Tag Archives: Leadership

Hero of the Week Award: October 12, Barbara Doherty

12 Oct

Hero of the Week

It takes great courage and conviction to stand up to the misbehavior of a major national figure. It takes great strength to rise above personal tragedy to stand up for what is right. This week TSM is proud to honor a woman who did both, thus earning her HWA.

Barbara Doherty’s son Glen was a Navy SEAL, one of four Americans killed in the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. She and her family were understandably proud of his service and grieving his loss. They issued a brief statement for the press and then tried to find a private space for their grief. Enter Mitt Romney.

Not content with his outright lies and opportunism on the day of the attacks, Mitt decided to exploit Glen Doherty’s death all over again. The Romneybot met the SEAL at a Christmas party. After Doherty’s death, the soulless candidate started dropping his name in campaign speeches in a “heroes I have known” sort of speech. Barbara Doherty would have none of it and demanded that Mendacious Mitt stop using her son to attack the President he was proud to serve.

I don’t trust Romney. He shouldn’t make my son’s death part of his political agenda. It’s wrong to use these brave young men, who wanted freedom for all, to degrade Obama.

Bravo, Ms. Doherty! Thank you for standing up to power and demanding justice. Even better, the story has a happy ending. Apparently the Romney campaign had a shame circuit installed in their candidate (after the debate…) He has agreed not to refer to Glen Doherty in any future campaign activities. Score one for human decency.

Hero of the Week Award: September 28, French President François Hollande

28 Sep

Hero of the Week

What a delight to celebrate a world leader taking a strong international stand for basic human rights. French President François Hollande made an historic speech at the United Nations this week. Using his own nation as an example, he discussed the obligation of leaders to fight for universal human rights and freedoms.

France will continue to engage in all these struggles: for the abolition of the death penalty, for women’s rights to equality and dignity, for the universal decriminalization of homosexuality, which should not be recognised as a crime but, on the contrary, recognized as a sexual orientation.

All member countries have the obligation to guarantee the security of their citizens, and if one nation adheres to this obligation, it is then imperative that we, the United Nations, facilitate the necessary means to make that guarantee. These are the issues that France will lead and defend in the United Nations. I say this with seriousness. When there is paralysis… and inaction, then injustice and intolerance can find their place.

Well said, Mr. President! How nice to see that France replaced Sarkozy with someone truly presidential. Let’s hope American voters are smart enough not to do the opposite this November.

Honorable mention this week goes to two women who shared their personal struggles to help improve the lives of thousands. Katie Couric revealed her youthful battle with bulimia in an interview. A few days later, Lady Gaga expanded on her Born This Way foundation to include victims of poor body image, discussing her battles with anorexia and bulimia because she “felt like a freak.” Let’s hope that the courage and leadership they have shown help remove stigma and move the dialog forward productively.

Mitt Romney: Around the World in 80 Gaffes

2 Aug

One of the nicer things said about this trip…

GOP Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney wrapped up his three-nation overseas tour, demonstrating his usual diplomacy, tact, planning, and magical power to reinvent reality with every third sentence. After a disastrous visit to England and a speech in Israel that was elitist, anti-Semitic and racist all at once, Romney managed to avoid any major missteps during his brief stay in Poland. Well, except for the trip’s press secretary, Rick Gorka, telling a reporter “Kiss my ass — this is a holy site.” Now that’s a sentence you don’t hear every day! The most likely explanation for Romney himself not adding to #romneyshambles in Poland is that he is completely devoid of humor, thus being unable to tell any Polish jokes…

How did the Romney campaign respond to the rampant criticism of the trip? With an etch-a-sketch, a pointing finger, and what can only be called Bain logic of course! When asked about his famous line comparing Israel with Palestine — “culture makes all the difference” — good ol’ Mitt had this to say:

[I] did not speak about the Palestinian culture or the decisions made in their economy. That is an interesting topic that perhaps can deserve scholarly analysis but I actually didn’t address that. I certainly don’t intend to address that during my campaign.

Oh but you did, Mitt, you did. Just like your pro-choice, pro-gay, and pro-healthcare stands of yore, it’s a matter of record. Even your robotic arms can’t shake the world hard enough to make the facts disappear.  So of course he resorts to a new tactic: the problem lies not in our Mitt, but in our press.

