29 March 2014

Service Industry Rejects Veteran Serviceman for Different Mindset From Combat Experience

Have you ever wondered why brick and mortar retailers can’t hire competent employees?  A video by a Macy’s hiring manager tells job applicants to be honest about their experience and to be show oneself as being dependable.  

This video sounds like sound advice for any applicant. Alas, following that advice  does not seem to be the case for Kayla Danielle Reyes-Abina , a 21 year old military veteran who had deployed in Afghanistan who applied for a sales associate position at Macy's in Fresno, California.

The former army specialist who served in the National Guard  posted her frustration on Instagram after her February 20th interview.  Ms. Reyes-Abina believes that the Fresno hiring manager had a dramatic attitude change after learning that she had been deployed in overseas combat zones. 

Although Ms. Reyes-Abina had prior retail experience working at Target, but the Macy’s hiring manager targeted her military experience.  The interviewer is said to have implied that since Reyes-Abina has been to war, she had a “different mindset” which would be unwelcomed on the sales floor.  The interviewer intimated: “Once a customer’s in your face, you wouldn’t know how to do it. You wouldn’t know how to react. 

Ms. Reyes-Abina recalled the hiring manager saying: 'Well I've been here 15 years, I know you wouldn't be able to do good here” The 15 year Macy’s veteran suggested that Reyes-Abina would be a better fit in “loss prevention” (i.e. security guard).  Reyes-Abina left the interview wondering if her military experience did her a disservice when applying for civilian jobs.

Betsy Nelson, Macy’s V.P. in Media Relations in the Northwest, released a statement:

Employing veterans is a priority at Macy’s, and we have proudly hired thousands to work within our stores and corporate organization. Our commitment to veterans is strong, as we recognize that veterans possess leadership skills that we find are essential in a dynamic department store environment. Ms. Reyes’ application for a position with Macy’s is, in fact, still under consideration as we continue to consider the types of retail jobs that may be available. We are actively looking for an appropriate open position that would be best suited for her skills and experience level, as we do with all prospective employees.

But as The Blaze points out, Nelson’s statement fails to address the hiring manager’s alleged comments or behavior.

While there are more veterans coming home with cases of post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) than body bags nowadays due to incredible advances in field army medicine, it seems silly to summarily reject an applicant deployed overseas for fear of how they might react to an angry department store customer. 

It is a pity that Hollywood has perpetuated a stereotype of military veterans who are mercurlial damaged goods like Rambo's rampage in First Blood (1982) or The Deer Hunter (1978).  Despite the heroics which our uniformed men and women have been performing on distant battlefields to preserve and protect our freedom, how much does the media trumpet their triumphs in Medal of Honor ceremonies?  

The 1% of our population who have served in America’s armed forces are highly motivated and disciplined.  Most joined knowing that they would likely deploy in two active combat zones.  Veterans are  45% more likely to be entrepreneurs but all are trained to be dependable and follow instructions.  In addition, those who have served in Afgahanistan and Iraq are accustomed with interacting with “customers” who are not always friendly and have different directed interests.

While there is an online petition on behalf of Ms. Reyes-Abina, it hinges on “discrimination”, which may not be illegal, unless it pertains to race, sex, creed (and sexual orientation in some jurisdictions).  But if the facts in this case are true, Macy’s should be ashamed for their bias and reconsider their practices.  Several weeks after the story became public, Macy’s emailed Reyes-Abina about a job which she respectfully declined.  It is unclear as to whether this was on the sales floor or in “loss prevention”.   Ms. Reyes-Abina has decided to accept a job with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Although it is anecdotal, I can recall being quite impressed the knowledge, motivation and level of service by salesmen who obviously have a military background.  Living in the District of Calamity (sic), there are many people who have served “overseas” and their families so these callous comments and summary dismissal makes quite an impression on them. Based on comments in the social media,  Macy’s sales clerks won’t have to wait on as many customers.

h/t: The Blaze
  Your Central Valley

10 March 2014

Santorum Cites the Francis Effect as Paradigm of New Evangelization for Conservative Politics

Former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) is widely known as a traditionally oriented Catholic. Thus it was surprising when the former (and future) GOP Presidential candidate cited Pope Francis at CPAC as an example of spreading "The Good News" for conservatives who work the American political fields. 

Since Pope Francis was chosen by the College of Cardinals a year ago, the secular mainstream media has had a platontic love affair with the New World pontiff, projecting their perceptions that Pope Francis will change Catholic disciplines and doctrines to please progressives on things like married priests, contraception, abortion and same sex MARRIAGE.  Senator Santorum keenly discerns that Pope Francis is engaged in the New Evangelization.  

