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My Thoughts on the Election of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States

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“I pledge to every citizen of our lands that I will be the president for the American people. For those who have chosen not to support me in the past . . . I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so we can work together and unify our great country.”

 

As the clock moved from 8:00 to 9 to 10:00 p.m. and then all the way past midnight to 1:00 in the morning, I could see the dream that I and millions of other Americans shared of a Hillary Clinton Presidency—the first woman President—come crumbling and then eventually crashing down.  I wanted this woman—whom I know in my heart—to be a kind, caring, and compassionate person—I wanted this extraordinarily talented brilliant woman to be our President and to usher in a time of greater understanding and greater tolerance for all.  Let me not understate the degree to which I believed in Hillary Clinton and in her commitment to the American people—especially to those who have not been able to share in the American dream.  I—like so many of you—am devastated by the Clinton loss and the Trump win.

 

Having said all that, however, I am determined to make my grieving process just as short as possible.  I was despondent for a full 6 hours as I stayed glued to my TV screen, surfing the news channels—looking in vain for the glimmers of hope to miraculously transform themselves into a narrow Clinton victory.  Such was not to be the case, however.  Miracles were in very short supply, and those miracles that were in the air, were captured and enjoyed by the Donald Trump supporters.  By 1:30 a.m., I had seen and heard all that I needed to realize that Donald Trump was to be our 45th President of the United States.

 

As I awakened this morning just before 7:00 a.m., the news from Charlie and Nora and Gayle—along with that of Chris Cuomo—confirmed my worst fears and the certainty of Donald Trump’s election.  Yet, having said all that, I refuse to dwell on recriminations.  I refuse to linger on the what-if’s.  I refuse to excoriate Mr. Trump and his legion of supporters.  I know and you all know too many people—colleagues, facebook friends, relatives—who love our country and are intelligent, caring  people—who voted for Mr. Trump.  Some did so unabashedly or with pride, and others did so despite some serious reservations.

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For me, even now, it is time to begin to pick myself up and begin to move on.  For me it is time to pull together whatever fibers that I have of a resilient personality and move on.  For me, it is time to do what I had urged the Republicans to do 8 years ago when Barack Obama was elected.  That is, to realize that our nation—as a whole—has spoken.  We have elected a President that for the next four years will serve as the President of ALL of the people.  As much as it may pain us, we need to do what we urged the Republicans to do 8 years ago:  give him a chance.  Look for common ground in ways to improve our country and the lives of its people—including especially those who have undergone intolerance, prejudice, and economic and social despair.

 

I began this essay with Donald Trump’s pledge, last night, to all Americans.  I repeat that here because it is the focus of this piece:

 

“I pledge to every citizen of our lands that I will be the president for the American people. For those who have chosen not to support me in the past . . . I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so we can work together and unify our great country.

 

I am taking Mr. Trump at his word—that he actually wants our guidance and help.  I choose to believe that because I do believe in the innate goodness of human beings—even those who have made the jarring, hateful remarks that have characterized the campaign of Donald Trump.  I do believe—or I choose to believe that each of us–including Donald Trump—has the capacity to listen to the “better angels of our nature” and to act on those noble instincts.  I also believe in both the ego and the determination of Mr. Trump.  Sure, those characteristics have deservedly raised more than a few red flags, but they also offer some hope.  I am convinced that Donald Trump wants—even now—to take his place in history as one of the greatest U.S. Presidents of all.  He wants to be remembered as the President who cared about all the people, who rebuilt our infrastructure, who supported our veterans.  Last night he said, the following:

 

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“Every single American will have the ability to realize their fullest potential. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer. We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, schools, hospitals. We will rebuild our infrastructure. Which will become second to none, and we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.

 

 

We will also finally take care of our great veterans who have been so loyal and I’ve gotten to know so many over this 18-month journey. The time that I have taken with them I consider among my greatest honors. We will embark upon a project of American growth and renewal. We will call upon the best and the brightest to leverage our tremendous talent to benefit all.

 

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If he means what he says, and in this instance, I am hopeful that he does, then his ego, his determination, his perseverance, and his tenacity may lead him to become a far better President than we could have imagined.  In any case, for now, I am—for a time—willing to suspend my disbelief, take him at his word, and offer him a few words of “guidance”—just as he requested.

 

  1. Look forward, not back. Forget the cries of “Lock her up” and realize that months or years of charges and investigations into Hillary Clinton and the Clinton foundation serve no one, anger the nearly 50 percent of Americans who supported Secretary Clinton, and distract you, the government, and the American people from the real challenges that we face in our country.

 

 

  1. Surround yourself with really good people. Make your litmus test be that they must be not only people who have strong convictions, but they must be people of strong character—people with good hearts.  Seek out people who have great intelligence, but also great wisdom and a healthy measure of common sense.  And make sure that there are a reasonable number of individuals whom you respect, but may have differing views than your own on our nation’s challenges.  They must be people who will not be afraid to clearly express those conflicting views—people to whom you will actively listen.

 

 

  1. Do not scrap the Affordable Care Act—Obamacare—in its entirety.  Get rid of those parts that are not working, if you must, but keep the parts that are important to the American people.  Keep the parts about pre-existing conditions, the parts about limits, about keeping young people on their parent’s insurance until 26, the parts about free preventative services, and limits on health insurance payout.  Keep all the good parts that really are benefitting our people.

 

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  1. Search the Senate and the House of Representative for five Republicans and five Democrats that are highly respected and valued by the entire legislature and the American people. They must be people who are valued for their character, their creativity, their intelligence, and their ability and proclivity to compromise—to compromise with others to come up with real workable solutions to    Sit these people down in a room and let them tackle the great problems of our day—and agree to abide by their eventual conclusions.  One month they would confront immigration, for example, and work to come up with the best possible plan.  The next month, they might tackle health care.  The month after that—infrastructure needs.

 

 

 

  1. Realize that you—as President of the United States—are a role model for every child and every adult in our country. Please act like it.  You may have set some less than stellar examples in the past (surely an understatement, at best), but the past does not need to be prologue.  Your past comments and actions need not determine your future behavior.  You can begin weighing your words more carefully, noting that words DO, in fact, matter.  You can stop the insults.  As I and others have always insisted, before you say anything, ask yourself two questions:  Is it true? and Is it kind? And if the answer is “No,” then simply don’t say it.

 

 

  1. Be very cautious of trusting Vladamir Putin or any of a number of other leaders of countries with whom we have adversarial relationships. Take the full measure of a person by looking at their past behavior and deeds, meeting and talking with them, and also listening to what I hope and trust will be a diverse cadre of experienced, knowledgeable, trusted advisors of high character.

 

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  1. Make every possible effort to understand the needs, the problems, and the gifts of various groups in our society—women, people of color, immigrants, people of all religions, all nationalities, elder Americans. Reach out to them; sit down with them; listen—really listen–and then work to better the lives of all of those people. Work to end sexism, racism, prejudice in our society.  Help all to live better lives.  And don’t forget our youngest Americans—infants and toddlers.   Provide for their needs, as well, including universal preschool and quality daycare for parents who need it.  As a father, you are aware of the needs of children of every age—including teenagers and young adults.  Do all you can to strengthen schools, encourage and support good teachers, promote an atmosphere of learning, and provide the best possible education for every single child.

 

 

  1. Develop and implement a plan to successfully deal with an opiate crisis which is a scourge on our country and all its families. We all know someone whose lives have been tragically impacted by opioid abuse.  Surely we can put steps in place to curb opioid use, and to help those whose lives have been diminished or destroyed by the use of these drugs.

