Tag Archive: Politics


Mueller spoke.

And like prophets of a bygone era, we passed. Alex Shephard wrote, “Mueller, it seems safe to assume, had hoped that his report would speak for itself; that it would transcend the partisan narratives that had engulfed the investigation from its inception. That hasn’t happened—not by a long shot.”

Maybe author Michael Wolff was correct.

Mueller had come to accept the dialectical premise of Donald Trump—that Trump is Trump. He threw up his hands, and surprisingly, found himself in agreement with that Trump was the president – for better or for worse, what you saw was what you get. Trump is who the country voted for. Trump is what they get.

For more than 20 years, American’s have been in a mostly unknown dance with Grendl. Coming forth from the midst of reality television, our Grendl spun a dialect that enchanted American water cooler conversation, “Who’s getting fired this week.

Our Grendl is not the Grendl of the famous Anglo-Saxon poem. I’m referring to the Grendl who emerged from a New York high-rise. It’s the Grendl our soul, the Grendl that willing accepts a new level of viciousness with a promise of a greater American glory—such viciousness will make America great … again.

Mueller spoke.

Similar to his report, we searched for our Beowulf, the knight who would slay our Grendl. Investigate. Report. Indict. Impeach. Reaching back to our days in high school, many sat on the sidelines and cheered in unison, “Mueller, Mueller. He’s our man. If he can’t do it, no one can.” He didn’t. Mueller refused to accept the gilded knight. Instead, he lay his version of the book of life upon our desk.

Dare we read?

Speaking to reporters on the White House lawn, Trump made it clear that Mueller’s exhortation to read had fallen on deaf ears.

“I’ve never read any of my books, and I certainly don’t intend to read his (Mueller’s).”

Funny, neither did Barr. An INSIDER survey indicated many Americans had yet read Mueller’s report, yet willing accepted it (Mueller’s report) exonerated Trump. To those in that category, Attorney General Barr and President Trump ‘luv’s ya’ baby.’

American’s willing drink from the cup of hate. It’s the irony of ironies! America is condemned, not only by ourselves, but by the very leaders who claim to be reputable, knowledgeable, and trustworthy. That includes Graham, McConnell, Murkowski, Collins, Tillis, former Senator Flake, and former Speaker Ryan. All accepted the golden calf.

Even world leaders kiss the calf. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gushed about his “very close personal relationship with Donald” and called the United States-Japan alliance “the closest in the whole world.” In their book, “How Democracies Die,” Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt warn of other notable elected leaders who’ve perverted the democratic process, including Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and Viktor Orban of Hungary. And let’s not foget Kim Jong-un’s love sonnets.

As the years move forward, America will silence critics. The government will display higher tolerance for extremist and bigoted views. We will liken Democratic and oppositional viewpoints to Nazis. Oversight will become treasonous. Public protests will be vilified “acts of terrorism.” Our new America will reject the principles of democracy, the legitimacy of opponents, curtail civil liberties and nurture the seeds authoritarianism. If you’re black, you die. If you’re Mexican, you’re a rapist.

Herein lay the hard lesson – Trump won’t last forever. In the wake of his presidency’s will cometh another—Grendel’s mother. Trump may be mean, ugly, and vicious. But the next guy will be worse. And just as Eddie S. Glaude Jr. previously noted, it will be appalling how so many Americans will bathe in the pool of ‘vicious.’

And Muller spoke.

Five Lights

The Fresno Grizzlies, a minor league baseball team, apologized to U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) after the team aired a Memorial Day video honoring Veterans that depicted the New York Democrat as an enemy of freedom.

The Memorial Day video featured a speech from former President Ronald Reagan. In effect, it was right-wing propaganda completely at odds with the concept of “moral courage” alluded by Reagan. At about the 3:00 minute mark, Reagan references the “enemies of freedom.” Directly following that statement, was a pictorial montage of a single ANTIFA protester, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Ocasio-Cortez, former Cuban President Fidel Castro and anti-fascism protesters.

How is this possible? Well, I offer a personal story.

There are many who would love Ms. H. Others, not so much. Ms. H. is the type of person one either loved to hate or would love to love. Having known and worked for her for years, we had a cadence that mirrored some of the finest Swiss watches. Our movement glided with technical sophistication and conceptual finesse. In the business world, we were a rare ‘one-of-a-kind’ movement – never out of sync – never missing a beat.

