Archive for the ‘responsibility’ Category

You didn’t build your business.

I did.

My friends, siblings, neighbors and co-workers did.

My parents and grandparents built your business.

You may have provided the vision that sparked it. More likely you inherited the business, or at least the money to start it, from your parents. But let’s assume you took the initiative to start it and that you provided the initial seed money one way or another and the capital needed to keep the doors open when times were tough and the customers weren’t coming through the door. You may even have worked ungodly hours over the years to ensure the business’s success.

But you didn’t build it.

Not by yourself.

I’d bet my life’s history that I was there beside you, working just as hard, and much of the time working much harder than you were working to build your business.

I worked hours of overtime without pay. Maybe you didn’t notice I was there finishing that report you needed tomorrow as you were heading out for an evening of celebrating your company’s successful year.   I gave up time with my children – those moments watching them grow up – moments that I can never recover. I invested in your company on the promise that we were building something together. I gave up days off and vacations. I gave up pay increases. I gave up my health, my youth and my safety on the promise of a shared future that never happened.

My story is not singular. Millions of people can share the same story.

My mother worked over 30 years for the same employer. Because she was “salaried” she never earned minimum wage and her employer could require her to work more than 40 hours a week. When she started working for them, it was a simple mom and pop shop but with her help – and the help of several other employees – mom and pop built that store into two. She had to beg for raises even though she was one of (usually “the”) top sales performers. Over the years, through the hard work and dedication of many, including me, those two stores grew to three then four, then more. My mother was passed over for promotion to manager or assistant manager each time, even though she was the most qualified for the position. Still, she functioned as a manager and never complained. The owners knew they could rely upon her to make certain that their business would thrive any time they were absent, including when they were on vacation, a luxury she never had.

National Child Labor Committee Photographs taken by Lewis Hine, ca. 1912 - ca. 1912

Group of girl workers at the gate of the American Tobacco Co. Young girls obviously under 14 years of age, who work about 10 hours every day except Saturday. Wilmington, Del., 05/1910

My mother dreamt of owning her own business, a restaurant. That never happened. It’s difficult to save for your dreams when you’re raising a family of seven children and your family’s combined income is, well, low. One day, as she was getting ready for work she had a stroke that left her paralyzed on her left side. Her career was over, and the company that she helped build was nowhere to be found. She had no health insurance and no pension. Thank G-d there was a “social safety net,” the same one the Republicans who think they build things want to destroy.

We, the people who worked for you, put in the hard labor that allowed you to amass the wealth that you’re now hoarding and refusing to reinvest because you don’t like us and you don’t like the President. You talk to us about moving up the rungs of the ladder but after we helped you build yours you ripped the ladder out from under us. There is no ladder.

Were we angry that you were getting wealthy? We knew that someday we would be rewarded for our loyalty, even if it was only with a gold watch. We expected, at the very least, job security. We didn’t have to envy you because we had hope.

Then you started sending our jobs overseas; “off-shoring”, which was good for your bottom line but that left those of us who helped you build your company with fewer jobs. You started paying us less and working us longer hours. Those of us who had pensions and healthcare were stripped of them.

Those jobs we helped you create, those industries we built are gone. The jobs we thought we’d work at until we retired are gone. There are no new jobs because it is not profitable for you to create them. You used us until you no longer needed us and now, you want to call us lazy. You say “If you want it and you work hard” you too can have it. You too can become wealthy. You too can build it.

That is a gross simplification. That is simply gross.

The truth is we built it together.

And we deserve better from you.

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Independent thinking isn’t encouraged in the military. Marines don’t all have those same haircuts because they want them. They don’t run through those obstacle courses, dress alike or even go to live in Iraq or Afghanistan for years just because they want to do so. You don’t question your superiors in the military because you can’t. Lives depend on unquestioned authority. Once you take the oath, you don’t get to pick and choose what you will and won’t do.

As a Marine, I’m sure that if U.S. Marine Sgt. Gary Stein gave an enlisted man or woman an order he would not expect him or her to ask why? He would expect immediate compliance.  He should expect no less of himself.

Gary Stein chose the Tea Party over the Marines, his President and his Country and so he has no right to whine when his Country demands he turn in his uniform.

A Marine Corps administrative board has recommended that U.S. Marine Sgt. Stein be given an other-than-honorable discharge because it says he violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Department of Defense policy on political speech when he posted anti-Obama comments.

Sgt. Stein claims he was exercising his First Amendment rights on his Armed Forces Tea Party Facebook page when he posted pictures of the President superimposed on posters of the movies “Jackass” and the “Impossibles” (which he re-titled the “Horribles”) and also posted that he would not obey an order from President Barack Obama.

In creating and administering a public Facebook page and in posting comments which his superiors say “were prejudicial to good order and discipline, and (which) could have influenced junior Marines” on a Facebook page used by Marine meteorologists Stein chose to walk a not-so-fine line. He made a deliberate choice to continue to walk that line when the Marines suggested his Tea Party page might reflect poorly on the Marines. Stein took down the page, and made the decision on his own to repost the page after adding a disclaimer saying that it was not a product of the United States Armed Services and modifying his stance on the President to read that he would not obey an “unlawful” order.

