Colbert and His FBI Moment

Last week Donald Trump fired James Comey, Director of the FBI. As the announcement was made public, comedian Stephen Colbert was live on T.V. and interrupted his monologue to tell his audience the news. The audience cheered. Colbert, visibly shocked and displeased with the response said, ” Wow we must have a lot of Trump supporters here.” Nothing could have been further from the truth. Colbert hosts The Late Show which, for the most part, is left-leaning comedy that roasts Conservatives…not attracts them.

Since the media and the Democrat party had, for months, been bashing Comey for his role in “costing Hilary Clinton the Presidency,” the generally Democrat-leaning audience thought the news of Comey’s firing was a good thing. Its no secret that Stephen Colbert hates President Trump. Therefore, his audience was cheering for an outcome they thought Colbert favored. Imagine their shock when Colbert lashed out at them for being Trump supporters because of their applause.

Colbert’s shock and problem stemmed from the fact that his audience simply hadn’t gotten “the latest memo” from the Left on how they were supposed to think and feel about the issue. The good little lemmings didn’t know they were now supposed to hate Trump for firing the very person who was investigating the alleged Trump-Putin connection. You see, the Trump-Russian narrative had overtaken the previous narrative that “Comey cost Hillary the election.” The lemmings were a bit behind.

Let us be clear. If it is proven by the newly appointed Independent Counsel that President Trump actually colluded with the Russians he should resign or be removed from office. Its just that to-date, there simply is no such proof. Not one scintilla of evidence. Yet the calls for resignation and impeachment are rampant.

Why, and how, is this so?

Its because the vast majority of Americans have stopped thinking for themselves. There are several reasons why:

  1. The sheer volume of 24/7 data and information flooding into our lives and our minds;
  2. The ever-increasing pace of technological development and our efforts to keep up with how it is impacting our lives for the good and for the ill;
  3. The deliberate agendas of the far Left, the Communists, Socialists, radical Islamists and Fascists to take down the United States (this their common end regardless of individual interests);
  4. A media that has lost its true purpose (to impartially inform) and is in bed with and controlled by a political agenda and, last but not least,
  5. When overwhelmed its easier to abdicate thought and let someone else do it for you.

Numbers 1-5 above have led too many Americans to number 6. But Free Will is like a muscle. Use it or lose it.

There is no greater freedom than the freedom to think for one self…to see one’s life and the world through your own unique perspective based upon your own experiences. It is freedom of thought that has provided the life-saving process by which POW’s in every war have survived despite their external circumstances or the lies told them by their captors. Former President Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.”

Americans are on the precipice of relinquishing freedom of thought. We are like POW’s who have given up the ability to think for ourselves and have acquiesced to the manufactured, external lie perpetrated by our captors. Its just that in our case the captors are the media, our politicians and those in the financial and private sectors who are reaping the rewards of our willingness to give up the God-given ability to think and choose for ourselves in exchange for enslavement. The red pill or the blue pill? You pick. And pick wisely because one of them is your last pick.

Carole and Steve /


Movie Review: The King’s Speech

I may be a bit late to the party but last weekend I (Steve) watched “The King’s Speech” for the first time. I was blown away. The acting was extraordinary, the story true but more importantly, the life lessons profound.

The story is set in England just prior to World War II. It revolves around Prince Albert who would later become King of England. Albert has a speech impediment, a severe stammer, which causes him to be withdrawn and not at all eager to perform public duties. However, since he has an older brother Edward, Duke of Windsor, Albert takes comfort in knowing he will likely never be King.

At the same time, Hitler has risen to power within Germany and its army is on the march to conquer Europe.  The stammering Prince must face the emergence of radio as a means of communication. His stammer is now for all the world to hear. Undeterred, Albert gives speeches as best he can, often so terrified he freezes up during their presentations. He has hired and fired a variety of speech coaches to help overcome the problem but to no avail. Nothing seemed to work. None-the-less his wife, Elizabeth I, remains intent on helping him and stumbles upon an Australian speech therapist who looks promising. This is where the movie begins.

Colin Firth plays Prince Albert and Geoffrey Rush the part of, Lionel, the speech therapist. Lionel is a self-possessed man who is not intimidated by the Prince. He sets the terms and conditions of therapy and demands the Prince come to his office.  He says within those walls the two would be equals. Lionel calls Albert “Bertie,” a family nickname. It infuriates Albert as do many of Lionel’s methods. Lionel acquiesces to but one of Albert’s demands: that therapy be limited to vocal exercises and breathing techniques with no delving into personal matters. This despite Lionel’s certainty that they would eventually have to get at the emotional trauma that caused the stammer to begin with, as was the case with all stammers.

Somehow, during the process of therapy, an unlikely trust and friendship develops between the two men.  Such that when their father, King George V dies and Prince Edward ascends to the throne, the unlikely becomes Albert’s greatest nightmare. His brother abdicates the throne to marry an American divorcee. Albert visits Lionel at his office and the two share a cup of tea and the soon-to-be crowned King reveals his past. A nanny who deprived him of food, inflicted physical pain and favored his brother. Further, parents so disengaged that it took them a year to notice he was emaciated. There was the origin of the stammer. Finally revealing this long buried shame, Prince Albert becomes King George VI.

