Twenty Fourteen Is So Unusual Yet So Familiar ** We Can Change It

IMG_2175Look around the world. Crisis with ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Lebanon in a state of collapse. The United States torn by the latest race crisis and a vicious attacking of a president in his second term.  And, of course, the never ending Israel Palestine peace agreements.

Now, I didn’t really pay much attention to politics until it was thrust in my face on September 11, 2001 when 2 iconic towers that were 3 blocks from my home were demolished and I wasn’t able to return to my home for weeks. Then I started to pay attention. Yes I knew for the bombing in 1993 but killing 6 people was not the goal of the terrorists. It didn’t invoke fear in us New Yorkers or the country in general. 

Flash back to the mid to late 1980s. I was in college and paid little attention to politics. But, what I did hear was, “Reagan taking too many vacation days, Reagan out of touch with every day people.” Flash forward to 1998 with Bill Clinton. He was the victim of a vicious right wing mob mentality. Did he have sex outside of marriage? Yes. Was he not upfront about it. No, he wasn’t. To have the GOP impeach him over this was much more than nonsense and posturing. This was the exact time the Clinton administration was starting to go after bin Laden. Was their attention diverted because of the impeachment? How could it not have been?

Flash forward to 2006 – 2008. Everything Bush did was wrong. He was criticized about being out of touch, his approval ratings were dismal. He was accused of taking too many vacation days.

Flash forward to today. President Obama is being accused of all of the above. And more. If you think Obama walks on water and can do no wrong; stop reading my blog and tweets and get some help. There is no one on the face of this earth who does no wrong and doesn’t second guess themselves. So, Obama is being treated to the same treatment most of the 2 term presidents have been treated to. Don’t take it personally. Get over it.

More importantly is what happens next. ISIL is a serious threat, can Obama get a global coalition together to defeat, dismantle and destroy it? Let’s hope so. Not because we are DEMS or GOP, but because we all should want what’s best for the world. The race issue in the United States, I am not sure how that will be solved. I think the media does a horrific job of making things worse, just to get ratings. We don’t know what happened that day so we aren’t in a position to make a decision. Once we know swift action should be take; with facts in hand.

What can you and I do to make our current and future prospects in the United States better? It comes down to listening with an open mind. Don’t ever be like a Fox viewer who listens to nonsense all day. Hear. Listen. Learn.

When we know the facts we use our greatest power to vote.  

 

Bill Gates ** The Clintons ** The Koch Brothers

2013 Jun 27_Yosemite_0109_edited-1What do these 3 groups of people have in common? They are all billionaires (well, not the Clintons, but I’ll get to that later). Bill Gates changed the world with building Microsoft and using a computer common place and easy. Bill Clinton changed the world, as every President of the United States does, with the strongest economy and job growth in any presidency since WWII. The Koch Brothers made billions of dollars and are trying to change the political landscape.

Now, think about it. What would you do if you had 5 or 10 billion dollars? As everyone knows Bill and Melinda Gates have devoted their lives to philanthropic work. Their foundation’s primary goals are to eradicate poverty globally, expand healthcare globally and to expand education and information technology in the United States. They have had tremendous success and helped millions in need.

Bill Clinton started the Clinton Global Initiative which has also poured billions into healthcare, preventing HIV/AIDS, pediatric care. It is also a nonpartisan group that brings business leaders, heads of state, Nobel prize winners and other global leaders to share ideas,  on how to solve global issues. What a great way to use your influence and power to bring people together to help solve the world’s problems.

The Koch brothers on the other hand are using their billions to try to cultivate more power, cut off people in need and damage the American way of life. The Koch’s are the ones who created and funded – still funding – the tea party. They are not putting their wealth to help others. They are using it to hurt others, deny freedoms.

Obviously everything I have written here is common knowledge and nothing new; except people should really take a moment to think about what their goals in life are. Do you want to help others in need or do you want to have more power. I find this so striking because I don’t think I have ever met anyone that would not want to help others. I am talking about people who don’t need to worry about money. I wouldn’t say to an unemployed person why don’t you go out and volunteer to help the needy in their spare time. Unemployed people are the needy!

