Leadership and Obama…

After such an amazing, emotional night where my family sat together and witnessed an superb 30 minute portrayal of what a President should be and a reminder of how great this nation is and how proud I am to be part of her and having had the honor to wear her uniform and serve, this morning I spoke with a fellow former Marine who used to be my supervisor and is a good friend.  

The topic of the video and leadership came up and we were talking about the amazement we had from the perspectives of him being a Staff Non-Commissioned Officer (SNCO) and I a Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) respectively, in the US Marine Corps and how it relates to Obama’s very real leadership and capability that gets continually overlooked by many who have never actually been leaders themselves.

Many assume that Military service or a certain rank in said service automatically qualifies one as a leader.  Some mistake an experience as leadership, when often times it’s only a marker to clarify one’s actual leadership or lack thereof.

Many mistakenly assume that just because Senator McCain is a veteran, Naval Officer, and former POW that automatically means he is a great leader or the best choice to lead this nation at this moment in time. 

As veterans, we surely didn’t touch that with a 10 foot poll as we honor his service, courage, and commitment to our country.  But there are many leaders in title and rank in the military, and all of them are not good or best suited for the positions they seek.

For us as a Marine SNCO and NCO respectively, our bar by which we measure is a little different than the average American or even fellow service member.  I did mention that we were Marines right?

In the beloved Marine Corps we are taught to learn and live by the acronym or diddy “JJDIDTIEBUCKLE” as a tool to remember the traits of a leader.  We also have 11 leadership principles. 

Before I outline them I would like to offer a couple of quotes from one of history’s greatest generals and great leaders General MacArthur: 

“People grow old only by deserting their ideals, Macarthur had written. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul. You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope as old as your despair. In the central place of every heart there is a recording chamber. So long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer and courage, so long are you young. When your heart is covered with the snows of pessimism and the ice of cynicism, then, and then only, are you grown old. And then, indeed as the ballad says, you just fade away.”

“I am concerned for the security of our great Nation; not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within.”

He also was quoted as saying there is no greater fighting force than the Marines, but that is another posting.

 

My point in using the Generals quotes to highlight that the principles espoused by this great warrior and commander are principles we all can understand even if we haven’t had the honor to serve in uniform and fight this nations wars and protect her citizens.  These quotes illustrate perfectly the need for hope versus despair, the need for optimism as opposed to pessimism, and the stark reminder that sometimes the enemy within is greater than the external enemy.  Obama is the candidate who fulfills the wisdom exposed by our great General. 

 

As warriors ourselves, we understand these things and see these qualities in soon to be President Obama.  We are not the only veterans who feel this way.  See, leadership is an intangible it’s a quality that many aspire to, some have to learn, and others just have.  A leader is one who inspires his followers to service not because he’s in charge and that is the way it is, but because their leader spoke to their inner soul and with transcendent power, command, and quality caused that soul to stir and to move.  A leader is like the Prophet Elijah (as) who spoke to the dry bones in the valley and causes them to move.

 

Obama has surely gotten the dry bones in the valley of America to move.  He has inspired millions to get involved and care about America reminiscent of September 12, 2001 in my opinion.  White, black, young, old, religious, non-religious, gay, straight, people formal walks of life are walking hand in hand wanting to take our country back and transcend above the fray and chart a new course and turn the page of our darkest moments.  When you see 100k, 75k, 200k, people all over the country and all over the world come just to hear him speak and inspire, that in my opinion, is the proof.  A leader isn’t one who just speaks to the masses, but like Elijah, can call those masses no matter who or what they are into action.

 

As I mentioned those Marine Corps measurements earlier “JJDIDTIEBUCKLE” stands for:

 

·  Judgment

·     The ability to weigh facts and possible solutions on which to base sound decisions.

 

Justice

·     Giving reward and punishment according to merits of the case in question. The ability to administer a system of rewards and punishments impartially and consistently.

 

Dependability

·     The certainty of proper performance of duty.

 

·  Integrity

·     Uprightness of character and soundness of moral principles; includes the qualities of truthfulness and honesty.

 

·  Decisiveness

·     Ability to make decisions promptly and to announce them in clear, forceful manner.

 

Tact

·     The ability to deal with others without creating offense.

 

·  Initiative

·     Taking action in the absence of orders.

 

 Endurance

·     The mental and physical stamina measured by the ability to withstand pain, fatigue, stress and hardship.

 

Bearing

·     Creating a favorable impression in carriage, appearance and personal conduct at all times.

 

·  Unselfishness

·     Avoidance of providing for one’s own comfort and personal advancement at the expense of others.

