American History or Political Stunt?

Earlier this month, 14 Republican state attorney generals signed a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona stating that public schools should not receive grant funds to teach about critical race theory. The so-called concern stems partially from research and new findings of the role of slavery in the formation of our country.

Think about what we have learned just this year about racism and our society. Are we more “woke” as we discover new information about the role of slavery and those kept in servitude and isolation?

It makes me think that Black Lives Matter is more than a movement focusing on police brutality. In reading articles in the acclaimed 1619 Project of the New York Times, I’m struck by the amount of history missing from my education. The most recent 60 Minutes broadcast told the story of Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Another example of events ignored by educators, historians, and those whom we look to for leadership. I find credibility in that people of color are helping revise the story of the impact of slavery on our country, and they do it with a unique perspective.

I am disgusted by the political divide that continues to permeate more and more elements of our communities. Apparently, these attorney’s general believe they can gain favor and political support by playing the race card. Their letter was blatantly political and should not be a factor in the decision of those education professionals.

..that’s 30, We can learn from this.

Scams, cons and fraud.

I like to think while I may be older, I’m not naive. Unfortunately, however, even the best of us can all fall for a well-conceived scam. As technology develops and we age, a slippery slope can arise, and extreme caution is necessary. The F.B.I. says senior fraud accounts for some $3 billion in losses annually, and it’s growing. For example, in 2020, the F.B.I. reports they saw a 69% increase in fraud complaints over the previous year.

The pandemic and isolation compounded these crimes, according to law enforcement. In just the past few months, I have received calls from a robotic voice claiming to be from Social Security, another claiming to be from Amazon saying a problem with my credit card for the new iPhone I ordered. But, of course, these calls were scams. Then there are the constant sales phishing calls about my car’s expiring warranty.

My favorite experience with a con artist was when I received the “Grandparents” scam call. The voice on the other end said, “Hello grandpa, it’s me and I’m in trouble. I’ve been arrested and I need bail money.” Thankfully, I had heard of this before, and I knew where my grandkids were, so I told the caller, “Too bad, I never really liked you anyway,” the caller quickly hung up.

How do these cons get your information? They gather much of your personal information from your social media. Law enforcement uses social media as well to track criminal activity and identities. One federal investigator told me we need to keep making people aware of how criminals get your information. Remember, Social Security, the I.R.S., and government agencies will not call you demanding money or gift cards.

 The Overland Park Police Department says the “grandparents phone scam” is the one they see more often. Another example is a scammer who sent someone to the victim’s house in a recent local case. The victim took cash out to the street and gave it to a courier who left with the funds. Other instances involved victims instructed to purchase gift cards or go to an A.T.M. and withdraw some money.

In 2020 the F.B.I. reports 3,457 Kansans were victims of various scams amounting to about $19 million in losses. The F.B.I. says seniors are targets because we tend to be trusting and polite. However, many senior victims never report these crimes as they feel embarrassed or concerned that family members may think they can no longer care for themselves. Authorities also say Seniors are more often a target because they are available, have savings and other assets.

A spokeswoman for the Kansas City F.B.I. field office says Romance and Confidence screams are what they see the most. A Romance scam is where perpetrators gain the trust of their victims, eventually convincing them to send them money. A confidence scam is where the criminal convinces the victim they are acting in their best interest. The “grandparents call” is an example. If you get a call like this, police say hang up and call the agency reportedly holding your loved one to verify the claim.

If you believe you or someone you know may have been a victim of elder fraud, contact your local F.B.I. field office or submit a tip online. You can also file a complaint with the F.B.I.’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

….that’s 30…stay safe.

Highway Trash, Who is Responsible?

In celebration of last week’s Earth Day, I want to showcase the litter on our highways. Over the previous five years, I have been appalled by the amount of trash on the highways in the Kansas City Metro area. I have complained to county commissioners, state highway officials, and city officials, claiming it is not their responsibility.

Some say most of the litter comes from trash trucks on their way to the landfill. Until recently, I believed that could contribute to the problem, but was not the sole reason. However, I happened to follow a large Waste Management truck for a few miles, during which time a large amount of trash flew out of the truck onto the highway. From the looks of our highways, how can this be acceptable?

That experience was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I knew I had to do more to address the problem. So I called the City Managers’ office was told, “we hear about this all the time, and there is nothing we can do. You need to contact Waste Management”. The only problem is Waste Management’s phone number is to a call center that keeps you on hold for a long time, and if you don’t have an account, they don’t know to who you should be connected.

