The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Posts tagged ‘Joe Kernen’


Tuesday Morning

Probably as a result of playing tympani with my grammar school orchestra, I have developed a sort of “internal clock.”  You do a lot of counting when you play most percussion instruments.  So normally, without needing to resort to a watch or other timepiece I can generally tell what time it is within a few minutes.

I normally set the television in my bedroom to turn on at 4:30 a.m.  It’s one of the few advanced features on this eight year old set that I know how to use.  Well, that and the remote (at least some of its features).  But when I was awakened, it wasn’t because of the television.  That was still dark.  It was because I had three hundred pounds of dogs in bed with me, all jostling to find a comfortable position somewhat oblivious to the fact that I needed to take up some space as well.

If you have an oversized spouse with whom you share a bed, let me assure you that four dogs of the same total weight as him or her require a lot more room than one human.  So as I arranged them on the bed so that all five of us had room I looked forward to catching a little more rest.  My internal clock told me it was only a little past three.

At 4:30 the television sprang into action.  Typically, that wakes me to the point where I will prop up my pillows and see what CNBC has to say is going on in the world.  But I think because the dogs awakened me early I was reluctant to let the Sandman go that morning.  I lay back down and vaguely remember listening to the conversation between the three anchors.  This went on for some time and as two of my canine companions had made for the cooler bathroom floor, I luxuriated in my new found room.  I dozed back off.

As I was lying there in that twilight between wakefulness and sleep, a new person had apparently been introduced to the television set.  I didn’t know who he was – and I didn’t recognize his voice.  (That’s another benefit of musical training.  If I hear a person speak once I know who he is.  I may not always remember his name – but that’s another story).

I started to come to, partly because Kali, the Golden Retriever daughter and youngest of the group, had decided that she wanted to awaken me with a kiss, or more correctly a lick, or in all honesty a shower-full of licks.  It’s hard to sleep when a wonderful companion animal is doing that.

So I propped myself up realizing that it was a little after 5 o’clock and I should be starting my day.  I try to get the puppies to the dog park just after six as it is still relatively cool.  But I was delayed by the guest who was on the show.  It was Senator Marco Rubio, the junior senator from Florida.  Of course I knew his name and some of his background, but I had never heard him speak.

Now if you’ve read any number of my posts, you know that I lay most of the problems in the United States squarely at the feet of those in Congress.  And the primary reason is that our politicians do not offer common sense solutions to the important issues facing us but are more concerned about their political futures than our future as a country and people.  At least, so I believe.

Of course, we voters also bear a share of the responsibility as we keep returning the same under-performers to office.

I cannot tell you how refreshing it was to hear Sen. Rubio.  The man spoke from his heart, elegantly and eloquently without the need for a teleprompter.   He spoke with humility, discussing his family’s poor financial background and of the hopes his Cuban parents had for him and his siblings when they came to America.

He spoke from a background of values – those same values which the Founding Fathers incorporated into our Constitution.  He spoke intelligently and he spoke honestly.  He made sense.  He is obviously one of the bright stars in government.

It gives me some measure of hope that there are at least a few people of his caliber who are involved in governing this land.  I have no doubt that one day, Sen. Rubio will be called upon to accept the position of President.

For now, I hope that he gets elected as Vice-President this November.  America desperately needs leaders of his stature.


I woke up a bit earlier than usual this morning (about 3:30 a.m.) and, as is my usual habit, turned on CNBC to see how the world was surviving the current European financial crisis. (I was pleased that we had held it together for yet another day).

Joe Kernen (senior co-host of the “Squawk Box” team), turned the conversation to President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone Pipeline Project which would have provided a few thousand jobs during the period of its construction. There are varied estimates as to the exact number but the most modest is that at least one thousand jobs would have been created.

There are legitimate concerns over the environmental consequences of embarking on this project. While I support the proper utilization of the earth’s resources, I do so only if there are not adverse environmental impacts. If I had ever questioned that position, it was laid to rest when I heard a song, written by an Australian singer/songwriter, Judy Small.

Ms. Small, in her song, “The Futures Exchange” describes the ravages inflicted on the land which was home to the aborigines (“the people of the dreaming”), in order to allow silver-mining operations to extract their ore. This is the chorus:

For the silver that the men have paid
Who think they own the land,
It is the silver of Iscariot
The silver of the damned.

It is part of the accounting
In which we all must pay,
Trading in our children’s futures
For false promises today.”

From the album, “Word of Mouth: The Best of Judy Small”

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this lady’s work I would encourage you to investigate her recordings. She has composed many songs that rival the poignancy of Bob Dylan in terms of their social commentary.

Having gone on record as an “Eco-friendly” person, I return to the title of this post.

Several months ago, CNBC’s “Squawk Box” team got a new addition, New York Times columnist, Andrew Ross Sorkin. Mr. Sorkin is the author of the best selling book, “Too Big To Fail” which expertly covered the banking crisis of 2008 and was subsequently made into a movie. I think it would be fair to say that of the co-anchors on the show, Mr. Sorkin is the most “liberal” – as one would expect from a New York Times columnist. He provides an alternate view to Joe Kernen’s bedrock strong capitalistic view of the world.

However, as the conversation on Keysone wound down, Mr. Sorkin made the comment that the impact on unemployment would be “de minimis” with probably only a thousand jobs or so created – and those for only a short while. I was struck by the superficiality of that comment – coming as it did from someone who is an esteemed journalist.

The people who might have been employed in Keystone most likely have families who look to them for support. So even if there were only one thousand jobs created, the number of people whose lives would have been improved is most likely closer to five thousand.

Still – consider the staggering rate of unemployment – that isn’t a lot of people. Unless you happen to be one of those who might have been hired for this project and is trying to figure out how to pay your rent or mortgage and buy clothes or food for your kids.

I forget who it was that said, “Only a rich man can afford to be a philosopher,” but it is a quotation that Mr. Sorkin would do well to remember. While I recognize that Mr. Sorkin intended to serve as an apologist for President Obama and his decision to put this project on hold, I wonder who will apologize to those five thousand people whose lives might have been positively affected had the program gone forward.

Perhaps Mr. Sorkin will think about that during his next luncheon at The Four Seasons.



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