Score a Move to Nutrition-Based Agriculture

September, 2017

Washington -- A bill is moving through Congress that will have as much or more effect on the health and pocketbooks of Americans than the more widely known attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. It is the 2018 Farm Bill, which might also be called the Food Bill because its reach extends well beyond farmers. It contains re-authorizations for farm programs and for nutrition programs that feed tens of millions of Americans.

The Farm Bill is the vehicle through which rural-America policy is enacted. It is the vehicle through which nutrition is provided to needy families.

At least that is how it will be described as it is considered by Congress. In reality, it is more accurate to say it is the vehicle for how the destruction of rural-America is being implemented, and how bad nutrition is being perpetrated on Americans who are increasingly unhealthy because of it. Has no one noticed the decline of rural-America and the concomitant epidemic of obesity and diabetes? And made a connection?

How did this sorry state of affairs come about? For decades, farm policy has focused on "production" agriculture. A "nutrition" title was added long ago to the basic legislation to ease re-authorization passage, linking rural interests in agricultural commodities to urban interests in food stamps for the poor. Debates about the bill still revolve mostly around the details of the commodity programs and the level of food stamp funding, oblivious to the larger issues at stake.

Meanwhile, the country and the world are awash with commodities that are increasingly used in the production of unhealthy processed food. Low commodity prices due to the surpluses are depopulating rural areas across America. The largest use of food stamps is for the purchase of sweetened beverages and processed junk food. This unhealthy change in diet is taking place in other countries as well; Brazil now has a new obesity and diabetes crisis on its hands.

It would he hard to devise from scratch a more diabolical Farm Bill than the one Congress will be passing by thoughtless inertia. What would be a better approach?

Markets are changing. There is growing demand for healthy food, which is "high-quality, defined, traceable, and secure," according to the former CEO of the U.S. Grains Council, who is alarmed at the failure of Congress to respond to it. He advocates a market approach, rather than a commodities approach, to encourage and build these markets.

That would mean rather than putting all our eggs in the basket of production agriculture, which we might call Agriculture 1.0, we would put more in the basket of nutrition agriculture, or Agriculture 2.0. It would mean enhancing the other titles of the Farm Bill to turn loose our inventive population on ways to grow and market food that is not only better for us, but which could re-vitalize our rural communities. It would mean taking unhealthy products off the list of what can be purchased through SNAP, as is already done through WIC.

Is a move to Ag 2.0 possible? Take a look at a recent segment from The News Hour, which told the story of an unemployed coal miner in West Virginia who, with the help of his local community college, restored the soil of a decapitated mountain-top and is selling his planted crops, his pork and his poultry, into local healthy food markets. Is this scalable? Of course it is. There is still a population living in many rural and urban areas that is skilled in labor-intensive farming, and would be eager to get back to it were there markets for their products. Why not unleash the existing, formidable Extension Service onto Ag 2.0, rather than tying it to 1.0 forever?

Neither political party seems to be interested. Republicans are tied through campaign finance to Ag 1.0. Democrats are still captured by identity politics and don't see that this would be a huge opportunity to do something for rural-America, where they desperately need votes. Neither party sees the Farm Bill as they should, as an opportunity to reverse our population's declining health, even as an answer to opioid addiction that is driven by unhealthy foods and bad economic prospects.

Someone in Congress should ask CBO to score what a move to Ag 2.0 would cost, or save. I'm confident it would result in huge savings for American taxpayers, when nutrition based agriculture starts to cut down on federal costs for health related expenditures in SS disability, Medicare, and Medicaid. Or maybe ask for a GAO study? Time's a-wasting.

"The Vietnam War" on PBS

September, 2017

Washington -- Like many others, I am watching "The Vietnam War" on public television. Part of my perspective is unavoidably that of a one-time member of the Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club, as those of us who served there were sometimes called.

First episode:

"The Vietnam War" got off to a bad start with me in its first minute. No one talked about the war after we came home? That's not the sense I had. For months and years, I was asked about my experiences and my feelings about the war by fellow veterans and non-veterans alike. Often. So to start off the program with a former Marine who says he was friends with another former Marine for twelve years before they knew they had both fought in Vietnam – that just seems wrong.

