Sunday, December 19

Ahhh, Here Come The New Year's Resolutions!

Not since I smoked a pack and a half of Winston's every day, have I felt this strongly about making a New Year resolution. Getting that smoking monkey off my back took four years of resolutions, some successes and set backs and finally, freedom!

My current monkey is the two-headed over-eating and under-exercising fiend. I think of this monkey all the time and these thoughts just keep creating more monkeys. Keeping these dratted monkeys fed and quiet has become a full time job, not to mention a huge expense in food, expiring gym memberships, molding workout togs and unread "fight the fat" books.

Time to work some resolution into addressing these "challenges" and move on.
Am I ready?

I just took the Psychology Today "eating disorder" quiz and I don't have a mental illness related to eating, that's good, right??? And, like those finicky French who protest the latest grand opening of McDonald's, I'm not fond of burgers and fries. Yay, no fast food addiction! Even better, I can go months without a beer or a Jack Daniels-&-seven and I never drink any other alcoholic beverages. Whew! I don't even have to worry about these three big diet disasters.

But, my mind boggles at the thought of giving up chocolate, ice cream and Lay's cheddar-cheese-flavored potato chips. My brain becomes numb with dread when I consider limiting bread, cheese and ::shudder:: sugar. My whole being rebells at the loss of these food friends. What the hell kind of diet is there that does not include bread, cheese and sugar? Hrrrrr.

I found it! It's the Japanese daily diet. Sounds like the "macrobiotic" diet every good hippie tried, got skinny on and eventually drifted away from after a few reefer binges. No wonder the Japanese are amazingly smart, creative, and thin with glowing complexions. If I changed my thinking, this daily diet would work, but my resolution would have to be incredible to make such a drastic change. Hmmm, something to consider, though.

I also must factor in exercise, the other, almost invisible monkey head. Again, the Japanese seem to have the right idea by making time every day for some basic calisthenics and stretching. They don't worry about being "buff" or "toned", and if Japanese tourists are any indication, they love to walk and take pictures. A resolution to do a half hour of daily stretching, plus walking and taking pictures sounds doable.

The best resolution, regardless of diets and exercise programs is to change my thinking. I'm not a tortured victim dragging these blood sucking monkeys around all the time. Inside my ever expanding form is a lean, flexible and light person with an aversion to monkeys.

I will have dominion over the monkeys, right here and right now. Why wait for New Year's Eve?

Saturday, December 11

Just Say "No" to Drugs....

..including prescription drugs, it seems.

I have been under the incorrect assumption that many "prescription" drugs in America are sold in Tijuana over the counter. Dawn Wilson's horror story proves that assuming not only makes one an ass, but also a prisoner. (Link)

Fortunately, I don't have to take medications regularly and have good health insurance so the idea of buying medicine in Canada or Mexico to save money is only an idea and not a reality.

Question: What is the reality of health in the United States these days?

Answer: Drugs, drugs and more drugs.

I used to roll my eyes at the pronouncements of those scaremeisters who ranted about how the pharmaceutical companies and bottom line profiteers push more drugs than Colombian drug lords. Actually, I pretty much ignored this issue until my parents became ill and especially when my mother-in-law was struck down with a mysterious illness.

Betty is in her mid-80s, has always been supremely healthy, looks half her age, was a golfing champion in her 50s and 60s, loves exercise and is mentally active and organized. Two years ago this month, Betty took a bad fall coming out of Safeway grocery store in her Arizona hometown. She was battered and bruised, but did not break any bones. In fact, her doctor thought her strong enough to get her flu and pneumonia shots.

Normally, she'd rest up for a day or two and be back at it, but this time, she did not bounce back. Her unflagging vitality was flagging and the combination of a bad fall and bad flu vaccine and/or bad pneumonia vaccine struck her down with a vengeance. Fortunately, good friends were visiting during this time and escorted her to the hospital. Against her express wishes, they called us.

