Halftime in America

Clint Eastwood popped up in a Super Bowl ad at halftime Sunday night — not dispatching bad guys as Dirty Harry or snuffing outlaws in a spaghetti western.

Nope, Clint was shilling for Chrysler Corp., talking about jobs, manufacturing and quality — traits some say are lost in this nation.

But the ad also spotlighted some other things that are lost in today’s America: Hope, resiliency, belief in ourselves and an ability to bounce back from adversity.

Said Clint:

This country can’t be knocked out with one punch, we get right back up again and when we do the world is going to hear the roar of our engines. Yeah. It’s halftime America, and our second half is about to begin.

That message struck a chord here at Capitol Hill Blue.

Perhaps it is fitting that in today’s world, a message of hope comes from a multi-million dollar television ad from a company that had to be bailed out by the government and uses an entertainment icon as its spokesman.

In a presidential campaign year, shouldn’t a message of hope come from at least one of the candidates for the highest office in the land? Shouldn’t at least one of the four contenders for the Republican Presidential nomination offer up a believable message oF hope or — lacking that — can’t we at least get some hope from the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

Apparently not. Each of the candidates — Republican and Democrat — offer scripted platitudes or come across as harbingers of doom.  Hope, like truth, is a lost commodity in politics.

All of the candidates talk about jobs but has one of them come forward with a message that offers any real hope of restoring jobs to the millions of unemployed — and disenfranchised — Americans?  Do any of them offer a real plan?

Mitt Romney talks about how he put people back to work in Massachusetts but doesn’t really say how he will do it nationwide.  Newt Gingrich points the blame at black people, suggesting too many are too lazy to work. Ron Paul is too busy talking doom and gloom and promising to abolish the Federal Reserve and the IRS to offer any real message of hope.  Rick Santorum? You can knock on the door to his head but there’s nobody home.

Barack Obama issues outrageous claims about jobs he never created or an economy that he lacks the ability to restore.  Talk comes easy to Obama. Leadership — and the action it generates — are far more illusive.

So, given these pitiful pretenders to the throne, can we really have hope in our future?

Yes, we believe we can. These comic book candidates can’t save America.

Only we can.

But we can’t do it by joining fake grassroots movements funded by billionaires. We can’t do it by dressing up as Uncle Sam and waving hate-filled signs at rallies staged for TV cameras.  We can’t do it by sitting in front of a computer and bombarding web sites with threats, canned rhetoric or tired, old political bromides.

We can’t do it by hating ourselves or America. We can’t do it by hating others.

We’re better than that. We’re stronger because we have a nation worth supporting, an ideal worthy of belief and a system of government that — despite its flaws — is still second to none in the world.

We need to get off our asses and start demanding accountability and change from those who make the decisions that affect our lives.  Those decision makers exist not only in the halls of Congress or at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington.  They serve on city councils, school boards, board of supervisors and in state legislatures.

When’s the last time you attended a city council meeting?  When’s the last time you rose to speak about an issue that affects your neighbors? When’s the last time your worked to elect a local officials who represents your interests more than the man or woman currently holding the office?

How many envelopes have you stuffed this year?  How many phone calls have you made on behalf of someone you believe in?  How many precincts have you walked?

True grassroots efforts begin in your living room or at small gatherings at your neighbor’s home.  They don’t spring from scripted national efforts or come from false prophets who misrepresent the Constitution or use populism to pad their bank accounts.

America is not Barack Obama or Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum or Ron Paul.

America is you, and me, and all the rest of us out there who hold the power to actually make the changes that politicians can only promise.

How do we do it?

One step at a time. We start at the local level and work our way upward.

Charity, someone once said, begins at home.

So does change.

So does hope.

So does an America worth saving.

 

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19 Responses to "Halftime in America"

  1. Bill Cravener  February 6, 2012 at 8:43 am

    Great read Doug and I do indeed agree with you. I would only add that grassroot efforts do not come from internet message boards by noname-nobodies who preach partisan opinions of their favored politician or political party. We Americans as you stated so well “. . .need to get off our asses and start demanding accountability and change from those who make the decisions that affect our lives.” Anonymous internet debate accomplishes nothing!

  2. Sandy Price  February 6, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Well done Chief. I’ve given up pushing political points of view but I do pressure people to think as individuals and stop expecting the government to set the laws and rules of the behavior of all of us.

    In the news this morning, the government seems to want to set standards for where the federal funding is spent. The Catholic hospitals continue to accept funding for their medicare costs even when they take care of reproductive rights. Catholics want the final say in those costs as they do not believe in any reproductive actions. I don’t understand why Catholics keep demanding those actions. If one is a Catholic, they should not be asking for abortions or birth control actions. I would never choose a Catholic doctor or a Catholic hospital for my births.

