Boko Haram Jihadist Massacres – and scant press coverage

There has been debate about whether Boko Haram has been covered adequately in the US or not. The short answer is no. If you are asking who Boko Haram is, then my point is proven. . It is in fact a brutally savage jihadist terrorist group, aligned with ISIS.

You have no doubt heard about the massacre of cartoonist at Charlie Hebdo and shoppers at a kosher supermarket in Paris. You may or may not have heard of the Baga massacre that happened about the same time. The massacre killed over 2,000 people; however, the government claimed the figure was much lower, under 200. It kidnaped 276 girls from school in April 2014, sparking outrage, but little action. Thousands have been killed.  Exact numbers vary, but it is between 7,000 and 10,000. 1,500,000 have been displaced and the extremist terror group controls an area the size of North Dakota. It seeks to impose an Islamic state in Nigeria. Boko Haram roughly means Western education is forbidden; however, its own followers have difficulty following the rules that it wants to impose on others.

Nigeria is a nation of about 174,000,000 people located on West Africa. It is the largest nation by population in Africa. Its size is about 2x the size of California. Nigeria is a former British colony that has a federal system similar to the US. There are 36 states with a Federal Capital Territory of Abuja located in the center of the nation. The nation is almost evenly divided between Christians in (mostly) in the south and Muslims in (mostly) the north. Sharia law is in force in the northern states. Abuja lies at the intersection between the two religions. Despite its oil wealth, the development is not even throughout the nation.  Oil is located mostly in the south, and development has been primarily in the south.

The north severely lags far behind the south in development. The northeast, where Boko Haram has carried out attacks and controls territory, is particularly remote. Religious strife is ever present.  Northern Muslims feel disenfranchised because the oil wealth is concentrated in the Christian south. Christians in the north have felt marginalized after the introduction of sharia law. Riots and bombings have occurred, killing scores on each side of the religious divided. In 2002, riots occurred in across Nigeria because the Miss World beauty contest was held in Abuja, setting off riots because some Muslims felt the contest was blasphemous.

So, why hasn’t it been covered?  The answer is a little more complex. It has been covered, but not extensively.  You did not see live coverage in northeast Nigeria.  But why is this?  Was it racism?  The answer is no.  Even the Sowetan, a black owned newspaper in Soweto, South Africa offered scant coverage.

The answer has to do with geography.  Boko Haram controls a large swath of land in a region where the borders of 4 nations intersect. Getting there is not easy.  There is one direct flight from New York to Lagos, on an airline that many would rather not fly.  From there, a connecting flight to Gombe is the logical choice.  Then it is on treacherous roads in northern Nigeria. The Nigerian central government has weak influence in the area.  Corruption is rampant. The defense forces, unable to stop the insurgency, can offer little help, particularly to foreign journalists who are attractive kidnapping targets.

In contrast, Paris is a direct flight from several US cities. In contrast to remote Nigeria, Paris is controlled by the central government. The chances of kidnapping are remote.  If we look at current events in Yemen, we see a similar story.  There are few reporters in Yemen. The scenes are the same scenes, no matter the news organization, and any reporters that report are not reporting from the street, instead, they report via Skype from the safety of their hotel rooms. The beheadings of journalists by ISIS in Syria have had a chilling effect on journalists covering areas near the control of jihadist groups.

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Obama Approval Rating Up – Same as Reagan in December of his 6th year in office

President Barack Obama’s approval rating is up, and that should be cause for celebration. Not only is i tup, but it is at the same level as President Ronald Reagan was in December of his 6th year of his Presidency.

No doubt the President is enjoying increased support due to a stronger economy and falling gas prices. Of course, there will always be those that dislike the President, but the increased approval ratings will surely help him as he works with a GOP controlled Congress.

Build the Keystone Pipeline

There has been a lot of debate as to whether we should build the Keystone XL pipeline or not. The fact is, we should build the Keystone XL pipeline. First, it is much safer than transporting oil through rail or highway. Second, building the pipeline will lead to thousands of temporary jobs. However, those jobs are temporary and the total number of permanent jobs is not a great number.

