Change Your Heart Not Your Politics

Someone once asked what caused me to dedicate myself to encouraging and inspiring others to be the best they can be. I had to think about that question for a day or so before I was able to land on a reply that felt grounded in truth. The answer takes a little biblical analysis and some personal history to understand.


In describing the birth of Isaac’s twin sons, Esau and Jacob, Genesis 25:25 states: “Now the first came forth, red all over like a hairy garment; and they named him Esau.” In Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, it teaches that Esau was “red all over” because he was filled with the desire for blood and all things material. In fact, Esau grew up to sell his birthright as the firstborn (he was the firstborn of the twins) to his brother in exchange for a bowl of soup following an act of murder.

We always have choice. This is the blessing of Free Will. Esau, too, had a choice. Kabbalah goes on to teach that with his lust for blood, Esau could have grown up to become, for example, a butcher thereby satisfying his lust. Instead, he grew to become a murderer.

My personal story is this. Growing up, my sister always told me I was a selfish person. Perhaps I was whether I had reason to be or not. But if that was my nature, I too had choice as to how I was going to live out that nature. At some point in my life, I realized that what gave me the most satisfaction was not acquiring material possessions or making money but rather when I helped someone believe in their highest potential, supported them in moving one step closer to their heart’s desire or came to the aid of an injured animal.

So, my choice was simple once I had the realization. I could either spend my life satisfying only myself in pursuit of outward goals that society said brought happiness, or I could spend it helping people and animals to have their best life. Both ways would have been consistent with my nature. The only difference was the level or frequency of how I would actualize my self-satisfaction.

As we approach mid-term elections and the 2016 Presidential election that follows, Republicans will tell you to vote Republican to save the Nation from Democratic policies and control. Democrats will implore you to vote Democrat to save us from disaster should Republicans take the Senate. Libertarians will implore you to vote Libertarian to rescue us from governmental encroachment upon our civil liberties. Green Party advocates will implore you to vote Green to save the planet. In 2016, as in 2008, we will be inundated with new versions of hope and change.

But as with Esau and me, there is only our nature and understanding how to use it to the highest good that real change ever occurs. There are no political solutions to what ails us. There is no “change of the guard” that will alter our future. Only a change in the heart of each of us will bring about the world of peace we all so desperately desire.

Butcher or Murderer? Self-gratifier or Giver? Warrior or Peacemaker? Free Will.
You get to decide.


We Want To Fire You

In 2010 I was given a new boss.

He was Brazilian who did not speak a lick of Spanish, he only spoke Portuguese. Given that my entire account base were Spanish speakers, I thought it was unusual to put this man in this role as he would have no way of talking to any of my accounts without a translator. But such is the nature of Wall Street. He was out of accounts having blown up his account base so they no longer wanted to speak to him. After the crisis in 2008, he spent 2009 in the courtroom with accounts suing him, and our firm, for the damage he had done. He had made the firm a lot of money by selling toxic derivatives but in 2009, the firm was paying for his malfeasance.

But 2010 was a new year and new victims were needed. In fact, I had two new bosses not one. The second boss was living in N.Y having fled Mexico. There were rumors that he hadn’t made certain payoffs in trades and some high level people in Mexico wanted him dead. In my first interview with my Mexican boss, his first words were, “We wanted to fire you but there are too many people at the firm that like you so it was not possible.” Talk about a vote of confidence! You see in 2010, it was getting harder and harder to find revenue and since I was making money, but not sufficiently covered politically, I was an easy target.

Wall Street is about making money. “Make money but not too much” was advice given to me by a colleague of mine when I first started working on Wall Street. You see, if you make too much money on Wall Street, the sharks will come in and take it from you. If you are neither a shark nor protected by one, they will steal your business. If you make too little, they will fire you. But if you can make just enough money and not attract the sharks that’s how you make a long-term career on Wall Street.  However, if you figure out a way to make money that nobody has before you, the predators will come in and claim it for their own. In the first part of 2010, my account base was producing lots of money and people had taken notice.

From 2006 to 2010 I had scraped and pieced together an account base from all over Latin America. I had found accounts and networked to a point that I literally had new accounts calling me every day looking for my bank’s service. It wasn’t easy. From 2006-2008 I had acquired 30+ accounts only to lose them all during the crisis. So I started all over in 2009. But by 2010 I was one of the most profitable sales people on my desk. I had sweated, lost many nights sleep putting my business together. But, by 2010 I was making some serious money for the firm and people were desperate for revenues.

