It was, like with any birth, one that was born out of travail, crying, shouts of glee, bloodshed and even death. Truly the continent was in heavy labor as the push and screams of thousands were heard around the world.
That sorrow and agony gave way, however, to jubilation as the nation emerged scathed and covered with the scars and trappings of nativity. But as difficult as that birth was, the struggle was not over.
There would be growing pains, illnesses and diseases to overcome. There would be those who would attempt to reclaim and to destroy that life which was born out of a pledge to devote honor, lives and fortunes to see this epic birth come to be and last through all time.
Through the years, as with any baby maturing to toddler to child to teen to adult, this great nation of states joined to form a “more perfect union” had to go through its share of perils, tests and trials. In each instance, in the end, the US of A emerged on the other side a better nation.
The most trying time is undisputed, which is what occurred during what I would call the teenage years, puberty, when literally brother was pitted against brother, sister against sister, sons and daughters against mothers and fathers. The greatest and most costly toll of lives and bloodshed threatened to tear the nation apart. Yet through the trauma of the Civil War, the War Between the States, a united and stronger country came of age.
Dark days still lay ahead, but it seemed the worst had passed.
Through more battles and more wars, we find ourselves today celebrating the nation we’ve become and feeling the pain of the mistakes we have made. We honor the lives who gave their all to keep this nation the home of the brave and the land of the free.
Now, we look forward to the days and years ahead.
We are traveling the rough and choppy sea of economic uncertainty, but which seems to be slowly recovering.
The ship of state must traverse the gulf as the skipper maneuvers the ship to avoid crashing on the rocks of lost hope, despair, keeping an eye on the course and the port of serenity which lies in the distance.
The tides of global unrest threaten to engulf us. We must stay resolute and strong. Together we can ride the waves and dock in safe harbor.
Many have lost hope.
Many no longer aspire to the American Dream.
Many wonder if the flag will still wave for much longer.
But we are Americans.
We will survive.
From the Cornfield, America, may she always be that shining city on a hill to which others seek to aspire.
Days like yesterday it becomes difficult to determine if President Donald Trump is 7 or 70 years of age. After his childish tweet on Twitter, it is not easy to imagine it was sent by the Leader of the Free World.
Compounding the confusion is the National Press Corps acting like a bunch of second graders circling on the playground screaming, ‘‘Fight! Fight! Fight!”
While the folk in the Cornfield and throughout the Heartland sit back snickering and ignoring the lunacy.
We are more concerned with jobs, putting food on the table, having summer fun and our own health and concerns than the shenanigans of the Political Alter verse inside the Beltway.
Give us a break and focus on what really matters.
While I do not agree with the President in often what he tweets and the words he chooses to use, I do have an understanding of his mindset and the cultural setting for what most of us consider uncouth and un-called-for wording.
I discussed this nearly a year ago: Grandpa and Trump.
The White House Press Corps and others of the National Press are rightly criticized by those of us in the Heartland.
The bent of the journalists and their connection with life outside of the Coasts and the Beltway is far different from those of us in the Cornfield and the rest of the Heartland.
What matters to them, we find “too much ado about nothing.”
Time for the press to get out into the hustlings. Time for the President to put down his phone and focus on what is of importance to “we, the people.”
From the Cornfield, for a second day, we are being beset with talk about the President’s tweets and the National Press reaction and condemnation.
Time for both sides to give it a rest.
Both the President and the National Press are too defensive, too quick to throw bombs at each other and generally ready to step outside too often.
There will always be a certain amount of distrust and dislike between whoever is in the Oval Office and reporters who cover the White House, but at least the two should be able to act civilly with one another.
Before we get started, pour yourself a tall one of This is Life, mixed not stirred, with the flavor of choice: Fox News, CNN, MSNBC or PBS. With that out of the way, let us move to the main course.
