Cut the “Pot Shots” and Lead Our Leaders!

 

Happy Hump Day, Y’all!

I mean, if I didn’t find something to be elated about … like yoga or taking a summer trip to Europe … I might get depressed or something.  I’ve never been depressed that I know of.  I was sharing with my daughter the other night how when I first got an academic scholarship to go to St. Paul’s School in Concord, NH, I didn’t want to go.  I wanted to go to White Plains High School and play basketball like my brother “Hank” did (RIP).  Oddly enough, I rebelled so much when I came home a few months later for Thanksgiving and my “girlfriend” was going out with one of my arch rivals, I told my mother that I wanted to die!!  My mother was in shock and kept asking me what was it about the loss of this girl that made me feel so fatal!  I was fourteen, and honestly, I hadn’t a clue what I was talking about … pretty much just rebelling.  Both of them rallied around me in their own unique ways … the “tough love” of Big Ike and the undying nurturing love of Mary … a few visits to friends of theirs who were successful … and my thoughts of suicide were aborted.  I graduated from St. Paul’s as scheduled and got an academic scholarship to Princeton … and so on … and so on.    This is why I have the gratitude in my attitude every day.  My daughter said that she always looked up to them, Mary and Ike, and is glad that they were there for me.  I tell people sometimes that “God even looks out for stupid people like me!”

So, where does “our government” (I use that term loosely nowadays) go now?!?  Now that we have gotten away from the tradition of the POTUS and his family living in the White House and taking “getaways” to Camp David and have adopted the concept of partisan politics – one party VERSUS the other – what do us citizens do?!?  Do we get behind the “mudslingers” and start to act like them, cursing and demeaning each other … even attacking each other physically … like a bunch of barbarians?!?  Just yesterday, I witnessed a comment by one of my former students who had posted a satirical picture of Obama giving Trump the finger!  It wasn’t really done by Obama … it never happened in real life.  But, a “friend” of this former student went on an internet “rant” of horrifying proportions, calling Obama all sorts of names starting with “a racist” and on down the line.  This “friend” continued calling Michelle Obama the “b” word and continued with an array of horrifying comments about Mrs. Obama that were not becoming of a “savage”, considering he didn’t know and clearly has never met this distinguished lady.  Are we getting caught up in allowing our society … “the land of the free, home of the brave”, a country built by African slaves and immigrants from countries ranging from China to Germany, from Ireland to England, from Japan to Australia … to become partisan to the point that we are actually inviting another “civil war” where the sides are based on extremist ideologies and “deal making”?  Have we moved away from a democracy to our nation full of “let’s make a deal makers”?!?  I heard one politician make a statement that made the most sense ever:  “If we could all just sit down at the table and behave and talk to each other like civilized human beings, we could get a lot done!”

I think that it may be the time for the citizens to lead again, to show the politicians that we are NOT savage barbarians looking to be led into “the hallways of hell”.  If you take a closer look, we are far from “making America great again” … We have been infiltrated by so many hostile external influences – just like the Roman Empire – that we have become the target of corruption and outside control while we fight each other in the streets and in our government.  This … is NOT great!  This … is despicable.  While we allow our nation to become a “hideous reality show” while our leaders take incessant “pot shots” at each other … and the concept of governing a nation has all but been lost in our attempts to rise to “stardom”, I applaud those of us who seek to lead from the bottom, to lead from within … because many of our “leaders” are lost!  Remember, they are not gods … they are frail humans just like many of us. It is time for the citizens to lead the “leaders”!  It won’t happen any other way.  Reduce and terminate the “pot shots” at each other … and our leaders … and provide an example for civil behavior and not let ourselves go down in history as hideous barbarians … hating and killing each other.

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Can You See Clearer Yet?!?

 

Happy Friday, All!

I am going to “Play it again, Sam” … and, “T.G.I.F.”!!