Pope Francis "selfie" with faithful at St. Peter's Basilica

Pope Francis has a much more pastoral style than his predecessor, Pope (emeritus) Benedict XVI, but he has not changed a single policy.  Even the 265 page Apostolic Exhortation "Evangelii Gaudium" which supposedly slammed "trickle down economics" was not much different than Pope Benedict XVI's 2009 Encyclical "Caritas in Veritate", but the press paid more attention because they saw what they wanted to see from the new Holy See.

Senator Santorum rightly points out that conservatives should not be proselytzing Christianity.  But reintroducing bedrock principles in more engaging and inviting framework can better spread the conservative Good News.  For example, Santorum cited the 2012 GOP Convention in Tampa where there was a parade of business owners on the podium to refute Mr. Obama's exclamation "You didn't build that".   Santorum lamented that among the personal examples, there was not one waitress or little person testifying how individual entrepreneurship created their jobs and their livelihoods. 

Senator Senatorum is clearly positioning himself for another run for the Republican Presidential nomination.  He organized Patriot Voices as a vehicle for inspiring and engaging patriotic Americans to educate the public on our Founders.   At CPAC, Patriot Voices hosted Our Sacred Honor (2012),  a documentary film  by Citizens United featuring Senator Santorum, that explored the origins of our rights stemming from documents from our Founding Fathers.   This sort of documentary is a noble educational effort but it does not reach out to apathetic audiences as a conservative  New Evangelization ought to do.

Another way which Santorum has tried to change culture is through his own faith based film studio Echolight.  Unfortunately, the power of prayer could not save the studio's first film "The Christmas Candle". The timeless holiday film for the entire family only grossed $1.6 million in two weeks of release. It was critically panned as being a throwback TV movie genre film which was stiff and hollow. The marketing mistake may have been using a theatrical release strategy thinking that strong box office would proliferate the message.  Echolight's next release is a western film "The Redemption of Henry Myers" which will premiere on the Hallmark Movie Channel on March 23rd.  

Santorum's remarks at CPAC show that his niche for the 2016 race will revisit the blue collar conservative theme as well as appealing to traditional values voters.  The blue collar conservative might be trying to reach Reagan Democrats a generation after the initial appeal.   Considering the precipitous decline in manufacturing jobs in the nation, this demographic alone would not be enough, especially to win the GOP nomination.

The other angle which Santorum's proto-presidential campaign seems to be targeting is traditional values voters.   This year's CPAC had a noticeable lack of organized appeal to the religious right, with no pro-life panels being held.  The problem with Santorum's strategy is he is not the only one tilling the value voters' field.  If  former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR) suspends his successful Fox News Channel show for another run at the White House, the Baptist minister will also appeal to this demographic.  Moreover, if Dr. Ben Carson succumbs to the "Run Ben Run" draft efforts, Carson's candidacy would also be competing for this evangelical audience.

If Santorum and conservatives really heed the example of "Frankie goes to the Vatican", they need to outreach to unevangelized ideological audiences with messages which appeal to them which (re) introduce bedrock conservative principles.  Hallmark Channel styled films will not expand the base,  putting blue collar conservatives et ali.  front and center might but there has to continued and substantive outreach.   Outreach is one strategy but capitalizing on social media is key in contemporary campaigning.  Returning to the "You Didn't Build That" controversy, answering with a pop infused message in a timely manner (rapid response) through alternative media platforms likely would have been more effective.

And Pope Francis still has his honeymoon with the mainstream media.  When they stop projecting their progressive desires on the new Pope and figure out that the New Evangelization invites people to bedrock beliefs, the giddy gaggle of coverage will end.  A message for "The Good News" of conservative politics will get no such honeymoon with either the Lamestream Media or the comfortable Cocktail Party elites who do not want to rock the boat in the District of Calamity. 

04 March 2014

Book Review: Finding Mr. Righteous – Bridget Jones Diary Does the District of Calamity

Lisa De Pasquale’s first published book is  Finding Mr. Righteous   (Post Hill Press (2014),  241 pages) which chronicles her dozen years of dating in the DC area.  De Pasquale worked in conservative circles, but the book mostly eschews politics. De Pasquale’s friend and mentor Ann Coulter blurbed about Finding Mr. Righteous as “A true Christian story, disguised as racy Chick Lit.  Her  prologue proclaims: “ This book is about the men I’ve met in a quest to know Him.”  While Chick Lit is not in my usual reading wheelhouse,  I was intrigued to learn of a faith quest which was augmented by being involved with: an atheist; a Catholic; an Evangelical;, a Quaker;  a prominent Protestant preacher; a Jew; an Asiatic Indian; as well as a non-denominational Believer.  

De Pasquale should be credited for her candor in writing about uncomfortable personal attributes.  She makes no bones about being a self described chubby girl and battling the bulge through exercise and surgery.  De Pasquale reveals how facial hair imperiled one of her relationships. She recognizes how her temperament may not be as gregarious as other political animals.  She does not sugar coat having to scramble scrambling to find work when being let go from positions.  De Pasquale also opens about about her insecurities about being able to attract and keep men in her life.  The book has the quality of being like Bridget Jones Diary Does the District of Calamity, with the caveat that the author is decidedly based in Northern Virginia and not directly in DC.