 

 Courage

·     The mental quality that recognizes fear of danger or criticism, but enables a man to proceed in the face of it with calmness and firmness.

 

Knowledge

·     Understanding of a science or an art. The range of one’s information, including professional knowledge and an understanding of your Marines.

 

Loyalty

·     The quality of faithfulness to country, the Corps, the unit, to one’s seniors, subordinates and peers.

 

Enthusiasm

·     The display of sincere interest and exuberance in the performance of duty.

 

There is no doubt and there should surely be no doubt after the Obama 30-minute ad last night, that Obama displays the Judgment time and time again, he was right on the war, the economy, and the issues.

 

He understands Justice as he fought for those who had no voice after graduating the college and experienced how unjust our medical system is and what it’s like to have no father and be on welfare having to struggle to achieve the American Dream. 

 

He’s has the Dependability and consistency that we have come to know and through action shown that he will be a steady hand no matter what crisis comes up and not use gimmicks to deal with the issues that face our economy. 

 

He has Integrity no matter how much they criticize him.  When you look at his legislative history in either Senate, one of the first things he always worked on was ethics reform and government transparency, how can this quality be displayed otherwise than from a candidate who opens government up to it’s citizens? 

 

Decisiveness?  Think about this for a moment; look at how his campaign has been legendary.  The experts have criticized every action and step they have taken and yet he continues to win.  He went from a relative political nobody to a household name across the globe.  His decision to not jump on the political bandwagon of summer gas taxes, campaign suspensions, and negative personal attacks were decisive decisions that still leave career politicians and pundits in awe.  Don’t we need a President who does what’s right versus what’s politically convenient at the moment?  One who carefully thinks rather than make on the minute important decisions? 

 

I don’t even believe Obama’s Tact is questionable.  Every decision he has made has been tactical.  I believe he’s 100% believable when he states that he will use a scalpel to balance our budget.  I prefer a specialist to a general practioner. 

 

Obama’s Initiative to go forward with ideas that many say we can’t and he replies with Yes We Can, like energy, healthcare, the economy, foreign policy.  Issues like prison reform, healthcare for all, tax cuts for 95% of Americans, display a leader full of initiatives that we can’t afford to pass on. 

 

After almost 2 year campaigning and talking to everyday Americans inspiring millions and giving hope to the world, this youthful man, has the Endurance necessary to lead America in our great hour of need. 

 

One who can listen to the naysayer day in and day out, those who call names, spread lies and stir hate, and still say Yes We Can, shows that Obama has the Bearing that has been lacking these past 8 years where people were told your either with us or against us, cursed out on the Senate floor, and countries called evil, outright. 

 

Obama knows what it’s like to have to struggle and these experiences have shaped his policies to make them Unselfish knowing that an economy where the top 2% make the most money but pays the least taxes is just fundamentally wrong.  Knowing that the richest nation in the world is behind in education, science, and healthcare for its citizens.  It takes an Unselfish President to stand behind these types of fundamentally progressive policies.  

 

To answer the call of the “Fierce urgency of now” with a “weird” name a different look, and only 2 years in the Senate, takes a lot of Courage to take on the special interests, entrenched Washington politics, and political royalty at a time when Americans yearn for change.  Senator Obama stepped up to the plate when he could have just waited until 2016, but he fought hard for us, now we have to fight for him. 

 

A great leader has the innate Knowledge to admit that he doesn’t know it all and as such surrounds himself with advisors whom can effectively council him when he has to make important decisions.  Compare the respective picks for Vice President…..nuff said.  

 

Who can display more Loyalty than a person who is true to himself or herself, even when it’s not the popular thing to be?  A devoted father, husband, and son, Obama’s very life and experiences show how he is and will be loyal to the average American.  Obama is the embodiment of the American Dream.  He’s done all America has asked of him and in return has reminded Americans that in this country you can still come from humble and different circumstances and aspire to anything you want.  What’s more loyal than staying true and embodying our nations principles?  

 

I don’t even have to explain the last one.  Obama = Enthusiasm.  Let’s just carry that to the polls with our vote.

 

Everyone has his or her own unique understanding, experience, and perspective about Obama.  This morning two former Marines agreed that based on how we were taught and what we know of leadership we clearly see in Obama.  There are those who disagree and there are some that won’t get my militaristic explanation. 

 

Either way, I believe that Obama will not only be among America’s greatest Presidents, but also one of her greatest leaders.  I close with the Marine Corps 11 leadership principles:

 

·  Know yourself and seek self-improvement.

·  Be technically and tactically proficient.

·  Develop a sense of responsibility among your subordinates.