The biggest reason that the pipeline should be built is because it will reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, oil supplied by increasingly despotic and erratic regimes. Saudi Arabia does not allow women to even drive. LGBT citizens are harassed in Angola. Further, Venezuela, sitting on the largest proven reserves of oil in the world, is very unfriendly toward members who oppose the regime or do not fit into the traditional values box.

It is time to seize the opportunity to reduce our dependence on oil from the Middle East, Africa, and South America. It is time to let the economies of these countries stand on their own feet without the support of the US.

Missouri Judge Rules for LGBT plaintiffs’ right to marry

The string of victories continues to mount. With almost every passing week or two, the LGBT community celebrates mounting legal victories that not only recognize our right to marry the one we chose, but in essence validate our identity and thus become fully integrated within mainstream culture entirely.

The most recent event was a Missouri judge who ruled that there was “no logical reason” to single out LGBT community and deny us the right to marry the person we chose.LGBT Marrige Equaltiy

The United States Supreme Court has taken no immediate action regarding the challenges to the laws in the states. SCOTUS can stay the rulings until a later date, which means further legal limbo until a decision is made, or it can deny review of the lower court cases appealed to it.  In that case, the lower court rulings would stand, and millions more Americans would be living in marriage equality states.  Or it can punt the ball further down the road and wait until 2015 to hear the cases and thus issue a decision in 2016.

No doubt some of the justices have an eye on the election. Some may be hoping for a GOP victory in the Senate to ensure replacing the next justice would be more conservative.  Or, they could be holding out waiting on the health of one or more members, waiting to see what the elections produce.  Either way, there is no doubt the President will nominate a justice friendly to LGBT rights, it is just a matter of how liberal a justice he will get to appoint.  That decision will rest with the composition of the Senate.  A GOP Senate would no doubt approve a nominee, but one that is a watered down liberal, so a moderately liberal justice, or one that has no record to point to and thus questions.  A Democratic Senate, or one that is like it is now, would produce a slightly less diluted liberal, still liberal, but nowhere nearly as liberal like the Warren Court from 1953 to 1969 that greatly expanded civil liberties and civil rights.  The odds of a safe Democratic Senate appear less and less likely.

However, do not despair, justices that were once considered rock solid conservatives, drifted deridingly liberal.  Case in point: Earl Warren of the “Warren Court” – who was appointed by Republican President Dwight Eisenhower.  Twice elected on the GOP ticket for Governor of California, he disappointed conservatives with sweeping rulings that revolutionized the Court’s reputation and solidified civil liberty and civil rights rulings.

I support the President

Should the US be involved in airstrikes in Syria and Iraq? The answer is yes.

The President is the Commander in Chief, see Article Two, Section Two of the United States Constitution. Under the Constitution, the President is Commander in Chief and is responsible for ensuring that the United States does not face imminent threat. While this can be interpreted broadly, we should be absolutely clear about three things:
1.) ISIS or ISIL or IS, al-Qaeda, and their affiliates have made it clear that they intend to inflict maximum harm against the United States of America and our allies.

2.) Congress, while having the sole power to declare war, has been called in session to investigate the intrusion of White House defenses by an armed man. They have not been called back into session because of the terror threat facing the US and our allies. The War Powers Resolution passed by Congress in 1973 allows the President to send our armed forces abroad if there is an imminent attack on the United States. The terror groups running amuck throughout the Middle East the size of Pennsylvania have made it clear that they intend to harm US interests, US nationals, our allies, and the United States itself. If anyone is unclear, feel free to YouTube the beheading of a US or British national.

3.) The President has the Constitutional authority to act, because he took an oath to defend the Constitution. The US Constitution guarantees our rights. The terror groups would like to eliminate our rights. These are rights that that those of us in the LGBT community have and continue to fight for, over and over, in court victory after court victory.

4.) Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations allows a nation to act in self-defense, Iraq has enacted this request and under security agreements we have, the escalation is legal under international law.

We can all wish and say, “If only Bush did not invade Iraq in 2003, then…” However, in logical reasoning, and psychology this is known as a subtractive counterfactual, wishing something that did not happen and applying it to the present, and making inductive reasoning about today based on the subtractive counterfactual thinking. The subtractive is taking the fact away, and pretending that it did not happen.

