Wednesday, November 12, 2014

TRUE COLORS


 
 
On November 4, 2014, the Republican Party rewrote America’s political map.  It is now time to rewrite the media’s political map.
 
During the 2000 Presidential election recount battle, long time Democrat turned pundit Tim Russert took the unilateral act of swapping out the long standing political colors for Republicans and Democrats.  His liberal media colleagues jumped at the chance to rebrand Democrats away from their 20th Century left wing affiliations.
 
Unfortunately, Fox News and conservatives also embraced this swap.  As a result, a two hundred year global tradition of blue meaning conservative and red meaning liberal ended in America. Along with swapping colors, media pundits and political scientists began using “red state; blue state” to simplify and “dumb down” their analysis of America’s richly nuanced civic culture.
 
Republicans and conservatives should be deeply offended at the liberal media’s unilateral and unofficial propaganda act.  Realizing the history of these colors should cause an outpouring of conservatives to demand at least their media friends at Fox and Talk Radio take a stand and return to the GOP’s noble blue color.
 
Colors have meaning. Uniforms and banners on the battlefield have identified friend and foe since the beginning of human history.  Most of history linked colors to nations and dynasties.  The most famous was England’s 15th Century dynastic war symbolized between the white rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster. In the late 18th Century, blue became the first modern political color.  It was worn as boutonnières by British parliamentary candidates supporting Pitt the Younger (the leader who helped William Wilberforce end slavery). Blue evolved into the permanent color of the Conservative Party of England and of center-right movements around the world, including the Republican Party in America.  Radicals and pre-communist activists did not have their own color until the French Revolution.
 
On August 9, 1792, antimonarchist provocateur, Jean-Paul Marat, called upon the people of Paris to rise up and overthrow King Louis XVI.  This was a reaction to recent French reversals on the battlefield and a rising concern by Robespierre over some Legislative Assembly delegates seeking national unity through reconciliation with the powerless King.
 
The next morning, mobs swarmed the Tuileries, where the royal family was under house arrest.  The King allowed the mob into the complex and ordered his Swiss Guard not to fire.  Previous incursions had ended peacefully as moderate voices prevailed. Not this time. The mob slaughtered the surrendering Swiss Guards and then sought out servants and kitchen staff to tear apart – limb from limb.  One observer called it a “mad festival of blood”.  The King and his family were imprisoned in a fortified monastery with the guillotine looming ahead of them.
 
The mob stripped the blood soaked red uniforms from the Swiss Guards and paraded the shards on long pikes as revolutionary banners.  Thus red became the color of the most radical factions of the French Revolution and of left wing movements to this day.
 
Remember that the next time a conservative uses “Red State” to describe Republicans and conservatives.
 
Scot Faulkner served as Chief Administrative Officer of the U.S. House of Representatives and as Director of Personnel to Ronald Reagan.
 
