Saturday, May 31, 2008

excerpt from "The Audacity of Hope"

".... Each day, it seems, thousands of Americans are going about their daily rounds - dropping off the kids at school, driving to the office, flying to a business meeting, shopping at the mall, trying to stay on their diets - and coming to the realization that something is missing. They are deciding that their work, their possessions, their diversion, their sheer busyness are not enough. They want a sense of purpose, a narrative arc to their lives, something that will relieve a chronic loneliness or lift them above the exhausting, relentless toll of daily life. They need an assurance that somebody out there cares about them, is listening to them - that they are not just destined to travel down a long highway toward nothingness."
from The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Is Obama anti-semitic ?

Thank you for sending me the link to the article that contained the quote, that on its face, calls into the question Sen. Obama's position and his attitude towards Israel.

After reading the entire article, it is very clear that Sen. Obama is (or wishes to appear) to be a strong support of Israel and her security. He states in the same article, "I think that the idea of secure Jewish state is a fundamentally just idea, and a necessary idea, given not only world history but the active existence of anti-Semitism, the potential vulnerability that the Jewish people could still experience." He continues on the same subject by stating, "But the fundamental premise of Israel and the need to preserve a Jewish state that is secure is, I think, a just idea and one that should be supported here in the United States and around the world." It seems clear that one can definitively conclude if only from this article that Sen. Obama supports the state of Israel and understands that it is surrounded by hostile enemies and terrorist organizations. In regards to Hamas, in this article Sen. Obama states, "My position on Hamas is indistinguishable from the position of Hillary Clinton or John McCain. I said they are a terrorist organization and I've repeatedly condemned them. I've repeatedly said, and I mean what I say: since they are a terrorist organization, we should not be dealing with them until they recognize Israel, renounce terrorism, and abide by previous agreements." Until I read that, I was under the impression that Sen. Obama did not object to pre-conditions to meeting with Hamas. I seem to have obtained an incorrect impression of his position - possibly shaped by the media. It is clear that Sen. Obama does support pre-conditions to a dialogue with Hamas, the same pre-conditions articulated by our current Secretary of State Connie Rice.

Regarding the quote..... standing alone without any context it is upsetting and provocative. In the article the quote is followed by this sentence: "The lack of a resolution to this problem provides an excuse for anti-American militant jihadists to engage in inexcusable actions, and so we have a national-security interest in solving this, and I also believe that Israel has a security interest in solving this because I believe that the status quo is unsustainable." The quote is in regards to the Israeli policy on settlements. To take the quote and apply it to Israel's security or right of existence is totally out of context and a dishonest interpretation of the quote. Sen. Obama was calling into question Israeli settlement policy and its need for re-examination and negotiation. The settlement policy is a 'constant wound.... this constant sore' which impedes a meaningful dialogue between Palestinians and the Israeli government. In fact, former Prime Minister Arial Sharon abandoned the policy of disputed settlements in exchange for peace, however his party's position has been reversed by recent internal events.

I am saddened that the political right and anti-Obama bloggers have taken this sentence and are attempting to provoke the Jewish community into believing that Sen. Obama is anti-Israel. This is the politics of division and diversion. It is the same trick used against Clinton over Whitewater and against Kerry with the Swift Boat ads. It is the politics of the old and we have to be mindful of these attacks.

What I am hopeful for is a meaningful dialogue on all the issues that all Americans will face in this election: the economy, the war, and our environment. It seems clear that this is an attempt to pull us apart, to distract us from the real issues, the real agenda.... which is change.

Love,
Alvin

=========================================
Sent: Saturday, May 24, 2008 9:05 PM

To: Alvin
Subject: Obama Remark

Alvin--- Below is the Obama quotation that you wanted to see. Also, click on the website to see the entire article.

http://jeffreygoldberg.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/05/obama_on_zionism_and_hamas.php

Interviewer: Do you think that Israel is a drag on America’s reputation overseas?

Obama: No, no, no. But what I think is that this constant wound, that this constant sore, does infect all of our foreign policy.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Monday, May 26, 2008

Some Tips for A Better Life

  1. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile. It is the ultimate anti-depressant.
  2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
  3. Buy a DVR and tape your late night shows and get more sleep.
  4. When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement, 'My purpose is to __________ today.'
  5. Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.
  6. Play more games and read more books than you did in 2007.
  7. Make time to practice meditation, yoga, tai chi, and prayer. They provide us with daily fuel for our busy lives.
  8. Spend time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 7.
  9. Dream more while you are awake.
  10. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in factories.
  11. Drink green tea and plenty of water.
  12. Eat blueberries, wild Alaskan salmon, broccoli, almonds & walnuts.
  13. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
  14. Clear clutter from your house, your car, your desk and let new and flowing energy into your life.
  15. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
  16. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
  17. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card.Smile and laugh more. It will keep the energy vampires away.
  18. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
  19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
  20. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
  21. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
  22. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.
  23. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  24. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
  25. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: 'In five years, will this matter?'
  26. Forgive everyone for everything.
  27. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  28. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
  29. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
  30. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
  31. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
  32. The best is yet to come.
  33. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
  34. Do the right thing!
  35. Call or email your family often.
  36. Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements: 'I am thankful for __________. Today I accomplished _________.'
  37. Enjoy the ride. Remember this is not Disney World and you certainly don't want a fast pass. You only have one ride through life so make the most of it and enjoy the ride.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Perception Is Reality

Dr. William Glasser wrote that "perception is reality." This is particularly true in business. Perception is reality, and whether that perception is right or wrong is totally irrelevant. If my perception is that you are an idiot, how am I going to treat you? Like an idiot. If your perception of me is that I don't really care or that I am self-centered, that is the way you will treat me. It is vitally important that you are aware of the messages you send to people verbally and nonverbally, because they create preceptions that affect relationships.

