Capitalism, health care, and my dad

I'm writing this post and my guess is it will be longer than my normal posts. You know when you sit down to write a diary post to sort out your feelings -- that's what this post is. 

I have an MBA and I'm an entrepreneur. I'm a capitalist. I believe in capitalism (for the most part). I understand very well that profit is a strategic imperative. I understand that managers sometimes need to make what appear to be bad decisions or inhuman decisions to achieve profit.  Unfortunately, I understand the rationale of laying off a division of a company because the organization needs to go in a different direction.  In most instances, I view this type of rationale as a strength of the US economic and politics system as opposed to those countries that have stringent rules about when a company can fire a person mandatory employment. 

At the same time, I think I have an understanding of the human toll of layoffs. I feel connected to the people I work with -- and even when it doesn't work out from an ongoing employment situation. I want to be friendly toward them -- and them toward me if I see them at the market.  

However, capitalism shouldn't be a license to fuck other people or to be a dick. Unfortunately, that's what the US version of capitalism has come to stand for.  It's hard for me not to be disgusted by the financial shenanigans of wall street over the past few years. And you should know, I believe in universal health care.

However, this wasn't meant to be a political post. It's a personal post. My dad is a rheumatologist. He's been in private practice for about 40 years and has worked the majority of his professional life with the same hospital. Just recently, my dad's practice stopped receiving referrals from that hospital. No one bothered to communicate that to my dad.  As a result, my dad's business was affected ....but more importantly, his sense of connection to a career and to people has been deeply wounded. 

I'm seeing where I want this post to go now. 

I guess the thing that disturbs me the most is that the hospital didn't call and tell him directly of they're decision to stop referrals. It's this loss of human relation and acknowledge -- that may be uncomfortable or hard -- that is so important.  It's not just business -- it is often very personal.  

I know that the scenario I layed out is subjective and complex. I know there's many other sides to the story. But, I'm feeling bad for the humiliation my dad must feel after working somewhere 40 years and having that disregarded. That's gotta feel shitty. And at the very least -- this post acknowledges him and his work. 

An email from a friend: Terrorism in America and the lack of response

The following was forwarded to me from a friend. It struck a nerve with me -- perhaps because I was just in NYC and am generally more paranoid than the average American about terrorism.

Juval Aviv was the Israeli Agent upon whom the movie ' Munich ' was based. He was Golda Meir's bodyguard -- she appointed him to track down and bring to justice the Palestinian terrorists who took the Israeli athletes hostage and killed them during the Munich Olympic Games.

In a lecture in New York City a few weeks ago, he shared information that EVERY American needs to know -- but that our government has not yet shared with us.

He predicted the London subway bombing on the Bill O'Reilly show on Fox News stating publicly that it would happen within a week. At the time, O'Reilly laughed and mocked him saying that in a week he wanted him back on the show. But, unfortunately, within a week the terrorist attack had occurred.

Juval Aviv gave intelligence (via what he had gathered in Israel and the Middle East ) to the Bush Administration about 9/11 a month before it occurred. His report specifically said they would use planes as bombs and target high profile buildings and monuments. Congress has since hired him as a security consultant.

Now for his future predictions. He predicts the next terrorist attack on the U.S. Will occur within the next few months. Forget hijacking airplanes, because he says terrorists will NEVER try and hijack a plane again as they know the people onboard will never go down quietly again. Aviv believes our airport security is a joke -- that we have been reactionary rather than proactive in developing strategies that are truly effective.

For example:

  1. Our airport technology is outdated. We look for metal, and the new explosives are made of plastic.
  2. He talked about how some idiot tried to light his shoe on fire. Because of that, now everyone has to take off their shoes. A group of idiots tried to bring aboard liquid explosives.. Now we can't bring liquids on board. He says he's waiting for some suicidal maniac to pour liquid explosive on his underwear; at which point, security will have us all traveling naked! Every strategy we have is reactionary.
  3. We only focus on security when people are heading to the gates. Aviv says that if a terrorist attack targets airports in the future, they will target busy times on the front end of the airport when/where people are checking in. It would be easy for someone to take two suitcases of explosives, walk up to a busy check-in line, ask a person next to them to watch their bags for a minute while they run to the restroom or get a Drink, and then detonate the bags BEFORE security even gets involved.

