Thursday, March 29, 2012

Gao Zhisheng Reportedly ‘Alive and in Good Health’

By M. Ulric Killion


By way of an update, following the conviction and sentencing of Chinese lawyer Gao Zhisheng, during the past few years his whereabouts have been a mystery. In the way of an update about his current status, as recently reported by the New York Times, on March 28, 2012, his wife, Gao He said that her father and Mr. Gao’s brother had been allowed a half-hour visit with him at a prison in the western region of Xinjiang province.

For those unaware, Gao was convicted and sentenced for violation of the crime of inciting subversion of state power, which is  China’s “Law on Guarding State Secrets.”  Although Gao was earlier granted probation, he was later found to be in violation of the terms of probation and subsequently returned to prison.

In the earlier period of his legal career Gao persecuted both Christians and adherents of Falun Gong. He also did so while notably, though seemingly contradictory, devoting his time and energy to the representation of victims of medical malpractice and farmers who had lost their land to development.

The latter commitment to his clients, however, would eventually overshadow his former deeds, such as his persecution of Christians and those belonging to Falun Gong. This is because Gao would eventually find himself on the road to increasing troubles with Beijing when, in 2005, he renounced his Communist Party membership and then commences the practice of criticizing, by letters to Chinese leaders, China’s government.

Additionally, and further adding to Gao’s troubles, the letters to party leaders notwithstanding, he would also find himself challenging the party apparatus (i.e., the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)) by taking on politically sensitive cases, which would ultimately expose shortcomings of China’s legal system.

In the midst of Gao’s history as both an advocate and now prisoner, his plight has taken on a certain notoriety, because the international community took a great interest in his plight, as seen in the concerns of many, which range from the White House, European Union (EU), United Nations (UN), and human rights organizations.

Otherwise, for now, there is an update on Gao’s whereabouts, and a clear indication by his wife, Gao He, as the New York Times reported, that he is both “alive and in good health.”


See also

All Rights Reserved by M. Ulric Killion, 2012.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

C.Y. Leung wins Election for Hong Kong Chief Executive Officer

By M. Ulric Killion


Leung Chun-ying; Source: Wipiedia.

On Sunday, March 25, 2012, the 2012 Election for Hong Kong Chief Executive Officer, SAR Hong Kong, was televised by Pearl TV, in Hong Kong.  As televised, the announced final vote tallies from the Election Committee members were as follows:

C.Y. Leung  689

Ho Jun Ren 76

Henry Tang 285

Finally, the final votes of the Election Committee members, pursuant to Hong Kong’s Basic Law, remains subject to approval by Beijing.


See also

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Republicans’ New Economic Doom Message - The “Oil Price Doom Message”

By M. Ulric Killion

3-16-2012 2-53-56 AM

Photo Source: By Gene J. Puskar, AP, This Feb. 27, 2012, photo of a sign for gas prices at a Pittsburgh Exxon mini-mart; “Oil trader Stephen Schork said the current price of oil reflects investors' fear of military conflict,”by Pablo Gorondi, Gas prices up for 27 straight days to $3.77 for regular, March 5, 2012, AP. See also “Newt Gingrich, candidate for the Republican nomination for president and former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, wants you to give him the power of the pump. As several hundred people crowded into the ballroom at the Airport Hilton on Monday to hear him speak, Gingrich elaborated on his campaign promise to bring the price of gasoline down to $2.50 per gallon if he’s elected president,” by Joel Davis, Gingrich promises $2.50 gasoline, The Daily Times, March 5, 2012.

On several occasions, I have both written articles and posted articles from other sources that addressed the “economic doom message” of the Republican (GOP) forerunners. Most Americans by now are well aware that their earlier “economic doom message” directly descends from the need and search for campaign issues.

Initially, though they are starting to do so now (i.e., as one source notes, “the Republican candidates (Ron Paul excepted) are all but swearing they will launch a war on Iran if elected.”), the GOP forerunners did not challenge President Obama’s foreign policy, which was due to his high approval ratings in the area of foreign policy.

They elected instead to focus on exploring domestic or social issues. A problem, however, is that when doing so, they would routinely find themselves demonstrating an inherent proclivity to stand on the wrong side of the beliefs of most Americans.

Granted, there are exceptions to the rule (i.e., as some polls indicate, some GOP women voters actually share some of their extreme beliefs). Nonetheless, overall, that is, as pertains to most Americans, their campaign issues (i.e., social issues such as entitlements, Medicare, social security,  abortion, contraception, women’s rights, war on religion, gay rights, now potentially domestic violence, etc.) challenge the beliefs of most Americans or the average American citizen.

The “economic doom message” was especially interesting. This is because, in the face of an upward moving economy, their “economic doom message” begins to take on a life on its own.

For many Americans, in the face of an improving economy, those hailing the “economic doom message” began more and more to appear as though they were actually rooting against economic recovery. A situation only made worse when it became clearer that they were doing so simply for the sake of winning –the GOP-“ugly winning!

It is a scenario most apparent in Mitt Romney’s campaign strategy. Romney is exhibiting an obvious strategy or ruthlessness that most Americans are increasingly associating with the namesake –“ugly winning.”

