I like the President’s assertive tone in this message (embedded above for your reference). One comment I have regarding his paraphrasing commentary at the end of this 8-minute statement is his reference to the American People saying that they will not tolerate congressional dysfunction or politicians who believe compromise is a dirty word… Actually, just the opposite — by voting nearly every politician back to office, less the 3 additional Democratic Senators and 9 new Democratic Representatives, the American People have actually said that they will tolerate it… but as I said in my previous blog, the reason for sending our “known quantity” back to Washington is because our State Parties (both D and R) have not done their due diligence and given us alternative candidates at the voting booth.
I’m not a political pundit and I don’t really pride myself on how to “spin” anything… but here are my thoughts on last night’s outcome.
First, the American people have spoken and they’ve said to both President Obama and members of Congress that they’re being given a “do over.” Translated in my mind, that means, boys and girls, please use your words… don’t just argue and raise your voices. TALK to each other. Wow — what a concept.
Second, I hope that in two years, the American people will honestly look at the results of two years of work (2012 – 2014) and make some decisions on who has made good use of their Do Over.
Third, and most importantly, I was not surprised by the American people voting in unchanged majorities in Congress because I, myself, voted to re-elect my Democratic congressman because, while I was unhappy with his tone and execution of his job in Washington, I was even less enthusiastic about voting for one of his challenger(s) [one Republican and a few others -- the Green Party and two Independents] based upon my personal ideological beliefs. What I think that this says about our current political system is that the “Establishment” needs a better pool of candidates and that the political primary process is too biased toward incumbents and their ability to raise a lot of money to stay in office. Very few primary challenges of incumbents are successful and this is the problem (it’s too easy to raise money when you’re an incumbent and too difficult to overcome if you are not).
Fourth, my “Christmas wish,” if you will, is that our State political parties (those who ultimately control the search and selection of good state and national candidates) act in a more forceful way to put pressure on incumbents to either change or step aside when they’re constituents speak about their poor performance or uncompromising attitude. If I’m unhappy with my incumbent representation, there is little or no hope to “write in” a candidate…nor is there any real chance of an independent candidate winning a national election (at least not in my state). I know that it is our perrogative to choose our elected officials and that we’re told “if you don’t like them, vote them out.” But that begs the question “does voting for the opposition only seek to punish the existing candidate?” And aren’t we all talking with our neighbors and friends and saying that we aren’t very happy with our partys’ candidates but we just don’t have any viable alternative choice and therefore, in lieu of abdicating our responsibility to vote, we vote for the candidate who represents “the Party” with which we align our personal values (even if the person executing the party platform is doing so very badly)? I think that “yes” to both of these questions…and that the answer is that it’s a “state” problem and must be dealt with by the states and that the National Party organizations need to put more pressure on their candidates to remind them that they were elected to govern and not grandstand and block progress. And by progress, I mean “getting things done.” Or to use the more political term I had hoped for — to govern. Governing is not largely an ideological job… it’s an operational job (and I have some experience with operational jobs). You can set your “North Star” by your ideaologies but you also need to recognize the need to fix problems and take care of the day to day needs or the organization… politically, that’s us, the American People.
We desparately need our elected leader to talk to each other and use this Do Over that we’ve given them as an opportunity to come together and do the People’s work. Please learn from the past performance so that we don’t repeat our mistakes in the future.
My father once told me, be cautious about people who are constantly quoting statistics… because being the math wiz that he was, he concluded that they (stats) can cleverly be manipulated to say just about anything (or nothing) that you want them to… to back up any case you want to make for “X” or the opposite of “X.”
So if you saw the jobs data that I posted previously, you’d notice that these are just raw numbers… I don’t want to talk about statistics (percentages, averages, medians, modes, standard deviation…bleh!)… what I want to mention is that our economy seems to have retching jobs beginning in February of 2008 (a full 9 months before the election) and by the time November hit, we had already lost hundreds of thousands of jobs… so when Barack Obama took office, he was already in a really deep hole. And this was later found to be more like a crater… “that’s no hole!”
The job losses and recession were clearly not caused by Barack Obama because it started way before he was elected and I would guess that signs were there even before the job losses started in Feb.
