Category Archives: politics

Above Reproach

Christie Press CongerenceThis past Thursday, in addressing a scandal in his administration, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie conducted himself in a way I’d like to see emulated by every government official. Not surprisingly, political pundits are weighing in with their views on various ramifications of this crisis. The impact of this on Christie’s potential 2016 run for U.S. President seems to be chief among these observations. I believe it’s thanks to this mentality, fomented by the press and how this influences government officials (especially the elected ones), that forthright behavior, like this example of Governor Christie’s, has become so rare in our public office holders.

A little over six years ago, in an article entitled Honest Politician , I discussed the sad reality that this term, Honest Politician, is accepted as an oxymoron in America. This is a key reason why, since that time, I’ve chosen to withdraw from my once fairly active role in politics. However, that decision was based on what I saw happening throughout the political spectrum, not just at the national level. In fact, the “straws that broke the camels back” in my case came more from experiences in local politics. And, to a great degree, they involved individuals I’ve supported, who I thought were well aligned with my views. It’s not that I expected perfection from these individuals but I did expect that, when blunders were made, they would own up to them. Sadly, what I saw were some really bone-headed decisions being made and these were accompanied by a complete unwillingness to admit to any errors in judgment. Added to this was the disappointment of seeing those with whom I’d placed my trust being willing to associate with anyone who could offer them some political advantage, no matter how despicable the ally is otherwise. Frankly, I just got to a point where I could no longer stomach having any part in this.

So, maybe American politicians are getting what they deserve with “Honest Politician” being accepted as an oxymoron. But, what about the American public, are we getting what we deserve? I have to say, “I think so.” One of the most recent glaring examples of this was having President Obama repeatedly state, “We will keep this promise to the American people. If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your healthcare plan, you will be able to keep your healthcare plan. Period.” He, clearly, knew this wasn’t true every time he said it and yet he hasn’t owned up to that. Furthermore, he’s taken no corrective action regarding the circumstances that led him to do something so foolish and harmful to so many. I’ve been encouraged that, in response to this, according to recent CNN/ORC polling, a growing majority of Americans are finding President Obama to not be trustworthy or honest. But, let’s not forget, it hasn’t been that long since we twice-elected an adulterous Presidential Candidate who dodged the culpability of his philandering by questioning the meaning of what the word “is” is. And yet, instead of mocking and rejection, many still regard him as a heroic figure.

If we are getting what we deserve in this regard, I say, “It doesn’t have to remain that way.” When you think about it, we’re actually getting what we are letting ourselves deserve. So, I say, “Let’s change that!” Let’s stop putting up with American politicians dodging the truth by letting them debate what the meaning of the word “is” is. Let’s stop accepting allegory, as an excuse for not being genuine. And, by all means, let’s continue to express skepticism with things that don’t seem credible. But, shouldn’t we, at least, allow the possibility of an American politician saying what they mean and meaning what they say? If we don’t, what is their incentive to do so? Moreover, shouldn’t we be demanding this of our politicians instead of just accepting that, in our nation, “Honest Politician” is an oxymoron? By doing so, I think we end up deserving better and thus, getting better. So, whether or not you endorse any other thing about Chris Christie, I say it’s to our benefit to laud him for his courageous handling of the current scandalous crisis in his administration.

1 Comment

Filed under character, Government, leadership, media, politics

Fifty Years Without JFK

Kennedy AssassinatedNovember 22, 1963 is commonly known as “The Day America Lost Its Innocence.” It’s, also, widely accepted that nearly all Americans living at that time have detailed memories of where they were and what they were doing on that day. Since I was leading a very active life in the American Midwest fifty years ago, I witnessed the reality of these things. So, I can share some of what I recall about my related experiences, as well as offer my perspective on that loss of innocence.


On that Friday in 1963, I awoke in our four-room (that’s four-room, not four-bedroom) home. It was in a blue-collar area of my hometown. I’d lived there with my single-mom and two siblings since I was born. Considering those circumstances, it may have been difficult to see from the outside looking in but life seemed pretty great to me. I was sixteen years old, I had just gotten my driver’s license and I had just finished playing a season as a starting defensive guard on my high school’s football team … we were undefeated that year. I still went to church where I received my salvation. I had loving relationships with my mother, my sister, my brother and extended family members on my mother’s side. I, also, had loving relationships with my father and extended family members on his side. In addition to family, I had a good social life. I was part of the “in crowd” at school. We had a formidable circle of friends and acquaintances throughout our community and I had my first “real” girlfriend … we were “going steady”. When it came to finishing my education and then finding success in work, things were looking pretty bright. My performance with high school studies was at a National Honor Society level, I had a couple of Junior Colleges interested in me as a football player, there was a state university in my hometown and even if nothing developed with scholarships, there were plenty of factory jobs available in town where I could earn what I needed for college tuition, books, etc. I don’t recall consciously having the Shakespearean thought “the world is my oyster” but things in my life seemed to be lining up pretty nicely.