 

 

 

  1. Support those who risk their lives for our country—our military, or police, our firefighters. Help our veterans as they return from service.

 

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11.   Protect the environment.  Visit our National and State Parks and other natural areas to see their glory:  Bryce Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Acadia, Denali, Rocky Mt. National Park, The Grand Canyon, the Smoky Mountains, Yosemite, the Everglades, the Badlands, the Painted Desert, and so many more.  Realize that we would never have these areas today for our families had not Teddy Roosevelt and other Presidents protected them for our children.  They will not be there tomorrow–nor the Elk, the Grizzlies, the Wolves–unless you and Congress protect them!  And Climate Change?  It’s real and its a threat to our future unless you and other world leaders work together to make changes which will improve the situation.

 

 

 

12.  Be the kind of leader that we need–the kind who truly brings us together–because, as you know, we are so divided right now!  Appear frequently on television to sit down with us and really TALK to us.  Tell us what you’re thinking–and why.  Be honest with us.  Encourage us when we need encouragement.  Console us when we need consolation.  Keep making every possible effort to bring us together, even when it gets tough.  Do the kinds of things that will reassure ALL of us that you are listening, and that you HEAR us.  When Americans ask you to seriously consider common sense gun control legislation, at least listen with an open mind.  When you hear the other side talk about the importance of the Iran Nuclear treaty, at least listen to their points of view before deciding.  When people protest, invite a few of them in to hear their real concerns.

 

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If you can do that, Mr. Trump, you WILL, in fact,  go down in history as one of our greatest Presidents—a President who brought people together, who worked to really improve the lives of ALL of our citizens.

 

 

With all my heart, Mr. President-elect, I wish you the best.  I wish you courage, compassion, strength, and wisdom.  Your success will be our success.  Godspeed, and God bless.

 

 

Sincerely,

Mitchell R.Grosky

Athol, Massachusetts

 

 

 

 

 

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New Hampshire: Standing Up and Speaking Out for Hillary Clinton!

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On September 28, I spent the day covering the Hillary Clinton/Bernie Sanders Campaign Appearance at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH. for my political/social issues blog “This Week With Mitch Grosky.” In addition to taking over 500 photos, I also conducted brief interviews with a number of the people there.  After being addressed by a number of college officials and state officials, Governor Maggie Hassan (now running for Senator) spoke to the crowd.

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Governor Maggie Hassan

She was followed by the entrance of Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders.

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Secretary Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders Enter Together to Loud Cheers and Enthusiastic Applause

Bernie Sanders spoke first, speaking of the importance of electing Hillary Clinton as President. He also spoke about some of the issues–education, climate change, minimum wage, and others–that they share in common.

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Senator Bernie Sanders

Then Hillary Clinton spoke about some of these same issues, as well as the importance of universal pre-Kindergarten (pre-school), spending most of her time addressing the theme of the day: “Debt Free College.”

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This is her education plan which would dramatically reduce college costs for most students. The plan calls for making public colleges and universities tuition-free for families who earn less than $125,000 per year, making community college free for all students, and helping students to significantly lower their current debt by refinancing at lower interest rates.

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After speeches by Senator Sanders and Secretary Clinton, there was a panel discussion or Question and Answer session in which both featured speakers answered pre-selected questions from the audience about their plans for education reform. The enthusiastic full-capacity crowd of 1,200 seemed to really enjoy both the speeches and the bonus question and answer session.

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I was struck by a couple of things:

 First of all, it was easy to discern and appreciate the real excitement in the audience as people waited in line to enter with eager anticipation, and as they actually listened carefully to the speeches of the afternoon–especially those of Secretary Hillary Clinton, U.S.Senator Bernie Sanders, and Governor Maggie Hassan.

Secondly, I was impressed that the people there expressed nearly universal approval of and strong praise for Hillary Clinton.   Sometimes when people look on facebook or on the various news programs, they get the impression that everyone sees this election as a choice between the “lesser of two evils.”  That was certainly NOT the case here.  These are people who strongly believe in Hillary Clinton, who deeply admire who she is and all that she has accomplished in the past approximately 30 years.  These are people who enthusiastically support her and are totally committed to her.

In each brief interview that I conducted, I focused on two major questions.  First of all, I asked, “Are you here to support Hillary Clinton or to make up your mind?”  In nearly every single case–including those involving former Bernie Sanders supporters–I found that people had already made a firm commitment to support Hillary Clinton.

Secondly, once they acknowledged that they were already supporting Secretary Clinton, I asked them, “Could you give me a couple of reasons why you feel that she is the best candidate for President?”  People voiced strong opinions in support of the former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State.  What follows are excerpts from some of the conversations which I had with well over a dozen supporters.

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Clai from West Berlin, New Hampshire

I see a woman who is brilliant, knows policy inside and out, and who cares for everyone around her. . . She came out at the beginning of her campaign talking about (reasonable gun limitations) when nobody else did, and she’s met with survivors (of gun violence) all over the country in small groups . . . it’s on her agenda.”  –Clai from West Berlin, New Hampshire

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Deb from North Hampton, New Hampshire

“I’m here as a volunteer, for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and we’re concerned about the gun violence that’s taking the lives of over 30,000 Americans per day, and Hillary has come out and said that she’s going to fight the NRA and fight for sensible gun laws, and Donald Trump has not said that, so I’m very much supporting Hillary for that reason. . . Here in New Hampshire, there are a lot of gun owners, and there’s no reason that the second amendment can’t go hand-in-hand with sensible gun laws.” –Deb from North Hampton, New Hampshire

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Veronica from Cambridge, Massachusetts

“Her message ‘Stronger Together’—I firmly and confidently believe in that.  She’s all for getting our country together—something I firmly believe and I think that’s what we need today, especially with all that’s going on.  The world is a scary place, and thinking about Trump ruling our nation scares me to death.  It took me a while to come to Hillary, but I strongly believe in her message, ‘Stronger Together.’”–Veronica from Cambridge, Massachusetts

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“I’ve been a supporter of hers for like 15 years . . . I lived in New York; I volunteered on her staff and so on . . .  I feel that she brings a view and she understands the problems that are going on in the community, and I think she will do so much better than Donald.  I mean Donald is very upsetting because he’s spouting bigotry . . . he’s spouting separation.  It’s just amazing the things that he’s said.  He makes me feel that he doesn’t feel sorry for the words he’s expressing. . . He’s saying things that some people feel, and they’ve been afraid to say—whether (those things) are right or wrong.  He’s given them carte blanche to say those things . . . and it’s very scary because you have a population that might THINK those things about their neighbor, but he’s expressed it so (it seems like it’s) OK to say those things.” –Denise from Roxbury, Massachusetts

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Allison, Executive Editor of “The New Hampshire,” the School Newspaper at UNH—from West Hartford, CT

“I am neutral right now.  What’s important to me is that the students are educated (about) the candidates and that we get as many students as we can out there to vote on Election Day. . . The biggest issue that I’m interested in is education. I’ve always been really interested in education, and I’m listening to what the candidates have to say about student debt . . . This is not something that is on the forefront of most people’s minds, so it is our responsibility to make sure that issue is covered, and that we’re voting in favor of what’s best for our generation —Allison, Executive Editor of “The New Hampshire,” the School Newspaper at UNH—from West Hartford, CT

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Natalie, originally from New Hampshire but now living in Florida

“I’m here in support of Hillary Clinton.  I think she’s fantastic.  I’ve been following her for years.  I think she’s absolutely brilliant.  For me, personally, it would be the ACA (Affordable Care Act or Obamacare), but it’s having a first woman President . . . it’s huge; I mean we have to break that barrier . .  . everything that the Democrats stand for, quite frankly, and what the Republicans are against.”  She indicated that she was “not at all” impressed by Donald Trump—“It’s very scary; we can’t have that; we just can’t have that . . . I think he’s dangerous; I think he would take us down financially.  I think he would promote hatred, and other countries would be coming against us, and we would bear that—that hate and that burden.  The Supreme Court is also at stake; we’re looking at 3-4 Supreme Court seats – the next 20 years . . . I have zero confidence in Donald Trump (in making those appointments), and I’m terrified quite frankly.  –Natalie, originally from New Hampshire but now living in Florida

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Keith from Kennebunk, Maine.