·  Make sound and timely decisions.

·  Set the example.

·  Know your Marines and look out for their welfare.

·  Keep your Marines informed.

·  Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions.

·  Ensure assigned tasks are understood, supervised, and accomplished.

·  Train your Marines as a team.

·  Employ your command in accordance with its capabilities.

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 ANOTHER UPDATE….

 

I just wanted to add how inspired I am and how proud I am of America in this moment (not that I haven’t been in the past).  With all the negative commentary, bias, and general BS going on, it was just great to sit for 30 minutes and sit back and remember what it was or must be like to want to hear from your President, to want to get involved, and be proud of who leads you.  My mother in law was visiting and my mother is currently living with us.  We all sat there watching this video together glowing.  My 2, 3, and 7 year olds even sat still and watched for the entire thing!  My 10 and 11 year old’s were smiling.  I can only imagine what everyone in the room actually thought about this, but for myself I felt two distinct emotions as the tears welled in my eyes looking at my family:

 

To look at all my boys faces I could feel confident in assuring them that this is the greatest country on Earth whom I proudly served that gives them the opportunity to be whatever they want.  No longer will black parents have to lie to their kids saying that you too can be President, secretly expecting it to not happen in our lifetime.

 

The most important and paramount emotion was the sheer patriotism I felt.  To see Americans come together from all walks of life to back this one candidate is utterly amazing to see.  The barriers and stereotypes in my opinion are breaking especially as it relates to race.  In the context of US history for it to only be 40 years since Dr. King was assasinated all Americans should be proud at how far we have come.

 

If I continued to edit this post for a week I could never truly articulate my feelings, but know that to see the faces of my family and the faces of the supporters of Obama all with the sense of hope, purpose, and pride reminds me of the oath I took to defend this nation and the pride that comes with that.  It makes you want to stand up a little straighter and remember as I was taught growing up, weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

 

I joke with friends that even if Obama somehow looses, on November 5th from my new residence in Canada, I will proudly admit that the journey was worth it and America is just that much better because of the travel.

 

May God bless America,

 

RS

Interfaith Leaders Condemn Anti-Muslim DVD, Call for Greater Understanding

Courtesy of the Muslim Public Affairs Council

Interfaith Leaders Condemn Anti-Muslim DVD, Call for Greater Understanding

During a press conference held yesterday at the Interfaith Alliance in Washington, DC, prominent religious Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders condemned the recent distribution of an anti-Muslim DVD to more than 28 million households in key election swing states. Rabbi Jack Moline, Chair of the Interfaith Alliance also called on both presidential campaigns to “promote a pluralistic view of religion and faith as a source of unity and healing in our country” and “reject the use of religion as a political weapon.”

Religious Leaders at Interfaith Press Conference Regarding Obsession Click here or on the image to watch the full press conference.

Rabbi Jack Moline said in part:

The distributors of this film have attempted, by inference and innuendo, to limit the rights of Muslims to enjoy the free exercise of their faith. To add insult to injury, the target markets of this film are states considered critical to both presidential candidates, and were chosen in order to influence the outcome of the election, in favor of the producer’s candidate.

Terrorism is a real threat to this country and, in fact, to every country. Our next President, whoever he may be, will need to deal with terrorism as a strategy on many fronts and from many sources. The misdirection of “Obsession” not only sullies and alienates the adherents of Islam, but distracts the attention of all concerned Americans from the genuine threats from terrorist renegades of many origins, including non-Muslim Americans.

We at the Interfaith Alliance call on Senator McCain and Senator Obama to repudiate this film and to reject the support of those associated with it. We call on them to promote a pluralistic view of religion and faith as a source of unity and healing in our country. We call on both candidates to reject the use of religion as a political weapon. The good work of interfaith relations all over this country would be strengthened by encouragement, from the next president of the United States.

I would like to add a personal note of disappointment that the Clarion Fund and its founder, also the producer of this film, are tied closely to a prominent Jewish organization. As a board member of the Interfaith Alliance, I promise to turn a critical eye first to my own community. The Rabbi whose name appears on this film as a producer and co-writer has a hard repentance ahead of him on Yom Kippur. I will include his actions in my own confession of sins.

MPAC Community Development Director Haris Tarin also presented an interfaith statement, which has been signed by more than 80 Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders around the country in the past five days. The statement expresses “deep concern over the recent distribution of a deeply divisive and anger-provoking DVD” which undermines “our common and cherished beliefs by inciting fear and furthering ignorant stereotypes.” (Click here to read the full statement and find out how you can sign on.)