In Israel , security checks bags BEFORE people can even ENTER the airport.

Aviv says the next terrorist attack here in America is imminent and will involve suicide bombers and non-suicide bombers in places where large groups of people congregate. (I. E., Disneyland, Las Vegas casinos, big cities ( New York , San Francisco , Chicago , etc...) and that it will also include shopping malls, subways in rush hour, train stations, etc., as well as rural America this time ( Wyoming , Montana , etc.).

The attack will be characterized by simultaneous detonations around the country (terrorists like big impact), involving at least 5-8 cities, including rural areas.

Aviv says terrorists won't need to use suicide bombers in many of the larger cities, because at places like the MGM Grand in Las Vegas , they can simply valet park a car loaded with explosives and walk away.

Aviv says all of the above is well known in intelligence circles, but that our U. S. Government does not want to 'alarm American citizens' with the facts. The world is quickly going to become 'a different place', and issues like 'global warming' and political correctness will become totally irrelevant.

On an encouraging note, he says that Americans don't have to be concerned about being nuked. Aviv says the terrorists who want to destroy America will not use sophisticated weapons. They like to use suicide as a front-line approach. It's cheap, it's easy, it's effective; and they have an infinite abundance of young militants more than willing to 'meet their destiny'.

He also says the next level of terrorists, over which America should be most concerned, will not be coming from abroad. But will be, instead, 'homegrown' -- having attended and been educated in our own schools and universities right here in the U.. S. He says to look for 'students' who frequently travel back and forth to the Middle East .. These young terrorists will be most dangerous because they will know our language and will fully understand the habits of Americans; but that we Americans won't know/understand a thing about them.

Aviv says that, as a people, Americans are unaware and uneducated about the terrorist threats we will, inevitably, face.  America still has only have a handful of Arabic and Farsi speaking people in our intelligence networks, and Aviv says it is critical that we change that fact SOON.

So, what can America do to protect itself? From an intelligence perspective, Aviv says the U.S. needs to stop relying on satellites and technology for intelligence. We need to, instead, follow Israel 's,Ireland 's and England 's hands-on examples of human intelligence, both from an infiltration perspective as well as to trust 'aware' citizens to help. We need to engage and educate ourselves as citizens; however, our U. S. government continues to treat us, its citizens, 'like babies'. Our government thinks we 'can't handle the truth' and are concerned that we'll panic if we understand the realities of terrorism. Aviv says this is a deadly mistake.

Aviv recently created/executed a security test for our Congress, by placing an empty briefcase in five well-traveled spots in five major cities. The results? Not one person called 911 or sought a policeman to check it out. In fact, in Chicago , someone tried to steal the briefcase!

In comparison, Aviv says that citizens of Israel are so well 'trained' that an unattended bag or package would be reported in seconds by citizen(s) who know to publicly shout, 'Unattended Bag!' The area would be quickly & calmly cleared by the citizens themselves. But, unfortunately, America hasn't been yet 'hurt enough' by terrorism for their government to fully understand the need to educate its citizens or for the government to understand that it's their citizens who are, inevitably, the best first-line of defense against terrorism.

Aviv also was concerned about the high number of children here inAmerica who were in preschool and kindergarten after 9/11, who were 'lost' without parents being able to pick them up, and about our schools that had no plan in place to best care for the students until parents could get there. (In New York City , this was days, in some cases!)

He stresses the importance of having a plan, that's agreed upon within your family, to respond to in the event of a terrorist emergency. He urges parents to contact their children's schools and demand that the schools, too, develop plans of actions, as they do in Israel .

