Friday, August 18, 2017

WHERE'S MY STATUE OF IDI AMIN?

Hey insecure White People:

 (I actually thought I was white but just found out from the dudes in Charlottesville Jews aren't White- Not sure what to tell my skin about this).

So you other white folks who are completely torn up about these statues coming down, the ones of Confederate Generals and leaders who sit in the public squares of towns all across the country, I'm quite certain these men were great military leaders.  I'm also quite certain that having been born into a and having grown up with a crappy institution such as slavery made them quite immune to it.  Yeah, yeah, I get it.... but you seem to keep forgetting that these men actually broke the laws of our country -- actually the most serious one of Treason against the United States.  If you doubt this, try taking your own armed militia, seceding your selected area from the Union and see what happens.  On top of defending and fighting for the right of slavery to remain, they committed treason.  So even if in your racist, outdated view of the world through your pale colored glasses you can't see slavery as an issue that was wrong, they committed treason, something many of you so-called patriots can't stand in any form.

Oh, but we can't learn our history, or learn from it if we don't see Stonewall Jackson in our city square, Jon.  Yeah, because clearly we've come a far way when we've elected a guy who just stood up and equated the goals of the Nazis and White Supremacists with those of the 'Alt -Left', as he dubbed it, while calling the reporter grilling him 'fake news.'  How learned and wise these statues have made us all eh?

I've been speaking with some genuinely terrified folks, yelling that if we take these down, book-burning is next!

Um, O------K, I kind of see the connection there (cough), but let's for arguments sake say you believe this is the end of freedom.... Ok, right, but our President, and presumably you (I could be mistaken) just took the sides of the Nazi and White Nationalist groups that just descended on Charlottesville and rammed a car through a crowd.  And I know the Nazis have a first amendment right to gather and protest....
See that flag!  More winners!
Except the protest was supposed to be about these same statues.  It's crazy how Robert E. Lee sounds just like Fuck You Faggots when you think about it.  Or Jews Won't Replace Us.... if you say it fast enough ten times in a fucking row your tongue will get so messed up it's hard to tell if you aren't saying Don't Take Down Robert E. Lee.

I heard those Antifa, people or whatever they're being called, came with some clubs and helmets.  And you know, that is scary, and when you consider how quickly this White Nationalist guy cried at the idea a warrant was issued for his arrest (while walking around with five guns) I suppose those clubs did indeed scare the bejesus out of him!

Remember him?  Vice featured him as a leader of these clusternuts.

So in essence whitey, you are the guy backing the visiting team at the other home stadium who has your team up 14 points in the fourth quarter and are already rubbing victory in everyone's faces, not realizing time is left on the clock and when it all plays out, you're going to lose.  You're the fool.  You're every Atlanta Falcons fan from last year!!  (too soon? - I know, that one hurt me, too).

One guy actually said that every country has their good and bad history and they leave it there - they don't want to forget it.

Oh hell yeah.  You can't want down a Ugandan Street without seeing a smiling face of that fat ass Idi Amin in every window.  I can't tell you often I took pictures with Benito Mussolini in Rome when I was there.  And all the kids now are named after him he's so popular.

I get you're upset.  You're worried you won't be able to remember how white you are if the generals representing total whiteness are taken away.  You'll have to wake up everyday and have to not put on sunscreen and get a sunburn to remember.  And you won't know your white history, the one where we came from Europe, killed another nation of people and shit on our promises and treaties to them, and have continued that trend up until this very day.  You want a reminder of your whiteness?  Tune into the new nearly every other day!

You know, one guy on a chat board said there was no difference than the liberals of ISIS ripping down history in Iraq, etc., and the liberals here.

To this person, I want to say whatever glue you're sniffing, please share.  My world gets warped occasionally but I really want to step in and put your goggles on.  Because man, I would bet I know a lot more liberals than this guy, and as I told him, we're all just looking to rip down the Washington Monument next.  Let's get 'er done.  Liberals of ISIS?  I want to know just what a liberal in the context of ISIS is, because call me crazy, that sounds like an oxymoron to me.

As a side note, why is Washington's Monument a huge obelisk?  I looked it up and they say because it represents the timelessness of the ancient civilizations.  Sure it does!  I'm sure that's what you see whitey.  By your logic it could be taken down because believe me, unless you want a large, sharp phallus teaching your history, upon first sight this does nothing to say "Revolution" to me.