Some coworkers suggested we should marry. In reality, our lives are quite different. The BMW convertible she drives was manufactured in Munich, Germany. Her iPhone assembled by Foxconn, in China. The Dell laptop she fires up every morning came from Chengdu City, China. The Cisco wireless routers installed in her home office were produced in China, Romania or Germany. The Tumi laptop bag Ms. H. shuttles from plane-to-plane is comprised of leather materials imported from Italy, but manufactured in China. Her favorite perfume, Chanel No 5, is made overseas as well.

During a recent conversation, I planned on informing her of my diagnosis, but never got it out. Instead we chatted on life, what we’ve accomplished since being downsized from Mega-Healthcare Inc. several years prior and what the future holds. Eventually, the conversation steered toward healthcare politics.

“Our patient President is so strong,” she muttered.

“How so?”

“He is just so strong and patient. And in the wake of fake news media and critics, he just waits them out, let’s the liberals pout. God, he’s just so strong. He’s just what America needs.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned against ceding ground to populist forces. Instead, she indicated a need to show:

“… why we are for democracy, why we try to bring about solutions, why we always have to put ourselves into the other person’s shoes, why we stand-up against intolerance, why we show no tolerance towards violations of human rights.

And Trump contrasted against Merkel? You know, the “highly educated … know’s words” guy who espoused (Tweeted) upon several topics during his Memorial weekend while visiting Japan. New York Times reporter Anni Karni summarized:

“It was just after 6 a.m. on the final day of a state visit to Japan designed to flatter and entertain him, and President Trump was in his comfort space: Twitter.” Trump’s was, again, preoccupied by politics.

“Super Predator was the term associated with the 1994 Crime Bill that Sleepy Joe Biden was so heavily involved in passing,” he wrote of Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential front-runner. “That was a dark period in American History, but has Sleepy Joe apologized? No!” The day before, his mind had been on Democratic “obstructionists,” possible “treason” by Russia investigators, and the perfidy of the “fake news media.”

“I have confidence that Chairman Kim will keep his promise to me, & also smiled when he called Swampman Joe Biden a low IQ individual, & worse,” Mr. Trump wrote early on the first full day of his visit, referring to Kim Jong-un of North Korea, before a round of golf with Mr. Abe. “Perhaps that’s sending me a signal?”

Why does Trump do this? Lesley Stahl had the best answer.

“You know, this is getting tired. Why are you doing it over and over? It’s boring and it’s time to end that. You know, you’ve won … why do you keep hammering at this?” Stahl recalled.

And he (Trump) said: ‘You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so that when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you.’”

Some claim Trump uses NLP made popular by Anthony Robbins. Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a behavioral technology, which simply means instilling a set of guiding principles, attitudes, and techniques about real-life behavior. It allows you to change, adopt or eliminate behaviors, as you desire, and gives you the ability to choose your mental, emotional, and physical states of being. Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, J.K. Rowling, Heston Blumenthal, Tiger Woods, Bill Gates, Lily Allen, Gerri Halliwell, Oprah Winfrey, Tony Robbins, Sophie Dahl, and Jimmy Carr are some of the people who use or have used NLP for their own development.

Countering that, a friend believes Americans are simply succumbing to the boiling frog theory. The boiling frog fable describes how a frog can be slowly boiled to death. Its premise is that if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in tepid water brought slowly to boil, it will not perceive the danger, thereby cooking to death. The fable is a metaphor for the either inability or unwillingness to react to threats that gradually arise.

However, contemporary biologists have long known the fable to be false: a frog, gradually heated, will jump out. Americans? Not so much.

Final Thought

Chain of Command” is a two-part episode of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation that aired during the sixth season. In this episode, Jean-Luc Picard is removed from command for a covert mission. The second episode is noted for Patrick Stewart’s intense depiction of brutal torture and interrogation.

During one scene, the torturer asks Picard how many lights are behind him, wanting him to respond with “five.” Upon saying there were four, Picard received another painful shock.

Once negotiations for Picard’s release had been made, Picard exclaimed “There! Are! Four! Lights!

It’s a personal moment of victory for Picard. Yet, later, Picard confesses to Counselor Troi that not only was he going to say whatever torturer wanted, but that he could actually see five lights. When given the choice, it’s easy to see how pride would be so small a price to pay, and how one could be convinced a lie was the truth.

