Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Trading Places

I was reminded of the movie Trading Places this past weekend after reading the point/counterpoint offering in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  The discussion revolved around Elizabeth Warren who is running for Senator in Massachusetts.  Apparently it has been revealed that she listed herself as 1/32 Cherokee on her application for admission to Harvard.  The point/counterpoint writers focused, not on her claim to be Cherokee which I have heard have been attacked as undocumented, but on her use of this heritage to gain advantage in the admission process to Harvard.  The point argument was that this "reverse" discrimination has no purpose in today's world and that it is about time that our institutions and government treat everyone equally, based on character and achievement.  The counterpoint argument took the need for diversity side of the debate.  To be honest, I read more of the point side as I am always fascinated when white males write about how they feel attacked by the liberal perspective that belittles their obviously superior skills and wants to sacrifice the future of America by watering down its economic and business leadership by forcing us to hire people whose only qualifications are past atrocities of their ancestors and/or scant bloodlines.

If you don't know the movie Trading Places, it depicts two brothers in the commodities business who wager $1 that they can make a successful, white, male business executive turn to crime while at the same time, turn a low-life minority con man into a successful wall street trader.  The old nature vs nurture debate.

(As a side note, I love the scene where the brothers are trying to teach the street character played by Eddie Murphy how the commodities business works.  After explaining it, Eddie Murphy says "Sounds to me like you guys a couple of bookies".  To which Randolph Duke, the "nurture" advocate in the experiment says, chuckling, "I told you he'd understand.")

Anyway, what fascinates me about this "poor suppressed white male" whine is the plea for fairness and equality.  Never mind that currently, in the United States Senate, there are 96 white members, 83 of them male.  I don't believe that America consists of 83% white males.  And I am fairly certain that more then 4% of the US population is minority.  Never mind also, that 78% of Fortune 500 board members are white male, about 13% white female and the remaining 10% minority of any gender.

I guess, anything less than 100% dominance is unacceptable, especially when we realize that white males are indeed the most superior race and gender. 

I know, I know, that isn't what they really think.  Writers who abhor affirmative action just want the best people making the most important decisions.  They just want whats best for America.

In fact, they frequently use sports as their proof.  Isn't there a higher percentage of blacks in professional sports?   They are the best, and therefore they are hired at a higher percentage than their population at large.  Of course, the fact that sports is an entertainment industry seems beside the point.  And the fact that it has only been 60 years or so that blacks were even allowed to participate in professional sports is ignored.  And the fact that sports team owners are very white male dominated.  And the fact that the percentage of minorities of general managers and on-the-field managers is just finally beginning to rise after years of having no blacks at the helm.  Even black quarterbacks were bypassed for quite a while; not smart enough I think was the reason.  So yes, sports is integrated.  At the worker level, but not so much where the power and control exist.

But I digress.  In Trading Places, like all discussions of the influence of nature vs nurture, it is clear that environmental influences effect outcomes.  In fact, there has been recent scientific research concerning a third factor which one might say bridges the two generally considered main factors in an attempt to explain why some identical twins raised separately might still make very similar choices and achieve very similar results while other identicals raised by the same parents can turn out to be extremely different, even unrecognizable as twins.

The white male whiners, as I like to call them, display a very serious case of arrogance in their perspective.  They seem to think that the years of advantaged living, the contacts, the opportunities, the similarity between their white maleness and the people making the decisions to hire, promote, mentor, is all a coincidence.  That they are successful because they are superior.  In other words, they completely discount the nurture end all while being immersed in the benefits that especially nurturing environments bequeath.  It is actually sad if you think about it.

And, in the letter I sent to the Inquirer reproduced below, it suggests a level of being afraid.  Afraid that should minorities be given the exact same advatages that the white male has had for decades that women, blacks, hispanics, etc might perform better.  Might prove to be smarter in decisions affecting business.  (I would take less greedy, if I had my druthers).  Might generate a political system where public service was more important than private compensation.  Might lead us to a place where making a million dollars was nice, but helping a million people was much more valued.