There are two remarkable messages from this movie that can serve us all. Carole and I share them both here.


Motivational speaker Tony Robbins speaks at length about working on oneself. For example, he has had many clients who made fortunes only to lose them. When Robbins probed to find out why some achieved great success only to lose it, he discovered that he could teach them techniques but if the client did not make the deep and lasting changes in their thinking, success would be temporary. One example was a client would repeatedly make money only to lose it a short time later. Robbins discovered that his client had grown up very poor. Making money made him uncomfortable so he reverted to what was comfortable and what he had been, poor.

George VI knows the stakes are huge. Hitler’s Germany is on the march and many lives will be lost if the King is not able to rally his people. He must address the nation on the eve of war. Faced with the challenge of his life, George succumbs totally to the speech therapist’s direction.  He does the necessary deep work and discovers where his stammer originated. He takes to radio and inspires a rapt nation. Humility and courage. These are the tools of greatness.


Helena Bonham Carter plays Elizabeth. The supportive strength that Queen Elizabeth provides her terrified husband cannot be overestimated. While Albert, as both Prince and King, wants to throw it all away, give up or run and hide, it is his wife who shares her own fears and secrets that give her husband the will to prevail.

The most poignant scene between the two occurs the night before Albert is to appear before the counsel of Lords to assume the naming of him as King George VI. Prince Albert slumps at his desk weeping over how little he knows of kingship and its responsibilities. He says he was not “meant to be King”…his brother was. Elizabeth wraps her arms around her troubled husband and shares that she, too, never wanted a public life. She says that falling in love with him caused her to wonder if she could survive such a marriage. But she reveals that she took comfort in the fact that he had “such a lovely stammer” she would never have to worry about the likelihood.  Elizabeth was showing him that she, too, was about to face an unintended life but face it, none-the-less, with grace.  She was his rock.

Much is made of the “divine feminine” aspect of God; but, much of it misses the mark. The divine feminine is that aspect of creation that supplies nourishment in every aspect of life. It is not just about child bearing or motherhood.  Whether in the bedroom, boardroom or corridors of government, the divine feminine is the support and counterbalance to the divine masculine. It is power not force. It is compassion not pity. It is the courage to be “love in action.”

Both of us

The “King’s Speech” received 12 Oscars. It deserved them all.  Of greater and more lasting importance are the life lessons learned from from two people faced with circumstances they preferred not to encounter. Courage and humility go a long way in conquering the unanticipated and the unknown. They go even further when true power is used as it was intended: as unconditional love in action.




Why You Matter

It’s so easy to blame the politicians and the media. It’s always easiest to blame someone, or something, other than ourselves. But the dire situations we find ourselves in, politically and socially, are no one’s fault but our own.

For decades we have turned a blind eye to wrong doing. For those same decades we have become dependent upon, even expected, government to take care of us.  We have abdicated personal responsibility in almost every aspect of our lives for the corners we cut, the white lies we tell, the principles we say we believe in yet neglect to be heard in their defense.

Politicians are not our masters. They are simply individuals in public service who reflect the health or sickness of the society they serve. Our leaders have not been forced upon us. We have stood by and allowed the inept, the dishonest and the corrupt to seek and obtain positions of power. We have willingly enslaved ourselves to them and those who keep them in power.

After 2008, ask almost any trader on Wall Street and they will tell you they saw it coming. They saw it coming but did nothing about it. It was too lucrative. Mortgages and private school tuition had to be paid. Vacations were booked. Cocaine was costly.

It’s easier to go with the flow than swim against the current. Isn’t that always the case? But what happens when the current is carrying you to your destruction? Blame the current…or your unwillingness to fight against it?

A group of boys and young men of various ages, raped a 14-year old girl in Chicago this week and they did it on Facebook. Live. At least 40 people watched it and not one called the police.

It seems like a long way from the banking collapse of 2008 to live rape…but not really. The perpetrators in both cases knew what they were doing was wrong and so did those who watched. It’s a slippery slope when you give up conscience and all that is decent about human behavior; when self-satisfaction is the ultimate goal and any means to getting there is acceptable.

Every day we read about the corruption in Washington and fake news by the media. It’s all a distraction. The real news and what we should care about is how each of us in our daily lives lays another brick in the foundation of cultural destruction as we justify the corners we cut, the blind eyes we turn and the irretrievable and precious time we deny friends and family because we are addicted to our iphones.

It’s never about someone else. It’s always about ourselves. While none of us may have any control over what Washington or the New York Times does, each of us has total control over what we do in our own lives. Where we invest out time, what principles we stand for, what we value all define, in a very literal sense, our immediate world.

You comfort and excuse yourself because you are, after all, just one person and so what can you do?

Last year I moved into a condominium in Austin, Texas. I quickly learned that there was corrupt management that had drained the finances of the community and neglected the maintenance of the structures. I also learned that for 12 years, various homeowners had tried, unsuccessfully, to do something about it. So , everyone had given up and acquiesced to the corruption and neglect.

