Tag Archives: American

Wow, what a mess! American Politics

Sometimes (no, most of the time), I scratch my head and try to figure out how we got here. How did we end up with Donald Trump in the White House, and with Republicans with majorities in both the House and the Senate? As with most things these days, I concede that the answer is complex. I think it is easy to blame Hillary Clinton for running one of the worst campaigns in history. We can also blame the media for giving Donald Trump nearly unlimited airtime for months on end. I guess we could blame the Democratic Party for not fostering a selection of good candidates who would be able to relate to America. We can go back and blame the media again for giving us a steady diet of complete drivel – reality TV.

First, I think we must examine our election process. Again, the media play a big role. 30 or 40 years ago, when a candidate was running for president, he would sit down with the voters of Iowa and New Hampshire. Those Americans were chosen to be the gatekeepers. They would weed out the knuckleheads from the serious candidates. If you were an average citizen, you had little or no knowledge of the inner workings behind the politics of Iowa and New Hampshire. It was rare that you ever heard a speech from Iowa. You were not privy to the town hall meetings; nor the county fairs. Now, with 24-hour television, radio and blogs, nothing goes uncovered. Every time a candidate blows their nose, it is reported on any number of networks. We know exactly what type of tissue was used. Overb the last twenty years, the whole political procesd has changed from discussing policies on how to make America better to something much more superficial. Our political process has become the ultimate reality TV show. It is about gaffes, zingers, one-liners, and who had their “oops” moment – like former Texas governor Rick Perry. Bernie Sanders is talking about serious policy issues. Boring! Look, Trump is throwing around a bottle of water pretending to be Rubio. Now, that’s funny. That’s entertaining.

For the most part, you or I could probably give an average political speech without breaking a sweat. You know the average Republican will talk about cutting taxes, restricting abortions, and flexing American military might around the world. The average Democratic speech will cover better job prospects for the average American; higher wages, fighting corporate corruption, clean air and clean water and – never forget, keeping America strong. While there is nothing wrong with any of these goals, Americans have heard it all before. Yet, the standard of living fot the average American has been stagnant, or has fallen, since the late 1970s. Americans are tired of hearing the same old drivel. Many politicians have become nothing more than noise boxes, sounding much like Charlie Brown’s teacher.

There are some politicians who have done some fabulous work. I’m not saying that they haven’t. What I am saying is, that for the average American who is 40 or 50 years old and makes $40,000 a year, not much has changed. He or she has seen Republicans and Democrats in the White House, and they are still working as hard as ever. They have little or no savings. In order to send a child to college, these Americans are going to have to take out gargantuan student loans, which they have no conceivable way of repaying. Here is the problem. This is the exact concern which Donald Trump tapped into. He spoke differently. He never specifically said he was going to do this or that. He spoke in broad terms – “I am going to make America great again.” He tapped into the frustration of middle-class America. He basically told us that he was going to give us the tools so that we could be prosperous again.

Although identifying the problem in our American society is relatively easy, figuring out how to fix the problem is far more challenging. What thoughts do you have?

A couple of thoughts on the #DallasShooting

I am a Dallasite (I know that I now live in West Virginia). I wasn’t born in Dallas, but moved to Dallas at the age of 6. I grew up in Dallas. I did medical school in Dallas. The sadness and guilt around the Kennedy assassination was then and continues to be palpable. Dallas is a great city with all of the benefits and problems of a large American metropoli. This is going to hurt for a long time. This #DallasShooting happened blocks from where Kennedy was shot. Kennedy, adding with many of the victims of this shooting, were taken to Parkland Hospital.

The fact that someone decided that targeting police was an idea which needed to be acted on is sad, twisted and unhinged. The killing of innocents is always wrong. It is un-American and it is not consistent with our Judeo-Christian heritage.

It has been reported that one of the shooters claimed that he wanted to kill white people; especially white police officers. He stated that he had acted alone. These proclamations prove that he was indeed an unhinged racist.

It is relatively ingenious the way the Dallas police neutralized the shooter. After negotiations broke down, there was an exchange of gunfire. It became apparent to the police that the suspect was barricaded in fairly well. So they used a robot to deliver a bomb, killing the suspect. I have no problem with this. None.