Might acutally work for equality, starting with marriage equality.

Of course, maybe once the white male becomes a minority he will be treated just as he treated women, blacks, etc in the past.  What goes aroung comes around?  Is that the thought that keeps them up at night?

To the Editor:

With George Parry's summary paragraph in Sunday's Point/Counterpoint asking "Isn't it past time that our universities - as well as our government and other institutions - treat all of us equally and on the basis of our characters and achievements", I fully expect Mr. Parry to condemn all those states which have passed "Defense of Marriage laws" which uniquely treat those with a different gender preference as completely unequal.

Short of the publication of what I would consider a remarkable column by Mr. Parry, perhaps he can explain why 83% of current United States Senators are white male, 17% white women and only 4 percent minority of any gender, especially when one realizes that a little more than half of all Americans are female, and that minorities make up about a quarter of our population. Or why 78% of Fortune 500 board members are white male with only about 13% white women and 10% minority of any gender?

The fact is that our systems of government and economics have been and continue to be dominated by white men, not just because they are the superior gender and race but because discriminatory hirings, subpar educational opportunities, and the prevalence of the good-old-boy mentality has created a situation where, given the exact same character and talents, women and minorities have been denied access to the lanes of upward mobility that result in our current lack of diversity in the two most important systems in America.

In other words, Mr. Parry and his ilk are afraid that if we give those who have historically had less opportunity and access, the dominance of white males might be threatened.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Finishing School

I was scanning through some poems and stories that I had saved in a file that I had forgotten about.  I found the following story.  After reading it, I thought that it worth posting for all those people who may be experiencing a mid life crisis, or searching for Mr/Mrs Right, or just unsure of their direction.  It doesn't offer any solutions but perhaps offers some solace in the fact that there are so many other people looking for the same thing, and that there are some who have found an answer.   

Note; in the original the character William states there are six billion people on the earth.  I changed it to seven billion for this post.  I am not sure if I wrote the story that long ago or just didn't know the population of the Earth.                                                       

                                                                The Finishing School


Christine raised herself on her tip toes and gave Jared a kiss on the cheek. As she pulled back, she caught the flash of disappointment in his eyes; the familiar look that said he was hoping for more than just a peck. It wasn’t that Jared was unattractive; he was certainly as good looking as any of the boys Christine had dated in college. In fact, on a different night in the same circumstances, she might have invited him up to her apartment. As she moved away from him and up the three stairs to the door, Christine half turned back to him.

“Thanks for the lovely dinner and the movie. I had a really nice time”. Her accompanying smile and the glint in her eye was not lost on Jared. He spun back to his car, now less concerned that he only got a kiss. He knew women and he understood their subtle signs; he had the green light to call again and perhaps that date would end more to his liking. Upstairs at her apartment door, Christine felt relieved that Jared was content with the goodbye ritual she used for the boys she could tolerate seeing, at least once or twice.

Inside her small but clean apartment, Christine fell into her monthly self discussion concerning her dating partners. It wasn’t as if the boys who asked for dates were ugly. In fact, she had often been asked by one of her girl friends if she would be OK if they dated one of her castoffs. And it wasn’t as if some of the boys weren’t intelligent, or sweet, or sensitive or any of the qualities that she kept on her mental checklist. No, the basics were covered; she was enrolled after all, in a prestigious university. But something was missing. The question was, missing in them or in her.


Christine glanced sideways at the “soccer mom” driving the SUV in the next lane. Will that be me in 5 years, she asked herself. Do I want that to be me? Suddenly, her car started bucking uncontrollably. Christine eased her vehicle into the parking lane as best she could, pulled hard on the parking brake and checked the side mirror so she could safely exit from the car. Despite having no mechanical aptitude, she did what everyone else does when their car won’t go; lifted the hood and peered into the engine. Everything looked to be in its place, not that she would know the difference. Leaving the hood up, she walked to the passenger side of the car and leaned against the door. After about 10 minutes, she started to think that no one was going to help her despite the smiles she was throwing around to any eyes that looked her way.

