Archive for the ‘The Nation’ Category
I have spent my entire life as an animal rights advocate. As a lawyer, I have represented owners of domestic pets in states where pets none-the-less had no legal rights.I have made an effort to personally save any injured animal that has ever crossed my path. When possible, I bury the dead animals I encounter that we term “road kill.” I take spiders and insects out of my house rather than step on them (with the one exception being scorpions, as I live in Texas). I have always had an extraordinary, in the literal sense of the word, compassion and even empathy for the plight of the animal and insect kingdoms. I have often wondered if my compassion for animals actually exceeds that of my compassion for my fellow humans.
While I wept for Cecil the lion, I am revolted and outraged by what Planned Parenthood has done, and continues to do without conscience, to innocent life for profit. I am certain that we will be held accountable, and suffer the consequences, of allowing such depravity to occur on our watch. The “straw-man arguments” that 1) it’s about a woman’s right to choose and 2) that de-funding Planned Parenthood is an assault on women’s healthcare are each deliberately deceitful.
I have written about a woman’s right to choose previously. So I’ll reiterate my thought here. If it were really about that, then every time a woman has her breasts removed as a preventative measure to preempt a genetic predisposition to cancer, or her face peeled off and tightened to look younger, or her uterus removed once its past it usefulness there would be protestors marching outside the facilities where such procedures were being performed. But there are not.
Protestations against abortion are different. Those protestors are not protesting again the woman’s right to do whatever she wishes to do to her body. She is free to do with her body what she chooses without raising societal reaction. Protests against abortion, in particular, are about preventing a woman from doing to someone else’s body whatever she chooses. (I am not unconditionally against abortion. In the instances of rape, incest or life of the mother I understand the larger issues and defer to the life of the mother as well as to the medical and biblical prohibitions and their outcomes).
As for an assault on women’s healthcare, there are 9000 government funded clinics in this country, separate from Planned Parenthood, where the same women who would seek out Planned Parenthood can receive pre and post-natal care along with a variety of other additional healthcare procedures.
If you are Pro-Choice, and are willing to watch this latest video release of Planned Parenthood’s practices, and remain Pro-Choice after watching, I respect your right to maintain that opinion. I simply could not identify your humanity. I could only further assume that you would have had no problem watching Mengele’s experiments of placing newborns on their mothers’ stomachs while taping the mothers’ breasts over so the infants slowly starved to death while their mothers looked on…helpless to intervene. Planned Parenthood isn’t doing anything to “tissue.” When the laboratory dish contains easily identifiable arms, legs, fingers, toes, eyeballs, and brain matter… “tissue” is the euphemism, the comfortable word you prefer so that you can live yourself. A human, in fact, is what it is.
We have turned into a Nation that uses abortion as 1) a remedy for self-gratifying sex whenever and wherever we want it without taking personal responsibility and 2) a means of limiting the growth of poor and minority populations. If you think that sounds like a crazy or conspiratorial opinion, read about Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, and what her stated intentions were.
Decades ago, a good friend of mine and practicing psychologist told me, “Every culture that has abandoned its children has not survived.” At the time, she was troubled by 1,000,000 runaways annually in this country. Her comment is historically correct. So ponder this:
What are our chances of survival, not in the face of radical Islamic extremists, but in the face of our indifference, willful blindness and hardheartedness to the mutilation of our children… a/k/a/ the “tissue” on the laboratory tabletops of Planned Parenthood?
While I would prefer to avoid the news of the day, co-hosting “Above The Fray” podcast twice a week and writing to this blog requires that I keep up on what’s happening, which includes not only reading news sites and other blog posts but also the comments that accompany them. The comments give insight into what the readers are thinking but also into what the manipulators are orchestrating.
Lately both the news, and the comments that accompany it, have become disturbing for two reasons: extreme intolerance and escalating hate. Both should be an alarm of sorts…warning us that something, or someone, is fueling the flames of conflict and division. We had better be alert to where it will lead and what precipitous actions we may be deliberately manipulated into taking out of fear.
It’s probably safe to say there are very few people who do not sense impending trouble. While no one is certain whether it will be by way of the economy, terror, war or natural disaster… something is definitely brewing. As with the onset of a storm, it’s as visceral as rapidly dropping barometric pressure. We feel it… without knowing what the it is.
