If everything is a hoax, what is real?

We learned from the president of the United States, the coronavirus is a hoax designed by Democrats and the media to make him look bad. The president needs no assistance in looking bad. The family members who lost a loved one can breath more easily. And, the huge decline in the markets is not happening.

Of course, per the president, the Russian thing is a hoax designed to make him look bad. Good, so we need not worry that they did it and are doing it again per our national intelligence agencies.

Of course, if that was a hoax, then the Mueller investigation is a hoax or witchhunt. The fact that people have gone to jail and were indicted is irrelevant. The fact the Mueller report did not exonerate Trump of obstruction and said he was less than truthful is beside the point.

Plus, the impeachment thing was a hoax. It was another witchhunt per the president. So, I guess we should ignore those credible witnesses who testified at great risk and under oath, as well as the fact he was impeached in the house.

While we are at it, Michael Cohen’s words under oath where he said “Donald Trump is a racist, he is a con artist and he is a cheat,” were never spoken. It must have been a hoax thing.

So, if every thing is s hoax, what is real? It must be a hoax that Donald Trump is the most corrupt and deceitful president in my lifetime, including the crooked Richard Nixon. It must also be a hoax that Republican leaders would rather damage our democracy than question the abuse of power in the White House.

Let me leave Republican sycophants a piece of advice. Taking the president at his word is a fool’s errand. And, that is no hoax.

He IS heavy and he’s my brother

Per an article by Mike Stobbe of the Associated Press called “CDC survey finds about 40% of US adults are obese,” Americans are indeed “heavy.” And, some of us are very heavy.

“About 4 in 10 Americans are obese, and nearly 1 in 10 is severely so, government researchers said Thursday.” This comes from a 2017-18 health survey by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The survey found that the obesity rate was 42%….The severe obesity rate was more than 9%…But, it’s clear that adult obesity rates are trending up, said the CDC’s Cynthia Ogden, one of the reports authors.”

This should not be news. The World Health Organization has determined the US as the most obese country in the world for at least decade. A former Global Wellness UK based colleague of mine would say to clients, “one of the US’ greatest exports is obesity.” We have exported the gift of high calorie fast food.

The next time you are in McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, etc., read the calorie content on the orders. An average adult man is supposed to intake 2,500 calories per day with an adult woman limited to 2,000 due to size differential. If a fast food meal tops out at 1,250 calories, that is 1/2 a day’s calories. And, don’t even think of super-sizing.

But, it gets worse as we have too many kids with Types I and II diabetes. And, pre-diabetic is the diagnosis du jour for kids and adults. The key culprit is carbs. Bread, potatoes, pasta, rice – think white foods – convert into sugar and lead to diabetes.

So, what should we do about it? Here are a few ideas that worked for me as I shed about fifty pounds over a several years. The key words to remember are “sustainable change.” Whatever path you choose to follow, make it more than a fad change – make it sustainable. Here are a few paths to consider:

– Portion control – put your meals and snacks in a plate or bowl with smaller portions. Make yourself get up if you want more, but resist that urge.
– Less fast food – no or fewer fries (share them) and less fried food
– Less white food – this one is hard, but cut back
– Snack with nuts, trail mixes, and fruits (ripe or dried)
– Read the calorie contents – I might break a breakfast bar in half if it is 200 calories
– Indulge earlier in the day, so you can burn it off
– Walking is your friend

It goes without saying to check with your doctor before you embark on major change. Other anaerobic, core and stretching exercises (yoga, pilates, jazzeercise, calisthenics, etc.) are excellent, but I recommend something you can keep up over the long haul.

Let me close with a comment another wellness colleague who is a doctor used to say. “We are train wrecks waiting to happen.” Being heavy now will haunt you even more later. So, think sustainable change and get off that track.

Take it to the bank – it is political

When politicians do not follow customary procedures, take it to the bank, the reason is politically motivated. We have procedures, rules and laws to provide guardrails to governance. Senator Mitch McConnell is as political as they come, but so was his predecessor Senator Harry Reid.

Yet, both highly political men pale in comparison to the highly abnormal actions and words of the incumbent president, where seemingly every issue is political. It is a key reason we are exhausted as a nation. The regal-minded president just wears everyone out, even his followers.

