Monday, January 31, 2011


My wife is a "Tigger" mom. She read stories to our children at dinner. (Cheaper by the Dozen being one of their favorites) They listened to audio books in the car. She never missed a parent's conference or a choir performance and was on the sidelines for every game and lots of practice. She encouraged them to learn "Irish" step dancing and karate and loved it when they brought an art project home. She has raised 4 wonderful children who would be even better off if their father had been a better role model and shown better judgment.

I call her a "tigger" mom as a counterpoint to the current rage, the "Tiger" mother that has opened parenting debates in everything from the Wall Street Journal to the cover of Time and across the cable landscape. A "tiger" mother yells and screams at her children if they don't get A's in school, denies bathroom breaks and food if they don't practice an instrument for hours each day, and isn't interested for one minute in building self esteem. A "tiger" mom runs a boot camp not a home and Time suggests maybe this is why China is surpassing us in academic achievement and economic growth. What a bunch of "bulls-geshicte."

Yale law professor Amy Chua has written a memoir about raising her children like her parents raised her. Chinese parents don't want their children to "feel" good; they have to "be"good. Disagree with your parents; you are "garbage" to them. Don't put enough time into a birthday card, it is crap and thrown away. Want to watch TV, play a computer game or sleep over at a friend’s house? Forget it. The proof of the pudding for these Asian drill instructors is a child at the top of their class academically; a virtuoso artist, and a tough kid ready to take a bite out of life. What's not to like?

A "tigger" mom wants her children to read and write well. They play athletics to learn about being on a team and about winning and losing. She expects their homework to be done and chores finished. She doesn't blame the teacher when a grade is low, but she doesn't hang her child out to dry either. She prepares them for high school and college and hopes they will be successful. Ah, that's the rub. What is the definition of successful these days?

All of the coverage about Chua and her upbringing and that of her children focuses on an older daughter who has performed at Carnegie Hall and a younger daughter who made the varsity tennis team while still in junior high school. If you dig a little into all the euphemisms Chua uses, you discover happiness or success is defined by superior achievement, which will lead to monetary rewards and a big house in Connecticut.

Chua never addresses her children's social skills or if they have developed empathy and compassion. She never says, and not one writer or commentator asked, how peers viewed them or how they related to each other. Chua herself didn't marry another Asian to the despair of her parents and while she is a law professor at Yale, teaching law is not considered a real achievement in the legal world. There, perhaps more than anywhere, the adage those who can't do, teach, is in full force. Her definition of success doesn't match mine or our family's at all.

American culture is designed to emphasize consumption and material wealth. 2/3 of the American economy depends on consumer spending. Politicians and corporate strategists lay awake at night trying to figure out ways to get you to spend more money. America's ethical model is the "top" model. Parents stand in line to get their children into the "top" preschool to get them into the "top" kindergarten in order to get into the "top" grade school, "top" college prep school, "top" university, "top" graduate school in order to make the "top"money and afford all the "top" perks from Mercedes to flat screen TVs to ski trips to Jackson Hole. Brilliant graduates of the best universities flocked to Wall Street to make a fortune making nothing, creating nothing and almost wrecking this nation. A failed parent is one who didn't get their child onto the right track and watches as they become a teacher.

Someone has to stand up and say the emperor has no clothes. A successful parent is one who helps their children be as well rounded as possible. A good mom and dad or mom and mom or dad and dad hope for a child who has a big heart and generous spirit. They want a child who possesses the tools to follow their passion and achieve financial stability. As dreamy-eyed and squishy as it sounds, I want my children to be happy. It is clear now, happiness is not found at the bottom of a Kate Spade bag or when wearing a new pair of Jimmy Choo's.

You already know all of this. In your heart of hearts you want a loving, caring, compassionate, competent and happy child. There is no evidence at all that is what a "tiger" mom will get and tons of proof it is what a "tigger" mom strives for.

