My Son is Graduating College Today

Call me sentimental, but I’ve always loved graduations: the way they tie up loose ends and signify new beginnings, the chance to reflect on the past, and celebrate the future. I feel bad for the graduates of 2020. Schools closed 2 months ago. Students finished (what they could) their education on line.  When I graduated I can still remember handing in my last paper.  I remember getting together that night with a few others who were graduating and having a little barbecue in front of our apartment.  We had an opportunity to share what came next. Grad school, Law School, Work, Summer jobs, Internships. Even the fear of “What’s Next” was exciting.

Like the final months of their education, 2020 graduation will be online and virtual.

We will be ok, we will get back to normal. We, as a society have rebounded from much worse.  I hope at that time schools are able to recognize these students. Maybe just invite them back for a party. I hope the recognition comes before the first Alumni fundraising drive.

I have always wanted to deliver a commencement speech. If I were to give one here is what I would say. This goes out to CHASE, my son.  As well as Anna and Annie, 2 young women graduating college this year. It also goes out to Emma, Fran, Gillian and Hannah. 3 gymnasts from Atlantic Gymnastics graduating High School this year.

(Picture me standing up in front of a lecture)

Graduations look very different today—as does the world students are graduating into. For so many, this pandemic has heightened the anxiety already baked into senior year, altering post-graduate plans and affecting job prospects.

But it’s because of this uncertainty that I believe the essential practices of commencement—reflection, transition, and, yes, even celebration—are more important than ever before.

To the class of 2020: I don’t pretend to know what it’s like to graduate in such a moment as this one. But I’ve found that the following principles have gotten me and my colleagues through the hardest of times—including the one we’re all living through now.

ASSUME AND EXPECT POSITIVE INTENT

With a number of colleges going pass/fail this semester, many students have voiced a common concern: “How will future employers react to seeing a P rather than an A on my transcript?”

The answer is: We’ll understand. After all, we know what you’re going through. And, in all likelihood, we have also benefitted from others’ understanding during these challenging times.

This crisis has highlighted the importance of empathy, patience, and trust. In many ways, it has shown that people are far often more compassionate than we might expect.

Whether it’s something as massive as a global pandemic, or as small as a challenging project, I’ve always found that assuming positive intentions is key to not only building relationships but also to learning. When you lose your defensiveness, you open yourself up to new ways of seeing and doing things. As organizations grapple with how to meet this moment, your new perspective might just be your most valuable asset.

STAY CURIOUS

Though graduation may signify an end—perhaps just a temporary one—to your formal education, this crisis has demonstrated the many ways in which learning can extend beyond the physical classroom.

What’s more, it has reinforced what has long been true. The best innovations happen when we work across fields, sectors, and disciplines. Your major won’t necessarily determine your employment, nor will it define your value as an employee. Rather, the most successful graduates will be the ones who are curious, creative, collaborative, and able to think critically about the world around them.

So, continue to learn. Keep doing your homework. Keep listening to your peers and to those above you, to those you agree with and those with different perspectives, and keep raising your hand and asking hard questions.

Reach out to your communities to see how you can help those in greatest need. Lending a hand—or even just lending an ear—is perhaps the most valuable learning opportunity of all.

CHOOSE WORDS WITH CARE

In a moment when written communication is more important than ever, choose your words with care. Whether you’re crafting an informal email or a widely circulated memo, a social media update, or a cover letter, take your time writing it. Read over your work twice. Then, walk away for a few minutes. And when you come back, read it again. Yes, speed is important, but those extra few minutes you spend culling and clarifying can help you avoid miscommunication, saving you precious time in the long run.

Be Kind.

Kindness has gained currency in the 21st century; it’s equally popular among CEOs, creative types and Mother Teresa. “Err in the direction of kindness,” as author George Saunders told Syracuse University in 2013 speech.

Balance.

A lesson of the pandemic is that we must find balance. You must ask yourself, “How can I combine career and family?”.  One without the other is a wasted experience.

Dream.

The most unrealistic person in the world is the cynic, not the dreamer. Dream, set the bar high and chart your path. You are going to make some mistakes but pick yourself up and keep going.

