Monday, February 20, 2017

Today's MOZEN: Where Were You, Mr. President?

F LoBuono
If you will indulge me, as a person who has been involved in almost every aspect of journalism for nearly 35 years, I would like to ask our President the following questions:

Where were you, Mr. President, when I spent over a week hovering above the tangled mess that was once the World Trade Center during 9/11, inhaling those toxic fumes?

Where were you, Mr. President, when I drove alone with tens of thousands of dollars of camera equipment down a battered Rte 10 from Mobile, Alabama to Biloxi, Mississippi seeing thousands of headlights leaving and no taillights going in to cover Hurricane Katrina?

Where were you, Mr. President, when we spent over a week with no electricity, clean water, or fresh food, standing endlessly in fetid, foul water while dealing with the aftermath of Katrina?

Where were you, Mr. President, when my reporter and I were running for our lives to escape the flames of a ragging wildfire in Southern California?

Where were you, Mr. President, when I stood for days in the frozen winter's muck, to report (and share) the agonizing heartbreak of the small Connecticut village of Newtown?

Where were you, Mr. President, when I collapsed from heat exhaustion in the 95 plus temperatures in Denver while preparing to cover President Obama's acceptance speech at Invesco Stadium?

Where were you, Mr. President, when in Des Moines to cover the Iowa Caucus it was so cold inside our broadcast tent that the fire extinguisher exploded?

Where were you, Mr. President, when I had to take my reporters hand to try to keep from being washed away while crossing the raging river that used to be the West Side Highway during Hurricane Sandy?

Where were you, Mr. President, when in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Queens, NY, I was surrounded by a crowd of angry men looking for revenge in the death of Sean Bell who was just shot and killed by the NYPD?

Where were you, Mr. President, when I missed endless meals, decades of sleep, countless family events, experienced mind-numbing delays at airports, and, on occasion, moments of shear terror to do my job?

I KNOW where you were, sir - comfortably ensconced in one of your many gilded towers.

So, how DARE you question my integrity, my honesty, and my commitment to my profession. Until you show the same in yours, you will receive the same respect that you have shown me - none.

EPILOGUE: And, through it ALL, it's been a privilege.




Sunday, February 19, 2017

Today's MOZEN: Keeping It Simple

F LoBuono
Life is inherently chaotic, especially when one lives in one of the most competitive areas on the planet. With the flow of life AND information just getting more and more intense, the pace can be maddening! And, the older I get the more I crave a simple life, creating even more conflict between what I am and what I want to be - which is a human being at peace with himself and his surroundings. So, now, I have an intense desire to make things as uncomplicated as possible:

I don't want to commute to NYC anymore.

I detest paperwork.

I don't want to be cold ever again.

And, I don't want to get into endless arguments with people who have neither the inclination nor the ability to see things from a broad perspective. Anyway, it's arrogant to think that your powers of persuasion are considerable enough to change someone who's mind was made up a long time ago.

Still, I don't want to be a hermit (at least, I don't think so). I want to be engaged with what is happening around me. We are ALL responsible not for our own lives but of those around us. They have a word for that. It's called community.

And, I think that I may have found a way to achieve some semblance of peace.

When confronted with issues of such complexity that I couldn't possible know all the nuances of the situation, I break them down to their simplest elements.

For example, immigration is an intensely complex and, therefore, emotional issue. For nearly thirty years our government has attempted, unsuccessfully, to implement a comprehensive plan that deals with the security of our borders. About the only thing everyone agrees on is that it needs to get done. However, no one can seem to agree on exactly how. Now, President Trump has issued an Executive Order (subsequently struck down by the courts) that severely limits travel between seven predominantly Muslim countries. Millions have supported the President, siting his insistence that the order will increase National security. Many millions of others have decried it as both un-American and un-Constitutional, leaving a divided Nation.

