Archive for the ‘2. American Culture’ Category

BAN PARTIAL-BIRTH OR LATE-TERM ABORTIONS?

Wherever you stand on the abortion issue, partial-birth abortion is probably aborhant to you, because after 6 months in the womb, there is no question that a fetus looks like and is a baby.  A baby not yet born does not have the protection of the law, however, but  this is only a technicality…it’s a baby!  You don’t think so?  Look at a Sonogram and watch the little one move around, especially in the third trimester of pregnancy!

My education on partial-birth abortion began with Robert Bork’s book, Slouching Towards Gomorrah.  One of the chapters in Bork’s book discusses partial-birth abortion and includes a gruesome description of the procedure.  This sounds like a straightforward issue so why the controversy and the politicalization and why is it still legal to abort a baby during the third trimester of pregnancy, especially since there are many couples waiting to adopt infants.  At the very least, partial-birth abortion is infanticide but is not illegal because the baby has no legal rights since it has not been born yet.

Over 61 million babies have been aborted since Roe vs. Wade was decided in 1973; over 1.5 billion babies were aborted worldwide since 1980…some of these were partial-birth abortions.  As Judge Bret Kavanaugh is confirmed by the Senate to sit on the Supreme Court, taking Justice Anthony Kennedy’s seat, the political left is attempting to make the case that Justice Kavanaugh will try to overturn the Supreme Court abortion decision of 1973, Roe vs. Wade, although he referred to that decision as “settled law.”

The Democrat Party successfully woes women to be part of its base using the abortion issue and accounts for the gender gap between male and single female voters.  However, I believe that partial-birth abortion is detested by majorities of both genders and by majorities in both major political parties.  The first six months of a pregnancy should be enough time for anyone to decide whether or not to abort a pregnancy, thereby rendering partial-birth abortions unnecessary.

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MADAM CHAIRWOMAN (of the Crow Indian Tribe)

This true story is about the most charismatic person I have ever met, seen or heard.  She was the chairwoman of the Crow nation from 1990 to 2000, Clara Nomee.  I first met and heard Chairwoman Nomee speak while attending an all-day meeting in Crow Agency, Montana in 1991 and was so impressed with her awe-inspiring way of speaking from the heart that I’ve never forgotten my encounter.

It’s often said that “adversity builds character.”  Perhaps that accounts for Chairwoman Nomee’s charisma.  Up until 1976, Mrs. Nomee had a problem with alcohol.  During that winter both of her parents died within 3 months of each other.  Consequently, her drinking increased to the point where she reached a crossroad and asked the Lord to “take my life or change it.”  For all of the following years she didn’t have a drink.

In 1985 she married Carlton Nomee, who a year later became vice-secretary of the Crow Nation.  In 1988, Mrs. Nomee ran for the Office of Tribal Chairperson with only a few supporters.  While she did not win that position, she was elected Secretary of the Tribe.  As she became more insistent and questioned how the Tribal government operated, she was phased out of her job.  Because she had little money, her furniture and car were repossessed and her electricity was turned off.  Because she had been unjustly branded a trouble-maker, when she attended church, people walked out; and when she drove down the street, children threw rocks at her car.  Her dog was shot, the windows of her home broken, and her life threatened.  But Mrs. Nomee prayed every morning for the strength to perservere as she looked out over the Big Horn Mountains from her home. After praying, she cared for her brother, Rayphael, who had been paralyzed from the neck down from an accident 28 years earlier.  In addition to praying every morning, she attended every political gathering and eventually became the spokesperson for many.  Finally, in May of 1990, with the blessing of many tribal elders, she was elected tribal chairperson of the Crow Nation after a bitter battle between contenders.

Although it was not the first elected office Mrs. Nomee had held, it was the first time that the position of Crow Chief or Tribal Chairperson had been held by a woman.  Mrs. Nomee wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps, Chief “Henry Pretty-on-Top;” as well as other famous Crow chiefs, such as Chief “Sits-in-the-Middle-of-the-Land,” Chief Plenticoup and Chief Robert Yellowtail (see the photo).  As chairwoman, Mrs. Nomee became a role model for Indian women and was an excellent example of how someone turned her life around.

The challenges she faced daily in attempting to obtain jobs and much-needed public facilities for her people mandated that she have all of her wits about her all of the time.  As Tribal Chairperson, she was in a position to do more good than at any other time in her 55 years.

She was instrumental in having a hospital built on the reservation and having the Crow Tribe once again authorized to negotiate its own contracts.  She planned to have the old, small  hospital renovated into a nursing home and worked hard to develop jobs for the large number of unemployed on the reservation using the Jobs Training Partnership Act.

Just as life was hard for Mrs. Nomee, it had been hard on the Crow and other Native Americans as well.  A hundred years ago the Crow Reservation had covered 40 million acres.  Now it’s down to a mere three million.  The Crow served as scouts for the U.S. government over 150 years ago but have not had there loyalty rewarded.  Native Americans in the East taught American settlers how to grow corn, tobacco and cotton.  Native Americans on the Plains saw their food supply disappear in the mid-1800’s: tens of millions of buffalo were slaughtered by the white man for their tongues and hides.  Many millions were killed for “sport” from trains that traveled through the West.  As their hunting grounds became settled and taken from them, the way of life of Native Americans was destroyed by forcing them to become dependent on the U.S. government, which shattered their self-esteem.

As I mentioned at the beginning of my story, I was very impressed when I heard the Chairwoman speak.  In addition to hearing Mrs. Nomee that day, I heard other Crow officials speak at that meeting.  Listening to them was a moving experience for me.  I had never heard a people so open, honest and considerate of others.  Though they had good cause for being very angry at some in my agency, they not once raised their voices.  Although my testimony as a technical expert, who had prepared extensively and was ready to make fools of the managers in one of our regional offices and thereby handily win the day for the Crow, the Crow chose not to call on me because it would have certainly meant, at the very least, my getting into big trouble with my agency.  Later, when we broke for lunch, the Crow honored me by insisting that I sit at the head of their table.

Although the Crow have many problems, as do many Native-American nations, Mrs. Nomee made a difference.  Unemployment on the reservation ranged from 60-80%.  According to a local authority, 85% of Crow deaths were related to alcohol abuse.  Consequently, I continue to donate many Native American charities.

My experience with the Crow renewed my faith in humanity.  As I flew back to Denver from Billings, I thought of all I had seen and heard.  I concluded that the openness and honesty that I witnessed was how God meant people to be and I was fortunate indeed to have seen and heard the Chairwoman, a person of integrity, conviction and love for her people.

LESSONS I LEARNED FROM MY FOLKS

Do you remember how to do geometry and trigonometry from high school?  For most people geometry and trig are two of the subjects that they were required to learn in order to graduate, both of which most people will never need or use.  This article is about five important lifelong lessons I learned from my folks that I really needed and used throughout my lifetime and that they don’t teach you in school..

The five lessons are:

  1. The world’s a cold place without family and friends
  2. Help whoever and whenever you can
  3. Treat everyone fairly
  4. Get a good education
  5. Do the best you can

 

First lesson. I remember my mom telling me, “Michael, the world’s a cold place without family and friends.” My mom came from a very large family…9 brothers and sisters…and she had many friends…her neighbor friends, her work friends, and her poker friends. Why are family and friends so important…they’re the people that know you and care about you…so when you reach low points in your life or just need someone to talk to, they usually give invaluable emotional support…and of course you support them when they need it.  At my mom’s funeral there were about 500 family and friends who came to see her one last time and to pay their respects to her family. It was unbelievable!

Second lesson. “Help whoever and whenever you can.” I knew my father was a good person, helping anyone that needed help, but even I was surprised at his funeral when strangers came up to me and told stories about how my father had helped them. I worked at my father’s grocery store on weekends and during summers when I was a child. The store was located in a very poor neighborhood in Philadelphia and most of our customers were on welfare. The children of the poorest families would come to the store every day for one of my father’s “free sandwiches.” As I got older my father would often send me to Philadelphia’s city hall and to Pennsylvania’s state office building with needy people to speak on their behalf in an effort to get them emergency aid. In addition, my father told me that his mother gave baskets of food to poor families during the depression…so I understand where he learned his compassion and helped whoever and whenever he could.

Third lesson. “Treat everyone fairly.” My folks felt strongly about treating everyone fairly. Both had friends from other races and nationalities. They sent me to a junior high school that was 75% minority to help me learn how to get along with people who were different from me. My dad constantly asked me about my agency’s (US Department of the Interior) dealings with Native Americans and my mom frequently quoted pearls of wisdom and common sense from her African-American girlfriends at work.

