Grew, Grown, Growing, or a Growth

To Grow or not to Grow; that is the question.  Whether tis nobler to do so, i.e., which is the good, should be clear – but is  not.  Both are good and both not.  The judgement matters to this United States Presidential election.  The Country once grew, the Government has Grown, Mr. Trump is Growing, and all hope Mrs. Clinton does not have a Growth.

The country itself grew from thirteen tiny seeds that joined to change ‘These’ United States to ‘The’ United States.  The country grew through exploration, purchase, treaty, and conflict.  Two distant States joined the forty-eight contiguous ones.  Territories and the rest arrived.  A huge nation was born – E Pluribus Unum, from many, one.  All this seems good, both to the many American ‘Deplorables’ and to those around the Globe who desperately seek to join them.  They all believe the United States is exceptional, and that it will resume its economic growth.

Government has grown in all varieties, Local, State, and Federal.  The latter is in the news everywhere we turn.  Even the non-political Internal Revenue Service, Department of Justice, and Federal Bureau of Investigation all seem to have acted improperly, prompting questions of whether their bureaucracies serve the public, themselves, or politicians – particularly Democratic ones.  Even the National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB), which investigates things like airplane crashes, seems to add to these perceptions.

Sully, the major motion picture directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks, recalls the “Miracle on the Hudson” water landing of a passenger jet with no loss of life.  It celebrates an American hero, the Captain of US Airways Flight 1549, Chesley Sullenberger.  He did an extraordinary job under the most difficult of circumstances.  The movie shows the NTSB presented simulations showing successful airport landings as ‘evidence’ of Sully’s errors.  Further review showed zero time given to the real pilots to evaluate the crisis.  Worse, even with the ‘solution’ in hand, pilots simulating the flight crashed 16 times in a row.  This  evokes questions of NTSB motivations and actions.

Other things have grown, too: the number of terrorist attacks in the US, the number of people receiving food stamps, and more.  The list can be long, but is not needed here.

The Presidential contest has one of the unlikeliest candidates in US history.  Mr. Trump neither is a politician nor has served in any public office.  He is a businessman who got his start from his wealthy, developer father.  Mr. Trump is also a reality star, having hosted The Apprentice, a wildly popular Television show, whose tagline, “You’re Fired,” captures his, “my way or the highway” attitude.  He is not politically correct.  He speaks what is on his mind without filter.  He voiced the popular anger against Washington and the establishment comparable to a Second American Revolution.  For all this and more, he was widely derided, with expectations of his losing the race against the other 16 candidates voiced daily.

Mr. Trump is now the Republican Presidential Candidate, and maybe reshaping the GOP.  His demeanor has certainly changed from when he first announced his candidacy.  His new campaign team have helped him be more ‘Presidential,’ sticking to the script and / or reading his speeches from a teleprompter.  This has exorcised so many of the gaffes that have caused his campaign so many problems.  More importantly, Mr. Trump is adding detail to substantiate his policies.  In recent weeks, he has given important speeches on Immigration, Foreign Policy, the Economy, and even childcare.  He has moved toward the center, eschewing the ‘not fit’ label Mrs. Clinton wants to pin on him.

For her part, Mrs. Clinton wants to be the first woman president.  She promises steadiness, and the continuation of President Obama’s policies.  To the sports-minded, her policy statements sound like ‘small-ball.’  They also believe Mrs. Clinton is trying to ‘run out the clock” to avoid answering the many scandals that surround her and her husband.  That the smoke continues to bellow, seems to refute her assertion, that “there is no fire.”

She called half Mr. Trump’s followers “a basket of deplorables” at a NYC Barbara Streisand fundraiser.  Again, there is no fire, as her media supporters rushed to agree that many racists, etc. are correctly included in that basket.

Then she stumbled, fainted, face-plated, or whatever other description you choose to use to describe what was caught on a 9-11 memorial attendee’s cell phone.  Suddenly, Mrs. Clinton’s virtual paranoia – her penchant towards secrecy – is reaffirmed in the minds of millions.  The campaign’s actions caused even the media to ask: “What serious medical problem that might disqualify her from the Oval Office is she hiding?”  Mrs. Clinton once had a blood clot outside her brain.  It is not ‘a growth.”  All of good will hope that she will remain healthy, and grow, as is Mr. Trump.

Many questions remain, but the candidates need to answer at least three.  First, how to make the United States grow again?  Second, how will both candidates act to control a Federal bureaucracy that seems to have grown out-of-control?  Third, which of them will protect us from a dangerous world?

Where the MONEY is

Asked why he robbed banks, Willie Sutton answered, “It’s where the money is.”  His answer remains a classic example of clarity through simplicity.  This contrasts with politician’s obfuscations that are accepted and repeated by the Press – or just ignored.  The NY Times did not bother to mention Mrs. Clinton’s first post-election interview where she said the Director of the FBI had confirmed the truth of all she had divulged about her e-mail.  She was seemingly oblivious to his point-by-point not-quite-an-indictment of her in front of Congress.

Mrs. Clinton wants to be the first woman president, but millennials are not enthusiastically waiting for this “achievement.”  Instead, many want governmental change, particularly the movements of Messrs. Sanders and Trump.  President Bill Clinton sought to rebrand his wife, calling her a “change-maker” during his speech at the Convention.  He ignored President Obama’s touting her continuity with his administration.  She is thus both for stability and change simultaneously, typical of a politician.

Mr. Trump is emphatically not a politician.  He does everything contrary to the political norm, speaking when he should be quiet, saying flat-out wrong things, or worse, being outrageous.  He is more than politically incorrect.  The “have you read the Constitution” question at the DNC struck a chord because it reflected a stereotype.  He is a billionaire, whose reality show’s tagline, “You’re Fired,” captures his, “my way or the highway” attitude.

Mr. Trump gives voice to the deep anger of so many millions in the electorate who want something done – even if they do not know what.  He is redefining the Republican Party, appealing to both Democratic and Republican voters ready for a ‘Second American Revolution.’  Our ‘First’ used guns because “Taxation without representation is tyranny,” similar to, “Let them eat cake,” except in France they used the Guillotine.