The episode recovered with its look at the history of Vietnam under French colonial rule. The best part of the program was the description of well-intentioned efforts by the U.S. to end colonial rule after WWII, especially the work of Colonel Peter Dewey working for the OSS. His death at the hands of the people he was trying to help is not only ironic, but tragic. His death in 1945 is not considered the first U.S. fatality of the Vietnam War. Rather, the first on the Vietnam Memorial is Major Dale Buis of Pender, Nebraska, killed in Bien Hoa in 1959. More should be done to remember Dewey, even if his service in Vietnam was only a few weeks.

Not everything can be covered in the program, of course, but I wish mention could have been made that France asked for air strikes from U.S. aircraft carriers operating off the Vietnam coast in 1954 to relieve the siege at Dien Bien Phu. President Eisenhower declined in part because his Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Radford, was conflating the issue of the siege with his desire to use the occasion to demonstrate how nuclear weapons could be used in a conventional war. Eisenhower also declined because he felt the American public would not understand a decision to agree to the French request, which is ironic since American taxpayers were already paying for eighty percent of the French Indochina war, including the troops under siege at Dien Bien Phu. Some of us in those same waters a decade later knew the story.

Second episode:

The most memorable line of this episode is the one from a volunteer American soldier who in retrospect thinks he was a member of the last generation who thought the U.S. could do no wrong and that our government would never lie to its people. Not all of us of that generation were quite that naïve; instead, we saw the U.S. side of the war and hoped for a victory that would replace autocratic, brutal governments in both the North and the South. I had just finished a master's thesis that dealt with the aftermath of decades of broken treaties with Native American tribes, immunizing me considerably from the idea that we could do no wrong.

Third episode:

Congress's Tonkin Gulf Resolution of 1964, this episode explains, was premised on a North Vietnamese patrol boat attack on the destroyer USS C. Turner Joy in the Tonkin Gulf. My classmate Dave Wetherell was on the Turner Joy that summer in training, while I was on the USS Waller in the Mediterranean. When we got back to Naval Science classes that fall, Dave told his classmates that the attack didn't happen. We were stunned to contemplate that Congress authorized a widening of the war based on an event that was essentially made up. Only decades later did the truth come out, but we knew it in Lincoln, Nebraska, in September, 1964.

Fourth episode:

The war is escalating in 1966-67 and the country is becoming more divided about it. The episode shows selected, gung-ho soldiers and marines, and their subsequent disillusionment, juxtaposed against students and other war protesters. This is typical for a documentary of this type, but misleading. I wonder if the program will get around to giving equal time to those who served but were not gung-ho about the war, of which there were many. And if the program will take a look at those who were gung-ho, could not get enough of killing gooks and slopes (as they called the Vietnamese), came home and now vote to Make America Great Again, of which there are also many.

This episode exposes the shortcomings of Robert McNamara and his misguided reliance on systems analysis in decision-making. Is this what it's like to run government like a business? Yes. (Take heed, all who campaign for elective office on such platitudes.) It also exposes Lyndon Johnson's self-defeating body language in discussions with his top advisors. He slouches, they slouch. He grimaces, they grimace. He shakes his head in hopelessness, so do they. The answer to tough questions about the war? More slouching, to a point the president is literally horizontal in his chair. Can people think clearly from such positions? Apparently not.

George Kennan, the intellectual leader of the post-WWII strategy of communist "containment," gives cover for the Johnson Administration to extricate the country from the war, but the best and the brightest in the government, left over from the Kennedy Administration, demonstrate that they are anything but, as they do not take advantage of it.

Fifth episode:

Well into this episode, the NU campus in Lincoln appears on the screen as a backdrop to an interview with Barry Todd, an NU graduate who went into the Marine Corps in 1967 and within months turned against the war. He must have been two years behind me, as I don't recall him. The campus is shown in turmoil because of protests against the war. I never witnessed the demonstrations in Lincoln, as I was mostly in the Tonkin Gulf in 1967. I recall the Regents came down hard on faculty that did not support the war, in particular one political science professor.

The episode shows captive American pilots being paraded through the streets of Hanoi, my NU classmate Dick Ratzlaff presumably among them. He would not be released for several more years, in 1973. He died a few years later of causes related to his captivity. He and I traveled together in college as starting five on our Navy basketball team, which played in tournaments around the Midwest. He was a great player.

