Archive for September, 2012

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CRISIS IN MIDEAST

September 14, 2012

What a dilemma we in America are facing as today, as one of our basic founding principles has caused death and disaster.  Freedom of Speech for a religious cause –Media for Christ – has fueled an international crisis for the United States, loss of lives, and interruption of some painstakingly slow diplomacy across the powder keg of the world-northern Africa and the Middle East.

In itself, that is a great tragedy, but in addition, that same Freedom of Speech has turned a very tenuous situation into a US political campaign issue – ignoring over two hundred years of American tradition of country trumps politics in any crisis.  The results of this unspeakable action are yet to fully play out.

Those of us who put America First over politics are in agreement that political posturing is inappropriate but wrong- no matter what- and those that do should be held accountable-no matter what the impact. And how that plays out and impacts the Republican candidate for President is yet to be seen.

But one incident especially, seemed to be a step too far.  With an embassy in Egypt under attack, a new Black Muslim leader of that country with whom the US is only beginning to interact to build a relationship, and diplomacy and negotiations underway to get him to move to provide support to our US citizens within that compound, for me it was unconscionable for any citizen to criticize our country and the leader elected by the people – live on national network- let alone to have this done by someone who views himself as the candidate for that very office.

Obama obviously very carefully said the new leader of Egypt was neither ally or enemy but was leader of new democracy feeling its way…a diplomatic way, for me, of saying, we are supporting the democracy and him and are in negotiations to gain his support in this situation.  Obviously, the Republicans thought differently and both they and their press clamored to judge.

Come on people!  In the short term, we desperately needed the Egyptian leader  to provide protection to our diplomats and citizens under attack!  In the long term, he desperately needs money from the US, acceptance and support in order to succeed.  To get what we needed in the moment, was it inappropriate to raise issue that if he did not act as ally, he may not get the support he needs to succeed that we normally give our allies?    You can debate and critique it later, but lives are at stake, if you are not part of the negotiation team, fully briefed on the strategy, keep your mouth shut!  You may not agree with or respect the Office of the President, but you have no right to bring it down in time of crisis – and still be considered as fit to be considered to run the country you so purport to love.

For me personally, any American who knowingly undermines our country in times of grave danger to any citizen, should be considered to have committed an act of treason.  Or perhaps we implement the Impeachment process for stated candidates for President.  Again, that old business adage of the 1980s-90s is no longer applauded.  Winning is NOT Everything, Mitt, whether we believed it 30 years ago or not. 

And when we survive this crisis; we will have time to debate what should have happened.  We all lost a lot of PERSONAL FREEDOMS after 9-11 – particularly in air travel.  Republicans and Democrats alike came together for the safety of our country and citizens.  Is it too much to ask, that the Republican candidate for President could at least ACT “presidential” in a crisis not on his watch?

 

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MORE BUSINESS, LESS TROUBLE

September 10, 2012

Most of my friends and family have converted.  They no longer subscribe to a printed newspaper,  but rely on news input totally from TV and digital sources.  I understand that; it is just one more thing to pay for and fit into a daily busy schedule.  I too, rely heavily on the digital feed – particularly of MNPOST – which I cannot praise enough – for its quickness in letting me know what is going on; for its candor; for its format that allows immediate comment and feedback – as oppose to the STRIB that only allows x number of access per month to their on-line version.

Nevertheless, I love the paper;   it is a resource I count on, as well as a lifelong habit that I cannot imagine living without.  I joke that I HAVE to read the paper before I leave my house in the morning…after all, the world may have ended and I would not know it if I did not read the paper.

(And yes, that reveals another habit.  “Peace and Quiet” in the morning.  No TV, No radio, No phone visiting.  My TV is on only in the evenings – and often only from 5:30 to 6:30 when I get the local and national UPDATE of the news. I need the quiet time to THINK and form my own opinions on issues-not parrot thoses of some news commentator.)

Often  I hear complaints – about the Wall Street Journal insert  or the lack of “breaking news” on Monday.  To me, that is logical.  Most of our business are open Monday-Friday….so Saturday and Sunday, they are not making a big splash to give reporters fodder to feed on – so add the little extra “The Wall Street Journal” – if nothing else, it humors those anxious to be identified as “in the know” as they can walk around bragging that they “read it in the Wall Street Journal”.  As for Monday, yup – there is not much breaking news in the “business insider”, but it has become one of my most valuable resources for new companies, new services and potential vendors that I or my client may need – I like the emphasis on small business and success stories.

Take this morning, for instance. 

I learned that, two war-weary Israelis, both political independents and moderates seeking better relations through cultural, educational and commercial initiatives turned their attention to peaceful initiatives to transcend the political and religious hostilities in the Middle East through a fellowship program at Hamline University called the Middle East Fellowship Exchange.

Each year about 20 Jordanians, Israelis, Palestinians, Lebanese-Jews, Christians, Muslims, liberal and conservative-  recruited by the  Zmoras- now both Israeli and US citizens- come to study Minnesota business and non-profits for five weeks.   Many have never fraternized with people from neighboring countries or other faiths, but with program focus on business, it enables the participants to be “Just people-not representatives of their respective communities.”

