Wednesday, December 30, 2009
This is the time of the year when we traditionally take stock of how far we've come in the past 12-months, assess our current status, and begin to look forward at what the New Year can bring.
Not what it will bring...
Not what it may bring...
What the New Year can bring.
Many of you will be making New Year's resolutions: resolving to do something different; resolving to make something better; resolving to change course or take a different tack.
All well and good and worthy excercises--but be realistic in your consideration of how you fared in 2009, and what your expectations should be for 2010.
I've heard many comments about being glad when 2009 is put behind us, that it was a horrible year, that this was the worst decade, and of fears of what the "oughts" might portend for the decade that is to follow. That kind of thinking is foolish and short-sighted.
Unless you're taking a dirt-nap, 2009 was a good year for all of us. Even if you lost a job, lost a friend, lost a mate, lost a parent, lost a child--all horrible and traumatic events in anyone's life--there is a net effect from having gone through that experience that is a postive: You survived it.
Even if the outcome wasn't what you wanted or expected, the fact that you got through the experience can be viewed as a benefit--if you learned from it, were strengthed by the adversity, or at the very least, now can count that event as part of your experiential data base.
Do not disdain 2009; do not fear 2010. Embrace the old year as a plateau from which to launch yourself to higher highs in the new year. And cherish the truth that even if you lost it all in 2009...if you haven't reached room-temperature, there's time enough in 2010 to git 'er done.
Monday, December 28, 2009
"Love at first sight is easy to understand; it's when two people have been looking at each other for a lifetime that it becomes a miracle."
Friday, December 11, 2009
Don't let that taint the thing you love.
--Randy K. Milholland
Many of us struggle daily to make sense of the senselessness that we see all around us: sports icons whose lives are falling apart…show business stars whose limelight has been soured by scandal…public officials’ violation of the trusts bestowed upon them by their constituents…and the mindless and mind-numbing antics foisted upon us by our government. It is easy to become discouraged.
When you begin to doubt yourself—
When you catch yourself in an honest mistake—
When you say things to others that you shouldn’t or wouldn’t with a moment-more of reflection…
…remember you’re only human…and so are those whom we have elevated to star status, placed upon pedestals, or looked up to for leadership.
When we stumble, when we fail, when we fall down…the best thing we can do is get back up, dust ourselves off, and try again. Supplant your disappointment with a desire to continue to achieve, and replace the taste of failure—yours or others’—with the joy of trying and doing and succeeding in the things that matter most to you.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Why is this significant? Could it be because Comcast has about 100,000 employees? Gotta bet health care costs already have a big impact on that balance sheet. Is Roberts’ letter to the president in support of the Democrats’ policy the best, first action to take in the year-long regulatory review process?
Here's why this matters:
This is a very public stance on an issue "with absolutely no relevance to the vast intricacies of the merger, but a move that sets a new standard for blatant pandering aimed at a group of people for whom pandering is the new coin of the realm," according to Flynn's editorial this morning. I think he's spot-on. And Roberts isn't the only CEO apparently greasing the skids for the uber-merger:
Recall that congressional Democrats are strongly opposed to further consolidation in the media sector. Roberts must also be aware that the Obama Administration has expressed its intent to fight large scale mergers that would concentrate power over television, cable and the internet in a few huge companies.
GE CEO Jeff Immelt has also been among Mr. Obama’s biggest corporate cheerleaders. Why? Flynn speculates it could be an eagerness to see more government help in the credit realm--which would vastly benefit GE Capital--and to continue those generous government handouts for wind turbines in which GE is heavily invested.
Mr. Immelt has already pledged his support for Obamacare, and if the NBC/Comcast marriage is consumated, GE stands to win a huge influx of cash.
The Obamian administration has made clear its desire to limit consolidation, to demand internet transparency, to fight cross-ownership of media outlets, and to “reinvigorate” anti-trust enforcement they claim was ignored by the Bush White House.
Flynn notes that "if you are about to march into the lion’s den it makes perfect sense to toss a side of beef in beforehand. The White House has shown itself willing to sell out to any special interest willing to help them slather lipstick on the health “reform” pig which would impact one sixth of the nation’s economy."
They're calling this a "high-profile test case." The test may not be whether laws or regulations exist that stand in the way of the Comcast-NBC deal. Rather, the litmus paper will reveal how the Obamian administration and Senate Democrats handle the investigation and scrutiny of this transaction; the results could reveal just how much political pandering can buy you under Washington’s current power structure.
