Dysfunction Is The Starting Point

family

A very smart speech today in synagogue by Rabbi Haim Ovadia. 


He connected to this week’s reading from Genesis in the Torah.


It was a commentary about our forefathers and mothers and what the stories in the Bible teach us. 


As we know, these people while righteous and holy, were not perfect people or families. 


Thinking about these, some examples that come to mind about the many tests, challenges, and tragedies in their lives:


– Adam and Eve eating the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden


– Noah getting drunk and his son, Ham, seeing his nakedness and telling his brothers


– Abraham and Sarah’s doubting (i.e. laughing) that G-d would give them a child


– Isaac lying to Avimelech about Rivkah being his sister (similar to what Abraham said about Sarah)


 – Jacob buying the birthright and stealing the blessing from Esau


– Shimon and Levi killing the people of Shechem for Hamor raping their sister


– Joseph’s brothers being jealous of him and throwing him in the pit and selling him into slavery


– Judah sleeping with Tamer, the wife of his firstborn 


And so on. 


Rabbi Ovadia said we should keep 4 things in mind about the Biblical figures and families to learn for our own:


1) Context – There is a context to what we do. We all have histories that involve difficulties, challenges, illness, abuse, PTSD, and so on.  The things we do and how we react later in life are anchored in this context. 


2) Dysfunction – Every family (and I would add person, organization, and institution) is dysfunctional.  There is no perfection out there (except G-d). Functional would mean like a computer, we input-process-output towards a certain function.  However, as people, we are not automatons, but instead work out our dysfunction through our striving to love, have relationships, learn and grow. 


3) Responsibility – Whatever our challenges and dysfunctions, we are responsible for what we do–our actions.  We can’t just blame history or others.  Our role is to face up to our lot in life and take responsibility for what we do.  It our life and circumstances to make or break us. 


4) Communication – In dealing with life and it’s challenges, communication is key to dealing with things. I would argue that communication is just a part of many critical success factors like trust, determination, hard work, emotional intelligence, being giving, integrity, etc.  But certainly, communication is a key aspect in how we work out our issues with others and try to build function from inherent dysfunction. 


The honestly of the Bible in telling us the flaws of it’s heroes and heroines–our ancestors–is one of the things that make it such a source of wisdom for us as well as demonstrating the truthfulness of it being G-d given to us.


The bible doesn’t sugarcoat who we are and what we have to deal with–it is the Book of G-d that is a roadmap for us to learn from and do good with in our own lives.😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Some People Got Money

rolls-roycesticker

So we’re in the mall, and right when you walk through the doors is a car in the entrance hall. 


This one is a lovely two-tone 2016 Rolls Royce. 


At just a measly $384,025!


Honestly, the car looked awesome. 


This was no Hyundai or Yugo.


The thing looked like a tank of art on wheels. 


What is amazing is that such an expensive car is on display in the mall…I mean who is the demographic they are trying to appeal to for this?


Well maybe it’s not that bad, since another sign advertises a lease option for just $3,469 per month plus tax for 48 months with $30,000 due at signing…so that still runs you over $50K per year to drive this thing. 


Well I guess if you earnings millions, what’s the big deal anyway!


And out of curiosity, as of 2009, almost a quarter million IRS filings (people and households) show earning of that much or more…nice for them, huh.😉


(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

Love The Flags

israel-flag

So while we were in Florida, we went into one of the many art galleries. 


And on the wall was this painting of the Israeli Flag with the Star of David and inside was a beautiful red heart. 


Out of curiosity, I inquired how much this was and the lady says, “Oh, that is $55,000!”


While we were impressed with the painting of the Israeli flag and what it represents as one of America’s greatest allies and friends, we must’ve looked really puzzled at the price, because the lady goes, “Well, of course it’s worth it!  It’s by Peter Max, the most famous artist in the world.”


My wife and I nodded and left the store, and immediately were asking each other why every gallery says with a straight face that the artist that they represent is the “most famous in the world.”


Anyway, at the same time this was going on we were following in the news about the controversy with people burning the American flag and the question of whether this is just an expression of free speech or something more that should be prohibited as disrespectful and unpatriotic or even traitorous to the country. 


