Archive for November, 2012

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BENGHAZI – WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

November 30, 2012

This past fall, four US citizens including our ambassador were killed in Benghazi.  It was a sad, tragic event that demonstrates the downside of US world leadership and dominance.

For all time historically recorded, similar incidents can be recalled…initiated by warring factions whether that be (by or towards) the ancient Greeks,  The Holy Roman Empire, the Catholic Church, the Union Jack, the USA, or any civilization in between.

We need not look too far back into our own history to find many an example…most recently- terrorist incidents in the Clinton Administration that expanded under Bush to 9-11, two wars and the loss of hundreds of thousands of Americans, NATO allies, and Iraqi/Afghan citizens.  One only had to view a recent PBS documentary on events leading up to and including 9-11 to recognize the misinformation, missteps, and confusion as that tragedy unfolded.  And yet, as a country we came together in support.

An innocent’s death should be mourned by all whether it is American or not, and certainly Benghazi is a tragedy that should be reviewed and learned from…not to blame, but to improve.

Instead, we have moved into a new realm, however, as Benghazi became politicized by two angry men.  I would so like to believe it is genuine concern, but their means of drawing attention to the incident speaks more of hubris or perhaps the recognition that their own powerful spheres of influence are diminishing….and a need to be in the spotlight one last time. Since we most often come together in the face of such a tragedy as Benghazi, we would do well to stop, examine and learn from this erratic reaction.

Is it because of a lost election (or two), a perception of loss of power, the racial and gender undertones long familiar in the business world now moving into government as well, or the constantly bubbling undertones beneath the surface that point to white male footholds now balancing on a slippery slope as we move into a new American era of multiculturalism?  Have the rules changed and this is what should be expected going forward – no matter what party is in office?  I only know if it were me, I would NOT want this to be my parting legacy, but then again, I am not an old white man.

Whatever the reason, it saddens me – first because Susan Rice has been made a scapegoat by these men in order to strike at Obama; and second, because these men leading this attack by using methods they have chosen, are not being viewed as American heroes, but are self-destructing…and casting doubt on those many great things they have contributed to this country.

They are better than this; we as American citizens deserve better than this; as do the Americans who sacrificed their lives for us in Benghazi.  Review the incident, of course.  But let’s not try this case via grand-standing for the press.

 

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SECESSION, TRANSIT, and THE HOLIDAYS

November 26, 2012

THE SECESSIONISTS ISSUE….

…I fear it will never go away if after 150 years, no lessons have been learned in much of the South.  So I thoroughly enjoyed Paul Vandevelder’s article reprinted yesterday in the STRIB from the Los Angeles Times.

Those southern folks who hated Lincoln and the newly formed Republican party had almost a hundred years to “adjust” when Humphrey finally called them on their dysfunction in 1948…but it took the ‘60s Civil Rights Movement for Democrats to get rid of them as they migrated to the very Republican they originally ran from….and 150 years later, I say, we tried; now let them go.  (Well, of course, Texas will have to change their state constitution to secede…they agreed not to secede when they petitioned to join the US but apparently the100,000 plus that signed the petition to secede  this past month are not aware of that…maybe they can’t read.)

I for one am tired of supporting them…yes, many of the revolting states get more federal help than they pay in in taxes….so, let them try to pay their own way or revert back to 1861 and the world they loved so much!

Vandervelder suggests a “divorce” and proceeds to draw up a property settlement splitting the US assets….good humor, but perhaps we shouldn’t share it with them until we have built that impenetrable  BIG WALL to keep the immigrants out they keep yakking about.  We want to be able to shut the gate when they realize we have the fresh water, natural gas, low-sulfur coal, 86% of America’s venture capital and 92 % of young entrepreneurs…and of course, all that money they use for floods, tornados, hurricanes and whatever….

TRANSIT….

…Another favorite topic of mine these days.  This morning, the STRIB Editorial  addressed the impact of aging boomers on the US transport system and the creation of urban sprawl.….and what is about to happen as we boomers are less able to drive safely, find our way, and pay for the expense of cars.  A quote from “Aging in Place: Stuck Without Options” points out that our metro is in middle ground in terms of transit access for the elderly but seniors with poor transit access will number 69% of senior population by 2015 ….most of whom have made no plans for cost of transportation assistance in their retirement budgets. What once we thought was freedom and mobility – the car – becomes a problem.  For those living in the burbs, the cul de sac miles away from food, friends and medical care, one’s home becomes a prison. For some of my aging relatives and others, so does weather.  And for me, rebuilding and maintenance of infrastructure is not only a job opportunity for those unemployed, but a major cost that contributes to our nation’s debt and balance is needed.  I have long said, if you want to live isolated in the country, pay for and maintain your own roads. The Strib urges that policymakers encourage more balance in transportation and land-use…recognizing the mobility issue as well as the health of a warming planet.

