By Krystal Ball, on Wed May 15, 2013 at 10:00 AM ET
President Obama recently celebrated 100 days of being office for his second term. In recent months his approval rating has been wobbling, but according to a Pew Research Center poll released on Wednesday it has gone up to 51%. While it still lags behind his 55% approval rating a month after being re-elected, his rating is higher than the 47% he received in March.
However, even with his rebounding approval rating, the president faces persistent criticism about how much he has or has not been able to accomplish. With the budget talks at square one, the gun control legislation not passing the Senate (due to a GOP blockade), and both sides failing to rid the country of the sequester, President Obama’s 100 day mark didn’t seem to be filled with many accomplishments.
In this week’s episode of Political Playground Krystal asked her 5-year-old daughter, Ella, what she would ask President Obama if she was a member of the press like her mom.
“Why can’t both sides work together” Ella responded.
Americans agree with Ella. Pew Research Center also found that 80% believe that the president and Republican leaders are not working together. Forty-two percent blame Republican congressional leaders for the gridlock in Washington, while only 22% blame the president.
Ella does have some advice to help President Obama in his next 100 days: “Make your team work harder!”
By Lauren Mayer, on Tue May 14, 2013 at 3:00 PM ET
As last fall’s election made painfully clear, we are a bitterly divided nation: liberal vs. conservative, urban vs. rural, blue vs. red. States in particular have gotten increasingly polarized, with many state legislatures in the control of super-majorities, and each with their own occasionally defiant ideology. Some are pro-business & anti-regulation, some have enacted their own abortion restrictions, some have legalized marijuana even for recreational use, etc. And many states have well-accepted images – Texas has cowboys and oil mavericks, Florida is the home of retired grandparents with New York accents, and thanks to the TV show Portlandia, Oregon is now known to be laid back yet trendy. And so forth.
But what’s happening to California? We’re still a lopsidedly blue state, known for our mild weather, tourist attractions, and botoxed spray-tanned movie stars, but we also used to be the proudly progressive state, or as my Long Island father-in-law calls us, “the land of fruits and nuts.” However, now 12 states plus the District of Columbia are ahead of us in legalizing same-sex marriage. And that includes all of New England, which used to be a bastion of Puritan conservativism. (In my freshman history class at Yale, where I was the only student from the west coast, we learned that the early colonial settlers preferred New England to Virginia because they feared the milder southern weather would encourage indolence and leisure - the professor helpfully added, “so that could explain what’s wrong with California.” Fortunately, I have neither blond hair or a tan, so no one realized I was one of those self-indulgent slobs who’d been corrupted by sunny weather.)
But I digress – Minnesota’s vote for marriage equality is a cause for celebration, and I also understand that legislators in California are waiting for the Supreme Court decision on Proposition 8, but it’s still just a little embarrassing to realize that the way state legislatures are jumping on the bandwagon, we probably won’t even make it to the top 20. And of course there are plenty of liberals in Minnesota, but we don’t exactly think of it as a wild and crazy state full of drag queens and hemp growers. Minnesota has always defied easy categorization, with stoic, independent residents who don’t mind the harsh weather, a place whose congressional delegation can include both Al Franken and Michelle Bachmann, a state which includes wide open spaces and the thriving Twin City area where Mary Tyler Moore threw her hat in the air. So sure, I expected they might come around on marriage equality, but I still thought California would get there first. Now is our only example of leadership going to be allowing right-turn-on-red, as Woody Allen once observed? (Congrats to any of you who recognized that as a line from Annie Hall, and yes, I’m one of those fair-weather fans who prefers Woody Allen’s funny movies . . . . )
Oh well, we can drown our sorrows in organic chai lattes and kale smoothies (which by now they probably have in Minnesota too), and sing this song celebrating the latest good news on marriage equality despite California’s diminishing hipness . . .
By Nancy Slotnick, on Tue May 14, 2013 at 8:30 AM ET
A lot of girls swear by the “thank you” text after a first date. (We’re assuming the guy pays- because he should. :-)) And most guys say that they like to get the thank you text. Or email. But whenever something’s done out of obligation it loses its power. I’m not denying the importance of thanking the guy. But look at the text above, and now imagine saying (or hearing it) it in your most sexy sultry voice while looking a guy straight in the eye, leaning in and showing a hint of cleavage at the same time? Now that’s a powerful move.
Timing is everything. My husband and I missed the first season of 24. We got introduced to it when Fox ran a marathon on Labor Day of 24 hours consecutively, just as they really happened when Jack Bauer was really there. It was so realistic. Well, not really. But the draw of watching it in real time was so powerful that we became instant addicts of the show for life. We couldn’t even bear to go to the gym that Labor Day (well, we did but they had TV’s there) or go to sleep because of what we were missing. It was never the same in future seasons of course but we were happy loyal fans most of the time. It was the timing that got us.