I am not a Constitutional lawyer nor a political scientist. Because my expertise does not lie in either area, it is difficult (or, even unrealistic) to offer a truly informed opinion on the legality and practicality of issuing just such an order. What I can offer adheres to my new mantra: KIS, or, Keep It Simple. So, I look at it this way: I know exactly two people well enough to call friends who also happen to be Muslims. And, I've known both for a long time. One, a man, is a Turk. The other, a women, is a dreaded Iranian. Neither, to my knowledge, is particularly religious. Both have lived in this Country for a long time and speak PERFECT, if accented, English. Both are educated and professionally very successful. They are among the finest people that I know - thoughtful, kind, compassionate, considerate, and loyal Americans. In other words, they are exactly like us. WHY should I fear them? Why would I think that others from their respective countries would not be just like THEM instead of some kind of America-hating terrorists the current administration would have us believe they are? It's a glass half empty/full kind of thinking. Because of these people, I see their immigration as making the glass half full!

It really is that simple. Treat people as individuals, not as political pawns.  I can't/won't speak for others. I only know what I know - and, that is the Muslims I am friendly with are outstanding people. I have no reason to think that the others would not be just the same.




Friday, February 17, 2017

Today's MOZEN: Sound and Fury

F LoBuono
People have inquired, Frank, NO comment on President Trump's latest press conference performance? Well, I've thought about it for some time and felt, what could I possibly say that hasn't been said already? So, I decided that, when confronted with writer's block, perhaps someone else might be able to express what I may be thinking simply better than I could. So, who else should I turn to but Shakespeare? He ALWAYS seems to say it best. Here is my (his) response.

Macbeth, Scene V, Dunsinane. Within the castle:

"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing".

Macbeth

That is all.






Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Valentine's Day Message

F LoBuono

Valentine's Day is one of mixed emotions for me - even when I was in a committed relationship. I never really enjoyed it because I always saw it as a manufactured holiday. Most people know its history and how it was the invention of an enterprising Hallmark Card salesman looking to drum up business during the slow season between Christmas and Easter. I mean, it's a nice sentiment but do I really need a card salesman to tell me exactly when I have to express my undying love for someone?

But, as I've aged I've mellowed. Pet peeves that once seemed so important just aren't anymore. Now, I can look past the crass commercialism (let's face it, that IS part of the holiday) and see it for just another way to spread the LOVE. And, taken as such, that can never be a bad thing.

However, the day also fills me with a feeling of melancholy. I am not in a committed relationship right now and, so, have no one to directly express my love for. Nor, is there anyone to direct their's towards me. But, to be alone has been my choice. I have loved. And, I have been loved. However, today it's the absence of that emotion that affects me the most. And, I feel for those I have wronged.

Still, instead of dwelling on what I don't have, I have chosen to accentuate what I do - the love of family and many friends. And, I intend to let that feeling wash over me like a summer's wave at the Jersey shore! I want to drown in it.

Yes, my friends, spread the love - spread it high and wide. We need it today more than ever.

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Today's MOZEN: Depressed!

Tody
F LoBuono

This is getting ridiculous!

Followers of this blog are aware (hopefully) that I try to post as much as I can - daily, if possible. So, I'm constantly making myself aware of topics that may be worth writing about. As I consider myself a broad minded person, I look to choose issues and events that reflect those views. I attempt to give voice to the gamut of human thought and experience, as I see it. And, I make a conscious effort to keep them as positive as possible. I really do. However, lately, as the Nation's politics seem to be spinning out of control, it has been more and more difficult to find that diversity of topic.

And, it's depressing the crap out of me!

Everyday that I open a newspaper, watch a newscast, or follow the Internet, I find a plethora of evidence that President Trump and his entire administration are fundamentally changing America in ways that, in my opinion, are totally contrary to the very definition of who we are as a people.

As I have written previously, their are millions who find no fault in those changes. In fact, they welcome them. I, and many millions more, simply, and vehemently, disagree. In fact, I feel so passionate in my disagreement that I am compelled to write about it - almost exclusively.