There was some looting of a 7/11. There is no excuse for this whatsoever. I understand frustration. I understand the feeling of disenfranchisement. I can not understand taking advantage of a moment of lawlessness to break into a store and steal beer and wine. that is crazy, unnecessary, and unhelpful. The whole purpose of the protest was to show America that Black Americans are Americans, too… It was to show that Black Americans can, and do, follow the rules like everyone else in America. Therefore, we deserve the same rights as other Americans. This act of stupid selfishness just isn’t helpful.

For some reason we Americans seem to have trouble articulating two ideas at once. The media would have us believe that you have to be either for the police or for #BlackLivesMatter. This is wrong. I appreciate and support the police. At the same time I understand that there is something wrong when Black men die at a high rate when they (we) encounter the police. Something has to change.

 

 

 

 

DUI

Over the next couple of days, I’m going to post some of the articles that I have written for the Urban News over the past several months. Let me know what you think. –

dui

It is time for us to get serious about drinking under the influence. We continue to treat this problem as if it were a college prank. It ain’t. We are talking about life and death. It is a privilege to drive a car, not a right. I believe that cars are a necessary part of being an American. There are only a few places in this country in which you can get around without a car. Everywhere else, you need a car; therefore, you need to adhere to the rules that each state has which govern who can drive a car.

A 20-something with 2 small children in his pickup truck is driving too fast on his way to Wal-Mart. His reflexes are impaired from his daily usage of methamphetamines. He doesn’t see the red light, or he believes that he can just run it. Halfway through the intersection, he slams into the driver’s side door of a Mini-Cooper. The 53-year-old mother of two is sitting in the front passenger’s seat, She is wearing a seat belt, but is killed instantly. What makes matters worse is that this killer was arrested 18 months earlier for driving under the influence when he hit several park cars. No one was injured in that crash. How many times does he have to kill or injure someone before we understand that cars can be used as deadly weapons when the wrong person is behind the wheel?

In 2013, over 32,000 people died on American roads. 32,000 is a lot of people. The good news is that we drive safer cars and more and more of us are surviving crashes. Alcohol is estimated to be involved in somewhere between 50 and 90% of motor vehicle crashes. This doesn’t include other mind-altering substances like methamphetamines, oxycodone, Valium, anti-depressants or any of a number of other drugs that dull the senses and slow the reflexes.

Trauma Surgeons, like me, have been trying to get the American public NOT to say “motor vehicle accident.” An accident is something that really can’t be prevented. A toddler running with a drink in his/her hand will spill it. That really isn’t preventable. As long as toddlers have drinks in their hands, they will spill. On the other hand, driving a car is different. There should be some thought going into the basic operation of a motor vehicle. Sometimes, we are driving too fast for the conditions. Sometimes we aren’t paying attention. Before you back up, you check your mirrors and look behind you before you backup. Right? I think that automated cars will be great help. They will be doing all of the basic “thinking” for us. Many of the crashes that we see today will be eliminated. Unfortunately, none of us can go and buy a Google car tomorrow. (I think that the Google Car will be great for some of us who have some issues will reflexes and eyesight.)

Ethan Couch is the boy who has been labeled by the media as suffering from Affluenza (being given too much by his parents). Couch was 16 years old when he was involved in a motor vehicle crash. He killed 4 people and injured 2 others. His alcohol level was a sobering 0.24, 3 times the legal limit. The judge thought that this was some type of minor offense. Ethan got no jail time. He got 10 years’ probation. What is that? If I drove my car across the judge’s lawn, I promise you he would give me more than just probation. Now, Ethan is back in the news because he is running from the law after having been caught on video drinking at a party. Can someone do the right thing and throw this guy in jail?

Look, there are tons of injustices in our society. There are some things that we really can’t figure out. This isn’t one of those situations. If you believe in justice, then folks who take mind-altering substances and then drive a car deserve to be thrown in jail for a good, long time. If we lean toward “being nice” and allow these folks to go scott-free, then aren’t we saying that the lives that were stolen had no value? To me, life is a gift and should be valued.