Get a grip on yourselves.  I'm sorry in your all genuine pure Whiteness you can't take a second to step into a person's shoes who isn't white and see what any reminder of slavery on a daily basis might look like, particularly in a society where there are daily attempts to minimize what impact its history had on those affected.  Because if I had to look up at a statue of Rudolf Hess (I don't expect you to know he was the commandant at Auschwitz) every day, I'd be pissed too.

And if you're saying they aren't the same, you're right, it's not identical.  But just like a man aiding and abetting a crime is charged with a crime, the men who fought on the side of slavery, were helping to protect slavery.

End of story.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

INTEGRITY - It's Not Everything - It's the Only Thing.

I'm a married man now (I know, I can't believe it either), but looking back I can say the hardest thing about dating isn't finding someone to date.  It's not finding someone you'll find attractive physically.  It's not hard to find someone who has a good sense of humor; and it isn't hard for someone like me to find someone Jewish or a Christian to date a Christian.  It isn't hard to find a love affair if you're married anymore either.  People abound.

When a lot of my female friends would come to me for advice, I would often tell them the same thing.  The hardest thing to find out about a person to see if they're really a person you want to be with is integrity.  Integrity rarely shows its face, particularly early on in a relationship.  Both dating parties are knee deep in making a good impressions, finding out information, enjoying the discovery of new common things, and the excitement of a new body to explore.

Do they do what they say they're going to do?  Be where they say they're going to be?  This isn't integrity --but I think reliability and honesty are the building blocks of a person's integrity.

Integrity means everything.

Dwight D. "Ike" Eisnehower said, "The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity.  Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army or in an office."

Senator Alan Simpson put it this way... "If you have integrity, nothing else matters.  If you don't have integrity, nothing else matters."

and of course when quoting you must use Oprah Winfrey, who said,"Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody's going to know whether you did it or not." 


ON BEING PRESIDENT: "It reveals
who you are."

But in dating, finding a person's integrity is hard because situations that require such judgment are few and far between.  However, when they arrive, they can cut a relationship to pieces faster than a J.A. Henckels knife cuts through a tin can.

Sometimes it happens early in a relationship.  A person has a situation come up let's say where their Ex has contacted them out of the blue.... they feel torn.  If the breakup was recent and they still truly love their Ex, they will naturally be drawn back to them.  Sometimes it's in hoping things will change or have changed... sometimes for a final night of lust because it's so comfortable.  The question isn't what action they take.

The question is how they deal with the results of such an action.  Do they tell both people how they truly feel and suffer the slings an arrows of the action they chose.  Do they face down the fire head on, or try to cover it up?  Those choices will reveal a person's true nature and inner strength.

When the 2016 election came around, people wanted to shake up Washington, for a multitude of reasons.  History shows that when a social breakthrough occurs in an electorate that swings the pendulum far to one side or the other, it almost naturally snaps back to the other sides the next time around.  All things return to a natural state of balance.

But the shake-up in Washington, D.C. was supposedly about 'draining the swamp' of the old, cynical, and even hostile politicians that had been in office too long and replacing them with fresh leadership, many of whom would come from non-political backgrounds.  Instead, what happened was the same old leadership was voted back into the Senate and House and a new President, who was both a reality TV star and business mogul, won the day.

Like her or hate her Michele Obama had a very pertinent quote about the Presidency.  She said "I've seen first hand that being President doesn't change who you are.  It reveals who you are."  

Through all the unfairness, the social media bashing, the fake news stories and everything, the President must be solid from the inside out to take what is handed to him.  In the case of Barack Obama, he was the only President ever to have been demanded to PROVE he was an American citizen to the electorate.  He was handed a crashing economy with the auto and banking industries seeking a social gift-giving program (read Bailout)  from the government, the same type of socialist handout Wall Street rails against when it comes to that money going to people in need.  He was called a Muslim, told by his opponents that their only goal was to make sure he was a one-term President, and obstructed full-time by the Congress.

Ironically, the man that replaced him, Donald J. Trump, launched his political career pretty much on sustaining the "Birther Movement," calling himself 'proud' that he got Obama to reveal his long-form birth certificate.  Even after this happened, Trump himself refused to disavow himself from denying Obama's citizenship.
Still today, rumors persist and people believe that there is a conspiracy in place to keep Obama's true Birth Certificate hidden.

In the end, Donald J. Trump became President, but not devoid of warning signs that he could be obtuse, dishonest, allergic to recommendations that went against his instincts, and have random changes of loyalty.

