Category Archives: character

Above Reproach

Christie Press CongerenceThis past Thursday, in addressing a scandal in his administration, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie conducted himself in a way I’d like to see emulated by every government official. Not surprisingly, political pundits are weighing in with their views on various ramifications of this crisis. The impact of this on Christie’s potential 2016 run for U.S. President seems to be chief among these observations. I believe it’s thanks to this mentality, fomented by the press and how this influences government officials (especially the elected ones), that forthright behavior, like this example of Governor Christie’s, has become so rare in our public office holders.

A little over six years ago, in an article entitled Honest Politician , I discussed the sad reality that this term, Honest Politician, is accepted as an oxymoron in America. This is a key reason why, since that time, I’ve chosen to withdraw from my once fairly active role in politics. However, that decision was based on what I saw happening throughout the political spectrum, not just at the national level. In fact, the “straws that broke the camels back” in my case came more from experiences in local politics. And, to a great degree, they involved individuals I’ve supported, who I thought were well aligned with my views. It’s not that I expected perfection from these individuals but I did expect that, when blunders were made, they would own up to them. Sadly, what I saw were some really bone-headed decisions being made and these were accompanied by a complete unwillingness to admit to any errors in judgment. Added to this was the disappointment of seeing those with whom I’d placed my trust being willing to associate with anyone who could offer them some political advantage, no matter how despicable the ally is otherwise. Frankly, I just got to a point where I could no longer stomach having any part in this.

So, maybe American politicians are getting what they deserve with “Honest Politician” being accepted as an oxymoron. But, what about the American public, are we getting what we deserve? I have to say, “I think so.” One of the most recent glaring examples of this was having President Obama repeatedly state, “We will keep this promise to the American people. If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your healthcare plan, you will be able to keep your healthcare plan. Period.” He, clearly, knew this wasn’t true every time he said it and yet he hasn’t owned up to that. Furthermore, he’s taken no corrective action regarding the circumstances that led him to do something so foolish and harmful to so many. I’ve been encouraged that, in response to this, according to recent CNN/ORC polling, a growing majority of Americans are finding President Obama to not be trustworthy or honest. But, let’s not forget, it hasn’t been that long since we twice-elected an adulterous Presidential Candidate who dodged the culpability of his philandering by questioning the meaning of what the word “is” is. And yet, instead of mocking and rejection, many still regard him as a heroic figure.

If we are getting what we deserve in this regard, I say, “It doesn’t have to remain that way.” When you think about it, we’re actually getting what we are letting ourselves deserve. So, I say, “Let’s change that!” Let’s stop putting up with American politicians dodging the truth by letting them debate what the meaning of the word “is” is. Let’s stop accepting allegory, as an excuse for not being genuine. And, by all means, let’s continue to express skepticism with things that don’t seem credible. But, shouldn’t we, at least, allow the possibility of an American politician saying what they mean and meaning what they say? If we don’t, what is their incentive to do so? Moreover, shouldn’t we be demanding this of our politicians instead of just accepting that, in our nation, “Honest Politician” is an oxymoron? By doing so, I think we end up deserving better and thus, getting better. So, whether or not you endorse any other thing about Chris Christie, I say it’s to our benefit to laud him for his courageous handling of the current scandalous crisis in his administration.

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Play Mean but Play Clean

dick-butkus-coverWhat comes to mind for you when you hear the name Dick Butkus? Immediately, I think along the lines of the caption on this Sports Illustrated cover … “Dick Butkus of the Bears – The most feared man in the game (NFL Football)”. No doubt, many others (especially those of my generation) share that same first thought. And, there’s ample justification for that line of thinking. The 6 ft 3 in, 245 lb Butkus, was known as one of the most feared and intimidating linebackers during his nine years as a player for the Chicago Bears.

Next, you may think of Dick Butkus as a celebrity endorser and actor. That’s my next thought too. And, here too, there’s plenty of good reason for thinking that way. The “most feared man in the game” persona of this Pro Football Hall of Fame member has been very effective in promoting brand names, from his Miller Lite commercials with Bubba Smith  to his “I’m sorry, Dick Butkus” spots for FedEx. And, Butkus has had numerous roles on TV and in the movies. He was even the namesake for Rocky’s English Mastiff, in both the Rocky and Rocky II movies.

So, if you met him today, wouldn’t you expect to meet a somewhat older version of the Dick Butkus you’ve come to know about over the years? That is, an imposing figure who still lives in his hometown, Chicago, whose time is mostly spent enjoying the leisure activities of retirement, along with some dabbling in the worlds of sports and entertainment. That’s what I thought when my Wife, Ruth and I had the pleasure of meeting him recently at a MarriageTeam Tailgate Party & Auction. I will say that the qualities I expected to find in his makeup all seemed to be present and undiminished. However, I also got to start becoming acquainted with some dimensions of the man that were a pleasant surprise. One of these is a campaign he started, called Play Clean™. It’s a program that encourages teens to “train hard, eat well, and play with attitude”, instead of resorting to illegal steroids. His willingness to take this stand against steroids caused USA Today to comment that Butkus may have a greater impact on the game in his 60s (now 70s) than he did playing in his 20s. Continue reading

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Filed under character, commitment, community, Culture, entertainment, faith, Family, ideals, Love, Making a Difference, Marriage, society, Sports, Substance Abuse, values

American Heroes and Idols

AROD

The kickoff of the NFL’s 2013 Regular Season was this past Thursday, September 5th. So, the enthusiasm of NFL fanatics for their idols is in full ramp-up mode. That fervor will reach a crescendo with Super Bowl XLVIII. Although I’m an MLB fan and not an NFL fan, there’s a part of me that has looked forward to this, to help take the spotlight off of the disgusting circumstances surrounding the MLB’s highest-paid player, Alex Rodriguez.

