Friday, October 12, 2007

Where would Ole Tom stand today?

It is hard for me to believe that it has been almost 17 years since my hero and mentor, Tom Moore left this world. For those of you who did not know ole Tom, he was a hero. He was stricken by polio but that did not stop him from going on in life. He raised a family and had a stellar career for Torrington Industries. Ole Tom taught me how to shoot basketball, how to bait a fishing hook, and how to play football without being what he called a “washwoman” Ole Tom taught me to love NASCAR and I imagine he and Dale Earnhardt have had some interesting conversations.

Ole Tom was a Democrat. He was skeptical of big government and big business. He believed the little man should get a break on health insurance and the like. Ole Tom would have cringed, if not threw up, at the idea of gay marriage. Ole Tom would have never supported anyone who undermined the sitting President in a time of war for political purposes.

You see, Tom Moore was a helluva man. He took the side of the little guy, but had solid values. I have often thought of how ole Tom would be lost in today’s political world.

For we live in times in which the Republicans champion the values of family but lack when it comes to standing up for the little man. The Democrats might claim to stand for the little man, but by and large, they are more worried about the gay man more than the little man. It is a world ole Tom would not understand, and one I have a hard time understanding.

On one hand, ole Tom would be damn proud, as I am of his grandson, and my friend, Marty, for serving his country. On the other hand, ole Tom would have a hard time understanding why basic healthcare costs so much. Ole Tom would never understand why we in America took in so many tainted goods from China.

In short, ole Tom would never understand the political world we live in. It is one in which our Governor wishes our state legislature was a terrorist target. (Yes, I know the Governor tried to mitigate his remark in a column in the State, but it is what is is.) It is one in which both sides seem to be bought and paid for and the little man has to choose between his interests and his core values. There simply no longer is a place for the little man who believes in limited government and limited influence by big business.

I often wonder who among today’s top candidates for President Ole Tom would back. Ole Tom would like the brutal truth told by Ron Paul and the hard stand of Rudy. I think he would dismiss Fred Thompson as some actor. Ole Tom would probably like Mike Huckabee and his stand for a new kind of tax system. On the Democratic side, I could see Tom liking John Edwards as an old mill hill boy like himself, but never, ever, backing Hillary Clinton.

The gay rights issues would leave ole Tom in the lurch. But, I could see him saying that Bush and Cheney dealt with Iraq “like a washwoman would.” I can hear that old man with a limp saying as he threw a football, ”Don’t be a washwoman!” As we go deeper into the issues that confront us, I think of that old man in a backyard so many years ago. Right or wrong, I will not be a washwoman or a piss ant about the issues of the day. I will call them like I see them. But, part of me is thankful ole Tom did not live to see his party become what is today. My hero would be lost in today’s politics.

Yet, he is still my hero. He dealt with adversity most of us will never see, and overcame it. Ole Tom did so without complaint. He raised his family and did his job, and somehow along the way taught his neighbors’ son how to fish, how to shoot the basketball and how to hold on to the football when hit. Ole Tom also taught me how to die with dignity.

What Ole Tom did not teach me was how to live and thrive in a political world so upside down as the one we live in. The honor and the courage Ole Tom spoke of is lost on today’s political operatives in both parties. Now things are about gamesmanship and money, not doing what one thinks is right. Every voice, right or left, seems to be bought and paid for.

That is why it is with pride that I comment without compensation. I might die broke, but I will die telling it like I see it without someone paying me for what I write. Ole Tom’s widow told me once that she has seen some of the things I put out on the internet and that Ole Tom would be proud. That is payment enough for me.

I am going to call them like I see them. You see, I don’t want to walk into the Pearly Gates with some old guy standing there calling me a piss ant or washwoman. Tom, thank you. You still keep me from being a piss ant.

Friday, October 05, 2007

The storm around Rush Limbaugh is disturbing.

Members of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate take time to condemn comments made by a private citizen on a radio show. The wife of one of the contenders for President of the United States takes time to question the draft deferment and health problems of that same private citizen. The words the private citizen supposedly said are in debate.

But, that does not really matter. Let me repeat it again. Members of the United States House of Representative and the United States Senate take time to condemn the comments of a private citizen. Let that sink in. If anyone wants to know why this Congress has a 22% approval rating and perhaps why the President is in the low 30s, it is because of nonsense like the above.

Regardless of what Limbaugh said or did not say on his radio broadcast, can you imagine the great legislative giants of history in both parties, men such as Clay, Webster, Rayburn, Johnson, Goldwater, Humphrey or Dole wasting their time to attack a private citizen from the floor of their legislative bodies? Why was that time not spent on discussing the war, health care, education, the mortgage industry, and tax reform, anything pertinent to actually governing the nation?

It is disturbing enough that elected officials would actually attack a private commentator and try to stifle his first amendment rights to express himself through backdoor means. It is even more disturbing to think they would waste the people’s time, in this time with so many daunting issues before us, to do so.

The reason why is simple. The Democrats face a dilemma, much as the Republicans did back in the 1990s. The Democratic base wants blood and they want an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. The Democrats in leadership are educated enough in realpolitik to know that is not a real short term possibility. The money flowing into the Democratic Party wants a scalp. So, the Democrats are offering up private citizen Limbaugh, a man with no real political power.

That probably seems like a good idea to some highly paid Democratic consultant who thinks he has convinced his party’s elders how to walk the tightrope. However, such an act is bad for democracy. It is just downright un-American for sitting Congressional leaders to go after a private citizen for his comments. I would think the same if Republican leaders went after Maureen Dowd or Al Franken in a similar way.

Indeed, if you ever read some of my old stuff way back when, I was not a big fan of the Clinton Impeachment. It was also a creation of this new politics of pandering to money and spending a lot of time and public money over much of nothing. At least it can be noted that President Clinton was someone with real power.

This nonsense needs to stop. When sitting public officials and those seeking public office attack private citizens who commentate on matters it should give us all pause. You, like me, might not be a big fan of Rush Limbaugh. But, if public officials use their public power and public time to shut up Mr. Limbaugh, who will they shut up next? Will the Republicans try to shut up Maureen Dowd or Al Franken? Or will some public official try to shut you up when you voice your opinion?