Tag Archives: United States

A Call for HONESTY in Presidential Politics on Facebook

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Don’t Believe Everything You Read: Phony Memes, Photoshopped Photos, and False Tweets

A FACEBOOK POLITICAL POST THAT MAKES SENSE —

NO MATTER WHICH CANDIDATE YOU ARE SUPPORTING!

Did Hillary Clinton REALLY say, “The average Democrat voter is just plain stupid”? Did Bernie Sanders really say, “My object in life is to dethrone God and destroy capitalism”? Did Donald Trump once call Republicans “the dumbest group of voters in the country”? Did Ted Cruz really hug Fidel Castro? Is that photo of Marco Rubio shaking hands with President Obama while signing a trade deal real”? Did Hillary Clinton really shake hands with Bin Laden, like that picture I saw on the internet? Did Ted Cruz really say, “When gays stayed hidden we had no mass murders”? Did Obama really order that the words “Under God” be removed from the “Pledge of Allegiance”?

The answer to ALL of the above questions is NO — absolutely NOT!

All of the above quotations were placed on actual facebook memes which were shared thousands and thousands of times, and if you check each one out on a fact-checking site like Snopes.com or politifact.com, you will find that they are all FALSE, all FAKE.

Can I please ask for YOUR help? Can you help me to get rid of phony memes on facebook? I am getting so tired of seeing people post absolutely FALSE and PHONY political memes on facebook, as well as phony photoshopped photos of political candidates. No matter WHO you support, this is absolutely WRONG! Please, before you share some political poster–especially one with a candidate saying something that sounds absolutely outrageous, please CHECK IT OUT FIRST!!! You can simply google the quote by asking something like this: “Did (Candidate’s Name) actually say, “……..”? Usually, that search will show you a Snopes article (Snopes is a neutral and respected fact-checker) demonstrating to you that the quotation is FALSE (though on rare occasions, it may show that it is true).

This primaries and the national Presidential election in November is absolutely crucial toward our county’s future–and perhaps the world’s future, as well. Nearly ALL of us believe that–no matter what candidate we support. What I am asking is for us all to rely just as much as we can on FACTS in supporting our candidates. If you attack the positions of another candidate, please use carefully checked FACTS in doing so. Even if you feel you must attack the character of another candidate, please do so in a civil way, and use FACTS.

And just because you found it on someone’s Republican website, or Democratic website, or Tea Party website, DOESN’T mean it is TRUE. Try to check it out with the most reputable source that you can—not some left-leaning OR right-leaning website. Look for sources (like Politifact or Snopes or maybe CNN which are generally given credit for trying to maintain neutrality). I know some of you may disagree with those sources I mentioned, but just try to be sure it is generally respected as a neutral site for reporting FACTS. And if you find a friend or family member–or even a stranger–sharing something that seems outrageous, please check it out. If it proves to be false, don’t ignore it, please point out that it is false, and include the link that PROVES it is false.

Many of the memes, posters, and photos that are shown in the collage above were shared MILLIONS of times, and believed by the people who shared them AND who viewed them. We all have a responsibility to be sure to vote, and to make up our minds–to make our choice–based on FACTS. The choice for our country is far too important to believe falsehoods, half-truths, and outright lies.

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In Praise of Teachers: A Letter for Teachers, Parents, Students, and the Community

 

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In Praise of Teachers:  A Letter for Teachers, Parents, Students, and the Community

 

Teachers Appreciation Week gives us all a chance to look back at the extraordinary teachers who have impacted us throughout our childhood and throughout both our lives and those of our children.  For those of us in the field of education, we also have the chance to remember teachers with whom we have worked.  I have been fortunate enough to have worked closely with over 400 teachers in 40 years of education as a Massachusetts teacher and principal.  Through my work, I feel that I have learned a great deal about teachers and the incredible responsibilities that are part of the profession.  Of course, to paraphrase Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s  in The Little Prince,there are things we see and know with our eyes, and others–sometimes even more important–that we see and know with our hearts.    I have observed and admired teachers all my life, and I write this letter to each and every one of you–to every teacher I have had the pleasure of knowing.  I invite you all, and all your colleagues, your students far and wide, and the greater community of parents and townspeople  to read along or listen in.