So the economy and financial markets were taking a nose dive, the US was in the midst of a heated election cycle, and businesses were hemorrhaging jobs. So I think it’s pretty clear that the President’s policies were not the cause… and given that he could not possibly have instituted policies that would have instantly created jobs like Nestle Quik turns milk into Chocolate Milk, I think it’s pretty safe to say that the President’s policies were not likely the cause of the job losses that continued through (and here’s where it get’s somewhat grey) most of 2009…
But as you look at the data, it seems like by the middle of 2009, the job losses per month were about half what they were when the year began… so do we give the President any credit for that? Maybe… (picture me furrowing my brow at this point — because I really can’t believe that any President’s “policies” would kick in that quickly)… so if you don’t want to give him credit for the substantial decrease in job losses throughout 2009, do you give him credit for the fact that by December, the tourniquet was working and the loss of jobs was slowly coming to an end and that by March 2010, we were creating jobs again (net creation, I mean).
I’m not saying that it’s not economically catastrophic to lose 8M jobs in 2 years… that’s a remarkable number… but if you look at the net gain in jobs for the last 29 months (since the first positive gain in jobs in March 2010), we’ve gotten back half of what we’ve lost… and we’re not through the year yet… I’m pretty encouraged by that. I confess, however, that I am not in the group affected by this downturn other than the fact that I have not had a raise in 3 years. I am employed by the local public school system. I can make my mortgage payment, I can put food on the table for my family. But I still feel like we’re moving in the right direction. I am patient. I do not believe in “just add water” economics. I know enough about economics that it’s darn near impossible to predict what the economy is going to do in any given time period (month, year, decade)… there are just too many variables. No one can predict it… so all that we can do is try and loosely associate a cause and effect. And you just can’t escape that the President deserves some credit for causing the job losses to stop. And he deserves some credit for regaining (or adding) 4M jobs to the economy over the last two years… why would you turn your back on that? It’s sort of like my 9 year old saying “are we there yet?” We’ll get there when we get there… and we’re doing everything we can to make it happen as fast as possible… and for anyone to predict with any certainty that their policies would do it faster or better is phooey! Or as our VP like to say “malarky.”
So what I think is that the conservative view that appears to offer no “credit” to the existing administration for stopping the job losses and adding 4M (half of the overall losses) to get to where we are today is just not common sensical? Of course the administration deserves some credit… but that wouldn’t be politically advantageous would it? Our politics has become so extreme on both sides that it’s nearly impossible for anyone to acknowledge any good policy-making from anyone on the other side of the proverbial aisle. Wouldn’t common sense tell you that there have to be good ideas that are worth fighting for from both viewpoints, conservative and liberal?
Just the other night, I was stopped dead in my tracks as I ascended the stairs to stem a confrontation between my children… a confrontation caused by one child wanting to retrieve a hairbrush from the same bathroom where the other child was standing in front of sink brushing his teeth… and he didn’t want to move one inch out of the way to let her by to get that hairbrush… and when he needed to come into the other bathroom to fetch the toothpaste, she briskly shoves the toothpaste into his hand with a huff… again, neither wanting to extend one iota of kindness or consideration to the other.
Doesn’t common decency deserve a return to our society? Just common decency, consideration, and kindness… our politicians are missing it, kids who watch the news see the bad behavior repeated over and over through the 24-hour news cycle that replays the same juicy, nasty sound bytes over and over to really drill it home… how wrong “he” is and how right “I” am… I’m just tired… tires of the fighting; tired of the madness and mean-spirited nature of our politics and, by extension, our society. We once thought that we should take our cues from our elected leaders… I would hardly call them leaders today… Leadership takes courage. Leadership means listening to all points of view and finding in those points of view, areas of agreement (or near agreement) to build on… Leadership means you stay above nastiness and name calling. I think that I’ll try and show my children and their friends what leadership means to me by living my life trying to do all those things I just mentioned… and offering up kindness and respect, even to those I may philosophically disagree with… if you want to change the world, you have to start somewhere…
Yesterday, for about 2 minutes (maybe 3 — I was hopeful that the situation I describe below would somehow turn around), I tuned into CNBC to watch the Larry Kudlow show and as I tuned in, there were the typical D and R pundits on the screen in a three-way interview (sort of) with the host. For the next (we’ll say) two-and-a-half minutes, the two guests, and I use that term loosely because I’m not sure that they deserve that much respect, they proceeded to talk over top of each other on camera, live, and with escalating volume and pitch as the rhetoric continued and as each tried to make his/her (yes, there was a woman and a man) position/point known… and through it all, the host just simply said nothing… didn’t try to take control of the discussion, didn’t cut off the guests and reset expectations… nothing.
