Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Living Long Enough to Finally Figure Things Out

November 1st, 2023

In September 2019, a team of highly trained medical professionals implanted a new heart valve into the aortic opening of my heart. This TAVR (Transcatheter Aortic Valve) procedure involved placing the valve through my femoral artery. The physicians guided a catheter, carrying the engineered valve, through the artery to my heart. Inside the catheter was a folded replacement valve, which they securely positioned within the old valve, and opened like an umbrella in a tropical drink.

They informed me that my valve was made from both synthetic and bovine materials and was expected to last from seven to an undetermined number of years. If it failed, replacement was a viable option. A myriad of questions crossed my mind. Was the bovine donor raised in a specialized environment for medical purposes?

            Was it grass-fed? Did they treat it like the Kobe cows, with massages and special care? Heck, after reading about Kobe beef, I’m inclined to think that, except for their ending, I’d like to be a Kobe cow. These cows supposedly drink beer, get massages with rice wine, and listen to classical music. So, what about medical cows and pigs or bovine and porcine donors being prepared for humans?

Recent studies involving individuals in their final moments, explored the use of compassionate animal organs—particularly porcine organs—for human transplants. These studies provided valuable insights into the necessary adaptations for these animal organs to be effective in humans. Physicians and scientists meticulously reengineered these organs for compatibility with the human body.

Naturally, pig and cow organs must undergo testing in non-human subjects before human trials. The preparation of one of these organs for transplantation into a monkey, for instance, requires about 69 genomic edits. I’m not a scientist, but even writing this column takes about 39 edits.

Not that any of us reading (or writing this) can fully understand, but before these organs can function, they must undergo engineering to eliminate glycan antigens, to overexpress human transgenes, and to inactivate porcine endogenous retroviruses. Yeah, I know. I didn’t understand that either. It’s perfectly okay. I’ve been working with genetic scientists for about 20 years, and much of this is still very mysterious to me.

What they have discovered, however, is that including human transgene expressions in the reengineering process could enable successful preclinical studies of renal (kidney) xenotransplantation (pig transplants) in nonhuman primates. This single discovery could bring us closer to clinical trials of genetically engineered porcine renal grafts. What?

In other words, we’re getting closer to being able to use specially grown pigs with genetically altered kidneys to be implanted in humans. What would the impact of that be? Each year, more than 97,000 people in the United States need kidney transplants, but only about 10,000 to 15,000 people actually receive transplants from donors. Just like that cow who gave up its life to give me a few more years, there could be enormous positive strides in life-saving transplants from altered pig kidneys.

So, between AI connected to our brains, bionic limbs and eyes, and porcine and bovine spare parts, we might just be able to extend this life thing long enough to figure out our purpose. I think we have a long way to go before we stop the abhorrent behavior that has been so rampant recently.

The genetic difference between a chimpanzee and a human being is about 1.2 percent. There is a zero-percentage difference genetically between humans of different races, colors, creeds, and religions. When will we accept each other as one race, the human race? More importantly, when will we stop killing each other because of our stupid, man-made prejudices and bigotry?  What we are seeing in Gaza, Israel, Ukraine, and even in places like Maine in the United States is symbolic of our need to rip the scales from our eyes and admit that we are a single race that requires two things to thrive, the love and respect of our fellow human beings.


Reality vs. delusion

October 25th, 2023


Reality and delusion are the terms used to describe two contrasting aspects of human perception and cognition, and they may be the root of most of the challenges we are facing as a species today. What’s real and what’s not?

When we analyze the meaning of reality, we are referring to the state of things as they exist. This state of existence can be objectively independent of our own prejudices, personal perceptions, or varied interpretations. Reality is the actual, precise existence of something.

This interpretation of reality typically refers to something that is consistent and shared by multiple observers who have measured and confirmed it via empirical, factual, verifiable evidence. The moon is round. So are Mars, Venus, Saturn, the Sun, and all the other planets. The earth is not flat. That would just be a total embarrassment to the rest of the universe.

Yet there exists an entire community of “flat-earthers,” who, in spite of confirmation by thousands of verifiable sources, do not believe the earth is round. Even taking into account the need to deny gravity, distorted horizons, and sun and moon rotation theories, they still hold on to their beliefs. Consequently, the flat earth concept might be a subject that could be described as a delusion.

