Courage comes from unexpected sources

Watching the movie “Hacksaw Ridge” for a second time serves as a reminder that you should not underestimate people. The movie reflects the true story of a conscientious objector in World War II who was awarded the Medal of Honor, even though he refused to pick up a weapon.

Desmond Doss enlisted to become a medic, but was almost court martialed for refusing to use his rifle. He was deemed a coward. After his case was dismissed, he went with his fellow troops to Hacksaw Ridge in Okinawa, a devil of a place where many Americans died. Doss was able to save over 75 wounded Americans, many left for dead, risking his own life. His mantra was “God, let me get one more.”

His courage astounded his fellow troops, some of whom had deemed him a coward before. This speaks volumes to me as courage is not often exhibited by the rah-rah type or the John Wayne like hero. It is the quiet strength to do something, whether it is death defying or standing up for a cause against a tide of popular opinion.

Senator John McCain is a true hero as he survived torture and stood strong with his fellow prisoners to overcome his North Vietnamese captors. In spite of a now-President, who never served, saying McCain was not a hero because he was captured, he was indeed one. And, McCain continues to show his courage throughout his career standing up with unpopular, but morally right opinions.

Former Virginia Senator and Secretary of the Navy Jim Webb is one of these people. Admittedly not perfect, he wrote an OpEd piece in 2002 saying if the US invades Iraq, we better be prepared to remain there 30 to 50 years. He said we need to ask questions such as will this help us diminish terrorism and what will this do to our role in other parts of the world? His position was unpopular, but he was dead on accurate in hindsight. But, even at the time he was posing questions that needed better answers.

Courage is more often exhibited by quiet strength. Some of the most courageous people are women. Female mathematicians who made a difference, like Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, the African-American women portrayed in “Hidden Figures,” fought huge uphill battles. Margaret Thatcher, Shirley Chisolm, Rosa Parks, Princess Diana, Mother Teresa, Gloria Steinem et al all had heavy doses of courage to overcome obstacles.

Mary Sherman Morgan, the first female rocket scientist, is also one of those people. In 1957, she invented a rocket fuel that powered the first Explorer rocket. She noted she was always the only female in her science and math classes, which was intimidating, but her courage helped her persevere.

Maybe that is the appropriate word for having inner strength to “persevere.” So, rather than beat on your chest, just suck it up, do your job, follow your conscience and persevere.

 

Republicans on Clinton when she is not running for office

When Hillary Clinton is doing her job, she gets high praise even from Republicans. Yet, when she runs for office, the Republicans trot out the piñata they have created over time filled with some truth and much innuendo, so they must beat her down, like kids do at a birthday party when the piñata is put before them.

Here are a few quotes from senior Republican officials from an article in The Daily Beast, before her latest run for Presidency. The italicized items are from the article whose link is below.

Senator John McCain: In 2011, at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor, McCain praised Clinton as “an international star” who has done “a tremendous job” as secretary of state. He also later told to CBS News, “I respect Secretary/Senator Clinton; I respect her views.”

Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice: In 2010, she told Bill O’Reilly,Hillary Clinton is someone I’ve known for a long, long time. She’s a patriot. I think she’s doing a lot of the right things.” Rice then added, “She’s very tough… and she’s got the right instincts.”

Senator Orrin Hatch: In 2010, when Clinton was being floated as a possible Supreme Court nominee and Hatch was the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Utah senator said of his former colleague: “I happen to like Hillary Clinton; I think she’s done a good job for the… secretary of state’s position, and I have high respect for her and think a great deal of her.”

Former CEO and Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina: “Having started as a secretary and eventually become a chief executive officer, I not only have great admiration and respect for Hillary Clinton and her candidacy and her leadership, but I also have great empathy, I must tell you, for what she went through.”

Senator Lindsey Graham: Perhaps no Republican has spoken more highly of Hillary Clinton than the South Carolina senator and prominent foreign-policy hawk, who went so far as to describe the then-secretary of state as “a good role model, one of the most effective secretary of states, greatest ambassadors for the American people that I have known in my lifetime” in May 2012. The Republican also went out of his way to praise Clinton to The New York Times three months later saying “She is extremely well-respected throughout the world, handles herself in a very classy way, and has a work ethic second to none.”

Former Vice-President Dick Cheney: During an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Cheney told host Chris Wallace of Clinton: “I have a sense that she is one of the more competent members of the current administration, and it would be interesting to speculate about how she might perform were she to be president.” Cheney also suggested that, if elected, Clinton might be easier for Republicans to work with than Obama.

