Sexuality Sells Sometimes

Sexuality Sells.jpeg

So this was the entranceway to a store in Florida. 


As you can see, the center mannequin is set up sitting in not a very modest way for a lady. 


And worse, there is a little boy mannequin situated right next to her. 


It was funny to see people stop to look at this fake sexual scene.


But no amount of sexuality could sell the junk that the store was pushing. 


So strutting your stuff or showing a little skin–or in this case hard plastic–may get the customer’s attention or even in the store.


However, it certainly doesn’t close the deal, although something else here would be better off shut or as my mother-in-law says, “close your yap!” 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Courage To Do The Right Thing

Courage.jpeg

So it takes courage to do the right thing. 


It’s the easy way out to shut your eyes and overlook when things are wrong. 


Taking a stand and standing up for what’s right often means fighting the good fight. 


But who wants to fight?


Everyone wants to live in peace and quiet. 


In fact, every day we pray repeatedly in the Amidah for peace


In the 19th prayer…

May it please you to bless your people Israel at all times and in every hour with your peace. Blessed are you, O Lord, who blesses his people Israel with peace.


Then again after the prayer for thanks…

Bestow peace, goodness and blessing, life, graciousness, kindness and mercy, upon us and upon all Your people Israel…May it be favorable in Your eyes to bless Your people Israel, at all times and at every moment, with Your peace.

And yet a third time at the end…

He who makes peace in His heavens, may He make peace for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

What can be more desired than peace and wellness in our lives?


Yet, when we see corruption, wrongdoing, and evil, people are called on the confront it, and stand up for good. 


Because when evil prevails, there is no real peace in the world. 


Hence, the courageous and righteous are called on to stand up based on integrity, merit, and values, and to work to return a state of justice and peace. 


G-d watches to see to it that good ultimately prevails over evil. 


May He who makes peace, make peace for us and all Israel, and let us say Amen. 😉 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Naked Sitting

Naked Sitting.jpeg

This was some amazing sculpture at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. 


This “Big Man” is just sitting in the corner at the top of the escalator.


Sitting naked and looking deep in thought and down on his luck.


In a sense, as we sit or stand in front of our Maker, we are all naked bearing witness to our transgressions and trespasses. 


What are we to do when we give in to weakness?


We see people looking around and hoping no one is seeing them as they try to get away with doing the wrong thing.


But as my Oma (grandmother) used to say in German to me: 

“Liebe Gott sieht alles” 

Almighty G-d sees everything!

Our souls, and the souls of those that came before us, and those that will come after us, are all around us, without limitation to time or space. 

Our nakedness is revealed no matter what we use to try to cover up with. 

Hunched in the corner, we don’t really know what to do, but to try to do better with each and every next time.

We have opportunities to right the wrongs, if we get up and exert self control and overcome our mortal and character weaknesses. 

Then our nakedness won’t be foul in sight and smell, but will be radiant, with our spirits having risen to the occasion of what we can be as the children of G-d. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Lies, Injustice, and the New “(Un)American Way”

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Superman and all the American heroes have been so great because they represented the fight of good over evil.


And…with the principles always of “Truth and Justice.”


We were proud to be Americans because we were a free democracy and we fought for freedom and human rights everywhere. 


Truth and justice in the world meant something; it meant everything to us. 


It was part of our Judeo-Christian faith and who were were as people and as a nation. 


We defeated colonial rule, slavery, Hitler, Communism, and even put a man on the moon while heralding in suffrage and equal rights irrespective of color, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and more. 


The truth was sought out no matter where it was to be found, and justice needed be done to satisfy the courts below and the Heaven above. 


But it seems that a lot has changed, hasn’t it?


Right is no longer right, but rather politics makes right. 


From smear campaigns, secret dossiers, exaggerations and fairy tales to name-calling, hate speech, cyber attacks, and marketing and branding to undo the opposition. 


From secret email servers, foundation pay-to-play, and pizzagate to claims of Russian campaign ties. 


From a Snowden surveillance state to stolen questions from election debates. 


From abstention at hateful, bigoted UN resolutions to deals with terrorist Iranian mullahs.


From honors at the White House for Army deserter Bergdahl to injustices meted out against the opposition party by unscrupulous political appointees. 


From fake news to the abandonment of investigative journalism with now one-sided bias and trash talking journalists and even SNL “comedians.”


From the reversal of dry-foot wet-foot immigration for Cubans (what ever happened to helping refugees in need and danger?) to watching 500,000 dead in Syria from the sidelines of violated red lines. 


From a purge of 36,000 after a Turkey coup to the rise of competing ISIS and Iranian terror caliphates across Asia and the Middle East. 