First of all, I would like to take a moment of silence for those injured and lost due to the cowardly behavior of a man who felt it was his “purpose in life” to attack, kill and terrorize as many people as possible in the City of London.  (Take a moment, if you haven’t already…)  The sad thing for me is how this guy, as well as many other self proclaimed terrorists, was already on the radar in England for “suspected terrorist activity”.  Do you remember the young guy who claimed he heard voices and the government was controlling his mind BEFORE he left Alaska on a flight to Ft. Lauderdale?  Sure, they took his gun away, and then gave it back to him, which he then disassembled, caught a plane to Florida and then reassembled it in the bathroom and came out “blazing” in Fort Lauderale/Hollywood International Airport!

Okay, so … meanwhile, back at the ranch, we see probably one of the most controversial presidents since Abraham Lincoln, who actually did something controversial but very good for “the people” of America, trying to continue with “sales pitches” to get what HE wants to run a country.  This character actually says, “I am very good at making deals!”  If you ask me, he sounds about as hypocritical as a “businessman” making a sales pitch to buy a “slave” … or another human being just like him!!  How do you “make deals” with other people’s lives!?!  While America clearly was started as a business of joint stock companies, it evolved into a democracy which was supposed to include protecting and safeguarding “the inalienable rights” of all human beings in this country.  Now, we have some politicians who state that they want to run the country according to “the constitution written by the founding fathers” …. Don’t forget a LOT of things have changed in terms of human evolution … and those “inalienable rights” outlined in that constitution have evolved quite a bit!!  So, to run a country on the premises of a somewhat archaic set of laws drawn up in 1776 to a population of people who have evolved over more than 200 years is simply ignorant!  Many laws have been changed or added based on our human evolution and our understanding of those “inalienable rights”.

Many former supporters of the current president, including politicians in his OWN “party” (I detest that word!), have come to see that his plethora of lies and deception, his tendency to “make deals” and outright “bully” those who don’t agree with him as he attempts to govern a very diverse population in this country, are not becoming of a “president”.  Maybe it works for a business owner where you can violate people’s rights until brought before a court, if possible.  Over the past few months, not only has the current president attempted to put down and demonize his predecessor, President Barack Obama, he has attempted to disguise what he has called “Obamacare” (as if it is a nasty word and law) and renamed it The American Healthcare Act and “sell” it to his OWN political cohorts.  I was convinced that he wasn’t a presidential person when I heard the tape about “grabbing women by their pu**ies” and that he would kiss them when he wanted to, not to mention his constant calling of his competition in the presidential race “Crooked Hillary” when he hadn’t … and still hasn’t … revealed his income tax returns so that the American people can determine if he has been engaged in business activities which may be a “conflict of interest” for the leader of ANY country, especially in the one in which he is trying to “wheel and deal” (sounds so dishonest) legislation!!  Even his own party representatives on the local, state and national level are rejecting his purported American Healthcare Act, which is actually what he calls the dreaded “Obamacare” in many ways, in disguise!  Can you see clearer now!?  Some of “them” can!!  These other people, including politicians, can’t ALL be wrong!

Have a great weekend … and use your intellect … not your hostilities and hatred … and you will fare better … We ALL will!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Is There A War in America Against Blacks and The Poor?!?

 

Happy Hump Day, Y’all!

Now, I know there is a lot going in the world, and especially in this country!  Historically, there has been a war waged by “the rich” against “the poor”.  At the beginning of the French Revolution (1789 – 1799) some of you may recall that Marie Antoinette said, “Let them eat cake!” as the poor people were surrounding the castle complaining about their impoverished state of living and lack of food.  Those of us who have studied history know how the people responded to that!  Guillotines were the popular form of execution during that time, and many a “rich” person suffered the fate of that instrument of death.  When I listen to our current president touting his representation of “the conservative wishes for America”, it has a familiar sound.  Cutting health care for the poor, putting an end to funding for arts programs that help keep “poor youth” off the streets and provide them with glimmers of hope to become a part of America … and considering programs like “Meals on Wheels” as a program that “sounds nice, but isn’t necessary”, it seems very much like “Let them eat cake!”.  Or, “We don’t care about you poor folks”!  Those who argue that poor people think they are entitled need to check how much money is GIVEN to politicians in Washington, DC and their families AFTER they leave office, not to mention how much they get while purportedly “serving the people” …

