Archive for the ‘2012 Elections’ Category

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

September 24, 2012

A quick thought this morning as I recall a passing comment from Joe Klein on the Chris Matthews show yesterday….

He shared that some see the Eastwood/empty chair moment at the Republican Convention, as a Republican joke gone bad as it points out the President Obama the Republicans have imagined/made up and are fighting against is an imaginary character. 

Rumor has it, while most intelligent Republicans had horror spread across their face when Eastwood was on stage, Romney was in the wings “gaffawing”.  I think back to those circumstances and the passing filler remarks from the news commentators that hinted that Eastwood, specifically asked to speak by Romney, was an attempt to say, “see, Democrats are not the only ones with influential Hollywood friends”; that no one even thought to ask him what he was going to say or do on behalf of their party and candidate; that Eastwood himself said that anyone who asks him to speak at the convention deserved what he got-all certainly lead to the conclusion that Romney is a loose cannon. 

That is bad enough for the Republicans, and would be a disaster for the country, but really gave some unwanted insight into the future were Romney elected….If we thought his London visit was less than Presidential, I think we would need to be prepared for more of the same….we could be apologizing to countries around the world for four years!

But the real importance of Klein’s comment yesterday continues to haunt me today.  That Obama is portrayed as invisible/imaginary through use of an empty chair being addressed by an old man is really telling.   Indeed, from Day One when the Republican leaders met after the Inauguration to plot their strategy of do-nothing and obstruct, they created in their minds a bogeyman leading our country.  And little by little, over four years as they created a powerful movement of obstruction and character assassin they also created an image of Obama that is imaginary and untrue.    And apparently they did so with no regrets or even understanding of what they were doing, as today, they and their followers all believe the myth they invented.

Make no mistake, I do not think Obama scores 100% on his job evaluation; no one has that came before him, and no one will that will come after him.  But again, I believe in the whole, he has the understanding of what is needed to transition to the 21st century and the world in which we live today.  And on the whole, has accomplished what non-political economists realistically projected he could accomplish in the timeframe of the first term to fix the mess made in the previous eight years.

And what we do NOT need is the Romney cocoon of a 1980s-1990s “successful” business man. ..who also happens to be – not a man with an imaginary “friend”; but a man proud to share his an imaginary “enemy” with his party and a nation of potential constituents.  Not good, that.

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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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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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Another Republican Convention; Another Reagan Canonization

August 31, 2012

I admit, it was comforting, that there was honor paid to something other than the Tea Party, and it almost made me yearn for those days to return.  Ah yes, the 1980s….

I know time distorts facts, especially as one ages, and these are quick thoughts, not fact-checked, but I think I remember them fairly accurately:

  • We were ecstactic if unemployment fell below 7.5%
  • I paid an interest rate of over 10% (feels like I remember heading towards 13% – but maybe not) when I purchased my home.
  • I paid more for my new 1985 Pontiac (with no adjustment for inflation over more than 25 years) than I paid for the 2010 Mini-Cooper Clubman.
  • As a Vice President of a start-up division at Carlson Companies, my salary was in the low $40,000s. (yes, I KNOW all other Vice Presidents made significantly more – but I was the first Woman VP in CMG- in those days, you took what you could get.  Only because I out-smarted the boys when I wrote the marketing plan to create the division, and got unanimous consensus that the position I eventually filled had to be equal to the VP of Marketing for traditional services was I able to hold out for the title. (Shame on me for not getting salary consensus ahead of time!). 
  • I don’t remember the price of gas, and do not want to risk the distortion falling off lips of today’s Republicans as they shout that gas prices have DOUBLED from Bush to Obama.  Again, I admit, details are starting to evade my brain, but I sure do remember every week in 2005 filling up my tank for $75 as I drove to Rochester to spend time with my mom – in a time when I was only working part-time, recovering from a devastating fall, and surviving only because of assistance from my family.  Maybe Minnesota is just different – I have not found the  $6+/gallon gas prices  Republicans swear we now  have anyplace this year.  But, unfortunately, what I paid for gas in the 1980s escapes me.
  • I read the daily Jeanne Dixon horoscope so I would know ahead of time if Mrs. Reagan would allow President Reagan to venture forth and make some news – now that whole thing was most likely a Democratic myth, but it made for good humor, and was a great diversion from my own worries as I started each day!
  • I respected President Reagan although I did not necessarily agree with all his views.  No one called me a traitor if I did not bash him.  Yes, in those days, respect for one another was allowed!  We tried to debate on issues not necessarily personalities; of course, it did not always work, but we did try and we did respect one another.  That change in America did not occur until Gingrich arrived on the scene during the Clinton Administration…and the rest is history as it’s been a downhill spiral ever since.
  • I was then, like now, an engaged citizen with a strong personal interest in European affairs, so I remember carefully following news on both the USSR and East Germany and their pending crumble. So, I understood and applauded the Great Theatrics and (low risk) of Reagan’s symbolic stance in Berlin as he demanded “Tear Down This Wall.” Like all Americans of the day, I think, I was proud of his ability to pull it off.    I was also bright enough to understand the gesture as taking advantage of a great PR moment while signaling “we’ll stand with you” to those taking the risk to apply the pressure to our “Cold War’ enemy. 
  • I did not buy-in to “Trickle Down” economics and felt exonerated when Reagan indeed, had to raise taxes to stall off the rising debt and make our country work.
  • And near the end of his administration, I gave him the benefit of the doubt, when on occasion, he did not seem to be tracking with what was immediately happening around him…I innocently thought the shooting and the pressures of the Office were simply starting to take its toll on a man of his age.  Taken in perspective now that I have some experience with dementia in parents and siblings, I wonder if the fun we had with the horoscope stories were simply Nancy Reagan trying to protect the country and the man she loved from publically acknowledging the beginnings of a dreadful disease.

