July 24, 2016

Defeating Terrorism Not Optional

So in today's New York Times Sunday Review, David Rieff provides some insights on the state of terrorism that we are living with. 

Two very concerning points he makes:

1) A resignation that not much can be done: There are limited security resources, but infinite points for terrorists to strike. As he says, "Not all these attacks can be stopped....there is no way to police every subway station, cafe, and public square."

2) Many of our leaders are in convenient denial or disengaged: They see the daily terrorist attacks and their response is a rote rejoinder to either join for a brief memorial, slough it off altogether, or even make a joke of it (as if murder is a laughing matter). Rieff repeats even a recent interview with President Obama where he makes light of the impact of terrorism in that doesn't pose "an existential threat to the United States of the world order." Unless of course, it escalates and involves weapons of mass destruction or potentially taking out significant portions of our nation's critical infrastructure.

This just seems so different that how our nation has raised itself up in past conflicts and to win them: 

In World War II, the Allies were committed to defeat Nazi Germany, and they did, including through D-Day, one of largest and bloodiest invasions in history. 

President Reagan helped win the Cold War, by labeling the Soviets the "evil empire" and setting America on a major military buildup, one that the Soviet Union could not afford and eventually withdrew from. 

After 9/11, President Bush vowed that we would get Osama Bin Laden "dead or alive," no matter how long it takes, and eventually we did!

Over and over, the odds were not great and the stakes were enormous, but a positive attitude and the commitment to win took us a long way. 

In contrast now a attitude of defeatism has set in with Rieff declaring that "the stark truth is that the number and lethality of terrorist attacks are far likelier to rise than to diminish in the near future," and as he quotes the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls as saying, "Times have changed, and we should learn to live with terrorism."

How can anyone agree with that--should we really resign ourselves to learn to live with random acts of violence, murder, and terror? 

Rieff ends with that "the best we can hope for is to hold on to enough of our humanity to have a chance of clawing back the rest when the war ends, as all wars do."

I do not believe that this is good enough!

Not identifying the enemy, disengaging from global events or leading from behind, appeasement of sworn enemies, removing sanctions and releasing terrorists from GITMO, getting soft on terror saying it's not so bad out there that "the birds were [still] chirping and the sun was out,", and giving up on defeating it...is a losing attitude and proposition and one that will only result in more heartbreaking and innocent deaths. 

Dismissing or belittling the issue, defeatism, and jokes will not defeat terrorism, but a commitment to do whatever it takes to save lives and protect our nation will, as has been the case from Hitler to Bin Laden, and so it will be again. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 23, 2016

{{{Democracy BERNS}}}

There is a fire that even these many fire extinguishers cannot put out, because it is our very democracy that is under attack and aflame. 

If secrecy, lies, perjury, corruption, and end-runs around the law weren't enough...now, we have the ultimate in democratic corruption.

Hacked emails from the Democratic Party show election rigging, collusion, and corruption at the highest levels

Emails document how DNC party officials questioned about:

"Whether they should raise doubts about the Sanders campaign."

One senior official says:


"Wonder if there's a good Bernie narrative for a story, which is that Bernie never had his act together, that his campaign is a mess."

Another official stated:

"Does he believe in a G-d. He had skated as saying that he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps [people]."

Even Sanders' campaign manager said that the emails showed that party officials were:

"Planting negative stories about him with religious leaders in various states [to rig the election towards the former First Lady]."

This is a clear case of conspiracy--and I do not use this word lightly--where the election was being steered by a corruption-infected system towards a certain candidate denying the actual will of the people and their rightful candidate choice.

Ah, so much for a fair and just democracy.

The Democratic National Convention starts on Monday, and it looks like they will be celebrating their corruption not only in terms of a system rigged with superdelegates, but where collusion and political narrative thrive and the political opposition, Bernie Sanders, never even had any chance, let alone a fair and democratic one. 

Where is the accountability of these officials--are they too above the law as is their candidate.

No candidate for election should have a tacit nod of consent and support from officials and definitely should not be put in place when not in line with the will of the people!

We do not live in a dictatorship, in totalitarianism, in fascism--or perhaps, we most sadly do. 

It is incredible hypocrisy that we send election monitors around the globe to police and ensure fair elections, but here at home, we can't seem to effectively police our own system for fairness. 

The election for president in the exemplary democracy of the world, the U.S.A, should not have the powerful, the elites, the 1%, control who is elected to office.