Fortunately for the most part, the Millennials coming behind us are OVER trumping parents in house size and country living and put much more value in community, urban living and its advantages and so far, are not rushing to the Burbs and Exurbs.  They should be our model for urbanization, not the Traditionalists and Boomers.  I, for one, have made the move and hope it is permanent.  Except for trips to Rochester, I drive very little and now after testing a life of walking in Downtown Mpls, am trying to transition to car-free…with a little help from Hour Car and perhaps an occasional rental car to Rochester…at some point, I expect, even that will fall off in favor of train to the airport; RST limo to visit family.  

AND MY FAVORITE SEASON

A bit behind schedule, I finished decorating for the holidays yesterday.  Like most people, I guess, it is my favorite time of year….although no Santa Claus reigns at 111 Marquette.  My house is filled with crystal stars and angels of all kinds. With much less floor and display space now, I had a bit of trouble displaying all my Nativity  Scenes….and I admit, finding room for TWO trees plus me in this space was a challenge!  But in the end, I made it work….despite lacking the convenience of on-site storage, it meant several trips to off site storage – with the last six crates in my car and ready to be moved today. 

I have already delivered my holiday gift to my brother and sister-in-law, as I gave them my mom’s lamp…a prize possession but one that has not had a home since I moved downtown.  A few weeks ago, when I was in town, stopped at the store, and mentioned the space problem for displaying the lamp, I’m sure my mom was watching as her “fourth” daughter signaled how much she would love to have it.  So we installed it in the family room at Gordon’s this past weekend and driving back from Rochester, I thought how fitting that is.  As family gathers on major holidays, there Mom, too, will be-shining her light and blessings upon us all.  

 I made my annual tour of holiday decor in stores on my birthday in early November as I generally am not a shopper and want it done and off the list before others start.  As for others, we’ve dropped the gift exchange between my other brother and sister/husband that Ray lobbied for last year… and my charitable gifting is handled, so I am now free to enjoy the season without the hassle.  Fortunately  that meant I missed the insanity of Grey Thursday, Black Friday and Cyber Monday…all of which I find pretty hard to take!

As the sun streams in across the prisms of the Swarovski snowflakes and stars filling my windows, I am immersed in colorful rainbows dancing across the walls of my home.  That is, perhaps , one of things I most look forward to…as through-out the winter, they provide the energy and hope to keep me going.

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THE 2012 ELECTIONS…TEN DAYS LATER

November 17, 2012

MAYBE a ray of hope…..this past week, have heard some good thinking from once out-of-touch Minnesota Republicans – lamenting their OWN actions for election loss in Minnesota. I think they are transferring too much of the blame to the amendment fiasco, but it was encouraging to hear:

“We have to spend less time trying to vote people off the island and more time figuring out how we can work together behind common goals.”

Well….dah! Personally, I think a new second party would serve Minnesotans better than a new dress on a tired old out-of-touch elephant….especially since what I have NOT heard yet from them or their national good old boys counterpart is a recognition that we cannot RE-LIVE the 20th century.

Let alone those that have yet to learn the lessons of the 19th century – and still do not understand they cannot secede – that is exactly why thousands died 150 years ago. (This one is hard issue for me, since for many years, I have wondered WHY we insisted on keeping at least the South a part of the US….and often think we should re-evaluate Lincoln’s stand….so I’m including the movie in this weekend’s activities – hoping it prevents me from rallying to a new cause of LET THEM GO…..:-)

Before I am willing to take another look at the Minnesota bunch, they will have to show me evidence – not only of collaborating with DFL to get MN issues addressed, but they need to support their cries nationally of “business” with one who’s made it in today’s global, digital, collaborative world…not a veteran of the very time in business that created Sharehold Value as top priority, rather than consumer and employees.

AN INNOCENT ELECTION VICTIM…Lennon Cihak is a far better person than I am……as he was denied the sacrament of confirmation in the Catholic Church because of a picture of him holding a Vote No to ban same sex marriage, and yet, he pleads for people to understand his church rules.

Meanwhile, I fume because of what that means in his parish and perhaps the whole diocese…..If you voted no, you may be voted off the island and denied the comfort of faith in which you were raised……That just opens so many issues and arguments, I know better than to comment further and have been arguing with myself to remain silent.

