Sunday, September 14, 2008

the Election is Getting Rough... in America, eh!

The election process in the USA is starting to heat up... I am fairly certain my position is well known... if John McCain is elected I will sell the Florida home, and leave America for the last time... I don't believe he will win and I am hoping that Obama won't do anything to loose it.

I have been getting right wing drivel for the past few weeks, and it is getting more rife with inaccuracies and panic. I have no argument with the right to opinions, but I do have gas when it is clear that the material sent is inaccurate and sometimes intended to maim the person or party it is aimed at... examples are well known and came in the last election against John Kerry, from the Swift Boat people of the far right.

This past week, a very good friend wrote me and several others of his network and attached an attack on Obama. While Jim was not taking the position of the attachment, and claims he is not a far right zealot... one of his friends, Susan responded to Jim in the following manner... this is not apparently pasted in stuff... she wrote this like she meant it... some things to think about, whether we take extreme positions, or have to accept friends who do.

Nice material Sue...

Oh, Jim --

You're so pathetic and I'm so sick of all this tripe you regurgitate (nothing personal, of course!!). So let me try to voice just
a few of my frustrations! I don't mean to talk down to you but there's so much hypocrisy in the Palin pick, it's maddening!!!

If you're a minority and you're selected for a job over more qualified candidates you're a "token hire."
If you're a conservative and you're selected for a job over more qualified candidates you're a "game changer."

Black teen pregnancies? A "crisis" in black America.
White teen pregnancies? A "blessed event."

If you grow up in Hawaii you're "exotic."
Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, you're the quintessential "American story."

Similarly, if you name you kid Barack you're "unpatriotic."
Name your kid Track, you're "colorful."

If you're a Democrat and you make a VP pick without fully vetting the individual you're "reckless."
A Republican who doesn't fully vet is a "maverick."

If you spend 3 years as a community organizer growing your organization from a staff of 1 to 13 and your budget from $70,000 to $400,000, then become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new African Amerian voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, then spend nearly 8 more years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, becoming chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, then spend nearly 4 years in the United States Senate representi
ng a state of nearly 13 million people, sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you are woefully inexperienced.

If you spend 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with fewer than 7,000 people, then spend 20 months as the governor of a state with 650,000 people, then you've got the most executive experience of anyone on either ticket, are the Commander in Chief of the Alaska military and are well qualified to lead the nation should you be called upon to do so because your state is the closest state to Russia.

If you are a Democratic male candidate who is popular with millions of people you are an "arrogant celebrity".
If you are a popular Republican female candidate you are "energizing the base".

If you are a younger male candidate who thinks for himself and makes his own decisions you are "presumptuous".
If you are an older male candidate who makes last minute decisions you refuse to explain, you are a "shoot from the hip" maverick.

If you are a candidate with a Harvard law degree you are "an elitist-out of touch" with the real America.
if you are a legacy (dad and granddad were admirals) graduate of Anapolis, with multiple disciplinary infractions you are a hero.

If you manage a multi-million dollar nationwide campaign, you are an "empty suit".
If you are a part tim
e mayor of a town of 7000 people, you are an "experienced executive".

If you go to a south side Chicago church, your beliefs are "extremist".
If you believe in creationism and don't believe global warming is man made, you are "strongly principled".

If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a Christian.
If you have been married to the same woman with whom you've been wed to for 19 years and raising 2 beautiful daughters with, you're "risky".

If you're a black single mother of 4 who waits for 22 hours after her water breaks to seek medical attention, you're an irresponsible parent, endangering the life of your unborn child.
But if you're a white married mother who waits 22 hours, you're spunky.

If you're a 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton, the right-wing press calls you "First dog."
If you're a 17-year old pregnant unwed daughter of a Republican, the right-wing press calls you "beautiful" and "courageous."

If you kill an endangered species, you're an excellent hunter.
If you have an abortion your not a christian, you're a murderer (forget about if it happen while being date raped.)

If you teach abstinence only in sex education, you get teen parents.
If you teach responsible age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Edith's Birthday...

This is Edith, my Mother, on her 83 birthday. That is Lynnda to the right, and
Leigh Ann Hyndman, my first cousin on the left.
We had a great time with Mom at her apartment... she had enough cake

(two of them)

to keep us full; lots of flowers; and we finally burned those twisted tower candles
which Mother bought over forty years ago, and didn't want to ruin by burning them!

Mother has had her health problems of late, but it was amazing to see her rise above them and have a good time with us, and the many drop-in visitors, phone calls and cards.
It is an amazing experience to learn from a parent
late in their life... about dignity; about love; about how we should
live, even at the end of life.

I have to admit that I thought I understood life until spending all this time
with Mother. I would recommend everyone participating very closely in the late life
care of parents. Don't leave it to others.
It is the most important time we can spend with parents... at the start of life, we have sixty or more years to spend with children/parents. At the end, we have no time to make up for not being there at the end.