If it wasn't already obvious that President Johnson was deluding himself about the progress of the war by 1967, this episode confirms it. He also was delusional about the causes of the mass protests going on at home, across the country. He would not accept the CIA's determination that they were not organized by communists. He also is revealed to be a man of all talk and no listen.




Public Service and Risks to Public Institutions

September, 2017

Lincoln -- Three commendable public service undertakings highlight the early fall calendars of colleges and universities in Lincoln, Nebraska:

• Union College sent two dozen students to assist victims of Hurrican Harvey in Texas. Half were nursing students, the other half students in Union College's International Rescue and Relief program. (I'm not aware of any other such college program in the state.)

• Nebraska Wesleyan University presented its annual Visions & Ventures Symposium with best-selling authors Byran Stephenson and J.D. Vance. They addressed the origins of fear and anxiety that have become part of our contemporary discouse. The symposium ran two days and was open to the public.

• At the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the Colleges of Business, Law, and Journalism are hosting "Truth Be Told: Reflections of Whistleblowers." Richard Bowen of Citibank and Walt Tamosaitis of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation will discuss their whistleblowing experiences on September 20th at the Lied Auditorium. (Full disclosure: I am a supporter of this and similar ethics events at universities.)

Of course this is only a small sampling of the public service work performed continually by these three institutions, one of which organizationally is under the control of elected officials and two are independent non-profits.

But such works in the public interest – often bringing attention to divergent opinions – should not be taken for granted. Unfortunately, these good news stories were overshadowed this week by a contretemps at UNL over free speech. A student provocateur exercising her speech in an outdoor forum was confronted by a faculty lecturer exercising hers. It was caught on video and elicited a "troll storm" directed at NU officials.* At least two Regents forwarded intemperate and threatening messages to multiple parties, amplifying the storm. Several state legislators could not resist offering to cut the NU budget in response to the dust-up.

Which brings up a subject I have discussed here before: the susceptibility of Regents and others with control over the University to the demands of mob behavior. In World War I, Nebraska Regents targeted and removed faculty for teaching the German language; in the 1960s, Regents demanded faculty support for the Vietnam war. Of course the most notorious example of maladministration of higher education by public officials was the Nazi takeover of German universities in the 1930s. The lesson: don't count on public institutions to be constant defenders and bastions of our freedoms. Public institutions can be fragile. "It Can't Happen Here" you say? But perhaps it can, and we are witnessing it.

While it is important for public officials to defend even unpopular free speech and to resist the shouts of the mob, it is also prudent public policy over the long haul to encourage faculty engagement and public service programs at both public and independent non-profit institutions, like those noted above, so as not to put all liberty's eggs in one basket.

_______________________
* One person sent an email full of nonsense and vulgarity; he identified himself as a retired naval officer. Perhaps he is but, being one myself, I wonder how he escaped instruction on how to be an officer and a gentleman. Square yourself away, whoever you are, and stop being an embarassment to the Navy.

Navy Collisions and the Price of Beans

September, 2017

Washington and Lincoln -- Another U.S. Navy destroyer has had a collision at sea. Ten sailors were trapped below decks and drowned. This time it was the USS John S McCain, approaching the Straits of Malacca after transiting the South China Sea, where China is building military bases in the Paracel and Spratley islands.

The cause of the collision is under investigation. Early reports indicated the destroyer may have lost its steering. This is not uncommon; it is usually remedied by shifting to backup "after-steering," named for its location in the aft of the ship, near the rudder. Shifting to after-steering is a routine drill, sometimes requested by those on watch to relieve boredom. While in training, I once stood after-steering watch at night on the USS Kitty Hawk with a sailor who had a hard time staying awake. That was 1962; but simple inattention could be no less a problem in 2017, and cause a collision.

It is the Seventh Fleet's fourth major accident in the past several months. The fleet's commander in Yokosuka, Japan, has been relieved of duty for lack of proper fleet training. There are also suggestions* that fleet watch bills are too demanding, leading to crew fatigue. But this is nothing new. To some of us who have known port-and-starboard watch bills, three section watches are tolerable.

The disaster has had repercussions far beyond the crew casualty list. China propagandists were quick to suggest that the U.S. Navy, with its multiple accidents, was a menace to safe navigation and that America was acting as an arrogant hegemon in the region. China, of course, is eager to have its neighbors break alliances with the U.S., both in terms of defense and trade.