Now that she is running for President her opponent and many Republicans have impugned this woman saying what a horrible job she did as Secretary of State and as Senator. Please take the time to re-read these quotes and find them in the attached article. This imperfect woman has taken a lot of crap, but is still standing. Most people, including her opponent, would have wilted under pressure by now.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/12/01/remember-when-republicans-loved-hillary-clinton.html

I was wrong

The above title represents the three words you may never hear Donald Trump utter in public. And, yet based on his prolific pace of lying and continual bashing of anyone or anything that gets in his way, I can think of no other celebrity who should say these three words more than him. I was wrong.

Let’s help him practice.

When DT derides Senator John McCain, a war hero, for not being such as heroes are not captured – I was wrong.

When DT sells his name to a development that he has nothing to do with for them to con folks into thinking this development has higher quality – I was wrong.

When DT says Carly Fiorina is not attractive enough to be president saying looking “look at that face” – I was wrong.

When DT imitates a reporter who has a noticeable disability with his arms and then denies he was so doing when it was obvious after saying “you should see this guy” – I was wrong.

When DT accuses reporter Meghan Kelly of unfairness implying she was on her period because she asked him legitimate, but tough questions – I was wrong.

When DT uses every means possible to evict people from their homes, saying it is just business – I was wrong.

When he says America is the most taxed country in the world, when it is not even close to being accurate – I was wrong.

When he derides a judge for being unfair to Trump because he is Mexican, when the judge was born in Indiana – I was wrong.

When he tells seminar goers and students he will personally interview and select teachers at Trump University when he did not and when he has a sales playbook to strong-arm people into spending their money – I was wrong.

When he not only condones, but encourages violence at his speeches – I was wrong.

When he says whites are killed by blacks 80% of the time at a rally to rile up the crowd, when the truth per the FBI is it is only 15% of the time – I was wrong.

When he derides Mexicans, Muslims, African-Americans, women, etc. indicting them as a group or as individuals – I was wrong.

When he consistently says the President was not born in America when the proof has been exhibited time and again – I was wrong.

When he says global warming is a hoax invented by the Chinese, when there is written documentation revealing his request to the Irish government to build a sea wall to hold back the rising seas due to climate change – I was wrong.

When he berates reporters for asking him legitimate questions and refuses to participate in a debate because a female reporter hurt his feelings – I was wrong.

When he  brought up unsubstantiated or denounced stories about his competitors from sources like the National Enquirer or from past Republican smear campaigns – I was wrong.

When he said unemployment was 30%, 40% or even high as 42%, revising it down to 20% later, while the Bureau of Labor statistics had it between 4.9% and 5% when he said these statements – I was wrong.

When he pretended to be a public relations person for his organization as he called into talk shows and bragged as a fictitious employee about how great, rich, successful, sexy, etc. his boss Trump is – I was wrong.

The dilemma is I could go on and on. Plus, rather than confess a wrongdoing, he will sometimes double and triple down on the bad statement as he did with berating John McCain or the judge from Indiana. I was wrong. Three simple words. But, they are not in the narcissist playbook. Yet, there are four definitive examples of when he was wrong that he cannot hide from – he has filed for bankruptcy four times. On those failed investments, let’s hear him say it – I was wrong.

 

 

 

I would do it again says former VP

The subject of the use of torture by the CIA continues to get debate, as it should. Of course, those who had a hand in it, don’t want them sullied by the use of the vile word “torture” and would rather euphemistically call it “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Our former Vice President who played a key role said he would do it again to keep Americans safe.

As mentioned in my last post, I have never been a fan of the use of torture, as you lose the moral ground very quickly. If our country is to lay claim to exceptionalism, it may want to listen to someone who was tortured, Senator John McCain, than someone who sanctioned the torturing. The argument for it is torturing gains the torturer more information than less onerous means, but that evidence does not seem to be borne out by the study or supported by war crimes experts. Plus, there is an element of CYA going on when you speak with someone who did the deed.

Yet, are we really safer? To me the answer is no, as we now have tens of thousands and multiple generations of terrorists that despise us, when back at the time of 9/11, al Qaeda numbered only 200 people. Yes, there were other terrorist groups, but suppose we took the higher road. We would have been safer as the numbers would likely be fewer who are out to harm us.

