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Showing posts from October, 2014

Best of Halloween 2014 (updated)

I'm seeing wonderful Halloween costumes on twitter. Here's some of the best (I'll keep adding if I find others). The notorious RBG Olive-a-Pope (notice the wine glass) Check out My costume! It was surprisingly easy to make. — God (@TheTweetOfGod) October 31, 2014

Calling out Krathammer's lies and hypocrisy

While the rest of media punditry is almost entirely focused on "optics," Charles Krauthammer makes a bold move by suggesting that the midterm elections are all about competence. But he has zero to say about the lack of competence being shown by Republicans. This is all about throwing bombs at President Obama. Of course he mentions things like the "disaster of the Obamacare rollout" (yeah, fixed that one) and the non-scandal "scandal" at the VA. But this is what I found amazing. Beyond mere incompetence is government intrusiveness and corruption, as in the overreach of national security surveillance and IRS targeting of politically disfavored advocacy groups. We'll leave the whole thing about the IRS alone for now because I'm pretty gobsmacked that Krauthammer has the gall to complain about national security surveillance overreach. Not only did Bush, Jr. conduct surveillance on people in America - until 2006 he did it sans warrants. And Krautha

Signs of how First Look Media will fail

As someone who has had to learn a lot about management the hard way, its going to be interesting to watch First Look Media implode. This article by a few of the players laying out the reasons for Matt Taibbi's departure is a fascinating tale from a management perspective. The bottom line is that you cannot hire an entire staff of anti-authoritarians and have no rules in place to which they are held accountable. If you hire really talented people, those rules do not have to be onerous or restrictive. But one of the most important things I ever learned was that "the best way to discriminate against someone is to not tell them what the rules are." There will be rules - whether they are overt or covert. Failing to make them overt is a recipe for disaster. So color me surprised (NOT) that things came to a head between Taibbi and First Look management when... ...a Racket staffer complained to senior management that Taibbi had been verbally abusive and unprofessionally

What drives both left and right ideologues crazy about Obama

He's said these kinds of things many times in the past. In response, leftist ideologues respond with rage and those on the right studiously ignore it because it decimates their narrative. He did it again  at the rally for Mary Burke in Milwakee, WI this week. And let me say this: Republicans are patriots, they love their country just like we do. But they’ve got some bad ideas. That doesn’t mean that we don’t appreciate them as Americans. I’ve got family members who have got bad ideas -- they’re still part of the family, but you don’t want to put them in charge, right? This President has made a habit of trying to teach us that disagreement doesn't need to lead to demonization - something our politics has assumed for far too long. Its gotten so bad lately that all we ever do is lob insults at each other from our own epistemically enclosed media outlets . This has not worked out well as a strategy for Democrats. Then-Senator Barack Obama explained why way back in 2005.

How to handle a heckler

This is the kind of thing Americans should notice: Compare and contrast two different ways of dealing with a heckler. First, here's Gov. Chris Christie - who prefers the "sit down and shut up" approach. And now here's President Barack Obama's "That's what America is all about" approach. Who sounds more like a tyrant? Nuff said...

An Introvert as President (updated)

Joshua Green certainly stirred things up with his article about how " Obama is too cool for crisis management. " I encourage you to read responses from both Matt Yglesias and Danny Vinik . But what Green did is simply magnify the story many in the media tell us about President Obama - that he is cool, aloof, cerebral, disengaged and remote. What none of them seem to be aware of or acknowledge is that this President is actually an introvert in a world that values extroverts. If you have any doubts about that, listen to an introvert - Susan Cain - talk about her own experience and provide us with some history of how/why our attachment to extroversion came about. Speaking as an introvert myself, I understand the judgements extroverts often make about us. I too thought there was something wrong with me as I recoiled from what felt like the mania of others. Until I was able to learn to value introversion, I thought of myself as lazy, disengaged and an observer rather than

A Powerful Story of Hope

Diriye Osman shows us how its done with Letter to My 13 Year-Old Self . I'll just share an excerpt, but go read the whole thing...its short :-) I want you to know that life will try to crack you like an egg, and your silence will eventually break. Someday you will spill some of those painful secrets and taste a modicum of much-needed freedom. You will lose a great deal as a result, but the gains will outweigh every loss. You will love and be loved by a beautiful man in a place where your mutual passion will be a marker not of shame but of pride. You will be awkward and alone and alien for a long time, but you will transform these qualities, which is to say yourself, into a work of art. You will wear your awkwardness, your aloneness and your alienness in your hair like gold thread. You will adorn your wonkiness on your wrist like a charm bracelet studded with stars... Someday you will grow up and become the man you have always wanted to be. All of these amazing things await y


