Wednesday, August 31, 2016
Remember reading and studying American history in school? Remember the dreams of the Founding Fathers? I do. And I am willing to bet that your remembrance of the dreams and aspirations of the Founding Fathers, as well as the hopes and goals of the men and women, who built this great nation, are very similar to mine. I am willing to bet that every time you think of our nation ― The United States of America, and what it stands for, a slew of democratic principles come rushing to your mind: We believe in fairness. We believe in equality. We believe in justice for all. We believe in the rights of the individual. We believe in freedom. We believe in unity. We believe in our motto ― In God We Trust. We believe that although our nation is far from perfect and it has its faults, concerning social issues like racism, sexism, inequality for gay Americans, class warfare . . . we’re moving in the right direction, and things are going to get better. I am willing to bet that these democratic principles were first planted in your mind by parents, relatives, community leaders, ― and teachers in American history classes. We were told that these were “the principles upon which this nation was built.” These were the principles of Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, Madison, S. Adams, Hancock, Paine, J. Adams . . . who were determine to build a nation that celebrated, more that anything else, the rights of the individual to practice his faith, raise his family according to his beliefs, pass down the customs and traditions of his ancestors, and earn a living through his creative and innovative resolve to be successful: These were the values of individuals who would work in concert with their fellow citizens to promote the principles of our democracy ― for the betterment of all of humankind. It's important to understand that these are the true beliefs of the majority of American people. More importantly, the American flag represents their values -- not he values of the oppressors, racists, sexists, and others who are only concern it their selfish, greedy motives.
In these very trying times, the principles of the Founding Fathers are worth remembering, for they are the ingredients in the glue that bind us together ― in spite of our differences!
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Leadership is a required course in the United States military. Every American who served (or is serving) in the army, navy, marines, air force, and coast guard studied (or is studying) it. I taught it for 20+ years in the army, and studied it from 1969 to the present. I guess this is my round-about way of telling you that there are millions of military personnel and veterans who will verify and reinforce the points I am about to make about leadership.
First, excellent (or strong) leadership is perhaps the single most important factor for creating success in organizations, companies, corporations, or democratic governments. Second, excellent leadership is built on sound, fundamental principles; and finally, the same principles of excellence that create success in organizations also create success in corporations, and democratic governments.
So, what are the excellent principles of leadership? There are many, but here are the five important ones. (It might be helpful and informative if you compare the person you consider to be an excellent leader to the leadership principles that follows.):
1. Excellent leaders lead by example. Their personal conduct always reinforces their stated beliefs in the highest pillars of character. What they do models what they say: An excellent leader, for example, who truly believes that “government sponsored health care is wrong for the American people” would not have “government sponsored health care” for himself and his family – especially if he was a United States congressman or a United States senator.
2. Excellent leaders are perceived as “fair” even when the make tough decisions. Strong leaders have moral compasses that allow them to empathize with all members of their organizations. They always appear to be keenly aware of the impact that their decisions are having on others. Since excellent leaders are very good at articulating their feelings, they are able to demonstrate to everyone in their organizations that all experiences and concerns are understood by them..
3. Excellent leader gets everyone involved, and make everyone feel important to the organization, corporations, etc. Strong leaders do not demean, degrade, or publicly put-down members of their organizations; and under no set of circumstances do they intentionally divide their subordinates by pitting one group against another (rich vs. poor, public workers vs. private workers, those who receive entitlements vs. those who receive tax benefits, corporations vs. workers, etc.)! Quite the contrary, they are always trying to find ways of raising their subordinates’ self-esteem, self-confidence, feelings of empowerment, and feelings of inclusion. All members, regardless of their status, are made to feel important to the team and vital to achieving the team’s goals. (For example, a strong leader in the United States government would consider "getting everyone involved" an important strategy for solving problems like reducing the deficit, balancing the budget, improving education, increasing employment, and protecting the environment, reducing crime, reducing racial tension, reducing poverty, etc.) Anyone who tells the world "I alone can do it!" is indirectly stating "When it comes to excellent leadership, I am clueless!"
