Friday, April 29, 2016

"...Only One Part Missing...But Kinda Like If The One Part Missing Was The Propeller".....

The election of 2016 has it all.

With one exception worth mention.

Exception forthcoming.

(CNN) Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump just moved much closer to a general election match-up. 

Trump swept the Republican primaries in five East Coast states on Tuesday, while Clinton won in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut and Delaware, dropping only Rhode Island to Bernie Sanders.
It's still only April, and their opponents swear they're not going anywhere. But Trump and Clinton both used their victory speeches to pivot towards the general election, giving a preview of the clash we might see between them over the next five months.
 So, as the title of one of pop singer Michael Johnson's lesser known but, undeniably, catchy tunes goes...

"That's that."

Or, for those of you from that generation who march to the beat of a different drummer, say, like the one who laid down the groove for the Chairman of the Board...

"That's life."

Here's a thing, though.

Actually, a number of things.

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”
                                                                                          ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
“He who cannot be a good follower cannot be a good leader.”
                                                                                         ― Aristotle
“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.”
                                                                                        ― Albert Schweitzer
“You do not lead by hitting people over the head -- that's assault, not leadership.”
                                                                                          ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

“I cannot trust a man to control others who cannot control himself.”
                                                                                         ― Robert E. Lee

“Average leaders raise the bar on themselves; good leaders raise the bar for others; great leaders inspire others to raise their own bar.”
                                                                                        ― Orrin Woodward 

 I found all of these quotes in less than five minutes simply by giving the ol' Google a little clickin'. It didn't occur to me until more than a few minutes later that it was than  a little ironic, and, yeah, even a little funny that I was using a search engine looking for "leadership."

And finding a whole lot of insightful and cogent interpretations of what leadership really is.

While Google and the rest of the Internet, in fact, the rest of anywhere you choose to search for it, actual leadership isn't really to be found anywhere.

Certainly not among those who, at this writing, are left standing in a reality show I'd be inclined to call "The Underwhelming Race."

Just so we're clear here, I'm not talking about a lack of personalities or causes or promises or even qualities, even, arguably, a few virtues to be found amongst those who want "we the people" to be convinced they are our best hope to lead "we the people".

There's plenty of causes being championed.

There's plenty of emotions being stirred.

There's plenty of flags being unfurled and waved, banners being hung, yard signs proclaiming allegiance and bumper stickers rear ending us with attempts at persuasion.

And in any, and all, of those who are left of the five who are left there are, at least, a few good intentions, even a little genuine potential.

Even in the pile of narcissistic gibberish that Donald sees as "speeches" and "addresses" there are some points well made that deserve to be made.

But leadership?

Not so much.

I don't begin to profess to possess a hint of the wisdom or perception that those notable folks I quoted earlier offer.

All I can offer is my perspective based on sixty plus years of life, fifty plus years of reading and learning and witnessing and paying attention to many who have come and gone deserving, and not deserving, of being acclaimed as a real leader and what I look for when I'm searching for leadership.

When trying to define and/or articulate it, I'm reminded of what Justice Stewart said when asked to give a definition of obscenity.

"I can't specifically define it...but I know it when I see it."

 In that spirit....

Leadership is about inspiring.

Not inciting.

It's the ability to energize your mind, your spirit, even your soul to make you want to be better tomorrow than you are today.

Not just promising that things will be made better for you tomorrow if you just give your vote today.

It's the skill of getting you to help fix what's broken, make what works work better and lend a hand building cities on the hill.

Not just play on your angers and fears to incite you to burn down the village.

It's the ability to teach you that "telling it like it is" is a sledge hammer. If it's used correctly and skillfully, it can contribute to the construction of magnificent things.

And if not, it can, and will, do irreparable damage.

It's a talent for bringing out the best in people.

Not fueling a campaign train with the power of their hatred.

I was born in the 1950's and came of age in the 60's.  Given that timeline, it was almost inevitable that I would grow up a Kennedy kid.

And while that sixty plus years of life I mentioned earlier, along with that fifty plus years of reading and learning and witnessing have long ago faded any rose color that may have once shaded my glasses, I am, often, these days, reminded of one of John Kennedy's more familiar quotations.

"Ask not, what your country can do for you....ask what you can do for your country."

A little dated, a little yellowed with age?


A little hokey, even, given the "me, myself and I' era of self where we find ourselves in 2016?

Yeah, probably.

Telling it like it is?

Not so much.

But telling it like it oughta be?

Bet your ass.

