In the fading light of America’s foreign policy, we must grope for clarity and illumination. Two pearls of wisdom come to mind.
The first was enunciated by former President Richard Nixon in his post-Watergate years: When the balance of power changes anywhere it changes everywhere. The second comes from Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State George Schultz: It’s better to use force when you should and not when you must.
I wish to take this opportunity to thank all our local residents and community organizations that assisted in this year’s community blood drive. Through everyone’s efforts we were able to collect 279 pints of whole blood on Friday June 28. This year’s drive and blood donations will go to benefit one of our local children, Owen Hogan. Owen’s illness requires numerous blood transfusions.
The selfishness we’re witnessing in Albany right now has to stop.
You know I’ve written in this column many times that New York State has made real progress these last three years. Things are far better than they used to be simply because Republicans and Democrats alike are finally working together. Despite the accompanying noise, there’s really no magic formula. Legislators with common sense have finally realized that you can’t always get everything you want and that most times, the reasonable middle ground also happens to advance the people’s agenda very nicely.
But I’m not “feeling the love” lately.
Recently, Congressman Peter King fired a warning shot across the bow of Republican politics stating that isolationists like Rand Paul won’t defeat Hillary Clinton, the prospective Democratic presidential nominee in 2016. It’s a warning Republicans would be wise to heed.
Yet, in the second decade of the 21st century, Republicans are not merely divided over the budget but also America’s role in the world. Last week I lunched with an elderly gentleman whose views about economic and social policy are in harmony with my own. I mentioned my concern about the Republican Party embracing isolationism and becoming timorous about exerting any muscular influence in world affairs and how vexing it is that so many young Republicans support non-interventionists like Ron and Rand
Paul. My lunch companion, however, was unmoved by my animus and to my astonishment expressed support for the non-intervention wing of the Republican Party, stating that America no longer has the resources to police the world.
This past week, my office received a phone call at 1:23 a.m. from an organizer at MoveOn.org who threatened to oust me from office unless I embrace a bill calling for taxpayer funding of political campaigns. The call came as no surprise as people who call empty offices in the dead of night have no real intention of entering into meaningful discussion.
That scourge of the printed word, H.L. Menken, once remarked that William Jennings Bryant was the only man he knew that could strut while sitting down. Of course Menken never knew Anthony Weiner, which is too bad because the world would have been much the richer in savoring that scornful wit that Menken was so famous for ladling out in generous portions.
I am angry. I am sad. I am resolute. The tragedy of Newtown is the tragedy of each and every community in every corner of our country. It could have happened anywhere. It is not a partisan issue, or a regional issue, and knows no ideology.
Everyone’s asking, “What’s happening to this country of ours?” But answers require a good, hard look in the mirror and won’t be found in Washington DC, or state capitals. Instead, they reside directly in us, and unfortunately that makes people uncomfortable. That’s too bad. We’re going to have to get past this discomfort, or we condemn ourselves to a future of burying the innocent.
Are secular forces in the United States trying to snuff out the light of Christmas and shove it into the closet where it belongs? Fox News certainly thinks so and has been broadcasting evidence about the “War on Christmas.” Declaration of War these days are quite common and effective. The rhetoric regarding the Republican Party’s War on Women this past political campaign was so intense you could hear the gunfire, smell the napalm and see the mushroom clouds over every feminist cause to underscore that the GOP was driven by a cabal of monomaniacal, misogynist Dr. Strangeloves.
These accusations rarely have any basis in fact and there is reason to believe that the bombast against celebrating Christmas, while a pernicious trend, hardly constitutes a full-scale war. Christmas, after all, is still recognized as an official federal holiday by the United States government. Christmas lights, trees, greeting cards etcetera are omnipresent. The citizens of our nation celebrate with reverence and poignancy the birth of Jesus Christ without any molestation that is worth mentioning.
With North Korea firing long range rockets and Iran intent on building a nuclear bomb, is there any hope for civilized nations to defend themselves? There is and we just saw a dramatic demonstration of it in the Middle East. The Iron Dome, a sophisticated, technological marvel devised by Israeli engineers and physicists, almost certainly prevented a gut wrenching, cinematographic scene of death and violence at the hands of Iranian-backed terrorists hell-bent on killing innocent civilians. During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, some 4,000 Hezbollah rockets landed in Northern Israel. The only defense was to run for cover. Things worked out differently this time around as the Iron Dome proved itself the first successful anti-missile system in the history of military combat.
The Dome, which can target multiple types of rockets at ranges of 75 kilometers, can also be swiftly moved to wherever threats materialize. The new technology is a game changer in the ever voluble, often violent Middle East. As terrorists in Gaza fired their supersonic rockets at Israel, the Dome was able to down more than 85 percent of those aimed at populated areas. As the technology improves and expands, this new development may turn out to be one of the most pacific developments in the future, worth more than the potpourri of ceasefire agreements and treaties that have papered over the troubled history of that implacable region.
It was just a few short weeks ago that Superstorm Sandy was causing us nothing but panic and grief. It was one problem right after another making those few days feel like an eternity, but I think we can agree that it gave us new appreciation for simple pleasures like brewing a cup of coffee or taking a hot shower. As often happens in times of sacrifice, we grew in solidarity with our neighbors, pulling through with a sense that we were “all in this together.”
Then the lights came back on, the heat started working, gas stations came back online and we happily started to forget about Sandy. There were, of course, expensive and inconvenient repairs to be made, and donations to be sent, but for most of us on this part of the Island, life pretty much returned to “normal.”
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