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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Scarlett O'Hara or Henny Penny - Coming to a Convention Near You!

A little more drama is reported every day within the Occupy Wall Street movement, whereby disenfranchised or unemployed (or both) people demonstrate in public areas against the concept of corporate greed. 

Since there's no outstanding leader to point out, either to demonize or canonize, there isn't much "new news" to report about the movement on a daily basis - except, these people don't go away. 

Perhaps a surprise October major snow storm in the Northeast will put some indoors for awhile; but, come Spring thaw, I predict this group will emerge, angry as ever. They'll especially be attracted to the media flocks preparing to gather at both the Democrat and Republican national hoop-la-las, called Party Conventions, preparing for the election of the US President, 2012.  But, I worry that both parties are intentionally marginalizing these people, sort of discrimination by avoidance.

Marginalization of the Occupy Wall Street movement by political parties, do so at their peril. Maybe they're afraid of being called  Henny Penny's by their respective party strategists, trying to avoid the "sky is falling" potential of Occupy Wall Street. Or, on the other hand, they might adopt Scarlett O'Hara's mantra, to simply think about this movement tomorrow. 

"Fiddle-dee-dee!"  Let somebody else care!

Hopefully, both parties are sitting in cloistered strategy sessions trying to figure out what to do next. Democrats might be the Scarlett's of this strategy, pointing out how Republicans don't care about people who are out of work.  Are Republicans saying "Fiddle-dee dee" while their GOP party implodes on their short sighted economic ideologies? Let's worry about balancing the budget by cutting taxes?

On the other hand, Republicans can drape the Occupy Wall Street movement into a group of Democratic wanna-bees. Are the Occupy Wall Street people just whiners?  Are they the Henny Penny crowd?

Usually, the truth is someplace right down the middle of these ideological runways. Although I'm an outside observer, I suspect conservative and liberal factions exist within the Occupy Wall Street movement.  They appear to be unified by their circumstances - a group of intelligent, young, upwardly mobile, and educated people who are out of luck and lacking opportunities to achieve their piece of the American Dream. 

Hmmm, isn't this how have modern social revolutions began?

Both political parties must have a strategy in place for validating the Occupy Wall Street Movement before their national conventions convene.  Validation is neither acceptance nor endorsement - but levels the discussion so that people can be heard. 

Republicans are not very adept at this sort of appeasement - I can't imagine a rightwingextremist saying "I understand your pain".. But, I suggest Republicans learn from the fate of Scarlett O'Hara, who lost the love of her life for lack of interest in Rhett Butler's attentions.

As for the Democrats, when the Occupy Wall Street movement closes in on a party convention near them, I suspect their best strategy is to co-opt the Henny Penny mentality. Indeed, if you are a person among the employable but unemployed, then, indeed, the sky is falling on you.  If Republicans say tax cuts produce jobs, then where's the evidence of this idea?  As the US is the lowest taxed nation in the world, our unemployment rate should correlate to "zero".  So, low taxes are clearly not the answer or this economic bullet would have worked by now. 

Rather, the answer is to get Republican obstructionists everywhere to convince their corporate friends to hire rather than marginalize people who want jobs. 

In the end, Scarlett O'Hara never resolved anything in her short fictional life. 

Henny Penny, on the other hand, called people to action.  

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Borders - International Communities with an "Imaginary Line"

"You said I don't want to build a fence," Romney said. "You talk about magnets -- you put in place a magnet."

Another down and dirty GOP debate about (ho hum) "immigration" continues causing angst among Republicans.

I swear, the ghost of President Ronald Reagan was whispering in the background, "There you go again...."

Governor Romney hammered his former colleague on October 18, about Governor Rick Perry's duplicitous policy to prevent illegal immigrants from traveling through Mexico, to cross the border into Texas - to find jobs and hope for a new future.

Apparently, while the Texas governor preaches a hard party line against illegal immigrants, the state offers their children an opportunity for subsidized education. Of course, this Texas policy makes no Republican sense and Governor Romney is correct to raise questions about its duplicity.

