Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Being Anti-Intellectual

Can someone please tell me why our politics have increasingly become anti-intellectual? But politics in its purest form is the science of governing. The most absurd thing about anti-intellectualism in politics is that our framers were great intellectuals.

Being baffled by this, I wondered if I indeed understood the meaning of intelligence. Dictionary.com defines intelligence as "the capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity; aptitude in grasping truths, relationships, facts, meanings, etc."

Now, why wouldn't we want an intelligent president and vice-president?

Being Prepared to Lead VI

Here is Fareed Zakaria on Sarah Palin and John McCain in a Newsweek article, Monday September 27, 2008:

"Can we now admit the obvious? Sarah Palin is utterly unqualified to be vice president. She is a feisty, charismatic politician who has done some good things in Alaska. But she has never spent a day thinking about any important national or international issue, and this is a hell of a time to start...

In these times for John McCain to have chosen this person to be his running mate is fundamentally irresponsible. McCain says that he always puts country first. In this important case, it is simply not true."

It is clear that both McCain and Palin are simply not prepared to lead.

Being Disrespectful

Didi Lima, co-chair of McCain's Nevada Hispanic Leadership Team, unleashed words that seemed right out of a racist playbook in describing the African American community as "dependent on the government."

Ms. Lima explains why Hispanic Americans should vote for McCain to prevent them from becoming like African Americans who "all" rely on the government for their livelihood. Here are Ms. Lima's words:

"We don't want (Hispanics) to become the new African-American community," Lima said. "And that's what the Democratic Party is going to do to them: create more programs and give them handouts, food stamps and checks for this and checks for that. We don't want that."

"I'm very much afraid that the Democratic Party is going to do the same thing that they did with the African-American culture and make them all dependent on the government and we don't want that."


Firstly, Ms. Lima disrespects the African American community by painting us monolithically as welfare recipients. We know this is not true, as within our churches we have PhDs, successful executives and entrepreneurs as well as single moms who are struggling and receive government assistance. Church members look after these too.

Secondly, she does not understand the difference between a people who come over the border by choice, looking for a better life, and others who were brought here by force and enslaved for nearly 3,000 years. While this is indeed true, I am wholly given to the importance of self-respect, self-reliance and community support shown through the leadership of the likes of W.E.B. Dubois and George Washington Carver to improve one's standing irregardless of one's past.

Finally, divisions or differences among minorities or any group of people should not be engendered or exploited, based on ill-conceived perceptions of others, for political purposes or any other purpose. There are more things that bring us together than separate us, even when considering our various paths to America.

In describing "all" African Americans the derision is obvious. The reality is that like every ethnic group it is difficult to express each monolitically. But since we're speaking here of all, let me say that all of my African American friends are successful executives, professors, doctors, ordained ministers, judges, and entrepreneurs; most have advanced degrees. I am also acutely aware that this "all" does not represent all of African Americans. There is yet much work to do.

While reflecting on Ms. Lima's words, I wonder if minorities, including African Americans, can themselves be racists. I wonder what gave her the liberty to express such views publicly. Whether they were meant to be racist or not, her words are definitely disrespectful. While I understand that people are individuals and as such are given to independent thoughts and actions. But I also wonder if disrespect is tolerable in the McCain campaign. Such disrespect was obvious to viewers watching the first presidential debate.

Being Persistent II

Mother to Son

Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor --
Bare.
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now --
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

Langston Hughes

Being a Giver

In difficult times (personally, professionally or financially) practice giving when the natural inclination may be to hold back. But give anyway.

Give that smile. Give a donation to charity. Give of your time. Give to a co-worker. Give a word of appreciation. Give beyond what is asked of you at the office. Give an encouraging word. Just give!

“Give and it shall be given back to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will given unto you." (Luke 6:38)

"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if do not lose heart." (Galatians 6:9)

"Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share." (I Timothy 6:18)

To whom can you give today? Maybe the gas station attendant? The waitress? The sales clerk? Your co-worker? Some one who can't make their mortgage this month? A single mother? Young Mormon elders who just knocked on my door? (Nice young men they were!) The homeless man and woman? The street musician?

Whatever you do for whomever you do it, just give!

Being Over the Rainbow in a Wonderful World

Today the wife of a bishop who lives abroad sent me an inspirational quote he wrote that read: "Only he who can see the invisible can expect the impossible." Seeing beyond your current possibilities is essential to achieving your dreams.



Yes, it's really possible to be presently over the rainbow while in this wonderful world of ours. These are waking dreams of possibilities. Believe! All things are possible if you believe. You can do it! Yes, you can!

(Somewhere Over the Rainbow/A Wonderful World sung by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. What beauty, eh?)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Being Prepared to Lead V

At the very minute you began to feel somewhat sympathy for Sarah Palin she hardens you with her arrogance and sheer stupidity. (What other word is there?) Have you ever seen such ignorance? The lows get lower. When asked by Katie Couric in the second interview if she is ready to serve, with Papa McCain by her side, she jumped on Couric's question as if she was taught to do so, perhaps in preparation for Thursday's debate, confidently exclaiming with a touch of self-doubt, "Not only am I ready, but willing and able to serve if I'm so blessed by the American people to serve as vice president..." This is ludicrous, America!

McCain and Palin both said whined almost simultaneously that the media was engaged in a "gotch" scheme when a student, not the media, asked Palin a legitimate foreign policy question. In an effort to explain her comments to the student, that was in opposition to McCain, both she and McCain blamed her own inadequacies and failures on the media. This is shameful, America. The media did not ask the question; a voter did. This is getting painfully embarrassing.



Palin should bow out as Kathleen Parker suggested for the good of the country. Step down, Palin. Surely you know you are not qualified to be president. You are not a part of a gotcha scheme. You are simply unprepared to serve as president of the United States. For the good of all Americans, and the pride of women everywhere, please step down, Sarah Palin! I could not even laugh as I did with the first SNL skit, as many of Tina Fey's words were, in fact, your very own. The very thought of you being president is scary and painful. Please step down. You are most certainly not prepared to lead.

Being a House Republican

Voting against this bailout bill will not ensure that you will not be voted out come November. After all, it was the policy of this administration of which you were a part over these past seven years that emboldened President Bush's policies (He is a Republican, by the way.) Have you also forgotten that you voted for the lax of deregulation policies that have brought us to this crisis today? Now, it is time for you to consider the real present and future problems of your constituencies. Instead, you voted "nay" for fear of losing your job. What about the jobs of million of Americans? You would become jobless if I had a vote in your district.

Being For or Against the Bailout

Initially, I thought the bailout was absolutely necessary. (I had not known at the time the amount requested or that the document presented to Congress consisted of merely three pages and gave absolute power to Secretary Paulson.) I have not changed my mind. While there is oversight in this bill to include both Republicans and Democrats, I do wonder of the necessity of the measures taken to ensure that this kind of thing never happens again. (I cringe as I write this, remembering the SNL scandal. In comparison this scandal appears to have been the tremor before the big one. Was there reform after the SNL scandal?) I also wonder if Wall Street malfeasance got us here, coupled with that of many Americans who did not fulfill their obligations and may not even know to this very day who holds their mortgage. Is there something in this bailout bill that reforms regulation policies and prosecutes those on Wall Street who may have committed malfeasance and bar them from every doing business in securities again?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Being a Maverick or Mad Man?

