Tag Archives: republicans

Hillary Clinton: Life Lessons from the Benghazi Testimony

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Yesterday, when my daughters and I came home after school, I put on the live stream of Hillary Clinton testifying before the Benghazi hearings.

I’m not sure if they were 6, 7 or 8 hours into grilling Hillary Clinton yet, but at that particular moment, a Republican congressman was shouting at her. My girls watched, first with horror and then laughing – who is that man? (Actually, my 11 year old daughter asked “Who is that crazy man?”) As he continued to give his own theory on Hillary Clinton’s actions around Benghazi, my 8th grader, who has done mock trials in Elementary and Middle School, asked if that is how a hearing is supposed to go – are you supposed to make up someone else’s story? Or, are you supposed to ask questions, listen, and gather information, facts?

But it was Hillary’s demeanor – calm, collected, in control – that made the most dramatic impression on my daughters and me.

She listened. She reviewed her notes. She didn’t attack.

She smiled as a panel in front of her berated her with nonsensical questions. She acted like a seasoned world leader.

Here are a few life lessons that my girls and I talked about after the debate: Continue reading

What You Need to Know About the State of the Union

State of the UnionTalking about politics is a touchy thing (and we don’t try to hide that we’re pretty liberal here at Intent – but we do promote listening to contrary opinions with an open ear and encourage healthy, respectful debate!). However, the annual State of the Union address isn’t really about which side of the aisle you vote for – it’s about civic responsibility to  be informed about the state of affairs of the country.

Last night the President covered several important topics from raging minimum wage, increasing America’s clean energy initiatives, creating greater access to higher education and ending the war in Afghanistan. He repeatedly called out Congress’ tendency to gridlock in debate rather than create legislation to help Americans move out of a recession and lead the way in the 21st century. He also re-iterated on several fronts, including minimum wage and infrastructure policy – that he will take whatever action he can without legislation to promote American progress, circumventing the roadblocks often created by tension in the House of Representatives.

The President’s most powerful moment however came at the end of the address when he called out  Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg who was severely injured during his 10th deployment to Afghanistan. After being hit by a bomb while on duty, Cory was left unable to speak and barely move. After dozens of surgeries, hours of grueling physical therapy today, Cory has relearned to talk, stand and walk. He still has trouble with his left side but he and his father were both present for the State of the Union address. His presence garnered an extended applause and standing ovation from the entire assembly. “Cory reminds us what is best about America,” the President said.

If you missed the State of the Union, we’ve compiled some of President Obama’s most compelling quotes from last night:

On Congress’s responsibility to the American public: “If our business is shutting down the Government or ruining the good faith and credit in America then we are not doing right by the American people.”

On creating a bi-partisan Federal budget: ‘The budget compromise should leave us freer to focus on creating new jobs, not creating new crisis.”

On American wages: “But Americans overwhelmingly agree that no one who works full time should ever have to raise a family in poverty.”

On American troops and military involvement abroad: “I will not mire our sons and daughters in open ended war entanglements. We must fight battles that need to be fought, but not those that terrorists prefer for us. America must move off it’s permanent war footing.”

Closing statement: “If we work together, if we summon what is best in us, with our feet planted firmly in today but our eyes cast towards tomorrow, I know it is within our reach.”

To see these quotes in context and to hear the President’s point by point plans for energy initiatives, healthcare progress and the path to comprehensive immigration reform you can watch the full State of the Union Address below:

What do you think of the State of the Union? Leave your opinion in the comments below. Remember to be respectful of those that disagree!

*Picture credit to WhiteHouse.Gov

Congress is Acting Like Toddlers At Daycare

Washington DC Presidential InaugurationWashington lawmakers have been acting like little kids at daycare, wanting to play with the same action figure. They each grab a side and pull and pull. First, they are stuck in a stalemate – nothing happens other than both sides get angrier and more committed to having their way. So they get nastier. Then one side pulls harder and the legs or the head come off – the toy is destroyed. Now, neither side wins. When each tried to get their own way, more was damaged in the process. Congress is acting like toddlers at a daycare.