Grab a healthy slice of WWE Raw and knead with Survivor. Mix in a dallop of Big Brother and a bit of The Amazing Race. Blend until it consists of The Voice along with a tinge of American Idol. Sprinkle in The Real Life and a dash or two of Fear Factor. Garnish with The Apprentice. Bake and bank it like America’s Got Talent.
For dessert serve, hot or cold, The Bachelor or World of Dance (you may substitute Dancing With Stars or So, You Think You Can Dance).
What you have concocted is the hottest dish on television this year, breaking all ratings and blowing up the Nielsen boxes – the reality hit – The Prez, starring Donald J. Trump and a host of snakes and gators slithering through the swamp.
So, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
We should have seen it coming. The critics should not be surprised. But in such a relatively short period of time may have caught us all off guard.
Less than four score years ago, the first television President burst on our black and whites. John F. Kennedy became a matinee idol to Richard Nixon’s five o’clock shadow of a villain in the making.
Bill Clinton took late night TV by storm and even rocked out MTV.
Barack Obama tapped into the new internet medium, but soon a new nerd came along to dominate social media – Trump. On our smartphones, our tables, laptops and PCs, not to mention our flatscreens, Everything’s Turning Up Trump!
The American viewing public is eating up as The Donald takes on the Main Stream Media and rubs the Dems and even his fellow GOPers noses in it.
Americans have become insatiable. More Facebook videos. More Twitter. More Youtube cinema masterpieces.
Howard Stern may be the king of all media, but Trump is the master of the medium of social networking.
America, you asked for it – you got it. Those 24-hour news networks have fed the monster and shot it up with hormones, resulting in the award winning show of our first Reality Television Presidency.
Now the national press corps complains about the Frankenstein it aided the American public in creating.
Yet in the Heartland, in the Cornfield, people tune in to catch the highlights, but go back to living their lives. Folk here tend to care more about a job, paying the bills, living life, putting food on the table. While the Coasts can’t get enough of the Beltway action.
The Heartland yawns.
From the Cornfield, how long will the show run?
Will it crash and burn early with an impeachment to boost ratings?
Tune in tomorrow – same Bat channel, same Bat time.
Over the last nearly six years, since I was infected with histoplasmosis, one group of people, of whom only one has ever met me in person, has been an emotional and financial blessing.
These are former members of the CNNiReport community.
We did not and do not always see eye-to-eye on politics or social issues, but we all have a commonality of respect and love for one another. Yet, most of us only know each other online through iReport and now on Facebook.
These individuals have been my angels.
With a word of encouragement or a surprise envelope in the mail. Sometimes with a picture or a card, sometimes with a simple “like” on a post or comment.
To express my gratitude in words pales with my thankfulness felt deep in my heart.
Their actions have often reminded me of the book written by Dale Evans, “Angels Unaware.”
For these people have truly been for me – angels.
Those that are still in contact through Facebook, I want to let you know how much I have appreciated each one of you.
On Thursday, June 8, 2017, America came to a grinding halt as people across the nation were absorbed in the Super Bowl of Politics – the appearance of former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
At stake was the presidency of Donald J. Trump and the American electoral process.
While there was a lot of thunder streaming across television screens, monitors and smartphones, there were no lightning strikes, no burning timber. The smoke at times became intense, but no flames erupted. Bars and taverns hosted watch parties. The crowds reveled in watching as Comey spoke and Senators questioned.
But to their disappointment, no resolution came, no validation of either support or opposition.
Those who favored the President still favored the President.
Those who opposed the President still opposed the President.
Today we have the pundits grousing over whether anyone came out a winner in yesterday’s hearing. Some are trying to make a case for criminal obstruction of justice by the President, while others a political case for eventual impeachment.
At this point in time, all are merely words without substance. Until the Special Counsel Robert Mueller finishes his investigation, the current scandal involving the President is a political fray. All other issues await the criminal investigation determination of Mueller.
What do we really know this Friday?
Not much more than we already knew from the leaked stories that have circulated in the press.
What was confirmed was that at the time of the firing of Comey, the President was not personally under investigation.
