By John Y. Brown III, on Wed May 22, 2013 at 12:00 PM ET
Never do anything that you can’t successfully apologize your way out of
If you aren’t a good apologizer, don’t even think about it.
If you are a good apologizer, make sure you are assessing yourself accurately.
Ask a friend beforehand if they think you are a good enough apologizer to apologize your way out of doing something bold (or daring….or reckless, depending on hindsight).
If your friend tells you “No. You aren’t a good enough apologizer.” ask two more friends. If those two friends agree with the first, ask four more friends.
And so on.
Eventually, if it is truly a bad idea, you will spend so much time trying to get a majority of your friends to support you that you will forget what it was you were thinking of doing in the first place.
We’ve all heard the saying, “It’s better to win the war, not the battle”. But what defines a battle, and what defines a war? When are you seen as wise, and when are you seen as a chicken? Better yet, as a female – which of your actions revere you respected, and regretfully, what of your behavior leaves the all too familiarized impression of being “hormonal”?
When I am mad, REALLY mad, I cry. I cry because I spend 50 percent of my day internalizing the raw emotion felt by others. That “responsibility” as I’d like to call it, leads me to subsequently ration it into specific places as to find a way to improve the entirety of the situation. I do not spend enough time thinking of myself…not even a small piece from the left over pie. Instead, I work diligently, compartmentalizing and structuring a plan that will result in enjoyable, elated coworkers leading to extremely profound results. So, when 50 percent of my time – time dedicated to a quiet, diligent effort to sustain a respectable, productive existence for those around me crumbles, well, I cry.
Crying is most always seen, regardless of sex, as weak (unless you are Jennifer Lawrence who literally burbs rainbows, Mathew McConaughey or in recent years, Justin Bieber). Crying is never depicted as a strong attribute. You can be winning battles and wars, slaying dragons, closing deals, negotiating people right out of their skin…but the only carnage you create that truly gets noticed is if you cry.
Yet, and I have no source to site or reference to footnote, I truly believe it is the strongest form of passion and compassion for one’s job that can truly be witnessed. Hand me a reason to care about my job, my co-workers, my bosses, the betterment of all and the betterment of those we serve – and guess what? From time to time, you will see me cry.
Give me a situation where I don’t care? Well, chances are, if I haven’t cried at least once – and publicly – I won’t be there long. If I find my tear ducts dry for too long, that is my signal: CODE BLUE! We have a problem. ABORT MISSION. This isn’t worth crying over.
Why? Because there really is no use crying over spilled milk. And as a woman, I think I should know what’s worth a tear or two. If this makes me weak in the eyes of the many? Eh, so be it. I’m going to remain steadfast on this principal and work hard to command attention and gain respect one battle dissolved, one war won, one tear shed at a time.
By Artur Davis, on Tue May 21, 2013 at 10:00 AM ET
No, the Obama Administration’s disaster of a week is not Watergate. Not unless Barack Obama is found scheming with his aides about how to pay “hush money” to witnesses. Not unless the foraging of journalists’ phone logs included eavesdropping with wiretaps. No unless revelations surface that Obama ordered a federal agency to shut down a criminal investigation, or that he skimmed campaign funds to build his own private network of thieves and vandals.
But this appalling seven days need not be Watergate to be something lethal and destructive of the public trust, a cascade of events that has hardened and validated the worst characterizations of this White House. The axiom on the political right that Obama’s presidency threatens constitutional freedom could seem overwrought when it was confined to insurance mandates and gun background checks. But from now on, the brief has just gotten appallingly straightforward: it sweeps in elements that are at the core of the First Amendment, in the form of the IRS digging into filers with the wrong politics, and into groups with an unapproved ideological agenda. The case that liberties are being violated—pirating the links between certain reporters and their sources for over two months, and in such an indiscriminate manner that close to a 100 working reporters might have been compromised—no longer seems to the media the stuff of right-wing paranoia.
The supposedly partisan charge that the Obama Administration was covering up details in the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi takes on more plausible colors when a diplomat describes the way he was beaten down by political appointees for asking hard questions. And the vague but toxic insinuation that high level negligence contributed to their deaths now has chilling specific details: one official’s account of a special operations rescue team being bluntly shut down when it was poised to strike, another’s description of an inter-office climate that minimized safety concerns about the American consulate as unseemly griping.
Obama has maddened his adversaries by only repeating his routine for handling public storms: indignation that his White House’s motives are questioned, and an implication that parts of the executive branch, in this case the IRS, are an island beyond his ability to influence. For his political acolytes, the effect is good righteous theater. Never mind the inconvenience that the IRS’ presidentially appointed leadership knew of political targeting, failed to stop it, and may have implicitly blessed it. Forget that the ugliness of his subordinates’ response to Benghazi is a picture supplied by members of his own government, not by his opponents but by professionals, people who until these events were trusted comrades of the appointees who ended up sacking or maligning them.
