Sunday, October 17

The Fallen Star

My husband and I moved to Kansas City two years ago to enjoy our retirement in a lively city full of great entertainment, opportunities for further education, a variety of restaurants and friends -- those we love and those we have yet to meet. We have discovered many pleasant surprises since we moved here, and very few disappointments. The Kansas City Star provided that today.

My heretofore favorite newspaper among those in all the communities we've lived in today endorsed John Kerry for President. No, we won't cancel our subscription. I probably won't even write a letter to the editor but my disappointment is deep and personal.

The editors begin by contrasting four years ago with today. During the last election, they claim, it was a "a time when the United States enjoys peace, extraordinary prosperity and great influence abroad.” A short look back at newspapers online dated 1999 and 2000 remind us that it was a time of deepening recession and a time when Americans were deeply disgusted with the politicians in Washington, where events had conspired to make the American Presidency a joke to much of the rest of the world.

Today, my favorite newspaper editors said, "Americans worry on a daily basis about terrorist threats, a bungled U.S. occupation in Iraq, international disapproval, widespread job insecurity, runaway federal budget deficits and a host of other problems."

However, the truth is...the Bush Administration has successfully strengthened the protection of our citizens (I know because I was involved in a foiled terrorist attempt) although they admit they are doing more as fast as they can. They have strengthened an economy that was floundering when they took office and suffered a damaging blow on 9/11. (And a study of national economics shows that the President is doing the only thing he could have done under the circumstances to stabilize the economy.) President Bush's policies have disrupted Al Qaeda and mangled the Taliban while drawing terrorists to Iraq where they are being dispatched. Egypt has "seen the writing on the wall" and given up its nuclear program. The first free elections ever were held in Afghanistan and soon will be held in Iraq. Saddam Hussein is in prison and, although I suspect he thinks he will return to power, he won't. Thousands of mass graves have been uncovered in Iraq -- the legacy of his reign.

It's easy for American media to say the "occupation" of Iraq is bungled. But that very statement proves a lack of understanding of the situation. American troops are fighting terrorists in Iraq in the daytime while they build the society at night. My son-in-law, a retired Army colonel who works as a contractor for the Army returned from Iraq recently full of angry frustration because the media doesn't report what is really going on there. Americans aren't "occupying," they are fighting and building.

"Widespread job insecurity" Star editors wrote today...and they were writing the same thing five years ago as they saw Payless Cashways struggling with bankruptcy and downsizing, CST Steel struggling with unions and new management, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City stung by a series of financial scandals and public relations setbacks and markets shaky enough so that staff writer Nicolova wrote about investors not"waiting for the mail to deliver the news of disappointing quarterly earnings. Fund managers and financial planners have been flooded with phone calls from clients asking for advice."

To hear the Democrats and the KC Star tell it, the Bush administration is responsible for companies outsourcing jobs. Not so. If you'll remember, in 1998 - 1999 the economy went into a bit of a tailspin. Companies were already "outsourcing" jobs. In December, 1999(when the Clinton administration was firmly in power in Washington, the Dallas Business Journal announced that INspire Insurance Solutions (NASDAQ: NSPR) would reduce its "work force by approximately 100 people, effective Dec. 31, 1999, due to reorganization. The company said it will discontinue its licenced software packages efforts, and concentrate on its business process outsourcing business. INSpire had income of $11.6 million on sales of $87.2 million for its fiscal year ending December 1998."

IBM had already outsourced its pc tech assist to Ireland. I know because I had many conversations with Irish gentlemen who helped me with computer problems while we compared the weather in Belfast with Kansas.

The "runaway federal budget" the Star blames on President Bush would have been the same "runaway" no matter what administration was in Washington after 9/11. Assuming, of course, that the administration decided to try to protect and defend the United States and solve some pressing issues (like education) at the same time. The Star neglects to address the President's plan to reduce that deficit in half in five years. But that's the way THEY play partisan politics, isn't it. We don't tell ALL of the story.

The Kansas City Star says, "With Kerry, the nation could expect leadership that would result in dramatic improvements in homeland security and a strengthened military force. Americans also would see more effective strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the welcome rebuilding of our tattered international alliances." I challenge them to tell me specifically what Kerry plans to do to make that true. I've read all his campaign speeches as well as everything available of his 20-years in the Senate...and more. He has promised to do all that but nowhere has he said how. There are no distinct plans, no specifics on what those strategies would be. The "dramatic improvements" he has spoken of are what has been done for the past four years and continues to be done today.

According to the Star's editorial: "Bush seems incapable of even acknowledging mistakes, much less learning from them. And there have been many mistakes, including fundamental failures in the area that the president claims as his greatest strength: national security." But he hasn't made any mistakes -- only the media and his critics claim he has. Going to war was no mistake, neither in Afghanistan nor in Iraq. And anyone who has studied war knows that it is the most unpredictable situation imaginable. War -- any war -- has a life of its own. The President has shown the flexibility necessary to change what needs to be changed. Yes, he has been surprised at events (he said so) but he listens to his military advisors and lets them run the show.

One of President Bush's strengths IS national security. Of course the media doesn't know about most of the successes. If they did, they would not hesitate to describe it all, and what worked would not work anymore. I believe media writers, editors and correspondents know that and they resent that the administration feels that way. However, they've more than proved their irresponsibility in similar matters.

Look at this: The Star editor writes, "Republicans have issued dire warnings against a return to a “pre-9-11 mentality,” implying that this mindset is the province of the Democratic ticket" and continues to say that the Bush administration is the embodyment of that mentality. "The commission found that top administration officials failed to heed urgent warnings from various sources about the possibility of large-scale terrorist attacks. The commission provided the public with ample evidence that the administration should have done far more to protect the country in the months before the attacks — and should be doing more now."

As I mentioned before, I'm in the unique position to know that the Administration is doing all it can as fast as it can. AND IT SHOULD NOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR A SYSTEM THAT WAS IN PLACE BEFORE IT TOOK OFFICE 4 MONTHS BEFORE. As for the warnings, the Clinton administration had the same warnings, had even sustained attacks, yet no one imagined what took place on 9/11. It is irresponsible to judge a new administration in the light of what we now know.

Most horrendous of all, the Star editor writes,"John Kerry is not a perfect candidate with a flawless record. But he is a man of obvious intelligence, compassion, patriotism and courage whose presidency would be guided by a clear understanding of what went wrong in the last four years and what needs to be done in the next four." John Kerry is not a man of compassion, patriotism and courage. (He looks intelligent but his actions in his life make one wonder.)

It takes a far stretch of imagination to call him compassionate (except he does kiss babies if he has to), patriotic (unless he doesn't happen to agree with the leaders of his country, which in his minds gives him the right as a citizen to meet with the enemy)and his courage is the most doubtful at all. Four months does not a tour of duty in Viet Nam make and he has never -- not once -- taken on a major battle on the Senate floor.

Maybe we will cancel our subscription after all. The (Kansas City) Star has certainly fallen in our estimation.

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