Tag Archives: state of the union address

On Pessimism: Essay for June 26, 2012

“Optimism is a force multiplier.” So said General Colin Powell long before he was involved in politics. It was the mantra he used to lead those under his command. From The Little Engine That Could to the 1980 US Olympic hockey team, optimism bores through an obstacle like a candle burns through the darkness.

The converse of that statement is equally true. Pessimism is a force diminisher. The real problem with pessimism is that it is virally contagious. It spreads like a pandemic without antidote. Its’ effects are deleterious. Pessimism convinces us that darkness is okay because our eyes will adjust over time especially if the daylight is first overcome by dusk.

It reminds me of the instructions of how to boil a frog: start with cool water and turn up the heat until the deed is done. No intelligent frog would long stay in boiling water but lull them into a false sense of security and they will stew in their own juices and thank you for the effort.

A recently released Rasmussen poll said that only 37 percent of Americans think that the best days for America lie ahead. Some 45 percent think that our best days are indeed behind us. I don’t know when those numbers were reversed. As far back as 2006 with America deeply involved in a bloody war in Iraq and a holding action in Afghanistan and with political partisanship at full throttle, the numbers were fairly similar. Pessimism abounds.

Winning streaks are hard to maintain. They are noble and enduring. Losing streaks take little effort at all to maintain. They are ignoble and best forgotten except in trivia contests. Longest batting streak in baseball? Fifty six games by Lou Gehrig. Longest losing streak for a pitcher? Twenty seven games by Anthony Young. They made movies about Hall-of-Famer Lou Gehrig. What about Anthony Young? He coaches youth baseball.

Is this to be the way of America? Are we destined to become the youth coach of the burgeoning democracies of the world? Or are we metaphorically poised to begin our fifty seven game hitting streak? I think it is a mental choice. As the great philosopher Yogi Berra once said, “Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical.”

The world is an unstable and unpredictable place. It demands a steady hand on the tiller and America is the only country that can provide the leadership that the stability of the world demands. We must be willing to offer that leadership. Allowing warlords and Lesser Developed Countries to dictate the terms of their participation in the family of nations to the largest single force for good in the history of this planet is ludicrous. The outcome will be as certain as it was in Lord of the Flies.

The world needs adult supervision and that supervision must come from the United States. That leaves us with a very real problem. Who among us in this great country is up to the task of leadership? And I mean bold leadership.

The world is full of follower countries waiting for the resurgence of a renewed and focused United States. And Americans are waiting for the same leadership in our own country. We’ve heard the platitudes and we reject them not so much out of incredulity as out of desperation. The words are threadbare and shopworn.

The United States has the largest and most resilient economy in the world but who is filling the pipeline of talent to take over the seats of the aging demographic that is poised to retire? Who seriously thinks that US businesses can successfully repatriate their manufacturing if the workforce is barren of the skills necessary to complete? Our next President must do, not talk.

The United States has the largest and most competent military force in the world but does anyone think we can continue to put our forces in harm’s way to support illegitimate and unjust countries with values incompatible with our own world view? Who thinks we can continue to rotate our best and most precious human assets into combat stalemates without sacrificing the core of our collective soul? Our next President must do, not talk.

The United States has provided a safety net to the neediest among us but how long can this net endure if it becomes a hammock for those who put personal gain at odds against the collective good? Who among us thinks we can pass along the decisions we are too cowardly to make to our children and grandchildren? Our next President must do, not talk.

Certainly our President has not had enough time to bring about change that this nation so desperately needs. That is because he is lost in the wilderness and a worn footpath looks like a superhighway. He is presiding over a losing streak of epic proportions because he has no vision of what American can be and must become.

This is not the fault of the previous administration. It is the fault of President Barack Obama. This President has talked, not done. We are ready for the leader who will light the candle in the darkness.

Yogi said it was 90 percent mental and 50 percent physical. It is hard to argue with that.

Press on.