4. Excellent leaders have the ability to anticipate problems. Their leadership style is proactive – not reactive. They are always thinking “cause and effect.” They are always imagining the resulting scenarios in their minds, and they are always preparing for them. As a result their organizations are never caught unprepared. What is even more interesting is the fact that this way of thinking (or their way of anticipating problems) becomes contagious. It spreads throughout the entire organization to the point that it becomes “just the way everyone in the organization thinks and performs his/her job!”
5. Excellent leaders are visionaries. Strong leaders have a clear vision of where they want their organization to go, a clear understanding of the abilities of organization members, and the knowledge and skills to design and articulate a positive game plan that enables everyone to contribute to the best of his/her ability. Organizations that are led by strong leaders always achieve their goals in the most effective and efficient manner, while maintaining high morals, esprit de corps, team work, and job satisfaction for everyone!
In the current social and political climate in the United States dominated by divisions, deceptions, lack of moral courage, greed, poor leadership by example, reactive leadership, leaders without vision, etc., it should be clear why I make the argument that this nation has a growing deficit in strong leadership. I wish I could say that I am hopeful that this will improve. I am not, but I will keep my fingers crossed!
Friday, August 26, 2016
The men and women, who should govern the United States of America, should be first and foremost leaders: They should be individuals who are trained and experienced at being proactive. This means that they should be men and women with excellent skills for anticipating problems, and for preventing the problems they anticipated. These men and women should have the knowledge and skills to ensure subordinates understanding of the problems, to ensure subordinates understanding of assigned responsibilities, and to ensure compliance and a state of readiness at all times. Men and women, who make the best proactive leaders, are usually individuals that tends to be courageously-candid with everyone, stickler for details, receptive to feedback from their subordinates, meticulous stewards of inspection, students of lessons learned, great team builders, and highly accountable. Most importantly, they are outstanding role models who practice what they preach: They lead by example.
As long as we continue to elect politicians, we will remain a reactive nation that is constantly in a state of responding to the evils done to us.
As soon as we begin electing leaders, we will become a proactive nation, with the ability to anticipate the evils and prevent them from happening to us!
Let’s begin electing leaders!
James A. Porter
Thursday, August 25, 2016
I am always amazed by the fact that although we call ourselves “a Christian Nation” and we boast about the fact that we have more churches in the United States than any other country in the world, the teachings of God, the Father, and His Son, Christ Jesus, play minor roles in our policy decisions. Our actions suggest that we do not ask ourselves questions like “What grade would Jesus, who knows what’s honestly is in our hearts, give us for the policy decisions we’ve just made?” “Are our policy decisions in accordance with His teachings?” “Are we conducting our selves in compliance with the example He modeled on Earth? And finally, are we writing and passing legislations that are in the true spirit of His principles (in accordance with The Word in His Bible)? Were we acting as God-Fearing Christian when we have incorporated His principles and ethics into the two most important documents in our nation – The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States?”
In fact it appears to be quite the opposite: Our decision-makings are so far afield of His teachings that they would probably put us in good standing with the other guy – Satin. Moreover, what I find to be even more amazing is the fact that organizations, like the Republican Party, which claim to be the beacons of Christian values and morality, are the worst offenders. Their anti-Christian policies, which are becoming more frequent, are increasingly producing more severe consequences: Reductions in real wages; reductions in the size of the middle class; increases in the number of people living below the poverty line; and deregulation of civil rights, workers’ rights, gender rights, equality for all, representative government, and individual rights.
Currently, it appears that the republicans are winning all the social and economic battles. They won the battle concerning “no new taxes.” They won the battle concerning the topics and the framing of the economic debates. And most significantly, they won the battle concerning spending cuts: they forced our country to make deep cuts to badly needed social and education programs, while refusing to make any cuts in defense spending, for weapon systems the Pentagon neither wanted or needed.