Watch the clip below and ask yourself if the response is one of a maverick or a mad man. The seething disdainful nature of Senator McCain's words and tone is alarming.



Maverick or mad man? The question is not meant to be disrespectful to a venerable vet. But it is meant for us to clearly see our choice in deciding on a Commander in Chief.

Being Prepared to Lead IV

Earlier here I wrote words that indicated that Senator swears as he listens to Sentor Obama speak about his reluctance to meet with the prime minister of Spain, a NATO ally. It's possible that he may not have sworn. I leave it up to you to decide.



Whether Senator McCain swore here or not may not be as relevant as the many voices of his fellow senators and video clips which show him being clearly out of control. This is reason to question his preparedness to negotiate sensitive matters and give us concerns that he would dangerous as Commander in Chief.

Personally, I have travelled abroad frequently and I would like to see our image restored internationally. Senator McCain is not the man.

Being Paul Newman

Cool. Kind. Faithful. Loving. Entrepreneurial. Fearless. Gifted. Giving. We are blessed that Paul Newman lived such a life among us. He leaves a great legacy. May God bless Joanne Woodward. We are greatful that she shared him with us for so many years.



What kind of legacy do you hope to leave? I want others to say of me that I loved completely and gave freely.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Being a World Leader

In order to lead effectively in the world understanding those who agree and disagree is important. Understanding begins with the acknowledgement of the other. Not one time during the entire debate did Senator McCain look at Senator Obama. How can Senator McCain deal with world leaders who disagree with him he if cannot both look at Senator Obama and respond rationally?

America, we have a problem if Senator McCain is elected. The support of our allies and how we deal with foes effectively will be largely determined on how we use force, whenever necessary, and diplomacy preferably. My concern is that if Senator McCain stubbornly stands his ground and avoids foes, we will be in four wars simultaneously: Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and Russia.

Being Prepared to Lead III

Kathleen Parker
Washington Post
Palin Problem: She's Out of Her League
September 26, 2008


If at one time women were considered heretical for swimming upstream against feminist orthodoxy, they now face condemnation for swimming downstream — away from Sarah Palin.

To express reservations about her qualifications to be vice president — and possibly president — is to risk being labeled anti-woman.

Or, as I am guilty of charging her early critics, supporting only a certain kind of woman.

Some of the passionately feminist critics of Palin who attacked her personally deserved some of the backlash they received. But circumstances have changed since Palin was introduced as just a hockey mom with lipstick — what a difference a financial crisis makes — and a more complicated picture has emerged.




As we’ve seen and heard more from John McCain’s running mate, it is increasingly clear that Palin is a problem. Quick study or not, she doesn’t know enough about economics and foreign policy to make Americans comfortable with a President Palin should conditions warrant her promotion.

Yes, she recently met and turned several heads of state as the United Nations General Assembly convened in New York. She was gracious, charming and disarming. Men swooned. Pakistan’s president wanted to hug her. (Perhaps Osama bin Laden is dying to meet her?)

And, yes, she has common sense, something we value. And she’s had executive experience as a mayor and a governor, though of relatively small constituencies (about 6,000 and 680,000, respectively).

Finally, Palin’s narrative is fun, inspiring and all-American in that frontier way we seem to admire. When Palin first emerged as John McCain’s running mate, I confess I was delighted. She was the antithesis and nemesis of the hirsute, Birkenstock-wearing sisterhood — a refreshing feminist of a different order who personified the modern successful working mother.

Palin didn’t make a mess cracking the glass ceiling. She simply glided through it.

It was fun while it lasted.

Palin’s recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity, and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League.

No one hates saying that more than I do. Like so many women, I’ve been pulling for Palin, wishing her the best, hoping she will perform brilliantly. I’ve also noticed that I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful. Unfortunately, it often does. My cringe reflex is exhausted.

Palin filibusters. She repeats words, filling space with deadwood. Cut the verbiage and there’s not much content there. Here’s but one example of many from her interview with Hannity: “Well, there is a danger in allowing some obsessive partisanship to get into the issue that we’re talking about today. And that’s something that John McCain, too, his track record, proving that he can work both sides of the aisle, he can surpass the partisanship that must be surpassed to deal with an issue like this.”

When Couric pointed to polls showing that the financial crisis had boosted Obama’s numbers, Palin blustered wordily: “I’m not looking at poll numbers. What I think Americans at the end of the day are going to be able to go back and look at track records and see who’s more apt to be talking about solutions and wishing for and hoping for solutions for some opportunity to change, and who’s actually done it?”

If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself.

If Palin were a man, we’d all be guffawing, just as we do every time Joe Biden tickles the back of his throat with his toes. But because she’s a woman — and the first ever on a Republican presidential ticket — we are reluctant to say what is painfully true.

What to do?

McCain can’t repudiate his choice for running mate. He not only risks the wrath of the GOP’s unforgiving base, but he invites others to second-guess his executive decision-making ability. Barack Obama faces the same problem with Biden.

Only Palin can save McCain, her party, and the country she loves. She can bow out for personal reasons, perhaps because she wants to spend more time with her newborn. No one would criticize a mother who puts her family first.

Do it for your country.


Now that we know Sarah Palin is not prepared to lead, what does this say about John McCain? He too does not seem prepared to lead.

Being Reckless

John McCain's antics and actions over these past weeks, beginning with the VP selection of Sarah Palin, can only be seen as reckless. Now, do we really want a reckless person in the White House who sees himself as a "risk taker?" Really, what's the difference if the outcome of being either reckless or risky is devastating for the country? John McCain seems like a reckless "risk taker" we should not elect.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Being Physically Prepared to Lead II

At Duckpond wmmbb has written a wonderful thoughtful provactive piece that I highly recommend. Included there is a letter that I have added here by Dr. Michael D. Fratkin.

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

John McCain is a 72 year old man with recurrent melanoma, hyperlipidemia, degenerative joint disease, and recurrent difficulty with certain efforts at recall. These are the limited facts the American people have had access to. Over 1000 pages of medical records were shown to selected journalists for 3 hours with less than 48 hours of notice. The only medically trained journalist was Sanjay Gupta, MD from CNN. This is the extent to which the American people have been informed.

While I am certainly sensitive to the confidential nature of medical records given the anxiety expressed by many of my patients regarding the risk of lost coverage or lost jobs in this current health economic climate, there are certain exceptions for disclosure regarding public safety. As John McCain knows, a pilot’s records are comprehensively available for review by a certifying agency (the FAA, I believe) to insure the fitness of the pilot and the safety of passengers and the public at-large. In the election of the President of the United States of America, that certifying body is the American electorate.

A recurrence of metastatic malignant melanoma would essentially destroy John McCain’s capacity as the Chief Executive and the American people have yet to receive a full accounting of the facts regarding his actuarial risk. If he has had regional metastasis, his risk could be 30% or greater for distant metastasis to the brain, bone, and lung. As you all know, melanoma is one of the most insidious, pernicious, and aggressive malignancies our patients must deal with and that we attempt somewhat pathetically to control with interferon, interleukins, and dismally active and terribly toxic chemotherapeutic regimens. In addition, we lack the simple data to sensibly evaluate his cardiovascular risk as we would any septuagenerian in our exam rooms.

John McCain should be held accountable by the American people and its agents, the free press, to release without restriction the entirety of his medical records. Any hesitation to do so would clearly imply that there are significant medical concerns about his ability to fulfill the duties of the President.

