In “It Worked For Me: In Life and Leadership” (Harper, $27.99), four-star general and former Secretary of State Colin Powell reveals the unique lessons that have shaped his life and legendary career in public service. “I wrote this book for the average person,” explains Powell, 75. “I didn’t write it as a political memoir. I didn’t want to just produce another typical Washington political book — there are some political issues in there that I couldn’t ignore — but for the most part it’s a book for young people; for older people. It’s a book for my fellow soldiers who might find some inspiration in it. And, there’s even a couple of chapters in there some pastors may want to preach on, but I wouldn’t predict that.”
Throughout the book, Powell offers engaging parables that convey valuable words of wisdom for achieving success both in the workplace and in life. He encourages readers to “Trust your people,” and describes how he delegated presidential briefing responsibilities to two junior aides. Recalling his teenage summers shipping cases of soda, Powell offers insight to those at the bottom of the totem pole.
“I am from the street,” said Powell. “I was the man on the street: I was born in Harlem, raised in the Bronx, grew up of lower income parents who never made more than $60 a week each and I went to public schools from kindergarten through college — never paying a penny for it because the citizens of New York felt it was important to educate the kids — Black, white, blue, green, poor or rich. That’s the kind of education I got, and it stuck more so than I realized because when I got in the Army I realized that the public school education I received allowed me to compete with West Pointers, with people from the Citadel, VMI, you name it, and to be measured by my performance and by the potential that my superiors felt I had. It was a time when we were just coming out of the total segregated army. I came in in ‘58, and it was in ‘54 that the last segregated army was closed out. And so, I was in that first generation of minorities officers who were told that the only thing they were concerned with was performance and potential. I look back now at that wonderful public school education and wonder where I would have been without it? Where would I have been if I dropped out or hadn’t finished school? I don’t know where I would be. So, education was the way up for me.”
At the age of 49, Powell became Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisor, serving from 1987 to 1989 while retaining his Army commission as a lieutenant general. After his tenure with the National Security Council, Powell was promoted to a full general under President George H.W. Bush and briefly served as Commander-in-Chief (CINC) of Forces Command (FORSCOM), overseeing all Army, Army Reserve and National Guard units in the Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
His last military assignment, from October 1, 1989 to September 30, 1993, was as the 12th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the Department of Defense. At age 52, he became the youngest officer, and first Afro-Caribbean American, to serve in this position. In 1989, he joined Dwight D. Eisenhower and Alexander Haig as the third general since World War II to reach four-star rank without ever being a divisional commander.
After Powell retired from the military in 1993, he was often mentioned as a potential candidate for president. While many hoped that he would run for president in 1996, he announced in 1995 that he would not do so. Instead, Powell supported George W. Bush in the campaign that led to Bush’s election in 2000. On Dec. 16, 2000, Bush announced that he would name Powell as his secretary of state, the nation’s top foreign policy position. Powell was the first African American named to this post.
This August, Powell and his wife, Alma, will mark the Golden Anniversary of their 50-year union. The couple’s three children are Michael Kevin Powell, 49, president of the National Cable and Telecommunication Association; Linda Margaret Powell, 47, an actress, and Annemarie Powell, 42, the former president of ESPN.
Powell says he and Alma met on a blind date and were married eight months later. “She had our first child while I was off in Vietnam. She has really been the dominant partner. She is the matriarch of the family, and she made sure the family was doing what it was supposed to do when I was away or busy. I played my role — I was a good provider and I took care of my kids. It’s a very loving relationship that we all have. What also blessed the kids was that they saw their grandparents. They had four grandparents for a good portion of their growing up years. They saw family, they had cousins, so they learned from each other what was expected of them. And they were also in a military organization where there was a certain structure — you don’t mess around if you’re a military kid, particularly if you’re a general’s kid.”
The Powell’s are the proud grandparents of four and continue to advocate for education initiatives through the America’s Promise Alliance.
