Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Guns: A Trust Issue

So, I got pissed and started writing in my journal this morning. The words from a 1970's era film first came to mind:

"Network" (1976)

Beale: I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth; banks are going bust; shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter; punks are running wild in the street, and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it.
We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat. And we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be!

We all know things are bad -- worse than bad -- they're crazy.
It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out any more. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we're living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, "Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials, and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone."
Well, I'm not going to leave you alone. I want you to get mad! 
I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot. I don't want you to write to your Congressman, because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street.
All I know is that first, you've got to get mad.
You've gotta say, "I'm a human being, goddammit! My life has value!"
So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell,
"I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!!"

So here's what pushed my last damn button this AM: The current administration has handcuffed law enforcement agencies in the pursuit of terrorists by allowing deeper and broader criminal investigations for Americans who are not Muslim. 

The "Left side of the Politburo" is on the news with the Senator Chris Murphy, with that idiot Diane Feinstein standing behind him with the other Dem cronies, blaming the "out of touch Republicans" for not passing the gun bill yesterday.

First, to set the record straight, I would have voted for that bill under different circumstances (although I have not read it, and the Devil is in the riders and attached bull shit). What happened yesterday is that the Senate stood up and said, "No, F-Off. We don't trust this administration, and we are not removing any of the the teeth from the Second amendment right now."  I believe those bills would have passed if so many American's were not at the point where they have so little trust and faith in their leadership.

An Assault Rifle is fully-automatic. It sprays bullets until the belt
or magazine is empty. They have been illegal for over 80 years.
So, once again, we have a horrible event and choose to blame an inanimate object. Our spineless Gumby-like media has latched onto the term Assault Rifle like a pit bull on a UPS driver's leg. Stop you ignorant pukes. No one owns any Assault Rifles (at least legally). AR is an acronym for Autolite Rifle. It had a lighter stock. Assault Rifles are fully-automatic, NOT semi-automatic. A SAW is a 7.65 mm NATO round belt fed AUTOMATIC Rifle that I could cut your house in half with. An AR-15 sold legally is deer rifle that fires a single round per trigger pull, and has different 

If I put on my suit and tie and go to a wedding, I look pretty affable. If I put on commando clothes, combat boots and gloves, and camo face paint I can look a little scary. Same guy.

Second salient point here: We are at juncture in our nation's history where many among us are not going to fork over the last line of defense against a government that we do not trust. Hillary Clinton is running for office. After Bengahzi, and Server Gate, and 30,000 MIA emails she is shielded politically from prosecution because our Commander in Chief is, in all likelihood, complicit. Hence, Justice Department gets an order to stand down. MAD AS HELL. Now she's running for President?  Trust issue.

But back to what pushed my last button: It is the audacity of our nation's leadership in turning the tragedy in Orlando into a PR stunt. In the words of Chuck Woolery, blaming an AR for the night club tragedy "is like blaming an aircraft for 911". How arrogant. How opportunistic. A self-proclaimed Islamic Fundamentalist (yes - read the words aloud Mr. President, et. al.), perpetrated the crime. Now we have another rush for gun legislation. The root cause of the problem is your complete failure to acknowledge the enemy, demonize the enemy, protect us from the enemy, and attack the enemy. In fact, as the data is now coming in, you may have enabled the enemy in his attack on the night club in Orlando. Yep. Let that one sink in.

Let's do that thing that the "Left side of the Politburo" hates;  let's interject some facts and logic. In the weeks preceding the attack on the LGBT community at that night club, a gun store owner in Florida contacted authorities. He was suspicious of a customer that made unusual inquiries about body armor and bulk ammunition. The store owner explained they don't sell that type of merchandise, and refused service to the customer. He then called his sales team together, and they agreed that the patron's questions transcended odd. They contacted authorities approximately three weeks prior to the massacre (but sources did not specify which authorities).

Here's the part that makes me sick to my stomach, and Former FBI Director James Kallstrom has been very vocal on this; rightly so. He shared these statements with Megan Kelley on air earlier this year:
"They're [law enforcement agents] weighed down with this blanket, this wet blanket of political correctness, number one.  Their training manuals were deleted of all words that were objectionable to these so called 'educated people' at the National Security Council and the White House."
"All these congressmen on a moment of silence on the steps, it's hypocrisy. They've done nothing to make the FBI's job easier."

After Kallstom's last interview, wherein he called out the culture of political correctness within law enforcement as the primary problem, he received over 35 calls from agents at all levels acknowledging that he was absolutely correct.

