Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Holiday Season Begins!

As we finish the leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner, we find ourselves already in the frenetic race to get through the Holidays and end another year. 

I have discovered that I need a change of pace.  I am not going to wait until the New Year to get started on that change.  A big part of the change is to purchase and read three new books on the market.  All three have to do with structure of our country and the outstanding leaders who set us upon our historic course and who sustained that effort through the centuries.  I may report on them after I have concluded my reading.

But, that report will have to wait.  I have decided to take the month of December off from any further blog posts. So for December you will have to read something else!  I have already determined what my first January essay will be about.  Of course, it will have something to do with “new beginnings” as most of us think about planning our goals and fulfilling our aspirations.

I hope you will remember to check back in January.  In the meantime, I wish you all the very best that life has to offer—family, friends and great adventures!

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Pretender

I have had the opportunity to meet people in all walks of life. Each person has had some impact on the values I have developed.  As I allowed my mind to wander through the past years and the variety of people I have encountered, I discovered that some were what I shall call “pretenders.”

The “Pretender” is a person who by his/her actions demonstrates the belief that the qualities below represent weakness in an individual:  (alphabetical listing, not by priority)

    Caring is for those who cannot change a situation
    One must do whatever is necessary to appear in charge
    Everything is available for our unrestricted use
    One must be proud of self so others will not be aware of shortcomings
    Love makes one vulnerable
    Passive aggressive tendencies demonstrate unwillingness to confront
    This quality demonstrates one is not strong enough to win battles
    A cover up for inner uncertainty

Fortunately, I have fond memories of many persons in my life who recognize the true value of these characteristics and do their best to exemplify them every day.  They are role models I attempt to emulate.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Get Your Hands Off My Social Security!

Since the election a number of Republicans are even more loudly proclaiming that we have to cut entitlements.  By entitlements they mostly mean Social Security.  Two of the things they want to do is raise the retirement age to from 67 to 69 and they want to change the calculations for cost of living (COLA) increases so that they virtually will not happen.  For those who give a damn and can read (usually those with higher education levels) I am submitting some information from which you can draw your own conclusions to where you stand on the issue.  If you are just out of college, retirement may not be of interest to you.  If you are about to retire, it is of paramount importance.  Young or old, the day will come when you retire.  What that day looks like is heading for the front burner of the political charade we call Congress.

I am going to share figures gathered from government source data and relate them to my own situation. In my case I retired in 2003 at age 69 while the retirement age was still 65.  I started taking my Social Security income, as allowed by law, at age 65.  That is as good a way to compare your own situation as any and I don’t really care who knows what my financial situation happens to be.  I would hope, however, that you care about yours, because with the Republicans in charge of the House of Representatives you can bet on some strange legislation coming up.  Incidentally, I am in favor of increasing the retirement age, eventually to 70, and removing the limit on the base upon which the FICA deductions are made.

There are several philosophical differences between Republicans and Democrats.  Simply stated most Republicans favor policies that benefit big business while most Democrats favor the labor side of economics.  The Republicans believe that if you make the rich richer they will spend their good fortune buying things, thus helping the economy to grow.  The Democrats believe the key to economic growth depends on policies that put earnings into the hands of the main consumers, the so-called middle class.  Democrats also believe that when the economy falters and unemployment grows, it is up to government to charge the economic forces by investing money in projects and programs that put people to work so they have the money to buy the goods we should be producing, even if that money has to be borrowed. If government does not put money into the economy when businesses do not, production stops, unemployment surges.  The 2% with the most money can never spend enough to keep the economy going.  It takes the 98% of the rest of us!  If we don’t have the money the economy tanks.

Well enough of that.  On the table below I have listed some facts about income and the cost of living.  It is by no means a complete picture, but it does highlight some basics.  Figures compare the year after my retirement to 2010.

% Change
My Social Security Gross Check
My Medicare Payment withheld
My Social Security Net Check
US Cost of Living Increase since 2003

Avg US Soc Sec Check/month


Avg OR Unemployment/month


Avg US Single Per. Poverty Level Inc/mo


Avg HH Income Oregon/month 2008


Ask yourself if you can live on the average SS check, or the average unemployment check, which at least is more than social security.  What do you think about the difference between the US average poverty level income for a single person as opposed to the average household income in Oregon?

It would be one thing if income and costs rose in relatively equal percentages, but as you can see they do not.  The costs of everything increase faster and by more than the average incomes of those most in need.  If there are meaningful alternatives for assisting those unable to support even a minimal life style, I am all for considering them.  The actions of politicians seem more focused on making sure the top 2% remain unaffected by any downturns in the economy.

I have paid money into Social Security like everyone else.  Receiving my monthly check is NOT a handout.  So, members of Congress, Mr. President, keep your hands off my Social Security check!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Books I Recently Read

In case you wondered (and why would you?) whether I actually read as well as write I offer the following book reports on my recent efforts to become well informed and well rounded.   (Hey! I’m not referring to my pear shaped figure.)

Third World America, by Arianna Huffington.
I have followed Arianna Huffington for some time as she has shared her views on various television news programs.  I subscribe to The Huffington Post,  her online blog that hosts dozens of the top analysts in the country today.  When I saw her interviewed about her latest of thirteen books up to the present, I immediately bought and read it.

The first two thirds of the book deals with the multitude of ways our country has devolved into a “third world” [1] nation.  It was discouraging and bewildering to see the research laid out in such a systematic and straightforward manner.  The lower middle class is increasingly becoming the poor and the upper middle class is sinking to the regular middle class.  One class continues to grow—the 2% of the population in the upper class.  That 2% is managing to capture the major portion of wealth in our nation, currently estimated to be about 85%.  That means that 98% of the population shares in only 15% of the wealth.  One can debate the figures.  There are numerous ways in which these calculations are made.  But the fact remains that the so-called “trickle down” economics of the Reagan era never trickled down to any body.  That increasing wealth was hoarded and reinvested in ways that would further benefit the super rich.

In the final third of her book, Ms. Huffington outlines ways in which this imbalance can be remedied.  She talks about entrepreneurship,   Calling on the can-do attitude that is part of America’s DNA, Huffington shows precisely what we need to do to stop our free fall and keep our country from turning into a Third World nation.”

I urge you to read it.
Eighteen Acres, by Nicolle Wallace.
I just finished this completely absorbing novel about life inside the eighteen acres that comprise the grounds of the White House.  I could not put this book down!  Coming as it has right at the time of the midterm elections, it satisfied my curiosity about the work, the people and the antics of the people we elect to lead us and those they gather around themselves in order to accomplish their goals.  It is a novel but it is based on a real knowledge of how things work (or don’t) in the world of high-powered politics.

