Tag Archives: American

Success is in the Eye of the Beholder

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about presidential campaigns, qualifications, policies, candidate biographies, et al. What matters the most in choosing a president? Personally, I believe policy positions are everything. When I voted for Barack Obama in 2008, I voted based on his policy proposals. It was exciting to me that a man of African descent was going to the White House, but that fact had nothing to do with my vote. The fact is the Republican Party has offered me nothing for more than three decades.

A lot is made of personal background and “character” in politics. Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama came from less than advantaged backgrounds and made something of themselves. Yet the right can’t stand them. George W. Bush and Mitt Romney are examples of white privilege run amok. I have long thought that if W weren’t named George Bush he’d be laying drunk in a gutter somewhere. But his image was sort of down home and folksy, which appealed to a certain segment of American society.

Romney on the other hand plays the high society high roller to the nth degree. The average person will have a hard time relating to him if they vote on candidate biography. But the dyed-in-the-wool Republicans love his big money story, although I’m not sure what he really did to earn it. Would he have had the opportunity if his name weren’t Romney? Mitt and W are proof that the Old Boy Network is alive and well.

I really think the Obama campaign needs to showcase his biography. He is a real American success story and people have forgotten that. Put it out there.


The Answer Sheet – The problem(s) with the Common Core standards

The Answer Sheet – The problem(s) with the Common Core standards.

This almost two year-old piece in the Washington Post raises some of the concerns I have with ed reform. I’m particularly concerned about the narrowing of curriculum and failure to recognize developmental factors which affect student performance.


Paramilitary Policing From Seattle to Occupy Wall Street | The Nation

Good perspective from the man who was at the top of the Seattle Police Department during “The Battle in Seattle.”

Paramilitary Policing From Seattle to Occupy Wall Street | The Nation.


BP faces more citations, Halliburton dispute | Reuters

BP faces more citations, Halliburton dispute | Reuters.

Unbelievable that as we near two years since the incident, these two parties continue to point fingers everywhere but at themselves. Have some decency and take responsibility for your own actions.

According to the Supreme Court, you are each a person. Let’s call you Chet Halliburton and BP Smith. Chet, go to bed without dinner! BP, no video games until you admit you were wrong!


What? Really?

In The News Tribune this morning a letter states, “Thanksgiving was created to honor the free market and private property.”

All I can say is, if this is true I now have a deeper understanding of the meaning of Black  Friday.


Patriots?

Twenty-two years ago the United States was in the middle of a debate over flag burning. Congress had approved the Flag Protection Act of 1989. Literally the minute it took effect on October 28, 1989, opponents challenged it by publically burning flags.

People were arrested and charged, but ultimately charges were dropped because the law had been declared unconstitutional. In the ensuing years, more public acts of flag desecration were carried out. Organizations such as the American Legion protested some of these acts, including an art exhibit called What is the Proper Way to Display the U.S. Flag? at the Phoenix Art Museum.

Some people reacted violently to these acts. A number of states even tried to pass laws making the penalty for assault negligible if the victim was in the act of flag desecration. These were referred to as “beat up a flag burner laws.”

At the same time this was happening, crews were cleaning up spilled petroleum in Prince William Sound. Countless animals had died as a result of the Exxon Valdez being introduced to Bligh Reef by its captain. Among them were at least 250 Bald Eagles, America’s other symbol of national pride.

Yet there was no patriotic outrage about this desecration. The people who showed the greatest concern for the deaths of these living symbols were not those screaming bloody murder about flag burners. Nobody introduced laws making assault of careless ship captains worry-free.

Maybe it’s because we all know we are guilty of causing the devastation in Prince William Sound. Our consumption of petroleum continues to be insatiable. Although there is new-found interest in alternative forms of energy, those entrenched in the oil business have motivation to keep it on top, and will doubtless do all they can to keep it that way.

I consider myself a patriot. As an Army brat and former Boy Scout, I learned about flag ettiquette and practice it to this day. We display our flag on national holidays, but not in the rain or at night. We don’t allow the flag to touch the ground. When our flag becomes too soiled and tattered to display, we will send it to an organization which will destroy the flag in a dignified manner.

I am also a lover of wildlife, particularly birds. The images of dead and dying wildlife, particularly Bald Eagles, in Prince William Sound brought tears to my eyes. I still cannot understand how this tragedy did not motivate patriots to do something big about our thirst for petroleum.

There’s no time like the present, Americans.


Shop locally and help the wider economy grow, prosper

Published in the Puyallup Herald: 09/21/11 1:51 pm  

 

This afternoon I’ll drive to Terry’s Berries to pick up fresh produce. For a number of years my wife and I have been buying a share at this local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm.I’m a strong believer in buying as close to home as possible, something that’s not easy in the 21st century. I regularly check labels for place of origin when buying any product. I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot any time I find clothing with a “Made in USA” label.As I write this, I’m wearing a pair of jeans, a polo shirt, and running shoes, all made in America. It took a little effort to find them but well worth it.

It’s even better if I can find a product made in my community, county, or state. I feel good if I’m putting money in the pocket of a fellow citizen.