The situation has gone from bad to worse with serious allegations of:
- Vanishing global moral "red lines" 
- Shady deals with our sworn "Death To America" enemies
- Laughter at murderous terrorist attacks
- Shutting of the eyes at the killing of police officers
- Money-laundering from private foundations
- Private servers exposing state secrets
- Election rigging

These are a treachery and a desertion of our very democracy, and unfortunately the fire of corruption is still burning in our beloved America while the convention just begins. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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Building An Appropriate Wall

Ok, let's be honest, Trump is right about the border.  

And no, I do not believe that he is fascist and evil like the social engineers in politics would like you to believe for their own motives. 

Let's face it, the border needs to be appropriately secured once and for all from illegal immigration. 

We need to support our law enforcement agents such as the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement in protecting this great country. 

Why all the argument about "illegal" Immigration...it's illegal!

By all means, provide amble and robust ways for peaceful-loving people to come to this country legally, especially for family, refuge, asylum, and to escape violence, persecution, and war.  

But if someone is here illegally, then Trump is right, we need to see that valid moral law and order is reestablished and not permit violence, crime, and chaos to continue by edict, closing our eyes to it, or even tacit permission. 

Whoever calls this fascism is either a lier or possibly some sort of anarchist and dangerous to a civilized way of life, plain and simple. 

How do any of our politicians who take the oath of office and swear to uphold our constitution try to get around this?

Here are some statistics relevant to the issue of secure borders:

Human Trafficking: There are 29.8 people in the world trapped in modern slavery or 1 out of every 236!  And there are 60,000 victims reported in the United States of America.  


Deadly Terrorism: The deadly toll of Terrorism has increased 800% since 2010 with an average of 30,000 people killed annually. "More attacks are happening and they tend to be deadlier than ever."

Violent Crime and Murders:  In the five states of California, Texas, Arizona, Florida, and New York, illegal aliens accounted for 38% of all murder convictions, equating to over 7,000 of the murders. 

Economic Effects:  While undocumented workers do obviously help perform work particularly in some important lower wage jobs for us, there are also many negative economic effects of illegal aliens to consider such as undercutting wages or taking jobs from other who are legally entitled to the work. Additionally, the cost for their healthcare and education that is covered by the American people contributes to the overall staggering national debt. 

Overall, while "who we are" and want to be is a compassionate and generous people, there is no reason to circumvent the law and to let people into the country who have not duly applied and been permitted entry and stay.  

Shenanigans of "catch and release" or not to deport illegal immigrants "who don't have a criminal record"--is completely nonsensical since being illegal is criminal!

We need to secure our country from human trafficking, drug trafficking, terrorism, murders, as well as the negative economic effects of illegal immigration, while at the same time opening our hearts and the process for vetted legal immigrants to make their way here and become productive citizens. 

We are and should be good people, but that doesn't mean we need to be stupid and irresponsible and put recklessly at risk our nation's security just so some politicians can to try to grab some votes for their personal and their party's selfish political ambitions. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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July 22, 2016

Why Trump Nailed It

(Washington, DC. Our Capital of This Great Nation, 2016)

Trump is a long-shot, but IMHO here's a top 20 why I believe he is nailing it:

1. I'm with you vs. I'm with her.

2. I will be a voice for you and will fight for you vs. I really want this so bad for me. 

3. I will re establish law and order vs. I am above the law.

4. I will appropriately name the enemy, stamp out ISIS, and do it fast vs. I won't even say the word radical Islamists, ISIS is the "JV team," and absolutely "no boots on the ground." 

4. We will secure America from terrorism vs. it's just some more "workplace violence" and "what's the difference at this point," anyway.

5. We have a ballooning $19 trillion national debt and $900 billion trade deficit vs. the economy is doing just dandy (for now). 


6. I will tell you the truth vs. I will hide the truth and lie, but profoundly claim transparency. 

7. I will hire and recognize the best and brightest vs. I will hire and promote my friends and cronies.

8. I will invest in jobs, education, and infrastructure vs. I will invest in pork-barrel politics and lobbyist-controlled agendas. 

9. Fairness and equality for everyone vs. I'll pick and choose and you know who you are (at least until after the election).

10. We're going back to space, discovery, and innovation vs. we are canceling the shuttle program and riding on Russian rockets. 