And as a result, they become friends; they share a respect and love for one another that inspires them to find ways to remain friends and resources for one another when they return home.  They have a better perspective on what the United States is- imperfect, but using commercial and cultural ties to bridge differences.  They do not fear each other, but become multipliers with new and valuable ideas for their community.  The Strib reports these like-minded moderates and entrepreneurs believe they can collaboratively build a stronger economy in the Jordan-Israel-West Bank-Lebanon neighborhood.

I concur, “Without efforts such as theirs, the Middle East will remain hobbled by the religious and political walls that bar a more prosperous future.

That’s the hope I experienced myself and among the people I grew to know in my travels in/out of Israel in the 1980s; it is so encouraging to hear that it still is there and being fed by a program right here in Minnesota.

“I am a big believer in collaboration with our neighboring countries, “ said Nir Hindi, a Hamline Fellow and marketing executive with NegevCo…an incubator for Israel’s alternative-energy and low-water agricultureal industries.  “We can contribute to each other knowledge and experience.  We start with small steps.”

What an encouraging perspective…..perhaps the STRIB should share it with Mr. Romney.

 

 

 

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MAYBE WE SHOULD HAVE LET THEM SECEDE….

September 8, 2012

Maybe we should have let them secede….

When I was in fourth grade, I discovered “Gone with the Wind” and became infatuated with the South. I have no recollection of when that infatuation faded…I remember a “new best friend” at church who was from Atlanta- the land of Rhett and Scarlett- in late grade school and into my early teens…then I grew up and my vision of mansions, gentry, debutantes and balls, faded.

I expect that change occurred about the same time I became more aware of current events as by the early sixties, there was trouble on those old plantations and marches, Little Rock, and civil rights, the Kennedys, Freedom Riders and Dr. King filled the news.  High school history/civics had exposed me to Dixicrats, then Southern Democrats, and finally the parting of the ways and set the state for the eventual end of the Solid South for the Democratic Party in 1968.

Maybe we should have let them secede.  The first time I remember verbalizing this thought, I believe, the “regulars” were gathered at the Alpha House cramming for another of Abe’s tests in American History…1964?…1965?  It got a laugh.  For surely, by the mid-60s, we knew the “South” was trouble.  100 years later and they still thought they were going to win the civil war.

In 1965 I was appalled on my first trip south to see the “MEN, WOMEN, NEGROES” restroom signs in Jackson Mississippi-I have more pictures of that as souvenirs of my trip than pictures of New Orleans; in the 90s, I was appalled to be in Alabama presenting with Jack Morton, a plan for Mercedes as they opened their plant…the undercurrent was there in New Orleans  on many a “Shell Oil” site visits in the 1980s, and when I went to “The Special Event” in late 90s or early 2000s.  The hatred and un-earned superiority remained.   I vowed then to never go back – my few dollars would never support a part of the country so bigoted and proud of nothing but the days of slaves and cotton!

And here we are, 150 years after the start of the Civil War and not much has changed….it’s just become coded or gone underground when necessary-but it is always there-just below the surface to jump out and hit you in the face when you least expect it.   And now those Southern Democrats have shifted parties and have a tight rein on the Republicans.

So when I saw Chuck Thomson’s “Better Off Without “Em – A Northern Manifesto For Southern Secession”, it caught my eye, I chuckled, and was reminded of my own secession thoughts for them almost fifty years ago.  Of course I gave in, purchased the book and it sits on the corner of my desk as I write this, dressed in a jacket of confederate flag and GOP graphics….an irreverent and sometimes crude epistle that I can only take in small doses…but I was hooked with the Introduction and now am about two-thirds through and I am still thinking maybe we should have let them secede.

Think about it….It was not the Southern Whites that could figure out how to create jobs in their states for those less affluent than themselves….it took northern influence looking for cheap labor to take a gamble, build the auto plants and put people to work….so what would happen if the government run military bases moved north, the plants now needing less cheap labor (technological changes that reduce # of humans needed to work in factories) moved back up north.  Wonder how much cash they still have in the Confederacy bank to recreate themselves and take care of and support themselves…oh yes. There IS the oil that has replaced the cotton cash crop.

As I was pondering this topic once again, on August 23, the STRIB published a timely article by Jeffrey Kolnick entitled “GOP must slip its ugly skin” which tracked the story of Dixiecrats to Southern Democrats to the Democratic Party’s struggle to get them silenced that led them to jump ship and head for the Republicans.

 “Courageous Democrats fought a struggle for the soul of their party and won.  If the same struggle were to happen within the Republican Party, we might at last become a nation where no national party welcomes the intolerant and the bigoted.  But who among the Republicans has the courage of Alfred E. Smith or Hubert Humphrey”?

Therein lays the question of the day.  It surely was not Mitt Romney.  His long-held image of himself as President and his need to win means he succumbed to Dixie bedfellows.

We can only hope the United States of America  led by our President, Barack Obama, wins this struggle.

 

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