Fourth lesson. “Get a good education.” My parents believed in their children getting a good education, and although I only wanted to be a forest ranger, even that required a college degree. So when the time came, my mom went to work for a meat-packing company making sausage in a cold, refrigerated room in order to pay for my sisters, brother and I to go to college.

Fifth lesson. “Do the best you can.” My first semester at Penn state was a failure. When I came home for spring break my parents tried to comfort me with, “Michael, as long as you did the best you could, you have nothing to be ashamed of.” Well, I wasn’t doing the best I could…playing ping pong until 3 am in the morning the night before my midterm exams, but I heeded my parents words and knuckled down and did the best I could…and consequently got good grades. Eventually I received my bachelor’s degree from Penn state and my master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

In conclusion, my folks taught my brother, sisters and me many lessons, just five of which I shared with you. But unlike courses like geometry and trig, they are lessons that have been useful throughout my entire life. Now, when I encounter a tough situation, I ask myself, “What would my parents advise?” Their advice has resulted in my making good decisions. So “Mom and Dad, wherever you are, thank you for teaching me the lessons I needed to live a good life.

DRESS FOR JOB SUCCESS

In 1977 I read a book by John Molloy, called Dress for Success.  A few later I read Molloy’s The Women’s Dress for Success book.  In his books, Molloy explained his research on the relationship between clothing and effectivess at your job.   His research began with a small grant exploring whether how teachers dressed affected how much children learned.  His findings showed that a teacher dressing like the upper middle class led to children learning much more. Molloy continued researching, creating many innovative methods for determining the effects of clothing.  His books are based on his research, not on fashion, and are helpful to achievers in most fields of endeavor.

My awakening to this concept came one day while in the snackroom in the basement of the Federal Interior South building in Washington, DC.  While there, the assistant director of the agency I worked for came in to buy a snack.  When he saw me, his eyes and brows grew wide and he momentarily stopped in his tracks before saying hello.  I thought about this encounter and what might account for it.  This process included considering what I was wearing.  BINGO!  I wore red pants, a pink shirt, a white tie with pink polka-dots.  Walking home after work I stopped at a book store to find a book on proper attire, and found John Molloy’s Dress for Success.  I read it, underlined it, taught it in an adult education course, and slowly changed my work clothes to reflect Molloy’s research.

Despite half of my face being paralyzed and my gait being really messed up, I was able to still advance in my career.  So what exactly does Molloy say that can help you in your career?  The look to have is that of the upper middle class.  For men that usually means a blue or grey suit (solid, herringbone, pin-striped, glen plaid, hounds tooth) or navy blue or camel sports jacket, with a white or light blue shirt or a pin striped.  No facial hair is best . Ties should be conservative foulard, repps, solid, polka dot, or paisley.  Men’s jewelry should only be a gold watch, a cross pen, and a wedding ring, if married.  Dark socks and black or dark brown shoes.  For women that usually means a skirted suit, nothing too feminine, not much if any makeup if your under aboutmuch 40, sensible shoes with no high heels, very little jewelry.  The person in the news that has this look is the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen.  If you look closely you will see a very beautinful blonde woman who plays down her beauty and sexuality to emphasize her mind. No/little makeup, no/little jewelry, proper women’s business attire, sensible shoes, etc.  Secretary Nielsen knows what she’s doing.  It’s no accident that President Trump appointed her Secretary of Homeland Security.

On the other hand, there are some very beautiful and sexy women who achieve career success despite their dressing to attract a mate rather than depict their competence on their sleeve.  The person that comes immediately to mind is the White House Communications Director, Hope Hicks.  Ms. Hicks is only 29 years old and should not be wearing much makeup and should be wearing a skirted suit, though her pants suit in this photo with President Trump isn’t bad.  Compare her photo with that of Ms. Nielsen.

The look to achieve for maximum effectiveness in a professional work setting is that of the upper middle class.  Molloy’s books are currently about 40 years old but I have not seen anything that explains things as well.

IF YOU’RE NOT A LIBERAL AT 20…; IF YOU’RE NOT A CONSERVATIVE AT 40…

WW II British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said “if you’re not a Liberal at 20, you have no heart; if you’re not a Conservative at 40, you have no brain.”  What exactly did Churchill mean and is it valid? That’s what this brief post is about.

At 20 years old, people are usually idealistic and usually believe what their mentors (teachers, professors) inculcate into them.  However, the parents of teachers and professors in most of today’s universities and colleges became Liberal in the 1960’s when draft dodgers fled there to avoid the Draft and Vietnam.  Consequently, students today hear only one side of  national issues, and further, are discouraged to even listen to both sides, because the other side is characterized as being racist or sexist or whatever.

At 40 years old, people are usually much more mature, often with a spouse and children, and begin devoting much more time following public issues.  Moreover, they have lived long enough to become much better at recognizing  the lies and deceit engaged in by many politicians.  And because many at age 40 now have children, National issues take on much greater importance with the realization that many Liberal/Progressive policies not only don’t work, but actually do great harm to the people that they supposedly are intended to help.

I’m 50% Conservative and 50% Liberal.  That does not mean 50% Republican and 50% Democrat.  What’s Liberal or Conservative about $19 trillion in National Debt?  What’s Liberal or Conservative about health care that is a confusing, disorganized, and unaffordable the way Obamacare is configured?  What’s Liberal or Conservative about a weak military or a foreign policy that punishes our allies and rewards our enemies?

At 75, I’m in the last part of my life, and I’d love to leave this world knowing that the U.S. will be OK, but I’m not there yet,however most young people scare me because they can vote, though they know less than nothing about the issues…less than nothing because much/most of what they think they know is misinformation.  I don’t mean to sound critical, because it’s natural for the young to spend their time pursuing mates, getting an education and starting a career.  However, on November 8, 2016, President Trump turned around the economy, after coming close in a Obama-led race to the trash heap of history.  Whether  the Trump economy continues to play out might depend on how the young vote, the young being the group whose future would be the most devastated by another Democrat President-controlled big-government statist president.

A famous British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, said it best:  “The problem with socialism is that, sooner or later, you run out of other people’s money.”  The U.S. got very close to running out of being financially able to borrow more of other people’s money.  I believe that President Trump has stopped this from happening.

 

UNDERSTANDING SEXUAL HARASSMENT

What do movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, Senator Al Frankin, Congressman John Conners, and President Donald J. Trump, all have in common?  All have been accused of sexual harrassment!  From hearing victims’ sexual harassment stories, I believe it’s very important to first clearly define exactly what sexual harassment is.  Having done EEO counseling collateral-duty (part-time)  while working full-time as a program analyst with the U.S. Department of the Interior, I’m familiar with the clear definition of sexual harassment by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, at 29 C.F.R. 1604.11, as follows:

Sexual Harassment is conduct in the form of “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature” when such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostlite, or offensive working environment.” 

Except for its legal implications, it’s not important to someone who feels harassed, frightened, or intimidated, whether s/he has been technically and legally sexually harassed. The following very relevant quote is taken from an article by Mortimer Zuckerman that appeared in the May 23, 1994, issue of US News and World Report:

“That sexual harassment exists is unquestionable, but that many acts of sexual misconduct are overdramatized is also true.  To avoid trivializing those who suffer the real thing, we must reject the idea that any unwanted advance or remark constitutes harassment.  There is a difference between an unwanted encounter, which may upset a woman, and pressure applied — such as threatening a woman’s job security — or ongoing demeaning treatment.  Those wrongly accused have their own ordreal in trying to prove a negative.”

When I was working for a U.S. Department of the Interior bureau in Denver in 1991, I also belonged to a public speaking club where someone accused me of “inappropriate behavior.”  Moreover, even before hearing my rebuttal, the club voted me out, whereupon I hired a lawyer to help me get my “due process” rights that were listed in the club’s charter.  In working through the details of the case, the accuser could not cite any examples of what I did that was inappropriate.  I sought advice from many people on how to handle the incident.  The psychiatrist I consulted advised that, since the woman had recently went through a horrible divorce,  she was taking out her anger on me.  I also read many books on communication problems, including the excellent, You Just Don’t Understand, by Deborah Tannen.

CONCLUSION

Both men and women need to learn how to deal with sexual harassment.  Men need to understand that women can destroy their lives and therefore they need to be more considerate of women’s feelings and perceptions and educate themselves on how and when many women become uncomfortable with some of their actions, such as using foul language, coming on too strong, and being too aggressive.  One of man’s basic evolutionary roles was to protect women; it’s wrong to harass them.

