Thursday, April 30, 2009

Being Hillary Rodham Clinton II

I have been impressed with the intelligence and intensity of Hillary Clinton since her early days with Marian Wright Edelman in support of children's issues.

In spite of a hard fought campaign, Secretary Clinton is proving a great ally and supporter of the President as seen in her great responses in both her confirmation hearing and before Congress last week on the President's anti-terrorism strategy.

Our Madame Secretary is quite the brilliant woman, not to mention that she is most certainly an able politician.

Being an Extremist

If you have read anything that I have ever written here, you know that extremism on any level is not well received. Such a mindset completely cuts us off from insights and possibilities.

Extremism binds and restricts. It narrows and diminishes. It judges self-righteously and is coarse. It cultivates dishonesty in us and in our relationship with others. Extremism grows in the willing heart.

Recently, I came across a quote by Jack Nicholson that I really love. It speaks of the opposite of extremism, the antithesis of denial and dishonesty. It speaks of the benefit in accepting the ideas of others even when we thought we were, oh, so right.

I love it when I wake up & realize I have been totally wrong about something - it sets me free.
Is this not an incredibly valuable mindset to possess? As I look into the mirror I ask, "what do you see?" Extremism clouds correct thoughts and openings that would inhibit a better me.

Being Arianna Huffington VIII

Arianna Huffington has given President Obama very high marks for his first 100 days, except for his handling of the bank crisis with Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers at the helm.

Watch CBS Videos Online

Should Citi go into receivership? I think so.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Being Servant-Led

Young people entered politics over the years as a means to serve. We have gotten away from the importance of service and many have gone into the financial industry.

Money has become the raison d'etre for many, as reflected in the professions our young people have chosen to enter over these last few decades.

Hopefully, President Obama's emphasis on service will change this. We need leaders in every profession in our country that is servant-led.

Jesus Christ said, "I am among you as one who serves."

Being a Child

Looking out of the big picture window of the quaint bookstore huddled in a corner, surrounded by books, I watch the passersby looking up occasionally from my laptop, daydreaming. A mother crosses the village street grasping the hand of two young children on each side dressed in matching Spring jackets of yellow and green. Is that Spider Man leaping over tall buildings in a single bound?

Midway across the street the mother holds tighter the youngest child's hand, pulling him closer and slightly ahead of her--rushing. He yanks and pulls away from her--too tight, too tense. What's going on? Careful dear mother. Even in such situations with the potential of harm, though this is a rather sleepy intersection, he doesn't quite understand. He merely feels the tension.

They cross. The older boy jumps gleefully up and down as his feet touch the sidewalk, free from his mother's hand. The younger one follows suit momentarily. But he soon simply extends his hand for his mother's again. She takes it. He looks up at her and smiles. The tension in her body is no longer there. All is well.

Being Sojourner Truth II

"Sweet is the virgin honey, though the wild bee store it in a reed;
And bright the jewelled band that circleth an Ethiop's arm;
Pure are the grains of gold in the turbid stream of the Ganges;
And fair the living flowers that spring from the dull cold sod.
Wherefore, thou gentle student, bend thine ear to my speech,
For I also am as thou art; our hearts can commune together:
To meanest matters will I stoop, for mean is the lot of mortal;
I will rise to noblest themes, for the soul hath a heritage of glory."

--Printed for the author, Sojourner Truth, 1850

Read the awe-inspiring Narrative of Sojourner Truth (1797-1884)

Being Olympia Snowe II

Olympia Snowe is one of my congressional heroes for her moderate and intelligent voice. I have written of her here before. This morning I was particularly struck by her op-ed article in the New York Times with regards to Arlene Spector's defection to the Democratic Party.

Snowe writes:

It is true that being a Republican moderate sometimes feels like being a cast member of “Survivor” — you are presented with multiple challenges, and you often get the distinct feeling that you’re no longer welcome in the tribe. But it is truly a dangerous signal that a Republican senator of nearly three decades no longer felt able to remain in the party.

"Senator Specter indicated that his decision was based on the political situation in Pennsylvania, where he faced a tough primary battle. In my view, the political environment that has made it inhospitable for a moderate Republican in Pennsylvania is a microcosm of a deeper, more pervasive problem that places our party in jeopardy nationwide.
Do read the entire article above. It's well worth it.

Being Arlen Specter

Without going into great detail about Arlen Specter's rather moderate voting record, his stance against Anita Hill, support of the Iraq war or the present power grab, I just wonder if Specter should just simply retire. I fully understand the political move with regards to the 60 vote filibuster proof. But I also wonder why there isn't another Democrat in line to run against the Republican Senate candidate Pat Toomey and win. But it ain't called politics for nothing. I guess I'm just weary of the Old Guard and pure political moves that may or may not support the cause of true democracy. Maybe Senator Specter should simply retire. I don't know. Isn't twenty nine years in the Senate a good run?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Being a Defector

In the New Majority conservative columnist, David Frum, makes a brilliant point after the defection of Arlen Specter to the Democratic Party. The likes of John Ensign, Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey and Rush Limbaugh have pushed the Republican Party so far right for so long that it is without a center; there is no core. Frum writes:

The Specter defection is too severe a catastrophe to qualify as a “wake-up call.” His defection is the thing we needed the wake-up call to warn us against! For a long time, the loudest and most powerful voices in the conservative world have told us that people like Specter aren’t real Republicans – that they don’t belong in the party. Now he’s gone, and with him the last Republican leverage within any of the elected branches of government.

For years, many in the conservative world have wished for an ideologically purer GOP. Their wish has been granted. Happy?
Couldn't be!

Being Sojourner Truth

Today Congress honored Sojourner Truth (1797-1883), a former slave who became an American freedom fighter, women's right activist and orator, with a much deserved congressional tribute.

At the Women's Convention in 1851 in Akron, Ohio, Sojourner Truth delivered this rousing speech:
Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the Negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or Negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Being Praise-Worthy

"Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; and to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God."

--Psalm 50:23

Being Excellent

Being excellent rules! It's striving towards an increasingly more excellent way of being, personally or professionally.

Being in the Middle

We are forever becoming... something or another, moving forward or backward. There is no constant middle; there is only movement.

Being Mediocre

Being mediocre sucks big. It's stagnation, personally or professionally.

Being Apologetic and Appreciated

Tom Peters has an excellent post, Strategic Competence! Dammit! on the strategic relevance of aplogoies in business. A commentator posted a cool video from Church of the Customer where a Domino's franchise posted a video apology; it's not slick or fancy, but it has a nice personalable touch.

The best apology I received from Domino's was in college with the gang praying that after we ordered multiple pizzas that they would be late, even by one minute. The pizzas were then free. Believe me, this was the best apology as broke college students. Apologetic words are necessary and important, but actions are often so much better than words.

Domino's was founded in Michigan by a great entrepreneur and philanthropist, Tom Monaghan. He is the antithesis of the greedy CEO that we have been reading so much about lately. While we prayed for free pizzas as college students there was something intrinsic in the apology that was appreciated.

We were way happy then for the free pizza which got us to exclusively order from Domino's, even though they were more on time than not. But now I understand that this was the basis of Domino's core business, one of appreciation through excellence and apologies when necessary.

Bravo Mr. Monaghan and thank you!