What messages are you sending and what perceptions are you creating by having an office door that is always closed, by taking calls during meetings, by not listening when you disagree, by body language, by failure to follow through on projects, etc.? What you are speaks so loud, no one can hear what you say. Focus instead on sending positive messages that create positive perceptions of you, your attitude and your ability to get things done. Remember that perception is reality.

And it's not just for the major decisions that this quality is meeded. Complete integrity in little things is no little thing at all. It's been said many times, "The devil is in the details." One day, inevitably, little details will be noticed and the piper will have to be paid.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Fed OKs plan to rein in unfair, deceptive credit cards

By Jim Abrams (Associated Press Writer)
From Associated Press
May 02, 2008 3:29 PM EDT


WASHINGTON - The Federal Reserve and other regulators initiated steps Friday to end "unfair and deceptive" credit card industry practices assailing consumers who are already struggling to cope in a bad economy.

The proposed rules would be the biggest clampdown on the industry in decades, aiming at protecting people from credit card companies that arbitrarily raise interest rates or don't give borrowers adequate time to pay their bills.

The proposals would also restrict such lender practices as allocating all payments to balances with lower interest rates when a borrower has balances with different rates. The Fed board voted Friday to approve the recommendations.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the proposed rules "are intended to establish a new baseline for fairness in how credit card plans operate." Consumers using credit cards "should be better able to predict how their decisions and actions will affect their costs," he said.

Lawmakers who have demanded tougher controls on the credit card industry were generally positive about the proposed rules, as were consumer groups. But some questioned whether the changes would be strong enough and soon enough to help the millions of households struggling with credit card debt.

The Fed drew considerable criticism for its slow response to abuses that contributed to the subprime mortgage crisis.

"These steps are a significant improvement," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a member of the Banking Committee and a leader in legislative efforts to make credit card companies more forthcoming about the interest rates they charge. "While they can still go further, the Fed deserves credit for acting, particularly for banning some awful practices rather than relying solely on disclosure."

Last year the Fed proposed rules that would make credit card bills and solicitations easier to understand, but Friday's proposals go well beyond those in tightening interactions between the industry and consumers.

"At first blush, this does seem to be good news for credit card holders," said Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., author of pending legislation addressing some of the same credit card abuse issues. "However, it remains to be seen if these proposals will go far enough."

The banking industry opposes the changes, and says they could lead to higher interest rates. The rules could be finalized by the end of the year.

The proposed new rules would prohibit:
- Placing unfair time constraints on payments. A payment could not be deemed late unless the borrower is given a reasonable period of time, such as 21 days, to pay;
- Unfairly allocating payments among balances with different interest rates;
- Retroactively raising interest rates on pre-existing balances;
- Placing too-high fees for exceeding the credit limit solely because of a hold placed on the account;
- Unfairly computing balances in a computing tactic known as double-cycle billing;
- Unfairly adding security deposits and fees for issuing credit or making credit available;
- Making deceptive offers of credit.

The agencies said the proposed rules also would require federal credit unions to give consumers a chance to opt out of an overdraft protection program. And they would prohibit those institutions from charging a fee for an overdraft caused by a hold placed on consumer's funds when a person uses a debit card.

Ken Clayton, senior vice president of card policy for the American Bankers Association, described the proposed changes as "aggressive regulatory intervention in the marketplace that will result in higher prices and less consumer credit."

"If card companies cannot fully reflect risk, then millions of consumers with good credit histories will end up with higher rates," the ABA's president and CEO, Edward L. Yingling, said in a statement.

"It's unfortunate that the industry continues to buck the immense groundswell of support that is building for credit card reform," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., who has introduced consumer protection legislation in the House. She said the Fed endorsement of provisions in her bill "puts to rest the credit card companies' assertion that reform will somehow harm consumers or the economy."

The Consumer Federation of America estimates that credit card debt held by consumers is about $850 billion, some four times what it was in 1990. The group says the average debt for those 58 percent of card-holding households that do not pay their balance in full every month is about $17,000.

Travis Plunkett, legislative director for the federation, said the rules were a "good-faith effort by the Federal Reserve to curb some of the most significant abuses that have been hurting credit care users for over a decade." He singled out the practice of lenders increasing interest rates on a borrower because of a supposed problem with another creditor or a drop in the borrower's credit score.

The Fed is acting in conjunction with the National Credit Union Administration and the Office of Thrift Supervision.
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Associated Press writer Laurie Kellman contributed to this report.
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On the Net:
Federal Reserve: http://www.federalreserve.gov/
National Credit Union Administration: http://www.ncua.gov/RegulationsOpinionsLaws/proposed_regs.html