Because Kennedy, in 1961, understood leadership.

Real deal leadership.

Leadership that makes no other promise than the promise to see that our collective reach always exceeds our collective grasp.

Leadership that doesn't simply pander to us by caressing our egos with how wonderful we are and what a great nation we are and, like a loving, but strict coach...or father...or mother, demands of us what is required to be better tomorrow than we are today.

Because just like the most remarkable coaches...and fathers...and mothers in our history and in our very own lives, the most remarkable leaders, in fact, the only real leaders, understand that their responsibility to us is not to get it done.

Their responsibility is to get us to do it.


As one nation.

You know the rest.

And if, by chance, the whole Kennedy reference set off your "uh-oh, more bleeding heart, candy ass, lefty left wing, liberal in the house" alarm, try this quotation on for size.

From somebody very likely on your list of the most revered.

 “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.”
                                                                                          ― Ronald Reagan

The election of 2016 has it all.

With one exception worth mention.

We've got liberals..and conservatives...and ultra right wingers...and ultra left wingers..

We've got braggarts and blowhards and bloviators.

We've got narcissists and socialists and feminists.

We've got office seekers "fighting for us", "burning for us" and guaranteeing they will "make America great again" for us.

We've got five left standing.

And now we've got two front runners.

We've got it all.

With one exception.

And if Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy were alive today, I'd feel safe in betting a big pile of cash they would agree what that one exception is.

A leader.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

"...No, Ma'am, PC Matic Won't Help....What You Need Is DC Matic...."

Most people don't really understand a lot of what politics is all about.

And that's totally understandable.

Understanding, that is to say, the kind of understanding that reflects knowledge, perception, comprehension, even, daresay, some wisdom on the matter, requires an effort that the aforementioned "most people" don't include in their daily to-do lists.

Or on any list of any kind, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.

Or not at all.

That would be the effort involved in reading and researching.

Not only the primary structure of the political system and how it operates in this country but the history of politics in, at the very least, this country since, oh, say, 1900.

Yes, thank you, I'm jiggy wit da knowledge that the country has been around 130 more years than that, give or take, but I'm pretty sure that a citizenry overwhelmingly populated with those who couldn't name their own state's senator(s) and/or Congressional representatives, let alone name, say, the current Speaker of the House or Vice President of the United States but could, bet your light sabre, explain in great detail how difficult they're still finding it to come to terms with Han Solo being offed by his own offspring, Kylo Ren is not going to be inclined to begin their study of the political history of this nation starting with the beginning of this nation.

Actually, 1900 is massively, and overly, optimistic.

Because, when it comes to the work involved in becoming an informed voter, I mean, come on, there's only so many hours in the day, right?

And once you factor in work, eat, sleep, weeknights devoted to binge watching Game of Thrones and weekends devoted to infinite posts on social media on how exhausting the past work week has been, there's just not a lot of tick tocks left for mundane, dry, let's just say it, okay? B O R I N G activities like self educating on the subject of the process by which we choose those whose decisions will affect the lives of Americans for generations to come.

Yeah, yeah, leader of the free world, blah, blah, future of our nation, yada, yada....whatever...say, let me ask you, do YOU think that Elizabeth Keen is really dead and is Red her father or not?

Historical readings aside, it would be useful, daresay productive, if a a majority of "most people" simply took the time to seek out valid information about the assorted candidates asking for their vote.

And by valid, we're talking impartially documented fact, not whatever sliver, bit, piece, chunk and/or steaming pile of gab, gossip and/or garbage gets dumped into the informational mainstream like so much toxic waste in our rivers, streams and/or spacious skies.

In other words, 99.99% of what's shoveled at us from 99.99% of contemporary news and/or social media.

Well, hell, man.

If 99.99% of what we see, read and/or hear from 99.99% of news and social media is to be discounted, then, sounds like we're gonna actually have to do some work and put in a few hours each week in order to find enough valid information on which to base our very important decision.



Yesterday, in one of those moments that usually occur for me right after I've read the latest hate spew from someone from that ever wacky, zany group known as "we the people", I offered up my two cents as to what I honestly believe is the problem we're facing when it comes to choosing a new occupant for that historic house there in downtown D.C.

Or, to be more precise, what isn't the problem.

the problem isn't Donald...the problem isn't Hillary....the problem isn't Bernie, Kasich, Cruz, Harpo, Chico or Zeppo....the problem is a system in serious need of an overhaul....a system that gives the power of selecting its "leaders" to a general population overflowing with people who

1. require a minimum of ten minutes to discuss/debate/argue in order to agree on where to go and/or what to have for lunch

2. spend up to five minutes trying to sort out who goes next at a four way stop

3. don't know (don't care about) what's actually required to inspire/motivate/ and/or show productive leadership, but can name five great Prince songs before you can say "party like it's 1999..."