As for the idea China is ahead of us because we are raising a generation of weak, namby-pamby, nancy-boys who can't compete in the real world anymore....China's economic growth is built on the backs of over 400 million poor people earning pennies a day. China spends a fortune on factories and manufacturing while their people live in poverty with no idea or concept of a safety net. A growing middle class is a threat to Chinese stability, as they demand higher wages. Recent strikes at a number of auto plants are evidence of this phenomenon. China's advantages and ability to make cheap exports for American companies begin to vanish as people demand a better life. American workers fought for 100 years to improve wages and working conditions, and to share in the profits of this capitalist system. Chinese workers are just starting. Ironically, as Chinese workers strive to organize and improve wages, American workers have been under attack and their wages have stagnated for years. Even though Shanghai and Hong Kong student's scores in math and science are so superior to American students, wealthy Chinese parents send their children to America for higher education because the Chinese system doesn't encourage creativity or imagination or flexibility in thinking. These parents know right now Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple or Silicon Valley could not rise out of the Chinese environment as it exists today. It's why they steal so much of our intellectual property.

I am so proud of my "tigger" wife and my children. We are blessed to have them in our lives and their big hearts and expansive spirits are all the success we need. Here's to all the "tigger" moms, and to the day success is defined by the content of a child's character and not the color of their credit card.

Thursday, January 27, 2011



According to CNN, Americans love optimism. They don't want to hear bad news or pessimism. They want us all to get along and it was such a nice image to see members of Congress sitting together during the State of the Union. Americans want leaders who will tell them things are going to bet better and there is light at the end of the tunnel. Instead of opining the light might be a train or that the state of the union is broken, leveraged, captive of the richest 1%, nor did he say unless the nation spends on education, infrastructure and innovation we will be in deep trouble. His speech was a jumble of calls for investment, but he didn't call out the regressives and tell America to choose between going back and making progress. It was a soft focus speech lacking force or inspiration. Yet, he did lay out some important issues for debate.

The President wants to spend more money on education. He wants improved K-12 and expanded community colleges. He understands fewer Americans are graduating from college at a time when their counterparts in India and China and the European Union are flocking to higher education. He didn't address the cost nor did he take the bold step of setting a goal of free university education for anyone who qualifies. It would immediately stimulate the economy, put money in the pocket of the middle class and allow students more flexibility in choice of profession.

The President wants Americans to ride high-speed rails. He failed, however, to explain how to stimulate American technology to fit this need. Right now, his call for high-speed rail would create jobs in China. The same is true with wind power and other alternative energy industries. We need a Manhattan project for manufacturing. Make grants available to start-ups all over the nation and see what sprouts up.

All Americans need access to high-speed wireless technology at real high speeds, not the phony speeds currently being touted. We need a totally new electrical grid and our roads and bridges are falling down or crumbling. Jobs would be created and the economy improved by better transportation. IN China, they are building huge highways with few cars to use them along with new airports and entire cities for manufacturing. What are we doing?

Most of what the President called for he has proposed before. Unfortunately, there was no urgency and there was no listing the consequences of failing to move ahead on this agenda. Maybe moving to the center means losing all energy and oratorical panache.

The Regressive response was predictable. They rejected any talk of investment. They rattled the skeleton of massive deficits and calls for shrinking the government and cutting spending. Of course they said nothing about the huge deficit a tax cut for the rich creates nor the $250 billion, which would be added to the debt if they repealed the healthcare reform legislation. They ignored the reality if they had gotten their way in 2004 and privatized Social Security, Americans would have lost between 40%-60% of the value of their retirement accounts. Republican Paul Ryan gave their response and decided on the tried and true method of argumentation...lie. He claimed the economic stimulus package was a failure. (Even acolytes of Milton Friedman admit Obama kept the recession from being much deeper and longer) He says his party wants smaller government even as they support new laws in states across the country to restrict a woman's right to choose. He mentioned nothing about tens of thousands of subpoenas issued by the federal government to Twitter, Facebook, Google and others to obtain information about our online activity. As he made Cassandra-like noise about deficits, he did not propose any tax he might support increasing and regressives rejected any attempt to end subsidies for the oil industry.