“I am deeply, deeply troubled by where we are in the African-American and Spanish communities in respect to education,” noted Powell. “My wife and I work with America’s Promise Alliance — I created the Alliance in Philadelphia in 1997 at the Summit for America’s future with all of our presidents — and now my wife is the chair of it after I had to give it up when I went to the State Department. The focus that we have is to make us, once again, a country of graduates, and especially among our minority kids. Twenty-five to thirty percent of all Americans do not finish high school, but when you look at the African-American and Hispanic population it’s 50 percent. That’s intolerable because we are becoming a nation of minorities. In another generation, the young kids now who are the majority of the children being born will be the adults running this country, and if we don’t educate them we’re going to be in trouble.”
The Powell’s are teaming up with the NAACP this summer to share their message nationally via the organization’s 1200 chapters. Powell noted: “There were three words that we used in my family that you don’t hear much anymore: one, we have expectations for you — we don’t work everyday so you can put stuff up you nose. Two, have a sense of shame — don’t shame this family. And three, mind your manners, mind your adults, mind your teachers. We don’t do these like we used to.”
And, like President Barack Obama, Powell supports legal same-sex marriage. “The point I make is that I think an ideal family is with a mother and a dad who are committed to each other and committed to raising their children in a proper manner and to show their children how to behave,” explained Powell. “But I’ve learned over the years through experience and watching other people that there are other family models that work. Two gays or two lesbians who are committed to each to each other can raise a child just as well as a heterosexual couple. I also have the greatest respect for single parents, particularly women because it is usually a single woman raising a child. And most of these women who have a job and have a potential for the future, they can raise a great child — there is nothing that says you can’t do that. There’s also married couples who mess their kids up, so there’s no magic wand, but I think the start of it all is when two people who have brought a child into the world and are committed to that child’s welfare — and the relationship has to be a long loving one or else the child will not know what he’s supposed to learn from watching his parents.”
Over the years, Powell has developed “13 Rules of Leadership” and he kickstarts his missive with those principals and values. Among these rules are “Get mad, then get over it,” “It can be done,” “Share credit” and “Remain calm. Be kind.” To illustrate these rules, Powell shares personal stories that introduce and expand upon his principles for effective leadership: conviction, hard work, and, above all, respect for others. “When I was writing this book I thought maybe people want to know what the 13 Rules mean because I never had to explain them before; people sort of got them. And so, that whole first chapter is is explaining how I tripped over these rules, or where they came from or what they mean to me. I think a lot of people will enjoy it.”
“It Worked For Me: In Life and Leadership” is available at major bookstores and online at Amazon.com.
In the Republican presidential debate last week Texas Gov. Rick Perry called Social Security a “monstrous lie” and called its funding mechanism a “Ponzi scheme.”
The governor’s remarks at the GOP debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., weren’t the first time that Perry attacked Social Security.
In his book, “Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America From Washington,” which was published just last year, Perry vilifies Social Security as a failed social experiment.
“Like a bad disease,” Perry wrote, New Deal-era initiatives introduced in the 1930s by Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt have spread. “By far the best example of this is Social Security.” The program, he said “is something we have been forced to accept for more than 70 years now.”
Rick Perry is wrong.
Social Security is not a failure and it can not be liken to a “Ponzi scheme,” a deceptive criminal enterprise.
The term Ponzi scheme originates with Charles Ponzi, a swindler who conned investors out of millions in 1920 by promising returns up to 100 percent in 90 days on investments in foreign postal coupons. The first group of investor collected, the others did not, unaware that “profits” consisted of money paid in by other investors.
By contrast Social Security is more of pay as you go system transferring payroll tax payments from workers to retirees.
Social Security, one of the nation’s most successful social programs, has helped millions of seniors stay out of poverty by providing a guaranteed monthly pension to retirees.
Workers and employers pay Social Security payroll taxes that fund benefits for current retirees. The taxes are not set aside and invested as many taxpayers mistakenly believe.
What is true is that Social Security is headed for trouble in future years unless revenues and projected benefits are brought into line. However even without any changes the program can continue paying full benefits through 2037, according to AARP, the lobbying group for seniors. “After that, the revenue from payroll taxes will still cover about 75 percent of promised benefits,” according to the AARP in an article titled “Social Security: Fears vs. Facts. What Social Security critics keep getting wrong.”
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects that this year Social Security would deliver more in benefit checks than it’s projected to gather in taxes.