“It” has many disguises but only one name: Evil.
In Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, it is taught that Satan is nothing more than doubt. Doubt that God exists. Doubt that God is good. Doubt in the healing, uniting and miraculous power of the Divine. For once you doubt God, your world becomes a breeding ground for evil. In a world of duality, in the absence of “good (read “God”) a space is created in which its opposite “evil” (read Satan”) can occupy.
I’m not saying that simply believing in God is the way to oppose a market crash, ISIL, war or an earthquake. What I am saying is that when you believe in a powerful, loving and engaged force, God, you tend to live more in joy than in fear. So that when a crisis arises, you are in a better mental and emotional state to be pro-active rather than being fearfully re-active.
Now, while I’m not sure how Gandhi did it with the British Empire, I have seen it work.
I once knew an Orthodox Rabbi from New York who was perpetually happy. He had the spirit of a playful child. He commuted two weekends a month by bus from New York to Southern New Jersey to officiate Sabbath ceremonies for a small Jewish community. He usually took a return bus to New York late Saturday night after the Sabbath ended which got him into the City after dark. He would then walk to his apartment several blocks away from the bus station.
One evening, as he began to walk home from the station, a gang of black youths began to follow him. The further he walked the more they gained speed until they caught up and surrounded him. They began to taunt him, making fun of his attire and his beard. True to his spirit, he remained joyful and smiling no matter what they said to him. Finally, one of the gang members pulled out a knife. It was pretty clear what their intentions were. But at that moment, when almost anyone else might have been terrified, the Rabbi began to sing and dance, trying to engage one of the gang members to dance with him! The youths were so incredulous that when one of them said, “This guy is crazy! Let’s get out of here” they all ran.
The Rabbi wasn’t crazy. Nor was he acting. He was living his life as he always did, joyful in his faith in God. The youths, who lived lives absent God, knew only how to have a fearful reaction. Perhaps the story is the microcosm of what Gandhi was able to do in the macrocosm. I’m not certain.
But if trouble is on the horizon, in whatever form, we would be wise to hold fast to belief and trust in the invincibility of faith over doubt, good over evil, and God over the forces that inhabit our world when we fail to remember where we came from, who we are, why we are here and who, precisely, has your back.
A desperate People are a dangerous lot and the uproar over Donald Trump is evidence of our desperation. However, to throw stones or worse, misperceive what all the hoopla is about, will lead the Nation into deeper waters than we currently tread.
More than half the country, and I venture a guess it’s more like three-fourths, are frustrated at best and angry at worst. For a variety of reasons, some having their roots in the far Left and others in the far Right…with a not insignificant percentage smack in the middle…we feel twice misled by the candidacy of Barack Obama. This is not to absolve us, the voters, of responsibility for our choice but rather to say out loud the unspeakable thought: Barack Obama had an agenda to transform our Nation into something un-American and desirable to him, yet unfamiliar and unrecognizable to us.
There is no time for blame. That time is long since passed and blame, in any case, is hindsight. We must look decidedly at the conditions of our present with clarity towards our intentions for the future. Unless we are prepared to understand and accept how we hungered for hope and change, we are destined (perhaps doomed) to now make a more egregious error than we did in 2008 and again in 2012.
For those of the far Left who think my choice of an analogy to the conditions of 1932 Germany that led to the rise of Adolph Hitler with the current popularity of Donald Trump is their dream post, your cause for celebration and glee is premature. My analogy is to the consciousness of the German people in 1932 that permitted an Adolph Hitler to rise to power, not to Hitler himself. The mindset of those people is not unlike the mindset of Americans today.
For those on the far Right and Middle, who would therefore anticipate that I am about to rally in support of Donald Trump would also be celebrating prematurely. Trump is tapping into, and giving voice to, the frustrations and anger of the majority but he is doing it poorly. The originator of the “art of the deal,” it turns out, is incredibly crass at articulating the deal.
Don’t kill the messenger.
Trump is substantively correct. We have ignored the law and the border at our peril. We have been on the losing side of every deal with every nation with whom we negotiate economic matters. We have alienated or abandoned our friends while exhibiting indecision and weakness to our enemies. We have allowed the founding documents and the Constitutional process to be demeaned and shredded before our very eyes while allowing corrupt and favor-beholden politicians to sell our interests to the highest bidder for their own personal gain.
