A Call to Action to Keep Good Music Alive


I DON’T ASK MUCH, but if you listen to the Far From Center(ed) Podcast and/or love great music, please read:

Mike Amabile and Run Over Twice has started their big promo push for “Open Your Eyes,” but they need your help, if you live in one of the following markets, call these stations and request “Shattered Glass” (my favorite), “Blind”, “Sing the Blues,” “Black Label”, or your favorite track from their album…NOW! (pretty please)

WEEK 08 ENDING MAY 17, 2013











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Knives on Planes, Political Posturing and Higher Order Effects

I had this conversation with my friend Terry after we recorded the Far From Centered podcast last week, and I’m going to have to ask him back on to discuss this in further detail, because he’s a very intelligent Veteran who brings a lot of great insight and higher-order thought to discussions like these, but I’ll pose the introduction here.


As a Green Beret, I was taught and trained to look at “knock on effects” or “higher order effects” when thinking of the outcomes of a given situation.  This means instead of looking at what reaction #1 will be to a given situation, to look at reaction #5-10, to figure out the long-term effects of our actions, rather than the short-term “low hanging fruit.”

In my current position, we utilize “LEAN management,” which teaches us to use the “5 Why’s,” which teaches those in leadership positions to never accept the first reason something goes wrong.  For example: if an auto assembly line has oil spilled on the floor, as a manager you try to figure out why.  The first reason: a line carrying hydraulic oil is leaking.  If I stopped there, I’d never get to the root cause and actually fix the problem.

I get to Why #2: there’s a faulty seal in that line.  If I stop there and just replace the seal without inquiring further, it’s only a band aid.  Why #3: the company has been purchasing the cheapest seals we can find.  Why #4: the person in purchasing has been given an order from higher to look at economy over quality.  Why #5: management is only focusing on the bottom line, and not the final product.

I take all of these experiences in my life and use them to view the world; when I see things that don’t make sense to me, my mind starts going a million miles a second, trying to find both root cause and the higher order effects of what will happen from whatever is going on.

Adam Carolla has a great game he plays called “stupid or liar.”  It’s a comedy bit, but has a lot of truth to how we should view people in charge and what they’re doing.  His supposition is that people are either stupid or liars when they say things that don’t make any common sense from the outside perspective, and it’s right on.

Take President Obama; I have a lot of very conservative friends, and even though they are very intelligent, many like to immediately discount him and call him an idiot for the things he does and is doing.  But can you really think that?  He’s an extremely educated, intelligent and well-spoken individual, so I think we need to go to the other idea.

For all that Obama hasn’t done in his administration; he has been wildly efficient at one thing: setting the Republicans and Conservatives up like a chess master to do exactly what he wants, by making them look like incompetent fools, and their short-sightedness is allowing him to do it quite easily.

Take the last election; everyone knows that the demographics in this country have been changing rapidly over the last decade.  Obama has possibly the whitest man in America as his VP, to the first ever American black President.  Mitt Romney, possibly the second whitest man in America, didn’t even have Marco Rubio, a Republican shining star, anywhere on his short list.  Was anyone paying attention in the RNC?

We look at the current 2nd Amendment battle that is raging, the fiscal cliff, Obamacare, and last but not least the sequester.  The sequester was the most recent, and the only one where the Conservatives didn’t take the bait and fall for the trap, but I’ve seen something recently that scares me much more.

I saw a news report this morning with an interview with the head of the FAA, speaking about why he decided to allow small knives, bats, lacrosse sticks and golf clubs on planes.  It didn’t make much sense to me, and with a father who made his career as a pilot, it hits pretty close to home.

His given reasoning was that he wants the TSA, who is known to be wildly incompetent, to be able to focus entirely on what is potentially the biggest known and visible threat of bombs on planes.  He says that he wants his screeners to be able to focus completely on this issue, and not worry about anything else.

But was there ever an outcry of people wondering why they couldn’t take knives on planes in this post-9/11 world of travel?  I’ve heard shampoo, laptops and the shoes, but everyone pretty much understood why knives would be an issue.

As the head of the FAA, it’s a given that he also isn’t stupid…maybe not bright, but definitely too educated and accomplished to be called stupid.  So if we follow that thread, what is the motivation to allow these weapons back on planes, even though the flight attendants and pilots unions are very vocally against the idea?

As my friend Terry pointed out, and it makes quite a bit of sense to me now, it’s most likely political posturing, and Obama doing what he does best and setting the Conservatives up to take a fall.

The Conservatives finally banded together, didn’t take Obama’s bait and allowed the sequestration to happen, knowing full well that it wouldn’t touch much of their constituency, and in the end the roughly $2 billion it saves is only a small drop in the pan for our enormous government waste and budget.

But how can Obama turn that back around on them and make everything look as if it were their fault, jabbing another knife in the side of Conservatives while they’re on the ropes?  Catastrophe.