The U.S. is divided.  Racial and sexual divisions are exacerbated.  The lie, “Hands up.  Don’t Shoot,” has become the mantra of the Black Lives Movement.  They ignore the increase in black-on-black murders to focus on racist police who hunt unarmed young black men; while denying any involvement in the ambushes against the police – men and women.

The gap between the political elite and our citizens is metastasizing.  There must be a reason to enter government service instead of a law firm partnership.  Perhaps it is because there is so much of other’s money to spend at the higher levels or the contacts with the rich that ensue.  The past decade has seen the 1% grow richer.  It does seem that the Law does not apply evenly.  Many felt that Mrs. Clinton could never be indicted.  They were right.

Both candidates are terrible, each with unprecedented negatives.  The majority think Mrs. Clinton is a congenital liar, but her supporters do not seem to care.  She offers that her opponent is worse as a defense.  Mr. Trump seems to be fighting everyone, including himself.  The list of those he offends is huge.  It includes many of the Conservative establishment, some of whom publically eschew supporting him – which he takes as an emblem of honor.

Americans have to choose between the devil they know and the other.  In this election, who is which?  Mrs. Clinton’s campaign director says we will know her after we elect her.  This is a bit akin to Mrs. Pelosi’s statement about Obamacare, that we have to pass the law to find out what is in it.  Six years later, we continue to find out new reasons to be unhappy with its contents.  Mr. Trump, though, seems as bad.  He promises to act presidentially, and then opens his mouth.  Does he have the discipline to act otherwise?  It is hard to see this by his actions.

It is also hard to see the United States suffering.  Our economy is sputtering but unemployment is officially low, and laughed at.   The Government counts millions of part-time workers, but not those who cannot find jobs – now moved overseas.  Respect for Law is passé, with the National Security violations non-indictment, and the President’s executive actions on Immigration.  Our nation is deeply in debt, yet our infrastructure is crumbling, with bridges falling, an obsolete power grid, and drinking waters tainted.

“Leading from behind” has given us Libya, Syria, Iran, Ukraine, Russia, China, and a host of other problems.  ISIS grew after we withdrew from Iraq, ignored our ‘red line’ and left a void.  State-sponsor of terrorism, Iran, received $150 billion – with $400 million sent in cash, at night, in an unmarked plane.  A non-treaty, executive action, gives Iran a path possessing nuclear arms; even as it did not slow their work in building ICBMs.  The list seems endless.

Americans do not accept this economy and daily terrorism as the new normal.  Some 80% feel the nation is on the wrong path; that their children will have a worse life.  Americans must decide which bad candidate to vote for.  On the one hand, Mr. Trump has money – a great deal of it.  His over 200 companies generated billions over a 40-year span.  Mrs. Clinton and her husband have a great deal of wealth, too.  After his Presidency ended, they were dead-broke.  Since then, they earned several hundred thousand dollars per hour for speaking.  Mr. Clinton’s going-rate increased while Mrs. Clinton was the Secretary of State, charging in some cases, $750,000.

Surprisingly, speaking fees are only a minor part of the treasure the Clinton’s have at their disposal.  The Clinton Foundation amassed over one billion dollars in just a few years.  The FBI is investigating whether donors received special considerations from the State Department while Mrs. Clinton was the Secretary, and while so many of her e-mails were deleted, they were, after all, about yoga.

Donald Trump’s battle against Hillary Clinton offers a huge contrast.  Mr. Trump already has money made from the private sector.  Mrs. Clinton seems to have proven that the path through the public sector can yield millions, or more.  Their vision for America starts with Mr. Trump seeing huge problems, while Mrs. Clinton thinks things are fine, and we just need a few minor adjustments to deal with inequalities.

Which of them will win?  Hopefully, it will be the person who empowers the best of America to return us to that place atop a hill.  Mrs. Clinton’s “way” has parsed words, lists of enemies, paranoia of the press, and a billion-dollar Foundation receiving huge gifts from those in power.  Mr. Trump’s “way” has unfiltered words, walls keeping enemies out, love of press, and a billion-dollar company giving gifts to those in power.  The existence of a major FBI investigation is a ‘yuge’ difference – but only to some.  The battle will be epic.  Which “way” will prevail?

Scavenger Hunt begins looking for Maj. Morris’ Bag and Ball

On Memorial Day, the Hanover Township Landmark Commission announced the start of an unusual Scavenger Hunt to remind of, and honor those who have served.  The first item they hope to find is a small, stained canvas bag.  It was once worn under a man’s shirt, hanging from a cord.  The bag may still hold some papers and a small, dented, lead ball.  The papers will be fragile, so be careful.  They were precious enough – to him – to keep them near his heart.  As living veterans appreciate past heroes more than anyone, the HTLC will report its finding (they hope) on Veterans Day.

A Hanover Township resident owned the bag 240 years ago.  This neighbor lived and worked across the street from the fire station at the intersection of Whippany Road and Route 24.  Today, the building still stands.  It was his tavern; he worked behind the bar.  He and his wife remain nearby; they went to rest near the Green in Morristown, but their current address is lost, too.

Major Joseph Morris was personally chosen by George Washington – so we think – to become the third-in-command of an elite regiment in what had not yet come to be the Continental Army.  The name of this unit is still revered – Morgan’s Raiders.  They fought in the critical battle of Saratoga; some 40% of the force’s men died there.  The general in charge of the losing British troops stated that Morgan’s Rifle Corps was the best regiment in the world.

Testimony from others present on that day attests to Major Morris’s courage at this turning point of the American Revolution.  He rode his horse through the British ranks amid a hail of lead, then rejoined his men by jumping over a half a dozen enemy soldiers.  His commander wrote, “[Morris] was never so sprightly as under a hot fire.”