Women need to educate themselves on sexual harassment and how to handle various situations in a manner that eliminates the problem with a minimum of anguish.

Finally, for those trying to judge what the truth is in a potential sexual harassment encounter, remember to not completely believe anyone regardless of his/her gender; just follow the evidence.

 

 

MORE GUNS, LESS CRIME?

Are you pro-Second Amendment or anti-Second Amendment or somewhere in-between?  Are you for reasonable restrictions on gun ownership?  Where you stand on the gun issue really doesn’t matter much because most of the dialog surrounding this issue is simplistic and/or deceitful.

Why?  Because most of the measures which have been discussed and adopted have proven to be ineffective.  John Lott, author of the book, More Guns, Less Crime, is the very best authority on what works and what doesn’t, but have you heard his name even mentioned in the gun debates.  His research over more than a decade is explained in his book and should be the foundation of gun laws, not the political posturing that is going on around the country aimed at voters and guaranteed to do nothing except make matters worse.  Most people are not expected to know who knows what they’re talking about and who doesn’t, but the media is expected to know, but it doesn’t.

The Second Amendment to the Constitution allowing an armed citizenry was adopted by the Founding Fathers as a safeguard against tyranny.  They wanted this because most democracies in the past commonly morphed into dictatorships, and with a standing army in the United States, this was a real possibility.  Fear of a dictatorial government is just one reason why today emotions are so high surrounding the issue, especially with Venzuela recently becoming a dictatorship.  Not many politicians will admit it because it sounds crazy, however, this is the heart of the issue: big-government Democrats want as much control of guns as possible, and limited-government Republicans want the minimun amount of control possible.  The major reason for many gun owners to have guns is the capability guns provide in protecting oneself and one’s family.  Other reasons are hunting and target shooting.

I bought my first handgun while living in downtown Washington, DC.  Washington banned even owning a handgun when I lived there.  However, I decided to break the local law and purchase a PPK (James Bond’s gun) after a close friend and neighbor had his head busted open by four hoodlums. Not too long after this I was attacked by three hoodlums just outside of my apartment.  Consequently, my wife and I moved to a safer neighborhood.

We subsequently moved to a mountaintop in Colorado, about one hour southwest of Denver.  While working in front of my property a motorcyle gang drove past me which got me to thinking that I could not protect my wife and I for the one hour it took for the sheriff to find and get to my home.  Consequently, I purchased a shotgun,a semi-automatic rifle, and a larger handgun.  Since We had no children and neither I nor my wife ever became hysterical, I kept all of my guns loaded and ready to use.  I considered them insurance and the made me feel much better about my ability to protect my wife.

You can see that my interest in guns has to do with protection.  The Second Amendment gives us American that Right.  I think we that Right to protect our ability to protect our families.  If you’d like to learn about the statistics that prove that more guns mean less crime, read John Lott’s, More Guns, Less Crime, and you’ll have the information you need to decide what needs to be done to help control gun violence.

WAR ON WOMEN

Beginning with Betty Friedan’s, The Feminine Mystique, I’ve been following the feminist movement and now follow women’s issues.

Most recently I read Katie Pavlich’s book, Assault and Flattery, and now have a better understanding of how the Left has kept women down behind the scenes, while claiming that it is the champion of women.

Beginning as far back as 1920, Democratic President Woodrow Wilson and the Democratic Party opposed women getting the right to vote.  Today the Democratic Party constantly fights against Second Amendment rights which women (and men) need to defend themselves. President Bill Clinton was an accused rapist (by Juanita Broderick) and the accuser was very credible.  Of course this was just one of many allegations made by women against him.  Massachusetts Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy was a big philanderer and was responsible for the death of Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick.  Then there’s Democratic President Kennedy who had numerous affairs while President.

You might reply, “you’re referring to their personal lives, not their policies.”  Okay, let’s look at Democratic Party policies.  For women receiving welfare, there’s a provision requiring that a man can’t reside in the house of the (female) welfare recipient, otherwise the woman would be removed from the welfare rolls.  This provision has led to 77% of African-American households with children and about 30% of white households being led by only one parent.  This is very important because most of societal  pathologies stem from boys being raised without fathers.

Frequently, you hear feminists say that women’make 77 cents for every dollar men make.  I first heard this statistic way back in the seventies so naturally I questioned whether it could still be that amount 50 years later.  I learned years ago that it really was due to the disruption in paid work-life that most women encounter because of child-rearing.  In addition, I learned that the gap has significantly narrowed and that black women now make more than white women with the same education and experience.

Finally, the abortion issue.  Most Republicans are only against abortions during the third trimester of pregnancy since the fetus is actually an unborn baby by then.  They also are against partial-birth abortion because it is a gruesome procedure.  Check out how Planned Parenthood traffics in baby parts while receiving $500 million/year from the Federal government.

 

 

DEFENDING AGAINST THE KNOCKOUT GAME

There’s a very dangerous so-called “game” being played by young men in America.  It’s maimed hundreds and killed dozens of people so far.  The object of this vicious “game” is to knock out someone with one punch to the face or head.  Most of the perpetrators are young black males and most of the victims are  white men and women of any age.  Racist?  Obviously!

What’s behind this brutal “game”?  Some say that fatherless boys are being initiated into a gang.  Others quote the perps as saying they just wanted something to do.  So who and what is really to blame?  It’s complicated with lots of blame to go around.  But to even begin solving this problem, we must first understand it.  Let’s begin with the blame:

1.Single mothers can do a good job in raising their girls and boys up until they reach puberty (about 12-13).  After puberty is usually too late for boys but even then a good man in the house is essential to serve  both as a role model and a disciplinarian to boys.

2.Fathers who don’t stick around to be fathers to their children, especially to their boys.

3.Boys without fathers either join a gang or the Boy Scouts.  In poor socioeconomic areas, gangs are prevalent and single-parent homes are epidemic and are the breeding ground for sociopaths.

4.The Welfare System, which provides financial incentives for single-parent families and encourages, through its policy of providing financial assistance to mothers only if there is “no man in the house.”

5.The News Media for not reporting on incidents of the Knockout Game so that people are forewarned and know that they need to be more careful when walking around.

Okay, so what can be done to stop the carnage?  First and foremost is that the Media do its job of reporting all incidents of the “Knockout Game” so that the elderly and women will know what situations to avoid.  I’ve seen reporting of the Knockout Game on Fox News only and therefore I know that most people have not heard about it nor know what it is, and therefore are especially vulnerable.

The second thing that can be done depends on politicians and government officials.  In no government program should a “man in the house” prevent a woman from receiving welfare payments…because a good man in the house is usually needed in order to raise sons to become good men.

The third action that would help thwart the Knockout Game is to do everything possible to keep young men occupied…working, if possible.  Because raising the minimum wage to $10+/hour is estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to cost from 500,000 to 1,000,000 youths to lose their jobs because their employers could no longer afford to pay them, that idea should be shelved for now (or raised only a $1/hour for now).  Minimum wage jobs are entry-level jobs…About half of those minimum-wage employees are making more than that after 6 months on the job.  Many youth will never get that first job if the minimum wage is raised too high.

Since the Media refuses to do its job, clergy need to talk about it in their churches.  This is not ideal, but it would get the word out (forewarn) to many potential victims so they can take appropriate actions (avoid potentially-dangerous situations).

Politicians’ constantly beat the drums alleging racism/sexism  behind everything and agitate Women, Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, etc. for political purposes and mainstream media will therefore probably never report insightfully and analytically. Politicians need to stop the “race-baiting.”

Local police and local judicial systems must fairly and justly put the perps away for a long time.

Potential victims need to keep distance between themselves and individual and small groups of young men.

The barbaric “Knockout Game” may never completely go away but hopefully it will diminish to the point where it won’t hurt many people.

 

DOMINION: animal abuse

The Bible says in Genesis 1:26 that God said, “and let them (mankind) have dominion over (animals)…”  Mahatma Gandhi said, “the greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

According to Daniel Goleman’s bestseller, Emotional Intelligence, animals with a limbic system in their brain, have emotions.  All mammals, which includes most farm animals, have limbic systems and therefore have feelings and fear, are joyful and love.  Animals also have varying degrees of intelligence, but most importantly, they feel pain and suffer.  As such, what right do people have to support their being tormented, suffer and die gruesome deaths?