However, the events in Charlottesville, Virginia and the President's subsequent remarks have put the world on notice.  Whether he is or isn't a white supremacist, a racist himself or a fan of racism (not that I even know what that is- hey, here I am in a white hood cheering, like my swastika pom-poms?)....there is no doubt that his decision in delaying his response, as well as the equivocation of the newly created term 'alt-left' with the marchers spouting blatant hate speech has set tension levels for the country at new highs.

Regardless of what you think of Donald Trump as a person, or of his politics, he has one job as President of the United States; that is to lead the entire country, all peoples, of all backgrounds, and to stand firm in the face of our enemies and reassure the country all is well.  That is NOT what he has chosen to do, time and time again.  Charlottesville is simply a confirmation of what many of us already saw.

The most disturbing part of this is not even that two-thirds of Republicans still approve of the President.  That somehow they still are not moved by the fact that this President uses his Twitter account for personal attacks, the kind of which no one can undo because of the exposure of his office. Nor do they seem to mind that he's used his own buildings to profit from the Presidency, something our founding fathers would roll over in their graves about.  Still this isn't the most disturbing thing.

The most disturbing part of this is the silence among the Republican leadership.  People ask all the time how the heck did the Nazis rise to power?

SIDEBAR FOR WHITE REPUBLICANS - Now calm down, this is an example of fascism getting power, not a comparison, per say, of this administration to Nazi-ism, OK?  Calm yourself down because for white people the use of that "N" word on the right makes them go crazy.  It's a shame they don't often react that way to the other more common "N" word, but I digress. 


It was the silence of those that could do something.  It was their inability to assemble their integrity in the face of a crowd and to create a force that might derail the oncoming train.

The Republican leadership has refused to call out this mistake clearly.  There is only one way to do it -- say to the President, and use his name, that he must make a clear statement again racism, anti-Semitism and hatred.  Not a delayed one.  Not one that tries to lay blame on the several Antifa members for showing up with weapons.  Not equivocating this fringe handful to the march of hundreds yelling "Jews Will Not Replace Us" and "Fuck You Faggots."

A few Republicans have done just that, and have found themselves in a Twitter war they can't win with the President.  And they're seeing an actual backlash for having some true integrity.  Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona has taken a huge hit in his poll ratings.  Leave it to Arizona to truly show their colors.  Senator Lindsay Graham, with whom I've almost never agreed with politically, has showed that he has integrity, and won't support the President on this.

Yet our VP, who I agree is in a tough spot, as a supposedly devout Christian, cannot get himself to condemn the words of the President.  I ask him just what is he supporting?  What value system is this?

Although Senators Marco Rubio and Orrin Hatch issued statements on tolerance and against racism, they did not use the President's name, nor condemn his behavior.  They are hiding behind the fear of losing their jobs.  That's called a lack of integrity.
No statue on this recruitment poster for 8/12.

The silence from other Republicans is, pardon the cliche, deafening.  It is the sound of a decaying moral soul rotting from within.  It is the atrophy of the American Spirit in the name of self-preservation.  It is the death of integrity.  Replacing it is an empty walking corpse, the likes of which we see on The Walking Dead.

If our country or our people were unclear about what our forefathers intended with the founding of this great nation, one need look no further than the over one million lives lost in the Civil War alone, all Americans.  Add to that the struggles the continued over civil rights for both blacks and women, and the eventual creation of amendments to our Constitution to ensure those rights, and you have your answer.

America has always been about freedom and acceptance, even if that level of acceptance varies because of the integrity of its citizens.

You want to drain the swamp?  Demand your leaders respond unequivocally to the President on this issue.  This is the issue that will either unite us or rip us apart.  Either you believe that America is for all of us, you who are the descendants of immigrants yourselves, or you are on the side of bigotry and hate.  It's that simple.  There is no gray in area in this issue.  Choose.  And make the choice wisely.  And if you can't decide or your decision is silence, you may very wake up to an America that you no longer recognize.  Then, it will be too late.





Tuesday, August 15, 2017

COULD THERE BE ANOTHER CIVIL WAR? What happens when the President as Commander-in-Chief is not reputable?

During the U.S. Civil War, the country was split into two clear sides, separated by a line between slave state and free state.  The Mason-Dixon line ran across the northern border of Maryland and down between Delaware and Virginia.  It ran to the southern border of Ohio and through parts of Kentucky until it wound it's way over Missouri, the state that was 'compromised', which began the whole ordeal culminating in Harper's Ferry and the eventual war.