Being Timothy Geithner

From the beginning I was no fan of Timothy Geithner and have written of my distrust of his policies or lack thereof more than once here. But having read the New York Times article over the weekend about Mr. Geithner's close ties with Wall Street bank executives over the five years he was head of the New York Fed angered me all over again. This was during a time that he should have been aware of what was going on but he seemed either unaware or unconcerned. He did nothing. Then I remembered how his nomination was passed, even after it became public that he had not paid his taxes. He would become the Treasury Secretary anyway, probably because he was the handpicked Wall Street insider and these big banks gave so much money to the campaigns of those in Washington. This too added to my increasing annoyance over the weekend.

Jo Becker and Gretchen Morgenson, authors of the New York Times article, writes that "an examination of Mr. Geithner’s five years as president of the New York Fed, an era of unbridled and ultimately disastrous risk-taking by the financial industry, shows that he forged unusually close relationships with executives of Wall Street’s giant financial institutions. His actions, as a regulator and later a bailout king, often aligned with the industry’s interests and desires, according to interviews with financiers, regulators and analysts and a review of Federal Reserve records."

So, tell me, how can Mr. Geithner be trusted with the public's interest?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Being Inspired by Others


Being Merciful II

"Mercy is love in action."

--Reuben Ellis

Being J.P. Morgan

Jean Strouse's book, Morgan, American Financier, has caused me to take another look at the great financier J.P. Morgan. All of the reading that I have done on him before betrayed him as a rather ruthless greedy power possessed banker. But while reading those accounts I always wondered about the other side of his story. After all, he seems to have single-handedly built industrial America and changed the global financial power structure from London to New York a century ago. He was also a greater financier of Thomas Edison, a great private art collector, and president of the Metropolitan Museum, financing many excavations in Egypt.

As a banker, some thought that his power was too centralized—namely in him-- and the many stories told about him, as he did not often speak of himself, were not accurate. The difference between J.P. Morgan and the current CEO is that he seemed to really have a love for his country; his work wasn't merely about money and power alone. "Though cast as the high priest of modern capitalism, Morgan did not really believe in free markets," Strouse writes. "All of his adult life he tried to stabilize the emerging U.S. economy, to discipline speculative profiteers and bring the market's destructive forces under control."

Morgan was accused of perciptating the crash of 1901 and announcing that "I owe the public nothing." But Strouse tells another story. She writes that this line is "largely fiction" and that what ensued was not as the story reveals. In a hostile attempt to take over a railroad that Morgan controlled, some of his rivals "secretly" bought stock in Northern Pacific while he was abroad. His partners were then instructed by Morgan to buy the stock left. This caused speculators to short the market to make a killing as the prices came down. But the prices never came down because no one was selling. NP prices rose astronomically from "$146 to $1,000 a share." Speculators dumped their other stocks in order to raise money to meet these prices. Strouse writes that this brought on the crash of 1901.

But Morgan does something quite responsible. "Morgan knowing that the crisis could ruin thousands of people and unhinge the U.S. economy, arranged by cable for his partners and raiders to postpone receipt of stock they had bought, and to sell enough shares of $150 to allow the shorts to cover. He then went to London and stopped a nascent panic there by offering roughly the same terms-not the actions of a man who thinks he owes the public nothing."

The problem today seems to be that Wall Street bankers like to play the game but do not wish to be personally responsible for their actions; many also seem to have no core sense of ethics, neither do they sincerely care about the public and their VAR models that are detrimental to our financial system itself. Some Wall Street banks are now posting profits based on these models and guess what? We will probably be right back here again, as there has been no change in the system itself. I could probably make a profit if given billions upon billions too. But guess what? As a person who wins the lottery, I'll probably need another bailout too. Even Morgan, thought of as "the high priest of modern capitalism," would not believe in such speculative models. Morgan was a conservative and, by this account, ethical banker.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Being Forgiven

My mother told us often, "never let the sun go down on your wrath." For me, this meant sometimes sitting up for hours pondering my reaction to siblings and realizing that it was I who needed to apologize, even if they didn't. It would be 2:00 in the morning on a school day and I would not apologize OR sleep.

I would reason that they too had done and said things that they shouldn't have. Why should I apologize only? But I often found myself in their rooms in the wee hours of the morning asking for forgiveness. They would readily forgive me. I would kiss them on the cheek each time. My mother would have us do this even after a heated disagreement. This was a healing process, even when as kids we balked, but planted the kiss anyway, often hurriedly.

My siblings were always kind and responded well to my waking them up. But it's funny. Many times I thought that they owed me an apology but they were often sound asleep. That was OK. I just couldn't have such on my conscious and sleep peacefully.

Over the years I practiced getting my emotions in control and also readily asking for forgiveness when it was necessary for me to do. I even learn to do so even when it wasn't necessary. This was probably equally as healing. Practice doesn't make perfect, but it makes better.

Today I am a better person after having been forgiven and practicing forgiveness. Being forgiven and practicing forgiveness matters. It makes the difference for you and others, even if it doesn't seem so at the moment. My siblings and I are very close for having learned the lessons of forgiveness. We also typically forgive others readily. There are no perfect people.

Forgive. You will one day need to be forgiven.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Being You


as though no one is watching you,


as though you have never been hurt before,


as though no one can hear you,


as though heaven is on earth


Whatever you do, be you!

Being Tom Peters II

"We’re in an age where economic value is created through intellectual capital. Through creativity. Through spunk. Through spark. Through individuality."

--Tom Peters

In my inbox every morning I receive a quote of Tom Peters. The one above appeared earlier this week and I have been thinking of it every since. It's absolutely brilliant and most encouraging. It emphasizes the reality that ideas come from everywhere and that anybody can implement them and add to our economic system.

This is capitalism. This is what millions of entrepreneurs do everyday of the week. There is no business without intellectual stimuli, creativity, spunk, spark and individuality. This age in particular seems to favor these; it's like we've entered a brave new world with regards to innovation and the Internet.

The beauty of here is that ideas can be implemented broadly and sustained based on their vigor and ability to meet needs and desires. Also, there need not be an extremely expensive cost to do business initially. These are all beautiful things.

Being a Pundit, Newscaster and Analyst IX

"Memo to the media: Time to check in for a serious round of 'right vs left' rehab. When it comes to torture, the only appropriate framing is 'right vs wrong.'"

--Arianna Huffington

Read Arianna Huffington's entire piece,"The Torture Moment," here.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Being Igor Stravinsky

The passage towards success often comes amid turmoil and uncertainty. Hang in there; spring has a rite. Though success is measured variously, spring always springs.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Being Reuben Ellis

The God Kind of Love

In this time of great spiritual, physical, and emotional turmoil, it is important to realize that our world is in need of love more than ever. And not just any kind of love, but the God kind of love: love does not "delight in evil" or the calamity of others, but "rejoices with the truth" that God only desires the best for humanity. A great majority of our problems—from poverty to sickness and even death—stem from a lack love and not allowing God to love through us.

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (I Cor. 13:13)

Hope is an earnest expectation. It is the very fuel of faith and power to manifest that which we hope for. However, without love our faith is ineffective, for "faith works through love." And without faith, our hopes will inevitably die. Therefore, as you search in prayer seeking answers to the challenges that you face, consider your love walk. Are you walking in the God kind of love?

