Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Clear Message

I get it. Last week’s blog was too abstract. I liked it or I would not have put it out there. But, I’ve received more than a few “I don’t get it” messages. I was actually planning to put out another list this week that would include certain individuals, activities and creations which would argue against the theory that “humans may be gradually losing intelligence”. But it was going to be a much, much shorter list.

Hopefully, this week’s message is clearer. This is from a friend of mine who pastors a church up in Oklahoma:

“Thanksgiving” is more than a day. The truth of the matter is that on the day we call Thanksgiving there is very little “thanks” given when you compare it to all of the other events of the day. There’s lots of turkey and dressing, ham, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pies. There’s lots of great conversation between family members as we catch up with one another. There’s hours upon hours of football to be enjoyed. It has been my experience, at the Thanksgiving gatherings I’ve attended, that the “thanks” offered would fit nicely in one of the TV timeouts of any of the football games. I’m not as troubled as I used to be by this because I’ve come to the conclusion that Thanksgiving is a lifestyle and not a designated day.

Those who are truly thankful are thankful on the coldest winter night as they are on the hottest summer day. Those who are truly thankful praise God when the sun is shining down on them as well as when the storm clouds are swirling overhead. Those who are truly thankful praise Him on Monday morning when the alarm sounds as well as on Sunday morning when the choir lifts their souls. Those who are truly thankful are able to see His gracious hand in the mundane moments as well as in those majestic moments in life. Those who are truly thankful don’t need any “reason” to praise God–they thank Him for who He is.

Thanksgiving is a conscious effort made by those who choose to live with their eyes wide open, actively looking for God’s bountiful goodness that is poured out upon them each and every day of the year. I want to do a better job, on Thanksgiving Day, of consciously thanking God for all of the many blessings He has showered upon me. Even more than that, I want to live a thank-filled life during each of the days He gives me. Give thanks. “

-Rev. Mike Hays, Britton Christian Church, Oklahoma City, OK.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Human Intelligence

Sometimes a blog post just writes itself.

David Petraeus
Rush Limbaugh
Charlie Sheen
Rachel Maddow
Paula Broadwell
Paula Deen
Chris Matthews
Ann Coulter
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Jerry Jones
Al Sharpton
Sean Hannity
Sean Penn
Tom Cruise
Rahm Emmanuel
Ron Paul
The Electoral College
Barack Obama
Al Gore
Mitt Romney
The Designated Hitter
Anthony Weiner
Glenn Beck
Toby Keith
Mitch McConnell
The Tea Party
James Carville
Tommy Tuberville
Alec Baldwin
Super PACs
Artificial sweeteners
Joe Biden
Long commutes
Automatic weapons
Big Government
Harry Reid
Video games
Brittany Spears…

“Humans may be gradually losing intelligence, according to a new study. The study, published Nov. 12 in the journal Trends in Genetics, argues that humans lost the evolutionary pressure to be smart once we started living in dense agricultural settlements several thousand years ago. "The development of our intellectual abilities and the optimization of thousands of intelligence genes probably occurred in relatively non-verbal, dispersed groups of peoples [living] before our ancestors emerged from Africa," said study author Gerald Crabtree, a researcher at Stanford University, in a statement.”…

The Tax Code
Paul Ryan
Soy products
Bill Clinton
Dick Vitale
Cialis commercials
Daylight Savings Time
Reality Television
Breast Feeding Five Year Olds
Rick Santorum
The Fiscal Cliff
George W. Bush
LeBron James
Mayan Prophecy
Karl Rove
Dick Morris
Katy Perry
The Food Channel
Free Agency
No Child Left Behind
Global Warming
Nancy Pelosi
Home Equity Loans
The Ed Show
High Heels
Fast Food
Fox News
John Boehner
Todd Akin
Justin Bieber
Sarah Palin
Jeremiah Wright
Kenny Chesney
Grover Nordquist
Rick Perry

“Man - a creature made at the end of the week’s work when God was tired.”- Mark Twain

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Great Divide

“Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away, and that in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.”- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

So it turns out that the 2012 Presidential Election was not about The Economy after all. There was a lot of talk about The Economy and The Deficit and Taxes. But when one cuts through the rhetoric and gets down to the voting booth, one could argue that it came down to race (or as some would prefer to say, ethnicity.) Of course, the Republicans were hurt by some incredibly stupid comments about rape. Their position on gay marriage and abortion turns off a lot of people too. But most of those folks would not vote Republican regardless of these issues. The auto bailout might have been a difference maker in Ohio (the other rust belt states were voting Democrat no matter what). However, peel back the dirty little onion and it’s clear that the votes came down very much along racial lines.