I can provide a long list of missteps taken by Mr. Trump and his administration, but they are so considerable I would lose my readers long before the end of this entry. Let's just highlight the most egregious and far reaching ones:

1. Lying. The President and his spokespeople flat out lie. There are many examples(see www.politfact.com) but, perhaps, the most extreme may be Mr. Trump's insistence of widespread voter fraud without providing a shred of evidence. And, his minions support him in those "misconceptions" (see Kellyanne Conway and Alternative Facts). He has also used figures completely contrary to the FACTS to support his claim that violent crime (i.e. murders) was at a nearly 50 year high. And, the list goes on.

2. Restricting the Freedom of the Press (a.k.a. the 1st Amendment). Mr. Trump has personally declared a war on the press. Any entity or reporter that questions his methods or intentions is ostracized or completely eliminated from the conversation. They are labeled as False News, thereby ruining their credibility and insulating himself from legitimate criticism.

3. Attacking the Judiciary. Mr. Trump's executive order severely limiting immigration from certain foreign countries was challenged in the courts where it was struck down as unconstitutional. This sent the President into a rage where he and his minions claimed that the courts have no right to challenge his authority on these issues. The problem is it's the court's JOB to question him! His reaction to that fact was atrocious - and, frightening.

4. Poor choices in his Cabinet and Advisors. Mr. Trump's senior advisory, Stephen K. Bannon, has, by his own words (see NY Times 11/14/2016), shown himself to be a white supremacist. His choices for Secretary of Education, Secretary of State, and Attorney General were equally suspect and contentious. Now, his National Security Advisory, Michael Flynn, is in SERIOUS trouble for alleged illegal dealings with the Russians - and, then LYING about it.

5. Spreading Fear and Loathing. Every executive order that he has issued seems to be mean spirited in nature, i.e. they look for the worst in people's nature and exploit that. Calling for a wall to be built on our southern border with Mexico because Mexico sends us the "worst people" has created a national crisis involving demonstrations with hundreds of thousands of people from all over the Country.

6. Dismantling Agencies that protect the most vulnerable and the environment. One of Mr. Trump's most important campaign promises was the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act, i.e. Obamacare. And, he moved on this promise immediately. His followers loved it - until they found out that he has NOTHING to replace it, leaving millions without healthcare. Now, the public is outraged and are voicing it in town hall meetings around the Country. He has limited the power of the EPA to protect us by gutting it's budget and cutting its staff. NPR and other agencies that deal with the arts have also been severely limited by the current administration.

7. Conflict of Interest. The entire Trump family is guilty here. From the hawking of Ivanka's sytle line (see Kellyanne Conway and Fox News) and the Nordstrom fiasco - to the use of Trump properties for official government business -  to their Russian contacts, the connection between their private businesses and governmental duties presents a clear violation of conflict of interests. Legally, the President may not be liable. But, morally, it is still VERY wrong.

The more I sit and write, the more I realize that I could extend this shameful list. But, I think I've made my point. It's no wonder that I'm depressed! This crappy winter weather doesn't help either (LOL). Writing about me makes me feel a bit better. But, on the other hand, it reminds me that the fight has just begun.

Well, at least I have the Spring to look forward to.



Sunday, February 12, 2017

Today's MOZEN: Something to Remember

F LoBuono

My mother always told me, "in this world, you must be either Oh, SO smart - or, Oh, SO pleasant". I used to be oh, so smart. I can tell you it's much better to be oh, so pleasant.
James Stewart, Harvey (1950).

I have to remember that.





Friday, February 10, 2017

Today's MOZEN: Easy to Be Hard*


Easy to be hard. Easy to be cold. Easy to say no.

The words just keep rattling around in my head - Easy to be hard. Easy to be cold. Easy to say no. They are some of the lyrics from the song "Easy to Be Hard" by Three Dog Night, a so-called Super Group from the 60's and early 70's. As a young man during that era, Three Dog Night and that song had a profound influence on me.

And, in light of the recent events perpetrated by the new administration, they seem even more powerful now then when I first heard them.

The song starts with a universal question: How can people be so heartless? Eventually, it gives the answer - because it's Easy to Be Hard.

This is a human conundrum. As love is universal, so is hate. And, with our complex and demanding world, it certainly seems more easy to be cruel than it is to be kind. They say that it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile. And, still, we ask, "why do we appear more ready to tear down than to build up? Why do we hurt as readily as we help"?