When he denigrates the Federal Reserve, media or those who say things he does not like, which is abnormal in tone and magnitude, it is political. When he says there is a deep state out to get him, take it to the bank, he is being political. His worst enemy is the one that stares back at him when he shaves.

Hard working, duty-bound public servants are trying to do their job. When several testified under oath about their concerns of the actions of the president, don’t you think they knew of the risks, heightened even moreso by a vindictive president?

I hear how the impeachment was a hoax, but the House called witnesses and swore them in. I watched these folks and they seemed far more credible than some of the Representatives whose obvious mission was to verbally beat the crap out of the witnesses. Take it to the bank, their tongue-lashing was political. The truth was less important than to crush the credibility of the witnesses.

But, it is not just at the national level or just in our country. Russian leader Vladimir Putin has protestors or opposing candidates thrown in jail. Former British PM Theresa May called for a special election to secure more seats and the British public punished her with the opposite in response to her political move. She held an unnecessary election.

In my state of North Carolina, the former Speaker of the House did not have the votes to pass a budget, so he sent everyone home late that night. But, he told his party members to stay close and held another vote at 1 am with a small quorum. Not only is that political, it is unethical in my view. By the way, that Speaker is now the junior US Senator from NC.

We must have our leaders follow normal processes to protect us from politically motivated actions. We cannot tolerate that from Congress, nor should we tolerate it from the White House. When they behave out of the norm, take it to the bank, it is political.

Why is anger news?

Today, I read a headline that the president is angry the stock market is falling. OK, so he is angry. I am not too thrilled about it, but we have had a bull market for close to eleven years.

But, why is anger newsworthy? In a world of imperfect people, people are going to be angry at someone or some thing. We see twitter wars between various personalities over issues that are not that important. The angry president causes much of his own mess by tweeting about things that do not matter. He is mad that a South Korean film won the Oscar. OK.

People are mad at the Queen of England for agreeing that her grandson and his new wife cannot use certain royal privileges. Well, they did not want to be treated as royals or perform royal duties, so this is what that means. The Queen is just saying you can’t have it both ways.

And, we have talk show hosts who basically peddle gossip. Their shows focus on feuding celebrities, which concerns me even less than what the president is mad about. So, some star is mad at another and the other is returning the favor. OK.

There are so many things to be concerned about, we should be very unconcerned over who is angry at whom. Billy Joel sang about an “Angry young man.” In short, he became an angry old man. Think about that one.
________________

Here are two stanzas from an “Angry young man,” a transition stanza and one where the angry old man is introduced:

“I passed the age of consciousness and righteous rage
I found that just surviving was a noble fight
I once believed in causes too
I had my pointless point of view
And life went on no matter who was wrong or right

And there’s always a place for the angry young man
With his fist in the air and his head in the sand
And he’s never been able to learn from mistakes
So he can’t understand why his heart always breaks
But his honor is pure and his courage as well
And he’s fair and he’s true and he’s boring as hell
And he’ll go to the grave as an angry old man”

Memo to Democrat candidates – the president wants a mud fight

Dating back to the months following the incumbent president walking down the escalator to declare his candidacy, it has been very clear the president prefers a mud fight. Since he disdains reading and preparation, he knows the best was he can win is to sling mud. I want all candidates running for president to think of this comment.

Mud fights take full advantage of name-calling, labeling, and bumper sticker debate. As someone whose best skill is selling, Trump looks for props to sling mud with. Think Lyin’ Ted, Sleepy Jeb, Crooked Hillary, Little Marco, as easy examples. If Bernie Sanders wins the nomination, Trump will not just call him a socialist, he will call him a communist, which is not the same thing. In a mud fight, accuracy does not matter.

Trump is already tweeting away to paint his opposition in negative terms. Like most narcissists, he also projects his own shortcomings onto others. It is part of a narcissist’s defense mechanism. Call your opponent what could be raised about you to dilute its impact. If you ever want to know what Trump is guilty of, watch what he calls others.

So, my advice to the Democrat candidates and eventual presidential candidate, it is more than OK to be forceful with criticism of the president and his words and actions. It is hard not to. But, focus on the issues and underlying truths. We cannot have a president act in the way this one acts. We cannot extort countries for personal gain. We should not put children in cages and treat visitors to our country so poorly. We should not condemn the media or people who criticize the president. We need a president is truthful.