The author, Philip K. Dick wrote, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”

When I used to query my leadership classes as to the color of my necktie, (That was when people other than morticians, bankers, lawyers, and television newscasters wore neckties.) there would be some variables regarding the description of the color. They would sometimes select shades and nuances of color based upon Crayola names. Generally, if it was blue, they would agree that it was blue. My point was that somewhere along the years of man’s existence, we agreed that blue was the color.

Now, even something so simple as that color decision has come into question. This is due to alternative facts, false narratives, and social media challenges. As a society, the fact that my necktie is blue has become a source of disagreement, and a point of contention. 

Albert Einstein said, “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”

Delusion is, however, a belief that is not in concurrence with objective reality. They are often defined as fixed or false beliefs that are resistant to reasoning or contrary evidence. The interesting thing about delusions are their complete subjectivity. On the far end of the mental health scale, because they involve distorted interpretations of reality, they would have typically been associated with pathological conditions such as schizophrenia or other disorders. Now, however, these oftentimes total distortions of truths have become a simple path to getting something you want, something that might not otherwise have been possible by embracing actual real facts.

The problems with this type of distortion acceptance or promotion is multi-faceted. Confirmation bias, cognitive dissonance, Isolation, strained relationships, functional impairments, emotional distress, and professional and legal consequences are just a short list of possible outcomes that result from delusional thinking.

Obviously, conspiracy theories rank very high on the list of feeders to delusional thinking. Recently, a 71-year-old man from the Chicago area who, according to his wife, listened constantly to talk-radio, decided that he had to murder a six-year-old Muslim boy by stabbing him 26 times. He also stabbed the boy’s mother about a dozen times. He had been their landlord, and the boy was running over to hug him when he was assaulted. Will this man use as a defense that talk-radio radicalized him? That he was delusional? Or will he say, “The boy and his mother deserved to die because their beliefs were not congruent with his?”

As we look in the mirror each day, make sure we take an inventory of what delusions we might personally be accepting. It could save a life.




Patient Centered Care

July 5th, 2023

The moves on my personal career chess board went something like this: Band director to arts manager, then tourism director to health care executive. Looking objectively at my employment progression, one might struggle to identify some type of intelligent connectivity and continuity that makes sense, but it was indeed a rich experience pathway that resulted in a unique brand of leadership that could not have been predicted.

First and foremost, it armed me with a very deep level of understanding and experience in human relationships that addressed things like personal growth, happiness, and positivity. As a junior and then senior high school band director, I learned compassion, patience, and persistence, and was forced to become a master counselor to help my students achieve sometimes incredibly challenging goals.

When I entered healthcare management, my most often replicated thought was “Why do they do things this way?” It took me a while to find the answer to my question. The vast majority of the individuals involved in healthcare were adept in things like math, science, and other left-brain skills. My career path was heavily weighted in emotional quotient skills, and human interactions that nurtured my students, encouraged artists in creativity and uniqueness, and promoted entrepreneurial activities through our tourism business membership.

One of my first healthcare administrative fellows quoted a line from one of his professors that became our mantra, “Don’t give people what they will like. Give people what they will love.” There was also a masculine/feminine component to this philosophy as well because the vast majority of healthcare leaders were men, but the majority of employees were female, the majority of healthcare decision-makers were women, and the road to recovery and healing always included nurturing. These realities resulted in my taking a very different view of what healthcare leadership should look like, and it was opposed to many of the traditional “Dr. House” approaches that had been followed for many years.

The absolute power of humanness in healthcare had to be the core of the relationships between the patients and caregivers. That human touch is what fostered healing. This meant developing programs with empathetic understanding relating to the patient’s emotional needs. It also meant encouraging genuine connections between our healthcare professionals and their patients. That required pointing out over and over again that it may be the employee’s 127th tumor, but it was the patient’s first, and that meant compassion, tenderness, and empathy had to be part of the care.