“Excuse me miss, can I help you?”

Christine walked around to the passenger side of the car from which the voice emerged. The voice belonged to a smiling middle-aged man, mostly dark hair wearing a business suit without a tie, nice face. A warning light with accompanying picture came on in her mind, her mom wagging her finger at Christine telling her to avoid strangers, especially smiling men. But his smile seemed real, not fake, or worse, leering.

“Yes, I would appreciate some help”, she responded, matching his smile with her own.

The man parked his car in front of hers, then walked back to her car. He repeated the futile ritual of gazing at the engine, then admitted that he was really not very handy with cars. He said it apologetically, but his tone suggested he was not ashamed of his mechanical shortcomings, only that he wished he could be of more help.

“Have you called anyone yet?” he asked. “You may certainly use my phone” he said as he handed her his cell. “By the way, my name is William.”

“Christine”, she said with a nod of her head, “thank you”. She spent the next ten minutes calling the three people she thought might be home and able to help her. Without her realizing it, he had led, no, more like guided her back to his car. She hung up on the third and last unsuccessful call and fell back into the soft leather seat.

“No luck?”

“No”, answered Christine, “just message machines”. They sat quietly for about twenty seconds, then he turned full around to face her and said “I am not in any particular hurry; but I eventually need to be another fifteen or so blocks from here. I can drive you somewhere if you wish, depending on where you are going.” His tone was casual as if her answer, one way or another was OK with him. It was a tone unfamiliar to her. Most of her conversations, especially with men, always had a hint of something underneath, whether it be a whiff of superiority from her teachers, sexual from her dates, or condescending from her parents. His tone, his very demeanor said that she could allow him to help her or she could refuse; whichever her decision, it was her choice and that choice would affect his self-image in no way.

“I am on my way to the university”, Christine stated. “Is that near where you are going?”

“It is a bit past my destination,” responded William, “but not so far that I can’t take you”.

For the first few blocks, they rode in silence. Christine surreptitiously watched him maneuver the car through traffic. His driving was smooth and assured. The car seemed to move as if it was a natural extension of his body.

“What are you studying?”, he asked. It was a version of the same question she had been asked dozens of times, yet from William it was somehow different. She started with her stock response but then found herself telling him, not just about what she was studying but why she chose those subjects, what they meant to her and where she wanted them to take her. Twenty minutes later, as they pulled into one of the university parking lots, she suddenly realized she had spoken non-stop since his question. And, she also realized that she didn’t want to get out of the car.

“Thank you for the ride, William”, Christine said as she willed herself out of the seat.

“You are quite welcome; I enjoyed hearing about your studies”. His genuine answer and smile washed over her like a soothing balm. “Christine” he began, ”I don’t often meet young people who have such passion about topics other than the latest fad. You impress me. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you think I may be of some assistance, feel free to call me”. He completed the sentence by handing her his business card. Christine accepted it, thanked him again for the ride and watched his car merge into traffic and move out of sight.


A few weeks later, Christine found herself alone in her apartment for the second straight Saturday night. She had declined requests for dates, both tonight and last Saturday, and there was no pretending the twenty minutes she had spent with William was the reason. She liked herself when she had been with him, liked how she opened up about her interests in school and the future. His card was still on the table near the front door where she had originally left it. It was a typical business card, work phone, cell phone. Obviously she couldn’t call him at work now, but should she try the cell number? And then, if he did answer, what would she say? Hi, remember me, the girl with the broken car that talked your ear off. No, I can’t do it, she said to herself.

An hour later, Christine changed her mind. She dialed William’s cell number; after the third ring she realized she was holding her breath and exhaled just as he answered.

“Hello, this is William”.

“Hello, William, this is Christine. You may not remember me but..”

“Oh yes, hello Christine. How are you tonight?”

How are you tonight? How should she answer that? It was precisely the topic she wanted to talk to him about and precisely the topic that scared her to discuss. She resorted to platitudes and change of direction. “I am fine, thanks, how are you”, she responded.