It amazes me the hold the president has over his followers. To me, his corrupt, deceitful and demeaning behavior is obvious. Two attorneys who worked with him have gone on public record to define Trump as untruthful or worse.

So, opposing candidates need to lean into Trump with obvious truths. Whether he is the nominee or not, the commercials run by Michael Bloomberg are excellent. He balances between his successes, his focus on key issues and disdain for how the president acts.

As I have shared with Senators and their staff, regardless of party, we cannot have a president who acts the way this one acts.

Missing context

It is not uncommon to see simplistic solutions or rationales skirt passed needed context. The other day, I read an op-ed that more of the blame on education problems should be laid at the feet of parents than teachers.

Actually, the problem has multiple factors, parents being one of them. But, the missing context is the high percentage of single parents and parents living in poverty. It is quite difficult for single parents to juggle a job (or two) and children and be able to attend all parent/ teacher meetings and help kids with their homework. And, kids in poverty have heard far fewer words in the home and start and remain behind as reported by David Brooks in “30 million fewer words.”

It is not unusual to read a letter to the editor say the problem with poverty is too many single parent families. Again, that is one of multiple causes, but why? There is a high correlation between poverty and large families. So, better funded family planning efforts have shown they can address both issues. Holistic sex education, better access to birth control, and straight shooting answers to questions can help young women and men with these issues.

Healthcare access is another concern that impacts people in poverty. The US is a leader in western world countries in a bad area – maternal death rates in delivery. We still have fifteen states who did not expand Medicaid. Rural hospitals have closed without needed funding. As a result, we have fewer doctors and nurses in these underserved communities. And, this does not reflect food deserts and their impact on community health.

Poverty, poor education, and poor healthcare issues go part and parcel with large family size, more single parents, and lack of opportunity in the community. There are multiple factors that drive these issues, but not doing enough to support families and children, whether it is better and safer after-school programs, whether it is more active community policing to address crime that comes with fewer opportunities, whether it is job retraining where companies and community colleges can address shortages, whether it is asset based community development to restore old buildings to something inviting and/ or commerce related, are all contributors in their absence.

I have worked with a number of homeless working families in an organization I was involved with. These folks were not in poverty due to lack of piety. Some of the most pious people I have ever met are homeless mothers. Poverty is simply the lack of money. Many had multiple jobs. They simply lost their home due to a healthcare crisis, due to childcare issue, due to the loss of car or one of the jobs, or their spouse or boyfriend beat them and they had to get out.

When we discuss the reasons why things happen, we need to think of the larger context. Otherwise, we will solve the wrong problem. A community developer from New York noted his chagrin when a community tore down a school (or left it empty). A community needs an asset like this not just for children, but for community activities for adults and children. This is the premise of asset based community development – repair or repurpose buildings.

Let’s think holistically. Let’s dig into the real causes. Let’s think of those who are in need and how we can help them climb the ladder. We cannot push them up the ladder, but we can make sure the rungs are well built and help them make the first few steps. A social worker I worked with used the phrase that she walked side by side with her clients. I like that. Let’s do more of that.

Five feet apart – movie on teen angst

Even at the ripe old age of 61, I still will pay attention to well-crafted movies about teen angst. While channel surfing, I came across a 2019 film called “Five feet apart,” written by Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis and directed by newcomer Justin Baldoni.

The movie is inspired by a real couple dealing with cystic fibrosis named Dalton and Katie Prager. The movie stars Haley Lu Richardson and Cole Spears who meet in a wing of a hospital dedicafed to serving patients with this life shortening disease.

Because of the deteriorated lung capacity and susceptibility to infection, the patients must stay six apart. Through the eventual relationship, they decide they can shorten the distance to five feet.

The movie received mixed reviews, but I found it worth the watch. I actually watched it three times as I seemed to pick it up 2/3, then 1/3 and finally from the beginning, so it put puzzle pieces together for me.

It also proved educational about cystic fibrosis and what patients must go through, both physically and mentally. Yet, at its heart it is a story of a slow courtship.

I don’t think I am alone in liking movies like this. I recall enjoying “The fault in our stars” a couple of years ago. But, we can trace teen angst movies back to the play “Romeo and Juliet.” Of course, the play and movie “Westside Story” is based off the Shakepeare play.