The capacity to understand and share the feelings of others represented a very challenging new world order because that sharing also meant vulnerability, personal exposure to emotional pain, and transcendence of traditional roles as the caregivers embrace the holistic care of their patients. The acknowledgment and validating of patients’ emotions, fears, and concerns, allowed our healthcare professionals to create an environment that promoted healing. It also reassured the patients that they were being seen, cared for, and heard. Most importantly it instilled hope and reduced anxiety. That alone allowed white blood cells to do their work.

It didn’t take long to realize that with the establishment of provider-patient relationships, healing could begin more quickly. These relationships required the providers to understand their patient’s uniqueness. What were their cultural backgrounds, family circumstances, and personal preferences? By doing this type of homework and then allowing patients to actively participate in their healthcare decisions, a bond was formed that resulted in a patient-centered type of care that created incredibly positive statistical outcomes that still hold today.

By our acknowledging the psychosocial impact of illness, healthcare professionals were able to offer support, guidance, and resources to help the patients get through their challenges. By addressing these spiritual and emotional needs, our patients experienced resilience which facilitated their recovery and added to the overall quality of their lives. Honestly, as the neurosurgeons used to say, “This is not rocket science.”


No One Can Do This Alone

May 10th, 2023

            My career has been a roller coaster ride, but I learned early on that persistence, patience, creativity, and luck are all factors in business survival. So is blood pressure medication, Tylenol, and an occasional glass of something that does not emanate from the spigot in the sink.

            If you trace my work history, it was rather interesting. My first adult full-time job was in an already successful program that had been established in the Pittsburgh area. Because it was a fully functional program, all I had to do was maintain what I believed to be a good thing. Then, when I first moved to Johnstown, I landed in an incredibly successful program that, in comparison, made that initial job look mediocre at best. My new challenge there was to attempt to find ways to make this amazing organization even better. That’s when the persistence, patience, creativity and luck really came into play.

            For the next two decades, however, I was thrust into at least four failing, failed, or forgotten organizations that were described in my graduate program at Carnegie Mellon as “dogs.” I’m not sure why they chose such a noble descendant of the wolf to describe a deteriorated or destroyed business situation, but their teaching revolved around what you might do in order to turn a dog-like corporation into a winning one. That, my friends, became my life’s primary work, and thank goodness, it forced me to develop skills that were hidden deep within me. Fortunately, I had mastered a formula from my teaching days that was replicable and allowed me to do just that.

            That plan involved having an open door and an open mind, allowing people to enter my office and my life with sometimes outlandish, over-the-top, and even bad ideas. My secret was to never assume that any idea was a loser until I had a chance to hear it out and, in some cases, to implement it.

There was one very good idea I had stolen from a former CEO who, due to his hubris on both sides of the equation, first built and then destroyed a business/healthcare empire. According to legend, when he became the CEO for the first time, he cancelled all of his meetings and spent weeks interacting one-on-one with every one of his employees to introduce himself and get their input. Well, that was an amazing idea that had broad implications. (I didn’t steal his other idea of eventually misappropriating donated funds.That’s the one that resulted in his eventual imprisonment.)

            On the first day of my new job, I had my assistant clear my schedule, asked that she arrange for each employee to come into my office where I invited them to sit across from me at either my desk or the conference table while I introduced myself and my philosophy of transparency and openness. Then I got up and had them change seats with me as I asked them what they would do if they were president.

Not only did I hear a boatload of amazing ideas, but when I also got around to implementing many of the good ones, I gave them credit for it being their idea. Many of their suggestions were things I had planned to implement anyway, but having their name attached to the implementation of those ideas was a tremendous hit.

            Over the next 11 years, I received a lot of professional kudos that sometimes resulted in my own personal misappropriation of hubris. In fact, near the end of my CEO tenure, I began to believe my own press and sometimes failed to recall that had there not been a powerful local Congressman, an incredibly supportive staff and family, and a least three or four amazing local civic leaders who also contributed to this success.

The take-away? None of us, not one of us can do this alone. It truly is a team effort.


Gen Z

April 19th, 2023

Many of us are counting on the Gen Z kids to fix this mess, to help make this world a better place for everyone. It really is up to them. So, here are a few things to consider that may help them on this journey.