Being Dick Cheney III

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was before the House of Representative Foreign Affairs Committee today. When asked if President Obama would declassify other documents that would prove Dick Cheney's assessment of the administration's interrogation program as being a "success," she replied, "It won't surprise you that I don't consider him (Cheney) a particularly reliable source."

Secretary Clinton also added that she supports a "nonpolitical," "nonpartisan" review of the Bush administration's interrogation program. "I believe we ought to get to the bottom of this entire matter," she said. "I think it is in the best interest of our country and that is what the President believes."

Does Dick Cheney not care about how history will view him?

Being a Pundit, Newscaster and Analyst VIII

Sam Donaldson seems like the only level-headed pundit in this group. Listening to George Will, Peggy Noonan and Cokie Roberts I was amazed at the outright sanctioning of irresponsibility and the lack of accountability. These well-spoken clean cut pundits are those that we have listened to and read for years, yet there is a disturbing eeriness to their words. But perhaps I'm taking this too far some might say. "Everything is fair in love and war"--hence, the declaration of the war on terror and the abdication of national and international treaties?

"The problem with transparency is that it's transparent for the terrorists as well," said Will. He continued that "intelligent people of good will" believe the President of the United States can do whatever he wants to "defend the country." What??? Donaldson rightly repeated the infamous Richard Nixon line, "When the President does it, it's not illegal." Brilliant response!

Noonan chimed in, "It's hard for me to look at a great nation issuing these documents and sending them out to the world and thinking, oh, much good will come of that. Sometimes you need to just keep walking." She also believes that some things should be "mysterious." Cokie Roberts added that it was bad that those at the CIA destroyed documents pertaining to torture but she was glad that they did.

Here is Jon Stewart's ever brilliant take on the discussion of torture and Peggy Noonan's comment in particular.

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What concerns me here is the desire not to hold others responsible and accountable. There is also a recklessness and injustice about the statements of Will, Roberts and Noonan that's rather alarming. It seems like a desire to intellectualize wrong doing and to simply make it go away without acknowledgement or retribution. With this kind of mentality, the ills of history will most likely be repeated.

Responsibility and accountability are essential to a healthy society.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Being Dick Cheney II

You know the saying, "absolute power corrupts absolutely." With the former Vice-President Cheney's statements since he has left office, one cannot help but to wonder if for the last eight years this man ruled "absolutely." He seems utterly incapable of releasing power. It seems utterly unfathomable to him. I have really tried to be respectful of the former Vice-President but he does appear absolutely corrupt.

The President should simply not respond directly to another statement made by Dick Cheney. Think about it. This man was the Vice-President. Or, was he? He definitely was not. President Bush has more class than the former Vice-President.

Being Berated for a Handshake and a Smile

It is absolutely ludicrous, not to mention utterly hypocritical, that President Obama is being berated by the Right for shaking hands and smiling with Hugo Chavez at the Summit of the Americas in which both leaders were invited to participate. Should a recount of the many years of handshakes, kisses, smiles and other diplomatic measures be given in recent history from President Ronald Reagan to President G.W. Bush? More importantly, has the estrangement of certain leaders of the last 30 years worked? Has calling world leaders members of the "axis of evil" worked? Has getting up and walking out in international meetings worked? NO! NO! NO!

These hypocritical hard-line policies and often child-like behaviors have not worked. We take a stand against human rights violations in Cuba and embrace China. We go to international meetings with diverse world leaders and walk out when their words are contrary to our beliefs. (Maybe more women should be in attendance at these meetings. Who teaches their children that these methods of dealing with conflict are acceptable?) Power does not exhibit itself always in arms and standoffs. A great leader has an array of arsenals at his disposal to disarm and they are not all bombs and isolation policies.

A handshake and a smile may just go further than some policies of the past.

Being a Great Leader II

Being incredibly moved by the words of these leaders, I felt utterly compelled to share this video. It is most inspiring.

It's so incredibly difficult to pick a favorite quote, but this one in particular struck a deep chord.

"The price of greatness is responsibility."

--Winston Churchill

Does a particular quote strike such a chord with you?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Being Happy

"The happiness you feel is in direct proportion to the love you give."


Are you happy? Give love away!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Being Inspired by Others


I think of thee, whene'er the sun his beams

O'er ocean flings;
I think of thee, whene'er the moonlight gleams

In silv'ry springs.

I see thee, when upon the distant ridge

The dust awakes;
At midnight's hour, when on the fragile bridge

The wanderer quakes.

I hear thee, when yon billows rise on high,

With murmur deep.
To tread the silent grove oft wander I,

When all's asleep.

I'm near thee, though thou far away mayst be--

Thou, too, art near!
The sun then sets, the stars soon lighten me.

Would thou wert here!

--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Being a Genius II

"Genius is the talent for discovering what cannot be taught or learned."

--Immanuel Kant

Be. In this sense you are all you need.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Being for Clean Air

Who wouldn't be for clean air? I am for clean air and there seems to be irrefutable that greenhouses gasses and carbon emissions can be dangerous to the environment. But when we have large companies like Exxon Mobil and General Electric are behind certain tax and trade policies, I really wonder. After all, they have been large contributors to this mess. They have benefited with billions in profits. Now, it appears that small companies and the American public will be paying for their mess.

Not being a scientist, I also wonder about the whole carbon debate. Don't we as humans emit carbon? Like I said, I'm no scientist. But anytime CEO's like Rex Tillerson of Exxon Mobil and Jeffrey Immelt of General Electric are for policies and programs that should cut into their multiple billions of profits, at least for short-term while innovation occurs and for Exxon Mobil I'm not sure if some loss would be indefinite, I can't help but to wonder. These are simple thoughts that make me wonder. How about you?

Being "the She-King of Egypt"

The grand regal symmetrical mortuary temple which housed the body of the great female pharaoh Hatshepsut, who ruled Egypt for 21 years from 1479 to 1458 B.C., sits amid the desert surrounded by ancient rock at Deir el Bahri. Having been of royal blood but a woman her stepson, Thutmose III, was next in line for ascension to the throne. Hatshepsut and Thutmose II had one daughter but no sons.

Upon the death of her brother and husband Thutmose II his stepson was elevated to the throne. It is asserted that she was, in fact, the chief heir of her father's throne, not merely the royal queen of her brother. Chip Brown, in an article for the National Geographic, "The King Herself," writes, "Remember, Hatshepsut was a true blue blood, related to pharaoh Ahmose, while her husband-brother was the offspring of an adopted king. The Egyptians believed in the divinity of the pharaoh; only Hatshepsut, not her stepson, had a biological line to divine royalty."

Hatshepsut went along with the male ascension to the throne initially. As Thutmose III was too young to govern, Hatshepsut, in the tradition of the time, assumed the duties of pharaoh on behalf of her stepson. But after two years it was evident that she was performing the duties of the pharaoh on her own accord. As her stepson grew, he became co-regent with Hatshepsut. But it was obvious who was ruling. She was the pharoah king of Egypt. This would be a different kind of reign. After all, she was of royal lineage. Thutmose III was her husband's son with another and Thutmose II himself, as noted earlier, was the offspring of adoption.