I had just been laid off of my job in the telecom industry and was able to travel from Los Angeles to be with her in Arizona for a couple of weeks. What I found when I got there was a major medical nightmare. She could hardly walk, was undernourished, dehydrated and barely able to put two sentences together! Her husband was in the same boat, housebound, and on oxygen 24 hours, seven days a week. The friends that had been taking care of them both for a week were in ill health themselves and wisely left to go back to their own home in California. I recall that Vicki gave me a very valuable piece of advice.

"Watch her doctor, Kathy. All he does is give her pills and they are not working," she warned.

Truer words were never spoken. The day after I got there, I took Betty in for a re-evaluation with her doctor. He is a popular doctor, meaning his waiting room was crowded and he barely had time to glance at each patient's chart. As it turned out, his father was very ill and he was understandably distracted. He didn't listen to Betty's complaints. He dismissed her concerns and questions and it appeared he did this pretty regularly. The red flag went up and I struggled to make sense of what he was saying.

"I don't understand, doctor. What is causing Betty's illness?" I asked.

"We don't know what's wrong with her yet," he explained as if both Betty and I were retarded.
"That's why Betty needs to come back next Monday for some tests."

He wrote up a few prescriptions, urged Betty to stay in bed and drink lots of fluids and rushed out the door to answer a phone call.

"That's how he works, Kathy. He makes me tired with all of his work here and everything he deals with at home. I just don't seem to ever be a priority with Doc," and she struggled to get on her feet and out the door.

Over the next few weeks, Betty got steadily worse. A neurologist was called in and she was tested extensively for Gillian Barre and other polio-like illness. Apparently, the pneumonia vaccine she received made everyone sick and hit her hardest probably because of her stressed out immune system and age. She was in and out of the hospital, emergency rooms, and at one point was taking eleven different medications.

I quickly realized that Betty would suffer from almost every "side effect" listed on each prescription's fact sheet. Sleeplessness has always seemed like an inconvenient but rather benign side effect, but in Betty it was devastating. Nausea, blinding headaches, weakness, loose bowels, frequent urination, disorientation, dehydration and other side effects were so debilitating, she was hospitalized for weeks instead of days and the doctors could not settle on one diagnosis and one set of treatments.

Finally, we decided to take her to the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix and she was transported by ambulance for the two hour trip to the facility. After three days, they determined that Betty was dangerously over medicated. The one exception was medication for her thyroid which she had been taking for over twenty years. Amongst all of the prescriptions, her doctor forgot to renew her synthoid meds. As a result of the virus she got from the pneumonia shot, she developed neuropathy or nerve damage in her hands and feet. Due to her age or her fall, the doctors would not commit to anything definitive, she was suffering from two collapsed discs in her spine. The Mayo doctors discontinued most of her medications, especially the pain meds which have the worst side effects. She immediately improved and once her thyroid medication resumed, she was no longer disoriented and depressed.

"What do you think is the cause of her illness, Kathy? her Mayo doctor asked the first day she was at Mayo.

"She's over medicated, I think." I replied, and I remembered Vicki's warning and advice.

While she was in the hospital, I had the sad duty to put her husband into a local nursing home. It had become impossible to take care of them both. Sadly, he did not adapt to the less-than-personal care available in the facility and died six months later, three months shy of his 91st birthday.

Betty regained much of her health over the past two years. She still suffers from neuropathy and two collapsed discs. She's changed her doctors and sees a doctor who tries natural, homeopathic treatments first and listens instead of lectures.

"I've decided to cure myself," she announced last month. "I must take the neuropathy and thyroid medicines but that's it. No more pills. I can't afford them and they really don't help much anyway."

Seemed like a good idea after what she's been through. Just yesterday, though, she was wondering what drug to take for a migraine and resisted the idea of a dark room, ice packs on the head and lots of rest. Hmmm, her symptoms make me wonder if she's experiencing a side effect from one of her drugs. I'm getting nervous.

Sunday, November 21

May all beings know love and peace...

Doctor Mark had a good idea this morning. He was talking about healing the world, beginning with ourselves of course, and suggested we say this affirmation, "May all beings know love and peace."

He further challenged us to say this affirmation three times a day throughout the holidays. It's a good thought and worthy of repeating every day.