    The missing link is the individual American making choices for his own benefit. I’ve never used any charity for any personal use as that is my individual choice.

    I looked at all the candidates and I reject all of them. I have signed up to work for Gov. Johnson of New Mexico but will have to meet him in person in May and question him on his platform for the LP, before I make a single call.

    You are right in your call for action behind a chosen candidate but I must send out a warning that so far, they all want the government to set their choices for them and that may be the worst action for any American to follow. Every 4 years, the voters seem to demand government actions to solve their problems. In 2000 the call went out to force America into a Christian nation. For the first time, the numbers are now reflecting a growing desire for no official religion. But believing in God is a personal choice and should never be a mandate when health issues are discussed.

  3. Hal Brown  February 6, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Presidents will generally, some may say will always, take credit for everything positive that happens during their administrations. I can understand how this goes beyond self-promotion and politicking since they are almost always blamed by the opposition for everything that goes wrong.

    Remember Operation Eagle Claw (the failed Iranian hostage rescue attempt)? It may have cost Jimmy Carter the election. Yet he was only responsible for authorizing it. After the SEALS successes under Obama, I have to wonder what the result would have been if Carter chose them instead of Delta Force for Eagle Claw.

  4. Sandy Price  February 6, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Interesting Hal. I too wonder if the Seals could have pulled it off. I remember reading Jesse Ventura’s book on his Seal training and thought of the old Roman Warriors. But then, I believed that King Arthur was a real king.

  5. griff  February 6, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    With all due respect, I walked my precinct in 2008 for a candidate I believed in. It was the first time for me.

    Those are all nice thoughts, and we seem to hear them every four years, from yourself and others.

    But you ridicule the very grassroots effort that you claim is necessary to turn this country around.

    • Doug Thompson  February 6, 2012 at 6:45 pm

      Glad to see you worked for a candidate. It’s a start.

      I’m afraid I have to disagree with your claim that I only write about such things “every four years.” I have written on such themes in off years as well.

      And I don’t ridicule the “very grassroots efforts that you claim is necessary to turn this country around.” Obviously, you did not read the column carefully enough, especially the parts that say:

      But we can’t do it by joining fake grassroots movements funded by billionaires. We can’t do it by dressing up as Uncle Sam and waving hate-filled signs at rallies staged for TV cameras. We can’t do it by sitting in front of a computer and bombarding web sites with threats, canned rhetoric or tired, old political bromides.

      Or:

      True grassroots efforts begin in your living room or at small gatherings at your neighbor’s home. They don’t spring from scripted national efforts or come from false prophets who misrepresent the Constitution or use populism to pad their bank accounts.

      I’ve been around this madness long enough to recognize the difference between a real grassroots movements and a faux movement like the tea party. I’ve also been around long enough to recognize the difference between a true populist and a con-artist who’s in it for the money.

      • griff  February 6, 2012 at 11:08 pm

        Wheat or chaff? Isn’t that your job?

  6. woody188  February 6, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    The only problem is Clint and Chrysler are wrong. It’s only a few minutes into the first quarter and we are already down by a quadrillion dollars thanks to the “too big to fail” derivative casino.

    • Doug Thompson  February 6, 2012 at 6:46 pm

      Sorry Woody but I can’t agree. It seems I’m more optimistic than you and that — in itself — is a frightening thought. :)

      • woody188  February 6, 2012 at 9:13 pm

        Indeed! :grin:

      • woody188  February 6, 2012 at 9:38 pm

        Hey Doug, I’m just curious as to what factors you base your assessment on?

        I’m looking at housing, commercial real estate, and the derivative bubble, none of which have been addressed by the current government bail outs and bank giveaways.

        For instance, I’ve heard housing values will drop another 10-20 percent this year alone. There is a back inventory of foreclosed properties of up to 7 million properties. This has to come out some time.

        Commercial real estate is way over valued. All the empty store fronts should be an indicator of that. With the loans coming due (they have oversold them some thirty times), there is a cascading effect in the short term where many commercial real estate holders (many of them are your retirement plans) are going to lose their shirts.

        Lastly is that quadrillion dollar derivative casino that the “too big to fail” banks hold some 20 percent of worldwide. Since worldwide GDP is only some $65 trillion, (only? :grin: ) these banks have over leveraged themselves by many hundreds of times. There is no way they could pay out that sum, and there is no way we could print enough money to keep them afloat.

        I could go on about jobless data, about food stamp enrollment, about the loss of buying power, and about a looming hyper-inflationary depression, but I don’t want to bore everyone.

        If it was half-time, these issues would be solved and we’d be seeing a recovery. But all we are seeing is cronyism raking in the recovery dollars, the Federal Reserve playing favorites, and the rule of law is but a dream we once dared to dream.

        So where are you coming from with your optimism? These are economic facts, hard truths that can’t really be spun. I want to be optimistic. Give me something to be happy about!

