Tuesday, 23 February 2010

The Pledge

Xavier Becerra is a Democratic congressman in California...who got into some trouble. At a meeting recently...as they were opening the meeting there in California....someone in the audience jumped up and wanted everyone there to receite the Pledge of Allegiance.

There was a bit of laughing over this...but eventually everyone...include Represenative Becerra recited the pledge. The problem is that this all got video-taped. Then it got put on YouTube.

Some folks are getting all upset over this congressman and his amusement of the pledge request.

I sat and pondered over this.

Did George Washington ever recite the Pledge of Allegiance? No.

Did Thomas Jefferson ever recite the Pledge of Allegiance? No.

Did Abraham Lincoln ever recite the Pledge of Allegiance? No.

This is the curious thing about this pledge business. It didn't come about until 1892. It was invented as a method for folks to show their patriotism in a public setting. You wave the flag...you push the pledge...everyone feels some American spirit...and then you go home feeling gleefully happy.

It's a simple four-line pledge which gets tossed into any school setting or public forum. It was a simple thing in the 1960s to just get everyone to recite it and then get onto regular work. Today? Folks question the pledge.

If you asked folks if it existed in the 1850s...the vast majority will say 'yes'. Few know it's history.

A lot of people walk around as Republicans and use this tactic in public forums...like this one in California...to get at people who question the pledge. In the mind of these Republicans...making anything about the pledge a joke....is serious business and good to use against Democrats.

In the end...the pledge ends up being a "tool" rather than anything else. I realize I might not be making some folks happy....but we actually got by very well for 120 years...without the pledge. Makes you wonder if we really need it in the first place?

They Work For You

If you were running the Pepsi legal department...and woke up one day to find that you'd hired nine lawyers in your division who used to work on Coke's team handling lawsuits...would you be nervous at realizing who you had on your staff?

If you worked for Burger King's legal team...as a chief of the legal operations staff, and found that you had nine guys on your staff who had done legal work for McDonalds in the past year...would you feel kinda nervous?

If you worked for the legal staff of the Baptist ministries....as a chief of legal operations, and discovered that you had nine new lawyers on your team who were part of a satanic rituals legal support staff...would it bother you?

So after you pause and ponder these questions....put yourself in Eric Holder's position. He hired nine guys....minimum...in fact...he doesn't even know the true number past nine...that were lawyers for Jihad players in Gitmo in 2008.

The hint came out around Christmas that he had at least one on his staff. The senate came up and asked him to give them a number. Presently....he's kinda skipped by this question as much as possible, but this week...we know its a minimum of nine lawyers on the Attorney General's team who had work with Islamic terrorists in Gitmo.

I sat and pondered over this. The odds of having one of these guys hired with the Attorney General's office? It's one of those one in five hundred chances. The odds of having three? It starts to go into one out of 3,000 chances. So you start to scratch your head. With so many lawyers in America...the odds of this is rather silly to consider.

But then we come to a curious scenario. Here are Bob and Ted...former Gitmo defender lawyers who now work for some part of the Attorney General's office. They are having lunch with Edgar and Cal...and this topic of court action against Jihad guys comes up and where you have the case. Bob and Ted get invited later into the big meeting. They want the legal cases put in a place where the Islamic guys have a higher chance of getting off the hook. Bob and Ted want it in New York City. They pretty much sell this whole concept. So Edgar and Cal package this and brief Eric Holder. Eric buys this...without really knowing the vast influence of Bob and Ted...who are both laughing at how naive the Attorney General's staff and Eric Holder himself is.

So after this entire mess of putting the court case in New York City arises...then Eric Holder goes back and asks the logic...and then finds Bob and Ted. By this point...Eric is beginning to feel pretty bad about this mess. He convinced the president to stand by this mess....but truthfully...he's standing there and hoping that the senate doesn't start to glean all of the Gitmo lawyers...because it just might be more than nine.

From a management prospective...there's some big screw-ups here. A regular manager working for Wal-Mart or Pepsi or Microsoft...would be fired. But in this case...I don't see that happening.

The 5-Star Web Page

I spent ten minutes this morning....looking over the White House web page of the newest health care universal plan...this time...the President's plan.

I must say...their web page is really nifty. Most pages lead you by way of a very simple question (what if I already have a policy, for example). In fact, I'd give an award to the web page designer for the best designed page of the year.

So, some observations.

It amazes me that you can take 2,000-odd pages and craft it down into thirty or forty web pages. Yes, it does amaze me. Course...then I'm wondering why don't we just use the web page as a bill itself and throw the 2,000 pages away. I guess we can't do that because then we'd be missing something. And that's the same missing stuff that isn't listed on the web page.

The next observation is that someone....who is really unknown....read all the pages of the President's idea (probably 2,000 pages)....and came down to thirty to forty web pages. Who is this guy? I'd really like to meet him. So far...from CNN, MSNBC, Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS and even Time...we have yet to meet anyone who claims they've read the whole thing and can comprehend it. Note...I said comprehend within this requirement.

The last observation? I kept looking for the mechanism that would limit cost or growth within the health industry. I looked at the methods that the government would use to curtail costs. The only real method that I noticed...was that the government would limit the insurance industry from pushing up their prices. This sounds ok, but if you told a barber that he could only charge $8 for a haircut....and next year when he wanted $9...you refused...then he'd just spend one minute less on your hair and likely leave the top "as is". When you complained...he'd just butcher your hair. This idea of control has consequences in every single industry.

I came to the end and while I thought the pages were designed really great...it was the content that left me asking more questions. Oh, and the taxes or fees behind this whole thing still wasn't explained in a comprehensive method. Do I pay $100 more a year? Do I pay $300 more a year? Do I pay $1000 more a year? And if I pay more, do I get less in the end?

Those are the sad questions that still can't be answered.

In some ways, I wish we were like the Netherlands with twelve million people...and you could actually lay out a plan with everyone's name attached to their salary and then a price tag at the end. This would make this all so simple to grasp and approve or toss out.

A Limited View of TV

I have a short list of shows that I religiously watch on TV. Even though I've returned to the heartland and have 99 channels.....I'm pretty much limited to around fours shows total.

First, there's House. I started with the medical show three years ago and got absolutely addicted to it. And I will readily admit that Cuddy is my fantasy woman.

Second, Lost. The long and short of it...it is the best written script ever conceived. Sawyer...our dude from Bama...probably the best representation of Bama that we've ever had. The state ought to hire him and put him in 30-second ad's to invite folks to Mobile.

Third, Seinfeld. Over all those years in Germany....I rarely got a chance to watch more than five episodes ever. Since arriving in early January...I've watched around thirty episodes...and found it to be five-star humor.

Fourth, and final...Axmen. The History Channel runs this nifty program on Sunday evenings...the lumberjacks of Oregon and the Swampjacks of Louisiana. Frankly, I don't miss a single show. The curious thing is to listen for the bleep signal...which typically occurs about every 75 seconds. I don't think you can go more than four minutes...without a bleep. The thing that amazes me...is the amount of work that I'd never volunteer for...yet these guys readily jump right into the midst of it and don't say a word.

Oh, and I would put Dog, Bounty Hunter on the list...but it's still too early.