Archive for the ‘2012 Elections’ Category

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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!

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VOTER ID AMENDMENT IN MINNESOTA

October 25, 2012

In the rush to get the Voter ID Constitutional Amendment on the November 6 ballot in Minnesota, those posturing for the change not only committed the error of limiting ID validation to a 19th century technology (photos) but also have created additional room for interpretation and error in the vague language -an example of which is exactly what kind of ID is acceptible.

This is exactly my point in urging all to “Vote No”. Since we have no fraud record in MN today, it would seem that responsible legislators should be expected to lay out the issues, possible resolutions, openly obtain input on objections and consequences, and finally collaborate with all impacted to author a bill that addresses the needs and accommodates all. That is not only the mark of a good legislator and leader, but frankly, in my book, of an adult as well.

Unless of course, the recent “revelation” of intent is not simple posturing by a disgruntled and dismissed Republican, but is in fact the truth…and indeed, this whole expensive madness was simply a means to ensure Republican voter turnout in the election – creating a $50 million expense to be born – not by the Republicans – but all citizens of Minnesota….and committing us by Constitution to use 19th/20th century technology despite being in the second decade of the 21st century.

However, we cannot change the process now. Consequently, we have no choice but to defeat the extreme one-sided, costly, and out-dated “solution” presented by the Republicans.

THEN, we can start over, get input from all sides, craft an equitable solution that is 21st century in scope,  does not disenfranchise voters, addresses and clarifies all the issues raise, as well as implementation issues and costs and then submit the resulting solution as a new law – not a Constitutional Amendment!

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THE DECIDING DEBATE…or just more blather?

October 22, 2012

For weeks we have heard the debates don’t matter. Opps…poll numbers started shifting during the first three, and now this final debate is the MOST IMPORTANT thing of the campaign. Who knows what the truth is? All I really know is that we should expect posturing and not truthful thought-out responses.
Yesterday I started a blog that outlined what I would like to hear discussed in the last debate tonight. No, Benghazi was not on the list…contrary to neo-con manipulation of Romney’s impression, Benghazi’s greatest importance was the unexpected loss of American lives-especially one who may have emerged as a knowledgeable and informed leader in 21st century foreign policy-someone who understands the Middle East; someone that could have helped the United States make needed transitions from “War is the Answer” to peaceful co-existence. And, its second most important role was as a demonstration for the American people of just how complex-even murky-an incident like this is. Such an incident calls for patience and level heads, no finger pointing until everyone has the facts, and no posturing for political advantage…especially from a neophyte whose total foreign policy is wrapped up in a father born in Mexico for religious reasons, and time spent as a missionary in France – a country that was then just emerging from post-WWII recovery! While I applaud Romney for his time and compassion, I do not think he emerged a qualified 21st century diplomat based on that experience! And frankly, I shudder to think his neo-con advisors are the very same men and women that manipulated Bush and tricked the world into the wrongful war in Iraq!
But I digress. What I was in the midst of outlining yesterday was my own questions/issues I hope to hear discussed tonight.
• Japan is about to take China’s place as the US largest creditor. What do you see as positive/negative impacts, if  any, on the United States?
• With China’s low profit margins on production of goods, combined with extremely low worker wages, what do you see as impact in the US, of as the Chinese “Boom” recedes? Will there be economic consequences from the many US companies with facilities there? Are the US corporate investments in China significant enough that a collapse there would impact us domestically?
NOTE: This morning STRIB had article in Business Insider Page 1 raising similar question of what will happen as US Corporations ramp up there, expecting China to replace slow markets in the US and Europe.
• What impact to US do you see as the Chinese population growth controls (one child; preferably male) starts impacting the Chinese economy?
I’ve read that traditionally, this male head of family takes on responsibility of support for parents AND parents of spouse. That support of three families on low wages seems challenging; as does the question of whom do these favored sons marry with so few Chinese women in their generation?
The Strib OPINION PAGE added significant “food for thought” this morning by pointing out that the most serious security challenges confronting the US –which come from the Mideast and South Asia- are “so complex and fluid” it is hard to provide clear answers…so at best we can expect posturing by Romney and over-simplification by Obama.
Uggh.
Before the debate, take the time to check out the article “What to hope for tonight at the debate”. The questions raised about the Arab Spring, Syria, Iran, will make your head spin, but every one of them is valid and raises significant issues…just reviewing the questions makes one realize how daunting the situation is.
The author’s last paragraph says it all.
Whatever the weaknesses of Obama on these issues, I’ve heard no clear alternatives from Romney and no recognition of the global changes of the last decade. I hope Schieffer will press both candidates for real, not canned answers. But my expectations aren’t high.
Amen to that….by now, most of you know, my biggest issue with Romney is that he is NOT prepared or even cognizant that we do not live today in a world in which his experience and success in a past century will make any difference. If he does not understand the implications and relationships in the world today, he will not be effective; nor will he be able to lead us successfully into the future. I say again, tomorrow is NOT more of the same. The world has changed.