Sincerely,

Michael D. Fratkin, MD
Internal Medicine
Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Eureka, California

Being in a Chess Game

This is not a chess game. It is not about who can make the next move that will get the other in checkmate. What appears to be bold should appear to every American as purely political. In such a situation stiring the waters and bringing chaos is not a way to get anything done. This seems to be Senator McCain's contribution to the deal in Washington. President Bush, Secretary Paulson, Chairman Bernake, the Democrats, and the Republicans all seems to have been coming to an agreement. In steps Senator McCain and things seems to have dissolved. The mere presence of Senator McCain may have even caused Senator Boehener and others to rehash some old things and present "bold" new ones. Now, is not the time to go against his party for purely political reasons. This is not a chess game and the American people are not pawns.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Being Wanda Sykes

This is quintessential slightly irreverant in your face Wanda Sykes.

Being Free

"Free Sarah Palin" NOW!

Being Honest II

This subject of honesty seems to doggedly follow Senator McCain. Today the New York Times reports that Rick Davis, McCain's campaign manager, has been taking payments from Freddie Mac up until last month.

McCain remarked on Sunday night that it has been a few years since Davis has had any involvement with Freddie Mac. No wonder McCain wants to go to Washington. He has a lot to answer to beginning with questions of honesty.

Here are other very questionable dishonest statements. I have my opinions, but what are yours?

Being Honest

How is it that one who admittedly knows little about the economy wants to suspend his campaign and go to Washington to help fix the economic crisis? C'mon, Senator McCain, must everything be about politics as your VP selection? Is this the man who said that just nine days ago that "the fundamental of the economy is strong?" Does Washington really need two presidential candidates who have been on the campaign trail for the last two years adding more drama to the already dramatic situation? NO! Absolutely not!

John McCain needs to face the music on the campaign and answer the questions by the people. He also needs to go forward with the debate. We, the People, need to hear from him. We have a sitting president. Whether you agree with President Bush's policies or not, he IS the president. There is no doubt that McCain needs a respite considering the many debacles he has made over the last nine days. He has been flailing around in the wind. The real question seems to be one of honesty. Really, what can McCain do in Washington at the moment besides bidding time?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Being Honorable

In this housing market slump, I have been able to hire more than a few general contractors and independent contractors (plumbers, electricians, builders, painters, plasters, landscapers, etc.) who have been out of work. It has been a pleasure to find hardworking guys looking to earn their keep and provide for their families. I must admit to giving those most in need work who are dedicated and skilled.

Recently, a young man came to my attention as he worked under the general contractor that I hired. The general contractor went away for the weekend without paying his crew. I overhead this young man telling the supervisor that he needed to be paid because he had five children to feed and that he could not even make it home on a near empty gas tank. The supervisor responded saying that he would give him a few dollars for gas, but nothing more. I was not happy with this response.

Later on, in front of both the supervisor and the worker, I asked if all was well and if there was something I could do. The supervisor jumped in saying that he had it all under control. Under control? Here was a young man who needed to feed his family and was offered a few dollars for gas, leaving nothing to buy food for his family. "Everything is under control," he insisted. I looked over at the worker who tried to hide his disappointment as the supervisor obviously tried to cover for his direct boss, the general contractor.

"I will take care of this employee's salary for the week," I replied. The supervisor added, "No, that's OK; it's fine really." "I got this one," I insisted. Later on that evening I got a call from the general contractor, informing me that he would be back in town in two days and that he would take care of his workers then. There was no reason for me to step in. He also informed me that the reason this guy doesn't have any food is because he hadn't been putting him to work as he was displeased with the worker's last job. He had not finished the job. The general contractor said this with a slight heir of arrogance, a slight superiority. I didn't like this.

"Let me handle my business," he said. "I know these guys." He said this as as if the workers had to be pressured and salaries withheld in order to get the most out of them. What kind of business was this general contractor running? My question to him was simple: Had this worker put in time this past week? (Of course he had and had done quite well.) So, pay him! I noticed him right away as he is about 5" 4' with a withered hand. But he worked as if he was 6" tall, grabbing pales to stand on and carrying bags of plaster as if he had two hands. He was also skillful with a miter and rasp. The first day we met he went around with the supervisor and I taking notes. I liked this. This didn't seem like someone who wouldn't finish a job.

The general contractor had no idea that I had been watching this particular worker and I liked him from the start. Beside having a few skills, he has a good attitude and work ethic. Tonight, I dropped by the site at 10:30pm and he and his wife were working together to have the house ready for the new tenants. When I spoke with the general contractor he wanted to "handle" his worker himself. I guess he will have less workers to handle from now on. I will release this general contractor, hire another, and allow this worker to work under the new guy I bring in. If I can, I'd like to help him help himself, beginning with the kind of respect he deserves for his labor.

While I regard the chain of command, I honor people more.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Being Physically Prepared to Lead

Joy Behar informed us on Larry King Live that John McCain has 17 cars, but what she really wanted to know if he could drive any of them at night. This brings us to a very poignant point: John McCain's health and age. If President Clinton's hair grew gray after his first term, if President George W. Bush's brow displayed a few more lines in two years, and if Senator Obama matured so much from that very youthful face during the 2004 Democratic convention, pray tell what will McCain be like after a few weeks in the office of the president, being the oldest president ever elected and having had serious bouts with melanoma? Enter: Sarah Palin. God, help us.

Being Among Heads of State

Sarah Palin will soon meet with Heads of State at the United Nations and I must admit to being utterly embarrassed. I must admit to feeling terribly awful. What will they think of such a base-less voice with no authority whose foreign policy simply includes seeing Russia from Alaska? Will they assume that we Americans are all so incredibly shallow, so incredibly stupid to go along with such a shenanigan, such a farce? Will they take advantage of such naivete? How then would we fair? Palin could not possibly negotiate global treaties in this very tenuous time. The Heads of State couldn't possibly look at this particular woman as an equal. What will they then see? God, help us.

Being a Leopard

John McCain is a leopard.

Senator McCain, however, once again, just doesn't get it. Will someone please explain to Senator McCain that a leopard can't change its spots! It is absolutely shameful that John McCain is now asking for more regulation after his 26 year record in the Senate voting in favor of deregulation.

This populist note from Senator McCain smacks of shameful politics; it smacks of dishonesty. Politics is one thing, but policy another. Please don't confuse the two. If Senator McCain is elected as President, you can "rest" assure that the deregulation policies of the past years will not change.

John McCain is a leopard.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Being Truthful

Where are we headed? The question seems not whether direction can be defined, but how we come to move this way or that. This too may be insignificant if we are forever guided by unfeigned reality, a collection of moments of the here and now. Truth exists even when direction is unknown.

Being John Lund

While listening to John Lund yesterday I was appalled at the statement he made: "This is a political crisis," he said, "not an economic crisis." This from a journalist of the Wall Street Journal? How could anyone in such a time make such a statement considering the gravity of this very real financial situation?

As a journalist, Mr. Lund appears to be misinformed about what is actually occurring in the country that he writes about. (Among conspiracy theorists it may be believed that this conservative journalist may have inside information that the general public does not have which include a conspiracy of big business and government with the people as willing misinformed participants. Farfetched? Probably.) We are all concerned about this very real economic crisis with financial institutions toppling one after another like a deck of cards. Can you say Bear Sterns, Indy Mac, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Washington Mutual, AIG?

