Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Thanksgiving Thursday -- Checks and Balances Ending the Reign of The You Can't Tell Me What to Do Administration

The Bush Administration has revelled in hearkening back to the inception of the Constitution for the basis of many of its arguments, cloaking themselves in the seemingly noble robes of strict constructionists, but not when it comes to the limits of authority granted to the Executive Branch. One of the most important issues facing the creators of the Constitution, the power of each branch is balanced carefully against the others, so that all can be kept in check. Their hope was to prevent any one branch from usurping democracy by exerting dictatorial control even in the face of widespread opposition.

It is this finely crafted system of checks and balances that empowers voters to make change. The Legislative Branch is the most audible voice of the people, the branch most easily held responsible by the people and therefore the branch most responsive to the people. In November, the people demanded change. This time, Congress heard them. Change is finally coming.

Voters were and still are exasperated with the Bush Administration's continued proclamations that things are going well in Iraq and that the best solution is to stay the course. They are tired of a President who continues to back loyal party players in scandal after scandal (Plamegate; Scooter Libby's perjury conviction; Tom DeLay's ethics debacle; "Brownie" who was doing a "great job" during and after Katrina; and now Gonzogate).

The Constitution was created by men with a deep apprehension of exactly the situation we face, men who not only envisioned the problem, but also presented the solution. All that remains is for Congress to avail themselves of the powers they possess to begin to set our nation back on course, and it seems that is what they have begun to do. We no longer have a "Do Nothing Congress". They are fine-tuning a warfunding bill with a March 31, 2008 goal for withdrawing troops; they are holding hearings on firings of U.S. attorneys, firings that were at best unethical and at worst may constitute obstruction of justice; and they have held hearings on the FBI's misuse of National Security Letters. They have been in power three months. This is only the beginning.

Congress is no longer a rubber stamp. This Congress is finally checking the power of the Bush Administration a.k.a. "The You Can't Tell Me What to Do Administration" thanks to checks and balances.

Wacky Wednesday -- Refrigerator Art, My Favorite Kind of Art

I would love to visit this coffee shop in New York featuring a silent auction of works by two young artists, ages 2 and 4.

from Refrigerator Art Maybe, but Buyers See Local Resonance
from The New York Times
Livingston Manor Journal
March 26

The work is of distinctive preschool character, much like the 28 other paintings on the mauve walls of the Peez Leweez coffee shop on Pearl Street, at the southern tip of the minuscule downtown in this picturesque hamlet abutting the Catskills. The artists are sisters who share a passion for pink and an odd taste for cookies paired with slices of ham and cheese.

The creator of the kitty-cat is Arley Foster, age 2. Ayla Foster, 4, favors colorful flowers and dolls with big heads. Their 29 oil, highlighter and crayon creations have fetched bids from $5 to $100 in a silent auction over the last month.

Click here to read the rest of the story on

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Today's Double Feature -- Mom's Political Punditry and Mombot Monday

"Off-Ramp -- or Dead End?" from the February Issue of Harvard Business Review presents a case study of the choices professional women often face and offers excellent advice on managing the balancing act between career and family.

In the fictional scenario presented, Cheryl, a high-performing professional, is faced with the competing needs of her job and her daughter and finds herself at an apparent impasse. Advice from four different experts on how to approach the situation follows.

Overall, the advice comes down to one simple thing -- common sense. Essentially, present the solution rather than the problem. Demonstrate why your solution is better than the current situation for both the company and you.

My favorite piece of advice, the most realistic and straightforward, came from Evelyn Sevin, a partner in the Paris office of Egon Zehnder International, a global executive search firm:

My experience has taught me that while women should never feel guilty about asking for what they want, it's naive to think that employers can or should bend the rules for them. More and more companies are building flextime into their working arrangements, and this is to be commended; at the same time, global firms require that their senior women be able to travel, to work in different time zones, and to do what it takes to make the firm successful. Women can bring their own style to work, but the commitment of time and energy remains the same for every senior person, regardless of gender.

Additionally, "Off-Ramp -- or Dead End?" is excellent read in conjunction with "Discovering Your Authentic Leadership" in the same issue. The authors conclude that ". . . you do not have to be born with specific characteristics of a leader. Leadership emerges from your life story." The article goes on to explain that authentic leaders develop through learning from their life stories, knowing their authentic selves, practicing their values and principles, balancing their extrinsic and intrinsic motivations, building their support teams, integrating their lives by staying grounded, and empowering other people to lead.

Two articles worth reading especially because the advice offered is applicable to most aspects of life. Whether dealing with your boss, partner, toddler or grandmother, there are nuggets of insight and wisdom in these articles that will work for you.