Trump’s logic is convincing everyone that his lies are, in fact, truth. And the key to reelection rests in the American who accepts ‘five lights.’

CPACI didn’t want to ruin any mega-karma flowing my way. So, I wasn’t going to write about it. Then a Twitter writer wrote, “Can the flag sue for harassment?

When I heard of Trump’s speech at Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), I went to Youtube. “God Bless the USA” blasted over the speakers Trump stood next to an American flag and hugged it. Grinning and rocking the flag back and forth as idiots gave him a standing ovation.

It was a big hug to the American people. God bless president Trump,” a Twitter user gushed.

Then angel opined. Angel (@fun4u909) March 2, 2019, “Can the flag sue for harassment?

The two-hour speech rivaled some dictators.

This wasn’t the first time Trump embraced the American flag. In June 2018, Trump gave a speech before the National Federation of Independent Business, during which he discussed immigration at length, including his “zero tolerance” policy that separates families at the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump concluded his speech by praising small business hugged the flag as he walked off stage.

CNN Anchor Brooke Baldwin noted all the February headlines. Here’s the list.

Cohen Testifies; Roger Stone Gag Order; Summit Sequel; Klobuchar Enters Race; Sanders Enters; O’Rourke’s Road Trip; Green New Deal; State of The Union; Trade War; Venezuela Power Crisis; India and Pakistan; New UN Pick; Believing another Dictator; Whitaker Hearing; Barr Confirmed; R. Kelly Charged; Robert Kraft Charged; Jussie Mollet Charged; Massacre Plot; Presidential Emergency; States Sue Trump (Over Presidential Emergency Declaration); North Carolina New Election; McCabe Book Tour; RGB Returns; El Chapo Sentenced; Amazon Bolts from NY; Bezos Pictures; Virginia State Government Crisis; Trump vs California; ISIS Bride Returns; Pope’s Advisor Convicted; Congress Rebukes Trump; Omar Apology; Tax Cuts Cause US Debt to Skyrocket; and Lady Gaga and Cooper’s Academy Award Duet.

Let me ask a few questions. How many steel jobs were created in February? How many jobs were talked about during February? How many job bills were generated and passed by Congress during February? Anyone?

How many jobs lost? 25,000 if you count Amazon’s departure from New York. Wisconsin’s Foxconn deal is on shaky ground.

In June 2018, Trump claimed US Steel was going to build six new steel plants.  In 2017, there were only nine US steel plants in total. At the time of Trump’s claim, I believe US Steel owned four of those nine steel plants. Here’s the truth, no U.S. company has announced new steel plants.

Here’s the real news, our president announces the opening of new factories that major U.S. companies have not announced? Likewise, for February. Over 35 different news-breaking stories and all we get from Trump is a collapsed Korean Summit, claims that the Russia investigation is a hoax, and a flag hug. The tariffs and taxes Trump implemented have resulted in little to no benefit and colossal debt.

If I did that in my business, I’d be fired.

Watching Trump hugging the U.S. Flag at CAPC was cringeworthy. The President purposely intermingles faith with politics. However, no political system, no matter how idealistic, can bring about peace, prosperity and happiness as long as the people in the system are dominated by greed, hatred and delusion. But, as Trump said CPAC speech:

This is how I got elected …

Buddhists and other spiritual leaders have long known the inherent problems when intermingleing religion with politics. The basis of religion is morality, purity and faith. For politics? Power. In the course of history, religion has often been used to give legitimacy to those in power and their exercise of that power. Religion has also been used to justify wars and conquests, persecutions, atrocities, rebellions, destruction of works of art and culture.

When religion is used to pander to political whims, it has to forego its high moral ideals and becomes debased by political demands. At trhat point it’s nothing more that a s***show.

But maybe … just maybe … we can hug a flag, and everything will be okeydokey.

The Twitter writer was right, the flag should sue for harassment.

Shoes

When I lived in New York City, I was flabbergasted at how the city compromises it’s walking environment by dumping garbage on the sidewalks before nightly pick-up. Every day, people must wade around, through or over mountains of waste, dumped on street curbs once reserved for vehicle storage. Anything remaining after pickup is pulverized, ground down by pedestrian and vehicle traffic. Strangely enough, residents are seemingly acceptable to this cyclical motion as the price for city living.