 

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Dear Teachers,

 

I have seen you as each new year begins in late August, frantically running from WalMart to Kmart to Target to Staples to the Dollar Store—spending hundreds of dollars of your own money to purchase motivational posters, extra crayons and glue, marbled composition books, stickers that say “Awesome Work” or “I’m Proud of You.”  I have seen you spend the full week before school begins putting up backings for bulletin boards, re-stocking your classroom libraries, and putting together folders for Day One.  I have watched you as you try to map out once more your whole year, and vowing that this year you will be the best teacher that your children have ever had—the best teacher that you can be.  I was with you—in spirit—all those nights in August when you couldn’t sleep because you were so excited—and more-than-a-bit nervous, as well—because of all those new kids that you were about to greet in just a couple of weeks.  Even after you finished that Master’s or CAGS degree—piling on still more college bills–even after spending  5 or 6 weeks in summer taking courses to continually learn new skills for teaching students—still you worried how you could be possibly be prepared for the multitude of students about to enter your classes—students with such a wide range of skills and talents and with an equally large range of backgrounds and personalities—as well as family, personal, and academic problems.  Still you approached that first day with eyes filled with hope and hearts filled with compassion—with dreams of helping each and every student to learn, to achieve, to grow—to reach for the stars and to ultimately achieve his or her dream.

 

I have seen you work so very hard—day in and day out–as teachers.  I watch you literally run around the room in pursuit of that ever-elusive goal—helping every single student to understand and master a skill on which you are focusing that day or that week.  You kneel down beside little kindergarten desks to check the formation of their letters; you bend over middle school desks to check a student’s map of the United States; you run back and forth to the whiteboard to demonstrate the correct way to calculate the volume of water in a container.  You run from the SmartBoard to the children’s workstations, from their computers to their reading circles.  You are up and down and up and down and up and down, and you are constantly in a whirlwind of motion–and by the end of the day, you just KNOW that you have run a 10 kilometer/6.2 mile road race (if not a warrior run or a half-marathon) because your legs and your back and your shoulders are absolutely killing you.

 

And that doesn’t even begin to touch on how emotionally drained you are.  You have made about one thousand judgments and decisions every hour.  “Does Linda or Jason really understand this concept?”  “Should I give another example?”  “Should I ignore that child who is whispering?”  “Should I correct him or her?”  “Should I try some proximity control?”  “Should I praise that student for her answer?”  “What should I say—‘good job’ or ‘nice work’ or ‘great answer’?”  “Should I explain WHY  it’s a great answer?”  “Should I give the kids a break now—or wait 5 minutes?”  “Should I make that little joke now to liven up the class a bit, or will that break everyone’s train of thought?”  “Should I call on Jennifer now—or Taylor—or Alex–or Javier—or Aliyah—or Noah—or Desiree—or Tyrone?”  “Should I allow Susan to get a drink now—or Joshua to run to the bathroom now—or Mark to go to his locker to retrieve his homework—or Kadence to call her mom to bring in the money for the field trip?”  “Should I correct Sophia’s poor grammar in her excellent answer to my question about the story we just read, or should I just compliment her for thinking creatively and expressing herself so clearly?”  You are constantly scanning the rows or the groups of tables for students who look confused or uncertain or excited or bored—and you are constantly reacting to each of those students.

 

I have been there with you and felt your heart skip a beat when that light comes on in a child’s eyes and he says, ”Mrs. Johnson, I get it!  NOW I get it!”  I have felt your heart swell to twice its size when you read a sophomore’s essay in which he writes, “One day I will hold my Mom’s hand and tell her that she has always been my hero because she has sacrificed so much to keep our family together.”  And I have been there, as well, when a child’s suffering becomes your suffering.  I have seen your pain  as a child confides in you that he just doesn’t have any friends—or that the kids on the bus call him names.  I have seen the tears stain your cheeks when a child explains to you that her dad is not coming home anymore.  I have felt your chest and throat tighten up when you see a child come in with bruises, both seen and unseen.  I know how you grieve when a child loses a friend or family member to an accident or to drug or alcohol abuse.   And all those times when a child struggles to understand but the understanding will not readily come, no matter how hard he or she tries—those times, too, cause your heart to ache, and make you even more determined to find a way to reach that child.  And I know how many times those children and their problems keep you up late at night—wondering if and how you can help, and praying that you can find a way.