Don’t kill the messenger.
Donald Trump is speaking truth to power. Speaking it poorly, and by so doing, allowing his detractors to make the issues bias, bigotry and comedy rather than giving the substance and truth of what Trump is bringing front and center the attention and consideration it warrants. As for Trump’s admirers, they are so caught up in the thrill of finally hearing someone say what we all know to be true, that they are blinding themselves to the dangers of how he is saying it.
I never blame Hitler. If blame resides anywhere it resides with a people so hungry, desperate and downtrodden as to throw caution and reason to the wind and follow a Pied Piper of Hate because he stood for something, however evil, at a time when all else had lost its meaning.
Today, marriage between a man and a woman is no longer what it has been for two thousand years. In fact, a man and a woman are no longer what they have been either. White is black if you “identify with it” as such. Assurances “you will see your health insurance premiums reduced $2500 per family” mean nothing. Working hard towards the American Dream is no longer hard…it’s impossible, with 93 million Americans out of the work force. A diseased and deranged mind is caused by a flag that needs to be abolished while dozens of youth gunned down, and gunning down, in Chicago, Detroit and Baltimore every weekend go unnoticed. Lies become truth because the liars say them often enough and we remain compliant.
Enter Donald Trump.
The appeal is the hubris. The unabashed admission of wealth so vast it can insulate him against the backlash of a corrupted system. The take-no-prisoners attitude. The one voice finally emerging on behalf of the many.
This is a dangerous and pivotal time for America. The easy out will be something akin to a dictator. A person who will tell you what is wrong, who’s to blame and why they are the one with the answer. The answer, in the long run, usually turns out to be oppression followed by enslavement. Jesus never said he had the answer. He said he found the way. The way is never easy and no one can do it on your behalf whether you are an individual or a Nation.
Our task is now twofold.
First, as individuals, we must live lives of impeccable integrity and service to one another. We need each other and there is no shame in that. I’ve always said that if we were meant to be alone, God could have just as easily placed each of us on our own planet. Instead, we are here together and as the saying goes, “united we stand.”
Secondly, as citizens of the greatest experiment in human freedom ever to grace this planet, to quickly and with resolve focus upon the responsibilities of citizenship. These responsibilities are to stand for what is right and lawful, to hold our elected representatives accountable to We The People, and to rise up when necessary to correct the course of events in order to preserve, protect and defend what so many before us gave their lives so that we might read and write posts such as this.
Personally, I don’t think there was ever a deliberate “war” on women but I do think one is now underway. Be prepared. It’s going to be the mantra of the Hillary in 2016 campaign because it’s a model that has proven successful in the past.
Allow me to state the obvious. Our system of governance is not perfect. But this Constitutional Republic has come farther toward that end as any system that preceded it. Even in a perfect system, human error and human nature will always be mitigating factors in seeking perfection.
For some reason I have yet to identify, a significant percentage of the American voting public is susceptible to being manipulated by two words: “prejudice” and “minority.” This, a nation that was founded in search of religious and civil liberties. This, a nation with a justifiable right to be proud of its 238-year-old experiment in unprecedented individual freedoms. This, a nation that has done more than any other society on the planet to afford individuals the opportunity to advance socially and economically. Yet, despite these accomplishments, we harbor some deep seated belief that just because an individual is of a minority segment of the population they deserve some sort of pass or leg up in advancement and recognition.
Therefore, like yelling “fire” in a crowded theater, we respond like Pavlov’s dogs when we hear the words “prejudice” or “minority.” When we hear them together we are exponentially moved to offer up a “get out of jail free card” and present them with not only the $200 for passing “Go” but also “Boardwalk” and “Park Place” at no cost! (Hopefully you’ve played “Monopoly”).
It’s how Barack Obama became President and it’s how Hillary Clinton will ride the same wave towards the same end.
Voters did not care what Obama’s experience, qualifications or political agenda were. He was from a minority segment of the population that had experienced prejudice. We owed him Boardwalk and Park Place for free. We stopped thinking and allowed ourselves to be swept up in an irrational wave of emotional, guilt-ridden manipulation.
Enter Hillary Clinton.
