Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Taking Stock

All that really belongs to us is time; even he who has nothing else has that.
--Baltasar Gracian

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

Happy Anniversary!

"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."
--Sam Levinson

Not quite a lifetime, but far enough along to hope for, and still look forward to what lies ahead: My Bride and I are marking 30-years today (12/28) of sharing the same name, tastes, kids and in-laws. In all honesty, I can say I would not be here today without her.

They say that behind every successful man is a woman. True enough, but she’s a good woman, long-suffering, forgiving, and yet, just enough of a princess to demand—and receive—the best you have to give. That's my girl.

Women drive men crazy—but even more important, they drive us to perfection. Because when we’re making them happy first, the rest of your life falls into place rather nicely. If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy…but when Mama is, things are grand.

Thanks to my Bride for 30 grand-years, and if the Lord wills, 30-more together!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Flawed Thinking

Our heroes are people and people are flawed.
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

What Health Care Reform and Media Mergers Have in Common

Here is an interesting little factoid you're not hearing much about in the wake of the announced merger of NBC and Comcast. According to Mike Flyyn, Editor-in-Chief at Breitbart, just one day after the two media giants announced their deal, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts is throwing his support behind the Senate Democrats’ health care reform bill.

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?"

Change, indeed.

Monday, December 07, 2009

All the News That's Left to Print...

"I mentioned that I was in Asia on this trip thinking about the economy, when I sat down for a round of interviews. Not one of them asked me about Asia. Not one of them asked me about the economy. I was asked several times about had I read Sarah Palin's book. (Laughter.) True. But it's an indication of how our political debate doesn't match up with what we need to do and where we need to go."

-- 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

Mayors and Men

Two major news-making presentations last night--there was the Presidential Address at West Point...and there was a live debate of the Mayoral Run-off Candidates here in Houston. Which of these two events will have more impact on your everyday life in Houston?

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:
1.) Why would we telegraph to the Enemy what we're about to do?
2.) Why would we provide a date on which our forces would begin to withdraw from that region?

In war, surprise is a weapon.
So now the enemy knows another 30-thousand US troops are headed for their neighborhood. How long do you think it's going to take the bad guys to call their friends for reinforcements to meet this new surge?

And now that July 2011 has been identified as the beginning of the endpoint of our involvement in Afghanistan, what's to keep the bad guys from planning to hunker-down and just wait us out?

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.
Yes, it's that simple.

I rebuke pacifist, isolationist Democrats who are regarding Mr. Obama as a traitor to their cause; I rebuke Republicans for chastising the President for taking this long to reach a conclusion about the Afghanistan War and make a decsion on what to do. You people (Congress) voted unanimously to chase the bad guys down. Back the man, and back the plan, and get over yourselves.

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.