For most of the book, De Pasquale’s writing style takes a breezy, conversational tone, including her recounted email epistolary exchanges.  She had two wonderful bon mots which joyfully describe that drive to be a conservative in the belly of the beast between-the-beltways.  Noting that networking is DC speak for drinking with people in the same career field as you rings quite true.  And De Pasquale's  funny introduction of Rush Limbaugh by claiming: “I became a conservative in the backseat of a Camaro” had supreme comedic chops. 

The author is skilled at injecting a local flair into her prose, eidetically detailing conversations in local watering holes and renowned local churches.  However, this street credibility becomes obscured by De Pasquale’s conscientious blurring of organizations where she worked.  It may be wise to not state forthrightly within the text that she worked for CPAC et cetera, but the non-specific synonyms conflicted with otherwise realistic style of being a raconteur.  

One of her professional challenges was politics due to association with GOProud, a group of conservative homosexuals, which had tarnished her rising star amongst movement Conservatives. Later, De Pasquale actively associates with GOProud during the 2012 Tampa convention.  The book does not grapple with how her ideals of equality in sexual identity conflict with religious conservative conventions or it deeply impacted her faith.  Once again, it highlights a trait of  including too many insignificant details without delving deeper, which  blunts the story of  her spiritual journey.

De Pasquale was baptizes as a Catholic but had never attended Mass until her Catholic boyfriend took her to one on the Catholic University campus.   She was rebaptized at the age of ten at a Florida Southern Baptist church even though she did not feel the call.   But De Pasquale thought of herself as a Christian-In-Name-Only (CINO). Thus she was not troubled to be  being romantically involved with an atheist. The author often vexed that she did not feel like she was a member of the (Christian) club.

It is a pity that for most of her ecumenical amorous encounters De Pasquale seems deeply superficial.  When she went to Mass with her Catholic squeeze, she commented that she felt awkward since she did neither instinctively know when to stand nor did did she know the ritual prayers by rote memory.  Thus the author admits to not knowing what was going on. But she did not really seem to demand a Catechesis. When her Catholic boyfriend would offhandedly mention that he was going to bible study at a bar (presumably Theology on Tap), she was confused but  never pursued it further.  When questioned about his faith, the Catholic said: “I’m Catholic.  This is what I believe, and you’re welcomed to come if you’re into it.”  Apparently, that open invitation was not evangelical enough.

De Pasquale pursued an older interest who was labeled “The Evangelical”.  That hardly seems like an apt description of someone attending  The Falls Church (Anglican).  They are more evangelical than Anglo-Catholic, but their worship is sacramental in nature which would be at odd with a Pentacostals Christians who are often associated with Evangelicals.  Apparently offering a prayer of joy to a stressed acquaintance, a well loved booklet, a study bible and encouraging her twice attend church was insufficient evangelization.  Ironically, it did not seem that the author really read the shared spiritual literature. .

De Pasquale engages in  affairs with a Quaker, and a Jew.  The only insight on Quakerism was that men and women are separated when worshiping.   She also did not appreciate the complicated sensibilities of the modern Jewry. In her sarcastic manner, she teased her paramour as being a greedy Jew who never went to synagogue.  The author did not seem to consider  how many Jews identify with their culture but are ambivalent about practicing the faith itself. 

In the  denouement of Finding Mr. Righteous, De Pasquale’s conscience was touched by the example of an upright Christian, and she realized that she her willing participation in affairs made her no better than the religious hypocrites with whom she was involved, yet she lets the divorced Preacher who used her for phone sex off pretty lightly. 

The style of the book shifted at the end which ceded the focus to Mr. Righteous’ recounting of the story about Bathsheba, which was told in detailed prose, punctuated by a contemporary explicative.  For the author, this non-pretentious, non-judgmental sharing was the sort of sharing which spoke to her soul. 

After reading this self proclaimed Chick Lit, I am happy that the author has found her path on the journey home, it did not strike me as an instructive book for others to do so. Several times, the author opined that  Christianity was a club.  As someone with a sacramental spirituality, I understand Baptism as both a ritual to join a family of redeemed sinners (i.e. Christians) and as a rebirth to new life by our Savior’s expiation of the wages of sin.  Knowing that a Heavenly Father loves us so much that he would send his only begotten Son to die for us to remain in relation with Him could greatly increase the self-esteem of a believer.   Moreover, Christians usually put this faith into practice via a community and reach out to the world. How this has translated  in the author’s experience is unclear. 

Read Finding Mr. Righteous if you want to enjoy a page turner piece of Chick Lit.  Alas, the book is unlikely to  satisfy an enthusiast of the New Evangelization, a conservative political junkie  or someone seeking insight on deepening one’s Christian faith.