In his comments, Chris Seiple, President of the Institute of Global Engagement and a board member of the National Association of Evangelicals, said in part:

As a Christian organization, we believe that the heart of religious freedom is respect with and reconciliation with the other, whoever the other might be within our own respective societies across the globe. In fact, we believe religious freedom, thoughtfully understood, and appropriately applied is the ultimate counter terrorism tool.

I personally, as someone from an evangelical persuasion, find the movie mind boggling. Why would we internationally show profound disrespect for a significant minority within our own American community? Why would we intentionally do that to our fellow Americans?

Other speakers at the press conference included Rev. Dr. Welton Gaddy (President of the Interfaith Alliance), Mark Johnson (Executive Director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation), and Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed (National Director of Interfaith & Community Alliances for the Islamic Society of North America).

Following the release of “Obsession” in 2006, MPAC launched a campaign to counter the bigotry inspired by the film. Since its debut, the “Truth Over Fear: Countering Islamophobia” campaign has provided more than 50 educational workshops across the country featuring a critique and analysis of the film as a propaganda tool, an educational video about Islamophobia, and has trained community members to educate others about the destructive value of bigotry and prejudice.

Still more must be done. There are two ways that you can help:

1. Join the ‘Truth Over Fear’ team. Get involved, connect with MPAC and individuals across the nation by standing up to hatred and intolerance in your local community. Get the tools that you need to educate your community and stop bigotry in its tracks. Contact MPAC at truthoverfear@mpac.org to schedule a workshop in your area.

2. Click here to read and sign onto the interfaith statement voicing deep concern about the distribution of “Obsession.”

How can McCain win?

Many of my friends have been getting more and more anxious as this election winds down asking can Obama really win?  While many are Obama supporters they can’t help but wonder if the Republicans will “steal” another election.  For almost a year now I have been playing pseudo-political analyst.  To my credit, I have called it over 90% of the time, so people are beginning to trust my opinion.

I have to admit I am burned out.

Either way, my constant response to all the squeamish and overly cautious Obama supporters is quite simple:

How can McCain win?

It’s not will Obama lose, but how can McCain win?

I truly believe based on what I have been analyzing is that when this thing is over, Senator Obama’s campaign and I believe eventual victory will become Politics 101.

The Obama Campaign is a well oiled machine which has proven itself knowledgeable, strategic, versatile, and resilient.

Think about it:  A relatively unknown Senator two years ago with a weird name not to mention race (it is an issue) catapults on the scene and becomes the nominee of the DNC knocking out many prominent well-known Democrats not to mention THE CLINTONS and this wall all done even with the spectacle of people questioning his religion, his ties to businessmen, radicals, and of course Jeremiah Wright.  Even with people polling stating they would never vote for a black guy, Senator Obama overcame all of that and on top of that broke records in fund-raising, voter registration, THE RALLIES, etc.

How can his campaign not be what I called it when you look at the history of only a little over a year and a half?

And what does the McCain campaign do in response?  They try the same tactics the Clinton campaign used.  Let’s not forget they not only lost, but their campaign in organization alone makes the McCain camp look like a joke.  Let’s not forget the McCain campaign more so than the Clinton campaign was plagued by staff shakeups, internal strife, controversy, and at one point was broke.

With all that in mind, what really makes people think they can pull this off?

And that is just a comparison of the campaigns and their histories.  Now let’s examine some facts….

1.  Most Republicans DO NOT support Senator McCain.  Those who will vote for McCain are only doing so because of Saint Sarah of Wasilla.  So most will be holding their nose in the voting booth.  So problem number one is that he doesn’t even have the full support of his parties base, it has only solidified recently because of Saint Sarah and that’s only somewhat.

2.  Speaking of Saint Sarah, her negatives are going through the roof as her novelty and exitement is wearing off.  After disasterous interviews and a debate that at best staved off an outright revolt, it doesn’t look like she’s delivering any demographics other than the extreme right of the party mainly evangelicals.  But as long as the media such as SNL, The Daily Show, Late Night TV, etc. keep reminding the country how new she is and her gaffes, not to mention the witchdoctor and hard-core evangelical stances, it doesn’t look like she’s helping bring over those outside of party faithfuls to their side anytime soon.  You can’t win just by solidifying your base.

