He Gives Me The Reasons

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Back in the nineteen nineties a company I did business with invited me to visit their labs in New Jersey, I gladly accepted. I  landed at the Newark Airport a few miles outside of New York city. My host from Celanese met me at the airport. Jack was a native New Joisey guy. He loved the state and the area. Since I arrived in the mid-afternoon, he asked if I would like to tour New York City. I smilingly agreed. Jack drove me through the tunnel and around Manhattan Island. Being a Catholic, Jack asked us if I wanted to take a closer look at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. I eagerly accepted the offer. He pulled into a parking garage a half a block away from the church. The car was half off the street into the garage when he screeched the car to a halt.

“What’s wrong,” I asked? “

“Look at the prices.”

High above the garage door was a sign with the price list, parking for one half of an hour cost $20.

“How about if I let you off in front of the Cathedral and I’ll drive around the block until you have seen enough,” he said. “Those prices are too high even for me.”

Later that evening we dined in a restaurant atop the World Trade Center. I sat next to the window and looked down upon the Statue of Liberty. She was barely discernible from the height. For me, this was a huge thrill because it was the very first and only time I saw the Statue of Liberty in real-life. She looks so tiny from so high, but I could make out all her features and because it was near dusk I saw her torch burning brightly.

Years later, I was getting ready to visit my wife in the ICU at Christ Hospital when the phone rang. I picked it up to hear my son say, “Dad turn on the TV to channel 7, now.”

“Why?’

“A plane crashed into the World Trade Center,” he said, “do it before they take it off.”

I did as he asked and went into shock. A WTC tower was a blaze, and spewing huge volumes of black smoke against a sunny blue sky.

We talked about it for a while wondering how an accident of this magnitude could happen on such a crystal clear day. Then, we watched in horror as a another passenger jet crash into the second tower. That is when we realized that these were not accidents but deliberate attacks on our country.

My rage toward Muslims peaked after that attack. What did we do to these guys to deserve such an attack? Why do they hate us so? Frankly, twelve years later, I still don’t understand their problem. All I know is that we could not deliver enough hurt to satisfy my needs.

Slowly the story came out, and President Bush began explaining the problems he had with identifying a true enemy. He was ready to fight, but we didn’t know who to fight against. The enemy was not a discrete entity like it has been for centuries, it is a man on the street. He could be our neighbor or the nice guy running the restaurant in town. Congress struggled with the problem. The Commander-in-Chief needed new authority to go after the invisible enemy. Congress came up with the Patriot Act. We heard what it allowed the president to do, but no one really liked it because many of its features are in direct violation of the Constitution. Yet, we all wanted to hunt down the attackers and put them out of business. Congress passed the bill in spite of the violations. The argument that convinced me to accept this flawed law was that it would not be used against US citizens. The country allowed the Patriot act to pass although under great duress.

Another reaction to the attack invented the Department of Homeland Security. It seems our many bureaucratic departments like the CIA, FBI, State Department, and the Immigration never shared information and as such there were big holes in our security. It was my understanding the HLS came into existence to be the clearing house where all the departments that could not or would not share would funnel information and HLS would connect all the bad guys.

Today, I sit here wondering how in the hell do we get out of this mess? The first thing we should do is repeal the Patriot Act and go back to using the Constitution as the bulwark of all new laws. The second thing we must do is dismantle the Department Of Homeland Security. Why?

1. The Patriot Act has evolved into giving the Commander-in-Chief powers to indiscriminately kill US citizens whom he suspects are involved in acts of terror. That could be me folks. All he has to do is declare that he doesn’t like one of my posts and I’ll be hunted down by a drone and blasted into eternity by a rocket.

2. HLS has to go because they are preparing for war against the citizens of the USA. Why else would they be stock piling ammunition? Right now they have enough bullets to conduct a 30 year-long war that uses the same amount of bullets as the military did in Iraq and Afghanistan. That is a lot of target practice by a bunch of bureaucrats. What the heck is that all about?

Recently, a  friend called me a conspiratorialist (one who believes in government conspiracies) because of my extreme views on stuff about our can-do-no-wrong president. I am also considered a racist because I pick on a half black president. I do pick on him, and I do believe the government is conducting clandestine plots to transform America from a Constitutional Republic into a Dictatorship. If President “O” and his minions didn’t give me so many reasons of  concern I wouldn’t be thinking this way at all.

A Leader I Knew

Where have all the leaders gone? I was amazed by the lack of leadership exhibited by Obama after hurricane Sandy destroyed the Jersey shore and Staten Island. My experience with leaders is quite different. On my job I often had to fix quality problems we had with our products. If it was trivial, Engineering handled the matter immediately. If it was serious, the CEO-owner became involved. Mr. CEO called the department heads from Quality, Engineering, Tool Room, Production, and Marketing to his personal conference room. The problem was defined, the extent of the problem was determined, and then the brainstorming began. Mr. CEO did not allow us to leave the room until he satisfied himself that we had a plan to determine the root cause and an action plan to resolve it. The CEO made sure each department head had a solid plan of action to implement before the meeting convened.

Most of the time, Engineering had the bulk of the work to do. Within one hour after the meeting, I received a phone call from Mr. CEO who wanted a progress report. If I didn’t have one, he gave me a new deadline for when I would have one. He always followed up. Some problems were serious enough to follow up several times a day. Often, I had design changes made and prototyped into hard plastic by the following morning with test results to report. Mr. CEO followed each department head with the same tenacity: were the customers notified and appeased, had Production determined if all the molds used in the process had the same problem, did Quality check the inventory on the shelf?

Mr. CEO had a big stake in a major quality problem just as President Obama has in this country. The difference I see between Mr. CEO and Obama is that Obama gave an order to his department heads via national TV and then left to go campaigning. I laughed out loud when I heard him tell his bureaucrats via his speech to cut the red tape and think of ways to get stuff done. Did he call his Department heads and give them the same message? Did he hold their feet to the fire for solutions? Has he followed up? If he has, why are the people of New York and New Jersey still feeling the hurt?

Mayor Bloomberg, another proclaimed leader proudly announced that in spite of the devastation the New York Marathon would go on. Eventually he thought better and cancelled the race.  Two huge generators were on hand in Central Park for the Marathon.  They remain unused while big sections of the city could be powered from those units.

Where is the leadership?

Al Smith Comedy Show

Barack Obama

Barack Obama (Photo credit: jamesomalley)

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This evening I took a few minutes to watch the tapes of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama roast each other at the annual Al Smith Memorial Benefit Dinner. If you have the time watch these two monologues. After watching them debate each other this performance is a joy. I give Mitt Romney an edge over Obama. Mitt had the best jokes and delivered them well. Each man showed respect for the other, and acknowledged their family status.

If campaigns were as cordial as this roast, the world would be a much better place.

I Believe in God

I believe in God. My heroes and role models do too. As I look back on life I can honestly say I only knew one atheist, and that was my grandfather. Toward the end of  his life, he looked out the living room window of his lonely little farm-house in Michigan at the sixty foot willow tree he had planted as a sapling immediately across the driveway.  A storm brewed, the skies were black and roiling, and the wind picked up with a fury. Grandpa Jim watched in awe as the sixty-foot willow tree ripped out of the ground and slammed over next to the house.

He told me that after seeing that tree rip out like a small twig he began to believe there was a God. It is my belief that Grandpa Jim resides in heaven with our Creator and waits for us to join him.

Here is a video of one of my mentors and a true role model.

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