Former Beattle  from Britain, Paul McCartney, said “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.”  In plainer English, if people could see the horrific slaughter of animals, many would find it difficult to eat anything with a face.  I’m the son of a butcher who went with his father most mornings to a few slaughterhouses to purchase the meat we sold at his butcher shop. While there, I saw animals slaughtered, some humanely, some cruelly.  I therefore have firsthand knowledge of what happens in slaughterhouses.

Red meat (beef, veal, lamb, pork) is bad for your health, except that it is high in quality protein.  Chicken (loaded with antibiotics) and fish (containing PCBs and mercury) are not good routine food choices either.   So what should one eat for optimal health, nutrition, and ethics?   Joel Fuhrman, M.D., author of The End of Diabetes,  says basically “beans and greens,” and all other vegetables as well.  Meat should be used only for seasoning.

You may believe that farm animals are just dumb animals.  However, if that were true, how do you explain Priscilla the 3-month old pig, who in 1995 was inducted into the Texas Veterinary Medical Association’s Pet Hall of Fame for saving 11-year-old Anthony Melton from drowning by swimming to him, oinking to grab her harness, and then swimming with Anthony hanging on, to shore.  This story was reported in the book, Animal Miracles, and it is not unusual, it happens frequently.

In addition to slaughtering animals for food, we hunt them for sport, experiment on them causing needless suffering and pain, train them to fight each other for our amusement, do not neuter our pets to the extent that there are an estimated 100,000,000 homeless stray and feral cats alone in the U.S., most of which will eventually starve, freeze or thirst to death.  I had my own  cat shelter for ten years in Denver and “trapped, neutered, and returned” (TNR) about 100 feral and stray cats and therefore know of what I speak.

Many animal rights advocates are considered fanatics.  However, Abraham Lincoln, definitely not a fanatic, said “I’m in favor of animal rights as well as human rights.  That is the way of the whole human being.”

Finally, getting back to Mahatma Gandhi, if his assertion is correct that “a nation’s greatness is judged by the way its animals are treated,” is the U.S., or any nation on Earth, great?

 

MUGGED: racial demagoguery

I read Ann Coulter’s book, Mugged, and learned a lot of new information from this lawyer and best-selling author.  None of the information surprised me but it was insightful reading Ms. Coulter’s relentless array of facts.

Basically, Coulter contends that very few of the racial incidents in the last 45 years have been racist (civil rights battles were mostly won before the seventies thanks to the Republican party); instead, they were racial hoaxes, perpetrated  by demagogues for various reasons and motives.

One of the most important facts that Ann Coulter shows in her book, Mugged,  is that all segregationists were Democrats and that the Democratic Party fought against Civil Rights legislation for 100 years going way back to Abraham Lincoln’s time when Lincoln and his Republican Party ran on an anti-slavery platform.  This is not news to we who know American history but is big news to the millions of Americans that have been deceived by Democratic Party leadership and now believe  the racist propaganda it advertises.

Another very important and horrific fact brought to light in Ms. Coulter’s book is the fact that a major consequence of every racial hoax is the slaughter of whites by young black hoodlums seeking revenge for what they hear and believe to be true about the (phony) racial incidents (Google: “Blackout Game,” “Polar Bear Hunting,” “Flash Mobs”).

Why do I believe the aforementioned to be true?  First, because I trust Ann Coulter in accurately portraying the facts.  Second, because I not only worked for many years assisting minorities in combating discrimination as a Federal collateral-duty EEO Counselor and then as a Federal collateral-duty Hispanic Employment Program Coordinator, but also have closely followed many racial incidents, including Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown in Ferguson.  In addition, because I have personally experienced discrimination for almost fifty years based 0n my physical handicap (left side of my face paralyzed, numb with left eye sutured shut and left ear deaf).  Since I did not have this malady for my first 25 years, I’m able to compare how I was treated by most people before I had a handicap to after I had a handicap.

“Mugged” gives the details of many racial incidents, such as the Tawana Brawley rape hoax with Al Sharpton’s involvement.  Some racism obviously still exists, but there are many politicians and race hustlers  exploiting race simply to get your vote.

The only criticism I have of Ms. Coulter’s book is that it doesn’t address the phony branding by the Democrat Party that it’s for the poor, when in fact its policies have made life much more difficult for the poor, many of whom are African-Americans.

UNDERSTANDING OFFICE POLITICS

Conventional management education and training have become increasingly more sophisticated.   One area that remains to be fully explored by the academic and managerial communities, however, is office politics. Though largely neglected as an academic discipline, it is usually an essential component of job success, although competence and industriousness are equally important. As Marilyn Kennedy states in her book, Office Politics, Seizing Power, Wielding Clout, 75% of all firings in the business world are political executions.  In addition to its importance to the employee, office politics also can play a significant role in the success or failure of an organization. It consists of all of the interactions among employees in an organization. The fact that managers are frequently naive in recognizing and handling the political dynamics that exist among the staff impairs their ability to manage successfully.

Office politics is important to study because one must understand it in order to effectively handle the political games and power struggles that can interfere with employees careers and productivity.  In the July 10, 1984, Washington  Post “Federal Diary,” Mike Causey reported that of 800 senior federal personnel officers responding to a Merit Systems Protection Board survey, almost one in every five said that they had been improperly pressured by managers to save or fire employees during the 1981 reduction-in-force.

Good management and supervision include an understanding of office politics and power.  Because the phrase “office politics” has a bad reputation, even its beneficial and ethical aspects are not usually the subject of serious attention. Managers, supervisors and employees may not advance in their careers sufficiently because of their disdain for office politics and its prudent use.  If a manager is unaware of and not in control of the politics in his/her office, s/he will not be able to manage his/her employees and programs well. On the other hand, excessive involvement in office politics can drain the energy, time, motivation and productivity that should otherwise go into the job.  Dr. Andrew Dubrin, in his book, Winning at Office Politics, cites five levels of involvement in office politics, from the most political to the most naive. They are: Machiavellian, Office Politician, Survivalist, Straight Arrow and Innocent Lamb. For those who are interested, Dr. Dubrin’s book contains a 100-question test which will show how political you are.

The Types of Office Politics

I classify office  politics into three categories: clean, dirty and situational.  “Clean” (ethical) office politics comprises those things one can do to advance his or her career and get the job done at no one’s expense and without being unethical or immoral. Examples of clean office politics include loyalty to one’s supervisor and working in one’s own interest. “Dirty” office politics is immoral and/or unethical and is something which is done to the detriment of others. Examples of dirty office politics include backstabbing and stealing credit for another’s work. “Situational” office politics, as its name implies, is ethical or not depending upon the situation in which it is used.  A good example of situational ethical office politics is the “fait accompli” (accomplished fact). This tactic simply involves taking an action even though it will not be welcomed by the boss. Later, after reaping the benefits of the action, the employee pleads innocence if the boss questions him/her on it.  The employee tells the boss that s/he didn’t now that it would meet with disapproval. With some supervisors this tactic is sometimes necessary though not without risk. Another tactic is “going over the supervisor’s head.” If the tactic is used on a straightforward democratic supervisor, it is usually unethical; therefore it is considered situational office politics.  Another situational ethical tactic is “withholding information.” White collar workers are knowledge workers and information is their stock-in-trade. There are times, however, when it is ethical to withhold information, such as when a supervisor will take all of the credit for the information supplied and not give the employee proper credit.

CLEAN OFFICE POLITICS

Supervisors

No matter how high a level manager or supervisor you are, there is always someone you must answer to. Therefore, in your role as a subordinate, the keystone of office politics is your relationship with your boss. If you keep your relationship sincere and unmanipulative, you are using clean office politics. Your aim is to help make your boss look good.   There are many clean tactics which you can use to improve your relations with your boss. The simplest is showing your boss loyalty.  Loyalty is reporting only to the boss and not going behind his/her back to others; following and respecting the boss’ direction without grumbling or second guessing; disagreeing with the boss only in private; making efforts to instill the boss’ ideas, plans and actions in other employees; not disclosing secrets about the boss; and standing up for the boss when s/he is the subject of criticism.

While teaching an adult education course in “clean” office politics and power in Washington, DC over a six-year period, I’ve found that loyalty to the supervisor is the most difficult for people to understand, let alone accept and use. Students frequently volunteered opinions, such as “my boss is a fool, I know much more than s/he,” and “I don’t know how that idiot ever got his/her job.” Perhaps much of what I hear about supervisors and managers is true; maybe many of them are incompetent in managing work and people. Whether it is true or not is irrelevant here. The boss has legitimate power; s/he writes  your performance appraisals, has the responsibility for your work, and can either praise or discredit you to his or her superiors. If you and your boss don’t like, or at least respect each other, and there’s nothing on the horizon which may change the situation, you should consider changing jobs. Incidentally, showing loyalty to the organization you work for also makes good political sense, although personal and organizational loyalty may not be compatible at times.