She is from a minority segment of the population (as it pertains to career access and advancement) that has experienced prejudice. So, as with the “first black President” we are being primed to elect the “first woman President” in total disregard for what we do know of her. In Mrs. Clinton’s case, our error will be more egregious because, unlike Barack Obama, we know a great deal about her experience, her accomplishments, her values, her morals, her principles and, most importantly, her failures. Yet, we will turn the same blind eye and deaf ear to award her Boardwalk and Park Place (a/k/a The White House and The Presidency).
The fault lies not in the hubris and ravenous egos of these two individuals but in those of us who remain so easily manipulated by a false narrative. If there is a war on women to be confronted…that “war” is about to be marketed by a woman who would prefer you focus on her gender rather than the truth of who she is and for what she stands.
There’s so much fear and negativity concerning Ebola that I think it’s time we identify and seize the good in this turn of events. If there were any remaining doubts that the federal government is corrupted and collapsed, it’s beyond question given its shameful response to handling Ebola in the U.S. Remaining doubts can now be buried once and for all. So where does that leave us and how can there possibly be good in the arrival and potential spreading of a pandemic? It leaves us exactly where we need be to restore this Nation to the greatness that is its potential.
No competent governance or viable solutions can be forthcoming from a corrupted, collapsed and bloated federal system. The federal government’s negligence in its response to Hurricane Katrina was the warning bell that many people heard. Too many, however, missed the calling. It was a regional problem and FEMA’s incompetence and misguidance posed no national threat so many chalked it up to a transient error and moved on. Not so with Ebola and the CDC.
The CDC’s criminal negligence in allowing a nurse who treated the Dallas man who died of the disease, to board a flight knowing she had a fever and thereby put 127 people at risk is inexcusable and actionable. The expenditures by the CDC over the past few years of public funds allocated to the CDC to study and prevent disease have been criminally negligent. Studies of monkey poop, innovative condoms and national bike trails not to mention “mood rooms” and flat screen televisions took fiscal precedent over laboratory needs and pandemic preparedness.
Any and all actions that will begin to turn the country around, provide safety and preserve individual liberties must now come first from ourselves, then from our communities, and finally from the States. This is the good news. Ebola’s arrival, and the subsequent failure of the federal government to act competently or responsibly in response, is like the moment in The Wizard of Oz when Toto pulls back the curtain to reveal the great and powerful Oz as nothing more than the deceptive illusion of mechanical bells and whistles operated by an all too fallible human.
The federal government has been broken for quite some time. Long before Barack Obama took office. He too, has been a gift…for his total inability to lead and govern has made it possible for the curtain to finally reveal the deception and the illusion. He is the Wizard and his Administration’s bells and whistles are out of steam.
So, now it’s up to us…you and me. It’s our turn, and our time, to reject the politics of deception and division and take back personal responsibility for our lives. To gather in our resources at the most local levels and organize realistic, effective and positive solutions to immediate concerns. It’s time to demand of our Governors that they take full responsibility for their state’s well-being by bypassing the constraints, and intimidation, of the federal government and do what is necessary to protect and defend the safety of their citizens.
If we are finally ready to do the heavy lifting, we can turn the fear of Ebola into the blessing of Ebola, and, like Dorothy, leave the illusion behind and go home to all that is good and real…and true.
I believe that all Americans have a right to be concerned about efforts being made to limit citizen exposure to Ebola.
I believe we have the power as individuals to unite in a way that sends a message to this Administration that we want definitive and expeditious action taken to close our borders to unnecessary risk.
I believe that this thinking is neither racist nor nationalistic but rather a commonsense response to an unreasonable and deadly risk.
If you too believe that preventing additional potentially infected and sick individuals from entering this country is an obligation of this President and his Administration DRIVE WITH YOUR HEADLIGHTS ON until our numbers are great enough that they have no choice but to stop flights in and out of West Africa and seal off any other known access points for the entry of communicable disease.
There are more of us than there are of them.
On our podcasts all this week, Steve Clark and I have been addressing “authenticity.” Authenticity is the opposite of political correctness. We have killed authenticity in this country by allowing political correctness to govern how we express ourselves. Political correctness is the muzzle that gags the First Amendment of the United States Constitution’s right to free speech. Nowhere can the chilling and deadly effects of political correctness be more clearly demonstrated than in the past month as it pertains to two diverse issues: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the spread of Ebola.