Every party has its heroes so if the Republicans feel they have to reach back to Reagan to find successes they are proud of, so be it.   But from my perspective, those days were not Nirvana nor have subsequent Republican administrations achieved that status, and we should not be deceived into thinking they were or will be again.

And in this upcoming struggle, after six years, I now know WHO Romney is – a nice guy who somehow must have been “tricked” into using his money to conduct the most destructive and negative primary campaign I have ever witnessed…but I STILL do not know what he thinks about the issues, what his plan is to fix the problem, or how he expects to accomplish it.  I’ve lived in the corporate world, too.  I know a lofty plan is nothing unless it is backed up with facts and a detailed budget…so that a simple test I learned in business in the Seventies can be applied:

Is it REAL?  Can we WIN?  What’s It WORTH?  What’s the RISK?

Romney is begging us to TRUST his 20th century business acumen and let him apply the same to the issues we are facing in the future as we move forward on a NEW playing field, in the 21st century. 

Unfortunately, I am still a player in the business world; recognizing the changes; trying to learn how I can do a better job of collaboratively managing that business, trying to absorb the last 20 years of brain research that throws most of what we knew about learning, motivation, commitment and leadership out the window. Even when I am committed to it, I find it hard to deliver, without occasionally defaulting to a style that is old-fashioned and ineffective.

Go for it buddy, but if you win the election, you will still have to learn the world that lays before you. And you will be surprised when you learn that 1980s employees trained to do as they are told by the boss are not the same as “We the People” in the United States today.   And even you do not have sufficient funds and support for all the negative campaign ads you may want to wage against the “people” to get them to reluctantly fall in line. 

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THE FORGOTTEN YEARS

August 30, 2012

As Bill Clinton is resurrected by the Democrats, George W. Bush is being erased by the GOP-as if an entire eight years of American history hadn’t happened.

                              Robert Reich, former US Secretary of Labor      

 

This caught my eye this morning, and I thought to myself…how sad is that-I did not even notice the absence. 

But sure enough, as I read through the article, I learned that for the first time in history, a national party will not be giving the stage at its convention to its most recent occupant of the Oval Office who successfully ran for reelection.   

And of course, as the author stated, the GOP is intent on allowing America’s short–term memory to block out what happened when the Republicans were last in office.    I am sorry to confess, they are making a wise gamble, as I have simply forgotten some of the pain of those years.  And, I admit, I had never made the connection between the two Bushes and the two Romneys as being similar father-son  issues.  Whether that is actually the case, I will leave to the reader, but if you missed the article, I have included key paragraphs below to start you thinking!

Republicans want to obliterate any trace of the administration that told America there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and led us into a devastating war; ignored New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina; turned a $5 trillion projected budget surplus into a $6 trillion deficit; [Ed. Comment: Note that is an $11 trillion negative swing that today has morphed into something OBAMA is being blamed for] gave the largest tax cut in a generation to the richest Americans in history, handed out a mountain of corporate welfare to oil and gas industry, pharmaceutical companies and military contractors like Halliburton (uniquely benefitting the then-vice president); whose officials turned a blind eye to Wall Street shenanigans that led to the worst financial calamity since the Great Crash of 1929 and then persuaded Congress to bail out Wall Street with the largest taxpayer-funded giveaway of all time.    