For those of you familiar with the New Testament, have you ever wondered why Jesus almost always responded to difficult questions by telling a story (parable)? The answer is that there is power in storytelling. Lately I've been noticing how many of the people I admire are talking about this. For today, I simply want to chronicle what they're saying. First of all, take a moment to listen to Lynne Twist - author of The Soul of Money and founder of Pachamama Alliance  - talk about the power of story. The story we tell ourselves or the conversation we're living in is actually where we live...and we have absolute omnipotence over that. We may not have power over the circumstance we have, but we have absolute power over the story we tell about the circumstances or the conversation we have about our lives...That's not only where you and I can change the game, but can change our lives and the world we perceive we're living in. Its not pollyanna. Its not positive

Thomas Frank still thinks like a Republican

I suppose that it should come as no surprise that most of the people on the left who suffer from Obama Derangement Syndrome (ODS) are former Republicans. No - I'm not buying into some tin-foil hat conspiracy theory that these folks are simply infiltrators. What's more likely is that they've been steeped in the ideology of dominance as the only form of power - or as Audre Lorde would suggest - they continue to cling to the idea that the master's tools can dismantle the master's house. So low and behold, I find out today that Thomas Frank , the current spokesperson for leftist ODS now that no one is paying any attention to Glenn Greenwald, is a former Republican. He validates my theory about all this in his recent column titled: We are such losers . Frank's point in this article is to suggest various similarities between Presidents Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama (apparently they're losers as far as he's concerned). Along the way he demonstrates his whit

When a media pundit nails it!

Since I've focused a lot on how the media fails these days, I think its also important to point out when they get it right. Recently Justin Sink did just that with an article titled: The shiny object election . The short-attention span generation has birthed the shiny-object election. The theme of the 2014 midterms — to whatever extent one is discernable — has been an explosion of one crisis after another, each of which demands an enormous amount of media attention before fading for the next one. The result is that - with an assist from the media - Republicans have managed to fear-monger every challenge that's come along...resulting in a mindset amongst the public that amounts to " this country is going to hell in a hand basket. " Sink also correctly articulates the Obama administration's response to this shiny object syndrome: “We should be focused on the problems because we have a government and leadership in this country that’s focused on solving them,”

Has President Obama been naive?

Liberal pundits are very fond of calling President Obama "naive." Even in his defense of Obama's successes, Paul Krugman says this: Obama was indeed naive: He faced scorched-earth Republican opposition from Day One, and it took him years to start dealing with that opposition realistically. Clearly Krugman doesn't understand this President's theory of change - which I have often called  conciliatory rhetoric as a ruthless strategy . One way to deal with that kind of bad-faith opposition is to draw the person in, treat them as if they were operating in good faith, and draw them into a conversation about how they actually would solve the problem. If they have nothing, it shows. And that's not a tactic of bipartisan Washington idealists -- it's a hard-nosed tactic of community organizers, who are acutely aware of power and conflict. Just as with most people who are steeped in dominance as the only source of power, Krugman doesn't get that the audie

Racism as a story of fear

Lately I've been thinking a lot about the power of story in our lives. I'll likely be writing more about all that soon. But today I'd like to focus on the idea that much of the racism we see these days is rooted in a story of fear. By now a pattern has emerged in the stories we've heard about the shooting of unarmed black men/boys. Whether its George Zimmerman, Michael Dunn or Officer Darren Wilson - all have claimed that they fired shots in self-defense because they feared for their lives. If we give them the benefit of the doubt and accept that this was their motivation, the question remains whether or not that fear was justified by the actions of their victims. That's what makes the shooting of Levar Jones by state trooper Sean Groubert an important piece in this puzzle, even though Jones survived. Groubert is also basing his defense on the idea that he feared for his life. But we have videotape evidence of the events provided by the officer's dash cam.

I STILL prefer a "no drama" presidency (updated)

I'm back!!! So first of all, let me say "thank you" to everyone for your support. Now...on to the news :-) Nothing I've read recently captures the current political spin better than this article by Joshua Green titled: Obama Is Too Cool For Crisis Management.  Apparently for Green, "crisis management" involves having a president who panders to the emotional needs of the Great American Freak-Out created by Republican fear-mongering and our media's obsession with link bait. Green dismisses this President's "no drama" response as inadequate. “He responds in a very rational way, trying to gather facts, rely on the best expert advice, and mobilize the necessary resources,” says David Axelrod, a former White House senior adviser...By all accounts, Obama treats a crisis as an intellectual inquiry and develops his response through an intensely rational process. As former CIA Director Leon Panetta said recently in a TV interview, “He approache

I'll be gone for the next week

I wanted to let regular readers here know that I won't be posting much over the next week because this morning my Dad passed away. I leave to go to Texas tomorrow for his memorial service. Just last week I was down there helping take care of him - that's why posting was scarce at the time. I'll forever be grateful that I had the chance to spend some quality time with him. Some of you may remember that my Mother passed away one year, one month and one day ago. In the end, it was the cancer that took my Dad. But I will always believe that it was missing the love of his life that allowed him to let go. He went more quickly that we thought. But he was ready and at peace.