Peers

The respect and cooperation of your peers is another essential component of clean office politics and obtaining power ethically.  A few tactics should help you achieve this sometimes very elusive goal: help peers when they need it; be trustworthy and friendly; back them up; don’t complain about all the work you have to do; and avoid pretentions. Incidentally, most dirty office politics occurs among peers, so the above is especially important if you want to minimize the risk of fostering their envy, and the malice, slander and sabotage that it can foster. Envious people try to downgrade the person and/or the person’s accomplishments of which they are jealous.

Subordinates

Finally, relations with subordinates have a role in office politics. Giving recognition for the good work of a subordinate is an outlet for genuine appreciation. Treating subordinates with respect because they are people first and employees second is both humanistic and, coincidentally, part of being a good manager. Finally, a supervisor should not take advantage of subordinates with his/her power.

The aforementioned clean tactics are referred to as political or interactional skills and are most important in judiciously using office politics and power ethically. Other clean tactics fall under the aegis of “visiposure.” This is a combination of visibility (seeing those above you) and exposure (being seen by those above you).       The following are some examples of ethical tactics you and/or your staff could engage in:

  • Staff promoting themselves by talking with you about their progress and keeping you informed of what they’re doing.
  • Staff originating and initiating new ideas, putting them in writing and giving them to you.
  • Staff getting to know the people in the organization by attending office parties, using the cafeteria at work and remembering names.
  • Staff developing a professional attitude by avoiding excessive emotionalism, dressing for success, not engaging in negative gossip about people and not being a clock watcher.
  • Staff speaking up at meetings because that is where they are sometimes seen by people who do not usually see them.
  • Staff asking questions because this is necessary to obtain the information they need to continually improve their job performance, as well as showing their concern for the job.
  • Staff doing things outside the confines of the job. This allows them to meet people throughout the organization.
  • Staff talking about their progress so you know that they have definite goals and want to get ahead.
  • Staff developing a support system through involvement in professional organizations. This provides them with a support system separate from the job and can be important if they run into serious political difficulty on the job.
  • Staff developing a specialty so they can stand out from the crowd and get the recognition they need to advance their careers.

DIRTY OFFICE POLITICS

Up to this point we have dealt only with clean office politics. Let’s look at the dirty side so that you can more effectively protect yourself and your staff from it.

Paranoia vs. Naivete

To consider dirty office politics rationally, one must endeavor to be completely objective about oneself.  Some people are absolutely convinced that someone is out to get them. Because people, on occasion, are really out to discredit someone else for various reasons, one needs to make a clear distinction between objective reality and paranoid thinking.  Paranoid thinking exists when the amount of fear, anxiety and concern is not justified by real danger. To illustrate, it might be considered paranoid to be excessively fearful of crime in a predominantly crime-free community, whereas, to be concerned about being mugged while walking along some sections of the formerly infamous Fourteenth Street corridor in Washington, D.C., at one o’clock in the morning is prudent, not paranoid, and should result in appropriate action. To combat paranoid thinking, if you believe someone is out to get you, ask yourself “how do I know this to be true-;” “what am I observing that leads me to that opinion;” and “is this sufficient to warrant my belief that someone is out to get me?” It often takes considerable thought to sort out all the relevant information and form a rational opinion as to whether or not you’re someone’s target.

On the other hand, though not bad in terms of mental health, naivete in office politics can be hazardous to your career. If you think that everyone’s out to help you, give yourself a naive-zero on the accuracy of perceptions scale below. Likewise, if you see a coworker’s power and influence rising as yours is descending and you do not get at least a little suspicious, score yourself once again near the naive-zero on the scale.  Another indicator that you may be an actual or potential victim of dirty office politics is when former enemies in the office suddenly become friends; they may have found a common enemy — you.  The graph below illustrates the distinction between being paranoid and being naive. It is intentionally simplistic to illustrate the point.

Accuracy of Perceptions Scale

0____________100____________0

N                                   R                                  P

A                                   E                                  A

I                                    A                                  R

V                                   L                                   A

E                                   I                                   N

T                                   T                                  O

E                                   Y                                  I

 

 

Slander differs from gossip in that gossip is not as malicious, persistent and purposeful as is slander. One defense against slander and backstabbing is not to allow the slander to damage your self-image. Another defense is to launch a small counterattack. by innocently asking associates on occasion why the slanderer is so unhappy. By knowing that someone is slandering you, you can more effectively combat it. The following are options you have to-combat slander: confrontation; exposure; retaliation; rewarding the guilty party to make him or her feel guilty, suspicious or confused; and eliminating the cause. Often people readily accept stories on the grapevine without verification. Most of the time these stories contain partial truths, misunderstandings, distortions or outright misstatement of fact. Clever slanderers, however, base their dirty work on real incidents; they simply define or explain the incidents in an intentionally distorted manner so as to make someone look stupid or incompetent. They also get to the manager first with their distorted version of an incident so as to “poison the wells” for any other versions that may follow. Since supervisors and managers must rely, in large part, on information from subordinates, they therefore have to be especially wary of the derogatory comments they hear about employees. Since the “reputation” method is commonly used by managers to informally assess staff, even if a diligent manager follows up on rumors and makes first-hand observations of an employee, selective perception may bias the observation, since s/he is starting out with preconceived ideas that were furnished when one subordinate gave the “lowdown” on another. To counter the tendency towards selective perception, a manager must suspend judgement until s/he has sufficient data to form a defensible opinion. Personally, I prefer confronting an employee and thereby allowing him or her opportunity to explain.

A devious tactic, less onerous than backstabbing and stealing credit, is using flattery (not genuine praise) to manipulate people into doing what you want them to do. Constantly raising questions concerning a peer’s judgement and providing misinformation (with some truth thrown in for plausibility) is another tactic practiced by clever unethical office politicians.

SITUATIONAL OFFICE POLITICS

Of the three types of office politics, “situational” is the most difficult to use wisely. This is because most people have an image of themselves as being good, honest, righteous, ad infinitum, and they therefore rationalize many of their actions as being warranted by the situation or someone else’s actions. Many atrocities have been explained and “justified” by situations. The most recent examples are acts of terrorisrn which killed or injured innocent people.

In addition to the fait accompli mentioned earlier in this article, “avoiding losers” is a situational tactic. If you lunch and socialize with other managers, supervisors or staff with bad reputations, it is likely that your reputation may be tarnished. If the person with a bad reputation is a friend, avoiding that individual solely because of his or her reputation is a situational tactic that only you can judge as ethical or not. Another situational tactic is the “red herring” which is useful for managers because of the desirability of handling tricky personnel problems without needlessly humiliating people. For example, a manager may not want to tell, for some legitimate reason, an employee the full story of why s/he is -being fired, but use a “red herring,” or explanation that diverts attention from the blunt truth.

Discouraging Unethical Office Politics

At this point you may asking yourself if there’s anything that can be done to dissuade employees from engaging in dirty office politics. It should be clear to managers that staff  are going to get involved to some extent in office politics and will not make the ethical distinctions enumerated here. There are, however, a few tactics that managers can use to improve the chances for ethical behavior and a more decent office environment to thrive:

  • Keep your staff busy. Employees engaged in meaningful work and achieving worthwhile goals don’t have as much time and energy for office politics, clean or dirty.
  • Keep your staff well informed. Communication is an important part of the manager’s job and lack of it will foster conjecture, which is usually much worse than reality.
  • Give your employees, to the extent practicable, separate responsibilities, to minimize jealousy and cut-throat competition. Sometimes overlapping responsibilities are necessary, and even desirable, but if an organization can be structured without it, there will be more peace and harmony.
  • Be non-judgemental in dealing with your staff. If you want them to listen to you, and take your advice when you really need them to, they must trust you. That means not only respecting their confidences, but also empathetically listening to their complaints and problems.
  • Trust your staff. Expect them to do the right thing and help them to do it. This should help curtail devious behavior. The German philosopher Goethe said “Treat people as if they are what they ought to be, and you will help them to become what they are capable of being.”
  • When interviewing job applicants for a vacancy in your office, look for compatibility with your other staff. An applicant’s resume should tell you most of what you need to know about his or her knowledges, skills and abilities to do the job. The interview should help you tell how friendly, cooperative, and loyal the applicant is.
  • Build team spirit to encourage mutual support and understanding. Meetings can be a useful tool in accomplishing this, but the attitude of the manager is essential.
  • Give your employees an opportunity to read about office politics. Often, people engage in unethical behavior because they cannot distinguish between what’s ethical and what’s not. This article has been written to remove that ambiguity.