This also brings to mind an article recently written by Phillip Klein (Senior Editorial Writer at the Washington Post), which is entitled, “GOP shouldn't pin hopes on gas prices staying high,” What is important about his article is that it serves as a reminder of the GOP primary race, which for most of us has become more of a circus than a race with its many twists, turns, and extremisms (i.e., extreme beliefs and extreme tunnel-vision).

The title of Klein’s short article speaks for itself, while also, though perhaps unintentionally, speaks to what we as Americans are having to endure, which is a display of the most ruthless and cunning politics in the history of American politics. An Australian newspaper, The Sydney Morning Herald, when earlier in February describing a contested-election for the office of Australia’s prime minister between Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd, compared the February election in Australia to the U.S. Republican Party primary and its “bloodletting.”

The point of Klein’s short article is that he impliedly reminds us of the “GOP-ugly winning” and “bloodletting;” both of which imply ruthlessness and cunning. This is because Klein addressed the GOP’s new domestic issue of prices at the pump.

In other words, the GOP forerunners are now forecasting an oil price doom, or even perhaps a “gas prices at the pump doom.” The new doom message, which is the “0il price doom message” (or the “gas prices at the pump doom”), like their earlier “economic doom message,” is shocking and incredulous.

As for why their new doom message is shocking and incredulous, the fact that a U.S. president cannot set oil prices notwithstanding, the following articles will explain why this is so, and directly addresses the issues of the U.S. presidency and oil prices, which are the blog postings here, here, here, and here.

Finally, and getting back to Klein’s short article, his writing sends a clear message to Republicans and GOP forerunners, and impliedly their now dynamic “doom messages.” In this respect, his article is revealing, because many, while hearing their new “economic doom message,” might fail to recognize the similarities between their earlier “economic doom message” and now their new “gas prices at the pump doom message.”

The only difference between the GOP forerunners is that some lay the new economic doom message down hard (i.e., directly by Gingrich and his lower price of $2.50/gallon), while others lay it down softly (i.e., indirectly by Mitt Romney).

Moreover, the scenario of the new economic doom message, like the earlier one, still sadly presents a Republic Party’s calculus for success that actually premises upon the doom of the economy, and now a doom on the price of gasoline. As earlier stated, one of the few consistent themes of the GOP forerunners is the woes of a struggling economy–“original” ruthlessness and cunning, or simply, “ugly winning”!

Finally, the article by Phillip Klein follows.


“GOP shouldn't pin hopes on gas prices staying high”

By Phillip Klein, March 13, 2012 --

Conventional wisdom holding that President Obama’s approval ratings were recovering and he was on track for a smooth reelection suffered a blow yesterday with the release of two new polls. First, the Washington Post/ABC survey found his ratings reversing – to 46 percent approval and 50 percent disapproval, from 50 percent approval and 46 percent disapproval a month ago. Then, the New York Times/CBS poll came out showing Obama’s approval rating sinking to 41 percent (an all-time-low in the survey), with disapproval jumping to 47 percent. Last month, the poll found him with a 50 percent approval rating and an 43 disapproval rating. Both polls found that even with overall economic prospects slowly improving, Americans are increasingly unhappy with rising gas prices, and they’re holding Obama responsible. Though this news provides some comfort to Republicans who had been worried about Obama’s improved reelection chances, they shouldn’t pin their hopes on the idea of gas prices remaining high up through the fall.

To be clear, I’m not attempting to predict where gas prices will be this October, when voters begin to solidify their opinions about the state of the country before the election. My only point is that gas prices are highly volatile and it’s often hard to differentiate short-term fluctuations from long-term trends. And even when there is an upward trend, there could be shorter-term dips along the way. Gas prices soared in the spring and summer of 2008, eventually exceeding over $4 a gallon, and it promised to be a major issue in that year’s election. Who can forget the chants of “Drill Baby Drill!” at the Republican National Convention? But by the time Election Day arrived, oil prices were taking a nosedive as the global economy crashed and pushed down demand, and the issue turned out to be a non-factor.

Obviously, there are plenty of reasons, such as instability in the Middle East, to expect that oil prices will continue to rise throughout the year. And any dip in oil prices from a collapsing economy would clearly not be good news for Obama, either. But the point is that oil prices are highly unpredictable, so it would be unwise for Republicans to assume they’ll continue to drag down Obama’s ratings. Any political analysts who think they can say for sure what gas will cost in seven months should quit their jobs and go into commodities trading.

GOP shouldn't pin hopes on gas prices staying high – Washington Post


See also The Republican Conundrum

All Rights Reserved by M. Ulric Killion, 2012.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The U.S. Economy and Sources of Personal Income: A ‘V-shape’ with another ‘V-shape’

By M. Ulric Killion

[Graph Source: (In illustration of a typical V-shape, “The Recession of 1953 in the United States is a classic V-shape.Percent Change From Preceding Period in Real Gross Domestic Product (annualized; seasonally adjusted);  Average GDP growth 1947–2009,” Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis); Wikipedia.].

Today, I was reading an interesting short article that addresses “recession within recession,” or arguably, a V-shape with another a V-shape. It was interesting because it seemed a unique perception on the U.S. economy and its economic growth, or according to some, especially the Republic (GOP) forerunners, American woes. The short article, however, actually addressed the sources of personal income (i.e., private wages and salaries) when mentioning the V-shape.