Does your family know what to do if you can't contact one another by phone? Where would you gather in an emergency? He says we should all have a plan that is easy enough for even our youngest children to remember and follow..

Aviv says that the U. S. government has in force a plan that, in the event of another terrorist attack, will immediately cut-off EVERYONE's ability to use cell phones, blackberries, etc., as this is the preferred communication source used by terrorists and is often the way that their bombs are detonated...

How will you communicate with your loved ones in the event you cannot speak? You need to have a plan...


Does America need a dictator?

George Bush used the executive office for lots of initiatives and activities that I disagreed with at the core of my being. I found myself in shock and horror as he (and his cronies) used the executive office to initiate war in Iraq, to undermine basic civil rights and human rights (think Guatanamo bay and civilian wiretapping), and to cut taxes in the face of rising spending -- he used politics of fear effectively and moved to centralize power in the executive branch more than any previous president (to my knowledge). He did all this and much, much more.  And I think he'll go down in history as the worst president in American history for what he did...and most people won't focus on how he did it.
Now, Barack Obama comes along -- someone that many people believe in. I'm beginning to wonder if the country doesn't need Obama to use even more centralized executive powers than George Bush used in order to be effective in the current situation. I'm nervous that Obama's inclusive liberal decision making approach is going to get more mired in the political system than George Bush's approach. This, at a time we absolutely need decisive leadership.  In my opionion, Barack would make a great CEO of America -- if only our system granted him that authority.
I'm rambling a bit....but I'm wondering whether America doesn't need more of a benevolent dicatator now more than ever?
And I'm wondering about the the irony that the last President attempted and wished for dictator like powers more than any other president previously and is, in my mind, to blame for much of the mess we find ourselves. What's that say about America's political system? 

Breathe a sigh of relief

Unfortunately, I haven't posted since Nov. 4, 2008 - the election of President elect Obama. The hard thing about writing now is that me emotions aren't quite as present as they were. That said, I recall that evening as the first time in recent American history that I was proud to be an American.  Regardless of your political background or affiliation, the election of Obama was a major milestone for America.  Obam's rise is one that we can all admire and feel proud of -- that we as a country have seen fit to elect our first black president only 60 some odd years after blacks had to ride at the back of the bus. 
Two of the weird things about the election night are :

  1. I don't think the election would have happened had it not been for the colossal disaster of the George W. Bush presidency and while George W. can't claim the election as a victory. He is to be thanked in part for Obama's victory.
  2. Proposition 8 looks like ti passed revoking the right of gay people to legally marry in California.  Ironic. I guess as a country we're more homophobic than racist.  Or more aptly put, better to be a black straight man than a white gay man -- you get the idea.  Makes you wonder when and if we'll ever have an openly gay president!?

Great grassroots idea: Use barack's photo on your facebook page and your blog

After I posted my blog last night and sent out a similar message to 2,500 of my closest friends on In response, a friend suggested that we encourage people to start using Barack's image on our profile pages in our social networks and blogs.  I thought this was a great idea and am taking that action. Feel free to use the images below or just choose your own image of Barack to use for your profile. 
What's great is that taking this action is free , can be done from your desk, and markets Barack to the netizens....and on Facebook, you're encouraging young people to get behind Barack even more than they already have!
Check out my new and improved blog profile , my linked in profile, and my facebook profile.  


The adage of, "if you can't beat them join them" should apply. But I can't bring myself to do it. There's too much at stake.  I think the Republicans have made some very smart moves in the current presidential election.  Most notably, the selection of Palin has to be commended as a smart political move.
However, I'm really in awe of the fact that this is even a close election.  I felt the same way 4 years ago -- when it was painfully obvious to me that we created a war in Iraq after Sept 11 on false pretenses.  That economically we were headed for massive deficits and a general erosion of social well-being.  And yet, I was in the minority. Loads of people voted for George W.  The first time, I can forgive (somehow). But the second time!  And now, in early September, it's looking quite possible that we're headed for a 3-pete.  Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, shame.