 

And I know about the long, long hours that you put in before and after school.  I know how often you get up at 5:00 in the morning to put the finishing touches on your lesson plans for that day or that week.  I know how regularly you spend 2 to 3 to 4 to 5 hours a night or sometimes even more on schoolwork.  You get home from school, help the kids with their homework, prepare dinner, clean up, and then spend until 10 or 11 o’clock correcting papers and getting ready for the next day.  Over the course of a week you correct hundreds of spelling, grammar, math, geography, history, science quizzes.  In a year, those hundreds become 5 to 10 THOUSAND quizzes and tests.  In a career, that amounts to maybe 250-500 THOUSAND quizzes and tests—that you painstakingly design, prepare, and correct.  You collect the data gathered from those tests and analyze it, deciding what you need to re-teach, and to whom, and in what manner.  And then there are the writing assignments—the paragraphs, the compositions, the journals, the lab reports, the essays, the book reports, the research papers.  You know that teaching is a seven-day a week job because you spend so many hours on Saturday and Sunday reading and commenting on hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of papers.  “Why does Gatsby confide in Nick?” — “Explain how an airplane flies” —  “What can you do to help our environment?” —  “Consider the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government in explaining the balance of powers” —  “What character changes most in this book, and explain how he or she changes” —  “Solve this algebra problem and explain each step as you do it” —  “Explain impressionism and Monet’s style” — “What is meant by good sportsmanship?”  —“What is a Shakespearean Hero?” — “How is haiku formed?” — “What does Robert Frost mean in the last line of the poem?” — “How can you make good choices?”  I have noticed that often the majority of your February or April vacation (sometimes both) is taken up with correction and grading of these kinds of papers.  And then there are the seemingly never-ending progress reports and report cards—totaling and averaging hundreds (perhaps thousands) of grades, and writing or typing comments on report cards.  How many late nights and occasional all-nighters you have had to endure in order to meet progress report or report card deadlines!

 

I know about the moments of self-doubt too—times when you wonder if you are really making a difference, times when you wonder if you can possibly correct one more spelling quiz, times when a student moves out of the district AGAIN—just as you were beginning to finally get through to her.  There are the times you wonder if anyone notices how hard you are working, how much you care, how creative your lessons are, or how many extra things you are doing for kids.  I am well aware of all those extra things you do as, well—the poetry club, math club, drama club, computer club, chorus, student council that you advise.  You organize geography bees or spelling bees or math competitions.  You coach students after school to prepare them for the MCAS testing.  I have been there too as you coached football or wrestling or softball or cheerleading or basketball.   Many of you reach into the community or beyond to bring science or art or music programs to our schools for enrichment.  And those field trips to Davis Farm, the Red Apple Farm, the Science Museum, Theater at the Mount, the Museum of Fine Arts . . . I realize how hard it is to organize those trips for your classroom or for the entire school—and yet you do it—voluntarily—every year!    I have stood in awe as I saw you organize and conduct and chaperone a school trip to Nature’s Classroom or Canada or Washington, D.C.  The fundraising activities, the meetings with administration, parents, and kids—unbelievable—but you did it all!  And how about all those school activities that you helped out with?  Those field days, school dances, talent shows, author teas, game nights, toy bingo events, school plays,  lip-sync competitions, spirit days?  And then there are those programs for peer mediation, training active bystanders, and organizing friendship groups.

 

But even with all the extra activities, you save your most incredible effort for the classroom:  the classroom, where you try your very hardest every single day to reach every single student.   You prepare lesson plans using backward design.  You  consistently use state frameworks and address learning standards.  You remind yourself of what Rick Lavoie said—that “Fair does not mean treating every child the same; that fair means giving each and every child what he or she really needs to be successful.”  So you teach not just to the middle of the class, but to every child.  You sometimes group students by interest or ability or randomly.  You set up learning stations.  You constantly monitor how students are doing—if they are understanding.  You ask questions and try to make sure that you are asking students to use their higher order thinking skills.  You use the District Curriculum Accommodation Plan (DCAP) and knowledge gleaned through scores of workshops to address differences in learning styles and abilities.  You are familiar with and constantly review IEP’s and 504 plans and DCAP’s to ensure that you are meeting the many and varied needs of all students.  You develop ISSP (Individual student success plans), as well, whenever needed.  You put into practice differentiated instruction and gear your efforts to address multiple intelligences of students.  You administer DIBELS and Fountas and Pinnell tests, MCAS tests or PARCC tests and use the results of testing to plan and modify your instruction.  You request Child Study Team meetings when children have special problems, and you use the recommendations from those meetings to modify and improve your instruction and create successful outcomes.  You try your hardest to motivate your students to learn—you challenge them, you reward them.  You send home positive notes in agendas or on special cards or stationery.  You call home whenever you can to help parents to become partners in their child’s education.  You discuss triumphs, and challenges, and problems—and you work cooperatively and helpfully and positively with parents.

