertise in a certain area such as foreign policy? Nope, because no one knew what Barack Obama stood for regarding that when he ascended to the Oval Office in 2008.
For example, in a conversation between prominent journalists Tom Brokaw and Charlie Rose recorded in November 2008, just a few days before the election of Obama, the men admitted they knew little about the Democratic candidate, his policies on China, terrorism or the Middle East, or what he thought about NATO or Iran. They admitted that the press had all but ignored those issues, instead they were focused on the idea that a Black Man could actually win the Presidency.
They noted he had attended Harvard, so he must be intelligent!
The point is, in the history of our country, the diversity of the candidates for the Presidency has been fairly homogenous. They have been near unanimously former legislators or Governors. They have been consummate insiders, establishment operatives, part and parcel of the system. Even with his brief political history, other than a stint as an Illinois Congressman, Obama was essentially a community activist and organizer. He is highly educated and very articulate, but his worldliness was non-existent. He had no military experience, no management experience, and some would say no business background.
But he said all the right stuff, and he was not George Bush.
So what is it about Trump that indicates his inability to effectively lead a nation in distress? How is it that the backgrounds of other candidates qualify as adequate? Hillary has experience in the Senate, and has worldly exposure as the Secretary of State. But she has no business or financial background, other than amazingly accumulating nearly 100 million dollars since leaving the White House, while working primarily as a public official. Actually, that is nothing short of miraculous!
Kasich suggests only he is qualified, because he has been in national political office most of his life! He has balanced budgets, born legislation, and wolfed down massive varieties of ethnic food during his travels. Cruz is a former Deputy Attorney General and an active third year Congressman for Texas, while Bernie has 34 years of elective office from Mayor, Governor and now Representative. By that measure, he is by far the most 'qualified ' candidate of them all! His solution? Make America like Cuba!
Trump, on the other hand has built an International business empire. He owns and operates some of the world's most premium resort and business properties. He has interests on several continents, and has negotiated contracts with all variety of governments and cultures. He has interests in multiple industries from food, travel, sports, entertainment and publishing, and is considered a genius in branding. He has operated his companies with thousands of employees, primarily in the multicultural and politically diverse milieu of New York. He has successfully navigated every extreme form of political regimes known to America, from Dinkins to Bloomberg, Cuomo to Giuliani to Pitaki to de Blasio, Trump has thrived.
So along comes critics, George Will for example, who says the idea that an outsider should even consider running for the penultimate public office, would ruin the delicate balance of our representative style government, wreck our ability to lead the world, to preserve the peace and to provide security and an environment conducive to economic expansion and improved opportunity for everyone on the planet.
The question is, if that were true, why are so many people so anxious to see Trump succeed at 'Making America Great Again?' Trump is telling anyone who will listen that our leaders are not doing their job. That in fact, they are incompetent and dangerous. Sometimes, within a family, the hardest thing one member can do, is to tell another member that their behaviour is out of line.
Trump is recommending an intervention, and the career politicians, the embedded establishment of autocrats in Washington, don't want to hear it.