I don’t really recall what I did for lunch on November 22, 1963, but I had gone somewhere away from school. When I returned, I went into the gym where most other students who shared my lunch period were hanging out; waiting to go to whatever class they had for the period after lunch. Just before the bell rang, to end my lunch period, my “steady girlfriend” appeared and she immediately asked if I had heard that President Kennedy had been shot. She was a year younger than me and she was also known to be “creative” with the truth”. So, my instant reaction was something like, “Oh come on, Louise! That’s not even funny!” Some around us reacted similarly but there were others chiming in that they had heard it was true. Then, the bell rang and there was an increasing buzz of related conversation, as we left the gym and headed towards our respective classrooms. My post-lunch class was English. I don’t recall a thing from that day’s class except that, along with the other students and the teacher, I was most distracted by what I’d heard about the President’s shooting. That distraction peaked with an announcement, about 15 or 20 minutes into the class period, coming over the public address speaker, housed in a small wooden cabinet, centered above the blackboard at the front of the classroom. For some reason, I think the announcement was made by a female school staff member but I don’t really remember whose voice I heard. And, I don’t remember exactly what was said in the announcement, except that President Kennedy had been assassinated and that school was being immediately dismissed.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under community, leadership, politics

We The Purple

NYPD Ball CapThis past Wednesday, I wore a black ball cap that has NYPD embroidered in large white letters on its front. In smaller white letters, 9-11-01 is embroidered on its back. I bought the cap during the week following that 9/11 at a Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa memorial service. I’ve made it a point to wear it on every 9/11 since then. I guess it’s sort of my Ebenezer to raise, to honor those who lost their lives on that tragic day in American history. I’m pleased to observe that it seems I’m not yet alone in paying this sort of tribute. However, I’m sorry to say it seems that we’ve all but lost a very important gain we realized through our great loss. It was rediscovering the strength of our being One Nation, Under God. Sadly and maybe even more tragically than 9/11 itself,we have failed to cling to and nurture what we gained on9-12-01.

For me, the apparent prospects for gain were symbolized by seeing President (R) Bush and Senator (D) Daschle hug, as the President arrived to address a joint session of Congress, shortly after the 9/11 tragedy. However, in an article entitled The President Bush/Senator Daschle Hug – 7 Years Later, I lamented that our nation was letting that prospective gain slip through its fingers. Instead, for the most part, we’ve returned to the course that political polar-opposites, Bob Beckel and Cal Thomas warned us against in their co-authored book, Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That Is Destroying America. That book explores the people and groups that the authors believe have artificially deepened the divide between liberals and conservatives in America. In the book’s Introduction, they say, “We intend to put polarization on trial. We will introduce an abundance of evidence detailing the damage polarization has inflicted on politics, and why this insidious culture continues to operate to the benefit of the few and to the detriment of the many.Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under community, democracy, diversity, leadership, Making a Difference, politics

Let’s Sit Together!

Although I’ve been a Contributor for Red County for nearly 2 ½ years now, I’ve continued to imagine an idealized blog I think of as We The Purple … where posts are more aimed at building on the common ground between the Reds and the Blues. It’s sort of my American Dream. Frankly, I was pretty much ready to give up on anything about that dream becoming a reality, as I observed the sad spectacle of those using the recent tragedy in Tucson to disseminate hatred for their political opponents. Thankfully, with the passing of time, the balance of commentaries has shifted quite heavily towards more sanity and truth. Along with these more rational and edifying words, have come some worthwhile suggestions for concrete actions that can be taken to move our nation in the direction of my American Dream. One of these is the idea put forward by Colorado’s U.S. Senator (D) Mark Udall that, for the upcoming State of the Union speech, Democrats and Republicans sit together rather than dividing up by party. I think this could be an excellent first step in the right direction.