 

And more than anything, you let children see how much you care—because you DO care about each one of them—more than you can ever say.  You show it by how hard you work, by the words you use with children and parents.  You show it by the thoroughness and creativity of your plans.  You show it by how well you teach—how much attention you pay to each child and to the goal of having each child really master the material.  You show it by all the extra things you do, the special things– the smiles, the warmth, dedication and commitment.

 

And I am there, with you, as well, when you receive those very personal special rewards at the end of the year—children who leave your class with strengthened skills in reading, math, science, social studies, art, music, phys. ed. and more—as well as higher levels of confidence.  You have taught them to carefully consider their options before making choices.  You have taught them to put themselves into the shoes of another before making judgments.  You have taught them to treat others the way they would hope to be treated.  You have taught them to care about others—their neighbors, their classmates, their peer in other states or countries.

 

And so, my fellow teachers–those who served long before, and those who serve still–I want to tell you all on this day and on every day–that you will always have my profound gratitude, my unending thanks for all of your extremely hard work, your caring, your dedication, and your commitment to your students and to your position.  Yours is the job from which all others flow–the job from which dreams– and careers– and lives are made.  As Astronaut Christa Mcauliffe observed, you do indeed “touch the future”—and we are all the better for your tremendous efforts in doing so.

 

Sincerely and warmly

Mitchell R. Grosky

Former Athol-Royalston (Massachusetts) Teacher and Principal

Current ARRSD School Committee Member

 

 

 

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In Praise of Facebook


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This is a blog I’ve been planning to write for some time.  Now is as good a time as any–especially since it is hot and humid outside, and still relatively cool here–in front of my computer.  The summer is winding down, and fall offers fewer moment of free time to reflect and share

There are more than enough media stories in which Facebook is derided, slammed, put down, mocked, ridiculed, and even excoriated.  I offer a dissenting view.  I really love Facebook.  Oh, sure ; it sometimes occupies a bit too much of my time, but–in general–I control it rather than letting it control me.

It offers me the chance the converse–online-with hundred of facebook friends, colleague, associates, and friends of friends.  Converse about what?  Well, anything, but for me it is often about politics, photography, education, travel, and many other subjects.  I enjoy reading about and reveling in the accomplishments and joys of friends and their families.  I really enjoy seeing my cousins, nephews, and nieces grow up through their parents’ stories and photos.  I love reading about the exploits of my former students–now all grown up, out of college and (hopefully) thriving in the world and doing their parts to help people and the world in which we all live.  I have formed good friendships with former students who are now 25, 35, 45, or even 50 years old.  So many are married.  Many have children; some have grandchildren.  They have become doctors, lawyers, electricians, company vice presidents, t.v. reporters, carpenters, politicians,  journalists, salesmen, rock band stars, gymnasts, actors, professors, writers, store clerks, musicians, artists—and teachers!  Most of all, they have become fascinating and involved adults!

I tell people that Facebook is different things to different people, and it meets the needs of so many.  For some, it is like a diary; for others it is more like a journal or a blog.  For some, it is a place to share recipes or family photos.  For others, it is a place to share joys or heartaches.

I often compare facebook to (of all things) an online Disney EPCOT.   Those who have visited EPCOT can–hopefully relate to this.  At EPCOT, you are surrounded by exhibit of all sizes, themes, and styles.  Just a few would be (in no particular order)  the Universe of Energy, the American Experience, the Canada Pavilion, the China Pavilion, Mission Space, Journey into Imagination, Living with the Land, and so many others.  If you are interested in the theme, you venture in, sit down, enjoy, and learn.  If you are interested in Mexico, you drop my the Mexico Pavilion and you “Explore a towering Aztec pyramid featuring the Animales Fantastico folk art collection, a lively marketplace, the lagoon-side historic restaurant San Angel Inn and a relaxing boat ride on the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros.”  If that doesn’t interest you, why then you pass right by that exhibit, and perhaps you stop at The Seas with Nemo and Friends Pavilion where you “Stare in wonder at a massive aquarium that holds one of the largest man-made ocean environments in the world, the innovative Turtle Talk with Crush show, a “clamobile” ride and other undersea-themed delights.”  Not wowed by that exhibit?  Well, then maybe you’ll stop by National Treasures where you can “Observe the rare historic artifacts of important Americans and U.S. events. You’ll be awestruck seeing Abraham Lincoln’s stovepipe hat, Thomas Edison’s projector and the belongings of Mark Twain, Rosa Parks and others up close.”  The point here is that you stop and look and participate in those areas in which YOU are interested.