When asked by Megan Kelley last week what needs to change, Former Director Kallstrom said this:
"The rules of engagment. What the FBI is being told about what they can do and what they can't do. They can't go sniffing around to mosques, they can't do things that they would do normally. I'm not talking about things that are off the charts. I'm talking about things that would normally be done. But the orders have come down from the White House. The same people that took all the language out of the training documents."

So, I call bull shit. When the guy who's ultimate responsibility it is to protect the constituency that elected hims put them in danger by refusing to use the name of our enemy, there is going to be a trust issue. When a Secretary of State is above the law, and conveniently vaporizes 30,000 emails, there is a trust issue. 

When the highest law enforcement officer in the land, the Muslim Defender in Chief, Loretta Lynch, United States Attorney General, states that she will prosecute people for making inflammatory statements about Muslims (1st amendment violation, what an idiot - she had to eat those words) there will be a trust issue. What does that communicate to the law enforcement communities charged with protecting the nation's citizens? It says, "Back off of the same people who have screamed form the mountain tops and Internet servers, 'We want to kill all Infidels."

This begs several more questions:

1. If the current administration was not so concerned about the rights of an enemy, would the shooter have been watched more closely.

2. If the current administration had not stripped all reference to Islamic Fundamentalism from the training manuals of the top law enforcement agency in the land, and mandated that Mulsims essentially enjoy more rights that I do regarding the latitude of the FBI to watch them, would the shooter have stayed on the watch list?

3. If the cultural climate of "can't go sniffing around mosques" was not the current state, would the shooter have been correctly handed over for further scrutiny by local law enforcement agencies?

4. If No. 3 would have happened, would somebody have given a shit when a gun store owner raised his hand and said, "Something stinks about this, thought you would want to know."

Three security cameras  are visible in this singleinterview angle.
5. If anyone in law enforcement would have listened to that concerned citizen who wondered why the Muslim man was asking about bulk ammo and body armor, could one of the three surveillance cameras shown in the background on the news interview at the store have generated an image of the suspect?

6. Could that image, with a simple data query of "possible terror suspects interviewed within 100 miles in the last 36 months", have connected the dots that would have averted this tragedy?

7. Isn't protecting the interests of a single class or culture above the interests of others a form of discrimination, not that the AG who wanted to suffocate First Amendment rights in the wake of San Bernadino would know this, but isn't that discriminatory?

So, why does Loretta Lynch immediately get on TV and start back peddling when knowledge of the report from the gun store owner comes to light? Now, only moments ago, the same AG that created the environment conducive to the operations of our enemy is pledging support to the LGBT community. Audacious hypocrisy defined. An administration that removes the words Islamic Fundamentalism from law enforcement training, and bars staffers from use of the term in correspondence, is so diligent in protecting the rights of a sub-culture that throws gays from roof tops. Just this week the same enemy that the Orlando shooter pledged allegiance to cut off a 4-year-old girl's head and forced her mother to wash her hands in the child's blood. ISIS is, as we speak, busy this Ramadan season, crucifying people who fail to fast.
Q. "What happened to my father?"
A. "His blood sugar got low and he grabbed a fig, so they tied him to stakes, beat him with stick and rocks, and left him in the sun until he was dead."

Last month they put 19 young Christian girls in cages and burned them alive for refusing to have sex with their captors. These are our enemies. They deserve no quarter. They have repeatedly attacked us. They certainly don't deserve to be held to less scrutiny during investigation by law enforcement than I am. 

I have gay friends who are dear to me. Muslim friends too, and they're about sick of it all. What happened in Orlando is indeed a national tragedy. But the actions and incompetency of this administration appear to have been at a minimum -- an enabler for our enemy. An enemy who was a Radical Islamic Fundamentalist. An enemy who took advantage of an inept system, with broken processes, assembled and managed by leaders whose motives become more suspect every day.

AG Lynch, how dare you pledge action to the LBGT community. Perhaps you should pledge action to all the members of this nation, and start by acknowledging the enemy, and stripping the stigma attached to pursuing them from law enforcement protocol. You had no problem redacting that term "ISLAMIC" from the 911 call transcript you released last week. Maybe you can retract the rhetoric handcuffing our law enforcement officers nation-wide from doing their job.

So, last question: If you are the President of the United States, and your primary duty is protecting the citizenry from our enemies (vs. law-abiding citizens), and your administration shows willful dereliction of that duty, should you be impeached for that?

Now, if there are any further questions about what happened with that gun bill, refer to the part where we don't trust you. Maybe learn to say: "Islamic Fundamentalists are our enemies." Go ahead. Say it out loud. Want your gun bill passed, perhaps consider that your non-transparent, enemy sympathizing, discriminatory administration is falling from favor.  

And accordingly:
"I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!!"