As hard as we may try, we can never erase the fact that Bush made that decision in 2003. It is also counterfactual to believe the Saddam Hussein would still be in power. He may still be, or the Arab Spring could have toppled him. Or he could be at war with Iran, or Saudi Arabia and Kuwait (again) or Turkey, or the Kurds, or a civil war, or…the possibilities are endless. But it is irrelevant to debate that fact, because the facts on the ground is that there is a new government in power now, and terrorists are running an area the size of Pennsylvania.

Further, the government of Syria, for whatever reason, is either unwilling or unable to fight them. There is much debate as to why, but that is pointless. The fact is that despite Assad’s massive Air Force, a large swath of Syrian territory is not under his control. Yes, President Assad is an evil man. However, we are facing the lesser of two evils. A state can be relatively contained. A terror group, with free reign of thousands of square miles, is much more difficult.

They have terrorized minority or majority Muslim and minority Christian communities. The Christians have been told, “Beirut or death…” Why Beirut? Beirut is the capital of Lebanon and the Arab nation with the highest proportions of Christians in the Arab world and indeed the Middle East. The temporary goal is for Christians to be moved en-masse to Lebanon (this is where Beirut comes in the lexicon).

Of course, this is a tiny, tiny minority in the Muslim world. The vast, vast majority of Muslims reject this barbarism. It is not limited to Westerners or Christians. Muslims deemed not in the correct sect have been brutally attacked. American Muslims visiting Mecca have been knife attacked. Indeed, the vast, vast majority of victims of Muslim terror attacks have not been Americans, French, British Australians, Arab Christians, or Israelis…. The VAST majority victims terror attacks by Muslims have been other Muslims.

And if they are doing this to Christians and Muslims, think of the horror LGBT denizens of the “caliphate” they control live under. And despite the fact that the United States of America has made many mistakes in the world, we have the power to stop the horror and terror that these monsters wish for people who live in fairly liberal societies. There is no room for the LGBT community and our allies in their world. And we should stand with the President against these barbarians.

The “Talent Shortage” and the Job Maze

YOUR JOB SEARCH

If you are looking for work and think you have entered the job maze, you are not alone.

Searching for a job can seem like entering a maze.

Searching for a job can seem like entering a maze.

You have created your resume, asked people to be references, created cover letters, made sure everything was in order. Then you started your job search, only to enter the wild and crazy hiring world driven by data and algorithms.  Gone are the days when you went in for an interview, a person called your references, and you were hired.  We have entered an entirely new world of searching for a job.  And it is a world in which you, the candidate, is at a distinct disadvantage unless you know how to play the game.=

UNEMPLOYMENT

Looking for a job can be a challenge, to say the least.  Even those with skills, face hurdles that were unimaginable until relatively recently.  The unemployment rate is currently at 6.1%  Gone are the days of 4.9% unemployment – considered “full-employment” a term used when basically everyone who wants a job has a job.  The “new” normal unemployment rate may be considered to be closer to 6.7%, according to analysis and Federal Reserve benchmarks.  However, there are pockets of success, such as the San Francisco Bay area, which has an incredibly low unemployment rate of 4.8%.  Though don’t pack your bags just yet.  The Bay Area is expensive, and there are particular “skills” that employers want.

Unemployment Rate - more reasons behind it than you think.

Unemployment Rate – more reasons behind it than you think.

THE TALENT SHORTAGE

Unfortunately, many corporations cry about the “talent shortage” – yet, they rely on online job search engines and applicant tracking systems (ATS) like Taleo to screen candidates. You know your job application is going into an ATS when you complete the application online and upload your resume.  Then you painstakingly edit every field to ensure you met the requirements. Then….you hear nothing….

