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“Larry’s Look”: #MovingHumanityForward Panel with Frank Figliuzzi, Jim Piddock, Glenn Kirschner and Jack Hues on The “Bad” Brad Berkwitt Show

By Larry Daniels

“Bad” Brad Berkwitt convened a Moving Humanity Forward Panel with the following distinguished guests on June 17, 2022.

His panel of speakers: Frank Figliuzzi, Jim Piddock, Glenn Kirschner, and Jack Hues.

The first question posed by Jim mentioned a 2008 remark from Barack Obama at a fund raising event. Working class voters in hard hit industrial towns were referred to in the following statement. “They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Frank takes on the question as a seasoned law enforcement official, stating that the issue of guns has been severely distorted into a quasi- religious warfare. He was spot on. Militias mentioned in the 2nd Amendment were not instruments of overthrowing a government that the people didn’t agree with.

Glenn, with an apolitical view, felt the statement was unfortunate to call into question a person’s beliefs on guns and religion. In a focused perspective, Mr. Kirschner shared the need for Executive Actions with a Constitutional defense to remove the prevalence of military weapons and ammo in our society. Fun facts: In 1789, when the 2nd Amendment was written, muskets were being used. The invention of a proper bullet did not occur until decades later. Tenacity is needed!

The next question came from Frank, and it was an important one. “How much trouble is our country and our democracy really in?” Jim replied, “We are on a cliff’s edge, aren’t we?”. He went on to say that our politics are tribal. Dangerous, because people are voting without their brains. They are voting with an emotional attachment to their tribe. Mr. Piddock went on to describe the country of Greece, (where he is currently visting) was nearly on the brink of bankruptcy 8 years ago. It adopted a socialist government, and built up a large blue collar middle class. No one begs for food there. The public transportation is top notch. He also added that Britain has a national health care plan that works for its people. The income disparity our country leaves us way behind the rest of the world in many respects. Gun prevalence, and women’s rights were also mentioned as extremely urgent issues to be addressed.

Jack asked, “How should music function in educational curriculum to move humanity forward?”. Glenn loved this question. He shared Steven Van Zandt’s idea that STEM education should become STEAM (science, technology, engineering, ARTS, and math). Brilliant. “Music soothes the savage beasts”. Frank added the fact that studies have shown music actually expands brain capacity. Without music, a major source of creativity, our society will move backwards towards authoritarianism. I thought of Bob Dylan and The Beatles when he said that. Jim chimed in that arts are neglected in America in a way that is not the same in other cultures. Brad jumped in as well to point out the fact that when people attend concerts, there is no race, politics, and shaming. It is just people sharing their love of the music TOGETHER. Very important.

I love this question from Glenn. An impatient America wants to know. “Why is our DOJ declining to bring charges in a timely manner against Donald Trump when there is far more evidence than is necessary to indict him?”. Frank responded that recent stories point to case building on the part of the DOJ. The J6 committee just announced it is going to deliver evidence to the Department. He points out that the DOJ will build its case on facts and the law, and not a political schedule, i.e., the upcoming midterm elections. Glenn brought up the point of historical norms giving the DOJ 60 days before an election to step back from cases. It should NOT apply to the seriousness of Congressional members being allegedly INVOLVED in an insurrection. Think of the damage to our democracy continuing!

Jim posed the question, “Why are older white males the least progressive demographic holding us back from moving humanity forward in this country?”. Jack’s first response was, “I have no idea”. Brutally honest, don’t you think? He went on to say that it comes down to education. The difference being inclusive arts tends to bring together hearts and minds, while populist movies and TV tends to reflect back the image of whites in a positive and unchanging way. Glenn chimed in with the Orange Disgrace (my words for Trump, not his) using hate in a constant barrage of gas lighting to his followers that still occur to this day. I share his hope that justice will put end to all of this. Then we can heal as a nation and move forward. I thought Mr. Kirschner nailed it here. Frank, Jim, and Brad later added that GOP Reps and media types like Carlson, Ingraham are so far removed from having a civil discussion, it would be pointless to engage them.

A great question from Frank is discussed next. “What can we do to preserve what matters most to our families, our communities, and our country?”. Jim took the question and spoke about being more “educated”. Not in an elitist sense, but in everyone reaching that particular goal to engage on equal ground. He talked about the independent spirit of Americans, and the feeling that we don’t like Government telling us what to do. Frank responded that high ranking government officials have very impressive educational pedigrees, and yet hid their learned truths to dupe their followers. Insincerity at its highest. Jack chimed in with the importance of critical thinking, and doing your own research. I would add the essential role humanity plays in all of this, to listen, learn, and thanking the person for sharing their knowledge with you.

Jack posed the next question. It was quite timely. “Should the internet be policed like the rest of society, or should it be in the realm of free speech?” Glenn responded completely in the affirmative. He said the more an entity like the internet remains unchecked, the more it gets dumbed down to a salacious, violent, sensational, graphic, and divisive form. They are designed to generate clicks and revenue in his view, in its unchecked state. The outcome is doomed to fail. Frank added social media is neither “social” or “media”. It allows for easy communication for the radicalization of users, and the recruitment of new members to radical groups. We know how dangerous that can be. Free speech does not mean freedom from responsibility.