But, in my mind, the bigger issue is how to manage international borders, especially when imaginary lines in the ground create the equivalent of the Great Wall of China, separating people based upon where they are born or pay taxes.  By the way, although it's a magnificent tourist attraction, The Great Wall of China eventually failed to keep marauders away.  In modern times, Germany's Berlin Wall created decades of obstructionism. When the 20th Century Cold War finally ended, the wall's breakdown was a hugely symbolic symbol of freedom.  Lessons learned?  No. Republicans have not learned from the history of failed walls.  Not yet.

American Republicans perpetrate a myth about border security. We can try, but it doesn't work.

Millions of US dollars are wasted creating barriers, negatively impacting innocent people who might want to cross international borders with Mexico or Canada, just to visit relatives or for tourism.  Illegal immigrants sneak into the US via clandestine methods, paying unscrupulous wetback transport services, putting their lives at risk of suffocation while hidden in trucks or the potential to die of thirst abandoned in the Texas desert.  Meanwhile, the employers of illegals get a modest fine if they are caught hiring people without immigration papers.  Instead of building walls, shouldn't American law enforcement declare a no tolerance policy for hiring illegals?

America's international borders with Canada and Mexico are imaginary lines.  Communities of people lived on both sides of our international borders for thousands of years before lawmakers separated families for the sake of protecting territories, most likely, to divide tax revenues.

Jacques Poitras writes a wonderful history about borders in "Imaginary Line: Life on an Unfinished Border".  He describes the cross border community of Madawaska, located in Maine and New Brunswick, Canada. In 1842, a border was created between Maine and New Brunswick by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty.  Nonetheless, people didn't pay much attention to this 1842 imaginary boundary. Although locals respected the laws put in place at the borders, it didn't do much to impact their lives until post the September 11, 2001 security, which sliced their once friendly communities in two.  Even so, enhanced border security created stress for a few tiny towns in Northern Maine, where people cannot travel from one place to another without crossing the international border with Canada, because roads in dense forests simply don't exist to support direct transportation.

Although the intimacy of the Texas border with Mexico might not be as tight as between Maine and Canada, the boundaries existing between these states and countries are, nonetheless, just imaginary lines drawn by people who, over one hundred years ago, thought they knew what they were doing.

America's immigration policy should not inflict punitive damages on innocent people who are doing what their ancestors have done for centuries, to create friendship, trade and harmony in spite of imaginary lines drawn in the dirt.

Governor Romney and Governor Perry should stop throwing dirt at one another about immigration.

Instead of trying to appease a RWE-RWE (rightwingextremist) GOP base, who clearly deny their own immigrant genealogies, the two potential world leaders should find ways of creating international trade agreements and cultural business opportunities. Let's protect policies to reinforce what people living along  imaginary boundary lines crave - to reunite their families and, plainly, get along.

Jacques Poitras' book "Imaginary Line: Life on an Unfinished Border" is a wonderful history story, published in 2011 by Goose Lane Editions in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Governor Christie - Republican Regional Favoritism

http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2011/10/11/team-perry-on-christie-northeast-republicans-are-sticking-together/?mod=WSJBlog&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=facebook

Republican persons who want to be the President of the United States, now and in the future, must learn to speak as leader of all 50 states and territories.

The badly needed rising star of the Republican party, Governor Christie of New Jersey, wrongly commented against President Obama for creating class distinction to get re-elected, but his tangential statement lacked statesmanship.  I expected more of Governor Christie than finger pointing rhetoric, all the while giving an excuse for his own unwillingness to run for the GOP presidential nomination.  "It's not my time," he said.

In other words, according to Christie, President Obama is being unnecessarily incendiary because he's putting rich against poor, or using other socio-economic discrimination factors to get re-elected.

Another example of Republican hypocrisy stirred up after Christie's statements:  Soon after Governor Christie declined his chance at the GOP nomination, he went on to endorse Governor Mitt Romney for the job. Governor Rick Perry didn't use the Christie endorsement to say anything substantial. Rather than rise above this spotlight on Romney, the Republican "wanna'be" Governor Perry accused his New Jersey colleague of "regional favoritism".  Now, there's a non-unifying statement - worse than the socio-economic marginalization projected on President Obama by Governor Christie!

