A Nation Conquered By Politics

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So Obamacare is failing with rates spiraling up out of control and choices narrowing for people that need good affordable healthcare. 


And the Ryancare replacement plan failed to garner enough votes and has been questioned by the alt-right as not going further enough to change things for the better. 


Blame the parliamentarian, blame each other, blame the Russians. 


Between the two sides of the aisle, there aren’t enough centrists, and the parties won’t work together on a solution to this or anything else apparently–hence the utter catastrophic deadlock and lack of progress in Washington going on for years now!


The democrats passed Obamacare along party lines without a single Republican.


And now Ryancare similarly had not a single Democrat. 


Resistance.  Resistance.  Resistance!


This is how polarized and ineffective our system of governing has become, when the two sides love their position and power more than they love the people of this great nation!


The Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, and Iranians didn’t have to fire a single shot…they just continued to shame our ineffectiveness with bogus deals and aggressive posturing, fed us boatloads  of misinformation (“fake news”) to agitate our already divided country, and then they left us to split asunder under of our democracy’s own weight. 


As the Republicans point fingers and the Democrats gloat–there is a great refrain of La La La Koosh Koosh going on–and the Superpower U.S. is looking not only asleep, but also fat, stupid and sprawled out pathetic with no where to go but up from here. 😉


(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)

The UNITED States of America

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Continuing the theme of unity…

I really liked this amazing American flag.

Instead of stars, it has the abbreviations for all 50 states.

Imagine what we can accomplish if we all learn to love each other and band together again.

And know for sure what will happen it this hate and infighting continues.

Unfortunately, there seems to be selfish forces of corruption and evil at play.

Put the country first.

By all means disagree and constructively criticize.

Influence things for the good.

Work together and solve problems.

And let’s try to be the UNITED States once again!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Emperor Has No Clothes

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What happens when the emperor has no clothes?


That’s when we get fake news and alternative facts. 


These days we don’t know what to believe anymore because institutions and media have lost so much credibility with bias, prejudice, and trying to influence based on overtly selfish motives. 


The gloves have come off in the fight for supreme earthly might. 


Apparently, a lot of other clothes have come off too.


Now the influencers stand naked before us and we must judge for ourselves the truth of the matter. 


It funny-sad that in their utter nakedness, they bear no shame. 


They scream, and hissy fit, protest, rage, demean, threaten and commit violence.


Ear lobes are dangling as are the other parts and still there is no listening, negotiating, or compromise. 


Advancement is limited to obstruction, and progress is dead like a heap of dung.


The nation suffers the marks in the flesh of bitter fighting, while our competitive advantages are eroded. 


United we used to stand, and divided for a decade we are falling. 


We can dive into the pile of clothes and swim among them, but still we are sinking naked and stinking the lot like selfish bastards, indeed. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Getting Past The Political Blame Game

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Really liked this Japanese bowl and cup set–so cute. 


The head is the bowl, and the cup which holds all the water and has the handle is the body. 

The head is much bigger than the body, like people’s egos are bigger than their sense of responsibility. 


Today, I read again about some leaders blaming others for the world problems:


“Obama said Trump’s election and the U.K.’s vote to leave the EU were spawned by world leaders’ mishandling of globalization.”


Note, he blames these unspecified “world leaders,” with no attribution or responsibility to himself


To be clear, he is resolute that his policies and way of governing had no impact on the rise of President-elect Trump, his diametric opposite!


This is similar to Hillary Clinton blaming her election loss on the FBI Director investigating her, and not taking responsibility for her own lengthy history of scandals.


Again on Sunday, the New York Times blamed the gender-based, glass ceiling on Hillary’s defeat, rather than acknowledging the impact of the “corruption ceiling” that may have prevented her winning. 


And there is a long pattern of this blaming in politics whether for gridlock, the deficit, healthcare, divisiveness, violence in inner cities, terrorism, improprieties, distrust of government, and more. 


In the extreme, some leaders even blamed the U.S. people themselves for the suffering caused by radical Islamic terrorism!


Even in the recent election, some blamed their own constituents for insulting and ruining their legacy if they don’t go out and vote for his DNC hand-picked successor. 


Yet despite the endless blame game, Obama attacked Trump for whining and blaming rigged elections, saying that this demonstrated a lack of leadership or toughness to be president. 


But at the same time, he takes credit for everything good that happens: for ending Iraq war, for killing Bin Laden, for saving the world economy, for reforming our schools, for “stamping out” Ebola, for $2 gas, and even for the success of Fox news!


How wonderful (NOT) is this philosophy and practice of leadership:


If something good happens, you take the credit; If something bad happens, you blame someone else. 


That’s a very big head on top of that very narrow body. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Anarchy Senses Opportunity

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So this is what they are reading in Washington, D.C. now:


To Change Everything…An Anarchists Appeal”


Anarchists and Anonymous are no longer underground, but are coming up and above it. 