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On the State of My Union: Video Essay for January 28, 2012

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On the State of My Union: Essay for January 28, 2012

As Article II Section III of the Constitution mandates, President Obama gave his State of the Union address earlier this week. It ran over 60 minutes and covered a wide range of topics. I hereby offer my own State of the Union to you on several of the essential topics Mr. Obama covered. I will keep it to about 5 minutes.

Ladies and gentlemen, the state of the Union is strong. We may have seen better times but we are in the 236th year of a tremendous experiment in representative democracy. We have weathered the storms of great national calamity, war, natural disaster, terrorist and fascist threats and economic depression. We have witnessed great things: the emancipation of slaves; women’s suffrage; the dawning of civil rights. Some might say that these times are bleak but I say we are a nation of survivors. We are nation of optimists. We are a nation of transformational souls who have demonstrated time and again our penchant for leading ourselves and civilization; for making the world a better place in which to live. And so it is today.

We are in economic hard times born, perhaps, in a different era; of a different administration. That matters little. We are where we are and we have the power and the means to propel this great nation and this potent economy into a much higher gear. It is in our hands to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

What has worked for America ‘lo these many years is not shared sacrifice but shared commitment. We are in the boat together and we pull the oar together. We have been around long enough to know what does not work: blaming businesses for the ills of society; inciting an increasingly punitive regulatory environment that seeks to punish rather than promote; imposing a tax structure that only the well connected understand; and devising an educational system that rewards political correctness at the expense of discovery and inquisitiveness.

We can keep American jobs in this country by making the playing field level; not for some but for all. Set a goal to reduce the corporate tax rate by half this year and to zero within five. American entrepreneurs and businesses are intelligent enough to determine where to place their bets on the next hot product. They do not need government to tell them where to invest their money. Remove the unseen but heavy hand of lobbyists and special interests who peddle their influence in the halls of Congress. Eliminate industry specific tax breaks. Let American business compete with one another so that the best ideas emerge.

We must recognize that too frequently, our desire to expand regulatory oversight stems from a desire merely to increase power and authority in the Washington bureaucracy. Such expansions may stoke egos inside the beltway but they serve to extinguish the flames of creativity that can yield the next breakthrough in science or technology. It is time for the Department of Commerce to act to defend commerce in America. I propose that department review and approve regulatory actions that would hamper business activity as an advocate of American enterprise before the regulations have the force of law. They would serve as a Regulatory Board of Appeals for business.

God has blessed America with spacious skies and amber waves of grain. And our maker has also blessed us with ample reserves of oil and natural gas. We must balance the environmental concerns of well intentioned environmental interests, me included, with the needs of a growing population in a globally competitive world. The benefit of energy independence is not merely a lower price for gas at the pump: it is a lower cost for policing the actions of nations and rouge actors who use unfettered access to energy as a weapon for the destruction of civil societies.

All of our God-given resources, oil and gas, coal and wind, solar and nuclear, must be part of the equation. Onshore and offshore resources must be developed and judiciously used. Green energy is coming but it is not yet viable. When it becomes viable, it will take its rightful place alongside our traditional sources of energy.

Finally, there is no investment more important to make for the long term destiny of our nation than education. Learning must be a lifelong endeavor. What the pace of technological innovation has taught us is that skill sets must be firmly established in our young and then constantly refreshed throughout a lifetime. Our schools must return to the basics, to the so-called STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and math. We do not have nearly enough people trained in these areas and we must have more in order to compete in a world full of degree holders. The role of the Federal Government must be to encourage and set the bar high. Incentives should be reserved for the students in the form of scholarship in exchange for service. Local school boards know how to make curricula. The role of government should be to ensure that our graduates have the skills that our businesses need when they graduate. And government should foster a business climate that seeks new hires.

I have spent a lifetime traveling this world. Let no one say to you that the Age of America has past. The world looks to America for political leadership, moral leadership and economic leadership. The American way of life is still the envy of the world. The role of the President of the United States of America is to ensure that the union endures.

Ladies and gentlemen, I say to you once again: the State of the Union, our Union, is strong. Let no one doubt our resolve. May God bless you and may God bless the United States of America.

Press on.

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