            First, and foremost, it really is all about choice. We spend our days making choices. We pick out the clothes we want to wear, and we decide how we want to fix our hair. Well, here’s a secret. Each and every day, we can decide if we want to be happy, angry or sad. It is absolutely a choice, sometimes a tough or complicated one, but it is ours to make.

            When someone says something hurtful, we can decide to let it hurt and react accordingly, but that’s a choice we are making. Just because one thing goes wrong, we don’t have to decide to allow that to dominate our feelings. How often have you heard, “That ruined my entire day.” One sentence, one comment that took seconds ruined hours of time. Don’t let someone kidnap your feelings.

            Also, purposefully seek out the things that make you happy, that make you feel okay about yourself, and make you smile. Life is so much better when you’re not throwing yourself against a brick wall and making yourself  miserable.

            Surround yourself with people who are nice, who care, who are loved and give love. The more time you spend with negative people with low self-images, the more miserable you personally will be. Seek happiness, but you also need to be honest with yourself and learn to manage your expectations.

            Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way to better yourself. Everything will not always go your way. Look for opportunities that will allow you to grow and to learn. That will give you an edge, by making you better at what you’re doing.

            Also, if you work outside your comfort zone in some areas, you will grow both emotionally and intellectually. That way, you’ll have a better chance to be successful at whatever it is that makes you feel good about you, too. Remember, you must like you before other people can or will. Everyone likes a positive person.

            Nothing and I mean nothing, lasts forever. The only thing we can count on in life is change. Change is that one constant that will be with us from the time we are born until we are gone. Don’t fight change. Learn to embrace it, to understand it, and to go with it. Make sure you try to ride the wave rather than fight the ocean. Life can change in a milli-second. You can hold onto the things that make you feel comfortable like those old shoes, or your favorite sweater, but understand that everything changes no matter if you want it to or not.

 Sam Walter Foss once wrote a poem about a medieval calf that went for a walk. The next day a dog followed the trail made by that calf. Then a bellwether sheep came along with all the other sheep behind it. Finally, a person saw the path and walked that same meandering trail that innocent little calf had made.

            The difference was that the person assumed it had been made by other humans. And even though his complaints were never-ending, he continued to follow it. Later the winding path became a road, and towns were built along it.

            We’ve all followed calf paths both physically and intellectually. You need to question the paths you take. Make sure you’re not wasting your life following some nonsensical path, and be sure the paths you create make sense, too.


Cobalt Red

March 27th, 2023

           Under the category, “There’s no free lunch,” Siddharth Kara, a British Academy Global Professor, has written “Cobalt Red,” the ultimate expose about the underbelly of today’s progress.

            Like historical books regarding the human toll movements like the Industrial Revolution represented in the name of progress, this book reveals the hidden cost of our current technological advances. It also exemplifies and uncovers the brutal realities that accompany this current technological transition.

            All our battery powered devices require cobalt. As the author states, “Although the scale of destruction caused by cobalt mining in the name of renewable energy is without contemporary parallel, the contradictory nature of mining is nothing new.”

            When I first became the CEO at a small hospital originally built for coal miners and their families, it seemed like a good idea to create an historic wall of fame featuring the portraits of the original presidents of the hospital. Immediately after having our maintenance employees hang those pictures of the leaders from the height of the Industrial Revolution, I began getting complaints.

            I was angrily informed that some of the still-surviving widows of deceased coal miners objected to any glorification of these men. They accused them of having hired some physicians to lie and say their husbands had died of asthma rather than black lung. That was done, according to them, so the families would not get black lung insurance benefits post-mortem. Some of the offended spouses even told me they had to have their husband’s bodies exhumed to prove they had died of black lung disease.

            Of course, the gory details of progress created by the Industrial Revolution as it related to the humans involved in mining coal or making steel were often either taken for granted, overlooked, or simply accounted for like the first wave of warriors in a war involving only bows and arrows. They were considered “the arrow catchers,” collateral damage, the price of progress.

            “Cobalt Red” does a deep dive into the current horrors our contemporary revolution is causing. With climate change deniers on one side and world ending climate catastrophe predictors on the other, it feels like the rock and hard place we’re currently faced with regarding the future of mankind has once again put us in a no-win position fed by greed in the name of progress. This journey to create a new world order sans fossil fuels, though potentially unavoidable, is also creating enormous levels of suffering and dying.