President Obama got over 90% of the black vote and over 70% of the Latino vote. He got over 70% of the “other non-white” vote. We heard it said loudly and often, “It’s The Economy”. That’s the number one issue. But increasingly, the economy (and let’s throw taxes in with it), boils down to groups of people and their personal economies. It’s all of these Economies, not necessarily “The Economy”, that ultimately determine how people vote. For example, immigration policy has a huge economic impact on Latino families. Of course it has major personal and social consequences. But it’s largely an economic issue for everyone who has a stake in it. (Personally, I’m not a hard-liner on immigration. I don’t agree with the far right of the Republican Party on immigration. But, Republicans put themselves at odds with Latinos over immigration and Republicans paid for it.)

A big chunk of the “white economy” has benefited greatly from lower taxes on the wealthy. (If you don’t believe me, just look at the last 30 years of changes in the tax code.) The “non-white economy” relies heavily on government programs. Right or wrong, they see more money trickling down to them personally from the government than from big business. People vote with their pocket book even if they don’t have one.

It really comes down to the Haves and Have-Nots. The gap between the two is greater than ever and when it comes to voting, the numbers are on the side of the Have-Nots. Of course, there are whites in the Have-Not camp who voted against the Haves. There are also some left-leaning white Haves who voted with the Have-Nots for various reasons. But the difference makers in this election were the vast numbers of non-white voters who perceived voting for Obama to be in their best interests, primarily their best economic interests. Even the emotional voting among blacks for one of their own has at it’s core a belief that “their guy” will do for them what the other guy will not do for them.

The message to the “Haves” should be clear. As long as the government is the most reliable economic resource for the “Have Nots”, they will vote accordingly. And trying to take that away from them will not work. They have the votes. We must educate, motivate, employ and compensate more of our fellow Americans. That will cost money and most of that has to come from the “Haves”. We may not like it, but if we don’t fix this thing, this great country of ours will go down in flames.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Sandy, Global Warming, The Election and The Long Run

“Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.” – Robert F. Kennedy

This is a day for observation, reflection and prediction. And the first observation is that The Big One finally hit The Big Apple. It was going to happen. Not IF, but WHEN. Just like New Orleans was due for a big one, the NY-NJ metro area was due for a big one. Eventually the Big One Earthquake will hit the West Coast. Eventually, a major city in tornado alley will take a direct hit from an EF5. These are not just predictions, they are inevitabilities. The big question is how will we deal with these natural disasters? What should we be doing now to prepare? New Orleans was not prepared for Katrina. The Northeast appears to be only somewhat better prepared to deal with Sandy. But there will be questions and second guessing a plenty. And more natural disasters to come.

The second observation is that Sandy will become the poster child for global warming. If there was ever a single event that shouted “case closed, global warming is for real”; it was Sandy. Sandy this year and Irene last year may indeed be coincidental. It may be that 100-year or 500-year events just happen when they happen and sometimes it’s in consecutive years. And it may be that global warming doesn’t have much to do with it. But, I do think global warming is for real. I’m not sure how much of it is caused by human activity or just natural cycles. But a lot of smart people have studied it and the overwhelming consensus of opinion is that human activity is the primary cause. Now we have the news media and financial capital of the world experiencing catastrophic weather events. Don’t be surprised if Al Gore is the Grand Marshal of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The third observation is that Sandy delivered a late round knock out punch to Mitt Romney. I’ve predicted all along that Obama would get a second term. But I actually began to have second thoughts after the first debate and the Benghazi cover up. Then Sandy comes along and the President gets to be Chris Christie’s new BFF and hug a little old lady. Game over. Only a few days ago, I suggested that Romney might win the popular vote, but come up short on the electoral count. Now I don’t think there’s a chance of that happening. Obama easily wins the electoral vote and probably ends up with 53% of the popular vote. At the end of the day, Presidents are elected on likability. And at this point, Obama is so much more likable than Romney. Just ask Chris Christie or some little old lady.

The final observation is that cancelling “The Long Run”, aka the NYC Marathon was the right thing to do. I was shocked when Mayor Bloomberg first announced that it would still be run. It was going to be the subject of this week’s blog post. Seriously, you just cannot divert resources for an event like that at a time like this. The fact that it was even considered reflects a total disconnect between New York City’s rich and powerful and the less rich and powerful who were most impacted by Sandy. My guess is that Mayor Bloomberg’s surprising public endorsement of Obama is part of his personal brand recovery strategy. Another unintended benefit for Obama in the wake of Sandy.