Nicolle Wallace is an established political commentator who regularly appears on network and cable news programs.  She is a contributor to The Daily Beast and a former analyst for CBS Evening News.  She was White House communications director under George W. Bush and campaign advisor for John McCain and Sarah Palin.
I found it most interesting to imagine who her characters were in “real life.”  Of course they were drawn from a number of administrations and their personnel and one cannot be absolutely certain who is who.  The fun is in imagining that you might know.  I am sure that the insiders know who they are.

I read very few novels, but I bought this as soon as I heard Ms. Wallace interviewed about her book.  Get it!

Dead Love, by Linda Watanabe McFerrin.
And now for something entirely different.  This book, written by the wife of a friend of mine, is not the type of material I usually choose for reading matter.  My curiosity pushed me, both because of the current interest in the subject matter and because of my relationship to the author.

First, let me admit that I did not consider myself a ghoul/zombie person!    I must say, though, I had hardly begun Dead Love when I realized I was strangely excited.  Anticipation conjured in each paragraph led me to wonder what next?  Then it was from one chapter to the next.  I was hooked!

There was no wasted time building up to the sexual interplay of the characters.  Erin and Ryu take care of that right away.  Best to get into it quickly so one could fully participate in the real adventure of dead love!  The sex was, as Erin exclaimed, “almost annihilating” to say the least.

At some points in the reading I imagined a Bogart figure, as in Casablanca or African Queen, an understated character innately powerful.  Each of the Dead Love characters was well drawn and believable. Of course it helped if you already had an inclination to be interested in shape-shifting ghouls and zombies.

The author is a marvelous wordsmith.  Her colorful and descriptive narrative moves us from one dark corner of the mind to another, each fraught with the shadows of intrigue and deception.

The author is currently on a book signing tour and will be stopping at Powell’s Beaverton bookstore November 10 at 7:00 PM.

[1] ·  The term arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned or not moving at all with either capitalism and NATO (which along with its allies represented the First World) or communism and the Soviet Union (which along with its allies represented the Second World). ...
·  Unlike an industrial nation where certain criteria are met, these are nations which struggle to compete because of a lack of one or more of the following: health, education, employment, resources, money, and other various factors. ...

It’s Harder to Keep Silent Than I Thought!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I plan on being silent about the election results until I regain consciousness.  One friend noted that I seemed to be able to type while unconscious.  Caught again!

In the absence of my own thoughts (for now) I am sharing the comments of a long-time friend who is pretty much on the same wave length as I am.  Here is what Lloyd Agte has to say.

Looks like I'll have to fill the gap, then.  I hope a vow of silence is not accompanied by a spell of deafness and blindness!  To wit:

We are hitched to a dying empire.  We have not won a war since World War II.  All others have been truce, withdrawal, or defeat, or stalemate.  We will no longer be in the driver's seat as we were after WWII.  The myth of each generation getting richer and richer by doing less and less (grunt work that is) has come to an end.  The goal of the rich seems to be to acquire more wealth so that offspring don't have to worry about work and so that they can flaunt their "superior" class to an ever impoverishing nation.   They need bread lines, people dying in the street of starvation, food riots, to really feel their superior position.  As the wealth and power drifts into the hands of corporations, who have no responsibility to anyone but themselves, and the wealth percolates upwards in a class warfare that the super rich are winning, and there is less and less money in the hands of the middle and lower classes  that create the demand for goods, our economy will continue to falter and we will continue to try to maintain our lifestyle by borrowing money from the Chinese who will soon have the most powerful economy in the world.

That was a powerful illusion of wealth that the middle-class, and upper class as far as that is concerned, and it even trickled down to the poor, indulged in with the housing boom and bubble.  With nothing down and no credit and lies on a credit report, everyone thought they were getting richer, when it was just a house of cards.  Now they want it back again.  They LOVED that feeling that they were getting richer every day just because they had made the "wise" decision to buy a house.  Everything inflated: price of lumber, housing material, permits, labor, petroleum, stocks, real estate, and on and on.  It was a heady addiction and any drug is hard to give up.  Obama's sober money priming machine slowly does its work, but like a spoiled teenager, American voters want it NOW.  "Wave a wand and make me feel rich again," they shout. And the Republicans are there with their wands and their shills mixing among the crowd to pick the pockets of the middle-class and poor of what little remains.

So expect in each two year cycle a repudiation of those in power by the electorate who want to be restored to at least their illusion of masters of the world, and a constant escalation of material goods is their only means of keeping score.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

About The Election

I defer to one of the world’s proverbs that I should, perhaps, pay more attention to:

Speech is silver,
Silence is golden.

Silence will be my only comment on the election results until I regain consciousness!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

So Take That, Glenn Beck and Fox Noise!

The Rally to Restore Sanity
(And/or Fear)
Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Friends

The Washington Mall

Saturday, October 30, 2010

So here we are, Jon Stewart said at the closing of the Rally.  Indeed, here we are!  This rally reflected the America I love, the country I believe is strong in spirit and respectful of the individuality and character of its people.

Jon hoped that those who came for a good time had that experience among the thousands of like-minded adults, children and families. This was about much more than fun, though the laughs were many.  This was not a rally to ridicule others or to pretend that things are not difficult in our country right now.  Certainly, we are experiencing hard times, but not end times!

It is NOT in Washington, nor in the MEDIA that things get done.  Rather it is in our own homes where we express family values of support and encouragement.  It is in our cities and towns where we seek to build strong systems of acceptance and cooperation.  Government is not here to do everything for us, but rather to help us do for ourselves and to provide a broader base of opportunity that helps to open the way for our success.

The rally was a very welcome relief from the rhetoric and acts of incivility that have deluged us leading up to Tuesday’s election.  My personal belief is that those who base their vote on the advertising they have heard about the candidates or issues, have wasted their time and their energy.  They have also threatened the stability of the democratic process, which is not just about the right to vote, but also about being part of an educated and aware citizenry.

I voted, though it was difficult for me to feel good about it.  Every election it seems to be tougher to ferret out the truth and to believe that things will change for the better.  Traditionally, in most things, the pendulum swings from one extreme to the other, only briefly passing through moderation.  Perhaps it takes this action for us to formulate our opinions, but when we lose sight of the moderate, centrist possibilities altogether, I believe it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain a reasonable society.

So, here we are.  Another crossroads in the ongoing story of the greatest county in the world!  May God (by whatever name) guide us toward reconciliation and resolution in our deliberations and actions.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I Wonder . . .