I realize that there will be some in the Fourth Estate, or whichever estate, who are far more interested in finding something to write about that is unrelated to the economy, to geopolitics, to the threat of war, to the reality of conflict in Afghanistan today, to a nuclearization of Iran. They’ll instead try and find anything else to divert from the fact that these last four years have been tough years for our country.

Um, Mitt, if you’re going to use “fourth estate” just use it. Don’t dither. And by the way, you haven’t addressed one single item on that list in your campaign either. You’ve nuked your primary opponents and tried to make people focus on the President, boldly ignoring the Republican administration whose mistakes he’s trying to fix and the Republicans in Congress who have spent “these last four years” obstructing progress for political gain. It’s the job of the press to tell us what a Presidential candidate is up to, just like it’s your job to convince America that you’re viable. So far, only one of you is doing your job.

But the trip was a success! So says Romney strategist Stuart Stevens, calling the least successful trip across Europe since Napoleon visited Russia “a great success, generally.” Wow! Now those are some inspiring words. Stevens also noted that Romney had answered “a lot of questions.” Well, to be fair, three questions outside 10 Downing Street is more than he’s answered clearly about his taxes or his time at Bain, but objectively it isn’t “a lot.”

Sadly, even the Republicans can’t spin gold out of this heap of bull-Mitt. Trying to put a brave face on it, party strategists and political consultants have come up with things like:

  • The question always is if you had to do all over again and get the exact same results, would you do it again? Well, in this case, no. But it’s not that big of a deal.
  • It comes under the heading “seemed like a good idea at the time.”
  • What they didn’t anticipate was how hot the media glare was going to be. They wanted to go over there and not make any news and they ended up making some.

Oh, poor Mitt! With friends like these, who needs an opposing political party. Of course the Democrats have assembled this handy clip reel so Mitt can remember his lovely trip. The more time Romney spends in front of the cameras, the clearer it becomes why the RNC doesn’t want W at the convention. The two are geting pretty hard to tell apart.

Mitt Romney: Mishegas in Israel

31 Jul

Magic Kippah?

Romney’s tour around the world is not turning out quite the way he had hoped.  Sadly, every time he opens his mouth he shows what a real shmegegge he is. His tour of the Olympics left many around the world skeptical of his ability to be an effective world leader.  Romney is not reducing that skepticism with his racist comments in Israel.

At a fundraiser in Jerusalem, he slipped into his rich-is-better routine and added a nice helping of ethnic slur.

Culture makes all the difference. And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things. As you come here and you see the G.D.P. per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000, and compare that with the G.D.P. per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality.

Demonstrating a sense of world history and political realities that matches his compassion for the Middle Class, Romney overlooked the many factors involved in that discrepancy. (He also managed to overlook facts again, getting his figures wrong…)  Accusing Palestinians of somehow being innately inferior, not only smacks of blatant racism, but is also exceedingly insulting to Jews.  Has Romney no sense of history? No sense of form or timing? Jews know first hand what it feels like to be “othered” and made to be subhuman, and thus typically have great compassion for those who are marginalized in the same fashion. Of course, why should Mitt stand for civil rights abroad when he actively denies civil rights to Americans who can’t afford health care, to American women, to the entire American LGBTQ community?   Since our Mitt drank the “Tea” he seems to be spreading his hate and bigotry all over the world — proving he is NOT material for a world leader.

Startled by the outcry, including charges of racism from Palestinian and Israeli authorities and a charge of anti-Semitism from a prominent Rabbi, the Romney campaign went back on the defensive. Their excuses? First, that somehow a direct quote “mischaracterized” his comments. Second that what poor ol’ Mitt said was fine because he also compared the U.S. to Mexico and Chile to Ecuador. Really? This is the only defense his campaign can manage? “Look folks, he really is not that bad and at least he is just as bad in the United States!” Things aren’t looking up for that Latin American tour…

Real Leadership Pays Real Dividends

30 May

It has been nearly a month since President Obama announced his support for marriage equality but the ripples are still being felt. Opposition to civil equality for LGBT Americans has hit an all-time low, with 53% supporting marriage and only 39% opposing it. Even with the extraordinary exposure that this supposedly controversial topic has received, people are moving in the direction of fairness.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the African American community, as shown in recent polls. Nationally, their support of equality jumped from 41% to 59%. In Maryland, where voters will be asked to weigh in on a marriage referendum in November, numbers look good. This is largely because of a complete swing in African American support, going from 36% to 55% in the past month. Even in North Carolina, where marriage equality was just defeated, black opposition dropped eleven points since the President’s announcement.