11. We will bring manufacturing and jobs back to America vs. we will continue to send them, by the millions, overseas.

12. We will get a good deal for America vs. we will get a personal sham legacy.

13. We will be true to our friends and allies vs. we will embrace bitter "Death to America" enemies.

14. Over half the executives in my company are women and get paid equally to men vs. vote for me because I'm a women.

15. I build amazing city skylines vs. I destroy entire regions around the globe.

16. I am the son of a great builder and am a successful family and business man vs. I am the former First Lady of the 2nd impeached president of the United States. 

17. I work and earn my money vs. I take donations for my foundation and oversized speaking fees for myself.  

18. I am a political outsider in a system that Bernie Sanders himself admitted is rigged vs. I am the system and adept at doing the rigging. 

19. I will lead and make America great and respected again vs. I will lead from behind, with a policy of disengagement, withdrawal, and appeasement, and dishonoring this great nation. 

20. I and our children are the future vs. I am from the past and will bring more of it to you.

In latest polls from 13 July, 73% of Americans are unhappy and dissatisfied with the direction this nation is heading in!

But there is sunshine lighting up the lies of the last years. 

I have hope again for this amazing country. 

Greatness, freedom, human rights, fairness, equality, security, and prosperity. 

Oh and BTW...Ivanka is a total star on the Trump team!

(These are strictly my personal views and do not represent those or any organization.)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 21, 2016

A New Diplomacy In Town

A wonderful colleague sent me this really impressive photo.

This was one of my favorite of 3 aircraft carrier strike groups taken together (Abraham Lincoln, Kitty Hawk, and Ronald Reagan)--the 1st and the 3rd of which are Nimitz-class nuclear-powered supercarriers. 

According to the slides, there were literally 4 four nuclear submarines standing guard in the waters beneath, as well as a B-2 stealth bomber flying overhead.  

What I really liked the most though wasn't even the photos, but rather the motto for the carriers of:

"Over 90,000 tons of diplomacy...wherever... whenever..."

Diplomacy can be listening, negotiating, and compromise, but it can also be through the projection of the ultimate national and human strength. 

With a staggering rise in global terrorism, militaristic adventurism, and the proliferation of dangerous weapons of mass destruction, perhaps it's time to harden up on some of the soft power, and demonstrate as well the very credible hard power and resolve we have for protecting American lives, freedom, and human rights. ;-)

(Source Photo: here)

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July 20, 2016

Please G-d In The Workplace

So here is a true story that happened to me at work.

You know how you put on your "out of office message" in Microsoft Outlook when on leave...

Well, I was responsible and did just that. 

My message was typical informing people that I was out, when I plan to return, and who to contact about urgent matters in my (brief) absence. 

But something astonishing happened then...

I actually got a reply to my out of office message from an executive scolding me about it--imagine this being how government time is spent. 

Yes and dun da da dum...here was my big offense to this senior executive, in my out of office message, I simply used the words "Please G-d," as in:

"I am out of the office and plan to return, please G-d, on [such and such day and date]."

The message I received back in my inbox:

"I'm not sure what the 'please G+d' reference means. It's a bit confusing. You may want to delete it."

OMG, I was being admonished in the federal government for using the words "Please G-d" in my out of office message--for simply respecting and recognizing Him/Her. 

- What is confusing about "Please G-d"?

- And how can anyone ask that I delete G-d from my message or in any way from my life???

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states under religious discrimination and harassment that:


 "Harassment, can include, for example offensive remarks about a person's beliefs or religious practices."


Further, "the law requires an employer or other covered entity to reasonably accommodate an employees religious beliefs and practices," barring an undue burden. 

What burden to the government was there in me saying, "please G-d."

And why did I get back a mocking message spelling it this way, "G+d," which I read as being a cross in the middle, mocking me as someone of Jewish belief.

Understand that I write the word G-d with a hyphen, because I was taught out of respect not to spell out ( or even say) G-d's name in vain, which is the 3rd commandment in the biblical Ten Commandments.

The executive's comments to me were not only extremely rude, offensive, and discriminatory, but also illegal.

It is outrageous that this type of behavior should be allowed to go on in 21st century America, let alone in the federal government itself that writes and enforces the law of the land--the land of the free and the home of the brave--read it, it's in our national anthem and our constitution. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 19, 2016

Standing Down

So there is a funny term used in government, which is to "Stand down."

Basically, it comes from the military where it has traditionally been used to denote relaxing (or "at ease") after a prior state of alert or readiness.