It's not the first time this has been tried. This is not news. What you need to be paying attention to is that this administration promised to be different--change we could believe in, especially in their level of integrity and transparency.
So far, sanctimony has outrun reality.
Will Roberts' and Immelt's tactics result in smooth sailing for the NBC/Comcast deal? Are Democrats going to unleash the scathing attacks you would expect were they still in the minority?
Mike Flynn wonders aloud, correctly, whether they will "stand up for their (misguided, anti-free market, pro-government control) principles or will they sell out cheap, like they have on cap and trade, health care, Afghanistan and other issues... when the special interests come calling with an offer of friendship?"
Monday, December 07, 2009
-- President Barak Obama, quoted by Time, about the American television network correspondents who interviewed him while in Asia.
Whether you like or agree with President Obama, the President is correct on this point. The mainstream news media seems to be intent of focusing public attention away from the issues of the day that matter most--how the economy is faring, how a cap and trade carbon tax would affect the cost of goods and materials you use every day, what the real outcome of nationalized healthcare insurance would look like--and instead would rather devote "breaking news" headlines to how many women a pro-golfer has allegedely slept with, how some attention-hungry couple managed to crash a State Dinner at the White House, or in the case of the President, whether or not he had read Sarah Palin's latest book.
True Journalism in America is circling the drain as newspapers fold, and Congress actually considers spending tax dollars to bail out failed business plans that refuse to recognize fundamental changes in how news and entertainment content is accessed by the public. Ellen Goodman over the weekend correctly noted that as newsrooms shrink or disappear altogether, so do the checkers of facts that are printed or presented to the public.
"All the news that's fit to print" has been replaced by "all the news we can get our hands on, whether it's accurate or not," because websites now must find ever-changing content to populate their pages for "stickiness," lest they lose "clicks" and ad revenue.
On Friday it was announced that some Editors for The Dallas Morning News will be reporting directly to executives outside the newsroom who oversee advertising sales, a move described as "a restructuring that overturns longstanding traditions in American newspapers aimed at shielding news judgments from business concerns."
While many in the news business are raising hue and cry at this tearing down of the Chinese wall between editorial and sales operations, this trend has been more discretely taking place for years at Radio stations and Television stations across our fruited plains.
Lest I come off sounding like some old crank, unhappy with the forward march of progress--I am not: I embrace true progress--I am very concerned that the pablum that passes for news these days is just watered down tabloid tackiness, designed more to attract your eyes and ears for a moment, rather than engage your brain.
It's a sad commentary when Saturday Night Live and Jon Stewart do a better job at getting the facts of a story straight for the purpose spoofing and lampooning the principals involved, than do the major "news gathering" organizations...hampered in part by budget cutbacks, or closures because all the news thats fit to print isn't affordable--or necessarily factual--anymore.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
If you watched the Mayoral Debate, I am curious to know your impressions and what you perceive to be the outcome; was your decision changed or reinforced ahead of the election this month?
The other news-worthy event was President Obama's address from West Point, in which the Commander-in-Chief outlined the American Plan for the campaign in Afghanistan. Two questions emerged in my mind as I listened and reviewed the President's comments:
In war, surprise is a weapon.
I applaud the President for making a hard decision to support the war effort. The battles are being fought in Afghanistan so that the bad guys don't come here.
As Mr. Obama correctly stated last night, the world in which we live and operate is an inter-connected one, and the United States' interests are served by having an impact in that corner of the world. Doing nothing is not a viable option.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Our crack team of Researchers has been toiling through the holiday weekend with a list of possible alternatives--an alphabet soup of acronyms--including:
NUTS: National Union of Transition Society
PECANs: People for the Ethical Conversion of American Norms
CASHEW: Community Association of Home Equity Welfare
GOOBER: Government Organization of Basic Economic Realists
GONADS: General Order of National Advocates for Disentangling Society
Note: None of these suggestions are intended for the "thin-skinned."
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
So what was Theobald doing running loose in Houston this weekend? Here's a flawed member of society that has been convicted repeatedly for burglary, theft, forgery, and assaults, according to a story in this morning's Houston Chronicle. I'd like to know which judge thought it was a good idea for George Theobald to be released early--or had he escaped? I'd like to know which judge or jury thought that after being a repeat offender since the 80's, a 7-month sentence in July would be just the medicine he needed to turn his life around.
You're going to hear arguments from State Correctional officials, grasping at straws to answer these questions. They're going to tell you that because of prison over crowding, time off for "good behavior" behind bars, and a warped sense of "time credited" from the first day of Theobald's arrest for his latest offense, it seemed only fair to release him back into society.