After Trump's statements today, one can only start guessing as to what would happen to our armed services if and when the actual Commander-in-Chief gives an order that they morally cannot abide by.  Already the disagreements with our land's highest officer have seen states refuse to obey his Presidential directives. We have had senators threaten that should the President exercise his right to fire the Attorney General or the Independent Investigator, there would be a price to pay.

But what happens if the country truly splits again and we head toward a possible armed conflict.  As of today, there was an article stating that there is over a thirty (30) percent chance that a conflict of some kind could take place within our borders.  The time frame isn't given, but should such a skirmish arise there is a massive conundrum that would exist in our armed services.

Our armed services, and the hierarchy in place, is designed for success and efficiency during wartime activites.  Orders travel down the chain quickly and without question.

What happens if the generals no longer believe their commander is giving an order they can follow?  Or even must follow?  What if they consider it immoral?  In recent years this was unthinkable.  But now, after witnessing the divides within this government at some of the highest levels, and comments coming from fringe commentators like Newt Gingrich that we're in a cultural civil war already, what happens if the country divides?

What kind of conflict would we be speaking about?  Based on the electoral map, the divide this time would be more likely along the coasts, except for maybe Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida, with rural Georgia following suit but Atlanta rebelling against its own farming communities.  Major cities in many southern states would find largess in their numbers but surrounded by people who likely are on the other side politically.

Many of our soldiers are minorities and poorer people who have used the G.I. Bill as a way to get educated and out of poverty.  Will the army follow orders to move against a major city that opposes this current commander?  What happens if they decide not to?  Will they themselves be cast out, or find themselves in a war with their own officers?

And it may not be just this commander, because already the precedent is being set by Donald Trump that the President be disrespected and even ignored by a large portion of his own administration and certainly, it would appear soon, by Congress; a Congress his party holds by majority vote.  This level of disrespect, should it transpose itself into a military chain of command, could be disastrous.

What's going on in this country right now is unprecedented since the 1860's, and we would all be wise to consider where this administration might take us, or worse, might take the Office of the Presidency itself.  Because if the President becomes just another guy we may or may want to listen to, then our country could fall into complete disarray, with our citizens completely unsure of who they should listen to.  And considering this President's absolute talent for blurring the lines between who is right and wrong, truth and untruth, the next President or the one thereafter could face a populace who is no longer certain where that line is.

Perhaps someone more historically educated than me can sound off here on any precedents from the U.S. in preceding administrations, or on what the Constitution and our laws say about a situation from an unsuitable commander should he not be impeached.

For me, I knew what was coming with Trump was bad, but I had not ever considered these ramifications until today.  Coups happen this way.  Anarchy and longstanding turmoil occurs, the kind of which is still happening among clans in Afghanistan, Sunnis and Shia in Iraq, Turks and Kurds, etc.

I have two children that I am raising in a country that is on the verge of losing its identity sooner than later.  It would all serve us well to stay informed, read our history carefully and make sure, that we never, ever let this kind of thing come to pass.  For we don't know what will be on the other side.  It might be a country we no longer recognize.



Thursday, August 10, 2017

HOW DO WE HANDLE DEATH - HOW DO WE HANDLE LIFE?


Today is a sad day.  Today the world is diminished as it has one less spirit.

I should put a disclaimer on here that I didn't lose a close friend today.  Some people I consider friends did.

For me, he was a teammate on the basketball court and an acquaintance who occasionally asked if I could garner him tickets to see one of our clients perform.

I don't have a right to usurp any of the condolences that rightfully belong to his close family and friends.

No matter.  The sadness is there.

And the questions?  Should I have made a better effort to have visited him while he was ill, as short as that time was?  It's the kind of thing I usually ALWAYS do.  But I didn't this time.

Perhaps it was because we had only hung out and known each other because of our mutual acquaintances and coincidental gym membership.  I never really got to know him well.

But still, this sucks.  And I mean sucks in a way that is truly sucky -- I'm so good with alliteration.

He was too young.  A nice man.  He had two daughters (correction).  And a woman with whom he was in love.  He had worked very hard and had been promoted.  And day in and day out on the basketball court, he hustled and tried, no matter how bad he was, and let me tell you, he wasn't very good.