It was Obama’s close friend and ally Rahm Emanuel said “you can never let a good tragedy go to waste,” but is he sinister enough to manufacture, or at least set up the events for a tragedy?

Let’s look at the knock-on effects here; Congress allowed the sequestration to happen, because it was Obama’s idea in the first place, he refused to cut spending as he promised and instead grew the government waste even further, and wasn’t willing to put addressing government waste on the table whatsoever.

It is already very public knowledge that his administration has been consciously and purposely making cuts that were the most visible, so that even while most of the Conservative base are working individuals who aren’t affected much by the sequestration cuts to public assistance, they can see the false effects that he’s manufacturing.

Now the TSA is saying they don’t have the resources or bandwidth to properly check everyone and everything, and even though knives, bats, lacrosse sticks and the like are not hard to pick out, and are picked up by metal detectors that require no effort or thought by TSA workers to find, it’s the red herring that they’re using as an excuse.

What happens next?  We know that we have a world full of lunatics, and a lot of them who want nothing more than to see America fall.  We know that there are “lone wolves” out there, even in our own country, who don’t need orders from Al Qaeda or any other terrorist group to try and act on these wishes.

I sincerely hope that both Terry and I are drinking crazy sauce, but the next events that we see are one, or even worse a group of these crazies using these now TSA-approved weapons to bring down a plane in a terrorist act, made possible by political posturing and a government wishing to destroy another party rather than help the country.

As soon as that happens, what does Obama and his administration gain?  Being able to pin the blame on Conservatives and sequestration taking away the TSA budget.  Please tell me we’re not the only ones who see this.

When you see something that doesn’t make sense, or you hear someone in power say something that goes against common sense, play the “stupid or liar” game, and analyze the 5 why’s and knock-on effects for yourself.  When politicians are more concerned with politics and posturing than the fate of our nation, we’re all in trouble.

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Man in the Mirror, Race, Color and Creed

A friend of mine told me last week that as he read my blogs, he could imagine me yelling at the computer as I typed.  That’s not exactly what I’m going for, but pretty funny from a guy who knows me so well.  The things that I see in the news these days tend to get me a little heated, and it seems to come out when I write about those stories that get me worked up enough to put my feelings about them out there.

There are a few events which happened last week and are making the rounds in the news now, and there is one most of all that resonates enough with me to want to talk about…and hopefully you’re starting to learn my point of view enough to come along on this ride with me.

I’ve had an idea for quite a few years now, as I watch the world and America especially, fracture itself on purpose in the name of fairness and equality.  I’ve watched as people have tried as hard as they can to put themselves into every sub-group possible, in an attempt to find their
“identity,” but only succeeding in bringing them further and further from the rest of society, mankind, or people in general.

My idea is quite simple: As long as you define yourself by race, color, or creed, you will always be  defined by your race, color, or creed.

It sounds innocent enough, but stay with me here; at one time, we were all just people.  It was us against the world, struggling to keep the tribe alive long enough to pass on the bloodline and stay in existence, making our own footprint on this world.

People began to multiply, immigrated to different parts of the world and began their own tribes.  At one point, many of these tribes came together to form this great country that we call The United States of America.

I have Italian, Nordic and other types of blood running through my veins, but I’m not an Italian/Nordic/etc, I am an American.  My wife was born in Taiwan and raised in Texas, but she’s not a Taiwanese/American, she is an American.  As I said on “For Crying Out Loud” last week, my kids are “one part olive oil, one part soy sauce,” but they’re not Italian/Taiwanese-Americans….they are American.

But for some reason, in the last generation our society has strayed as far as they can from that point of pride, of calling yourself an American and instead putting as many hyphenations on the greatest of compliments as it takes to completely negate the “American” part of it.

When we were all just humans, we worked together as a tribe, to hunt and provide, to protect and care, to keep ourselves alive.  When we were all Americans, by the same token we all worked together to build this nation into the greatest civilization in the history of man.  We all pitched in an picked up trash if we walked past it, mowed our lawns, worked hard and brought home a paycheck, raised our kids to be fine, upstanding citizens, and the tribe was well.

What do we have now?  As people began to stray from our national identity, our society followed.  As people dropped the “American” from their only description, flags stopped appearing in so many yards, graffiti went up on every wall and overpass sign, and the trash stopped getting picked up.

As the pride in our society diminished, and it became more about “me and mine” rather than “us and ours,” education began to falter; the home structure is on the ropes, with the traditional family being a minority rather than a majority these days.  As our American brothers and sisters cared more about other details than being American, we let our society slip away.

We used to have an “ask what you can do for your country” mentality, even when dealing with our own races and/or cultures back in the day.  It wasn’t “we feel alienated because there is one fewer of mine than yours in political office,” or “not enough of a certain race represented in small business owners.”  It was the opposite; instead of, “what is America doing for me,” it was “look at what we’re doing for America.”