Mother has added so much to Harold's and my life, and that of everyone
who is touched by her... by letting us help diring these tough times.
Love ya Mom

Benny Is Adjusting To Monogamy...

This is Benny. We recently had to separate him and his brother,
The Jettz
when they started fighting to the point of potentially injuring each other.
After a few weeks of playing Mr. Lonely, Benny has
started to live his own life.
We have found a lot of comfort in his independence as we have been dealing with
my Mother's health issues. It is fun to come home to a greeting
from a cat that wants to play with toys, and demand attention
rather than have us focus on trouble in Truro.

Say hey to Benny by clicking on his picture.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Leadership and Vision for America...

Recently, one of my valued friends asked me why I have made up my mind on Obama. I decided to try and express it as follows with this edited version... I hope he won't mind my sharing this with my blog friends...

When I think of leadership, I think of vision... the way things could be, as much as should be. Great leaders like Reagan, Gorbachev, Trudeau, King, Kennedy, Churchill, Roosevelt, Lincoln, Franklin and so on, were visionaries. When I think of what we need in the world today, it is more great visionaries.

When I think of management on the other hand, one of the things I also think about is 'watching my six'... to the past so there can be 'incremental improvement' in the future. The problem I have with some of the Presidents and Prime Ministers in the past is that they thought of themselves as managers. Sometimes, even those who thought of themselves as great managers were terrible, even at that relatively easy task... Bush, Mulroney, Eden, Buchanan, and so many others. And almost always they are also terrible visionaries.

It is interesting that those with great visions, that became great, seem to be the ones that also understand how important it is to hire the great managers (secretaries of state, treasury, and commerce; chiefs of staffs; ministers of finance, defense and environment), challenge them with visions, and let them accomplish goals.

It is also interesting that some visionaries are not necessarily apparent before they burst onto the scene... Trudeau, Churchill, and Lincoln to mention a few. And in each case, their past was not vetted with a flea comb... because they were visionaries, often counter to the status quo, and that was enough to give them a chance in times when their respective countries were in deep problems.

I didn't go for Obama easily... frankly, I wanted to see Hillary Clinton become America's Iron Lady, a la Margaret Thatcher. I thought that her contacts internationally, and in the senate would allow her to manage the world scene well, and get the country headed to the center and forward; out of the funk it finds itself in, so far, this century. With time however, I began to realize that she is not a visionary... even her healthcare program was a mish-mash.

I began thinking about a concern that even most Americans don't know where they need to go... I am not even certain we know where we are... and that somehow we need to find a new True North. That to me means a compete make-over, based on our country's constitutions and the accomplishments of past visionaries... but with new visions.

I remembered how challenged I was by Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention four years ago... he really made me think, and I said to myself, WOW, this guy has a different view of America and the world... and therefore a different vision, one we may want to get behind... some day...

So, I recently, very recently, started listening to him. I find that he has an expansive vision! Great visions not only for America, but also for the world with America as a partner in it. I find that he realizes that there needs to be changes to the way we all think... the vertical hierarchy that is getting us into trouble as we grow in world population to >6 Billion souls no longer will sustain the world order, in peace.

I believe that if our children and grand children are to survive with a semblance of what we have been allowed, from a material point of view... we have to change our ways in the world, because the world is going to change with, or without us. Our leader in America needs a new vision of how to lead America in the new world order... one that allows us to benefit from our great past, yet adjust to the new realities. The alternatives probably look like Greece, Rome, Austria...

So, after he beat Hillary, I looked at his campaign... the managers who figured out how to beat Hillary in the caucus states; to raise untold monies from the grass-roots; communicate with young people; and so on... all through technology that I don't begin to understand... with managers that he had the good vision to hire.

He has traits of leadership that may need to be developed, maybe also nourished by us. He has understood that he needs people at his side who will facilitate his fast-track education as did Bill Clinton on some issues. The major challenges can be helped out with people... like Biden, who can introduce him to the people in the world who can make the decisions we need them to make, for peace sake, and ensure they stick. Like Richardson who can help him with energy and the environment; and like Clinton who can help him survive the torrent of hate and attacks that will come from the right.

I also like the fact that he is very smart... you don't get to edit the Harvard Law Review by being fifth last in your Annapolis Class. As a minority I think he broke through one very thick glass ceiling with that honor from Harvard. I think he has good moral fiber in having a strong wife; in supporting his Mother and Grand Parents; in working in the Chicago housing projects when he could have worked on Madison Avenue; in experimenting with and rejecting drugs and violence. I think he is an achiever, and one who knows where he is going, how to get there... and probably where to go after that...