In the end, I left the firm just as the writing was appearing on the wall, so to speak. The thieves had their knifes out and I had to protect myself as best as I could. I left the firm with my stock and I moved to another firm. Two years later, the two bosses that had ousted me were no longer at the firm. Their lack of character was apparent and the firm had no choice but to let them go.

By 2010, the “follow the money” mantra no longer worked. Pension funds and mutual funds had  been burned badly by the Wall Street banks and no longer would tolerate such behavior.  In the end what accounts want in the finance industry is service and transparency. Until Wall Street gives them that the banks will continue to struggle as will the overall financial flow.


Barack Obama’s Discernable Pattern

The stress an individual is subjected to is directly proportional to the power and responsibility of the position they hold. Leadership, whether in the public or private sectors, is the prime example. No one would dispute that the leader of the nation perceived to be at the apex of standards for the Western world, and beyond, would carry the burden of an almost insurmountable about of stress. So, the need to have outlets to alleviate that stress is logical and understandable in order to do the job rationally and judiciously.

FrolicknigNone of which remotely explain, or justify, President Obama’s pattern of excessive, public frolicking while the economy remains stagnant, the border is breached, genocide rages abroad, an ally fights for its existence, and Russia and China make pacts with one another toward an end game of replacing the U.S. dollar as the global monetary standard.

Barack Obama is either 1) one chip short of the ability to feel compassion and empathy; 2) so egoistical and hedonistic that self-satisfaction is the only lens through which he is capable of perceiving reality, or 3) doesn’t give a damn because chaos was, and remains, his primary goal.

Personally, I don’t give a damn which of the three is his motivating principle. They are equally reprehensible. The hubris and indifference with which he “fiddles while Rome burns” gains him membership in the unenviable club of men and women throughout history who disregarded the interest of the people they served in their personal quests to self-gratification. Hindsight being 20/20, history memorializes those individuals as pariahs upon humanity and treats the accordingly.

Such will be the case with our current President. He and his wife have betrayed the trust given them by the American people as well as their own deceptive promises to bring about a new and improved Nation.

What they have wrought with arrogance, and a continual disregard for the best interest of the Nation, is not hope and change but despair and decline. While history will judge them rightly and accordingly, we must continue to believe that as Americans, we can and will survive this most abhorrent deviation from who were designed and still aspire to be.


What Robin Williams Left Behind

I tried to commit suicide at age 24 and came frighteningly close to succeeding…if success is ever the right word to use in such situations. As such, I have a lot to say about Robin Williams, not because I knew him but because I know exactly how he was thinking and feeling when he made the decision to try.

feelingsI would first say to those who would second guess his motives, his financial situation or his degree of “selfishness” as I have heard it referred to: DON’T… unless, of course, you’ve been to the point of consciously, albeit irrationally, trying to die by your own hand.

It’s not about the money, it’s not about the fame, it’s not about the lack or excess of anything other than feeling. It’s about feeling too much in a world that does not have enough love or compassion. It’s about living a lie and becoming the comic, the drama queen, the rebel, the alcoholic, or the workaholic in order to harden you sufficiently to withstand all the insensitivity, separation and denial.

I’m not a big proponent of medicating depression. In fact, I was coming off of anti-depressants when I used those same pills to try to kill myself. And, while one of the first thoughts I recall having upon surviving the attempt was what hell I had put my family through, it never entered my mind at the moment I made the decision. You see, when the pain gets bad enough and the fog gets thick enough, the realization that you have finally figured out a way to stop the suffering seems like a relief and that single realization takes precedent over anything resembling rational thought.

When a person tries to commit suicide, they don’t really want to die. They’ve just misplaced hope. Hope that things can and will change. Hope that the pain will ease. Hope that the fog will lift. Hope that they will ever feel joy again. Hope that on balance, life is actually worth living through all its trials and tribulations. Hope that tomorrow, or even an hour from now, it will be possible to give and receive love again. Which is why everyone, not just people who are depressed, should sit up and pay attention to what Robin Williams was driven to do.