Hatsheput's reign is considered one of the most remarkable Egyptian dynasties, but she is perhaps readily known as the woman "who had the audacity to portray herself as a man." According to Brown, she "was concerned about how others would view her many years later." Inscribed on one of the obelisks at Karnak are these words: "Now my heart turns this way and that, as I think what the people will say. Those who see my monuments in years to come and who shall speak of what I have done."

In an effort to be remembered Brown writes that she "raised and renovated temples and shrines from the Sinai to Nubia. The four granite obelisks she erected at the vast temple of the great god Amun at Karnak were among the most magnificent ever constructed. She commissioned hundreds of statues of her self and left accounts in stone of her lineage, her titles, her history, both real and concocted even her thoughts and hopes, which at times she confided with uncommon candor."

So, what was this "She-King of Egypt like?" Once thought of as "ruthless," she is emerging differently today. Catharine Roehig, a curator of Egyptian art at Metropolitan Museum of Art, writes, "Nobody can know what she was like. She ruled for 20 years because she was capable of making things work. I believe she was very canny and that she knew how to play one person off against the next-without murdering them or getting murdered herself."

After Hatshepsut's death Thutmose III achieved a great name for himself as a warrior pharaoh. "Her stepson," writes Brown, "went on to secure his destiny as one of the great pharaohs in Egyptian history. Thutmose II was a a monument maker like his stepmother but also a warrior without peer, the so-called Napoleon of ancient Egypt...In the latter part of his life, when other men might be content to reminisce about bygone adventures, Thutmose III appears to have taken up another pastime. He decided to methodically wipe his stepmother, the king, out of history."

While Hatshepsut's stepson sought to erase all memories of his stepmother, who by all indications ruled pretty much as a sovereign pharaoh, though he performed duties as alongside her as the co-regent, the bend of her neck, the height of her regal cheeks, the enormity of her eye sockets, the elegance of her profile, the symmetry of her face, the strength of her bone structure, the round perfection of her head, the pride in her chin after these many years all bespeak a woman of strength, renown and grace.

Hatshepsut is not only remembered; in death she speaks.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Being Teabaggers II

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Many of the teabaggers were way over the top. Did you read the signs? Did you see the guns and holsters? Did you see the hats brimmed with hanging tea bags? Did teabaggers seem very much like the "crazy" McCain-rally lady depicted on SNL or the "I'm mad; I'm real mad" guy? Americans rejected this mentality resolutely. The atmosphere at these rallies is that of far right-wing radical gun-toting hate-spewing extremists. In such a crowd, there is no reason why this reporter should not fear for her safety.

What a beautiful child. How sad!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Being Van Cliburn

"An artist can be truly evaluated only after he is dead. At the very 11th hour, he might do something that will eclipse everything else."

--Van Cliburn

This is the ever-evolving process of a great artist, the expectation of creating something greater still. Can the same be said of other professions? I can see this mindset in scientists and engineers. Are there others? Many of us have become merely satisfied with ourselves in our professions.

Being a Philosopher

In a brilliant article written for GQ by Will Self, Nassim Nicholas Taleb is described as "a genuinely significant philosopher; and by this I mean someone who is able to change the way we view the structure of the world through the strength, originality and veracity of his thoughts alone."

There is really no other kind of philosophy that matters. The philosophy that matters is the kind that induces change to existing structures of all kind. This well-written article gives us glimpse of the life and mind of this brilliant philosopher, derivatives trader, and best-selling author.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Being Ella Fitzgerald

Words matter. But have you ever been in a situation where words were insignificant? Have you ever been incapable of expressing yourself in words because of immense joy, anger or sadness? This great jazz singer expresses a gamut of emotions largely without words.

Being Teabaggers

Watching one plump rosy-cheeked rather friendly-looking red-haired middle-age southern woman with a straw hat from which hung many teabags around every inch of the brim, I could not help but to wonder about the mentality of those in attendance at the "Tea Parties." She was not articulate enough to address the reason she was protesting and I could not help but to think that a grassroots effort this could never make.

I would no longer participate in such a "grassroots protest" if you paid me. There is nothing grassroots about these protests. I am all for grass roots organizations, but these were not such; they were engineered and organized by organizations on the far right, not by the people. They have the air of such and have gathered little steam.

Joe the Plumber was here in Michigan heading up a protest. Listening to him is just so bad. He's like a female Sarah Palin. He is most certainly not the brightest and his vigor leaves me utterly unmoved: hot noise on a pogo stick! I am, however, for making tax codes more sensible and for deficit reduction. We'd be hard pressed to find Americans who would not want this. By the way, where were such "grassroots organizations" for the past eight years when the deficit spiraled completely out of control? It seems very political indeed. Most Americans are pleased with the way President Obama is handling tax issues.

CNN report that a "recent polling also suggests that a majority of Americans are giving the president a thumbs up when it comes to taxes. Sixty-two percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national survey conducted last month said they approve of how Obama is handling taxes. Thirty-seven percent disapproved."

That would be:

62% Approve
37% Disapprove

Some are speaking of the President's accountants being upfront with the real here were not too many people speaking about the creative "accountants" of the last 8 years that did not include BOTH wars in an administration where deficit has been the largest ever in our history. So, what was President Reagan's excuse? The deficit increased then to its greatest level ever before President George W. Bush and there wasn't even ONE war!

Now, can we talk about honesty? No one talked about the deficits when President Reagan or President George W. Bush were in office. I'm all for reducing the deficit, especially after seeing the documentary I.O.U.S.A. Scary stuff! But these Tea Parties seem purely political, not to mention lame. Many interviewed could not even explain why they were protesting. But they looked the part!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Being Michaelle Jean

When President Obama was in Canada for his first trip abroad as the Head of State, a stately woman smartly donned met him on the tarmac. I noticed her immediately and wondered who she was. But I have not thought of her since. My cousin sent me an email minutes ago with some photos and information about this woman with the note "you might enjoy this!?" She is Canada's Governor General Michaelle Jean.

Along with more than a few photos were these words: "The Governor General of Canada is the vice-regal or viceroy representative in Canada of the Queen of Canada , who is the head of state. A viceroy is a royal official who governs a country in the name of and as representative of the monarch.

"Canada is one of sixteen British Commonwealth realms, all of which share the British monarch as their royal leader. The monarch appoints the Governor General on the advice of the Canadian Prime Minister, who is the Canadian Head of Government, after which the Governor General maintains direct contact with the British monarch. There is no specific term.

"President Barack Obama and Canadian Governor General Michaelle Jean walk across the tarmac following his arrival in Ottawa , Canada , Thursday, Feb. 19, 2009. Michelle Jean has been Governor General of Canada since September 27, 2005.

"Jean is Canada's first black Governor General."

Being such, she is also the first black female Governor General. Bravo General! Not being a citizen of the British Commonwealth, I do not know the relevance or importance of such a position as far as policy is concerned, the probable pomp and circumstance aside, nor do I know about her past accomplishments which I'm sure there must be some. But General Michaelle Jean certainly does look good! There is no doubt about that! Maybe I'll do a little research. She is at the very least a bit intriguing.

Being Innovative

"Encourage the innovative...everywhere...all the time."

--Tom Peters

Innovation begins with a thought. What are you thinking?