If I had billions and didn’t need to work I would love nothing more than helping other people. I guess their are people who are truly evil. What a shame.

 

photo copyright Dan Ginsburg 2014

Let’s Party Like It’s 1999 — Bill Clinton George Bush McDonald’s

IMG_1843Who knew Prince would be so right in the lyrics he wrote in the early 1980s: Two thousand zero zero Party Over, OOPS Out of Time! I hope I am wrong about this but to me it’s looking a lot like 1999, the height of the Dot-Com Bubble era. The Nasdaq is now over 4,200, at its pique it was somewhere around 5,400; after the bubble burst it was at around 1,500 for years. The Dow is now flirting with 16,000. Today, as in back then, we had companies worth billions of dollars, but generated no revenue. Stock in general were over priced. I am hoping we are not heading for the same situation today. The jobs, good jobs, market didn’t recover from the recession starting in 2000; and they have only gotten worse since the financial collapse of 2008.

What many people don’t know is that in the later quarters of 2000 our economy was slowing almost to a stop. When George W. was inaugurated we were already in recession. Since the effects of the recession tend to be felt months later every thought it was Bush that caused the recession and the bubble to burst. It wasn’t. For most of Bill Clinton’s time in office the GDP was growing at over 4% (compared to about 1.5% now). The severity of the dot-com bubble bursting was so deep that it basically wiped out all of the growth for Clinton’s term. Since the growth was in the dot-com businesses, when they all went down Clinton pretty much had a record of no growth. The surpluses that were supposed to be there for as far as the eye could see came to a screeching halt. Bush was blamed for that, but it happened before he got into office. Trust me, he made it plenty worse though.

Our politics should be more open and honest. We should all know what the cause and effect of economics are so we can come together to do what’s best for our Country. Rather than pointing fingers at W. or Obama, we should all have a better understanding of these issues so our Country can grow with prosperity. W. of course made it worse with those tax cuts that are what’s driving most of the nation’s long term debt. They should never have been put in place; maybe only for families with an income of $50,000 or lower. But not everyone else. And the wars of course made everything worse. The loss of life, the wasted money. The ruining of the reputation of the United States as being the most powerful country on earth put in to question by the botched handling of the wars. It’s such a horrible shame that everything that goes on comes down to political pointing fingers. Not learning from the successes and failures of  past and current presidents.

Now we come to McDonald’s, Wal Mart and other workplaces that don’t pay a living wage. How does all of this fit in to what I have just been talking about. Easily and in one word. Jobs. We didn’t recover from the recession of 2000, the collapse of 2008; we need a major jobs bill. And I mean MAJOR. We need to get people back to work with jobs that pay living wages. We need to create jobs for the 10s of millions who have been unemployed for over a year. We need to stop bickering about every little thing and work together so people can restore their dignity, have a job that can feed their families. Our priorities are wrong. Our school children ranked 30th globally in knowledge. Our infrastructure is old and decaying. It’s time to invest.

The Country and the People will be better off for it, all around.

Wednesday Roundup #AndrewSGinsburg

IMG_1430I have been quite busy lately and now its time for me to weigh in on a few issues that are going on:

  • The reason the watered down gun control background checks failed in the Senate when 90% of the public wants background checks. The reason is simple, gun control is not high on peoples priority list. The number one priority of the American public is the economy and job creation. President Obama, Congress and the Media are all failing us in completely ignoring the issue of longterm unemployment. The number of people unemployed and the length of their unemployment has not been seen since the Great Depression. Estimates are from 25 million to 89 million people are unemployed as of now. This is whats on the publics mind, not guns and most likely not immigration. The fact that the President of the United States is ignoring this issue is deplorable; the fact the media isnt being the ‘check’ on government as they should be and reporting on whats going on is a complete breakdown in our news media. If Barack Obama had spent the amount of time, energy and weight of his office on jobs instead of guns we would have a jobs bill that would start putting people back to work. I am saddened, and disgusted, to say that I think Mr. Obama is more concerned with his “legacy” than the real problems that are going on today. Ironically if immigration fails like guns did, he wont have a legacy to speak of.
  • The tragedy in Boston last week is really chilling to think about. I am from Boston, so I know the city well. The 2 bombs that went off were in the Back Bay very close to my brothers home and where my mother had a thriving art business for decades. The thought of all of Boston being on lockdown numbs the mind. I was here in Manhattan for 9/11, living a few blocks from the Trade Center; I couldnt go home for 2 weeks because the area was considered a ‘crime scene’ After 9/11 we kept hearing about a second wave of terrorism that would be coming and were all on edge for a long time. But, we were never on lockdown, never had a madman running around that could have a suicide belt on, throw grenades, shoot innocent people. That was not part of our threat back on 9/11. It does give me some relief that the cataclysmic terrorist attacks that were predicted a decade ago, like nuclear weapons going off in American cities, has not happened as of yet. What has happened are more the lone wolf one off kind of thing. Whereas thats a horrible thing, and I dont want to diminish the pain and anguish people went through; its hardly bringing down the 2 most iconic buildings in the country and killing thousands.
  • The Associated Press’ twitter account getting hacked yesterday is really a chilling event; the hackers put out a tweet saying that the White House had been attacked by terrorists. The stock market dropped over 200 points. All of this hacking that is going on could lead to serious trouble; just about every news media outlet has been hacked. If false reports are going out it could send our country into panic mode. What if one of those reports said North Korea nuked South Korea and the United States retaliated by nuking the North? We need more cyber safety. For other things like the electrical grid, banks. As citizens we must know we are more secure than we are.
  • Online news media is in serious trouble. Ad revenue is going down, this on top of print revenue disappearing. That revenue used to be used to have correspondents and reporters telling people the news of the world. With the revenue drying up how we get our news could be greatly impacted. Online, digital and social media are all also facing an uncertain future. They are trying to turn all of these outlets into money making centers. That sounds good and fair, in order to subsidize the news but as a user when you see ads crawling across your screen; if you are forced to watch a video commercial before seeing a video you want to see its getting to the point where I wont even watch online videos, knowing I have to sit through 30 seconds or longer of paid advertisement. I dont like being forced, I dont like not having the option to opt out. As a matter of fact it makes me hostile towards the companies that play the ads. They should figure that out soon enough and come up with a different model, but for now its a complete annoyance.
  • Do you ever feel like nothing changes? Israel and Palestine, Iran wanting Nukes, North Korea wanting and getting Nukes and making absurd threats. It doesnt matter who is in office, its the same old tired story. Americans should come together knowing that the situations have been the same, or getting worse, for decades. Its not President Obama’s fault, or Clinton or Bush. These issues just go on and on and on.

And Thats The Way It Is on April 24, 2013!

Our Personal Relationship with the President

I always thought this would be an interesting idea for a movie, the segments of our lives that happen in presidencies. The President of the United States is a big deal and shapes history. Right now there is a close race and no one knows what will happen. Either Romney looses as becomes a question for trivial pursuits or Obama loses and becomes Jimmy Carter or George H.W. Bush like; considered a loser now but uncertain what history will actually say about our recent presidents. That does make this time kind of exciting, not knowing what will happen and what our future holds for us. Its also very interesting to know that what we think today might be seen differently in 50 years. Maybe George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq will be seen as a turning point in the middle east, the catalyst for the Arab Spring. Maybe he will be viewed as a hero for starting his Freedom Agenda. Or, conversely, maybe he will be seen as the turning point in American politics and future. The man who bankrupted us, the man who showed the United States looking weak because we couldnt control the insurgency in Iraq or Afghanistan. To me thats very interesting, we dont know how he will be viewed. We dont know how President Obama will be viewed, savior of another Great Depression or continuing policies that made the situation worse.