According to the “The Health Ranger”, Mike Adams, a similar war is being waged (and has been for a long time!) against “black people” in this country.  A good friend of mine from childhood, Gordon Derouseau, sent me a link highlighting Mike Adams and his information indicating that “black people” and the poor are actually targets of the health care industry (or lack of it) as demonstrated with the intentional lead poisoning of water in places like Flint, MI and formerly in Washington, DC which is and holds a predominantly “black” populace.  Adams claims that the lead, in staggering amounts, was placed in the water system there in an effort by “those in power” to contaminate the water.  The lead has debilitating effects on those who consume the water like “dumbing them down” (mentally and physically) and creating deadly results for those who consume the water.  According to this information, there have been several arrests of people responsible for allowing this to take place in Flint.

As well, Adams claims, similar “attacks on blacks” have been launched regarding epidemics of cancer in targeted communities, usually inhabited by blacks and “the poor”.  Some of Adams’s claims include the incorrect diagnosis of African Americans as having cancer when they didn’t, and the bilking of medicare/medicaid benefits in treatment of these same people (poor blacks) who had been intentionally diagnosed.  Adams mentions a doctor who was actually arrested when some “whistle blowers” in the hospital where he worked identified him as doing this “dastardly deed” for health benefit money!!  A similar quagmire of medical ineptness was discovered in Black communities where diabetes is rampant.  It had been discovered that the food products popular in these communities were either of poor quality and contained ingredients that heightened the risk of developing diabetes for these populations.  Adams goes further, suggesting that the “violent tendencies” of blacks who attack other “blacks” is somewhat engineered by the medical community poisoning them and mentally conditioning them to be angry and kill … and apparently hate each other!!  This is in conjunction with the urban engineering of overcrowding and the loss of programs to help these populations overcome the “elements intentionally placed in their communities” (not to mention the influx of guns into these communities!) that expedite the deterioration of the social fabric of these communities.  Our current president suggests that increasing police presence resembling “martial law” are the best answers to correcting this “deterioration” intentionally engineered by some in the medical industry, including “Big Pharma”, in conjunction with local politicians attempting to eliminate programs that have helped these poor populations in cities across America!

While I was fortunate enough to get assistance from programs like the Urban League and summer camp programs sponsored by The Salvation Army in my hometown of White Plains, NY (not to mention summer camp programs in “upstate New York” that we attended sponsored for the urban poor), there are many many other more impoverished populations in cities way larger and more impoverished than White Plains where heroin and crack epidemics mysteriously appeared causing death and destruction. Now, I promised my friend Gordon with whom I grew up in The Winbrook Projects of White Plains that I would put together something regarding the link that he sent to me.  So, I know that I have friends and readers who may have their own “takes” on and/or feedback regarding this piece where I am suggesting that “blacks” and the poor are being targeted by the same institutions that are supposed to be alleviating and treating certain debilitating conditions that many politicians and others are not concerned with or who are actually profiting from these horrific conditions.  And please, don’t tell me that “this is politics” because human beings are being affected by these so-called “politics”.  If so, the politicians and doctors need to be held accountable … and arrested … as Mike Adams, The Health Ranger, strongly suggests regarding their involvement in this war against black and the poor of this nation … “land of the free, home of the brave”!  I am open to feed back … so … “hit me up”!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

 

Happy Friday, All!

I will give you all a hearty T.G.I.F. on this Friday … St. Patrick’s Day!

I have a tendency to get really silly on days like this with so many sayings, like … “I’m looking over a four leaf clover …” or “Kiss the Blarney Stone!”  I probably don’t have them right but being a native New Yorker, I know a lot about St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and green beer and green clothing and what have you … color it green … like that Leprechaun and Clover!!