Being President Barack Obama VIII

The world is witnessing something that we have not quite seen before in recent global leadership: a world leader who is not moved by pressure, who sets his own pace and speaks when he deems necessary. For a few days before the rescue of Captain Phillips at sea reporters were insisting that the President respond to the pirates. He did not. He quietly authorized lethal force, empowered those on the sea to make the decision, waited for the outcome, and only then did he speak about the rescue, taking no credit for the outcome, but praising those who delivered excellent results under incredible circumstances. This is great leadership.

Being Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs reported a first quarter profit of $1.8 billion. According to CNN Money, Goldman Sachs plans to raise $5 billion dollars and by doing so repay taxpayers for the TARP. Anytime an American company makes a profit and pays the taxpayers back this is good. But I can't help but to wonder about their practices that got them there, enabling them to double dip on the front in with fat fees and the back end too with mark to market as well as being a counter party to AIG receiving $17.9 billion in TARP funds. It must be too sweet that Mr. Liddy, the former Goldman Sachs board member is now the CEO of AIG.

Has there been an investigation into the credit agencies that gave these banks AAA ratings for these bogus default swaps? Has there been an investigation into the policies of the Federal Reserve that seem to have allowed banks to do just as they pleased, with a mere an excuse for not seeing it coming? Are they the experts? Have those in Congress who sat on banking committees such as Senator Dodd (D) and Senator Shelby (R) themselves been required to be held responsible for their failed oversight as ranking members of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Development? This is not a club!!! We are talking about the lives and savings of Americans that they were elected to serve.

There has never been a doubt that the US economy would rebound. My biggest concern has been with practices in moving forward that requires banks to be responsible for their actions so we will not be here again, where the bankers of the world continue to do business as usual. Their failed business models and practices, which seems to occur circularly, cause the American people to lose big on their investments never to return in their retirement portfolios. Many have lost their homes while Wall Street banks such as Goldman Sachs continue to double dip and set market prices with initiatives like mark to market. How long will such practices prevail?

If I were given billions of dollars in TARP both directly and indirectly, I myself might be able to post a profit in these very challenging economic times. (Does Goldman Sachs have to repay the $17.9 billion received from AIG as a counter party to bogus practices?) The question remains if there has been any fundamental change in how Wall Street banks do business that could bring the United States down. With practices like those of Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street banks, who needs foreign enemies?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Being a Navy Seal

Right after college I moved in with a renowned opera singer and her family on the island of Coronado, off of San Diego. There I studied voice with her teacher in San Diego and coached with her when she was not away performing. Every morning I would go to the beach and run five miles; every morning I would run in the distance of the fittest men on the planet, the Navy Seals.

Thinking of the amazing marksmanship of the Navy Seals used in rescuing Captain Phillips, I was reminded of my time on the island and how these men inspired me every single morning. When I didn't want to wake up at the crack of dawn, I thought of them and popped up. They exuded confidence and energy and I loved following them in the distance. When there bodies were mere dancing shadows, the sounds of their voices in the morning mist could be heard.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Being Freed

We are overjoyed for the freedom of Captain Phillips on this Easter Sunday as we have prayed for his safe release.

May God bless Captain Phillips, his family and crew. He seems to have been a hero, giving himself up for the safety of his crew.

I am sorry about the deaths of the young Somalis who apparantly feel as if they have no other option but to become pirates. But lawlessness cannot be tolerated. "If you live by the sword, you die by the sword."

May God bless the US Navy Seals!

Being Bo (Diddley)

The Obamas finally got their new dog Bo, a Portuguese water dog given as a gift by Senator Edward Kennedy who owns several himself.

Welcome Bo! (Isn't he too cute??? Donned in his tuxedo best with Easter colors and all!)

Word is that Bo was named after the First Lady's dad who was nicknamed Diddley after the great guitarist Bo Diddley.

For your pleasure, here's Bo's namesake rocking the crowd.

With the stories that the First Lady has told about her dad and the great talent of guitarist Bo Diddley, the First Dog has got a lot to live up to. But we think he'll do just fine.

Being Inspired by Others

"Arise, shine; for your light has come and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you."

--Isaiah 60:1

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Being First Lady Michelle Obama V

Here is the Princeton grad and Harvard educated lawyer also doing things in the dirt with precious young people that matter. The First Lady knows well that kids matter.

America, we are blessed to have such a First Lady. We honor her.

Being Oscar Wilde

"Life is not governed by will or intention. Life is a question of nerves, and fibers, and slowly built-up cells in which thought hides itself, and passion has its dreams."

--Oscar Wilde

Ah, here is the ever witty and brilliant Oscar Wilde. I see his point clearly, but does it need be so?

Being Arturo Toscanini

"God tells me how the music should sound, but you stand in the way."

--Arturo Toscanini

Maestro Toscanini I have loved since my teenage years. I remember sitting in the grand Detroit Public Library downtown after school and listening to recording after recording of the great maestro, spending many hours there weekly.

Many times I found myself a few blocks away at the Detroit Institute of Art looking at great paintings, sculptures, and the murals of the great Diego Rivera with the rich robust sound of Toscanini's orchestra in my head.

(The man in the video speaking of the greatness of Toscanini is the acclaimed violinist, Yehudi Menuhin.)

Being Ingrid Newkirk II

After reading that PETA launched an all out assault on the Bidens and the breeder that sold them their German Shepard I was ticked off and realized exactly why extremists of any kind disturb me. I have written here before of Ingrid Newkirk, the President of PETA. She seems to want to restrict freedoms and intimidate with fear. If I want to buy a dog from a breeder that is exactly where I will go. If I want to adopt a dog from a shelter, I will go there. What is for certain is that PETA would not be telling me anything about where I should purchase my dog. PERIOD.

The Bidens have agreed after receiving flack from PETA to purchase a second puppy from a shelter. On PETA's website Ms. Newkirk said the following: "Thanks go out to VP-elect Biden for raising the issue of the companion animal overpopulation crisis in this country, which is as bleak as our economy. Animal homelessness also requires urgent attention by cutting animal breeders off at the pass and bailing out animal shelters." Hmmm, "as bleak as our economy?" I wonder if the consequences are as dire nationally and internationally.

While I completely think that animals should be loved and cared for and that it is our responsibility to care for them as there are not colonies of dogs where there is self-rule. (Although, if you lived in the Bahamas for any length of time among the people, potcakes, stray dogs that roam the streets, you will notice that there is without doubt a hierarchy and system among even these.) It seems that sometimes when there is an absence of spiritual awareness, something takes its place. I am not sure about Ms. Newkirk but she strikes me as an extremist whose God is four legged animals which she uses to intimidate others with threats and violence. Who is she to tell any family what kind of pet to buy. This is probably why it is taking the Obamas so long to buy a dog that best suits their family. Malia has an allergy and needs a specific kind of dog.

Linda Brown, the breeder who sold the Bidens the puppy, is sorry that she did and advises other breeders to stay clear of the Obamas or other high profile people. It's not worth it. According to NBC Brown said that "she has been been investigated, scorned and had her life threatened." PETA "seized the moment as an opportunity to blame the killing of shelter animals on people who buy from breeders. The organization's TV commercial, 'Buy One, Get One Killed' ran in Delaware after the Biden puppy story made headlines."