But it says something about the way he led his life.  It spoke volumes that against greater competition, he would figure in as important in every game, getting rebounds, passing to those he knew shot better, and finishing plays that would change the context of a game.  His one or two baskets could often be the deciding factor, and he knew he wasn't a number one draft pick.  If two sides were recruiting teams, he probably would have been selected pretty late if you were going on talent alone.  But life isn't about what innate gifts G-d grants you.  It's about what you do with what you're given.

He did with what he was given, and from what I can see, he did it well.  Probably better than a lot of us, particularly me.  I can get caught up in crap and create a mountain out of a molehill.  I can let my fears and worries weigh on me until though I'm sitting upright in a chair, I feel paralyzed and unable to move, think or function. I can lose my desire go outside and really stare up at that awesome star-filled sky and remember tomorrow is not promised.

He was private in his illness, not wanting to be seen as something less or something needy.  I hope he knew those of us who did know him would never think of him that way.

How we handle death tells a lot about how we handled our life.  I can't know what went through his mind knowing he was so young and tragically felled by something so rare for his age.  But what I can speak to loosely, is the kind of person I had seen.

One thing that is great about life is the ability to learn from others.  Sometimes the things we learn come from people we never get to a chance to thank.  Some we never get to tell how much they mean to us because it would sound so corny or seem inappropriate.  Or maybe we're just too self-conscious and worried about being misunderstood.

For me, someone who didn't get to know him well, today still sucks.  As did knowing the fact he had an illness that would not be cured.  It's unfair.  And crappy.  And tragic.  And why G-d why?  Are we only to see good people die young and assholes who wouldn't know an important moment if it flicked them across the nose live on?

We never know why some friendships sprout and others do not.  Some people are in the perimeter of our lives because we just don't have room to make the circumference longer.  Some choose us and some we choose.  But people do seem to be in our lives for some kind of reason and vice versa.

I find it the ultimate irony that our gym is closing soon and the place where we made these memories playing basketball will be shuttered.  It feels like a tribute to his memory for me in some way, incredibly appropriate considering he was there for at least five years with us playing.  And now he won't be.  Things won't and wouldn't be the same without him.  And perhaps our games should go somewhere else.

I can't speak to whether I had any affect on his world.  But I can speak to the affect he had on mine.  RIP Izzy.  May your soul glide with the angels and soar on mighty wings.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

THERE'S JUST ONE CONCLUSION - AMERICANS LIKE WHAT IS BAD FOR THEM

I have a two year-old who has the same stubborn will of my parents and in-laws.  He wants to do what he wants to do when he wants to do it, even if it will result in his own harm.

Have you ever noticed that your parents as they get older can't be told anything?  That they are just set in doing things a certain way and even though they complain a lot about things that aren't working, they do little to often fix them?

My two year-old is a lot like them.  You tell him not to do something and he immediately does the exact opposite, often gazing at you with his innocent blue eyes as if to say, "How about if I do it this way?  Or this way?  Will this get me into trouble?"

I can only liken this behavior to that of many who live in this country right now.

For years, Americans suspected and were warned of the health hazards that came with smoking.  Years later, many deaths and lawsuits after, a "Surgeons General Warning" came with each pack of cigarettes, announcing its link to cancer, emphysema, heart disease and other leading causes of death.  While tobacco producers took a hit, it's usage has remained and cigarettes are still the leading cause of preventable death in the United States as of 2015.

From the CDC:

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, accounting for more than 480,000 deaths every year, or 1 of every 5 deaths.1

In 2015, about 15 of every 100 U.S. adults aged 18 years or older (15.1%) currently* smoked cigarettes. This means an estimated 36.5 million adults in the United States currently smoke cigarettes.2 More than 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease.2

Current smoking has declined from nearly 21 of every 100 adults (20.9%) in 2005 to about 15 of every 100 adults (15.1%) in 2015.2

Not so crazy is that the percentage of those fifteen adults that smoke declines massively when education levels go beyond college but surprisingly, if your education stopped at a GED, those comprised the highest number of smokers. We all know what it means when we smoke, and yet millions do it anyway.

Americans have been told of the dangers associated with heroin and many of the opioid drugs used as painkillers.  Yet the opioid overdoses are off the charts since 2014.

Perhaps the largest problem in this country is our love affair with violence. And it is a love affair.