What has always kind of interested me is the 4 year or 8 year time slots presidents play in our lifetimes. For me President Reagan was with me from high school, through college, to living on my own starting a career in NYC. I never paid much attention to him; the image I have of him in my head is from the Phil Collins video where he and Nancy are parodied, I forget the songs name, Land of Confusion maybe? But those years were what I went through and they were also the years I saw Reagan on TV. For Carter I was much younger and didnt really grasp what was going on. My biggest memory of him was his Playboy interview where he talked about ‘lust in the heart’ who wants to hear that from a president? I have memories of being in summer camp listening to the radio when Richard Nixon resigned, having no realization of the impact that had on the Country or the world. For Bill Clinton I was older, in my 20s so I remember him a lot more, but I was never interested in politics until 9/11. I just remember he and Hillary tried to create a healthcare plan, which wasnt of interest to me since I had good benefits at the time. I remember Hillary always having bad hair, she never looked quite right in whatever she was wearing or the headbands.  But those 8 years occupy a time in my life that I will always remember, with the POTUS in the background. Reagan is the president I remember most in the background talking on a muted TV. President H.W. was a lot less memorable to me since he just seemed to be an extension of Reagan. I remember that summer of 1988 when people were all up in arms over who would win; I said to myself and others, Bush will win, stop talking about it.

Through the Clinton years I became more of an adult and I benefited from the economic boom. I remember the 2000 election; I remember being disappointed that Gore lost. In 2001 and 2003 I remember saying that the tax cuts were a big mistake; I personally was doing very well financially and would see only $10 per week savings. I remember clearly thinking this was a mistake and would set our Country on the wrong path. Then 9/11 hit, at the time we lived 3 blocks from the Twin Towers. That was a horrible time, but Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld seemed so resolute, so sure, so reassuring and strong. They seemed to me like the perfect people to respond to the outrageous attack on New York City.  It was such a shame that what they were saying was completely wrong and meritless. And the invasion of Iraq, history will tell, but now it seems like such a waste of human lives and our Country’s debt. When Obama came along I was much more aware, being in my 40s I was much more attuned to what was going on. During his first term I was laid off and havent found a job in 2 years.

Presidents occupy a unique place in our lives; they are there in the background while we are living our lives. To me its very interesting to think of the 4 year segments they each had and my memories of, not what they did, but how my life evolved.

“I Spend My Nights With My Family” Part of Obama’s Failure

Man, listening to Bill Clinton the other night was such a treat. He is exciting, uplifting, can explain whats going on. He is a brilliant communicator; thats been missed in DC for a long time now. I think Bill had many motivations for giving that speech, setting up Hillary for 2016, enriching his legacy, and maybe even to get Barack Obama reelected. Hats off to you Bill you brought the house down!

I was watching a recent interview with Obama where off handedly he mentioned when he is in town he likes to have dinner on the table at 6:30 and then spend the night with his family, helping with home work, watching movies. Trying to live a normal life. It took a few days but when I thought about that statement again I realized this kind of strategy is one of the main failures of his presidency. He even said in the interview something about other politicians, maybe even Bill Clinton, would spend evenings on the phone with people from Congress. Obama has no relationships in Congress, this is detrimental in politics. I have had a long and successful career in high end sales; I know from experience that you must develop relationships with your clients, nurture them, get them to trust you so you can be successful in not just bringing in revenue but also developing a relationship of mutual trust and respect. Obama has never done this. In his own words he said he would rather spend time checking the girls homework. Thats not the way life works. I am not saying that the GOP has no blame here, I’d say their share of the blame is 80% but I truly believe Obama could have done more, gotten more accomplished and lessened the venomous discourse in Washington if he had spent more time cultivating relationships. These relationships are what gets bills passed, what makes progress in our Country.

Today I am particularly furious with Obama because of another dismal jobs report. 96,000 jobs added is beyond horrible. The unemployment rate went down only because people have dropped out of the labor force, they have given up. What happens to those people? Today’s report also said there has been no decrease in the number of unemployed people in over a year. Thats completely unacceptable. I havent heard him mention getting the longterm unemployed back to work in months. One year ago he submitted a jobs plan, that was known at the time would not pass; a political stunt. It didnt pass and now the GOP and POTUS can point fingers at each other over who is to blame. And Barack Obama has done nothing in the past year for the benefit of the unemployed. I find this outrageous. Yes the GOP is blocking his every move, but there is more that he can do. If he had cultivated relationships earlier on he might have more support. As I have suggested month after month on this blog, if he called an emergency summit of bipartisan leaders and not let anyone leave until they came up with immediate plans.