I look at the personal attacks on him for his youth (he is only 47) and experience and voting record in the Senate... and I say to myself that he was brilliant for not having voted on many of the inconsequential decisions in the Senate... he needed to learn the ropes, so why vote when you don't understand the options well enough... I am happier knowing that he didn't vote based on party dogma. Sometimes not doing something is far better than making major mistakes. Has he made mistakes? Of course he has... I didn't like the way he handled his minister's outbursts; or even his long stay in his church congregation without pushing for changes. But I do like that he is able to be philosophical when he errs... like he will in the future.

I think about the fear that republicans seem to have when they think of someone who really has the cohunes to stand and fight for the middle class. Someone who understands that trickle-down economics may be the reason we are Ten Trillion Dollars in debt as a nation and another Fifteen Trillion Dollars in debt when you add in the unsecured credit card chits we have. We have become so fixated on material things that we can't see the future... the past is with us as long as we keep looking back (we have to fix it, but it will take a new vision of the future to make up for the past, not more of the same)!

I like that he understands where we are in our economy, has the fortitude to admit where we are, and the smarts to find people to get our feet firmly back under us so we can get traction into the future.

I like his position on energy and the environment. I see him thinking that overcoming their problematic situations through challenging the country as others have... to fess-up to our problems, understand them, and overcome them... like Roosevelt with the Manhatten Project; Kennedy with the Moon Mission; Churchill with the Never Give Up Ideal; Ghandi, King and Mandela with peaceful resistance and so on... not by looking back and ruminating on what we have done wrong and who's to blame.

These are the reasons that I like Obama... but I won't vote in the USA, so it is unimportant... I will vote in Canada in the October 14th, 2008 election. I have already started to write in my blog ( ) about the way I will make my decision here. I am not supposed to vote in both countries (only the one where we are resident six months and a day) so I will not abuse the privilege we have of dual citizenship.

It is interesting however to understand that it is generally thought in Canada that the Prime Minister has decided to go to the polls now, before the USA ballots are counted, because it is generally expected that Obama will prevail, and that would doom the right-wing Canadian Conservative Party were they to wait until next year to call the election... our Prime Minister has had his wagon hitched so close to Bush's 'Elephant in a China Shop' Wagon that when it lifts it's tail... well, you understand.

Soooo my friend, while I think there will be politics as usual in the Obama camp, in order to battle the inevitable attacks and resistance to change... it will be the first steps to where we need to go. That's what I think, and why I have made up my mind... even though I need to do more to make up my mind, here. I hope there will be a landslide of optimism toward a visionary... and if another one appears... let it be... we need more vision...
we need to go deep and wide!

Warm wishes and continued friendship

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Canada... how we elect our national governments

First a little background, since many readers are not Canadian. Then I will get to an issue...

The Parliament of Canada is the legislative branch of the government. It is made up of three branches...

The Sovereign which is the Governor General who is the representative of the Queen of England. This is largely a ceremonial branch, but when the government wants to call an election, it becomes the conduit for 'permission' to dissolve so that a new one can be elected. I don't know my history well enough to state whether permission has ever been withheld, I doubt it... but perhaps this week (if the Prime Minister (PM) asks to dissolve the government in order to have a new election) it could happen, since there is a new law on the books which was intended to ensure that the elections of governments occurred every four years. The current government has been in place only three years, and for political or other unknown reasons, the PM wants an early election... perhaps the Governor General sh/could refuse, and ask the opposition to form a government.

Then there is the House of Parliament which is made up of two branches called the Upper and Lower House. The Upper House is the Senate. It is made up of senators who are appointed to their position and are permanent members. It is again, largely ceremonial. It has the responsibility of approving legislation passed by the Lower House, prior to it being made into law. The Senate has the potential to be a powerful institution by the constitution, but because it is named by the Lower House and is made up of little more than political hacks who have no real interest in working, it is unlikely it would ever challenge the Lower (elected) house.

The Lower House is called The House of Commons... it is made up of 309 elected members who represent several different 'parties' that hold a range of political positions from the liberal left through conservative right. These members, once elected, form the government when a party has the majority of seats in the House of Commons... they name the 'Ministers of the various portfolios (finance, state, defense, environment, etc.) and the Prime Minister who becomes the leading representative of the country for both diplomatic and political purposes. The Prime Minister is the political leader of his/her party... but is not, and this is important, in an elected postion of prime minister. I recognize that this is a nuance, but I think we should be more considerate of this issue as we enter the coming election on October 14th, 2008.

The reason I am bringing up the issue of how we elect our government is that when we vote for the 309 parliamentarians we should be carefully looking at the personal qualities of the local parliamentarian; the platform of the parties that they represent; the traits of government that is presently in power; the personal traits of the leaders that could become the prime minister; and so on. I also suggest that the various parties be pushed to indicate ahead of time who they would instal as the ministers of each portfolio were the party to form the government.