“Very well Christine, thanks for asking. I was actually working on some business related items, but I could use a break. I often find my concentration is better if I perform certain types of work at home rather than in the office. When I’m at work, and I have an idea or realize a problem, I, of course, want to attend to it immediately. But in doing so, I sometimes rush to a solution without thinking the problem all the way through. At home, I write out the solution and read it over once or twice. If there is a flaw, I will usually notice it and resolve it. At work, I tend to act without full reflection and so the solution may not be a complete one.”

Christine suddenly relaxed. Whether consciously or not, William had put her at ease by revealing this little bit of information about himself. It was as if he had said, I am confident in discussing myself, you can do the same; no judgments, no hidden agendas, just two people talking about their lives.

And so she did; forover an hour! As if a dam had burst; she let out a torrent of feelings, ambitions, past disappoints, accomplishments. When she finally stopped, her cheeks were flush, her body trembled slightly. While Christine was not a virgin, she did not consider her sexual experiences completely satisfying and thus had not pursued the act as vigorously as most of her friends. As she caught her breath after this marathon of one-way conversation, she caught a glimpse of what she had been missing from those experiences.

They spent the next ten minutes in light banter. Most of the topics were driven by short, simple questions from William answered by Christine in half minute bursts. When they finally said goodbye, they agreed to meet for lunch the following Wednesday at a small café.


Christine arrived fifteen minutes early only to find that William was already seated at an outdoor table. She stopped to watch him as we waited for her. He was dressed similarly as the first time they met, casual business suit, no tie. He was people watching but in a way that she had never seen before. He seemed to be watching for a certain person, or more precisely, a certain type of person. In the few minutes she watched, it appeared he was unsuccessful in his search. Of course, that was only Christine’s opinion, but she thought enough of her ability to read people’s expressions to recognize when someone found something, and his expression never indicated anything other than an intense search. She resumed her approach; he noticed her when she was a few paces from his table and stood to greet her.

“Hello Christine, so very nice to see you again.” He extended his hand. It was the standard greeting, the offer of a handshake, but after her cathartic reaction to their conversation this past Saturday, his greeting seemed too casual to her, as if meant to contradict the deep emotions their talk had brought from her. Did he not realize how she was beginning to feel? She reached out her hand and he took it with both of his; the ring on his left hand practically screamed at her and she felt slightly faint. Of course, he was married; she hadn’t noticed that day in the car and the topic was never broached on the phone but Christine chided herself for not considering the possibility. What a naïve fool he must think I am she thought. But, when she looked up from their handshake, his expression did not confirm her fears.

“Hello William, it is nice to see as well.”

They sat, and almost in that instant, a waiter was besides them to take their order. Christine couldn’t conceive of eating anything but ordered a salad anyway. William also ordered light. When the waiter departed, an awkward silence descended about them. He seemed to be studying her as he had when he was people watching a few minutes ago. As if realizing she had caught him studying her, his smile softened and his eyes relaxed but his posture indicated he had decided something and was about to reveal the purpose to this meeting.

“Christine”, he began, “in our brief encounters, you have demonstrated a quality of character that interests me. While you are certainly a unique young woman, this is not the first time I have met someone like you in a place like this café.”

As William said these words, his eyes had remained locked on hers but now she saw him glance away; the waiter was suddenly at her side with glasses of water and their drinks. Christine scanned William’s face in an attempt to guess what he was about to say but to no avail. Would he now tell her about his wife who didn’t understand him forcing him to seek the company of younger, more responsive women? Or how his career had peeked quite some time ago, causing him to seek his conquests in other areas? Christine felt her stomach tighten in preparation of another possibility shattered.

“As I was saying,” he continued, “I spend a portion of my time seeking people, especially women, like yourself. You might say it is a hobby, but I also consider it very important work. You see, I am part of an organization that recruits and trains, or more precisely, untrains people so that they can experience successful and productive lives.” As he finished the statement, William leaned forward as if to physically enter Christine’s mind to gauge her reaction to his words.