The reckless idea that Perry and other conservatives propose that Social Security should be phased out by privatizing it so that workers could invest their payroll taxes in the stock market would put at risk the retirement funds of millions of seniors.
The AARP notes that the point of Social Security isn’t to maximize the return on the payroll taxes contributed. Unlike a 401 K plan, “Social security is designed to be the one guaranteed part of your retirement that can’t be outlived or lost in the stock market. It’s a secure base of income throughout your working life and retirement.”
Social Security is critical to many Americans. The program provides the majority of income for at least half of Americans over 65.
Polls show the majority of Americans do not want to radically change Social Security.
More than half of Americans, 56 percent, would not vote for a presidential candidate who favored phasing out Social Security for a privatized retirement program, according to a nationwide poll in June by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News.
Social Security is a widely popular and successful entitlement program.
It is an outrage for Perry to suggest abolishing Social Security instead of fixing it.
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said Tuesday Republicans want to enforce a "radical vision" on the nation, accusing the opposition party of moving so far to the right that even one of its beloved figures, Ronald Reagan, could not win a Republican presidential primary today.
In a blistering election-year critique, Obama sought to present himself to voters as the protector of the middle class and the leader of a Democratic Party that is willing to compromise in Washington. He singled out the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination, Mitt Romney, for criticism and more broadly said Republicans had shifted from any reasonable debate on health care, debt reduction and the environment.
Republicans "will brook no compromise," Obama told news executives at the annual meeting of The Associated Press.
He cited a Republican presidential debate late last year when the entire field rejected the prospect of $10 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases as a means to lower the debt.
"Think about that. Ronald Reagan, who as I recall was not accused of being a tax-and-spend socialist, understood repeatedly that when the deficit started to get out of control that for him to make a deal he would have to propose both spending cuts and tax increases," Obama said. "He did it multiple times. He could not get through a Republican primary today."
Making his case for re-election, Obama said nation must restore a sense of security for hard-working Americans and stand for a government willing to help those in hard times. The Democratic president blasted Republicans by name and said the choice between the parties is "unambiguously clear."
Stirring anew the themes of his State of the Union speech, Obama said the central issue for the country is deciding whether it wants to give everyone a fair chance — with government as a tool to help do that — or whether it is content to let only the wealthy succeed.
Obama used his speech to paint his Republican rivals as protectors of a trickle-down economic philosophy that does not work. He spoke on the day that GOP presidential front-runner Romney was expected to move closer to seizing his party's nomination as voters went to the polls in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
Obama directly challenged Romney for embracing a $3.5 trillion budget proposal led by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin that was approved by the House last week. Ryan's proposal aims to slash the federal deficit and reduce the size of government. It stands little chance in the Democratic-controlled Senate, yet Obama targeted it as a symbol of the Republican vision.
The president said that instead of moderating their views even slightly, the Republicans running Congress have "doubled down" and proposed a budget so far to the right it makes the "Contract With America" look like the "New Deal."
The Contract with America was the policy document that helped Republicans win the House in 1994 and propelled Newt Gingrich into the speakership. The New Deal was President Franklin Roosevelt's plan for pulling the nation out of the Great Depression.
Yet Obama also sought to buffer himself from criticism that he is a supporter of big government.
Speaking to publishers and editors, Obama said: "I believe deeply that the free market is the greatest force for economic progress in human history."
Obama went into a lengthy, point-by-point critique of the Ryan budget, showing what he said would be a perilous future for senior citizens, college students, people with disabilities and many other Americans. He condemned the GOP plan as a "prescription for decline."
"It's antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity and upward mobility for everybody who's willing to work for it, a place where prosperity doesn't trickle down from the top but grows outward from the heart of the middle class," he said. -- (AP)
The on-going debate about healthcare reform hit me this week when I became quite ill. I am one of the lucky ones. I have an employer-provided healthcare plan so I was ultimately able to go to a medical facility, get diagnosed and begin treatment. My co-pay was minimal, and certainly would not have put me under water.