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Problem Solving: Sometimes They Hide in Plain Sight

Scene 1: A business lunch in Saginaw Michigan

I had the pleasure of grabbing lunch with an old friend of my father's last summer. Well, they were friends a long time, and worked closely together for the better part of two decades. I should also qualify that Dad's "old friend" is 86 years young, and the founder of Morley Companies, in Saginaw Michigan, a growing organization of over 2,000. A vibrant Lou Furlo, Sr. drove to lunch with one of his three sons who run the business he started, I followed, and had to work to keep up. Slow is not in Lou's DNA.

My father had spoken highly of his friend's sales, promotional, and marketing acumen from the time I was old enough to know that sales and marketing and promotion had something to do with business. Dad was a Finance man. He counted the money and his friend convinced people to send it in to the company. This was the simplistic perspective of  a teenager more interested in cars and hockey.

Fast forward 30 or so years, and I now know the importance of all three aforementioned functional areas as they relate to making a business thrive and grow. I have also become an engaged observer and advocate of process management, system thinking and problem solving. As such, I find it keenly interesting to hear of stories of complex problems that had simple solutions.

Lou went on to tell the story of when my dad was with former Big 5 Accounting firm Arthur Andersen doing audit work in the early fifties, after finishing his Accounting degree at University of Michigan. He was running an audit for a Kroger grocery store. This particular store had always just missed the mark, underperforming in spite of sharing common demographics, inventories, store layouts and merchandising. Kroger was applying Standard Work back then too. Consistency was key. The firm had been doing the Kroger audits for several years, and the mystery related to the lower revenues and margins at this one outlier was still perplexing for both the accounting firm and Kroger management.

After the audit my dad returned to the office and submitted his work. Nothing new, nothing different. The store was still an anomaly. Then, weeks later he overheard a co-worker talking about how Kroger and standardized everything: Freezers, floor plans, loading docks, fixtures and end caps ... and every store had 12 check out lanes. Bingo. After convincing his manager that the store in question did indeed have 13 checkout lanes the audit team returned. The store's manager had embezzled millions over several years with a 13th checkout lane that never made it to the books.

Scene 2: A hunting blind in east Texas

A couple of years ago I got to hunt wild hogs with one of the brightest Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belts I have had the pleasure of knowing. Mike Carnell was a Marine and a bull rider before getting into Quality and Operational Excellence. His resume includes Lean Six Sigma deployments at Motorola, Allied Signal, GE and many other F500 firms. He drove over $100 million in financial impact from 2006-2009 alone, and has trained of 6,000 employees in continuous Process Improvement and Change Management.

In 2012 was hunting wild hogs with one of the brightest Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belts I have had the pleasure of knowing. Mike Carnell was a Marine and a bull rider (yes a cowboy) before getting into Quality and Operational Excellence. His resume includes Lean and Six Sigma deployments at Motorola, Allied Signal, GE and many other F500 and International firms. He has driven over $1 billion in financial impact over a career spanning 30 years, and trained 6,000 or so in Continuous Process Improvement and Change Management methodologies.

Mike and I were talking Lean. OK, ‘whispering Lean’ as dusk was approaching, and after all we were hunting. Wild hogs have terrible vision, but their sense of hearing and smell are acute. I guess they are also incapable of seeing problems that are right in front of them, but they can smell and hear problems just fine! Mike was explaining that applying Lean principles in manufacturing operations was not always as complex as it might sometimes seem. The story he told to illustrate that point was about a project with one of a global brand’s coffee processing operations.

The problem was simple: The plant was at capacity even though outputs had been higher in prior years, and it was being forced to move product to other facilities to accommodate production demands. In the plant the coffee beans were stored in silos lined along exterior walls. The beans were then moved pneumatically via pipes from the silos to roasting ovens, then back to another set of silos to cool. Some of the roasted beans were then routed directly to packaging lines to be marketed as whole bean coffee. The other roasted beans went to grinders, and the ground coffee was then moved to a large valve assembly for blending. All the silos with ground coffee fed into a pipe leading to the valve. But, there was also another pipe coming out of the feed in front of the valve, going up to the ceiling, over the valve assembly, and into the pipe that moved the ground coffee from the valve to the packaging lines.  

Mike asked the plant foreman what the pipe that went to the ceiling and over the valve was for.

Foreman: “They don't use that anymore.”

The follow-on question was per Mike's style, pretty straight forward, “What was it used for when they used it?”

Foreman: “Well, not all of the coffee is blended, so some of it used to go through that pipe and up to the ceiling, then straight to packaging.”

Mike: “O.K., just curious, but how much of the ground coffee is packaged as blended coffee?”

Foreman: “Most of the coffee is not blended; probably 90% of it is not blended.”