“I’m already in support of Hillary Clinton.  She’s good for jobs.  She’s good for the colleges.  She‘s good for the college students.  She’s good for a lot of issues that the American people are concerned about.  I’m not interested in Donald Trump’s candidacy; I think he’s a farce.  He talks a lot.  Big talk, but I don’t think he can put anything behind his words. . . I don’t believe him; he’s lying to the American people.”  –Keith from Kennebunk, Maine.

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Chad from Ipswich, Massachusetts

“Those are the two reasons (that I’m supporting Hillary Clinton)—daughter number one and daughter number two –those are the number one and two reasons that I’m supporting Hillary Clinton. (The fact that she’s a woman) is important to me because it’s kind of unprecedented.  We’ve seen our first African-American President, and that’s amazing, and it would be nice to see . . . a woman, and it’s not a party trick in my mind.  I think that she is the most qualified person for this job, and the fact that she’s a woman is really icing on the cake.  There are only a handful (of her positions) that I have any disagreement with her about.”  He indicated the following as important issues for him:  “The issue of racial equality; that tops for me right now.  The environment is tops for me right now.  Not as much for me the story of the economy.  I’ve lived in a lot of countries in the world, and I know what world economy is, and it takes a little bit of perspective to understand what economy is like in this country.  Granted I’m a somewhat privileged person, but even with that, it’s hard to compare poverty in Guatemala and Haiti to what everyday working class people are feeling in the United States.  But I will say that over the last 8 years, we’ve seen a whole lot of positive change that we never saw in the previous 8 years.”  He indicated that he “absolutely” liked that Hillary Clinton would continue the politics of Barack Obama. . . “I’m very much aligned with the ideology of Barack Obama, and Bernie—absolutely Bernie, as well.  Gun control, by the way, is also right up there on the list. . . I think we just need reasonable gun control. It’s obvious.  It’s sensible.  You go anyplace else in the world and people talk about the United States.  (They ask) Does everyone carry a gun? Do you have to fear for your life when you walk down the street?  The answer is no, but that fear is there for a reason, and you spend time in other developed world countries and they don’t have the same issues we have . . .”             —Chad from Ipswich, Massachusetts

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Sylvia from Salem, Massachusetts

“I’ve made up my mind (to support Hillary)–since 2008.  Experience, Brilliance, Commitment. -–Sylvia from Salem, Massachusetts

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–Ted from Durham, New Hampshire

“I’m supporting Hillary.  I’ve been a Democrat most of my life, so that’s part of it, but I also think that I’m not so much afraid of Donald as I am of the image that he portrays, and the ability for the rest of this country to look at that and have bad behavior because of it.  He noted that the image he projects to the rest of the world “is even scarier.  .  . the lack of respect for all human beings and the inclusiveness that he rejects . . .”  –Ted from Durham, New Hampshire

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Bill from Durham, New Hampshire

“I’m supporting Hillary Clinton.  She’s far more experienced and she knows what’s she’s doing whereas I don’t really like Donald Trump.  What about Donald Trump particularly bothers me?  Oh, let’s see:  the fact of his bigotry, the fact that he once went on record saying that he wouldn’t mind dating his own daughter, the fact that he went over to Scotland and kicked people off their land using . . . eminent domain. . . In addition to that, he led basically a lynch mob against the Central Park Four who were accused of assault.”  —Bill from Durham, New Hampshire.

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Jared from Exeter, New Hampshire

“I’m supporting Hillary Clinton.  I agree with most of her plans, and I think she’s a strong leader, who can cross beyond party borders.  I support most of her social plans, like I support  the LGBT community and the Black community especially.”  –Jared from Exeter, New Hampshire

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Menat from Exeter, New Hampshire

“I’m supporting Hillary Clinton.  I think Hillary has more of the majority of the people around our country’s  needs in mind—over Trump, and that’s the way I think our next President should be.  I think there’s a lot of unemployment currently . . . she has plans like implementing solar panels that will solve two problems in one—to make sure we have clean energy as well as employing more people. . . I think Donald Trump has this certain mindset that the top one percent of our country has, and that’s just not the majority of the thoughts and opinions of the people in our country, and I don’t think that the President should represent just the top one percent.”  Menat from Exeter, New Hampshire

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More Faces in the Crowd at the University of New Hampshire Event for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders

for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders

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For over 300 MORE photographs of Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Maggie Hassan, and Others at this event, please check me out on facebook at Hillary and Bernie Visit UNH!

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Mitchell R. Grosky Photography in Collaboration with Fashion Designer VIDA

ANNOUNCING  AN  EXCITING  NEW  VENTURE  FOR

MITCHELL R. GROSKY PHOTOGRAPHY!

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VIDA  FASHION  DESIGNS

Vida Voices

It has been an incredibly exciting week for me at Mitchell R. Grosky Photography.  Early this week I received an email from VIDA.  VIDA is a global partnership of creators–painters, illustrators, photographers, sculptors–pairing designers from around the world with makers in Pakistan and India in accordance with high ethical standards, to create original, beautiful products.  And the best part is that using part of the proceeds from the sales of the products, VIDA creates literacy programs for the makers, so that they have opportunities to learn reading, writing and basic math that they would not otherwise have.

Click HERE or on the photo below to view the “Vida Story.”

The Artist Manager at VIDA indicated that she had seen my photography and digital painting online (at Mitchell R. Grosky Photography and Fine Art America) and believed that it would “fit beautifully with the VIDA brand and design vision.”  In summary, they invited me to join their growing community of artists, which now includes a select group of illustrious multi-media artists from across the United States and around the world.

Although I have never thought of myself in any way as a fashion designer, I was still intrigued by the idea of my artwork being used as the foundation for high fashion clothing.  Naturally, I was flattered and excited to be invited to join a group of just 2000 artists worldwide in turning our work into high quality apparel like silk tops and accessories like modal scarves. However, when it comes to the Internet, I always like to do some careful research.  I read some really informative articles about VIDA, a Google-backed company that works with a selective group of artists from around the world, transforming their 2D artwork into luxury fashion and apparel products.  I saw some really positive media reviews on the Wall Street Journal, Women’s Wear Daily, TechCrunch, Fashionista, Fashion Times, and a few other magazines.

Vida founder Umaimah Mendhro told the magazine “Racked” that her goal at Vida is to “use technology in a way that would bridge the gap between designers, producers, and shoppers.  We believe there’s an overwhelming amount of choice. You want to go to a place where every single piece will be beautiful and fit your aesthetic.”