        • Doug Thompson  February 6, 2012 at 10:08 pm

          I just don’t buy into doom and gloom scenarios. Optimism is as much a state of mind as data. Mark Twain once said: “There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damn lies and statistics.”

          What I see is some hopeful signs of recovery. Some companies announcing they are restoring manufacturing jobs. A furniture factory in Southwestern Virginia is reopening. Advance Auto (a Fortune 500 company) last week announced expansions that mean jobs.

          I refuse to accept hopeless as an alternative. Yes, our system has problems but problems can be solved if approached on a unified front. Winston Churchill once said: “Democracy is the worst form of government imaginable — except for all other forms.”

          I’m doing what I can by investing in American companies that keep jobs in this country and looking for ways to promote such businesses. In the last few weeks, I’ve reported on Vaughn-Basset Furniture, which is reopening a close plant, produced a documentary on start-up businesses in Southwestern Virginia and written about an uptick in home construction. Sawmills in my part of the country are running seven days a week because of new demand for wood for building.

          We’ve still got a long way to go but it took a long time to get into this mess and I believe we can — and will — work our way out.

          • woody188  February 6, 2012 at 10:18 pm

            Thanks for the reply buddy. Much appreciated.

    • Gregg  February 7, 2012 at 12:51 pm

      Woody, I agree with you.

      The reason is simple. There are two laws that brought our financial and economic health to its knees. They are a still alive and well.

      1. The Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act 1999 which allows banks, market, and insurance institutions to engage in the creation of securities and collaborate between themselves.

      2. Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000. Another Phil Gramm brainstorm that Clinton bought into. It pretty much deregulated the Derivatives industry.

      These laws are the cancer, if you will, that allows every banking and market dynamics that happened over the course of the 2000′s and finally crashing around 2007 and 2008…to continue today. The Too Big To Fail…have gotten bigger. The leveraged derivative markets are totaling close to $700 Trillion world wide. If Europe crashes, we’ll crash. If China crashes, we’ll crash. Our financial and economic problems are beyond the imagination of most, and that includes the best and the brightest experts in the financial and economic world.

      If these laws aren’t repealed. Then we can only expect the worse.

      As the saying goes, “If there’s no consequences for inappropriate behaviors, then why stop?”

  7. Sandy Price  February 6, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    And where were the Clydsdale horses?

  8. Sandy Price  February 7, 2012 at 10:24 am

    I have to correct the impression that Doug only throws daggers at any political interest.

    Several years ago he threw out a plan for Reader Rant to gather together to discuss the corrections that we all gripe about. It was called “Campaign for America.”

    Personally, I was delighted as I had joined Gingrich’s GOPAC only to see it become a federal force against sins and impossible changes within the GOP. I was in and out in less than 2 years.

    I have always had an intellectual respect for Doug Thompson even when we argued about religion in government. Several of us Ranters joined up and even tried to work on an agenda that would allow this great site to be a center of our debates.

    We did much of this via email so as not to allow any point of view to be a label at CHB. Doug gave us an arena but we could not seem to put together a decent enough work plan. I went so far as to mention COA on other sites and even invited Issodhos and a couple of others from a Patriot’s site. His way with words I had hoped would gather us in but the chemistry didn’t work and we are now back to where we started.

    I get much of my political information from well-informed writers who seem successful in their points of view. But again, so few, even here, read the opinions of others that the debate always comes down to religious laws against sex, and the acceptance of gays as equals, and why we should make an attempt to stop the breeding of unwanted babies.

    No one should complain about Doug not being open minded about this site. Expanding America into a nation of individual freedoms will never happen. Maybe some day HBO will do a series about this lack in our values and we can try again for the freedoms for everyone. It won’t happen if Santorum is elected.

  9. Harlan Dutton  February 7, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    I was right proud to hear Carl Rove declare his dislike for the bail outs. I would be much happier if he would say the same about the banks as he did about Detroit. It is one thing to “bail out” those who made the mess and quite another the help those who were the victums of it.

  10. Tom  February 7, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    Doug

    Lincolnton NC Cochrane Furniture was sold to Chromecraft in ’96 and moved to Asia. Bruce Cochrane opened the factory back up last year. Its new name is Licolnton Furniture. Now if we can only get Virginia House furniture opened back up. I think more and more people are questioning themselves about buying foreign made goods vs USA goods. With the money the companies are saving by off shoring why are the prices still going up. I have not bought any furniture since all the NC/VA plants closed.

  11. egc52556  February 7, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    America’s greatness depended in large part on the weakness of our competitors. Now that they are realizing they don’t need to be our doormat we’ve been in decline.

    If we want to get off this rollercoaster we’ll need to figure out an economy that is self reliant and is strong even if OTHER countries are strong too.

    We can’t rely on weak competitors anymore.

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