Archive for September, 2011

The Appeal of Herman Cain

Herman Cain was an upset in Florida only to those who do not understand how thoroughly the American public is fed up with career politicians and how desperately they want to be told the truth while being presented with viable solutions likely to solve existing problem.

Romney looks the part but wants it too badly and comes with baggage. No thanks. Perry has the bravado but not the gravitas. Not interested. Bachman has the experience but appears to lack the common sense. No way. Ron Paul has the intelligence but is scary. Definitely, no thank you. Huntsman has experience but lacks depth. Pass. Santorum seems an experienced, decent man with some way too religiously based positions. Translates into not viable.

Which leaves Herman Cain. But not simply by default.

Herman Cain talks straight, thus far seems an honest man, and has proven he knows how to build and lead. This is all very attractive to a Nation in dire need of leadership and someone with the guts to actually see a good idea through to a successful conclusion. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has similar appeal which is why there are those desperately trying to convince him to run. Whether he does or not remains to be seen. In the meantime, a few things are certain.

1.        If Christie jumps in his sheer presence along with Cain’s will most certainly put pressure on all of the candidates to get real or get lost. This would be a welcome turn of events.

2.        The Florida straw vote is likely not an anomaly. Cain really appeals to something stirring in people across this entire country.

3.        Cain’s appeal, and apparent viability at the moment, certainly throw a monkey wrench in the argument the Democrats are trying to sell that Republicans, the Tea Party and, basically, any white person who disagrees with this Administration’s policies is racist.

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Why Chris Christie?

Many of the “king makers,” power brokers and financial backers of the Republican Party are aggressively trying to engage New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to announce his candidacy for the 2012 Presidential nomination.  A general concern for the viability and/or electability of the current array of candidates has people still shopping for the candidate who can beat Barack Obama, or whoever is the Democratic candidate in 2012.

I, too, would like to see the Governor enter the race.  But my reasons are not those mentioned above.  I don’t think it’s about beating Barack Obama.  Despite what others may think at this juncture, it’s my conclusion that Obama is a one term President.  His failed economic policies combined with recent unfolding scandals, such as Solyndra, Lightsquared, and Chicago union leader Dennis Gannon guarantee it.

Beating whoever the Democratic candidate will be is not the issue, although those with political and ideological “dogs in the hunt” will reason so.  It’s about restoring a sense of truthfulness, leadership and accomplishment to the Presidency.  It’s about telling the people of this nation the truth and thereby giving them an opportunity to do what Americans do best… rise to the occasion.

Chris Christie is an attractive possibility because he instills in us the certainty and sure footed-ness that we want in both our own lives as well as in our leaders.  He exemplifies the qualities that speak of true leadership capability. He keeps his word. He is courageous. He is an independent thinker. He speaks truth to power. He teaches confidence through self-confidence. He sees what needs to be done. He is a man of action. He accepts responsibility.

The world is standing at the precipice and gazing into the abyss. There is much confusion and fear as we face the unknown. There are those who would exploit this moment and encourage us to take the next step into that abyss.

While each of us must ultimately take personal responsibility for our decisions, even the Jews of ancient Egypt required a leader to show them the way. We are sent the leaders we need. If it turns out that Chris Christie steps up and answers the call, let’s be grateful for the opportunity to turn from the abyss and pray we have the clarity to know which way to go.

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Statehood, Spacecrafts, Stimulus and Sit-Ins

Phew. It’s going to be a busy week!

Palestinians plan to seek United Nations approval for an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and pre-1967 borders by brining the proposal to a vote in both the General Assembly and the Security Council despite the United States having made clear its intention to veto such a proposal in the Security Council.  Israel is shoring up its internal defenses in anticipation of possible pro-Palestinian marches or, worse, terrorist activity.

This week, Friday to be exact, NASA’S Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS), launched in 1991 and weighing 61/2 tons is due to breakup as it burns through the atmosphere and land somewhere on earth. While some of the pieces are expected to survive the burn and impact earth, scientists have estimated that with 70% of the earth being covered in water, the likelihood of any of those surviving pieces from the bus-sized orbiter impacting a person is 3600 to 1. I know that totally eliminates any concerns I have.

The U.S. Federal Reserve, along with the Bank of England, Bank of Japan and the Swiss National Bank have decided to “provide dollar liquidity” (read as print more money) to help stabilize the highly unstable banking system in several EU member countries.  This “international stimulus” seems like a tried and true approach given the apparent success of the two stimulus efforts here by this Administration and its economic geniuses guiding monetary policy.

Finally, malcontents and other assorted groups with a variety of issues but an apparent common goal… to bring down Wall Street and/or the U.S. government… have begun pitching tents in New York’s financial district this weekend with the intention to stay put until their goal is achieved. Soon, they will be joined, in spirit, by those organizing October 6th as a national day of protest wherein they will begin sit ins at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C.

Phew. I’m tired and it’s only Sunday morning. The week hasn’t even begun.