We are living in a world overwhelming us with so much negativity that we are losing hope. You see it in the growing apathy. Apathy unchecked leads to hopelessness. Where is the outrage and help for innocents beheaded or buried alive? Where is the outrage, and help, for the Iraqi’s stranded on a mountain top? Where is the outrage and help for children being used as sex slaves and pawns in a political game? Where is the outrage for female genital mutilation as a “religious” practice? Where is the outrage for corrupt, lying, greedy politicians who prosper at our expense and our decline? Where is the outrage at what’s happening on our border? Where is the outrage at what we do to animals every minute of every day in the name of science? Where is the outrage at the manipulation of our economy for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many?

I know. I know. You are tired. You are overwhelmed. You feel powerless. You are dancing as fast as you can dance. So was Robin Williams. That’s the cautionary tale he bequeaths us.

His most important message and he brought us many through his seemingly endless creativity, is that having to feel less, or dying, is not the answer. The message of immediate importance is for each one of us to finally embark upon creating a world where kindness, cooperation, compassion and love are the norm not the aberration.

A world where feeling too much will only get you more joy.


Argentina, Default and Poverty

Argentina just defaulted last week after having defaulted in 2001. The fact is Argentina has defaulted 8 times in its 200 year history but this time around I actually feel the Argentinians are getting the short end of the stick,let me explain.


Argentina’s $100 billion default in 2001— was at the time, the largest ever. That default threw millions of Argentinians into poverty and left over 25% of the people unemployed. The crime rate exploded and it left the poor to fend for themselves. During this time, the poor would go on to the streets looking for food, there were numerous reports of cattle cars being stopped on the street where the cattle would be slaughtered and butchered on the sides of the road just so that the people could eat.If you want to read a great account of that default please read “And The Money Kept Rolling In.

Having read the book I can tell you the book is heart wrenching in the damage that it caused the people. Imagine butchering a helpless animal on the side of the road just so that you can eat.  Some of the main takeaways from the default were the following:

  • The disconnect between the political class and the people. The politicians raided the coffers, promised the world to its citizens and when the money ran out, the citizens suffered. The leadership in the country knew the damage that they were causing but still spent the money because they wanted to stay in power. The citizens trusted their officials to balance the fiances but they were betrayed.
  • Wall Street acted as a conduit to sell as many bonds as possible because by doing so they reaped millions of fees in the underwriting. The Wall Street banks knew that Argentina was going to default and they knew there would be a lot of money to made in the restructuring of bonds.
  • Wall Street helped facilitate the purchase of more bonds by creating indices and forced fund managers to buy the bonds. As Argentina issued more bonds, the weighting in the indices became greater so that a fund manager trying to replicate the performance of the index of emerging market bonds was actually forced to buy more bonds. The more bonds that Argentina created, the greater the weighting would be in the index and the more the fund manager would have to buy that debt.

After the default in 2001, Argentina a few years later restructured its debt. “It offered the holders of its defaulted debt—which was still trading at deep discounts—new “exchange bonds” that paid about 35 cents on the dollar of the original ones. It was an offer they couldn’t refuse. If investors said no, they got nothing.  That’s why 93 percent of the old bondholders accepted the new ones. ” (Washington Post).

The 7% that held out got nothing. In addition the Argentinians told the 93% that accepted the new bonds, that if they were to renegotiate with the 7% that held out, any deal they got would be granted to them as well. The reason being is that all senior sovereign bonds are created equal and are treated as such.

In 2005 after all the old defaulted bonds had been exchanged, there was still these un-exchanged defaulted bonds circulating. out there. A few hedge funds started buying the old defaulted bonds to the point where they controlled most of these bonds. They did so knowing that if they controlled all of these “old bonds” they could try to force Argentina to pay them 100 cents on the dollar.

These hedge funds that bought these old defaulted bonds did not lose money in buying them. They bought them in the hopes that they would get paid in full. Many of these bonds were bought when they were trading at 30 cents on the dollar.

Over the last few weeks the courts have agreed with the hedge funds and their claim to be paid in full. The courts have ordered Argentina to pay the old defaulted unexchanged bonds in full. However as a consequence of this ruling, Argentina will be forced to pay all the old bonds holders from 2001 the same 100 cents on the dollar (the other 93%). And because Argentina does not have the ability to pay every bond holder from 10 years ago at 100 cents on the dollar, they have defaulted once again.

