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A skeptic rambles on

Guest Column

By Don White

My, oh my! Where to begin? Can our great nation survive and maybe ever thrive again? Do we want four more years of Obama the community organizer, or do we go for Romney the capitalist?

Is that a trick question? With three months until the presidential election there is no time to waste. What each of us needs to do is to ask are we better off now than we were three and one half years ago? For my wife and I, the answer is no we are not.

The daily news does not give much encouragement that things are getting better; not for the average working person anyway. But before we get knee deep into the muck of local, state and national politics, let’s remember to say thanks to a few good people who helped us get through our daily lives.

Let’s start with Andy Griffith, aka Andy Taylor of “The Andy Griffith Show.” How many hours of enjoyment did that program give us? With his sidekicks Opie and Barney stealing the show we had lots of laughs each week. And still do with the re-runs. R.I.P Andy.

Another sad loss was the death of Nora Ephron, writer/producer and/or director of “When Harry met Sally,” “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail.”

A special thanks to Gary Sinise, aka Lt. Dan of “Forrest Gump” fame. Since that movie Mr. Sinise has been on many USO tours to entertain our troops around the world. His foundations are involved in “Building For America’s Bravest,” building smart homes for some of our nation’s severely wounded veterans. I was privileged to meet Mr. Sinise when he spent a Sunday morning at Hines VA Hospital a few years ago. What a great fellow he is.

It was exciting to read about the “Archbishop from Illinois closing in on sainthood.” The late Archbishop Fulton Sheen was born in El Paso, Texas, and raised in Peoria. His rise to prominence, first in radio with the broadcast of “The Catholic Hour” and then on television with the show “Life is Worth Living,” gave many people hope in their daily lives.

Now back to reality, i.e., the ongoing saga of politics in Illinois and D.C. Just reading the captions in the newspapers and hearing talk radio and the nightly news on T.V. (no cable for me) gives me a headache.

Some examples of recent national headlines: “Obama’s remark puts him in ‘fine’ mess” (a reference to him saying, “The private sector is doing just fine.”) “Barack Obama: Drone Warrior” give me a break. Just because he gets credit for taking out Obama bin Laden does not make him a warrior of any kind. In fact he made it worse a week later when he said that the military was “fighting on my behalf.” In the past, then Sen. Obama criticized the harsh interrogations of the kind of people he now orders killed as President Obama.

In the column on “Obama’s ‘cynicism’ on gay marriage” the writer attempts to compare what Lincoln did with the slavery issue to what Obama did on the gay marriage issue. Apples and oranges — don’t you think? “Obama’s gay-marriage gymnastics not a perfect 10,” “Obama shifts on immigration” and “Policy may allow up to 1.4 million to stay in U.S.” were other headlines. Do you get the feeling that some serious pandering was going on with these issues?

It’s all about the money when it comes to electing a president. The headlines say it all: “Fundraising chase transforms race,” “Gay fundraisers’ clout grows”,” “Romney and Bain”,” “Cheney helps Romney raise money in red state,” “Twenty-one prominent gay individuals and couples raised at least $7.4 million combined for the president’s re-election,” “Romney finds key backers despite in-party criticism,” Well, you get the point — money talks, and in a presidential election campaign it talks loud and clear. How much money did the fundraiser at actor George Clooney’s home put in the Obama coffers? Why does Obama keep bashing the wealthy of this country, yet continues taking bags of money from his rich Hollywood buddies?

Obamacare is here to stay — so sayeth the Supreme Court. Does it end there? I hope not, as 30 million Americans are without health care. Again, the headlines tell the story of just how divided and confused We the People are on this issue. And even worse is the fact that the politicians don’t have a clue how to work together to fix the problem. “Obamacare: Hold on, as we ply uncharted waters,” “Supreme Court hits reset on ObamaCare,” “Health care problems persist,” “Obamacare verdict by no means dire,” “Are we ready for health care changes?” (Reporter health columnist Dee Woods hit the bulls eye when she said, “The President and our Congress will not participate in the program. They will keep their cushy coverage.”). Of course, the proper name for Obamacare is the Affordable Care Act. Soon we shall find out just how affordable it will be and how we are going to pay for it. Oh! That’s right — it’s a tax, so We the People will wind up paying for it.