I spent a year investigating and compiling evidence of both the corruption and the neglect. I uncovered a privileged relationship between certain owners, the Board of Directors included, and the corrupt management company. I presented the findings at association meetings. I endured an organized effort by those involved to discredit me, including being sued, individually, for my efforts. But I  knew that what was occurring was wrong and I was determined to, as Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” In spite of it all I endured.

It took 12 months, several court appearances and all the energy and skill I could muster. But the Board resigned and, as new President of the Board, I fired the corrupt management company. We now have exceptional, new management and a law suit against those who depleted or finances and neglected our physical assets.

Was it hard? About as hard as anything I’ve done in my life. Were there times I thought I could not go on? Absolutely. Was every conceivable effort made to stop me? Yes. So why did I keep at it?

The whole is no more than the sum of our parts. I am a part of my community, my society, my country, my species. If I do no stand for what I know to be right, what hope is there that others will do the same?

It’s never about anyone else. It’s always about ourselves. In humanity, it’s not top down. It’s what we as individuals are willing to put on the line for what we believe in. This is what makes the difference and that is what ultimately defines us.

A Christian Polish woman who fed Jews and kept them alive less than than a mile from a concentration camp was asked, recently, how she came to do the right thing given the behavior of those around her. Her reply was simply, “The righteous didn’t suddenly become righteous. We just refused to go off the cliff with everyone else.”

We are each confronted daily with personal cliffs. Now more so than ever with the rapid pace of technology and the warp speed at which AI is developing. If, in hindsight, you can see why it wasn’t such a long way from 2008 to live rape…wait until you see what’s just around the corner. One voice, one person, one principle upheld can save the world. Remember, the next corner you cut, blind eye you turn, or principle you fail to uphold… could be our last.                Carole

The Danger of The Drew Magarys of The World

My co-blogger, Steve Clark, texted me a link earlier today with the following comment: “This is what passes for journalism!” So, naturally, I had to click through.


Where I landed was at GQ online and an article by, correspondent and author, Drew Magary titled, “If You Vote For Trump, Then Screw You.”  Creative and engrossing title, don’t you think?  Yeah, me neither. Not so much. But, in all fairness, and since I respect Steve, I read the article. So I fully understand Steve’s incredulity.

It’s an adolescent, vulgar, profanity-laced rant by…well, an adolescent. I’d say more about the “correspondent” but that sentence pretty much sums up space occupied by nine paragraphs of filth and unrestrained emotional immaturity. I’d much rather write about how Magary’s rant is symptomatic of something much larger.

We are a nation divided and that’s not a bad thing. From true diversity of thought comes new ideas. When it comes to problem solving, difference is the petri dish of creativity. The catch is that each side of the divide has to honor the differences of the other so that they can communicate and, hopefully, zero in on the merits of each others’ arguments. Name calling, accusation, disrespect, hyperbole…these are impediments to problem solving. All they do is cause the object of their slings and arrows to defend positions rather than remain open and receptive to possible solutions.

The real harm of the verbal filth spewed by Magary in his self-indulgent tirade is not done to Donald Trump. To give him credit for his honesty (evidenced by the article’s title) Magary makes his intention pretty clear. His hatred is directed at anyone who sees merit in the candidate or who would vote for him. So, Magary hates his fellow Americans who disagree with his particular political preference.

Where does such intolerance and narrowness of thought leave us?

If we take the Magary approach, close to half the country needs to hate the other half. To me, this is a bit like using your left arm to beat up your right arm if you have an irritation. While it may, in the moment, address a superficial and temporary annoyance, in the long run (and we need to think about the long run) you will have done serious damage to a part of you that needs to be functional and cooperative.

You see, there is only one of us. Yes, you read that correctly, There is only one of us. We are all branches on that one tree called humanity. It serves no one, and nothing, for us to treat one another as if harming someone else never comes back to harm us.  Hatred, whether its the fuel for Islamic terror or fuel for a so-called “correspondent”… is still hatred.  Hatred is a cancer of the soul and does as much damage,  perhaps more, to the host than it does to its intended object.

After all, there are only two emotions. Love and fear. Every negative emotion, including hate, is a derivative of fear. So in the end, the Drew Magarys of the world are afraid. Of what, I don’t know. But so much hate is really so much fear.

So, I would recommend that Drew Magary re-think what’s eating at him ( literally I might add) and perhaps understand that there are people out here who seriously disagree with him but who love him all the same.



How To Overcome Fear

You can be made to physically torture your friend.


If you think that assertion is impossible then you’ve never heard of the Milgram Experiment.

In 1963, a Yale psychologist, Stanley Milgram, devised an experiment in an attempt to show the difference between Germans and Americans as it pertained to acquiescence and obedience in performing the kinds of grotesque acts made known during the 1961 Nuremberg War Criminals trial of Nazi SS Officer Adolph Eichmann.

Milgram set out to discover if the Germans were psychologically and culturally inclined towards obedience in simply following orders, as had been the common explanation for the German populace’s general permitting of, and participating in, the atrocities of the Nazi regime.