REMEMBER WHAT’S REALLY IMPORTANT

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this crisis has crystallized my belief that family and health come first, always. When this virus begins to subside, as it will, it may become more difficult to keep this belief front and center. And as you take on more responsibility at work, it may become harder to put it into practice.

Still, whatever it takes, and whatever form it takes, prioritize your family and friends, professors and coaches who got you to this moment: the people cheering from a distance as you get your diploma, counting down the days until they get to give you a congratulatory hug.

UPDATE- I gave a shout out to ANNA BURNS. This was a video that she made and the video that UNH used for commencement! So proud.

 

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The Day we dropped you off at UNH

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Songs For When When We Must STAY HOME

Here are some great parodies and a Billy Idol song to get you through the day.

Let me know what your favorites are OR if I missed one you really like. #itsgoing2Bok

 

 

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Is America the New Roman Empire?

Someone sent me a right wing meme this morning comparing the fall of the Roman Empire and the USA.  How it can be blamed on open boarders, weak military, the rise of the welfare state,  etc. Typical propaganda.

I actually have a degree in History. A largely useless degree unless I am involved in a game of Trivia or need to know how to research and find an answer.

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What The GOP Now Stands For

Stuart Stevens, a top Republican Party strategist in the 2012 election, tears into the GOP in a new op-ed for The Washington Post, lambasting party members for standing only for what President Donald Trump has just tweeted.

Stevens noted in the column published Wednesday— titled “Wake up, Republicans. Your party stands for all the wrong things now.” — that most Republicans would have until only-recently agreed the party stood for “some basic principles,” such as “fiscal sanity, free trade, strong on Russia, and that character and personal responsibility count.”

But now, the party “actively opposes” those issues, he explained.

“Republicans are now officially the character doesn’t count party, the personal responsibility just proves you have failed to blame the other guy party, the deficit doesn’t matter party, the Russia is our ally party, and the I’m-right-and-you-are-human-scum party, wrote Stevens, who is now working with a political action committee backing former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld’s (R) run against Trump’s 2020 reelection.

“Yes, it’s President Trump’s party now, but it stands only for what he has just tweeted,” he added.

Stevens said the impeachment of Trump over the Ukraine scandal “and all that has led to it should signal a day of reckoning.”

“A party that has as its sole purpose the protection and promotion of its leader, whatever he thinks, is not on a sustainable path,” he wrote, adding: “I’d like to say that I believe the party I spent so many years fighting for could rise to the challenge of this moment. But there have been too many lies for too long.”

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Why Are They Screaming?

I was at a cafe enjoying a coffee when I heard 2 other patrons discussing the impeachment hearings and asking, “Why are the Republicans Screaming when they do not seem to be disputing the facts?”

If there’s one thing we’ve seen consistently from Republicans during the past few weeks of congressional impeachment hearings, it’s yelling.

The articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump have been drafted and the process is now moving steadily towards a vote in the House. But GOP lawmakers, especially GOP men, aren’t going down quietly. Perhaps Democratic Coalition’s Jon Cooper put it best when he tweeted Monday, “Why is Doug Collins always yelling?” CNBC’s Christina Wilkie pointed out a similar phenomenon, noting that Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz was “yelling about whether the rules of the hearing are, in fact, the rules of the hearing.”

Indeed, in observing  House GOP  over the many days of contentious House hearings, I am reminded of a scene from the classic Will Ferrell comedy “Anchorman,” where the famed (and fictional) Channel 4 News team angrily confronts its news director over the hiring of a female reporter. In the scene, several of the male journalists take turns yelling their opposition to the addition. Steve Carell’s character, Brick Tamland, isn’t really smart enough to have a critique but wishing to be included, he screams, “I don’t know what we’re yelling about!”

 

That pretty much sums up Republicans’ defense of their current leader. If they yell loud enough and long enough, what they say about the circumstances of this impeachment inquiry will become truth. Their calculation is that by yelling about anything and everything, the American people will either be convinced or at the very least so annoyed they’ll stop watching. To the GOP, yelling seems to be both a demonstration of strength and a deliberate effort to wear down Democrats and any other Americans who care enough to tune in.