Argentina will once again plummet into despair and the poverty level will shoot through the roof . Argentina bears a heavy burden for the faults that they made but the decisions of the fund managers to force Argentina to default once again will cause untold misery on the poor once again. Finance and bonds are a rich mans game but the poor are the ones that really pay the prices. For them, it won’t be the legality or rule of law but having enough food to eat that will concern them.

Steve Clark


Hamas and The U.S. Economy

I have long lived by the certainty that everything is energy. This includes money which, by logical extension of thought, includes the economy. The evolution and advancement of humanity has always been tied to its understanding, harnessing and application of energy. Since human nature, in its lower form, contains elements of both selfishness and greed, there are those who throughout time have sought to understand, harness and apply to their sole benefit, the production and distribution of money for the purpose of concentrating power among the few.

MoneyThe concentration of power among the few can only be achieved at the expense of the many. Which brings me to the invaluable lesson we in the United States and elsewhere can learn from Hamas.

What we witness Hamas inflicting in Gaza, and what occurs throughout the radical Islamic controlled regions of the world, is a combination of physical and psychological enslavement. Through terror, brute force and total disregard for quality of life (or life itself) such “leadership” profits and prospers while sacrificing the very people it claims to be representing.

We in the West should not be quick to judge how the Palestinian population could allow and participate in such a diabolical arrangement as we in the United States are living in an “economic glass house.” Instead of physical and psychological enslavement we in the West have been blindly cooperating in our own financial and psychological enslavement.

By way of understanding and controlling the means of production, distribution and regulation of the energy of money, and the mind-altering control of the means of dissemination of information by media…elites and power brokers in this country have enslaved us as surely as those in countries we condemn for lacking humanitarian policies. The only difference is the subtlety and masking of true intent as executed in the West. While Islamists use kidnapping and torture as their weapons of choice, the U.S. government and global power brokers use the Federal Reserve, the World Bank and social engineering as theirs.

What humanity must do, and do in a hurry before escape (freedom) is no longer a viable option, is to plunge the stake of truth into the heart of the beast of enslavement that has been sucking our life’s blood from us for at least the last 100 years. We can do this by awakening to the truth of what’s happening and taking a lesson from the ancient Israelites who were economically and psychologically enslaved to Pharaoh: they opted out in a hurry.

We too, must now hurry to opt out of a corrupt and diabolical system that manipulates us through the illusions of “lack and fear” and which have caused us to become indebted and addicted to a fiction that “more and faster” is better.

You must opt out of the lie that you are only one person who has no ability to know what is happening to you and lack a voice to articulate that knowing.You must opt out of fear and all its progeny…victimization, depression, frustration, impotence, rage, violence, and hate.

Step into who you are. Step into your connection with all that is good and true. Step into the memory of what freedom feels like and reclaim your birthright.

Slow down. Self-source. Have courage. Trust yourself.

You have the answer. You know the way out.


What the Marines Can Teach The World of Finance

Before I worked on Wall Street, I served in the Marine Corps as an Infantry Officer in the 1st Gulf War. The Marine Corps trained me in ways of thinking that I still use today and I am forever grateful for what I learned. However, the thing that impressed me most was the integrity of the organization and the unity among its members. The motto “Semper Fidelis” (always faithful) means something real and tangible. They are not merely words.
marinesWhen I left the Marine Corps and entered the world of finance, especially the world of sales and trading,  Semper Fidelis meant nothing. The motto that best describes finance is, sadly, every man for himself. To be fair, I worked with some great people on Wall Street. The critique is aimed at the culture of finance than rather any individuals. Having worked in both worlds, its important to draw out the differences between the two.

The top banks believe the smartest people only go to the best ranked schools, while the Marine Corps believes highly intelligent people come from every walk of life and are educated at diverse institutions. Since the banks have an excess of  applicants, they decided to focus their attention only on those who are “the best” students from “the top schools.” When I worked on the Merrill Lynch sales and trading desk, over 80% of my co-workers had gone to an Ivy League school. The rest of us had worked in finance somewhere else before getting hired. By only selecting students from an approved set of recognized schools, it is easy for  collective group think to set in.

When the banking crisis of 2008 happened, it is no coincidence to me that all the major banks had the same set of problems: over- leveraged positions related to housing.  The main culprit was the AAA ratings that were given to the mortgage pools. My conclusion was and is that had more people within banking had different assumptions about mortgage debt, they would have debated the validity of assigning AAA ratings to pools of mortgage debt and the outcome would have been different.