From an article in the Hollywood Reporter on violence and sex in movies -- In 2010, about 89.7 percent of movies contained violence, and 81.5 percent featured sex, and the numbers were roughly static through the years, according to the study. Smoking, though, has fallen from roughly 68 percent in 1985 to 21.4 percent in 2010.

(A sidenote: we could draw a conclusion from this data suggesting that smoking is seen as more dangerous to show than violence.)

And from this article in HR in 2013, gun violence had more than tripled in PG-13 movies since 1985. Not completely surprising, the corresponding number of gun households has remained close to the same percentage wise as years ago, estimated around 35%, though skewed higher toward whites with wealthier incomes.....However, the population has grown, meaning the numbers of people actually owning has increased. Good gun data is hard to get though this was an interesting read from The Guardian.

Yet the number of mass shootings, gun homicides and gun suicides has done little to deter Americans from their love of guns. Background checks are at an all-time high.

In a recent study of deceased football players, of the 111 studied, ninety-nine percent (99%) showed a form of CTE in their brains.  The article can be found here from the Washington Post.  Yet the NFL, is by far, the most popular sport in this country.

Now we are being told that the science is clear, our earth climate is changing, and not for our benefit. The dying off of species is happening at record rates, with no certain conclusions about what this will mean for humanity. One thing is certain, which is that we are all connected. From the global economy to international communication via the Internet to our fragile ecosystem, the world is smaller than ever. The data is available for anyone to read and examine and determine their 'opinion.' But to draw an opinion that somehow says we don't need to act, is the same thing as my two-year-old pushing the boundaries of what is OK.

We were warned what a Trump Presidency would mean for climate change and the United States' involvement in leading the world toward a cleaner and safer environment. It took the Obama administration years to get China to finally sign on to The Paris Accords, a step seen by the scientific community as not only necessary, but not even enough to deter our average temperature from rising two degrees by the end of the century. That small, two degree increase is predicted to cause massive problems, from rising oceans along the coast, to melting much of the permafrost at the poles, which may contain harmful organisms long since gone since the days of the dinosaur. No one knows for sure.

But one thing is certain about this nation-- fact-based analytical thinking is in jeopardy, and all of the above suggest this country will no longer be the beacon of leadership it once was. Americans simply don't like being told what to do, or that they're wrong, even when it may be for their own best interest or protection.

I'm sure you've heard people questioning what is wrong with society today that these ills befall us, but all you need to do is cast a cursory glance at data above and the choices we're making on a daily basis to understand that what is good for us is rarely how we'll choose our course of action.

I know parents that took four-year-olds to see WONDER WOMAN. I was in JURASSIC PARK years ago sitting next to a six-year-old. While both great movies, these were heavily violent and scary films for a child's mind to try to absorb, and yet these parents seemed to forget that. Or they simply ignored it with an "it's-no-big-deal" approach. It's the same approach parents use when they defend their own child cheating on a test because the moral issue isn't as important as acknowledging that in life there are cheaters. It's the same approach gun owners use when they've seen our children slaughtered in mass school shootings without a single thing being done to try to fight the problem except to make our schools fenced in prison yards. It's not the guns, though the gun's only use is to kill.

To me, Donald Trump is the culmination of all of the bad things America likes to experience at their own peril. A bourgeoisie-born socialite and businessman, who has rarely erred on the side of appreciation for those that have kept him there, Trump's inability to control his own demeanor, along with his random contradictions and lies, supported by our free press' data and sources, make him the single most dangerous threat to our Democracy ever. His attack on facts and data, aka his attack on the press, labeling any organization that dares contradict him before he does it himself as FAKE, meant little when he held no title. But as President, it has caused the American people to distrust its own media, the largest of which still contain the kind of editorial staff to prevent illogical and non-sourced material to make its pages. This seed of doubt, which he has sought to and likely has succeeded in planting in many of our citizens, is at odds with the very Constitution those citizens elected him to protect.

On a day where Trump's tough talk to North Korea no doubt appealed to that same kind of gun-toting manly white dads who thought it all right for their kindergartners to see giant dinosaurs eat people on screen, his ratcheting up of rhetoric against a possible nuclear power, all the while having taken actions to shake the trust of our Allies, means the next month or year might indeed have the most serious repercussions.

The kind of repercussions that will be a big deal.

It's really time Americans as a whole start realizing that our self-involved, me-first, Instagram culture will mean nothing on a dying planet. It will mean less in a post-nuclear age, should it ever come to this. It's time for Americans to realize that being told what is good for you by people smarter than you isn't a reason to feel insecure or to feel slighted.  It is a reason to be thankful, because someone with further insight and vision than you have is out there protecting you.