As I read the article, I was reminded that humans surviving a great tragedy tend to block out the pain and the details, and surely, I have done just that.  I know all this; my mind just would not let me put it all together as it is much too painful.   So I am glad that Reich reminded me so that I have a quick retort to Romney’s claim that Obama’s policies were bad for the economy and exploded the government.

And then the author continues with a twist that I had not considered:

Besides, the resemblances between Bush and Romney are too close for comfort.  Both were born into wealth, sons of prominent politicians who themselves ran for president; both are closely tied to the nation’s corporate and financial elites, and eager to do their bidding; both are socially awkward and, as candidates, tightly scripted for fear of saying something they shouldn’t; and both presented themselves to the nation devoid of any consistent policies or principles that might give some clue as to what they actually believe.

They are both men who ran or are running for the presidency for no clear reason other than to surpass their fathers or achieve the aims and ambitions of their wealthy patrons.

That made me sit up and take notice.  I will have to give that some processing and fact-checking time, but it is a very interesting proposition!

Missing from the article was the one additional concern I have…the neo-cons that took possession of Bush and were those giving the advice that created every single misstep of George W. are the very same people – not just philosophy- that are counseling Mr. Romney.   This is their third chance to destroy us…they could not do it on their own; they could not do it through the puppet of George W. Bush; and now they are attempting to do it again.  Three strikes and we can only hope the OUT is on them and not on the United States!

As I sit here trying to digest this and what it means, I am clinging to the good news that in general, “last heard is last remembered” and for those still undecided in this election decision, I can only hope that the statement holds true and the Democrats carefully and relentlessly tackle the Bush mistakes for what they were as they share the message of what has been accomplished so far in 3.5 years of moving towards recovery…and then quietly end with a thoughtful and factual comparison that shows one nice man controlled by the neo-cons and another nice man  now lined up their sights who also will be used, abused and thrown aside by the neo-cons if he elected as President of the United States.

 And from my perspective, it would not hurt to throw in a few twists that communicate that  a 1980s business leader no longer has the appropriate skills to lead a country into a winning position in this new very different century.  We tried it for 8 years and suffered; we may not recover if we are forced backwards for another 4 years. It is time to turn this country over to the next generation as we are trying to do with Obama!

This has been a painful (and in some instances humorous) week; I am so glad the Democrats will have the last word on the national stage before the debates begin.  Now if only we could find some press that were innovative enough to ask some questions that will not be anticipated by either candidate or their “trainers”….as I have no doubt, of the two, Obama can think on his feet.  Romney?  Not so much.

 

 

 

 

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FOREIGN POLICY CREDENTIALS

August 14, 2012

So the good news is…we don’t have to suffer through a campaign with the Republican VP candidate  thinking she is well-versed in foreign policy because she” can see Russia from my house”.

But the bad news is pretty overwhelming.  Neither the Presidential Candidate NOR the Vice Presidential Candidate has foreign-policy experience on his resume.

Of course, this is my hot button.  If we cannot recognize we have moved forward from WWII/Korean War days and a need for a grandiose weapons defense program and away from a cold war with the Soviets that ended decades ago, and to a stance where one knows better than EITHER current or past Presidents of either party in terms of Israel and mid-east , how in the world would this current  twosome recognize and draft a plan for the US to maintain a leadership position on the world-playing field?

We will cut diplomatic spending and developmental funding, beef up arms and squander a real opportunity for the US to maintain a leadership position in the world of the 21st century.  We will  support Israel ridding the world of Palestinians and promise them the plan for Jerusalem set up at the time Israel was created by world agreement can be changed as soon as Obama is ousted (oh yes, one of the players that would need to vote yes was pretty offended by you and took you on during your Olympic visit) ; we will pay tribute to a country’s hero who has no role in the government of his country in today’s world, and think we have “won”; the rest of us should stop asking the embarrassing question about  your draft status and the Vietnam War…and it goes on, and on, and on.

Then add to No foreign policy, no understanding of foreign friend nor foe, no military experience,  and seemingly little understanding that in a globilized world, economics and foreign policy are inter-twined.  