It is a beautiful fall day.  The sun is bright in a clear blue sky.  This morning was our first frost!  I had to do a double take when I looked out my window and saw the frost on the cars in the parking lot.  Wow!  Fall is here and the leaves are beginning their colorful shift from green to orange, red, yellow and eventually, brown.  At that point they fall to the ground and it is time for homeowners to get the rakes out and clean up.  (Glad I don't own a home any more!  I can watch out my window from the comfort of my computer keyboard as others do the work.)

I have just finished reading the blog post of a friend from China who was commenting on her life and reviewing her attitude about her work, her team mates and friends.  What started out as a somewhat negative retrospective turned out in the end to be a positive reflection on how she could make her life more meaningful and fulfilling.  I was struck by her philosophy and her willingness to accept what friends had shared with her about how she could chart a more successful course.

After I shared my coment with her, I began to wonder.  I wondered why so many of us have times of despair where we feel like things are never going to get better.  Of course, in America right now it is not difficult to list numerous reasons why we get depressed about how life seems to be going.  Some of us hope that when the elections are over in November, a new crop of politicians will get busy to set things right that they think the current politicians have done wrong.  It is always like this.  Unfortunately, it seems that we get farther and farther away from constructive change in our elections.  We have become polarized regarding just about every issue.  There doesn't seem to be a powerful effort toward reconcilliation or positive compromise.  In fact, it seems compromise has become a dirty word and deleted from our conversations and actions.  So, yes, there are many things that give us pause to reflect on just what in the world is going to happen to us?

It is probably trite to mention, "behind every cloud the sun is shining," especially on such a sunny day as this.  Or that it is raindrops seen through the sunlight that brings the rainbow, an age-old symbol of prosperity and well-being.  And yet, this is exactly what we should be focusing our attention upon.  It seems to me that we have a choice.  We can choose to look at life positively, to believe in rainbows of abundance.  Or we can join in the negative conversations of those constantly moaning about how terrible everything is.  You might reflect:

As I sat frustrated and alone
A friend came by and said,
“Cheer up.  Things could be worse.”
So I cheered up.
Sure enough! Things got worse!
        -- Anonymous

There are plenty of people complaining.  What we need is people positively reflecting upon what is right with life.  Cherish your friends, especially the positive ones.  Enjoy the sun, the clouds and even the rain--they are part of the life cycle that continually renews itself.  You live in that cycle of renewing life, so focus your attention on the positive possibilities within every aspect of the cycles of change that come your way.  There is good to be found there.  If your friends cannot find good things to talk about, don't give in to the temptation to whine along with them.  It may be time to take a constructive stand or even find new friends.

I wonder . . . What would life be like if we really did change our viewpoint, our conversations and our dreams?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Failure To Ask

This is one of those essays I find difficult to start writing.

Like so many others I have been profoundly affected by the suicide of Tyler Clementi, the 18-year-old Rutgers University student whose bright light was extinguished by the waters underneath the George Washington Bridge from which he jumped last week.

It is ironic to me that as we debate the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” issue in the Armed Forces, and we are told that the younger generation does not have an issue with those who have recognized their gender attractions to members of their own sex, that it was exactly members of the younger generation that attempted to ridicule and shame one of their own.

It is bad enough that the life of Tyler Clementi was brought to an abrupt end, but the facts are that in recent weeks five teenagers in the United States have taken their lives because they were openly gay or thought to be gay.  I do not care what one’s personal beliefs about gay and lesbian individuals may be, there is no excuse for the brutal behavior they are exposed to by their age peers and others.  To me such behavior amounts to nothing less than a hate crime and should be dealt with as such.

This morning, on CBS Sunday Morning (CBS, 7 AM PDT), the lead story was about this subject.  Reporter Jim Axelrod stated, “You may hear about a bad break-up or stress as the cause of a suicide.  Those usually mask underlying mental health issues as the real explanation.”  People struggle emotionally for myriad reasons, yet so seldom is there the courage to stand up and say, “I’m struggling.  I need help.”  The report states that in 2009 13.8% of US high school students—almost one out of seven--reported they seriously considered attempting to kill themselves, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Laurie Flynn who runs Columbia University’s nationwide TeenScreen program, designed to identify 14-to 17-year olds who are at risk, asks teens, “Why didn’t you say anything?”  The teen response was, “Nobody ever asked me.”  It would seem that part of our problem of escalating teen suicide has to do with our failure to ask!  Somewhere between a person’s fear of asking and our failure to recognize another’s emotional needs and ask, “Is there anything I can do?” someone falls through the cracks and is lost.

Some of us are hesitant to intrude on another person’s private thoughts and feelings.  However, if we sense there may be a serious problem building to an explosion point, isn’t it better to take the risk and offer a listening ear or a hug?  The worst that would probably happen is to be told “No.”  Sometimes we may need to not take no for an answer.  I wish I could tell you how to be absolutely certain when it is time to act on behalf of another person you think is in need.  I cannot.  Still, I prefer the pre-emptive action of making myself available than to simply wait until it is too late.  “What ifs?” are never satisfying.

Some of you who follow my blog or Facebook Notes are aware that I have had my ups and downs emotionally.  We all do to some extent.  What has saved me for the most part, in addition to writing as an outlet, is that sometimes I am able to ask for help.  Other times I have found myself receptive to someone injecting themselves into my life, not only asking if they can help, but insisting upon it.  My former wife and long-time friend, Shawn, was such a presence for me awhile back.  Putting aside her own issues she visited me to make sure I was okay.  Her courage to ask made a remarkable difference for me at the time.

The failure to ask goes both ways.  We need to carefully monitor our own sense of well-being.  It is important to have persons in your life with whom you can confidently share your needs and who can understand your need for help.  We need to ask for help.  We also need to be aware of our family members and close friends, watching for any sign that they may need some kind of assistance.  We need to ask, “How can I help?”

The tragic loss of Tyler Clementi and others who were trying to understand their sexuality and what that means for them is regrettable in so many ways.  Every life is important.  Every life counts.  No one should be put under a microscope of scrutiny and judged as irrelevant.  No one, especially teens, should be mocked and ridiculed.  Much of our society today is so divided and so willing to see everything in terms of black and white, right or wrong, acceptable or unacceptable, that we are virtually at war with each other.  Is it not apparent where this divisiveness and bigotry are leading us?  It is time for understanding.  It is time to be more “our brother’s keeper” than his enemy.

Finally, failure to ask is NOT an option!  We need each other!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Getting Beyond “I don’t WANT to.”

A number of weeks ago a friend sent me a saying she liked and thought I might.  It was:

I don’t WANT to,
I don’t HAVE to,
You can’t MAKE me . . .

Maybe it was because it resonated with my frame of mind at the time, but I DID like it.  In fact, I immediately made it into a small poster, printed it and posted it on the wall in front of my computer where I saw it every time I was at the keyboard.