Milgram’s findings were shocking and deeply disturbing; but, for the purpose of understanding our current circumstances, they are also enlightening.

What Milgram found was that if two people who knew each other were physically separated and unable to view one another, and one was directly under the control of an authority figure, that individual could be directed to torture the third party in ever increasing increments even to the point of death.

So why is this half-century old experiment instructive?

People who crave power, wealth and control have always sought newer and better ways of manipulating and enslaving the masses of humanity who wind up doing the “heavy lifting,” thus allowing for an elite segment of the population in every generation to prosper at the expense of the many. Our generation is no exception.

The newest and to-date most effective delivery system for affecting this end is the Internet. Government, in cooperation with the media, are able to rapidly disseminate the facts of their choosing, generally misinformation or disinformation, to a public that consumes this information with little to no critical thinking. But this fact alone would not achieve the intended outcome were it not for two additional components.

First is the fact that what the government and the media disseminate, generally, are fear-based memes. These are ideas that are intended to confuse, conflate, and overwhelm for the purpose of generating a climate of fear.  Fear is the best mechanism of control. Fearful people are desperate people who will seek any means to alleviate their desperation. The most common means of choice is anger. An angry person acts on offense by striking out at another rather than owning their own voluntary submission to fear. It’s always easier to blame someone else rather than take responsibility for one’s own action or inaction.

The second fact is that the Internet allows for anonymous anger in all its gradations…frustration, aggression, rage, hate and vitriol.  This is the key to why and how Milgram’s findings are relevant and helpful if we are to alter our current trajectory.

Vitriolic hate speech is now everywhere on the internet. It has escalated exponentially during this election cycle. I do not believe it began with Mr. Trump. I believe he is the inevitable result of what was surreptitiously begun decades ago by the Progressive (Socialist) movement and which reached its zenith during the Obama administration, as our President began to make targeted and unveiled attacks upon his political opponents.

Two such examples are the President’s mocking of the Tea Party, a single issue political organization that simply sought a revision of the tax code. Yet, Obama thought nothing of mocking them in derisive and divisive language (“Tea Baggers”) or, in his speech to LaRaza saying, “We are going to punish our enemies and reward our friends” when referring to political opponents of his policies. This type of demonizing and divisive speech brought out of the closet, and sanctioned at the highest level, permission to get personal and condescending with one’s opponents.

When you combine theses three factors 1) the quest for control by fear-based means; 2) internet anonymity and, 3) permission to hate one’s adversaries you have created an environment where a Donald Trump can rise to the level of Presidential candidate and thereby make it permissible for anyone to openly express their fear, and ensuing anger, by way of personal attack and hate speech.

My point is not about for whom you should vote. My point is about taking back control of your own mind, jettisoning fear-based behavior, and realizing that you are being used. I realize that doing that is only half the problem. The harder part is what to do once that’s accomplished.

When I was in law school I had a run-in with a Professor who tried to have me removed from the school. He had a history of harassing students and then, through misuse of his power, frightening them into performing certain favors for him that were outside the scope of the professor/student relationship.  One particular semester he set his sights on me. He intimidated and frightened first year students into doing his bidding or, in the alternative, suffering the consequences of his threats. While this pattern of behavior had been successful for him in the past, I was older than the average first year student and refused to comply.

He filed a formal grievance against me conjuring up false accusations. Rather than submit to his established position of power, I hired a Constitutional attorney to represent me in the hearing on his petition. After protracted hearings, the hearing judicial body concluded that 1) I had done nothing wrong, and, 2) that I should none-the-less offer him a public apology. When I inquired of the panel why was an apology in order for a finding of no wrongdoing they refused to provide the basis yet formalized their finding. I refused.

As a consequence, my graduation date from law school was delayed a year as I had to 1) make up his course in summer session which was the only time the required course was taught by a professor other than him and 2) I became so ill as a result of what I had gone through that I was out sick for one year with a stress related disease before I could return and complete my law school education.

Shortly after I returned to school following my illness, another Professor Emeritus, of national renown, summoned me into his office. He offered me a deal. He said that if I never spoke outside the school of what had occurred, he would allow me to do an extra-credit paper for him for which he would give me the three credits I had missed in having to drop out of the other Professor’s course following the hearings.  When I asked him why it was contingent upon my not speaking of the incident outside the school, his reply was that “you are about to enter a very select profession and we don’t tell on our own.”

There I was studying Socrates, and the most honored legalistic principles humankind had ever created, and one of the icons of that profession was trying to bribe me into keeping silent the shame of this higher institution of learning and by so doing violate the very ethics it was teaching. I refused his offer of a deal.

Fear didn’t work on me. Yes, I paid a price in delaying my graduation. But I retained my ethics, my dignity and my truth. It was a price I’d pay again any day.

Perhaps it’s because I was raised by a father who taught me, by example, that authority, in and of itself, is not to be honored. That respect is earned not freely given. Or perhaps it’s because there is something in my nature that hungers for justice and ethical behavior.  To some extent, it’s probably a combination of both.