Gotta start somewhere!

Saturday, November 20


"It is not suffering as such that is most deeply feared but suffering that degrades." -Susan Sontag

The war is fearsome today. I looked up the word "insurgent" since that is the term used constantly by the White House and news media when talking about it.

The word means, "a person who revolts against civil authority or an established government; especially: a rebel not recognized as a belligerent."

It does not really describe the war and the warriors that the "coalition" is fighting. Many reports about Iraq describe American soldiers kicking in doors, routing "insurgents" and killing injured "insurgents" in mosques. Today's reports tell of "insurgents" killing nine Iraqi policemen in a mosque and other atrocities. Just like this war, the name we have given the enemy does not make any sense.

Amid all of the horrendous suffering, I grieve for Margaret Hassan. The insurgents killed her, a woman who dedicated most of her life to relieving the suffering of the Iraqi people. She had to suffer so much at the end of her life and at the hands of the people she worked hard to help. I can only hope she did not die bitter and disconnected from the peace she tried to bring others. She was an example of love, generosity, and hope. That’s what I’ll keep in my mind when I think of her and others like her who work so hard to create order and good out of chaos. They are love in action.

RIP Margaret Hassan. And, RIP all innocents who have been killed or wounded in America's terror wars.

Wednesday, November 17

And The Patriotic Ass Award Goes To...

Stephen Moore for this idiotic rant, Export a Liberal.

Why are there so many conservatives that sound and act like they've just been unshackled and let out of a cave?

Moore belches out the standard rhetoric of the fear-riddled, conservative combatant with this special comment, "If everything goes according to plan, blue-state Democrats are going to let us keep our guns and our money and our kids and our faith — and all the other things that government keeps trying to wrest from us."

I guess he's forgotten that since 1994's "Contract With America" the government he reviles has been run by Republicans, most of them conservative. So, if he's not happy with what the government protects and provides he's the one that might consider bailing.

I think there's a nice island in the Bermuda Triangle for sale. He could be his own government and use his assault weapons to kill everything that moves, poison all the water, pollute all the air, install the Ten Commandments in every public place, hang all evil doers even if they're children and mentally ill, have one indentured servant wife who has no say in the number of children she must bear, and invade a neighboring island, slaughtering all of the inhabitants, because it might lob some deadly coconuts his way some day.

If the island is too expensive for Moore (great name, btw), forget the fundraiser. He might like playing the game Nation States instead.

Tuesday, November 16

"Crash And Burn"

"When you feel all alone
And the world has turned its back on you
Give me a moment please to tame your wild wild heart.
I know you feel like the walls are closing in on you.
It's hard to find relief and people can be so cold.
When darkness is upon your door and you feel like you can't take anymore.
Let me be the one you call.
If you jump I'll break your fall.
Lift you up and fly away with you into the night.
If you need to fall apart
I can mend a broken heart.
If you need to crash then crash and burn.
You're not alone..."
-Savage Garden, Affirmations

I've been haunted by two news stories the past few days.

The first story is about the FBI informant from Yemen who set himself on fire in front of the White House last Monday. He became dangerously unhinged because he is unable to leave the US to see his dying wife in Yemen. Mohamed Alanssi's story is probably an epic of bad luck and bad decisions. How else would he wind up ignored, betrayed and desperate in America? I'm fascinated with this man and his mission. It's obvious that loss and grief have propelled him into the oncoming traffic called suicide, but maybe not.

The second story is about Anna Nicole Smith, the Hollywood celebrity with the huge boobs and seemingly minute brain, who set her tattered reputation on fire in front of the American Music Awards audience in Los Angeles last Sunday. Here is a woman who married a fabulously wealthy sugar daddy, fought for her riches, has her own TV show, and can do and say anything. She shouldn't be slurring her words and stumbling around Hollywood while spouting boring trash, but for some reason, that's what she's done. There is a story here that goes beyond the Hollywood bio. I'd like to say I'm disgusted with her decadence but I'm fascinated instead.