In a battle of egos instead of a commitment to results, we regress to childish behaviors. We become the center of our world and stake our claim – we refuse to relate, share or yield. I understand why 2, 3 or 4 year olds may have this response, what I don’t understand is why our elected public officials (committed to service) act like this. If we are so proud of our form of government and insist that other countries adopt it, what lesson does this behavior show them? If we are that committed to living our values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, how does this response support this? The world sees us as acting like toddlers and justifying our childish behavior. Great lesson.

If we are truly committed to the same purpose – developing a country that lives its clearly stated core ideals – we are already all on the same side. We quickly unify when others threaten from the outside – we find our commonality and we unite. But when a challenge happens from within, we fall apart. We break into factions forgetting the value of every citizen. We see only our view. We want our way. We forget we are part of something larger. We forget that the goal of our society as created by our founding fathers is for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all of its citizens. Jacob Needleman shares in book, The American Soul – Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders, that the pursuit of happiness isn’t about the right to accumulate things, but rather for society to ensure the right of each of its citizens to be able to self-discover and live their intrinsic or God-given greatness – the ability to self-realize.

Religion, philosophy and science rarely agree. They do, however, agree in one specific area – that we are each created to be different, unique, amazing and great. Seeing each of us as great, valuable and important must be a critical understanding and belief of all public servants – to empower them to commit to the importance of the work of government to support a society that enables their people to be free to be all that they can be and one where everyone matters.

When we focus on our egos instead of on results, we inhibit our process of helping all of our citizens realize their greatness. We now think some are more great than others – more okay or more right than others. We create sides and insist on winners and losers. But in the analogy of the toy that gets destroyed by the fighting toddlers, we all lose when we can’t do something as fundamental as keep our government open to provide the services and functions it is responsible to do. The fact that either side could accept allowing it to shut down to get their way is akin to one of the toddlers destroying the toy just so the other toddler won’t be able to play with it – or anyone else for that matter. Congress – a day in daycare.

When we remove the ego – in life as well as in government – we allow for a focus on greatness – the greater purpose, good and view. We realize that to be a successful country, we have to work things out. We realize that collaboration and a commitment to a common purpose allows us to find solutions that evade those with an ego-driven mindset or agenda. By seeing each American as valuable, important and great, we can reframe our differences and focus on solutions that are not like Washington DC’s roads – gridlocked. In gridlock, nobody wins. No one gets their way. Nothing gets done. Instead, find the core commonality and build from there.

We own this mess because we voted these babies into office. With the vote to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling for a short time, we have been given another opportunity to show that when confronted with challenges, we don’t have to go to our Fox News and MSNBC corners and call each other names. Instead, we could look at the reason why we are here – to help everyone be all that they can be. That is what the pursuit of happiness really means – it is a call to step into our greatness. And our government has a hand in helping create a society that allows this to happen.

I can think of a perfect “time out” for this Congress – a permanent “time out” – a new Congress – one more committed to solutions, results and collaboration than egos, privilege and personal agendas.

Science reveals we are not all great at everything. That being said, we should therefore be more aware of electing to public office those whose natural abilities include negotiation, collaboration, empathy and innovation. Elect people whose passion is true service. Don’t let money elect, let ideas elect. Don’t let power elect, let solutions and effort elect.

Congress, grow up. Learn to share and you’ll still have a toy. Don’t learn to share and not only will you damage the toy, but you won’t be allowed back into daycare. The owners of the daycare have had enough of this behavior.

***

Jay Forte, a former financial executive, is now a business and motivational speaker, certified life and CEO coach, author, and nationally ranked Thought Leader. As President and Founder of TGZ Group, he and his team provide customized talent-based tools that power extraordinary living and exceptional organizational results.

