Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Putnam County Delegate's Account of the State Republican Convention

Dear Friends,

I would like to thank you as electing me as one of Putnam County's delegates to the State Republican Convention.  As an elected delegate, I believe that I not only represent you as I vote for candidates and for the party platform, but I also believe it is my responsibility to you to make sure you receive true and accurate information about the convention and other party business.

In the June 9th edition of the Banner Graphic, two AP articles from Indianapolis were published about the convention but from my perspective as a delegate, they were not entirely true.  As you know, our media has a bad habit of only telling part of a story or of seeking out some little scrap of evidence in order to support some fallacious point of view when the preponderance of the evidence actually supports the opposing point of view.  It seems that they have done so again in regards to our State Convention.  As you may have heard, there has been a great deal of scandal attached to the speech which Richard Mourdock delivered at the convention.  I address that in the letter below which has also been mailed to the editor of the Banner Graphic.  I have also included a transcript of the actual speech which was taken down and kindly provided by John Pickerill of Montgomery County. After that,  I have also included  the text of another letter to the editor addressing the second article which purported that the party is fractured into warring factions over its stance on gay marriage.  I hope that this helps to clear up any misconceptions which have been created by the press. If any one has any questions about the convention, please ask.  As your elected delegate, I am prepared to serve the voters of Putnam County to the best of my ability.

Letter to the Editor regarding Mourdock's Speech

As one of Putnam County’s 12 delegates to the State Republican Convention, I believe it is my duty to write in response to the AP article regarding Richard Mourdock’s convention speech which was published in the June 9 edition of the paper.  When I read the account of Richard Mourdock’s speech, it sounded very little like what I witnessed and experienced while at the convention.  The article says. “Republican delegates who heard Mourdock’s speech expressed dismay at his remarks.”  To tell you the truth, where I was sitting there was nothing but cheering and clapping and tears at the end of the speech.  I never heard a single delegate speak against it throughout the entire convention and in fact, people continued to praise the speech throughout the convention.  I suppose there were some delegates who did not like Mourdock or his message but from where I was sitting, they were clearly in the minority.  The author of the article clearly has a bias against Treasurer Mourdock or he would not have included the scandal regarding what Mourdock said about children conceived in rape.  That particular matter is clearly in the past and has no relevance to the truth of Mr. Mourdock’s convention speech.  
There was nothing that Mourdock said which was not historically true.  Germany was bankrupt and they did elect Adolph Hitler and his Nazi party out of desperation.  They heard the empty promises and were so desperate for a solution to their nation’s problems that they took hold of those promises and believed them even if there was little hope that they would be fulfilled.  How could he not make the connection to that great tragedy and our current situation?  “If you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance”.  How many people have been taken off guard by the broken promises which came with Obamacare?  While Mourdock did not directly compare President Obama with Hitler or the Democratic party with the Nazi Party, he was warning us as a nation that we must be careful when politicians start making outlandish promises that they cannot hope to keep.  We must keep a realistic point of view.  If we grasp at every promise and entitlement that is offered to us by those who seek our vote, we may find in the end that we have believed a lie and we have set a series of events in motion which cannot easily be undone.  If you do not believe it, just ask the boys who fought on the beaches of Normandy if they think the free German elections of 1936 were important.  We’d better be careful of how we vote now, so we do not have to fight another D-Day later.  

Transcript of speech by Richard Mourdock to the 2014 Indiana Republican State Convention on June 7, 2014:

Thank you, and I have to say that to come to you at the state convention to speak to you for the last time, I have very mixed emotions.  On the one hand, I feel that I just started yesterday, and eight years have gone by very quickly.  But even before that, many of you have mentioned to me today and last night that 12 years ago when we had a Secretary of State’s race, it was hotly contested.  There were four candidates.  It went to three ballots.  And as I felt everyone on that occasion, everyone walked away from that race was a personal friend.  One of them now serves as a state senator, Mike Delph.  The other, my friend, the other “T.R.” other than Teddy Roosevelt, Todd Rokita, serves as Congressman.  My point for mentioning that, of course, is that even when there are contested races, they can work for good.
It’s I guess normal and customary, for someone coming as a politician before you for the last time, to give you the quick speech, and stick that personal pronoun “I” in a hundred times to say all the great things that were accomplished.  I hope you don’t mind, but, that’s not my style.  My record, I think, speaks for itself.
But I would like to do what I’ve enjoyed most over the last 8 years, which is share a couple of thoughts of history with you.  Not just ___ today and not Teddy Roosevelt, either.  But I’m going to follow kind of “Professor Long” and Speaker Bosma’s history lesson, with another.  And it does relate to yesterday, that 70th anniversary.  But I bring it to mind, not so in your mind’s eye that might be seeing those black and white images of those landing boats, but to bring up two other points.
Number one, I remember an interview that I saw 30 years ago, when President Ronald Reagan stood at Normandy,… by the way, speaking of Googling something, if you want to be reminded why a great president speaking on the great virtues of America, Google the speech of Ronald Reagan of the 39th anniversary [drowned out by applause].   Some of you remember on that day he had sitting in front of him an aging group of veterans that he called “the Boys of Pointe du Hoc” ____ one of them was interviewed ____ he was 80 years old, telling the story of D-Day, of months of training, he was 18 years old.  And there was one particular soldier in that group of Rangers with him, who was two or three years older, and he saw him as the epitome of a soldier.  He tried to emulate everything he did.  He had maturity.  He had, he was certain, the courage, skills.  And he decided he was going to stay close to that man, because he could learn a great deal.  And then, while it was still dark, and they were on a cargo ship in the English Channel, the Claxton went off and a voice came over the PA system, and it said simply, “Rangers to the boats, to the boats.”  And he looked at this person that he idolized as this brave man, and he watched as the color drained out of his face and he turned white with fear.  And he said he realized right there that he knew they were going to have a tough day.  And indeed they did.  Two hundred and fifty Rangers from that unit headed to Pointe du Hoc.  Forty-eight hours later only 19 survived.
I put that image in front of you, but I have to tell you as a history buff, the thing I thought of yesterday was, “how did it ever happen?”  Not that day, because the war in Europe didn’t start that day, and I tell you it didn’t start in September 1939 in the blitzkrieg of Poland either.  The war really began in 1936, when the Democratic Republic of Germany freely elected, elected, Adolf Hitler and his party that would lead the world to such doom.  And in the 21st century we have every right to look back and say, “what the hell were they thinking!  Why did they do it?”  And this is where I pull out my State Treasurer’s hat and for just a moment to give the most important lesson.   The people of Germany in a free election, elected the Nazi Party because they made great promises that would appeal to them because they were desperate and destitute.  And why is that?  Because Germany was bankrupt.  If you can imagine it was sad – get ready for this huge number  – it was $60 billion of debt.  $60 billion.  And the government did what all governments do when they approach bankruptcy, they started to devalue their currency and started printing Deutsch Marks so fast that billfolds and wallets had to be replaced with suitcases and wheelbarrows.  They were desperate, and they heard the promises.  The promises of entitlements.  And they grabbed hold of them.  
Over the next several years, every time the program started falling apart, Mr. Hitler’s party was very very good at dividing Germany by pointing the blame at this group or that group.  First, they went after their political opponents.  Then they went after the aristocrats.  Then they went after the trade unionists.  And ultimately, of course, they went after the Jews.  They deprived them of their property, their rights, their citizenship, and for millions their humanity.  Because they were bankrupt!  
And hence the most important lesson that I have to share with you.  We gather as a party, as Mr. Bosma said, not just to come together to nominate people or to have a platform, but to speak to freedom.  We’ve been doing it every even year since 1854.  But I ask you, to not just do your duty today and think you’ve done the task of citizenship.  Because citizenship doesn’t end in this room and it doesn’t mean cast that vote.  Your citizenship should require you to talk to your friends and your neighbors about the concerns you have for this great country.  
Because the truth is, seventy years later, we are drifting on the tide to another beachhead, and it is the bankruptcy of the United States of America.  Now I know some of you, especially probably guests in the room, are thinking, “well, there’s a wild-eyed Republican speaking craziness.”  Let me tell you, it was the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for Barack Obama who said, “the greatest threat to America is not the Talaban.  It’s not al-Qaeda.  It is not a resurgence of Russia.  It is our own national debt.”   It was Bill Clinton’s chief economic advisor that not long ago when poised in the possibility that we might go bankrupt that said, “there’s nothing so certainly possible.”  
We are in a grave situation.  My last duty to you as a Republican at this convention is to ask you to influence everyone you know in this state about it.  It was once that great Republican, that head of the Office of Management and Budget, Mitch Daniels –you might remember that name – when testifying before Congress he said, “Self-governing takes self-discipline.”  It does.  What we have seen in Indiana in generating the surpluses that David Long and Brian [Bosma] spoke about, was an act of incredible self-discipline.  It was saying “no” to people who wanted more funds from government.  And they did the courageous thing.  We must seek, that the policies of our state, as administered by Governor Pence today, become the national model, not something just isolated here in the Midwest.  My friends, there’s a battle ahead [applause]… there’s a battle ahead for the public will, that all of us are sending, “To The Boats!”  It’s time.