            Because internationally, most of these mines are considered artisanal or small-scale mines, they are referred to as ASM mines. Unfortunately, these are not small, well controlled and properly run mines. Not unlike the little coal mines that were all over Western PA at the turn of the Twentieth Century, these mines are typically staffed with a workforce that is exposed to hazardous conditions with only rudimentary tools.

            There are currently about 45 million people around the world directly involved in ASM mining which, according to Kara, represents about 90 percent of the world’s total mining workforce. Of course, their work does not just involve cobalt. They are also mining for tin, gold, diamonds, sapphires, and tantalum.

            The author states his findings in this book very clearly, “There are many episodes in the history of the Congo that are bloodier than what is happening in the mining sector today, but none of these episodes ever involved so much suffering for so much profit linked so indispensably to the lives of billions of people around the world.”

            The next time you look at your smart phone, your smart pad or watch, or you fire up your computerized car, just understand that the billion- and trillion-dollar companies who are buying the products of these miners must be aware that there is no clean supply chain that ameliorates the “suffering from oppression accompanied by unimaginable barbarities responsible for the destruction of life.” Once again, corporate greed is a matter of life and death. 


A Time Traveler?

January 5th, 2023

For the past 30 years, I’ve felt like a healthcare time-traveler.

Maybe that was because I took such a circuitous route getting there through education, the arts, and tourism, or maybe it was because I’m a musician whose brain was just wired differently.

Regardless, I’ve spent the past three decades proposing ideas that may or may not someday be implemented.

This afternoon, I ran across an article that I had written a decade ago that began with an idea I had been cultivating for 16 years.

It started with this sentence: Periodically, my life intersects with certain realities that previously did not seem to even be a consideration.

This article was about a potential project that involved the networking of approximately 20 rural hospitals via web connectivity.

The purpose of the network was to create a virtual health system that was not dominated by one super tertiary power, the normal health system model which is an ego-centric model that typically takes away the “Community” from community health care.

The network of small rural hospitals that I was studying had, in order to meet their overnight radiology needs, spent about $21 million for teleradiology connectivity to Australia.

My proposal suggested not limiting this to radiology. With that in mind, I proposed the viability of web based technology for cardiology, dermatology, oncology, and a dozen other specialities via telemedicine.

That very day, I saw an article by Christopher Lawton of the Wall Street Journal, who wrote “Cough, Cough. Is There A Doctor in the Mouse?” regarding the use of web services that allows patients to communicate with doctors via online video, text, chat or phone.

The year was 2009.

The organization I proposed this solution to rejected it as too progressive and today those 20 hospitals are still struggling to provide advanced specialty services.

Meanwhile, as we attempted to navigate COVID-19, telemedicine became not only popular but was also funded by insurance and has become extremely essential and life-saving.

About five years ago, I was tasked with creating an international seminar on integrative psychiatry which was aired on PBS in the Greater New York City area.

We had psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors, patients, and patient families who heard medical doctors from numerous foreign countries and the United States describe the incredible progress they had made with patients when they introduced integrative modalities to their practices.

These included music, art, movement, and meditation as part of their treatment plans.

Nothing big came out of that ground-breaking program either.

My next big effort was in pharmacogenomics where scientists test 300 of your 30,000 genes and then can tell you definitively which medications will or will not personally work for you. Twenty years later, that science is just beginning to be taught in pharmacy schools.

These types of rejected ideas have often made me wonder what my purpose was here on this planet. If leadership didn’t respond, if they listened but didn’t act, what good was it to be a thought-leader whose programs were clearly directed toward the future?

Then it hit me. I was put here to plant seeds, to make people think, to explore not what is but what could be.

It was only a few years ago when I offered two programs on Blue Zones at the Connellsville Canteen and Fayette County picked up on that theme and is making progress in this area of healthy living.

Consequently, I’m going to continue to try to get people to look ahead to ideas that could make our lives better, to challenge our status quo, to think positively.

Maybe like Johnny Appleseed who was credited with planting apple trees in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, West Virginia and Ontario, that vision to plant trees that would flourish after he was no longer there to enjoy them seems like a reasonable plan with a positive outcome.