 He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition and The Greatness Zone – Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform the World. He created the workplace Fire Up! Coaching model and the life Greatness Coaching model which he uses with national and international clients.

 An avid writer, gardener and chef, he lives in Ft Lauderdale, FL.

VOD: Congress Suspended Democracy So Only One Person Could Re-Open the Government

If you haven’t been following the news regularly about the government shutdown this is one story to which you should pay attention. Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-Md) stood on the House Floor and attempted a motion to re-open the government. What followed was the revelation that on Oct. 1 House Republicans quietly passed a resolution that changed the standing House Rules so that only Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor can make a motion to re-open the government.

You read that correctly. Eric Cantor (or his designee) is the only person that can start the process of re-opening the government. That means that even if the every other Republican and Democratic representative is in favor of re-opening the government but Eric Cantor does not make the motion, the government stays shut down. Even the most powerful Republican in Congress – Speaker of the House John Boehner – can’t make the motion to re-open the government without Eric Cantor’s permission. The power to turn on the services paid for by our tax dollars and return hundreds of thousands of government workers back to their jobs is in the hands of one person.

Does that have your attention now?

Watch the video of Chris Van Hollen’s parliamentary inquiries to see for yourself.

What are your feelings on the video? How does this gel with your definition of democracy? Tell us in the comments below. 

VOD: Stephen Colbert Marries Couple Whose Wedding Was Marred By Government Shutdown

When the government shutdown everyone was in outrage (as they should be) over the obvious programs that were closed – Meals on Wheels, Headstart – and the hundreds of thousands of government workers that were sent home with pay. As the days went on though, the less obvious consequences of the shutdown started to become apparent.

For many couples that had planned their weddings at national parks like Yosemite or the Grand Canyon they will have to postpone or make last minute (expensive) adjustments. That’s what happened to this couple, who were planning to get married this month at the Jefferson Memorial (the site of their first date, aw!) Luckily, comedian and Colbert Report host Stephen Colbert came to the rescue with the funds from Colbert Nation.

He flew out the wedding party (and a few other special guests!) and married them on the show! It was full of spoofs and laughs (check out the bride’s rather shiny bouquet). They may not have gotten the wedding they planned, but it is definitely one to remember!

What do you think of Stephen’s wedding gesture? Tell us in the comments below! And if you have a video of the day you’d like us to post let us know! 

Why National Politics Are Largely Irrelevant To Your Personal Reality

shutterstock_74345122By Dr. Kulkarni

With the recent government shutdown, dysfunctional Washington politics, and passionate opinions on both sides of the political aisle, I’m going to make a bold assertion: what happens in the political world will be largely irrelevant to your personal reality.

There.  I said it.  I know it’s almost blasphemy; we are taught that being politically involved is our civic duty.  That what happens in Washington affects all of us.  That this country is doomed if (fill-in-the-blank with the party you’ve decided is evil) takes control.  And finally, that it is simple common sense to make sure that that the particular party that doesn’t represent our self-interest is stopped.

I don’t disagree with some of these premises.  Obviously, policies on healthcare, the economy, energy, and the environment do affect our daily lives on some level.  I also think in order for a democracy to work (or, rather, a Republic, which is what the United States is), we must make our individual and collective voices heard.

But with those objections preemptively addressed, I’d like you to consider whether or not a Democrat or Republican in the White House is really going to dramatically alter your daily reality.  Have you ever seen a billionaire become poor because a Democrat is now in power?  Sorry to break it to you, but people that are successful and know how to attract wealth on a personal level will just continue to do so.  They will find creative outlets, lucrative business deals, cultivate meaningful relationships, execute on ideas, and utilize the best accountants and lawyers just as they did before.  Sure, they may be taxed more or be faced with greater regulations, but their individual point of attraction and their ability to attract abundance on a spiritual / energy level is something politics won’t change.