Racked “reports that in order to “create that aesthetic,” Vida collaborates with artists, painters, photographers, and designers from around the world to create unique and beautiful modal scarves, silk sleeveless tops, and silk tees. Art work is loaded to a digital file, and Vida’s partner-factories digitally print the images onto fabric to fulfill orders

What got me really enthusiastic, however, was the chance to really do some good in the world with a socially-conscious company–at the same time as my designs were made into apparel which people could wear with style, grace and pride.  As I noted above, one of the best aspects of the program is that for every VIDA product sold, VIDA offers literacy programs–in reading, writing, and math–for the actual makers of the products, starting with the VIDA factories in Karachi, Pakistan.

And so, over the last couple of days, I have searched though the nearly 100,000 photos residing on my computer in order to find some that I thought would look best on beautiful scarves and lovely silk tops.  Now to be honest, my wife Anne, gave me some much needed advice, though my wife and daughter always tell me that I have a real knack for picking out beautiful clothes as gifts.  There are now four products up on the site, and if I sell at least three pre-orders of any item, VIDA will make the products.

The great news, at the time of writing this post, is one of my designs has already gone into production- the “Columbines in the Wild” design, based on a photograph which I captured of columbines on a path leading to the Quabbin Reservoir.

There’s still time to purchase one of my first four designs. As mentioned, the “Columbines in the Wild” scarf is definitely going to be produced. With the other 3 designs, there is a time period of seven days to pre-order. I have to make a minimum of 3 pre-orders of each design for it to go into production.

I’m really thrilled to offer this brand new collection to you! Please pop on over to my Mitchell R. Grosky ShopVida website to view the collection.  As an incentive for new customers, Vida is offering 20 percent off your first order when you sign up.  and use the coupon code VOICES to get 25% off (that’s just $30 for each scarf).  As an added incentive VIDA ships absolutely FREE if you buy any TWO items or if you spend a total of $75 dollars.  That makes these modal scarves and silk tops incredibly reasonable!   Remember, pre-orders are only available for another 7 days.

Here are the images I chose.

Columbines in the Wild — Modal Scarf

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The beauty of wildflowers bordering the Quabbin Reservoir is the inspiration for this light and luxurious scarf.   Featuring the photography and digital painting of Mitchell R. Grosky, this lovely scarf adds the perfect finishing touch to your wardrobe– glorious columbines lighting up this path leading to the Quabbin Reservoir in Central Massachusetts.

Columbine Model

This scarf is made out of 100% Micro­Modal® by Lenz­ing, a lux­u­ri­ously soft botanic silk fab­ric made out of Euro­pean beech­wood. Because of modal’s botanic ori­gin, it is par­tic­u­larly eco-friendly and its fine­ness is com­pa­ra­ble to that of nat­ural silk. Micro­Modal® offers a soft, beau­ti­ful sheen, with col­ors that are bright and vibrant.

The com­pletely nat­ural fiber of this scarf is made in a fully inte­grated facil­ity in Aus­tria, opti­mized for pro­duc­tion syn­er­gies and energy con­ser­va­tion by using eco-friendly pro­duc­tion processes. The fab­ric is woven in a small fac­tory in Pak­istan. VIDA col­lab­o­rates with the owner and work­ers of this fac­tory to pro­duce the per­fect thread-count and weave for opti­mal soft­ness and sheen.

AND …these scarves are huge! They are more like shawls. Because of the hand­made process, they range in size from 24.5” – 25”  x 76” –77.

Each piece is uniquely designed and custom-printed, and may vary slightly upon receipt. If pre-order goal(s) are met, item(s) will be shipped 30-60 days after the pre-order window closes, which may vary by product.  Your credit card will be refunded the full amount for any product(s) that do not meet the pre-order goal.

Nubble Light Seascape — Modal Scarf

One of America’s most-beloved lighthouses is the inspiration for this beautiful scarf.   Featuring the photography of Mitchell R. Grosky, the scarf depicts waves crashing powerfully on craggy rocks just in front of York, Maine’s Nubble Light.   Made with soft, luxurious fabric, this scarf will add a bold, modern statement to any wardrobe.

1-Nubble Light final saturated

This scarf is made out of 100% Micro­Modal® by Lenz­ing, a lux­u­ri­ously soft botanic silk fab­ric made out of Euro­pean beech­wood. Because of modal’s botanic ori­gin, it is par­tic­u­larly eco-friendly and its fine­ness is com­pa­ra­ble to that of nat­ural silk. Micro­Modal® offers a soft, beau­ti­ful sheen, with col­ors that are bright and vibrant.

Nubble Model

The com­pletely nat­ural fiber of this scarf is made in a fully inte­grated facil­ity in Aus­tria, opti­mized for pro­duc­tion syn­er­gies and energy con­ser­va­tion by using eco-friendly pro­duc­tion processes. The fab­ric is woven in a small fac­tory in Pak­istan. VIDA col­lab­o­rates with the owner and work­ers of this fac­tory to pro­duce the per­fect thread-count and weave for opti­mal soft­ness and sheen.

AND …these scarves are huge! They are more like shawls. Because of the hand­made process, they range in size from 24.5” – 25”  x 76” –77.

Each piece is uniquely designed and custom-printed, and may vary slightly upon receipt. If pre-order goal(s) are met, item(s) will be shipped 30-60 days after the pre-order window closes, which may vary by product.  Your credit card will be refunded the full amount for any product(s) that do not meet the pre-order goal.

Boston Harbor — Sleeveless Silk Top

The magnificent, picturesque Boston Seaport is the inspiration for this lovely silk top.

2-Boston Harbor Canvas 16x20 paint

Cut with a flattering A-line and a rounded asymmetric hem, this silk top features the photography and digital painting of Mitchell R. Grosky.  It strikingly showcases the natural beauty of the Boston Seaport along with the magnificence of the Boston skyline, and will make you look and feel effortlessly beautiful – day or night.

Boston Harbor Model

Each piece is uniquely designed and custom-printed, and may vary slightly upon receipt. If pre-order goal(s) are met, item(s) will be shipped 30-60 days after the pre-order window closes, which may vary by product.  Your credit card will be refunded the full amount for any product(s) that do not meet the pre-order goal.

Siz­ing Chart for the silk tops are as fol­lows.
Note: tops fit true to size but a drapey cut — please size down if you pre­fer a snug fit.
Point of Mea­sure­ments
Small: Bust — 32″, Hips “38” (US Size 0–2)
Medium: Bust — 34″, Hips “39” (US Size 4–6)
Large: Bust — 38″, Hips 40″ (US Size 8–10)

 

Kansas Sunflowers — Modal Scarf

The vibrant beauty of sunflowers is the inspiration for this beautiful, luxurious scarf.  Featuring the paintography of Mitchell R. Grosky, this lovely scarf depicts the bright, vivid colors of a field of Kansas sunflowers,  and would be a delightful accessory for any wardrobe.

1-e Flowers Paint

This scarf is made out of 100% Micro­Modal® by Lenz­ing, a lux­u­ri­ously soft botanic silk fab­ric made out of Euro­pean beech­wood. Because of modal’s botanic ori­gin, it is par­tic­u­larly eco-friendly and its fine­ness is com­pa­ra­ble to that of nat­ural silk. Micro­Modal® offers a soft, beau­ti­ful sheen, with col­ors that are bright and vibrant.

Sunflower Model

The com­pletely nat­ural fiber of this scarf is made in a fully inte­grated facil­ity in Aus­tria, opti­mized for pro­duc­tion syn­er­gies and energy con­ser­va­tion by using eco-friendly pro­duc­tion processes. The fab­ric is woven in a small fac­tory in Pak­istan. VIDA col­lab­o­rates with the owner and work­ers of this fac­tory to pro­duce the per­fect thread-count and weave for opti­mal soft­ness and sheen.