Assuming the Palestinians and other Arab nations do not react violently to a negative outcome to their quest for statehood via the UN (my 18-year-old daughter is in Israel for 9 months)…and NASA’s UARS doesn’t fall on me (or anyone I know) as the “1 in 3600,”, …and someone in this Administration wakes up before we can’t even afford to buy the paper to print more money on…and those sitting in on Wall Street and the Capitol go home realizing they have neither the spiritual motivation of Gandhi nor the political will of Martin Luther King…I’m still left with a pounding headache at the possible wrong turn any of the above might take.

So what’s the solution?

Its faith and trust. I have faith and trust in a Divine Pattern of love and unity. Does that mean I can sit back and silently wait? No, I’m part of that pattern and, as such, have to hold my space. My space, as I see it, is to be an individual standing for what is good and true:

To say out loud that Palestinians should have a state of their own but not at the expense of the State of Israel and not by appropriating, through threat of violence, what is not theirs.

To say out loud that The Federal Reserve, and its very secretive members, seem to be clueless about our current financial situation. Given their repeated errors in judgment they should be stripped of their power while we open the discussion to alternative ways from alternative minds.

To say out loud that it is right, just and necessary to speak out against greed and corruption and to become active in changing course…but not when destruction is the only goal and where no plan exists for rebuilding anew from what remains following the breakdown.

To say out loud that NASA… well, what can I say? They meant well. Besides, there are physical laws and one of them is “what goes up must come down.” I just hope with everything else going on this week that 70% ocean and 3600 to 1 turn out to be sufficient odds.





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An Honest Look at Rick Perry

This is about why Texas Governor Rick Perry should not be the Republican Party’s Presidential nominee in 2012. We have come to the end of the line in our ability to knowingly close our eyes to the character of those we elect to public office. It’s no longer acceptable that we decry, after the fact, having gotten exactly what is was we willfully refused to see before the fact.

When then candidate Perry was running for Governor of Texas he was interviewed by a local television reporter who asked the candidate, if elected, would he serve out his term?  Governor Perry answered “Yes.” When the reporter pressed him to confirm that he would not then run for the office of President, the now Governor said he would “not” and reiterated he would serve out his term as Governor of Texas.  If Governor Perry is the 2012 nominee, and is elected, he will not serve out his term as Governor of Texas despite having given his word to the contrary.

Strike one.

In the recent Tea Party Debate, Governors Romney and Perry got in a verbal back and forth over the legality of Social Security.  Governor Romney said that calling it a “Ponzi” scheme, as Governor Perry had, was frightful to seniors. Governor Perry countered that in Governor Romney’s book, he too called the Social Security System“criminal”… as is a Ponzi scheme. However, in his book, No Apology: Believe In America, Governor Romney called the actions of Congress in taking money from  Social Security an act that, in the private sector, would be deemed criminal.

Strike  two.

When Barack Obama was running for the Presidency, I read a book by Shelby Steele titled A Bound Man. It is the reason I did not vote for Mr. Obama. After reading it, I believed that I understood something about Obama and I thought that what I understood presented a danger to the nation.  Very few others must have read that book.  In fact, very few others did any kind of inquiry into who he was, what he stood for, or his level of integrity. We got what we refused to see.

When Rickard Nixon ran for President, he already had the nickname “Tricky Dick.” We got what we refused to see.

I’m not waiting for strike three from Governor Perry. He has shown himself, to me, to be a man upon whose word I cannot rely. While I have also eliminated a few of the other Republican contenders, I feel it important to address Governor Perry directly and outwardly as the press, and some polls, see him as the “frontrunner” or “the one to beat” and I think the flaw is glaring… as I did with Obama.

Regardless of his or her policies, we must have a leader with integrity on whose word and in whose judgment the American people can rely. We are all out of time to delay or err. This next President will determine a lot more than fiscal or foreign policy. This one will determine who we are as a People and what we value. Who we elect as our next President will tell us much more about who we are than who they are.

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SAT Scores, The Future and You

Here’s something to ponder. Have we finally seen the negative impact of technology on society? Today, the College Board released the 2011 high school graduating results from the national SAT exam. The scores? Well, a drop in all three areas tested reading, writing and math and the overall lowest scores ever recorded.

Surprised? Not me. I have an 18 year old daughter.

My daughter is not the norm she’s the exception.  She scored above average on her SAT’s and is an honor student, we’re not working hard to get help with student loans. But, let me tell you why.

I don’t watch television. Ever. I haven’t for decades. I was cured of it when years ago I was on assignment in Los Angeles in a furnished, rental apartment with no television.  It took me only days to realize how the quality of my life improved without one. So, when my daughter was growing up, there was mostly very little, and sometimes no, television.  I never used it to babysit her and believe me that was exhausting.  It’s a lot harder to interact with a child and fill their time with meaningful activities and conversation than it is to plop them down in front of that box (or monitor) and go your way.