One of the reasons it resonated with me at the time was the fact of the growing discord in our societal “conversations.”  It seemed to me no one was listening to anyone else.  We each were shouting our opinions as though we were the only voice that counted. These were not only the voices of individuals, family members and friends, but also of the media and the politicians. The fact is that they had long since ceased to be “conversations” and were, for the most part, simply diatribes of complaint and finger-pointing.  I definitely didn’t WANT to continue being part of that frustration, but I was!

Then, this morning I received one of those innocuous email forwards.  At first I thought, “Here’s another one!”  The email referred the reader to a blog page, Confessions of A Confetti Head.  The first paragraph got me.

Where does REAL personal change come from? You know, the kind that puts you into a tailspin with profound “AHAs.” The kind that after you come back to Earth, you say, “WOW! That was AMAZING!” and from that moment on, you are different. You are different in ways that you may have struggled with for years, or even your entire life.

As I read on I discovered that the author had many degrees, had become certified in many human potential techniques, and yet still felt a distinct schism in her psyche.  With all she knew about living and how well qualified she felt to live life fully, she also “struggled with a dual experience of myself as dynamic and capable on one hand and invisible, unworthy, and less than on the other hand.”   I could also identify with those feelings of a strange inadequacy to really make a difference, to be heard above the din of angry confrontation and lack of civility. Who wants to listen to me?  (Also, who do I want to listen to?)

Personally, I have found myself echoing and believing the “I don’t want to” attitude about life.   What’s the use, I thought.  It is not a pleasant place to be when that is the way one thinks and feels about life.  In that place you feel like a voice crying in the wilderness, hoping the deaf will hear and the blind will see.  They don’t and they won’t as long as we cannot respect and accept our differences.  If this country stands for anything, it is the rights of each of us to be whom we are, and to recognize that right in every other American.  Remember, we ALL came from somewhere else (except for the Native Americans).

Somehow, I thought to myself, I have to get beyond these feelings of not wanting to participate in a world gone crazy.  I cannot hide away in a cave (as much as I would like to at times) and pretend there is nothing to be done, no way to make things better.  I do know I cannot change anyone else.  Great gravy!  It’s almost impossible to change myself.  What in the world makes me think I should even want to try to change anyone else?

I cannot help but remember an experience I had years ago that provided a profound example of what can happen when one decides to change his/her attitude.  I had felt deeply hurt by a situation that occurred.  I felt so angry that I defiantly told myself I didn’t even want to want forgive the other person.  Over a period of time working on that situation I came to a point where I realized I wanted to want to forgive the person.  Finally, I wanted to.  At last, after much work in prayer an objectively discussing the problem with those whose opinions I valued, I did forgive!  In that moment I was totally free from the negative power of the original event.

I wish I could say that overcoming that situation took me beyond ever feeling hurt again or angry and unforgiving.  It didn’t.  Life is not a matter of overcoming one situation and forever being free of challenges.  The most we can expect from meeting a challenge is to understand the process fully enough to use that knowledge to meet subsequent challenges. 

There is only one way, really, to get beyond “I don’t WANT to”.  You have to WANT to.  That is where real personal and societal change will come from.  It is my hope that our society will get beyond the anger and frustration that so many feel.  I suspect that once the midterm elections are over and the politicians have little more to gain from milking the adversity to their advantage that things will settle down for a month or so.  Of course, then the REAL election effort begins and we can return to accusing one party or the other of misleading us, being dishonest, baiting the divisive tendencies in those subject to such efforts and generally further destabilizing our sense of connectedness.  You see where this is going, right?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Rules of Engagement

A friend and fellow Blogger just posted an essay about how fear affects our ability to engage others in responsible interaction.  He specifically invited my response to that article.  You can find the original essay at:

I hope you will check it out.  What follows is my more detailed response.

The essay on engagement, referred to above, highlights the character of much of our American society today.  Times are tough economically for 90 – 95% of the country.  An increasing number of citizens do not know where the next meal is coming from, if it’s coming at all, or where they will lay their head in sleep tonight.  When such circumstances exist and show little sign of easing, a desperation and sense of fear begin to develop.  Fearful people may take one of several courses of action as a result.

Some will simply slink away, discouraged and feeling impotent to change their circumstances.  They are unlikely to engage with anyone because they fear their own weakness.  Some will become angry and strike out at those they blame for creating the circumstances in which they find themselves.  They are more likely to engage others sometimes violently in order to vent their frustrations and fears of greater loss.  They will find someone or some group that they can tag as responsible for their plight.

My personal religious philosophy does not include fear of God.  The God in whom I place my faith is not vengeful or punitive.  My fear, it seems to me at least, comes from my lack of understanding of my own worth.  To the degree I feel worthy my life operates with less fear.  With less fear I am more likely to engage with others and willing to listen to ideas and philosophies that differ from my own.

So, for me, engagement in and of itself is not the question.  The kind of engagement we express, the quality of our character, and our sense of personal responsibility for the quality of our lives and our society, determine whether engagement improves or diminishes our society.  It is all too clear that many Americans today are so fearful and angry that equilibrium is almost lost   Those willing to exploit our fears and rally us to find a scapegoat always seem to rise to prominence in such times.  To blindly follow such provocateurs is an abdication of personal responsibility.

To positively engage in debate, to seek to understand others, especially those whose ethnicity and cultural foundation differ from our own, can bring harmony, a deeper sense of community and a freedom from fear.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Glenn Beck Rally and Our Society

Anyone who has followed this blog or my “Notes” on Facebook is aware that I do not have much use for the likes of Glenn Beck, Fox Noise, the Tea Party, or most of those who follow the rants of this narcissistic nut ball. (Friends and relatives excepted! –LOL) His visions of personal grandeur and self-importance make me want to hurl my breakfast.

That having been said I determined this morning that I might have to write an essay acknowledging the fact that Glenn Beck did in fact get his crowd together for the rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  Never mind that this event, in my opinion, was a mockery of all that Dr. Martin Luther King stood for.  However, I certainly recognize that he has tapped into the enormous sense of dissatisfaction with the way things are in society and government today. That does not mean I agree with any single word that comes out of his mouth.

I am not feeling particularly charitable, especially after reviewing the Katrina 5th anniversary programs this week and the reminder of how totally incompetent our government has become in most areas of our lives.  And that is what really scares me.  When unrest is further encouraged by those who are least sane, or least competent to understand the power of one negative assault after another on the public psyche, there is considerable concern about the possibility of someone finally lighting the actual fuse of revolution.  When those seeking public office have as their mandate the course of exercising their “Second Amendment remedies” (read Sharron Angle of Nevada) if government does not do what they think government should do, we are in deep trouble.