Department of Defense Directives 1344.10 limits permissible political activity while one is in active service. That is as it was when Sgt. Stein enlisted and that is how it continues to this day. The Directive states that a member of the Armed Forces on active duty “may express a personal opinion on political candidates and issues, but not as a representative of the Armed Forces.”

Stein maintained in a lawsuit filed in Federal Court that he was exercising his First Amendment rights and was not in violation of military policies when he criticized President Barack Obama on his Facebook page. He argued that even if he had violated the policy then the policy was itself unlawful as it violated his right of free speech. He sought to stop the administrative separation hearing that ultimately recommended his dismissal. The Court on April 13 refused to intercede in the military proceedings.
All protestations aside, Stein pretty much gave up his First Amendment rights when he joined the Marines, at least as far as criticizing his Commander in Chief goes and he knew it. The military has had a policy since the Civil War limiting the free speech of service members, including criticism of the Commander in Chief.

The argument that he wasn’t identifying himself as a Marine on his page doesn’t fly. The argument that he was on his own time or not on duty doesn’t work either. Marines, soldiers, sailors, are kind of like police officers, fire fighters or parents; they are never off duty, even when they take off their uniforms.

Then there’s that pesky oath he took when he enlisted. The one that goes like this:

      “I, __________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

 See, on day one he promised to “obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me” both of which he flouted in suggesting he would decide what was an unlawful order. The Marine Corps cannot risk keeping a Marine who may decide to lay down his arms if he decides he disagrees with the cause.

Stein cited a 1999 District Court case, Rigdon v. Perry, as support for his argument that he maintained free speech rights but that argument fails for a couple of reasons. First, it is a Memorandum Decision and therefore cannot be relied upon as precedent and second, that case dealt with military chaplains and the right to free speech in the context of religious freedom.

In that case the Court said:

The “speech” that the plaintiffs intend to employ to inform their congregants of their religious obligations has nothing to do with their role in the military. They are neither being disrespectful to the Armed Forces nor in any way urging their congregants to defy military orders. The chaplains in this case seek to preach only what they would tell their non-military congregants. There is no need for heavy-handed censorship, and any attempt to impinge on the plaintiffs’ constitutional and legal rights is not acceptable.”

This case applies to military chaplains, which Stein is not, and their religious messages even when those messages have political overtones.

It is important to note that the Court said:

“Again, there is no evidence that military readiness or efficiency would be jeopardized(emphasis added) by permitting chaplains to preach in accordance with their religious beliefs.”

You see, when you talk about a chaplain preaching you’re not talking about someone giving a life and death order. The Court noted that military chaplains don’t affect the military part of the military. In Stein’s part of the military, military readiness or efficiency is the very reason for its existence.

So Sgt. Stein was warned and he deliberately chose to pursue his political activity. The administrative board did not buy his argument that the rules were not clear regarding criticism of the Commander in Chief specifically by “social media.” The board’s recommendations of an other-than-honorable discharge go to a general who will either accept or deny them within the next three weeks. If the general disagrees with the board, the case could go to the secretary of the Navy.

 Sgt. Stein was clever enough to make fun of the President. He needs to be man enough to face the consequences.
– Photo PatriotIcon.org

Bill Maher indicated that Rush Limbaugh has apologized for his vile remarks about Georgetown Law Student Sandra Fluke in which he called her a “slut” and a “prostitute” for speaking up for her classmates who needed prescription birth control for cysts and other health issues, tweeting:

Hate to defend #RushLimbaughbut he apologized, liberals looking bad not accepting.

First of all, Bill Maher doesn’t recognize what an apology sounds like, as he never has to apologize for anything he says. As he points out, he has no sponsors for his television show, “Real Time With Bill Maher.”

But let’s not pretend that Maher is any kind of role model either. No one, and I mean no one, looks up to him as any kind of leader or quotes him like they do Rush Limbaugh or even, say, Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert. Maher is a comedian, who is sometimes funny and who has a show on HBO that has guests who express both liberal and conservative political views. Yes, he can be crude, crass and juvenile and is often insulting to conservative women and men. Maher specializes pretty much in one-liners, which makes him a whole lot  different from Rush Limbaugh, who appears five days a week and can, and does, carry on his tirades against innocent young women for days.

We could argue about the differences between Maher and Limbaugh or whether Limbaugh or Keith Olbermann or Chris Matthews or Ed Shultz or Maher are more misogynist but let’s not. Let’s leave that conversation for another time. The issue is the apology, or the lack thereof, not so much what he said.

Rush Limbaugh and Bill Maher are rarely on the same side of any issue but on this they are uniformly wrong, Rush Limbaugh did not apologize for his tirade against Sandra Fluke – and to the rest of American women he insulted. Ms. Fluke was right not to accept the so-called apology and so were the “liberals” Mr. Maher is so interested in rushing into acceptance of the apology.