ALGORITHMS and ATS

Meanwhile, the ATS is doing its job.  The algorithm is screening candidates and some resumes make it to the top, while others (most) disappear forever.  Basically, an algorithm is a mathematical calculation and step-by-step process to collect data, calculate, and conduct “automated reasoning.”   You may ask, what is automated reasoning?  Basically, since the computerized automation wave sweeping the world, when a job is posted, thousands of candidates apply for the job.  It is simply impossible for an HR staffer to screen through all of the resumes.  So, an ATS does the job.  It compares the job description against your resume.  If there are matches, then the top 20 are sent to the HR staffer.  They may send the top 5 or 8 to the hiring manager.  Out of thousands…

THE PERFECT CANDIDATE

The problem is that the ATS is looking for the perfect candidate And if such a candidate does exist, it was the person who previously did the job. Many hiring managers typically take the easy way out and write the job description according to the skills that the previous person had. Algorithms then screen out people who don’t match the skills. The problem is that the person who previously had the job is the one who made a mess of everything in the first place.

So, the algorithms serve little useful purpose in their current form. Instead of HR actually doing their job and looking for the most qualified candidate, they just let the algorithm do the work. Then they complain that there is a talent shortage.  You can’t blame HR for using an ATS.  Looking through thousands of resumes is a daunting task.  Automating the process does make sense.  However, the issue is with the algorithm used to screen candidates.

Looking for a job isn't what it used to be.

Looking for a job isn’t what it used to be.

ALGORITHM PROBLEM

Except there is not really that severe of a talent shortage. Many people lack a skill or two that a two-week class can solve. But employers, who once paid for these classes, now want the individual to come ready to fit into their specially designed job description. The algorithm excludes many people who are close to being qualified.  Thus, the employment situation is exacerbated.  This creates unnecessary unemployment while positions go unfilled.

SOLUTIONS

While there is indeed a talent shortage with say, for nuclear physicists, the “massive” talent shortage for most of America does not exist. Many people can be retrained and corporations can fill positions if HR and hiring managers are creative and strategic. And they may get an injection of creative thinking by bringing in people from outside that may ask “why?” something is done. Frequently, this injects new blood into the company, creating a rise in creativity and innovative solutions.  Corporations can demand the ATS create an algorithm that looks at a candidate more qualitatively, rather than predominantly quantitatively.

But it won’t happen. It is far easier to complain about the “talent shortage” than to actually do their job and find candidates that are 95% qualified. The only person who is 100% qualified is the person who messed everything up in the first place.  Congress can pass laws giving employers tax credits for training people.  Most jobs require knowledge of software that can be easily picked up with a class or training.  But don’t count on that happening either.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

You can do your part, of course.  You can learn new skills when an employer asks you to take on a new project.  In your spare time, learn something that is in demand right now.  Get certifications or a license. Have a professional resume writer write your resume. Why?  Because they know all of the key buzz words.  However, the problem is that those buzz words continue to “evolve” or change.  And a resume written two years ago, will need a massive overhaul in order to be relevant in the job market. Educate yourself with the current buzz words.  You may already have a skill, but don’t really know you have it.  Look at the job posting.  Look at the key words and ask if you have those skills.  Often, rewriting your resume to adjust to the skill for a particular company will get you through the ATS.  Limit formatting.  Eliminate fancy formatting when you post to the big job boards.  Keep a simple clean resume without formatting and a nice “professional” resume to hand out at the interview or e-mail. Further, check for grammar, punctuation, etc. Many ATS reject completely if there are spelling issues.  Then, start networking.  Yes, it sounds weird, but that is how many land jobs today.  Join LinkedIn and create your professional profile there.  Finally, clean up your online identity.  Google yourself. But don’t just Google yourself, Google your e-mail.  You might be shocked to find your e-mail links you to a website which would give the employer concern.  Use different e-mails for professional, personal,  junk, and for items like banking or bill-pay.  Keep them separate and don’t let something so simple as your e-mail address derail your job prospects.

E-MAIL ACCOUNT ADVICE

HOT_STUFFXXX@YAHOO.COM is a no-no – this may be linked to an online website that may be frowned upon.  c_foxylady@gmail.com is a no-no – it is not professional.  j_mark67@aol.com is a no-no -if you were born in 1967 which makes it easier to guess your age.  a_smith@msn.com is a no-no if you used it for certain “online” personas.  If a_smith@msn.com is linked to accounts that would give employers pause, then create a professional e-mail like, sam_jones_professional@gmail.com.