So too is dating. The momentum, the pace, the immediacy as well as the suspense (you can’t give it all up in the first episode) are all what make things exciting. That’s why you have to “leave it all on the field” on the first date. Don’t get complacent and think- I’ll just send the thank you email tomorrow and then I can show how I feel on the 2nd date. You might not get a 2nd date!
Speaking of 2nd date, a lot of the clients that I coach ask me what to do after the first date to make the second date happen. My answer to the girls is this: Nothing.
As I alluded to above, what you do to get the 2nd date always happens on the 1st date. You can’t try to strongarm it afterwards. It just doesn’t work. On the 1st date, be flirty, interesting and interested. Be on time; thank him if he pays. If he doesn’t pay, be very skeptical. (Unless you asked him out.) Always kiss on the 1st date if you like the guy. Don’t maul him; it should come from him but help him create an opportunity for it to happen. Then say good night sweetly and turn and walk away with a spring in your step. That’s what I mean by “leave it all on the field.”
Read the rest of… Nancy Slotnick: “thx 4 the drinks. I had a great time.”
By John Y. Brown III, on Sun May 12, 2013 at 9:46 AM ET
Setting aside one day a year to say “Thank You” to moms—seems like the least we can do. And on balance a pretty good deal.
Without moms, there wouldn’t be the other 364 days a year.
And that’s just for starters.
We would have a lot of bad habits that would hold us back in life and probably eventually lead to homelessness. And we’d have bad table manners and not bathe as frequently as we do. And we’d never gotten beyond 3rd grade in school. And with the foolish things we would try to do in the back yard playing as kids, we’d surely have put out one or both of our eyes. And refrigerators would stay open longer and waste energy. And we would have been cold more often because we forgot to wear warm enough clothes and shoes. And wet more often, too.
Umbrellas may never have been invented if not for moms. Or chicken soup. Or coupons. Or the voice inside our head that says to us, “What would your mother say?” that keeps us from acting on ideas we have that are viewed negatively by society—except in Quintin Tarrentino films.
But even Quintin Tarrentino is better off for having had a good mother. He would have merely been a spastic truant had he not had a good mom instead of one of the greatest film makers of our generation. So Quintin Tarrentino should be especially grateful for his mom.
And we wouldn’t know how to say things like, “Happy Mother’s Day” and mean it. Or “I love you” and mean that.
So, for all those reasons and many more, Happy Mother’s Day!
By John Y. Brown III, on Fri May 10, 2013 at 12:00 PM ET
Thank goodness for imaginary umbrellas and silver linings.
26 years ago this week, Rebecca Jackson (now Rebecca J. Brown) showed up to work at a Derby party my father and step-mother put on. It was a combination Derby and political event. My father was running for governor (term limits at the time prevented him from seeking a second term in 1983 so he had to wait until 1987). He was ahead in the polls but there was this fella named Wallace Wilkinson who was getting attention for proposing a lottery and he had a new hotshot campaign manager named James Carville, who had just come off his first major campaign victory and was looking to make a name for himself.
But 26 years ago yesterday isn’t about politics. But rather romance. I had invited a friend of mine to join me, Andy Blieden. Andy and I had been friends since high school and he was determined to fix me up on a date. The week before we had met for dinner and Andy asked when I had last been out on a date. I answered somewhat jokingly, “Let’s see, this is Thur. So….Wed, Tues, Mon…Um…About 8 ½ months since my last date, give or take a week.” That did it for Andy.
At the party, the outgoing and slightly intoxicated Andy, struck up a conversation with one of the Southern Belle’s greeting guests. He asked her what her name was. “Rebecca Jackson,” she said. “Are you dating anyone?” Andy asked point blank. “No, not right now.” Rebecca responded. “Would you like to date someone?” Andy humorously and pointedly asked. And then brought me over and introduced me.
But before introducing us, Andy pointed out Rebecca to me and said, “You have to meet this girl. She’s beautiful and not dating anyone now.” I said OK and then scoped her out from a distance. She had long blonde hair and seemed sweet and shy. I liked that. So Andy brought me to her and said, “Rebecca, meet John the third. John, meet Rebecca.”
I said, “Hi. How are you?”
“Fine. How are you?” Rebecca responded.
“Are you in a sorority?” I asked.
“Yes. Are you in a fraternity?” Rebecca asked.
“No.” I said.
After a pause, I said, “Well, nice to meet you.”
It was an inauspicious start but later in the day I struck up a much more meaningful conversation with Rebecca about such intimate topics as what she was majoring in and even disclosed my major, too. It was a start.