Unfortunately, I am a historian at heart…so I know marriage as a sacrament in the Catholic Church did not begin with Christ making Peter the first head of the Church….indeed, marriage remained a civic act only and did not become a sacrament in the the Catholic Church until SEVERAL HUNDRED YEARS later – when the church, motivated by financial difficulties, adopted it as a sacrament – allowed to church members for a fee!

So I’m glad I am of a different faith and live in the USA where I can say….the treatment of this 12 year old boy may be an isolated incident…OR it could be a signal of that unbending self-rightousness that led to the devastation of the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition..and eventually, to the rejection of that Church by many..

On a more rational and less emotional level, I’m tentatively optimistic….I think Obama learned in the first term, that until all the “elder” statesmen are voted off the island, he cannot govern totally by collaboration and consensus. His positioning of his “mandate” from the election signals to me that as he needs to, he will indeed use power and a few old tricks from the 20th century. That is a sad state of affairs, but to me, reflects more on the elders in Congress than it does on Obama….we shall see as we now LEAN FORWARD to join the rest of world in a century of promise that lies before us.

That is, if we survive the die-hards that did not get the message…that are trying so hard to make Benghazi into a crisis that exceeds the importance and devastation of 9-11.

Of course, I do not mean to imply that thousands of deaths in our own country from a terrorist attack , followed by 100,000s of deaths of Americans and Iraqis/Afghans CAN be compared to Benghazi-in either case, Americans died, there was considerable confusion as what happened was sorted out, and both ultimately were tragic  incidents in American history.

But even though I myself  did not support the second retalitory action – the Iraq War- there is NO COMPARISON to Elder Deomocratic Statesmen support of President Bush and the country to the ANTICS of McCain and company on Benghazi…led initially by Romney.   Patriotism, not Politics should be the principle that comes to the fore ANYTIME we as a country are attacked and citizens of the USA are killed.  It is a travesty to see McCain…and Graham to some extent…try to make this a POLITICAL ISSUE especially when McCain in particular has been honored all his political life for serving his country in a war that had more than its share of hiccups and mistakes.

But all in all, ten days later, I am proud to be part of the American public  that voted YES to four more years of Obama- a citizen who recognizes that men are fallible and I have yet to see (or to have studied) either party or representatives of parties that came before Lincoln rule without criticism, mistakes, misunderstandings and deep emotional debates among the masses.  So, I am taking a deep breath as here we go again…

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I SURVIVED YET ANOTHER PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

November 8, 2012

I had election day notes to turn into a blog…but did not get to them; I had day after election day notes for a blog, but did not get to them; today it is Thursday, and for what its worth….

I’m still battling Comcast; think its time for a change in service provider!…but yes, I did indeed miss the last minute constant barrage of campaign messages!

I’d forgotten how fun and engaging it is to WALK over to the polls at 6:30AM…what a great way to experience community as neighbors chatted in line about hopes and fears of what was at stake…A big YES to city living rather than that impersonal interim time out in Edina!

How great it was to share dinner and the election nite vigil with a long time friend of forty years and her “family”.

Yes to a victory that means we can continue to explore and find our way in the 21st century…rather than reliving the Good Old Boy days of the 1980s….

Why did I doubt the Obama campaign who won because indeed, they DID understand the WHOLE of our citizens; recognized the emerging demographics of the US in 2012, and quietly and confidently went about their business…targeting the Amercan citizens that hold the key to our country’s future…I am rightfully chastised that I doubted them ocassionally along the way!

As the anaysis unfolded yesterday, I could not help but laugh at myself…and most of the country for totally missing the point throughout the whole campaign. I felt the frustration melt away and the calmness blanket me in hope once again.  Every step of the way, the Obama team knew what they were doing, did not get disstracted, and went about their business confident they knew how to win.

No, we will not have a smooth-sailing, crisis and mistake – free four years ahead, but I for one, am looking forward to a thoughtful exploration of how we can best use the strengths, innovation, and resilience of  ALL the American people to forge the path of global leadership in the new world of the 21st century…I am confident we will test ideas, win some, stumble a little, evaluate and make adjustments as we move forward on solid footings into a whole new world that lies before us…that multi-cultural global world that replaces the bland white world in which we have lived so far.

And with that on the national scale; I am also so proud of Minnesotan sthat drew the line in the sand on the two amendments, AND gave Governor Dayton the potentially cooperative Legislature needed to stop the nonsense and let us get on with making Minnesota the Crossroads of America once again!

And with that, I am looking forward to MOVING FORWARD once again!