Those arguments won't wash with Brenda Romano's widower. Those arguments will ring hollow in the ears of Brenda Romano's daughter, who's dealing with a broken leg and a broken heart. Arguments based on credited time and good behavior cannot salve the sadness of Romano's 14-year old grandaughter, who witnessed the entire altercation.
You're going to hear criticisms of Romano for placing more value on her damaged vehicle than on her life, by stepping between the Range Rover and her truck. Such choices should not have to be made; law abiding citizens should not have to worry whether the next person who dings their car in a parking lot is an incurable criminal or just a crummy driver.
Being sent to jail should be a deterrent to crime, and a public safety element that protects the citizenry against scum like Theobald--not a short respite between crime sprees.
Because of lenient state policy, a petty thief was on the loose in Houston this weekend...and a loving wife, mother, and grandmother is dead.
Monday, November 09, 2009
While my Bride met with doctors, I sat in the waiting room of a automobile service department as the Clanton Conestoga underwent diagnostics for what would emerge as a dead cell in the battery.
Sitting in the waiting room like some kind of interloper, eavesdropping on the comments and conversations amongst the citizenry as they continued to react and respond to the shootings at nearby Ft. Hood.
We’ve all done this, haven’t we? In a restaurant, unable to ignore the words of the loudmouth in the booth behind you…at a football game, becoming more intrigued by the inebriated goof in the next row than what’s happening on the gridiron.
Friday afternoon was expended watching the cable news fed into the waiting room—some of the live-shots originating a few blocks away, from the front door of Scott & White—and listening to the color-commentary of the locals.
And colorful it was:
“I’d shoot him on the spot,” said one older observer, of the suspected gunman.
“Put him on trial, then shoot him,” echoed another.
Those were the kinder remarks.
A buddy of mine was also at Scott & White on Friday, tending to his ailing mother, and also listening to the pulse of the hospital staff. He posted a message over the weekend: “...having breakfast at Shipleys and it is so quiet. Normally you hear joking and the usual sounds of people eating and conversing. All you hear this morning is the occasional bell ring at the drive-up window. No one talking, just reading the paper and speaking in low voices.”
You’ve already seen examples of the fabric of the Bell County communities that will sustain these people through this tragedy: Love and compassion for one another.
Even the shooter.
I find it amazing that everyone is so amazed at the selfless sacrifices that have already been shown at Ft. Hood and the surrounding communities.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone:
That’s why it’s called “being in The Service.”
Friday, November 06, 2009
Remember those school visitation days, when your parents would come to see your classroom and meet with your teacher? …and they always talked about You.
If you had a few challenges, well you probably dreaded those days.
Imagine going to the same school where your parent was a Principal? That was my father’s desire—he was an Assistant Principal at Memorial High school for many years, and to simplify our home schedules, Dad wanted my brothers and sister and I to all attend that school. (He was responsible for many of the extra-curricular activities at Memorial—had to be at the football games, keeping tabs on the thugs, etc.)
That did not sound like a great proposition to me.
Could’ve been worse: Imagine if your Dad was The President of the United States…and you dragged home a D on Test!
According to The Caucus Blog, President Obama marked the first anniversary of his election this week by asking states to toughen education standards – and wound up calling on parents to toughen theirs, too, revealing that one of the First Kids, 11-year-old Malia, recently got a 73 on her science test.
The President wants to retool “No Child Left Behind,’ and promote his own education agenda, “Race to the Top,’’ – a $4.35 billion grant program that requires states to compete for education money.
Towards the end of his speech, the President went off the page from his prepared text to talk about Malia Obama’s experience in school – a rarity for a president who has tried his best to keep his children’s lives a private matter.
Apparently, Malia, who is a sixth-grader, had come home with a 73 on her science test recently. A couple of years ago, she had come home with a grade in the 80s, believing that she had "done pretty well.’’ The POTUS and the FLOTUS corrected the FKOTUS, telling her that their goal was “90 percent and up.’’
According to the Caucus Blog, the President commented, “So here’s the interesting thing: she started internalizing that…’’ and when Malia came home with a 73 on the science test, “she was depressed.’’ When The First Dad asked what happened, the First Kid said the study guide didn’t match up with the test. So she vowed to study harder.
(Note to parents: Malia did indeed hit the books and came home with a grade of 95.)
The President revealed Malia later remarked, “You know , I just like having knowledge.”
The moral of the story, in the president’s view: “Don’t just expect teachers to set a high bar. You’ve got to set a high bar.”