During my wait to speak to a manager, the recording touts, “We don’t think green…we act green”. I want senior management to drive around the area and then tell me they are acting green.

Trash-strewn roads are not just unsightly; the debris collects in drain systems and crate hazards. So, happy earth day, please don’t litter.

Second Shot in the Arm!

After reading how others are anxiously trying to get their first vaccine dose, I write this with some trepidation. I got my second vaccine shot on February 1. How did I do that? The credit goes to the people of Erickson Living and their corporate response to the pandemic.

Erickson Living is a national company with 20 retirement communities across the country with 15,000 employees serving more than 27,000 residents. When the pandemic hit, protocols to protect employees and residents initiated. For most of 2020, employees delivered meals and necessities to residents. Masking and social distancing were part of everyone’s day.

In December, we moved into one of those communities, Tallgrass Creek in Overland Park, Kansas. Residents and employees have been living with stringent guidelines for nearly a year now.

Erickson and CVS teamed up to plan inoculations once the vaccine was available. We received our first shot on January 11. It was an all hands on deck socially-distanced process with a fifteen-minute waiting period once the vaccine was in the arm, then we were given cards indicating our booster shot would be on February 1. Yet, I remained anxious as news reports on problems getting the vaccine into the arms of people dominated the headlines.

We have heard of people having a day or two of discomfort following their second shot, but so far, we have only noticed some soreness in the arm. Staff from Tallgrass Creek and CVS continue to innoculate residents and employees methodically. After each shot, you hear cheers and noisemakers to celebrate.

Perhaps lessons learned by Erickson Living would make a good case study for the next pandemic.

…that’s 30 for today.

Domestic threats of more violence

What does it say about our country when the Department of Homeland Security issues an Advisory Bulletin regarding a “hightened threat environment across the United States”? According to DHS, these “violent extremeists” could well be a neighbor, someone who believes the election was stolen. One of the concerns is that there could be mobilization or plans to incite or commit violence, much like what we saw on January 6th. A day we will all remember.

I believe that many of these radical thinkers continue to feed off the false narratives of politicians who are continuing to stir up the former Presidents’ base. I see them as opportunists, not the public servants they were elected to be.

What can you and I do about this? Well, if we can help tone down the rhetoric, listen to what others have to say, and try to understand their position. As an individual, I will not change the mind of someone who believes in these radical accusations. However, demonstrating civility towards others can be contagious. Perhaps more contagious than Covid-19. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

Let’s hope this threat of violence is a wake-up call for “We the people.”

…that’s30. What are your thoughts?

Is it over yet?

J

I watched the inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris. I also watched the departure of Former President Trump and his family.

I’m feeling a sense of relief in that everything will soon return to some level of normalcy. I feel safe that this new administration is in the hands of experienced leaders and people who will put the country first.

I may not agree with everything this new administration will do, but I feel it will be thought out and not a knee jerk reaction to social media. I’m also relieved to see a very diverse group of people appointed to key administration positions. Gone are the family influencers, the yes-men, and those with racist tendencies and special interests.

But I’m afraid it’s not over yet. As I write, news that the Articles of Impeachment will be sent to the Senate next week for a trial. To say we live in tumultuous times is a vast understatement.

Will the Senate convict? Should he be held accountable? If they don’t convict, what message does that send to those who stormed our Capital?


Healing the deep divisions in our Republic will take understanding, patience, truth, and love of the neighbor.

For now I plan to reread the elegant words of Amanda Gorman.

“The new dawn blooms as we free it

For there is always light,

if only we’re brave enough to see it

If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

…that’s 30 for this week.

We Watched In Horror and now Wait in Terror

This past Wednesday, we watched in horror as an army of thugs overran our nation’s Capital. Encouraged by Donald Trump, the mob marched to invade our cathedral of government, which was ratifying the Electoral College vote.
Four days later, new questions have surfaced about why there was not sufficient security to prevent this unprecedented attack. Who knew what? Who were the people in this angry mob? Yes, some genuinely believe what Trump has been telling them for the last four years, that the Democrats stole the election despite the lack of evidence. Today some speculate that there were some law enforcement officers as part of the riotous crowd. Investigations are beginning.

What are we learning about our way of life? Our government and the way we do business? Are we witnessing Sedition?