Thank You. 

Letter to the Editor Concerning the article on Gay Marriage

On June 9th the Banner-Graphic published an AP article from Indianapolis entitled, “Indiana political parties tangle with identities”.  The article states that at our convention, we Republicans, “fought over whether gay marriage should be addressed in their party platform.  And Republican Chairman Tim Berry searched for ways to keep them together”.  The article goes on to say that the next day there was a “key fracture” within the party over gay marriage.  We did vote on a platform plank regarding this issue.  In the 2012 platform, the plank read, “We believe that strong families are the foundation of virtue and that such families bring forth citizens capable of self-government as well as properly motivated public servants so essential for a successful republic.”  The proposed addition to this year’s platform reads, “We believe that strong families, based on marriage between a man and a woman, are the foundation of society . . .” It was put to a vote and those who wanted to retain the 2012 wording were clearly in the minority.  The article states that those who wanted to pull the language were “social moderates” implying simply that they were either for gay marriage or for a more tolerant attitude toward gay rights but this does not exactly capture the essence of the debate. 

Newspaper reporters were not permitted on the floor and so perhaps they could not hear the discussion among the delegates.  All they could see was the vote and looks can be deceiving.  Some of those who voted to remove the language were not actually for gay marriage.  They voted for the removal of the language because they believe that Republicans as proponents of small government and liberty should not endeavor to legislate morality.  The Republican Party is the party of liberty.  We believe that the government is best which governs least and so by including the, “man and a woman” language in our platform, we are actually granting government authority over that which it should have no control.  Marriage is a private covenant between two people and God.   To include this language in the platform is to acknowledge that the government has authority over these private matters and thus to enable a Federal Government which already has too much authority to grasp at even more.  We are not a fractured party and there is perhaps no intense fighting as the article might have implied, but the Republican Party is undergoing a kind of self analysis in order to determine how best to represent its constituents and their beliefs without dispensing with liberty and enlarging the authority of the Federal Government.  

Sunday, February 9, 2014

What's Wrong with Wealthy Politicians?

Here is a recent article which was published in the Indianapolis Star about wealthy politicians.  My comments can be found below.  


My rebuttal to the article: 

A recent article in the Indianapolis Star began, “As Congress debated whether to extend unemployment benefits and geared up for a fight over raising the minimum wage, . . . , for the first time in history, a majority of members of Congress are millionaires.” The article then goes on to say that, ““Despite the fact that polls show how dissatisfied Americans are with Congress overall, there's been no change . . .”” The general tone of the article leads one to believe that the writer thinks that perhaps electing poor people to Congress would be the solution that the nation has anxiously awaited. The writer asserts that these are the only people that can afford to run expensive campaigns, and they are the only people who mix in the right circles which enable them to raise vast sums of money to get themselves in office.