In contrast the way the marines select their applicants is quite different. The Marine Corps Officer program has a specific way of finding their future leaders. They gather 25% from the enlisted ranks, 25% from the Naval academy, 25% from the ROTC program and the last 25% or so from the Officer Candidate School. Their reasoning is that they look for officers from a variety of background because they know that collective thought is dangerous. The main criteria for being a Marine Officer is intelligence, toughness and integrity. The Marine Corps culture is so strong that given those three ingredients they can mold these men into excellent officers. Given that war is brutal, hectic and confusing it is best to have a variety of backgrounds and viewpoints to solve problems. It is best to have a team with a wide range of backgrounds to come up with the best solutions.

The best banks cull the bottom 10% every year. Banks do this because they feel it gives people the incentive to always work hard and never slack off.  By constantly striving to improve yourself  the top employees never have to worry about being in the bottom 10%.  In practical terms, these policies make everyone incredibly stressed and fearful for their jobs. Having worked in finance, I have seen all types of people fired from the very best to the very worst. Because no one market goes straight up or down, sometimes the best employees get fired when their sector gets creamed. In 2002, thousands of people were fired from the technology sectors because that was the area that had seen the most drop in the market. I know of many great people that were fired during this time and the reality is that it was not because of their being in the bottom 10%.

The Marine Corps strives to create an environment where every one can do well and create a culture that promotes and supports that goal. If the Marine Corps gets saturated with too many Marines in a specific area they will look to transfer and retrain those Marines in a new job function. I have seen Marines transfer from infantry to aviation without any hesitation in order to keep the Marines high functioning and on mission. Because the culture is good at attracting the right people in the first place there is no need to weed them out later on.

In banking every one is a specialist. For example, I use to work on a trading desk and there would be people who would sit 10 seats away from me and I had no idea what they did. On the bond desk, you will have one trader that will only trade a handful of issues and you might find traders that only trade a specific set of derivatives and nothing else. Part of the reasoning is that it is very hard to make money in the financial markets. The only way to do so is to master  a certain niche. It is not unusual to see a trader sit in a certain seat for over 10 years trading the same product every day. If that trader were to make a ton of money for the firm he would then get promoted to run a group. So the qualification for running a group is dependent on your ability to make money in your specialty and not in your ability to manage a group. The fact is you might not have the ability to manage another traders position because you never had any  exposure to do so.

In the Marine Corps every one is a generalist, your job will change every 3 years. You will be moved from job to job to get you as much experience as possible. So by the time you get to a senior leadership position in the Marine Corps you have been exposed to a variety of jobs and settings from which to draw on.

In finance, if you disagree with your boss and the positions he takes you can get fired. In 2006, the head of mortgages for Merrill was fired because he wanted to reduce the firms exposure. His boss, Stanley O’Neal, wanted to increase the exposure as he felt it would make the firm more money. In the end the decision was to fire the head of mortgages which ultimately caused Merrill Lynch to go under. Had the firms leadership not been threatened by his opinion the results would have been different.

In the Marines a lowly Private can change a Generals battle plan.In the Marine Corps if a Private during the battle sees an attack on his unit, that observation will alter the General’s plan. The General will listen and act on the Private’s warnings because he knows if he doesn’t do so, people can die.

When Merrill Lynch fired Stanley O’Neal for the bets he took, he walked away from the firm with over 170 million dollars in the bank. He took all his money while the employees who stayed saw all of their life’s earnings wiped out.

In the Marines, leaders eat last. The subordinates come first and as the famous Marine James Webb stated, “There is no privilege without great responsibility.” Marines lead from the front…not the rear. The Marine Corps General steps on the battlefield with his Marines.

How different Merrill Lynch would have ended up had Stanley O’Neal lived and worked with the people that he had employed.

Steve Clark

Compassionate War

We are living in extraordinary times. There isn’t anyone I know who does not feel the profound upheaval and changes we are experiencing both globally and personally. One of the awakenings taking place is the realization that we are free to see, and therefore create, a world of our choosing. We need not be enslaved any longer to someone else’s reality or to the perspective fed us daily by a variety of media outlets and politicians.