The next question came from Glenn. “How can we change the declining culture of public service where high government officials have decided it’s appropriate to conceal crimes of a President from the authorities and from the American people only to disclose those crimes in books to enrich themselves?” Frank voiced a deep concern over journalistic ethics in our society. Jack spoke of an “unholy” alliance between the media and politicians in Britain. Glenn revealed a brilliant solution with grave consequences against it. He would add one line to a government oath of office. “I will report any crime or corruption of government officials of which I’m aware”. Perfect.

Jim asked, “Why are the majority of Americans who are the daily beneficiaries of socialist programs, so resistant to anything they believe is socialist such as health care for all, affordable education, or taxing the wealthy?”. Frank responded with the idea that the issue points to a “culture war”. He cited the example of Mississippi turning down money for Covid. Why would they do that? Brad added the recent news story of Governor DeSantis turning down Covid vaccines for young children in the state of Florida. Glenn followed up with the dangers of letting DeSantis go illegally unchecked citing his battle with the Disney Corp. by weaponizing the tax code against them. Jim chimed with the absolute disconnect of the Republican party aligning themselves with DeSantis-type autocrats which history shows they have never been supportive of. I will add that Jim’s question is the GOP playbook to support the titans of capitalism. Poor Education, poor Healthcare, and low tax rates for the wealthy keep the bottom line nice and fat for the very few. Why?

You keep labor costs down. Let’s reverse this. Start with education. Poor to rich communities get an equal education across the board. Companies get a more creative, critical thinking workforce. Profits go up. Competition gets more fierce. Wages will go up. My company paid half my health insurance premium. A national health care plan would put a dent in that, wouldn’t it? Additional taxes on corporations and the wealthy would be offset by the reduction in Healthcare costs to the employer. Workers stay at work longer, building experience and a strong career. Would a happier, and less poor national workforce be innovative? Bravo, Jim. You have your eyes wide open. Don’t let them tell you the Dems are socialists in the classic sense. Glenn is warning us that Florida looks like a socialist state in my opinion.

Frank put forth the next question. “What is the role of racism in the division and polarization of our country?”. Jim answered from his experience with European culture. Racism is just not present in Europe the way it is here in America. People are integrated. He goes on to speak to an innate racism here. It is better than it was 30 or 40 years ago in his view. Injustice is still widely abundant even today. Jim is not sure of a solution at this point. Brad chimed in to say conservative black political personalities like Tim Scott, Herschel Walker, Ben Carson, Larry Elder, Candace Owens, etc., are actually moving the whole subject of race backwards with their rhetoric. He asked Jack what his take was. At this point, Jack delivered a wonderful statement about black and white musicians collaborating with equality, especially in the 60s and 70s during the Motown years. This was totally separate from not being able to discuss race issues freely. Jim brought forth the idea that GOP black candidates were selected as a form of “tokenism”. I recently viewed a clip of Trump campaigning with the words, “Look at my African- American over there”. Disgraceful.

Glenn posed the question, “What can or should be done about the corruption/ethical degradation of the Supreme Court?”. Frank tackled this question with conviction. The Supreme Court has to have a code of ethics. The credibility of the Court is at an all time low. Justice Roberts needs to have a sit down chat with Justice Thomas about recusing himself from cases that involve the January 6th insurrection. We now know that his wife Ginni played a major role in the seditious conduct. The Court as a pillar of democracy cannot crumble.

Jim posed the next question. “Why are President Biden’s approval ratings so low, when if you actually look at what he has achieved so far, it is hard to find evidence of any previous President doing as much or more than Biden has in his first 18 months?” Glenn responded by saying the majority of Americans are hurting right now in the pocketbook. The price of gas, baby formula, Inflation, are all contributing factors. They are largely out of the President’s control, but that doesn’t seem to sway the opinion. He goes on to say the Republicans are going to hurt us even more with no plan to address the issues.

The more permanent problems that lay ahead are Democracy being stripped, the Supreme Court ruling in favor of women’s rights being taken away, gay rights eliminated, interracial marriage made illegal, etc. Jim interjected at this point to say that he wrote his question before gas prices rose and baby formula shortages/inflation were occurring. Glenn replied to say the amount of disinformation from news sources such as Fox News had a strong impact. Brad added this question to group, “What do the Democrats need to do to get their messaging on track to the American people?” Jim called for Populist voice to emerge from the party and get in people’s faces every day.

Question to the group from Frank. “What keeps you going, keeps you motivated, keeps you sane?” Frank replied with music, fitness, nutrition, and family. He has 5 grandchildren to chase around these days. Jack replied with a focus on music. Keeping curious and challenging yourself. He has grandchildren himself. His oldest grandchild is playing the guitar. Very cool! Jim responded with football, baseball, and travel. Glenn responded with family, children, and a granddaughter as the utmost. Hitting the heavy bag. Lastly, fighting for Justice while leading with empathy.

Jack put forth this final question for the group. “Name one area that we need to radically change in order to move humanity forward?”. Frank replied education. Specifically, our kids in civics. He also would focus on social media. Jack responded with language and the arts, with attention on the system as a whole. Jim replied with education as well, with morals and philosophy needing to be subcategories. Glenn stated he would like to see education for our children from day one in the home.

Closing thoughts from the author:

This was a marvelous panel. I felt it was important to type in much as I could for fear of leaving something out. For Brad’s audience members that may have a problem hearing, this is for you. It strikes me how committed the host and the panelists are to making this world a better place. They want to fight for it. I respect them for it. It was truly an honor to watch brilliant minds tackle the toughest questions we face.