Health and Wellness, “The Role of Integrative Health and Medicine in Rural Hospitals”

December 27th, 2022

           Recently, I had been invited to address a selective group of  Deans and Directors from a local university and independent hospital. My presentation was centered on, “The Role of Integrative Health and Medicine in Rural Hospitals,” and it was  based on my work in wellness and prevention. I defined our efforts at both Windber Medical Center (now the Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center Windber) and then nationally with the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine.

            Because my goal was to help build a stronger commitment to preventative health and wellness at both organizations, I addressed how a combined effort between these two strong neighboring not-for-profits could foster improved health in their workplace for their employees, for their patients and university students, for the citizens in the communities they served, and finally, for the students in their local school districts.

In the book “Why Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcers” Robert Sapolsky exposes us to the concepts of stress management and biology. When addressing diet and stress management, he gives the example of a young lawyer who decides that “red meat, fried foods, and a couple of beers per dinner constitute a desirable diet, and the consequences are anything but clear. Half a century later, maybe that attorney is crippled with cardiovascular disease, or maybe he’s taking bike trips with his grandkids.”

As Sapolsky stated in Zebra’s, “We are certainly aware of the extraordinary amount of physiological, biochemical, and molecular information available as to how all sorts of intangibles in our lives can affect very real bodily events.” My presentation was directed toward the steps we, as education and healthcare professionals, can take to assist our stakeholders in their life-journey.

Because “sustained psychological stress is a relatively recent invention mostly limited to humans and other social primates, we can experience wildly strong emotions linked to mere thoughts.” These fight-or-flight emotions were originally intended to assist all mammals during their lives but especially when being chased by saber tooth tigers. (That doesn’t happen much anymore.)

            The purpose of my presentation was to provide them with the tools needed to help deal with our daily ongoing stressors. It’s all about diet, moderate exercise, non-judgmental social support, and stress management via mindfulness activities. In many cases, we can decide every day in every way what should be worth dying over and, for the most part, determine what types of things knock us out of our homeostatic balance?

            Inactivity can be as harmful as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Obesity kills as many people as smoking which is life-ending annually for over 450,000 people in the United States alone, but stress? There’s no limit to the amount of people who are harming their health and limiting their futures by not learning any type of mind-calming, stress management techniques. It doesn’t matter if it’s yoga, the rosary, worry beads, meditation, or calmly nurturing a pet.

            Sapolsky goes on to explain the various “nuts-and-bolts factors” that will help determine which of these outcomes will occur. He explores the liver’s role in the making of cholesterol, the enzymes in fat cells, and potential congenital weaknesses. Then he hits the motherload, which is personality and how we individually deal with the stress generating problems between the mind and body.

            We know that the predominant diseases we deal with today are those resulting from, as the author explains “a slow accumulation of damage—heart, cancer, and cerebral vascular disorders.” We’ve also come to learn the fact that these inflammatory diseases are fed by a “complex intertwining of our biology and our emotions.” And there is zero doubt that “extreme emotional disturbances can adversely affect us.” In other words, “stress can make us sick.”

            Bottom line? Find what stops your amygdalae from pushing your emotional buttons to stop making you think that a tiger is chasing you.

            My former Chief Operating Officer, a former emergency room physician, used to look at me when I was stressed and say, “Everything’s okay. No one died.”  And, indeed, it was, and even I’m still here.