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MORE on ENTREPRENEURSHIP…in the GREAT RESET

October 5, 2012

Did you listen closely Wednesday to how Romney was going to increase jobs?

I hope so, as you might want to compare his plan – based on what he learned as a business leader 30 years ago to the latest reality-start up companies.  Since 1977, there has been a net increase in jobs from businesses other than startups ONLY SEVEN TIMES.  And start-up companies have changed significantly over that same period of time.

Start-ups are hiring fewer people; they are depending more on contract workers.  At its peak in 1999, new start-ups employed 7.7 employees; in 2011, that number is 4.7 or a 46% decline.  That means the numbers Romney knows from times past will most likely not be achieved in times present…despite his claim that from his “experience” he knows he can do this.

This revolution in start-ups and small business started first in Japan in the 1980s when manufacturers learned the value of creating products in smaller batches and refining them more often, according to Eric Ries, the author of “The Lean Start-up”.

Then, in the ensuing twenty years, as the technological impact became apparent, first through tele-commuting, those small businesses learned they are more flexible by using “contractors”.

It is a concept I have personally been experimenting with since 2007….which lead to a new sales high for me of almost $ 2 million annually in 2010 and 2011…with no employees.  But more importantly, it allowed my company to better match the needs of my clients to very specific talents of contractors resulting in far less cost to the client than were I to have maintained a pool of potential skills within my own organization…and all the administrative staff, space and other overhead to support that pool of labor.

Fortunately, I also do not have to be concerned about “stakeholder value” so no decisions need be driven nor dollars diverted from obtaining client satisfaction; all sales dollars can be focused on providing top services at a fair price by the best in the industry….as supported by awards, honors, press, and the recognition we received for our work over those same two years.

This is a 21st century phenomenon now being called the Jobless Entrepreneurship.  It is part of the change we are seeing in this digital, collaborative age of the 21st century. It most likely is partly responsible for slower than desired job growth and recovery since our economy imploded in the previous administration.

In spite of that, I’m proud to be one of the pioneers; and already, I am seeing those that have come after have experimented and tweeked and achieved ever increasing results for their clients.

There is no doubt, today’s entrepreneurs and their clients are on board and continue to push the envelope for better results.  Results for clients themselves and for those they employ as contractors.  If you haven’t spent any time in the “Business” section of a bookstore, you ought to plan a trip….Social Media, Learning, Collaboration and Contracting are front and center, as well they should be….because it is working!

It’s only the Politicians and the Press that are lagging behind.    And I can assure you from experience, the 1980s successful businessman running for President does not have today’s business answers. 

But what about his Governor experience, you say?  Compare Bill Clinton of the ‘90s to Bill Clinton of today.  He may have built on his experience in the ‘90s; but he does not rely on it for his credentials.  Neither should Romney. 

The World has Changed.  Romney hasn’t.

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A MEETING OF THE MINDS

October 1, 2012

“Look between today’s two extremes.  America lives there.”

Yesterday, I wrote about our broken political system…and later in the day, saw that the STRIB had done likewise, by sharing the opinion of Stephen B. Young who simplified the issue much more succinctly than my attempt to condense Mickey Edwards book into a single posting. I have included portions of that article below.

Thanks to the baby boomers, who, out of passionate self-regard, adopted one or the other of these foreign approaches, these two ideologies have taken over our political system, have crippled our best ways of making decisions, and have brought us to a systemic gridlock where we are incapable of providing for our future success, both at home and in the world….If America is to survive, we must recover our moral sense.

American politics was designed to seek alignment between duty and advantage.  It should reflect a moral sense that we have individual human dignity to be respected by others but that we also have responsibilities to others.  We may not demand too much of them, as we are first and foremost each responsible for our own lives and for what happens to us.  But at the same time, in taking care of ourselves, we may not turn our backs on the community and its needs.

This is the middle way of mindful behavior that demands flexibility and collaboration at every turn.  It leaves no room for narrow-minded and strident ideologies.