Since then it has become more broadly adopted to mean abruptly ceasing activity--and usually even all further discussion--on something. 

For example, if someone is working on a project, task, or issue, but you want them to completely halt all activities on this, you may tell them to stand down.

This happens when something, usually significant, has changed or the activity has become OBE (another military term for Overcome By Events).

Basically, something has unexpectedly transpired and the strategy and orders have now changed (maybe a complete 180). 

Often, someone up the chain has put the kabbash on whatever it was.

Either way, you go from a full-on sprint to a complete halt and you might as well stand on your head for all anyone cares, because the run to the finish line, on this matter at least, is over now. 

Standing down is very different from standing up--but you aren't sitting down either. 

Sitting would imply doing nothing at all, while standing down implies you do something else instead--like move on in the meantime to your next order of priority business. 

Still standing down, because of it's abruptness and completeness is a big deal--and when everything and everyone was prior in motion like a moving freight train--and someone now stands in front of it and yells "All stop!"--the rest of the train cars, all the way to caboose, can essentially ram right up into the butt of the engine causing a real mess of things (productivity-wise and from a morale perspective). 

So now everyone untangle yourself and "calm the h*ll down"--there's a new sheriff in town or new way ahead and you better get your standing down under control and stop doing whatever it is you were doing, okay there sonny boy? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 18, 2016

When It Comes To Education, We're Just Playing Around

So I overhead a conversation of 2 young women in Starbucks talking about their college education. 

One of them while acknowledging that she enjoys her classes, says, "But I still don't feel that I am learning anything practical!"

He friends responds saying, "Yeah, all we learn is X+Y, but what does that do for us in real life?"

The first young women says, "They need to emphasize the practical things and teach us personal finances, fitness, healthy cooking, and so on."

The second young women starts repeating, "X+Y, X+Y, that's all they teach us!"
I couldn't help but chuckle at this point, even though it was sort of sad. 

The education system is known to be so bad in this country, especially until you get to college. 

We've gone from No Child Left Behind to Every Student Succeeds, but no matter what you call it--it's still a big C-R-I-S-I-S. 

According to Ranking America, the US ranks 14 out of 40 countries in education--behind Netherlands and Poland.

Moreover, we rank 2nd in ignorance about social statistics like teen pregnancy, unemployment rates, and voting patterns. 

Moreover, we are falling behind in our competitiveness ranking in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and are now 27th in math and 20th in science out of 34 countries.

We can't innovate, improve productivity, and effectively compete if we are just playing around with our education system. 

If we don't change, X+Y may soon equal the bottom of the education barrel. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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July 17, 2016

How's Things Looking 4 Months Before The Election

Let's see how are we doing in the last 4 days just 4 months shy of the next election for President of the United States Of America:

- Thursday night...another major terrorist attack in Nice, France left 84 dead and 204 wounded. Terrorism is now so deadly and commonplace that graphic on Facebook shows 4-step cycle of terror attack, pray for x, put up flag profile on Facebook to show unity, and return to state of stupor and await next ISIS rampage. 

- Friday night...another major Arab country in turmoil with a unforeseen coup attempt in Turkey leaving 290 dead and another 1,400 wounded and now 6,000 arrested in a "purge." Arab Spring has turned into one ongoing murderous chaos in the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia with Syria and Libya still in civil war, Iraq and Afghanistan fending off ISIS in it's cities and the annual Taliban Summer offensive respectively, and a succession of coups in Egypt 2013 and Yemen 2015. 

- Sunday morning...another breakdown of law and order with 3 more murdered police officers in Baton Rouge, LA following up on 5 cops shot dead a little more than a week prior in Dallas, TX. Friday was supposed to be a Day of Rage across major cities in the U.S. with warnings for people to stay away and seek safety in what's being seen as a significantly worsening racial divide in a country that has until recent history prided itself on being a successful "melting pot" and driven to equality. 

As anyone who follows the news knows, this is only the tip of the iceberg, and despite vigorous attempts by some to put rose-colored glasses on everything and try to create a forced-air of stability and calm...the truth of the disharmony and discord is loud and getting louder. 