A cloud of bewilderment was raised by Comey about former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and her insinuated involvement with both the investigation into the private email server used by and candidacy of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her quest for the White House.
In spite of the hunger of the folk on Capitol Hill to pin blame on or exonerate the President during Thursday’s hearing, those questions remain and will remain until Mueller has concluded his investigation.
Another interesting outtake was learning that Comey was the source of some of the information being disseminated to the press.
Also of interest was the reasoning behind the leaking of information to the press was in the hopes that it would lead to an appointment of a special counsel.
From the Cornfield, those hoping to find the Trump house on fire were disappointed. Those hoping to see the phoenix rising out of the ashes were also disappointed.
Hang onto your hats, this is going to be a long and at times topsy-turvy ride before the end of the line.
The Cornfield’s own 8th District Congressman Dr. Larry Buschon provided his take on the Paris Climate Accord, from which President Donald Trump withdrew US participation in this week.
A Decision on Paris
President Obama entered into the Paris climate agreement on his own – he never sought the Senate’s advice and consent.
The agreement treats countries differently, with the U.S. cutting emissions more than Russia, China, Iran, and India.
The disparity puts U.S. businesses at a competitive disadvantage and raises energy costs for Americans.
The Paris climate agreement was a vital part of President Obama’s attempts to build his legacy. The Trump administration is expected to decide the deal’s fate before the president attends the G-7 summit on May 26.
DISPARITY AMONG COUNTRIES
The United States pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent between 2015 and 2025. Meanwhile, Russia is allowed to increase its emissions up to 50 percent – and China refused to set any emissions limit at all until 2030.
After the agreement was signed, many nations indicated that they would only take action if they got a significant amount of foreign aid. Developing nations have requested at least $5.4 trillion in assistance. India requested $2.5 trillion, and South Africa asked for $909 billion. Iran made its commitments contingent on the removal of all sanctions and receiving $840 billion. President Obama transferred $1 billion from the State Department to the United Nations to implement the Paris agreement.
THE SENATE NEVER APPROVED THE AGREEMENT
President Obama knew that Congress would never approve such a flawed deal, so he refused to seek the Senate’s advice and consent. Instead, he labeled it an “executive agreement” and unilaterally pledged U.S. support. President Obama’s actions violated U.S. policy set during the Clinton administration requiring Senate approval for any international effort to set “targets and timetables” for emissions reductions.
POTENTIAL IMPACT ON AMERICAN JOBS
Many of America’s global competitors are unaffected by the Paris agreement, while the United States will incur significant implementation costs. President Obama pledged to cut annual greenhouse gas emissions by about 1.1 billion tons from 2015 to 2025. That’s on top of the more than 820 million tons the U.S. has already cut from annual emissions over the last decade. According to a March 2017 study by NERA Economic Consulting, the Paris agreement will cost America $3 trillion and eliminate 6.5 million jobs by 2040. Every sector of the economy will be affected, especially the U.S. industrial base.
Decline in U.S. Industrial Output Due to Paris Agreement in 2025
Source: NERA Economic Consulting
INCREASING U.S. OBLIGATIONS
The United States’ obligations under the Paris agreement increase over time. Under the agreement, the U.S. is required to update its emission-reduction targets every five years. The plain language of the agreement states that we can only pledge to do more – not less – as time goes on.
IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT
Despite the high costs, the agreement does not solve the environmental challenges it was meant to address. China is the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases. While U.S. emissions decline, those from developing nations like India continue to rise. That’s one reason why researchers at MIT estimate that the agreement will have a negligible impact on the environment.
It is a time to stop, reflect and remember those military personnel who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to maintain and protect our freedom and way of life in the US of A.
The tradition of Memorial Day originally began in commemoration of those soldiers lost during the Civil War. It was known in various communities and states as Decoration Day. The date set aside was May 30. This was later changed to allow for a 3-day weekend by Congress to be the last Monday in May.