AND …these scarves are huge! They are more like shawls. Because of the hand­made process, they range in size from 24.5” – 25”  x 76” –77.

Each piece is uniquely designed and custom-printed, and may vary slightly upon receipt. If pre-order goal(s) are met, item(s) will be shipped 30-60 days after the pre-order window closes, which may vary by product.  Your credit card will be refunded the full amount for any product(s) that do not meet the pre-order goal.

It is a privilege for me to introduce this lovely collection to you.  Simply CLICK HERE to buy any one (or more!) of these scarves and lucious silk shirts, and don’t for­get to include coupon code VOICES to get 25% off (that’s just $30 for each of these lovely scarves–and $56.25 for a beautiful silk top!  Please help me to spread the word by shar­ing this post with your friends and fam­ily through social media or in per­son.

I really feel that these high fashion scarves and tops would make an absolutely gorgeous gift for a special person in your life. And when was the last time you bought something gorgeous just for yourself?  You know you deserve it!  Remember, the pre-order period expires just one week from today! Please check out my new Vida Voices fashion line at shopvida.com

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New York City: More than Just the Jets (Fortunately!)

New York's Times Square

In the spirit of full disclosure, let me point out that I was born in New York, and though my family moved to New England when I was only a boy of four, I have fond memories of many visits there, over the years, to visit my relatives.  My boyhood memories include great times at Coney Island, the Bronx Zoo, the Statue of Liberty., and later the New York World’s fair.  As we grew up here in Massachusetts, my younger brother and I always selected Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford to emulate when we’d play baseball.  We sang along with Frank when he belted out “New York, New York” at countless weddings and Bar Mitzvahs.  I remember admiring John Lindsey and John Rockefeller, even as I became enamored of the Kennedy brothers.   I appreciated the Giants and Bill Parcells, even before he came to the Pats.   And even though I am a rabid Red Sox fan, I have always appreciated and applauded Yankees from Thurman Munson to Graig Nettles to Andy Pettite to Derek Jeter to Mariano Rivera who have played the game with both grit and class.

“So what?”  you ask.  So, there is no way you can accuse me of being a Big Apple-hater!  In fact, I just got back from a few days of delightful New York sight-seeing where I visited the Bronx Zoo, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, Times Square, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Top of the Rock.  You can check out my photos at http://mrgrosky.wordpress.com/ and at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrgrosky/ .

That is why it almost pains me to say that the New York team which is visiting Gillette Stadium in Foxboro tomorrow–the New York Jets–is one which is unworthy of its fans and unworthy of the great city of New York.   Yeah, I know all about the Patriots and the great Snowplow controversy and Spygate ………The former was no big deal to anyone except Don Shula and some disgruntled Dolphins, and the latter was nearly identical to what many other NFL coaches have routinely done.    For that, they were justly penalized a total of $750 THOUSAND  dollars and a first round draft choice—the toughest penalty in NFL history.   But these two events are the sole blemishes on a team that for much of the 90’s and the first decade in the new millennium has represented class and the highest level of skill.  Since 1994, the Pats have the best record in football.  They have continued their extraordinary record even after Spygate in 2007, when many were hoping and waiting for them to fall on their faces.

Now the Jets, on the other hand, have long been a team that has fallen far short of expectations.   Many say that the first three words that a new Manhattan daddy hears his baby utter are “Same Old Jets.”

This year the Jets have notched new lows in outrageousness and lack of class.  Hmmmm…….where do I start?   There are so many examples that I’d better take them chronologically.  Way back in August there was the HBO Hard Knocks display of profanity by brash Coach Rex Ryan.  Then in September, a reporter complained that she was subjected to catcalls and jokes by players as she covered practices.    Jets owner Woody Johnson had to not only apologize, but was forced to pay for an NFL training program to improve the workplace environment.   Also in September, we had the allegations of driving while intoxicated against Jets receiver Braylon Edwards.  Then, in December, the Jets were forced to suspend their strength and conditioning coach when he instructed inactive players to form a wall on the sidelines before he tripped a Dolphins special teams player during the game.  Then in December and January, we continued to deal with the behavior of Brett Favre, back when he was a Jet–serious allegations of sexual harassment by this famous quarterback, who also happens, by the way, to be a married man.  In recent days we have arrogant Coach Rex Ryan trying to get inside Tom Brady’s head by saying that Brady studies—but not as much as Peyton Manning, and that Manning would have been watching the Jets instead of watching the Broadway show Lombardi, a la Brady.  Finally, this week we have Antonio Cromartie profanely attacking Brady with words that can not be reprinted here (because this blog is read by adults and children of all ages).   For that reason among others, I will not even tread into the dirty waters surrounding the Ryan/Ryan foot issue.

And what have the Pats done during all this time?  Kept their mouths shut, respected their opponents–including the Jets–and played tough, smart, great football–even while having one of the youngest teams in the league.  The Jets would do well to remember that words are cheap, and that it is action and results that count.

For tomorrow’s playoff game, I hope that the Jets leave the trash talk in the locker room, and come out to play some good clean hard-nosed football.  It’ll be the only way they have a chance.   If they get carried away with their own hyperbole, as they did the last time they met the Pats, it’ll end up being another blowout with the Pat winning 38-10.  If the Jet can play up to the level and quality of the city they represent—with class and with heart—it’ll be significantly closer.

Still, I’m predicting a Patriots victory 31-27.

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The Scott Brown Thank You Tour

Scott Brown Comes to Dracut, Mass. to Thank His Supporters

 

In the spirit of good journalism and fairness, I traveled this afternoon to Dracut, Massachusetts where I attended the reception for Senator-elect Scott Brown.  I went with an open mind, determined to view this man who has shaken to its core the Democratic Party and (to a lesser extent) the Republican establishment as well.  Now, for those who are not regular readers of this blog,  in the spirit of full disclosure, I want to confess that I was an active supporter of Martha Coakley, and fully endorsed her candidacy on January 17 as my first blog post.   

However, those of you who know me and those of you who have read my blog, know how much I value fairness, decency, and rational discourse characterized by courtesy and respect.  In fact, I am hoping that my blog becomes known as one which actively and eagerly explores all points of view and solicits all ideas, so long as the writer expresses them courteously and attempts to back them up with facts and evidence.    

Finally, those who have read my most recent blog entry on the State of the Union Address, know that I firmly believe that we need to give our elected officials a fair chance and a reasonable amount of time to put their agendas to the test and to measure results.  In President Obama’s case, I stated strongly that 12 months was not nearly enough time to judge either Barack Obama or his Presidency.   

In the very same way, I believe that it is incumbent upon each and every one of us—Brown supporters, Coakley supporters, Kennedy supporters, and even those who did not vote–it is incumbent upon us ALL to support OUR United States Senator (Elect) Scott Brown.  He was, after all, fairly elected by a solid majority in an election that was watched and studied carefully across our Nation.
Consequently, it was in that spirit that I journeyed nearly ninety minutes in my 1993 Ford Focus (sorry, no Scott Brown styled pickup truck) to see Scott Brown thank his supporters and meet some of those other folks who had voted for one of the other two candidates.  I got to the restaurant about one hour early and was met by a line of people which was permitted to head into the restaurant beginning at about 2:40—nearly an hour before Senator-elect Brown was to arrive.  I was fortunate enough to get a position right in front of the podium—prime territory for some great photos, a short video, and a chance to personally meet (albeit very briefly) our newly elected Senator.    