From Brexit to Zika to millions of refugees running for the exits, from Bill Clinton meeting with the Attorney General right before Hillary's non-indictment, from our exploding national debt and to long foretold bankruptcy of the triad of our social entitlement system, from Russian and Chinese militaristic resurgence in Georgia, Ukraine, the Baltic States, and the South China Sea, respectively, from Iranian and North Korean nuke-capable missile launches, things are getting quite out of control and just 4 months from the election...and the truth is making it to the surface despite all attempts to silence Freedom. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 16, 2016

Look Who I Found In Synagogue

Well, this was quite a surprise in the hip Magen David Synagogue today.

I captured this amazing Pokemon. 

I can't say that I actually saw him davening (praying) in shule. 

But he was on the way down to the kiddush (blessing and meal) after services. 

No virtual apps needed for this Pokemon.  

He was right there over the chulent (bean and meat stew)--Oh, that must've been another week. 

Anyway, this Pokemon is ready to defend in the next battle of good and evil. 

Thanks to Nintendo, Pokemon goes these days where the rest of our leaders are afraid to endeavor. 

Hence the search for Pokemon far and wide...it's a true craze. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 15, 2016

Aging Yet (Hopefully) Always Helping Each Other

I just love this drawing of the parents and child. 

My daughter found it on Instagram and sent it to me. 

As a little kid, my wife and I used to hold her hands and swing her between us when walking (like in the above illustration)--she loved that!

Now as we get older, we still try to be good, helpful parents (not too intrusive or helicopter-like--well maybe a little), but we can certainly see a day down the line when the cycle of life goes full circle. 

My daughter used to joke (I think) about putting me in an old age home--she knew that after seeing what my mom went through there with Parkinson's, that is truly the last place I would want to end up. 

Of course, sometimes there really is no choice when a person just needs so much care that it is beyond what the family can do any longer. 

Frankly, what I have learned is that the most important and precious thing that parents and children can give each other is...time!

So is that child in the bottom illustration helping his aging parents along or is he dragging them off to the nursing home?  Perhaps, we'll never know until it's too late. ;-)

(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal from Instagram Unlimited Knowledge)
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Weakness Begets Terror

A terror truck plows into crowds celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France killing at least 84--many of which are children!

How many terror attacks do we have to undergo before someone wakes up and does something?

I watched Judge Jeanine express outrage on Fox News video about what is going on with radical Islamist terrorism across the globe.

Moreover, there is spiraling inner-city violence here at home with presumed racial killings of black people and the murder of 5 police officers in Dallas, Texas and more warnings about a Day of Rage in 36 cities today. 

Things are out of control!

OMG, the list of terrorist attacks just this year alone in 2016 is so long that wikipedia had to break them up into separate lists by month.

Some still can't get up the courage or leadership skills to identify the enemy.

Moreover, they vow not to put boots on the ground

Instead, they prefer platitudes and implications that Western civilization is at fault rather than the murdering terrorists. 

Choosing disengagement, withdrawal, and appeasement over defending our national security. 

Just this week again, Iranian attack boats swarmed a U.S. battleship in International Waters that had our 4 star general in charge of U.S. Central Command, and we do nothing but lift sanctions on them, release $100+ billion, and encourage the opening of finance and trade with them as they continue to chant "Death to America."

Russia and China continue to buzz our planes and ships and extend their boundaries into Crimea and the South China Sea, respectively, while North Korea tests ballistic nuke missiles that may soon be able to reach our shores. 

Moreover, instead of making things better, we are continuing to make them worse, with our own military warning against the change in policy to a stated "no-first-use" weapons policy in an age of dangerous nuclear proliferation and resurgent and modernized adversaries. 

After 9/11, we overreacted with almost 10-years of war, lashing out at enemies real and imagined, and now for the last years, we have become disengaged and withdrawn--either too afraid, unwilling, or ridiculously "political correct" to defend our own national security. 

The pendulum has swung wild and reckless for too many years...it is time for a normal and balanced course of action to protect our people and country--can anyone say radical Islamists? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 14, 2016

Got Mic

My daughter went to a cool work seminar yesterday on emotional intelligence and she told me five important takeaways for creating EI health:

1. Self-awareness

2. Self-regulation

3. Self-motivation

4. Effective relationships

5. Empathy

Certainly, exerting self-control and working effectively with others is sort of obvious.

But it is not necessarily easy for everyone to do. 

Reflecting on this, some people seem to need no microphone or megaphone. 

They can't get off the elevating soapbox and behave instead is as if they are the whole show onto themselves. 

Enjoying to talk alone or above everyone else, maneuvering with drama and theatrics, and being cemented squarely in that center stage.