Likewise, as daily bowel movements from the Trump administration gets dumped upon America, we’re seemingly acceptable to the daily, cyclical motion.

Still, there was time, not long ago, when America’s legislature lived for a higher cause. At Gettysburg, Lincoln described America as a nation conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Ronald Reagan loved the United States, both with passion and without apology. During his speech at the Democratic National Convention, Obama described his love for America – qualifying that we did as well and so did John McCain.

Several months prior, in honor of his friend McCain, before Senate peers, Lindsay Graham wept. Maybe in a brief moment of personal grief, he reflected to the nation. Maybe he reflected inward to a deeper soul of life. Maybe both.

“It’s going to be a lonely journey for me for a while. Don’t look to me to replace this man (McCain).”

I bite my lip … I wonder if Graham even tried.

If Graham’s message was internal, the nation will wonder if it truly ever hit home. For whatever ember that toiled in his soul was obviously snuffed out. And ever since, for many a American, it’s been a long, lonely walk.

The lesson America should understand comes from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It’s in the walk. It’s about shoes. Hope is in the sole.

I read Cortez’s campaign shoes are now on loan to the Cornell Costume & Textile Collection exhibition “Women Empowered: Fashions from the Frontline.” Cortez claims to have knocked doors until rainwater came through the soles. 80 percent of her campaign operated out of a paper grocery bag hidden behind a bar. Her campaign was about living life, on the street, every day. Cortez adeptly notes most politicians have forgotten how to connect to others.

Form a Buddhist perspective, you never realize just how different the world is until you knock on doors. And like life, walking home-to-home maybe hit and miss. One door, you’ll get rejected, the next, you might have an amazing conversation. Sometimes, you’ll change a mind. Sometimes, you’ll change yours.

I have no idea how successful Cortez will be. But I suggest you build personal values upon life experiences. If you want to truly successful, wear out a pair of shoes. Stop texting. Put the cell phone away. Walk. Meet neighbors. Meet coworkers. Meet the rich. Meet the poor. Talk. Face-to-face. Works as much in campaigning as it does in business.

Ask yourself a simple question: “How much sole are you willing to give life.”

Shoes. It’s all about ‘shoes.’

Last year, astronomers fixed their eyes to a lump of rock from another planetary system that whizzed through ours. under most circumstances, this may have been noteworthy, but I quickly digested the article and moved on. In the months following, a pair of Harvard scientists claimed the massive, fast-moving ‘Oumuamua‘ may have been a probe sent by an advance alien civilization. Named ‘Oumuamua‘ (Hawaiian for “messenger” or “scout”) might be a probe sent by an advance alien civilization.

Researcher comments were posted alongside Oumuamua’s picture. So, I have to say, if Oumuamua’s picture is accurate, the probe’s craft looks liked my first car from high school – meaning that probe was beat to hell and back. I keep wondering if the probe passed Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster and its dummy driver, Starman. Cruising by, the probe pouts, “He got a convertible. I got a rock.”

So what does Oumuamua have to do with anything?

Well, I linked Oumuamua to current events by coining the term the Oumuamua Factor. And, in all transparency, the Oumuamua Factor was inspired by American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson when Tyson, in effect, said:

“When something moves at speeds never seen before,has a shape never seen before and if it’s something you cannot explain, the most extraordinary account is used to explain it. The account is probably not correct, yet people buy it.”

Global citizens having been buying into Oumuamua like conspiracies for ages. Take Rick Scott. Scott held a news conference calling for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate elections officials in Broward and Palm Beach counties, and announced he had filed a lawsuit against top election officials in each of them.

“I will not sit idly by while unethical liberals try to steal this election from the great people of Florida,” Scott said. “Their goal is to keep mysteriously finding votes until the election turns out the way they want … left-wing activists have been coming up with more and more ballots out of nowhere.”

Scott raised suspicion that vote counting delays were due to misconduct, but failed to present any evidence that it actually occurred. Within hours of Scott’s news conference, President Trump tweeted that he categorically characterized vote count process as “another big corruption scandal having to do with Election Fraud,” and asserted that “Florida voted for Rick Scott!