The regressives don’t want to shrink government. They want to use it to erode the 4th amendment, control what people do in their bedrooms, stop states from easing criminal sanctions on marijuana, impose on families the type of planning they can have, maintain two wars and protect the interests of oil and coal corporations from the wrath of a public fed up with their destruction of the environment.

President Obama didn't draw any lines in the sand, but the feint outline is there to see. Do we progress, expand education, rebuild the nation, create new industries and manufacturing and give our people the tools they need to compete or do we watch the dismemberment of regulations and oversight; the expansion of the hyper-rich at the expense of the middle class; end the social safety net and unleash a social Darwinism unseen since the early part of the 20th century? Regressive will "invest" in the richest 1%, cut corporate taxes, expand the oil and gas industries, reduce access to education and information and claim it's all in our best interest.

I wish Obama had called them out, warned America what the real stakes are and called for 2012 to be a referendum on whether America is for everyone or just for the elite few. He didn't. However, he was right and his direction is accurate and he knows if the regressives win, this nation will see the sun rise on prosperity in Asia and the Far East and set on the American dream.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


In his address at the University of Arizona, President Obama called for more civility in our political discourse. The President claimed there is more that unites us then divides us as a nation. At first glance, the tendency is to agree with the president. We want to believe we have more in common with our neighbor and share the same core values. We know instinctively a house divided against itself cannot stand. Our enemies understand this as well. Bin Laden knew his attacks on September 11th wouldn't accomplish any military victory and he knew the physical damage would be repaired. He hoped to terrorize and disrupt us and have us turn against each other. He hoped we would cease to trust each other and erode the ties which bind us. To that end, he won a great victory with the help of a regressive movement bent on seizing the moment for their political gain. The real enemy, the real threat, is not any external force. It is coming from within and the President may have been right at one time, but is he still correct today?

American are not united with it comes to foreign policy. We don't know what we want or the role we should play in the world and we have been manipulated, using our fear, into contradictory positions. President Bush and Vice President Cheney used September 11th to pursue an agenda Americans would never have supported without this new "Pearl Harbor". Bush cynically used the fear the attacks generated to start two wars, give Israel a free hand with the Palestinians, and attempt to spread American hegemony in the Middle East through the use of force. At the same time, they ignored the deteriorating political situation in Mexico while using illegal immigration as another wedge issue. Americans are seriously divided about Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and over our policy towards Mexico and immigration. President Obama has not eased these divisions as he expands the war in Afghanistan, maintains the military presence in Iraq and ignores the immigration issue and the failed nature of the Mexican state.

America is more divided than ever when the issue of the Constitution and civil liberties is raised. Shortly after September 11th, the Congress passed the Patriot Act, (a title which former President Bush now says he regrets), which eviscerated the 4th amendment and expanded the power of the government to spy and watch its citizens. In the ensuing years, we now know that the government national security apparatus abused and violated national security letters, conducted illegal domestic spying, subpoenaed library records and used telecommunication companies to data mine our email, phone conversations and internet activity. A prison was established in Cuba precisely so American law couldn't be applied. Secret prisons were built abroad and kidnapping and torture became standard practices for the CIA with White House approval. White House counsel John Yoo, now sucking off the government teat teaching "law" school at Berkeley, wrote an opinion which claimed the President as Commander in Chief can ignore or violate "any" federal law with impunity. Are we a united nation over these issues? Whose fault is that?

On domestic issues the divide grows rather than narrows. In 2004, Karl Rove devised a strategy of gays, guns and God to re-elect President Bush. The regressive mantra was designed to divide and conquer. The homosexual agenda, a desire to be able to marry and have full civil rights, would destroy the family and, according to former regressive senator Rick Santorum, lead to the legalization of incest and bestiality. Fundamentalist evangelicals and the Roman Catholic Church fanned the fires of prejudice and bigotry using God as an excuse to hate and discriminate. Even as Yoo and his gang were expanding government power at the expense of the entire Bill of Rights, Rove and regressives seized on guns as the symbol to prove America is under attack. They encouraged more lenient concealed weapons laws, the championed guns in churches and on college campuses and in bars and called on Americans to wear their guns to political rallies.