Two and one half centuries have dimmed understanding of why the Battle of Saratoga was a significant turning point in the American Revolution.  We all know that July 4, 1776 is the day the thirteen colonies declared Independence.  However, few remember that General Washington constantly retreated – having lost four battles – for six months.  Crossing the Delaware at Christmas surprised the small Hessian force at Trenton.  This victory was followed by one at Princeton.  England responded by amassing armies to split the nascent nation into pieces and defeat each singly.  One invaded from Canada.  The October, 1777 Battle of Saratoga resulted in the capture of the entire invading force, leading European nations to support our new country.

Major Joseph Morris did not single handedly win the battle, but he showed vast courage there.  He continued to fight for liberty for the next 15 months.  Sadly, in the battle of Whitemarsh, near Philadelphia, Major Morris was mortally wounded.  He came home to die, lingering painfully for weeks.  A musket ball hit him in the mouth and lodged in the back of his neck.  His teeth dented the soft lead as it smashed through them.  That ball was kept as a treasured family heirloom.  His blood stained the bag the Major worn around his neck to hold his treasured, military commission.  American’s great ally, Marquis de Lafayette, wrote several letters; one offered a “French surgeon belonging to Count Pulaski.”  These show the respect and affection the Major’s courage begat.

Today, these historical heirlooms are lost, but should be very recognizable.  You may see the bag around his neck, still if you ever meet his spirit walking along the trail named in his honor next to the Whippanong River, not far from his home.  Do not be afraid.  He is our protector – which is another word for “hero.”  This is true of all who served that we honor at both the Memorial and Veterans Day Holidays.

If anyone knows of, or even better, has this first of our very special, “Scavenger Hunt” items, contact HTLC Chair Mike Czuchnicki of the, at Town Hall.  MikeCz@BeMoreBetterBooks.com

What will they be looking for next?

Needed: Truth, Justice, and the American Way

Superman is exceptional; for many, America is so too.  The mantra, “Truth, Justice, and the American Way” reflects this idea.  It does not strain belief that Clark Kent can hide behind his eyeglasses, because Kal-El is a fictional character, not a real alien.  However, the mantra’s three parts – indeed, the belief in America – is under attack from many ugly forms of kryptonite.  Superman never gives up, and those who believe should not either.

In this Presidential election cycle, millions of citizens are casting votes to “throw da bums out” in an almost-second American Revolution.  The Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders candidacies – phenomena, really – reflect a deep anger toward the established system.  Many Republicans want to hire a billionaire real-estate developer and reality star because he is a political outsider.  Younger Democrats want a Socialist who has consistently been preaching about the failure of the current system, and the benefits of political revolution.

Both parties are engaged in not-so-civil wars.  Senate colleagues dislike Ted Cruz, but he offers anti-Trump establishment Republicans conservative “purity.”  Widely distrusted Secretary Clinton offers a more-left, President Obama third term.  The odds of two contested nominating conventions are shrinking, but the “are candidates appointed or elected?” question remains.

The public believes that few “public servants” speak the truth.  They joke, “How do know when a politician lies?”  Some remember Mrs. Clinton’s long-ago, “vast right-wing conspiracy” came before her husband’s, “it depends on what the meaning of ‘is,’ is.”  President Obama gave us, “you can keep your doctor.”  We now ask if “an internet video” matters, or was the private server set up in “accordance with the rules and the regulations in effect.”

Perhaps that accounts for Mr. Trump and Senator Sanders popularity.  Their words contrast with Government-speak spokespeople who use “misspoke,” and not the word, “lie.”  They choose language carefully to hide and confuse.  “Fighting Islamist extremist terrorism” became “overseas contingency operations,” and then, “man-made disasters.”  “Growth projection cuts” are “savings.”  Killing an unborn child is about “woman’s health,” or, “pro-choice”– even as the practitioners drink wine and negotiate the price of livers and brains.

The gap between the political elite and our citizens is metastasizing.  Politicians are blasé about a 20 Trillion dollar debt owed by future generations even as Saudi Arabia blackmails us by threatening to sell their US holdings.  The Saudis are annoyed President Obama’s non-treaty gives Iran a nuclear bomb glide path.  Many others around the world no longer believe in, or trust, a United States that seems to be in retreat throughout the world with foreign policy “red lines,” and “leading from behind.”

Many believe an indictment of Mrs. Clinton for apparent national security violations is not possible given her connections.  Justice has degraded; the Law does not apply equally to all.  The elite are immune to the effects of a bloated and overreaching Government; worse, they are not held responsible, even as they fail to meet basic needs – e.g. drinking water in Michigan.

Citizens suffer as Laws’ clear meanings are perverted.  Eminent domain seizes private property for corporations’ benefit while law enforcement agencies snatch it for their own.  The Federal Government substituted IOUs for Social Security Trust fund assets while forecasts show the system running out of money.  The Executive order on illegal immigrant amnesty hollows out the Constitution’s “Congress shall legislate and the Executive shall enforce.”

The ‘American Way’s’ original slogan was, “Taxation, without representation, is Tyranny.”  Since then, the US has bled to bring Liberty to hundreds of millions around the world.  However, politicians and regulators seem to have taken over America.  The tax code is now many times larger than the Bible.  The Supreme Court decides Obamacare is a tax.  An unaccountable government has tendrils that extend into virtually every activity.  People believe official priorities are not their own, reflecting a bureaucratic “Way.”  Children cannot set up lemonade stands, bakers must serve homosexual weddings, and nuns must provide birth control.  In the face of terrorist beheadings, the greatest threat is Climate Change.

A tradition of voting was decaying, but has now returned, invigorated.  Millions more have become energized on both sides.  They are revolting in response to the degeneration of the Superman mantra.  They are finding that social media tools are more quickly exposing lies, making bad policy decisions harder.  Average Joe and Jane are again showing their power.