Trump pulled an additional Oumuamua yesterday when he claimed citizens committed voter fraud by casting a ballot, returning to their cars, changing clothes, and reentering the polling facility in disguise to cast additional ballots.

“The Republicans don’t win and that’s because of potentially illegal votes,” Trump told the Daily Caller. “When people get in line that have absolutely no right to vote and they go around in circles. Sometimes they go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again. Nobody takes anything. It’s really a disgrace what’s going on.”

So what’s real? Well, there are two issues: The allegation of voter fraud and the Florida recount process.

Voter Fraud

Trump’s claim about illegal voting might be right. On Twitter, David Rich noted:

“Sometimes, I don’t know, they come dressed as Batman or Spider-Man. Then they leave, come back and vote again as Peter Parker or Bruce Wayne! I don’t know, people are saying…” https://t.co/67hy5tB3HN

However, I know for a fact that Superman is a Democrat and voted in 27,000 times last week. He flew as Superman, changed his clothes to Clark Kent, used his mind power jump the line to first and flew onto the next polling place. In southern Arizona, he flew across the border to Mexico, picked up a bus load of illegals, brought them back. The illegals voted and he returned everyone back to Mexico. And it worked. ‘Blue Wave.’ Thanks Superman.

Simply put, if I sound crazy, then you should find neither Scott’s nor Trump’s allegations fundamentally sound.

Florida’s Recount Process

Why does Palm Beach County, Florida have so many issues? Susan Bucher, the elections chief who ‘doesn’t suffer fools’, has repeatedly asked for additional funding to update antiquated voting machines and blasted state officials for not extending the deadline so the county can count every vote. There are only eight machines in Florida’s third-largest county to scan nearly 600,000 ballots cast.

In fact, voting technology deployed by most states around the country is now so antiquated and unreliable that it is in danger of breaking down at any time, experts say. Some states are having to go on eBay to buy spare parts for machines that are no longer manufactured. Despite the nationwide scope of the problem, little was being invested in finding a solution. “No one is expressing any interest in paying for new machines. Congress has shown absolutely no interest in doing so.”

In Closing

A customer at Simon’s Stingray Fishmongers marveled at the owner’s quick wit and intelligence.

“Tell me, Simon, what makes you so smart?”

“I wouldn’t share my secret with just anyone,” Simon replied. Lowering his voice, “But since you’re a good and faithful customer, I’ll let you in on it. Fish heads. You eat enough of them, you’ll be positively brilliant.”

“You sell them here?”

“Only $4 apiece,” says Simon.

The customer buys three. A week later, the customer returns and complains that the fish heads were disgusting and he isn’t any smarter.

“You didn’t eat enough,” says Simon. The customer goes home with 20 more fish heads.

Two weeks later, he’s back and really angry. “Hey, Simon,” he complains. “You’re selling fish heads for $4 a piece while I can buy the whole fish for $2.00. You’re just ripping me off!”

“See?” says Simon. “You’re smarter already.”

Scott and Trump continues to offer the Oumuamua Factor. It’s simply an appearance of a more viable story. However, what people continue to purchase are only fish heads.

‘Hear’ the Unheard.

ThreeWhen Attorney General Jeff Sessions was fired, the world took little notice, except to ponder how long Rod Rosenstein and Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller would remain employed. Yet most have failed to learn some key leadership lessons from the “Trumptonian” era of management.

First, we have to distinguish between obtaining a leadership position, and actually being successful in a leadership position. The political steps Trump took to become leader of the free world will not make him successful. Reality T.V. tactics may retain audience participation, but the real lesson is that all television shows eventually get cancelled. Second, if one’s claim to fame is leadership, having to fire 55 of your hand-picked staff in less than two years is not a confidence booster. No fortune 500 company would clear such an individual to ascend toward a Presidential position, but here are.

Research on “ideal” styles of leadership suggest the ideal leader should possess intelligence, is hard-working, honest, and compassionate. Trump overwhelmingly fails in all of these qualities.

So what does Trump have? Trump is a master of media and messaging. He knows his target audience and speaks to them effectively. Trump was able to identify gaps in America, empathize and provide unexpected solutions. If you were unhappy or afraid about something, a solution was presented for your pain. Need an enemy of the ‘state?’ Media. Need a broader ‘evil?‘ Democrats. Black people lack intelligence, women are ugly, lie and bleed … well from everywhere. In the world of presidential politics, marketing separates winners from the losers.