The author of this short writing (or blog posting) is Karl Smith, and the article is titled, “Where Personal Income Comes From,” which is from the blog (or web log) of Modeled Behavior – A Stylized Foray Into the World of Highly Fashionable Ideas. I have personally subscribed to their blog postings for some time now, and even on occasion, as in my earlier posting of the blog posting entitled, China’s economic growth model – A recipe for growing too fast?, finding myself responding to one of their short articles.

For those unfamiliar with their blog, Modeling Behavior, if I had to describe it, I would say that their short articles are timely, intellectually stimulating, and insightful. In other words, for the curious of mind, especially about the workings and state of the U.S. economy, it is an excellent source of information, if not simply a reading source of excellent economic writings and thoughts.

However, and getting more to the point, in the way of background information, for those who are unfamiliar with the V-shape, it generally employs to describe the state of the economy and recession. In this case, it is being used to address the state of the U.S. economy as pertains to the sources of personal income.

In terms of assessing economic recovery, economists actually generally employ what characterizes a U-shape, V-shape, and W-shape. In other words, on-going economic recovery could characterize a U-shaped economic recovery, V-shaped economic recovery or W-shaped economic recovery, or, alternatively, a U-shaped recession, V-shaped recession, or W-shaped recession.

In a brief explanation of the significance of the U, V, and W shapes, they generally describe the following conditions of recession and/or recovery. First, the U-shaped recovery generally indicates a sharp downturn that precedes a slow and gradual recovery. Second, the V-shaped recovery indicates a sharp upswing, like the U-shape, but distinguishably follows a dramatic tumble or steep downturn in the economy. Third, and finally, there is the W-shape, which is distinguishable because it dramatizes the economy falling back into a recession before actually stimulating growth; in other words, what they call a “double-dip” recovery, or a recovery that is cut short by recession, and then a second rebound.

With that being said, an excerpt from the short article, which I find interesting, follows.


“Where Personal Income Comes From”

March 5th, 2012 in Economics | by Karl Smith


A little breakdown on Personal Income growth.

The top redline is our primary line of interest. This is wage and salary disbursements of private industries.

As we can see they are now growing smartly and indeed are well above their pre-recession peak, 5670B vs. 5484B for growth of 186B

Small business income in blue, completed most of its bounce back about 18 months ago – somewhat startling to me it was the first to recover.

However, growth since then has been slow, though growth before the recession was slow as well. The peak month for small business income was December 2006. This is likely because so many small businesses are construction firms. I have looked at the breakdown but I am guessing small business income is split between restaurants and contractors. If that’s true it would be consistent with the notion that resterauntuers are doing well but the contractors haven’t recovered from the bust in 2005.

The light green line is government transfers. This is providing the strongest contraction. . . .

Interestingly though, if you look at the post Lehman drop-off that began in October of 2008 and lasted until March of 2009, that was most of the lost in private wages. It took roughly 2 years and 4 months to make back that decline. That’s roughly the exact same time frame as the 2000 recession despite radically different shapes.

It looks like the “recession within a recession” was actually fairly V-shaped in terms of private wages and salaries.

>>Read the full Article here: Where Personal Income Comes From « Modeled Behavior

All Rights Reserved by M. Ulric Killion, 2012.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The UN Millennium Development Goals – Reviving a more Pragmatic Approach to World Poverty

By M. Ulric Killion


[Photo Source: A boy fetches drinking water from a muddy pool in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh in 2006, (AP), Elizabeth Flock, Millennium development goals: Two down, six to go, BBC news, March 6, 2012]. 

In the way of background information, in September 2000, 189 member states (or member-countries) of the United Nations (“UN”) adopted a resolution called the Millennium Development Goals (“MDGs”), whose primary objective was to reduce worldwide poverty in the next decade.

The MDGs set targets for progress in eight areas, which are poverty and hunger, primary education, women’s equality, child mortality, maternal health, disease, environment, and a global partnership for development by a target date of 2015.

As for the status of the MDGs, as recently reported by BBC news, “The United Nations has met two of its eight development goals, well ahead of the 2015 deadline. Six goals are left,” (Flock, 2012). On March 6, 2012, Elizabeth Flock (BBC news) reported,

The first goal, to halve the number of people living in extreme poverty — or on less than $1.25 a day — was announced to have been met in a World Bank report last week. The economic recession appears not to have halted that progress, despite fears that it would. For the first time since the World Bank started recording statistics in 1981, poverty fell in every region of the world.

The second millennium goal, to cut in half the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water, was confirmed to have been met on Tuesday, in a report issued by the U.N. children’s agency and the World Health Organization. More than 2 billion people gained access to safe drinking water between 1990 and 2010, meaning 89 percent of the world’s population now has access. The U.N.’s millennium goal was 88 percent.

During the earlier period, when the UN initially adopted its resolution, there was a general consensus by many experts that a core problem for developing countries and non-market economies in transition are historically weak institutional capacities serving as a block to economic development.

In 2002, when addressing the Financing for Development Conference in Monterrey, Mexico, then former International Monetary Fund (“IMF”) Director Michel Camdessus noted that if the summit could only deliver one thing, it should be extending assistance to enhance institutional capacity in developing countries. Addressing this problem is the key to achieving the MDGs of reducing world poverty by half, by the MDG target date of 2015.