More importantly, and of greater influence, is my belief that we are all autonomous beings with the ability to know truth and rightful action if only we demand of ourselves the courage of our convictions.  Without a belief in autonomy and the courage to stand for it in the face of fear, we are all 1940 Germans turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the subtle, and not so subtle, atrocities that surround us.

In the Milgram Experiment there were only two participants who, as the voltage of the electric shocks escalated, adamantly refused to inflict more pain. All the other participants deferred to authority, however abhorrent. Which would we have been?

I am certain of my answer. Do you know yours?



What I Could Have Told Gloria Vanderbilt

I’ll never have to do what Anderson Cooper has done.

SecretsCooper has just written what is sure to be a best-selling memoir, of sorts, titled “The Rainbow Comes and Goes.” It is a book based upon emails he recently exchanged with his 92 year old mother, heiress Gloria Vanderbilt, and is a highly personal look into the truths, both shared and concealed, between parent and child.

I have not read the book, but watched Cooper interviewed at length on its evolution.  He said that at age 11, having lost his father to alcoholism, and later his brother to suicide, he was determined not to have things left unsaid between his aging mother and himself. And so began the email exchanges that became the book.

I profoundly identify with Cooper’s motivation. I came from a loving family that none-the-less lived in both denial and secrecy.  It is the primary reason that I raised my daughter, against my ex-husband’s opposition, by being as appropriately open and honest as possible with her at every stage of her emotional development. Not only don’t I believe in secrets, I believe that truth and full disclosure empower an individual and are the necessary basis for intimacy in relationships. To deny someone the facts, and the truth of them, is to impair their ability to successfully traverse their own life. Too many  who have been so impaired never make it and those who do often do so at their peril.

Admittedly, there is danger and vulnerability in “laying it all out on the table.” We are all complicit in our own mistakes and errors of judgment. For me, or anyone for that matter, to be honest and take responsibility for the choices or behaviors we’ve participated in, and with hindsight may regret, takes courage. It’s not easy to accept our own humanness and shortcomings; but, my choice was to give my daughter a way to accept her own…by owning up to mine.

There is a lesson here for the greater good as well.

Governments which believe that the people they govern are either too stupid or too inept to control their own lives are, inevitably, governments that end in tyranny. It is why our Founders left England and a tyrannical King to pledge their “lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor” to establish self-governance and the least amount of centralized power possible.

We have come a long way since that intention and, for the past 100 years, have moved further and further away from its premise. The Federal Register began in 1938. It catalogues regulations by the Federal government which directly impact and intrude upon our daily lives.  As of 2013, the Register was comprised of 1.43 million pages!

The current overreach by the Federal government is undeniable. But so is its belief that we are stupid.  One of the architects of Obamacare, MIT Professor Jonathan Gruber, publicly admitted that the Administration believed we were “too stupid to understand” the bill. More recently, former Obama Administration National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes publicly admitted that the Administration willingly and knowingly lied about the facts surrounding the Iran deal in order to pass it.

There is very little difference between the damage done by a parent or parents who think the truth will be too much for their child and a government that believes the same about its citizens. The truth is always the road to freedom and empowerment. It may be a rocky road and a difficult one to traverse but it will be its own reward. The alternative is to blindly wander in circles making stilted choices based upon misinformation. Our nation is starving for truth and so it wanders blindly in circles seeking any indiscriminate port in the raging storm.

I am happy for Anderson Cooper and his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt. They have met in honesty and both been set free as a result. I am also happy to know that when my time comes, there will be nothing left unsaid between my daughter and me. At every opportunity, I will have respected her enough to have given her the two most effective means of living life we humans possess: Love and Truth.

I only hope our country finds its equivalent path.



Self Selection by Algorithm

Algorithms rule the web but also the information you see.


Every click you make, every article you read is monitored, tracked and analyzed.  As you select your preferences, the media companies and their algorithms take note. Given that the web’s media values are all based on page views and click-through rates, it’s vital that they keep you coming back to their sites.

You means all of us.

In order to keep you coming back and engaged in the site, media companies send you articles and posts that the algorithms indicate you like. Websites test and re-test headlines while writing and re-writing articles to maximize user engagement. Their business is not news. Its engagement on the site. Thinking this through, its easy to see the problem. If we only select articles and viewpoints that we like, it reinforces the world view that we already have.

I read a lot. I know that I don’t know much. It’s the reader’s dilemma; the more I read, the more I realize how little I know. Because of this, I always try and read books outside my area of expertise. But online,  my selections are tracked and the findings determine what is made available to me going forward. The articles I might have an interest in, or that challenge my beliefs, are not shown to be because the algorithms don’t think I will click on them.

Because of this, peoples’ world views get narrowed and reinforced by what they see. These hardened world views make it more difficult for people see the other side of the story. Look at how divided our country has become on so many issues. There seems to be no middle ground anywhere. Just mention the name “Trump,” and where you stand on his candidacy, and its enough to terminate a friendship.