Good Luck!

Rape – It is no laughing matter

A few weeks ago, in anger, I said something that was very raw and insensitive. I used the word rape when I should not have used it. It was used in a crude reference, something that would be used in anger, but that no rational, logical, thoughtfully cerebral person would do.

The truth is that I am human and I let my emotions get the best of me because someone else and a class of people were being taken advantage of. I am not trying to defend, nor offer an excuse – simply trying to help one (me especially) understand.

One in Five college students have reported sexual assault.  Photo credit: Boston.com

One in Five college students have reported sexual assault.
Photo credit: Boston.com

Rape is no laughing matter. Here we express outrage and change because of a recent increase in the number of rapes done to women on college campuses. According to Department of Justice statistics, one in five college students will be sexually assaulted.

Map showing the rates of incidence of rape in India. Map credit: www.mapsofindia.com

Map showing the rates of incidence of rape in India.
Map credit: http://www.mapsofindia.com

And as revolting as that is, the situation in India is more with a rape occurring once every 30 minutes. Though some of this is attributed with empowerment of women and more willingness to report rape, the map here illustrates that rape is widespread, but more prevalent in certain Indian states.  The “Assam Rape Festival” is NOT; however, a true story, no matter how many times it has been posted on the internet.  An American satire website published the story and it went viral.  Assam is a state in the eastern “panhandle” area of India.  It is a state with a high incidence of rape.  The satire and controversy take away from the true horror of the story of rape in India.  This is an example of how using the word “rape” for satire, jokingly, or callously, takes attention away from the true horror of rape.

Moreover, “corrective rape” is endemic in South Africa, targeting lesbians in order to convert them. The townships, where most black South Africans live, are dangerous places for the LGBT community.  All South African women (and men) are at risk of being raped.  Though South African white women are targeted, poor black women in the townships do not have protective walls to hide behind and are particularly vulnerable.

Lesbians in South Africa are targeted for "corrective rape" - a violent act seeking to force them to become heterosexuals.  Photo credit: iol.co.za

Lesbians in South Africa are targeted for “corrective rape” – a violent act seeking to force them to become heterosexuals.
Photo credit: iol.co.za

 

It is easy for us to throw the term around callously, disregarding those who have been brutalized, not only by the word, but in action. I asked what my part was in this situation. And, deep down inside, I think old images of HBO’s Oz series came up subconsciously (where rape was used as part fantasy) and my brain said it was okay to use the word. So, today, I asked myself what my part in all of this was and decided to join, donate, and volunteer on a campaign of men who stand up against rape. I am on the campaign committee of our volunteer organization at school, and I suggested that we partner with them to bring awareness and offer assistance to them as a non-profit. We often use the term callously. When we use a term frequently in our language carelessly, it trivializes the word, and in the end, it looses its original meaning.

So, to the women (and men) in my life, thank you for bringing this to my attention. Coming to me in a loving, yet passionate conviction laced tone helps open my eyes and educates me. In the process, I hope to become more enlightened and more involved. Rape is no laughing matter and the term should not be used lightly. We need a paradigm shift around the use of the word. Using it carelessly needlessly trivialize the meaning of the word. And rape is no laughing matter.

A Plan to Enhance the Solvency of Social Security, Sharing the Burden, Without Raising the Tax Rate

Social Security benefits helped keep 15,300,000 people out of poverty in 2011, according to Commerce Department research. Most people work all year long to contribute to the Social Security fund. They pay 6.2% of their income into this fund. But a common perception is that a very small group of people “max out” their contribution over the course of the year.  That perception is entirely inaccurate as shown below. In fact, it will surprise you to find out the number of people not paying 6.2% of their income in Social Security taxes. After they “max out” their contribution they stop contributing to the fund. Simply stopped paying taxes – legally…