Facebook is very similar.  You go to the site, and are confronted by a plethora of possible stories competing for your attention.  Interested in movies or music?  See what your friend are viewing or listening to, and check out their opinions.  Not interested?  Pass right by.  Interested in family photos?  Check them out—hundreds are posted daily.  Check out one or two, or ten or twenty.  Not interested?  Pass right by.  Interested in politics?  Want to talk about Obama or Romney or Scott Brown or Elizabeth Warren or Nancy Pelosi or John Boehner?  Great!  Stop in. Debate the issues.  Not interested?  Again, pass on by…….ignore those posts.  Interested in food?  Check out the recipes that people post, or the restaurants they go to, or the pictures of the “best meal they ever ate.”  Love nature? or travel? or pets?  Check out some of the gorgeous photography posted.  Not interested in that?  Just “walk on by.”  Want some daily inspiration?  Check out some of the lovely posters that people display that help you to start off the day right, or to put your own problems into perspective.  Need some help with a problem.? Well, if you don’t mind sharing your problem, you can find many close friends, friends, or friends of friends who will offer their own solutions or just lend an ear and empathize with you.  Not into sharing problems?  Well, you don’t have to; nor do you NEED to spend time reading about the problems of others–if you don’t want to.   But sometimes, it IS nice to be able to offer a helpful idea, a birthday wish, or a few words of consolation or condolence.  But the key is that it is UP TO YOU!  Stop by the areas that YOU want to, and walk right by those areas in which you are not interested or in which you can not spare the time to stop.

You can go on Facebook as little as once a week or once a month, and spend just 5-10 minutes on there reading and/or commenting.  Or….you can go on it as often as daily or even several times a day.  Sometimes I’m on for just 5 minutes or so–catching up on a little news that my brother or my nephew or niece –or my best friends–have posted.  I click “LIKE” a couple of times on a few postings, and then I’m off.  Other days I’m on for 15-30 minutes where I am reading and commenting on postings from others which attract my attention or interest.   Then there are days like today, when I’m writing a long political post or an editorial-type post or when I’m sharing a series of my own photographs—days when I CHOOSE to be on for an hour or two or even three–because I ENJOY what I am doing—or because I am trying to make a difference in some way.

This is Facebook–many different things to so many different people.  And here’s one person who really likes it, appreciates it…………and is not afraid to admit it!

 

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President Obama: A Promise Fulfilled

My congratulations to the courageous Navy Seals who carried out the mission so successfully, to the intelligence community, to the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, to the head of the CIA and to President Obama, our Commander-in-Chief.   I am pleased to see many in the Republican leadership also giving credit to President Obama and his administration.  We all know that if the raid had failed, then the majority of his critics would have blamed President Obama, yet they refuse to give him credit when a military operation which he ordered is an unqualified success.

We give Lincoln credit for winning the Civil War, Roosevelt and Truman credit for winning WWII, George Bush Senior credit for the Persian Gulf War.  We also blame President Johnson for Vietnam and President George W. Bush for the Iraq War (which Pres. Obama ended). We continue to blame Jimmy Carter for the aborted mission which failed to free our American hostages.  President Kennedy justifiably receives credit for the successful outcome in the Cuban Missile Crisis and blame for the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion.

Clearly Americans blame Presidents for war failures and give credit for war victories to our President/Commander in Chief—UNLESS of course, he happens to be a certain African-American President by the name of Barack Obama.  Fair is fair.  At least have the common sense and decency (regardless of your political party) to give credit where credit is due—to the Navy Seals AND to President Obama and his administration.

One of President Obama’s earliest promises in his campaign was to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden.  He has kept that promise in his capacity as both President of the United States and Commander-in-Chief of our Armed Forces.  Those who are quick to blame him for promises not-yet-fulfilled should give him credit for fulfilling this important campaign promise and personal commitment to the American people.