As the party was winding down I noticed that the group of Southern Belles were leaving the party. I went down and said goodbye and thanked them. And looked longingly at Rebecca because I wanted to ask her out on a date but she was surrounded by sorority sisters and it was too embarrassing for me to pull her aside. She seemed to look longingly back at me, but I couldn’t be sure. So I waved goodbye and as I walked away I was angry at myself for not having the courage to just ask this young lady out. I let her get away.
I missed my chance. She was gone.
Or so I thought.
A few minutes later while I was talking to a photographer working the party, I looked up and saw Rebecca walking toward the house. She had made up a story to her sorority sisters that she needed to go back inside the house to retrieve an umbrella she left behind. She never had an umbrella but wanted to give me another chance without all the other young ladies around to come up with the gumption to ask her out.
I saw her and without thinking went with my gut, “Rebecca. Hey there. Can I talk to you for a minute?”
I said, “You know. Um. ….Maybe sometime, um. We can, you know….If you want to….go out, or something.” Rebecca coolly said, “Yeah. That would be OK.” She added she was moving out of her sorority house and into an apartment that week and didn’t have a new phone number yet. I wrote down my phone number and said, “Why don’t you call me sometime, when you get settled in?” She grimaced slightly and I realized giving Rebecca my number and asking her to call me was not the proper way to ask a true Southern Belle on a date. I quickly recovered by promising to call her sorority in a couple days before she moved out.
I had her number but she didn’t have her umbrella. But achieved her goal of giving a shy guy a little extra time to do what she knew he wanted –and needed–to do.
And I’m awfully grateful for that. And will always have a soft spot in my heart for umbrellas, real and imaginary. Because that one umbrella changed my life forever—and without it I would have missed marrying my soul mate.
Three weeks later, my father lost the Democratic primary for governor to Wallace Wilkinson—but there was a silver lining. I came out a big winner and won the heart of a loving lady now named Rebecca J. Brown. And she won my heart. By a landslide.
I’m not sure what I’m whispering into Rebecca’s ear in the picture above on the afternoon or our wedding day 4 years later…..but it could have been something reaffirming my profound gratitude for sliver linings—- and imaginary umbrellas.
By Jonathan Miller, on Thu May 9, 2013 at 6:29 PM ET
Today was Steve Beshear’s finest moment.
In signing an executive order to expand the Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, he saved taxpayers $40 million, created nearly 17,000 new jobs and brought the state a positive economic impact of more than $15 billion.
But more importantly…much more importantly…380,000 Kentuckians who do not currently have health insurance coverage will now qualify for affordable health care. That means that 380,000 Kentuckians will live longer, healthier lives because of the Governor’s signature. It is not even the slightest exaggeration to note that Steve Beshear literally saved thousands of lives today.
Of course, there will be plenty of rejectionists deriding the Governor’s actions as the embrace of the evil “Obamacare.” Bully for them. But any short term political benefits they may accrue will be long forgotten decades from now when Kentucky’s personal and economic health has been boosted immeasurably by Steve Beshear’s action today.
Hubert Humphrey once famous stated that the “moral test of government is how it treats those in the dawn of life, the children; those in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those in the shadows of life, the poor and handicapped.”
Steve Beshear today passed that moral test…with flying colors. This is the essence of moral leadershp.
I made my RP debut with a story of overcoming adversity through social media and peanut butter. For those who did not indulge in the “tail” (if you search the archive, you will gain further understanding of this spelling), it was a collection of events that prompted a wake-up call in my life through very surprising channels and/or “ingredients”.
Tonight, as I was decompressing, a very enlightening thing happened along the same lines…
Why Inspiration and Insight Can Be Simple, Sweet, Social, and Seafood Related
I have since gained great responsibility at my new job. Being the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed gal that I am, I typically prioritize with this kind of self-communication:
Carpe Diem the heck out of life and your job, Christie.
Wait, what’s on our list today?
Gain respect by being respectful.
What can I cook that I can post a pic of on Facebook and further my obnoxious obsession with the “likes” it gets?
Okay, the list again.
RULE #1: Don’t watch viral videos. They are funny and they are TOXIC for productivity.
Prank call Mom for a quick laugh. No more Mountain Dew. They’re toxic too.
Stop it! The LIST!
Communicate effectively, lead by example, and work hard to showcase the hard work of others so that they may receive the credit they deserve.
Meet deadlines + make clients happy + get more clients + make everything happy for everyone = Satisfactory time spent in your twenties = CARPE DIEM NOW and CARVING OUT THE FUTURE DIEMS WITH LESS OF THE CARPE.