The hall was filled with young, middle-aged, and older men and women, some of whom brought a child or two.  I’ve got to say that my experience in chatting with these Brown supporters for nearly an hour as we staked out our positions (literally and politically) in Lenzi’s Restaurant was a very positive and enjoyable one—even as I announced my Democratic pedigree and my support for both Coakley and President Obama.  This atmosphere, frankly, was in stark and pleasant contrast to my experience in encountering a group of enthusiastic but angry Brown supporters as I left the Coakley-Clinton rally at WPI in Worcester  just two weeks ago.    

This afternoon, I was surrounded by eager, thankful and excited Brown supporters.  They seemed to still be basking in the glow of their election success.  I say “their” success, because so many of them felt that they were a part of the success of the campaign and the victory of Scott Brown.  Seeing the way Brown’s victory has reverberated across the country and is already showing signs of making a difference in Washington politics-as-usual, they seemed newly enfranchised, filled with an idealism that I suspect many have not experienced in many a year.  I spoke to an elderly man from Dracut who had fought in the Korean War.   I spoke to a young Political Science and Communications graduate of Westfield State College who seemed eager to volunteer for a position on the Brown staff.  Then, there was a very pleasant woman standing just to my right in the only position that was better than mine—right in front of the podium.  She had a number of newspaper front pages—one laminated—that she was eager to have autographed.  She was from New Hampshire, and only became a supporter after her sister from Massachusetts called her excitedly about this new amazing candidate that she had begun following and supporting.  You can find her photo and many others of Senator-elect Brown and his supporter on my flickr photo website at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrgrosky.   

I spoke to a woman of 60 years who was eager (like most) to get a photo with Senator-elect Brown.  Quite frankly, I’m not sure she entirely approved of me or of my being there (especially right up front!) since I made it clear that I had not been in Brown’s corner, and that I was a strong supporter of President Obama.  Still, I think I gradually won her over a bit, when I insisted that I would try to write a fair and honest piece on this Brown event.   I spoke with a very kind young  Greek-American father and his sixth grade son.  We spoke of subjects ranging from his strong support of the Senator-elect,  to his son’s education,  to the campaign of Michael Dukakis, to the gorgeous Greek isles of Mykonos and Santorini. I spoke with two young men who had autographed a basketball to present to Mr. Brown in the hope that he might use it to challenge President Obama to a game on his “home court” in Washington.  Then there was the elderly lady whom I was informed was 90 years old and didn’t have a computer when I naively asked if she wanted me to email a picture of her posing with the President.   And the woman with the double-sided poster: on one side “Stand Strong” and on the other “Show the Love–Honk for Scott.”  She said that I could take her photo if I mentioned the “Rabid Republican” website   (O.K……a promise is a promise).   

There was a good feeling in that room–a real comradery among people who were happy for their successful candidate, now a soon-to-be-Senator, and a conviction that they really had made a difference–a difference that maybe–just maybe–might prove to be long-lasting.  Oh, sure, I guess some people didn’t quite know what to make of this retired educator who kept shooting photo after photo with his trusty Nikon—this former Coakley supporter who kept insisting that he was going to give the same chance to Scott Brown over the next two years as he hoped they would give to Barack Obama for another year or two.  But, in the long run, I think there grew a mutual respect,  As I listened to their fears of a scaled-back health care bill which they acknowledged might be acceptable initially (until the Congress added more to it year after year), they listened to me speak of goals that the President had recommended–tax breaks for small business and other job incentives upon which we could, perhaps, agree.   

And what about the object of all that affection, good will, and excitement?  Well, a smiling and exuberant Scott Brown entered soon after 3:30 to the enthusiastic applause and wild cheers of the faithful.   He spoke briefly–about three minutes.  After explaining that he wanted to stay long enough to have a chance to meet, shake hands with, or pose with everyone, he thanked the crowd:  “I want to personally try to thank each and every one of you because without all of you…I wouldn’t have the opportunity to go to Washington and bring good government, and fairness, and discussion, and just problem-solving back to the equation.”  He seemed to answer, then, a question from the crowd:  “How are my days…?  My days are pretty much the same,” he playfully quipped.  “I get up, I go for a ride, I ride my bike, play with the dogs a little bit, give the wife a kiss goodbye, and then I go to see about a thousand people!”   He concluded, “and it’s all wonderful, and I’m very, very humbled and honored to be here and to have an opportunity to really make a difference and bring common sense back to the equation in Washington. ”  You can see the video at my YouTube    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsU53wnr05o
  

Just a  short speech and a much, much longer meet-and-greet that followed……Through it all, he seemed young and energetic.  To tell you the truth, he connected so warmly and directly with the crowd that as I watched the young and the old press for photos, handshakes, and autographs, I couldn’t help think and believe that this  is what it must have been what it was like  when Jack Kennedy first was elected to the Senate, Bill Clinton to the Governorship, and even (much more recently) Barack Obama to the Presidency.      

Will he stay true to his words and make good on his promises?  The crowd–voicing their fatigue (in some cases) and their disgust (in other cases) with the Washington career politicians, particularly with Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi–see him as a different kind of politician–a man of the people–a Senator whose only loyalty is to the people of Massachusetts.    

As for me, putting personal political biases and votes aside, I have to say that I was impressed with the man I briefly saw today.  He was friendly,warm,  personable, down-to-earth.  He seemed sincere, and though he was saying many of the same things at each of these five thank-you stops he has made over three days, the words still resonated true, as though they really came from the heart.  I wonder, too, if he will turn out to have more substance–to be more than I thought he was when I voted for Martha Coakley… Is he really the independent voice he insisted that he was, or was that just an attempt to obscufate the fact that he was a Republican who had voted with the state Republican leadership 96 percent of the time?   I certainly was encouraged when–in his first trip to Washington–he seemed to tell both Republicans and Democrats that he did not owe his election to either party and that he would vote his conscience.  I also liked his respect for those with opposing views–President Obama, in particular, and also Mayor Menino.   

Now, it’s true that many would call me an idealist, a cockeyed optimist;  some (especially on the left) might call me dangerously naive.  Yet after two weeks of disappointment with my candidate losing, and many days of seeing the vitriol of so many on the right (and a few on the left, as well) I admit that I was ready to be convinced that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that this light is not a freight train coming towards us, bringing us a disaster of epic proportions.  Scott Brown did not disappoint; I fervently hope he will not disappoint in the half-term ahead of him.  In any case, he deserves a chance.

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President Obama’s State of the Union Address

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OK….first of all the above Help Wanted ad is only in jest; the LAST THING we need is a new President—REALLY!  I’m not an expert (as if you couldn’t tell) but I am an American citizen who follows the news carefully through newspapers, television (ABC, NBC,CBS, CNN, and FOX), magazines, and the Internet.  I really make an effort to be well-informed–like so many others of you out there.  Yet one of the greatest problems in this country is the number of citizens who simply refuse to become well-informed by any measure whatsoever.  Either they watch/listen to only one station and hear only one viewpoint, or they simply tune out and do not spend any real time making an effort to really understand the issues.   Millions and millions of Americans did not bother to watch the President last night.  Instead they watched programs on other networks or dealt with other real or perceived priorities–playing cards, doing household chores, completing homework, visiting their favorite bar, catching up on some overdue sleep, playing with the children, working out at the gym, chatting on Facebook, playing video games, and any other of a hundred other activities–some important, some not-so-important.   News Flash:  It is incumbant upon those who live in a democracy–those who live in what many of us firmly believe is the greatest democracy in the world–it is incumbant upon every one of its citizens to become and remain well-informed.  And that requires work–real effort and time on all of our parts.