Israel probably has the most advanced national security system in place of any country in the world. It has to because its citizens live daily with an imminent threat of death by acts of terror. Consequently, no airline is safer than El Al and no airport safer than Ben Gurion in Tel Aviv. Yet, during the recent conflict, the United States government by way of our State Department, shut down all flights to Israel on the erroneous presumption that a missile from Gaze might take down an incoming aircraft. This despite the fact that, even if this preposterous assumption were true, El Al was totally avoiding Gaza airspace during the conflict by circling incoming and outgoing aircraft to the West rather than the usual eastern flight path. I know this to be true because one month ago, during the war, I flew into and out of Ben Gurion.
But the truth has no place in the world of political correctness.
Now, Ebola, the disease which we were assured could not come to our shores, has arrived in Dallas by way of an infected Liberian traveler visiting family. Logic and common sense both dictate that all flights in and out of West Africa be suspended until this disease is under control or we have in place functional and effective means of prohibiting infected persons from entering the country.
But logic and common sense have no place in an environment of political correctness.
The same terrorists that commit global acts of jihad, slaughtering and beheading in the name of their God, are free to enter the United States through an open border with Mexico, the same open border that infected persons with tuberculosis and even Ebola are free to enter. Prioritizing safety measures that would secure the border and prevent both terrorists and sickness from entering our country would be the sane thing to do.
But there is no room or call for sanity in a politically correct culture.
It won’t take an EMP or pandemic to annihilate us. All we need do is continue to deny the demands of reality, worry more about not offending Muslims and foreigners than securing our nation, and live in fear of being authentic in expressing truth to power.
It’s that simple.
Someone once asked what caused me to dedicate myself to encouraging and inspiring others to be the best they can be. I had to think about that question for a day or so before I was able to land on a reply that felt grounded in truth. The answer takes a little biblical analysis and some personal history to understand.
In describing the birth of Isaac’s twin sons, Esau and Jacob, Genesis 25:25 states: “Now the first came forth, red all over like a hairy garment; and they named him Esau.” In Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, it teaches that Esau was “red all over” because he was filled with the desire for blood and all things material. In fact, Esau grew up to sell his birthright as the firstborn (he was the firstborn of the twins) to his brother in exchange for a bowl of soup following an act of murder.
We always have choice. This is the blessing of Free Will. Esau, too, had a choice. Kabbalah goes on to teach that with his lust for blood, Esau could have grown up to become, for example, a butcher thereby satisfying his lust. Instead, he grew to become a murderer.
My personal story is this. Growing up, my sister always told me I was a selfish person. Perhaps I was whether I had reason to be or not. But if that was my nature, I too had choice as to how I was going to live out that nature. At some point in my life, I realized that what gave me the most satisfaction was not acquiring material possessions or making money but rather when I helped someone believe in their highest potential, supported them in moving one step closer to their heart’s desire or came to the aid of an injured animal.
So, my choice was simple once I had the realization. I could either spend my life satisfying only myself in pursuit of outward goals that society said brought happiness, or I could spend it helping people and animals to have their best life. Both ways would have been consistent with my nature. The only difference was the level or frequency of how I would actualize my self-satisfaction.
As we approach mid-term elections and the 2016 Presidential election that follows, Republicans will tell you to vote Republican to save the Nation from Democratic policies and control. Democrats will implore you to vote Democrat to save us from disaster should Republicans take the Senate. Libertarians will implore you to vote Libertarian to rescue us from governmental encroachment upon our civil liberties. Green Party advocates will implore you to vote Green to save the planet. In 2016, as in 2008, we will be inundated with new versions of hope and change.
But as with Esau and me, there is only our nature and understanding how to use it to the highest good that real change ever occurs. There are no political solutions to what ails us. There is no “change of the guard” that will alter our future. Only a change in the heart of each of us will bring about the world of peace we all so desperately desire.
Butcher or Murderer?
Self-gratifier or Giver?
Warrior or Peacemaker?
Free Will. You get to decide.
