From Hymietown To Chickenshit

Ballam And The Donkey Stopped By Angel Of G-d

In 8 years of blogging, I don’t think I have ever written twice about the same topic in a single day–but today, I am appalled.. 



In 1984, Rev. Jesse Jackson (later the democratic Presidential candidate) referred to the Jewish people and New York as Hymietown



Roll forward to 2014, and we have “senior administration officials” who have called Israel’s heroic Prime Minister Netanyahu a “Chickensh*t.”



In 1624, Rembrandt painted this beautiful work from the Bible of Balaam riding on the way to curse the Israelites.



The problem for him was that an Angel of G-d stood in his path–his donkey saw it, but not Balaam!  (Numbers 22:21-39)



In Genesis 12:3, God says to Abraham: “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.”



Of course, the Israelites have to be deserving of this and act according to G-d’s word and by a strict moral code. 



For those who act shamefully, with arrogance before G-d, and unapologetically, and use their political platform to name-call, curse, and degrade Israel, no man ultimately needs to answer this, G-d provides the answer himself. 



Kudos to House Speaker John Boehner for speaking up against this grotesque, “disrespectful rhetoric” unbecoming the leadership of the United States of America. 



Congress should take up a vote unanimously condemning these disgusting, derogatory, Anti-semitic remarks–for those who bless Israel shall be blessed! 😉



(Source Photo here via Wikipedia)

Israel-America 2gether 4ever

Israel-America
The other day, I passed the prestigious George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and someone had quite prominently graffitied the wall with “Free Palestine.”



But then yesterday again, we saw another terrorist attack strike Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel, and a 3-month old baby from America was murdered after being thrown 30 feet in the air and landing on it’s head.



I applaud the GW students who came out today to celebrate the enduring relationship between the United States and Israel.



At the event, a banner hung high with the promise from President Obama, as of those similarly who came before in the Oval Office that “The bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable today, unbreakable tomorrow, and unbreakable forever.



Moreover, last month, the Senate unanimously passed a bill upgrading and declaring Israel a “Major Strategic Partner” of the United States.



The defense of Israel as a secure and sovereign nation is an imperative as freedom and democracy shine forth as a beacon of hope and peace for humanity.



May G-d bless the 2 countries and may their flags fly as one–2gether 4ever. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

If I Forget Thee O Jerusalem

If I Forget Thee O Jerusalem

So here is Israel on the map in the red.

You can barely see it, right?

It is surrounded by 22 Arab countries.

Israel is 1/16 of 1% of the surrounding Arab countries.

After the Holocaust, where 6 million Jews were murdered (1 of every 3 Jews in the entire world), Israel has been attacked again and again by invading Arab countries calling for their utter annihilation.

By the grace of G-d, the determination of the Israel Defense Forces, and help from righteous countries like the United States, Israel has been able to survive.

But now, Israel is under a new threat–coming from the the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The new tactic of Israel’s enemies is that if they cannot defeat Israel easily on the battlefield, then they will try to conquer them by a campaign of eroding economic and political pressure and sanctions on Israel.

For millennia, Israel and the Jewish people have been the minority and have repeatedly faced destruction, murder, expulsion, inquisition, crusades, forcible conversion, Holocaust, and more.

The BDS movement is another attempt to conquer this tiny country and add it to the trove of the surrounding Arab nations and “throw the Jews into the sea.”

Thankfully, America and other friends and allies see that Israel seeks to live in peace and security, and not the oppression of anyone.

Hopefully, Congress, in their wisdom, will propose and enact appropriate legislation to stop the destructive action of the BDS movement, and will call for and mandate the boycott, divestment, and sanctions of any country or entity that does this to Israel.

As it says in Psalms 137:5 -6–“If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skills! Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!”

(Source Photo: here with attribution to ScaryIsrael.com)

What Would MLK say?

What Would MLK say?

Bloomberg BusinessWeek writes about how Congress orders NASA to complete a testing tower for rocket engines at Stennis Space Center that is no longer needed, since the rockets themselves were cancelled.

The price tag of this tower is $350M!

But not to worry because NASA caught in this muddle says they will maintain the tower in case it’s needed in the future at a cost of just $840,000 more a year.

Why does this happen?

Pork barrel politics, where the the Congressmen and -women (in this case of Mississippi) don’t want to lose out on the federal spending, so they make deals whereby they get what they want and others what they want for their home states–even if the taxpayers end up getting little to nothing.

Peggy Noonan writes in the Wall Street Journal that while public servants are “expected to be less selfish than the average Joe…they are [actually] the locus of selfishness.”

She writes, “there isn’t a staffer on the Hill who won’t tell you 90% of members are driven by their own needs, wants, and interests, not America’s.”