But what if I had not been so lucky? I use the term “lucky” quite specifically since having healthcare, at least until President Obama’s reforms, has been the luck of the draw: Did you belong to a union? Did you have an employer that provided insurance? Did you have enough money to pay for it on your own? Not to mention the actual quality of your plan, if you were, like me, lucky to have one.
Obama’s healthcare reform did not go as far as it needed to, and, with all due respect, made too many compromises with private-sector interests. In that sense, the struggle is not over for universal healthcare. President Obama, both because of his connections with corporate America and his early belief in bi-partisanship, sincerely seemed to believe that reasonable people could strike a compromise. He could not accept, and perhaps still cannot completely accept, that the Republicans from Day One of his administration — have been out for blood.
We needed and still need full healthcare reform. We need, in other words, the extension of Medicare to cover us all. We have to reject the false notion that this means a loss of jobs.
While I have been ill this week I have considered many of the arguments raised by the Republicans against Obama’s plan, a plan that has now been upheld by the Supreme Court as constitutional. The most ironic of the arguments comes from Mitt Romney, who is in no position to criticize the plan since it is largely based upon the one that he initiated as governor of Massachusetts.
But the arguments of the Republicans actually are deeper and meaner than Romney’s flip-flopping. They go to the question of whether there are, or should be, a “deserving” population and an “undeserving” population. This may sound vaguely familiar, and so it should since it goes back to the Reagan era separation of the poor into the “deserving” and the “undeserving.” In both cases, a right-wing moral judgment has been cast against a segment of the population. In today’s situation, the notion is simple: the right-wing argues that there is a segment of the population that has done little to earn any of the so-called entitlements that they receive. Therefore, these should be cut.
Flowing from this fuzzy line of thinking is Republican opposition to Obama’s plan — Romney’s hypocrisy notwithstanding — becomes more understandable and equally unsettling. As far as they are concerned, let the so-called undeserving swing in the wind and look out for themselves. And if this means that this undeserving population cannot get access to quality healthcare, jobs, food housing, proper education, etc., as far as the right-wing is concerned, so be it.
Just in case you think that the right-wing is not talking about you, let me clarify who they see as the undeserving populations: the poor (the right-wing is not making the distinction anymore between a “good” and “bad” section); people of color; youth; immigrants of color; low-waged workers; and in many cases, anyone who makes less than $100,000/year. Do you see yourself in that picture?
This is what the November 2012 election is all about. It is not about Obama and his record. It’s really about whether you have a right to be treated for illnesses in such a way that you are not cast into the bottomless pit of debt and poverty.
Sick or not, there is no way that I am staying home on Election Day. — (NNPA)
ARLINGTON, Va. — Newt Gingrich, the colorful former House speaker and fiery partisan, formally exited the Republican presidential contest Wednesday and vowed to help Mitt Romney's bid to defeat President Barack Obama.
Ending a campaign that seesawed between implosion and frontrunner and back again, Gingrich threw his support to his one-time rival as expected and promised his supporters he would continue to push conservative ideas. Gingrich bowed out of the race more than $4 million in debt and his reputation perhaps damaged.
"Today, I am suspending the campaign. But suspending the campaign does not mean suspending citizenship," Gingrich told a ballroom in a suburban Washington hotel.
"We are now going to put down the role of candidate and candidate's spouse and take back the role of active citizens," he said, adding he would continue to promote conservative ideas on college campuses, as well as through newsletters and films.
He also urged conservatives to rally behind Romney as a better alternative than Obama.
"This is not a choice between Mitt Romney and Ronald Reagan. This is a choice between Mitt Romney and the most radical, leftist president in American history," Gingrich said.
Gingrich saw extremes during his campaign. His senior staff resigned en masse last summer when Gingrich seemed unwilling to undertake a traditional campaign schedule of person-to-person campaigning and fundraising. Instead, he leaned on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as a steady stream of broadcast interviews he seemed to relish.
It seemed to work for a while. Gingrich plodded along with a proudly nontraditional campaign and strong debate performances. The showings helped him win in South Carolina — one of only two states he would win — but were insufficient to stave off Romney's spending and organization in Florida. After Gingrich's stinging January loss there, the always high-spending campaign seemed to sputter along while amassing enormous debt.