Brown says that she "was cited for a piece of kibble on the floor and five strands of dog hair. They took a picture of that, they walked around, snapped pictures and don't tell you why...She was found 'not guilty' for each citation, but hiring a lawyer for the court hearings has cost her $4,000 so far in legal fees."

Perhaps PETA should pay for those fees and the fees of any other people whose professional and lawful businesses have been hampered by the likes of PETA.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Being the Youngest of 12

Sunday we will have our annual family Easter dinner after service. As usual, my older sister called me this morning to remind me that I am to bring sturdy plates, cups, napkins, utensils etc., for some 60 people. I jokingly asked if she was sure she didn't want me to bring the roast this time. She assured me that that would not be necessary; the others had all been given the delight of bringing such. "What are we having," I asked?

The Menu

Glazed Ham
Maple and Mustard Glazed Salmon
Turkey Salad
Green Bean Casserole
Mac and Cheese
Garlic Potatoes
Roasted Asparagus
Turnip and Mustard Greens (cooked)
Homemade Rolls
Banana Pudding
Apple Pie
German Chocolate Cake

Many of you know that I am the youngest of 12. But what you might not have known is that my older brothers and sisters are all great cooks. The only problem is that through these many years I too have become quite the gourmet chef. Maybe they will never know this. Four times a year I get the call of what to bring and each time I laugh, as if I didn't already know. It has been the same for the last 20 years every Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter and New Year.

Perhaps this year on just any old day I will have the whole family over to my place for dinner and cook a large gourmet meal all by myself; they can each bring the sturdy plates, cups, napkins, and utensils. What do you think?

Being a Lover of the World

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

--John 3:16

On this Good Friday, this scripture had a new meaning for me. In the New Testament the world is defined as the system of things that are contrary to the Kingdom of God, God's way of doing things.

Considering the global crisis and what caused it i.e., greed, disrespect, selfishness, disregard, arrogance, etc., I had to admit that "God so loved the world that he gave" Christ as a sacrifice. We too should love the world and sacrifice.

While there remain many reasons to rail against any unjust system and to demand change, there is also something to be said for letting go of our personal pitchforks that poke both ways; there is no sustaining life there.

Blood flows. But not the sacrificial kind.

We want to fight in a manner that does not attack people, but the system upon which many are allowed to prosper in their ways. This is not meant to say that there should not be consequences for actions. There should be.

But at the heart of all injustice is faulty thinking driven by negative forces.

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."

--Ephesians 6:12

These "principalities," "powers" and "rulers of darkness" in "high places" are often elevated within our own minds, creating unproductive imaginings and thoughts, that exalt themselves above love. This gives way to "darkness" and "spiritual wickedness."

God is love. His way is light.

If God so loved the world that he gave, we should give love while we insist upon change, beginning first within our own minds.

Love is often not without pain and struggle; it often means sacrificing for a just cause. Do this in love.

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

--Philippians 4:7

Be a lover of the world and give. "For God so loved the world that He gave."

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Being Nassim Nicholas Taleb X

In yesterday's Financial Times Nassim Nicholas Taleb gives "Ten Principles of a Black Swan-Proof World." Here they are:

1. What is fragile should break early while it is still small. Nothing should ever become too big to fail. Evolution in economic life helps those with the maximum amount of hidden risks – and hence the most fragile – become the biggest.

2. No socialisation of losses and privatisation of gains. Whatever may need to be bailed out should be nationalised; whatever does not need a bail-out should be free, small and risk-bearing. We have managed to combine the worst of capitalism and socialism. In France in the 1980s, the socialists took over the banks. In the US in the 2000s, the banks took over the government. This is surreal.

3. People who were driving a school bus blindfolded (and crashed it) should never be given a new bus. The economics establishment (universities, regulators, central bankers, government officials, various organisations staffed with economists) lost its legitimacy with the failure of the system. It is irresponsible and foolish to put our trust in the ability of such experts to get us out of this mess. Instead, find the smart people whose hands are clean.

4. Do not let someone making an incentive" bonus manage a nuclear plant – or your financial risks. Odds are he would cut every corner on safety to show “profits” while claiming to be “conservative”. Bonuses do not accommodate the hidden risks of blow-ups. It is the asymmetry of the bonus system that got us here. No incentives without disincentives: capitalism is about rewards and punishments, not just rewards.

5. Counter-balance complexity with simplicity. Complexity from globalisation and highly networked economic life needs to be countered by simplicity in financial products. The complex economy is already a form of leverage: the leverage of efficiency. Such systems survive thanks to slack and redundancy; adding debt produces wild and dangerous gyrations and leaves no room for error. Capitalism cannot avoid fads and bubbles: equity bubbles (as in 2000) have proved to be mild; debt bubbles are vicious.

6. Do not give children sticks of dynamite, even if they come with a warning. Complex derivatives need to be banned because nobody understands them and few are rational enough to know it. Citizens must be protected from themselves, from bankers selling them “hedging” products, and from gullible regulators who listen to economic theorists.

7. Only Ponzi schemes should depend on confidence. Governments should never need to "restore confidence." Cascading rumours are a product of complex systems. Governments cannot stop the rumours. Simply, we need to be in a position to shrug off rumours, be robust in the face of them.

8. Do not give an addict more drugs if he has withdrawal pains. Using leverage to cure the problems of too much leverage is not homeopathy, it is denial. The debt crisis is not a temporary problem, it is a structural one. We need rehab.

9. Citizens should not depend on financial assets or fallible “expert” advice for their retirement. Economic life should be definancialised. We should learn not to use markets as storehouses of value: they do not harbour the certainties that normal citizens require. Citizens should experience anxiety about their own businesses (which they control), not their investments (which they do not control).

10. Make an omelette with the broken eggs. Finally, this crisis cannot be fixed with makeshift repairs, no more than a boat with a rotten hull can be fixed with ad-hoc patches. We need to rebuild the hull with new (stronger) materials; we will have to remake the system before it does so itself. Let us move voluntarily into Capitalism 2.0 by helping what needs to be broken break on its own, converting debt into equity, marginalising the economics and business school establishments, shutting down the “Nobel” in economics, banning leveraged buyouts, putting bankers where they belong, clawing back the bonuses of those who got us here, and teaching people to navigate a world with fewer certainties.

Maybe Nassim Nicholas Taleb should be advising the President.

Being a Pundit, Newscaster and Analyst VII

It looks like Jim Cramer is being lambasted for his financial ignorance and apparent arrogance yet once again. But this time by a respected economist, Nouriel Roubini. "Cramer is a buffoon," said Roubini, professor of economics at New York University. "He was one of those who called six times in a row for this bear market rally to be a bull market rally and he got it wrong. And after all this mess and Jon Stewart he should just shut up because he has no shame."

Like Nassim Nicholas Taleb in the Black Swan, Roubini predicted that we were heading for the worst recession in many decades. His truthful, though gloomy, prediction of the global financial meltdown garnered him the name of Dr. Doom. In an interview with the Associated Press Roubini said this about Cramer: "He's not a credible analyst. Every time it was a bear market rally he said it was the beginning of a bull and he got it wrong."