The likely battle will pit Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton.  Which of them will win?  Hopefully, it will be the person who is able to best embody the best of America; to return us to that place atop a hill.  Mrs. Clinton’s “way” has parsed words, lists of enemies, paranoia of the press, and a billion-dollar Foundation receiving huge gifts from those in power.  Mr. Trump’s “way” has unfiltered words, walls keeping enemies out, love of press, and a billion-dollar company giving gifts to those in power.  The existence of a major FBI investigation is a ‘yuge’ difference – but only to some.  The battle will be epic.  Which “way” will prevail?

Superman never gives up – neither do real Americans, who freely give help to those in need.  In this election, voters need to help themselves by choosing a candidate who will not help him or her-selves.  The truth is we need justice for the American Way to prevail.

The Second American Revolution

We are seeing a second American Revolution in the Trump phenomenon, with millions of citizens marching, using booths and caucuses to vote to “throw da bums out.”  A businessman and reality star is about to become the Republican nominee despite orbiting far outside the political establishment.  His many provocative utterances have convinced multitudes that he is saying what needs to be said.  Whether he can win the Presidency is unknown.

A deep Republican voter anger fuels Mr. Trump’s run, similar to Democrats’ rise of a 76 year-old Socialist.  Voters on both sides are furious at the establishment, and want to “hire an outsider.”  They think Government spokespeople lie or obfuscate.  Citizens do not believe the economy is doing well, with salaries up, and unemployment down.  They see millions not counted who cannot find work.  Immigration laws are not enforced so cheap illegals take their jobs.  Their personal budgets are strained, yet politicians are blasé about a 20 Trillion dollar debt owed by future generations.  Anger, manifest in the Taxed Enough Already (TEA) party movement, screams for attention now.

Anger comes from the many ways in which an increasingly bloated and overreaching Government grows more and more distant from the ordinary people while failing to meet their needs.  Private employees worry about their retirement.  They learned the Social Security Trust Fund was plundered and their assets replaced by IOUs.  Private workers contrast this to the guaranteed, generous retirement benefits of slow moving civil ‘servants’ who seem to only obstruct.  Four of the five richest U.S. counties surround Washington, DC.  The nation’s capital has birthed tendrils which extend into virtually every human and business activity – work and play, eating and drinking, living, learning and shopping – and even sex.  Children cannot set up lemonade stands, bakers must serve homosexual weddings, and nuns must provide birth control drugs.

Government has become accountable only to itself, desirous of its own power.  President FDR wrote government-worker unions were almost immoral; but they are now the largest block.  They push and shove dashing to the trough, e.g., teachers overwhelmingly campaign for Democrat Candidates.  Armies of government workers seem to take political direction, e.g., the IRS ‘war’ on conservatives.  There are a huge number who ‘get’ from the Government – citizens and immigrants, even those illegal.  Sadly, takers include some 45 million receiving food stamps.  To some extent, the Democratic Party has become the party representing Government-receivers.

Our Nation’s Constitution begins, “We the People,” but public attitude has changed from ‘Serving,’ to ‘being served.’  A Government is an entity made up of the living.  People use laws, regulations, and rules to take power, amass wealth, impose morals, and punish.  Our founding fathers set up a system of competing powers to prevent the onset of ‘Royalty.’  Yet, too many high Government officials seem to have their own, special rules.  These do not include Common Sense or the words of Law, e.g., “Hillary Clinton will never be indicted.”

“Taxation, without representation, is Tyranny,” epitomized the first American Revolution.  More intimately, the cause arose from England treating Americans as second-class citizens.  We were not “English,” but rather, “Colonials.”  Americans took up arms, fought, bled, and died for “liberty.”  We have done so around the world.  The powerful belief remains foundational to American exceptionalism.

A very bloody French revolution followed ours.  King Louis XV borrowed to support the Americans against the British.  We gained a nation, but France paid.  Then, poor harvests and terrible winters brought hunger; and taxing the poor – not the Nobles or Clergy – begat rage.  For the first time in 175 years, the King called an assembly of the three ‘Estates,’ but it just added fuel.  The Third Estate (commoners) represented 98% of the population, but the nobility and clergy outvoted them, 2:1.  This display of raw political power showed the difference between the burgeoning Age of Enlightenment and Feudalism: understanding through Reason vs. God-appointed King and Clergy dictating what to believe.  The People found they had great power and decapitated the King and his Queen.  The American and French Revolutions found Democracy, and made the power of the common people a factor throughout the world.

The French Revolution called political divisions left or right wing, but most U.S. Citizens just occupy the vast center with many reasons for anger, including a deeply divided, out of balance Government.  President Obama’s first election saw total Democrat control of the Legislature.  They passed laws with zero Republican support, e.g., Obamacare.  Elections since have returned control of these chambers to the Republicans, but this has neither reined in spending, nor stopped the President from executive actions some consider unconstitutional.  Indeed, the President has upped the ante with the passage of a non-treaty with Iran.  The Republican base wonders how their elected representatives can be so impotent.  This has exacerbated their anger.

Average Joe and Jane are showing their power again, because the cause – the gap between Government and Citizen – has not changed.  The ballot box, not the guillotine, is the tool of the Second American Revolution.  Power will be transferred peacefully; but battles are underway.  Mr. Trump is shaking the establishment’s foundations, and the Republican Establishment is fighting to derail his bandwagon.  They note Mr. Trump’s policy ignorance or inconsistencies, e.g., he did not know what the “Nuclear Triad” was.  But in late February, New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie became the first major ‘establishment’ politician to endorse Mr. Trump.  This prompted angry commentary.  Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, George Will wrote, “Nothing will redeem the ruined reputations of Trump’s Republican collaborators.”  However, the real question is:

How much will Mr. Trump change the U.S. Government-Citizen balance?

Both parties feel real anger.  Some Democrats are even changing their affiliation to vote for Mr. Trump in Republican primaries.  The election cycle has more than a half-year to play out, but the Trump/Sanders phenomena show a raw emotion not seen for 240 years.  However, there is a positive, genuine sentiment balancing the anger.  Love of Country is epitomized by the words of Captain Nathan Hale, “I regret I have but one life to give for my country.”  This feeling of patriotism is true of most, if not all active in the current dispute.