Read the rest of… Artur Davis: Obama’s Scandalous Seven Days in May
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 Michael Steele, on Wed May 15, 2013 at 8:30 AM ET
One of the hardest things to do in politics, believe it or not, is to standout. Sure you can go off and say something crazy; or even do something inherently stupid that will generate attention.
But most politicians and political parties don’t want that kind of attention. I’m talking about truly standing out: to be recognized for pushing against the conventional wisdom or fighting the status quo; or even better, standing against the prevailing winds of one’s party. That is a lot harder than you may imagine.
In a life spent advancing conservative principles, I have had the privilege of serving as a county chairman, a state chairman, a candidate and an elected official. When I assumed the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee in 2009 on the heels of humiliating defeats in 2006 and 2008, this would be my opportunity to advance those conservative principles in a new way; to go a bit against the grain, to push back on the “establishment” mindset that had led to these back to back devastating losses.
In short, for the party to survive it was time to turn the elephant to face its future. But have you ever tried to turn an elephant? Invariably, whichever end you start with will test your resolve.
GOP ‘lost its voice’
Republicans lost their voice on the things that mattered not long after the 2004 elections; and by 2008 that gap between our rhetoric and our actions had grown to the point that our credibility had completely snapped. From the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the implosion of the nation’s economy, more and more Americans began to view the party as out of step with the direction they believed the country should be heading. To make matters worse, what many inside and outside the arty failed to understand was it wasn’t the fault of our ideals or the principles we espoused, but rather the failure of our leadership to honor those principles.
Over time, our principles had morphed into baser motives. We became more interested in red vs. blue state politics, egged on by political know-it-alls and high-priced consultants. The net effect of their “leadership” diminished the noble vision of the Party of Lincoln—the party I had joined at the tender age of 17—as the GOP became the party of big government Republicanism.
It should be no secret to Republicans by now that the country has changed and continues to do so. You don’t need to spend a million bucks to figure that out. Nor do Republicans have to keep repeating “we need to reach out to [fill in the blank].” Shut up and do it already!
And that doesn’t mean sticking your finger in the air to check the prevailing political winds before “reaching out”; that’s blatantly disingenuous and the equivalent of the party giving voters the finger. Consequently, most Americans today see a Republican Party that defines itself by what it is against rather than what it is for.
Republicans will scream at President Obama for his spendthrift ways, but then fail to reconcile to voters their own spending habits. Republicans can tell you why public schools aren’t working, but not articulate a compelling vision for how they’ll make them successful. We’re well equipped to rail against tax increases; but can’t begin to explain how our policy prescriptions will help the poor and the middle class.
We’re great at talking about inclusion but not at actually including anyone.
2006, 2008 and now 2012 are painful reminders of the importance of owning our mistakes listening to the American people, and taking action on issues of importance to them — not us. If we are to regain the trust of the American people and restore the credibility of our ideas, a 21st Century GOP must reconnect with its radical past and focus importance on economic opportunity, civil rights, the environment, and individual liberties.
Party failed to heed warnings
During my last months as RNC Chairman, I warned the party that we stood on the precipice of Republicanism, ready to throw each other off, because some want a litmus test party. But that party of exclusion will not and must not succeed. For me, the Party of Lincoln was, and should be again, a party of opportunity and inclusion; assimilation and self-determination.
I still hold out hope that new voices consistent with the radical nature of Republicanism will give rise to a fresh approach to meet the challenges we face.
I will continue to be one of those voices. Let’s start that conversation on the healthcare, economic and political disparities that continue to cripple communities of color; let’s reframe the role of government not because we want to eliminate it; but because its purpose should be limited to serving the people and not itself; and let’s once again be the champion of the poor and middle class. Yes, a rising tide lifts all boats, but we can’t lose sight of those who don’t have a boat.
Republicans stand at the crossroads to their future and the voters are standing there with them wanting to know what we believe, how we will lead, and which way we intend go. They seek assurances that we are Republicans who see opportunity for every American not just those who donate to us or vote for us.
The Party of Lincoln was built on the uniting principles of hard work, personal responsibility, and self-determination. Republicans must once again call upon these principles to chart where the Party goes from here.
By Jonathan Miller, on Mon May 13, 2013 at 3:00 PM ET
From Tom Eblen of the Lexington Herald-Leader:
Each time I have visited West Liberty since the devastating tornado, people have expressed determination to rebuild. But they didn’t just want to put things back the way they were; they wanted to use the disaster to reposition their community for the future.
The Morgan County seat had been hurting for years before the twister, which killed six people on March 2, 2012. West Liberty was like so many other small towns that have struggled to adapt to the loss of cash crops and factories.