The campaign ended February with $1.5 million in the red but continued spending as though donors were coming.
The campaign now owes more than $1 million to Moby Dick Airways, the air charter company he used to ferry himself and his wife around the country, mixing campaign rallies with stops at zoos and historical sites. The campaign also owes the Patriot Security Group almost $450,000 for security services.
A raft of advertising agencies, consulting firms, pollsters, attorneys and former aides litter the list of those he owes money. He owes his former campaign manager, Michael Krull, more than $27,000. Top spokesman R.C. Hammond, who joined Gingrich at his final campaign event, is owed almost $4,000.
The campaign also owes JC Watts Enterprises — run by the former Republican representative from Oklahoma — some $35,000 for outreach to religious conservatives. Watts, who served in the House with Gingrich, endorsed his bid and vouched for the thrice-married admitted adulterer among skeptical social conservatives.
Gingrich's campaign also owes members of the Gingrich family cash.
Gingrich himself is owed almost $272,000 and has already been reimbursed more than $514,000. His daughter is owed more than $6,000.
That's not to say the Gingriches didn't earn money along the way.
Gingrich Productions, which is run by wife Callista, was paid $67,000 last year. And Cushman Enterprises, run by his daughter Jackie Cushman, brought in more than $100,000 from the campaign.
As Gingrich was mulling an exit from the race, his aides were talking with Romney's campaign about how his one-time rival could help him retire the debt. Romney's team has offered to be helpful in that effort. -- (AP)
WASHINGTON — The U.S. unemployment rate dropped below 8 percent for the first time since the month President Barack Obama took office, a surprising lift for both the economy and his re-election hopes in the final weeks of the campaign.
The rate, the most-watched measure of the country's economic health, tumbled to 7.8 percent in September from 8.1 percent in August. It fell because a government survey of households found that 873,000 more people had jobs, the biggest jump since January 2003.
The government's other monthly survey, of employers, showed they added a modest 114,000 jobs in September, but it also showed job growth in July and August was stronger than first thought.
Obama, eager to shift attention from a disappointing performance at the first presidential debate, said Friday that the report showed the country "has come too far to turn back now."
His Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, countered: "This is not what a real recovery looks like."
The drop brought the jobless rate back to where it was when Obama was sworn in, in January 2009, and snapped a 43-month streak in which unemployment was 8 percent or higher — a run Romney had been emphasizing.
The October jobs report comes out Nov. 2, four days before the election, so Friday's report provided one of the final snapshots of the economy as undecided voters make up their minds.
The government calculates the unemployment rate by calling 60,000 households and asking whether the adults have jobs, and whether those who don't are looking for work.
Those who do not have jobs and are looking are counted as unemployed. Those who aren't looking are not considered part of the work force and aren't counted as unemployed.
A separate monthly survey seeks information from 140,000 companies and government agencies that together employ about one in three nonfarm workers in the United States.
That survey found that the economy added 114,000 jobs in September, the fewest since June. Most of the job growth came in service businesses such as health care and restaurants.
The Labor Department raised its job-creation figures by a total of 86,000 jobs for July and August. The July figure was revised from 141,000 to 181,000, and the August figure from 96,000 to 142,000.
Taken together, the two surveys suggest the job situation in the United States is better than was thought.
Economist Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors, called the strong employment reports "a shocker" that showed the job market was sturdier than most economists had thought.
Financial markets seemed less impressed. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed as much as 86 points in early trading but drifted lower for most of the rest of the day. It finished up 34 points at 13,610. The Standard & Poor's 500 index, a broader measure, was down a fraction of a point.
Stock indexes have been trading at or near their highest levels since December 2007, the month the Great Recession began. They have gotten a lift from Federal Reserve efforts to stimulate the economy, and by a European Central Bank plan to buy the bonds of financially troubled countries to ease a debt crisis there.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note climbed by 0.06 percentage point to 1.73 percent, a sign that investors were more willing to embrace risk and leave the relative safety of the bond market.
The unemployment figures were so surprisingly strong that some pundits and at least one member of Congress, Florida Republican Allen West, accused the Obama administration of manipulating the statistics to help the president's prospects.