I may be a little scattered, but I mean well and I try to prioritize my focus as much as I can, what, with all these distractions these days and all.
That being said, I had the most monstrous day today. Truly, it was one for the record books. I’ve never felt so proud of my focus and distribution of energy; so eager for more, sad for the day to end, so excited for tomorrow….so…..
Then, I look at my Facebook for the first time all day. Already so proud of my lack of engagement with my typically welcome distraction, I post the most random and unrelated statement to my current situation:
“Isn’t it cool how uncooked shrimp are all grey and sad looking, and when you throw them in the pan, they turn pink and look all happy? I’ve never seen anything like it! They’re like, ‘COOK ME! EAT ME! LOVE ME!’”
I got the comment:
“Don’t forget “DIP ME!” which prompted me to think about things on a very casual and uninhibited philosophical level. I then posted:
“Recipes for success in food and in life…I’ll let you determine what the “life” definition is…”
And then, when I was deep in a pensive stare into the distance, pondering the creation of the stars in the sky and contemplating my navel, the most beautiful thing brought me back to Earth.
My sorority sister – one whom I’ve always admired for her unbelievable spirit and ability to find the “sweet” in the sourest of hours posted the most endearing thing. She said:
“I’m pretty sure the shrimp would disagree with you…”
Attached was a YouTube clip of the song “Les Poisson” from The Little Mermaid.
I clicked on the video from my phone, as us Gen Y kids do, and was immediately transported back to my childhood. I grinned, then I giggled, then I gawked at my own terrible behavior towards prawns. Then I pressed PLAY again.
I continued to do this until I could remember ALL of the words in this animated clip of Disney nostalgia. Then, I remembered a few more things to put on my list of responsibilities:
It is okay to watch videos. Not stupid ones or negative ones, but one a day less than 2 minutes that will enable you to rock the “Carpe Diem” mantra.
It’s okay to spread this joy. New thought? VIRAL JOY.
Prank “text” Mom instead with some viral joy. Streamlining, and yet still as funny.
By adding this simple step, it could even help in communicating effectively, leading by example, and maybe, just maybe, it’s okay to showcase your youth sometimes when you are trying to empower those around you.
Meet the deadlines, get the clients, make everything happy….Carpe, Carpe, Carpe….STOP. Successful time spent in your twenties is also carving out time to laugh, too.
There you have it, folks. “Carping” and “Diem-ing” without killing any “carp” or “shrimp”. List also went from 10 to 5. It’s neat sometimes how much easier life can be when you take some of the stupid out and add a little joy.
So I live to seize another day of the twenties; restored by reminiscing on the wee-days, reserving the right to laugh and post and post and laugh, all while preserving some future R&R for the thirties and beyond.
Thank you, Shannon for your revitalizing and effervescent spirit, thank you Little Mermaid, and once again – thank you Facebook. Oh, and I’m sorry shrimp – but you still are really good when I eat you, and with a growing career, I need to maintain a healthy diet.
* * *
No cartoon shrimp were harmed in the writing of this piece. But I ate a few real ones…
Anochi afar v’efer. In Hebrew this means, “I am but dust and ashes.”
Seems to be a less than perky reminder about the inevitable, I know, but it does offer supportive wisdom actually.
In the Jewish spiritual tradition of Mussar (the Hebrew word for ethics), the soulful human trait of humility plays a fundamental role in a life of balance. To realize that each of us no matter our accomplishments, inevitably become part of the physical earth, is humbling.
Given the truth of this ultimate reality, how can any of us believe we are inferior to others, or superior? Anochi afar v’efer, it’s a perspective grabber, and a cool equalizer.
This raises a significant question about what it means to be human in the time we have. How do we strive to fill in the time between life and, ahem, the alternative? How do we make our lives meaningful even in the mundane? How is one’s “mundane” existence actually not inferior to someone else’s life of adventure, leadership, intellectual contribution?
We think of all kinds of answers here, or maybe we don’t even know where to begin.
The ancient Mussar Rabbis taught that each human is born with a personal spiritual curriculum to fulfill, and that we are each assigned the task of mastery of something in our lives. While culturally today, we tend to think that the something should relate to professional life or contribution to world repair, the teachings here focus on a more intimate area of human life experience, one that holds true no matter the decade in which we come across the teachings.
The mastery of something refers to the inner realm, the part of us expressed through the soul traits we are all born with but that each of us have in varying degrees of development and measure: humility, patience, gratitude, compassion, order, equanimity, honor, simplicity, enthusiasm, silence, generosity, truth, moderation, loving-kindness, responsibility, trust, faith, yirah (awe of God).
Read the rest of… Lisa Miller: My Mundane Existence is an Apple to Your Orange