Needed: A Giving Hand With Smart Border Security

Border Security Needed.jpeg

While we should certainly help immigrant refugees and those in need, we also need to provide adequate vetting and border security for our people. 


This does not mean that all immigrants are bad or that we are mean or paranoid, bur rather that we need to take smart and measured precautions in the dangerous times we are living in.


Al Qaeda, ISIS, and other such brutal terrorist organizations have shown they mean murderous business, and they are vowing to strike at the hearts of America and the West.


So while we open our hearts, we can’t close our eyes!


Safeguard America and the good decent people already here, and at the same time be merciful and giving to immigrants, but don’t sacrifice one for the other. 😉


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal with photos adapted from here and here and with attribution to the New York Times and Alan Silver)

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When Little Girls Are Not Princesses

Princess.jpeg

Normally, little girls dream of and are treated as the beautiful princesses that they are. 


But not in Rockville, Maryland last Thursday, where a 14-year old, 9th grade girl was brutally raped by two immigrants (17- and 18-years old) in the bathroom of their high school. 


She was mercilessly raped multiple times “vaginally, orally, and sodomized.”


One of the attackers had previously been detained at the border, but then released as per the lax standards of border security that were in place by the prior administration. 


It is incredible that as a superpower nation, we have not secured our own borders and our homeland. 


Unfortunately, there are many stories like this, and I personally know of a girl from the Bronx who was similarly raped in the stairwell of her school. 


Forget education or competitiveness, when we can’t even provide a safe and secure school environment for our children. 


It is not a strength to let our enemies gain the upper hand, but rather a weakness of our national character–to let bleeding hearts undermine our security.


Sure, we must be empathetic and caring for all people, but this must come hand-in-hand with proper vetting and due precautions. 


Every child in the United deserves to be a princess and a prince, and no one here legally or illegally should be allowed to destroy that present or future. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

You Changing My What

freak-out

So change agents are some of the most sought after…yet most abhorrent individuals on this planet. 


We all recognize that things can be better, and on one hand, we want someone to come and help us make it so…a change agent!


However, change is painful and frequently results in unintended and unwanted consequences, and so on the other hand, we hate change agents. 


Many change agents may not just change things that need to get changed and fixed, but they may change a lot of things that were working just fine before, thank you.  


Can anyone say reorganization? 


Moreover, change agents may not be changing things for the right reasons like the good of the organization.


Instead they may be self promoters, control freaks who have to do things their way, or they may be serial job hunters–next stop change everything and get the heck out of Dodge!


Change agents may work with people to get requirements, input, and vet the issues and the solutions or they may just be paying lip service to others, only to really shove their or someone else’s agenda down your throats. 


You see there is healthy change that is based on genuine learning, growth, and maturity, and then there is change that is destructive, diabolical, and selfish. 


When you decide to change something, what’s your motivation and your goal–is it to right the wrongs in the organization, reengineer business processes, and introduce new technologies or is it to change for change’s sake alone. 


Yes, we did something. Check the box. Tell the management committee. We earned our keep and oh yeah, then some. We changed something, anything. Hip Hip Hooray. Bonus time!


So either you’ll get an award and promotion or you’ll get asked accusingly and threateningly, “Who told you to change that?!”


Change which has no real support or merit is dead on arrival (DOA), and will be gone, gone, gone long after the change agent is gone.


So don’t freak out–the b.s. changes are either going to kill the organization or simply end up in Fresh Kills landfill.


The real changes may actually make you stronger. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Refugees or Terrorists–How Do You Really Know?

Jekyll and Hyde

The news about the refugee crisis is truly heartwrenching.  

My own parents and grandparents were refugees from the Holocaust who came to this beautiful country to start fresh and live in freedom and peace.  

So one one hand, I like so many others want to do the right thing from a humanitarian perspective and help people in need.  

But on the other hand, with this new wave of refugees something seems vastly different…


18 of 31 people identified so far in mass New Year’s Eve attacks (sexual molesting, raping, and robbing) of over 500 women in German…were refugees that had already applied for asylum.