So what of those in the Republican establishment who abhor Mr. Trump?  Trappist Monk, Thomas Merton, penned, “No man is an island,” and this line might give them comfort.  A President Trump will govern aided by a Vice President and Cabinet.  There are also the not-so-small matters of the Constitution’s limitations and the balancing powers of the co-equal Legislative and Judicial Branches.  In all, the Trump earthquake will likely be less, and more, than anticipated.

 

Start with Clean Electricity

Americans need to stop complaining and again go big and get important things done.  We have a proud history of success.  America is fractured politically, angry at the lack of government leadership.  Too many of us fear that our jobs will become part-time or be outsourced, that we are losing our place in the world, and that our children’s future is lessened.  The worst of it is a pessimism that invidiously whispers, “We can no longer solve problems.”

One “something” to do is to produce clean electric power in an energy self-sufficient America.  We can achieve this one thing – and others, too.  This first piece will help unite and motivate.  Most importantly, it will benefit us all.  We can build a better future by changing the energy landscape.  An America doing great things again is not a nation of complainers

Government inaction against terrorism is frightening Americans.  We must move past showing our visceral anger by wishing others to eat sand – glowing or not.  Anger motivates and frustrates, but worse, it fuels the dark side.  Revenge starts an endless cycle of destruction.

America is capable – exceptional, even.  We remember how bad it was, and how we made it better.  This is the foundation of our national pride.  The National Credo, “Go West, young man,” embodies our genetic, national optimism.  It neither denies the blood, sweat, and tears shed, nor lets ‘what was’ stop us.  Western Civilization has raised hundreds of millions out of the mire.  This is the reason that our planet’s peoples have gone West for a millennia.  Complaining as we work hard is an art form; doing so about someone else’s lack of work is counterproductive.  However, demeaning a culture that embodies freedoms and strives for prosperity is just sad.

An American-style effort always does much quickly.  We won World Wars, have created the Internet, and walked on the Moon.  We must again do what we always have done – win, then build better.  We can deal with terrorism, climate change, jobs, the economy, and energy – all at the same time.  In fact, making clean electrical energy generation part of a strategy of energy self-sufficiency helps all of these problems – and more, it will make the world better.  Benefits will quickly flow.  We will add jobs and our economy will grow.  The U.S. will cease to drink from Mid-East oil wells.  This does not eliminate all fossil fuels, but what we are seeking is, in itself, of great value.  Americans will be safer as monies will not find their way into terrorist’s pockets.  The reduction of power plant emissions will significantly help fight Global warming.

Clean electric with energy self-sufficiency will take decades to achieve, but Americans will do the work.  The effort includes more nuclear power plants and supplemental, “clean” electric sources.  A new, intelligent, distribution network will link consumers to generators.

The key element in achieving the many benefits is leadership.  Someone has to build consensus, marshal the troops, set objectives, provide the resources, and see delivery – then leverage success to do even more.

There will be very real difficulties with the campaign.  Nuclear fears include the “bomb,” radiation, and technological failure.  Even those not afraid remember Russia’s Chernobyl, an old, unprotected reactor operated by poorly trained personnel.  America had its Three Mile Island incident even as a feature film about a reactor accident cover-up debuted.  TMI halted the U.S. nuclear program for almost half a century.  Modern reactor designs benefit from these, and others, incident’s lessons.

The year before the 2016 election is not when Presidential candidates typically probe the deep public wounds surrounding nuclear dangers. They will not point out that non-nuclear energy also has large environmental costs.  Governor Christie has spoken on this issue.  He points out that nuclear generation safely and reliably provides half of New Jersey’s electricity.  Most world leaders are silent or in direct opposition – fanning the Not In My Backyard (NIMBY) fear.

Reality matters. Some nuclear power basics are not hard.  Twelve-foot long fuel rods supply the power in a reactor.  Each rod is a metal tube about an inch thick.  Inside are Tootsie-Roll-sized ceramic pellets that contain a piece of a radioactive metal, like Uranium.  A reactor’s “core” has ten thousand rods, each in grid-like structures, called “assemblies,” holding 100 rods.

Fuel rods generate heat individually.  However, they will react with each other as a nuclear chain-reaction.  Moderating materials in the core raise and lower to control the reaction.  This produces a tremendous amount of heat.  The core is inside a sealed vessel filled with a circulating liquid that takes the heat away to later make steam, turn a turbine, and power an electric generator.

Older technologies had incidents where circulation stopped, and rods melted.  New designs reduce these problems.  Engineers describe rods melting as now impossible even if the circulation stops. Thorium reactors neither have rods, nor produce highly-radioactive waste.   Still, it is best to wear pants with both belt and suspenders where needed.  Power Plant reactors are housed in “containment domes,” to withstand disaster.  Chernobyl did not have such a dome; Fukushima did, and its domes did not breach.

While a nuclear power plant emits zero carbon dioxide, it does generate waste.  Spent power rods go into swimming pools to cool for a decade, they then air-cool.  All other nations recycle their rods, but the U.S. does not.  President Carter ordered them buried underground; but the U.S. repository under Yucca Mountain remains unused.  Ending the prohibition on recycling is another to-do on the path to energy self-sufficiency.

The U.S. consumes about 400 Gigawatts (GW) of electricity.  A typical nuclear reactor generates about one GW, so the number of plants is easy, even factoring in things like population changes, conservation efforts, and the energy generated by other sources.

Leaders must explain these realities – including connections and choices – calm fears, and list benefits.  After the multiple slaughters of Parisian innocents and a bloody terrorist attack in California, President Obama spoke.  “What greater rejection of those who would tear down our world than marshaling our best efforts to save it?”  His speech failed because it did not address the immediate frustration born of disbelief in his terrorism strategy.