Mike: “So, just to make sure I’m not over analyzing this – all of the coffee ground in the plant goes through this one valve, and 10% of the coffee gets blended … but everything goes through the valve?”

Since you can all see how this movie ends by now, we'll fast-forward. The valve was indeed the point of constraint for the system. A PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) that diverted unblended ground coffee needed to be reprogrammed. A single controller was creating a capacity limitation valued at approximately $2 million a year.

Mike went on to add, “I felt I had earned a longer lunch at that point.”

… And, the moral of our stories is:

Even though expert problem solvers and finance professionals are able to collect more data, use sophisticated analytical tools and software visualize that data, and apply Lean, Six Sigma and Theory of Constraints methodologies to glean deeper insights than ever before; big problems are still capable of hiding in plain sight. Walking past them everyday does not minimize their impact, but it sure seems to shroud them in camouflage. So, the next time you are searching for answers to solve a problem, keep in mind that right under your nose, at least in some cases – might be a great place to start.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Django and Racism

Last night I decided to break down and watch Django Unchained. I promised myself I would never watch another Jamie Foxx work after his racist "black power" rant on Saturday Night Live. I finally relented for three reasons:

  1. It got 5 stars on the Netflix rating
  2. It was Quentin Tarantino movie night at the house
  3. Jamie Foxx is an incredibly talented actor

Notice I didn't say "black" actor. I did this because Morgan Freeman is right: We're never going to get over this whole racist thing until we start referring to each other as Morgan, and Jamie, and John. Well, maybe Morgan, and Jamie, and Clint Eastwood. Given that I do not actually envision anyone weaving my name into a sentence with Morgan Freeman's and Jamie Foxx's; at least not in the foreseeable future.

I am glad that I caved in and watched the movie. Quinton is a total "G" (Genius -- for my older friends who actually read my blog posts) when it comes to creating stories with film. He pulls you deeply into them right away. His portrayal of the subject of slavery in Django Unchained was raw, and tragically probably accurate. Django Unchained was a great story.

But, since you ask, on to what perpetually pisses me off. After all, it's Saturday, and Saturday is rant morning. My family never owned anyone. Slavery was a dark time in American history. We handled that whole era about as well as we managed the Native Indian thing. We, all Americans, as children of God, are clearly fallible. That having been said, let's all listen to Morgan Freeman now and shut up and get over it.

For a black man or woman to assert that I owe them something because some guy in the 1800's was a morally bankrupt prick who probably also slapped his white wife around, is racist. If you want to lump me into the same moral category as him because of the color of my skin you are being a racist. My mom's family came from England in the late 1800's and settled in Michigan. My father's mom and dad emigrated from Poland before World War I. I'm sick of hearing about it. I don't owe the black culture anything. Jamie Foxx, you are an amazing and talented man, but take your Saturday Night Live "black power" diatribe and shove it up your ass.

Quite frankly, I'm mad as Hell and I'm not going to take it anymore. Accordingly, I might just slap the crap out of the next guy that assumes I'm a racist because of the color of my skin. One of the problems with that being, that if he was black, the assault would be assumed to be racially motivated. Though, that would be erroneous. I would have slapped the crap of him because he's an offensive and racist moron. Which obviously validates my position that this whole racism thing is a self-perpetuating swirling drubish of stupidity.

As mentioned in a previous post, I have some unique experiences with black culture. I played baseball in an all black league in Atlanta. I rode the #14 Cross Town bus in Detroit dozens times in 2012. I was called a cracker on the #14. I am not a racist. I have black friends. Some of them are way smarter than I am (Milt, Terry). My best friend loves a mulatto girl. I had great fun with the guys I played ball with in Georgia. I loved Coach White, ironically the coach of the all black team.

In spite of all that, I just referred to a culture of people as "black" about a dozen times in the preceding paragraphs. How do we do it Morgan Freeman? How do we break the cycle?

When I was five or six my father was running an aluminum manufacturing facility. He had Japanese customers over to the house for dinner. I remember asking him why he had Japanese people at our house, when they were trying to kill him in the war. He calmly explained, "Son, that was over twenty years ago, and the people governing their country made some bad decisions, and horrible things ended up happening. But the two men we just had dinner with don't feel that way about us, and they are my friends. We work together. They pay my company to make things for them. So, we move on."

What a concept: Move on. Maybe, just maybe, if the black culture told Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to shut to hell up, and started referring to me as John instead of some white guy, we could all move on.

OK. Now I'm going to get some black coffee.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Things That Internet Executives Do To Piss Me Off

I am by admission herein a Facebook nerd. I use it occasionally for work, but mostly to stay in touch. It's fun to drop one-line zingers on friends' posts, and see what their kids are doing. I am blessed with many friends, and enjoy keeping up with their lives.