At least one of the Paris terrorists who killed more than 130 people in November is alleged to have been a Syrian refugee. 


At least 3 refugees resettled in the U.S. since 9/11 (from Iraq and Uzbek) have been arrested on terrorism charges and there have been dozens of other counter-terrorism investigations for those resettled here. 


– The ISIS suicide bomber that killed 10 German tourists in Istanbul this week was registered as a Syrian refugee “without setting off security alerts.”


– And again this week, a group of refugees with rocks, bats, knives, attack a Frenchman


– ISIS is already asserting that they will use the refugee crisis to get attackers into the West and are bragging that already thousands have successfully infiltrated


Surely, no refugee vetting process is going to be ironclad–processing mistakes, system errors, and errors of judgement are bound to happen.


Some have also suggested that politics is playing a larger role here in wanting to get as many refugees and immigrants as possible into the country for the purpose of simply getting their cold hard votes…so this is a possible darker side of DC. 


In the end, we need to put politics aside, and figure out how do we help those that really need help and are good people seeking to live peacefully and productively among us, and how do we prevent the next wave of terror from some really bad apples? 


Until we can answer this question substantively, and not by an emotional response of it “is just not who we are,” we need to take this one step at a time and not act rashly and recklessly. 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Luis C. Araujo)

Vetting The Refugees–Do You Think It’ll Work?

Spy.JPEG

So not that anyone was so thrilled with the Syria and Iraq refugee idea post 9/11 to begin with…


But now 31 States have come straight out refusing to take these refugees post the terror attack that happened just last week in Paris–where at least one of the terrorists was...


Guess what?


That’s right!  A fake refugee from Syria


But what about the “intensive vetting process” that is being promised for these 10,000 refugees?


Well what can be more intensive than the vetting that the American government does on employees working for highly sensitive agencies like the CIA, FBI, and NSA? 


So how has that worked out?


Probably not too bad, but the problem is that no vetting no matter how thorough is foolproof, hence major spies have infiltrated these organizations for years or even decades and caused immense harm to national security:


Robert Hanssen (former FBI–spied for the Soviets for 21 years)


Aldrich Ames (31-year veteran of the CIA, compromised 2nd largest number of CIA agents after Robert Hanssen)


Edward Snowden (leaked classified information from the NSA on our surveillance programs)


The point is that no matter how well we vet 10,000 or more refugees from Iraq and Syria, with ISIS vowing “to strike America at its center in Washington”–there certainly can be some errors in the screening and final adjudication process.


Again no vetting process is perfect–especially when the refugees themselves are admitting that fake ideas are being given out to them like candy in a candy store. 


So that’s the dilemma we now face:


HEART–do what our heart tells us to and help people in need by taking in the refugees.


OR 


HEAD–follow our heads not risking another one or more potentially devastating terror attacks on the U.S. homeland. 


The choice is heartbreaking or headache producing! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Reach Out To Lead

Shake On It
The New York Times today had an editorial called “Our Unrealistic Hopes for Presidents.”



In this piece, Brendan Nyhan lowers the bar on all leadership, and most importantly on the President of the United States. 



He advocates for us to “give up on the idea of a leader who will magically bring consensus and unity to our politics.”



While I agree that there is no “magic” in leadership or politics, it is precisely a leader’s job to see to the vetting of ideas, compromise and consensus, and a way forward for the people, organization, and/or nation.



The leader, especially the president, establishes the vision, motivates and inspires, so that we are elevated from being focused on our own selfish motives  to being “One nation under G-d with liberty and justice for all.” (Pledge of Allegiance)



Or as JFK stated:



“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

This is the type of greatness that our leaders can raise us to and it defies race, party, or creed.



Certainly it wasn’t easy for the founding fathers of this nation to come together and write the Constitution and Bill of Rights that is not geared to the right or left, but is just plain brilliant and correct!