Cramer responded by writing a blog entry that Roubini was "intoxicated" and full of his own "prescience and vision." He also asserted that things are getting better since the stock market reached bottom in early March. I'm no economist, but this seems unlikely. I have not even heard this from any economist or financial analyst. Most are uncertain of where the bottom is. In a Youtube video roundtable discussion with economic expert, Linda Yueh and Harvard economist Kennth Rogoff, Taleb says, "I tell you one thing. You tend to think that the current crisis is in the middle or toward the end. I think we may be in the very beginning." This was a few months back.

Cramer also wrote that Roubini and Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize Laureate in economics--not that this means much these days, are a part of "the nationalization jihad." Roubini responded by saying that he is in support of Treasury Secretary Geithner's plan. (Hmmm, there maybe some qualms with this. There is a reason the banks stress test report has been completed but not released. The TARP probably has not helped many of these banks; many seem to be failing in spite of it.) "He keeps insulting me personally and saying a bunch of lies," Roubini said. "He doesn't even know I was supporting it so he says lies." Maybe CNBC should find another financial analyst. I wondered after the Stewart evisceration if he would last a week after. He appears to be hanging on, but maybe not for much longer.

Being Merciful

"Mercy triumphs over judgement."

-- James 2:13

Today, in spite of what we know, feel, or think of others, let's show mercy instead of judgement. Somebody needs mercy today.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Being a Team

At Foundations4, my friend, Dave Wheeler, who spent 24 years in the Airforce and is now a passionate trainer and advocate for single working parents, recently wrote a post on TEAMS, so defined as Together Everyone Achieves More. I like it.

In the post there is an inspiring video of the Blue Angles, the elite Navy flight team. At the end of the post Dave asks, "TEAMS...what makes them great or why do some fail?" Here's largely my response:

When looking at the video I could not help but to think of our sense of individualism. While I so appreciate the great American value of self-reliance, we never really only rely on ourselves, neither do we ever pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.

It is always the support of others that lifts us up and encourages us to greater heights, even when it is we ourselves who have to participate in our own development. The same is true for teams. We need others for project design and implementation.

It takes humility and passion for a team to excel as well as like-minded goals. My mother often spoke of not being "unequally yoked." While this scripture referred to marriage it is applicable to friendships, romantic relationships and teams of all sorts, personally and professionally at home, work, in sports, and the performing arts.

There has to be a centralized core and understanding among team members, although views may vary. Being careful about who we yoke up with personally and professionally is significant. This to me is the first step and often the reason for failure.
Do pop over to Dave's blog by clicking on "Foundations4" above and leave your comments as to what makes a great team and why some fail. He'll be happy to hear from you.

Being a Brand

There are no originals. We are pure variance, forever becoming.

Being Maria Callas

Here is one of my all-time favorite singers, if not my favorite, the great Maria Callas. The pathos in her voice is undeniable; her passion is unmatched. Enjoy!

Being. Seeing. Saying.

Being. Seeing. Saying.

In considering these words
I thought of the essence of
each and which came first.
While we have to first exist
before we can see or say, it
is often that our seeing and
saying forms our being. Think
about it. In this regards, which
is most important? "To be, or not
to be: that is the question." But
seeing things differently or saying
things positively in spite of what
may be can alter existence itself.

Being. Seeing. Saying.

Saying. Seeing. Being.

Seeing. Being. Saying.

These three constantly form me.

Being an American in Turkey

When I was in high school I read that one of my favorite authors, the brilliant James Baldwin, had spent many years off and on in Turkey and completed some of his works there. His novel, "Another Country," is datelined "Istanbul, Dec 10, 1961" and "Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone" was largely written in the city in 1968. Of course, many know Baldwin's moving "Go Tell it on the Mountain," the heartfelt "Nobody Knows My Name," and provocative "Fire Next Time."

With President Obama's recent visit to Turkey, I could not help to remember James Baldwin's time there as an escape from the oppressive laws of the United States in the early 60's. I remember a story he told where kids would just stare at him in complete amazement and even touch his skin and hair.

The kids' reactions were not offensive to Baldwin in the least; he realized that the novelty of his skin and hair was intriguing for these kids, not to mention his very large intense penetrating eyes. They came to him. He was not ostracized in Turkey. This rather sensitive slight man, yet intensely passionate author felt quite safe and comfortable there. He felt as if he could "breathe."

May God Bless the nation of Turkey and its people, the Kurds included.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Being a Judeo-Christian Nation

The United States of America is not a Judeo-Christian nation. Yet, President Obama is getting some heat for this statement he made in Turkey today:

"We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values."

President Obama's statement is aligned with the First Amendment of the Constitution:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

While many Americans are Christians we are most certainly not a Judeo-Christian nation. In a letter to the Dansbury Baptists, Thomas Jefferson wrote these words in reference to the First Amendment:

"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.'"

In the Christian faith belief in God is a choice. How can a nation be such?

Being Prince II

Prince has a new triple-album release of some 30 songs, Lotusflow3r. I heard a few cuts today on NPR's Fresh Air.

The songs were fantastic! I will soon purchase it. He's pure genius.

Being Global Leaders

Just looking at this picture of the President and Michelle Obama with the Czech first couple Vaclav and Livia Klausova in Prague one cannot help but to think that this is an era of change. One cannot also help but to wonder if with this change will come fundamental difference in policy. Is it possible for leaders to change and the old system remain the same?

The President and First Lady live in a grand house and probably worship in churches both unlike those castles and cathedrals in Europe. They both seem to be trying to maintain a semblance of their past lives. She does so with community service and personal style. He held onto his Blackberry and greets the guards as he boards Marine One. The President even nodded at the guard at Buckingham Palace. Fat chance he would acknowledge this. He didn't.

Are there any fresh young leaders in Europe? With the ageing of their population and the relative few numbers of births per household, I do wonder about their sustainability and the necessity of global banking, trade, etc more so than other countries around the world. I also wonder that with such a gilded weighty European history if change comes less so for some than others.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Being George Will IV

During the Roundtable on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, George Will makes the point that "conflict is natural" to explain the unrest in the world in opposition to the emphasis on the "community of nations." "Behind the phrase 'community of nations,'" said Will, "is the old planned liberal axiom that harmony is natural; it's not."

There are a great many things that are natural things that need training or would otherwise be a mess. Relieving oneself is most natural. But should we not potty train children? Emotions are also natural. Should we simply be allowed to vent and rant whenever and wherever we are so pleased? Whether diplomacy is a "planned liberal axiom or not," I'm all for it.

Because diplomacy has failed in the past, should we stop trying? Just imagine what natural responses we would have to a host of natural impetuses if we failed to keep trying. While conflict may be natural, diplomacy may be divine. I also cannot help but to wonder what the world would be like if women and mothers were more in global leadership. Men tend to seek conflict and women tend to pursue peace. Men tend to war while women tend to prefer diplomacy. We need one another in order to solve global conflicts.

Being Larry Summers

Larry Summers was a private citizen and not an adviser to President Obama last year when he accepted big fees from companies that received TARP funds, including Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and JP Morgan. Summers also received some $5.2 million last year from D.E. Shaw, a major Hedge Fund. While receiving such payment is not illegal, does this pass the smell test?