The recent burst of support from African American leaders and celebrities on the heels of the President clearly has had an beneficial impact. The NAACP, Julian Bond, Colin Powell, Jay-Z, and Chris Rock all announced their support. This visible shift in the black community has made it easier for voters to be comfortable with expressing support. Melissa Michelson, a political science professor at Menlo College in California, says blacks are more likely to confront the issue simply because of the esteem they hold for Obama.

It says, “If Obama can be for gay marriage, I can be for it too.” It’s now a safer position to vocalize. We would hypothesize that it would increase support because now the environment has changed.

That’s what leadership can do. As this article points out, Obama has in fact been more supportive of the LGBT community than any prior President. As frustrating as his occasional reticence can be, his actions speak loudly. When his words join those actions, the nation follows.

Happy Birthday, Dr. King: Welcome to 2012.

15 Jan

Happy Birthday, Dr. King

While the national holiday is not until tomorrow, I thought it would be nice to recognize Dr. King’s actual birthday.   In 1994, President Clinton signed legislation – put forward by Sen. Harris Wofford (D,PA) and Rep. John Lewis (D, GA) – which transformed the decade-old holiday. The goal was to challenge Americans to use the day for citizen action and volunteer service. As noted on the official site for the day, “It calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems.”

Lest we forget, however, one of our Presidential Candidates, Ron Paul said about MLK Day:

Boy, it sure burns me to have a national holiday for Martin Luther King. I voted against this outrage time and time again as a Congressman. What an infamy that Ronald Reagan approved it! We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey Day.

Talk about blatant racism and white privilege at work.  Shame on you, Ron Paul!  Shall we also look at the racist and privileged comments from GOP Presidential contender, Newt Gingrich:

The fact is if I become your nominee we will make the key test very simple — food stamps versus paychecks. Obama is the best food stamp president in American history.  More people are on food stamps today because of Obama’s policies than ever in history. I would like to be the best paycheck president in American history.

Now there’s no neighborhood I know of in America where if you went around and asked people, would you rather your children had food stamps or paychecks, you wouldn’t end up with a majority saying they’d rather have a paycheck.

And so I’m prepared, if the NAACP invites me, I’ll go to their convention and talk about why the African American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps. And I’ll go to them and explain a brand new social security opportunity for young people, which would be particularly good for African American males because they are the group that gets the smallest return on social security because they have the shortest life span.

Wow!  Where do I even start to deconstruct the racism here?  God forbid we address the system that keeps a marginalized population from accessing resources and just address food stamps.  I also just love it when a white hetero millionaire has the chutzpah to tell black folk what they need and what they need to do.

Let us move on to multi-millionaire (Mormon) Mitt Romney.  The Mormons did say it was okay for black folk to be included in 1978–how white of them! Rather than let the man’s faith define him, however, let us listen to Romney’s words:

You strengthen the American people by securing our borders and by insisting that the children who come legally to this land are taught in English.

These men say they want to lead our country. It is clear that they want to be the President of the white, the powerful, the privileged. Anyone who falls outside that power structure must be doing something wrong and doesn’t deserve their aid or support until they can emulate privilege. How sad that nearly 50 years after Dr. King told the nation that he had a dream, one party’s choice for leaders would transform that dream into an archaic nightmare.

Let us celebrate Dr. King and his legacy today. Let us celebrate the brave and wise people who helped build a foundation so that dream could become a reality: Bayard Rustin, Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks, John Lewis. Let us take the challenge of civic engagement embedded in this holiday. But certainly, let us not offer our highest office to those who would ignore this legacy, this hard work, and would rather see a nation of growing divide, where their own power is extended while millions suffer.

I shall leave you with a small excerpt from Letter from a Birmingham Jail:

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

 I love this excerpt because it applies to all marginalized populations outside of the dominant white heterosexual power structure.  Our task, our duty is to enfranchise ALL.  Happy Birthday, Dr. King.
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