The power of ezample

Last nights democratic convention was exciting and smart. I thought Bill Clinton redeemed himself for some of his foibles during his wife's campaign. His speech framed up the election and the case obama needs to make to the public. Beau Biden speech was emotionally moving to the point that I teared up at the same time Michelle Obama did (how much was that tear worth?). And Joe Biden was solid and tough if not a little tongue tied at times. Overall, the stage is set for Obama to take back the lead in this election as he marches forward to his presidency. Hope is a wonderfula nd powerful thing!

Some thoughts on Hillary Clinton's campaign

I actually think Hillary's campaign has improved over the last few weeks as she's gotten more desperate.  She's taken on the role of the "fighter" and the role of the "experienced one. These are roles that come naturally to Hillary and make her an appealing candidate. Hillary's TV ad with the telephone and children sleeping that is about national security is strong and works. The ad uses tactics that have been traditionally Republican in nature -- effectively, it's a strategy based on politics of fear.  It looks like Hillary's campaign is also trying to raise expectations for Obama, saying that if Obama loses any of the four contests tomorrow, that would mean Democrats are having second thoughts about him.  All these strategies are (imho)fairly effective even if they're a bit desperate. They're the strategies of a true scrappy political fighter.  That said, I think this is a case of a bit too little, too late.
My prediction is Hillary wins Ohio by a small margin, she continues to fight for the nomination, but ultimately loses. Obama is going to be the democratic candidate -- like it or not.

VC apologizes for voting for George Bush

I had a meeing the other day with a well known venture capitalist. The meeting was an introductory meeting and covered a wide range of topics. I was enjoying the conversation very much when the person (who will remain anonymous) said that they had been a card carrying Republican and had voted for George Bush in each of the past two elections.  The VC then went on to apologize for his votes, his own poor judgement, and for George Bush's complete incompetence. This was an unprecedented meeting. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before -- for this to occur, it really struck me at just how bad George Bush is as a president

An email to my republican friends

I got a handful of emails yesterday from my Republican friends.  Most of them know that Bush is a disaster but they feel compelled to justify and rationalize their past votes and political leanings.  A couple of them have said, "I'm a single issue voter and Bush has delivered on lower taxes." 
At first, I left this statement alone but ultimately felt compelled to write this in an email to one of these single issue republicans:

I think you're smarter than that.... You know... these single issue voters are frankly stupid -- when have you made any important decision in life based on one factor. Whether it be an investment in a company, a job decision, a date request, what to have for dinner etc. it's always based on a more general view of the situation....and from a general perspective, Bush and his staff look incompetent at best....

You can be a republican and be smart but if you still think Bush is doing a good job (even with the your view of lower my taxes -- he economically undermined this country in a major way)...well, then -- you're a lot less smart than I thought you were.

Hope does not spring eternal for presidential democrats?

I'm a card carrying democrat. I was disgusted by George Bush's win in 2004. Who voted for him? And now that people are waking up to just how bad he and his administration actually are (damage already done!), I was feeling like sanity was returning to America.

Then, I read this article in Time magazine with the following quote:

"So why, in poll after poll, including the new TIME poll, does that advantage seem to disappear whenever voters are asked to pick a president in hypothetical head-to-head match-ups among front-runners with solid name recognition. In our poll, Hillary Clinton loses to John McCain, 42-48%, and to Rudy Giuliani 41-50%. Even though Clinton maintains a 7% edge over Obama among Democratic respondents, Obama fares better in the general election match-ups. It's so close that it's a statistical dead-heat, but Obama still loses: 43-45% to McCain, 44-45% to Giuliani.

Unfortunately, these results make sense to me. It looks more and more like the presidential candidate for the democrats will either be Clinton or Obama.   Is either one electable? Sure they could both beat George Bush or DIck Cheney -- but can they beat Giuliani, McCain, or Romney?  According to  Time -- the answer is no.  What's a democrat to do?