POWER

Power and office politics go hand-in-hand. The more power one has, the more effective his or her office politics can be. Power is defined here as the ability to marshal the resources to get the job done. There are basically six sources of power: legitimate, reward, coercive, referent, expertise and charismatic. Legitimate power is the official power you have as a manager in an organization; you have reward power if you can promote; you have coercive power if you can fire. Associate with or have a good rapport with one or more of the leaders with power in your organization and you have referent power. If you’re an expert at your job, you have expertise power. President Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King are good examples of people who had charismatic power.

A manager automatically has legitimate, reward and coercive power. If you’re a good manager, you probably have some charismatic power. How does one obtain more power? You can develop referent power by becoming friendly with other managers. Many people who have very little legitimate power have enormous referent power. Secretaries are good examples of this phenomenon. Become excellent at your job and you’ll gain expertise power. Develop your verbal and non-verbal skills, dress for success, and develop desirable leadership skills through education, training, reading and experience, and you’ll be on your way to developing charismatic power.

CONCLUSION

Office politics is a fact of organizational life. This article has discussed clean, dirty and situationally ethical forms of it. The most useful political tactic, however, is one called “honest and straightforward.” It is not only the easiest to use, it does not cause ‘the anxiety that many of the other tactics do. Work would be far more pleasant if all interactions were of this type, however an awareness of the other types is essential.

If you are like most managers, supervisors and employees, you not only deplore office politics, you are absolutely convinced that you do not engage in any form of it, be it conscious, unconscious, clean, dirty or situationally-ethical. I hope that this article has accomplished three purposes: made you more aware of office politics and therefore better able to handle it; demonstrated that some forms of office politics can be ethical; and adequately described dirty office politics so that there is more certainty as to what is ethical and what is not. An awareness of all types of office politics can be useful to you in maintaining a pleasant office environment and in succeeding in an ever-more competitive world.

Mike Russo

CHARLOTTESVILLE: OBSESSED with RACE!

Charlottesville, Virginia, is just another page in race relations in America being corrupted by politics.  Other relatively recent pages that turned political include Mike Brown in Ferguson, Eric Garner in New York, etc., etc.   The Brown incident was due to a policeman protecting himself from being killed; the Garner incident was due to the police being overzealous and inappropriate in its use of force.  Years later the U.S. is still agitated from those incidents, and others, including Charlottesville, to the extent that two New York City police officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, were ambushed and killed for revenge while sitting in their police car. Why?

I believe that many Americans are obsessed with race!   Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that his dream was that one day his four little children will live in a nation where they will be judged, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.  In other words, a “color-blind” society was his dream.  The opposite has and is taking place even though race relations in the U.S. for most people are okay.   Democrat politicians and their minions call anyone a racist who disagrees with them on anything, whether or not it has anything to do with race.   Moreover, the government encourages discrimination in many, many ways including something so minor as requiring race and ethnic information in order to get medical care (I refuse to provide it calling it “racist” on the form).

My credentials for stating the above: while working for the Federal government for over 40 years,  I volunteered to perform three “collateral-duty” jobs that took up to 20% of my official work time, each for a minimum of five years.  Two of the three involved fighting racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination.  In one of my collateral-duty jobs, I was instrumental in increasing Latino employment by my Federal Bureau from under 1 % to 6% of the workforce (as the Hispanic Employment Program Manager); in the other collateral-duty job, I counseled about a dozen minorities and women in seeking remedies for alleged discrimination (as an EEO Counselor).  Each of these positions required extensive training which I was happy to take and I performed well, to the extent that I received EEO awards from my bureau and the Department of Interior.   These experiences, plus working at my father’s butcher shop (with a 99% African-American clientele) when growing up, working as a counselor at a camp with 50% African-American “campers,” and attending a Junior High School with 50% African-American students, gives me a far better perspective than most white Americans in understanding race relations.

My perspective on race relations today versus throughout the past is that, with the exception of the past 9 years, relations have improved significantly in the past 60 years.  But if my perspective is accurate, why is racism such a major concern today? Is it really politics as I stated earlier?  Author of the book, The Big Black Lie, Kevin Jackson, blames the Democratic Party in its attempt to convince voters that Republicans are racists.  In his book, Wrong on Race, Bruce Bartlett enumerates the Democratic Party’s history of racism.  Most recently, author of the book, Mugged, Ann Coulter, gives a very detailed account of racial demogoguery by the Democrat Party from the seventies to Obama.  My own experience and observations validate what I read and make me hopping mad.  The pain and suffering by all parties has been perpetuated solely for political gain.  I also agree with Dinesh D’Souza’s book, The End of Racism, that the American obsession with race is fueled by a civil rights establishment that has a vested interest in perpetuating black dependency.

Will this obsession with race ever end?  Only when the deception behind it is fully exposed and widely acknowledged.  Unfortunately, that day may never come.  What would Dr. King say?  Nothing…I believe he would be  in tears!

Let’s go back in time to when African-Americans were freed from slavery and see what Booker T. Washington, born a slave, who established the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama to educate and train African-Americans and was the most prominent African-American in his day (1856-1915), said in his book, “Up from Slavery”:  “…the policy to be pursued with reference to the races was, by every honorable means, to bring together and to encourage the cultivation of friendly relations, instead of doing that which would embitter.”  What is happening today is the opposite of what Mr. Washington advocated and is being done mostly in order to keep 90% of African-Americans voting for the Democratic Party.

Obviously, the violent protests by the racist groups were reprehensible and the violent protests against them were also wrong.  The violence was wrong. President Trump condemned the violence on three occasions on TV as well as in a few tweets yet he was still criticized.  This indicates how political race has become in America.  It needs to stop.  The first amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives all Americans the right to protest but no one has the right to protest violently and hurt others.  Police need to do their job and immediately arrest anyone being violent.

 

PROUD TO BE AMERICAN

On Independence Day 2017 I thought it appropriate to provide some of the reasons why Americans should be proud that they are Americans.  In our public schools, children are thoroughly taught the misdeeds that the U.S. has done since its inception in 1776, but none of its great achievements and acts of kindness and heroism.   Americans have many reasons to be proud, a few of which I cite below.

Our founding fathers were reluctant to secede from England, but after repeated failed attempts at reconciliation, decided to do so.  They explained their reasons for secession in the Declaration of Independence.  Since slavery was legal and prevalent in America under British rule, it inherited slavery and had to keep a limited form of it in order to have the Southern States ratify the Constitution.  Seventy-five years after the Constitution was ratified by the 13 Clonial states, the  U.S. fought a Civil War to rid itself of this evil.  It cost the U.S. 600,000 lives, including that of President Lincoln, who was assasinated shortly after the war was over.  Had President Lincoln lived, reconstruction in the South would have gone much better.  Nevertheless, America survived and prospered though race relations would have been much better.

So why exactly are Americans proud to be Americans?  What is there to be proud of?  To begin, the United States saved Europe from Hitler’s Nazi Germany in World War II.  In addition, it saved about a million Japanese and American lives through its judicious use of the atomic bomb.  After that war, in the Cold War, the U.S. prevented the Soviet Union from instilling communism throughout the world (with all of the poverty and suffering that accompanies it).  These examples are not anomalies, the U.S. has come to the rescue of peoples throughout the world to liberate and assist them.  To be sure, America has made its share of mistakes, but its intentions were usually good.

There are countless examples of the United States helping other countries and peoples throughout its history.  In addition, its medical and technological advances have made life easier for everyone on the planet.  A useful way to look at it is to imagime a world without the United States.  Who would be the superpower that was also a republic whose franchise rested with the people?  The U.S. military has no equal and as such many would-be evildoers are kept at bay, knowing full-well, that if the U.S. got involved, it would destroy them.

Aside from the greatness of America, its people are the most generous in the world, so when disaster strikes anywhere in the world, Americans run to their checkbooks and credit cards and give until it feels good.

From its inception, America has stood for liberty and freedom around the world.  Our Statue of Liberty is recognized all over the world as a symol of liberty.  It was given to the U.S. by France because America stood for freedom and was a role-model for France, as described in Alexis de Tocqueville’s book, Democracy in America.

America is an exceptional country.  Its people should be proud.

OBAMACARE vs. TRUMPCARE

The new proposed American Healthcare Act recently passed the House of Representatives, and now the Senate is working feverishly on it since Obamacare is quickly falling apart and needs something to replace it.  Its failure will hurt many people by eliminating health insurance.  Since the U.S. is stuck with Obamacare for now, let’s take a look at it.