In that respect, the flag that represents our values, beliefs, and patriotism is valuable beyond pure artistic sense or money, it is who we are and what we love.😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

An Ironic Cabinet Lineup {humorous}

shhh

[Please only read this with a sense of political humor.]


Here are some funny ideas for domestic and foreign picks for a fantasy Cabinet team:


Department of Defense – (Oh no) Russian President Vladimir Putin because he knows how to fight and win wherever he wants. 


Department of State – (Oh no) Julian Assange because he has so may of the cables anyway.


Department of Treasury – (Oh no) President Barack Obama because he doubled the national debt to $20 trillion and it’s no problem.


Department of Commerce – Chinese President Xi Jinping because he has most of the world’s manufacturing and the biggest trade surplus. 


Department of Justice – (Oh no) James Comey (with all due respect) because he could investigate Hillary Clinton and deem her “extremely careless” with national security and yet also do the job of the prosecutors and recommend that “no reasonable” one would bring such a case. 


Department of Education – (What if) Sergey Brin and Larry Page because they made Google the most valuable company in the world by organizing all the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful. 


Department of Labor – (What if) Ken Jennings who was beaten in Jeopardy by IBM’s Watson, and understands that artificial intelligence, automation, and robotics will soon be eating people’s lunch. 


Department of Homeland Security – (Oh no) Edward Snowden because he already knows all about surveillance–how we conduct it, how to evade it, as well as the vulnerabilities in our security. 


Department of Transportation – (What if) Elon Musk because of his leadership in electronic vehicles here on earth as well as rockets to even get us to Mars. 


Department of Energy – (Oh no) Iranian President Hassan Rouhani because he knows how to get his nukes while ridding his country of sanctions and getting $150 billion to continue global terror


Department of Agriculture – (Oh no) Any of the notorious drug kingpins because they know how to grow it, distribute it, and make lots of money doing it. 


Department of Interior – (Oh no) North Korean leader Kim Jong Un because he manages one of the most remote (Isolationist) nations on Earth and does it with virtually complete self-sufficiency. 


Department of Veterans Affairs – (Oh no) Bowe Bergdahl because he was charged with desertion and still managed to get honored in a White House ceremony.


Environmental Protection Agency – (Oh no) Former CEO of BP John Browne because he knows the ramifications of being responsible for one of the worst polluting industrial accidents in history in the Gulf of Mexico.


Housing and Urban Development – (What if) Ivanka Trump because she is an absolute class act and helps run one of the greatest brands in building and managing real estate worldwide. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal via National Geographic)

A Failed Presidency?

national-debt

Every day we are reminded about the dysfunctional state of our national affairs.

The dictum of the Hippocratic Oath of” first do no harm” that medical students are taught is the very minimum expectation, but has even this been met?

The Promise vs. The Delivery

1) Promised reset with Russia – Delivered a resurgent Russia in Ukraine, Syria, the Baltics, cybersecurity, and more.

2) Promised red lines in Syria – Delivered more than 5-year and counting deadly civil war with chemical weapons, more than 500,000 dead, and millions wounded, displaced, and fleeing as refugees.

3) Promised end of war in Iraq and Afghanistan – Delivered continued troops and war in both with not an end in sight. 

4) Promised good deal with a moderating Iran – Delivered bad deal with continued aggressive Iran violating the agreement and on the path to reaching nuclear weapons.

5) Promised easing of ties with an opening of Cuba – Delivered one-sided deal and a continued hard-line communist Cuba abusing political opponents and human rights.

6) Promised defeat of ISIS terrorism – Delivered continued ISIS global terror (and it’s not workplace violence).

7) Promised closing of GITMO – Delivered GIMTO still open for business with dozens of dangerous terrorists. 

8) Promised a more unified America – Delivered a more divisive nation with raging inner city violence and civilian and police shootings.

9) Promised Obamacare affordable health insurance – Delivered unsustainable double digit premium growth and pending repeal and replacement.

