Sunday, June 8, 2014


During my involvement in politics I have met and developed a deep dislike for folks I call chicken hawks and know-it-alls.  Two current examples come to mind.  Our new Senator Ted Cruz and the Republican nominee for Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.  Their know-it-all attitudes and their rush to have someone else go enter into a fight remind me of lessons I learned at Franklin school.

I started school in the friendly confines of what was then more or less a rural school, Groves Elementary.  By the third grade my family had moved into town to accommodate my dad’s work at the refinery, and I entered Franklin school.  I have often jested that when I went to Franklin there was a sign on the playground saying, “If you can’t fight, help tote off the dead.” 

Franklin was a wonderful school--built in 1929, the state-of-the-art.  It contained an olympic-size swimming pool, two gymnasiums, a wood shop, an auditorium, and a third-floor art atrium with natural sky lights and greenhouses on either end of the school.  In addition to the fine facilities, the teachers at Franklin were excellent.

The worst thing about Franklin was that, among boys, fist fighting seemed to be the favorite past time.  Hardly a day would go by but that a gaggle of boys would go en masse across the playground, through hedges, and congregate on the median of Thomas Boulevard.  That was our favorite arena for fisticuffs.

Along with the combatants at Franklin there were always several loudmouths who were always willing for someone else to fight.  They would egg it on, even push boys into one another trying to start the melee but never take part themselves. 

Most of these guys who always wanted someone else to get into a fist fight were the ones who had all of the answers.  They always knew how things should be and were very free with their opinions.  This experience leads me to believe that chicken hawks and know-it-alls are good names for some of our current so-called leaders.  

Without a doubt, George Bush’s father helped him stay out of the Vietnam conflict by using his influence to allow him to join a special Air National Guard unit out of Austin, Texas.  The vast majority of Bush’s administration, including his vice-president, had also gone to great lengths to make sure they were never tested in combat.  The current nominee for Lt. Governor on the Republican side, Dan Patrick, touts his patriotism and zeal for America, but woe be him.  He could not serve because he says he had a bad leg.

Ted Cruz’ recent rants about exchanging prisoners to return an American soldier home reminds me why I think chicken hawks and know-it-all fits him perfectly.  When asked by a reporter whether or not he would have simply left the soldier there to the tender mercies of the Taliban, Cruz hedged in his usual manner saying there are many other ways we could have rescued him.  “We could have employed the military.”  It seems odd that someone who never served the military or carried a weapon in defense of this country could be so quick to surmise how easy it would be to invade a foreign country and rescue a soldier without loss of life.

Were it not so tragic, it would be amusing to listen to the Republican members of Congress criticize President Obama for not being tougher with Russia, and perhaps even sending the military to the Ukraine to offset Russian troops amassed on the border of that country.  They apparently completely overlook the fact that we might engage ourselves in World War III by doing so.  I daresay if these members of Congress had children or grandchildren serving in the military and were likely to go and be engaged in such a war, they would never condone the ultimate consequence of urging the President to get much tougher with Russia.  Instead, they simply will criticize our President for not being tough enough--or, if he takes action, criticize him for engaging America in another war that we could ill-afford. 

Politicians like Cruz are very adept at not answering questions.  Like the one he was asked, “What would you do to free an American soldier held captive by the Taliban?”  He does not give specific answers, but simply says, “There are many options available.”  This is a lot like the promoter who says it would lead to greater tourism if we simply built a highway from California to the Hawaiian Islands.  When asked how he would go about doing that, he said, “I’m an idea man, not an engineer.”  

Unfortunately, too many of the critics in our Congress have great ideas, but no idea whatsoever about how to implement them.  We need to pay more attention as citizens and make our elected officials more accountable when they choose to be critics rather than builders.

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