In Trump’s world, the shoes of responsibility for the Russian Investigation lay at another door. In this case, Sessions. Therefore, the King summarily executed (figuratively) his advisor and picked an “unqualified” partisan to protect himself. Unfortunately, both Trump and Sessions willfully ignored leadership’s greatest responsibility – the ‘unheard’ moaning from the wilderness.

The Sound of the Forest

Back in the third century A.D., the King Ts’ao sent his son, Prince T’ai, to the temple to study under the great master Pan Ku. Because Prince T’ai was to succeed his father as king, Pan Ku was to teach the boy the basics of being a good ruler. When the prince arrived at the temple, the master sent him alone to the Ming-Li Forest. After one year, the prince was to return to the temple to describe the sound of the forest.

When Prince T’ai returned, Pan Ku asked the boy to describe all that he could hear. “Master,” replied the prince, “I could hear the cuckoos sing, the leaves rustle, the hummingbirds hum, the crickets chirp, the grass blow, the bees buzz, and the wind whisper and holler.” When the prince had finished, the master told him to go back to the forest to listen to what more he could hear. The prince was puzzled by the master’s request. Had he not discerned every sound already?

For days and nights on end, the young prince sat alone in the forest listening. But he heard no sounds other than those he had already heard. Then one morning, as the prince sat silently beneath the trees, he started to discern faint sounds unlike those he had ever heard before. The more acutely he listened, the clearer the sounds became. The feeling of enlightenment enveloped the boy. “These must be the sounds the master wished me to discern,” he reflected.

When Prince T’ai returned to the temple, the master asked him what more he had heard. “Master,” responded the prince reverently, “when I listened most closely, I could hear the unheard—the sound of flowers opening, the sound of the sun warming the earth, and the sound of the grass drinking the morning dew.” The master nodded approvingly. “To hear the unheard,” remarked Pan Ku, “is a necessary discipline to be a good ruler. For only when a ruler has learned to listen closely to the people’s hearts, hearing their feelings communicated, pains unexpressed, and complaints not spoken of, can he hope to inspire confidence in his people, understand when something is wrong, and meet the true needs of his citizens. The demise of states comes when leaders listen only to superficial words and do not penetrate deeply into the souls of the people to hear their true opinions, feelings, and desires.”

Prince T’ai’s lesson remains the same. All should learn it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a baker, clinician, banker, factory worker, school teacher, pilot or homemaker. You are the leader of yourself. If you want to lead, you have to ‘hear‘ the unheard.

Just as 12 people were shot and killed in a California nightclub, the National Rifle Association declared war against the medical profession via social media. Apparently, the war was triggered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) having the gall to release new figures showing gun deaths on the rise, indicating latest data for large metro areas are reaching levels not seen since 2006-2007.

Among the 50 largest metro areas, 43 (86%) reported rate increases when compared to 2012-2013 total. The report states a likely factor in both homicide and suicide rates is access to a firearm. According to previous studies, the decision to harm yourself or another person take as little as 10 minutes or less. Persons who make such decisions tend not to substitute use of a firearm when one is unavailable or difficult to access.

“Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane. Half of the articles in Annals of Internal Medicine are pushing for gun control. Most upsetting, however, the medical community seems to have consulted NO ONE but themselves. https://t.co/oCR3uiLtS7

— NRA (@NRA) November 7, 2018

The NRA is right. We need a consult.

In July 2017, the Emergency Management website ran a story indicating initial hospitalizations involving firearm injuries cost $734.6 million a year nationally. The story, written by reporters Jennifer Smith Richards, Annie Sweeney and Jason Meisner, Chicago Tribune followed two gunshot victims – Annette Johnson and Leo Leyva.

The bills for their initial treatment were staggering. In his first 35 minutes at the hospital, Leyva had racked up $21,521 in charges, and by the time he was released three weeks later the bill totaled more than $157,000. For Johnson, who spent barely 24 hours at Mount Sinai, the hospital charges approached $27,000.

Can anyone guess the average cost of branded and top grade shotguns? $500 to $800 dollars. Likewise, can anyone guess the average cost of a decent 9MM weapon? $250 to $400 dollars.