10) Promised Dodd-Frank improved accountability financial reform – Delivered burdensome highly-regulated financial system stifling banking and lending leading to either significant scale back or complete repeal and replacement. 

11) Promised peace in the Middle East–Delivered a barrage of missiles, terror tunnels, shootings, stabbings, vehicular attacks, and arson for our friend and ally, Israel.

12) Promised government transparency to the American people – Delivered obscurity to the “media echo chamber” and devastating political email scandal and Benghazi fiasco. 

13) Promised fiscal and budgetary responsibility via Sequestration – Delivered a doubling of the national debt in 8 years to 20 trillion dollars!😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal via USA Today)

Who You Gonna Trust

trust

We start out life as innocent children with inherent trust in those that care for us. 

It is nice to feel safe, loved, and cared for by people who dote over your every gurgle, smirk, fart, and spaghetti sauce smear on the face. 

As people grow older and have negative experiences however, they become more guarded and jaded by what they learn about other people’s motives and agendas and how vulnerable and hurt they can get. 

Unfortunately, these days kids have to fear from pedophiles, parents that are addicts and wildly abusive, and teachers that let out their emotional problems on children that look up to them for guidance and education. 

As we get older, there are bullies in school and thugs on the street. 

And even in the office, there are those that abuse their positions of power and can make life miserable for the regular hard-working Joes not looking for any problems.

In relationships, spouses that cheat on one another and the resulting breakups have heart-wrenching effects on families. 

But perhaps, what is even worse than individual people that can hurt us are when the very institutions that are the bedrock of our society become corrupt and abusive of their authority and result in our loss of trust in them.

Already in 2010, trust in government was reaching new lows of 19%.

By 2014, trust in corporate America had eroded to just 36%.

Similarly, in 2016, trust in the news media fell to all time lows of 32%.

Reading about the clutching unto power of Fidel Castro’s dictatorship for half a century in Cuba did not seem that far a stretch after seeing the powerful and dangerous political machine here in our own U.S.A. working to keep people in the seat of power almost at any cost to the country and the people. 

What was good for people was clearly last place to what was good for the ruling elites not just in Cuba anymore!

Similarly, the notion of a fair and balanced media went out the window with this last election, where investigative journalism became an oxymoronic term and idea. 

As for corporate America, outsourcing, shoddy goods, inflated advertising, short-term profiteering, rigged governance, and oversized pay packages to the C-suite left a handful of socially-conscious corporations stranded on a desert island of greed and raw capitalism.

Neither children nor adults are victims or sheep to be bullied or manipulated by abusers and manipulators in society. 

A free press so needed to keep corruption in check in the rest of public and private sector society has itself been infected by the bug of bias, bigotry, and personal agendas. 

Who can we trust when evil can overtake good temporarily to break bodies and souls of it’s victims?

Ultimately, the people have the final say in keeping the wrongs in society from taking deep root and not letting nasty “big brothers” do the really bad things and take us down the wrong paths.

There are good people with integrity that we can trust, maybe just not everyone we’d like to.😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Escalating Iranian Threat To World Peace

Iran is spreading it’s caliphate ambitions across the Middle from Iran to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and more. 



As the #1 world sponsor of terrorism and abuser of human rights, there is reason to be concerned and afraid of Iran’s intentions and actions. 



The ISIS terror and caliphate may end up paling in comparison to the threat of a dangerous fundamentalist Iran with emerging nukes, ballistic missiles, and a fearsome spreading caliphate of their own. 



Now Iran conveniently claims that radiological material, Iridium, was stolen, and where it ends up exploding no one yet knows, but we can guess the likely targets.



What wonderful plausible deniability for a suitcase WMD bomb horrifically placed and detonated by Iran, themselves. 



As Israel is burning, Aleppo is being flattened, Mosul fighting is raging street by street, and terrorists are plotting ever greater strikes into our heartlands, we are sitting here dumb and dumber. 



Please G-d, he will restore peace to our lands and people.



May He grant our leaders the wisdom to act as necessary, with due speed and agility to defeat our enemies whether ISIS or Iran and not be fooled by agreements not worth the ridiculous paper they are written on. 



(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)