Perhaps highly intelligent about the subject matter, but often quite low on emotional intelligence. 

Seeing neither the objective nor the team, unable to recognize and respect others or to listen to alternate points of view, it may go on for quite some time before they come up for air. 

Overly extroverted, oblivious, uncaring, or perhaps needy or narcissistic.

Seeming to say, "I was created and stand in the center of the universe and all revolves around me!"

Chasing honor and dismissive as to their way or the highway--threats lurk, right or wrong. 

This is definitely a job for self-improvement and to personal advancement. 

Can EI be learned? 

Perhaps if the person can stop for a sec and just listen and be humbly part of the human race. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 13, 2016

The Difference Between Art and Politics

There is a difference between art and politics. 

Art is just brilliant and beautiful. 

But politics can be insane and ugly.

(Well maybe some art actually can be that way too.)

Read today how Congressional Bills are being held up for something as fundamental as funding to fight the Zika virus that causes severe infant brain defects and life-altering disabilities. Moreover, if Congress did pass it as-is, the President has threatened to veto it!

Another no-brainer bill still not passed before Summer recess is the common sense one that would tighten access on gun sales to suspected terrorists and call for expanded background checks, including for private sales and at gun shows. 

As amazing for the soul as art is, politics gone wrong can be damaging to the very people they are supposed to be protecting for national security and health and well-being.  

This is a system that is either broken or have people leading it that are horribly flawed, but either way the nation's people are being hurt, when they should be properly taken care of and governed. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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July 12, 2016

The Bully Pulpit

So I took this photo in the Renwick Gallery.

I believe it is called, "Apocalypse."

And the miserable misanthrope evil-doers are riding in on their fiery mule to lie, murder, and destroy.

Perhaps what's not so bad in-and-of itself is to have to face many of life's challenges and work hard to overcome them.

But what is unconscionable these-days is that we are being often and repeatedly lied to and manipulated.

No longer is the truth and good seemingly on top of the agenda, but rather the script of normalcy and calm is paramount. 

Thus, rather than passion and piloting, we get a lot of spin, exaggeration, manipulation, and some could say outright lies, for example: 

- The "health of the economy" (anyone look at our runaway national debt register or grossly widening economic inequality lately)

- The "security of our nation" (anyone believe that Iran or North Korea are standing down their WMD programs)

- That ISIS is on the run and terrorism is waning (anyone really think San Bernardino or Fort Hood was "workplace violence")

- The success of the nation's newest healthcare program (anyone believe that the public "Affordable Care" insurance is giving healthy coverage at great prices)

- The absence of bigotry and discrimination (anyone think that racism isn't so bad with killings over taillights and at "peaceful" protests)

- The transparency of our government (anyone look at the statements of the FBI versus the former first lady). 

And doesn't the list goes on and on. 

Listen, we all make mistakes, including leaders, but creating a false narrative for the "stupid" public and media "echo chamber" is beyond immoral--it literally breaks the compass. 

Civilized society and any vestige of positive relationships therein is built of trust and communication, but when these are simply tools to fool the coined dumb-a*s people, rather than lead them, then we are listening only to evildoers on a bully pulpit. 

Maybe that's why nearly 70% think we're headed in the wrong direction...because look at the absence of integrity leading the pack. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 11, 2016

Noticing The Smallest Beauty

My daughter, Rebecca sent me this photo she took.

A little lady bug on the plants outside. 

She told me how important it is to pay attention to the beauty in even the smallest ways out there. 

I was very proud of her!

It's not the biggest, the loudest, or the baddest that necessarily makes the most impact in the world. 

I hope she (and us) keep on noticing what is really amazing in this world. 

(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)

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July 10, 2016

Lives That Matter Not

With the presumed racially bigoted killing of Black people, we got Black Lives Matter. 

Now with the sniper attack murdering 5 police officers, we have Blue Lives Matter. 

From the unfortunate political response to both, it seems that No Lives Matter. 

With all the violence, and revenge violence, and cycles thereof, it was amazingly sad to hear our President say last week, "I firmly believe that America is not as divided as some have suggested."

Oh, really!

From Trayvon Martin to Freddie Gray to the five police officers killed last week--there sure seems to be a lot of bloodletting for a country that is not all that divided. 

The problem is that the serious racial divisions are only a part of it. 

Economic inequality is another big factor in the equation with the top 1% owning more than 50% of global wealth, and the gap continues to widen. 