On the surface it appears that the republicans won the economic debates because their economic ideologies were better and more effective than those of the democrats. I don’t believe this is true. Moreover, there is one inescapable fact that all honest God-fearing Christians cannot overlook: Jesus would never cut entitlements, because He knows that cutting entitlements make the poor poorer. This means that death from poverty and other conditions in poverty-stricken neighborhoods increases. God knows that cutting entitlements is literally a death sentence for the poorest Americans. And the majority of poor Americans are children. God knows that the deeper the cuts, the more children you sentence to death.
Cutting entitlements or social programs that help “Americans in need” might be a good strategy for minimizing the tax cuts for corporations and wealth Americans. It might appease the Republican-Tea Party, but let there be no doubt in anyone’s mind: Agreeing to these actions makes you and I and every American conspirators in what has already become “the biggest mass genocide of Americans by Americans – And most of the victims are children!!!!!!
God help us!!!
Dear Republicans, or “God-Fearing, church-going, law abiding, moral and ethical citizens, who diligently practice your faiths by living in accordance with the word of God,” have you read Matthews chapter 5 – lately? It would be helpful if you reflect on verse 7 (Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.), verse 8 (Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.), and verse 9 (Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.)
Instead of aggressively trying to prosecute Secretary of State Hilary Clinton for emails she erased from her personal server, it will be helpful if you recall that the last Republican President (George W.) and his secretary of state were so fast asleep at the wheel that 9/11 occurred on American soil while they were snoring. Note: The Democrats or “the secular party” showed mercy while acting as peacemakers in the months and years that followed. In spite of the fact that during that time period George W. started a war in the wrong country (Iraq), lied about “weapons of mass destruction,” created a flood of home foreclosures, the largest financial meltdown since the depression of the 30”s, and greatest rise in unemployment since 1929.
Note again: The Democrats or “the secular party” simply rolled-up their sleeves and began the job of peacemaking, being merciful, and pure in heart. President Obama and his fellow democrats treated George W. and his secretary of state with respect and dignity.
Dear Republicans, don’t you think it is time for you to begin to practice what you preach?
Suggestion: This Sunday when you go to church, you should ask God.
By James A. Porter
Monday, August 22, 2016
I love quality debates. I love debates in which two debaters, with opposite points of views, present their arguments – each clearly and concisely articulating interesting, informative, persuasive ideas, supported by cited respected research. Oh, I love the feelings of sitting and listening to the first debater, in a cool, calm, coherent manner convincing me that his side of the argument is correct. “This is good stuff!” I find myself thinking, as his presentation sways my thoughts in his favor. I am convinced that he's going to win! His argument is so good that I cannot envision him loosing the debate.
Of course, my opinion changes a few minutes later, as I sit and listen to the second debater delivering the opposing argument. His delivery, which is as thorough, thoughtful, interesting, and persuasive as the first debater’s, pulls my thinking in the opposite direction.
I find that long after these types of debates (the physical presentations) are over, a tug-of-war between the two sets of wonderful ideas rages on in my head –sometimes for days and months to come. And this is good! Because the chief reward that these types of discourses bring is the fact that they make me more aware and appreciative of differences. They make me a better person by making me more sensitive to the beliefs, needs, thoughts, and fears of others: I can truly empathize with those on the left and those on the right, those on the top and those on the bottom.
I don’t think that I am alone; I think well- balanced, quality debates have similar effects on everyone.
Strong (or excellent) leaders encourage these types of balanced debates that allow the citizens to gain an authentic grasp of the issues from both sides. Strong leaders know that the end results are going to be the development of understanding, empathy, and the feelings of fairness in everyone. Moreover, strong leaders know that it will help the citizens to develop a real appreciation for the quagmire these leaders are in, and sympathy for the difficulty of the decisions these leaders are going to make.Unfortunately, in today’s political climate of weak leadership, where both sides of the debate are too afraid to discuss raising taxes (especially on the riches ten percent of Americans), or closing the most flagrant tax loop-holes, or eliminating earmarks and subsidies for rich corporations, or any issue that benefits poor Americans (minimum wages, entitlements, etc.) these types of quality debates are becoming endangered species. And the United States is becoming an endangered nation!