IsraelihelpWhich leads me to write about “compassionate war.” I realize the phrase itself seems like an oxymoron. How can you have something as violent and destructive as war and see it in terms of compassion? The answer lies in the current conflict between Israel and Hamas.

My focus is not the politics of the conflict nor is it the terrorist designation of Hamas. It’s about Israel and the manner in which it has chosen to prepare for and proceed with this inevitable clash.

In two weeks of fighting, Israel has agreed unilaterally to 4 separate halts in the armed fighting. Two of those were humanitarian requests, one by Hamas itself, which Israel honored and Hamas did not. Israel literally built a hospital at one of the border-crossing check-points to treat any wounded Palestinians who would need treatment. No one has showed up. Israel offered and readied millions of shekels, (Israeli currency is 3.5 :1 as against the US dollar) so at least one million dollars, of medical supplies and equipment to deliver to Gaza but the Palestinian Authority rejected the offer.

Israel has spent millions of dollars building bomb shelters throughout Israel and in these past two weeks, 75% of its population has had to use them. In Gaza, tens of thousands of tons of cement and building supplies intended for schools, office buildings and homes were diverted by Hamas over the past five years to burrow and build elaborate tunnels underground from Gaza to Israel to be used in a mass terror attack scheduled for this coming September 25th, the first night of the Jewish New Year.

Perhaps most astonishingly, Israel has done what no other nation in the history of the world has done. It gives advance warning to Gaza’s citizens where and when they will strike. By way of leaflets dropped by the Israeli Air Force, cell phone text messages and twitter postings, Israel gives the Palestinians every opportunity to flee a known missile launch site before striking. Hamas has deliberately positioned those sites in homes, schools, graveyards, and mosques while ordering Palestinian men, women and children to remain where they are despite certainty of injury or death.

Just today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that any lasting truce will require 1) the “demilitarization of Gaza and social and economic relief for the Palestinian people there.”  Even in the midst of war, the Israeli’s are looking out for the well-being of their adversary.

All civilized people who revere life want a world without war. However, as long as there remain uncivilized people who glorify violence and death there will be a need for defensive action.

In the Torah, the Old Testament, it talks about the nation of Israel being a “light unto the Nations.” I think it is fair to say that in a defensive war thrust upon it, Israel has and continues to act in ways that exemplify how even in the darkest of times, honorable men and women can shine a light upon their humanity and reflect for the world our connectedness to one another.


Tony Dungy and Michael Sam

Tony Dungy, a former NFL coach and current NBC analyst, recently said that given the chance to draft Michael Sam he would have passed. Michael Sam is the first openly gay player to be drafted and was recently picked up by the Rams in the 7th round draft.

Tony Dungy felt that bringing in a player such as Sam would have caused too much distraction given the inevitable media presence that would follow. Dungy followed up with, “Not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it.”

Tony-Dungy-Micheal-SamThere are two aspects of this story I find fascinating.

First, Dungy’s comments. In the U.S. Constitution we are granted the right to free speech. On the surface, Dungy’s comments seemed pretty innocuous to me.  Not so to the world of media and social media. Therein, Dungy has been called, a coward, homophobic and worse. I believe the reason why this reaction has been so virulent is because here is a former coach not following the narrative the media, and probably the sport, wants everyone to follow. The narrative being that Michael Sam is a “transformative player” ( not because of his skill but because of his sexual acts) and that we should embrace and support players such as this…regardless of the cost. Because Tony Dungy is not following the narrative he’s being excoriated by the media. Sadly, it is hard to find someone in the media who sill stand up for him. However, if you look at the sports blogs or the comments at the end of the articles about Dungy, there are many people willing to defend and debate the comments he made based upon the merits of his words. The contrast between the media’s reaction and that of the general public is illuminating. Here are just two sample comments that I found:

  • “Let’s face it, political correctness is the primary reason this guy was drafted in the first place. That way the NFL can trumpet how all-inclusive they are. When he gets cut, due to his own inabilities, you’ll see extremists on the left crying discrimination. I don’t blame Tony Dungy in the least. At least he has the courage to voice his opinion.’
  • A coach and team has a “right” to draft players they believe will help them win. As the 249th of 256 players selected, most teams passed on drafting Sam because they believed he was not an NFL quality player. Dungy’s comments related to the disruption the media hype surrounding drafting such a player would be to a team, is probably why many teams chose not to draft a player who most likely would not make their roster. To view Dungy’s comments as discriminatory is a lack of understanding of most teams’ coaching and drafting philosophies

It appears that as much the media is trying to control the narrative, main stream America is not buying or being bullied into it.