Young then lists the results we could expect if we consciously try to achieve balance among the contending forces:

  • First, we would reject both the entitlement state and social Darwinism
  • Second, we would expect each  American to be virtuous and responsible for themselves and for our common good…Excellence, not comfort, would be the standard of the American life well lived
  • Third, we could accept the role of government and taxation as legitimate.  Government is to provide the public goods that will make the res publica prosper and which will not reliably be provided by a free market
  • Fourth, the deficit-prone programs we call entitlements-primarily health care and retirement stipends- would become a blended effort of personal responsibility and public subsidy.
  • Fifth, reliance on the moral sense would call for more tolerant communal approaches to person sexuality and religious liberty…But, where the moral sense might prove imperfect when such personal shortcomings would create high risks of harm to others…communal needs would justify regulation of personal conduct.
  • Sixth, the economy, especially the financial sector, would be incentivized to reward individual entrepreneurial achievement…Since trading and speculation contributes little to our society’s creation of wealth…such activity could be highly regulated…for fairness…and to reduce risk of credit market collapses.
  • Seventh, in foreign policy, the US would be a dynamic participant in global affairs, looking to protect and promote the moral sense through constitutional democracies and free markets and to provide checks against concentrations of power abroad that would abuse broadly accepted norms of right and fairness.

Forgive me for quoting at such length but I think this message is important.  As I read through it, I thought to myself, YES, this is why I consider myself an independent.  I generally do not see one side totally right; one side totally wrong.  Although when push comes to shove, I know from experience from over twenty years in the corporate world, interacting with a great many CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, that the late 20th century “business” thinking and ethics falls short.  Because I believe so strongly in collaboration and community,  I am generally pushed towards the side of the Democrats…and then live with the consequences; while continuing to hope for the good of our country that someday the balance between these two will be restored to what our forefathers envisioned. 

And, judging from the growing size of those considered “independent”, I think I share this dilemma with a lot of Americans….in fact, with latest estimates being 40% of the country consider themselves independent, it continues to amaze me that we allow two minority groups to manipulate and force us to choose between them and then let one of them run our lives for significant periods of time.  

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THE PARTIES versus THE PEOPLE

September 30, 2012

This past week or so, I realized that at a critical juncture in this upcoming election, I’ve turned off.  I am tired of it; I have lost hope that perhaps there was still time to have a reasonable discussion about issues and suggestions for resolution.  I’ve given up at least temporarily, on the ability of collaboration to get us through what this country is facing and somewhat sadly, I have accepted that we have done little more than confuse us all by pitting a 20th century thinker against the first pioneer of the 21st century….and have started to distance myself from what’s going on….a reaction I abhor in not only myself, but also in others. I’d like to think that the next critical month will erase the embarrassing  summer, but I am not optimistic.

So in desperation, as always, I turned to books for the answer.  Sitting on my desk were two: Bob Woodward’s “The Price of Politics”, and “The Parties versus the People” by Mickey Edwards.  Edwards is a one time congressional Republican, a faculty member at Harvard and Princeton, and is now a VP of the Aspen Institute.

I picked the second one to start with as it was smaller and perhaps would give me some insight into what has gone wrong in our world as explained on the book jacket: why we’ve become our own worst enemy:

A penetrating analysis of American democracy’s most urgent threat: a political system so paralyzed by partisanship it is almost incapable of placing national interest ahead of the blind pursuit of political advantage.

Edwards clearly establishes that democratic self-governance comes from mutual respect, the energies of ideas, and ultimately, consensus.  This certainly is something I believe, not just in politics, but in life.

He then establishes that the central challenge of our times is overcoming the tribalism and knee-jerkpartisanship that has emerged over the last two decades.  This, too, supports my thinking.  Our world changed dramatically with the beginning of the Clinton Administration. As the first Boomers in the office, the Clinton Administration got off to a rocky start.  The Clintons survived; and today, certainly have proven themselves, but in the heat of the battle, our two hundred year old governing system did not fare as well.

And so with that, I delved in.  It was not easy reading; it was not necessarily riveting, nor did it necessarily feed my own “reality” of our political world today.  But what it did do, was make me step back from my own positions; it made me think; and I struggled hard to understand the ten steps to change that Edwards put forth.  I am sharing the ten steps below:

  • Take away the right of parties to control access to the ballot
  • Take away the parties’ control over redistricting
  • Reduce campaign spending; increase competition
  • Establish a non-partisan Congressional leadership
  • Establish non-partisan Congressional Committees
  • Restore democracy to Congress
  • Eliminate the trappings of partisanship
  • Longer workweeks; more interaction
  • Eliminate one-party White House strategy sessions
  • Sign no pledges; stand up to bullies

If any or all resonate with you, too, then pick up the book with an open mind and accept the challenges he laid out for us–the voters- because we are the only ones that can change this.