Last week, after more than a year of study and work, West Liberty leaders unveiled a new strategic plan for their community. It is a creative, forward-looking plan designed to attract national attention and support. If successful, it could serve as a model for struggling small towns throughout Kentucky and across America.
“I’m very excited about it,” said Hank Allen, CEO of Commercial Bank in West Liberty and president of the Morgan County Chamber of Commerce. “There is such a will to rebuild, to not only get back to where we were but to be better than we were.”
One key aspect of the plan follows the lead of Greensburg, Kansas, which was wiped out by a 2007 tornado and attracted national attention by rebuilding using the latest energy-efficient technology.
West Liberty’s energy-efficient reconstruction plans include replacement houses with “passive” design and construction, which can cut energy costs as much as 70 percent over conventional construction. Habitat for Humanity has already built several such homes in the area.
The downtown business district also would be rebuilt using energy-efficient construction, including a geothermal loop that many buildings could share to lower their heating and cooling costs.
Allen says he thinks that will be one of the biggest factors in recreating a viable downtown. Rent was cheap in the old buildings the tornado blew away. But reconstruction will be expensive, pushing rents beyond what many mom-and-pop businesses can afford.
Commercial Bank is kicking off the geothermal loop as part of its headquarters reconstruction. Allen said designs are almost complete for a new bank building that should be certified LEED Gold. The pre-tornado bank building cost about $4,000 to $5,000 a month to heat and cool, but Allen estimates the new one will cost about $1,500 a month.
The bank building will include about 1,800 square feet of incubator space on its first floor to help small local businesses get back on their feet, Allen said.
The strategic plan also calls for encouraging downtown to be rebuilt with mixed-use structures housing businesses, offices, restaurants and apartments. That would create a more lively downtown with lower rents because of more efficient use of space.
Plans also call for installing free wireless service downtown to attract businesses and people in a region where wi-fi availability is now limited.
The strategic plan’s economic development initiatives have a big focus on eco-tourism, built around Morgan County’s natural beauty and local assets such as the Licking River, Cave Run and Paintsville lakes, and nearby destinations such as the Red River Gorge.
There would be encouragement for entrepreneurs to start businesses focusing on kayaking, rock climbing, hiking, canoeing, fishing and hunting. Plans also call for developing walking and biking trails along the Licking River through West Liberty.
Other economic development ideas in the plan also focus on existing strengths, such as trying to use the local ambulance service and hospital to develop new methods for rural health-care delivery.
The strategic plan grew out of a partnership among the city, Morgan County, local businesses, Morehead State University’s Innovation and Commercialization Center and the nonprofit Regional Technology and Innovation Center.
Midwest Clean Energy Enterprise LLC of Lexington was a consultant on the process. Jonathan Miller, a clean-energy advocate and former state treasurer, has been retained to help raise money nationally for the effort by promoting it as a model for small-town revitalization.
The Morgan County Community Fund, an affiliate of the Blue Grass Community Foundation, has been set up to help collect and distribute donations for the rebuilding effort.
These efforts got a big jump-start in February, when Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers announced a package of about $30 million in federal, state and private money for various rebuilding projects.
“That really opened people’s eyes to what is possible,” Allen said of the financial package. “As a community, we must think really, really large. But we have a long way to go.”
By John Y. Brown III, on Mon May 13, 2013 at 12:00 PM ET
My “Unfilled” Bucket List of things to do before turning 50 (in 3 weeks)
1) See the Grand Canyon
2) Be an author (I kind of did that but with an eBook, which is only partial credit)
3) See some other national historic site in the West but can’t recall which one.
4) Get down to “HSW +15” (high school weight plus 15 lbs).
5) Learn to paint
6) Learn to dance
7) Learn to play an instrument
8) Become a millionaire (or at least stop asking my mom for loans)
9) Make a second contribution to IRA. (After I start one and contribute once.)
10) Run the mile in under 4 minutes. (Oops! I meant, run for 4 minutes nonstop)
11) Watch the entire Godfather trilogy in sequence
12) Clean out my closet
13) Change the light bulb in the basement storage closet
14) Read a Gentleman’s Guide to Etiquette to my son. (Or have my daughter read it to me. This was an either/or bucket list item)
15) Fix something in the house without using duct tape or super glue
16) Learn to sing
17) Take a foreign language (Ok. This was on and I took it off and then put back on and took off again for good.)
18) Don’t qualify for any new 12 step programs
19) Don’t shrink in height because you are close to not being able to round up to 5 ‘9 as it is.
20) Turn 49 ( I did that! Yay me!!)
I still have 17 to go after dropping foreign language and only partial credit for eBook and stopping asking my mother for loans.
It’s going to be a very busy next 3 weeks trying to complete my “Bucket List before 50” right?
My new Bucket List for the second half of life is going to include not having a Bucket List and just live each day relatively well and not worry about stuff I won’t get to do before I die. I’ve done a few. Like turning 49. And it was overrated anyway.