When we dine out we prefer locally owned and managed establishments over chains.

The local food movement seems to be having a noticeable effect.

Shopping at Fred Meyer, I noticed that produce is labeled with a special sign if it is produced locally or regionally. This is a positive development and gives me hope that our buying habits can have an impact in the wider economy.

Currently, our two motor vehicles are American made. Future vehicle purchases will start with looking at models made at home, but we aren’t stupid. If a car is clearly a bad purchase, we won’t buy it, American or not.

Personally, I see buying close to home as a security issue. I can see a day coming where we as a nation become vulnerable because we’ve outsourced so much of our manufacturing and food production.

The more of us who seek to buy locally, regionally, or nationally, the more pressure we put on the producers to change their habits. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be spending more money either. When you stop to think about what you are buying, whether it’s where it was made, or whether you really need it, you’re more likely to make a purchase that you’ll be happy with for some time.

Spending time at the local farmers market is a good way to build community.

You’ll run into friends, neighbors, and co-workers while you patronize local merchants. Walk around downtown, too. You might discover a shop you didn’t know existed. It could be just what you’re looking for!


All our veterans deserve to be honored this Memorial Day

The following was originally published in the Puyallup Herald

With the approach of Memorial Day I begin to think of all who have served in the military, especially friends and family. Technically, Memorial Day was established to honor and remember those who died in service to our nation, but I know of no family member or close family friend who I can so memorialize.

My father, grandfather, brother, father-in-law, and a number of uncles all served honorably in the military.

My maternal grandfather, Edward Bertram, was commanding officer at Vancouver Barracks when my parents met. It was 1941, and Dad was the new officer on base. He quickly charmed his way into Mom’s heart. Hal Brown and Kitty Bertram married after a short engagement.

A year later Grandfather Bertram was dead from heart disease and America was at war in the Pacific and Europe. Dad would return home in 1945 after serving in New Guinea and The Philippines, suffering from a combination of malaria and dysentery. He spent months in a hospital recovering.

Dad's 1944 Christmas Card to Mom

By this time he was also a dedicated smoker. There is some uncertainty as to when he picked up the tobacco habit. My sister thinks it was prior to his admission to West Point. I’m having a hard time reconciling that with the fact that he ran cross-country and was the number two miler on the track team.

What I do know is that many of our military men who served in World War II picked up the habit due to cigarettes included with their C-rations, or those distributed by certain non-governmental organizations.

In 1946 Dad was sent by the Army to the University of Chicago to study nuclear science. He received a Master’s Degree in 1948. During his time there, he was hospitalized when a canister of chlorine gas was accidentally breached in a lab while he was working in another part of the building. His lungs were blistered, leaving them scarred.

After finishing his degree, Dad spent the next several years building bombs in New Mexico. I don’t know much about the safety precautions taken around radioactive materials in those days, but I would hazard a guess that he was exposed to considerably more radiation than the average Joe working in a factory.

We can never know how many of our veterans died prematurely from service related injuries. Dad spent the final years of his life struggling to breathe, a nebulizer always at hand. No doubt the cigarettes he smoked for most of his life were to blame, but the chlorine gas cannot be dismissed.

So on Memorial Day I will be honoring those who died bravely in combat, but I will also be thinking of those whose fates are not easy to connect to patriotic duties: Those who returned from World War II addicted to tobacco; the veterans who were exposed to toxic chemicals in uniform; those with mental illness due to post-traumatic stress who died alone on the street.

All deserve to be honored.

 


Could you be a communist and not realize it?

We’ve been hearing a lot about the “socialist agenda” of President Obama. Forcing people to buy health insurance? Socialism! Bailing out the failing banks? Socialism! Saving GM? Socialism! Friendly to organized labor? Socialism!

I once had a conversation with a relative regarding a large corporation which had recently moved its headquarters from its historic home to a new city half a continent away. I saw this as a sign that the corporation did not care about the community which had been part of its growth and success. In addition, I believed this was a move designed to put distance between executives and the unions representing the bulk of its employees. It was clear my relative dislikes unions, and he suggested that giving too much power to organized labor is just a step away from communism.

His comment really upset me. I am very liberal politically, but I am absolutely anti-communist. The reason is the atrocious human rights records of communist nations, including China. In fact, I am strongly opposed to any government which curtails the basic rights outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Dictators, authoritarian regimes, military juntas, or any form of government which uses intimidation, torture, incarceration, terror, or other methods to cow its citizens into passive compliance deserves no respect from people who value justice, equality, dignity, life, speech, art, or other features of a free society.

So, to those of you who think that our president is a closet commie, take a look in the mirror. Then take a look around you. That new flat-screen TV you treasure may have been made by communists. Those inexpensive toys your children are playing with? They are likely touched by the skilled hands of commie labor. Okay, I know some of them may have been made in non-communist places like Mexico or Singapore, but they have their own issues of repression to resolve.

I think the U.S. Senate needs to start an investigation into this subversive group of activists. Are they hiding their true nature by accusing the president of being the very thing they are? Could they be… communists?