There were, however, earlier warnings about the difficulties that associate with the completion of the MDGs by the target date of 2015. This is because, in 2004, in terms of progress on the MDGs, the IMF and the World Bank issued a joint report warning that plans outlined by the UN, and one of its year 2000 MDGs of four years ago to halve 1990 global poverty levels by the year 2015, will most likely not be met if current trade and aid policies continue.

The report also observed that China and India accounted for about a third of the world’s population, and with greater liberalization and having profited from economic globalization; both of these developing countries have made progress in reducing property.

For example, in China, the number of people living in “extreme” poverty was reduced from 40 percent in 1981 to 21 percent in 2001. Since 1982, China’s GDP has risen by 500 percent. According to the IMF and World Bank, the 600 million Chinese living in “extreme” poverty in 1981 dropped to 200 million.

In contrast, by 2004, some African countries, some Latin America countries and Russia (Russian Federation) had only slightly improved, and worsened in some cases. Countless development efforts have failed because developing countries generally lack institutions with the ability to sustain their economic policies (Graham, 2002; Bransten, 2004).

Weak institutional capacities of developing economies are one of the major obstacles to economic development. One of the benefits of the economic liberalism and international economic institutions, including the Bretton Woods Institutions (“BWIs”), in terms of assisting rather than hindering economic development is recognition of the need for efficient and effective infrastructure investments that will strengthen institutional capacities in developing economies.

However, Paul Wolfowitz, then president of the World Bank, did direct the World Bank toward a more pragmatic rather than theoretical approach to achieving the MDGs. It is a pragmatic approach directly benefiting developing economies, in their quest for the benefits of economic liberalism and economic globalization.

A lack of progress on the MDGs in 2012 also serves as reminder of previous successes, because, according to the World Bank 2006 Global Development Finance Report, the year of 2005 was a landmark year in global development finance. The report observed that net private capital flows to developing countries reached a record high of $491 billion in 2005.

In May 2006, as further evidence of the benefits directly flowing, and continuing to flow, is the case of China, when the World Bank announced a New Country Partnership Strategy (“CPS”) for China. The new CPS for China would cover the period from 2006 to 2010, and the World Bank Board, “endorsed its overall goals of helping to integrate China into the world economy, address poverty and inequality, manage resource scarcities and environmental challenges, strengthen the financial sector, and improve public and market institutions.”

According to former World Bank president Wolfowitz, “The new Country Partnership Strategy recognizes clearly that helping China to strengthen its economy, manage its resources and environment, and improve governance, are important not only for the Chinese people but also for people all over the world.”

On June 1, 2006, the Annual World Bank Conference on Development Economics (ABCDE) concluded with a call for new analytical and evaluation tools to help decision-makers make infrastructure choices that deliver vital services such as energy, transportation and water, to facilitate growth and achieve the MDGs, while also remaining cost-effective and friendly to the environment.

In observance of failed infrastructure investments in the past, former World Bank president Wolfowitz earlier announced the following new direction for infrastructure investments, “It must also focus on ‘smart’ growth, that is, growth that is economically sound, environmentally friendly, socially acceptable, locally desirable, and most important, growth that makes a difference in people’s lives” (World Bank, May 2006; World Bank, June 2006).

In other words, international economic institutions, including the BWIs, such as the World Bank group, by exhibiting a more practical rather than theoretical approach to achieving the MDGs are assisting developing countries and least-developed countries (“LDCs”) in a variety of ways, ranging from assistance in poverty reduction to sustainable development.

As for the other MDGs, which remain pending, the BBC news article was pessimistic about achieving the goals by the target date of 2015, because the goals were either unlikely to be met or it was unclear if a goal could be met. The only exceptions were their opinions about the possibility of achieving the goal addressing disease (i.e., HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases), while also finding that the goal of a global partnership for development was actually somewhat achieved.

The later pessimism, however, only dictates a more positive and forward-looking approach, if not a more pragmatic approach, toward achieving the MDGs. This is because the MDGs remain a global imperative in the new century. In other words, all responsible international bodies and organizations must some how manage to revive past successes of advancing the MDGs toward completion on a date still approximating the original target date, if not soon thereafter.


United Nations Millennium Declaration: United Nations A/RES/55/2, General Assembly Distr.: General, 18 September 2000, Fifty-fifth session, Agenda item 60 (b), 00 55951, Resolution adopted by the General Assembly, [without reference to a Main Committee (A/55/L.2)], 55/2.

Elizabeth Flock, Millennium development goals: Two down, six to go, BBC news, March 6, 2012.

Carol Graham, Strengthening Institutional Capacity in Poor Countries: Shoring up Institutions, Policy Briefs, Brookings Institution, April 2002.

Jeremy Bransten, World: IMF, World Bank Say UN Poverty Reduction Plan At Risk, Radio Free Europe, April 16, 2004.

World Bank News, Changing the Face of Development Finance?, May 30, 2006.

World Bank’s New Partnership Strategy for China Focuses on Economic Integration, Poverty, and Sustainable Development, World Bank Press Release No: 2006/416/EAP, May 23, 2006.