What has this to do with the price of beans? A lot, literally. And the price of corn and wheat and milo. This comes on top of a U.S. withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal, which China is pleased to see fall apart. Coupled with statements from the president that the U.S. may no longer be committed to defense alliances in that part of the world, the outlook for the Nebraska farm economy has only dimmed further.

______________________________
*Many in Washington were quick to blame the collision on lack of proper funding for defense, especially on the budget "sequester" that took a meat-axe to defense spending and doubtless impaired readiness. The sequester was a foolish contrivance employed a few years ago to see if the executive or the congressional branch would be first to blink over appropriations for defense readiness. Neither blinked, so rather than budgeting rationally for defense, readiness suffered instead of, say, obsolescent pork-barrel-driven weapons systems. Unfortunately, the Navy may have shown too much "can do" spirit, to which there is a limit. The commander of the Seventh Fleet is now being condemned for trying to do too much with too little, and there may be some truth in that. It is surely time to revise the Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, to revise or do away with reconciliation and sequester processes that have worked in recent years more to distort rational budgeting than to enhance it.

Prairie Pines, Community Crops Link Up

September, 2017

Lincoln -- Prairie Pines, at 112th and Adams Streets east of Lincoln, is a remarkable arboretum and native prairie where several organizations cooperate to offer outdoor education. It was first established by Walt and Virginia Bagley and is now held in a conservation easement by the NU Foundation. The Nebraska Forest Service does the physical management. Community Crops makes plots available for training new farmers in the business of local organic food production. Prairie Pines Partners provides public access to the site on the second Saturday of each month from April through January.

On a recent August Saturday, Talent Plus, a Lincoln-based human resources company, presented "Feast on the Farm" with tents and booths set up around the Community Crops gardens. Branched Oak Farm, Prairie Plate, Dish, Piedmont Bistro, The Hub Cafe, and Kitchen Table (Omaha), among several others, offered superb organic food.

This is a model worthy of emulation. Nebraska, like most other midwestern states, imports most of its food from elsewhere. Much healthier food could be produced locally, to the benefit of both the local economy and the well-being of the population. And the taste! Nothing can beat the food provided at Feast on the Farm.



Soybean Stories

August, 2017

Lincoln -- Two sad stories about soybean growers are featured in Harper's ("Bringing in the Beans," by Ted Genoways) and in the Washington Post ("This Miracle Weedkiller Was Supposed to Save Farms...," by Caitlin Dewey).

Farmers are in deep trouble.

Where were the land-grant universities in all of this? Too often they were cheerleading for Earl Butz (one of their own) when he advised farmers to "get big or get out." And they have been AWOL when it comes to testing for the safety of Monsanto and BASF products like the disastrous Dicamba.

Farm policy needs a huge overhaul, as do the priorities of land-grant universities.

Don't Take the Bait

August, 2017

Washington -- It's no surprise that the president is once again attempting to divide the country through a wedge issue. It's what he does. This time his wedge issue is affirmative action in college admissions, through which he hopes to stoke resentment among people of different ethnicities for his own narrow political ends.

No one should take the bait. Instead, cooler heads should offer what is long overdue in any case, college admissions that are based on reducing economic and geographic inequality, regardless of race and ethnicity, and through admissions that take into account students who could benefit from a value-added approach to education. Such counsel is wisely offered in a recent Washington Monthly article.

Sometimes called class-based affirmative action (and identified with its indefatigable proponent Richard Kahlenberg of The Century Foundation), this non-race-based approach to college admissions has been tested successfully so as to result in increased racial and ethnic diversity, along with economic and geographic diversity as well, much desirable in their own right. Done correctly, this approach can work even better than race-based affirmative action in providing educational opportunity to minority populations.

So why haven't colleges already moved on and why do some still cling to a race-based approach that pits group against group, black against white against Asian against Hispanic? One answer is money. If you look at the beneficiaries of race-based affirmative action, they are often those with comparatively less financial need.* Some colleges (and their Washington based associations) like to talk a good game on diversity as long as it comes cheap. They have filed briefs with courts to uphold the race-based approach, even though it has long been disfavored by the U.S. Supreme Court as requiring strict judicial scrutiny.