3.  Voter Registration!  This is the real story that isn’t being reported at all.  Polling is a good tool, in fact Obama is winning in the national polls right now which is a good sign.  But the problem with polling is that some people will lie.  You can’t really determine who really will vote for whom until they get into the actual voting booth, especially when you poll about race, sex, and age.  Now voter registration is another matter!  The DNC in general has had record shattering voter registrations.  Across the board in almost every state the DNC has in some cases almost doubled their rolls.  Case in point, I hear a report that in Nevada, President Bush won in 2006 by around 6000 votes, well it appears the DNC are up 70, 000 this year.  In Northern Virginia, it was recently reported in September that in Alexandria, VA alone they were up 110, 000 new voters.   Have we forgotten the Democratic Primaries?  The long lines….when you add up all the votes cast for Democrats this primary cycle it’s almost 40 million people who voted for Democrats.  How many of those primary voters are likely to show up on election day?  I venture most, will because if they would come out in the snow and rain as they did here in Virginia, DC, and Maryland they probably will in the general election.  Furthermore, many, many, people registered to vote this year because of the exitement of the Democratic Party candidates, do you really think that people who registered this year in record numbers, some for the first time in their lives, would go through that trouble and not vote?  What also is not being mentioned is the lack of exitement in the Republican Party.  They have recently exited the base, but up until the last 30 days, their registration numbers have either remained the same as they have been, moved slightly, and in some cases actually decreased.

In my opinion, this is going to be the single most important factor in why McCain can’t win.  The voter momentum is with the Democrats this year by a longshot.

4.  Polling.  The majority of the country is red.  However, Obama is still ahead.  Why is that?  It’s because of my point number 3.  In those places where the Democrats actually are, the blue areas, the numbers are not only large, but have greatly increased.  So it says a lot that the candidate with the most “against” him and in this climate being formally unknown, weird name, religious questions, race, etc. is still polling ahead at this point.  Furthermore, Obama’s strongest constituency the 30 and under crowd, are not adequately polled as most do not have LAN lines and primarily use their cell phones, so this demographic is rarely polled and are not counted in these polling numbers, so if everyone was polled, I believe the spread would be higher.

5.  Electoral College.  Think about that.  The ticket that receives the most votes statewide ‘wins’ all of the votes cast by electors from that state. U.S. presidential campaigns concentrate on winning the popular vote in a combination of states that choose a majority of the electors.  Think about what I said about Obama’s campaign, it’s strategy, and the numbers.  Obama has a legendary grass roots operation in most states and the money to back it up.  This is how he defeated Clinton and his campaign nearly called each and every state they won.  They not only called the states, but called the deadlocked primary drama months before the event. His campaign is a well oiled machine and they know what they are doing.  The Obama campaign has been running on a general election stragety all along.  The main reason he won the primaries was because he focused and relied heavily on the caucus states who’s rules are similar to the general election’s electoral college.  Therefore, they plan to win the election the same way.  Focus on pockets within states that have high populations that lean their way and win the states based on that.  So in a state like Virginia, they will focus on the north, Richmond area, and the Newport News/Hampton area.  Because of the population densities, demographics, etc.  He will carry Virginia, just as he is also planning in other former “red” states like Colorado, North Carolina, and even places like Georgia, Mississippi, and Florida.

6.  Last but not least, The Electoral Map.  As an aside to my point number 5 look at the current map.  Based on current projections and all other factors considered, Obama has at least 3-5 ways to get 270 electoral votes, the McCain camp, does not.  If he looses Florida or Ohio, it’s pretty much a done deal.  Obama can afford to lose many more states than McCain can.

In conclusion, I could be wrong, but I challenge the political heads out there to consider my theories.  It is way more probable that Obama would win and will win big, rather than the McCain campaign squeeking it out.   What are your theories on how McCain can win?  Outside of some HUGE revelation outside of everything else that has been thrown out there in the next 25 days, McCain is in big trouble.  What it really appears is that both campaigns are following a typical pattern.  McCain is trying his luck with Hillary Clintons strategy and Obama is running the same campaign he did in the primaries.  The difference:  Obama won the primary!  This is why his campaign and the candidate himself have remained calm, steady, and collected at the helm, whereas the Clinton campaign and now the McCain campaign have been up and down with every passing moment, with new talking points every other day, trying to figure out how to take this guy out.

Maybe it’s just me…..:)

Interesting Voter information in NV, OH, IN, NC, FL…..

Nevada: Democrats have 93,727 more registered voters than Republicans as of 9/2008 voters of neither party (i.e. up for grabs): 292,043

Ohio: 1,250,277 more Democrats voted in the primary elections than Republicans as of 3/2008

Indiana: 740,930 new and updated registered voters in 2008.

North CarolinaDemocrats have 776,333 more registered voters than Republicans as of 10/2008 voters of neither party (i.e. up for grabs): 1,332,135

Florida: Democrats have 465,617 more registered voters than Republicans as of 7/2008 voters of neither party (i.e. up for grabs): 338,837

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