 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

SAVE TIME SEND A MESSAGE

I have only voted straight party ticket twice since moving to Jefferson County in 1987.
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I voted straight Democrat in 2006 and I will be voting straight Republican this year.
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Most of my local friends and neighbors know that I usually vote for the person.  Jefferson County politics are highly complex and nuanced.  Both political parties have offered up the best and worst over these past 27 years.  My friends, who are Democrats, have always cheered my crossing party lines to work and vote for Democrats.  This year I call on them to cross over and vote for Republicans.
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There are times when voters must make a clear statement.  In 2006, President Bush made a total mess of American foreign policy, squandering billions of our tax dollars and thousands of American lives on ill-conceived and poorly executed foreign adventures.  In 2005, the Bush Administration displayed epic incompetence in responding to Hurricane Katrina.  Republicans in Congress were wantonly spending and earmarking public funds, ignoring their political roots and their promises to the voters.  They had to be punished.  A straight ticket rejection was my most vivid personal statement.
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This year it is the Democrats who must get the wake-up call. President Obama is exceeding Bush in installing a delusional foreign policy that is devastating the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Ukraine.  Obama and Congressional Democrats are spending America into oblivion while fixating on covering-up or delaying the full accounting of countless scandals.  As Obama has stated in recent interviews, his policies and his ability to continue his destructive course are on the ballot this year.  Voters must send a clear message of rejection by voting straight Republican.
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In West Virginia, 83 years of Democrats running our House of Delegates have solidified our state at the bottom of everything that is good and at the top of everything that is bad.  West Virginia is toxic to new business.  It is easier to exchange funds from foreign banks with America than to transfer funds in and out of West Virginia.  The only way to change the future of our state is to change the players in Charleston.
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I know all candidates who are running for House of Delegates.  They are all good and sincere people.  However, the incumbent Democrats have been lap dogs, not watch dogs, regarding the wanton corruption and dysfunction of our state government.  Their silence in holding state officials accountable must end.  Their silence in advocating for Panhandle priorities must end. Change our future - vote straight Republican.
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In Jefferson County, our local politics have never been about Republican versus Democrat. It is all about the good-ole-boy Court House elite versus reform minded citizens.  The elite swaps business deals under the table while giving each other civic awards. The Court House crowd wants to turn our tourist gateway into one big strip mall, and build a sea of new houses that will stress public services and bankrupt us.  Their worst nightmare is an engaged electorate demanding complete transparency and accountability.
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Our two local Democrat candidates are perennial favorites of this Court House elite.  They are also hoping voters do not remember their pasts.  The appointed Sheriff was crushingly defeated in 2002.  Jefferson voters were fed-up with his arrogance and cronyism as President of our Board of Education.  They were also tired of his suppressing public access to public records and meetings.  Since his appointment as Sheriff, he as steadfastly refused to correct long standing material weaknesses in our public accounts and financial processes.
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The only way to bring real integrity and transparency to our County’s finances is to vote for STEVEN SOWERS.  Steve knows the world of first responders, having held multiple leadership positions in law enforcement and in firefighting for 31 years. Steve is a certified arson investigator, CPR instructor, and has been trained in emergency response with terrorism, HAZMAT, emergency vehicle operations, and leadership. Steve was born and raised in Ranson.  Most importantly, Steve is working with audit and financial experts to map out his actions for bringing full accounting compliance and transparency to our county.
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The Democrat running for Harpers Ferry District Supervisor was crushingly defeated in 2010 when she ran for Clerk. In 2010, she was openly funded by the developers.  Her first wave of yards signs were openly funded by her employer – Lee Snyder.  Her platform included limiting access to Court House records and increasing public access fees.  This year she is cloaking herself in new found environmentalism, but the most damaging developers are still funding her campaign. 
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Only voting for ERIC BELL will change things.  Eric represents the new wave of young entrepreneurs who are shaping a bright economic future for our County by embracing its uniqueness.  Eric’s stellar military record is matched by his solid business record as the CFO/COO of Bloomery Plantation Distillery.  Eric will be our watch dog over public finances and help Jefferson County attract job generating businesses that build upon, not undermine, the identity of our county.
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I call on all Jefferson County citizens to SAVE TIME – SEND A MESSAGE – VOTE STRAIGHT REPUBLICAN.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Vacuous VA



The following was published in The Washington Examiner.



Shinseki must go.  It is unconscionable for a leader to be so asleep at the switch.
 
Secretary Shinseki’s lack of curiosity is a fundamental flaw.  No leader, especially a Cabinet Secretary responsible for the well-being of America’s veterans, should be allowed to remain after their inaction caused unwarranted deaths.  Shinseki’s after the fact display of concern is not a sufficient atonement for what happened. 
 
Real leaders are pro-active and follow-up.  No matter how much they trust their subordinates, a real leader random checks and deep dives within their organization to independently verify actions, gain important insights, and connect with their colleagues.  Shinseki did none of these and lives were lost.
 
An example of a real leader is Gerry Carmen’s tenure as Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA) under Ronald Reagan. In1980, the GSA was one of the most scandal ridden agencies of the federal government.  President Reagan picked Carmen, a no nonsense auto parts entrepreneur from New Hampshire, to clean up the GSA. 
 
Carmen immediately took steps to turn around the GSA. He elevated three whistleblowers (who had been ostracized and marginalized under President Carter) to key positions and began to hold people accountable. In league with the whistleblowers and investigative journalists, Carmen and his team dusted off mountains of unread Inspector General Reports, worked closely with the Justice Department, and sent forty eight corrupt GSA officials to jail.   The signal was crystal clear; GSA was to be an honest agency with zero tolerance for waste, fraud, or abuse.
 