We are all concerned about the HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS that will be used to bailout financial institutions, yet Mr. Lund tells us that this crisis is political and not financial. We are all concerned about what appears by many to be a socialist move of government to take over free markets, yet Mr. Lund tells us that this crisis is political and not financial. We are all concerned about our decreasing 401ks, yet Mr. Lund tells us that this crisis is political and not financial.

Can somebody please tell me what this journalist is smoking and pass the pipe? No, not really.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Being a Mom for Obama

As I listened to Barack Obama speak about his grandmother, mother, and wife who have struggled with the unjust realities of being a woman, working, raising and providing for their children, I thought of my mom. As I listened to the thousands of mothers spontaneously applaud his honor for them and his core decency and righteous indignation, I thought of my mom. As I listened to Obama speak about the kind of change he wants to bring that would help mother across this nation, I thought of my mom.

You see, my mom raised 12 children (7 boys and 5 girls) alone with determination, aplomb, ease, skill, ethics, love, kindness, and great discipline. She undoubtedly struggled, though we never saw it. She insisted on high ethical morals regardless as to what others were doing. (We are all licensed ministers, chaplains, and missionaries, sans dogma.) She insisted on education and our knowledge of global affairs. She stressed good grades, buying encyclopedias and books when finances were so minimal. We are all professionals and entrepreneurs, following in our culture's rich heritage of service in the church and the community.

My mother passed two years ago. We are all sorry that she is not here to witness this incredible time in our country's great history. What is most certain is that we all love and honor our mom, and know that if she were here this lifelong Democratic supporter would be a Mom for Obama, even though her children are both Democrats and Republicans.

May God bless moms everywhere and may God bless America.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Being in the Bubble

In 2005 I came to know a very savvy real estate broker who was among the youngest female brokers in the State of Michigan. Starting out with very little, she worked really hard, working two jobs for years, selling houses, buying houses, and renting them out. (She told me a story that when she was 18 she bought her first house with cash she made as a waitress and real estate agent. Keeping all her cash suspended in loose bundles above her drop ceiling, lying on her bed she would hit her panels from time to time and it would rain dollars. She loved the feeling.) When I met her she owned 30 houses free and clear in various neighborhoods, 31 including her spread off Lake Michigan. At the time we met she was ready to retire.

"Do you want this business," she asked? "You're a smart girl." She could not dream of selling it to just anyone, whether the sell would be profitable or not. It had to be sold on her terms in ways that she demanded; money was most certainly not the only term. I imagine also that not too many people would hang around long enough to meet her demands and hang around you had to do. She's a rather complicated personality who never had anyone work for her for more than one year. Real estate agents rarely kept their license with her brokerage company. Everything had to be done her way. When she got angry her red hair seemed more fiery and her bluish green eyes were more piercing.) When I met her real estate agents would come and go as a revolving door. She didn't seem to care. After 35 years in the business, she had developed a loyal client based and had her community locked up.

She convinced me to get my real estate license which wasn't terribly difficult to do and I assumed it wouldn't take too much of my time. I'm a sucker for learning and I'm always interested in hands on investment opportunities. Before getting my license I would pop in to visit her often. She was quick and observant; she was also somewhat of a barracuda with great aplomb and ease. She did not have a business degree, nor had she graduated from college, but she knew how to run her business. She kept overhead low, charged application fees for her mainly mid to low income clients, and lavished praise and promised assistance on anyone who came through her doors, including the occassional person who had run out of gas on the nearby Interstate. She had been in a premier spot in a suburb of Detroit for 35 years so there were many walk-ins.

During this time there were many more walk-ins than normal as she advertised, namely by word of mouth, that she could get for her loyal clients, those who live within the city she had locked up, "no doc" mortgages. What are no dock mortgages, "I asked?" "No doc means no doc," she quipped. "You don't have to prove anything," I continued?" This seemed wild. "Do you mean to tell me anyone who walks through that door can get a loan without proving they can afford it?" "Yep!" "It's a special program that HUD offers to first-time home buyers to get them into houses." Over the months I witnessed scores of people walk through her door with utility bills, a modest down payment, and bogus claims of working for this or that employer. Right! My new mentor was always on the phone with her select mortgage reps who loved the sound of her commanding yet pleasing voice, knowing she would make them plenty loot on any given day. They seemed to worship her.

If you're thinking she did shady deal, she didn't. She did everything by the books. But the crazy thing to me was what the book allowed! To this neophyte with a interest in real estate, the book seemed whacked! Yes, it would be great for first-time buyers to buy a home, but without documentation that they could afford it, even the homes in her neighborhood that were going between $60k to $80k. As they filed in one after another I was appalled. It was obvious that these people could not even pay for a $10k home, and here they were getting mortgages way beyond what they could afford. But at the time everyone seemed happy. First-time homeowners were in their homes, mortgage companies were paid well, banks securitized mortgages, and she was racking in the dough.

But it seemed very much like a huge bubble to this real estate neophyte. Everybody was so happy, yet there was a sadness in my gut. I kept thinking that somebody's gonna have to pay for this. But then again maybe I was missing something. It just seemed crazy that banks and mortgage companies would allow such a thing. Surely, they knew better than me. Maybe they knew something that this upstart real estate agent did not know. What could it be? I didn't know but I got my license, worked in her office part-time for one month, and moved my license elsewhere thereafter. I couldn't do it. It felt incredibly wrong, incredibly sinister. But who would the bust affect? Surely it was coming.

The spot where the real estate office had been for 35 years is now a jewelry store. The broker is no longer in real estate, having sold the premier location on a land contract. She is not partially retired and sells real estate in the upscale lakeside community in which she lives. But I'm sure that many of the houses she sold during the bubble is now in foreclosure and the banks and mortgage companies who secured these loans are now being bailed out by the Feds. But who is responsible for this mess? All of those involved were implicit or complicit in our current financial crisis. There is enough blame to go around. My concern, having been in the midst of the bubble and now witnessing the bust, is that it must not happen again. Can those who devised such loans be charged with criminal misconduct? This does not seem likely, but maybe it should be.

Being Chuck Hagel

Below are the words of Republican Senator Chuck Hagel who speaks the truth about the Sarah Palin selection. Finally, here is a Republican senator who loves his country and honors our system over politics.

The excerpt comes from the Ohama-World Herald:

"She doesn't have any foreign policy credentials," Hagel said Wednesday in an interview. "You get a passport for the first time in your life last year? I mean, I don't know what you can say. You can't say anything."

Palin was elected governor of Alaska in 2006 and before that was the mayor of a small town.

Democrats have raised questions about Palin since Sen. John McCain picked her as his vice presidential running mate. Most national Republican officeholders have rallied to Palin's candidacy.

Palin has cited the proximity of Alaska to Russia as evidence of her international experience.

Hagel scoffed at that notion.

"I think they ought to be just honest about it and stop the nonsense about, 'I look out my window and I see Russia and so therefore I know something about Russia,'" he said. "That kind of thing is insulting to the American people."

Now here is a senator who actually puts Country First! Thank you, Senator Hagal. Your honesty and love of country is indeed honorable.

What does this say about our venerable POW? For one, his ambition for the presidency seems to have clouded his judgment. In choosing such a VP candidate, Senator McCain has not put country first!