4. consider themselves smart/informed/educated enough to understand the intricacies of running a nation in a global context and choose a President accordingly but aren't smart enough to know the difference between "to" and "too".

we can't seem to function without updating our Internet browser system, at least, every year or two.....meanwhile, we struggle along with USA 1.0 DOS....

the dreaded blue screen? only a matter of time.....

The "dreaded blue screen" for those who don't understand the reference, refers to what suddenly, and most often unexpectedly, appears on your computer monitor when the system suffers what the system self reads to be a potentially fatal glitch, flaw and/or meltdown and puts itself into a sort of instant abort mode in order to prevent a complete and irrevocable system self destruct.

I know that because it's happened to me before.

And I read a little from time to time.

Well, okay, the truth is that I read a lot.

And with all of that reading, I still can't say that I understand all the intricacies of the system that I depend upon to keep my computer operating correctly and efficiently.

Imagine how ignorant I would be if I didn't take any time at all to read and learn and self inform.

Now....wait for it....let's pretend that the computer is actually the country.

And between working, eating, sleeping,  binge watching Game of Thrones and weekends and infinite posts on social media on how exhausting the past work week has been, there's just not a lot of tick tocks left for mundane, dry, let's just say it, okay? B O R I N G activities like self educating on the subject of the process by which we choose those whose decisions will affect the lives of Americans for generations to come.

It's just easier to pick a simple slogan to hang my hat/support and/or vote on.

Working for Us.

Feel the Bern.


Here's one that sounds like what I'm looking for.

Make America Great Again.


There we go.

I'll just flip the lever next to that one in the voting booth come November.

Hold on.

Where did this blue screen come from?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

"...Johnny Has Three Apples, Mary Has Two Apples, How Many Apples Do The Superdelegates Have?.."

No one has ever accused me of being a math genius.

Truth be told, back in the day, based on the S.A.T. scores that were the "back in the day" simple method that universities used to determine both freshman acceptance and class placement of those freshmen, I found myself, in my own freshman year, sitting in junior year level English classes.

And remedial math.

By the way, not to cast aspersions on the whole conventional wisdom when it comes to teaching mathematics in the first place, but it will be 47 years in June since I graduated from high school and I have not, yet, lived a single day finding myself in need of algebra.

Regardless of my own eventual lack of need for co-efficients and constants, that's the way mathematics has been taught, at least here in the good old U.S. of A since Alexander Hamilton unwisely got on the wrong side of Aaron Burr.

Until, of course, common core came ca-ca-calculating along.

Now, I don't profess to even beginning to understand why the "powers that be" when it comes to calculating curriculum, especially when it comes to the curriculum concerning calculating, felt the need to fix what I and most of those who came along with, and before me, honestly didn't see as broken.

And, of course, I'm a pretty smart guy, given that based on my S.A.T. scores, I found myself, in my freshman year, sitting in junior year level English classes.

Well, that was that remedial math thing, but, whatever.

And I have no problem at all (no pun intended, but it's fun how things work out sometimes) at confessing that I've looked over the common core methodology of time-zas and ga-zintas and I have neither the time, patience or brain tissue to waste in trying to figure out what in hell they've done with the simple act of subtracting twelve from thirty two.

A quick glance makes one think that this kind of wandering around, in what seems like a totally wasted time version of trying to get to a simple solution to something could have only originated at the ground zero of totally wasted time versions of trying to get to simple solutions.


But, no, it turns out that the Feds had very little to do with the mutating of all we of previous generations had come to know and love when it comes to readin', writin' and 'rithmetic.

It's actually a long and somewhat interesting story.

But too long and not nearly interesting enough to offer right now, so here's a link to a long and somewhat interesting article about that long and interesting story.

You might want to get right on that and jump over there now before some other bright light decides to upend everything that has to do with the new way of doing math that took the place of what we all felt pretty sure was a perfectly acceptable way of doing math before they got their hands on it.

Just sayin.

Obviously, I could have put that in a much simpler, easier to arrive at the conclusion style.

But that's not how we do things anymore is it?

Meanwhile, back at the blackboard.

Turns out that Common Core has not just seeped and/or sneaked into classrooms from sea to shining sea.