There is no question many folks are very unhappy with what is happening in our country.  I am very upset about many of the same things.  But what I am most unhappy about is the failure of our politicians to demonstrate even a vestige of integrity or genuine concern, let alone any awareness, of the plight of an increasing portion of the populace.  I cannot, will not, go into all of the aspects at the root of this dissatisfaction, except to say that the devastating financial divide between the “haves” and the “have-nots” is at the breaking point.  There is very definitely a different philosophical base between the Democrats and the Republicans on this issue.  That philosophy could be debated reasonably, but it is not.

Frankly, and here comes my basic negativity about things, I think we may have passed the point of no return when it comes to our ability to engage constructively with one another.  I believe we have come to the point where many think it really is necessary to wear guns to rallies to showcase our opinions.  We are almost at the point of the only argument being, “My gun is bigger than your gun!”

Some may be saying, “It is easy to complain.  Why don’t you offer some alternatives?”  I guess what I feel about that is my expressions of other ways of thinking, feeling, and living don’t seem to resonate with those caught up with the Glenn Becks of this society.  I have stated my position in hundreds of articles over the years and in two books.  So now I will just cop out.  Of course that is not much better than the position of the radical right and left who complain and offer such radical alternatives that there is no room to compromise.

For anyone who feels strongly about what I have said, I invite your comments.  You have as much right to your opinions as Glenn Beck does and as I do.  Opinions are cheap, aren’t they?  They require very little other than a means to state them.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Who Could Have Predicted This State of Affairs?

For some time now I have wanted to voice my disgust with the current rampage of the growing percentage of Americans who “want to take the country back.” Back to where? Back to when? These so-called Constitutionalists have either not read the Constitution or want to believe the Founders didn’t really mean what they wrote down at the beginning of our democracy. (I have read it and keep a pocket copy handy to reaffirm its contents in the face of the demagoguery of the idiots wearing hats with teabags hanging from them.)

Don’t get me wrong. Every person has a right to express his/her opinion. What they DO NOT have is the right to make up their own facts and present them as Truth.

In my email today I received this copy of an editorial by Frank Rich of the New York Times. It pretty much reflected my views on a number of current topics, so I decided to reproduce it here for those who have not seen it. To some extent, it saves me from raising my blood pressure over what is happening in this country today.

How Fox Betrayed Petraeus
August 21, 2010 – New York Times

THE “ground zero mosque,” as you may well know by now, is not at ground zero. It’s not a mosque but an Islamic cultural center containing a prayer room. It’s not going to determine President Obama’s political future or the elections of 2010 or 2012. Still, the battle that has broken out over this project in Lower Manhattan — on the “hallowed ground” of a shuttered Burlington Coat Factory store one block from the New York Dolls Gentlemen’s Club — will prove eventful all the same. And the consequences will be far more profound than any midterm election results or any of the grand debates now raging 24/7 over the parameters of tolerance, religious freedom, and the real estate gospel of location, location, location.
Here’s what’s been lost in all the screaming. The prime movers in the campaign against the “ground zero mosque” just happen to be among the last cheerleaders for America’s nine-year war in Afghanistan. The wrecking ball they’re wielding is not merely pounding Park51, as the project is known, but is demolishing America’s already frail support for that war, which is dedicated to nation-building in a nation whose most conspicuous asset besides opium is actual mosques.
So virulent is the Islamophobic hysteria of the neocon and Fox News right — abetted by the useful idiocy of the Anti-Defamation League, Harry Reid and other cowed Democrats — that it has also rendered Gen. David Petraeus’s last-ditch counterinsurgency strategy for fighting the war inoperative. How do you win Muslim hearts and minds in Kandahar when you are calling Muslims every filthy name in the book in New York?
You’d think that American hawks invested in the Afghanistan “surge” would not act against their own professed interests. But they couldn’t stop themselves from placing cynical domestic politics over country. The ginned-up rage over the “ground zero mosque” was not motivated by a serious desire to protect America from the real threat of terrorists lurking at home and abroad — a threat this furor has in all likelihood exacerbated — but by the potential short-term rewards of winning votes by pandering to fear during an election season.
We owe thanks to Justin Elliott of Salon for the single most revealing account of this controversy’s evolution. He reports that there was zero reaction to the “ground zero mosque” from the front-line right or anyone else except marginal bloggers when The Times first reported on the Park51 plans in a lengthy front-page article on Dec. 9, 2009. The sole exception came some two weeks later at Fox News, where Laura Ingraham, filling in on “The O’Reilly Factor,” interviewed Daisy Khan, the wife of the project’s organizer, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. Ingraham gave the plans her blessing. “I can’t find many people who really have a problem with it,” she said. “I like what you’re trying to do.”
As well Ingraham might. Rauf is no terrorist. He has been repeatedly sent on speaking tours by the Bush and Obama State Departments alike to promote tolerance in Arab and Muslim nations. As Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic reported last week, Rauf gave a moving eulogy at a memorial service for Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter murdered by Islamist terrorists in Pakistan, at the Manhattan synagogue B’nai Jeshurun. Pearl’s father was in attendance. The Park51 board is chock-full of Christians and Jews. Perhaps the most threatening thing about this fledgling multi-use community center, an unabashed imitator of the venerable (and Jewish) 92nd Street Y uptown, is its potential to spawn yet another coveted, impossible-to-get-into Manhattan private preschool.
In the five months after The Times’s initial account there were no newspaper articles on the project at all. It was only in May of this year that the Rupert Murdoch axis of demagoguery revved up, jettisoning Ingraham’s benign take for a New York Post jihad. The paper’s inspiration was a rabidly anti-Islam blogger best known for claiming that Obama was Malcolm X’s illegitimate son. Soon the rest of the Murdoch empire and its political allies piled on, promoting the incendiary libel that the “radical Islamists” behind the “ground zero mosque” were tantamount either to neo-Nazis in Skokie (according to a Wall Street Journal columnist) or actual Nazis (per Newt Gingrich).
These patriots have never attacked the routine Muslim worship services at another site of the 9/11 attacks, the Pentagon. Their sudden concern for ground zero is suspect to those of us who actually live in New York. All but 12 Republicans in the House voted against health benefits for 9/11 responders just last month. Though many of these ground-zero watchdogs partied at the 2004 G.O.P. convention in New York exploiting 9/11, none of them protested that a fellow Republican, the former New York governor George Pataki, so bollixed up the management of the World Trade Center site that nine years on it still lacks any finished buildings, let alone a permanent memorial.
The Fox patron saint Sarah Palin calls Park51 a “stab in the heart” of Americans who “still have that lingering pain from 9/11.” But her only previous engagement with the 9/11 site was when she used it as a political backdrop for taking her first questions from reporters nearly a month after being named to the G.O.P. ticket. (She was so eager to grab her ground zero photo op that she defied John McCain’s just-announced “suspension” of their campaign.) Her disingenuous piety has been topped only by Bernie Kerik, who smuggled a Twitter message out of prison to register his rage at the ground zero desecration. As my colleague Clyde Haberman reminded us, such was Kerik’s previous reverence for the burial ground of 9/11 that he appropriated an apartment overlooking the site (and designated for recovery workers) for an extramarital affair.
At the Islamophobia command center, Murdoch’s News Corporation, the hypocrisy is, if anything, thicker. A recent Wall Street Journal editorial darkly cited unspecified “reports” that Park51 has “money coming from Saudi charities or Gulf princes that also fund Wahabi madrassas.” As Jon Stewart observed, this brand of innuendo could also be applied to News Corp., whose second largest shareholder after the Murdoch family is a member of the Saudi royal family. Perhaps last week’s revelation that News Corp. has poured $1 million into G.O.P. campaign coffers was a fiendishly clever smokescreen to deflect anyone from following the far greater sum of Saudi money (a $3 billion stake) that has flowed into Murdoch enterprises, or the News Corp. money (at least $70 million) recently invested in a Saudi media company.
Were McCain in the White House, Fox and friends would have kept ignoring Park51. But it’s an irresistible target in our current election year because it revives the most insidious anti-Obama narrative of the many Fox promoted in the previous election year: Obama the closet Muslim and secret madrassa alumnus. In the much discussed latest Pew poll, a record number of Americans (nearing 20 percent) said that our Christian president practices Islam. And they do not see that as a good thing. Existing or proposed American mosques hundreds and even thousands of miles from ground zero, from Tennessee to Wisconsin to California, are now under siege.
After 9/11, President Bush praised Islam as a religion of peace and asked for tolerance for Muslims not necessarily because he was a humanitarian or knew much about Islam but because national security demanded it. An America at war with Islam plays right into Al Qaeda’s recruitment spiel. This month’s incessant and indiscriminate orgy of Muslim-bashing is a national security disaster for that reason — Osama bin Laden’s “next video script has just written itself,” as the former F.B.I. terrorist interrogator Ali Soufan put it — but not just for that reason. America’s Muslim partners, those our troops are fighting and dying for, are collateral damage. If the cleric behind Park51 — a man who has participated in events with Condoleezza Rice and Karen Hughes, for heaven’s sake — is labeled a closet terrorist sympathizer and a Nazi by some of the loudest and most powerful conservative voices in America, which Muslims are not?
In the latest CNN poll, American opposition is at an all-time high to both the ostensibly concluded war in Iraq (69 percent) and the endless one in Afghanistan (62 percent). Now, when the very same politicians and pundits who urge infinite patience for Afghanistan slime Muslims as Nazis, they will have to explain that they are not talking about Hamid Karzai or his corrupt narco-thug government or the questionably loyal Afghan armed forces our own forces are asked to entrust with their lives. The hawks will have to make the case that American troops should make the ultimate sacrifice to build a Nazi — Afghan, I mean — nation and that economically depressed taxpayers should keep paying for it. Good luck with that.
Poor General Petraeus. Over the last week he has been ubiquitous in the major newspapers and on television as he pursues a publicity tour to pitch the war he’s inherited. But have you heard any buzz about what he had to say? Any debate? Any anything? No one was listening and no one cared. Everyone was too busy yelling about the mosque.
It’s poignant, really. Even as America’s most venerable soldier returned from the front to valiantly assume the role of Willy Loman, the product he was selling was being discredited and discontinued by his own self-proclaimed allies at home.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Prayers Answered – Deep Gratitude to All!