And on top of that you have the political elites who perhaps are not only above the law, but are so much intertwined with the law of the land that they can be "100% confident" on doing what they want and not getting in any trouble.  

So does the 99% matter? Perhaps only as much as your vote and/or donation count for the 1% to get and keep their beloved and worshiped money and power. 

One thing that is amazingly clear across the spectrum from the likes of Donald Trump to that of Bernie Sanders is that the system is rigged.

Yet as disparities and inequalities exist in treatment from black to blue, the elites are most able to manipulate the "echo chamber" with loads of spin to give the perception of calm and stability and some breadcrumbs for all. 

Everyone has a chance to live and to prosper except when they don't.  

Still we can gloss over the spilled blood and the ridiculous inequality with some promises, gestures, and maybe even a few handouts--and make you 100% confident that you do matter so very much. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 9, 2016

Conflicts That Challenge Us

My wife told me something good today (first time ever, haha).  

There are three types of conflicts:

1) Between Man and Himself -- these are our internal conflicts or demons (fears, anxieties, guilt, compulsions, and evil impulses) that we must conquer. 

2) Between Man and Man -- these are conflicts we have with others and we must resolve them with either empathy, compromise, giving, and forgiveness or at the other end of the spectrum with fight or flight.

3) Between Man and His Environment -- these are conflicts that are man-made or natural in our surroundings and may involve scarcity, harsh or destructive conditions, and obstacles to overcome with scientific and engineering problem-solving. 

I would add a 4th type of conflict:

4) Between Man and G-d -- these are conflicts we have in trying to understand why we are here, what G-d wants from us, and "why bad things happen," and involve our relationship and reconciliation with and service to our maker. 

Basically, these four conflicts are more than enough to keep us busy day-in and -out for our entire lifetime, and either we resolve them and go to the afterworld, or perhaps we have to come back to do some more work on resolving them again. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 8, 2016

I'm Telling You They're Really New

So I ordered a pair of swim fins to replace a pair that recently ripped in the pool. 

I went online and ordered a brand NEW pair. 

A few days later, the fins arrive in an envelope (no box). 

Already sort of terrified at what I will find in this strange bag, I slowly open it up, and find a completely disgusting dirty, scuffed, USED pair of fins with no tags or packaging

Ew...I am so grossed out and contact the vendor right away to return these, but instead of customer service, I got a boat load of b.s. and chutzpah.

They made a million excuses, tried to make me feel bad, and basically refused to provide for a return, saying that the product is not really used, that it just got dirty in the mail and on the trucks and all, and I just have to clean them off a little!

When I question them about why there was no box or packaging, they say, "Oh that, well we take it out of the box, so we can ship it more cheaply for you

I said, "What right do you have to take it out of the packaging when I ordered it new--maybe I want the packaging or need to give the item as a gift?"

Then they go on to give me an ear-full about about the high cost of shipping and that I should thank them for removing the packaging to the keep costs down (but the problem is that they were trying to keep costs down in more ways than one here). 

They continue to berate me as well about how I should be more understanding as to the dirt and scuff marks, since it's no big deal, because when I put it in the pool, the water and the chlorine will wash it off and kill all the germs anyway!

After patiently taking this abuse for a while, I went online and saw that others had the same experience with this merchant--getting sent used goods in the mail that had been advertised and paid for as new.  

Now I had had it up to HERE, and I promptly did my duty and went online to give them an appropriate customer review to help others from getting cheated like this in the future. 

Guess what happens next? 

They email me to tell me that they took note of my feedback and not that they are sorry about what happened and want to fix it, but that "We will never ship to you again." 

My wife explodes laughing...mwahahahahaha--like who would ever want to go back and do more business with these crooks. 

People are absolutely crazy out there.

Caveat emptor (buyer beware) a million times.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 7, 2016

Getting "Unf*cked"

So on July 4th, I wrote and did a short video about how messed (f*cked) up things are in the world today (of course, technology-aside), and I advocated for people being a good influence and for constructive change. 

On the positive side, I saw this neat bumper sticker to "Unf*ck The World," and I checked out their website utwnow.org

It was impressive to see people advocating for, banding together, and engaging to do good things to help others such as assist the homelessness by giving them haircuts, doing laundry, providing "mobile hygiene," and helping with a thrift shop and job opportunities.  

In contrast again, it was interesting in the Wall Street Journal today, there was an editorial on how Brexit (Britian leaving the EU) has nothing on Amexit (America's disengagement from global affairs). 