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President Obama’s December to Remember

 

President Barack Obama

 

 

Way back on July 3 of 2010, a reader of my Mitchell R. Grosky Photography Blog responded to my entry on “The Hope and Promise of Barack Obama” by writing, “How’s that hope and change working out for you?”  At the time, G.M.’s comment left me speechless.  Of course, I could have spoken out about the success of the Stimulus in helping to the stop the bleeding of the Bush recession and to begin to turn the tide on the economy.  I could also have pointed to the fulfillment of his pledge to end the War in Iraq.  Instead, I remained silent, knowing that I had certainly pushed the envelope by optimistically  placing our new President among his predecessors on Mt. Rushmore.

You can see the original blog entry at

http://mrgrosky.wordpress.com/2009/01/20/the-hope-and-promise-of-president-barak-obama

but my major point was this:

“In Barack Obama, I feel that we have a dynamic, compassionate individual whose wisdom, intelligence, and willingness to listen to others will be essential in confronting the enormous problems that confront America and the entire world. With the support, sacrifice, and work of the American people, it is my hope that President Obama will lead us into a brighter future, one in which people of all colors, races, religions, ethnic origins, and life choices, live in mutual respect. I look to a more peaceful world, one in which the greatness of America is manifest by the elimination of poverty and by the establishment of equal opportunity for all.”

Well, with the actions of President Obama and the Congress over the past two weeks, I now feel emboldened to respond not only to G. M. , but also to all of those others who may have asked that same question:  “So how’s all that hope and change workin’ out for you?”

To all of them I respond that President Obama–at the end of just the first two years of his Presidency–has accomplished an extraordinary amount!  Not only has he ended the  War in Iraq, not only has he passed a sweeping health care bill, not only has he taken steps which are leading to an improving economy, not only has he improved the outlook on America among nearly all of our allies, but he ends the year with these five amazing successes:

ONE:  He has fulfilled his commitment to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”–ending discrimination against gays and lesbians who fought for our country but were removed from the military.

TWO:  He has extended the tax cuts which will ensure nearly all working Americans a payroll tax cut of at least 1,000 dollars—even at the expense of continuing those tax cuts for the rich (which he had hoped to eliminate but was unable to do so because of the Republicans’ intransigence) .  This bill also extended unemployment insurance for millions of Americans still without jobs.

THREE:  He has passed his number one foreign policy initiative: the Arms Control Treaty with Russia–the new START treaty which will “scale back leftover cold war nuclear arsenals” and make for a safer world.

FOUR:  He has secured a deal for a bill which will provide 4 billion dollars for medical care of first responders who became ill after inhaling fumes and dust from Ground Zero on Sept. 11.

FIVE:  He and Congress have passed new sweeping changes in food safety, increasing inspections of food processing facilities and forcing recalcitrant companies to recall tainted food.

Each of these accomplishments is significant by itself.  Together they establish President Obama as a very successful President in just his first two years—especially when all of these successes have come despite the Republican party’s announced goal of ensuring from Day One that President Obama not be given any successes at all.  Having proven beyond a doubt that he will do all he can to fulfill his campaign promises, President Obama begins the second half of his first term with a new respect for his perseverance, his intellect, his compassion, and his commitment.

Sure—the Nobel Prize may have been premature, as was my semi-tongue-in-cheek anointing him as heir to Mt. Rushmore……but the accomplishments noted above prove that President Obama is well on his way to a Presidency of Extraordinary Success.

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Julian Assange, Elizabeth Edwards, GPS

Thoughts for the Week (December 5-12, 2010):

Julian Assange–This week Mr. Assange, the Australian journalist and founder of WikiLeaks, was arrested for crimes against two woman.   Time and the courts will tell whether he is guilty of these crimes.  Yet Mr. Assange has already taken responsibility for a different very serious offense, that is  the leaking of thousands of sensitive documents—many of which may be endangering the safety of U.S. and other servicemen.  It is exasperating to me that certain individuals maintain a holier than thou attitude of knowing more or better than the rest of us what is best for us and for the world.   Mr. Assange’s philosophy has been quoted as “To radically shift regime behavior we must think clearly and boldly for if we have learned anything, it is that regimes do not want to be changed. We must think beyond those who have gone before us and discover technological changes that embolden us with ways to act in which our forebears could not . . . The more secretive or unjust an organisation is, the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in its leadership and planning coterie. … Since unjust systems, by their nature induce opponents, and in many places barely have the upper hand, mass leaking leaves them exquisitely vulnerable to those who seek to replace them with more open forms of governance.”