Thus, the outrage that’s been on display these past few weeks hasn’t been spontaneous. This isn’t an indication of passion or righteous anger. It is the manifestation of a decadelong marketing strategy that has kept them in the driving seat of Congress for the better part of the Obama and the Trump administrations.

This isn’t an indication of passion or righteous anger. It is the manifestation of a decadelong marketing strategy that has kept them in the driving seat of Congress.

Ironically, this tactic of outrage was often utilized by Republicans to defend the widespread use of their congressional oversight authority. Just go back and watch the 2012 House Oversight Committee hearing where Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt of Congress. You’ll see Trump defenders like Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, yelling about the need to “get the facts.”

Revisit the 11-hour grilling that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was subjected to by Republicans during the Benghazi hearing and you’ll see the now familiar sight of Republicans yelling and badgering their witness. As Rep. Adam Smith, R-Wash., observed that day, the Republicans’ strategy was to try and “wear you down.”

Monday’s impeachment hearing conducted by the House Judiciary Committee continues this pattern.

It began with Republican members like Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., trying to disrupt the proceedings with out-of-order interjections. It continued with outbursts from Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., when the committee attempted to take a break. Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisc., joined the chorus accusing the Democrats of “badgering the witness.”

Republicans engaged in a parade of outbursts, mostly refusing to engage with the substance of the evidence presented by the House Intelligence Committee previously, instead trying to discredit the process. Often, this meant members used their time to deliver loud, rambling monologues that contained few if any questions for the witnesses.

The conservative approach during these hearings has been to treat every member’s time like it is a segment on Fox News. The members are playing the part of Sean Hannity or Laura Ingraham. Their script is built on misdirection and moving the goal posts as their paltry strategy shifts to incorporate various conspiracy theories and outlandish claims. But ultimately, the overarching argument is that the entire process is circumspect. Republicans attack Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., they demand testimony from Hunter Biden, they attack and threaten whistleblowers and do everything possible to avoid asking questions of substance.

And as disingenuous as their tactics may be, they also could be working.

Public opinion regarding impeachment has remained unchanged since the public hearings began prior to Thanksgiving. Democrats have unwittingly amplified Republicans’ misdirection campaign by initially scheduling a marathon of hearings featuring hours and hours of testimony in a condensed timeline, making it all but impossible for the American people to digest and distinguish the credible testimonies we heard from career diplomats with partisan grandstanding.

And as Republicans such as Doug Collins, R-Ga., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, disparaged impeachment and their Democratic counterparts, Democrats let the GOP off the hook by refusing to address the rash of propaganda entering the public domain.

Republicans have observed that Democrats aren’t really willing to confront them directly, and the process of congressional hearings makes such confrontation difficult anyway. And so they will continue to yell. They will continue to scream. They will continue to lie. They will not stop. The only question is, what are Democrats prepared to do about it? Clearly, banging the gavel repeatedly isn’t enough.

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Trump is the natural consequence of our anti-democracy decade

TRUMP IS WHAT WE GET WHEN WE SELL OFF OUR DEMOCRACY.

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We’re coming to the end of what might be called the anti-democracy decade. It began on 21 January 2010 with the supreme court’s shameful decision in Citizens United vs Federal Election Commission, opening the floodgates to big money in politics with the absurd claim that the first amendment protects corporate speech.

It ends with Donald Trump in the White House, filling his administration with corporate shills and inviting foreign powers to interfere in American elections.

Trump is the consequence rather than the cause of the anti-democratic decade. By the 2016 election, the richest 100th of 1% of Americans – 24,949 very wealthy people – accounted for a record-breaking 40% of all campaign contributions.

That same year, corporations flooded the presidential, Senate and House elections with $3.4bn in donations. Labor unions no longer provided any countervailing power, contributing only $213m – one union dollar for every 16 corporate.

Big corporations and the super-wealthy lavished their donations on the Republican party because Republicans promised them a giant tax cut. As Lindsey Graham warned his colleagues, “financial contributions will stop” if the GOP didn’t come through.