We need leaders that not only are smarter than we are, but more importantly, care for our well-being. Perhaps the day where we elevate the best among us to lead will return soon. Let's just hope that happens before the launch codes are entered.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A LETTER TO ALL MY CONSERVATIVE/TEA PARTY FRIENDS

Congratulations Republican Party!

Seriously, you wanted a shake-up in government and you got one.  Your candidate (or maybe not even, but your preferred party) now has the Presidency and the Congress to boot.  He can go about bringing the change that I think all of us really want to see:  less corruption, more jobs, better income for working class families, and possibly most importantly, a hopeful and united country.  What a great thing that would be if it comes to pass that way.

But I'm actually going to ask you a favor.

This isn't sour grapes.  I've been on the losing side of elections before.  We all have. And in my case, twice my candidate has won the popular vote but lost the election.  So, believe me, I know what it's like to be disappointed.


We didn't have social media as influential the last few times around.  We didn't have the internet posing as a source for news.  Hopefully, both sides are beginning to learn that just because it's online doesn't make it true.  Or even close to true.

So I'm asking that we all take some time to work on educating ourselves in media.  I've seen the equivocation done on who is moral and who is not throughout this campaign, an experiment in abject failure on both sides.

But I have also seen the equivocation of media outlets, with sites like NewonNext.com, Bipartisanreport.com, Washington Times, The Daily Caller, The Daily Beast, Huffington Post, Breitbart News, the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post all placed as equals.

Please accept this -- they are not the same.

Please accept that large newspapers are the last bastion of as close to unbiased news as you're going to get.  They employ hundreds of reporters, fact-checkers and editors.  Each story is weighed heavily for its accuracy and of course, what will sell papers.

Thus the most important part of reading news IS NOT THE HEADLINE.  Headlines are like neon signs advertising locations in Vegas or Time Square.  They are meant to catch your eye and turn your head.  But they don't tell you what actually is going on inside the establishment.  You might find a beautifully lit sign with huge red and white lights gracing a wedding chapel in Vegas.  But chances are when you walk in if you're counting on elegant architecture, sculptured pews and a choir echoing into the rafters led by a traditional priest, you're going to be disappointed.

Huge Chapel Sign -
 Probably not the church you've always dreamt of
Please understand NEWS media bias is not the media covering something the way you DON'T LIKE hearing it.

Bias is in all forms of media, even in news.  It is.  But there is a very simple way to detect actual news versus complete opinion-laced rhetoric.

News doesn't seek to tell you how you should feel about the event being reported.

News will attempt to cover both sides of the story within the same story.  Sometimes the other side will refuse to comment, leaving the story feeling incomplete.  That story might be updated or run with a different headline as more information comes to light.

News doesn't stump for a particular political candidate.  This is not to be confused with when a paper ENDORSES a candidate.  That exercise of endorsing a candidate is done by the editors and is noted with clear exception this is their opinion.  This used to very important (and still should be) because newspaper editors are among the most informed people in the country.

Who owns the website you're reading is AS important as the site itself.  Newspapers are generally owned by giant corporations whose political agenda is as varied as the corporation itself.  It has so many voices inside that it would be almost impossible to find complete agreement on anything.  Small websites with a minor staff are almost always owned by a few select people, and you can find out exactly where they come from and what their agenda is besides adding click-bait to make money.

Most importantly, almost every fringe news group or smaller website seeks out these same large newspapers for the stories they cover.  It all starts with reputable papers like the NYT, WSJ, The Washington Post, The Sun Times, The SF Chronicle, The LA Times.  Why?  Because of the same reason as mentioned - they have exhaustive staffs scouring the globe all at once.  No website-based paper can compete with that.

I ask you to learn how our media works.  It's up to you to hold the press accountable yes, but the radical elements of our society have decried our fourth estate (the press) as completely unreliable while creating their own 'news' outlets (and I use that term loosely) to influence you, tug your emotional purse strings, and manipulate the fact that you have little time and a headline is easier to catch than a full story.

How do I know this?  What makes me credible?  Well, besides graduating from Syracuse's Newhouse School of Communications, I have been published as journalist a few times, but more importantly, I have spent hours reading social media websites that claim they are reporting the news to us, only to find inconsistencies and crucial language that hedges headlines and pulls back initial claims in the body of the article.