The colleges and their associations that have sown this wind are now about to reap the whirlwind, if the president is successful in using race-based affirmative action as a wedge issue. Republican support for higher education is already at a remarkable low.

Some colleges have gone to great lengths to try to demonstrate why class-based diversity measures are inferior to race-based. I am not convinced. College admission these days is manipulated by custom-made algorithms so refined that if the public knew how they worked, there would be a revolt. Colleges can make class-based affirmative action succeed if they want to. Not only can they make it succeed, in doing so they may discover ways to serve the country better by concentrating on developing students who will go on to serve communities that pay taxes for higher education and need its products, especially minority communities.**

Those who do not want to see race-based affirmative action tear the country apart could counter the president's move with one of their own. Those in Congress on the committees of jurisdiction could prepare and introduce legislation to direct the U.S. Department of Education to help colleges adopt class-based and similar affirmative action programs. This could be done by evaluating successful class-based efforts and by offering grants to colleges that want to use methods beyond skin color to achieve diversity. Although the lead can be taken by Democrats, Republicans should be welcomed as co-sponsors.

______________________________
*When I was a researcher for the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education, I looked at race by income by student loan debt over time. In general, affirmative action by race did not help low-income blacks, who were disadvantaged disproportionately by colleges' financial aid packaging.

**I have every confidence, based on years of watching the development of the enrollment management industry, that colleges can create variables for their admissions algorithms that look at where students come from and where they are likely to locate after college to engage in their professions – teaching, medicine, law, public administration, engineering, and the like. This is why geography and value-added education, as well as economic class, are desirable factors to consider in college admissions.





The "Better Deal" Could be Better

August, 2017

Washington -- Two weeks after I wrote a post suggesting the Democratic Party should offer the country a "Decent Deal," its leaders rolled out a "Better Deal." The Better Deal, unfortunately, still needs work.

It's not all bad. In explaining the Better Deal, Senator Charles Schumer warned against defining its economic proposals in ideological terms. This is crucial; Democrats don't need internal ideological fights when the country is in mortal danger.* In her pitch, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi even mentioned agriculture and the struggles of farmers. Imagine that! What's next, an actual Democratic initiative to address rural America? Good for her.

But the Democrats' Better Deal, in focusing on economic issues, sidesteps those who (accurately, in my opinion) say that as far as winning future elections is concerned, "it's the culture, stupid." Democrats are not going to win back states where its brand, rightly or wrongly, has become cultural poison, even if its economic program makes all the sense in the world.

This is why a Decent Deal beats a Better Deal, because it introduces a cultural positive that is badly needed and will attract voters who are looking for decency in a time of cultural vulgarity and obscenity.

What else might Democrats offer to make their brand more acceptable again, especially to voters who went for Obama in 2008 only to go for Trump in 2016?

• Offer old-fashioned patriotism. Because the country as we know it is in danger of losing its institutions (even the rule of law itself) it's time for a little more flag-waving in support of the institutions that made America the country it is. Hand out those pocket-sized Constitutions. Become the party of patriotism, as contrasted with nationalism.

• Offer more veterans as candidates. Millions of veterans are Democrats. Recruit them to run for office. Did they risk their lives only to see their country turn its back on the principles veterans fought to uphold? Democracy, human rights, the four freedoms anyone?

• Offer a culture of charity and service. Democrats need to emphasize how important they consider citizens' charitable works and community service, and to structure their programs and messages accordingly. Too often Democrats are mis-characterized as believing only in big federal programs, driving away people who believe in and even define themselves in terms of their charity and service work. Democrats could turn around many voters who are eager to associate with a party that honors and promotes charity, service, and decency.

• Offer a refuge from single-issue voting appeals. Many voters may be ready in coming elections to resist appeals from interest groups that focus on a single issue, like guns or abortion. If they have lost their health insurance and are standing in line for hours to see a volunteer doctor in a make-shift tent, as in a third-world country, they may not be taking much consolation that they are packing heat during the wait. Democrats should actively welcome support from voters who may not want to change their positions on certain issues but who are ready to put all issues into perspective. They may be ready to vote for a party that does not beat them up with single-issue, cultural litmus tests.

• Offer a culture of respect for working families who live by the sweat of their brows. Historically, these are the people who made the Democratic party the party of the people. It's time to re-embrace that culture.