For the vast majority of Americans it is just another holiday weekend and the unofficial start to the summer vacation season. For many others it’s the weekend when millions around the world tune in to watch or listen to the greatest spectacle in racing, the Indy 500.
To too many it’s just a day to get together with family, have picnics and barbecues, go to the opening of community pools across the nation.
It’s a time to lay back and enjoy having three days off in a row with no worries.
Yet, Memorial Day symbolizes much more.
Ask any veterans’ organization or any military person in uniform or any family member who has lost a loved one in war, whether declared or undeclared, in peacetime or wartime.
Memorial Day was meant to be a day upon which a grateful nation pauses to remember those who donned a uniform and gave their lives in defense of our American way of life.
These brave men and women paid the ultimate price to make sure we could have our picnics, our barbecues, our splashing around in the pool.
The sacrifice of those who gave their lives is honored with each election where not by coup, but by ordinary Americans casting a ballot and choosing those who will lead and represent them.
The power and authority of those officials are transferred from one elected official to the next, from the precinct level to the highest office in the land, the Presidency, without the need for troops in the streets because of those who answered the call to duty, honor and service.
The ability to vote, the ability to choose, the ability to speak our minds, the ability to worship or not worship, the ability to write these words without fear, the ability to work, to succeed, to fail, to rise above our circumstances, all of this we owe to those men and women who fought and died for peace, justice and freedom.
None of our liberties came without cost and thus we owe a debt to those men and women who died in defense of our freedom.
On a personal note:
In those dark days following the sneak attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, four brothers from Nashville, Brown County, Indiana lined up at the recruiting office and joined the US Navy. These four brothers went off to save the world for democracy both in the European Theater and in the Pacific.
Three made it back home at the close of the war. The one who didn’t return was my Great-Uncle Homer. My grandfather and his other two brothers, Herman and Wesley, came home, but changed, never to be the same.
I never was afforded the pleasure of meeting my Great-Uncle Hobert Powell, a sailor who gave his life for our nation during World War II and long before I was born. The family seldom mentioned his name, but it was apparent Great-Uncle Homer was not forgotten. His picture, in uniform, hung proudly in my Great-Grandpa Ancil Powell’s living room. In silence, his memory was honored.
Today thousands still are in the fight to keep us safe. Over the past 10+ years, thousands more have shed their blood and forfeited their lives. We must never forget their sacrifice, their bravery, the lives they lived.
This is why we owe a debt of gratitude we can never repay and should never stop repaying.
This is why the deaths of veterans waiting on care from the Veterans Affairs medical facilities is such a gaping wound on the American conscious and must be addressed not after another study, but with action now.
From the Cornfield, I hope each of you will take time from the barbecuing, the playing games with family, watching reruns of yesterday’s race or enjoying the water and sun to stop – remember our heroes who gave their all so that we can live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Seems as if it has been forever since I have been able to communicate what has been happening Inside My Mind.
The past couple of weeks have been a whir of active inactivity. I spent five days back in Regional Hospital and went through three visits to the Emergency Room – twice to Regional and once to Sullivan Community.
Tuesday this week I received the word from my lung doctor, Ajay Deshpande.
If the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – chronic bronchitis – continues on its current course it may run that journey within the next months.
All the repeated trips to the ER, the long-term hospital stays and constant pneumonia attacks were zapping not only my energy, but the life from my body.
The doctor said the best direction at this time was to prepare and go to hospice – at home – not a facility. My chances were better being able to stay home than repeatedly having to call 911 and run to the ER for admittance.
The risk is at an all-point high that I will continue to be afflicted by pneumonia, which is what is – to be blunt – killing me.
I have communicated with my family.
I am at peace and content, come what may. I am ready to go home.
That does not mean that it has not been depressing and a heavy weight.
On the good side, as my nurse, Tabitha, told me – instead of calling for an ambulance and running to the hospital, they, Heart to Heart Hospice, bring the hospital to me in Mark’s Den.