Gonna let my little light shine!

Human beings are by nature social animals. Because of that, much of our view of the world is influenced by the people with whom we come in contact. When our views are out of sync with the general zeitgeist, its time to assess whether that is because we have superior vision or we're interpreting events to fit a pre-determined outlook. I have been undergoing just such an assessment of my own views lately as I feel completely out of sync with the general perception that the country is going to hell in a hand basket. While the media and Republicans continue their total freak-out about Ebola and ISIS and many Democrats feel the need to distance themselves from President Obama's "toxic" record, here's what I'm noticing: The unemployment rate has finally dipped below 6% and is within .04% of 5.5% - the rate which many economists consider full employment, We are in the midst of the longest period of private sector job growth in this country's history, The nu

Republicans take a stand against freedom

As a baby boomer, I've had a lot of conversations with my peers about the whole concept of "retirement." Many of us are questioning when to retire and what exactly retirement means. The freedom to answer those questions in a way that works best for each of us as individuals is a blessing that many who came before us weren't afforded (and too many still don't experience). One of the ways this whole conversation has been altered is with the introduction of Obamacare. For people who are too young to be eligible for Medicare, many of us HAD to work in order to be able to afford health insurance. Both the elimination of denials for pre-existing conditions and the affordability of comprehensive coverage on the exchanges have opened up options that were not available previously. In his debate last night with Allison Lundergan Grimes, Senator Mitch McConnell said that was a bad thing. He lied about misrepresented a CBO report  saying that Obamacare would cost the cou

Is GOP obstruction coming back to bite them in the ass?

Back in 2011, retired Republican congressional staffer Mike Lofgren wrote this: A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress's generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner. It worked. According to Gallup , Congressional approval - 14% in September - is at an historic low. The media is constantly telling us about the low approval ratings for President Obama. We don't hear as much about this side of the story. Its true that the public isn't enamored with the Democrats, but the "pox on both your houses" has Speaker John Boehner's approval rating at 28% (only 46% amongst Republicans). I woul

A question for Glenn Greenwald

I just watched Glenn Greenwald's TED Talks video on Why Privacy Matters . In it, he spent quite a bit of time explaining that the goal of the "surveillance state" is to control the population by generating an assumption that we are being watched. If that were the case, one has to wonder why NSA took such elaborate measures to keep their programs secret. Shouldn't they have celebrated Snowden's revelations instead? After all, how can we be controlled if we don't know we're being watched? If I was in the mold of a Glenn Beck conspiracy theorist, I might assume that Greenwald/Snowden are really agents of the surveillance state who's job was to get the word out. Just saying... ;-)

A hit and a miss from Senator Elizabeth Warren

I'd seriously like to support Senator Elizabeth Warren. Perhaps it would help if she didn't do things like agree to be interviewed by Thomas Frank . This is the guy who - even when he knows he's is going to be interviewing its creator - gets confused about the name of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) because all his mind seems capable of comprehending is the "betrayal" of Obama/Holder for not prosecuting enough banks. So you know right away where this interview is going to go. Initially, Senator Warren makes a very important point when it comes to things like the CFPB. ...the consumer agency is structural change . So basically, the premise behind it was that there were plenty of federal laws out there, but no agency would step up and enforce them... And so the idea behind the consumer agency was to say: structural change . We need an agency that has one and only one goal, and that is to look out for American families. To level the playing fiel

What happened to the great Republican wave?

For months pundits have been declaring that the 2014 midterms would bring on a great Republican wave. The ingredients that would lead to that outcome included things that were baked into this particular election (several Senate Democrats up for re-election in red states combined with traditionally low turnout for Democrats in midterms) as well as some assumptions about: President Obama's approval numbers tanking Obamacare being a disaster for Democrats Scandal-mania (Benghazi, IRS, etc) The most obvious place to observe this great wave was going to be in Senate races where it was assumed that Republicans would gain a significant majority based in part on them ousting Democratic incumbents in places like New Hampshire and North Carolina. We should all be noticing by now that - regardless of the outcome of the Senate majority - it is increasingly unlikely that we'll see a Republican wave. In terms of Senate races, Republicans will probably win in deeply red states like