Fishing for terrorists online

The Information Age's most powerful new tool of terror.
I also have a couple YouTube channels, and I pin videos and cool pictures to promote my business on Pinterest. I use Instagram and Twitter and Hootsuite. With all these social media platforms swirling around in my browsers, it's tough to stay abreast of the latest online etiquette, protocols and licensing requirements. Accordingly, I can see how a buddy of mine and his wife just got their Facebook page suspended for running a single account that they both may, or may not, have used.

Now there's a problem that needs to be dealt with immediately: These mid-Michigan rural folk taking advantage of the platform to thank friends for wishing them happy birthday's, and allegedly posting pictures of deer under a tree stand, a big fish, and the cat, from only one Facebook login. It's almost criminal. But, something far deeper than that is wrong here.

I stay very current on ISIS/ISIL and Jihadists, Daeche, Hezbollah, and Boko Haram. I have a son who is a soldier, and another who is an Afghanistan combat veteran. I have dogs in the fight.

The October 21st edition of The Wall Street Journal, front page center above the fold, is this headline: Militants' Influence Spreads. An article in the same publication last week spoke to the incredible influence being wielded via the conduit of social media by the aforementioned organizations.

Today's front page headline detailing the assassination of the soldier in Ottawa, Canada: Gunman's Journey to Terror. From that article:

Investigators are now focusing on what the official called "his pattern of engagement" with online Jihadist materials or forums and in social media in an effort to understand what influenced his thinking ...

Turn a few more pages in the same paper, and the headline on the Op Ed page is, The Homegrown Jihadist Threat Grows

From the call out in column one:

ISIS's online recruitment is reaching into America yet the Obama administration still has no strategy to fight it. 

The editorial continues with these relevant lines:

The online radicalization efforts could also encourage "lone wolves" to undertake acts of terrorism within the U.S., similar to the two deadly terrorist attacks this week, both apparently motivated by ISIS's online communications.

Islamic State "operates the most sophisticated propaganda machine" of any terrorist group today.

Which leads to the question of why are YouTube, Twitter and Facebook executives providing a platform to people who routinely kidnap women and sell them into slavery, and kill and rob to fuel their Jihad. Anyone not completely aligned with their thinking is promptly murdered, or worse. They indiscriminately kill, enslave and maim men, women, and children, young and old, in monumentally horrific ways -- cutting toddlers in half, stoning kidnapped girls, and the ever popular "socially" propagated beheadings. Why do we give them a voice? Why do we give them a media platform?

In spite of this portfolio of terror, they claim great victories in battle. These victories are typically attained by swooping in on small unarmed villages in the dark of night. Yet, they boast of courageous battles won, and promise more "victories" to impressionable young men and boys (and U.S. women from Colorado ...) susceptible to their recruiting. It doesn't stop there. Social media is being used by Jihadists not only to recruit, but to threaten. Any voice of dissent is now openly and routinely terrorized online as a precursor to more tangible violence.

So, given the fact that the social channels mentioned above are being manipulated by our enemies, at the consequence of innocents ... a seemingly simple question:

How in the Hell do you justify nuking Tom and Tammy's Facebook account for violation of the single user clause in the license agreement, yet allow enemies of the U.S. (and about every other civilized nation) to exploit your online platforms to monger hate and recruit killers?

Am I off base here? 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A high degree of personal control ...

Today via the 'Cliff Notes' column on the left side of the Wall Street Journal, Fearless Leader will be exercising "a high degree of personal control over airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria, officials said."

This of course makes perfect sense. President "O" is in possession of a deep understanding of how to precisely target and destroy terrorist military personnel and assets than the career military professionals he has doing that job. This acquired competency has been honed to perfection while using a laser range finder to help with club selection.

My God, the shear pomposity of it all. It is pure only in its delusion? How unempowered is our military leadership? Perhaps so unempowered that no one could act decisively during the "terrorist action/assassination" in Benghazi?

I can see it unfolding now - incoming call to the secure channel presidential crackberry:

"Mr. President, we have a HTV (High Value Target), the Queen of Diamonds, pos ID, confirmed same Queen of Diamonds recently released from Gitmo for Bergdahl, traveling via armed convoy of our old humvees. Request permission to engage. Repeat, Request Permission to Engage. Roger."

"Colonel, this is Bob, The Big O just shanked one into the long cut off that elevated tee box on 6 at Pinehurst, and the Secret Service guys won't take their shades off to find it. He's getting pretty worked up. I mean it's the third lost ball and we've only been out 40 minutes. We've got our own hot mess going on here Colonel. Can we get right back on that engagement request? Roger."