On Wednesday, Obama was widely seen as having lost his first debate with Romney.
Jack Welch, the retired former CEO of General Electric, said on Twitter: "Unbelievable jobs numbers ... these Chicago guys will do anything ... can't debate so change numbers."
But the unemployment data is calculated by a government agency, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, under tight security and with no oversight or input from the White House.
Keith Hall, a former commissioner of the BLS who was appointed by President George W. Bush, said the numbers could not have been manipulated.
"It's impossible to do it and get away with it," he said. "These numbers are very trustworthy."
Economists offered reasons not to read too much into them, though. Most of the increase in employed Americans came from those who had to settle for part-time work: 582,000 more people reported that they were working part-time last month but wanted full-time jobs.
That is the biggest increase in so-called underemployed Americans since February 2009, during the depths of the Great Recession.
Economic troubles in Europe and Asia also may be taking a toll on American factories. Manufacturing employment dropped by 16,000 in September after falling by 22,000 in August.
Factory hiring had been a source of economic strength the past two years: Factory jobs rose last year at the fastest pace since 1997.
But Europe's ongoing economic crisis, along with a slowdown in China, means demand for U.S.-made goods is drying up and "the days of robust manufacturing payrolls growth are likely behind us," said Chris Jones, an economist at TD Economics.
The unemployment rate has fallen from a peak of 10 percent in October 2009. But a big part of the drop over the past three years came because so many Americans stopped looking for work, so they weren't counted as unemployed.
Some were retiring baby boomers. Others were so discouraged by the weak job market that they stopped putting out resumes.
Economists were pleased with September's drop in unemployment because it happened for the right reasons: More Americans got jobs. And the work force grew by 418,000, the most since February, suggesting people are more optimistic about finding jobs. Because 873,000 more people did find work, the number of unemployed fell by 456,000. And that decline pushed the unemployment rate down.
Arthur Nazh was not surprised to hear that the unemployment rate fell. Business has improved this year at the kiosk where he sells souvenirs at a mall in Arlington, Va.
The economy "is getting better," said Nazh, 27, who employs six people and said he plans to vote for Obama because the economy needs more time to heal. "People are starting to buy more, spend more money."
Obama and Romney campaigned Friday in Nazh's home state and others that could tip to either candidate and determine the outcome of the election. Romney released three ads, mostly focused on jobs.
"These are tough times in this community," Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, told a rally outside a construction equipment store in Abingdon, Va. "We're going to bring back jobs and bring back America."
At a campaign stop in Cleveland, Obama declared: "We are moving forward again."
"Today's news should give us some encouragement," the president told thousands at Cleveland State University. "It shouldn't be an excuse for the other side to try to talk down the economy just to try to score a few political points."
The political back-and-forth over the unemployment numbers underscored the centrality of jobs to the election after a year in which the economy has been difficult to read.
The job market got off to a strong start in 2012. Employers added an average 226,000 jobs the first three months of the year.
Hiring in January, February and March was probably even stronger than that: The Labor Department has said 386,000 more jobs were created in the year that ended in March, but it has not assigned the jobs to specific months yet.
Job growth slowed sharply to an average 67,000 a month from April through June. And the weakness appeared to have continued into the summer, raising fears that a slow and steady economic recovery was losing momentum.
But the revisions to the July and August figures on Friday eased those fears somehwat. Monthly job growth was back up to an average 146,000 from July through September.
Naroff, the economist, predicted that unemployment would inch back up, and that job growth would settle at about 150,000 per month for the next several months. Economists at PNC Financial Services Group predict job growth will accelerate to 170,000 per month in 2013.
The economy is still far from full health. The number of U.S. jobs peaked in January 2008, a month after the Great Recession officially started, at 138 million. The job market shed 8.8 million jobs by February 2010. Since then, the economy has regained 4.6 million, or a little more than half, of those lost jobs.
No incumbent president since Gerald Ford in 1976 has faced re-election when the unemployment rate was as high as September's 7.8 percent, even after the sharp drop from August. Ford lost to Jimmy Carter.
Ronald Reagan faced 7.2 percent unemployment in 1984 and trounced Walter Mondale to win a second term. -- (AP)