So, the first thing I want to do is wish the truly Irish a Happy St. Patrick’s Day.  New York City is a place where many an Irishman and family settled and became a part of the labor force there.  In fact, by 1850, the Irish made up approximately one-fourth of the population in cities like New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Buffalo and Baltimore!  I think that is noteworthy for many reasons … especially to “shore up” the idea that immigrants literally helped to build America … starting on the backs of slaves from Africa and many other groups coming through New York’s Ellis Island who immigrated from Europe.  The Irish left and still hold an integral part of the culture.  I read one fact that during the height of Irish immigration to New York City, there were more Irish people in the City than in Dublin, Ireland!  So … “Get your green on!!”

Spring Breakers are still doing their thing here in Ft. Lauderdale and elsewhere.  I remember when and still take a moment to go out when I can.  My damaged car got towed, since I didn’t want to keep investing in something that I was going to give up anyway when I travel abroad so, I am counting on the luck of the Irish, some good friends, buses and Uber!

Have a great St. Patrick’s Day and a wonderful weekend!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

 

Let’s Clear the Air!

 

Happy Hump Day, Folks!

How are you holding up?!?  Life has a way of giving us each “good” things and “not so good” things!  You know what I mean, don’t you!?  Okay, so as I sit here at a desk in a flat in Florida, we have temperatures that have dropped into the upper 50’s.  The states that were hit with a “week before Spring” blizzard have a very different outlook on things although still located in the same country … the good ole U.S. of A.!  Folks here in Florida are considering the weather in the more northerly states as “not so good” while many folks up North are saying that they have had enough of the winter weather!  Is there much that any of us can do about the weather?!?  I think not!  Now I grew up in New York, we had many “snow days” in the winter … even when I taught at the High School there in White Plains, NY, we had multiple “snow days”.  Both students and teachers alike looked forward to them!  It all depends on how you look at it.

I have been told, for example, that my writing, is “pedestrian” … by a friend whom I respect but with whom I don’t always agree.  I am okay with that.  I have some friends who write very exquisitely and I often have to ask them to paraphrase their writing for me or I ask them if I understand it properly.  I always ask questions … because I am who I am!  I don’t claim to write or paint or dance or sing better than anyone else.  Yet, my goal is to be understood … you don’t have to agree with me … but my hopes are that you understand me.  Do you think that I will stop writing … or dancing, singing or “doodling” … because it is not “like” someone else?!?  I hope not … because I won’t stop until I can’t do it anymore!

We all deserve clarity in our lives, to understand what certain laws or rules and regulations may mean to us.  While we know it is hard to predict the future for the most part, we can anticipate or even roughly calculate what “results” we can expect from certain activities, laws or regulations.  Case in point, we all have witnessed the “bashing of Obamacare” as the POTUS’s proposed and implemented Affordable Healthcare Act has been called.  It is almost like in some instances, just the mention of the name “Obama” brings out a certain type of person who may not understand the repercussions of a newly proposed Trump Care Act; but as long as it is part of the “repeal and replace Obamacare” movement, they embrace it.  Then enter, the “smoke and mirrors” tactic to governing our nation while some elected representatives are merely “playing politics”!  A study was conducted by an independent company to see how many people would lose “healthcare insurance” with “Trumpcare”.  The study indicated that several millions of people will lose health insurance in the first year of the implementation of “Trumpcare” and nearly double that amount will lose healthcare in the following ten years.  Trump’s loyal representative Spence, even though he scrambled for words to explain “wire tapping” to the American people in a way I have never heard before, decided that the company conducting the study is usually good at being accurate with “dollars and cents” in their forecasts, but consistently inaccurate when it comes to calculating the number of “people” who will lose insurance under “Trumpcare”.  Many of us are left choosing sides again rather than like myself, who did not have insurance for two years and now has it, know that I will probably be one who will lose health insurance here in the USA in the coming years!  Do understand, folks, that our lives consist of more than “choosing sides” and being coached to accept what “others want for us” (obviously benefiting them as they “play politics”) especially when it comes to our healthcare.