I realize some may say that Udall’s suggestion is nothing more than empty symbolism. Of course, it would be symbolic but I don’t see it as being empty. I can remember participating in a TweetChat group around the time the Tea Party started forming. During one session, one participant commented on “those across the aisle” and stated that he wanted to “destroy them”. My @Reply to him was to remind him that “those across the aisle” are our fellow Americans and that aiming to “destroy them” was not appropriate. Since following Udall’s suggestion would mean that Reds and Blues wouldn’t actually have an aisle between them, it should make it easier for them to see each other as fellow Americans.

Others may say that Udall’s suggestion seems like a typical Liberal reaction, looking for an opportunity for us all to hold hands and sing Cumbayah. I suppose some may have that sense in doing this but I see it as an action that can begin to effect positive differences in the way our elected Representatives work together. My views on this come from the practical experience of having run a network of office equipment Dealers for over a decade. One of the biggest advantages to using a Dealer network, as a channel of distribution, is that you have the opportunity to have your products and/or services represented by the strongest independent office equipment companies in their respective markets. One of the biggest challenges with this is that you’re working with the strongest independent office equipment companies in their respective markets … underline the word independent … and having them work together seamlessly with their fellow Dealers doesn’t come naturally. One of the best strategies for overcoming this challenge is to get the Dealers together regularly, giving them many opportunities to socialize. When you’ve had brunch with your neighboring Dealer at the Moana Surfrider and you’ve taken a picture of him and his Wife, as they shop along Kalakaua Boulevard, it becomes much more difficult to be stiff-necked with that guy the next time a Dealer Territory dispute arises. I see Udall’s “Let’s sit together!” suggestion as holding this same potential for our elected Representatives.

One aspect of Udall’s suggestion that makes it more likely to be a “Cumbayah moment of empty symbolism” is that it’s a suggestion for a one time event. To really effect positive differences in the way our elected Representatives work together, I suggest that this step should be applied in general and not just for the State of the Union speech. My thinking is that, if our Senators and Members of Congress regularly find themselves in circumstances where they’re less self conscious about expressing views that may conflict with the stance of the party they’ve chosen to align with, it’s more likely that they will succeed in expressing the views of those who they’ve been elected to represent. According to Carl Anderson’s new book, Beyond a House Divided: The Moral Consensus Ignored by Washington, Wall Street and the Media, “In dealing with many high profile issues, we have found consensus where conventional wisdom would have us believe it is most unlikely: on the issues of religion in public life, abortion, marriage, and the role of government, among others.” According to this, We The People are, in fact, We The Purple. If so, all the more reason for eliminating artificial barriers that prevent this productive environment from being a reality and instead, foster a counterproductive atmosphere.

Finally, I want to suggest that, if this step can be taken, that we not stop there. One question I haven’t addressed here is: Why have our Senators and Members of Congress been sitting separately, by party, for State of the Union speeches up to now? The answer is that it’s just been a custom. There is no requirement to do so. With that in mind, I think the time is right for us to take a close look at all the routines our elected officials follow that aren’t requirements. The goal in doing this, of course, would be to determine if these routines should be replaced with methods that are more effective for our elected officials in truly being our Representatives.

Let’s Sit Together

Submitted by Craig Williams (not verified) on Sun, 2011-01-16 15:17.


+-Gary, I wholeheartedly agree with you! We are all citizens of the same great country and no matter what our political differences we are all due respect and civility.

Our state and country is in fiscal crisis, and fighting over deck chairs while the ship sinks is foolish.

– Craig Williams

Vancouver, WA

advocatus diaboli

Submitted by Michael Frome (not verified) on Sun, 2011-01-16 16:50.


+-Hi Gary, I’m going to not exactly disagree with you in spirit, but would like to add my observations as a neophyte in the political realm.

I have in the past (as I still do) been able to see and even articulate different sides of a policy argument, even when thinking about a policy in which I’ve decided my position…indeed, such thinking is needed to determine one’s position.

Having said that, I see myself as a historically moderate independent who has been pushed with great force directly into the conservative camp. There are some aspects of conservative ideology that I quite frankly disagree with; however, in the face of a liberal agenda, relentlessly pursued, and which in my opinion has both the capacity and aim of destroying aspects of my freedom that I hold dear, I must choose a side and act upon that choice with vigor.

In short, my view is that the current liberal movement as embodied by the democrat party has an aim to unlawfully restrict my exercise of freedom, and the conservative movement embodied by the republicans…much less so.