My sons, my daughters-in-law and my adorable three granddaughters will all be here together on Sunday, June 11, for the first get together we have had in four years. This had already been planned.
Welcome to another edition of Kernels From the Cornfield – No Husks, No Hulls, No Shucks!
News with a dash of commentary to spice up your fare for Wednesday, April 26th, 2017.
1. Political Alterverse – Tax Cuts!
President Donald Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Chief Economic Adviser Gary Cohn unveiled a broad tax proposal on today which includes a deep cut in the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%.
Also proposed is a child-care tax credit and increased standard deductions for individuals.
Trump Administration officials say the tax cuts will boost the economy and employment by giving businesses and individuals more money to spend.
The plan, however, could add significantly to the deficit.
Mnuchin is calling the plan “the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country.”
So what did we learn today?
a. From 7 to 3 tax brackets on personal income taxes – 10%, 25%, 35% b. Doubling of personal standard deduction c. Only deductions for mortgages and charities d. End of alternative minimum tax e. End of death tax – inheritance tax f. 1st $24,000 earned by couples not subject to taxation g. Increased credit for child care h. Corporate rate reduced from 35% to 15% i. Small businesses and entrepreneurs can file under corporate rate
No details or fleshing out as Mnuchin and Cohn said the devil was being discussed with the Republican leadership to work out.
Will fiscal, deficit hawks go for the plan when the only way expected to recap the revenue lost is expectation of economic growth?
“The President owns this plan; don’t be mistaken,” said Cohn, Director of the White House National Economic Council.
President Trump is hitting back at the latest federal judge who put the thumbs down on the Administration’s plan to withhold funds from sanctuary cities, who do not cooperate with federal authorities on illegal immigrants.
The White House called the ruling an “egregious overreach by a single, unelected district judge.”
The threat of a government shutdown come midnight Friday eased somewhat when President Trump backed down from demanding that funding for The Wall be included in the spending bill that Congress must pass.
Now Democrats are saying they won’t vote for the bill unless money for Affordable Care Act subsidies is included.
The Prez hosted the entire Senate today at the White House to brief the world’s most exclusive club on the situation with North Korea.
The members of the House of Representatives are to be briefed later on this afternoon at the Capitol.
Today, the President signed an executive order calling for a review of lands set aside by previous Administrations as national monuments and whether there had been appropriate state input.
The order could lead to opening federal lands to energy exploration.
The legislation is not expected to go anywhere, but fulfilling one of his main campaign rallying points, Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders and Democratic colleagues filed a bill to up the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Signals are being sent that the House Freedom Caucus, the ultra-conservative members of the Congress, are ready to back the latest move to repeal and replace the ACA.
House Republicans appear to have included a provision that exempts Members of Congress and their staff from their latest health care plan.
A draft executive order to withdraw the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement is under consideration, a senior Trump administration official said today, confirming an earlier report from Politico.
State Politics: The Illinois General Assembly Retirement System’s Board of Trustees are considering whether to continue to pay disgraced and convicted former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert’s $28,000 annual pension for the time he served in the State General Assembly.
Hastert also receives a pension as a tenured teacher and as former Speaker.
Republican Ron Estes, winner of a closer-than-usual congressional election in Kansas, has been sworn in as the newest member of the House.
Global Politics: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Tuesday that President Trump’s newly imposed tariff on Canadian lumber could result in a “thickening” of the border separating Canada and the US, hurting both of the strong longtime allies and trade partners.
“There are millions of good US jobs that depend on the smooth flow of goods, services, and people back and forth across our border,” Trudeau said at a news conference, noting that an auto part can cross the border six times before rolling off an assembly line in a finished car.
“You cannot thicken this border without hurting people on both sides of it,” Trudeau said.
Score one for Mexico and a goose egg for the US in a case over tuna fishing.
The US charges more for Mexican tuna, claiming fishermen use methods which kill dolphins.
The World Trade Organization disagreed with the US penalty and ruled Mexico could collect a $163 million fine from the US for lost revenue on tuna.