How is this possible? First, because very few people actually “max out” their contributions, they are unaware this income cap exists. in 2014, the income cap for Social Security contributions was $117,000 USD per year.  Those who make $117,000 USD per year and less, pay 6.2% of their income in Social Security taxes. However, after $117,000, the contributions into the Social Security system stops. Eliminating the cap would help the solvency crisis because a lot more money would flow into the fund. All of this can be done without a tax rate hike. It can be done by eliminating the tax cap into the fund. Increasing revenue without raising tax rates…

Private Jet

Private Jet

There are 900 special people in the United States of America. They are special because on January 2, 2014, they stopped contributing to the fund. After that date, they or their employer stopped sending money to the fund.  Meanwhile, the rest of America will work until December 31, 2014 to contribute to the fund. How is this possible?  It is possible because on January 2, 2014, they had already earned $117,000 and did not need to contribute another dime to the fund. That is because they met the cap and fulfilled their tax obligations to the Social Security fund by that date. The good life really is good…

Women in Fur Coats

Women in Fur Coats

Further,, eliminating the cap on Social Security taxes would allow more money to flow into the Social Security Trust Fund and possibly making Social Security solvent indefinitely, according to Teresa Ghilarducci, an economics professor at the New School for Social Research. Currently, a worker earning $117,000 USD pays 6.2% of their income into the fund.  The result is a maximum of $ 7,254 USD per year. The same goes for someone earning $17,000 USD per year.  They still pay 6.2% of their income into the fund. However, someone earning $1,117,000 USD per year pays only $7,254 USD per year because of the cap. A flat tax, up to a certain point…

Now here comes the interesting part…

If Congress is going to reform the safety net by trimming benefits and raising the retirement age, everyone should share the burden. That millionaire pays just 0.00659% in Social Security taxes. If the burden were shared equally, the millionaire would pay $69, 254 into the fund. Eliminating the cap would allow more money to flow into the fund.  Though critics would cry foul that the millionaire’s taxes went from  0.00659% to 0.062%, it is doubtful the public will march on Congress with pitchforks.  If they were educated that it was’t a tax hike, but rather an elimination of an artificial cap. A cap that benefits the wealthy…

The Los Angeles Times noted that this exclusive club was made up of mostly corporate CEOs who were not in the 1 percent or .01 percent, but rather the .0001 percent of high income earners.  Not the 1%, but the 0.0001 percent of people…

Of course, during the course of the year is another group of people, the upper middle class stops paying at a certain point all throughout the year, depending on their earnings. Sociologist Max Weber generally classified this group as well-educated, generally white collar professionals with graduate degrees. It is generally agreed (here and here) that this group of people earn between $100,000 USD – $150,000 USD per year. Estimates are that 1/3 of Americans earn enough to be considered upper middle class and above.

As we move up the economic ladder we enter what is generally agreed to (by Investopedia and US News Money) as the top 5%, also known as the upper class.  This group earns between $150,000 USD and $250,000 USD per year.  The next level is the 1% who earn more than $250,000 USD per year. Estimates indicate that up to 15% of Americans fall int the upper class category.

So, we must do some rounding.  Approximately, 1/3 -(a little less because the cap is at $117,000 USD  instead of $100,ooo USD) pay an effective rate of less than those making $25,000 per year. Those who cry for a flat-tax income tax scheme are certainly not raising their voice on this issue. If we want to be fair, a flat-tax Social Security revenue stream would be a good place to start. If benefits are to be cut, and the retirement age is raised, then the burden must be shared.

Sharing the burden…

M – and Corporate Responsibility. “Incompetence and Neglect” – all for Short-Term gain

The proverbial shit hit the fan.. And it wasn’t pretty.

GM CEO Mary Barra

GM CEO Mary Barra

GM CEO Mary Barra had a challenge presented to her a ““incompetence and neglect” resulted in the deaths of at least 13 people. It has been documented that many companies analyze the costs of replacing a defective part versus the cost of potential lawsuits.  Many companies literally analyze the potential payout in lawsuits they lose versus the cost of replacing a defective part. If the costs are reasonable, they move forward with the project and calculate the cost of a life as a part of doing business in a cold hard way. In GM’s case, it was an ignition switch.  Incompetence and Neglect.