“Are you suggesting that you are part of a society that knows the secret of life?” After all the weeks of build-up in her mind she couldn’t believe it had all led to this; another crackpot organization with the “secret of life.” Christine’s tone, both sarcastic and disappointed was not lost on William; his arched brow indicated his understanding of her reaction but his continuing smile assured her that her reaction was not unexpected.

“Well, I wouldn’t go that far; this is not for everyone. Not that it might not work for everyone but just that not everyone is willing. You see, Christine, there are many people who do not want to be happy. I know that sounds ridiculous but it is true. Many people go through life believing they don’t deserve happiness, or just expecting the worse from others and themselves. Also, some of the very institutions which claim to have our best interests at heart, actually work to encourage us to expect less than we deserve or to settle for less than we might need.”

“But surely you’re not suggesting anyone can attain complete self fulfillment or find the perfect mate, are you?” asked Christine.

“Yes, and no.” said William. “What I am suggesting is that you have to understand what you want before you can work to realize it. Did you ever hear that saying, “be careful what you wish for, because you might get it”. That comes from the belief that we really don’t know what we want, so that is why when we get what we think we want it doesn’t make us happy. And, that is because we spend most of our lives being told by others, parents, politicians, pastors, partners, what we should be doing, what we want, what will make us happy.”

Lunch arrived. Christine reflected on William’s words while the waiter placed their meals on the table. Her initial reaction had faded. But she still wasn’t sure if her interest lay in William’s words or the messenger.

Once the waiter departed, William began again.

“Christine, it is my impression that you are on the right path; in our discussions, you have expressed your interests with great passion. But you do lack an understanding as to what you need for a partner. You see, it is the belief of our organization that most men and women need a partner to be happy, and that in experiencing the contentment of a true partnership, they are able to be successful in their lives. You’ve probably heard the saying, behind every great man there is a great woman; well, we believe, without the gender bias, that this is not just a saying but a guiding principle. But, paradoxically, it is not about finding the perfect mate.”

William stopped speaking for a moment. Christine noticed his eyes had left her face and were focused somewhere in the distance behind her. A smile flashed across his face then he was back with her.

“Sorry,” he said. “A pleasant memory just strolled through the café”

“As I said, it is not about finding your Prince Charming. Christine, if I were to say to you that I have hidden the best tasting piece of candy you will ever have somewhere on the planet and give no map for guidance, would you even begin the journey. Yet, we are told and believe that somewhere amongst Earth’s seven billion people is our one true “soul mate” and off we go searching for him, expecting to find him, anguishing in the frustration and then wondering why more than half of us end up in unhappy relationships.”

“But I don’t understand”, began Christine. “First you say that people need to find the right partner, and now you say that person doesn’t exist. It sounds like you are leading me to believe that I must settle for something less, yet you decry others who say that very thing.”

William smiled, much more broadly than before. “Yes, that is correct. You are beginning to get a glimpse at the “secret.” The problem is the mindset that either we accept the idea that Mr Right exists, somewhere, or accept that the perfect person does not exist, therefore we must settle for less. Taking the first path means either denying the sheer mathematics of finding that needle in the haystack, or evolving a set of criteria so stringent that success is impossible, especially when you understand that the perfect mate for you, today, may not resemble even slightly the perfect mate for you in twenty. Taking the second path starts you on the road to settling for less which ultimately leads to complaints of a mid-life crisis, or empty nest divorces, not to mention, permeating your expectations at they relate to the rest of your life’s goals. As I said earlier, we “untrain” you to eliminate this mindset. Once you are free of its trap, understanding yourself becomes easier which leads to a clearer picture of what you need for a partner. I use the analogy of walking in three feet of water compared to walking on land.”

They had finished their meal. Christine’s mind whirled with the understanding that some of these thoughts had emerged in many of those one-way conversations she had had with herself so often in the past few years, especially on those after-date nights, and she realized how right she had been to recognize the existence of a void, how right she had been to not settle as so many of her girlfriends had done. She looked forward to future meetings with William though for a much different reason than before. And so, when the waiter asked if the couple were interested in dessert today, she rewarded herself by having two.