His first opportunity for operational change was reducing processing time for federal supplies.  The average “work in process” (WIP) time for an agency supply order to move from order entry to shipment was 45 days.  Carmen ordered that WIP be reduced to nine days. A new reporting unit, Program Control, was established to directly monitor operations and measure performance. 
 
Within the first weeks, WIP magically fell to nine days in reports from the GSA warehouses.  Carmen did not believe it.  An immediate audit of the warehouse reports showed that warehouse managers had redefined WIP to only cover activity related to preparing supplies for shipment.  Just like at the Department of Veterans Affairs, career bureaucrats created a parallel set of measures to erase a backlog.  Unlike the V.A., Carmen and his team, ferreted out the subterfuge and fired those who cooked the books.
 
One Washington, DC area GSA warehouse did not “cook the books”.  However, the warehouse manager complained that he could not reduce WIP unless he had ten more fork lifts.  Once again, Carmen wasn’t buying it.  He made an unannounced visit to the warehouse and discovered forty fork lifts, fifteen of which were disabled waiting long overdue repairs.  Carmen also reviewed the operational logs and unearthed the fact that there were only twenty certified fork lift operators.  No effort had been made to certify new operators after a dozen had left or retired.  The Washington warehouse manager was immediately placed on administrative leave and was jettisoned from government service within the month.
 
Shinseki was not confronted with flim flams over supply chain management; he confronted manipulations that impacted lives.  His passivity is unforgivable.  He insulted everyone involved by hiding behind the lamest excuse of all – trying to minimize the scope of his negligence.  Shinseki declared, “Most veterans are satisfied with the quality of their V.A. health care, but we must do more to improve timely access to that care.”
The removal of Dr. Robert A. Petzel, the under secretary for health, is clearly not enough. Tom Tarantino, with The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, correctly asserted, “We don’t need the V.A. to find a scapegoat. We need an actual plan to restore a culture of accountability throughout the V.A.”
That can only happen with a new leader, who actually knows how to lead.

[Scot Faulkner led the Office of Program Control for Gerry Carmen at the GSA.  He also led the clean-up of Congressional operations as the Chief Administrative Officer of the U.S. House of Representatives. http://citizenoversight.blogspot.com/ ]

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us



Guest Columnist: Donald G. Mutersbaugh, Sr.