OK, hit print and drop this in the front of the manilla folder labeled, "Dumb Stuff the Leader of the Free World Did Today", please.

Friday, August 22, 2014

My Buddy's Mom Passed Away Yesterday - Apparently It Was Awesome

My friend TK's mom succumbed yesterday to a condition referred to in non-medical terms as living too long. Margaret King was 94. In the Process Excellence world, it may be said that she was experiencing multiple failure modes.

Margaret had been moved back to her nursing home from the hospital following a ten day stint. There had been a few other hospital visits already this summer. Hospice was called in because she had been experiencing some pain, and the hospice nurse explained that it probably would not be long.

Her husband Joe, an amazing man in his own right, had been gone a dozen years now. Joe stormed Omaha Beach and then marched all the to Berlin in WWII. Not many U.S. infantrymen lived through that beach, let alone the ensuing hike.

So, yesterday afternoon, as the play-by-play was explained to me by TK's oldest son, she headed off for a date night with Joe in what was described as an amazingly peaceful and natural transition. Margaret was surrounded by two of her three children (her other daughter, Nancy, was en route from Oregon), several grandchildren, a few close friends, and some staffers at the nursing home who were more than staffers. Nancy, although still in the air, was there in spirit in a most unique way. TK's youngest son, Aidan, at 13, remembering his aunt Nancy was a musician, had the brilliant idea to pull up some of her music on his iPhone.

And so, surrounded by people who loved her, with the sound of her daughter's music playing through a Bluetooth speaker on her nightstand, Margaret moved with incredible grace from this world to the next.

I cooked dinner for the family last night, and it was the oddest thing; No one was sad. No tears, no melancholy lamenting over what didn't get said or done. On the contrary, the cerebration of a life well-lived had begun. Accordingly, her grand daughter in NYC was piped in via face-time for a shot of really good double malt scotch (thanks Nic). The only question that lingered as everyone (even the grand kids - smaller shots) savored the smoothness of the whisky was, "What did Joe and Margaret do for dinner?"

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Where Was Kevin Jordan’s Riot?

A Mini-Manifesto on What Happened in Ferguson, Missouri

All the upheaval that went down in Missouri, and no one gave a crap when a cop got killed a couple of months ago in Georgia. 

Last week a young man got killed in Ferguson. It is probably safe to assume that unless you've been trapped underground while cave diving in New Guinea you have heard about it. I have been following the story closely as I have a different perspective than our watered down, facts last, truth be damned media does. My perspective is probably forged in part from being raised by a guy that lived through the war in the Pacific, and having sons who are soldiers and friends who are cops. I also have friends of all races, religions, colors, and creeds who are not soldiers or cops. Some are of the same race as Michael Brown.

The difference is that my friends understand that a riot is not an acceptable act of civil disobedience, and they are tired of it all too. They are tired of the media being so quick to stir the pot to create a story: A story that has filled the headlines, choking out other meaningful and arguably more pressing issues. Stories like ISIS cutting off the heads off of kids and putting them on sticks in Iraq, that garner only an occasional byline in the wake of “racial unrest” here in America.

So, by way of setting the record straight, I do have some experience with race. I was assaulted twice as child. Once in Saginaw the day we moved there. My mom took me to the park while the movers worked, I was eight years-old, and some kids banged me around. I had a fat lip and was confused; I just wanted to play with them? When I was twelve I got jumped walking down some old railroad tracks near my grandmother’s house in East Detroit.

Ironically, I went back there the other day doing some site research for a mini-documentary that I'm working on. My memories were of a very different place and time. The streets were lined with Dutch elms, and every lawn was meticulously cut, most manicured expertly with hand-pushed reel mowers. The walkways were edged, the porches were painted and the bushes were trimmed. My grandma won yard of the month at least once a summer. Her roses rocked the chain link fence in the back yard. Now the house she bought after the great depression is in shambles, windows gone, and hypodermic needles were strewn about the trash covered floor.

When I was 15 my friends and I had our bikes stolen while riding in downtown Saginaw only days before a cycling trip we had planned for months. Both of the assaults and the bike thefts were perpetuated by kids that had a different cultural dynamic and heritage than I did. We'll leave it at that, with one clarification: I managed to stay color blind. I had friends in high school that were also of different races, although our core-values were aligned. Rev. David Taylor, Chief Ralph Martin and especially Willy Smith made me laugh hard and often. They were my friends. They still are, although distance and time, and maybe if I'm honest being of different cultures relegated our relationship to Facebook. I think I might need to fix that.