Christine gently rocked the stroller as she sat, legs outstretched, on the park bench. The sun seemed to shine just for her today, alighting on her body, gently warming it in the cool spring air. The baby was asleep, contented, while her older brother played and laughed in a nearby sand box.

A group of chattering college students approached from Christine’s right. She half spun on the bench, scanning their faces, listening to their words, noting the body language, searching…

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


This past Sunday's Inquirer featured a Point/Counterpoint section on the topic of the one year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden.  Strangely, the two sides were debating how much credit the president should take for this event.  In my letter I question the need for that type of debate.  In this blog, perhaps we should review the serious topic of how this event has/should have changed the purpose of our mission in Afghanistan.

There are many things about the twin wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that resulted from the attacks on 9/11 that we don't know.  How much intel did then President Bush have about bin Laden's whereabouts?  How much intel did he have about Iraq's nuclear capacity?  How much intel did he have that linked bin Laden with Hussein?  Someday, history will reveal some or all of the answers to these questions.  At that time, America will be able to truly judge whether President Bush's actions were warranted.  Hopefully, there will be enough solid information to jjustify the thousands of American lives that have been lost, the tens of thousands of American families that have been forever changed by those wars, and the trillions of dollars that have been spent thereby increasing our deficit and diverting critical money away from the needs of those on the home front.

But, there is one thing we do know, for sure.  Osama bin Laden planned the events of 9/11.  So, whether you believe that revenge against him should have been our only focus, or whether you believe that revenge against his entire organization was required, or whether you believe that all people living in Iraq and Afghanistan needed to be taught a lesson, it can surely be said that the death of bin Laden, almost 10 years after the fact, should be cause for us to evaluate what we have done and where we go from here.

I am completely dissatisfied with the length of time it took for the American intelligence community to attain credible evidence of bin Laden's whereabouts.  I truly believe that if his location had been our only focus, we would have levied justice years ago.  As I say in my letter below, perhaps the praise for President Obama should be as much for his focus on capturing bin Laden and his associates, as opposed to the ultimate decision he made to approve the assault which resulted in bin Laden's death.  Am I saying President Bush did not want to capture him?  Of course he did.  But his puch to invade Iraq does not convince me it was his first priority.

Where to from here?  I see only one reason why we should spend any more time in Afghanistan; we owe the everyday citizens of that country some positive results of our being there.  Not because we have anymore objectives important to the United States, but because we invaded their country, killed thousands of their people, and disrupted their lives in a way that we will never understand or be able to evaluate.

But we don't need to do it with soldiers.  Do they still need to learn to fight and defend themselves?  We should continue to teach them.  Do they still need to improve and rebuild their infrastructure, their schools, their hospitals?  We should give them some money.  Do they still need our political support, our knowledge in how to set up a working government?  So be it, lets help them.  But, as my conservative friends like to say when discussing aid given to our fellow Americans, there is a limit.  Assistance, both monetary, moral and via advice for a year or two until we can get all our troops out of harm's way is my limit in this situation.

Below is my letter to the editor of the Inquirer.

To the Editor:

It is a sad commentary that we even need a Point/Counterpoint article on the one year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden. Have we become so partisan that we can't give credit to all those involved? From the intel community which provided the knowledge, to the president and his advisers who weighed the choices and made the decision, to the brave SEAL's involved in the operation, everyone deserves the American public's praise and thanks.

Would any president have made that decision? Probably. Yet, it took almost 10 years from the horrible events of 9/11, seven of those under the watch of President Bush, for justice to be served. Perhaps Mr. Smerconish's opinion that Mr. McCain and Mr. Romney might not have made the same decision is right, not because given the same circumstances that they wouldn't have come to the same decision, but because they may not have had the same focus on capturing bin Laden for fear of harming our relationship with Pakistan as both stated when questioned about acting unilaterally should the intel be made known.