Forget whether you felt offended by any of these men and focus only on the fact that there was supposedly an apology. Apologies are actions that are offered by one party because that party is acknowledging that he or she has hurt or otherwise offended the other party. It’s not something that’s supposed to be automatic, pleasant or defensive.

Apparently, we have a lot to learn about apologies and how they should be proposed. I say proposed because there is something we need to understand about apologies. We can propose an apology but the other party doesn’t have to accept it.

Just saying that you apologize and that your apology is sincere doesn’t make it so. There have been a number of recent public examples of what are claimed to be but are not apologies. Mr. Limbaugh’s is but one.

As has been pointed out by others, Rush Limbaugh said his choice of words were not the best. He said he thought listeners would understand that that his schtick was satire. He said he was sorry he descended to the level of the  the leftists. Although he said his apology was sincere he never apologized for distorting the facts of her testimony or for saying that she was “having so much sex it’s amazing she can still walk” or for implying – during his apology – that she deserved derision because of her history as a gender activist.

His apology basically boiled down to, as the late, great comedian Flip Wilson used to say, “the Devil made me do it.”

He felt no remorse for his actions. He exhibited no regret for his words. He did not acknowledge the hurtfulness of the events he set into motion.

As much as it hurts to do it, apologizing preserves your dignity as well as that of the other person. When properly done, they force you to swallow your pride and act with grace and humility.

When I’ve had to apologize to someone, I’ve always had this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that I suspect comes from the combination of shame I feel from what I am apologizing for and the fear I feel that the person I am apologizing to will not accept my apology. I feel the apology. It is not something I do for show and it is something I would really rather not do. It’s about repairing the injured party not about making me feel better.

It is important to note that an apology requires one to take full responsibility for the offense. This modern-day excuse for an apology is not acceptable: “If I offended you (or anyone) I’m sorry.” That’s a coward’s way out. Either you’re sorry or you’re not. When you phrase it that way, you’re not. When you share the blame with the person you’re apologizing to or with anyone else or if you try to offer mitigating circumstances, it’s an excuse not an apology. An apology with an excuse is simply not an apology.

Take full responsibility for what you did. If you say, “I’m sorry if” or “I’m sorry but” then you haven’t taken responsibility. You’re placing the blame somewhere else.

I’ve seen two really good apologies from unexpected places recently; one from Keith Olbermann and one from a man some would call a racist Montana federal judge.

Olbermann seemed genuinely perplexed that comments he had made in the past were being compared to Limbaugh’s and deemed misogynistic rather than merely mean but he apologized anyway and swore to do better in the future.

“I’m going to try to raise my standard about not using gratuitously abusive remarks about women, and men,” he said. “In fact, I’m going to suspend the Worst Persons segment again, possibly permanently.”

His apology isn’t enough for many conservatives, including conservative commentators S.E. Cupp and Michelle Malkin, to whom he is apologizing but remember your responsibility is to make the apology. You can’t force anyone to accept it.

Richard Cebull, Montana’s chief federal judge, apologized to President Barack Obama for emailing a joke from his federal email that suggested that the President’s mother had had sex with a dog and that the President is lucky that he is human. The apology letter (attached) actually seems heartfelt. H e assumes responsibility and blames no one but himself for his actions.

“Please forgive me and, again, my most sincere apology,” Judge Cebull wrote.

We don’t know how the President felt or responded, but several advocacy groups and lawmakers have called for Cebull’s resignation in the interests of fairness and justice. That seems fair. Given that the man’s job is to dispense justice to everyone no matter their race or politics, his action has cast doubt on whether he is able to do that. His self-identification as a Tea Party member who disagrees with the President’s policies and who emailed what he knew was a racist joke seems reason enough for the community as a whole to reject his apology. Judge Cebull doesn’t know what else he can do beyond apologize. He can resign.

Implicit in an apology is the fact that you really mean it. If you don’t then don’t say it because you’ll find yourself in Limbaugh’s position. No one will believe it. Remember, sometimes you can mean it and an apology is not enough.

The reason we have such a hard time making a proper apology is we’ve come to think of apologies as bad things. They’re not. We make them when we make mistakes. For example no one would take offense at someone saying, “I’m sorry I accidentally stepped on your foot.” But if a group of U.S. soldiers accidentally burn a bunch of holy Qurans, we’re incensed if the President says “I’m sorry we made a mistake.” GOP Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum during an interview said at least seven times that the burnings were unintentional or a mistake but that the United States should not have apologized because the burnings were a mistake and apologies show weakness.

Understand this. Apologies are a sign of strength. A true leader, a true human being can apologize; without reservation, without excuse, without equivocation, without blame. We should respect people who can take responsibility for their actions, pledge to do better in the future and make every attempt to follow through on that promise. Anyone who does otherwise is merely a pretender and not worthy of our attention or our respect.