Around the world, there is cause for not only pause, but great concern.

- From allowing Syria to cross the red line in using chemical weapons (on civilians!) to the recommendation to not charge the former First Lady, we are in moral and leadership retreat.

- Russia takes over Crimea and agitates in Eastern Ukraine and the Baltics, while China continues its island buildup in the strategic South China Sea.  

- ISIS continues to hold ground across the Middle East and Northern Africa and attacks targets literally everywhere in the world and routinely takes, enslaves, and sells women to the highest bidder on the Internet.

- North Korea and Iran test ballistic missiles, and nukes are a forgone conclusion for them. 

- South America and Europe are in economic and political turmoil with varying degrees of recessions, runaway inflation, shortages, impeachment proceedings, voter recalls, and fractioning. 

- The U.S. is struggling to maintain its leadership role as we fluctuate between recognizing the dire need and pulling back all around. 

In the election cycle, I think just about every single person I have heard from now says in near hopelessness something like, "If only there was another candidate that I could vote for."

What we can do locally to help--and certainly there is a lot more to do there with poverty and homelessness--perhaps people can do nationally and globally in demanding more--not material things, but rather a real caring about others and not just ourselves, a genuine discourse on policy and not just punch lines for the next election or media soundbite, a solutions-oriented mindset rather than a gaming the system one, and a big vision to settle the stars, cure vicious diseases, pull everyone out of poverty, and resolve endless cycles of global conflicts.

Do you hear much of anything on this these days and is anyone taking the high ground or is it just who is more crooked and untrustworthy--this cannot be the answer. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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July 6, 2016

Towel Music Washington DC


It's a hot day in Washington, DC.

But outside the White House, the music is piping. 

Even if our politics is murky at times, our songful expression is always loud and clear. 

The towel over the head keeps the perspiration from overflowing and the music fluid to the masses. 

We are a sophisticated country--full of culture, diversity, and heartfelt soul. 

(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)
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Style From Head To Toe

 
So I took these photos of two young fashionable men. 

The first had a very cool "Death" cap on.

And the second had the reddest pair of sneakers, I've ever seen. 

Both were stylish standouts!

To me, the hat confronted the scariness of death head-on (excuse the pun) or that the person is themselves, in a sense, death to anyone that starts with them or gets in their way--it is not only bold in terms of the big white letters, but in terms of the courage to face the harshest of all our realities. 

Then to the shoes, going red and untied, spoke to me in terms of looseness, comfort, and ease with yourself--you are who you are and the world be darned!

Both the cap and the shoes are in your face and make a statement of cool nonchalance and the daringness to confront "whatever." ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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July 5, 2016

Can Anyone Really Be Above National Security?



Just reflecting on the decision today not to charge the former first lady.

Basically, it seems that we are getting soft on national security. 

Bradley Manning skirted the law and is first eligible for parole after just 10 years.

Edward Snowden is seemingly beyond the reach of the law for at least the last 3 years.

And the former First Lady, as many have said, is apparently above the law, as was demonstrated again today.

According to the Statement released, they were "extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information," and still got "no charges". 

Moreover, the former First Lady said that she "did not send or receive emails with material 'marked' classified," yet the FBI directly contradicted this stating that a number of emails (albeit a small number) "containing classified information bore markings indicating the presence of classified information."

Where does all this leave the national security of America? 

(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)
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A Matter Of Vigilance

Getting around town, I have noticed a stark and scary hands-off absence of security. 

So different than the immediate vigilance after the attacks of 9/11 is the sleepiness of our security establishment now. 

Recently, I noticed a security guard not on lookout, but rather on video games on his smartphone while standing post. 

And then again coming down the street today, another guard (no child that is) was putting up handprints on the fogged up glass instead of having their hands safely on (or off) their trigger. 

What was even more frightening was that the guard abruptly turns around while handprinting the windows, as if I did something wrong just walking by, and says to me, "You scared me!"

To which I promptly replied, "Really, you're the one with the gun!"

It's incredible how far we have fallen security-wise after the attacks from New York to Paris and Orlando to Kiryat Arba.

In the Wall Street Journal today, Bret Stephens writes, "It's depressing to think that the only way the world might understand the truth about terrorism is to have some experience of it." 

Why do we have to be lazy and lackadaisical, playing around with people's lives, instead of with it and ready to prevent the next one and the next one?  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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