When will Governor Perry begin acting like a presidential candidate who is interested in being President of the United States of America?  He's even written about Texas secession. Now, he points fingers in the direction of creating a Balkan US North East, even singling out respected members of his own political party.

Likewise, Governor Christie has no business wrongly accusing President Obama of creating class distinctions in America when the problems of "have's" versus the "have-nots" are as evident as New Jersey Turnpike's tractor-trailer trucks.

Governor Christie is an intelligent man who might want a future run for President of the United States.  Meanwhile, he should practice-practice-practice statesmanship and learn to rise above the lowest rhetorical common denominator to engage public attention.

Most important, as future presidential material, Christie needs to speak the truth.  Plan speaking, he's good at that, is not always truthful speaking.  Accusing President Obama of creating class distinctions, especially when they already exist, is just an attention getting gimmick, unworthy of Governor Christie's intelligent political aspirations.

Potential Republican presidential nominees must stop whining and start producing new ideas. Rather than creating crises, they need to propose solutions to problems.  If this lack of leadership continues to implode the GOP, I suspect the accumulated ineptness will create even worse political divides - it happened once before, creating divisions so horrible it caused a Civil War.

Not only do we endure the horrors of Democrats versus Republicans, we have the Christians suspect of all the other American based religions and now, another new dilemma, labeled "regional favoritism".

This sand throwing in the play ground is regressive behavior. Worse, divisive rhetoric is a terrible harbinger for a strong and united future for all Americans. Do we really mean it when we Pledge of Allegiance to the "United States of America"?  Our political leaders should, indeed, they must, start setting a unifying tone.

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Sunday, October 09, 2011

Twitter Twitizens in #Occupywallstreet

When social change happens or people are in the midst of systematic upheaval, there's usually a leader to point out, "that person did it!". These individuals are usually the brunt of unflattering scapegoating.

These high profile people may not be the original initiators of change movements, but, somehow or other, they wind up being the king pins.. Also, they're, sometimes, picked off by the enemies of the change they initiate.

It's not so easy to label Twitter-Twitizens.

This is problematic with those trying their best to vilify the Occupy Wall Street momentum. Whether or not this protest against corporate greed is a viable social movement, as professed, or another profound example about how quickly the world can respond to real time change agents, are still concepts waiting to be tested.

Nonetheless, what's real is the fact that enemies of change cannot attack Twitter Twitizens, because they're motivated to "dent the universe" (Thank you Steve Jobs, may you rest in peace!)

For example, on the morning's WCSH6 TV Portland ME,  a rightwingextremist (RWE-RWE) pundit was allowed time to put an inappropriate label on the #occupywallstreet demonstrators.  This RWE-RWE (nameless because they sound rhetorically alike) said the anti-greed movement is simply a way to get President Obama re-elected.  "There you go - labeling again!" (Thank you President Ronald Reagan).  This particular pundit RWE-RWE is not an original thinker, cannot come up with a "label" to vilify who the #occupywallstreet enemy might be and, therefore, invents a scapegoat.

Shame on WCSH6 for allowing such name calling on a respectable television interview without a challenge.  "Why do you think this movement is a way to re-elect President Oabma?" is the appropriate follow up question.

Instead, the commentator let the tangential comment stand.  Not good journalism; but, television measures rare opportunities to challenge what's said; which is why, what's "said", is often taken as fact, without proof, just because...

In our tumultuous human history, there are often tragic consequences for people who initiate social change.  In my lifetime, President John F. Kennedy passed the Civil Rights Amendment - he suffered merciless vilification.  Recently, we saw the terrible end of life for beautiful Benazir Bhutu. Both leaders were hated by their mirror opposite opponents.  President Kennedy was mistrusted because he was a Roman Catholic and a supporter of Civil Rights for American Negroes.  Benazir Bhutu was marginalized, mostly because she was an iconic Muslim woman leader. There's dozens of other names, some of them nobel people, others with evil intentions, but most of them share the distinction of being dead before their time, often by nefarious means.