The investments paid off big. Pfizer, whose 2016 contributions to the GOP totaled $16m, will reap an estimated $39bn in tax savings by 2022. GE contributed $20m and will get back $16bn. Chevron donated $13m and will receive $9bn.

Groups supported by Charles and the late David Koch spent more than $20m promoting the tax cut, which will save them and their heirs between $1bn and $1.4bn every year.

 

The original article was by Robert Reich.

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Impeachment and What it Means

There is a great deal of talk and rhetoric on both sides as to whether or not President Trump should face impeachment  A president cannot be impeached just because you do not like their policies.

Reality is that President Trump potentially broke the law. He has clearly obstructed justice and hampered the investigation. Should he be REMOVED from the presidency for these acts? That is a tough question. What is important is the message is sends to future presidents and elected officials. That NO ONE is above the law.

From CBS News

Lies. Obstruction. Abusing power. Defying Congress.

Sound familiar?

These are the accusations House Democrats are leveling against President Trump during the ongoing  into him. And they’re similar to the allegations that fueled America’s few previous presidential impeachment proceedings.

Only two presidents in U.S. history have been impeached — Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998 — and neither was removed from office. A third president, Richard Nixon, resigned in 1974 before facing an impeachment vote, but not before articles of impeachment were drafted. Mr. Trump is now the fourth president in U.S. history to face a formal impeachment process.

The Constitution says presidents and other federal officials can be impeached for “Treason, Bribery and other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” No president has faced impeachment articles for treason or bribery; all impeachment cases so far came down to what Congress considered to be “High Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

The phrase “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” is not defined in the Constitution, leaving it up to Congress to decide what qualifies in any particular case. Historians and legal scholars say it’s generally understood to mean a serious abuse of the public trust.

The Democrat-controlled House has not drafted impeachment articles against Mr. Trump or held an official impeachment vote, so it’s not clear what specific allegations might be included. After the House began its impeachment inquiry hearings, top House Democrats have said they have evidence of briberyand obstruction.

Here a look at what led to presidents in the past facing impeachment:

How impeachment works

The House has the power to impeach the president, and the Senate, in a separate process, then decides whether to remove an impeached president from office.

The House drafts articles of impeachment outlining the president’s alleged offenses, and can vote to impeach him with a simple majority vote on any of the articles. However, impeachment in the House is not enough to remove a president from office.

The Senate then holds an impeachment trial, and ultimately votes on whether to convict or acquit the president on the articles approved by the House. A two-thirds majority of senators would need to vote for conviction in order to remove the president.

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L-R: Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868 but not convicted; Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached in 1974; Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998 but not convicted.LIBRARY OF CONGRESS VIA AP; GETTY IMAGES

Andrew Johnson

What happened?

The 17th president was the first to be impeached.

Johnson, a Democrat from Tennessee, was President Abraham Lincoln’s running mate for Lincoln’s second term. Just 42 days after becoming vice president, Johnson ascended to the presidency following Lincoln’s assassination in April 1865. This put him in charge of a country still reeling from the Civil War, and he was soon clashing with Congress over how to handle Reconstruction.

Johnson favored a lenient approach to the former Confederate states and shocked lawmakers with some of his vetoes, including his veto of a bill that would have provided food, shelter and aid to newly freed African Americans and Southern refugees.

The final straw came in 1868, when Johnson fired Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, a Lincoln appointee who opposed Johnson’s approach to Reconstruction. House Republicans said this violated the Tenure of Office Act, a law passed one year earlier that said the Senate must approve the president’s dismissal of a cabinet member he appointed. (Johnson vetoed that bill, but Congress overrode him. The Supreme Court ruled in 1926 that the Tenure of Office Act was invalid, and it is no longer enforced.)

What did the impeachment articles say? 

In February 1868, the House voted in favor of an impeachment resolution against Johnson. A week later, the House adopted 11 articles of impeachment.

Most of the articles centered on Johnson’s dismissal of Stanton, alleging that the move defied the Senate and violated the Constitution. One article accused Johnson of unlawfully ordering that all military orders had to come from the General of the Army.