Legions of people looking not to change the system, but to violently overthrow it. 


According to the anarchists’ video propaganda:

“The more stable our structures, the less stable our lives…No piecemeal reform can fix this, we have to rethink everything to fix this.”


They are advocating the power of the masses to overthrow ALL authority!

“The only way to secure the things we care about is to build a leaderless mutual aid network capable of self defense…to abolish domination all together…not to stabilize the system by reforming it. Rather than calling for more legitimate rules and rules…set our own agenda on our own terms…develop the power to act autonomously.


Unfortunately, with the extremely low ratings and low trust of the government, people are turning to anarchy instead:

“To change everything. Start everywhere.”


The fearsome hacker group Anonymous’s tag line is:

“We are a legion.  We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.”


So, while left and right are fighting and denigrating each other, the political system, and our institutions, and gridlock–rather than effective governance and progress–is the dominant force in DC, a frightening vacuum is opening up to those who seek chaos and mayhem.


Stupid, stupid, stupid!


Everyone is so busy fighting for a larger slice of the pie for themselves, that we are putting the entire societal pizza in danger of landing flat. 


It’s not just Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and ISIS taking advantage of the selfish and greedy aspirations of politicians and special interests in our society.


Those individuals and groups–internally–that distrust and dislike what they perceive as “Big Brother,” and the arbitrary and abuse of authority, for power and money’s sake, are sensing their chance to agitate, disrupt and overthrow the civilized society we depend on. 


Apocalypse is not just World War III, weapons of mass destruction, and earth-shattering disaster, but it can be the disaffected masses that decide there is no reforming the system, only overthrowing it and taking their chance at chaos, rather than continue to live with corruption. 


And if this is what people are reading in the Capital of the United States of America…if you are not afraid of this awful mess, you most certainly ought to be. 😉


(Source photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Sh*t Rolls Downhill

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Just ten months ago was the gigantic Vale and BHP Billiton dam collapse disaster in Brazil.

Enough iron-ore mine waste rolled downhill to fill the Dallas Cowboys’ Stadium more than 11 times–the waste destroyed villages, killed 19 people, and polluted 400 miles of waterways.

But of course, when the report came out this week, all was supposed to be okay, because that’s what insurance and obfuscation about what would be done differently to protect people in the future is all about.

Then yesterday, I stopped by some workmen. 

One was at the top of this hole, and the other was underneath.

Underground, the guy is standing in the muddy water and installing a new meter. 

I talked with the guy above ground about how hard it must be too work in these conditions. 

I asked if there were rats down there, and he said “generally no, because it’s sealed off.”

Yet, it was obvious how tough these jobs are, where people have to get down into the dirty and do the jobs that others don’t even want to think about. 

Further on this, I contemplated how in all jobs and things in life, as they say, “The sh*t rolls downhill!”

Meaning basically that we are still living in a class society, with the elites and everyone else, where the top 1% own as much as the other 99%, and the drudgery of life gets relegated down to the lower-rung masses. 

The lower the rung, the deeper the crap you end up working in and doing for others, and on top of it, getting blamed for whatever goes wrong.

The elites hold the power and can do no wrong, and the mediocrity or impoverished can basically do little or no right–that’s why they presumably are where they are–they deserve it (or so we are led/forced to believe)!

On the TV, I heard on the news, one elite defending the corruption of another senior official, saying they did nothing wrong–even though the evidence has already shown they have and moreover, again and again. 

There is no truth to be found in the world of the elites–they wish and will do whatever it takes–lie, steal, collude, and even kill–to remain the powerful, the rich, the honored, and the noble. 

The rest dig the holes and can bury themselves in it for all the elite are concerned–they stand at the top and the sh*t rolls mightily downhill from there. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Reflection, Summer Don’t Go

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Starting to feel Summer slipping away, again. 


Kids are getting ready to go back to school.


Weather is starting to feel a little cooler. 


But got to love the beautiful nature we have this time of year. 


When the flowers are in bloom and the days are long. 


Appreciate every moment of every day.


It’s a gift from the One Above. 


Some people have a bucket list of where they want to go or what they want do, extravagantly, before they die. 


For others, it’s about material possessions: finding the precious gems of “things” out there, and collecting, hoarding, and showing them off. 


Really though, it’s not the places you visit, the outrageous things you get to do, or the possessions you accumulate, but rather what positive influence you can have–even on a single life or the more the better.


That good lasts a lot longer and has much more wide-ranging impact than the momentary high of simple and selfish–my places, events, and things.


We all need to enjoy life–it’s wondrous and beautiful–but perhaps not live for the empty revelry alone.


Smell the roses and enjoy G-d’s gifts of life, and then get back out there and do some good stuff, won’t you. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

How Great Are You?

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INDISPENSABLE?