Secondly, is the discounting of free association. To keep the conversation relevant to the story, all 32 teams in the NFL have different corporate “personalities.” The type of players that they draft are different based on the people who run the organizations. For years, the Raiders have loved to take players who were non-conformists, while the Patriots like to take players who are smart, efficient and who can thrive under a system. Each team has a different criteria for the players that they pick because they want players who can succeed with their organizations. Clearly players from the Raiders teams would not do well on the Patriots and viceversa .

Just as the media loves to celebrate Michael Sam’s “choice,” should we not also celebrate and honor other peoples and organizations choices as well?

I think the media exemplifies the motto, “We will only celebrate a choice that fits our narrative.” The fact is Michael Sam is not an individual sportsman. He is not a tennis player or golfer. He is joining a team and an organization. As such, for him to be successful he is going to have to adapt his personality and his talents so that he can strengthen that organization. If his conduct becomes detrimental to the core values of the Rams, he will be cut and rightfully so. The fact is the teams in the NFL have a right to create cultures and chose players who will help them win and if they don’t choose a player for whatever reason, shouldn’t we also be as a society be supportive of that decision?

In the past NFL draft there were over 200 players drafted. If you add another 200 signings, 400 college players will be joining NFL teams in the hopes of making it a career. To date, Michael Sam is the only player drafted to discuss his sexual orientation. Michael Sam will make the NFL based on his merits and whether or not he can help his team win. The Rams picked Michael Sam because of his talent and because of its culture.Similarly, other teams passed on Michael Sam because of different criteria and different culture. Let’s honor the freedom of either choice.

This general move toward conformity of thought and discounting the right to self associate holds the seeds of our destruction.  A society is only as free as its citizen’s freedom to voice their opinions without being attacked. We must be free to join groups who align with our individual or organizational philosophies without public ridicule or condemnation.

Its About Borders

Compassion and reality are not mutually exclusive. Although, when examining the U.S. government’s response together current invasion by illegal aliens and the world’s response to the current war between Israel and Hamas one can only wonder.

ZoneAs a lawyer, there’s a saying I’ve always liked: “Facts are pesky things.” They demand acknowledgement and, in the absence of opposing facts, stand as legal truth. We have some border facts confronting us so let’s give them their due:

1. The U.S. Border is the line of demarcation for identifying those legally residing within its parameters (U.S. citizens) and those living outside those parameters (foreigners).

2. The Constitution of the United States leaves room for interpretation as to who is obligated to enforce the U.S. borders (the Executive branch or the States) but it’s undisputed that it’s one, the other, or both.

3. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (INA) sets forth the legal requirement and process for entering the United States and subsequently obtaining citizenship.

4. With limited and narrowly defined exceptions, people entering the country in violation of the INA commit a crime.

5. The Presidential Oath of Office is explicitly clear that it is the obligation of the President of the United States to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

6. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 created two territories: a homeland for the Jewish People (Israel) and Palestine.

7. Every Arab nation rejected the establishment of the Arab state and refused to recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli state.

8. In 1948, following war between the Arabs and the Jews, the State of Israel formally came into existence

9. Arab nations and Islamic terror groups have been the aggressors and waged repeated wars and terrorist attacks on Israel and its citizens since 1948.

10. In the 1967 Six Day War, Israel was attacked by surprise by 6 Arab nations, prevailed in that war, and subsequently returned to Egypt over 26,000 square miles of territory Israel captured in return for peace with Egypt.

11. Israel subsequently relinquished all sovereignty over the Gaza strip to Palestinians.

12. Arabs and Islamic terrorists have been continuously attacking Israel on a daily basis from both the Sinai and Gaza.

13. Children do not wage war of their own accord nor do they willingly violate borders and should not be used as pawns to further a political agenda.

Let’s temporarily feed, clothe and provide emergency medical attention to the tens of thousands of illegal foreign children crossing the U.S. border. Then as quickly as possibly send them back to their countries of origin.

Israel has a right to defend itself while protecting and maintaining its legal borders. In 1967, then Israeli Prime Minister Gold Meir said, “There will be peace in the Middle East when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us.”

Compassion and reality are not mutually exclusive.