There’s no denying that Rodriguez is greatly gifted with baseball talent, talent that makes him more than qualified to be a sports hero. And, having sports heroes can be a good thing. My baseball hero, growing up, was Mickey Mantle. Of course, when I criticize Rodriquez as compared to Mantle, as a sports hero, others consistently bring up Mantle’s alcoholism. However, that was not commonly known during the Mick’s playing days and it had nothing to do with his reputation as a sports hero. He was looked to, as a role model, for the way he played the game on the field and nothing else. On the other hand, AROD’s off-the-field misbehavior is well-known. Sort of belying the present uproar, his use of steroids has been common knowledge for sometime. And then there’s his infidelity, leading to divorce, followed by serial womanizing. To me, it’s disturbing enough that, with these things out in the open, he has continued to be looked upon as a sports hero. What I find more disturbing is that he has been idolized for these very behaviors.

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Purple Mountain Travesty

Often, Baby Boomers, like me, are heard lamenting about things that aren’t “like they were when we were growing up.” These complaints can come off as one wishing to relive their childhood. In some instances, that, in fact, may be the case. In this instance, my grief is over losing a foundational quality to the greatness of American culture, a quality that drew our predecessors to this land in the first place. The following brief piece, presented by Bret Baier and Peter Boyer, of Fox News, is a good way to set the stage for what I want to address in this article:

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Filed under Big Government, character, charity, community, Culture, economy, Family, ideals, society, values

The Biggest Casualty, So Far, Of A Nation Divided Against Itself – General Motors

Lunatic Foreign Terrorists Brought Down The WTCTwinTowers

 

– GM’s Collapse Is A Fully-Domestic Self-Inflicted Wound

My first visit to New York City’s World Trade Center was in 1979. The company I worked for, at that time, had a branch office on the ground floor of one of the buildings in the WTC complex so I was there on business. A few years later, in the mid-80s, I was there on business again. The company I was working for then held a fiscal-year-end celebration dinner at Windows on the World (aka Windows), the renowned restaurant that occupied the 106th and 107th floors of the North Tower. And, while on vacation in the early-90s, I got to visit Top of the World, the observation deck at 1,377 feet, atop the South Tower. What a blessing it was to have those experiences! And what magnificent structures they were! Literally and figuratively, they were a high point, symbolizing the great strength of American Capitalism. With their magnificence, it was well beyond my imagination that on a beautiful September day in 2001 a small band of maniacs, who hated everything the Twin Towers stood for, would bring them down, along with nearly 3,000 lives. Those who were responsible for that were identified, though. Many have been brought to justice and we continue to pursue justice for all who were responsible.

When I was born, General Motors was the world’s largest automaker. At that point, it had held that distinction for 17 years and it would continue to do so for the next 60 years. What New York City’s World Trade Center symbolized about the great strength of American Capitalism, Detroit City’s General Motors was, in fact. As I completed my formal education in the 50s and 60s, the optimum target for anyone with a business career in mind was a job with GM. And, as I carried out my business life, starting in the 70s and continuing into the new millennium, GM continued to serve as the standard metaphor of the ideal employer/business-partner. Considering that, in the heyday of my working life, General Motors reached its zenith, employing 349,000 workers in 150 assembly plants; you can understand that it was well beyond my imagination that on the first day in June, nearly 101 years after its founding, the once seemingly all powerful industrial giant known as General Motors would announce its bankruptcy. Unlike the disintegration of the WTC Twin Towers, the colossal collapse of GM wasn’t the result of foreign terrorists; it was the result of domestic ineptitude on the part of our Captains of Industry, our Wizards of Wall Street, our Labor Leaders and Politicians of all stripes. While Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is having his nasal passages regularly hydrated, Osama Bin Laden is living like a mountain goat and their compatriots are ducking real bullets; the dim-wits responsible for GM’s fall are shooting blanks at each other with their pointed fingers.

What’s needed here is for all of us, including the above-mentioned dim-wits, to draw together and do what President George Bush said he was going to do in the midst of the WTC ruble. Whether or not you were/are a GWB fan, his words from that time serve as a great example for the appropriate response to today’s disaster. The paraphrase I’d use is … “We hear you! And the rest of the world will hear all of us soon!” It was that attitude, not an attitude of Reds just opposing everything Blues are in favor of and vice-versa, that made America and American Capitalism so great in the first place. Some call it synergy … the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. My favorite label for it is the one that goes back to the founding of our country … Yankee Ingenuity.That’s the attitude that made it possible for us to accomplish things like winning a two-front world war. At the center of that successful effort was American Industry and an industrial giant named General Motors. If we truly want to regain the greatness our nation has known, we must rediscover that attitude and fully embrace it. That will require all of us and the leaders we choose, to stop the finger pointing and actually consistently extend our hands “across the aisle” instead of just paying lip service to that need.

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