On the flip side, do you really think someone who currently lacks abundance is going to magically be catapulted and become wealthy, productive, inspired, and motivated because of a shift in power in Washington?  The truth is, only you, as an individual, are creating your own reality.  You have the power within YOU to create opportunity, motivation, abundance, love, and creativity regardless of the political climate.  And if those traits are blocked within the individual, a shift in political power isn’t really going to help.

Think about your own life:  if you’re reading this, you’ve probably been alive in periods when both a Democrat and a Republican have been in power.  Has the trajectory of your life really changed that much in either case?  Have your relationships, your passions, your inspirations, and your goals been significantly altered?  No Democrat or Republican politician can save you from yourself, or can shift your energy for you.

For all the angst and anger about our national politics and who wins, the truth is, it’s not really affecting your ability to create your own personal reality.  You can choose to be happy, healthy, and successful through your personal choices.  And it’s these choices that are the true, effective catalysts in creating the changes you seek and the life you want, not the speech that some guy in Washington gave on election night.

***

Dr. Kulkarni is a New York City based physician, spiritual author, and personal coach.  Find her @Dr_Kulkarni or visitwww.leveragingthought.com to learn more.

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3 Videos That Explain the Government Shutdown

Yesterday, after Congress failed to pass a new budget (or a continuing resolution to give them more time to work out a budget), the federal government was shutdown. But what does that mean? It means that government services deemed “non-eseential” were closed until Congress passes a bill to allow them to re-open and some 800,000 government employees are currently not working.

VlogBrother Hank Green (the other VlogBrother is NYT Bestelling author John Green) posted a video yesterday that more clearly explains what it means when your government shuts down, what services are effected, and the deeper root of this problem:

But why is the government shutting done? 

To answer that question we turn to Senator Elizabeth Warren (D)  from Massachusetts. On Monday, September 30, Senator Warren gave a speech on the Senate floor about her disbelief of the current situation. “[The shutdown] is a last gasp of hope for those that can’t deal with the reality of this democracy,” is a quote from Warren’s speech that you have probably seen plastered all over your Facebook pages. Senator Warren drops even more knowledge about the Tea Party contingent of the House of Representatives forcing this shut down as a way to gut the Affordable Care Act (better known as Obamacare) in the full version of the speech below:

Wait, this is about Obamacare? Didn’t the Supreme Court already say it was constitutional? 

They did. The Affordable Care Act has been through all the proper steps to become a law – passed by the House and Congress, singed by the President and declared constitutional by the Supreme Court. It has checked off all the verses in that infamous School of Rock video we all had to watch in Civics class. And Obamacare is exempt from the government shutdown so it still went into effect yesterday, October 1, making the entire situation even more infuriatingly pointless.

Sometimes the best thing to do is to make a joke when explaining the reality is too baffling. Jon Stewart may have made the best metaphor possible on Monday night’s “The Daily Show” with a new segment “Rockin’ Shutdown Eve.”

In essence, politicians are playing chicken with the paychecks of almost 1 million government workers at stake. They have suspended vital services to underprivileged children and the elderly to bargain for their ideological ideals rather than by their desire to do what is best for this country, and that is unacceptable.

Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, supporter of the Affordable Care Act or not, we can all agree that politicians need to stop holding America hostage for their own agendas – and that goes for both sides. We the people elected Congress to represent and work for us, and they need to do better. That’s really what you need to know about the government shutdown.

What do you think of the shutdown? Share your thoughts in the comments below! 

Openly Gay Politician Uses Tea-Party Dad in Awesome Campaign Ad

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There’s an adage that says, “parents just don’t understand” which openly gay Massachusetts lawmaker Carl M. Sciortino, Jr., who is running to replace now-Senator Ed Markey in next month’s state primary, is using to compel voters with is viral campaign ad.

“I’ll never forget that conversation with my dad when I had to come out and tell him…” Sciortino begins, and everyone thinks he’s going to say “that I was gay.” Instead, Sciortino throws a curveball and says, “that I was a Massachussetts liberal.” The rest of the ad cuts between the two recounting Sciortino’s increasingly liberal policies – from Wall Street and NRA regulation to equal rights initiatives.