God help us!
by James A. Porter
Fences also came as immigrants,
carefully disassembled and tucked
between the interpretations of the "Books
in the Old Testament,"
neatly printed in the misinterpreted yellow journalism
of Spencer and Darwin.
Others were stuffed in old envelopes
(hidden in the lines of letters,
whose wrinkled yellow shadiness, evidenced
pages that were read again and again
for indoctrination purposes). Diligently they were kept
to be reassembled as pillars in our laws
and the grand structure of pious euphemisms,
(with their believers unaware that cries of "Manifest Destiny"
would become a diverse process of ongoing evolution),
in spite of barriers to the free mental movement
of the masses. In cleaver disguises, as
methods to ensure civil obedience, these fences went
Unlike the ones that came as immigrants, however,
the earliest ones we erected on the landscape
were noticed and unwanted,
for back then (in the beginning) we valued the open range
and the freedom to chart our own course, and to move freely
--without obstruction to ourselves and others.
So these first ones on the new land created resentment;
the critters objected to these hindrances
to enjoying the cabbage, carrots, and tomatoes;
the cattle simply accepted their fate as prisoners;
the buffaloes and wolves fought against these barriers
Fortunately, these fences disturbing the soil were few,
and we took time every day to carefully mend them
and to erect them only when absolutely necessary,
like around the forts and the parameters of the jails
--just a few.
Unfortunately, we slowly began making more and more
and more of them:
big ones, high ones, strong ones, big and high ones,
strong and big ones -- more and more and
more of them everywhere. Made in barbed wire, chicken wire,
vinyl, bamboo, stockade, metal, split rail, board-on-board,
louvered, lattice, cement, stone, chain link, cyclone, ornate
wrought iron, aluminum, deer, plastic, PVC -- electric...
more and more of them everywhere,
around homes, schools, businesses, farms, communities,
"To keep them out" we told ourselves.
"To lock them up" we told ourselves.
"For safety reasons" we told ourselves.
"To protect our property" we told ourselves.
"To set boundaries" we told ourselves.
"Race, creed, color, ethnicity, or socio-economic status
has nothing to do with it," we told ourselves.
And to prove this point our current plan is to build more:
Bigger ones, higher one, stronger ones in this country
-- in all states.
On foreign soil we will tear down the walls that proud and noble civilizations erected;
without regards to the moral manner of disposition.
(Blowing them up should never be an option,
especially when we know
that children, pure, precious and pretty, are playing "tag" nearby.)
Yet, we blow them up, and tear other nations down,
Then we make new fences: bigger,
stronger, and higher ones.
We don't mend fences anymore.
"To keep them out" we will tell ourselves.
"To lock them up" we will tell ourselves.
"For safety reasons" we will tell ourselves.
"To protect our property" we will tell ourselves.
"To set boundaries" we will tell ourselves.
"Race, creed, color, ethnicity, or socio-economic status
has nothing to do with it," we will tell ourselves,
while the biggest, strongest, and highest
fences that also came as immigrants will remain
just like our ironic gift
Life in prison -- without
the possibility of parole!
by James A. Porter
More and more with each passing day, our local, state and federal governments are spending less and less on public education; yet, they are expecting better and better results! They’re expecting teachers to work harder, new teaching recruits to be smarter, the quality of instructions to be better, and students’ achievements―regardless of circumstances, to be greater. Our governments, which have argued time and time again that investments are important in producing positive outcomes, and have used this argument as a justification for cutting corporate taxes, seem unwilling to apply this same line of reasoning to investing in public education. Instead, they expect public schools to be the exception to their rule: They expect public schools’ levels of excellence to increase as public schools’ funding continue to decrease.