And Mr. Obama is correct.
Yes, we pay taxes to fund schools to provide education for our kids…but their performance in school is most dependant upon our expectations at home, and our suport of those expectations. There is a direct correlation between your involvement in your child’s school and the education they are receiving, and the level of success and achievement that results.
I would hate to be a school-aged kid with a father who happens to be the POTUS. Dates would not be fun. Just a little different pressure there…it was bad enough for my teachers to know my Dad was a high school principal in the same district. But there never was a doubt about what was expected of us in school at home. That’s where education begins, and it’s the anchor your kid must have in order to learn and accel.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Sunday, October 04, 2009
I posted Michael Moore’s piece, “For Those of You on Your Way to Church This Morning…” on my FB page as an example of his kind of twisted logic that I find patently offensive.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
This is like asking Roman Polanski to redefine “decency.”
This is like asking Brett Favre to redefine “retirement.”
This is like asking Bill Clinton to redefine “is.”
(Sorry, Bubba, you earned that one for life.)
According to a story published in the Financial Times Online this morning, these two partners in thugdom attended a weekend summit for for African and South American leaders on the Venezuelan island of Margarita, where they signed a document rejecting attempts to link terrorism to "the legitimate struggle of the people for liberty and self-determination,” and called for an international conference to establish a new definition for the concept of terrorism."
Is this so the terror training camps in the middle east with have a clearer idea of their purpose? Is this so wannabe jihadists will be able to sharpen their skills with a better-defined goal in mind?
Remember, Wacky Gaddafi last week referred to the U.N. Security Council as the “Terror Council” at the UN General Assembly.
Let’s keep it classy, Tripoli.
Sr. Chávez managed to dampen the mood during the summit when one of his henchmen, er…ministers said that Iran was helping Venezuela in the detection and testing of uranium deposits in remote areas near the Brazilian border. Another henchman, er…minister subsequently denied that this was the case, stating that Venezuela was only working with Russia to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
That’s a marriage made in what ring of Dante’s inferno?
Gaddafi and Chávez now want to establish a South Atlantic Treaty Organization to rival NATO. Perhaps their redefinition of terrorism will include their own brand of SATO-masochism.
The really sad thing is, were these two clowns the characters in a American Prime-time TV show, it would be classified as a comedic farce.
“We are changing history, we are standing up to imperialism, to the bourgeoisie and backwardness, to 500 years of colonialism that has assaulted our people,” the FT quoted Chávez.
Then he gave Gaddafi a sword, and Gaddafi gave Chavez a hand-made set of silver armor.
So much for moving past the backwardness…
Here, mister Uberthug, let me help you with that Coat of Mail.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Zazi allegedly bought hair care and beauty products containing peroxide and acetone, and boiled the contents down to concentrate their chemical components in order to manufacture an explosive device.
Let’s see—we already cannot get on an airplane without a virtual strip search and partially-disrobing…you can’t go to a freaking high school football game without being scrutinized by the local constabulary like you’re some kind of axe murderer.
Now, with the arrest of Najibulla Zazi, I predict the grooming standards in America will begin to fall. No longer will we feel safe to browse the beauty and hair care aisle without looking over our shoulder. And now that products containing peroxide and acetone are sure to be put on some kind of list of items restricted for sale, thus becoming more difficult to obtain, beauty shops and barber shops are going to be shuttered across the land, and we’ll all look like wooly-mammoths by next Spring.
Maybe this is part of a larger plot to help radical Jihadists blend-in with our population: They all look unkempt…and now, we the people will look unkempt…how will you tell us apart?
Monday, September 21, 2009
What’s most ironic: News of this next potential business bailout comes after the President’s record round of Sunday News Show visits yesterday...and a much-heralded appearance tonight with David Letterman.
According to a piece in The Hill.com, Mr. Obama is now open to a newspaper bailout bill, saying he’d be "happy to look at" bills before Congress that would give struggling news organizations tax breaks if they were to restructure as nonprofit businesses. Which is a pretty interesting concept, because, if the news organizations’ balance sheets are to be believed, many of them already are non-profit organiztions, bleeding money and mostly red ink.
Repeating the mistake does not mean the outcome will be different. And isn’t that the definition of insanity?
Thursday, September 17, 2009
--Martin Luther King Jr
Dr. King's comments make up an interesting, chiasmic thought, which should not be mis-interpreted to mean that the radicals are always right…nor that conservatives are constantly wrong. And that’s the rub—the ability to know where things stand is the challenge of life.