Yes, this is precisely what leadership is–not blame, finger pointing, go it alone, or defeatism–and that is why NOT everyone is cut out for the “top job” and why we seek the the 1 in 311 million for the job!



Nyhan writes “At election time, candidates seduce us with promises to bring America together, but inevitably fall short and end up leaving office with the country more polarized than when they arrived.”



In plain English…this is called broken promises and failed leadership!



A leader, absolutely, must bridge the divide, create an overall unity, a sense of purpose, bring the commitment of the hearts and minds–whether to feed the hungry, land a man on the moon, or win the war whether against fascism or terrorism.



Nyhan states disparagingly about us that “The public and the news media still want someone…a uniting figure who works across the aisle to build support”—Uh YES, how else will we ever get anything big and meaningful really done?



He tells us to “stop asking who can achieve the unity,” that times have changed, and that instead we should accept the “norm of polarization,” conflict, and disharmony in our nation. 



Sure, there are times of urgency and crisis, when a leader must decide and act in lifesaving haste; however, in most usual cases, decisions and actions can come about by joining together rather than tearing asunder. 



No, we should never stop demanding great leadership–those who can overcome both the petty divides as well as the more substantial differences, to see through to a greater good, common purpose, and a better future for us all. 



We can’t do this as Nyhan proposes by giving up on working together, and trying to go it along, without anyone who thinks differently than us, and “govern well without their support.” 



In corporate America or politics, leadership by decree is known as dictatorship, and that is not what this democracy or for that matter real success is about. 



Whether in the boardroom or the Oval Office, we need to demand leadership that explains their point of view, listens to other perspectives, and is able to form compromise and win-win scenarios.



When one side feels ignored or that they’ve been worked around instead of with, then the result is sure to be bitterness and prolonged fighting to overturn the “my way or the highway” decision or to poke the other side right back in the eye when they have the chance. 



We don’t need excuses, but strong leaders who know how to “work the room” or “reach across the aisle”– to bring facts to the table, and sentiment to touch people’s hearts, to give clear vision to help us see “the bigger picture” of what can be done, if we only can act deliberately as one.



(Source Photo: here with attribution to Niels Linneberg)

Everyone Participates

Suggestion Box
So very infrequently do suggestion boxes actually work. 



In the office, I remember when the suggestion box was put out and the biggest suggestion put into the box was to bring paper towels back to the bathrooms after these had been replaced months before with hand dryers, so the toilets wouldn’t get clogged up!



Most of the time suggestions boxes like meetings don’t get the participation and input needed. 



Today, in the New York Times, Phil Gilbert says that in the meeting room, “You’ve got the extrovert, the introvert, the know-it-all and the ambitious steamroller. No matter what the mix, there’s always someone who dominates the discussion, and others who defer to that person out of frustration–or worse, complacency.”



Truthfully, I think Gilbert misses the point–most people don’t speak up not out of frustration or complacency–but rather from fear…fear of sounding stupid, fear of people disagreeing with them, and fear of management retribution for saying the”wrong” thing.



In any case, his reflection on how some at IBM deal with this is helpful (although frankly I’ve heard this approach before and it was from a strategic planning class I believe, and not from IBM):



– Everyone writes their input on sticky notes.



– You go around the room where everyone contributes an idea and posts their note to the wall or board (and you keep doing this until ideas are exhausted). 



– The facilitator groups like ideas/sticky notes to start to form common theme and direction. 



– The group may go out and come back again for another round of ideas and input.



The point is everyone contributes to the discussion…no idea is a bad idea…and not one in the room is left to sit idly in the corner playing with their smartphone, daydreaming, or picking their noses. 



Through vetting and discussion, the best idea(s) become evident. 



I like how Gilbert ends his article emphasizing the importance of getting everyone’s ideas out there…”Once you know something, you can’t unknow it–you have to act.”



Knowing what everyone really thinks is half the battle. 



The other half is executing on the really great ideas that people come up with (Gilbert doesn’t address this). 



And again for that you need EVERYONE to contribute their talents…big mouths, naysayers, and do nothings begone! 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)