I'll share one story that ironically comes from Glenn Beck (who has recently turned over a leaf of seemingly gargantuan proportions, but that's for another blog) and his site The Blaze.  In the last election, a friend of mine sent me an article from The Blaze claiming voter fraud in Arizona I believe.  The article covered two women who claimed when using the electronic voting machine, the 'footprint' (the area you press around each candidate's name) was much larger for Barack Obama than it was Mitt Romney.   They claimed they had mistakenly voted for Obama because of this.  Fair enough.  But the next part of the article goes on to report the registrar was contacted on their behalf, the machines were double-checked to make sure they were calibrated recently and correctly, and the women were allowed to correct their votes. So, in the end, the report was taken seriously, the women were not disenfranchised and everything turned out all right.  Yet the headline claimed voter fraud was taking place.  I pointed out to my friend that the article actually contradicted voter fraud, perhaps unintentionally.  He went silent.  He never replied.  Perhaps he hadn't read the entire article.  Or perhaps after he did, he felt a sense of embarrassment.  Either way, this was a clear case of bad journalism, with the headline attempting to push a partisan agenda even though it correct itself inside the article.

I ask you to reassess your position on the press.  Not the television media -- where panels are often culled to tell you how you should feel about a story.  Not a station like CNN where they have a 24-hour news cycle that generally can't be filled.  Not Fox News, where their emblem sits under the likes of news commentary shows like Sean Hannity, who is admittedly no journalist.

Read the papers.  The large papers. Subscribe.  Learn the difference between what an Op-Ed piece is and a news story is.  Build these bastions of free speech back up to where they belong - as trusted sources for facts!

Here is a link of fake news sites as compiled by a professor at Merrimack College.  Do with it what you will.

Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels said something very profound, as loath as I am to ever quote a Nazi:

A lie told once remains a lie but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth

Without facts, America will begin to falter under suspicion and paranoia, under false pretenses and false beliefs.  Facts are everything.  Those who distort them know this.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A LETTER TO ALL MY MINORITY FRIENDS (UPDATED)

I’m sorry.  I tried.  A lot of us tried. 

I didn’t sleep tonight thinking about you. 

Thinking about the message my country just sent you.

You’ve given to our country in many ways that are never highlighted.

In many ways, you built this country, from our buildings to our railroads; from our roadways and bridges to our dams and monuments.

You’ve struggled to get to this country so that your family might have a better life.  You’ve had to learn English, and fight against the inherent bias of a mostly white nation to gain your position, your basic rights, your place in society.

You’ve likely toiled through sweat in the dank corners of American enterprise most of us never see just to make enough money to keep a roof over you and your family’s head.

I’ll understand if you’re serving in our military and today you go AWOL.  You have every right to feel like you should get up and walk away.  I hope you won’t.

I’ll understand it if those of you who work menial jobs (and several of them) to just make ends meet decide not to serve me based on the way I look now too.  I hope you’ll give me the honor of being served by you.

I’ll get it if you’re afraid today.  I am too.

What now?

What can I say to you as a white man, raised within Judaism, that would make you for one moment want to stay here?
  What can I say to you that will assuage the fears that your child has detected in you? 

I.         don’t.        know.

I can only tell you that a lot of the hearts of white men and women also cannot be determined just by their skin color.

I can try to assure you that I know plenty of people who reject the fear-laced rhetoric that has encouraged those with lesser moral compasses to attack that Muslim child you saw on the news, or assault that woman who couldn’t find the courage until much later to come forward with her rape.

I wish to apologize for the delicacy of our nation; that after the major terror attacks of 9-11 and the rise of ISIS, it hasn’t taken much for many Americans to say ‘me first, you later.’  I’d ask you to keep your compassion for them even if you won’t see it in return.

I want to ask you not to leave our country, that if you know anything about the history of this nation, as checkered as it has been sometimes, through every dark period we seem to rise into the light at some point. 

I want to urge you to continue your education here, because it’s still a country of opportunity even if it feels like that opportunity is a bit lessened today.

I want to reassure you there will be another day where you will be recognized. 

I want to convince you there will be people who will leap to your defense against those who seek to do you harm within our borders, even as you might find it hard to believe today.

I want to encourage you to still send your children the message of hope as I do, that this country still believes ALL MEN are created equal.

But the truth is, today I hope you’ll forgive me.

Today, I don’t know how.