Look at the following issues and you will see how polarizing some them have become:

  • Global Warming
  • Health Care
  • Abortion
  • Role of Government

If you are a climate change skeptic (i.e a “climate denier”) there are calls to treat you the same way holocaust deniers are treated…with contempt and rebuke! For most, the debate is over and the issue is where you stand on the topic.

When the Center for Medical Progress posed as buyers of aborted fetuses and documented their conversations with  Planned Parenthood, Federal Prosecutors rushed to prosecute the people who had made the videotapes not the people actually committing the crimes. The erroneous position seems to be that abortion is a right and, therefore, there is no way that people engaged in the procedure could be guilty of any crime.

At the heart of these issues is an inability to see the other person’s point of view. In days past, these issues were discussed and debated.  Even as recently as the 1960’s, one of the Left’s mantras on free speech was “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

The death that followed was that of the mantra and what it represented: free speech…which actually IS a right.

With the advance of political correctness, there are many things one is no longer allowed to say.  Add to that media stories that are scrubbed and served up to your liking, people can become self righteous and closed-minded regarding their beliefs.

It gets worse. Facebook, in many ways a media company, has been known to edit out Conservative view points so that their customers can’t even get the full depth and breadth of a news story

In my own professional life, doing consulting on Search Engine Optimization strategies, I have had many clients tell me that they don’t see the value in S.E.O. because their site always appears at the top of Google. For example I had a client who would type in “divorce lawyer” every day on his browser and was always happy to see that his website was at the top of the list. He would click on his web site and, from where he stood, he thought all web site searches resulted as did his. I had to explain to him that because he types in that term every day, and clicks on his site every day, the search engines are displaying the results of what they think he wants to see. In essence, his feedback loop was continually getting reinforced even though his site wasn’t even ranking at any significant level.

For many, as with my former client, its and eye-opening experience to see how much information is actually deliberately  pre-selected for us to view. In essence, our choices are being made for us which continued to reinforce our reality.These “results” become the reality for that each user; but.. they have no veracity in the real world.

This self-selection process is only increasing and accelerating. I feel it will lead people to even narrower viewpoints that already exist. In this regard, as in others, technology is isolating us while limiting our scope of knowledge and impeding the enrichment our lives.

The self selection process is an ailment from which we all suffer and for which we are all susceptible. Maybe a healthy dose of skepticism toward everything we see and read, plus a willingness to engage in ideas foreign to us, would go along way to making us less isolated and a less antagonistic society.

I speak Spanish fluently. As a result, I often process information in Spanish, which has words for which English has no easy or singular translation. Therefore, the language differential causes me to stretch my own mind to put the disparate words on equal footing. This process is healthy for my cognitive mind but also enriches me as an individual.

If someone or something did that thinking for me, and pre-selected what I thought the translations should be… oh right!!…that’s the definition of Artificial Intelligence… the mission Google and others in social media are racing to perfect.

Welcome to the latest virtual reality show…”America Got Algorithm.”



In Defense of Glenn Beck

Assuming Glenn Beck needs to be defended he doesn’t need me to do it. He seems quite capable of doing it himself, and has on more than one occasion when he has felt wronged, misquoted or misinterpreted. He has also apologized on more than one occasion when he has actually been wrong. So why would I bother with defense of a media personality that so many seem to think is either a fraud, religious zealot, or both?

Lady J ustice

I have listened to and watched Beck’s radio and internet programs for several years. The radio show’s intro defines the show as “the fusion of entertainment and enlightenment” while the live streaming internet program is more educational than entertaining or enlightening. Over the years that I have been a listener, Beck has definitely evolved. While in the early years the radio show was more entertainment and politics than enlightenment, with a fair amount of hangover (no pun intended) from his shock-jock days, it slowly began to morph into something more than that, as did Beck.

I could say I saw the handwriting on the wall. Over five years ago I contacted Beck’s CEO. Having done radio myself, I sent a demo tape of my on-air abilities and a video introduction of myself as a “video letter” to Beck himself. In it I told him that I saw where he was trying to go but was unlikely to get there using the path he was on at the time. I said he had to move beyond politics and organized religion as there were millions of people who were outside of either political party and who were more spiritual than religious and those people could not be reached through the Republican Party (Beck was a proponent at the time) or exclusively the Christian religion. I subsequently had the opportunity to meet Beck in person and, after a few moments exchange of conversation, he told me to give my contact information to his assistant which I did. The connection went nowhere. However, I have felt that either Beck or his staff has followed my posts on more than one occasion and used my material without credit which is something he has been accused of by both the late Andrew Breitbart and Michael Savage. I also think he did change course, as I had advised, and doing so expanded his media empire and his footprint.

I share the above in order to make the point that I could have my own gripe with Beck. I could be bitter, resentful and feel glee at the many slings and arrows that are directed at him by the likes of, Alex Jones, and Jon Stewart just to name a few. I could, but I don’t. Why? Because with all his human failings, Beck has been right much more than he has been wrong in sensing the trajectory of the nation and making serious efforts to inform, enlighten and caution as many people as possible as to where we are headed. Perhaps the three that most readily come to my mind are his early warnings about the Caliphate, the demise of the Republican Party, and the infiltration at every level of civil society and both political parties by Progressivism and its debilitating effects upon our way of life. On all three he was relentless. That relentlessness caused him to be the object of endless mockery and derision. But here’s the thing.