While nothing which is written may be said to be untrue, I would like to disagree with the manner in which the facts are presented and perhaps with the motive of the article in general. There seems to be a growing group in the U.S. today which holds that for some reason wealth and the wealthy are inherently evil. I would like to call it the “Us and Them” philosophy. In the “Us and Them” philosophy, common people come to believe that some how because they themselves are not wealthy, then wealthy people are their enemies, wealthy people don’t understand them, wealthy people have unfair advantages, etc, etc. Of course the extension of this philosophy is likely why the article I am discussing was ever written. It cries out in angst, “Oh look! More rich people are using their money and influence to gain more money and influence so that they can take advantage of the poor to an even greater degree.” Many think that these wealthy statesmen are overwhelmed with unfair advantages and that they are out of touch with the common man and the way he lives his life. They do not think it possible that he can properly represent the populace and its ideals.

I would like to present another perspective which is very often forgotten in this discussion of “Us and Them”. First of all, we should ask how these politicians became wealthy. If they acquired their wealth by honest means, then there are only two ways they could have come by it. Either they inherited it or they worked for it. If they inherited it, then they have had to manage it properly in order to make it last. If they worked for it, then they had to manage it even more carefully and work hard to accumulate what they now have. What does the article say that these millionaire politicians are currently working on? It says, “unemployment benefits,” and “minimum wage”. Who would be better qualified to work on these two very important financial issues? Perhaps we could elect several well meaning politicians who have never had or managed any money. I wonder how well that would go. These demonized millionaires are accustomed to dealing with very large amounts of money either from having had to learn to manage their inherited wealth or from having worked hard to accumulate and protect the wealth with which their own ventures have rewarded them. Perhaps instead of criticizing them and being jealous of their advantages, we ought to be thankful that these very wealthy people are willing to share their knowledge and experience with us. They could, after all, simply stay at home and enjoy their wealth. The Constitution does not say “Us and Them”, it says “We the people”. Perhaps it is time for us to work together. If we do, then by sharing our many different advantages and gifts, “We the people” will make this nation greater than it has ever been.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Morocco: A Kaleidoscope of Cultures & Ethnicities

Since I’ve lived here in Morocco, I’ve heard many things about Morocco.  Many of them misguided and many of them quite incorrect.  When I speak of Morocco with those who have not been here, I hear a great deal about black Africans and many other things which are simply not correct.

What then is a Moroccan?  Is he an Arab?  Is he a Berber?  Are there other kinds of Moroccans?  The answer to all three questions is yes.  The ancient natives of Morocco are most commonly known as Berbers.  This is the name which was given to them by the Romans when they were on their conquest of the Mediterranean world.  It means “Barbarian”.  The label which these people give themselves however, is Amazigh (pronounced Amazeer).  It means “Free Men”.  They may be the original inhabitants of Morocco, but they are not the only inhabitants.  There were in older times, a large number of Jews here.  They came in two groups, the first group, known as the Toshavim came to Morocco when the Romans sacked Jerusalem and destroyed Herod’s temple in 70 A.D.  The second group known as the Megorashim came from Spain when Ferdinand and Isabella expelled the Muslims and Jews from Andalousia (southern Spain) in the 15th century.  Of course there is also a large contingent of Arabs here.  They are really the majority now, having come to Morocco in the 10th century with Moulay Idriss I. 

What languages are spoken here?  There are three Amazigh dialects which are spoken in this country, in addition to Arabic and the French which was brought to this country when it was a French colony under the Protectorate.  

Morocco has been colonized many times throughout its history.  The Romans were here although they did not control a great deal of territory.  They were followed by the Arabs and then various parts of the country were colonized by the French, Portuguese, Spanish, and Great Britain.  The result is that there is not one singular “Moroccan Culture” but rather the culture is like a vessel of fine crystal which shows various colors and aspects as the light shines through it.  If one will search, one can find not only mosques, but synagogues, and churches.  One can find various languages spoken depending upon the region.  Arabic, French, and Spanish are common and even though Arabic is the official language of the country, I have known Amazigh persons who speak Amazigh and know little Arabic at all.  Morocco is beautiful and it is diverse.  The Moroccan culture is a conglomeration of many cultures and is influenced by many different ethnic and religious groups.  Those who have not seen it, must see it.  It is difficult to fathom without having visited it.  It is like a great work of art.  One can attempt to describe it, but words are nothing compared to actually seeing and experiencing it.    

Jillali (جيلالي)