The Public sees big-government as incompetent; unable to stimulate a stagnant economy.  Any belief in “shovel-ready” jobs is gone.  “Only five percent unemployment” is seen as not counting millions who lost permanent jobs, and now are either part-time or worse, still out of work.  The Department of Energy’s failure to make the U.S. self-sufficient illustrates this failure.  We have a huge store of fossil fuels: coal, oil and natural gas – thank the new fracking technology for that.  They each provide inexpensive energy.  Renewables – water, wind, and solar – all add to our capacity.  Each has drawbacks – drought, calm, or night.  We have just lacked the leadership and vision to overcome fear and move us forward.

Leadership must address how efficiencies come from keeping efforts in the hands of private industry.  The economic impact of energy self-sufficiency will grow as domestic investment replaces money now sent afar to purchase oil.  Clean self-sufficiency needs nuclear power, but also every other energy alternative.

Large-scale engineering by private firms can change the world, but there is a governmental role.  This model is ancient.  The Pharaohs linked Mediterranean to Gulf by digging a Nile-to-Red Sea canal.  4,000 years later, a private company dug the Suez Canal.  Private companies spanned the American Continent with tracks for their Iron horses.  A private firm built a 102-mile long conveyer belt of water.  It linked the Hudson and Delaware Rivers across New Jersey, rising a quarter mile over the inconvenient highlands.  The firm’s President showed leadership in this.  He also involved the public, with a publicity campaign to create a demand for his engineering marvel, the Morris Canal, linking Pennsylvania’s coalfields, NJ’s Iron, and NYC’s markets for over 100 years.

New nuclear Power Plants require the same sort of leadership in order for private industry to build them.  The public needs to be educated that the technology has come far in the past half-century.  America is a big mosaic, and each piece – each of us – is important.  In going West, we often come to paths untrod.  A clean electric system is one of them.

The wish to make terrorists eat sand is palatable, but ultimately, futile.  We must return to what made America great.  We must make the world better; make two plus two be greater than four.  Keeping power plant carbon out of the air, providing jobs, conserving fossil fuels, and more, make this “vision” worth pursuing.  We just need a little leadership to say, “We can, and will do this.  Here is why.  Here is how!”

Prosperity, not Austerity — less “free stuff”

Hillary, ISIS, Obamacare, Illegals, Abortion, and Trump all distract from our most critical issue.  Wealth is not something Americans should expect to be given by taking from the Billionaires.  Those few should not be expected to give a “Free” College Education to everyone.  “Free Stuff” is not the American ideal, nor our heritage.

Prosperity is something that can be created – it is something we Americans have created.   It is what we will create again.

American prosperity enables us to act on a world stage, and to continue to fight for freedom for hundreds of millions, as we have done since the Nation’s founding.  The Pax Americana keeps us safe – as does our unparalleled military.  Wealth is also a very personal, as noted in a Television commercial, “how much is in your wallet?”

We cannot ignore that there are many who have In the United States – but more who need.  The rich are prospering; the poor are suffering.  America remains the richest nation on Earth; but the post-2008 economic recovery has been anemic.  Unemployment stands at 5.1%, but only after counting the millions of part-timers – and ignoring many as, “not looking for work.”  One-sixth of our citizens are now receiving food stamps.  Our nation’s debt is crushing, and rising; so lawmakers cut both social and military budgets, while ignoring the elephant in the room – steadily expanding entitlements.

Complaining does not grow wealth.  Answers to the important policy questions facing the United States, e.g. big-government vs. small – aka, liberal vs. conservative – must begin with where wealth comes from.

America is wealthy for various reasons, including, first, that oceans protect us; and our States do not war with each other – except for once.  Second, we have copious natural resources, including water, farmland, minerals, and energy.  Third, our system of government has checks and balances.  Fourth, our people create wealth by adding value fostered by a system which encourages doing so.

Policy decisions can affect each of these fundamentals.  We could conquer other nations; decide not to drill; change each branch’s powers; and pass onerous regulations on private industry.  Prosperity is not a zero-sum game.  Government taking from some to give to others reduces overall prosperity, if only because government programs are usually inefficient, and introduce unintended consequences, including providing disincentives.

President Reagan called our nation, “a shining city on a hill.”  He knew America and its people to be exceptional.  He saw this in citizen-soldiers storming Normandy beaches to bring freedom to a continent, and in Americans striving to made the world better.  Americans work to add value, by melting and shaping iron ore to create a vast number of products.  These can become an engine, which fueled, does even more work; creating additional value.  A road, bridge, or railroad engine – all enrich, as they help bring materials to where needed.

Americans also work to reduce costs.  Weavers responded to industrial manufacturing of cloth  by throwing their “Sabots,” i.e. wooden shoes, into the machines.  Some lost jobs, but as the cost of cloth fell, wardrobes exploded.  Similarly, big box stores bring enormous efficiencies to the retail market; forcing small stores to adapt even as people gain access to a vast number of low-cost products.

Policy is the implementation of Philosophy.   Should government do more or less?  We do not have perfect information from which to answer.  Each direction has benefits and costs, along with the risks of unintended consequences.

It is clear that increased skills makes workers more valuable.   This is true of all occupations.  It follows that no one will argue against investments in education.  Unfortunately, while the goal of more education is virtuous, the massive amounts of funds influence both choice and outcome: Teachers Union’s contract concerns, and bureaucracies grow.  Questions arise of Federal, State, or Local government; Public or Private; secular or religions; and Government indoctrinating the very young.

It is similarly clear that all cherish the world the children will inherit.  None desire polluted air, water, or land.  Yet, there are only three choices, to grow, manufacture, or mine.  The Earth offers its plenty.  Abundant stores bless America, including carbon fuels – the remnants of messy, millions-of-years-ago swamps and oceans.  Environmental concerns had Global Cooling, then Warming, now Climate Change.  Hydrocarbons seem to be a villain, but these deliver huge amounts of energy at low per-unit costs – a boon to the globally impoverished.  Comparing energy alternatives, we find that coal powered generators emit carbon dioxide, and permanently remove mountains and valleys, both.  Nuclear reactors produce exactly zero carbon emissions, but their small amount of radioactive waste will last for millennia.