Try to keep the air clear around your head when making decisions regarding you and your loved ones lives.  Hopefully, unless you are playing on an athletic team or are actually someone who needs “coaching” to accept someone else’s reality for YOU, you can see things clearly and can research things well enough to come to your own conclusions.  Be well!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Celebrate Diversity and Immigration: “Calle Ocho” – Miami

 

Happy Friday, All!

As is customary, T.G.I.F. is the best greeting from me to you!!  How about you?!?

From as far back as I can remember, “people from other countries” is what these United States of America were settled and built by; some immigrants came willingly, and others were forced into servitude commonly called “slavery”.  A quick side note, which is actually central.  Let us NOT forget that there were some people … yes, I said people … who were already here!  The American Indian’s culture thrived and spread across this land where the Europeans ultimately carved out the first “13 Colonies”.  Then there was a tremendous amount of Western expansion until this nation went from “sea to shining sea”!  Let us NOT forget that the American Indians were here and had a very different culture from the Europeans who ultimately “conquered” them as they had often done to each others’ cultures and countries in Europe, from agriculture and hunting to weapons and language.  There was in fact, a culture for the original inhabitants that was all but destroyed … in the name of progress.

I remember some years ago shortly after I had arrived in South Florida, I worked for American Express as a “telephone service center” representative.  We took incoming calls from AMEX customers from all over the world!  The office building was huge, well built and had people from all different cultures, sexual preferences and religions.  What American Express sought to successfully do was to establish a corporate culture that “embraced diversity”.  Not only was I  promoted to a “tsc” representative in “the Spanish gate”, I was later promoted to learning manager.  I taught the incoming “tsc” agents how to handle both the hard skills of navigating nearly 80 – 100 different computer screens, but also taught the incoming agents “soft skills” of customer service and de-escalating a complaining customer’s call.  The most impressive feature of this extremely complex and professional call center was that we also had a “Diversity Team”, on which I also served.  Our goal was to create a culture where all of the employees felt welcomed and in turn, were productive!  This was the secret to the success of American Express’s call center there in Sunrise, FL.  It is still there, though I no longer work there, and it continues handling customer service calls world-wide!

Do you think that the administration in charge of the government could learn something from this example?  Meanwhile, the current president touted the “fact” (by now, we see that it, too, was an alternative fact) that his cabinet has the highest IQ of any administration in American History.  We already know by now that the cabinet and other representatives have the highest income of any previous cabinet and administration since many of them are billionaires like Exxon’s Rex Tillerson.  However, the current president himself showed his lack of knowledge of American history when he publicly stated that he believed “Fredrick Douglass is a leading figure for African Americans” and insinuated that he was alive today!  It was later stated by another of Trump’s cabinet members, Dr. Ben Carson, an African American, that African Americans were also “immigrants who worked hard” … hmmmm.  IQ is still what is known as “intelligent quotient”, right?!?

Well, this Sunday is one of the largest, if not THE world’s largest, Hispanic culture festivals!!  “Calle Ocho” is a celebration of all of the Hispanic cultures here in the Miami area of which there is a plethora.  An area of many many blocks in Miami will be closed for traffic and all of the food, flags, music, dance and customs of this multicultural city, though predominantly Hispanic, will be celebrating what has been called “The World’s Largest Street Festival”.  Transportation authorities are encouraging participants and celebrants to leave their cars at home and use public transportation.  The vibrant, festive and colorful celebration is an annual activity that attracts people from all over the world!!  The streets are filled with dancing and loud music, some of it live and some recorded, and often continues well into the late evening hours!  I can’t think of a better place to embrace and celebrate diversity in these United States of America, other than perhaps, New York.  Next week, we’ll be celebrating “St. Patrick’s Day” festivities highlighting the Irish culture’s contributions to the building of America.  There is a huge parade in New York City.  Let’s NOT destroy this “acceptance of all cultures” in the U.S.A. with the smoke screen of “make America great again”, especially since it has ALWAYS been great.  And please don’t let anybody tell you anything different … not even the current president whose family is also of immigrant stock.