The Emergency Management article continued. An unprecedented analysis of state data by the Tribune revealed that the initial medical costs for treating Chicago gunshot victims like Johnson and Leyva add up to tens of millions of dollars annually.

Also in June 2017, NBC News published “Journey of a Bullet” followed six people endured the physical force, paid the emotional toll and found a path to recovery. the most interesting quote,

“… the gunshot wound may heal, but the bullet remains embedded in every facet of the survivor’s life.” For a fleeting moment, the thrust of the bullet bonds these survivors before their stories pull apart, diverging in directions where their futures are thrown into turmoil: Some are left paralyzed or must undergo years of reconstructive surgeries or are so shaken up, they can’t walk down a street without glancing over their shoulders.

What the NRA’s social media war fails to comprehend is that for clubgoers, rescue staff, police, heath care clinicians, and victims of the Borderline Bar and Grill shooting are forever bonded. That will never change. In the meantime, Trump ordered flags to half-staff, Democrats demand action, and relentless prayers. All those damned prayers. “Prayers and condolences” for all.

Having made a living in the medical profession, both as a former rescue man and paramedic, police officer and now consultant, I can attest that the physicians are right. However, maybe the NRA’s concern, that “… the medical community seems to have consulted NO ONE but themselves” is valid. As such, I sarcastically propose the following scenario during the next major trauma. It’s not very Buddhist, but it feels right.

Doctor: “Gunshot wound. Oh my God. I need a consult.” Picks up phone. Dials.

Voice: “National Rifle Association. How can I assist you?”

Doctor: “This is Anytown ER. Need a consult. We have a well-developed, well nourished, white male, 70 inches tall, weighing 138 lbs, and appearing the stated age of 39 years. Present in the right upper chest, 13 1/2 inches below the top pf the head, level with the jugular notch, just below the clavicle and 2 3/4 inches to the right of the midline, there is a gunshot wound of entrance. Initial examination of the wound reveals it to consist of an oval-shaped, seared and blackened wound, measuring 5/16 inch vertically x 1/4 inch horizontally. Partially burned grains of powder are present in this wound. Lying slightly above this wound and enclosing three-quarters of it, there is a circular contusion ring, approximately 1/2 inch in diameter. This ring measures slightly less than 1/16-inch-wide and has a reddish color. The bullet, after passing in between the clavicle and 1st rib, struck and perforated the right brachio-cophalic vein and the right internal thoracic artery. The bullet then went through the apex of the upper lobe of the right lung and struck the antero-lateral aspect of the 3rd thoracic vertebra. The bullet went through the body of this vertebra in a posterior path, creating a tangential wound of entrance into the spinal canal.”

So, ah, NRA? It’s your gun and your bullet. How should we proceed?”

How’s that for a consult?

Star Wars themes rolled through my head upon waking this morning. Would today be The Empire Strikes Back or The Force Awakens? I am not sure why these themes wandered through my mind, but even so many hours later, these themes seem appropriate.

The good news is that the U.S. House of Representatives will be controlled by the Democrats. The Trump administration will face a level of scrutiny from Congress that it has not yet faced. Obamacare will likely survive. And the voice from women has roared, with 100 or so women serving.

The Empire Strikes Back is a movie where the good guys just keep losing, outsmarted and outgunned. Likewise, Democrats cannot completely seem to get it together. Like the Old English epic Beowulf, the Democrats found that in slaying the monster Grendel meant wrestling Grendel’s mother. The epic is really about tackling something beyond one’s circle of experience. It’s the same lesson everyone learns.

Therein lay the hard lesson – the Republican Party is officially dead, but in its wake cometh Grendel’s mother – Trump. It’s mean. It’s ugly. It’s vicious. There’s a subtleness as well. Eddie S. Glaude Jr., chair of the Center for African-American Studies at Princeton noted how “appalling so many willingly voted for ‘vicious.'”

Like the Grendel, for nearly a decade, a similar political monster has been picking off the best Democrats, munching them like morning biscuits. They couldn’t muster much of a defense and were hopeless at exacting revenge. However, the midterm elections offer a couple Buddhist lessons.

Republican Lesson

  • All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become. If you think greatness, you’ll become greatness. Embrace fear and hatred, you will be hated.