The first responsibility of any government is to protect its people.  Taxation is the gathering of Citizen’s money for that purpose.  In the United States, new responsibilities have been added, arisen, and grown.  Law and regulation codify them.  Police enforce them.  For the purposes of this essay, the question is whether our enlarged  Federal, State, and Local governments add to American Prosperity  On the one hand, a lack of rules and regulations makes  for chaos, i.e. “the wild west;”  alternatively, does government use your money as well as you do?

The above discussion of American Prosperity contains root causes and some policy choices.  Unmentioned is one additional aspect – how these choices affect the very culture of America.

For too many, as I began, the siren call of “Free Stuff” is being heard.   This is not the American way.  We have a heritage of hard work, of taking what the Earth provides – its raw stuff: water, wood, and ore – and transforming these into valuable goods.   Americans have literally created their own prosperity.

Take the little NJ Town of Whippany, once called “Whippeny.”  It is celebrating the Tricentennial of its 1715 iron forge.  It was the First in the entire North West New Jersey region.   It was ground zero for a huge iron industry, that since moved to Pittsburgh, and now in China.   Whippany is a mill town, and proud of it.  Its people helped make the United States.  The many who live in all our Cities and Small Towns made American Great.

We will do so again.

Fishing in Baltmore

What began in Ferguson went to Baltimore.  It is now spreading.  A movement is growing that teaches blue is far from black.  Protesters are chanting that this is true no matter who wears a Police uniform.  This is just one of many divisions growing in America.  Much ink is being spilled to decry how American is becoming divided, but the worse of it is that red blood is being spilled, too.

Black vs. White, Male vs. Female, and Liberal vs. Conservative are just a few of the many conflicts being fought.  With inner cities’ riots, murders, and police actions very much in the news, we are hearing more than usual about the amount of government intervention needed for social problems.  The upcoming Presidential election is making this argument louder.

The United States has always been a nation of doers; more, we are a nation that has shed blood for other’s liberty, allowing them to raise themselves out of poverty.  America has done this for hundreds of millions around the world.  It now needs to solve some of the many problems our nation faces.  No slogan can simultaneously bridge all these fissures, but the saying, “Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day; teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime,” gives a bit of guidance, if not wisdom.  It may also help bridge several divides.  Conflicts shrink as problems do.

Both Conservatives and Liberals want to solve the problems faced by too many people.  No politician of either party wants to say, “Spend less to help the poor.”  This is not from fear of slur, but of losing votes.  It is easier to give away government’s money – once, taxpayers.  It certainly shows him or her as caring.  The money sometimes even helps those in need.  Politicians quickly learn that voters can be grateful, which can entice their next buying of votes with your money.

Politicians spent to reduce crime.  It dramatically fell after the police began to flood into high crime areas.  But the underlying, closely interwoven problems remained.  In many cities, manufacturing jobs evaporated and tax revenues fell.  Schools failed the children, particularly in the inner city.  Corrupt government officials pocketed monies felt to be the due of the resident who had voted as expected.

Decades of coarsening, “gangsta” culture has worsened the environment.  It now includes mostly absent fathers, rampant drug use, and deadly guns used freely.  The many young, black males who remain in the ghettos are often ill-educated and unable to find a decent job.  They are poor with little hope of a better future.  For too many, gangs replace absent fathers and drugs substitute for careers.  These young men see police as an opposing blue force, not as heroes fighting to protect the vulnerable from black-on-black crime.  This attitude – by officers of every color – fuels more black anger.

The police have always worried about drugs and feared illegal guns.  Now, officers wonder if city administrations have their backs.  There is a new police reluctance to address crime aggressively for fear of risking their career by a charge of “racism” – to be antagonized, filmed, and posted as the racist cop of the week.  Worse, there might be an active retreat by the men in blue – literally avoiding crime situations.  The poor and vulnerable in those communities then suffer even more.  New police recruits are scarce, and the murder rate in many cities is up.

The slogan “Black Lives Matter” echoes this sad reality for the colored community, but blames it entirely on, “The Man.”  Now there are riots and the execution of police officers.  BLM activists chanted as they disrupted Messrs. Sanders and O’Mally’s Presidential Rallies.  Then a Texas Sheriff was targeted, seemingly only for proudly wearing his uniform.  He was brutally assassinated, shot fifteen times, as he lay at the feet of his murderer.  Incredibly, some BLM supporters honored this crime with a new chant, about frying pigs in bacon.  This only worsens the atmosphere in which police are working.  Soothingly saying, “Be calm” is reasonable.  Politicians strive to use different versions seeking a great sound bite.  These do not solve the problems.  All they do is to increase resentments.

There is a wide divide between Liberals and Conservative in their philosophy of helping others.  Liberal voices argue for equality of outcome; Conservatives urge equality of opportunity.  The former voices cry for increased government action; the latter advises individual responsibility; Liberalism, to share the wealth; Conservatism, to get a skill – then a job.

The problems of the inner cities are huge, so it seems that only a massive, active involvement by government can force the tide back.  Witness Baltimore; consider other cities and states whose governing philosophy is to give until it hurts.  First, how much of the funds reach those who need the help?  Second, how are the recipients faring?  Third, what are the unintended consequences?

Now, consider only one of the many examples of programs that are successful, and why – the Catholic Christo Rey schools.  These Jesuit schools date back from 1995.  The first was launched in Chicago to deliver a quality education to impoverished, inner-city students.  Virtually 100% of their graduates go onto college!  Catholic education is an example of teaching how to fish, but that is not the only element in their success.

The schools operate on a model that is neither all charity nor asking the student to fend for themselves.  Students attend class four days per week.  Students are also required to work at a paying job on the fifth day.  Their earnings pay tuition; the jobs provide valuable skills.  The approach counters a reality of charity: what is given away for free is too often not valued by the recipient.  Successful programs often require skin in the game.