Unfortunately, and partly because we are so close geographically to the republic formation of government in the USA, we have trended to focusing almost exclusively on the primary leadership of each party... as if s/he were the President of Canada (which definitely s/he is not, even though they at times act as if they are). Since Pierre Trudeau, we have been electing a prime minister, rather than a governing party. We don't seem to look at platforms and demand to know how national issues will be legislated. We don't get a chance to understand how the federal parliament will interface with the provincial legislatures in order to round out the lives of the citizens across the country.

One of the key issues we should have a better way of vetting through our vote is who will be the afor mentioned portfolio ministers. When the election is called, how do we know what the talent base is of each party, other than their leader, to run the country. The party that wins the election gets to name the ministers without oversight... as a result we get foreign ministers who have no experience internationally; defense ministers with no military background; environment ministers who have no understanding of the dynamics of the environment; and perhaps people in portfolio positions with much lower ethical standards than that of the majority of the country... Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maxime Bernier was a recent example of this.

Understanding the ministry talent pool is something we should all be able to vote on, not just the Prime Minister. Since it is not something that is vetted through the election, it should be considered part of the Third Estate's investigators (news reporters) responsibilities to point out what we should expect were we to elect each party.

I am very uncomfortable for example with the Conservative Party's platform, but I am impressed with the current Minister of Finance Jim Flaharty. I am interested in the platform of the Liberal Party and the NDP Party, however, I have no idea who would become the Minister of Finance were I to vote for those parties, and were they to form the government. I believe this is a critical issue... as much as who would be the Prime Minister. For example, when Jean Cretian and Brian Mulroney were Prime Ministers during a period of expansion of the economy and the reduction of the national debt, it was the direction of the Ministers of Finance in each administration who led the way to prosperity... in the same way as Jim Flaharty is now... who will be that financial leader, were we to elect a liberal government in October?

These positions, ministers of portfolios of the state are critical to getting the will of the people implemented in parliamentary systems. Without leadership these areas of government are run by the bureaucrats, most of whom are political appointees at best, and career protectors of their pensions at worst. They do not do the work of the people based on elected policy, they do what will keep them in their jobs. They wield tremendous power, because the ministers of these portfolios do not know anything about them... this because we don't ensure that we elect members of parliament based on not only platform, but leadership potential in every ministerial position, including but not limited to, the Prime Minister.

I would ask the questions of the news reporters, so that they will be motivated to check on the issue. Remember that we may want better environmental protection as perhaps represented by the Liberal or NDP parties... but if they then screw up finance or defense, we are out of the fat, and into the fire!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Give a Man a Hammar...

... and everything becomes a nail.

Give a man cancer, and every pain becomes a tumor...

I have been thinking about this little analogy for some time... it is really one of the legacies of having had cancer... it seems like the next shoe is about to drop.

There are answers to the dilemma of getting through cancer... you never get over it, at least I haven't been able to in the years since it first challenged me. I am encouraged however, by the actions of the Nova Scotia government.

Yesterday, I had another PET/CT scan. The Positron Emission Tomography Scan with a Computed Tomography Xray Scan (aka CAT or CT Scan) allows us to see any cancerous activity in the body. It is exceptionally accurate and uses a radio-active tag on a sugar molecule that is absorbed by cancerous tissue to produce an image of the body from about the knees to the top of the head. It is used to evaluate cancers and to look for metastasizes in cancer patients. Basically cancer cells have an affinity to glucose, and takes up the radio-active material... after being injected, you wait in a lead lined room for about an hour for it to circulate and be 'taken-up' by any cancer cells.

Then the radiation that is concentrated in tumours is read by the PET scanner, and a CT scan is taken to allow a 3D rendering of where a tumour is situated in the body. The physician can then (if there appears to be a tumour) biopsy it, excise it or radiate / apply chemo therapy as treatments.

I had a PET scan in Halifax yesterday as a part of my follow-up. I had one at the University of Arkansas two years ago after all of my treatments. I was very impressed by the process in Halifax... the staff were very efficient, the facility was first rate... and now I wait. While I am confident, one needs to understand the opening lines of this post in order to appreciate what it is like to have the need for a PET scan. Certainly if there is cancer, it is critical to get to it early.

Congratulations to the Nova Scotia Government for getting this tool (at the expense of several million dollars, and not available in most areas of Canada and much of the rest of the world.


My photo

Grad. Saint Mary's University, 1975, got into the medical device business initially in sales, then various management positions up to president, all in Medical Devices. I prefer therapy products over diagnostic, but they are all fun, and in a way have defined my life. I have now evolved, with help from my 35 year partner Lynnda with whom I now share every hour. I am into staying healthy, photography, kayaking, bicycling, gardening and two books a week. I wish I had gotten to this stage earlier!