I just received the news that the 4.4 cm polyp removed from Shawn’s colon is an adenoma,* a benign tumor!  This is great news and an example of the power of people praying together.  Even the surgeon felt the growth would be determined malignant.  I do not have to tell you how relieved Shawn is, and of course, so am I.  She will have to return to the hospital at a later time to complete the colonoscopy that was interrupted due to her waking up during the procedure.  But now there is time to continue building the image of a vital, perfectly functioning system, fully healed.

Thank you all for your prayerful support!

* Adenomas of the colon are quite prevalent. They are found commonly at colonoscopy. They are removed because of their tendency to become malignant and to lead to colon cancer.  --Wikipedia

Monday, August 9, 2010

Why Did This Happen To Me?

I KNOW you have asked yourself, “Why did this happen to me?”  If you didn’t ask the question for yourself, you have probably wondered why so much bad stuff happens to people you know.  Those of you who read my blog or follow my “Notes” on Facebook will know I have a dear friend who is one of those for whom the question surely can be asked.  In fact, Shawn brought it up herself and in doing so she made light of her circumstances.  I couldn’t help but chuckle about the way she was looking through the pain and fear to see the “funny” side of her situation.

As I read her question about why all the bad stuff happens to people it occurred to me that maybe God knows which of His children can handle paying up KARMA in advance!  Okay, I know how this sounds, but it isn’t any crazier than thinking God is punishing us for some nutty behavior. I personally do not believe things happen by chance.  I am not always able to connect the dots on why something works out the way it does in my life, but still, I know I am participating in some way.  Hopefully in the scheme of things we will come to understand what it is all about.  For one thing, consider what we often learn about ourselves when we overcome the challenge.  How many times have you said, “Well, I won’t have to make that mistake again”?

When someone is in the midst of despair, pain, illness and discouragement, it is NOT time to point out how they brought this on themselves.  It is just not that simple.  Furthermore, who are we to think we know the cause/effect situations in another person’s life?  We usually can’t figure it out for our own.  Love and pray for those in need.  Encourage them to do the same for themselves, when appropriate.  That is your gift to the situation.  That, in my opinion, is why you are connected to that friend or loved one who very much needs support, right now.

Friday, August 6, 2010

My Long-Time Friend

I have a long-time friend whom I met (in this lifetime) back in the early 1980s.  We were married for ten years and have now been divorced for many years.  Shawn is one of those persons in life that once you meet you know you have always known her and will always travel with her through life times, no matter what events draw you close or tear you asunder. With deep passion we loved and with great heartbreak we fell apart.  But we have remained friends through it all.

This dearest of friends is now engaged in a struggle with cancer, among other health  challenges.  Her vital spirit is not dampened, but fear abounds as one might imagine.  She recently visited me because she felt I needed support.  She knew I was on the down side of depression.  She is like that.  She always knows.  And I always know about her.  I must share that I hurt so deeply for her and the pain and fear she is experiencing.  I can only do what I know to do and that is to love her and pray for her without end.