Walt Kelly first used the quote "We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us" on a poster for Earth Day in 1970. Over the years many people have co-opted this quote to basically describe a situation in which a person or group continues to fail because of its own ineptitude. How sad it is that today I offer these comments about the Republican Party
I want to describe what worries me the most about what is happening. I believe all of us are familiar with the typical reaction to a dangerous situation: fight or flight. There are two other reactions that I want to propose; these apply to survival situations. The difference is that fight or flight is a short-term reaction; and adaptation and internalization are long-term reactions.
I will not dwell on the fight or flight situation in a nonpolitical situation. I think everyone knows if they're confronted by a dangerous situation, over the short term, that might be the only alternative. Let's consider adaptation, however, in the event that fight or flight does not work. The example I will use is the Stockholm syndrome: you are captured and made a prisoner. You have tried to fight and were overpowered; you tried to run away, but were captured. At this point what you do? One option is to adapt: you bide your time awaiting a moment when fight or flight becomes an option again. Finally, if enough time passes and you are brainwashed as well, you actually may internalize the message that was the dangerous situation that began your journey: instead, you become an energetic worker for the cause of your captors and now identify with them to the point of possibly assisting them.
Now, let's carry this into a political environment. It seems as if almost every confrontational issue that faces the Republicans, they choose flight over fight: compromise is better than principle. With the mainstream media constantly portraying conservatives and the Republican Party in a bad light, this is not necessarily a bad strategy; in fact, it might be the only strategy. The electorate seems to feel that whenever one of these controversial issues arises, any negative outcome is the fault of Republicans. It seems that any negotiation that might be proposed is wrong: it's the Democratic Party’s way or no way. A part of this may be because of the negative perception that most of the electorate seem to have about the Tea Party. They were very effective in 2010, but current thinking seems (based on that same mainstream media) to be that the Tea Party is holding the rest of the Republican Party hostage – and they are perceived as being too radical – and so flight ensues.
So now, adaptation may occur over the long run where, rather than fighting or negotiating a more favorable outcome, the Republican Party instead chooses to align themselves with the goals of the Democratic Party. That way everything runs smoothly, and the mainstream media can longer hold the Republican Party hostage over their “obstructionism”. The problem, of course, is the situation becomes “democratic lite,” the popular term for the Republican Party abandoning its principles. This is already happening because the Republican Party has a number of RINOs who currently side with their Democratic colleagues; they should consider changing parties.
The last long-term outcome, internalization, occurs when the Republican Party completely gives up its principles and becomes a party in name only. This may seem far-fetched at the moment; however, if adaptation becomes a way of life and continues long enough, the party will gradually morph into this way of life. Even more frightening is the possibility that even if the party retains its character, the electorate may not. This could happen as more and more people become completely dependent on the government; any candidate or party that threatens to change the process to eliminate welfare, food stamps, or any/all of the transfer programs that support the people with freebies will not be supported – once again, flight.
So let's return to 2013 and the Growth and Opportunity Project which produced a written document the media laughingly calls the Autopsy Report. It can be found at: http://growthopp.gop.com/RNC_Growth_Opportunity_Book_2013.pdf  It may be just me, but I have not seen this report or its recommendations manifesting itself in any of the media outlets. What happened? There were a number of recommendations made in a number of different areas. Messaging? I don't think so. Demographic partners? They still look the same to me. Campaign mechanics? This was a great section! If things are changing, then they aren't being communicated very well. Friends and allies? Mmmm…. Almost a quarter of the report was devoted to recommendations – good recommendations. And yet nearly 2 years later the party is having the same conversation.
Americans are not happy with the current leaders of the Republican Party – which makes it nearly impossible to win big elections. I’m beginning to think that the enemy of the conservative movement is not the Democrats; it is the Republican leadership. The Constitution is being ignored; executive orders seem to be the main way around the legislative process and Congress. There does not seem to be any sustained resistance to the liberal’s agenda. The GOP must unite behind conservatism and leaders that will advance that agenda – rather than run from it. Republicans have to give the voters a reason to vote for them; the constant negative messaging of why the voters should not vote Democratic has worn thin. The Party needs to advance a leader who will step up and demonstrate leadership and differentiate the Republican Party from the Democratic Party. The Republicans need to quit shredding themselves. Could there be a better time?
“Generally, though, attitudes toward the incumbent president have played a bigger role than views about Congress in shaping the results of mid-term elections. And attitudes toward Obama, and the nation's direction, remain distinctly chilly.
“Just 27 percent of those polled said they believed the country is moving in the right direction; 62 percent say they consider it off on the wrong track.” (http://www.nationaljournal.com/next-economy/poll-shows-problems-for-obama-peril-for-senate-democrats-20140428)


Before you know it, the midterms will be over. Regardless of the outcome, the presidential race is just a couple of years away. There just doesn't seem to be any interest in really building a viable Republican Party that will advance a candidate to turn this nation around. You would think that with the Congressional job approval/disapproval rate being 12.8 approve and 76.8 disapprove that someone would come forward and say they can do better? http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/congressional_job_approval-903.html


Consider the following: “A 2011 USA Today review of state voter rolls indicates that registered Democrats declined in 25 of 28 states (some states do not register voters by party). Democrats were still the largest political party with more than 42 million voters (compared with 30 million Republicans and 24 million independents) But in 2011 Democrats numbers shrank 800,000, and from 2008 they were down by 1.7 million, or 3.9%.” Using this same newspaper article: “USA Today's review of state voter rolls indicates that registered Republicans declined in 21 of 28 states (not all states register voters by party) and that Republican registrations were down 350,000 in 2011. The number of independents rose in 18 states, increasing by 325,000 in 2011, and was up more than 400,000 from 2008, or 1.7%.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_parties_in_the_United_States The Party had better start worrying about the moderate Independent voters if they ever expect to win another national election.
Does this sound like a fight or flight response by the independent voters of the electorate? Even worse, the number of registered independents is about as large as the number of registered Republicans! Once these numbers begin to stabilize and the electorate settles down (i.e., adapts), internalization of the wrong direction and principles will begin: it will become a way of life. The Republican Party has a chance to change this: will they?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

6 Ways to Win the 2014 Elections



Current signs point to November 4, 2014 being a terrific day for the Republican Party.  The GOP may retake the Senate for the first time since losing it in 2006, and at least maintain its margins in the House and in state governments.