Enjoy your weekends, folks!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

What If We Don’t Question Things … ANYTHING?!?

Happy Hump Day, Mi gente (my people)!

How’s the week been treating you?!?  How about the “past 100 days and some”?  Have you lost any friends?  Have you gotten into any social media/Facebook disagreements?  Have you noticed the increase of “hate crimes” against Muslims? Jews? … even Sikh Indians?  Why do you think this is happening?

I have some friends who even wonder why we need to know IF the Russians had any impact in the election, to say the least … if they were able to “hack” into the DNC’s server during the election.  Of course, I respect that.  Yet, as an avid student of life … I ALWAYS ask questions … any question I want.  Kind of like the current president asking to investigate claims that the previous POTUS, President Obama, had tapped his phones in Trump Tower during the election … believe it or not!  My father used to always tell me that if someone is worried about “anyone” finding out what they were talking about at any given day or time, they must be worried about something, if not hiding something.  One of my college chums who works in DC for a law firm even suggested that maybe the president wants to know “how much we have on him” … So, he suggests to change the subject just a bit (divert they eye/bait and switch technique), or at  least, just add the wiring tapping claims on to the investigation of contact with Russian officials by Trump’s anticipated cabinet members.

Have you ever heard the expression, “Where there’s smoke … there’s fire!”??  Now, we have had one of the president’s cabinet members resign due to the fact that he had been found to have met with a Russian ambassador while POTUS Obama was still in office … that was Flynn.  Yet, there is another cabinet appointee by the same president, “Jeff” Sessions, who actually lied under oath during his appointment proceedings for Attorney General that he “had not met with any Russian representatives of Putin” during  the time that POTUS Obama was still in office!  Since then, there has been a “whirlwind” of controversy, including the fact that Sessions now says that he will recuse himself from involvement in any investigation into the FACT that there was contact between appointees to the Trump cabinet and Russian ambassadors, which now people defending them state, “Oh, all senators meet with foreign ambassadors as part of their job!” … Okay, so WHY did these two – Flynn and Sessions – say that they DID NOT meet with any Russian officials BEFORE Trump was sworn in?!?  I mean, at this point, I think most Americans have had enough of these “alternative facts”, which we as a nation, have NEVER had to entertain before our current administration!  Now, we are inventing terms to accommodate this “current” president, like “Winter White House” (costing the inhabitants of West Palm Beach their business incomes as traffic is at a stand still whenever he comes to “visit”, not to mention the cost to “we the people” for security in the Winter White House/private property of Trump) as well as “alternative facts”!  Everyone … well … now not everyone, but a substantial number of Americans want answers to all of the above.  There are even some who are requesting that “Jeff” Sessions step down from a very important position in the cabinet since he was, in fact, dishonest about having met with “any Russian representatives of Putin”!  Can we have politicians who blatantly lie to the people that they represent while being sworn in to office?!?  I think not!!  Some of us may remember when Sessions requested that Clinton resign amidst the “Lewinsky Scandal” in which then POTUS Clinton was named by one of his aides as having had “sex” with him in The Oval Office during his presidency.

In every academic course that I have ever taken or taught, asking questions has always been an integral part of the learning process, and, arriving at the truth.  As far as the Russian involvement, if any, in the election, whether they hacked into the system or not, and/or, if that hacking had any influence in the outcome of the elections is something that the American people deserve to know.  So, let’s cut the crap with saying, “Oh, it doesn’t matter!” or “The Democrats simply need to accept the fact that they lost (not in terms of the popular vote) the election”.  Even Trump himself was using the term to describe the American election process as “rigged” … until now … since he is the current president!  In fact, we don’t even hear the terms “draining the swamp” nor “rigged election” anymore.

So, Happy Hump Day y’all, and ALWAYS … ALWAYS expect to have any question you may have answered by the representatives that “WE the people” elected into office!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

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