Because it's EASIER.

When something makes us angry, our impulse is to lash out. If someone strikes us, we want to hit back with even greater force. Should someone wrong us, we often want revenge as much as we want justice. This is human nature. It is part of our survival instinct.

To counter this instinct we must work at being AWARE. And, that takes work. We must calm our natural instincts in order to reach a higher level of understanding - one that leads us to compassionate thinking. Compassion is a most sublime human trait. It means to accept things without judgment and to help without fear of reprisal or consequence. This is much more easily said than done. Of course, our primary instinct is to survive. And, we will do whatever it takes to do so. This is understandable. However, this inclination often filters into simple situations that are far from dire. But, the mind that is unaware does not make the distinction. So, small, everyday events like someone cutting in front of us in line or simply saying something that we don't agree with can send us into a rage. It is our natural impulse to act this way. It takes awareness to combat it. And, that takes work.

It's EASY to BE HARD.

But, that doesn't make it right.

This is what concerns me so much about our current administration. Beyond the politics, much of which seems to defy explanation and, therefore, understanding, it's HOW and WHY things are being done that seems so HARD. The direction President Trump and his administration seem to be taking us in is one that looks far more at the negative impact of things rather than the positive. For example, immigration: siting National Security as the primary issue, Mr. Trump has issued an executive order seriously curtailing immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries. His reasoning is that BAD people come from these BAD countries. However, there is NO hard evidence to support that claim. But, it's EASY to say that it is so and, thereby, allay the unfounded fears of much of our population. And, people WANT to believe that because it's EASY to. It's more difficult to take some time to truly analyze the complexity of this situation. It's easier to say that the majority of the terrorism in the world is perpetrated by Muslims than it is to see the broader picture that the GREAT majority of Muslims are non-violent and, in fact, contribute greatly to the overall good being done on our planet.

The rest of Mr. Trump's executive orders seem to follow suit. Build a wall so that those Damned Drug Dealing Mexicans can't come in! His orders prey on our insecurities: fear those who may be different. Avoid those we don't understand. Punish those who disagree.

Yes, it's Easy to Be Hard - if you let it. You have to work at being AWARE. It can take a lifetime to get there but it's worth the trip. I'm still working on it with a LONG way to go. But, at least I know that I am on the right path.


Easy to Be Hard
How can people be so heartless
How can people be so cruel
Easy to be hard
Easy to be cold
How can people have no feelings
How can they ignore their friends
Easy to be proud
Easy to say no
Especially people who care about strangers
Who care about evil and social injustice
Do you only care about being proud
How about I need a friend, I need a friend
How can people be so heartless
You know I'm hung up on you
Easy to be proud
Easy to say no
Especially people who care about strangers
Who care about evil and social injustice
Do you only care about being proud
How about

* all opinions expressed within are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or entity.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Today's MOZEN: The Confessions of a PESCAVEGOMNICARNARIAN

F LoBuono
It seems hard to believe that it's been nearly five years since I stopped eating meat.

Well, mostly stopped.

Allow me to explain.

I was in Des Moines covering the Iowa Caucus when a commercial came on the TV at my hotel room. It was a PETA spot showing how cruelly and inhumanely we slaughter our animals. I'll spare you the gory details (literally) and just say it was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. I had been contemplating eliminating meat from my diet for some time and this was all the impetus I needed to take that step. From that moment on, I pledged to do my best to abstain from at least purchasing and preparing meat for my own consumption. I would commit to eliminating as much cruelty from life that I possibly could.

Now, I knew that it wouldn't be easy for a number of reasons. First, being of Sicilian ancestry, food was of paramount importance in our house. It was more than just sustenance. It was a way of life. Italians in general, and Sicilians in particular, virtually worship food - all kinds of food. It is said that Italians are the only ones who ask what's for dinner while they are still eating lunch. And, we were totally omnivorous - we ate EVERYTHING. In fact, our diet was so complete and healthy overall that it became a "fad" to eat this way. Known as The Mediterranean Diet, it featured a balance of virtually all of the food groups. This, of course, included at least some meat. Second, popular culture is OBSESSED with eating meat. It is SO much easier to find sumptuous meat dishes at restaurants than it is good vegan or vegetarian fare, especially when you are on the road and not familiar with your surroundings. So, it was going to be challenge - one that I was willing to at least attempt. But, I also knew that I might have to make some compromises.