      Sometime, when you’re feeling important,

      

      Sometime, when your ego’s in bloom,

      

      Sometime, when you take it for granted,

      

      You’re the best qualified in the room.

      

      Sometime when you feel that your going,

      

      Would leave an unfillable hole,

      

      Just follow these simple instructions,

      

      And see how it humbles your soul.

      

      Take a bucket and fill it with water.

      

      Put your hand in it, up to the wrist;

      

      Pull it out; and the hole that’s remaining, 

      

      Is a measure of how you’ll be missed.

      

      You may splash all you please when you enter,

      

      You can stir up the water galore,

      

      But stop, and you’ll find in a minute,

      

      That it looks quite the same as before.

      

      The moral in this quaint example,

      

      Is just do the best that you can,

      

      Be proud of yourself, but remember,

      

      There’s no indispensable man.

            

      – Saxon White Kessinger

(Thank you to my daughter, Minna Blumenthal, for sharing this)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Is There Anyone Out There To Lead

Scary Election

Interesting editorial in the Wall Street Journal today titled, “These Five Are the Best We Can Do?” referring to the current slate of Presidential candidates. 

According to the author, Joseph Epstein: “Viewing the candidates of both parties during the debates, one felt that nearly everyone of the participants was in the business for him- or herself.”

Yes, so many people are getting turned off by the selfishness, obscurity and outright deceit, vulgarity, and off-the-chart impractical and impolitic views of the candidates.

Yet the editorial mistakenly attributes the presumed dearth of good-to-great candidates is due to no one impressive wanting to run in the age when “media and Internet are the major instruments of contemporary political degradation.”

In other words, no normal person wants to be put under a microscope for their person, rather than their personal views of where to take this country. 

However, this doesn’t ring true to me. 

I think that true leaders are and would be willing to endure the scrutiny of the traditional media and social media in order to take us into a meaningful, righteous, and better future–it’s simply part of the job like Moses having to endure the gripes against him when he led the Children of Israel out of Egypt and to the Promised Land. 

Maybe the real reason that we don’t think we have the quality of leadership that we expect is that there is a perception of a genuine dearth of sincere, unadulterated, whole-package leadership out there. 

Think about it–with a virtually unlimited supply of false messiahs across the leadership spectrum from politics to corporate and religious life–we have been let down by fraudsters, liars, thieves, and sex abusers. 

Like with the Israelites in Egypt who waited hundreds of years for G-d to bring a Moses to lead his people, perhaps we are looking with eyes heavenward for an appropriate gifted leader to take us into the future…and this is more than just what an education or pedigree can provide, but rather a person inspired by a purity of heart and a clarity of vision. 

For that, we need a leader that will not just talk the scripted talk or walk the overconfident boisterous walk, but we need to see the person whose promising words match their deeds and whose heart is aligned with the people and the nation for a truly greater future and not just for the political donations, superdelegate counts, their party nomination and the electoral college votes to land them the coveted Oval Office. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Boardroom B.S.

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So I had the opportunity to attend a board meeting recently and to see firsthand why most decisions are so flawed. 


– No Diversity–The board members were all from a single age group and color, and this clearly impacted their thought processes and decisions. For example, when others attending the meeting asked about updating some technology, the board members blankly felt that was not important even after almost a decade of the same thing. 


– Self-Interest–The board only entertained issues that they were interested in for themselves. For example, when someone stood up to talk about issues they didn’t feel were important to them, the board members tuned out, interrupted the speakers, actually scrowled at them, or just shut them down altogether. 


– Getting Personal–Board members frequently changed the discussion from substantive discussion to personal attacks. When one person questioned a recent decision, a board member started yelling about being called names (which never happened that I saw) or telling the speakers that they didn’t know what they were talking about. 


– Information Poor–Board members made decisions or committees recommended decisions first, and then put it up for discussion later (like at a subsequent meeting). Moreover, the board members referred to decisions being made over and over based on anecdotes of people telling them this, that, or the other thing (none of which could be verified) and not on facts or surveys of those impacted by the decisions. 


– Transparency Lacking–Board members made decisions without explanation for the reason or justification, and even without necessarily evaluating all the alternatives. When questioned, the board wasn’t able to identify costs of alternatives or even fully explore the other viable options. 


– Intimidating The Opposition–The board members actually seemed to challenge and turn to intimidation to stem alternate views from their own. Some people that had supported other voices in the room where turned or told that they hadn’t understood the issues properly to begin with. 


Despite some nice people personally and one or two that didn’t seem to go along with the shinanigans, overall it was a very disppointing show of decision-making, governance, communication, and leadership. 


No wonder people get turned off by the process, don’t participate, and lose confidence in those at the top. Maybe time for people to be leaders with heart and not megalomaniacs with gavels. 


(Source Photo: here with attribution to CJ Sorg)