The methodology of turning what might look as simple as two plus two into something that isn't even close to as simple as two plus two has very cleverly, or deviously depending on what your voter registration card says, found its way into the big mama of all things in need of a simple solution in this country.

The American presidential election process.

The whole powder keg over percentages showed up, most recently, in this little chitty chat on Joe Scarborough's MSNBC morning show.

Couple of random thoughts watching that.

First, it's hilarious, right up to and slightly over the line of insanity, that a large part of the "debate" there is basically nothing more than an argument over what to call what's going on.

Joe says "rigged".

Mark Halperin says "disenfranchised".

Potato, pahtato, chicken shit, bullshit.

Let's call the whole thing off.

Second, though, sitting and watching the way the process has diabolically turned losing into winning rang a little bell somewhere in the strange and strangely unique place that is this cerebellum.

And, suddenly, it came to me.


There's not a whole lot of point in discussing, debating, dissecting or even diddling with the logic, of lack of it, when it comes to why a candidate can get more votes from more people than the opponent and still walk away with more delegates.

Or the whole she-bang.

Al Gore.

George W.

Ring a bell?

And it's also a waste of time to go into laborious detail about why voters feel disenfranchised or frustrated or annoyed or even angry about the game of fisbin that the electoral process in this country has become.

Because voters in this country are like the students in those math classrooms.

They don't get to choose the way that things get added up.

The "powers that be" are in charge of those calculations.

Truth is we should probably just be grateful that two plus two still, eventually, equals four.

Except on Tuesday.

Which, probably not coincidentally, is a very special day.

Election Day.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

"...Make America Great Again....With Some Hard Work, A Little Luck...And Just The Right Rope..."

Time for another edition of "clear grasp of the obvious."

Not a big Donald Trump fan.

And like a lot of other writers, commentators, pundits, talking heads and/or guys and gals with two cents to throw down on the matter, I've spent a lot of time and printer ink and video time writing and commentating and punditing and head talking and throwing down two cents on the matter when, if I'm blunt honest about it, the bottom line always boils down to the same six words.

Not a big Donald Trump fan.

This time out, though, rather than plotting a course for Starbase Same Old Yada Yada and firing off a couple of thousand words at warp speed, I'm gonna keep it simple, get down to basics, in essence, I'm going to do exactly, no more, no less, than the very same thing that people who worship this guy say they admire most about him.

Tell it like it is.

With a little help from an old fashioned Saturday morning style Western.

In my version, though, the part of the little frontier town in need of brave, bold, decisive, but mature, measured and intelligent leadership is played by America.

The townsfolk who are needing, and looking for, just such a brave, bold, decisive leader are played by...the voters....or as the candidates like to lump em'...."the American people."

And the wanna be leader who has decided to take matters into his own hands, cleverly manipulating the situation by forgoing maturity or measure or intelligence and simply stirring up the emotions and passions and frustrations of the townsfolk?

Well, we don't need a list of the cast of characters to figure out who's giving an Oscar worthy performance of that role, now do we?

After all this time and everything that Trump has said and done, the townsfolk, in numbers no one could have predicted, still want to follow him.

I'm not one of them.

And not because I think things are fine the way they are.

Or even that there's anybody riding into Dodge who I think deserves to wear the shining star and protect us from the bad guys.

I just grew up wanting and hoping to be, dreaming of being, part of the group.

Part of the club.

Part of the community.

Part of the family, even.

But not then, now, or ever....

...part of the mob.

There are, literally, hundreds of books written, fiction and non, that you can sit down and read to understand the damage that has been done throughout history when the masses have been seduced and stirred up at the same time, whipped up into a frenzy that had them following a charismatic wanna be leader right down a road to what they thought was going to be paradise.

Only to suddenly, somewhere down that road, too late come to their senses and realize, to their horror, where they actually were.

And what they had actually done.

I get it, though. That we don't live in a culture that has a lot of time left to sit down and read thoroughly and thoughtfully, what with there being only twenty four hours in a day and so many sporting events, reality shows, video games and Facebook posts eating up those hours.

So, skip the long read.

And go for a quick movie.

It's entitled "The Ox Bow Incident."

It's a western.

About a small group of good, honest people who let themselves get seduced and stirred up by a charismatic wanna be leader.

Only to suddenly too late come to their senses and realize to their horror where they actually were and what they had actually done.

All because the wanna be leader convinced them that he could make the town great again.

By nothing more than telling them what they wanted to hear.

Which they heard as telling it like it is.