World Bank News, Making the Best Choices for Infrastructure, June 1, 2006.

Copyright protected: All Rights Reserved by M. Ulric Killion, 2012.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Case Against Capt James T. Kirk: “Hero of the Galaxy” or “Casanova of the Cosmos”?

By M. Ulric Killion


(Image via Wikipedia).

Recently, I was reminded about Captain James T. Kirk, who was the Federation of Planets (“Federation”) Starfleet commander of the USS Enterprise. The role of Captain Kirk (played by William Shatner) was the leading role in a host of characters in the first version of the popular American television series—Star Trek, which debuted in 1966 and ran for three seasons on NBC television.

First, there was a sighting at Craig Hill’s blog, though a discussion about a later version of Star Trek,  and then, again, today there is the sighting at Forbes magazine, which is Alex Knapp’s article, “Five Leadership Lessons From James T. Kirk”.

I also took the second sighting as a confirmation that I should write a blog article about the earlier series and its leading character—Captain Kirk. This does not imply criticism of the later versions or series; it is just that, at least for me, there will always be something special about the original version and artists or actors, and their characters, such as Captain Kirk.

The two sightings also served to remind me of a conversation many years ago with a friend about Captain Kirk. My friend strongly intimated that he was a sexist, which I took to mean a sort of predatory sexist. In support of her position, she mentioned that in every episode he is putting the moves on a beautiful woman. After thinking about this for a minute, and in defense, I replied, well, I don’t think that it was “every” episode.

It was not much of a defense, because perhaps what made the character so likable to us was Shatner’s ability to portray the hero as human with human needs and desires. In other words, Captain Kirk could be said to have been somewhat of a “playboy,” which is a character that might arguably reflect an American culture of  the late-1960s.

On this issue, however, I think that it is only fair to allow the reader to judge for himself or herself the morality of our hero—Captain Kirk.

3-6-2012 4-53-51 AM

Photo Source: Captain Kirk’s Guide to Women, by John “Bones” Rodriguez (2008) (Amazon).

In the way of evidence, there is the characterization of Captain Kirk, in John “Bones” Rodriguez’s book, “Captain Kirk’s Guide to Women,” The book description speaks for itself, and reads,

CAPTAIN KIRK’S GUIDE TO WOMEN is the only warp-powered romance manual for anyone who seeks to become a Casanova of the Cosmos. Written with charm and humor, along with fanatic-level detail and the kind of pointy-eared logic even a green-blooded Vulcan would find fascinating, CAPTAIN KIRK’S GUIDE TO WOMEN will teach you:

How to kiss your way out of space-jail

Increase her self-esteem

The top pickup lines of the 23rd century

How to Awaken Her Passion

When it's time to "de-brief" your mission

However, the case against Captain Kirk, the evidence of his promiscuity notwithstanding, is a weak one. Any issues of wrongdoings by virtue of his promiscuity would have to be judged according to the laws of the Federation, which are standards borrowed or transplanted from U.S. laws, because the Federation’s principle place of business is the United States on Planet Earth, and this is also where the cause of action arises.

This brings us to the questions of morality and what, if any, legal wrongdoings occurred during his adventures. Indeed, his promiscuities present a problem because the alleged acts may be in violation of sexual harassment laws, and also may have occurred while he was on duty aboard the USS Enterprise.

The problem, however, is the lack of evidence substantiating that any of the previously mentioned instances involve personnel that the Federation employs and that Captain Kirk directly supervises; thus, Captain Kirk did not commit acts against others that would reasonably (i.e., by a preponderance of the evidence) constitute acts creating a hostile work environment, which would have been in violation of the applicable sexual harassment laws.

As for the issue of morality, it is an altogether different issue, because “morality” standing alone constitutes a violation of neither Federation law nor U.S. law.

With that being said, whether or not you judge Captain Kirk a “Casanova of the Cosmos,” there are actually many dimensions to his character. After all, he is a hero and protector of the galaxy, though somewhat also arguably a womanizer, if not outright sexist in some respects.

This also brings us to the point of Alex Knapp’s article (Forbes magazine), because Knapp allows us a glimpse at the better side of Captain Kirk, and perhaps the real reason for our fascination with him through the years. '

He does so by drawing from the weekly series a portrayal of Captain Kirk as the leader, who, more importantly, weekly exhibits the qualities we desire in our leaders; thus, the archetypal leader as a role model for all leaders and models. An excerpt from Alex Knapp’s article reads,

Kirk’s success was no fluke, either. His style of command demonstrates a keen understanding of leadership and how to maintain a team that succeeds time and time again, regardless of the dangers faced. Here are five of the key leadership lessons that you can take away from Captain Kirk as you pilot your own organization into unknown futures.

1. Never Stop Learning

“You know the greatest danger facing us is ourselves, an irrational fear of the unknown. But there’s no such thing as the unknown– only things temporarily hidden, temporarily not understood”. . . .

2. Have Advisors With Different Worldviews

“One of the advantages of being a captain, Doctor, is being able to ask for advice without necessarily having to take it.”

Kirk’s closest two advisors are Commander Spock, a Vulcan committed to a philosophy of logic, and Dr. Leonard McCoy, a human driven by compassion and scientific curiosity. . . .