It is touching though when Sciortino’s father begins lamenting over his son writing “The Buffer Zone” law – which protects women entering abortion clinics from harassment – but admits he’s proud his son got it all the way to the supreme court.

In the end it’s clear that neither will be giving in to the other’s political leanings, but the video ends with a Tea Party Republican saying he loves his openly gay liberal Democrat son. It just goes to show we can have different ideas and political ideals and still work together. Now if only Congress could make it work like these two.

What do you think of this campaign strategy? Share in your comments below! 

 

American Inequality: Who Is Subsidizing Our Lifestyle?

On the economic front, separate news stories are painting a disturbing picture of American inequality. The number of uninsured people has jumped from last year’s totals. The gap between the rich and poor has grown wider for 30 years (at current levels, the top fifth of earners takes home 50% of the money while the bottom fifth takes home 3%). Do you think of this being a fair country, a place where opportunity shines for everyone? Be prepared for a different reality. Among all Western industrialized countries, the U.S. stands last in income equality. England, the home of residual class antagonism going back for centuries, has leveled the playing field better than we have.

The problem is just that equality has become more like a myth than a fact. There are still many routes to upward mobility, and when one hears about the shrinking middle-class, it should be noted that a healthy percentage of that shrinkage was due to families climbing higher on the economic ladder (earning $75,000 or more) rather than sliding down. Yet the current recession has brought into stark relief an underlying flaw, not in American economics but in our consciousness. Money is creating a new, selfish class whose only interest seems to be in greed. The current Hollywood sequel to Wall Street brings back Gordon Gekko, an iconic figure from the go-go Eighties because of his maxim, "Greed is good." Gekko went to jail when greed took him too far. Now he has emerged from prison with a smirk on his face: Greed has become the new virtue in financial circles. It is no longer something to be ashamed of. You can drive the economy to ruin with insanely risky investments, get bailed out, and scamper down the road to make even more massive profits, some of them still based on too-high risk.

The ordinary person can’t stomach this, and the Tea Party is their enraged reaction. Anyone who is morally decent would have to share in the anger, but the Tea Party isn’t based on a drive for social and economic equality. Its toxic agenda is to push immigrants and the unemployed even lower. With sublime unreason we hear calls for lower taxes and an end to deficit spending, even though the two are exact opposites. If the Tea Party were swept into office tomorrow, the Republican Party would push for the overturning of Obama’s entire public policy, resulting in even greater inequality.

When you push greed, selfishness, rage, and crankiness out of the way, the future holds exactly what President Obama has been advocating; a more just society that can only solve the problems of debt and an aging population by raising taxes, lowering medical costs, and restructuring entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. The elderly are not immune to greed and selfishness, and many are reluctant to pay their fair share, even though most have the means. What could be more selfish than the now legendary cry of the senior citizen who yelled, "Keep the damn government out of my Medicare!"

What the greedy and well-to-do aren’t facing is their own flawed consciousness. The moneyed class is sitting on the sidelines, just as it did throughout the Great Depression, squeezing credit, refusing to invest, and demanding — with consummate gall — that the government should ask less of them in taxation. They refuse to face a stark fact: Their well-being and the general prosperity of this rich country is being subsidized. In his classic account of poverty in England during the Depression, The Road to Wigan Pier, George Orwell dourly noted that the smooth highways carrying cars across the land were built on the backs of coal miners — quite literally, in fact, since mine shafts often ran under the roads. He appealed to community and decency, to morality and empathy in the hope that England would become a fair state.