As she got older, I similarly limited her exposure to computers, video games and the like.  Even after 9/11/01, when my ex-husband and I got her a cell phone at age 8 (for safety reasons) she was permitted to use it only for an emergency or the need to contact us.

Absent all that technology, she read. And then she read some more. She consumed books and I believe as a result, tested the second highest score in reading comprehension in the national GEPA’s in 8th grade.

What’s my point?

There’s an upside and a downside to everything. Technology has made the world smaller, our ability to complete things faster, and expanded the potential for any individual with a computer to learn about anything of interest. It has also made us less social, less articulate and less able to think for ourselves. Clearly, it has also made our children less able to read, understand and calculate.

Is it the only cause? Probably not. Absentee parents have to shoulder a lot of the responsibility as do pathetically inadequate public schools. But I for one think it’s as good a time as any to ask ourselves whether we are in control of the technology and its prevalence in our live or whether we have abdicated responsibility for that as well and it is running us.

I hope we figure out the answer very soon before we’re too stupid to figure it out.

P.S. My daughter is a talented creative writer at age 18 as well. But that’s no surprise, is it?

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Republicans On The Run

I’m writing this post at the same time I’m watching the Tea Party Presidential debate on CNN.  I had to write now because I am concerned that if I don’t express my feelings in the very moment that I’m experiencing them, time may diminish the power of my ability to communicate them to you.

These seven  men (Romney, Perry, Santorum, Gingrich, Cane, Huntsman, Paul) and one woman (Bachman) are intelligent, articulate, and impassioned. That’s nice, but not as important as the fact that I think they are, overall, telling us the truth.  Even though its not pretty. And while we have tuned in to hear the questions they are asked, and the answers they provide, I think the greater question is “Do we really want to hear the truth?”  Or, are we guilty of the accusation Jack Nicholson made to Tom Cruise in the movie “A Few Good Men” when he said, “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!”

Can you?  Can we?

Because the truth means that each of us has to take personal responsibility for how we got to where we are and personal responsibility for what we do in our own lives in getting us out of here. It means re-prioritizing our values, reallocating our time, renewing our commitment to personal integrity, and remembering that we are… above all… in this together.

Leadership starts with us but it doesn’t end there. If we are ready to meet those demands and standards in our own lives then we will get the leadership we deserve. However, if we want the bumper sticker promise and the quick fix we will not only get more of the same, we will meet the real enemy and have found it to be us.

I can handle the truth. Can you?

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Krauthammer and Krugman on 9/11

Paul Krugman is an American economist, Princeton University professor and Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics recipient. Charles Krauthammer is a Pulitizer prize-winning syndicated columnist, political commentator, and physician. Two very bright men. One of them wrote a factually researched, well-substantiated, thought provoking column on the tenth year anniversary of the terrorist attacks perpetrated on September 11, 2001. The other threw a schoolyard bully’s punch and then left the playground before anyone else could respond.

The former was Charles Krauthammer.  The latter, Paul Krugman, tempts me to give his “column” no time at all. However, in Mr. Krugman’s judgmental name calling and accusations, he teaches us much about what’s wrong with the world and why we have found ourselves so far from who we want to be.

Mr. Krauthammer’s column in the National Review On-line recaps the U.S. response and successes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. He also factually disproves allegations that the War on Terror is the basis for our current financial difficulties and places the blame where it belongs.  Finally, he gives us pride in our national determination and endurance in the face of adversity.

As for Mr. Krugman… he used his bully pulpit to bully. He accused former President George W. Bush and former New York Mayor Rudy Guilaini of “cash[ing] in on the horror” and unnamed others of “hijacking [of] the atrocity.” He actually goes so far as to call the memory of 9/11 “an occasion of shame.” Mr. Krugman’s opinion piece is a lesson in turning the victim into the perpetrator… in deflecting responsibility from where it rightfully belongs. He offers no facts, piously judges others, and tries to make us feel badly about ourselves as a nation. Let’s learn from his mistakes.

1. Conclusions should be based upon facts, not conjecture.

2. Judgment belongs to Our Creator and when exercised by humankind separates and alienates us from ourselves and one another.

3. Giving others confidence and hope, not criticism and despair, is the answer to both personal and collective growth.

Mr. Krauthammer’s column allows for posting comments. Mr. Krugman’s does not. Deliberately so. He noted that he was not permitting comments “for obvious reasons.” What is obvious to me may be different from what he intended. I post here the email I sent him following a read of his column:

“If you are going to make the kind of judgments and bold statements made in the NY Times Opinion piece ‘The Years of Shame,’ have the courage to allow those who see the world differently from you the courtesy of access to reply.  Free speech, I presume, is one of the founding principles upon which we can agree. What follows that principle in a free society is the battlefield of ideas.

The only thing that is ‘obvious’ about why you would have precluded responses to the piece is your need to strike while insulating yourself from the counter-punch. This was not a courageous act. Being able to take the heat, not just give it, is the sign of a confident individual committed to, above all, the truth.”


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