Something To Think About

Time Marches On
by mike kohr 9/8/2009

In 1941, shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor two brothers, related to six US presidents, enlisted in the Army.

In 1944, these brothers, Stanley and Ralph Dunham went ashore at Normandy, and served their nation fighting the Nazi’s across France, Italy and Germany. Another young American, Stanley’s, brother-in-law, Charles Payne, fought with Patton’s Third Army and was among the troops that liberated the prisoners at the Nazi Death camp of Buchenwald.

In 1945, upon return from the war zones of Europe, Stanley Dunham and his wife Madelyn, who had served the nation’s war efforts by working on a B-29 assembly line, settled down and started a family.

In 1961 a grandson was born to the Dunham’s at the Kapi’olani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital, in Honolulu, Hawaii.

In 2008, that grandson won the election for President of the United States with 52.7% of the vote, a 9,522,186 margin, in an election noted for the highest voter turnout in 40 years.

In 2009, on the 5th day of the 9th month, a group of Americans gathered at Bureau County’s Soldiers and Sailor’s Park in Princeton, Illinois, a park dedicated to honor the service and sacrifice of all of America’s service men and women. On that day, the grandson of Stanley and Madelyn Dunham, on this hallowed ground, was compared to Adolph Hitler, his name was mocked, his birthright challenged and his citizenship questioned.

Today Sergeant Stanley Dunham rests in the Punchbowl National Cemetery where he was buried with full military honors. The light from Sergeant Dunham’s life, and the example of his family’s sacrifice, and service, will brighten the shadow that one day darkened this county’s place of honor on that regrettable day in 2009, a day that will be not long remembered and be quickly tossed on the trash heap of history.


What It Means To Be A Liberal  by President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

"I believe in human dignity as the source of national purpose, in human liberty as the source of national action, in the human heart as the source of national compassion, and in the human mind as the source of our invention and our ideas. It is, I believe, the faith in our fellow citizens as individuals and as people that lies at the heart of the liberal faith. For liberalism is not so much a party creed or set of fixed platform promises as it is an attitude of mind and heart, a faith in man's ability through the experiences of his reason and judgment to increase for himself and his fellow men the amount of justice and freedom and brotherhood which all human life deserves.

I believe also in the United States of America, in the promise that it contains and has contained throughout our history of producing a society so abundant and creative and so free and responsible that it cannot only fulfill the aspirations of its citizens, but serve equally well as a beacon for all mankind. I do not believe in a superstate. I see no magic in tax dollars which are sent to Washington and then returned. I abhor the waste and incompetence of large-scale federal bureaucracies in this administration as well as in others. I do not favor state compulsion when voluntary individual effort can do the job and do it well. But I believe in a government which acts, which exercises its full powers and full responsibilities. Government is an art and a precious obligation; and when it has a job to do, I believe it should do it. And this requires not only great ends but that we propose concrete means of achieving them.

Our responsibility is not discharged by announcement of virtuous ends. Our responsibility is to achieve these objectives with social invention, with political skill, and executive vigor. I believe for these reasons that liberalism is our best and only hope in the world today. For the liberal society is a free society, and it is at the same time and for that reason a strong society. Its strength is drawn from the will of free people committed to great ends and peacefully striving to meet them. Only liberalism, in short, can repair our national power, restore our national purpose, and liberate our national energies.

What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label "Liberal?" If by "Liberal" they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer's dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of "Liberal." But if by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."      
As Republicans Cheer Child Labor, They Should Reflect On My Grandfather's Life
 by mike kohr 9/1/2011

My grandfather, Mike Tanari, taught me many things, fishing with a cane pole and bobber, how to plant a garden, and how to make do. To say he was frugal was an understatement. One snowy day he showed me how to catch rabbits by hand to save the cost of shotgun shells. He took four rabbits that day and never fired a shot. But most all he taught me his life story. It is the most important lesson he ever shared with me.

Born in 1899, he went to work at Ladd’s Whitebreast Coal mine in 1909 at the age of 10 ½. He remembered the day the Cherry Mine burned. After finishing his 12 hour shift he could see the pall of smoke as it darkened the sky 3 miles to the north as he walked home. He said he was tired and all he could think about was the next day’s work.