Another article said Johnson gave speeches that attempted “to bring into disgrace, ridicule, hatred, contempt and reproach, the Congress of the United States.” That article said Johnson had declared “with a loud voice, certain intemperate, inflammatory and scandalous harangues,” and that he had uttered “loud threats and bitter menace” toward Congress.

The text of the impeachment articles repeatedly said that Johnson was “unmindful of the high duties of his oath of office.”

What was the outcome? 

Only three of the impeachment articles were voted on by the Senate — two about the appointment of Stanton’s replacement, and one about insulting and disrupting Congress.

On each of these three articles, the Senate acquitted Johnson by a single vote. He remained in office until 1869, leaving after one term when he failed to win his own party’s nomination.

Richard Nixon

What happened?

Nixon, a Republican, resigned before facing a formal impeachment vote. But he was the first president since Johnson to have impeachment articles drafted against him.

The impeachment process for Nixon started in October 1973, after the Watergate scandal had dragged on for more than a year.

Nixon consistently resisted House subpoenas as the Watergate investigation intensified. The impeachment process began just days after the “Saturday Night Massacre,” when Nixon fired the special prosecutor investigating Watergate, Archibald Cox, and accepted the resignations of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus.

In the impeachment proceedings, Nixon was not directly implicated in the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington. Rather, the focus was on his efforts to obstruct the Watergate investigation.

What did the impeachment articles say?

The House Judiciary Committee approved three articles of impeachment against Nixon in July 1974.

The first said Nixon had worked with subordinates to “delay, impede, and obstruct the investigation” into the Watergate break-in to “cover up, conceal and protect those responsible; and to conceal the existence and scope of other unlawful covert activities.”

The second article said the president had “repeatedly engaged in conduct violating the constitutional rights of citizens” by “impairing the due and proper administration of justice and the conduct of lawful inquiries.”

The third article focused on Nixon’s resistance of subpoenas from the House committee. It said the president had “interposed the powers of the Presidency against the lawful subpoenas of the House of Representatives, thereby assuming to himself functions and judgments necessary to the exercise of the sole power of impeachment vested by the Constitution in the House of Representatives.”

What was the outcome?

The House Judiciary Committee approved all three articles, but the articles never reached a full House vote. An impeachment seemed inevitable after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the White House to release the tape of a phone call that showed Nixon had ordered a cover-up of Watergate. Even the Republican House leader said he would vote to impeach Nixon.

Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974. He became the first, and so far only, U.S. president to resign. And even though he was not technically impeached, he was also the first president to leave office due to an impeachment process.

Bill Clinton

What happened?

More than 130 years after Johnson’s impeachment, Clinton, a Democrat, became the second president to be impeached.

Clinton’s impeachment process sprouted from the Starr Report — the result of a four-year independent counsel investigation into his administration — and from a lawsuit filed by Paula Jones, a woman accusing Clinton of sexual misconduct.

In a deposition for the Jones lawsuit, Clinton falsely claimed that he did not have a sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The Starr Report said Clinton tried to cover up his affair with Lewinsky, and had pressured his secretary Betty Currie to repeat his denials.

What did the impeachment articles say?

The Republican-held House drafted four articles of impeachment against Clinton, but only two were approved.

The first article that passed said Clinton had provided “perjurious, false and misleading testimony” to a grand jury in the Jones case. It was approved in a 228–206 vote.

The second approved article, which passed with a 221–212 vote, said Clinton had “obstructed justice in an effort to delay, impede, cover up and conceal the existence of evidence related to the Jones case.”

An article for a second perjury count, and another article accusing Clinton of abuse of power, failed to get a majority vote.

Clinton was impeached in December 1998.

What was the outcome?

A Republican-controlled Senate acquitted Clinton on both charges in February 1999. The Senate trial resulted in 45 “guilty” votes for perjury and 50 “guilty” votes on obstruction — both short of the two-thirds vote needed to convict and remove the president.

All 45 Democrats in the Senate voted “not guilty” on both charges, and several Republicans joined them, with some arguing that Clinton did not deserve to be removed from the White House for these offenses.

Clinton remained in office and completed his second term.

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