Perhaps the biggest domestic divide was created over the question of health care. The irony here is most Americans were united on this issue. We shouldn’t be denied care for pre-existing conditions. Insurance companies shouldn't be able to cancel coverage when it gets too expensive. People should not lose their homes and savings due to catastrophic illness. Children should be able to stay on their parent’s policies longer, and the cost of health care had to be reigned in. The unity did not last in the face of a summer assault conducted by regressive forces. The campaign to create town yells rather than town halls...the lie about death panels... the fear caused by claims Americans would lose their doctor and millions of illegal immigrants would get government sponsored health care while "real" Americans would be left holding the bag, turned health care into a nasty, divisive, violent subject. The New York Times reports Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford’s' district had a long history of tension over immigration and health care issues. After she voted for President Obama’s health care reform, Gifford’s' Tucson office was attacked and a glass door shattered by a kick or a gun. She and her aids were so concerned for their safety; they started informing police about their schedule and public appearances. Her opponent in the last election appeared on a web site holding an assault weapon and Gifford herself let it be known to anyone she owned a gun. The office, and the Congresswoman, were constantly receiving threats and they increased as the campaign against the health care bill and the anti immigration bill in Arizona were pressed. Both of these issues were the centerpiece of the regressive campaign to retake Congress by the Republicans, Tea Partyists and aspiring presidential candidates. Add to this volatile mix the rantings of Hanbaugh, Beck, Weiner, Fox, and the result is entirely predictable.

So, the question remains, are we a nation more united over commonly held beliefs than we are divided by individual issues? What do we as Americans hold in common? I ask you now, dear readers, to take on the question. In your opinion, what do most Americans agree about? Where are we united? Where are we divided? Is there truly common ground we can all support, or is this nation irretrievably broken and fractured? Is the President correct when he claims there is more agreement then disagreement politically in our nation? Please add your comments to this question. Please make a sincere effort to chronicle all which unites us and divides us and your view of the result. I am caught because I'm not sure any more the President is correct and I see political forces deliberately exploiting the divisions to finish what bin Laden started. Do you?

Monday, January 17, 2011


You are in a room filled with people standing in a pool of gasoline up to their chests and someone comes in and gives everyone a book of matches. Who is responsible for the pending disaster?

It has been highly entertaining to listen to the regressive media echo machine whine and complain about being in the glare of the public debate about their culpability for the tragedy in Tucson on January 8th. They cannot be blamed for those shootings and it is a terrible affront to suggest such a possibility. Their first line of defense is the everybody does it excuse. They found any clip, no matter the context, of a progressive political or media figure saying something aggressive or nasty to justify their own overheated rhetoric. When that failed to staunch the bleeding, they trotted out the canard about the "elite" media picking on them and ignoring what others have said. Finally, when all else failed, they brought out Sarah, if it tweets it leads, Palin to suggest it is unpatriotic to call for a civil discourse in political debate. Her actions, and those of her ilk, were in the best tradition of the founding fathers.

Did Hanbaugh and company pull the trigger outside that Safeway? No. Did they furnish the extended magazine? No. Did they encourage the shooter to take out his delusional grievance on a member of Congress? No. Did they pour the gasoline, let the vapors linger waiting for someone to use their matches as a spark? Absolutely!!