In my experience, the greatest damage is done when these two groups actually are acting in concert, because it often represents an unholy compromise that yields principles to expediency.

Seating by State

Submitted by Jon Russell (not verified) on Sun, 2011-01-16 20:30.


+-I think they should be seated by State Delegation. The States they represent are more important than party politics.

Seating by State

Submitted by Gary Wiram on Mon, 2011-01-17 07:19.


+-Thanks for the suggestion, Jon. I very nearly included that suggestion in my article. However, I think this is a good idea for State legislatures too.

seating by delegation

Submitted by Michael Frome (not verified) on Mon, 2011-01-17 10:32.


+-I really like that idea!

It would serve as a reminder to our representatives (of both parties) that there exists within their constituency people of different opinions who are also entitled to be heard and whose concerns must be weighed.

Perhaps it would provide a better mechanism to demonstrate to them that they owe their allegiance and effort to all of their constituency, not only their base. Hard to say. Perhaps it would just make everybody really uncomfortable until someone had the gumption to propose changing the rules back to “party seating”…it would be an interesting experiment.

seating by state delegation

Submitted by Craig Williams (not verified) on Mon, 2011-01-17 17:03.


+-An excellent idea Jon!

– Craig

In memory of Judge Roll in particular

Submitted by David Knight (not verified) on Mon, 2011-01-17 18:52.


+-I would be more in disagreement. While I appreciate the need to keep a civil tongue, and avoid unfounded and personal accusations, there has been all too much R’s and D’s ganging up against the people. When politicians get along too well, all their friends get bailouts and the public gets the bill.

They are indeed a political class which walk around airport body scanners and exempt themselves from mandatory federal health plans. This is why there is a tea party. There is absolutely NO mandate for ANY more laws, especially in the realm of gun control for the little gal.

If they want to have a little friendly competition to see how many “oh so well intentioned but” repressive laws they can lift off our backs, that might be a good place to start. The FDA for instance, would make a fine consumer advisory panel – a place from which they can justify all those decisions made on our behalf – to all the other advisory organizations that will spring up to guide consumers in their quest for REAL health. They are one of the main reasons our health care system is a mess today.

Great and mighty organizations seek to mislead us – and as in the past – will stop at NOTHING to achieve their ends. In memory of the Assassinated Judge – who was a true constitutionalist and hero to our country – we could stand a bipartisan effort to return to the principles that made this nation great, the original intent of the constitution that we swear an oath to.

The enemy

Submitted by Edmundg (not verified) on Tue, 2011-01-18 01:39.


+-Horse manure! Now, I know that there is a huge push for civility in political discourse, but it is only in one direction—we conservatives must be civil, whilst the left has no such restrictions. Consider the “Daily Kos” printing a headline shortly after the Tucson shooting: “Mission Accomplished, Sarah Palin!”

What many do not yet realize is that there are very few Democrats remaining in American politics. That party has been usurped by communists. Yes, yes, I realize that they prefer other names, such as liberal, progressive, social democrat, socialist, state capitalist, etc. But you can paint a jackass with zebra stripes all you want; it is still a jackass. These are communists and they are hell-bent upon overthrowing the greatest Republic ever. Therefore, they are the enemy!

What they are doing is illegal and unConstitutional, and I resent it.

Hahahahahaha, yup, you’ve got

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 2011-01-18 14:05.


+-Hahahahahaha, yup, you’ve got us Edmundg, we’re communists, all of us. Because, as you well know there’s a pretty straight line between “healthcare for poor people” and “lets overthrow the government and do only what the government tells us to”. What’s worse than that is that not only are we communists but we’re actually attempting to destroy America. It’s probably because we hate all of the good that America does, because as well as know communists are also all godless and actually are the creation of the devil to destroy mankind as we know it. It starts with protecting the poor, and who knows, after that maybe ensuring clean drinking water and then BLAMO, instant American destruction.

What’s especially fiendish is that, in an age of 24-7 news coverage, we’ve managed to usurp an entire political party and have just lying in wait for when we can send out the secret communist signal to have all Democrats rise up and destroy the government from within. Why we didn’t take over the Republican party, which would be far less obvious, is beyond me (especially since we got together as communists have been unable to do in the past and decided to take over a national political party at all levels). Oh well, what can you do…

I do hope you realize that I’m being fully facetious and am really just mocking the absurdity of your claim. I mean, at least disagree with me on issues in an intelligent manner like a rational person, but please try to stay away from the conspiracy-theory type broad-based personal attacks. They come across as rather, well, desperate.

