Annapolis Institute

A note of thanks to the “greatest”

Original publication date: May 29th, 1999 A few days ago I received an e-mail from a friend, an attorney who reads a lot and is thoughtful about what he reads. He had a good idea for Memorial Day. “Like many other Americans,” he began, “I have been reading Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation. As you…

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Don’t mess with Americans’ lawns

Original publication date April 22nd, 1999 I went bike-riding this past weekend. The weather was mild and people were working in their yards. The smell of fertilizer and fresh-cut grass filled the air. All of a sudden it hit me: Focus group-driven political leaders who increasingly rail against suburbs, “sprawl” and automobiles may be in…

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Election verdict: Less is better

Original publication date April 16th, 1999. The tsunami we predicted in this column on Oct. 12 — Republican control of Congress for the first time in 40 years — happened on Nov. 8. However, the majority that carried the election is not, in my judgment, a New Republican Majority — as many Republicans are saving.…

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Unlike Some, Newt Knew When To Quit

Original publication date: November 10th, 1998 Until last Friday, when House Speaker Newt Gingrich resigned, one could rightfully ask, “Whatever became of the fine art of resignation?” Until Friday, the leader of the Republican majority in Congress and the second most powerful political leader in the land, was clinging to his office in the face…

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True believers enlist the EPA

Original publication date: July 30th, 1998 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is positioning itself to impose what economist and policy analyst Mark Mills calls “an expanded and stunning new regulatory burden” on the U.S. economy. Here’s the story. Since 1993 and the ill-fated tax on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the Clinton-Gore administration has been trying to…

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‘Big Sky’ primary would shift power

If the 10 states of the Intermountain West (including the Rocky Mountain and Pacific Northwest states) can agree on a common date for a year 2000 Western regional presidential primary — what my colleague Rick O’Donnell and I call the “Big Sky” primary — then a new and more influential role for the New West…

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The West wields expanding power

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rapid population growth in the West and unprecedented gains by the Republican Party in the region are dramatically changing America’s political landscape and will greatly expand the influence of the Western region on national politics. This is one of the punchlines of “Western Political Outlook,” a new report released today at the…

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Reforms could make cities work

Talk to anyone about cities and the conversation quickly moves to negatives — to issues like crime and violence, traffic congestion, schools that don’t work, poverty, decay, racial tensions and divisions, out-of-control taxing and spending and, too often, out-of-control police and self-serving politicians. But that’s not the way it has to be. Cities are also…

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Schools fall short on values, virtues

Society’s most important task is education. It is through education that we transmit to our children the knowledge and skills they need to function effectively in a modern economy, and the values and virtues they require to fulfill the responsibilities of family and citizenship in a free society. That’s why all that separates civilization from…

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Presidents Day a poor substitute

In the old days, Americans celebrated the birthday of the man who is regarded as the “Father of his Country,” owing to his service to our nation – as commanding general during the Revolutionary War and as our founding president. His name was George Washington and we celebrated his birthday on Feb. 22. For more…

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Despite spin, truth matters

Despite the White House sex scandal, President Clinton’s poll numbers are soaring. One new poll shows a record-high 72 percent of the American people approving the way he is “handling his job as president.” At the same time more than half think the president had an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Have the…

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American outback on the rebound

Population growth in America’s small towns and rural places — what the demographers call “non-metropolitan” areas — has been “widespread and substantial . . . at the fastest rate in more than 20 years,” according to Loyola University demographer Ken Johnson. Brad Edmonson, writing in the September 1997 issue ofAmerican Demographics says that “Old and young…

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Stories refuel family culture

The holiday season is here again. Thanksgiving. Then Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s. This is the time of year when families still come together. They kick back and relax. Many even talk, and when they talk, most will tell stories. Adults will share with kids the achievements and the antics of moms and dads, aunts…

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Nevada shows West the way

LAS VEGAS – “Vast acreage surrounded by untouched public lands; unique desert terrain teeming with native wildlife; a bustling metropolis; a Jack Nicklaus golf course…” So reads the brochure of the new Lake Las Vegas development designed for upscale retirees or the Lone Eagle freelance professional working from his desert home to deliver services over…

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Buffalo chips to microchips

Ten years ago, in the December 1987 issue of Planning, the journal of the American Planning Association, Rutgers University researchers, Frank and Deborah Popper published a widely cited paper calling for massive federal intervention in the Great Plains. Their words: “The federal government’s commanding task on the Plains for next century will be to recreate the…

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Keeping the faith is what counts

Around the time of Mother Teresa’s funeral, I bought one of her books, A Simple Plan (Ballantine, 1995). Having overdosed on her deeds, I just wanted to find out more about her thinking and her faith. Her lessons are both clear and simple: Faith, surrender, obedience and prayer gave her the strength to serve others. Once, when…