So, give it a watch. If you have seen it or are a still a sucker for such moviea, let me know what you think.

Here, there and everywhere

A lesser known Beatles’ song penned by Lennon/ McCartney was on the Revolver album – “Here, there and everywhere.” Using this song as a title to a potpourri post seemed appropriate. In no particular order:

A stark difference in the reactions to briefings that Russia is continuing to meddle in our elections was provided this week. Senator Bernie Sanders told Putin to back off, while the president of the United States fired the acting director of the Department of National Intelligence. Former Senator John McCain said in an editorial after Trump’s kowtowing to Trump in Helsinki, that he never thought he would witness a US president taking the word of a Russian leader over that of his own intelligence people. He still is. I have shared with multiple senators for many months that we have a national security risk in the White House. His name is Donald Trump.

Wells Fargo was fined $3 billion for their actions that led to the fraudulent creation of accounts and the failure to address these issues. They had been fined hundreds of millions earlier, but they still did not realize the severity of their screw up. Something this big is traceable to the top, whether it is explicit or implicit. Implicit means they created an environment that tolerated such bad behavior.

After yet another hate inspired mass shooting, this time in Germany, it troubles me that our leaders here are not condemning this in the harshest terms as German Chancellor Angela Merkel has done. Bigotry has to be carefully taught, so the only way to teach its counterpart is to condemn bigotry again and again as wrong. Our president fails to understand this point.

On the good side, the Taliban, Afghani and US negotiators are headed for an agreement which may end hostilities and allow for the exit of more US troops. Mistrust on all sides abounds, but let’s wish for a tangible and sustainable agreement.

Finally, from mythology, people who got too close to Medusa were either shot by arrow or turned into stone. US Attorney General is realizing now he has gotten to close to Medusa damaging his reputation. So, unless he leaves the building, he will end up being shot by the proverbial arrow or turned to proverbial stone. I guess the snakes are hiding in the combover.

Have a great rest of your weekend.

China bets on wind and solar power in Brazil

With the US government overly concerned with protecting non-renewable fossil fuels, other countries continue to move forward. An article called “China bets on wind and solar power in Brazil” by Manuela Andreoni in Dialogo Chino last August showed how China is filling the void.

From the article:

“It took just two months and a few billion dollars for China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) to become one of the largest providers of clean energy in Brazil. Between May and July, the company acquired two solar power plants – including the second largest in the country – and six wind farms.

Chinese companies were already a powerhouse in Brazil’s energy sector, owning about 10% of the country’s capacity, mostly because of big acquisitions in recent years by State Grid and China Three Gorges; not to mention the thousands of kilometers of transmission lines being built.

But the new move by CGN solidified China’s presence in Brazil’s flourishing new energy market. According to a Diálogo Chino analysis of public records, the new investments mean Chinese companies now own 16% of Brazil’s wind power capacity and 21% of its solar capacity, or 2,822 megawatts in total.”

American companies, states and cities are moving forward on renewable energy. Their efforts would be so more impacful if leveraged by the federal government.

Our planet needs more leadership on this issue than America is showing. Countries like Germany and China are filling that void.

The Wizard of Oz – scary movie?

CBS Morning News reported an interest in identifying the scariest movie people have seen. Seconds before host Anthony Mason confirmed my wife’s choice, she said “The Wizard of Oz.” Mason echoed her choice as his scariest.

First, what is your scariest movie and why? Second, did “The Wizard of Oz” scare you as a kid as it did my wife and Mason?

Thinking of Oz from a kids perspective, the witch is pretty scary by herself. But, I was scared by the mean talking trees. Yet, we should not forget the flying monkeys or the Oz icon.

As for other scary movies, my scariest is “The Omen,” with Gregory Peck and Lee Remick. I saw “The Exorcist” later, so I was more prepared for it. But, when I think of “The Exorcist,” I recall a local movie critic saying it scared him so much, he drove his car to his front steps and made sure his house key was right-side up before he left the car.

The first “Halloween,” with Jamie Lee Curtis and the fabulous Donald Pleasance is also top-of-mind scary. This was Curtis’ first starring role and Pleasance plays an interesting troubled man, whether he is evil or trying to prevent evil as in this movie.

Let me know your scariest. But, beware of falling houses, talking trees, flying monkeys and most of all, men behind the curtain.