 Obamacare covers full-time employees in companies that employ 50 or more people.  Because Obamacare is very expensive, businesses are very wary of hiring additional full-time employees (FTE) and have consequently reduced their numbers to under 50 FTE’s, as well as converting full-time positions to part-time, so as to keep FTE’s under 50.  Consequently, the number of jobs that the Federal government reports each month is baloney because: (a) most of those new jobs are part-time jobs, and (b) the major reason the unemployment rate has lowered is because, after the unemployed run out of benefits, they are no longer considered looking for work and therefore taken out of the unemployment statistics that are calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Those statistics consequently then depict a lowered (phony) unemployment rate; but they have nothing to do with the creation of jobs.  An accurate portrayal of employment is the “Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate” which was at it’s lowest level since 1978 when President Obama left office in January 2017.

2. Because Obamacare has deductibles as high as $5,000 for individuals and $10-12,000 for families, as well as very high co-pays, most people with Obamacare that are not subsidized by the government, tend to not benefit from it because they can’t meet their deductibles.  In other words, Obamacare for many people is like not having medical insurance…and at some point many will find it cheaper to just pay the IRS a fine every year for not not having expensive medical insurance that ends up each year in not providing any benefits.

3. With Obamacare’s IPAD (Independent Payment Advisory Board) or “Death Panels” as Sarah Palin calls them, expensive state-of-the-art medical treatment is severely restricted under Obamacare, for the elderly.

4. Though sold to the American public as saving the average American family about $2,500/year, it’s turning out to be far more expensive to everyone except those receiving government subsidies.  There are many, many people paying at least double their previous premiums.  Some are paying as much as five times their former premiums.  Moreover, the Federal government has spent billions in rolling out the Federal and State websites and in providing subsidies.  If and when fully implemented, some forecast that Obamacare will bankrupt the country.

Obamacare or The Affordable Care Act is rife with unintended consequences, some of the major ones I cited above. But there are many more (tax on medical equipment, doctor shortage, etc.).  All of the unintended consequences were completely predictable.  I don’t think that any revisions of The Affordable Care Act would be sufficient to fix it.  It was incompetently  and sloppily prepared.  I believe that it must be replaced after (this time) being carefully thought out.  Moreover, it’s failing so rapidly that soon there won’t be health insurance.  The House has prepared its version of healthcare insurance, the Senate is debating theirs.  A House-Senate Conference Committee will then meet to iron out the differences between them. The resulting bill will then need to be voted on by both the House and the Senate and then go to the President for his revision or approval.  Whatever replaces Obamacare will be much cheaper as well as a vast improvement by allowing individuals to actually choose their own plan and doctors.

WATCH THE MOVIE, “HILLARY’S AMERICA” TO GET OVER HER DEFEAT

I saw the movie, “Hillary’s America,” on Verizon and thought it was a “must see” film for anyone who voted for Mrs. Clinton or any Democrat, so I thought I’d write a brief preview which Democrat voters might find healing .  The movie, now on DVD, was written, co-directed, and narrated by Dinesh D’Souza.  While it was mostly accurate,  I thought it went too far at times in assigning motives to the Clintons’ behavior.

The movie begins with Dinesh being tried for the crime of giving too much money to a friend running for political office.  He then goes to jail for this and subsequently learns there how criminals scam and defraud, and also that criminals believe the biggest crooks and thieves are politicians.  From there the movie takes the audience on a historical journey starting with the first Democrat President, Andrew Jackson.  President Jackson directed the creation of reservations for Native Americans and the round-up and removal of many of them to Oklahoma (the “Trail of Tears”).  It talks about the creation of the Republican Party, dedicated to freedom for the slaves and liberty for everyone.

It then addresses the fact that the Democrat Party strongly favored slavery and that every Klu Klus Klan member was a Democrat.  Moreover, that it sponsored the Jim Crow laws that were designed to subjugate African-Americans and championed Blacks from owning guns so they could not defend themselves from the Klan.  It talks about Democrat President Woodrow Wilson who was a racist and sexist and led to the re-emergence of the Klu Klux Klan.  Then it discusses Margaret Sanger, who started Planned Parenthood as a means to suppress the African-American population.

At some point it jumps to Hillary Clinton and displays her biography and association with Saul Alinsky, who she wrote her term paper on.  It addresses Alinsky, who wrote the infamous book on deceiving voters called,  Rules for Radicals.  It mentions that president Obama taught the deceptive and unethical Alinsky tactics. It depicts the deception of Obamacare and Hillary’s role in silencing Bill’s sexual predations.  Dinesh interviews Carol Swain, Professor at the Vanderbilt University Law School.  Professor Swain (who is an African-American) is an expert in the history of race relations and civil rights and said that after the Civil War the purpose of the Democrat Party was to re-establish white supremacy.  The movie shows how the Clintons worked Hillary’s position as Secretary of State to make a fortune for themselves as well as their front “charity”, the Clinton Foundation.

The movie ends on a beautiful and positive note and should dry up any tears you might have for Secretary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump.

HILLARY CLINTON vs. DONALD TRUMP

The Clinton and the Trump campaigns are close to an end after being hard-fought.  Currently, Clinton is doing better in the media-run polls than Trump, though Trump is doing better than Hillary in the most accurate-in-the-past poll (Rasmussen), and his rallies are getting larger than his usual large crowds.  Note that one of the recent WikiLeaks “John Podesto” emails told the media how to rig polls to make it appear that Hillary was trouncing Donald (this was done to achieve a “bandwagon effect”).

Multi-billionaires, like Donald Trump, obviously don’t get to be wealthy by being stupid.  However, Trump is prone to rhetorical excesses. He is the populist anti-establishment candidate, called by his son, Eric, a “blue-collar billionaire”.

Hillary Clinton has an interesting hand because she was President Obama’s Secretary of State, however she has developed into a good debater and speaker.  As the WikiLeaks “Podesto” emails have exposed, as well as many more credible sources, Hillary Clinton will do almost anything, no matter how corrupt or illegal, to win the election and become President of the United States.  Moreover, the FBI has re-opened the investigation of her having classified information on her private computer server.

On policy, Trump has the advantage because Obama’s policies have hurt medical care, foreign policy, the military, the economy, Israel, etc., and Hillary, as Obama’s Secretary of State, is closely allied with Obama’s policies.  On the other hand, if you only watch NBC, ABC, or CBS, you have’nt heard about these negatives about Obama (so Obama’s shortcomings don’t really matter that much).

There are many reasons for electing “your” candidate, but here is the strongest reason for supporting either Clinton or Trump.

o for Clinton: if you like Obama’s presidency, you’ll like Hillary; however, you’ll have to overlook rampant corruption in a Clinton Administration (past performance is the best indicator of future behavior).  Hillary Clinton should be better than Obama was as commander-and-chief of the military.

o for Trump: he would appoint at least 3 conservative Supreme Court justices, his economic plan would double the size of the economy (Gross Domestic Product or GDP) within 10 years after his policies are put  into effect (which is what happened under President Reagan), he would fix illegal immigration, and he would repeal and replace Obamacare.

I’m a political junkie because much of my education and interests were about government and my jobs were with the Federal, a State and a city government, where elected political leaders were in charge.  I know both sides of every issue and therefore know who is fabricating and twisting facts to support their policies.  For the sake of everyone on the planet, I pray we make the right decision in selecting our next president.

 

RIGGED ELECTION: TRUMP IS THE LAST CHANCE EVER FOR A (MOSTLY) CONSERVATIVE PRESIDENT

Some Republican politicians this year are not supporting Donald Trump because of Trump’s rhetorical excesses, because they don’t consider him a true conservative, and because of his “locker room” comments from 2005.   Some Republican politicians  figure that, if Hillary becomes president, they can always regain the Presidency in 2020, but is this realistic?

Today, the “open borders” policy of Hillary Clinton (2/3 of immigrants vote Democrat), and her plan for huge increases in Muslim refugees (90% of which will vote Democrat), as well as a Clinton Supreme Court probably ruling that a photo ID is not required to vote (and the consequent increase in voter fraud from today’s 4 million fraudulent (Democrat) votes, 2016 is the last year that a Republican can become president of the United States.