I understand that some things which happen nationally or globally behind the scenes would be best exposed.   Certainly abuses in human rights need to see the light of day so they can be exposed and prevented in the future.  Yet it seems to me to be a dangerous trend to force a society  to allow all of its actions–including military secrets–to be exposed and spotlighted on a world stage for everyone to see.

Daniel Yates, a former British military intelligence officer, wrote “Assange has seriously endangered the lives of Afghan civilians …”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,. Mike Mullen, said, “Mr. Assange can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his source are doing, but the truth is, they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family.”

U.S. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell  has called Assange “a high-tech terrorist”.

(Thanks to Wikipedia for the above quotations).

As for me, every year or two we freely elect people to run our government.  I am content to allow those representatives (who have much more information and expertise than I) to hold in confidence that which they feel is truly in the nation’s best interest to do so.  I would ask that Mr. Assange and his WikiLeaks organization do the same.

Elizabeth Edwards:  The elusive definition of grace received a new meaning this week with the death of Elizabeth Edwards, an attorney, wife, mother, and  political activist who was against the War in Iraq and who waged battles on behalf of universal health care and gay rights.  Throughout the Kerry/Edwards vs. Bush/Cheney election fight, throughout her struggle against breast cancer, and throughout her husband’s infidelity scandal, she  maintained her honor and dignity, and came to symbolize hope and grace for young and old–Democrat and Republican alike.  I have added her last facebook entry to my own profile list of favorite quotations:

The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that. And, yes, there are certainly times when we aren’t able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It’s called being human.But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful.”       —Elizabeth Edwards

Peace be with you always, Elizabeth, and may your family hold in their hearts and minds the most beautiful images of a wonderful woman.

And finally, a few thoughts about that most essential of modern inventions, the GPS.

I bought my Garmin GPS about two years ago in anticipation of my cross-country trip shortly after I retired from 35 years as a teacher and principal.  It has since proven to be the one tech gadget I can not live without.  OK, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but it is certainly the one that I try to never leave home without (Please excuse the mangled syntax and ending preposition).  It has made maps and mapquest obsolete.  I no longer need to listen to well-intentioned long-winded directions given by well-meaning friends.  I no longer need to rely on a co-pilot next to me armed with the latest AAA map.   I just type in my destination, and Jill (the American English voice of my GPS) directs me every step of the way.  If I make any kind of mistake, I inevitably hear those sometimes dreaded/sometimes welcomed words:  “re-caluculating.”  I sometimes think if nothing other than the Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) had come from our Space program, it would still be worth it.  (Yes, I know that the space program is responsible for far more technological advances than just GPS—just a bit of hyperbole to make a point).

Whether the GPS allows me to expertly navigate around my own lovely Commonwealth of Massachusetts or permits me to travel across the entire country and photograph the awesome sights that our nation offers to us all, it is a technological marvel, and one that benefits us all.

Now if only future techies could develop a GPS that could be activated when a political party seems to have lost its way…

Until next time,

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Filed under Obituaries, Politics, Tributes, World

Super Bowl XLIV–A Review

I can’t remember any non-Patriots Super Bowl in recent years that I have enjoyed as much as Sunday night’s game between the Saints and the Colts.  And no–it wasn’t just because I had predicted the upset a week earlier right here on my blog.  There were a number of reasons that I had a great time at my good friend Arthur’s Annual Super Bowl Party—great company, tons of munchies, a delicious half-time feast, and a game that was worthy of the title SUPER Bowl.

Now as my second-ever YouTube video (and the first one featuring Yours Truly) I also reviewed this game at http://www.youtube.com/user/mrgrosky1.   I’m trying out an idea that I’ll call “Just Three Things” where I’ll focus on three major points.  In any case, a little of this may look familiar if you have already seen my video on You Tube.  If not, I’d appreciate your checking it out, and telling me what you think.  I know I look excessively serious—but hey, it was my first time on You Tube, and I was really nervous!  I know, pretty strange, considering my dramatic background. 

Anyway, back to the Super Bowl!