Rush Limbaugh spent the 8 years of the Clinton presidency calling it the era of, "America Held Hostage." Clinton was not a legitimate leader. He had a gun to America's collective head. Fast-forward to everyone from Lou Dobbs to the Weiner, claiming Obama isn't an American citizen, isn't a Christian, and is a socialist bent on destroying the nation and the context of the shootings in Arizona begins to become clearer. Sarah Palin puts members of Congress in cross hairs on her web site, including the wounded Congresswoman, and says Americans need to "reload" if they don’t get the election results they desire. Obama's health care reform, she insists, will result in the government paying to exterminate senior citizens to save money. I don’t have to repeat it all because you know so much of what they say over and over again. You also know in every big city and across this vast fruited plane, hundreds of millions of Americans only hear this sort of message on their radios with no competing perspective whatsoever. They are told Americans are being held hostage. America is being destroyed. Clinton murdered Vince Foster and was selling military secrets to the Chinese and running cocaine through Arkansas. Pelosi wants to open borders to flood the country with illegal immigrants and destroy the culture of white Anglo Saxon Protestants. Obama is secretly a Muslim bent on undermining our security and turning the nation over to Shariah law...and this is the mild stuff. I haven't even started with Glen Beck or a guy like O'Reiley who says you are a patriot of you agree with him, but otherwise you are a pinhead.

The icing on the cake was the Tea Party rallies where participants were urged to come armed to show their support for the Second Amendment. The sight of armed protestors outside a rally for the President was a source of pride and praise. A little extra spark was contributed by candidates like Nevada's Sharon Engle suggesting if she didn’t win, the citizens of the state will have to seek "...a second amendment" solution. Now, though, in the wake of the deaths of six people, including a 9-year-old girl, and the wounding of 14, including a member of Congress, regressive and their minions are trying to morph into Emily Letella...."Nevermind."

I have yet to mention the Patriot Act, which was so named so opponents could be classified as traitors for opposing it, two wars, torture, secret prisons, expanded illegal government spying on Americans and the fact the regressive echo machine painted anyone opposed to any of the above as terrorist sympathizers. "True" Americans were being ignored according to Fox news, they are being lied to and their nation betrayed by the forces of feminism, affirmative action, choice, and worst of all a homosexual agenda designed to destroy the family. (In this the regressives received great help from the Roman Catholic and Mormon Churches among others.) Nothing less the fate of our democracy is at stake every day on every radio, TV and regressive magazine and newspaper. It is time to lock and load.

Is there overheated rhetoric and opinion on the progressive side of the ledger? Yes. What's the difference? The hoped- for outcome. The regressive agenda is to turn back the clock to a "golden age" where white men ruled and what was good for General Motors was good for the country. Hanbaugh and Weiner and company have created the myth of the white male victim. They want to return to those times when segregation was the norm, voting rights were denied to women, the federal government was weak and the rich got richer at the expense of working men and women and children. It is this Gilded Age, which is the Nirvana of the regressive movement. Progressives fight for a system in which progress is the central dynamic. In the twentieth century, progressives busted monopolies, started national parks, created Social Security and Medicare as well as the G.I. Bill, FHA housing and Head Start. These and other achievements boosted an entire generation into college and expanded the ranks of the middle class. Progressives called for the regulation of Wall Street and wanted agencies to insure safe food, drugs, water and air. Regressives opposed everyone of these initiatives attempting to roll back as many as possible. You know the result of rolling back the financial regulations. We are still feeling them today.

In the ensuing years, particularly with the de-regulation of radio and TV, these accomplishments have been painted as an attack on white males, a rollback of traditional values and an attempt to destroy this nation. The goal of all these heated regressive attacks is to convince people they are victims, and the traditional ways of redressing political grievances no longer work. When you take their comments, and combine them with the agenda, and add in a mental health system which is a disgrace, Arizona is next to last in the whole country in providing mental health services, and you create the perfect storm in which someone who already is having problems is handed the solution...take out the people running the government into the ground.

As the gap between the rich and poor widens, jobs become more difficult to obtain, the promise of the American dream seems to be slipping through our fingers, the continued instigation and build up of anger over perceived slights, the steady drumbeat of anger and hate and a refusal to provide a decent mental health delivery system and more of these incidents will occur. The regressives better hope they are wrong about the Last Judgment. Sarah are going to need some sturdy asbestos underwear.