This is what I came up with: I would become a Pescavegomnicarnarian.

Here's how it works:

I knew that I would need a good source of high protein to replace the meat.  I felt that fish would fit that bill. I know, fish have feelings, too. But, I rationalized that, perhaps, at least not on the same level as a cow or pig. That's that pesca part. Of course, the bulk of my diet now consists of various vegetables for the veg part of the moniker. But, I also eat meat when there is no other option. That's the omnicarnarian part. In other words, I eat what's available. By that I mean if I'm invited to someone's house for dinner, they did not know that I no longer eat meat, and they have prepared a steak for me, I'm not going to throw it in the garbage! That would be an insult to my hosts and counterproductive to what I'm trying to accomplish. Work is another example. On weekends the sport's programming/production department is catered with the most wonderful food. It includes salads, vegetables and ALL kinds of meat. At the end of their broadcasting day, the "leftovers" are offered to anyone who would like to have them. If they are not used,  ENTIRE TRAYS of delicious, well-prepared food are simply folded up and THROWN INTO THE GARBAGE. This, to me, is the ultimate sin: that animal (if it is meat) has already be sacrificed. To see it literally wasted by throwing it away so that the nutrition cannot be used by anyone is more than just wasteful - it is absolutely SINFUL. So, I'll take home as much as I can carry. But, I NEVER buy meat at the supermarket or order it at a restaurant.

I know you hardcore Vegans are looking down on me for my perceived weakness. They'll say that I'm rationalizing. And, perhaps, I am. But, they would be missing my point. My goal has never been to be perfect but, rather, to do the best that I can to eliminate as much cruelty in the world that I can. I believe that I do by being a Pescavegomnicarnarian. And, I implore others to find their own way (and catchy moniker) to do the same. It's not so hard and it DOES make the world a better place - one meal at a time.




Saturday, February 4, 2017

Guest Author: Stephen Abankwa

Stephen Abankwa

Stephen Abankwa is a young college student from Ghana, Africa. We've been Facebook friends for a few years and write to one another on a very regular basis. He tells me about his life in Africa and I tell him about mine here. He is a most joyful and curious young man. And, because he dreams of coming to the States, he is acutely interested in the American political scene. I asked him if he would write his thoughts down so that we could share them with you. He is particularly vexed with our current administration for the reasons he presents in his essay below. English is his second language so he writes in a very simple style. I edited it for grammar and syntax but kept the spirit of his writing intact.


Everyday I expect the reversal of the Emancipation Proclamation. I'm wondering whether there will ever be a day when blacks and whites will be one. I'm wondering if a day will come when a black man can live without fear of being attacked by a white racist. I'm waiting to see if President Trump will reinstate "stop-question-and frisk" so the cops can continue their daily harassment. The cameras don't seem to make a difference when they pull the trigger and take a life. 95% of them are found not guilty or not prosecuted at all. And, I believe that black people will continue to live in fear because of their skin color under Trump's administration.

"Donald Trump is a would-be dictator who will act as a divisive figure because anyone who disagrees with him is not really part of the people", George Soros said. On TV, on the radio, and on social media, we feel and see the hate. It feels like blacks are constantly surrounded by hate and aggression. There have been hundreds of attacks against Muslims, Latinos and Blacks since Mr. Trump was elected. And, I know that it won't stop. I'm trying to hold on to the notion that world leaders will come in and fight it.

You may ask yourself how a boy in Ghana, Africa would know such things. Well, because of social media, I feel like I live in the middle of the United States. And, it feels bad to see what he is doing. It seems that anyone who questions him is either under investigation or has their job threatened. America has been brought to its knees and it hasn't even been a month.I feel like we are on the brink of war. I can't understand how such a stupid man could have gained so much power. This combination always leads to a humanitarian crisis. I would be surprised if he did not lead American towards one.I especially fear for my black friends in America.