Of those who actually watched the President’s 80-minute address, some  did so with an open mind, intending to give our President a chance to explain what he would do in the second and succeeding years of his term.  Others, unfortunately, viewed the program with the most jaundiced of eyes.  They have already vehemently (and sometimes viciously) turned against our President–feeling that if he has not turned our country around in the grand total of 12 months, then he no longer deserves our support.  This outrageous opinion comes despite the fact that he inherited what many have called the worst recession since the Great Depression, two agonizing and expensive wars, a nearly double-digit unemployment rate, and a citizenry who seems to be conditioned to television’s 60-minute instant solution to complicated problems–a citizenry that seems to have totally forgotten that it took even the most successful of Presidents in the past (see Reagan, Clinton, Roosevelt, etc.)  nearly a full term or MORE to really begin to solve our Nation’s economic and other problems.

The afternoon before the speech, when asked by CNN correspondents what they most wanted to hear from their President in his State of the Union address, average Americans of all political stripes, stated overwhelmingly that they wanted to hear the President speak about jobs and the economy.  And so he did.  Addressing the intertwined problems of unemployment and the economy occupied the major portion of his speech.

I watched the President’s address in its entirety, and here is my analysis.  Under very difficult circumstances for our nation, he delivered a superb speech–perhaps the best State of the Union Address I have ever heard in my 59 years!  While he tried to give a realistic picture of the terrible situation our country was in when he took office, he also noted that “the worst of the storm has passed” because of actions his administration had taken–including the absolutely necessary bailout of the banks.

As accomplishments in his first year he pointed out that his administration had “extended or increased unemployment benefits for more than 18 million Americans, made health insurance 65% cheaper for families who get their coverage through COBRA, and passes 25 different tax cuts.”  With regard to those tax cuts, he insisted, ” that we cut taxes for 95% of working families, for small businesses, for first-time homeowners, for parents trying to care for their children, for 8 million Americans paying for college.  “As a result,”  he stated, “millions of Americans had more to spend on gas, food, and other necessities, all of which helped businesses keep more workers.”  And, he quickly added, “we haven’t raised income taxes by a single dime on a single person.”  He gave many examples of the success of the much-maligned Stimulus Bill or Recovery Act, but in summary, he said that “Because of the steps we took, there are about two million Americans working right now who would otherwise be unemployed.  200,000 work in construction and clean energy.  300,000 are teachers and other education workers.  Tens of thousands are cops, firefighters, correctional officers, and first responders”  He noted that the Adminstration is on track to add another one and a half million jobs by the end of the year.

Yet he did not pretend that we are totally out of the woods.  He noted that “One in ten Americans still cannot find work.  Many businesses have been shuttered. Home values have declined, Small towns and rural communities have been hit especially hard.  For those who have already know poverty, life has become that much harder.”  He went on the state that “This recession has also compounded the burdens that America’s families have been dealing with for decades–the burden of working harder and longer for less; of being unable to save enough to retire or help kids with college.”

So nearly all of you would agree with our President that these are the problems he must confront—he has a duty to confront–head-on–in this next one to two years.  How does he propose to confront and solve these problems.  Here is his plan—NOT filled with details, because an 80-minute speech does not allow and is not intended to provide details.  Those details will come as specific proposals are advanced in the days to come.  Yet the address did provide some broadly stroked proposals in key areas to significantly improve the daily lives of the people of our nation.  In brief, here are those proposals:

1.  A fee on the “biggest banks” to recover the rest of the money we lent to them (Most has already been recovered).

2.  A new jobs bill, starting with small businesses–taking 30 billion dollars of the money Wall Street banks have already repaid and using it to help “community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat.”

3.  A new small business tax credit to over one million small businesses who hire new workers or raise wages.

4.  Elimination of all capital gains taxes on small business investment and a tax incentive for all businesses tha invest in new plants and equipment.

5.  Putting Americans to work building the infrastructure of tomorrow–highways, railroads, clean energy facilities, home energy  rebates.

Slashing tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas and awarding  tax breaks to those companies that create jobs in the U.S.

7.  Serious financial reform–protecting our economy by providing for a strong, healthy financial market that “makes it possible for businesses to access credit and create new jobs” and which “channels the savings of families into investments that raise incomes.”

8.  Encouragement of  American innovation–clean energy, safe nuclear power, new offshore areas for oil and gas development, advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies, and a comprehensive energy and climate bill.

9.  Doubling our exports over the next five years, and increase that will support 2 million American jobs by launching a “National Export Initiative that will help farmers and small businesses increase their exports, and reform export controls…”

10.  Seeking new markets for our goods by strengthening trade relations in Asia and South America.

11.  Investing in the skills and education of our people by investing in educational reform which rewards only success–reform which raises student achievement.  This involves expanding these reforms to all fifty states so that “the success of our children ” depends more on their potential as opposed to simply where they happen to live.

12.  A bill that would revitalize our community colleges.  Ending “unwarranted” taxpayer-subsidies that go to banks for student loans and using that money to give families a $10,000 dollar tax credit for four years of college.  Increasing the Pell Grants which many of us relied on in the past to help fund our college educations.  A new requirement that would allow a million college graduates to pay only 10 percent of their income on student loans, and all of their debt to be forgiven in 20 years (and in 10 years if they go into public service.

13.  A task force on Middle-Class Families.  Nearly doubling the child care tax credit.  A plan to give every worker “access to a retirement account and expanding the tax credit for those who start a nest egg.”

14.  Stepping ups refinancing of homes so that homeowners can move into more affordable mortgages (noting that steps last year allowed millions of Americans to take out new loans and save an average of $1500 on mortgage payments.

15.  Health care reform which gives coverage to millions of Americans who have been denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions,  preventative care in all plans, protection of Americans from the worst practices of the insurance industries, and the opportunity for small businesses and uninsured Americans to have the chance to choose an affordable health care plan in a competitive market.  These  would be plans that would preserve the right of all Americans who currently have insurance to keep their doctor and their current plan.  And very importantly, it would reduce skyrocketing costs and premiums for millions of families and businesses.

16.  A plan to freeze government spending for three years (except for spending relating to national security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. This freeze would go into effect in one year, after our economy improves.

17.  The establishment of a bipartisan Fiscal Commission which would provide a specific set of solutions by a certain deadline.

18.  To increase trust in government, a requirement that lobbyists disclose each contact they make “on behalf of a client with my Adminstration or Congress.”

19.  The establishment of strict limits on the contributions that lobbyists give to candidates for federal office.  Here, the President actually took a daring swipe at the Supreme Court that just voted to “reverse a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests–including foreign corporations–to spend without limit in our elections.

20.  Earmark reform on all these pet projects (aka “pork”) that find their way into unrelated bills.  The establishment of a website that would post all earmark requests BEFORE a vote is taken on those requests so that “the American people can see how [and why] their money is being spent.”

21.  Renewing focus on “terrorists who threaten our nation.”  Continued investments in homeland security.

22.  Increasing troops and training Afghan Security Forces so that “they can begin to take the lead in 2011, and our troops can begin to come home.”

23.  Removing all of our combat troops from Iraq by August of this year.

24.  Commitment to support men and women in uniform and veterans when they come home; building a 21st century VA and a commitment (headed by Michelle Obama and Jill Biden) to support military families

25.  New initiatives, sanctions, and negotiations to reduce nuclear weapons around the world.

26  Providing world leadership in helping other counties with problems in climate change, HIV/AIDS, fighting bio-terrorism and infectious disease, and other problems.