Illinois lawmakers think it is not going to cost the state any additional money as we will get federal funds to cover the cost.And there really is a tooth fairy! I feel sorry for anybody who took a politician’s word that they would be taken care of, be it through pensions, medical coverage, real estate tax breaks for seniors, or any other of their campaign schemes. They all have a price tag and our whopping $33.7 billion state budget is probably still not enough to cover everything.

So the cuts will keep on coming until sanity in government returns and term limits are put in place for local and state officials. “State’s health care funding for poor taking major hit,” “Mental health facility’s end mourned by many” (a reference to the closing of the Tinley Park Mental Health Center), “The $50 million cut to DCFS.” But their lack of leadership on pension reform, double dipping into state pensions, stopping nepotism and cronyism and the blatant neglect of their duty to serve We the People have made us the laughing stock of the nation.

The new official song of the state has been announced, it is “Three Little Words.” Those three little words are “Madigan’s Golden Touch.” Everyone knows Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan is the power broker of our not-so-great state. As long as he remains in power, the broker our state becomes. When are We the Voters going to wake up and demand term limits? Not employment for life and then a golden pension plan that has bankrupted the state. Wake up, voters!

Term limits should start at the local level, and what’s going on in Bridgeview with the “Soccer Ball and Chain” fiasco is a good reason. Mayor Steve Landek has put the city in debt to the tune of over $200 million dollars with his Toyota Park deal.

Now, from the world of sports a few comments from the past: On July 4, 1939 at Yankee Stadium, Lou Gehrig gave his farewell speech to fans. He called himself, “the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.” Gehrig played for the Yankees from 1923 until 1939. His record of playing in 2,130 consecutive games stood until Cal Ripken Jr. became the new “Iron Man” of baseball with a record of 2,632 games.

The 2012 Summer Olympics are now behind us (as is the controversy about the U.S. uniforms being made in China). It seems to talk about a fellow named Jim Thorpe and the 1912 Summer Olympics held in Stockholm. Thorpe is the greatest American Olympian of all time. In 1912 he competed in 15 events that made up the pentathlon and decathlon. He won both events and then later was stripped of his medals when it was learned that he violated the rules of amateurism by playing minor league baseball in 1909 and 1910. Today, pro basketball, hockey and soccer players are allowed to compete.

In 1982 the International Olympic committee bowed to pressure and delivered two replica medals to Thorpe’s family. His name was added to the list of Olympic champions but the official records of the events were not modified to show that he won those events. Thorpe is merely a co-champion with no evidence of his superiority — just an asterisk — not a record holder. The IOC needs to revisit this situation and give Thorpe his due. There is a new biography out on Thorpe, “Native American Son” by Kate Buford.

Just a few more headlines that caught my attention and sent my blood pressure up: “House holds Holder in Contempt,” “Health secrecy sparks debate,” “Concerns about Kirk & Jackson,” “U.S. sorry for Pakistan deaths” (How many millions will that cost us?), “Biden gives fiery defense of Obama at NAACP event.” Here are a few of his racist comments: “. . . he warned that the election of Republican Mitt Romney could reverse years of economic and civil rights gains for blacks” and “This is not your father’s Republican Party, . . . they see a future where voting is made harder, not easier.”

I saw a recent political cartoon that depicted Joe Biden making a speech in which he said, “Romney wants you to believe that just because he was a businessman, it qualifies him to be president!” A voice from the crowd responds, “Maybe he should’ve been a community organizer.”

As the campaign heats up this summer, the mudslinging is getting worse. In the end it will come down to do we want four more years of Obama’s failed programs or Romney’s change of direction? At this point, I for one say anybody but Obama will do. Does that mean Romney is the best the Republicans could have put up? No, but he will have to step up and do the job that needs to be done.

Let the games begin — not the Olympics — but a straight talking campaign on the issues. Instead of shoveling more manure our way, we need something of substance to take with us to the ballot box in November.

I am not a poet, but here are my thoughts on the Bain issue, which is really a non-issue.

The Obama Campaign
Is becoming a pain.
As all they have on their brain
Is to talk about Bain.

Don White lives in Palos Hills with his wife, Helen