I am also personally sad because I have always dreamed of coming to America on a student visa. Now, because of President Trump, I'm not sure if that will be possible. I am also sad that so many Americans support his agenda. They have found a leader to give voice to hate and violence.

I know that racism has always existed in America. But, now, Mr. Trump has brought out the worst in white racism - black racism, too. And, the whole world is watching.


Friday, February 3, 2017

Today's MOZEN: VISION *

F LoBuono
The more people of good will implore us to come together for the good of the Country, the more the rift between us just seems to widen. Lines are being drawn in the sand. Brother clashes with brother. Choices are being made. Names are being taken.

This was entirely predictable to me. If you go back and review some of my earliest posts concerning the last election you may find that I said from the very beginning of this most unique and controversial period a Trump presidency would fundamentally change what it means to be American. Well, it has and continues to do so. And, now, we struggle with the choices we have made.

Now, depending on your Point of View, what is happening is either the answer to all of your prayers or the end of civilization as we know it. The opinions are as diametrically opposed as the vision of the future each camp holds. I will not judge those POV's but, rather, offer them as choices.

Those who share their vision of America as embodied by the man they elected President, Donald Trump, is of a BIG America, one of power and authority. It is America First. And, they mean that in every sense of the word. We carry a Big Stick in the world and we should use it to further American influence. Those who do not realize or fail to accept this are subject to the consequences that come with resistance. No apologies for being powerful and using the authority that comes with it will be offered. Anything less will be interpreted as weakness and, therefore, unacceptable. Our Ambassador to the United Nations has already made that clear in an early address to that international body. We have the Bully Pulpit and intend to use it.

The Executive Orders issued so far by President Trump have also suggested his preference for a mostly white, Christian nation. Building a wall at the border with Mexico and his immigration ban from seven predominantly Muslim countries are clear indications of those intentions. The President has said, and many believe, that this will make us safer.

Under this vision, the separation between Church and State will be blurred, if not completely eliminated. To favor the growth of business, environmental regulation will be rolled back, even to the peril of the safety of our air and drinking water. The Freedom of the Press (guaranteed by the 1st Amendment) will be curtailed. Public education will be compromised. And, a woman's Right to Choose will be in jeopardy. Again, many believe this "step back" is one that will ultimately bring us forward.

And, there are other indicators as to this vision.

Mr. Trump's elevation of Stephen K. Bannon to a unique status as a most trusted adviser and shaper of national policy is a most telling example. Mr. Bannon's most recent position with Breibart News and the programming he created there tells you everything you need to now about him. The comments that he has made in recent interviews reinforce this vision of a "different" American from the one it had been. He has clearly stated that he believes in a Leninistic vision of the future where everything is torn apart only to be rebuilt in The Party's image - HIS party's image! And, most of Mr. Trump's cabinet picks share this philosophy.

In fairness, Mr. Trump promised changed, millions supported him, and they are getting it. Certainly, most of his followers are unshakable in their support. And, why shouldn't they be? They voted for him for the very reasons I listed above. They are not afraid. They are exactly where they wanted to be.

But, there are others, tens of millions of others, who do not share that vision.

It's funny, but most Trump supporters see themselves of wanting a return to a traditional America - to Make America Great Again. But, what they want is in direct opposition to what those in the other camp see as the REAL American values. These people see an America that does its part as a leader in International Policy without having to resort to force or threats. They want immigration reform but do not see banning certain ethnic or religious backgrounds as a viable option. The want reasonable environmental regulation that protects citizens from harm while not crippling small businesses and punishes large scale polluters. They want a multi-cultural society where ALL people are created equal. They want an unfettered press that is responsible to the truth and not "alternative facts".  And, they want the truest form of freedom - one that keeps the government out of their most intimate choices.

Again, I have attempted not to judge but, rather, to present. It is not necessarily wrong to want a strong American. It's our choice on how we get there that will make the difference. Most have already made it. Let's see where it leads us . . .

* The opinion expressed are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect those of any other individual or entity.