America's success is the sum total of the successes of millions of individuals free to pursue their dreams according to their own abilities and ambition. Free market capitalism allowed many to build great businesses such as Henry Ford.
The Progressive Left vilifies the most successful among us arguing that only they should be allowed to be the captains of American industry. Well, let's see how well that's worked out in Detroit, the natal home of Ford Motor Company, where the Progressive Left have captained one of the world's great cities for more than 50 years.
These are the same people who have been captains in Washington. They are The Swamp. Now, why are we trying to tear down the one person who was sent to Washington to "drain The Swamp"?
Imagine my surprise when, early in my sixth decade, I discovered that I had an aunt and twelve cousins of whom I had never even heard. A few years later I was speaking with an aged aunt, my father's sister. “Speaking with” does not quite describe it. Conversations with Anna were more like being spoken to. Sometime during the telephone call she mentioned that she had been talking to her sister's daughter. It took me about fifteen minutes to stop her and guide her back to that point.
“Your sister's daughter? I didn't know you had a sister.”
“Of course,” she explained, obviously perplexed that I didn't know. “Your Aunt Mary.”
I had never heard of Mary.
Have you ever discovered that your family had a skeleton in the closet? A black sheep? How would you feel to learn that the "black sheep" may have had a golden fleece? This is the story that I had to tell.
We may well-imagine sound arguments being made for several wars or the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) being worthy of the trophy as the greatest or costliest mistake in modern U.S. History. However, all of these are merely the symptoms of other mistakes, aren't they? Finding the root cause depends upon how far back you're willing to look for it..
Ultimately, it may be argued that We the People are accountable for all of the decisions made by our representatives in government, state and federal. Yes, We pay the price, don't we? We pay the taxes. We shed the blood. But the responsibility for those bad decisions vests in our elected representatives.
How does responsibility differ from accountability? Simple. Those who make the decisions are responsible in that they were elected for that purpose: They are responsible for making decisions or executing them. They may even take the blame for making bad ones. However, they never really pay the price for those decisions. They never actually suffer the consequences of them. More often than not, they are reelected so they can return to their seats of power and continue making bad decisions. Whose fault is that?
That being said, We the People electing poor representation to government is not a very satisfactory answer to the question: What is the greatest or costliest mistake in modern U.S. History? Ultimately, it is too broad. It means that We are both responsible and accountable for all mistakes. To determine which is the greatest or most costly mistake, We must narrow our vision to one specific mistake.
It's true. The highest ranking general will snap to attention and salute the lowest ranking enlisted man wearing a Medal of Honor. Why do you suppose that is? Are they honoring the man, the medal, or the act of valor that it represents?
Hero-worship is as natural as breathing. Most of us join the military fresh from childhood reverence of sports heroes. Thus, we didn't invent the practice but we certainly elevated it. I more so than most. As Chief of Awards and Decorations for the 9th Infantry Division during a portion of my tour of duty in Vietnam, I investigated many acts of valor and sat with senior officers who evaluated my recommendations including four that rose to garner the Medal of Honor.
Everyone who has ever worshiped a hero ultimately has been disappointed because every hero falters. Go ahead. Study the record of history. Even mythology tells the same tale. In retrospect, it seems that the West Point statue of Benedict Arnold's boot, commemorating his contribution to the Continental Army's victory over the British at the Battle of Saratoga before he “turned coat”, is the most rational memorial to heroism to be found. [Note: Arnold was wounded in the foot during the Battle of Quebec.]
To be fair, I've never had bad hospital food. I've never even seen it, that is not until I visited the VA Hospital in Long Beach, California.
In the interests of complete disclosure I have eaten plenty of hospital food, but never in a VA hospital. I've eaten it while a patient in civilian hospitals as well as military hospitals. I was stationed for a time at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii where I was a patient for a week with my second bout of malaria. My first hospital stay with malaria was in an Army field hospital in Vietnam where I contracted it, and the food wasn't too bad even there.