Even with this wave of rosy analysis, Republicans feel a gnawing pit in their stomachs. The last four elections have seen mind boggling reversals of fortune as the GOP found amazingly creative ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  The ghosts of Aiken, Mourdock, and O’Donnell remind Republicans of their epic failures in candidate vetting and message discipline.

Last year’s Republican meltdown in Virginia was an object lesson on how ethics trumps party.  Virginia also proved that Republican candidates lose when they channel Tomás de Torquemada and Nathan Bedford Forrest instead of Ronald Reagan.

There are many things that Republicans should do, and should avoid, in the seven months before the next election.

OVERSIGHT!
Republicans are in a rhetorical bind.  On one hand, they berate President Obama for being weak in dismantling America’s global leadership role, and then they turn around and declare Obama to be an arrogant and aloof “Imperial President” over his expansive use of Executive Orders and recess appointments. http://freebeacon.com/politics/the-imperial-presidency/

One way Republicans can both slow-up Obama domestically and build their case against him is to conduct wall-to-wall oversight hearings. 

Every House committee and subcommittee has the legitimate responsibility to conduct hearings on the actions of executive branch departments and agencies. Some of this is already occurring:



House Republicans should do far more of it.  They need to realize that executive branch entities spend dozens of staff days preparing for each hearing.  Senior officials and political appointees may sit before the microphone, but a cadre of staff and subordinate officials sit behind them.  This diverts countless executive branch resources from taking the initiative elsewhere. 

The more hearings - the less new mischief.  The more hearings – the more opportunities to expose Administration foibles and incompetence. 

One cautionary note - Republicans need to ask questions, not make assertions.  The most potent scandals occurred when the Legislative Branch asked leading questions.  “What did the President know and when did he know it?” remains one of the best mantras from the Watergate investigation.  The moment the investigator overreaches the evidence and leaps to a public conclusion, the tables turn and the public begins challenging the investigator and the investigation itself.  The ghost of Senator Joe McCarthy hovers over every Congressional probe.

REMEMBER WHAT CENTURY YOU ARE IN!
It is doubtful there are many Republican viewing parties for “Cosmos”.

Republicans used to be the science party.  NASA was formed under Eisenhower.  Voyager was developed and launched under Nixon.  Reagan remained stalwart for space exploration in the face of the Challenger disaster.  Reagan also initiated the Human Genome Project.

For some reason, many Republicans have turned their backs on the 21st Century and marched back to the 16th.  Top Republicans fight evolution, assert the Earth is only 5,000 years old, and selectively cite Biblical passages to promote big government intervention into private lives.  William F. Buckley, Ronald Reagan, and numerous other conservative intellects, found ways to espouse traditional values and faith while hailing science and the modern world.  Why is it so hard for Republicans in 2014 to strike the same balance?

Their embrace of fundamentalist Christians (TheoCons) has trapped them in the anti-science mindsets of Martin Luther (1483-1546) and John Calvin (1509-1564). It is truly sad that so many Republicans and “conservative” pundits have enthusiastically chosen anti or pre Enlightenment Era dogma.  They could easily embrace the thinking of Benedictus de Spinoza (1632-1677) and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716), who reconciled an active God with scientific discoveries. http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/Mind/17th.html

Republicans will lose large swathes of the electorate if they continue to be caught in intellectual time warps.

AVOID BAD PHOTOS AND SOUND BITES!
Republicans and conservatives have a mental block about the digital age.  They forget that everything outside of their home is fair game.  In a world of security cameras and mobile phones, everything we say and do, if it is sufficiently embarrassing or the person is sufficiently significant, will be instantaneously shared with the world. 

The existing evidence is overwhelming. In 2012, Romney assumed explaining his negative view of Americans would not go past the high roller donors in a hotel ballroom (no one thought about the catering staff in the back of the room).  This year, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) booked a huge room for a marginal issue (at least in the minds of their attendees). The visual was devastating. http://aattp.org/the-gop-threw-a-minority-outreach-party-at-cpac-nobody-showed-up/

Message discipline should be a 24-7 fixation for anyone playing in the public space.  Leaders, and leader wannabes, are always on stage, even if that stage is shopping at a Walmart. Think before tweeting.  Think before posting.  Think before entering a studio.  Think before entering a room at a public or private event. Always have your core message hard wired into your brain and make sure you fit it into every utterance – digital, audio, video, or live.

LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD!
There are as many Looney Liberals as there are Crazy Conservatives.  However, you would never realize this parity from the Internet or the news media.

Republicans also make it harder on themselves when they promote friendly fire.  The Sesquicentennial of America’s Civil War has opened the door for some conservatives to embrace Southern succession and attack Lincoln.  This bizarre revisionism of history and Republicanism reached a pop culture boiling point when libertarian pundit Andrew Napolitano first attacked Lincoln on Fox News and then double-downed with a broader anti-Lincoln, anti-Union, rant on Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show”.  Many conservatives rallied to Napolitano’s defense and collectively threw Lincoln and the founding principles of the Republican Party under the bus.

Republicans need to honor their roots and their heroic Presidents.  Democrats and liberals always have preprogrammed accolades for every Democrat who made it into the White House, as well as a preprogrammed defense or dismissal of anything negative about their Presidents.  Republicans, on the other hand, find it easier to generate negatives rather than positives about their political ancestors.  The only exception is their fixation with venerating the Bush dynasty (more on that later).

Republicans are also at a disadvantage because many of their crazies love publicity and attract ovations and accolades within the conservatives’ incestuous media echo-chamber. It is hard to label crazies as “outliers” when they keynote political functions and are feted on talk shows.

Republicans not only need to silence or marginalize their crazies, they must strategically reposition the lunatics on the Left.  On any given day there are stories about corrupt Democrats and over-reaching liberal loonies, but they remain buried in local news stories or conservative social media sites.

Here are some examples:

Democratic Pennsylvania State officials accepting bribes:


In Hawaii, Democratic Legislators are defending the slaughter of dogs and cats for meat.  Why is that not fodder for Fox News and conservative talk radio?

A Long Island School banned footballs and other athletic equipment to reduce injuries.  Supposedly, Nurf balls are okay. 

Republicans need to establish a daily drumbeat of stories that force Democrats and liberals to confront their own outliers.

UP YOUR GROUND GAME!
In 2012, the Democrats’ NARWAL get-out-the-vote program ate the Republicans’ ORCA get-out-the-vote program.

ORCA was an embarrassing joke from its inception, but local Republican leaders were afraid to speak up or bought into the hype.  Underlying this abject failure is the collapse of Republican grassroots precinct capabilities.

In the 1950s, Eisenhower Republicans built the golden age of precinct operations.  The basics of, “identifying your voters”; “motivating your voters”; “getting your voters to the polls” were perfected by legions of stay at home moms, retirees, and eager College and Young Republicans.  Reagan conservatives reinvigorated local voter operations in the 1980s. Then things fell apart. 

Mass mailings, robocalls, and ultimately the Internet, eviscerated precinct operations.  Everything was top down, nationalized, and driven by huge amounts of money.  The era of dedicated volunteer precinct captains being a civic “welcome wagon” for new voters ended.

Republicans also refused to embrace new voter behaviors.  They fought or dismissed early voting.  Instead of using this opportunity to mobilize working families to vote on weekends they asserted, “Our voters come out only on election day”. In 2012, millions of Republican votes were lost to this obtuse myopia. Thankfully, others are finally calling for a return to electoral basics. http://m.washingtonexaminer.com/article/2545990

Republicans also lost credibility with their ill-conceived and poorly positioned voter ID programs.  Anyone who has contested elections knows that voter fraud occurs either in the initial registration or in the final counting, NOT when voters cast their ballots in polling places.  Republicans focused on the one part of the voting process that works.  The result was embarrassing laws, rhetoric, the taint of voter suppression, and charges of racism.

STOP BEING HYPOCRITES!
Ultimately, to win in 2014, Republicans need to regain the rhetorical high ground on a wide range of public issues.  The only way they will achieve this is to stop being such blatant hypocrites.

- Republicans cannot oppose government intrusion into business conduct, while pushing legislation expanding government intrusion into personal conduct.

- Republicans cannot keep “cherry picking” budget cuts.  Waste is waste no matter which agency or program is to blame.

- Republicans cannot oppose all tax increases.  There are outrageous government subsidies that only exist because lobbyists gave money or favors to public officials.  It is in the best interest of America to expose and end these revenue boondoggles.

- Republicans cannot cheer on George W. Bush’s and the Republican Congress’ spending binge of 2001-2006 and then rail against the Democrats current spending spree.