Democrat Lesson

  • Fret not about finding one single leader, for there is no secret ingredient to being a good leader. In time, a leader cometh.
  • Superheroes are not required. Great acts are comprised of small deeds. Look no further than the victorious from last night. The leader may not be a singular ‘him’ or ‘her.’ Maybe our leader is ‘we.’

As the character Poe Dameron (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) hinted, you’ve lit the spark that’ll light the fire.

 

 

Voted: For 2040 and 2050

Voted … Voted … Voted.

I voted.

My vote was neither a repudiation of Donald Trump nor referendum. My vote was to embrace.

  • My vote was for my niece, nephew and those who will live in 2040 and 2050;
  • My vote was for children who want to go to school without being shot;
  • My vote was a vote for those #MeToo victims screaming to be heard;
  • My vote was a small voice for health care – to all who are and will be impacted by dementia and Alzheimer’s in 2040. It doesn’t matter how we’ll have gotten there. Simply put, we’ll be there. It’s up to us to figure it out. If we don’t, we’re not going to like life in 2040 and 2050;
  • My vote was a voice for the oceans. If we care not for the environment, we’re likely to kill all;
  • My vote was for the Black, Hispanic, Asian, Muslim, Jew, and the outcast. You are not forgotten and welcome in my world;
  • My vote is birthed from a thirst for “Truth.” Whatever happened to that?;
  • Lastly, for Eric who commented, borrowing from Gregory Porter’s ‘Take Me to the Alley,’ my vote was for those in the alley:
    • For the afflicted ones;
    • For the lonely ones; and
    • For those who’ve lost their way.

Most importantly, I voted for you. I voted for us.

What did you vote for? Leave a comment if you care.

A contrast of Presidents smothered television today. Trump held a rally in Mississippi while Obama rallied in Florida. Both attempted to unify their respective base – one via hatred, the other via inspiration. And America watched its gunslingers duel it out. One proposing true opportunity for greatness. Of the other, brute strength.

Reality set in shortly after the speeches – we are an America that lives by the rule of brute strength. Its president vows all must be vanquished prior to becoming great. However, the warning comes in the form of a question (one which I’ve asked before). When was the last time America rebuilt something wonderful?

Writer Ed Pilkington accurately reflect America at the ‘crossroads.’

They [supporters] are the crucible of the Trump revolution, the laboratory where he turns his alternative reality into a potion to be sold to his followers. It is at his rallies that his radical reimagining of the US constitution takes shape: not “We the people”, but “We my people”.

A supporter wears a T-shirt that articulates what many people will say to me in the coming days. It bears the words: “Trump: he says what I think.”

Further in his writing, Pilkington wrote:

A retired building foreman and Harley guy, comes up to me in the press pen saying he wants to come face to face with “fake news”. He sounds intimidating, until he throws me a big just-kidding smile.

“What would happen to America were Trump not on the case?”

“People are going to get killed,” he says. “Gang wars. We are going to get gang wars between white and black, whites and Mexicans. We could have our own little Vietnam, right here.”

With Trump, we run from our problems. We have no education to solve anything. But it’s what we have always done. There’s no sugarcoating America’s current level of hate. When I watch some Trump supporters, I think of a scene from the film Stepmom (transposing ‘Trump’ and ‘Trump Supporter’ for context).

Ben Harrison (Trump Supporter): Mommy…

Jackie Harrison (Trump): What, sweetie?

Ben Harrison (Trump Supporter): If you want me to hate her, I will.

Unfortunately, Trump has accomplished little but vindicate our own truth. What we’ve failed to learn is that ‘strength overused becomes a liability.’ Such liabilities have never built anything good or anything wonderful. The following parable reflects American life.

“You listen,” said the Master, “not to discover, but to find something that confirms your own thoughts. You argue, not to find the truth, but to vindicate your thinking.”

——-

The Master told of a king who, passing through a small town, saw indications of amazing marksmanship everywhere. Trees and barns and fences had circles painted on them with a bullet hole in the exact center. He asked to see this unusual marksman. It turned out to be a ten-year-old child.

“This is incredible,” said the king in wonder. “How in the world do you do it?”

“Easy as pie,” was the answer. “I shoot first and draw the circles later.”

“So, you get your conclusions first and build your premises around them later?” asked the king.

“Isn’t that the way you manage to hold on to your religion and to your ideology?”

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