Who Framed Roger Rabbit

June 15th, 2022

In the 1988 film, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, a down-on-his-luck private eye, Eddie Valiant gets hired by cartoon producer R.K. Maroon to investigate a scandal involving Jessica Rabbit, the wife of Maroon’s biggest star, Roger Rabbit. But when Marvin Acme, the owner of Toontown, is found murdered, Judge Doom vows to catch and destroy Roger. If you haven’t seen this movie, it’s time because the country is currently going through a similar experience with the Former President, Donald Trump. Our country may be Marvin Acme, and the January 6th committee Judge Doom, but who is the real villain?
Trump has had some horrific luck during his lifetime where, even though he questionably inherited, many millions of dollars from his real estate-mogul father’s estate, there are those who have analyzed how those funds were used and claim his life would have been better, he would have been wealthier, and even more positively perceived by everyone if he had just invested that inheritance and lived comfortably from the interest generated.
If you look at his history of failed businesses, it’s a lot longer than even his history of failed marriages. I’m sure just paying off his ex-wives, his other misadventures with the ladies, and his myriad lawsuits from not paying contractors and craftsmen for the work done on his various bankrupt buildings, he could have lived luxuriously forever. Stack on top of that the failed Trump Airlines, Casinos, University, Steaks, the Trump Game, Trump Mortgage Company, Trump’s Corporate Communications Company, Trump Travel Site, Trump Tower Tampa, Trump mattresses, Trump Vodka, and even Trump Cologne. Per Forbes, “Trump claimed that his brand and brand-related deals were worth some $3.3 billion. Forbes valued his brand at less than .04% of that amount.” And went on to say, “Trump has repeatedly stood for half-baked schemes, shoddy work, and sketchy characters.” The poor guy just can’t catch a break.
Unlike Eddie Valiant, however, the former twice-impeached, disgraced president had been exposed to a philosophy of living from, among others, his famous Pastor, Reverend Norman Vincent Peale and other mentors and influencers such as his attorneys, Rudy Giuliani and Roy Cohn, chief counsel to the infamous U.S. Representative Joseph McCarthy. Philosophically, he believes whatever the outcome is, never admit defeat. Not unlike Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s chief propogandist who succeeded Adolf as Chancellor of Germany for one day before he and his wife committed suicide, after poisoning their six children with cyanide, Trump discovered you can win over the masses by using provocation to bring attention. There was a link between all of these men that seemed to inhabit our former president’s psyche. If you do fail, never admit you failed, which was Rev. Peale’s “Power of positive thinking” on steroids, Then, make sure there are people upon whom you can place blame even if you have to fictitiously create them, and Goebbels’ if you tell a lie often enough, people will believe it no matter how ridiculous it is.
Well, the January 6th Committee is carefully unpeeling the Trump onion by using not only his closest advisors, appointed leaders, and former allies, but also his oldest daughter and her husband to demonstrate what he knew, when he knew it, and how he selectively chose to ignore them. He did this to perpetrate the greatest scheme in American History by refusing to secede power and step down as President through igniting the ire of the masses via his “big lie” about a stolen election. According to the witnesses, he skillfully used his accusations and provocations to generate a quarter of a billion dollars designated to defend his presidency but instead spent it on his hotels, and to elect and buy candidates who would be loyal to him.
We don’t know how this real-life movie will end. Will Judge Doom or Merritt Garland press charges? Will autocracy replace democracy? In this case, it’s up to you.


Baby De’Avry

May 30th, 2022

As I sort through my thoughts, I look down at my hands and remember how small they once were,

When my Mom would hold on to each one of them tightly and happily swing me around.

Just like every young kid, my whole world was still new, filled with laughter, with love and with her.

She would hug me and hold me, and sometimes she’d scold me, but then kiss away every frown.

As a small child I knew that my mother would love me and always would help my light shine.

And when I got scared, or felt bad, or was angry, her love like a blanket was there.

It was great to be wanted, to feel that deep comfort, to have such an innocent time,

To be swaddled in light and be filled with contentment with not even one tiny care.

When I saw yesterday that nine shots had been fired just a block from my last Pittsburgh home,

I thought first of Uvalde, the Tops store in New York, then my mind went geography bound

To the 213 mass shootings we’ve witnessed that happened just this year alone,

And I feared for the lives of my neighbors and friends, When I saw a young mom on the ground

Holding Baby De’Avry and crying for help as she cradled her son to her chest.

Her small child was the victim of a gang drive-by shooting, a repetitive story too long.

And like so many others whose names we all know, he was taken, his soul put to rest.

Yes, her baby was just one more senseless victim, collateral damage, so wrong.
So now we must do everything that we can do to stop all this carnage and pain.

Like thinking and praying, and loving and caring, but most of all taking strong stands,

To work with our towns and our government leaders because this is really insane.

Our country must find every possible way to stop wiping this blood from our hands.0BAC6CD4-49A7-41BB-A1DA-4C39569F97A2De”Avery