From nukes on NATO’s borders to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and invasion of Georgia and from China’s buildout in the South China Sea and threatening of its neighbors and freedom of navigation of the seas to North Korea developing and tests ballistic missiles and nukes. 


From shootings of African Americans to “revenge killings” against police officers and the demise of inner-city America with skyrocketing crime and the long misery of poverty and homelessness.


From decrepit U.S. infrastructure, jobs going overseas, a widening trade deficit, and an overwhelming national debt. 


From rose-colored glasses, half-baked statistics, and selling bogus ideas to the “media echo chamber.”


From abandonment of allies and friends to embracing terrorist murders and the inability to say “radical Islamist.”


From campaigning from within the White House on the taxpayer dime to attacking Bernie Sanders for his faith to steer the primary to Hillary. 


From secret meetings on airplanes with the Attorney General while in the middle of an investigation to lies about videos being the cause of an attack on our Benghazi mission and the murder of an American Ambassador. 


From prosecuting some for mishandling government classified information to letting others go who were “grossly negligent” endangering national security.


From divisiveness and “resistance” to creating an inability to get anything done. 


From sit-ins and walk-outs and from disrespectful “peaceful” demonstrations to violent protests, and from loose-mouths to paid operatives to disrupt lawful campaign rallies. 


From “Not my president” to how dare anyone question the legitimacy of our elections. 


From breaking glass ceilings to creating new barriers between peoples and races across the spectrum. 


From broken healthcare to bankrupt social security, and from failing education to trailing life expectancy. 


From a decrepit nuclear triad “deterrent” to a weakening of the global order, including Brexit. 


From terrorism and war to genocide, refugees, and human rights violations. 


So as lies and corruption run rampant and we are aghast with mouths open wide at how far things can fall…we recognize when power itself becomes the end rather than the means, and wielding it becomes more important than any truth and any justice, and that is fundamentally how totally unAmerican things have become, indeed. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

14 Lessons Learned from the Political Process

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So here are some things that I learned from this awful, drawn out election:


1) Keep it positive – Negativity, divisiveness, and hate hurt you more than it does anyone else.


2) Don’t play the *ism card – Using racism, religion, gender, and sexual orientation to divide people and get what you want from them is dirty politics and empty promises for votes; stick to the facts and the issues. 


3) Focus on service to others – “Public service” is about service to others, not self service; it is more important to give than to receive any of the fame, fortune, and favors. 


4) No one is above the law – Corruption, collusion, and cover-ups are a boomerang that eventually come back to hit you in the proverbial head.


5) Action speaks louder than words — What you actually did, accomplished, and how you behaved is the much louder message than what you say you did or claim you will do. 


6) People are not sheep – Regardless of how strong and biased a position the media and others take, hammering and hammering away, in the end people are not sheep and can and do think for themselves. 


7) Polls, statistics, position papers, conventions, and debates – There are many tools for manipulating the masses and they, like the people who prepare and administer them, have biases and lie. 


8) Branding yourself and others – Creating an image for yourself and others by weaving a tall tale narrative only goes so far unless the words and deeds are consistent and ring truth. 


9) Speak from the heart – Preparation and practice make perfect, but a perfect what?  Prepared lines and zingers are great sound bites, but speaking from the heart goes to the heart. 


10) Moral high ground – Just saying you are taking the moral high ground does not make it so; you actually have to have integrity to stand that ground. 


11) The political machinePolitics and the money and operatives behind it, are very strong and dangerous, and those that wield it can and will do anything to gain and stay in the much coveted positions of power. 


12) Don’t think you’re so deserving – Be humble and compassionate on others, instead of believing you are so great and the world owes it to; the more you run after something, the more it tends to elude you.


13) Listen to your gut – There are great orators, writers and influencers out there, but you’ve got to listen more to your gut and moral compass than to anyone else trying to bend your mind and will. 

14) Star power – Bringing out the big gun superstars to speak, sing, and endorse you is some nice added glitz, but the real superpower is the one Almighty who ultimately decides who wins and loses. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Integrity is Priority #1

good-name

So I was speaking with some leaders about what is most important to them in their organization. 


And what was fascinating to me is that they didn’t describe the usual things…


– Leadership 


– Innovation 


– Emotional Intelligence


– Technical skills


And so on. 


Instead and in all seriousness, they spoke with me about integrity.


Integrity is what I call, doing the right thing, always!


And I was so impressed how these leaders understood that integrity is integral to their organizational culture, and is the cornerstone to it’s ultimate success in everything else it does. 


If everyone does the right thing, then the organization will do the right thing!


In the bible, we repeatedly learn the importance of following one’s moral compass. 