Where are the Statesmen and Women who will represent the people without obstruction, self-serving headline-grabbing tactics? The Hawley’s, Cruz’s, and Marshalls are complicit and need to resign or step back and serve their constituents with honor rather than false narratives. They only care about themselves and will grasp any straw they think will promote their political future.

I pray that our nation will survive the next ten days without further disruption. I pray for a safe and peaceful Inauguration of the new administration.

…that’s 30. May God Bless our nation.

A country divided?

Division

I have been trying to understand the events of last week and find my words to express the hurt, concern and utter discust I feel. Until I can figure out my own feelings, I offer the wisdom of Pat Bell. (Full disclosure, he’s my brother-in-law and someone I hold in great esteem.)

IN My Opinion

Are Americans actually so stupid and naïve? Can’t we see why we’re so divided and angry in this country? And how this division is destroying us?

“Divide and conquer” may be the most effective military strategy. And it works in defeating cultures and societies as well.

Think about it. Those who encourage division do so with rhetoric that places blame on others for all problems. They demonize all who have differing opinions in order to achieve their own objectives. They are politicians trying to remain in power. They are media (on both sides) whose goal of larger audiences (and advertising revenue) is furthered by more and more and vitriolic and divisive language. (True journalism may indeed be dead.) And there are the true enemies of our country (both domestic and foreign) who would be delighted at our collapse.

All of these people/entities encourage and plant the seeds of division, distrust, exclusion, and anger. But in the end, it’s another group that ensures the growth of these things. We can see them every morning when we look in the mirror.

We, as Americans, have taken the bait of division….and run with it. We have embraced the idea of contempt and confrontation and blame. And we are as guilty as any of spreading division with disrespectful conversation and social media posts.

We have done this to ourselves.

Can we not show even the slightest acknowledgement of the merit of a different opinion by listening? Can we not at least try to understand that opinion without an emotional outburst? Can we not try to express our own views without blame and offensive words?

Can we defeat the division that could destroy us? Entirely? No. We will always be somewhat divided by political beliefs, religious beliefs, ethnic or racial or a host of other differences. But we have, mostly, been able to appreciate (and even celebrate some differences on occasion) respectively for the greater benefit of all.  We’re far from being the perfect nation. We have certainly shown our weaknesses and sins in the past. And yet, on whole, we Americans strive to be a better society.

Our elected leaders pledge to defend us….from all threats. Division is a serious threat. They must unite us to begin the process of defeating division. But it’s not just the responsibility of politicians. It’s our job too. We have to be smarter…to survive.



Let’s think about what we can do as individuals…that’s 30

“Just find me 11,780 votes”

I find it unbelievable that the President of the United States would try to con the Georgia Secretary of State into changing the vote count of the general election. I listened to the recording obtained by NBC News.

Trump’s insistence that he won the election and that the people of Georgia and the entire country were mad at the Secretary of State’s reluctance to change the vote. What I heard ranged from veiled threats to a good ole boy, wink-wink, con job.


If, and that is a Big if, Trump or anyone else had evidence of voter fraud, errors, or “skulldugery,” I believe those in Georgia’s government would gladly consider the evidence. However, they are on the record that there was no wrongdoing, and the results are accurate.

After listening to the call, I can’t help but wonder what else he will attempt between now and January 20th? I also worry about how this will impact his base and what they might do. Hopefully, this madness will soon end, and we can recover the soul of America.

…that’s 30, for today.

Do you understand Anti-Maskers?

As this pandemic drags on and local governments try to deal with the spread, they also must deal with those who feel their rights are violated with mask orders.  These same people wear their seatbelts, most wear helmets when cycling, and to avoid being arrested for public nudity, they wear clothing.

On several occasions, I’ve seen people in stores without masks; I want to say something, but I know it will most likely cause a problem.  Don’t these people care about others?  I sure don’t think so.   I think most of us are doing our best to wear masks, sanitize our hands, and keep a safe distance.  Yes, it is not how we have lived most of our lives, and let’s hope it is not how we will live the rest of our lives.

   

I realize this blog post will not change the minds of those who feel so strongly about wearing a mask. I wonder if they are also going to refuse the vaccine when it is available? As someone who lives with COPD, I am in the vulnerable group and appreciate those who are doing their part to control the spread.

If you know someone who refuses to wear a mask, joins in large gatherings, or other dangerous activity, please use your influence to change their behavior.

…that’s 30, stay safe.