27.  The prosecution of civil right violations and employment discrimination and strengthening laws dealing with civil right violations and employment discrimination; repealing the don’t ask, don’t tell law in the military.

Now, admittedly, this is a very ambitious agenda–but it is the agenda on which this President was overwhelmingly elected.  It is an agenda that he HAS made some progress on (as noted above) although we all wish that the progress could come more quickly and more easily.   The focus, however, is where the Americans wish it to be–on jobs and the economy.

Let me conclude with the point on which I began:  Let us give this President–OUR President–a real chance to succeed–not just 12 months.  As you might guess, I didn’t vote for Bush, or Nixon, or even Reagan, but I did give each of those Presidents my respect AND a full 36-42 months to make good on their promises and to make some real inroads in turning our country around in what I felt was a positive direction.  The idea of a 4-year Presidency is to give that President a term to really make progress on his agenda–even if it is not the agenda of the candidate that you would have preferred to occupy the office.  President Obama is President of ALL Americans.  As conservative Republican actor and activist John Wayne once said when referring to President Kennedy, “I didn’t vote for him, but he’s my President.  I hope he does a good job.”

That’s what I would request of each of you.  Give our President a chance to do the work for which he was overwhelmingly elected.  Have the patience with his Administration and the respect for the Office and the Individual that true Americans have always given their President.  Stop the name-calling, the insults,  the profanity, the exaggerations, the refusal to even consider other points of view.  Educate yourselves on the issues and stay educated.  Let the best of your instincts and your intellect show themselves on talk shows, editorials, blogs, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and Internet forums. Let us try to work as one country–as one People–in solving the multitude of problems we face and making our country all it can truly be.

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Scott Brown, Haiti Relief, and Football

Election of Scott Brown in Mass. Illustrates Voter Anger and Frustration

This week’s election of Massachusetts relatively obscure State Senator Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate was a wake-up call to all politicians in Washington that the Americans are fed up with business as usual in the Beltway.  Martha Coakley may not have been the strongest campaigner, but after all–this is Massachusetts–the true-blue state that voted over 60 percent for Barack Obama just over a year ago!

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I do have to admit that my adult son and I spent almost three hours alone on a downtown corner in an election-day snowstorm holding signs for Martha Coakley.  We recorded 52 thumbs-up from passing motorists vs. only 29 thumbs down during about a thirty-minute time period when we were making our strictly unscientific poll.  Since our town and the whole state voted strongly for Brown, the only thing we were able to confirm was the complete unreliability of these unscientific polls!

So, what does it all mean?  Well, first of all, it means that the people are unhappy with the slow pace of the recovery and the higher-than-ten percent unemployment rate (9.4 percent here in Massachusetts).  Secondly, they seem to be angry with both Democrats whom they view as trying to spend our way out of the recession by using huge amounts of taxpayer money (adding to the deficit) with additional government programs like health care.  Although many people in Massachusetts support the idea of health care for the 30 million Americans who do not have any health care (and the elimination of prior conditions as a rationale for rejection ), they are incensed with back-room deals and a perceived lack of transparency in developing a health care bill.  While this looks like good news for Republicans, it is clear that they should not be licking their chops just yet.  Surveys and interviews with voters show that the people are  also not happy with Republicans who seem to be refusing to compromise, and are now beginning to be known as the Party of “No.”  Many people I spoke to point to the fact that Republicans and Conservatives  like Sen. Jim DeMint or Rush Limbaugh seem to WANT Barack Obama to fail and are, therefore, doing everything within their power to be obstructionist and confrontational–refusing to work with the President or to offer realistic compromises.

For those who pay attention to history, it is clear that this financial crisis does not belong to any ONE political party.  After all,  Democrat Bill Clinton left a $237 billion surplus for Republican George Bush and a Republican Congress.  President Bush and his policies caused that surplus to disappear largely through unfunded wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, leaving  Democrat Barack Obama (on entering office)  a $1.3 trillion deficit.

The general view seems to be that Scott Brown–an attractive and energetic campaigner–was able to tap into all of that voter frustration.  Running a smart campaign, he is the beneficiary of all of that voter anger and angst.  His job now is to  prove that he is, in fact,  the independent thinker, shaker and mover that he purported to be.  In the spirit of good government and true bipartisanship, I wish him all the best.  Our country needs it; our democracy demands it.

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NOW,  ONTO  SOME  OTHER  CONCERNS  OF  THE  WEEK:

Kudos to the American people who have rallied to the cause of disaster relief in Haiti by donating over 377 million dollars in the past two weeks.   As an American and an educator for nearly 37 years, it makes me proud to see how average citizens–many in financial difficulty themselves–have dug deeply to help friends in the world community who have been stricken by the disaster in Haiti.  While so many countries–including the U.S., Mexico, Venezuela, Israel, Spain, and China–have sent doctors and/or rescue squads, many are also contributing huge amounts of money.  Based upon the percentage of amounts donated and/or pledged and on the per capita contributions (which takes the population of each country into account), it seems that the leading contributors are the United States, Canada, Spain, Great Britain, France, the World Bank, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and the European Commission.  I hope the contributions continue to flow in –even as Haiti fades from the nightly news reports, and the media focuses on other areas of the world.

Since they often are ridiculed for the causes they espouse, I also want to thank those celebrities who were involved as performers or phone handlers in the telethon for Haiti relief which was on all three networks yesterday.   Sure, our society rewards superstar celebrities with nearly obscene salaries for their singing or acting, but it behooves us to point out that a large number of these celebrities really do seem to have genuine social consciences that cause them to go into action to help in the worst of times.  Thanks to celebrities such as George Clooney, Madonna, Sting, Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, Kid Rock, Neil Young, JayZ, Beyonce, Shakira Wyclef Jean, Bono, Sheryl Crow, and Rhiana who all performed (partial list).  Thanks also to those who manned the phones:  Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert DeNiro, Julia Roberts, Jack Nicholson, Denzel Washington, Matt Damon, Clint Eastwood, Halle Berry, Ben Stiller, Stephen Spielberg, Ellen DeGeneres, Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks, and Reese Witherspoon.  As of this morning, their efforts had already raised 67 million dollars.  Quite a few of these celebrities have also made major contributions from their own personal fortunes to Haiti relief. Just a few of the heavy contributors:  Sandra Bullock (1 million dollars), Leonardo DiCaprio (1 million dollars), Madonna (250,000 dollars), Clooney/Pitt and others (1 million dollars)..

Just a few words on the NFL playoffs……..I am writing this just as the AFC Championship game begins.   As I think of the millions of fans who are diverted by football for a few hours from their financial or personal problems, I am reminded a bit of my Shakespeare classes at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.  It seemed that even in the midst of a classic tragedy like Macbeth, Shakespeare  managed to introduce some comic relief—just to allow the audience to breathe a bit–before the worst to come.  One hopes that we have already seen the worst, but it is nice–nevertheless–to be able to take a breath, watch the Jets, the Colts, the Vikings, and the Saints–and be concerned only with yards per carry, interceptions, quarterback sacks, and the like.  If only the problems of the world could be so simple.

My Predictions:

Colts defeat Jets 24-21;  (Jets’ defense not enough to stop Manning) and Saints defeat Vikings 31-27  (Bret Favre is good (and Adrian Peterson could help), but Drew Brees is better.

Until Next Week………….

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