3. Be Part Of The Away Team

“Risk is our business. That’s what this starship is all about. That’s why we’re aboard her.”

Whenever an interesting or challenging mission came up, Kirk was always willing to put himself in harm’s way by joining the Away Team. . . .

4. Play Poker, Not Chess

“Not chess, Mr. Spock. Poker. Do you know the game?”

In one of my all-time favorite Star Trek episodes, Kirk and his crew face down an unknown vessel from a group calling themselves the “First Federation.” Threats from the vessel escalate until it seems that the destruction of the Enterprise is imminent. . . .

5. Blow up the Enterprise

“‘All I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.’ You could feel the wind at your back in those days. The sounds of the sea beneath you, and even if you take away the wind and the water it’s still the same. The ship is yours. You can feel her. And the stars are still there, Bones.”

One recurring theme in the original Star Trek series is that Kirk’s first love is the Enterprise. . . . Despite that love, though, there came a point in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, where Captain Kirk made a decision that must have pained him enormously – in order to defeat the Klingons attacking him and save his crew, James Kirk destroyed the Enterprise. . . .

Source: Five Leadership Lessons From James T. Kirk - Forbes

Knapp’s article, the morality and promiscuity of Captain Kirk notwithstanding, essentially tells us by what means was Kirk able to repeatedly rise to the occasion when duty calls. While Kirk may well have been the “Casanova of the Cosmos,” he is more importantly a “Hero of the Galaxy.”

Finally, at the end of the day, he is simply the irreplaceable Captain James T. Kirk, Federation Starfleet commander of the USS Enterprise.

Copyright protected: All Rights Reserved by M. Ulric Killion, 2012.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Independent Poll Shows Most Americans want Obama’s Health Care Reforms and Contraception Coverage

By M. Ulric Killion

Photo Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore;“Say you're Mitt Romney. You believe Obama has declared war on religion. As someone who is trying to be the John Connor of the resistance to the forces of free birth control, you could reasonably be expected to know what exactly, your party is doing to rescue Americans from the fresh Hell of preventive care and minimum essential health benefits. Yet when asked by a reporter, Romney seemed unaware of the two main legislative measures Republicans have deployed to prevent exempt employers and insurers from having to cover birth control,” Adam Serwer, Romney Didn't Know What the Blunt Amendment Was, Mother Jones, February 29, 2012.

When searching for independent polls addressing Obama’s health care reform law, I found that the poll conducted by Kaiser Health News (KHN) was especially informative.

The poll was conducted by Kaiser Health News, which is, according to KHN, “a nonprofit news organization committed to in-depth coverage of health care policy and politics.”

KHN is an independent source of data surrounding the current controversy in health; in particular, Obama’s health care reform law and the provisions set forth therein.

The main source of controversy, as reported by several news sources, is Obama’s health care law reform and the revision concerning contraception coverage.

It is a controversy earlier pitting Republicans against Democrats, and for many it was finally settled with Obama’s earlier revisions.

The Republican line of attack against Obama’s health care law reform, and maybe not the last, was a proposed amendment to the bill that is sponsored by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).

The purpose of what came to be called the “Blunt-Rubio” amendment was to revise Obama’s contraception rules by amending the law (See, for example, Romney comes out against `Blunt-Rubio’, though by the next day, as reported by New York Times, he clarifies that he is not against Blunt-Rubio amendment).

As many are aware, the Republicans generally opposed Obama’s health care reform law on religious and moral grounds.

The Democrats, however, see this issue as one of health care reform. Quoting a New York Times Editorial,

Health care reform, for the first time, required virtually all insurance policies to cover a package of preventive services without co-payments, including flu shots, pap smears and prenatal care. In August, after an Institute of Medicine recommendation, the Obama administration expanded that list to include birth control and screening for H.I.V. and cervical cancer, among other services.

Churches were exempted on religious grounds from covering birth control. And, last month, Mr. Obama announced a plan to let church-related institutions, like hospitals and universities, shift the cost of this coverage to their insurance companies. But that still wasn’t enough for Republicans. . . .

Republicans claimed the issue was about religious freedom. But it was really about denying consumers — and particularly women — the right to make their own medical decisions and keeping up the antigovernment and anti-President Obama drumbeat. . . .

Then there is the poll, which one will find provides surprising data and conclusions about the demographics on the issue of contraception coverage and other health related-issues, such as medicare and the fee-for-service promise.

Additionally, the poll results surprising demonstrate a division on the issue of  contraception coverage along party lines and age, but not gender.

Finally, and more importantly, the independent poll, like other polls, shows that most Americans actually want Obama’s health care reform law, including the controversial contraception coverage.


“Poll: Most Americans Support Contraception Rule”

Source of Independent Poll:

KHN logo blue

By Marilyn Werber Serafini

KHN Staff Writer

MAR 01, 2012

Six in ten Americans, including Catholics, said they support a requirement by the Obama administration that health plans supply free contraceptives as a preventive benefit for women, according to the latest tracking poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Women were divided, with 85 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of Independents supporting the requirement but only 42 percent of Republicans. Women across the political spectrum typically are closer together when it comes to supporting contraception rights.