Currently our nation has some of the best sports teams in the world in virtually every sport for women and men. Our stadiums and athletic fields, at every level of competition, are second to none, and our athletes are among the highest paid Americans. On our best colleges and universities, the average salary of a football or basketball coach is millions of dollars more than the salary of the President of the University. Yet, our nation wonders why our students’ achievements are falling behind the achievements of students in other countries ― except in the area of sports.Obviously, our governments haven’t learned a basic economic lesson that is well known to most of us ― middle class folks: Although we occasionally encounter a few bargains when making purchases, most of the time we get exactly what we paid for!
James A. Porter
Sunday, August 21, 2016
Excellent teaching isn’t guesswork. Instead, it’s instruction based on the latest research studies concerning who, what, when, where, why and how to teach children; effective ways to measure the quantity and quality of “lessons learned” or the authentic progress the children are making; and effective ways to use the measurement results for the purpose of creating new lessons that allow each child to progress from his/her current level of knowledge and skills to the next.
Who, what, when, where, why, and how are factors or variables that produces the day-to-day achievement of students. It is important to understand that it is the product of all of them that determines how much each student learns and how well each student learns it. In other words the amount of learning that takes place in the classroom for each child is literally determine by multiplying the factors, in the following equation: who x what x when x where x why x how = daily achievement for each child.
I wrote this equation for several reasons. But the most important reason is it shows that the argument, which suggests students are failing because many teachers are unskilled-overpaid public employees, is wrong. Children are the “who” in the equation: who x what x when x where x why x how = daily achievement for each child. And this argument, in the language of mathematics, is suggesting daily achievement for each child = zero, when one or more of the other factors = zero. This is especially true when the factor is who or the child.
This is easier to understand when we state it in plain language: Regardless of the knowledge and skills of a teacher, and the excellent quality of his/her lessons, the daily achievement for a child is going to be zero if the child is sitting in jail, truant from school, spending time in a detention room . . . at the time the lesson is being taught in the classroom. Additionally, hunger, domestic abuse, unemployed parents, homelessness, divorce, separations, etc. are parts of the “why” factor. They explain why some students come to school unprepared to learn, unable to concentrate, with low self-esteem, and preoccupied with family matters. Many of the children in the United States who are failing in schools are facing one or more of these challenges. And these challenges require solutions from men and women with far more social and political power than teachers, principals, districts superintends, school board members, and local community government officials.
Governors, however, have the power ― especially when their parties are the majority in both houses of their state governments, to create solutions to these challenges. There should be no doubt in any governor’s mind that any education reform policy that fails to address the growing issues of poverty, hunger, unemployment and homelessness will not raise the achievement level of the poorest Americans. Any governor who intentionally divert federal funds away from specific poor school districts" and give those funds to the wealthy school districts should be jailed for breaking the law: His behavior isn't any better than the robbers that are stealing in the poor neighborhoods. More importantly, his actions will not lead to higher achievements in these neighborhoods.
by James A. Porter
Thursday, August 18, 2016
I suspect that the current debates and policy changes concerning women’s rights must be especially troubling for the women of my generation – the baby boomers. They remember the struggles of their mothers and grandmothers to stop abusive treatments, unequal opportunities, the lack of access, sexual harassment, sexual assault, gender stereotypes, and unequal pay. Moreover, they remember their own struggles against these forms of discrimination: They remember when the career fields available to women were limited to the types of jobs that were labeled “women’s work.” They remember the days when scholarships, grants, and other programs that could enable women to enter the professional fields did not exist. They remember the days before Title IX and other programs aimed at providing girls/women with the opportunities to have sport programs comparable to those of the boys/men. These struggles are fresh in their minds. They can recall the days when engineer, mechanic, construction worker, real estate developer, doctor, lawyer, corporate executive, business owner, senator, governor . . . were considered to be “men’s work.” They can recall the days when men-only golf courses and male sport clubs were used to deny women access to the social and business networks necessary for advancing their careers. Additionally, they remember the despicable social treatment of women: They can recall the recent past when sexual assault and sexual harassment were simply dismissed as “boys being boys.” They also have memories of the recent past when spousal abuse (mental and physical) was a husband’s right.
