Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Time and Tides....

As we enter what is being touted as a new era, I can only wonder what has fundamentally changed in the body politic? We have a Congress that is overwhelmingly Democratic, but filled with the same politician's who could find no way to compromise with the Executive these past eight years. We have a new President, who learned first hand the lessons of political compromise, or principle compromise, in pursuit of greater personal gain.

I am hopeful, along the way, he will remember his promise of service before personal gain, but if the senior leadership of the House and Senate, both sides of the aisle, are any indication we should not be expecting too rapid a move towards Camelot.

A couple of years ago a friend relayed a story with regards to individual expectations and perks of the office as expected by the leader of the House of Representatives. The story went to what I think of as the heart of a rhetoric versus substance with regard to service to our nation, and protecting the average citizen. I was told, and I choose to believe, that upon securing the senior position this congressperson identified to the USAF his/her requirements for executive transportation, on a weekly basis, back to his/her home. When told what the previous incumbent had used, a small executive jet like a Lear or Gulfstream, the new congressperson was quite adamant that would never do and he/she needed something with intercontinental range and the capacity to carry his/her entire entourage. Cost be damned, he/she deserved it and it would be provided or the AF could expect no support in upcoming budgets.

I hold this akin to the abuses of the former senior Senator of Alaska, who would hold authorization bills hostage until his pork barrel programs where inserted. Like the Ketchikan Alaska "Bridge to No Where." The fact he, or the senior Senator from WV, or MA, or ND or almost anywhere else see nothing wrong in this speaks volumes about how little they are concerned with national debt, or the national survival. I believe every Congressperson works towards their personal self-interest, what do they tell their district at reelection time about how much of the federal budget they were able to bring home. I doubt anyone was ever reelected for showing how much they saved their district in taxes by not approving some unneeded works project, or worthless studies like the study of hibernation problems with bats, or the potential for transexual flies (I am making this up, not suggesting a new field).

Ah well, it is easy to complain when they really don't care about your opinion, they just want your vote.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


I've had a chance recently to observe the act of promising, and the rationalization of compromising that promise. It strikes me odd how we can so easily make a promise, a commitment, or obligate ourselves and then rationalize why that promise isn't important, or didn't really mean what we said. How easy it has become to compromise ourselves if we see a better path, or a personal desire that conflicts the promise.

It seems we are only what we hold ourselves to be, and what others can expect of us. This is one of the foundations of our society, and civilization. I was taught that my word is my bond. I am sure most of us were taught a similar concept, but so many have thrown that away that I am left to wonder what is the value of a promise made, or what do I do when someone promises me something.

I see examples all around that significant portions of our nation now see no value in keeping their promise. Whether it be a coach of Boston College who signs a new contract, only to go to the first available job interview for what he views as a better job, a corporate executive charged with managing a company to profitability, a financial CEO who sacrifices others money in the pursuit of personal gain, or even two unnamed individuals who make a personal commitment to each other. If we can not trust each other to do what they say they will can this nation long survive?

I have also observed that those who are most likely to violate the trust of another are also the most likely to protest when this is pointed out, or they are held accountable. For me, in the final analysis, all I can do is hold myself to the standards I would hope for others, and accept that not everyone shares that view. It will mean from time to time I may be disappointed, and that when I know someone will habitually break their word I hold that promise as worthless and not ask them for one.

Twenty-eight years ago a group of my comrades and I made a promise to put our lives at risk to rescue Americans held hostage by the Iranian's. I can tell you, to a man our promise to each other, the mission, and the nation was made without duress, without hesitation and without compromise. Each of us gave one hundred percent of your skills, our abilities and effort. Eight of us gave their lives to towards that promise. Once made, not one of us, that I am aware of , ever gave a seconds thought to breaking it. We were the best chance the nation had, and if our best was not good enough that was beyond our control, but we were committed to the effort, and each other. We didn't do it for money, glory or fame, if we had been successful most of us would never have been singled out or recognized.

Today's military continue that tradition of service before self and I salute them for their sacrifices, I wonder how may civilians can even put their efforts in context. Service before self, too bad business leaders can't grasp that concept.
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