Without focus, goals can not be achieved.  One might say that President Bush made Iraq and Saddam Hussein priority number one, hence Hussein was captured.  Perhaps then, President Obama should be praised not so much for his decision but for his focus on capturing bin Laden. And, in the spirit of partisanship, perhaps President Obama would not have had the opportunity to focus on bin Laden had not President Bush removed the need to capture Saddam Hussein.

The problem, as is true of practically every political discussion we hear nowadays, is the focus on making points for one's own political party or viewpoint. We are all Americans, regardless of party affiliation, and until we can recognize and praise the other side when they do good for our country, the more we will tread water in a pool of political dysfunction.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Heritage of the 2012 Presidential Nominees

As I have said many times before, I read the Smithsonian magazine.  I enjoy it so much, and find its content so valuable, that if I were king I would make it required reading for all high school students.   This month's edition was devoted to travel and included one article each on the roots of the two men who will be running for president this November.

One, President Barack Obama, has had a plethora of articles written on his heritage.  Unfortunately, the majority were unflattering, many focused on the his birth place and the legitimacy of his citizenship.

The other, Mitt Romney, has not garnered much attention.  So, it was a surprise to me to learn that Mr. Romney, like President Obama, is a first generation born American on his father's side.  You see, Mitt's father George was born in Mexico.

Here are the links to each article in this month's Smithsonian.

I do not want to speculate as to why we haven't heard more about Mitt Romney's Mexican roots.   Perhaps there is a discomfort with certain factions of the Republican party that their nominee would have any connection to a country not America and/or a country like Mexico which is perceived as a place from which all the illegals migrate.

I hope that Mr. Romney doesn't share that sentiment.  It seems a shame when Americas feel pressured to deny their heritage.  While certainly Mr. Obama's heritage was used like a sledgehammer to make him seem un-American, I would hope that, should Mr. Romney's heritage become more public, the far left faction of the Democratic party will not resort to the shenanigans and outright lies which were proffered by the far right faction of the Republican party. 

You see, we all came from somewhere else unless we can trace our family heritage to an Indian tribe.  We are all immigrants to America, some more recently than others, but all of us have our roots in a place off shore.  And, while we now proudly declare our citizenship, our joy in being Americans, we should always remember that if not for someone in our past who dared to uproot themselves or their family, if not for someone in our personal history who took the chance to make a better life in a far away land, we might have been born in Italy, Kenya or Mexico.  We won the birth lottery because one of our ancestors made a choice to try America.

And, while on the subject of diversity, I also hope that Mr. Romney's religious affiliation will not be used as a wedge by any faction of the Democratic party, as was done, twice, against President Obama.  Remember Reverend Wright?  All kinds of quotes were aired, especially on conservative radio, which depicted the reverend as a hater of America.  And, all the while, year after year, the president sat in that pew and listened to those diatribes.  Then, when that didn't work, Obama was suddenly a Muslim, not withstanding all those years he spent in Rev Wright's church.

The fact that Mitt Romney believes in the Mormon religion should not be an election topic, subject for debate as to whether that fact qualifies him or disqualifies him from being president.  Until the day he says, my religion is the only true one and should therefore be used as a basis for America's laws, then let's hope we can avoid the craziness that surrounded the president's religious affiliation and make our election day choice on the topics that matter.

Finally, I recently read that 40 years ago, almost half of all political articles were geared towards readers not interested in actual content or serious discussion but in finding a gaffe, or meaningless issue which would provide a point for their "side".  In other words, articles on pretend birth places, what kind of mustard to use on a hot dog, who works harder, stay at home moms or working moms.  This same article then claimed that over 80% of political articles are of that nature now.

So, the next time you hear someone from either side talking about someone's religious belief, heritage, food preferences, patriotic fervor, or any subject not related to a candidate's actual position on the economy, health care, immigration, the deficit, etc, turn them OFF.  If we don't pay attention, eventually, they will stop talking.