He was right.

I get that Beck is an entertainer. He can be wickedly funny or deliver a deeply compelling story while acting out a myriad of characters and personalities along the way.  He can also offend my sensibilities at times when he, his co-host and producer go over the edge with humor based upon bodily functions. But he is also a relentless seeker of truth and a self-educated man whose efforts at both are commendable and too rare. I get that as an alcoholic turned religious Mormon one could argue that he has traded one addiction for another. However, we are all enslaved to something. For most it’s money, success, fame, sex, chocolate, heroin or technology. The list goes on and on. It’s the nature of this reality we call life. So as I see it, Beck could be addicted and enslaved to something much worse than a loving, all-forgiving, grace granting God who is the seemingly most important source of guidance in his life…that and the wife he loves and for whom he credits turning his life around.

So, I prefer to put aside the cheap shots, motivated oftentimes by envy, and instead focus on the good Beck has done and is doing.

His charitable organization, Mercury One, has not only been the first on the scene of domestic disasters but also the most forthcoming and action oriented in its efforts to rescue Christians from genocide in the Middle East. He went to the border to take toys and express love for the children trapped in immigration holding facilities through decisions made by their parents and no fault of their own. He held inspiring and peaceful rallies dedicated to honor, courage and love that drew hundreds of thousands of people both in the U.S. and Israel. He marched for racial unity after Ferguson and Baltimore. He continues to warn the nation of the suicidal consequences of failing to stand with the Constitution.

Currently, he has prayed and concluded that Ted Cruz is the best candidate in support of that stand. In standing for his belief, he has literally gone on the road campaigning for Cruz and for the first time in his public career, endorsed a Presidential candidate. He believes Cruz is a man of destiny. Beck may be right on Cruz or not. But as Shakespeare said in Henry IV, and if I may paraphrase, let’s not shoot the messenger because we don’t like the message.

These area troubling times. We are in need of asking serious questions and finding meaningful answers. Whether you agree with his delivery, his politics or his God, Beck continues to shine a bright light before a nation wandering in the dark in search of its own identity. Shame on those who, for personal or political reasons, are trying to diminish or extinguish that light.

We could do worse than pay attention to someone who has been right more often than he has been wrong. How many of his critics, or us, have that track record?


Meet Megyn Kelly, Esquire

Brilliant! That’s the only word for what Megyn Kelly had researched and prepared to ask Donald Trump regarding Trump University during tonight’s Republican debate. Well, maybe not the only word. “Precise” and “damning” also come to mind. It was so incredibly satisfying to watch not just anyone, but the woman Trump had tried so hard to publicly demean, disparage and dismiss following the earlier Fox News hosted debate.

Megyn (2)

Megyn Kelly came armed with research. But she also came determined not to be interrupted, shouted down, slandered or prevented from asking her question in its entirety, based upon the facts and judicial findings. And prevail she did.

Trump’s response, and pathetic defense, was to repeat over and over “just wait three years” and we’ll see…referring to the outcome of the  pending litigation. Well, like Hillary Clinton and a lagging Justice Department indictment, the nation cannot afford to wait for either of them to be prosecuted, fined and/or imprisoned. To wait will mean that the findings will follow his or her election to the most powerful office in the world. Only those who refuse to see the peril in such a scenario would contemplate voting for either Trump or Clinton.

Yes Donald Trump is, in the words of the Appellate judge who wrote the opinion in the counter-suit Trump brought against the primary plaintiff in the 5000+ person class-action law suit against him, a “con man” like so many who have come before him. He suckered innocent people who forked over money because of his name and his claims, only to be effectively bilked out of their money and denied what was represented.

Not only should we not be supporting either Trump or Clinton, we should be doing everything in our power to stop both of them from getting anywhere near the office they seek. They are both crooks and liars. They both lack integrity and ethics. They both seek personal gain at any price. They both seek to rain vengeance upon anyone who opposes them or gets in their way. They are bad people.

We can be angry at how we have been manipulated by the press. We can be angry at how politicians of the past, and many in the present, lied to us and grew rich while we struggled. We can be angry at a corrupted system that has been rigged for the few at the expense of the many. But there is a difference between righteous anger and blind rage.

Righteous anger is founded and grounded in fact. One can think rationally and act reasonably when righteously angry. Blind rage is the loss of rational thought and the acting out, excessive acting out, of uncontrolled emotion. Righteous anger leads to correction. Blind rage leads to destruction of self and others.

Let’s not continue down the path to November so blinded by our rage that we remain in denial of who Trump and Clinton are and of what they are capable. Let us cultivate righteous anger in its stead so that we evaluate rationally, act accordingly and make our decisions based upon the good of the nation and its future, rather than upon some adolescent urge to make someone pay for past mistakes.