Proud Irish and Italian immigrants building the skyscrapers in New York.  All black/Irish/Italian units like the Red Tails or the Fighting 69, doing their part for this great country and using it as a point of pride, showing just how damned proud they were to be American; they used those points of pride to show just how much they contributed and belonged to this great society, rather than trying to fracture away from it and turn it into something it wasn’t.

So what got me onto this subject today?  Well, for one, I watched Django Unchained last week…..wow.  After announcing on “FCOL” last week that we hadn’t received the viewer from SAG, a friend sent me his copy, and all I can say is wow.  Good job Tarantino, it makes Roots look soft.

There are a few news stories that followed, interestingly enough, about a man slapping a toddler on an airplane and another man in a hospital saying only white nurses could touch his newborn.

I think that both of these events, and many other like them, are a result of people having this “you vs me” mentality, and I’m not saying that IT is a result of our fractioning and trying to create our own identities based on anything that sets us apart, but I feel that the fracturing is making it worse, more apparent, and more widespread.

People are inherently jealous of those who have what they don’t, and that can be money, special attention, fame, or anything that a certain person wants.  We used to have a society where people would say, “wow, that person has everything I want, I’m going to work hard and get it myself.”

We’ve now changed, I believe due to this fractioning and loss of American identity to a “look at what that jerk has, why do they deserve it and not me, I’m going to ruin their life and/or take it from them.”

By calling ourselves everything under the sun besides American, by flying the flag in our car/yard of the country we LEFT for America and a better life instead of the American flag, by creating our own identity rather than that of our countrymen and brethren, we have taken ourselves out of a society that works together toward a common goal to a narcissistic one who only believes that the group of people with whom they can identify should be happy and successful.

Think I’m getting a little overboard with this?  Look at the ACLU and the cases it has been fighting.  Look at the cases involving Atheists and, instead of giving them a better leg up, the fight is completely about taking the First Amendment rights away from the majority of this country, which is religious, and not allowing them to express themselves.

It is not a fight about trying to make the country, or even Atheists better, but rather destroying the livelihood and ability to express themselves away from people who are devoutly religious and attribute and success or happiness in life to their creator.  It’s not “i’m going to work hard to better myself,” but rather “I’m going to work to take what’s important away from you.”

Long story short, I feel that we are starting to fall way too far from the apple tree.  We’re all on “Team Human”, and as soon as we started going away from that, countries formed, boundaries were made and wars were waged.

Even within our own country, we have begun to move away from “Team America,” and as we’ve done that, our society has begun to shake at its foundations.  It would take much more than I can imagine to get us back to the “Team People” mentality, and as a sheepdog I do believe that there are evil people in the world who need to be forcibly removed, but maybe we can get back to the “Team America” way of living.

But how can we do that?  By just paying attention to what you’re doing, every day, all the time.  We involve so many biases and judgements in our daily life, based on things that are so engrained in society today that we do it without thinking.

Pay attention to everything going on around you; understand that Republican, Democrat, Liberal or Leftist, we are all American.  Our politicians have fallen into this trap and become so polarized that they are completely ineffective, and have further divided our nation into “red” and “blue” states.

Don’t fall into that trap; whenever you listen to the news, meet someone new, take your kids to school, or whatever you’re doing in life, remember, above everything else, you are an American, we live in the greatest society known to man, and we are letting it slip through our fingers.  Only by coming together on the common goal of keeping our society at the top of the pack can we ever succeed.

I was giving my son a bath after getting back from the gym this morning, and as my iPod was on shuffle, “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson came on.  I hadn’t heard this song in some years, but it was great timing given what was already going on in my head and in the news.

If you, like me, haven’t heard that song in quite awhile, go put it on.  I’ll be here when you’re finished, but really listen.  And if you feel bashful about it, or that it challenges your masculinity in some way listening to Michael Jackson, remember that this Green Beret with shrapnel still in his body from Afghanistan has been listening to it all morning on repeat….I’m not saying i’m the toughest or most masculine guy in the world, but I’m closer to the top half than the bottom, and I love that damn song.

We’ve been spending too much time looking to inept politicians or others in charge to make the changes that we need to get back on the right track as a society, but they have more than proven themselves incapable (or unwilling) to do it for us.

If we want to make a change and get our country back on track, to be the same great nation for our kids as it was for us and our parents, it all starts with us.  It starts with me, it starts with you, it starts with all of us together.

Take a long hard look in the mirror, if you have kids, take a long hard look at them.  If you, like me, believe that we going in the wrong direction in society, don’t wait for someone else to change it, start making a change with the man in the mirror.

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Author Robert Patrick Lewis on the Dr. Drew Podcast 3/8/13

Download the Dr. Drew podcast on iTunes or the Adam Carolla app to hear “Love Me When I’m Gone” author Robert Patrick Lewis talk about PTSD in troops.  This episode was recorded at Carolla 1 studios on February 22nd, but will air March 8, 2013.

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