Being in the Bust

We are all, national and international citizens alike, in this bust. Now, we have to figure out ways of thriving therein and measures of preventing such a disaster ever again. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Being Hopeful or Without Hope

Yes, We Can!



John He Is...



Americans, we can make a difference! Yes, We Can!

Being a Facilitator

Facilitating is like the best live performances. Although a particular piece may have been done many times, as the curricula of training manuals, it’s the audience that make the difference as the participants in a seminar: how they respond, the look on their faces, their body language, the vibe in the room etc. There are various ways of communicating and collaborating, both between the audience and the orchestra or band, and the facilitator and participants.

Early on this year I was invited by a friend to attend a weekend workshop well known for its resort and training. She had been telling me about the resort for some time and she had been a facilitator there some years back. In fact, the founder is a dear friend and personal coach of hers. I agreed.

After a few minutes into the session, being a trainer myself and curricula designer, I knew that I would be struggling through the weekend. I didn’t think I needed the kind of boot camp motivation being offered. All the facilitators were dressed in Army fatigues and spoke in high decimals…at a resort!

All I could think of was “Judith, what have you gotten yourself into?” I hope my participants aren’t thinking that when I’m facilitating, but I have definitely gotten that same look that I felt. Many times training seminars are mandatory and participants come to us kicking and screaming. What they may not be aware of, however, is what we get from the,.

Knowing the attitude of some participants, I tried desperately to stay positive, but my body language must have shown a slight or not so slight annoyance. The facilitator began singly me out immediately, trying to engage me. She called on me three times in the first 15 minutes and asked if I would come to the front to fill in a vacant seat. OK.

The first time she called on me I smiled and answered. The second time I smiled and answered. The third time I asked if someone else among the 50 participants would like to participate. Her response, “no, I’d like for you to answer.” I did not smile, nor did I answer. I politely gathered my things and left. I was definitely in the wrong workshop.

Now, I am not sure who she’s used to motivating but as a facilitator, I would never ever single out one person among a group and insist upon answers fifteen minutes into the session. It might have also had something to do with the boot camp theme. But I wasn’t feeling it and didn’t wish to be singled out. Though, she didn't get it.

I got the impression right away that this lead facilitator thought she knew me. But she did not. She did not know that I was a Fortune 500 facilitator, and curricula designer. She did not know that I had travelled all the way from Michigan to be there. She did not know that I was there as a guest of the founders' friend. She did not get the right vibe from me other than I was slightly annoyed. I take seemingly difficult participants as a gentle challenge to engage them. It’s like courting them. This facilitator lacked finesse. But, hey, maybe that was the boot camp theme again.

Theme or no theme I don’t think it’s a good idea for facilitators to assume they know participants, especially within the first fifteen minutes into the session. You could be judging improperly and miss the connection and process of growth for both the facilitator and participant.

The weekend turned out to be not so bad, but I had to make the adjustments, as it seemed that the lead facilitator was on one track with no nuances or variances to various participants. When I’m facilitating I try to listen to what participants are saying and what they’re not and wait a while before I responding directly to them. I want not only my words to be right but my inflections as well. I learned this from substituting in a different school everyday and going from elementary school to high school for more than a few years while attending graduate school.

When facilitating, wait, watch, listen and then respond.

Being True

My brother, who is a fine minister, said something awesome in a sermon last year that I have not forgotten. He said, "all scriptures are truly spoken, but not necessarily true." These words (seemingly irreverent or semantic) I consider almost daily in the way I look at others and in the way I understand knowledge and see truth.

This is not a matter of semantics, but rather one that distinguishes how we come to know what we know. The human element always imposes itself on truth, though never fundamentally changing it. Thus, for example, words spoken of Christ may be truly spoken of him by those who were with him or the many that came after him, but not necessarily true. It is the difference between the life revealed and knowledge concealed.

We do not always know what we should know at any given time. Truth is often veiled. The assertion that "all scriptures are truly spoke, but not necessarily true" shows us the detriment of judging others and encourages us to look introspectively on the life of others (for by this judgment we will be judged) and not merely the interpretation of that life by others. "All scriptures are truly spoken, but not necessarily true."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Being Conscious

On another blog, Duckpond, there is a discussion which includes the consciousness of animals. One blogger writes clearly with human consciousness, but as a dog. Below is my response to Oorvi, the dog, more or less:

Oorvi - Thanks for your words. Lovely. I wonder, however, with your consciousness does it enable you to not only respond instinctively but to create actually? For example, what contributions have you made to the universe beside your awesome role as compassionate friend and protector? These may be enough indeed.

But as far as one with consciousness, one who thinks and responds, what have your thinking lead to that would actually (as in actions) make a difference in the world, besides as I’ve said your historical role as compassionate friend and protector? If you’re wondering what have humans done for dogs, aside from the love we show in our care of you, and I pray not the abuse, though I’m fully aware of this, I’m not sure. Maybe or love and care are indeed enough too.

Watched a lovely movie yesterday, Running Free, about a horse named Lucky who spoke with human consciousness. Funny thing…the other horses if I’m remembering correctly never spoke, like the parents in the Charlie Brown movies. Have you noticed that only the kids speak in these movies? Parents never speak.

As a child I understood the parents’ language but only through the response of Charlie Brown. The parents said only “Wa wa Wa Wa wa Wa” with greater or lesser veracity. But they never spoke with human words. But lucky, being a horse, spoke verbal language humans understand. The reality, however, is Lucky was more like the parents of Charlie Brown, and not Charlie Brown himself, whose response or understanding is based on our actions with greater or lesser veracity. Lucky’s speech, in essence, betrayed conscious reality, even though I was thoroughly engaged in the movie, totally loving Lucky.

But because we are not horses (dogs, etc.) their voices can only be ours. (We don't even know what's in the minds of our fellow humans, let alone horses and dogs.) We can, however, learn from them and learn their language, but then it would be among the pack of wolves in the mountains that we would undoubtedly have to observe from afar. We breed and train dogs in order for them to live peaceably among us as friends, otherwise there would be a distancing for sure. What do you think? I hope I have said something worth considering.


Consciousness in and of itself means absolutely nothing unless it is translatable and used for the betterment of others, humans and animals alike. In this regard, all the thinking in the world will not change anything until we act with conscious decisions to make a difference whether at home or at work.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Being Non-Partisan

Comedy can certainly play an all-important role of lightening things up, if only momentarily. I, for one, laughed out loud watching this sketch. Thanks SNL!


Being Responsible

Both personal and corporate responsibility is obligatory if we are to have a sound economy. But I must admit to getting really nauseated with the fallacy that the little guy, who gets assistance through government agencies be it grants for college or milk for a baby, is the problem when, in fact, billion dollar corporate bailouts and war contracts in the billions have pushed us to the breaking point. At least that's the way it feels!

Would some brilliant economic expert (slim chance?) please explain it to me like I'm a two year old what's going on? No Walk Street or corporate talk please; make it plain as my tax dollars and my nieces and nephews' children's children's' tax dollars are/will be used to secure failing financial institutions if we don't get a handle on this thing right now. Balancing budgets, eliminating financial engineering, working harder, being ethical, cutting waste, and spending less all seem pretty simple to me. But I've gotta be missing something.

Yes, I'm TOTALLY for personal and corporate responsibility. But it's the hypocrisy that kills me.

Being in Precarious Financial Times

Have we ever seen such a collapse of our financial institutions during any time in our history since the Depression? Wall Street's got some serious problems. And so do we.