Not so with Twitter Twitizens. Enemies of #occupywallstreet can do their best to vilify the movement, but  inappropriate labels scapegoating an entire group, just because you oppose with their message, is a cowardly way to disagree with people. 

Even the T-Party, the mirror opposite of #occupywallstreet, did not receive the same public vilification by liberals in the mainstream media as the RWE-RWEs are not attributing to this more liberal momentum.  Suppose the RWE-RWEs agreed with #occupywallstreet?  Hypocritical loyalties to not foster trust.

But, to be hones, the T-Party had a "real person" leader, named Sarah Palin, who, by my analysis, did a terrific job standing up to (or looking down on) her detractors.  Although I don't agree with Sarah Palin, she's a good leader of the T-Party movement. What she needs, to move forward, is a group of Twitter Twitizens to back her up.

So, I cheer - "You Go Twitter Twitizens!".  By your flash ability to mobilize change, perhaps you'll be able to "dent in the universe", a tribute to Steve Jobs, and protect the change agents who too often become the victims of scapegoating.

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Saturday, October 01, 2011

Michele Obama: America's First Lady With Heart

No doubt about it, Michele Obama is a charismatic first lady of the United States.

She's beautiful, articulate, compassionate and brilliantly able to communicate her heart felt and positive messages for America.  Yesterday, she poke to a crowd in Portland ME.  Being with her was like having your favorite Aunt come to dinner. Her smile lights up an entire room - a  big room.

My favorable impression of Mrs.Obama was firmly planted when my husband Richard and I saw her speak yesterday afternoon to an enthusiastic group of supporters at Portland's beautiful Ocean View Terminal, a picturesque facility on Casco Bay

Supporters of President Obama expect the First Lady to rally followers. But, Mrs.Obama exceeded expectations. She reached out to the audience with an appeal I've not seen from other political speakers.

She uses natural language, putting her audience at ease with a heartfelt request to join with her in supporting a 2012 Presidential Victory. Her appeal seemed more like an invitation to become her personal friend than a political campaign speech.

I overheard most of those leaving Mrs. Obama's speech, (there were approximately 800 of us, but I'm not good at estimating crowd size), carrying a sense of pride at having the privilege of being in her pleasant company.
 
Of all American First Ladies, I can't think of another who could sincerely rally a crowd like Mrs.Obama.  Although other First Ladies are influential by virtue of their special access to their husbands, Mrs.Obama seemed able to share her window to her husband, through her compassionate heart.

What did she say? It was mostly about the touching way she said it.  She spoke about our children.  She said if one child is hurting, then all our children are hurting. She said if one person is hurting, then all Americans are hurting. She said, if one family is on hard times, we Americans feel the need to respond. "We are our Brother's Keeper."  This is what her husband President Barack Obama is trying to accomplish.  He wants all Americans to have opportunities to share in the American Dream.

Of course, the serious side of Mrs.Obama's message was clear.  The alternative to her husband's re-election is to turn back the clock on progressive policies. In eloquent style, she spoke about the need to protect small businesses, the environment, to pass The American Jobs Act, to support the Affordable Care Act (health care reform) and for the appointment of progressive Supreme Court justices. 

Thank you Mrs.Obama, for bringing your warm and caring style, grace, sense of joy in being an American and political enthusiasm to Portland, Maine.  Speaking for those of us with you yesterday, Friday September 30, 2011,  we are, indeed, "with you", as you requested. 

I suspect, if Mrs.Obama's charisma reaches every American, there would be no need for Republicans to waste millions of dollars trying to bring down her progressive husband as President, or to obstruct his ability to succeed.

By the time the 2012 Democratic Convention in Charlotte, South Carolina convenes, I suspect Mrs.Obama will have perfected her campaign style to the point where the entire country will have an opportunity to share the joy we felt yesterday, listening to her in Portland.

Her message and style are nearly impossible acts for Republicans to follow - none of them have demonstrated compassion for Americans. Nor, are they able to articulate a positive unifying message. Mrs.Obama claims a copyright on both.

Her heart is likely big enough to reach out to Republicans, too, if they would abandon rhetoric and respond to Mrs.Obama's message: "We are our Brother's Keeper".

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