The same plea needs to be heard today, because your lifestyle and mine is being subsidized by immigrants working for low wages in order to keep prices down, while at the same time receiving marginal benefits from the state compared to the rest of us. We are subsidized by the uninsured, who never go to the doctor. We are being subsidized by a minimum wage too low to live on. We are subsidized by the unemployed who do without welfare support. Finally, we are being subsidized by the average worker, who became the most efficient producer in the world, only to see the corporation he worked for take that increased productivity, turning it into dividends and bonuses that would benefit stockholders, executives, and almost everyone but the workers themselves. The gap between rich and poor has resulted, to be blunt about it, because the wealth isn’t being shared. It’s being gobbled up by those who are already well off. There is much more to say about why a society cannot afford to subsidize the best-off at the expense of the worst. But at bottom, such a society can’t look itself in the mirror. We are getting perilously close to that point now.

 

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The Politics of Health Care: Why Republicans are Racists

Yesterday, while I was driving to work, I tuned in my radio to XM 156 and listened to a rebroadcast of the Gail King Show. She was talking, like all the pundits, about the Joe Wilson incident. Was it racially motivated, or was Wilson just the victim of passion? I was immediately interested in the debate.

Undoubtedly, there were callers who thought that Joe Wilson was a racist, a fact that was evidenced by his apparent lack of respect for the man who we now call the Commander-in-Chief. After all, had such an incident ever occurred, even during the Bush administration, when so many moderates and liberals were incensed by the "War on Terror?" Who would call out such a thing in such a formal setting without feeling as though he would have support?

Then someone called in; we’ll call her Mary, with a dissenting opinion. I was reminded of President Barack Obama’s historic speech on race as she spoke. I was about to hear her truth – the truth of a Republican. It was a teachable moment.

Historically, she said, White Americans were the Americans with wealth and power. Conversely, Blacks and other minorities were impoverished and relatively powerless. As she and other republicans saw it, the health care plan and other reforms that President Obama was proposing required money. Where would it come from? Not from the least among us, but from the ones with the most: White Americans. In other words, the tax increases for those making more than $250,000 would likely never impact Blacks and other minorities. It appeared to republicans that this Black president was like a modern day Robin Hood – stealing from the rich (White Americans) and giving to his people (poor and minorities). From their vantage point, this was not only unfair, but a type of reverse discrimination. This, she stated, was the undercurrent of the debate. This was the reason that people were so incensed. It wasn’t simply that republicans didn’t like Obama because he was Black – they didn’t like Obama’s policies because he was Black.

 Huh?

Exactly. Because President Obama is Black, because his people had been historically marginalized, he was more likely to support a progressive agenda, which effectively penalized White people.

I had an “aha” moment. This may have occurred to everyone else, but it had never occurred to me.

Mary went on to say that she was an attorney. She had come from a poor background and was the only one of her siblings to ever graduate college. She made a decent living, but she was not rich. President Obama, however, thought so. Mary and her family would meet the $250,000 threshold and would be taxed. So, for Mary, just as she was beginning to build wealth, President Obama was taking it away from her to benefit people who had not done what Mary had – go against all odds to succeed.

This is why, she summarized, there were signs at republican rallies like: "Bury Obamacare with Kennedy." This is why President Obama was being compared to Hitler. This was the underlying reason why Republicans could see no good in the congressional proposals on healthcare.

As a progressive, I acknowledge that this is an important point of view. As a Black American, who has done as Mary has and stretched to make a better life for myself, I can understand her frustrations. Yet, I still believe that if my family made $250,000 or more, I would be willing to be taxed so that families that were less fortunate than mine could have the benefit of healthcare. I believe that it is an abomination to let people die because they can’t pay — to turn a blind eye to the plight of others. That all sounds good. But, I am not Mary and I do not make $250,000 per year.

I now believe that we cannot pursue the dangerous course of "us" vs. "them." Compassionates vs.The Heartless. We simply have different points of view.

My question is this: why haven’t we heard this before? Why can’t we really get down to the heart of the issue? Why can’t we find some common ground? My sincerest hope and prayer is that we will, for the sake of everyone – including Mary.

 

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