Trying for a third or fourth time in recent decades to let the wealth “trickle down” and save us all is not going to work this time around either….but more important, can these two answer this question:

WHAT IS THE REPUBLICAN PLAN TO ADDRESS THE IMPACT OF THE FOLLOWING SITUATION:

Japan’s economy has stalled out; several European countries economy has stalled out: and we may have seen this week the first crack in China’s predicted inability to sustain their growth.  All of these situations impact the United States – EITHER in 20th century culture OR in the world in which we live today.  What is your plan to address the impact of this?   

And by the way, has anyone shared that sending all the men to war and putting the women to work in factories to make 70 year old war tools is NOT the path to success in getting us out of this “Great Recession” ?  That may be the way we recovered the last time we suffered through an economic disaster as great as the last one we suffered through under George W, but another World War is not the solution in the 21st century.  And then there is…1929…2008.  I wonder what they had in common when we crashed?!!  Oh yes, Republican leadership, I believe.

All that on Foreign Policy matters and we have not addressed the economy yet..Ryan’s Plan we know – sort of, but Romney has his own plan?  Not so much.  All we really know is that the projection to get debt under control was in the year 2060 if we follow the Ryan plan…which, under pressure, he reduced to 2040.   I’m having a hard time with that too.  It is unacceptable that a two year drop through 2008-2009 has not been fixed by Obama in the past 2.5 years of his first term…and yet, it will take Romney/Ryan  28 years to get it done if we implement one of their plans? 

In short, boys, foreign policy and economics are inseparable in our globilized world of today.

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OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE FUTURE

August 9, 2012

Daily, we find ourselves embroiled in who “knows best” in visualizing the correct path for economic recovery from the Bubble and its collapse during the first eight years of the 21st century.  The Press weigh in; the politicians weigh in; the economists weigh in, and every average American weighs in with finger pointing and theories of their choice; but as I listen I feel like we are missing an important key thought.

Through the posturing and finger-pointing, there is not much discussion about why theories of supply and demand seem suspended in time.   Every day, I see new numbers reflecting growing number of existing but unfilled jobs in corporate America.  Every day, we hear complaints that the supply of available unemployed workers is not diminishing fast enough.

But no one seems to put these two seemingly “opposites” together and asks “why aren’t they attracting one another and moving us forward?”

I believe one reason is the unemployed themselves.

First, the Great Recession has given many people the push to do what Americans do best:  Invent our own future.  Many are resetting their lives; changing their career paths, going back to school or launching a small business based on something they are passionate about.  In the uncertainty of a startup and erratic income common to business in its infancy, these new entrepreneurs hold tightly to the lifeline of Unemployment.  They report income when they have it; get no assistance that period, but the unpaid amount extends the lifeline by a like amount.  And of course, that means they continue to show up as part of the “unemployed” we are talking about.    It buys time for them as they create the NEW NORMAL that is needed from all of us if we expect to recover and grow.

Second, I see the grumbling that yes, there are jobs, but for less than I made before, so I am going to hold out as long as I can.  Despite intellectually knowing that inflated income and spending will not continue, they keep drawing unemployment rather than settle; and thus delay their transition to the NEW NORMAL.  I understand the emotional difficulty of giving in, but the result is that our unemployment rates remain high.

Third, they do not meet the needs of companies that, if they have openings, are moving forward into the future.  Those are the companies that can’t readily FIND workers with skills that meet the needs they have, as these companies also  are reinventing themselves for a NEW NORMAL.  And the reason the unemployed aren’t eligible for hires in that environment lies in another major issue of today- our educational system itself, but I will leave that for another day.

As I ponder that, I keep coming back to the review of Friedman’s  “The World Is Flat “that I watched in this past week.  He talked back in 2006 about the OLD middle class jobs going away, to be replaced by the NEW middle class jobs that fell into eight categories.  Jobs will be available for: great collaborators; great leveragers of technology; great synthesizers; great localizers; passionate personalizers; anyone “green”; great explainers; and great adapters.

Friedman warned it will not be about what you know but about what you can learn so you can adapt.

That’s a big helping of food for thought! And I think we can all agree, as we chant,” It’s the Economy, stupid”, whichever side we are on, we are the ones not showing much sense.  Neither candidate for President should be held accountable, nor knows how he can fix this problem.  We have all been led astray by the media , I think, who early on decided this should be THE TOPIC of election campaigns-and candidates and public alike, followed blindly along.

So I suppose we all will be “disappointed” in the results when whomever emerges as the victor in this battle cannot wave the magic wand and make it happen.

But those we should be disappointed in are ourselves.   We all know better, if we really think about it. We are missing a great opportunity for the future.