Essentially what Noonan describes is a broken political system, where we elect individuals as politicians to represent us, but they take our vote of confidence and their elected office platform and instead use it to vote either for what they think should be done–not what their constituents think or want–or they work the system in order to make themselves look good and line up votes for their next run at office.

Either way, we don’t get representation of the people, for the people, with big picture strategic decisions for the future of the nation, but rather we get narrow thinking and voting driven by self-centered thinking of what’s in it for me (WIIFM).

Freedom is not free, especially when we make bad decisions to fund testing towers that are no longer needed or bridges to nowhere.

How we fix this is by having politicians with a genuine vision of where we need to go, anchored in the thinking of the people they represent and a foundation of integrity.

The leader can create a shared vision by explaining why, what, and how and building a genuine consensus around it.

Selfishness is not an inherent trait of politics–it can be replaced by selflessness when the greater good of the nation is placed above any one “I”–whether that be a person, party, state, or special interest.

(Source Photo: here)

We Don’t Accept You Here

Kids_diversity_in_art

A number of years ago I had received an interesting job offer–not actually for a job I had applied to, but for “something else”, and apparently the job was supposed to come without any questions asked. 

Because when I asked about the typical things that you like to agree on before you start a job, I found that it wasn’t going to work out then for this executive because of “cultural fit.”

At the time, it was quite clear that cultural fit was just another term used to discriminate not those that could do the job well from those that couldn’t, but rather those who would be too thoughtful, innovative, or even challenging to the (failing) status quo. 

In this particular case, the leadership was highly corrupt (in more ways than one) and it came out in front-page investigations and findings not long after, with the actual sacking of many of the head honcho bunch.

When it comes to hiring, it is challenging for many leaders to not just punch the checklist for diversity, but too really embrace it, and this stems from many reasons including fear, bias and hatred of cultures that are different than our own, but also the need for highly insecure leaders to singularly “rule the roost” without any challenge of opinion. 

These leaders think that if everyone fits their mold and subordinates themselves to them alone, then they are by default always right–regardless of the actual consequences of their decision-making.

The problem is that there is no one to vet issues with, play devil’s advocate or give an alternate viewpoint–and the insecure leadership with their minion of look-alike, think-alike followers will often drive the train over the cliff–without anyone so much as saying a boo. 

This last week, when a record number of women Senators (20) and congresswomen (82)–were sworn in to the 113th Congress, there was hope of their bringing to the old political mix a new sense and style of collaboration that could help the nation resolve the many issues that we are embroiled in heated negotiation and impasse (e.g. the debt ceiling, the national deficit, the budget, immigration, and more).

Similarly, Bloomberg BusinessWeek (3 January 2013) published an article called “Only BFFs Need Apply”–about how job applicant’s cultural fit often trumps their actual qualifications.

BusinessWeek sums up the dilemma with hiring based on cultural fit: While it “may summon up obnoxious images of old boys clubs and social connections…a cooperative, creative atmosphere can make workdays more tolerable and head off problems before they begin.” Put another way: the “American ideals about team diversity collide with the reality of building a cohesive, practical staff.”

However, the problem with relying on cultural fit is not only that you don’t often get the best candidates, but that it is used not just to describe common values and work ethics, but rather inappropriately “as an excuse for feelings interviewers aren’t comfortable expressing” such as not being able to accept a person’s accent or that they cover they head for religious reasons. 

While hiring lackeys may have a short-term benefit of cohesion, in the long-term, the lack of diversity may result in groupthink and even that “the one person who has a different thought could have saved a business.”

Of course, there is also legal prohibitions against discrimination in hiring and personnel management, as well as the ethical issue of hiring unfairly and what that does to the moral fiber of the organization and its people–it’s corrosive to their values and capabilities and will lead to the revulsion and loss of good employees, customers, stockholders, and others over time.

Here’s the enterprise architecture slant on this topic: “you have to decide if you’re hiring for the culture you have or the culture you want.” 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Tobucil and Klabs)

Dancing On A Building

Building_dancers

This is a picture of six dancers.

They are called Project Bandaloop.

They are dancing horizontally.

Off the side of a tall building.

The Old Post Office Tower in Washington D.C.

This building houses the bells that used to ring in Congress.

Very cool attraction, especially with the dancers!

(Source Photo: My wife, Dannielle Blumenthal)

Who Will Protect Those Who Protect Us?

 

This is a video that the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) sent to Congress to appeal to them not to cut funding to all the activities that our law enforcement officers do for us.

 

While the functions of government can always be more efficient–and we should constantly work to achieve these–federal law enforcement is incredibly important.

 

From the FBI to the Secret Service and from Border Patrol to DEA, we need to support all our federal law enforcement efforts.

 

These agents and officers risk their lives every day for all of us, and it’s time that we stand by them to protect their mission and jobs.