Consequently, beginning in 2020, it really is a waste of time to even bother holding another presidential election.  We will have Democrat presidents for the foreseeable future.  So all of those Republicans who are not supporting Donald Trump this year and then plan to elect a true (establishment) Republican in 2020, are deluding themselves.  If Trump is elected president this year he will build the wall on our southern border and stop illegal immigration, help ensure that photo ID’s are required to vote, and purge registration roles of deceased voters and people registered in more than one State.

So what’s a voter to do if s/he doesn’t like Hillary or Donald for president?  List your ten most important issues and rate both Hillary and Donald on each of those ten issues.  You might have to listen carefully to discover what each candidate has to say on each of your ten issues.  Then you need to consider what Hillary and Donald have accomplished in their lives.  Finally, you need to think about how honest they are and then tally their total score.  Whatever nominee receives the highest score you vote for.  Try to avoid even considering non-issues like racism, sexism, or climate change since these issues are phony for these candidates.  Do understand, however, that if Donald Trump is not elected in 2016, there will never be another Republican president and that, with Hillary Clinton selecting the next three or four Supreme Court justices and the consequent loss of your individual right to own a firearm, the United States will move far to the left, default on the National debt, and government corruption will become even more rampant than it is today and move closer to becoming a Venezuela-style country.

MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE: PROS & CONS

Who can be against a livable wage and why would they possibly be against it?  That’s what this post is about.   President Obama raised the minimum wage for Federal contractors from $7.25 to $10.10/hour.  It covers future Federal contracts only and therefore won’t affect many workers right now.  The President has urged Congress, however, to pass legislation to cover all minimum wage employees in the U.S.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has recently reported that if the minimum wage were to be increased to $10.10 nationwide, or a 40% increase, about 500,000 to 1,000,000 million minimum wage employees, from the current pool of 16,500,000 minimum wage employees, would lose their jobs because employers could not pay it and remain in business.  Recently, however, the new proposed minimum wage has jumped to $15/hour.  The specific effects of such a raise have not been officially calculated, but it would surely result in millions of “minimum wage employees” losing their jobs because many employers could not afford to pay it and remain in business.

So why do it?  The main argument is that it’s not a “living wage,” that no one can live on and raise a family on that wage.  Sounds like a reasonable justification but, of course, we need to look at other sides of the argument before reaching sound conclusions.  I already cited one of the primary reasons why not to raise the minimum wage too high…the loss of about 1,000,000 minimum wage jobs; however, another significant reason is that it would almost shut down the first step on career ladders for unskilled workers…to the extent that they couldn’t even get that first job, get their foot in the door…because their work would not be worth $15/hour.  In addition, since only 15% of minimum wage employees live in poverty households, raising it would do little to reduce poverty.  Finally, many businesses, like restaurants, are very sensitive to the minimum wage and when that wage is increased substantially, restaurant prices increase substantially, which hurts the business or makes it fail (so the end result may be the elimination of jobs).  Moreover, it’s far more accurate to call “minimum wage” the “starting wage,” because that’s exactly what it is for most people.

It appears that labor union leadership and consequently the Democrat Party is the only beneficiary of dramatic minimum wage increases with everyone else being harmed; therefore, gradual increases in the minimum wage may be able to satisfy genuine concerns of the minimum wage argument.

The best way to raise everyone’s wages the most is to create a booming economy like they have in North Dakota where $15 is the starting wage in fast food restaurants because of the huge competition for employees that North Dakota’s great economy fostered.

 

LEARN PUBLIC SPEAKING: JOIN TOASTMASTERS INTERNATIONAL!

The very best way to learn or drastically improve your ability to speak in public is to join and participate in Toastmasters, International.  There are thousands of Toastmasters clubs in the U.S. and Toastmasters clubs in many countries around the world.  I was a member of Toastmasters for 23 years and gave about 300 prepared speeches and 500 extemporaneous speeches during my time there.  I know Toastmasters well.  I also have taken a variety of public speaking courses over my 40-year+ government career and therefore can compare participating in Toastmasters with other ways of becoming proficient at public speaking.

Toastmasters is by far the best way to learn how to speak in public.  However, it does much more than that.  Toastmasters also helps develop listening skills by having its members evaluate speeches.  In addition, it also helps develop thinking skills and leadership skills.

Members progress at their own speed, earning a “Competent Toastmaster” award after giving 10 speeches, and then silver, bronze and gold Toastmasters advanced designations, followed by the Distinguished Toastmaster award.  There are manuals that guide Toastmasters into developing speeches.  There are manuals on storytelling, on persuading, on giving presentations, etc.  There are 15 groups of manuals that instruct members on how to prepare and deliver 75 different types of speeches.  Individual Toastmasters select all of their own speeches.  The very first speech is  an “Icebreaker,” where the new Toastmaster talks about him/herself.

Besides the very valuable career skills you learn at Toastmasters, there is a very gratifying comradery and  that all Toastmasters clubs have.  Toastmasters is a wholesome activity which will help your career.  Clubs meet at hours that are convenient for working people and many companies and the government usually allow their employees to use “company time,” if needed, to attend meetings (because it’s training).

 

TRAP, NEUTER, RETURN” (TNR) PROGRAM FOR FERAL/STRAY CATS (audio interview)

I decided to conduct this conference call on TNR (25-minute audio of interview at the bottom of  written introduction) because it’s the answer to the feral and stray cat population explosion problem.  Ferals and strays starve, thirst,  freeze, are killed by dogs and other cats as well as by cars, and there are very few charitable organizations dealing with the problem.  Moreover, as a bonafide “catman,” who has trapped, neutered, and returned at least 100 cats, this issue is very important to me because I’ve come to know cats as the affectionate (if you feed and water them, scratch their heads, give them a name and talk to them ) creatures that they are.

If you love cats, don’t miss this discussion led by Mike Russo with Alex Mehn and Mark Rheinhardt on the very effective “Trap, Neuter, Return” (TNR) program for feral (afraid of people) cats.  TNR has been questioned recently concerning its effectiveness; however, we in the cat community have first-hand experience and knowledge that it works very well.  I took care of a 30-cat colony for about 10 years during which no kittens were born to any of my cats.

Alex Mehn, at the time of the interview, worked for the “Rocky Mountain Alley Cat Alliance” and its low-cost neutering clinic,”The Feline Fix,” as its TNR coordinator.  Mark Rheinhardt is an attorney on the board of the “Devine Feline” which operates a large van/mobile unit that travels around metropolitan Denver where its volunteers humanely trap feral and stray/homeless cats and have them neutered in the van by a volunteer veterinarian, and later returned to where they were trapped.

The discussion examines all facets of how a TNR program for caring for feral and stray-homeless cats could be implemented through local legislation (and uses Denver as an example of a city that needs TNR legislation and why).

In the TNR discussion, many issues are addressed, such as:

  1. How TNR helps prevent cat “hoarding”
  2. Feline aids and leukemia,
  3. Aggressiveness, zoonotic diseases,
  4. Curtails hunting and killing birds,
  5. The risks to catpeople without TNR, and much more.

To listen to this conference call, please click the red link  below.

Trap, Neuter, Return\” (TNR) program – Audio

 

INCOME INEQUALITY

A hot political issue this political season is income inequality.  The heart of the debate is that it doesn’t seem fair for some people to make millions while others are living close to poverty.  The government already redistributes wealth through a variety of welfare programs, taxes, food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, etc. but advocates want to see a lot more.  Is this fair?  Is it feasible? Are there unintended consequences for even more income redistribution?  Let’s check it out by first reviewing the scope of the problem:  according to IRS data for 2013, the wealthiest 2.4% of taxpayers pay about 48.9% of all individual taxes; however, they also make over $250,000 adjusted gross income.

The United States’ economy is fueled by free enterprise, also known as capitalism.  Being able to make a better life for yourself and your family motivates people to devote the time, energy and work necessary to become financially successful.  This system, however, does result in some being very rich and some being poorer.  Free enterprise, as practiced in the United States, contains economic safety nets to help ensure that no one is destitute.  Even so, some will still be bad off.  Here’s where charities play a large roll, as well as simple government policies, such as those that require that every hospital to treat people even when they can’t pay.

For average income Americans, the Social Security Administration recently reported that 51% of Americans make less than $30,000/year.  This poor record is the fault of the Federal government in over-regulating businesses, in having an absurdly high (35%) corporate income tax rate that forces U.S. companies to relocate overseas where rates are much lower, and having high individual tax rates (since many small businesses file as individuals).  All of these policies are advocated  by the Democratic Party, who, in the same breath, says they’re for the “little guy” and for the poor.

Free enterprise is not perfect but has moved billions of people out of poverty in India, China and other countries. The Federal government is taking the freedom out of free enterprise in the United States.

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