- Republicans cannot attack President Obama’s over-use of surveillance when the over reaching laws, processes, and technology were developed by President Bush and enthusiastically supported by “conservatives” in Congress and the media.

The other problem Republicans face is the Diaspora of Bush Administration functionaries who permeate the Washington media and its think tanks.  The Diaspora’s primary purpose is to unquestioningly defend every utterance, policy, and action of the Bush era. 

There has been much discussion about leaving Reagan behind in order to redefine and reposition conservativism and Republicanism in the 21st Century.  Many of those promoting this are Bush alumni who only want to supplant one time warp with their own.  Only by sanctifying Bush 41, Bush 43, and future permutations of the Bush dynasty, can they look in the mirror every morning and ignore their epic mistakes that ruined America at home and abroad and wrecked havoc on the Republican and conservative movements.

To win big in 2014, and lay the ground work for victory in 2016, Republicans must tell voters that they will reverse the last 14 years of mistakes not just the last six.

Republicans have a huge challenge and an equally large opportunity.  Obama’s countless missteps and lies opened an historic electoral door.  Much work needs to be done before Republicans can walk through the portal.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

ETERNAL BULLYING



“There’s an App for that” has become a common phrase as the possibilities of our digital age are limited only by our imagination.

Unfortunately, those who wish to do harm also have unlimited ways to pervert and abuse technology.  The latest opportunity for abuse is Yik Yak. http://yikyakapp.com/

Yik Yak was developed to provide college students with a highly localized way to handle lost & found and Yelp type reviews of on and off campus services [only the first 500 hundred nearby users connect through GPS tracking on their phones].  It makes sense.  The cyber world does not need to be cluttered by someone looking for their lost book bag at a small college.

Yik Yak has already attracted 100,000 users, and is now in the top 100 most popular Apps on Apple’s App Store.  The downside is the App is becoming a favorite of Cyber Bullies.  In Mobile County, Alabama, a 16-year-old and 14-year-old were arrested after three schools had to shut down for a day because of their posting threats on Yik Yak.

Similar Yik Yak threat posts led to evacuations of a high school in Marblehead, Massachusetts, and the lockdown of a high school in San Clemente, California. Officials at several Chicago area high schools have warned parents about Yik Yak. 

So far the response to Yik Yak has been to ban the App or block its reception. 

Bullying has been around as long as humans felt the need to establish “pecking orders”.  There will always be Apps to enable abusive behavior.  The challenge is creating cultures and processes to prevent or quickly eradicate this behavior.

I was bullied relentlessly in school.  My underlying identifier was being a “nerd”.  Add to that the Trifecta of glasses, being a “late bloomer” in terms of height, and “buck teeth” that led to braces.  Play ground taunts in 6th through 8th grade were bad enough, but the worst came in 9th grade gym class. 

A group of boys were called “F Troop” after the TV show about dysfunctional soldiers.  They were the ones who got the lowest grades and the detention [my school had no minorities - this was among whites in an upper middle class suburb].  They used gym class to harass those of us who were smarter, but less physically developed.  I dreaded every moment.  Harassment escalated.  Once, I was socked in the stomach so hard I passed out.  The gym teacher, a former Marine, refused to get involved or even call the nurse.  He just told me, then age 14, to “be a man” and work things out myself.  When a hunting knife was brandished at me I went to the school counselors.

The counselors worked with me to review the entire situation.  I agreed that singling out current offenders would probably lead to others in “F Troop” taking their revenge.  After some research a solution emerged.  There were four groups of 9th grade boys for the purposes of scheduling gym, study halls, and some elective courses.  The “jock” group was matched with another group of “nerds”. The counselors agreed to place the jocks with “F Troop” and the two nerd groups together.   The jocks were on equal physical footing with “F Troop” so the bullying ended.

Or did it?  In 2002, Rachel Simmons published her detailed research on how bullying impacts young women throughout their lives http://www.rachelsimmons.com/books-and-tv/ . Last year, Paul Meshanko, published his ground breaking analysis on how disrespect fundamentally alters brain chemistry http://respecteffectbook.com/ .

At my 20th high school reunion very few of the “F Troop” attended.  Many were either in jail or dead (drugs or violence).  One “F Troop” alumnus had served in Vietnam and became an airline pilot, proving that people can change given the right circumstance. For most of “F Troop”, once labeled by school officials, they continued on their destructive paths.  My personal trauma in gym class led to a life long ambivalence to sports and sports’ figures.