– In Ecclesiastes (7:1), “A good name is better than fine perfume.” 


– In Proverbs (22:1), “A good name is more desired than great wealth.”


And as in the photo above from a local synagogue, “A good name endures forever.”


What is new here though is that a good name and the integrity it takes to build that name for yourself is not just critical to your self development, but ultimately is really congruent and even synonymous with your organization’s success. 


If unfortunately some are not doing “the right thing,” we need to know about it, so we can course correct.


What we do matters not only to ourselves, but to the larger organization and community that we live in. 


Good is contagious, and it inspires more good, and this is what we want to be successful. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Content Filtering – Should We Restrain Ourselves?

think-before-speak

So the Rabbi today spoke about thinking before you speak, and not letting your emotions overcome your logic. 


He mentioned, for example, how some people have so much rage–road rage, email rage, etc.–and you can’t let your rage dictate your actions. 


People can certainly get under your skin–just look at the candidates for President doing that to each other.


But rather than just react and blurt out stupid or horrible things in a tit-for-tat, we need to stop and think.


The Rabbi recounted the old advice of counting to ten before saying or doing something rash that you will regret. 


The joke was about the one guy bullying another, and the victim counts to ten like he’s supposed to, but then rather than take things down a notch or two, he surprises the bully when he hits ten by punching him right in the nose! (lol)


Another cute idea the Rabbi put out there was for marriage counseling–that husbands and wives should drink this “special water” that they hold in their mouth–this way when they are fighting, they have to pause and can’t say anything provocative and aggressive to each other. 


The speak then turned high-tech to some of the new apps for content filtering that help you not to send emails or texts that you are sorry for afterwards. 


And I leaned over to my neighbor in synagogue and said that is so funny, because I just saw this 16-year Indian old girl on Shark Tank who developed this app called ReThink that does just that. 


When you write something negative like ugly or stupid etc., a pop up box comes up and ask whether you really want to say that–it gives you pause to rethink what you are saying and doing. 


She notes from her studies of adolescents that when given the opportunity from this pause, “93% of the time, [they] decide not to post an offensive message on social media.”


I remember one colleague at work used to recommend, “write what you want [with all your emotions], but then delete it, and write what will be constructive to the situation [with your logic].”


Getting back to the election, a lot of what the candidates are saying now and from decades ago is stupid or shameful–“locker room banter”–maybe we need to have a filter on our mouths even when we think other people aren’t listening. 


Realistically, we can’t and shouldn’t have to go around filtering every word we say and holding back on every deed we do–there is something to be said for simply following your moral compass in the moment and reacting naturally, talking and doing from the heart and based on instinct, inner belief, and passion. 


But if you are getting angry, then it is best to hit the pause button and filter yourself before someone else has to count to ten and pop you one in your big dumb coconut face. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

The Bully Pulpit

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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)

The Kool-Aid Overfloweth

Drinking The Kool-Aid

So I am a little concerned with this election.


As the promises are made…


As glass ceilings are broken for gender and outsiders…


As the endorsements are coming in…


As legacies are made and lost…


Everybody seems to be drinking a lot of Kool-Aid.


Somehow, the (social) media doesn’t seem as discerning as it should or could be. 


Maybe it’s more about brands, what outrageous, who’s insulted, ratings and advertising dollars.


Many (or almost all unless they have personal skin in the game) seem resigned to just vote for the candidate they deem least worst.


Accountability for actions and words–scripted and blurted out–don’t seem to be taken with the seriousness they deserve. 


Just say or do whatever it takes…shake hands, kiss babies, promise more of everything for everybody.


Wash it all away with the insincerity of the moment for the prize of the ultimate power grab awaits. 


The new leader of the free world will be sitting in the Oval Office in just a little more than half a year.


Kool-Aid is filling our screens, our newspapers, our conversations, and our minds.


What’s real and what’s bullsh*t about what we’re being fed?


Transparency, ha…feeding time is almost over. 


But where’s the real vetting, critical thinking, and values informing the process?


It’s not about what to think, but how to think!


Bellies are almost full…the herd is almost ready to vote.


The new King of the Jungle is almost ready to take their place at the head of it all.


Four years, maybe eight years…


How will the wild world be then? 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Fist With Parachute

Fist In Parachute
I took this photo in Miami yesterday.


A fist attached to a parachute. 


Sort of a strange image of strength, fighting, and resolve with making a safe landing. 


Perhaps that’s the intersection of defense and diplomacy.


Where we employ soft and hard power to achieve worthy goals and follow one’s moral compass. 


My grandfather used to joke that he would come with the big stick if anyone bothers us. 


He, like my dad, was a very good man! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)