While charity begins at home, and it is a blessing to help others; God helps those who help themselves, too.  These lessons transcend the Liberal vs. Conservative divide.  Our great country will become more so as our people rise from the muck – with help, but also through their own energies.

Abortion and the “Law”

Planned Parenthood’s defenders, those “Pro-choice,” like to say, “Abortion is settled law.”  Their adversaries, those “Pro-life,” believe the “Law” to be immoral, if not evil.  Both sets of eyes should see the same realities.

Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortion services in the United States.  It receives some half a billion dollars of taxpayers’ monies.  The recently secretly recorded videos suggest – nay, say – that the organization barters for the parts of the unborn it aborts, alters procedures to better harvest organs, and desires more profitable, intact specimens.  This latter begs the question of when did the intact being die – inside the womb, or after birth.

Planned Parenthood’s defenders state, “Medical procedures are messy,” and that is true.  They pose many arguments in favor of PP including that, “Being anti-abortion is to War on Women.”  This shifts the focus of the argument away from the 56 million unborn killed by Planned Parenthood’s practitioners.  Pro-abortionists allege the aborted are simply tissue, ignoring the contradiction of harvesting, then selling, hearts, lungs, and livers.  Even worse is their technician declaring on film, “It’s another boy,” before casually dismembering his dead body for parts.  Lastly, defenders cry, “It is the Law.”  Simply being the “Law” does not make something right, aka, “Moral.”  Following an immoral “Law” might be worse than defending one.  Followers might cry themselves for their lost humanity.

Imperfect men and women have drafted many evil “Laws.”  A search of world history finds some particularly horrifying ones.  Germany and Australia each made murder and kidnapping legal.  Germany tried to create a Master Race.  It’s “Laws” legalized the killing of its Jewish, disabled, and homosexual citizens.  Millions died by a wide variety of methods.  Of these, poison gas was preferred as it was the most efficient.  Australia tried to eliminate the native culture in favor of a “Superior” Western one.  The government authorized the forcible removal of children from Aboriginals homes, by force if needed.  Babies were sent into the warm “care” of institutions, often to be trained as servants.  Officials continued this practice well into the 1970‘s.

The US Supreme Court ruled in 1857 that a black man named Dred Scott was not a person, but rather a slave, i.e., property.  The justices wrote that black people were not considered citizens when the Constitution was drafted.  The ruling declared that under the U.S. Constitution [“Mr.” or “It”] Scott was thus not considered a person.  As property, he was, in some respect, not different from a chair or a table.  He had few rights; could not sue for his rights in a Federal Court; certainly could not protest when one owner sold him to another.

In 1973, the US Supreme Court decided in its landmark case, Roe v. Wade.  It ruled a baby in the womb could be aborted before it became “viable.”  The decision defined this as being “potentially able to live outside the mother’s womb, albeit with artificial aid.”  The Justices then added this is “…about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier, even at 24 weeks.”

In the 42 years since that decision, Science has revealed that a unique being is created at the moment of conception.  His or her DNA is distinct from either parent.  Science has also given us a wide variety of marvelous technologies to view this being’s development; and to share full-motion of him moving about with family and friends.

We have also learned of methods of killing this unborn-life that disgust.  Allowing the body to partially emerge from his or her almost-mother, before stabbing, or vacuuming out the child’s brains.  We now see the small body being sold after dismemberment; being crushed carefully avoid damage to the salable organs.  We hear discussions as to whether parts are more valuable singly, or in some sort of a package deal.

What has not changed in the last 42 years is that the developing being still cannot speak for him or herself.  However, he or she can certainly be seen: arms & legs, fingers & toes, and noses & eyes.  They move and respond.  All of this gives them a silent voice.

We cannot change minds that are made up.  We can point out absurdities, contradictions, and even evil, and ask for thought.  For the moment, for the many who find abortion an abomination, perhaps those dollars can be given to the very many, underfunded,  health-care clinics that  do not perform abortions.

Abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare,” says Presidential Candidate Hilary Clinton.  Perhaps, but that does not mean that those who abhor the practice should fund it.

Politicians and Reality

Governor Chris Christie, running for President of the United States, says that Federal Marijuana Laws will be enforced under his administration.

He has some nerve!

It seems much better to allow selective enforcement of any Law.  States can thus decide for themselves which Federal Laws to enforce; as with Colorado and marijuana.  Cities should also decide for themselves which Laws they enforce.  San Francisco should not turn over a multiple felon to the Federal Government.  After all, he was already deported five previous times.  Why stop at selective enforcement at the municipality level?  Citizens should, of course, decide which Laws apply to them.

Let us get back to reality.  Following “smart” laws is a very American characteristic – remember, “…Government of the People…”  Thomas Jefferson said, “When Injustice becomes Law, resistance become duty.”  Legislators are public servants – not the other way around.  When some situations show Laws unintended stupidity, there should be a way to address this without bankrupting those caught.  There should be a “common sense” power to deal with situations like… there are so many… a 72 year old retired school teacher being arrested for carrying a 300 year old non-functioning, antique pistol.  In another place, Child Protective Services found two parents found responsible for child neglect.  The children were 10 and 6 years old  and tried to walk home alone from the local park.  Then there are police who shut down children’s lemonade stands, not allowing medical marijuana, and more.

Politicians of all stripes allow bad laws to stay on the books; but it is worse than that.

We see them kicking the can down the road so that they do not have to deal with the problems they caused in the first place.  Municipality, State, and even Federal politicians have promised rich pensions for government employees, then then do not fund them.  This is not a surprise.  However, these pale before the forecast costs of the entitlements promised American citizens.  We are now learning a new word, “unsustainable.  The United States has just seen Greece dance with Bankruptcy as a nation”; but US debt is only projected to rise.

It seems that Governor Christie is speaking an important truth in his quest for the Presidency.  The lesson of his speech also applies  to the now-famous secret recordings of Planned Parenthood doctors and executives.

There is reality; and closing your eyes does not make it go away.