Bear Stearns
Fannie Mae
Freddie Mac
Merrill Lynch
Lehman Brothers

Wall Street seems to be in a serious downspin. What effect will these collapses have on the American people? And how can we model personal fiscal responsibility when such corporate institutions are collapsing rapidly?

Does one politicial party have more responsibility than the other? Are the deregulation laws set under the Regan administration to blame for this major crisis?

Talk to me. This is really beginning to look pretty scary.

Being a Shock Jock

Tom Peters wrote in a recent blog about the necessity of being civil during this political elections and in business. He writes:

"Tempers flare in elections—and in business everyday. I don't object to sounding off in the privacy of a pub with two friends. I do object to such intemperate sounding off in more or less public discourse.

In politics.
At work.
Period.

(Plus: It doesn't work and makes you the idiot.)"

I am right now, at this very minute, watching Bill Moyer's Journal: "How the "shock-jock" media has impacted political discourse."

It's shocking stuff that seems to lead to harmful actions. Freedom of speech must not be curtailed, but what role should personal responsibility play?

These are a few of the shock-jocks spoken of in Bill Moyer's Journal:

Neal Boortz
Glen Beck
Sean Hannity
Rush Limbaugh
Bill O'Reilly
Michael Savage
Jim Quinn

I don't listen to the radio much and I do not often watch Fox, save their financial programs occassionally. Are there liberal shock-jocks? The words heard from the above shock-jocks were shocking, potentially dangerous, indeed!

Does free speech ever cross the line?

Being Pro-Life and Pro-War

Can someone please explain to me like I'm a two-year old how one can be both pro-life and pro-war? How does the religious right rationalize this? Death is death if abortions are seen as such. If life is precious, why do we not consider the lives of the thousands who die innocently in war?

Being pro-life and pro-war means that death is both forbidden and sanctioned with war being rationalized away and the innocents spoken of as causalities. I am sure that those women who have had abortions would rather not have done so, and I would hope that the decision to go to war is a solemn one indeed.

So, could someone please explain to me like I'm a two-year old how one can be pro-life and pro-war?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Being a Feminist

The words of Lou Dobbs on CNN last Friday evening have haunted me the whole weekend. "Palin," he said, "has turned feminism on its head." As I listened to those words and thought about them I became increasingly more incensed. In one sense Dobbs made a good point in that the VP selection seems to have tied women's tongues in that no words can be spoken in the affirmative or the negative. But the reality is that this ploy perpetrated by men is very much like the old game of misogyny, one that negates the female voice by silencing it. The turning of feminism on its head seems very much like a continuation of the same argument of women and competence, but only this time it's true and we feel like we can't say it's so. It's so! Women who have decried unfair treatment for years have become as sterile sameness in fearful alignment, not knowing how to speak about Palin's presidential incompetence without negating her gender.

Even Camille Paglia, the feminist and cultural critic of Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, seems to have lost her voice. "We may be seeing the first woman president. As a Democrat, I am reeling,” said Paglia. “That was the best political speech I have ever seen delivered by an American woman politician. Palin is as tough as nails.” C'mon Camille, say it ain't so! Do you think Palin can stare down Putin? (Being able to see Russia from Alaska will not cut it.) Did you say "the best political speech ever delivered by an American woman politician?" Can you say Hillary Clinton? Barbara Jordon? These glowing words about such a snide tepid speech from the once radical lesbian feminst, who wrote arguably one of the most read books on feminism and culture is just way absurd! I remember reading Sexual Personae in college and thinking...Wow! It was radical stuff! The theatrical is very much apart of the book and the exhaustive scholarship is inviable. It's her magnum opus of some 600 pages.

Now, this powerful thinker, feminist, and cultural critic says that Palin's speech was the "best political speech I have ever seen delivered by an American woman politician." C'mon, Camille, come clean and say it ain't so for the sake of posterity if nothing else. By your oeuvre a reader can assume that you understand theatrics and performance. Surely this was not a great performance, not to mention it was not a great speech either. We respected your scholarship whether we agreed with everything written or not. Your once rich and complex voice has become thin and simplistic. It's beginning to feel like a great voice of the past, that had resisted misogyny on all levels, has been bamboozled by male politicians parading a female vice-presidential candidate around. Lou Dobbs was right on. But it is not feminists who have turned feminism on its head, but the same machine that has sought to silence its voice with a single selection of an ill-suited politician who could be a heartbeat away from the presidency.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Being Prepared to Lead II

My beautiful sister of eight children, with the youngest born with birth defects, is a proud Republican soccer mom who is deeply religious. She is one of the strongest moms I know and probably fits well in that pit bull lipstick reference. She is beautiful and tough.

In fact, in some regards, my sister reminds me of Sarah Palin: her faith, her ease, her beauty, her charm, her politics, her service, her tenacity, her motherliness, and her draw. My sister is a soccer mom; Palin is a hockey mom. But do these things in and of themselves mean that either is prepared to lead the Free World? I don't think so.

Being in Remembrance

May God bless and comfort those who have lost loved ones on this day. May God bless America especially today.

Being a Solider Without the Shine

It's been only a few hours since the separation of Palin from McCain on the stomp; Cindy McCain has now resumed her role as sideline spouse. Good on her. But there is not much there together. It is apparant that without the shine of the new the old becomes obivious. This is not change.

McCain seems rattled, unable to answer tough questions from the media about his purely political choice. The uncomfortable smile returns, directing our gaze away from his elusive quest for the White House evident in his eyes. He will not get this chance again.

The biggest concern is that after the shine has worn off what then will we be left with? Polices that won't make our country safe? Those that will not grow the econonmy, educate our children for fierce global competition, reduce the deficit, address global warming, increase energy iniatives, and bring our troops back home from Iraq?

We can suspect the shine will return to the side of the solider but more importantly will it fade after November? What then will we be left with?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Being Prepared to Lead

Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, Admiral Mike Mullen, the Joint Chief of Staff Chairman, said that we cannot win the war in Afghanistan without others. His statements before the Committee was a stark admission to our progress in Afghanistan. "I'm not convinced we're winning in Afghanistan. I am convinced we can," he said. Alliances are needed in order to fight the war on terrorism. Admiral Mullen continues:

"Afghanistan doesn't just need more boots on the ground," Admiral Mullen says. (This the Chairman said after the recent announcement by President Bush to re-deploy thousands of troops from Iraq to Afghanistan) "We can't kill our way to victory, and no armed force anywhere -- no matter how good -- can deliver these keys alone. It requires teamwork and cooperation."

Now imagine Palin commanding the respect in meetings with world leaders in an effort to restore allies and build new one. (She only recently got a passport.) It's simply unimaginable. Now imagine Joe Biden in such a position. (He's had a passport for years.) He's clearly capable.

Obama has chosen a responsible vice presidential candidate, showing that he is prepared to lead. McCain has made a political decision in choosing Palin as his vice presidential candidate, putting us all at risk and showing that he is not prepared to lead. Many brave men and women serve in the Armed Forces. Over 600 POW's were held in the Vietnam War. We honor their service. But all patriots are not prepared to lead.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Being a Woman of Substance III

There is no doubt that Palin is being paraded around by McCain's male campaign staff for merely political means. What pageantry! She appears as a model on the catwalk who has been all to accustomed to parading about since her days as a beauty queen to her current stomp speeches. But the question remains: Is she ready to lead if necessary?