After school I moved to Atlanta. In spite of the incidents above my 'rose colored race glasses' still guided me. I was at a batting cage on North Druid Hills road one Saturday morning when two guys approached me. “Hey man, you wanna play some ball?” I was new to the area, it was spring, and that’s what I had always done in the spring. The answer was simple, “Sure, I’m in.”

So, for the next two seasons I played ball for Coach Harold White, who carried the team’s equipment around in the trunk of his yellow Oldsmobile Cutlass convertible. Coach called me Dale Murphy, which if your remember Braves slugger Dale Murphy, was an honor. I could turn on a fastball, catch, play the corners, pitch and back then I was fast enough to play in the outfield too. I guess I just didn't have the footwork for middle infield, but I was handy on defense and being able to hit a bit helped. On most Saturday afternoons I was the only guy of my race in whatever park we played at. But at the end of the day, we all played ball and that was all that mattered to us.

It was a great experience. We even played a game that was watched in person by Cy Young award, world Series, and 31 MLB game winner Denny McLain, during a scrimmage at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary. Denny was serving his time for several “non-baseball related” incidents. Having grown up a Tiger’s fan, I knew that the big guy in the stands on the 3rd base side (There is actually a baseball stadium inside the prison) looked familiar. Coach White, I said, “Who’s that guy in the stands over there?” After all he was wearing a uniform, of sorts – it was striped. I will never forget coach running up and down our dugout telling the rest of the team, “That’s Denny McClain! That’s Denny McLain! That’s Denny McLain!”

My four sons all ended up playing football for the Sandy Spring’s Saints. Those were without doubt the best years of my life. SSYS Football & Cheerleading was a “racially balanced” football program located in the heart of one of the wealthiest demographics in the nation. I volunteered as a parent and coach, and ended up running the program for several years. About half the players were from one race, and half were from another, and few from yet other races.

Continuing my voluntary personal cultural outreach programs, two years ago I got upset with one of my adult sons and decided I was going to teach him a lesson. Gas prices were soaring too, so I went a year without a car in Detroit. I rode the #14 Cross Town bus dozens of times. On most trips I was the only representative of my race. Yet, I usually had good conversations with other riders, only once being called a “cracker” by some idiot. Idiocy is not bounded by race.

So, now that I've shared just a bit about having a broader perspective than many of my own race about race, let’s get down to why the situation in Ferguson, MO makes me so angry. Here’s something that most people don’t know about cops and soldiers: No matter how “badass” they are, they get scared. There’s a Marietta officer named Bobby Franklin that I used to spar with. “Boo Boo” was his nickname. He once kicked me so hard in the belly that my back went out, and he wasn't trying to kick me hard. Boo Boo is a “badass”. But Boo Boo talked with us candidly on several occasions about walking up on a situation, not knowing who’s armed … and being afraid. Afraid to the point where you have to fight off shaking. You are not human if you are not afraid. Other cops have shared the same thing. My father, sons and friends who are infantrymen and marines with combat experience have all known the feeling.

Now, as the facts surrounding Michael Brown’s shooting come to light, I believe that a few things will come to be realized that really matter. Michael Brown appears, at least as of late, to have taken up the role of a bully and a thug, and embraced that role with conviction. There is a pattern of behavior that is all too typical. Here’s what my boys have been counseled on; If you screw up and do something stupid, and a police officer calls you out on it, you had "GD" better use a lot of “yes sirs” and "no sirs” and do what you're told. Period. That advice should transcend racial lines.

We'll learn more in the days and weeks to come, and I can’t pontificate about what exactly happened, as my sources are the Internet and a few seemingly biased news feeds. But, I do believe that Michael Brown, in all likelihood, made some very bad choices that day of, and in the days preceding the shooting. Getting your picture taken holding a pistol with a folded stack of bills in your mouth and tequila bottle in the foreground is a bad PR move, especially if you want to go to college. The controversy will swirl until all of the facts come out, and then it will likely continue to swirl. 

I have "opinions" that I believe will probably end up being pretty close to the truth. A young man robbed a store, and strong armed the owner. Within minutes he was asked to get out of the middle of the road by a police officer that he towered over and outweighed by about #100 pounds. He took issue with the officer’s request, and assaulted him while he sat in his vehicle. The officer “may” have sustained an orbital blowout fracture. Note: it takes a powerful shot to do that, and in all my years as a martial artist I have only heard of it happening once to anyone I knew personally. That was a spinning hook kick where the heel of the foot delivered the blow. And the guy who did it used to be the U.S. #4 middleweight in full-contact karate. I also used to break bricks for demonstrations. I think I did 10 or 12 one time, and I can tell you that if the Darren Wilson did sustain an orbital blowout fracture he got blasted hard with a closed fist by a big man.

