Warren Hearnes: Direct, honest

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

One of my favorite Missouri politicians has always been Gov. Warren Hearnes. He was a conservative Democrat who bucked his own party machine to be elected governor. He was considered a potential vice presidential candidate and successfully withstood unfair political charges against his reputation.

To me, with good humor, he was always honest, direct and open as to his feelings about issues and his efforts on behalf of good government. He often called me when he disagreed with our newspaper (or my column) and made sense in a respectful manner, as we could disagree and remain friends.

I've always felt the Missouri Democratic Party did not give him the respect and support in runs for office after he served as governor.

His wife Betty also deserves praise for her candor, goodness and similar efforts on behalf of good government and her support of her husband.

Last month Wendy and I spent four days in Las Vegas at the Freedom Fest convention.

The event included 90 booths where we could explore investments, legal advice, university programs, publications, healthy living, gold, silver, oil, etc. etc. etc.

Also featured were 150 separate seminars with speakers talking and answering questions for about 60 minutes each.

Forbes magazine publisher Steve Forbes, Wall Street Journal reporter/editors Stephen Moore and John Fund, Whole Foods president John Mackey and the mayor of Las Vegas were some of the participants.

The program went from 7 o'clock in the morning to 9 o'clock in the evening each day.

Major themes were the federal deficit, cap and trade, the federal health proposal and the general state of the U.S. economy (especially in relation to China, India and Russia) and the rapid trend toward federal controls and changes proposed to our free-enterprise capitalistic system.

About 3,000 people attended, and the historical perspective of many of the speakers left me more optimistic than at the start of the meeting. Many felt President Obama was overreaching and much of his legislation would fall short. They openly expressed their opinion that it would be disastrous (at least in the short run) if the continued deficit spending, cap and trade and health plan were adopted.

Recently I flew to Oshkosh, Wis., to attend the Air Adventure aviation show, seminar, industry displays and seminars.

More than 10,000 airplanes flew in for the one-week event. I only stayed three days. There were an estimated 578,000 people, 41,000 campers (either in RVs or under their airplanes in tents), daily two-to-three-hour air shows of the best acrobatic pilots, more than 150 seminars, 900 exhibit booths with avionics and airplane accessories, at least 50 new airplane displays and numerous military and home-built airplanes, ultralights, seaplanes, etc. There was certainly plenty of walking.

Burt Rutan (probably the top U.S. general aviation engineer) and Richard Branson (Virgin Records and Virgin Audio) discussed their Virgin Galactic space airplane.

The Galactic, which has already raised over $40 million in deposits from more than 400 people who want to take a zero-gravity suborbital flight, did a demonstration flight and was on display. They announced a $250 million investment by a Dubai sheik during the show.

The world's largest flying airline, the Airbus 360, also did a flight demo and taxied in for a display and tour of this double-decker airplane.

My reason for attending was to become a better and safer pilot with an awareness of the avionics and training tools available to me. And also to enjoy myself and get out from under the barrage of government intrusion being proposed on society.

At Freedom Fest, 90 percent of the time and discussion was about government. At Oshkosh it was 90 percent about aviation.

If you want to see 10 talented high school and college musical performers, go see "Godspell, the Musical," which is being performed at the Holiday Plaza Convention Center the next two Fridays and Saturdays. Mike Dumey's troupe of talented young people give an enjoyable religious-message performance that I enjoyed. Good singing, dancing and acting.

Gary Rust is the chairman of Rust Communications.

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