The past only exists if we drag it into the present and thereby breathe new life into it for the future. Let’s jettison was has been and seek a new tomorrow where we take personal responsibility for how we make the decision that will surely determine the course for our nation’s future or its demise.



Clear Thinking

In my early twenties I use to spend way too much time at a local bar since, at the time, my roommate owned it.  After work,we’d spend our time talking and drinking the night away.  He had a game that he liked to play whereby he would predict what people would drink. Since he spent so much time at it, he became an expert in human behavior via what they ordered to drink. It was great fun to watch and I always got a laugh out of it.

Our Bias

For example, if someone came in for a beer, my friend could predict which beer they would pick. It almost became eerie how good he was at it.  I finally asked him to give me his drink picking prowess. He said, “I look at who the advertisers target and then I can tell what those types will order. I never believed those stupid commercials worked but I know now that they do.” Given that the bar was full of mostly twenty somethings, and their biases not yet or less formed, the advertisements seemed to have a greater effect on their opinions.

Here are some of the drinks and the character traits of the people that ordered them:

  • Johnny Walker Black whiskey was ordered by brooding types.
  • Heineken beers were ordered by successful yuppies.
  • White Russians were ordered by young women from Long Island.
  • Budweisers were ordered by the twenty something college sporty type.
  • Tequila was ordered after three or four drinks by young urban professionals who wanted to drink to excess.

As human beings, we all understand the notion of free will. Yet, here were a group of people basing their drink orders on the commercials that ran on T.V.  My friend’s predictive powers got me to thinking about the whole notion of advertising and the many ways we are subtly influenced.

Advertisers spend billions of dollars a year on advertising because they know it works. The biggest payday for the year in advertising is the Superbowl because of the sheer number of people who tune in. Yet, these same people (a/k/a consumers) look at the commercials…laugh… and think none of it has any impact upon them personally.

Naturally, we all think we’re immune to the sway and power of the media. We think it can only affect “them” and never us; but, I’m not so sure. Robert Cialdini, in his famous book called Influence, documented the many subtle, and not so subtle, ways we can all be influenced. One of his most famous stories is about the Hare Krishnas and their ability to raise money. One day, at the airport, he noticed Hare Krishna followers picking up flowers from the garbage and giving them to people.  The followers would ask travelers to take a pamphlet and a flower. Most of the travelers didn’t want the flower or the flyer, but the Hare Krishnas were insistent they take the flower as a gift. The gift of the flower was a way to create an obligation for the other party, thereby causing the receiver of the gift to give a donation. Most of the travelers upon receiving the gift would throw it away just a few yards down the terminal. That’s where the Hare Krishnas would take those same flowers out of the bin and start the process all over again. The Hare Krishnas knew the people did not want flyers or flowers; but, they knew the small gift of the flower would bring them money.

I believe Cialdini’s writings prompted Wall Street to change many of the industry’s norms. Buy side accounts (mutual funds) today no longer accept any gifts, no matter what the size from sell side accounts. They know any gift received implies an obligation upon the other party. Asset managers need to make decisions based on the best investments available, not one based upon an indebtedness. Cialdini’s main point in “Influence,” and on advertising in general,  is that there are subtle pulls on our psyche all day long that influence us in ways not readily perceived.

I struggled with this in my own life when I studied at length with a linguist. A linguist is someone who deconstructs your language so that you take ownership of the words and language that you use. The linguist I worked with focused on my sentence structure and my choice of words. Most of my bad habits stemmed from the fact that I was not conscious of the words I was using. I had absorbed most of my language structure from my parents, as we all do. However, in order for me to fully own my narrative, I had to break those habits.

I trained with her once a week for three years. During that time, it was not unusual for me to measure out each word I spoke so that my “new language” became part of my new persona. The results during that time were phenomenal! My sales sky rocketed. The point is that had I not taken ownership for the language I used, I would have been unknowingly influenced for the rest of my life by the language my parents had used. I would have been following a script given me… all the while not fully understanding what had occurred.

Gene Simmons, the lead front man for the rock group Kiss, changed his legal name as a way to take ownership of his life. His parents had divorced when he was a child and he grew up in poverty. He discussed at length, in his books and writing, the importance of needing to forge his identity lest outside influences shape him. He carefully chose each part of his life and what he wanted out of it. He changed his name to reject that image of  a poor, unwanted child and to create the image of a wealthy rock star. Although I am not suggesting we need to change our names, it is instructive to see the lengths Gene Simmons went to mold the life and image he wanted and reject outside influences.

The only way to forge and own are identities is to continually chose who we want to be. Given the way the media and advertisers manipulate, lie and distort the truth…it is more imperative than ever to take ownership and decide who want to be and what we think.  The alternative is that we end up on the dumping end of the whims of advertisers and psychological tricksters, forever manipulating us with their jedi machinations.

To be truly alive and conscious is to realize we are susceptible to, and influenced by, what we “consume.” With media present in every aspect of our waking lives, the old adage of “garbage in/garbage has never been more apt.  So be careful what you watch, who you listen to and what you read.

Its all grist for your mill but remember: it’s your mill and you get to sift out what goes and decide what does not.