However, the last person we should listen to on these issues is the former Vice President. He said he would do it over again, but would also do the following again:

– would he help invent the story of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) that led to the invasion of Iraq, where al Qaeda was not present,

– would he ignore the advice of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to go in with more troops to secure the country (this later became the surge after many years),

– would he send our troops into battle with inferior equipment that cost lives,

– would he rely on the counsel of less than trust worthy advisors in the Middle East, which was the subject of later scrutiny,

– would he send in too few speakers of the various languages as our advisors, so as to avoid smoke being blown at us when we asked questions,

– would he fire the Iraqi police force, who later abetted the efforts ISIS and could have been allies to squelch fighting?

4,000 Americans died over there, so far. Many more of our allies died. Even more Iraqis, Afghanis, and others died. My thesis if we are going to send our troops into harms way, then we better support them and we better have a good reason other than unfound WMDs. As to do otherwise is a disservice to our country, our troops and their families.

So, excuse me for not giving much credence to what you would do over again. Your track record is not very good on these issues. If I had the choice to do over again, I would vote for Al Gore for President. And, make no mistake, it is torture no matter what you call it.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should

An age-old problem has only been made worse with the proliferation of technology and social media outlets. Our ability to access information and broadcast such to millions has now made the actual execution of a bad idea even more clinical. In other words, people are so removed from the pain they inflict, the question of whether they should do something becomes prey to situational ethics, if that word is even part of the thought-process. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.

An example occurred earlier this week when Jimmy Kimmel interviewed some kids about the government shutdown. When he shared with the kids that we owe China over a trillion dollars in debt payments, he asked what we should do about it? One of the children responded that “we could kill all the Chinese.” When I first saw this online, I winced. There are times when humor oversteps its boundaries and this was one of them. The footage of this video has been aired in China and plays into anti-Chinese rhetoric. Kimmel has apologized profusely on air and to protestors outside his studio. He knows now he and his producers showed poor stewardship and overstepped boundaries. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Also this morning, I saw a political cartoon which has a line of an attack that I find offensive. The cartoon was lampooning Governor Chris Christie over his weight by suggesting he was torn between running for president and eating a dozen doughnuts. I felt this was out of line and have felt similarly when Bill Maher and others have done fat jokes at Christie’s expense. I watch Maher’s show as I like that he has different kinds of guests who discuss the issues of the day that are not discussed as much by other sources. I also enjoy much of his humor, but even Maher crosses lines that he should not cross. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

As I sit here, I don’t know why anyone would want to be in the public eye. With that notoriety comes the exposure of every thing about you online and through friends or confidantes wanting to break a story. Each of us are more exposed than ever, so beware of what you put in the public domain. Just ask the Toronto mayor about the video footage of his indiscretions that keep coming out of the woodwork. Further, it makes it difficult to be candid in public because your words can be taken out of context and used against you. So, even when you try to be good or provocative, your misused words can haunt you.

When John McCain was first running for President against George W. Bush, he was actually ahead of Bush in early polls after a win in New Hampshire. Yet, he was derailed by Bush’s political team in South Carolina. Among other things, it was pushed into the public eye that he had fathered a black child out-of-wedlock, which played right into extreme conservative views. The real story was he and his wife adopted a girl of Bangladeshi descent. From Wikipedia,  “It didn’t take much research to turn up a seemingly innocuous fact about the McCains: John and his wife, Cindy, have an adopted daughter named Bridget. Cindy found Bridget at Mother Theresa’s orphanage in Bangladesh, brought her to the United States for medical treatment, and the family ultimately adopted her.” Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

I am also frustrated when people, who were in lock-step with the beliefs of a public figure working side-by-side to promote a cause, decide to do a tell all book after parting company. In other words, they air dirty laundry to promote sales of their book or create more paid appearances. If they were that aggrieved by the individual, then why did they not resign or try to change the individual’s beliefs? You tried to sell us this person as a candidate or entertainer before and now you want to make money off that exposure to tell us how many problems they had. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Let me close with the following observation. Stephen Colbert invented a word for our times called “truthiness” which implies everyone has a his or her own version of the truth. There are so many distortions of information in the public domain, once aired they are out there for Google searches. It takes a concerted effort to ascertain whether something is a genuine source of data and if the opinion giver is well grounded. Unfortunately, while more truths can now be accessed by the many, more misinformation and disinformation is out there disguised as truth. People in power and running for office know this and many use this power to misinform or disinform you. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.