I guess I was rooting for the Saints because I felt that the city of New Orleans would really be uplifted by a Saints victory.  After all, Hurricane Katrina’s effects continue to impact nearly everyone in the city–their homes and their families.  Secondly, I had read a lot about Drew Brees and all that he and his teammates had done for their adopted home city. 

Speaking of Brees, what an amazing clutch performance!  32 completions in 39 attempts for 288 yards–tying Tom Brady’s Super Bowl record for completions!  Two touchdown passes and NO interceptions.  He spread the ball around to EIGHT receivers:  Marques Colston caught 7, Devery Henderson another 7, Pierre Thomas 6, and Reggie Bush pulled in 4, along with some nifty running.  In the go-ahead touchdown drive, he even hit seven in a row to seven different receivers–absolutely Brady-esque!  But what impresses me most is that he’s not only a great quarterback, he’s also a good man–a kind and decent man, and even (dare I say it?) a good role model.   Look, he came back from a serious injury four years ago when San Diego didn’t want him, when nobody wanted him, except for the Saints.  And he won over them AND the city of New Orleans!

Now what about Peyton Manning…?  Well, from everything I hear—another really decent guy—-BUT—he’s got two problems:  1. He’s the nemesis of my favorite player and team (Brady and the New England Patriots) and he’s a bit overexposed as far as commercials go.   I really wasn’t eager to see him win the game and hear all those Colts brag about how he had won two Super Bowls and was just one behind Brady.  So how did he do?  All things considered, pretty well overall–just not good enough in a game where Brees was better.  Manning was 31 for 45, 333 yards’ worth of completions, with one touchdown and (oh, yes) just that one KILLER interception.  He had a couple dropped on him, but then again, so did Brees!  So, I guess that mean that he’s now just 50 percent lifetime for both the playoffs (9 wins, 9 losses) and for the Super Bowl too (where he’s now won 1 and lost 1).  Now, sorry about that Colts fans, but that just doesn’t cut it when you compare that to Tom Brady 14 wins and 4 losses in the playoffs and his 4 wins and 1 loss in Super Bowls.  I give Manning his due:  he IS a great quarterback, but “Quarterback of the Decade?”  THAT would HAVE to be Tom Brady.

Before I wrap up, I’ve got to give a huge amount of credit to two coaches:  first of all, to Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams.  Hey, anytime you can hold Peyton Manning to 17 points, you know that you’ve devised a great defensive game plan.  Secondly, kudos to Coach Sean Payton for an extraordinary job overall.  He had his team ready to play hard–with emotion–but also with control.   He also took the game right to the Colts with three gutsy decision.  First of all, he went for it on fourth and one early in the game when the safe call would have been a field goal.  At the time, especially since they were stopped on the fourth down try, it looked like it may have been a huge mistake.  But then, the Saints defense stopped the Colts offense cold, forced them to punt, and took advantage of a short field to score a field goal just before the half. 

The second gutsy call was the shocker of an onside kick to open up the second half, with the Colts leading 10-6.  Sure it worked, but if it hadn’t (and let’s face it, it usually DOESN’T) then Manning might very well have brought the Colts in for a quick score, a 17-6 lead and an avalanche of second-guessing the coach’s decision to go for the onside kick at that point.  “What in the world was he thinking? all the experts and pseudo-experts would have proclaimed.  Instead of a goat, he’s a genius—because they made it!

The final gutsy decision was to go for the two extra points (instead of the nearly-automatic one point)  after their go ahead touchdown.  Two point is tough to make, but those two points meant that even if Manning had been able to rally his troops for another score (plus a Colts extra point), the game would be no more than tied–possibly heading for the first overtime in Super Bowl history.  So Congrats to the coaches–as well as the players.

Finally, as I think about all the problems that we have in our country at this time, I can’t help but wish that more people thought and spoke as Drew Brees did after the game on Sunday night.  If you missed the interview, think about what he said for a moment.  Maybe we can all learn something from Drew Brees:

“Four years ago, who ever thought this would happen?  Eighty-five percent of the city was under water, all the residents evacuated all over the country, people never knowing if they were coming back or if New Orleans would come back,” Brees said.  “But not only the city came back, but the team came back too…When the players got there, we all looked at one another and said, ‘We’re going to rebuild together.  We leaned on each other.  This [the Super Bowl victory] is the culmination of that.'”  From the ashes, the Saints and the city that loves them, have arisen.  May they both continue to prosper.

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