Then the officer probably, as it is his job to do, attempted to apprehend the assailant, and Michael Brown charged. The autopsy reports showed the fatal shot to be at the top of the head. If you know anything about ballistics you know that a shot from a handgun at the very apex of the skull will almost certainly not enter the skull if the victim is standing, and the trajectory is already at an angle that is up. The weapon would have been 12-18” below the apex of Brown’s head if he was standing with his arms up, looking at Officer Wilson, who was likely in a standing shooting posture with knees slightly bent.

The more likely scenario is that Michael, in a fit of rage, charged the officer, who was by now no doubt afraid and probably temporarily blinded in one eye. It is also likely that the momentum from the charge carried him as he fell forward after the first shots, causing the fatal shot to enter the apex of the skull from the top, when he was head down driving with his legs towards someone he had just assaulted. Here’s why that explanation is more plausible than the one latched onto by the media: If you are shot standing upright six times with your hands up, you are probably not falling forward, no matter how big you are. Think about it. I watched CSI too.

A tragedy took place and a community is being torn apart. Robbery, vandalism and violence are being condoned on the accusation that a cop shot an unarmed man on the basis of race, without so much as a passing inquiry by our “on the spot national media” about the circumstances that led up to shots being fired. Thugs are coming to rescue of a community, but they define “rescue” as justification to loot businesses and throw Molotov cocktails and rocks at police. The absurdity of the whole thing is surreal.

In this morning’s Wall Street Journal Juan Williams addressed this issue in his article entitled Ferguson and America’s Racial Fears. He quotes comedian Bill Cosby speaking at an NAACP event, when he said, “People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake.” “And then we all run out and we’re outraged – The cops shouldn't have shot him!” “What to hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand?”

Here’s what’s really disturbing though, and what prompted me to hit the keyboard today. On May 31st of this year a police officer named Kevin Jordan, was shot in the back three times while trying to arrest Chantell Mixon, by her boyfriend Michael James Bowman, in a restaurant parking lot in Griffin, Georgia. The wounds were fatal. Officer Jordan was an Army veteran and the father of seven children. The community loved him.

I lived in Atlanta, just north of Griffin for 25 years. I was in Atlanta the first week of June. But, it was not until yesterday that I saw ran across the story of Officer Jordan, and that story was actually about the restaurant whose parking lot he was shot in having the decency to close during his memorial service.

Which leads to the question first posed in the headline above: Where was Officer Jordan’s riot? Where was that idiot Al Sharpton? Why didn't Eric Holder get dispatched by the President? Why wasn't Griffin visited, robbed and looted in protest? Was it because Officer Jordan was white and his assailants were black?

Outraged now? Upset with me now? Want to call me a racist? Well, if so, then you took the bait. Officer Jordan was not of the same race as I am. However, his assailants were. And yet, there was no evening news coverage outside of local and regional markets. No tear gas canisters launched to quell the "protests" on his behalf. No full-segments on Good Morning America with interviews about people who are afraid of the police (and police who are also afraid).

Well if you're not outraged I am. I thought briefly about putting my .45 and spare clips in the car just in case the wheels really come off this media-driven racial pressure cooker. Then I wrote this blog article to vent, and watched (for the 3rd time),  what Morgan Freeman had to say about race on June 3rd of this year. Oh, and please take note of the fact that the preceding paragraph this is the first time in this article I used the words "black" or "white" as related to race. I'm trying to do that all the time now as Morgan Freeman's logic is so simple. So pragmatic. We need to quit referring to each other with color as the primary descriptive adjective.

OK, having sufficiently vented (thanks for giving me my moment), I decided that instead of arming myself the greater good may be better served by dusting off my ‘rose colored race glasses’ one more time. So, I just called and volunteered to start teaching MS Office, web development and social media classes through the Detroit Rescue Missions Ministry. In the end, maybe something good can come from the misguided media frenzy that unfolded this last week in Ferguson. In the end, maybe we can come to terms with the fact that when bad things happen they may not have anything to do with race. Maybe Michael Brown did bust that cop in the eye, and then charge him when the officer got out of his car and tried to effect an arrest. Maybe, just maybe, it is more about a 26 year-young man sworn to uphold the law, who was on the street by himself, scared and hurt, having to make a split second decision. A decision that could have turned out like it did in Griffin, Georgia.

And maybe some single mom will learn to use spreadsheets and manage web sites, and land a job because a pissed off Polack took a moment to rant, and think it all through. Maybe we should also listen to Morgan Freeman, and stop making race a bigger issue than it needs to be. Maybe, if I ever have to fill out an employment application again, and it asks what my race is, I will write in “human”.