The strategist, Hillary Rosen, made a valid point on Larry King last night. She asked if we should be attacked and the president needs to be sequestered as George Bush was during the 911 attacks, do we want Palin or Biden in that crucial position? The answer, sans political bias, is undoubtedly the latter. Palin's judgment on so many issues seems too extreme.

The outcry against Palin is not because she is a woman; it is because of her position on many issues. She seems so ill-suited for the vice presidency. It is apparent that the men running McCain's campaign do not think she is ready for the vice presidency. Why else would they forbid her to speak to the press?

How can Palin be ready to lead a country if she is not ready to Meet the Press?

Being a Maverick

"By definition, the leader of any political party is not a maverick. Mavericks are loners and more often than not are defined by lost, principled battles."

--Jan Jarboe Russell

(Please click on the link above to read the complete article in The San Antonio Express News. The life of the original maverick, Samuel Maverick, is both heartbreaking and inspiring.)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Being Incited to War

In remembering the speeches of the Republicans during their convention (Graham, Giuliani, Thompson), I was appalled at the mean-spiritedness and the seemingly grand-wizardliness of the speakers. (Was that uncivil?) The rhetoric was frightening. The Democrats during their convention, in my opinion, was by far more civil. I even wondered while listening to the passionate rhetoric of the speakers above, espousing Country First, as a diety, if we were being incited to war. I wondered the same while listening to the Republican candidates over the weekend in Michigan to the thunderous applause of the audience. What is this insistence on war if it's not to reve the country to a continued cycle of war? Is Iran next? These sort of speeches as those given by many at the Republican convention were beyond uncivil. It felt more like we were being incited to war.

Being Naomi Shihab Nye II

What is the "the fuel that feeds you?" For many it is the power of words.

For a most inspirational message on the importance of words to unite and make a difference click on the link above.

These are the words of a most beautiful friend.

Words matter.

(Click the title above for the video interview with Bill Moyers.)

Being Fearful

It doesn't take too much to figure out why the Palin/McCain ticket (in that order) is up by 4% in the recent USA Today poll. One word: FEAR. The Obama/Biden ticket was up by 7% before the weekend.

Listening to the fearmongering speeches of the Republican candidates over the weekend (prior to the release of the USA Today poll) was distressing; equally distressing is what we will believe and how our fears can be so exploited.

The Republican machine seems to have once again played the war and the "he's not one of us" card to the hilt. They seem to say: would you rather have a bitch or a black? What a choice? Forget your interests! I, MCCAIN, MORPHED IN ONE, AM YOUR INTEREST. Good political move--would this was a chess game, though.

It's apparant now why McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, said that "this election is not going to be about issues," but about personalities. (Wasn't it the personal that was so decried against earlier in making Obama a celebrity?) It seems that we will vote against our interest if we are fearful.

What a serious game politics is!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Being Right and/or Arrogant

Being right is not necessarily arrogant, but neither is presenting a cogent argument necessarily right.

Being open and humble is essential in all matters, personal or professional.

Being Joe Biden



Need anymore be said?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Being Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

What company wouldn't like to be a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac? What company wouldn't want to be a quasi-government agency with government backed securities on the stock exchange? This is sweet. But for whom? Apparently not for tax paying citizens who will bailout such companies, nor for those who do not wish to leave an ever increasing debt to their children's children's children.

The biggest question now is whether covenants are in place to repay the bailouts and whether measures are made to decrease the probability of future bailouts. (Simply getting rid of the CEO is not nearly enough.) What is the likelihood that we will see such a crisis again? Can you say S&L? Here's a thought. Should the deregulation laws of the 80's be looked at anew? Although, there is undoubtedly no going back.

Funny thing, though, with such deregulation laws Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac appear as the best posters, having seemingly government oversight as both backers of securities and the people. Hmmm?

Being on Message II

Sarah Palin is a decoy. Forget Palin. What we, the American People, are more concerned about is what John McCain will do for the economy. What we'd also like to know is who has had the greater responsiblility in getting us in this economic mess in the first place.

John McCain cannot talk about change when he has been in the Senate for nearly three decades. He hasn't brought any change yet. Why would we think that he would bring change now? From a purely strategic standpoint: Forget Palin. Attack John McCain on only one pertinent issue: the economy. Palin will then not take the oath.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Being on Message

"It's the economy, stupid!"

Being John McCain

I, like so many other Americans, Democrats and Republicans alike, am very appreciative of John McCain's service. But after hearing his speech I must admit to being quite underwhelmed. I heard very little about what he intends to do about the economy, affordabale health care, and the deficit. In fact, my heart actually goes out to him a bit. He seemed so unprepared for the moment, which makes me think that he is unprepared for the presidency.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Being Biographical

Biography alone will not cut it in this election. The American people need to know how leaders will lead. What will be done to bring change? What will be done about the economy? What will be done about affordable health care? What will be done about the deficit? What is the exit strategy in Iraq? What are your intentions for Iran? How diplomatic are you? How will you restore faith in our allies? Yes, your biographies are well enough, even compelling. But what will you do and how will you do it? This is what the American people want to know.

Being a Woman of Substance II

Thank you, Michelle Obama.



What a lady! What a First Lady!

Being Apart of the We

The Constitution begins with "We the People of the United States." Putting country first is putting people first. Our country is not some nebulous namesake without beating hearts. We are the country.

As I listened to the fear mongering speeches last night at the Republican National Convention, I tried to envision the "We" who were not present, namely community organizers who have made a difference in our country. (They don't usually wear suits and ties.)

Community organizers were mocked last night; they were made to feel insignificant for the "small" service that they do. But community organizers are a part of "We the people," those who have brought real change to America for many years. Why disparage these?

Consider the words of Margaret Mead:

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

May God forever bless community organizers. They will bring the change needed.

Being Unified

Watching the Republican National Convention last night, I was profoundly struck by the images of the same: men and women in starched suits with no particular varied rhythms of their own. Who would think that unity had a downside? Unity has a downside when you can look over a vast audience in a diverse country and see no diversity and feel little acceptance in the camera images. Where were the plumbers, auto workers, dishwashers, farmers, and construction workers? You know the ones, those who don't wear suits and ties.

In watching the crowd I tried to imagine what professions those in attendance might hold outside of the convention. Are they doctors, nurses, lawyers, accountants, CEOs, managers and small business owners? But do they ever come in contact with others who are different from themselves? If not, how does this affect their leadership? They must be quite isolated and disconnected from the American people by and large. Who are their customers? Who are their constituents?

Now, those in attendance at the Republican National Convention are undoubtedly good law abiding citizens. But I can't help wondering while looking over the sea of sameness whether they are in touch with the majority of the American people. I can't help wondering in listening to the fear mongering rhetoric of the speakers last night to galvanize the base, to the thunderous applause of the audience, if what matters most is power and privilege and not the crucial matters facing the majority of the American people this very hour.

Sameness has its place. But the best kind of unity comes through diversity.

Being Sarah Palin

Words with no power: snide, cute, sarcastic, detail-less, vision-less... Shrill barbs are not going to cut it. Sarah Palin needs some resonance in her voice and deliver on what is important to the American people. She did no such thing Wednesday night.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Being a Woman of Substance

When we think of women of substance, those who have made a difference, who do we think of? When we think of the struggles they may have overcome who might these women be? When we think of leadership qualities such as courage, resolve, intelligence, and wisdom, who comes to mind?