Most importantly, however, women baby boomers appear mindful of two important facts: First, despite the gains women have made in recent years, they still remain huge numbers of hurdles for women to overcome. They include equity in pay, more rigorous appearance standards, and perhaps the most important hurdle women are facing – the double bind of oppression, which tells working women, “You need to stay home, take care of your family, and raise your children,” while at the same time it tells stay-home moms, “You need to leave your home and get a day job.” Of course in today’s American society, most women are doing both. They are performing the jobs of "working women," and "stay-home moms." Most do not have a choice – especially single mothers who are the primary caregivers, and mothers whose spouses have lost their jobs or were forced to take pay-cuts.
And finally, women baby boomers are keenly aware that some Americans (mostly men) are working vigilantly to turn-back the clock. They believe that a woman’s place is in the home, where she should perform her duties in strict obedience to her husband.
I am praying that women remember that they are the largest voting block. They control their own destiny. I hope they keep moving the clock forward: The future of all women -- including my daughter and my grand daughter depends on it, so does the future of the United States!
James A. Porter
Sunday, May 29, 2016
Saturday, May 28, 2016
It screams with anticipation and uncertainty.
Drums the moment with heart pounding thunder.
Yells the inner turmoil and confusion of fear.
Rocking the trembling soul with uncontrolled vibrations,
shivering every fiber with earth shaking tremors.
Growling the upset stomach into volcanic eruptions
-- spewing irrepressible excrements from eyes and bowels;
I hope You are listening!”
A friend of mine died a few days ago; she was a teacher,
a mom, a wonderful person. She was the most recent of
umpteen friends I’ve lost over the years.
Most of these friends died
in combat or as a result of our inability to speak and
listen to each other. Each was unique
listen to each other. Each was unique
in his/her own way.
I do not fear death. I understand it
and respect it,
for in my Christian thoughts,
death is the rite of passage
to Heaven. Yet, each death turns me into
an emotional wreck
with the feelings of sadness
and lost beyond belief ― especially
when my friends’ departures are sudden
or unexpected. The abrupt impact
of their deaths, always hit me like a “semi”
― smashing, splattering, and scattering
my feelings along the path
we’ve traveled on the journeys we took together.
Months, years, and the rest of my life are needed
to reassemble the shattered fragments of
“what’s-left-of-my-life,” (or the pieces
of me that I can find).
I am never again the same. Personal portions
of sentimental segments will remain missing . . .
creating questions unanswered:
"Why did this life with so much promise
end unfulfilled?” “Why now?” Why
him/her?” “What about her children?"
"She loved them more than herself”
"Why? Why? Why?"
It times, like these,
I find it comforting to know
and believe in God,
for He is the “The Most Tangible!”
because He gives me hope for a joyous reunion
with my friends ― someday!
James A. Porter
Friday, January 01, 2016
I AM from the Presence
– the ancestry of Him in i.
Born of Truth, baptized by Love,
soulfully mentored by Grace.
cradled in the arms of Mother Earth, learned to dance,
in Halloween costumes of Fall leaves,
puddle-wonderful ponchos of Spring reign,
summer scandals of sea shells,
and formal frosty footgear of Winter Wonderlands.
The Transparent Eyeball accounts for my source
– in all things: “Word” Up!
As i journey through the woods in myself
dancing to the pow-wow thunder
of nature’s harmonic counterpoints
– free from dissonance, i have become forever,
while happily discovering:
Every Moment is Thanksgiving
on my journey to “Awe!”
--The Eternal Gift of Christmas.
James A. Porter