China launched its first domestically built aircraft carrier today amid rising tension over North Korea and worries about Beijing’s assertiveness in the South China Sea.
Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray said The Wall is not only a “bad idea” but an “unfriendly, hostile” act.
“If the negotiation on other themes – immigration, the border, trade – isn’t satisfactory to Mexico’s interests, we will have to review our existing cooperation,” Videgaray said. “This would be especially in the security areas…and that involves the national immigration agency, the federal police and of course, the armed forces.”
France’s center-right party, seeking to rebound after the defeat of its presidential candidate, said today it could share power with Emmanuel Macron if he is elected, as pollsters predict, on May 7.
Venezuelan Chief Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz on Tuesday denounced a wave of unrest that has killed 26 people, vowing to hold all those responsible accountable and calling on both sides of a heated political spectrum to “lower the tone of confrontation.”
Opposition lawmakers are ramping up pressure on Venezuelan Ombudsman Tarek William Saab, announcing Tuesday they would give him three days to take action on their demand that the Supreme Court Magistrates responsible for the retracted decision on Congress be removed from office.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez told state TV that she has been instructed by embattled President Nicolas Maduro to initiate Venezuela’s withdrawal from the Organization of American States if a Foreign Ministers meeting is called without his government’s backing.
2. Stay Back! – The US Navy had to fire a warning shot at an Iranian gunboat in the Persian Gulf.
The incident happened on Monday as the vessel attempted to draw closer to the USS Mahan despite the destroyer trying to turn away from it, said Lieutenant Ian McConnaughey, a spokesman for the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet.
The “Mahan made several attempts to contact the Iranian vessel by bridge-to-bridge radio, issuing warning messages and twice sounding the internationally recognized danger signal of five short blasts with the ship’s whistle, as well as deploying a flare to determine the Iranian vessel’s intentions,” McConnaughey said in a statement to The Associated Press.
3. Looming Cliff – Congress moved closer to a deal to avoid a government shutdown at the stroke of midnight on Friday, as negotiators worked to clear away remaining disputes in a massive spending bill.
“We’re getting really close,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said, adding that negotiators were “getting down to the last, final” areas of disagreement.
4. Trading Partners, Hey? – As a looming trade war seems to be brewing between the US and its northern neighbor, Canada, several states are worried about their specific economies intertwining with the country’s second largest trading partner.
Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said, “It has been a bad week for US-Canada trade relations.”
There are 17 states which send at least 25% of all exports to Canada.
Canada imported $3.2 billion worth of goods from North Dakota in 2016, or about 77.6% of the state’s total exports that year.
6. Trump Economy – Record territory once more for the markets as hearts are encouraged by both the tax plan being rolled out by the Trump Administration and the outcome of the first round in the French presidential election.
“On top of (the French election result) we have had a very decent set of corporate earnings in the U.S. and that helped push the market further along the same direction,” said Investec economist Philip Shaw.
Tidbits: Wells Fargo shareholders expressed their unhappiness with the bank’s board Tuesday. The shareholders withheld what normally would be overwhelming support for the slate of directors in a vote at the end of the company’s annual meeting.
“We recognize there is still a great deal of work to do to rebuild the trust of stockholders, customers, and employees,” Wells Fargo Board of Directors Stephen Sanger said, alluding to the scandal over fake accounts charged to customers that has rocked the company the past couple of years.
The woes at Fox News are not getting better as emergence of new allegations of racial discrimination at the company hit on Tuesday. Add this to the charges of sexual harassment and no one is breathing easy at the network.
Conservative commentator Ann Coulter plans to speak at UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza on Thursday, campus officials said, prompting the university and the city to scramble to prepare for what they fear could be another violent showdown between fans and opponents of President Trump.
A fiery collision Tuesday involving two big trucks and several smaller vehicles killed one person and injured 10 others while triggering a massive traffic jam on Interstate 5 in Los Angeles, California.
That’s what caught my attention this Wednesday, April 26th, 2017.