Think:

Helen Keller
Anita Roddick
Eleanor Roosevelt
Mother Teresa
Benazhir Bhutto
Fannie Lou Hammer
Margaret Thatcher
Oprah Winfrey
Martha Graham
Mary McLeod Bethune
Golda Mieier

Now...can you picture Governor Palin as the President of the United States, making a mark like any of these? I can't see it. Am I being too harsh? I don't think so. But with such a unilateral decision we should be harsh, regardless of gender. Remember Dan Quayle? Where is he, by the way?

The change needed is not about change for change sake. It's about a different direction for the good of the country and who is best suited to lead. It is not about a sexy decision, one that's new and exciting for the sake of change, void of wisdom. Nor is it about gender. It's about who can step in at any moment, with the confidence of the American people, and lead the Free World.

Elections are about who the American people think is suited or ill-suited to lead. But since we do not choose the vice presidential candidate, we must look at the judgement and wisdom of the presidential candidate. With the current vice presidential choice, I just can't shake the sense that we, the American people, have been disregarded and disrespected.

What about Kay Bailey Hutchison, Olympia Snowe or Elizabeth Dole? Regardless of their politics, I don't think too many people would disagree that they are formidable indeed and could step in and lead on the national and international level. But I guess these women of substance, all over 50, are not sexy enough to be the vice president. Maybe they should have run for the presidency.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Being Real

The response that Cindy McCain received at the opening of the Republican National Convention was reminiscent to those of Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, President Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and Al Gore. But what has she done? There Cindy McCain stood before a seemingly admiring crowd all decked out in a CoCo Channel-like gold dress with collar starched to the ears and strings of pearls as if she was at a Hollywood gala among not the likes of the impressive Meryl Streep or Glen Close but of the wonderfully coiffured yet fading Faye Dunaway--no disrespect intended.

Cindy McCain, by the way, spoke of Gustav relief (remember the images of Katrina?) while decked out in finery with a bit of aloofness. The image was a tad bit confusing. I guess it may be difficult to consider others when priviledged and when the image of a more youthful formidable "rival" looms in comparison. Age, however, has nothing to do with anything necessarily, except, of course, if you're in your early 70's, have had battles with cancer, and have selected a seemingly un-vetted vice-presidential candidate. Women...proudly bring America your years, your wisdom, your beauty, your good intentions. You have much to offer and the universe will respond favorably to this no matter your age.

But getting back to the thunderous seemingly adoring applause of the Republican National Convention audience. There was one major difference about Cindy McCain's appearance and the others mentioned above. The missing component was hope. There were no hopeful tearful eyes, no eagerness for change in the eyes of the attendees, as was the case upon the mere appearance of Barack, Michelle, President Clinton, Hillary or Vice-President Gore. In comparison, all of the noise, all the hoopla, in response to the coiffured dame seemed quite hollow indeed. (If you're thinking, "Well, of course not. She did not give a speech. Then why such applause? You have gotten the point exactly. We have not even heard her speak much besides to occassionally introduce her husband.) The air was stifled and staid; the claps were parched. Why?

Well, we don't even really know Cindy McCain. What has she done that would sincerely spontaneously prompt such thunderous applause to replies of "thank you, please sit down, thank you, thank you?" Yes, she may indeed be a nice lady and admired by her family and friends. There is no doubt about this. She may even have a foundation or two. But do we really know her? Probably not. Why then would she be deserving of such applause? Would someone please tell those in the audience at the Republican National Convention that the viewers will not be hood winked on even the smallest of details, but will insist on truth and reality at every turn. Perception is not necessarily reality.

Yes, as the wife of a major political candidate, Cindy McCain is deserving of respect, especially considering the possibility of her husband becoming the President of the United States. Her role as first spouse to assist her husband will be very important indeed. We will honor her role should she become the first spouse. But to go on and on with such applause, as was the case in the arena yesterday, was simply not believable. It struck me as odd and insincere. But, hey, I'm not given to high praise of just anyone anyway.

There must have been many discussions on how the Republican National Convention would be received after last week's near pitch perfect Democratic National Convention. Many of those in attendance yesterday was undoubtedly among the 38 plus million viewers who watched the convention last week. Those gathering this week are undoubtedly trying to put on the best possible face, especially with a truncated convention. This is a given. But overall we are weary of phony partisan political gestures, even the littlest ones, such as giving a 10 minute applause to one who has done little to my knowledge, save being the daughter of wealth (no inherent disrespect here) and appearing on stage adorned like a celebrity herself, well coiffured and tight.

Personally, among the two women standing, I appreciated Laura Bush's demeanor and dress and value the work she has done with education and children. (Maybe the applause was for her?) I also value what appeared to be Mrs. Bush's silent strength in handling storms relating to her husband and young daughters as they made their mistakes as first daughters. In the midst of a big political storm, Mrs. Bush een came to the assistance of Michelle Obama after she got heat for her comment about being proud to be an American for the "first" time. (I've written here about what that "first" time more than likely meant, as actually one of pride and not disrespect.) If the Republican National Convention crowd was applauding Cindy McCain for her great work we would sincerely like to know what she has done to make a difference. We'd all like to stand up and applaud too.

Whatever we do America, whatever our political beleifs, let's be real out of which will come the real change we need!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Being Annoyed II

Not much can be more annoying than stonewalling, subverting, and confusing the all-important legitimate matter of the preparedness of the Vice Presidential candidate (one who could lead the Free World) with issues of women's rights. In this case, one has nothing to do with the other. This candidate has every right to be a vice president; she simply seems unqualified for the position. Please let's not conflate the two.

The American people need to know who this woman is. If we didn't, what would that say about us? More importantingly, what does this say about Senator McCain? After all, she is chosen by one man (or one party) and not by the American people en masse. If the election is won by her Party, she will be one heartbeat away from the presidency. Should she not be vetted? Obviously, she was not.

All of the women pundits who are speaking on behalf of the competence and preparedness of this vice presidential candidate makes us all look really bad, even the qualified ones such as Kay Bailey Hutchinson and Olympia Jeanne snow -- even Meg Whitman for that matter. Yes, this VP candidate may be a good mother and very nice lady. But what does this have to do with the matter at hand? Should I be the chairman of the Federal Reserve because I have owned a few businesses?

Choosing a vice presidential candidate is not about identity politics alone. There are many women and mothers who identify with the chosen candidate, but simply do not wish to see her in this position. Listen women pundits...please take a note from Senators Kay Bailey Hutchinson and Olympia Snowe, and businesswoman Meg Whitman, and do not defend such a choice. The subterfuge is annoying and disrespectful.

Being Design-Focused II

Tom Peters writes this about design: "Design is the No.1 determinant of whether a product-service-experience stands out--or does not."

Performance also determines what stands out and what doesn't.

Think:

Madonna
Alvin Ailey
Jamie Dimon
Michael Jordon
K.D. Rowlings
Tom Peters
Cirque de Soleil
Martha Graham
Tiger Woods

Performance requires people who know how to execute under pressure and within deadlines; they know how to seize the moment.

Being Design-Focused

Design is shape, sound, psyche, sexy, and super. Think...

Frank Lloyd Wright
Apple
P Diddy
e e cummings
Zingerman's
Harley Davidson
Versace
The Container Store

Design has utility, but no specificity; it's pure creativity.