I agree with the point of this post though, I think the idea of sitting together at the SOTU is a great idea.

Comments Off on Let’s Sit Together!

Filed under leadership, Making a Difference, politics

A Prayer In Baltimore

Although I didn’t vote for Barack Obama, I do want his presidency to be successful. However, as the public celebratory events started on the weekend prior to Obama’s inauguration, I have to admit that I wasn’t drawn to join in the celebration. In fact, I found myself going into sort of an “auto-tune-out” mode. I suspect I’m not alone in this. However, I really do want to be supportive of the Obama administration where I can and I want to encourage others to do likewise so, while my reaction is probably pretty natural, I want to be on guard about it.

I guess this is just one of those situations that, growing up in Indiana, we would define as, “Says Easy but Does Hard.” Thankfully, something broke through my “auto-tune-out” that I’m finding to be helpful on the “Does” part. It took place on the Saturday prior to the inauguration, as the Obama Train, making it’s way to Washington, D.C., made a stop in Baltimore. Prior to Obama’s introduction, to speak at Baltimore’s War Memorial Plaza, Dr. Walter Scott Thomas, of Baltimore’s New Psalmist Baptist Church, strode to the podium, to open the ceremony in prayer. I’ve only been able to find one link for a video of Dr. Thomas’ prayer and its incomplete, but here are the highlights that caught my attention: Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under America’s founding ideals, community, politics, Presidents, United States

Honest Politician

Figgins has had increasing opportunities,in recent days, to witness the cynical view that most seem to have of American politicians. This can be summed up by saying that it seems to be, generally, accepted that the description “Honest Politician” is an oxymoron.

Figgins has, also, been witnessing how very discouraging I find this. That aspect really peaked today when one Presidential Candidate announced a decision to not run a “negative ad” that his campaign had prepared. My discouragement comes from the fact that I haven’t heard a single representative of the media express even the most vague possibility that what the candidate said was true … that he had given further consideration to what he was about to do and he had come up with the courage of his convictions and decided not to do it. This particular candidate is an ordained Baptist minister. He teaches from The Scriptures, which say, “let your yea be yea; and [your] nay, nay” … in other words, say what you mean and mean what you say. So why is there not even the slightest consideration from the media that this guy is doing just that?

One of the ironies in this is that the aforementioned “negative ad” was prepared as a response to a candidate who has been less than believable himself. As an example, he claimed that he had seen his Father, a former Governor of Michigan, march with Martin Luther King Junior. When confronted with the fact his Father had never participated in such a march, this other candidate said that he had only been speaking allegorically, that he knew his Father marched with King “in spirit”. For some reason, the media didn’t seem to greet this with the same level of cynicism they leveled towards today’s “negative ad” decision but it did provide another example of why, generally, American politicians are deserving of the media’s attitude.

So, maybe American politicians are getting what they deserve. They’ve, generally, proven that the description “Honest Politician” is an oxymoron. So, “Justice Served!” Right?! Well, what about us, Americans? Are we getting what we deserve? I have to say, “I think so.” Its not been that long since we twice-elected an adulterous Presidential Candidate who dodged the culpability of his philandering by questioning the meaning of what the word “is” is. And yet, instead of mocking and rejection, many still regard him as a heroic figure. As a matter of fact, there’s even the possibility that the next Presidential Election could result in a return to that same administration.

OK, so maybe we’re getting what we deserve too. But I say, “It doesn’t have to remain that way.” When you think about it, we’re actually getting what we are letting ourselves deserve. And, I say, “Let’s change that!” Let’s stop putting up with American politicians dodging the truth by letting them debate what the meaning of the word “is” is. Let’s stop accepting allegory, as an excuse for not being genuine. And, by all means, let’s continue to express skepticism about things like today’s “negative ad” announcement, if it doesn’t seem credible. But, shouldn’t we, at least, allow the possibility of an American politician saying what they mean and meaning what they say? If we don’t, what is their incentive to do so? Moreover, shouldn’t we be demanding this of our politicians instead of just accepting that, in our nation, the description “Honest Politician” is an oxymoron. By doing so, I think we end up deserving better and by being better from getting what we deserve.


Filed under politics