"This is a time where the party attitudes about the role of government seemed to be a greater factor than necessarily being a woman," said Mollyann Brodie, the foundation's director of public opinion and survey research.

The poll also looked at how Americans are responding to recent Republican promises on Medicare. The latest proposals would convert Medicare from a program that provides a set of benefits regardless of the cost to one that gives beneficiaries a set amount of money. Seniors could use that money to buy either a private health plan or traditional fee-for-service Medicare.

Still, this nod to traditional Medicare has not persuaded the public. According to the poll, 70 percent of respondents and even 53 percent of Republicans said they wanted Medicare "as it is today, with the government guaranteeing seniors health insurance and making sure that everyone gets the same defined set of benefits."

Overall, only 39 percent of Republicans said they thought Medicare should change to a premium support model that guaranteed seniors a fixed amount of money for health insurance, even if they could use it to buy traditional fee-for-service.

The poll calls into question whether Republicans will be able to count on the fee-for-service promise to provide them with political cover in November. House Republicans took heat last year when nearly every one of them voted for a premium support plan sponsored by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that did not include the traditional Medicare option.

Last November, GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney unveiled his own premium-support plan and vowed that future seniors could still opt for fee-for-service. A month later, Ryan teamed up with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., to include a similar promise. Romney and fellow GOP contender Newt Gingrich lauded the proposal. Romney's toughest competitor on the campaign trail, Rick Santorum, though, said he would abolish fee-for-service Medicare.

Still, said Drew Altman, president of the foundation, how candidates couch the fee-for-service promise could make a difference in campaigns. In the poll, various ways of wording the question – raising issues like the solvency of Medicare or the increased power of insurance companies -- changed support for reform significantly.

"The debate will definitely be moved by arguments of both sides," Altman said. "Public opinion on premium support buy-in starts off in a negative place, but is malleable and where it ends up depends on how the debate unfolds."

Responses were mixed for other proposals to change Medicare:

  • RAISING THE ELIGIBILITY AGE. Americans were roughly split when it comes to raising Medicare’s eligibility age gradually from 65 to 67. The widely discussed proposal wouldn’t affect current seniors, who were its biggest supporters. Sixty-three percent of those over age 65 backed raising the eligibility age, while only 43 percent of those under 50 did.
  • INCOME-LINKED PREMIUMS. A majority of respondents (54 percent) favored limiting premium increases to high income seniors. Fewer Republicans (46 percent) supported the approach.
  • INCREASING PREMIUMS FOR ALL. There was little support across-the-board for raising premiums for all seniors.

Despite great public interest in the Medicare and contraception issues, the poll indicated that the economy is still the dominant voting issue at this time. But 23 percent of respondents said that they would only vote for a candidate who shared their views on Medicare. 

And Democrats have gained some ground on Medicare with seniors in this poll. "Democrats have always had the advantage on Medicare, but they used to have the advantage with seniors as well," said Brodie. In late 2010, however, Republican congressional candidates hammered their Democratic opponents by claiming that their vote for the health law cut $500 billion out of Medicare. (The Ryan budget that passed the House last year also proposed $500 billion in Medicare savings.)

Republicans won control of the House in that election, and polls showed that Democrats had lost the support of seniors on the issue of Medicare. In the new poll, 43 percent of seniors said they trusted Democrats more to handle Medicare, while 36 percent placed their trust in Republicans.

The survey of 1,519 adults was conducted between Feb. 13 and Feb. 18. The margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points.

Source: Poll: Most Americans Support Contraception Rule - KHN


See also EDITORIAL: A Bad Amendment Defeated, The New York Times Editorial, March 2, 2012, reads:

Only one Senate Republican — Olympia Snowe of Maine, who is retiring — voted against a truly horrible measure on Thursday that would have crippled the expansion of preventive health care in America. The amendment, which was attached to a highway bill, was defeated on a narrow 48-to-51 vote. But it showed once again how far from the mainstream Republicans have strayed in their relentless efforts to undermine the separation of church and state, deny women access to essential health services and tear apart President Obama’s health care reform law.

The amendment, which was enthusiastically endorsed by Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, would have allowed any employer or insurance company to refuse coverage for any activity to which they claim a religious or moral objection.

That would have meant that any employer who objects to cervical-cancer vaccines could have refused to provide health insurance that covers them. The same goes for prenatal sonograms for unmarried mothers, or birth control, H.I.V. screening or mammograms.

Health care reform, for the first time, required virtually all insurance policies to cover a package of preventive services without co-payments, including flu shots, pap smears and prenatal care. In August, after an Institute of Medicine recommendation, the Obama administration expanded that list to include birth control and screening for H.I.V. and cervical cancer, among other services. . . .

See also Senate Rejects Step Targeting Coverage of Contraception, by Robert Pear, New York Times, March 1, 2012:

Illustrating the political power of the issue, Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, moved quickly on Wednesday to clarify a comment that he was against the Republican plan by Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri. Mr. Romney said that he had misunderstood the question and that he supported Mr. Blunt’s proposal. . . .

See also President Obama’s Birth Control Solution Balances Religious Freedom and Women’s Health, Melissa Rogers, Nonresident Senior Fellow,Governance Studies, The Brookings Institution, February 10, 2012, writes:

President Obama and his administration deserve great credit for implementing a solution that honors free exercise rights and fairness. I deeply appreciate the fact that the White House has taken the religious community’s concerns so seriously.