9/11 was a catastrophe and game changing event here in America. What did George Bush do? He rearranged the government, used full force, put one hundred percent effort into keeping this Country safe. The financial collapse and the economic outcome was no less of a crisis than 9/11 was. Where was Barack Obama? He thought that one stimulus would fix everything? He have a jobs Czar. This is a growing national crisis, especially with the economy slowing once again. Obama could have called W. in for help in getting buy in from GOP. At the end of the day it comes down to Obama taking the fall for a bad economy. Btw, I am not saying he should spend no time with his family. My father was a success doctor when I was growing up and sometimes his beeper would go off and he wouldn’t be able to attend a planned event, teach me how to drive, or be at a birthday party. Thats the way it goes; because he was there at other times. Obama could do a better balance. So, one year has passed and Obama has done nothing for job growth; I believe thats because he is more interested in keeping his job than helping others get back to work. What a disappointment. The one thing he has going for him is that  Romney would make the situation much worse.

The Presidents Club

I just finished reading one of the most interesting books I have read in years, its called The Presidents Club written by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy, I am sure its available everywhere, and I was able to read it on my iPad which is always a plus for me. The book went through many examples of relationships between sitting presidents and past presidents. So much of that info was extremely interesting to me, because its something the public doesn’t know about. One of the main theme, if not the main theme itself, is that each president knows the office is more important than the individual. In other words, keeping the position of the President of the United States of America as the most respected and powerful position in the world makes the members of this group put aside their differences in ways that help the current president to succeed. They almost never criticize a sitting president, and they are always there to help, give advice, what ever it takes for the current occupant of the Oval Office to succeed.

When reading this book I couldn’t help but think what a great thing this is and also why don’t the House and Congress do the same? Why isn’t success for people in office everyones top priority? I know thats fantasyland now, but there is so much to learn from this book. Most of all loyalty, wanting whats best for the office of the President and whats best for the American people.

There were so many different examples of the behind the scenes help presidents received from their predecessors. One example is how President Kennedy reached out to former President Eisenhower about the Cuban Missile Crisis; Ike and Kennedy never liked each other and never had a good relationship. But in time of need Kennedy reached out to Ike, a former General who brought victory in WW2, for his advice and what he thought of Kennedy’s plans. In todays climate this seems impossible to even fathom, but it did happen. The book also goes into great detail about Lyndon Johnson, the Vietnam War, Nixon and the 1968 election.

There are so many interesting examples its hard to narrow down to just a few for this posting. One of the ones that struck me most was Nixon; first in that he had been advising Reagan since the early 1960’s before either man became president. Just before the 1968 presidential election LBJ had worked out a peace deal with the major players in the Vietnam war; turns out Nixon had a mole that was able to sabotage the peace deal, thus guaranteeing Nixon would become president rather than Hubert Humphrey. This was a treasonous act on Nixon’s part and he was forever afraid of LBJ for knowing the truth. LBJ did not publicly accuse Nixon of this, however.

What was also interesting to me about Nixon is the substantially influential role he had behind the scenes until the time of his death. After leaving office in disgrace Nixon did try to untarnish his image, but what he mostly did was advice Reagan, Bush and Clinton. Nixon would send 10 page single spaced memos about his observations and recommendations. Many of these dealing directly with the Cold War; he advised Reagan on many fronts with this. Turns out Nixon thought Ronnie was too soft on the ‘Commies’  But he picked right up with H.W. to advise him and well as Bill Clinton. After Nixon’s death Clinton publicly said losing Nixon was as hard as losing his mother had been. Wouldn’t it be fascinating if Richard Nixon was responsible for most of the policy of the government for the last half/quarter of the 20th century? And no one ever knew it?

There are many other interesting parts of the book; how Ford and Carter broke through their bitter rivalry and dislike of each other to become the best of friends for the rest of their lives; how Clinton called Ford for advice during the Lewinsky episode; and perhaps most famously another bitter rivalry was ended when H.W. and Bubba became very close.

Take away: Every member of Congress should read this book and vow to put their office and whats best for their country as their top priority.