Although he worked the mines for 36 years he never spoke much of those days. But one day I met a man that knew Grandpa from his work in the Marquette mine which was located on the bottom road between Depue and Spring Valley. I mentioned his name to Grandpa later that week at supper, and for the only time in his life did I see his face flush with anger. The man was the son of the mine boss at Marquette. Grandpa related that one spring day the waters of the Illinois River were nearing the top of the dike built around the shaft of the mine. Grandpa and the rest of the shift workers refused to enter the cage and descend for fear of being trapped and drowned below the surface. The mine boss addressed the milling miners and told them that any man that did not complete his shift would be fired and his name “blacklisted,” so that he could never work in another mine in Northern Illinois again. I asked Grandpa what he did. The anger left his face as he looked down at the dinner table and said in a soft voice, “Mike, mining was the only thing I knew. We all went down. It was the longest day of my life.”  He was but 15 years of age when this happened, already a veteran of 5 years in the pit. Sixty years after the fact, he felt still the sting and the shame of that day. We never spoke of it again.

In later years Grandpa was the secretary of the Miner’s Local Labor Union. I still have the ledger books he kept. Every penny accounted for in careful pencil strokes. But those numbers tell little of the story of the men that pooled their resources to better the conditions in which they toiled. They reflect nothing of the sacrifice and loss that enriches our lives’ today. But they are invaluable to me. I would not part with them for any price.

Grandpa has been gone now for almost thirty years and yet there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him. He was not a wistful dreamer that talked of the “good ole days.” He always thought our best days were in front of us and he was careful to remind me that I lived in the best of times. As Labor Day approaches I hope and pray the things he and countless others endured are not forsaken, and never forgotten.

Liberal Media Bias?
by mike kohr 6/2004

In response to letters to the editors, that excoriate a perceived left-wing bias in the local and national media one should consider the record. It is my belief that the media for the most part, and especially the journalists on the street, put whatever bias they may have aside and take their responsibility to the truth, and the public, seriously.

Ownership of media sources is another topic entirely. Look at the editorial page of both local papers. The right-of-center political leanings of management are clear and unmistakable.

But then, the editorial page isn't really news is it? "The Bureau County Republican," compared to it's competitor, at least makes an honest attempt to present opposing views. It's competitor, is owned by the Miller Media Group, a family controlled corporation that has long ties to Republican Party activism. It's vice president, Robert Vickery, is the most recent former chairman of the LaSalle County Republican party and is attending the upcoming Republican Party Convention in New York City.

On the regional and national level the situation is much the same. Talk radio, cable TV news, and the print media is overwhelming slanted to right-leaning political opinion. And the entire Faux News Network, only pretends be "fair and balanced."

Locally there does seem to be a clear pattern emerging with media becoming personally engaged in partisan political ambitions: The Republican Party in Illinois has chosen a right-wing political commentator, Alan Keyes , to run against Barack Obama for the U.S. Senate. Keyes, most recently of Maryland, was selected to run after the Republican Party flirted with the candidacies of sports commentator and media personality Mike Ditka and agricultural radio reporter and media commentator, Orial Samuleson, among others. Keyes, whose comments comparing Obama's policy to slavery and advocating machine gun ownership, has dropped to 28% in recent polls. Predictably, Keyes has lashed out at reporters for being liberal stooges and surrogates of his opponent.

U.S. Representative, Lane Evans, of Rock Island, has fended off three Republican challenges from TV news-anchor Mark Baker, of Quincy. Representative Evans currently is being challenged by Republican, Andrea Zinga, who has an education and career in broadcast journalism, and is basing her candidacy on her medical prognosis of Representative Evans, for which she has neither a degree nor a practice.

State Senator Patrick Welch, most recently fended off a challenge from local radio personality, Rod Thorsen, an employee of the above mentioned Miller Media Group. Thorsen's candidacy flamed out amid revelations of drunken driving and illegal handgun possession charges against him.

The media is an easy target for people to vent their bias against. But by and large, journalists do their job well, and for wages that are not commiserate with their responsibility. Let's stick to the facts. We have important business to deal with, a staggering and rapidly growing national debt, a blubbering economy, a looming crisis in health care, heroin from Afghanistan flooding our streets, terrorist threats, and 975 new Gold Star Mothers. Instead of maligning the press, we should be asking; "Where is Osama?" "What's the exit strategy in Iraq?" "When will we stop spending the social security surplus?"

A free and impartial press is an important part of the process of democracy. Hanging the messenger, may further our petty, and partisan, political means, but it is a dangerous path. History has shown time and again, dictators and despots, from Hitler, to Stalin, from Castro to Saddam, from Chairman Mao of China to General Monnt, of Guatemala, first demonize and manipulate, then suppress, and finally control the written and spoken word. This is America. We can do better.

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