Bullying has become more pervasive because our digital age follows us 24-7.  When I was growing up, I could return home to a loving family and friends of my choosing.  There were no bullying posts on Facebook, Twitter, Snap Chat, or Yik Yak to haunt me outside of school.

Today’s digital “echo chamber” makes it imperative that school officials remain vigilant and pro-active to bullying.  Blocking technology abuse can certainly help, but finding ways to prevent or diffuse situations and build anti-bullying values throughout their school’s culture will save lives and improve others.

Respect and anti-bullying is about more than technology – it is about behavior and values.


[Scot Faulkner is a Senior Advisor to Legacy Business Cultures.  He served as the Chief Administrative Officer of the U.S. House of Representatives and was a Member of the White House Staff.  He attended Wayzata Junior High School in a Minneapolis, Minnesota suburb.]

Sunday, January 26, 2014

REBOOT THE STATE OF THE UNION

Published on http://hnn.us/article/154543 

It is time to rethink the State of the Union Address.

On January 28, Americans will once again endure the pointless spectacle of yet another State of the Union Address.  The President will enter the chamber like a reigning monarch with all branches of government in polite attendance.  Many promises will be made, of which few will be kept.  Many cheap applause lines will be given so that everyone in the Chamber, except the Supreme Court Justices, will rise in ovation.  An array of symbolic guests will be seated next to the First Lady and be used as props at key junctures in the speech. 

Whether Republican or Democrat, Presidents use the State of the Union address to annually reboot their agenda.  It is a huge waste of time for everyone involved.  It creates the visage of an imperial President holding the co-equal branches of government hostage to the vanity of one person.  The only people longing for this annual rite are the pundits who get to spend a week speculating on the speech and another week analyzing it.  It is the Super Bowl for politicians.  The only difference is the cheerleading occurs afterward in Statuary Hall and the pre-game tailgate parties are held at expensive clubs and restaurants.

Why is there a State of the Union speech?

There is no official reason for the speech. There is not even a requirement for it to be annual. Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution only requires the President to make a report:

He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.

It is also not required that Congress grant the President the use of their Chamber for a ritualized infomercial. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives must formally vote on a Joint Resolution to convene a Joint Session of Congress. At any time, one or both Chambers could bring an end to this tedium by simply refusing to approve the resolution.

President George Washington delivered the first State of the Union speech in person before a Joint Session of Congress on January 8, 1790.  Since then, there have been 223 opportunities for Presidents to deliver their report.  Presidents have delivered their report as a speech before a Joint Session of Congress only 98 times.  The other 125 times were through written communication.

George Washington and John Adams delivered their State of the Union reports as speeches, but Thomas Jefferson let his written word suffice.  For 113 years, no other President delivered a State of the Union speech until Woodrow Wilson on December 2, 1913.  President Warren Harding continued this new practice as did Calvin Coolidge, once.

For ten years, Congress did not have to arrange a Joint Session for the State of the Union Address.  Then Franklin Roosevelt asked for the forum in 1934. In 1946, President Harry Truman opted out of a formal speech because, during the previous nine months, there had been five Joint Sessions of Congress relating to the end of World War II.  In 1956, President Eisenhower opted out of a speech because he was still recovering from his September 24, 1955 heart attack.

America seems to have survived the absence of Presidential vanity 125 times.  Congress still operated.  Legislative business continued.  The President issues a detailed Budget Message a few weeks after the speech, which is a far more tangible communication of the Administration’s priorities. So why, in the 21st Century, must we put up with this annual charade, which everyone knows is totally meaningless?  A simple reading of the President’s Budget executive summary from the Oval Office would more than meet the Constitutional requirement. The last memorable line from a State of the Union Address was President George W. Bush’s description of an “Axis of Evil” on January 29, 2002.  That did not end well.

Since Bush’s 2002 flourish viewership of State of the Union Addresses has plummeted.  In 2003, 62 million watched.  By 2013, only 33.4 million viewed the festivities.  Even if you factor in alternative viewing modes offered by digital media, the audience has substantially declined.  It seems that most Americans, unlike politicians and pundits, are tuning out this outdated and superficial display of Washington excess. Imagine any State of the Union address without the pomp and pageantry and without countless interruptions for orchestrated applause.  The words would be even more empty and meaningless than they are already.