I received a phone call yesterday from Jon Friedman at CBS MarketWatch who is working on a story that will be published tomorrow about “How the Media should be covering the “Race Question” in light of recent episodes…like the Joe Wilson outburst during the President’s recent address to Congress…the Serena Williams meltdown last weekend, etc. Then you’ve got the remarks by former President Jimmy Carter, suggesting that Wilson’s outburst was an indication of racism against President Obama.
I agree with Mr. Carter that comments about “burying Obama with Kennedy,” and shouting “you lie” during a congressional address should have no place in public discourse. Disrespecting the President of the United States in this way is a waste of time and energy, and demeans the American people on the public stage.
And on this thought, consider—where was the outrage, where was the indignance when former President George Bush was being pilloried in public by cartoonists and people with rough manners?
Is there a level of racism behind the vitriol being hurled at President Obama?
Certainly there is.
Was Racism the motivation behind Joe Wilson’s bad behavior?
Ask the Representative; I don’t think that it was.
Was Serena Williams being racist in verbally abusing an Asian line judge?
Hardly. She was just being a bully, and bullies come in all sizes and colors.
Here’s a question I’ve heard no one else raise: Was Kanye West’s regrettable interruption of Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the MTV Video awards racially-motivated? Their skin colors are not the same. So why didn’t we hear howls of “racism” screamed from the rooftops after that fiasco?
Reverse discrimination comes to mind, until you consider what an assinine, oxymoronic word pairing that is: Reverse discrimination is still discrimination. It’s like differentiating between murder and a “hate crime:” the victim is still dead. Does that kind of killing make the victim more-dead because it was a hate crime?
Doesn’t the commission of murder pre-suppose hatred?
Here is what I told Jon Friedman: The Racism component of these stories is a smoke screen; the race angle is a cop-out for lazy reporters and copy writers seeking to fill space and increase consumption of their content, whether in the papers, on TV, or on line. It’s sensationalism with the worst timing, because it refracts our focus on the real issues: Healthcare insurance reform, economic recovery, domestic and foreign policy review.
Is there racial discrimination in the way healthcare is being distributed in America?
Do some Americans still harbor racist proclivities that color their judgement (pardon the pun)? I believe there are some who still do…and it’s wrong headed, counter-productive, and continues to sow seeds of hatred for which we the people have no time or energy.
Joe Wilson’s rudeness was bad behavior regardless of skin color. Serena Williams’ brutish behavior was unsportsmanlike for anyone from any corner of the planet. Kanye West’ interruption was boorish to the nth-degree.
Skin color had nothing to do with the primary problem in any of these examples, and trying to inject the Racism element into the controversy only clouds the issue.
America has a sad history of allowing such prejudices to distract us from the most-pressing issues at hand, and only by opening our eyes, and our hearts, and recognizing this flaw in our character can we confront racism.
Only when we purge the element of racism from the process will we be able to effectively consider the problems that are affecting all of us--regardless of the color of our skin, or the direction of our leaning.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
- To get a good job, get a good education.
- You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.
- A good education is a responsibility of citizenship in America; if you quit on school, you’re quitting on your Country.
- Set your goals: whatever you resolve to do, commit to it.
- Being successful is not easy—there are no guarantees. People succeed because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and the curiosity and passion to learn something new.
- Don't ever give up on yourself…when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.
Monday, September 07, 2009
Text of President Obama's school speech
The President: Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.
I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.
I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.
Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, "This is no picnic for me either, buster."
So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year.
Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.
I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn.
I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.
I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.
‘Put in the hard work’
But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.
And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.
Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.
Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.
And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.
'We need every single one of you'
And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.
You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.
We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.
Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.
I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.
So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.
‘I got a lot of second chances’
But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.
Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.
But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.
Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.
That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.
Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.
I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall.
‘They refused to give up’
And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.
Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.
That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.
Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.
I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.
‘Being successful is hard’
But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.
That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.
No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.
‘Don't ever give up on yourself’
And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.
The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.
It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.
So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?
Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Here’s the lead-sentence from a Houston Chronicle story about President Barak Obama’s scheduled speech to school kids next week: “Some Texas parents are asking school principals to excuse their children from listening to a speech that President Obama will make to schools next week on the grounds that it smacks of political indoctrination.”
Thursday, August 27, 2009
What a foolish nation we must appear to be to the outsiders on this planet. Not long after the death of elder statesman Ted Kennedy, a champion of the underdogs in society, and promoter of healthcare as a national right, proponents of Obamacare dared suggest Congress pass “Kennedy-care” Legislation as a tribute to the late senator.