I can get all "metaphysical" about the philosophy of healing.  I can say that healing is the reality even
if the body is released and soul moves on.  For me, right now, even knowing that is little comfort.  I
share that belief with Shawn, but I know how hard it is to hear it--experience it--through the fear.

So, my readers and my friends, I ask you to support us both with your prayers for strength, life and courage.  I am eternally grateful!

To My Long-Time Friend
(Whom I Met Just Recently)

We are long-time friends, you and I,
Who met just recently.
Pasts and futures acknowledged
As one impacting play
Of knowing,

Universes have we traveled together,
And many we wandered alone.
Yet in the heart-search that urged
Us forward
We have felt the closeness of our Spirits.

Whatever paths we ultimately may follow
As once again we seek our
Our eyes now lock in single embrace,
A mutual eternity.

And in this now-moment we
Laugh again,
Cry again,
Love again—

I love you
My long-time Friend
Whom I met just recently!

Written for Shawn
February 1983

Saturday, July 31, 2010

It's Nap Time!

Back in the years I was directing the Whole Life Learning Center, 1, I spent a great deal of time studying the many Seth books authored by Jane Roberts, 2, a trance medium. I taught a variety of classes and workshops centered in the principles of philosophy and psychology developed in those books.

I was thinking to myself today, after posting on my Facebook page: Hooray! It’s nap time again! that most people would probably chuckle and think I was just kidding. Well, I wasn’t kidding, though after thinking about it I decided to explain what is behind my napping. To state it briefly, one of Seth’s principles about sleep was that when you are sleepy you should sleep. When you are staying awake, get up and do something. In other words trust your body to tell you what it needs and then follow the instructions.

For most people working for someone else it is not very convenient to take a nap at your workstation in the middle of the day if you feel like it. (And don’t we all?) On the other hand I read just recently that some avant-garde businesses are experimenting with ways to afford workers such an opportunity. They have found in initial efforts that workers feel more energized and are more efficient after a brief nap break. For someone like me, now retired, I get to do as I darn please! So, when I feel like napping, get out of the way! I also don’t fret about waking up at 3:00 AM and deciding to get up and read, check my email, or do anything else that comes to mind. That doesn’t happen very often, I hasten to say. I sleep pretty well—anytime! When I feel sleepy again, back to bed! I have found this to be a very workable arrangement for my lifestyle.

Concurrent with this principle, Seth also talked about our eating schedule and suggested once again that the body knows best what it needs. Eating small portions of food more often during the day, he says, is healthier for the body because it is able to maintain a comfortable metabolism instead of going from hunger to stuffed all the time. I haven’t quite worked this one out yet. I never have been much of a snacker and to eat “between” meals seems like snacking. Old habits die hard! I seldom eat breakfast. I don’t miss lunch very often, but I vary my evening eating habits based on the weather—heat of summer equals salads. Cold of winter equals cooked meals.

I am sure this is all very interesting to you, my readers, and now that I have told you these things, I can get back to taking that nap I was planning on. Good night!
1 Whole Life Learning Center, Inc. a non-profit education and counseling center, operated in Denver, CO from 1973 through 1982, along with a branch in Colorado Springs, CO.
2 See:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Thoughts On Children

My grandson, Aubrey, and his wife, Becky, both of whom are in the Airforce currently stationed in Hawaii, are visiting this week. I picked them up at the airport in the early morning and after breakfast dropped them off at the car rental office so they could pick up their wheels of “independence.” I say independence because they have a long list of places to go and things to do, so I will probably only see them a few times during the visit. One place we are most likely to visit together is the Washington Park Zoological Gardens. (One has to check in to see how all the “relatives” are doing, you know!)

In between my attention to emails and other computer activities I began to think about children. As I did, I immediately focused my mind on one of my favorite photos of my son and daughter when David was five and Jennifer was two. It is this same photo that most often comes to my mind when I think of them. There is something so innocent, carefree and appealing to our children at those early ages. All their dreams are just beginning to take shape and the most important thing they have to do is have fun with their imaginings.

I cannot speak for all parents, of course, but I think many of us always hold on to a favorite image of our children, one in which they always are children. There is no intent to not recognize that they have grown up and are now living their own lives, probably with their own children and the memories that are just beginning to be stored away for later recollection. Rather, it is more the realization of how life unfolds from childhood, to adult, to parent, grandparent and maybe to doting patriarch or matriarch of a proud family. As I ponder this wonderful family pattern I am reminded of a favorite passage by Kahlil Gibran:

On Children

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

It takes great effort sometimes to really let our children go, to let them grow and become who they are destined to be, with their own set of values and priorities. Hopefully, some of the positive efforts we make as parents will assist them in the process of building the foundation for their lives. Remember, They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. As such, they have their own dreams from which they will build unique lives that bring blessings to all of us that would not exist without them.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The OM Heard 'Round the World

Today, July 10, 2010, I joined with others beginning a process of meditation for the healing of our Mother Earth. People all over the world are participating in this effort. In the United States we are particularly focused the healing of the Gulf of Mexico due to the abuse of the planet through the spilling of its deep life-blood of oil. You can join us and/or include your own particular focus for planetary healing. Below is an outline for the meditation session, or you can use your own, but joining in this particular one will increase the effect of our effort many times over.

Meditation to hold the field for Earth Healing Day – August 15, 2010
Daily practice, begin at 7:00 AM -- July 10th through Aug 15th