And it resulted in the dismissal of senior executives. The buck stops at the CEO.  She took a stand and said she was not going to tolerate incompetence and neglect.  The senior level executives displayed neglect if they did not know about the problem and incompetence if they knew and did nothing to stop it.

Ford Pinto

Ford Pinto

The Ford Pinto cases were famous for company executives who callously calculated the cost of a human life and determined that shutting down production would be more expensive. The total “unit cost” – in this case a Ford Pinto car – was about $16.00. The company calculate that shutting down production and adding the items that would stop the cars from exploding from a rear-end collision was more expensive than just paying the grieving families.

In the Ford case, executives used cold hard math and determined that shutting down the factories and replacing the parts would cost $137 million USD. They calculated the cost of settling lawsuits from burn victims to be $49 million USD. Therefore, they decided to go ahead with production, knowing that people would be severely burned and die. Terrible tragic deaths…

Further, lawsuits awarded damages that far exceeded Ford’s internal analysis of what a life was worth. Negligent homicide charges were ultimately negligent homicide against the executives, but later dropped. Ford mounted an aggressive legal defense with a team that could not be matched against publicly funded prosecutors.

However, the damage was done. The credibility of Ford management was questioned publicly. The “brand” – Ford, had sustained real damage that took years to reclaim.

Clearly, that is something that the CEO at GM understands and is concerned about.  Ultimately, the company must protect its brand. If it fails, damage can be long-term and long lasting.

She was correct to discipline and fire the executives responsible. Ms. Barra was determined not to repeat history. She correctly realized that she had a responsibility to shareholders to maximize their gains over the long-term. Short-term thinking got Ford into trouble and damaged the brand. Ms. Barra had a responsibility to those who own part of GM to protect their investments. She took her role in corporate responsibility seriously.

It is what senior executives should do, it is their responsibility…

Negotiating with terrorists – more common than you think

Recently, there has been outrage from both sides of the political aisle regarding the release of U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl who has been held by the Taliban since 2009. Critics, have cried foul that we negotiated with terrorists and swapped Guantanamo Bay prisoners, some held since the facility was first opened, for an American soldier.

Except…

American diplomats - hostages of the Iranian government - held in Tehran.

American diplomats – hostages of the Iranian government – held in Tehran.

Well, the critics would have you believe that this is the first such time an event has ever happened. But it wasn’t.  We’ve been negotiating with terrorists for many years.  We negotiated for the release of American hostages held in Tehran for 444 days.  America negotiated with the Iranian government, perhaps one of the most-guilty state sponsors of terrorism.  But negotiate with Iran and the Ayatollahs we did. Circumstances surrounding the release of the hostages persist to this day. There have been claims that the Reagan/1980 campaign met with the Iranians in order to delay the release of the hostages in order to political advantage over the Carter Administration.

And of course, who could forget the Iran-Contra affair? The Reagan administration sold weapons in order to gain the release of other American hostages held in Lebanon. The saga of Lt. Col. Oliver North testifying before Congress defending his actions is ingrained in the American consciousness.

Oliver North, testifying before Congress

Oliver North, testifying before Congress

In clear violation of the law.  We were under a complete embargo banning all trade with the theocratic and terror regime. But negotiate we did…

Iran has a history of sponsoring terror attacks. The hostage crisis was just the beginning. We are now approaching the 20th anniversary of the Iranian linked bombing to a Jewish center in Buenos Aires, killing 85. It was the worst terrorist attack in the history of Argentina.

And there is more…

President George W. Bush famously exclaimed in 2002, “No nation can negotiate with terrorists.” Except, a month earlier his administration paid ransom for two American missionaries being held. Except, though the ransom was paid, the hostages were not released, with one being killed.

Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier traded for over 1,000 militants

Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier traded for over 1,000 militants

And the issue isn’t limited to the United States.  Israel freed over 1,027 militants in exchange for one soldier being held captive after military rescue efforts proved fruitless. One soldier for over 1,000.  An exchange.  Perhaps not even, but it was an exchange, that was negotiated. Moreover, it wasn’t the first.  Israel participated in many over the years.

So, while it is easy to cast blame and criticize and parse words, it is also conveniently easy to forget that this isn’t the first time.