So to those reading this I say — isn’t this, in a nutshell, what is so broken with our political leadership in this Country (I’m in the USA in case it wasn’t obvious)? Didn’t their mothers and fathers teach them that it was horribly disrespectful to interrupt and talk over top of someone? No disrespect meant to their parents… I know that they probably did teach them proper manners but come on, people!?!?!
When I read the late Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, the biggest takeaway for me was that the most effective people are outstanding listeners. And to support this point, another excellent (and true) observation — you cannot truly be listening to someone if you’re already formulating your response and then, in turn, interrupting and cutting your dialog partner off completely to make your point…
And further — to be a leader — you have to be listening for the next great idea… and no one knows where it’ll come from… because in between the toxic rhetoric, there are both Democrats and Republicans with good ideas. But Nancy Pelosi, Eric Cantor, Mitch McConnell, and Harry Reid really wouldn’t know… because they really never take the time to listen.
To all politicians (and any future leader) I say this — listen more than you speak… ask questions more than give your own opinions. The most basic need that almost all humans have is the need to be heard.
All the best,
Heres the question I pose to our most honorable legislators, President, and Justices of our highest Court
Would removing the word marriage from our Federal and State Government laws and replacing it with civil union jeopardize our Constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of religion and religious expression?
I just dont see it being a risk?! Im not sure theres been a more hotly-debated, single word in the last 20 years and since the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was signed into law by President Bill Clinton.
And I just cant figure out why so many are so offended by this simple definition for what it means for all federal purposes including insurance benefits for government employees, Social Security survivors benefits, and the filing of joint tax returns. Does it really matter, for these purposes, how we define a marriage in Government? Is it really important that those Social Security survivor benefits be reclaimed and redirected so as to avoid benefits being paid to the living partner in a same sex relationship? And does that money that the surviving partner receives really harm other survivors of heterosexual relationships? Really? Come on?
Isnt our opposition to removing this definitive barrier just another not-so-veiled attempt to entrench what some believe to be simply deviant behavior? And isnt their inability to accept this behavior rooted in their religious beliefs and isnt that discrimination just an extenuation of the same religious persecution and oppression that our founding Americans were specifically trying to escape from and fighting for the freedom to practice any form of religion without influence from their government?
So for those who insist on expending unending hours fiercely defending and continuing to narrow the legal definition (for lack of a better word) of marriage as only for heterosexual, church-endorsed relationships between one man and one woman, I ask does it really matter what the Government calls it? And cant you be secure enough in your relationship with your God that you dont spend so much time focusing externally let others handle their own relationship as they see fit and if it doesnt make it any less possible for you to express your religion free from persecution and discrimination then our Constitutional values have been protected.
I am a Democrat. I listen for good ideas from anyone offering them. I am practical and rational. My core beliefs are rooted in the purity of the human spirit and the awesomeness of our humanity. Today, I remain a Democrat (with the Capital D) because I continue to feel like todays Republican candidates are rooted only in the financials and somehow just cant connect with me on a personal level. I want to feel inspired by candidates before I vote for them. I cannot vote for candidates whose first objective seems to be to put more money in my pocket
somehow that makes the process feel cheapened. Its like trying to buy my vote
money doesnt buy my vote. Be an inspiration and bring practical ideas to the table. Talk to us (citizens) without the fire and brimstone rhetoric used to attack opponents with whom we disagree
that is, in fact, our humanity. That is who we are. Americans, citizens, members of the human race.
Thank you for visiting this new Internet blog. After many conversations with family, friends, and many others, I finally decided that it was time to build a site where people around the world could post thoughts and ideas in a positive and productive way rather than to vent negativity and lay critical blame at the heels of others. Lets have some honest dialog here on this site and, if we try hard enough, we will learn to be, as a world, better listeners and more skilled at opening ourselves up to the ideas of others through this free forum.
This blog site brings to you the opportunity to share your thoughts and ideas in a blog or discussion forum format. It is the intent (and hope) of the creator(s) of this site that it will be used to have positive, constructive dialog using creative and thoughtful ideas it is worth saying that if the fundamental intent of your thoughts and ideas is merely to be critical of others without offering any positive alternative or outcome, this is not going to be your most productive outlet.
Please check back often for improvements and the opportunity to share with others YOUR honest dialog. If you have thoughts and ideas regarding the creation of this site, please email them to my ideamailbox.