1. Sit quietly for a couple of minutes to reaffirm your intention to serve the planet at this
2. Be aware of the spiritual forces now congealing around the planet to facilitate your
meditation and Earth’s healing.
3. Raise your intention to amplify your service to Earth, and visualize people all around
the world learning about Earth Healing Day (August 15), sharing knowledge of the
event with all their friends and spiritual family members and joyously looking forward
to the time when they can sound The OM Heard ‘Round the World.
4. Then, in your mind, fast-forward to August 15th, and visualize a million people all
around the world observing their clocks, waiting for noon to arrive in their own time
zone. At the appointed time, see them joining with others (whether going outside or
sitting in a room of their choice), and sounding the syllable OM with their full voice
and full intention to cleanse, heal and bless the planet.
5. As they all become fully engaged in their chanting, visualize a group of 300 people
assembled in Denver, joyously chanting OM together, and directing the vibration of
their combined voices into the Gulf of Mexico, setting up a pure vibration of the OM
that adds oxygen to the depleted waters, dissolves the oil and chemicals in the water,
and provides healing and restoration for all the precious marine animals and plants
that have been caused to suffer so in the oil tragedy.
6. Next see successive groups of 300 meeting in various cities around the world, such as
New York City, Montreal, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Omaha, New Orleans,
Corpus Christi, Calgary, Portland, San Francisco, Tokyo, Sydney, Bogotá, Christ
Church, Mumbai, Delhi, Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul, Bangkok, Chang Mai, Hanoi, Kuala
Lumpur, Rangoon, Phnom Penh, Lhasa, Katmandu, Canberra, Wellington, Bamako,
Pretoria, Cape Town, Monte Carlo, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Abuja, London, Paris,
Copenhagen, Berlin, Stockholm, Helsinki, Madrid, Lisbon, Rome, Amsterdam,
Brussels, etc, etc., etc. You do not have to go through all these (unless you find it
helpful), but create a global focus, rather than a local one.
7. Let your visualization next see the entire planet with myriad lights blinking on, each
one representing a group of people coming together, meditating and chanting OM on
August 15 at noon in their time zone.
8. If you can, sit and listen to The Om Heard ‘Round the World that will be generated on
August 15, and dedicate that powerful sound force to the cleansing and healing of
planet Earth.
9. As you listen, project yourself forward in time to August 15th, and begin sounding OM
with the great planetary chorus. Chant with this great choir for about five minutes.
10. Allow the chanting to come to a close, but keep the energy generated alive and vibrant
in your meditation room or area.
11. Sit for a moment in the aura of The Om Heard ‘Round the World, allowing your heart
to open completely to this vibration, and bringing in the presence of that energy to
carry with you all day.
12. When complete, give thanks for the privilege of serving Earth and all Her living beings,
give thanks for the power of the Divine to grace your meditation, give thanks for all the
people who are also doing this meditation, and give thanks for all those planetary
citizens who will participate with you in Earth Healing Day. So be it!

The Independent Party is For Real in Oregon!

Today I can actually cast a vote for a candidate representing the Independent Party. I will be joining 55,000 other Oregonians who finally can voice their choice for a candidate instead of having to sit by while the Democrats and Republicans held their primaries. This is a small beginning for what I hope will grow nationwide allowing us to move beyond the limitations of choice to what the party elders determine should be the ones for whom we can vote in primaries.

There are many minority parties in Oregon who seldom get the notice they deserve as they offer a variety of options not considered by the traditional electorate. In this new option candidates from these parties as well as the Republicans and Democrats can choose to be listed and voted for by the Independent Party members. It should be an interesting experiment. I will be voting via the Internet today!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Does Anything Really Make A Difference Anymore?

One of the network channels offers a weekly news item on their program dedicated to persons who are making a difference in our sometimes-discouraging world of affairs.  This effort to show bright spots in what is often a shadowy world of indifference and self-centeredness is certainly needed.  When one news story after another can make one feel that there is little reason to be hopeful, little cause for celebrating our apparent successes, it is not difficult to understand why so many people are angry, disillusioned or just plain don’t care anymore!

I find myself slipping into that mood at times.  After the tragic years of the Bush/Cheney administration and the long-lasting destruction caused by their narrow-minded aggressive tendencies, it will be generations before we overcome the devastating effects of their so-called leadership.  Today, we need only look at the ruining of the environment in the Gulf of Mexico, the loss of livelihood of family businesses built over generations, the death of untold numbers of fish, fowl, mammals and other life forms to realize that our country (its politicians and business leaders) have abandoned the principles that made this country what it was on its way to becoming.  I say on its way to becoming because we had only begun to realize the limitless capacity of our citizens to invent, build and deploy imaginative ideas and products for the benefit of humankind.

I am not a Tea Party person nor am I a sympathizer with most of what I see them display through their thoughtless accusations and actions. Really, some of these people must be from another planet!  That we as a nation have come to the point where our mutual anger and frustration has taken on the psuedo leadership of dropout dysfunctionaries as Sarah Palin and the discredited John McCain only shows how far from understanding our democracy and its founding documents we have come.

I cannot even begin to put into words my disgust about the priorities our Congressional members have determined to be important.  What I can say is that they are clearly based on greed and avarice. The money that controls our representatives and senators has become so much a part of their function that they can in no way continue to represent the people.  They clearly are in bed with their financiers.  Look at the literal bed-hopping of the Minerals Management Agency office in Denver, responsible for granting licenses and policing the oil companies.  And, again, look at the Gulf disaster. It is government policy and lack of enforcement of big business that has largely been responsible for the chaos we are currently facing.

Even in the face of these catastrophes the Republicans maintain their belief that business does not need regulation.  It needs to be left free to market action.  This belief that business will self-control is an impossible dream when the unimaginable amounts of money to be gained are on the table, up for grabs for those who don’t give a damn about people or country! Don’t begin to disregard my comments as simply the rant of an unhappy Democrat.  I am NOT a Democrat either.  Neither of the two parties offers policies or purposes that are compatible with my own. 

What I am in favor of is the real grass roots efforts of those who are free of party dictates.  I believe wholesale change in government is necessary—Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court.  Consistent with this concept is my belief in the need for a Constitutional Convention, the purpose of which is to re-evaluate the relationship of that document to the desires and priorities of we the people.  The world we live in is a vastly different world than that of our forefathers.  Just as any business with an operational procedures manual must regularly update that document so that it represents current priorities and policies, so must our government review and update our Constitution where necessary.  It may not require any changes, but just reading it again should be a benefit.  I recently picked up a copy and read it thoroughly.  I keep it handy for when stupidity raises its ugly head so I can remind myself of what our founders really said, not what someone thought was in there.

The difficulty of bringing about change in our country today was clearly demonstrated following the last election.  A majority of people said they believed in the change Obama promised.  Unfortunately, we forgot that no one has the power to change anything where government is concerned.  I fully supported Obama and I was also swept up in the belief that here was a person who could really get it done!  Well, he couldn’t and he didn’t. Maybe his staff isn’t as good at managing government as it was in managing a campaign. It certainly does not help that the Republicans simply decided to withdraw from any role in governing.  Saying “No” was all they had to do to stop change in its tracks.  And of course we all know the Democrats are the original “bad news bears” whose way to handle differences of opinion is to form a circular firing squad.  OMG, is this not clearly apparent to the general public?  I guess not.  And because I see no real powerful leadership, I am deeply concerned.  I probably will not be around when the pillars of democracy tumble, as they surely will if nothing changes. 

So, why should I care?  Does anything really make a difference any more?  I have to find my own answer to this question, as each of you who have continued to read this far along in this essay will have to do. It is not my nature to be negative. However, I am so totally disgusted with the apparent hopelessness of the situation that I just do not have an answer.  I write.  That is something I know a little about.  I wish I were able to be eloquent enough, with opportunities sufficient to command an audience, that together we could begin to make the difference that will bring the true light of individual responsibility and strength of character to lead that is needed.

I am not going to give up.  I think I will have to give up listening to the news, however.