So far, the Democrats' Better Deal suggests a few good ideas on the economy, but does not offer much by way of making the party more attractive culturally to voters who have abandoned it. That needs to change.

______________________________
* V.O. Key taught us, or at least some of us, that successful political parties organize pragmatically in America to win elections; they are not interest groups that focus on certain issues or ideological organizations operating in parliamentary government systems.


George M. Garner 1955 - 2017

July, 2017

Washington -- George Garner, known locally as the Shepherd of Accokeek, Maryland, passed away unexpectedly this month. He owned a small farm in the Piscataway forest, where he raised Polypay sheep and a few Angus cattle. His farm was in the viewshed of Mount Vernon, across the Potomac. He and other land owners have been maintaining the forest so as to afford Mount Vernon visitors the same view as that of George and Martha Washington at our country's founding.

At his funeral, friends and neighbors said that if there was anything George Garner would miss upon departing this life, it is that he would never know the outcome of a lawsuit with which he assisted to protect his neighbor Howard Vess's property, likewise in the Piscataway forest. Howard Vess died in 2011, wanting his part of the forest to remain undeveloped, open to hunters and others who valued it for its natural beauty.

George Garner spent countless hours researching law cases so as to toss out an egregious provision in his neighbor's last will, which Howard Vess's personal representative (also his financial advisor) had arranged so as to make himself the beneficiary of the Vess property as well as personal representative. Unlike previous wills, which were filed in the county courthouse and named charities as beneficiaries, the last will was held secretly by the personal representative and revealed only after the death of Howard Vess. At the Vess funeral, the personal representative discussed with attendees, before the service even started, that the Vess property would be developed with homes and a shopping center.

George Garner brought formidable skills to the task of challenging the last Vess will, which he knew was executed when his neighbor was vulnerable* to being taken advantage of. George Garner was a forensic researcher who did Internet technology and legal work for the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, among other federal agencies. He was a religious scholar who knew classical Greek and Latin and spent two years at the Vatican. He also knew his neighbor, and strived to the very end to do him justice.

But after five years of work on the Vess will, George Garner did not live to see the fruits of his labor. The case is still before a Maryland court of appeals, its outcome uncertain.

Nevertheless, it was with great respect and affection that his friends and neighbors said good-bye on July 29, 2017, to George Garner, the Shepherd of Accokeek.

___________________________
• In fact, the personal representative's own in-house attorney for his business as a financial advisor had confirmed this; in a letter to another party the lawyer maintained that a personal loan from Howard Vess, meant by Vess to be discharged at his death, had to be collected because an old, vulnerable man was not capable of making such an arrangement.

On the Commissioning of the USS Gerald R. Ford

July, 2017

Washington -- Many people of widely-varied political and ideological persuasions have already reproached the President for his inappropriate remarks at both the commissioning of the USS Gerald R. Ford in Virginia and at the annual Boy Scout jamboree in West Virginia. His asides at the Boy Scout gathering were downright indecent.

I cannot improve on the condemnations, but with regard to the ship's commissioning I can offer the perspective of a veteran who is familiar with what is, and what is not, appropriate at a such an event.

It should go without saying that in front of assembled dignitaries, no remarks should be offered that would be improper in the ship's wardroom; that is, religion and politics are off limits. Yet the president openly invited and even instructed the ship's company to contact Congress in support of his political agenda. In any wardroom of which I was a member (USS Rainier, USS Arlington) this kind of talk would result in a stern admonition from the ship's executive officer.

In April, 1963, I was invited to the commissioning of the USS Platte, named after Nebraska's Platte River, as staff to Nebraska Senator J. James Exon, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. I drafted his remarks for the occasion, if memory serves. Admiral William Crowe, CINCUSNAVEUR, attended; he was soon to become Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Presidents Reagan and Bush, and ambassador to the Court of St. James under President Clinton. I cannot fathom Admiral Crowe's reaction, had he been in attendance at the commissioning of the USS Gerald R. Ford.

The commissioning of this new aircraft carrier reminds us of the qualities of President Ford. He stood for a respectable conservatism that cared about balanced budgets, cautious monetary policy, free trade, and strong international alliances. He was a decent man, above everything. The country misses you, Gerald Ford.