Under the revised rule, no religious employer that objects to providing contraceptives and sterilization services will have to pay for or provide coverage for it.  The plan rightly recognizes that the government should not force religious communities to pay for or provide services forbidden by their faith.  Also, no objecting religious employer will be required to make referrals for services to which they object. This will remove any burden on the free exercise rights of religious employers. At the same time, employees of objecting religious hospitals, universities, and social service agencies will have access to these important benefits directly from insurers. These benefits strengthen health and families and help to reduce the number of abortions. . . .

See also Obama’s Accomodations to Religious Institutions – The Quiet Resolution of an ‘Ab Initio’ Non-Issue

See also The Republican Conundrum

See also Sandra Fluke Receives Call From Obama After Rush Limbaugh ‘Slut’ Comments, Sam Stein, Huffington Post, March 2, 2012, writes:

3-2-2012 3-36-58 PM

Photo: Georgetown University Law Student Sandra Fluke.

By Sam Stein, Huffington Post, March 2, 2012 —

President Obama on Friday placed a call to Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University law school student at the heart of the debate over the contraception law, thanking her for speaking out on the issue.

The call came a day after conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh demanded that Fluke release tapes of her having sex in exchange for the contraception that she argued should be covered by employers. Fluke was set to go on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports when the president rang her on her phone. She took the call while waiting in the green room.


Photo: President Obama.

"He encouraged me and supported me and thanked me for speaking out about the concerns of American women," she told Mitchell, who received permission from the White House to discuss the exchange between Fluke and Obama. "What was really personal for me was that he said to tell my parents that they should be proud. And that meant a lot because Rush Limbaugh questioned whether or not my family would be proud of me. So I just appreciated that very much."

Fluke appeared to be choking up a bit while recalling the conversation. But she composed herself and went to discuss how surreal her experience has been. After being declined the opportunity to speak on a congressional panel to debate the president’s contraception rule, she was subsequently invited to address Democrats on the topic. For that, she was vilified by Limbaugh, who also compared her to a prostitute. On Friday, several leading Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), condemned the remarks. The call from the president put a capstone on the week.

"He did express his concern for me and wanted to make sure that I was OK, which I am," she said. "I’m OK."

UPDATE: 1:29 p.m. — At the White House press briefing shortly after the news broke, Press Secretary Jay Carney outlined the reasoning behind the president’s decision to call Fluke.

Obama, said Carney, felt that, "the kinds of personal attacks that have been directed her way have been inappropriate."

"The fact that our political discourse has been debased in many ways is bad enough," he added. "It’s even worse when it is directed at a private citizen who is simply expressing her views about public policy."

The call was placed by Obama from the Oval Office, Carney relayed. It was also the reason why Friday’s press briefing was delayed more than an hour.


Photo: Rush Limbaugh.

UPDATE: As reported by Huffpost Media, Limbaugh responded to Obama’s call during his program on Friday.

“Limbaugh also reacted to President Obama’s call to Fluke. Obama told Fluke that her parents should be "proud" of her. Limbaugh had a different message for them. "I’d be embarrassed," he said. ‘I’d disconnect the phone. I’d go into hiding.’”

Source: Sandra Fluke Receives Call From Obama After Rush Limbaugh ‘Slut’ Comments

See also Rush Limbaugh: I’ll Buy Georgetown Women ‘As Much Aspirin To Put Between Their Knees As They Want’

See also Rush Limbaugh ‘Slut’ Comments Drive Georgetown To Defend Student Sandra Fluke, as the Huffington Post reported:

WASHINGTON — Officials at Georgetown University came to the defense of Sandra Fluke on Friday, criticizing radio host Rush Limbaugh for calling the third-year law student a “slut” and a “prostitute” after she spoke out on birth control insurance coverage.

John DeGioia, president of Georgetown, sent a letter to students and faculty praising Fluke’s congressional testimony. “She was respectful, sincere, and spoke with conviction,” he wrote. “She provided a model of civil discourse. This expression of conscience was in the tradition of the deepest values we share as a people.”

In contrast, DeGioia had harsh words for Limbaugh’s attacks on Fluke, saying they “can only be described as misogynistic, vitriolic, and a misrepresentation of the position of our student.”

At Georgetown Law, 137 professors and staff members have signed a letter in support of Fluke. “As scholars and teachers who aim to train public-spirited lawyers, no matter what their politics, to engage intelligently and meaningfully with the world, we abhor these attacks on Ms. Fluke and applaud her strength and grace in the face of them,” the letter says. . . .

After his initial comments sparked outrage, Limbaugh doubled down by offering to buy aspirin for all female students at Georgetown Law to place between their knees. That remark, a sarcastic encouragement not to have sex, echoed comments made by major Rick Santorum donor Foster Friess earlier in February.

Fluke responded to the controversy on Thursday in a press statement. “No woman deserves to be disrespected in this manner. This language is an attack on all women, and has been used throughout history to silence our voices,” she said. “The millions of American women who have and will continue to speak out in support of women’s health care and access to contraception prove that we will not be silenced.”

Copyright protected: All Rights Reserved by M. Ulric Killion, 2012.