Saturday, June 9, 2012

"The Buck Stops" - Where?

The Guardian and other publications are reporting that the American armed forces suicide rate has skyrocketed to a shocking 10-year high with self-inflicted death now occurring among troops at about one per day. That figure is quite staggering but shouldn't come as too much of a surprise given the current deployment status for many of these brave men and women shouldering the responsibility they have endured now for over a decade.

This protracted war in Iraq and Afghanistan has gone on longer than any previous conflict in modern American history. The United States was engaged in battle during World War I for two years. World War II lasted four years. The Korean War was also four years. The Vietnam War lasted a decade and was until this recent debacle the longest lasting war.

Suicide rates have always been higher among our troops particularly during wartime, but these newest figures have launched the case to abhorrently staggering numbers that simply cannot and should not be justified or tolerated by this Congress, this President or the American people.

There once was a Commander and Chief, during World War II, by the name of Harry S. Truman. He was a Democrat, a bulldog of a fighter and man of principal. He once stated that as Commander and Chief the buck stopped at the desk of the President of the United States, his desk at the time. Every President since his time has heeded those words of admonishment, even a thug like Richard Nixon held those words sacred as it pertained to his duty as the man ultimately responsible for the lives of our fighting men and women. Today I am concerned that the current resident of the White House hasn't a clue what those words of Truman mean or what it is to be responsible for these service personnel.

What started with George W. Bush, another President who seemed to feel the pain of our fighters but lacked the ability or wherewithal to know when to cut bait and run, has continued now for another four years under the misguided leadership of President Barack Obama.

As a veteran of one war I have come to believe, based solely on this President's actions (not his words), that he doesn't give one wit about the lives of our service men and women. He talks a good game but does little to actually put those words into meaningful action. All his decisions as it relates to militarism appear to be made purely on the basis of the current or perceived future direction of the political winds and not on what will best achieve ultimate victory or a withdrawal that grants our military a modicum of respect and integrity in the eyes of those they have been laying down their lives for. He seems to be more concerned with his personal image in the eyes of world leaders and his political base than in doing the hard and right thing - which is either stand down and bring our troops home from both arenas as soon as possible (without declaring it in advance to the world press and making it a political showboat) or, and this is the hard stand he and former Presidents have been unable or unwilling to do, bring back the draft to allow an increase in armed forces numbers allowing those who have been deployed over and over again in these highly dangerous combat zones to come home to their families and friends to go on with their lives and private sector jobs.

Will President Obama do either of these two apparent things? Highly doubtful. If reelected he will continue to allow the situation to go on, continue to build down the strength of our military worldwide and we at home will continue to watch these suicide numbers climb higher and higher as each day passes feeling less and less secure.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Should We Even Be Asking - Who is Mitt Romney?

Who is Mitt Romney and why should anyone consider him for the highest office in the land?

On the surface it appears to be a sensible question, particularly when he seems to have been around in public focus forever. Yet, with all his media exposure over the decades of his business and political life what does the general public really know about this guy who, again, aspires to sit in that Oval Office?

Is it true that he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and a free pass as some would have us believe, or, is there some substance to the man under that veneer of shocking wavy dark hair (slightly graying at the temples these days), bright Hollywood smile and flashing pearly white teeth and just the right glint in his eye when caught at the right camera angle (I don’t believe he has ever been seen in the wrong angle has he)?

We’ve had enough of the flash and pan. The world doesn’t need another feel-good leader promising everything and delivering on nothing. Can this fellow called Mitt Romney be the kind of President this nation needs in these cursive and troubling times?

Even though I predicted months ago when he was a distant third in the primaries that he would get the Republican nomination to be perfectly honest - I don’t know. With all the headlines, sound bites, political history and business backstory there is still this unknown quantity about Governor Romney that makes most of middle America and the common, down-to-earth, everyday person on the street voter a bit anxious about him. They still feel they simply don’t get him. Going back to Ronald Reagan everyone knew what they were getting with just about every man vying for that center seat, that is until Barak Obama came on the scene promising change and only to surprisingly deliver with an inability to govern while showing a level of ineptness and amateurism not witnessed since the days of Jimmy Carter nearly 40 years ago.

After the shock and awe of Obama most Americans are suffering from VSS - Voters Stress Syndrome. They’re nervous, scared, uneasy and a bit queasy about taking a chance on another would-be “I can fix your problem” promise maker. They are longing for the days of Reagan or even the scandal clad Bill Clinton when they knew what they got and were willing to overlook some of the personal discrepancies for men who could effectively govern the land and keep them and their families, their jobs, homes, borders and finances safe.

It is this very attitude that I believe may be at the heart of the problem. Americans have forgotten that this is not a one man show. Our system of government wasn’t designed by its founders to operate efficiently under the auspices of a one man (or woman) rule. America is a Constitutional Republic, not a democracy, theocracy or any other kind of Ocracy. We have a system of government whereby power is shared between the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch and the Judiciary. Even our founders knew that no one person (even with all his/her advisors and cabinet) can effectively rule this land. The success of the great American Experiment requires a working together between these three branches of government which automatically implies a willingness on the part of the members of the Executive and Legislature to participate in the art of compromise while the Judicial remains uncommitted to all except the unbiased interpretation of the nation’s founding documents - The Constitution, Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights.

It is here that We the People have failed ourselves by becoming completely dependent on the charismatic leadership of one person. Over the last 100 years We the People have allowed our representative congressional leadership to siphon off more of their legislative powers to this one person by the use of mandates, non-elected, non-congressionally approved czars and overuse of the Executive Order. Until this nation returns to its original intentional form of governance then asking the question “Who is Mitt Romney - or any other Presidential candidate” is an exercise in mental gymnastics which is nothing more then fodder for cable news outlets and political bloggers like myself.

Who is Mitt Romney? He is a man running for President. He has a public record that extends back more then 20 years of business and political life. He has made some good decisions and some very poor ones. In other words, he is a human being seeking a position that, if elected, will make him the most powerful person in the entire world. Can he be trusted? About as much as any other person that has sought this office over the last 236 years. However, “Who is Mitt Romney” isn’t the question we need to be asking ourselves at this time. More importantly the question is and always should be “Who are We the People” at this important juncture of American destiny? If We the People are alright then the vetting of candidates will go alright.