I can't speak to the food served at other VA hospitals, but my expectations aren't very high. The food being served at the Long Beach VA Hospital is prepared at the one in West Los Angeles and trucked to Long Beach. The kitchens at the Long Beach VA hospital are closed for lack of sufficient funds in the federal budget. Congress could allocate more or the President could rearrange his priorities, but they have more important matters on their minds.
Doesn't the 2nd Amendment preclude any and all debate? Congress shall not infringe on the right of citizens to keep and bear arms.
Gun control proponents attack from two fronts. Some argue that the 2nd Amendment should be rescinded. Others argue that it should be more narrowly implemented. That is, you may keep your guns but the government should control them.
It seems that no resolution will be found for one simple reason: A lack of trust.
Those who advocate gun control do not trust law-abiding citizens to handle their weapons responsibly, without harming themselves or others within range. Many don't trust guns. Those who advocate the broadest application of the 2nd Amendment, who accept no form of gun control, simply do not trust the government to constrain itself. Gun control, they argue, will ultimately lead to gun confiscation. To them the slope really is slippery and if you scratch a gun control advocate, you most likely will find someone who advocates gun confiscation.
Is that always true?
Let me tell you a story...
To be fair, most racists probably are disturbed by immigrants and aliens living in America and speaking their native language. It is ironic that such racists also enjoy pizza and chow mien and countless other pleasures that immigrants and aliens have contributed to culture in these United States. However, does that mean that all who eat ethnic foods and espouse that they learn English are racist? Hardly. Many simply wish to avoid the curse described in the Old Testament when man built the Tower of Babel to elevate himself above God and was cast into a confusion of languages. Confusion is the enemy of discourse, reason, and understanding which is absolutely necessary if we are to govern ourselves successfully.
Before we go any further I should state that I am not in favor of making English the official language of the United States. I'm too old to learn a foreign language. I speak American. I write American. I think American. Anyone who fails to see the difference between English and American just isn't paying attention. My wife and I enjoy many broadcasts that we find on BBC America, especially British crime dramas. Sadly they aren't aired with subtitles and we are often lost in the weeds. Not only are some dialects unfathomable (as are some regional American dialects), but also there is an idiomatic abyss somewhere in the Atlantic midway between London and New York. The simple fact is that I fear that we will be denied the greatest gifts of those who adopt America if they fail to learn the common language and that they will likewise be denied the greatest gifts that it has to offer them. Freedom of Speech includes the right to speak in any language one chooses. However, they must also keep in mind that we also have the right to ignore them.
I'm a lot of things: Husband, father, grandfather, American, writer, author. Generally, I'm proud to claim all. Until recently, I didn't think much about the fact that I'm also a veteran, a Vietnam Veteran to put a fine point on it. I'm very proud of that too. Recently I came across an interesting infographic that I want to share. It seems that out of some 340 million in the United States, veterans comprise less than 10% of the population and, on average, fare better than most.
I listened with considerable fascination to a speech delivered by a thirteen year old Boy Scout on Patriot's Day 2015. He lamented that he had never known peace in his short life. He was, after all, born following the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, and the War on Terror, he reminded us, has raged continuously since then. Hadn't he heard? President Obama declared it done and won.
In any event, the Boy Scout accomplished his task. Well, at least with me, he succeeded. He got me to thinking. Have I ever known peace? Have you?
Hillary Clinton already has a campaign war chest reportedly exceeding $2.5 Billion. Her opponents in both parties are attempting to match it.
Despite the obscenity of campaign spending for elected office in America, there doesn't appear to be any political will to rein it in. Why? Could it be that the prize is simply too great to scrimp on spending to achieve it?
What if instead of treating the illness - campaign spending - we focused on reducing the value of elected office?
Lights Out is a short story, a dream of mine, in which campaign contributors learn that the return on investment for campaign contributions is suddenly diminished.
Would campaign finance reform be a mute topic?
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