The stress an individual is subjected to is directly proportional to the power and responsibility of the position they hold. Leadership, whether in the public or private sectors, is the prime example. No one would dispute that the leader of the nation perceived to be at the apex of standards for the Western world, and beyond, would carry the burden of an almost insurmountable about of stress. So, the need to have outlets to alleviate that stress is logical and understandable in order to do the job rationally and judiciously.
None of which remotely explain, or justify, President Obama’s pattern of excessive, public frolicking while the economy remains stagnant, the border is breached, genocide rages abroad, an ally fights for its existence, and Russia and China make pacts with one another toward an end game of replacing the U.S. dollar as the global monetary standard.
President Obama is either 1) one chip short of the ability to feel compassion and empathy; 2) so egoistical and hedonistic that self-satisfaction is the only lens through which he is capable of perceiving reality, or 3) doesn’t give a damn because chaos was, and remains, his primary goal.
Personally, I don’t give a damn which of the three is his motivating principle. They are equally reprehensible. The hubris and indifference with which he “fiddles while Rome burns” gains him membership in the unenviable club of men and women throughout history who disregarded the interest of the people they served in their personal quests to self-gratification. Hindsight being 20/20, history memorializes those individuals as pariahs upon humanity and treats the accordingly.
Such will be the case with our current President. He and his wife have betrayed the trust given them by the American people as well as their own deceptive promises to bring about a new and improved Nation.
What they have wrought with arrogance, and a continual disregard for the best interest of the Nation, is not hope and change but despair and decline. While history will judge them rightly and accordingly, we must continue to believe that as Americans, we can and will survive this most abhorrent deviation from who were designed and still aspire to be.
I tried to commit suicide at age 24 and came frighteningly close to succeeding…if success is ever the right word to use in such situations. As such, I have a lot to say about Robin Williams, not because I knew him but because I know exactly how he was thinking and feeling when he made the decision to try.
I would first say to those who would second guess his motives, his financial situation or his degree of “selfishness” as I have heard it referred to: DON’T… unless, of course, you’ve been to the point of consciously, albeit irrationally, trying to die by your own hand.
It’s not about the money, it’s not about the fame, it’s not about the lack or excess of anything other than feeling. It’s about feeling too much in a world that does not have enough love or compassion. It’s about living a lie and becoming the comic, the drama queen, the rebel, the alcoholic, or the workaholic in order to harden you sufficiently to withstand all the insensitivity, separation and denial.
I’m not a big proponent of medicating depression. In fact, I was coming off of anti-depressants when I used those same pills to try to kill myself. And, while one of the first thoughts I recall having upon surviving the attempt was what hell I had put my family through, it never entered my mind at the moment I made the decision. You see, when the pain gets bad enough and the fog gets thick enough, the realization that you have finally figured out a way to stop the suffering seems like a relief and that single realization takes precedent over anything resembling rational thought.
When a person tries to commit suicide, they don’t really want to die. They’ve just misplaced hope. Hope that things can and will change. Hope that the pain will ease. Hope that the fog will lift. Hope that they will ever feel joy again. Hope that on balance, life is actually worth living through all its trials and tribulations. Hope that tomorrow, or even an hour from now, it will be possible to give and receive love again. Which is why everyone, not just people who are depressed, should sit up and pay attention to what Robin Williams was driven to do.
We are living in a world overwhelming us with so much negativity that we are losing hope. You see it in the growing apathy. Apathy unchecked leads to hopelessness. Where is the outrage and help for innocents beheaded or buried alive? Where is the outrage, and help, for the Iraqi’s stranded on a mountain top? Where is the outrage and help for children being used as sex slaves and pawns in a political game? Where is the outrage for female genital mutilation as a “religious” practice? Where is the outrage for corrupt, lying, greedy politicians who prosper at our expense and our decline? Where is the outrage at what’s happening on our border? Where is the outrage at what we do to animals every minute of every day in the name of science? Where is the outrage at the manipulation of our economy for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many?
I know. I know. You are tired. You are overwhelmed. You feel powerless. You are dancing as fast as you can dance. So was Robin Williams. That’s the cautionary tale he bequeaths us.
His most important message and he brought us many through his seemingly endless creativity, is that having to feel less, or dying, is not the answer. The message of immediate importance is for each one of us to finally embark upon creating a world where kindness, cooperation, compassion and love are the norm not the aberration.
A world where feeling too much will only get you more joy.