The world is still waiting for an unpredictable take on George W. Bush, whose dedication of his presidential library has spawned mostly commentary that can be pegged from knowing the writer’s pedigree: liberals who downgrade Bush for a war he could have declined and a recession he arguably could have avoided, but cite his relative moderateness as proof that today’s Republican Party is caught in a fever; hard-core conservatives lamenting that Bush spent promiscuously and short-changed social issues, and appointed the Obamacare-saving John Roberts; and center-right conservatives observing that Bush at least understood the value of a conservatism that appealed beyond the Republican base. (a point that I have made in past columns on Karl Rove and Jeb Bush).
I’ll forego those arguments for now to make another observation that Bush’s admirers and detractors gloss over: Bush happens to be the rare president who made a practice of being indifferent to the legacy building implications of his office. He said as much on several occasions (and was ridiculed for it) and his comments reflected a mindset which governed largely in the moment with no pretense of a signature governing vision. Consider the many plays this ad hoc style played out.
Where Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan had specific and in their case diametrically opposed conceptions for the long term relationship between the world’s military superpowers, Bush’s foreign policy was really just a stop-gap. He bought into the intelligence that Iraq was a budding security threat, wiped its leadership out, and spent five years massaging the results with little trace of a broader strategic design (the neo-conservative rhetoric about democratizing the Middle East never got much more than lip service from Bush, who easily accommodated the region’s other autocratic regimes). While Ronald Reagan actively sought to dismantle the framework of liberalism, and Bill Clinton and Barack Obama openly attempted to redefine their party and their opposition, Bush seemed notably uninterested in weaving a long term or even distinct short-term ideological blueprint. His signature domestic victory, No Child Left Behind, was technocratic and did not lean hard to the left or the right; the prescription drug benefit was similarly ambidextrous: insubstantial and loophole filled on one hand, the first expansion of Medicare in forty years on the other. And once the drug benefit passed, he barely mentioned it, much less tried to expand it into a template for how a conservative reformer might tackle health care in its broader dimensions.
Even when Bush overreached, as I argued then and would still argue now, in the way he waged the war on terror, it should not be forgotten that the bulk of what he sanctioned happened in the shadows, without Bush ever outlining in any concrete way a new formulation of American interrogation or surveillance policies. When “caught”, the Bush team, more often than is remembered, either reined themselves in or minimized the scope of their departure from preexisting laws. And Obama’s wholesale adoption of those same techniques, only substituting drones for torture, makes them already look more like another chief executive pushing for more authority than some uniquely Bush based doctrine.
It’s worth remembering that Bush actually tried to preserve an assault weapons ban, but never spoke of it; tried to roll back farm subsidies while doling out new oil subsidies; pinched pennies in specific agencies without even faking a grand deficit reduction strategy. The absence of any memorable Bush speeches on domestic policy is not entirely a function of his famous inarticulateness, but reflects the fact that so few Bush initiatives kept his own administration’s attention.
Read the rest of… Artur Davis: Yet Another Way of Looking at George Bush
By John Y. Brown III, on Thu May 2, 2013 at 12:00 PM ET
For my entire adult life whenever I would walk past a noisy bar with young intoxicated people and catch their eyes, I have always felt very intimidated—and dismissed —by the rowdy unrestrained “cool” types hanging out at places like that.
Until a few years ago, that is. I’m wearing a blue blazer and slacks and maybe even a tie. It’s not like I fit in. But I was thinking maybe I’m getting cooler with age I’m not as intimidated either. And my our eyes lock with these younger types, it doesn’t feel like they are being dismissive of me anymore.
I really liked the possibility that of the “I’m getting cooler with age” theory, until it happened again last night. And I looked a little deeper into the glazed over eyes of the 25 year old unshaven young man with tattered jeans and a hipster air.
His look of “respect” toward me wasn’t because he thought I was “cool.” It was because I reminded him of someone who could be his boss —and could fire him.
So, I’m not getting cooler with age. I’m just looking more like someone who could fire you.
And after letting that sink in a little bit, I decided, it was even cooler than being cool.
Anthony Weiner and Mark Sanford are both trying to re-assert their power on the political stage, but is there a difference between forgiving and trusting? What are the limits to political redemption and where do we draw the line?
Huff PostLIve: Originally aired on May 1, 2013
Hosted by: Abby Huntsman
Jeff Smith @JeffSmithMO (New York, NY) Assistant Professor in the Urban Policy Graduate Program at the New School; Former State Senator for Inner City St. Louis
Caryl Rivers (Boston, MA) Professor of Journalism at Boston University
Jeff Kreisler @jeffkreisler (New York, NY) Comedian and Author
Jordan Barowitz @jordanbarowitz (New York, NY) Former First Deputy Press Secretary for Mayor Bloomberg, Director of External Affairs for The Durst Organization