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Gen. Powell’s crafty strategy

I had this conversation with myself driving home the other day — about Gen. Colin Powell. It went something like this: Left Brain: Why would Colin Powell get involved in this Haiti misadventure? Pulling President Clinton’s chestnuts out of the fire? That doesn’t make sense. And praising Bill Clinton’s leadership? James Carville already has that…

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Looking back, enjoying present

LAFAYETTE, Ind.– Last weekend, nearly 300 members of the Class of ’57 at Jefferson High School assembled in this central Indiana community, home of Purdue University, for their 40th class reunion. This was a great time to renew old friendships and recall lives together during youthful years that “oldies” DJs now call the “Nifty Fifties.”…

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Eco-paparazzi are in our face

The environmental paparazzi are everywhere. Just like their photojournalist cousins, who use bicycles to stalk their celebrity prey, eco-paparazzi use everything from rubber dinghies to spikes in trees to get what they want from oil or timber industry prey. Eco-paparazzi are in your face at every turn, trying to outlaw backyard barbecues, pointing fingers at…

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Are you a builder or a wrecker?

Labor Day means different things to different people. For some, Labor Day symbolizes the end of summer. A last fling at the beach or at the fishin’ hole. A parade down Main Street — at least in many Rust Belt cities and towns. Family reunions. A new school year for the kids. Those things all…

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Positive Progress On Race Relations

Race relations was in the headlines this past week — not because of a riot or hate crime or something negative, but for mostly positive and constructive reasons. First, last Tuesday, a Gallup Poll showed that the views of both black and white Americans are converging in many positive ways (despite real divisions that persist…

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Things Looking Up All Across America

I noted last week that the Sunday New York Times (on April 27, 1997) carried a lead story called, “World beaters,” signaling to the rest of the media establishment that it is now OK to acknowledge America’s high performing economy. Sure enough, two days later USA Today’s front page lead story was entitled, “Economy hitting on all cylinders.” Of…

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It’s official: America back in the big time

Hellooo. After 15 years of hand-wringing about America’s economic and competitive decline, The New York Timesfinally came to its senses last Sunday — with a lead story on the front page it its “Week in Review” section called “Worldbeaters: Puffed Up by Prosperity, U.S. Struts Its Stuff.” The rest of the American establishment is now on…

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True compassion comes one-on-one

This past weekend, national news was dominated by pictures and stories from floods and fires, a media two-fer, in Grand Forks, North Dakota. I paid special attention to the Grand Forks story because I have visited there many times over the years. I have always viewed Grand Forks as an embodiment of Americana. It has…

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Our can-do spirit is being crushed

From the Pilgrims to home-based business owners, possibility thinking and the can-do spirit — coupled with limited government and relatively low taxes — gave Americans the most freedom, the highest standard of living and the greatest opportunity for self-improvement and social mobility. But the fundamentals that gave rise to opportunity and prosperity in the U.S.…

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Doubters replace dreamers, doers

We celebrated Presidents Day on Monday. It’s no longer George Washington and Abe Lincoln, men of vision, courage and achievement — heroes, to use a term that is now out of favor. Presidents Day just blends them all together — Harry Truman with John Tyler and Thomas Jefferson with Chester Arthur. It’s better that way.…

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Telecomputing touches masses

Telemedicine. Distance learning. Telecommuting. It’s a fact: Most of the new terms used to describe the brave new world of telecommunications focus on the interests and activities of professionals — e.g., physicians, teachers, knowledge workers. The ordinary consumer, one might think, has been left out of the “transition from pots to pans” — i.e., from…

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U.S. Has Much To Be Thankful For

Thanksgiving is a good time to consider the many faces of America’s abundance. With a few notable and troubling exceptions, our prosperity is secure and things are getting better. In the words of environmental writer Gregg Easterbrook, “Most indices of U.S. life have been positive for years, even decades.” Examples: The environment is improving. By almost…

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New Majority Shows Its Might

The culture of Washington is dominated by questions of “who’s up, who’s down; who’s in, who’s out,” to which most normal Americans say, “Who cares?” We saw it during the election: Media reports were dominated by misleading polls (what happened to Clinton’s 15-point margin?), mindless reports on misleading polls and vacuous assessments of the “who’s…

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After the victory, problems remain

By the end of the day, we will know who will control each end of Pennsylvania Avenue for the rest of this century. Whoever wins faces vexing problems — almost none of which were addressed in this focus group-framed and poll-driven campaign for president. Problem: The incumbent didn’t ask for a mandate and the challenger forgot…

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