Below is a list of companies from which Summers received speaking engagement fees over last year. Can Summers be an impartial adviser to the President? Could speeches in and of themselves in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions, unduly influence an adviser? While Summers was not an official White House adviser, he was nonetheless an adviser to the then President-elect Obama.

Skagen Funds, $60,300, (1/9/2008)

Skagen Funds, $60,300, (1/10/2008)

Skagen Funds, $59,400, (1/11/2008)

JP Morgan, $67,500, (2/1/2008)

Itinera Institute, $62,876 (1/8/2008)

Citigroup, $45,000 (3/3/2008)

Goldman Sachs Co., $135,000, (4/16/2008)

Associon de Bancos de Mexico, $90,000, (4/3/2008)

Lehman Brothers, $67,500, (4/17/2008)

State Street Corporation, $45,000, (4/18/2008)

Siguler Guff & Company, $67,500, (5/7/2008)

Hudson Institute, $10,000, (05/28/2008)

Citigroup, $54,000, (5/30/2008)

Investec Bank, $157,500, (6/13/2008)

Goldman Sachs, $67,500, (6/18/2008)

Lehman Brothers, $67,500, (7/30/2008)

Tata Consultance Services, $67,500, (9/21/2008)

State Street Corporation, $112,500, (10/2/2008)

McKinsey and Company, $135,000, (10/19/2008)

Charles River Ventures LLC, $67,500, (11/112008)

Pricewaterhouse Coopers, $67,500 (9/9/2008)

American Chamber of Commerce In Argentina, $135,000 (10/7/2008)

American Express, $67,500 (5/7/2008)

Is this change we can believe in? Is it unrealistic to think that change can occur in Washington among all of its players? If not is it not much to askt that change occur around those closest to the President? This has been my concern with Timothy Geithner and his policies as the former President of the New York Fed and Larry Summers with his role in deregulation under President Clinton.

Being Faith-Full

It is our faith that makes us whole. Only believe.

Luke 8:43-48

43 Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any,
44 came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped.
45 And Jesus said, "Who touched Me?" When all denied it, Peter and those with him said, "Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, 'Who touched Me?'"
46 But Jesus said, "Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me."
47 Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately.
48 And He said to her, "Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace."

Faith is necessary. Pressing is essential. Touch is healing. Peace ensues.

Being Inspired by Others

Here is the great Minnie Riperton singing "Reasons." What a clear beautiful inviting voice she has--not to mention her extraordinary range and ease! The lyrics are also thought-provoking. What is the reason for your life? The ending too is especially nice as there's a brief interview with Riperton and the suave ultra cool basso-voiced host of the 70's hit Soul Train, Don Cornelius.

Riperton was obviously a great singer and apparently a great mom too. Her little daughter, Maya Rudolph, as is noted in the interview, could be heard in the background. We are told that she too sings. Of course, we know Riperton's daughter today by the many characters she plays on Saturday Night Live. Here is Maya Rudolph playing "Pamela Bell" singing the "Star Spangle Banner." She's one of my favorite SNL performers.

I think that it's great that Maya Rudolph has found her own voice.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Being a First Wives Club Member

President Obama had a joint press conference in Germany with Chancellor Merkel today. (I liked her Spring-like pink jacket. There's no need for dark colors all the time.) The press conference seemed to go well, though many viewed the Chancellor's tone at the G-20 summit in London as a bit too dour.

President Obama affirmed Germany as a solid NATO partner with regards to Afghanistan. Maybe the reported dour disposition of both Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy of France at the G-20 summit had more to with becoming more of a player in global financial markets. President Sarkozy appeared miffed before the summit, though it looks like the President Obama and the First Lady were received well in France.

While listening to the press conference with the Chancellor, I wondered what the First Lady was doing. There is certainly no first wives club presently in Germany. I like that the Chancellor is female, though that in and of itself will not mean much as far as policy. Or does it? Prime Minister Thatcher's policies were very much aligned with President Reagan's.

What was the First Husband of Germany doing while his wife was doing the press conference. Is he engaged in social issues as many first wives around the world? Will there ever be a first husbands club?

Being Truthful II

Steve Yastrow wrote an excellent post this morning. Although it's about business, the lessons in this post are life-lessons done beautifully and largely applicable. Here is the post:
We’ve been blindsided by two hype-bubbles in the last 10 years.

One of the many lessons we should have learned: If something looks wrong/fake/ overblown/disingenuous/hyperbolic/ exaggerated/too-good-to-be-true … it probably is.

So, if something looks fishy, smells fishy and/or tastes fishy, call it a fish.

If you see a big purple elephant on the table, don’t look around it, call it a big purple elephant.

One very important piece of recalibrating your approach to business in this post-hype-bubble world is to question assumptions, question prevailing attitudes, question things that just don’t seem right.

In 1971 Pete Townshend wrote and Roger Daltry sang, "We Won’t Get Fooled Again." Want to sing the same song 38 years later? When you see the truth, say the truth.
Do pop over to Steve's blog. As a professional musician and lover of the theater his perspective is often quite wonderful.

Being a Pyramid

Pyramids are made of flesh.*
Ancient stories woven dust.
Mind. Body. Spirit. 3.
Triangular. Three. Me.
As He is so are we.
Father. Son. Holyghost. 3.

*Saul Williams (Detroit 4.2.09 MAAH)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Being Queen Elizabeth II

It now appears that the semi-embrace between Queen Elizabeth and First Lady Michelle Obama was initiated by the Queen according to the Daily Mail Online. Buckingham Palace described the semi-embrace as "a mutual and spontaneous display of affection and appreciation." How sweet!

Long live the Queen and may God bless the First Lady!

Being Transgender II

In a recent post, Being Transgender, I wrote of a transgender friend, Carla. For some reason she remains in my spirit, although I have not seen her for many years now. Moments ago I wrote these words.

Inside out.
Outside in.

You? Me




Carla - Wherever you are out there, I send you loads of love.

Being Queen Elizabeth II

The big talk today is that the First Lady broke protocol by touching Queen Elizabeth. I respect protocol and believe as a visitor to the country or home of another that guests should abide by such. But perhaps some things are taken to the extreme and some protocol should be dropped.

Are you really not suppose to touch Queen Elizabeth in these days far removed from cloaks and daggers, especially after having been invited to her home? How utterly ridiculous! Touch is healing. When my mother lay dying I spent hours rubbing her feet and legs which were often numb from diabetes. One day she looked at me and said, "Judith, your hands are healing."

Being Alive

Life is an experiential journey; it's not the collection of memories.

Live! Now! Love! Let! Release! Laugh!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Being a Protester

It's amazing that such tree-hugging-peace-loving socialists can be so violent. Looking at the protests in Britain today at the G-20 summit, I wondered if this has any affect whatsoever on their causes. Yes, I am for freedom of speech and the right to protest in a democracy, but most of this seems not to really matter. It appears more like a sideshow, a performance of sorts. By the way, many of the most militant protesters during the Civil Rights Movement are now a part of the establishment, wearing tailored pin-stripped suits with manicured nails and closely cropped cuts.

Being Funny VIII

Rush Limbaugh says that he is a comedian and he isn't. Glen Beck thinks he's a political patriot and he isn't.

Here is Stephen Colbert on Beck with a cameo by Chuck Norris, another "political patriot."

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