Somewhere between the informant from Yemen and the platinum blonde from Texas there is common ground. Unfortunately, the common ground these two polar opposites inhabit is filled with self-destruction and abject loneliness.

From the news reports, Alanssi's desperate act is a protest against his forced separation from his wife and family and it's understandable that he feels isolated in an alien land that probably despises him. His loneliness seems inevitable and tragic.

Anna is another story, though. She's a living, breathing cartoon living in a hedonistic world of "me, my body" shallowness that embarrasses Americans these days. People who never wander near the suicide-ravine wonder how a person with so much of everything can have so little self respect and respect for others. Smith's loneliness seems avoidable and comic isolating her even more from normal compassion and care.

Neither of them are really alone. People I've talked to who have attempted suicide and come out the other end in one piece have themselves to thank, but they each acknowledge that simple human kindness made the effort worthwhile.

One of my most powerful memories is when I was leaving the Pasadena Superior Court after failing to convince the juvenile court judge of my son's innocence. I stepped into the packed elevator feeling burdened, sick at heart and very alone. A tall man with a gold tooth glanced my way and gave me the warmest, most understanding smile I've ever seen. I smiled back. It was like a secret code. I felt such relief that another human had reached out with a little warmth. Amazing what a genuine smile can do. It sure saved my day.

Simple. Human. Kindness.

Sunday, November 14

Soul Searching and Breast Beating...

Seems like the Democrats keep trying to search someone else's soul to find out "what went wrong" in this last election. Here's Josh Marshall's take on this strange and unsatisfying behavior. We Democrats need to get over ourselves and get to work. There are so many important issues to get moving on, this shyt just gives the Republicans an extra gift of wasted oppotunity! Move on.

I got a letter from John Kerry the other day. It was a letter that acknowledge our loss, our hard work in getting him elected and, most importantly, our resolve to stand up for our convictions. These thoughts, more than any others, represent what it means to lose a campaign, but not lose your bearings or your commitment to your beliefs. I won't include all of the comments here, because if you contributed money to the Kerry campaign, you probably got the letter too, but here's a comment that resonates in my mind and heart.

"You and I owe it to ourselves and to the millions of people who voted for us on November 2, to play an active role in the political life of our nation."

His personal gratitude for my support and the support of millions is what makes me proud and happy to have been his supporter. I voted in many presidential elections and contributed to some, but this is the first thank you letter I've ever received from the losing candidate.

I'm impressed. His heartfelt gratitude and resolution to continue working toward our common goals reassures me that I did not spend my time and energies supporting a loser or someone who's time has come and gone.

We lost the presidential election. It was critical. Millions in poverty, millions of women, millions of immigrants, millions of workers will suffer the consequences at some point. It would have been better if Kerry were elected. He wasn't.

The majority in this country showed up and voted their consciences. I respect their convictions, even though I don't share them. I have always found common ground on which to walk and talk with people with whom I have political differences. The common ground is love of family, love of God, love of country.

Given those common denominators, it's important to recognize that Americans "agree to disagree" on major governmental policies and stop buying into the fearful and stupid campaign marketing machines on both sides.

I appreciate Kerry's "thank you" letter. It means a lot.

Thursday, November 11

Which Ornament Should I Buy?

You know it's getting close to Thanksgiving when the Christmas mail order catalogs start flooding your mailbox. I regret buying stuff out of them because they share my address with similar companies, so the junk mail has doubled, again, this year.

I can't help it though. I know I can go to the 99Cent Store and get many of the things they sell even cheaper, but I tend to buy different stuff. Stuff not available in every World Wildlife or Solutions catalog.

Right now, I'm trying to decide which Christmas ornament I should get. Or, maybe both of them? Or, maybe a couple more since they're so special. I suppose I should get the one that reminds me most of Jesus, since the holiday celebrates his birth. It will be a holiday reminder hanging on my fake Christmas tree of all that is done in Jesus' name these days.

This one?

Or this one.

Maybe I can find an ornament that celebrates America's supreme homage to Jesus with a right-to-life Christmas button. The savior would be proud of all of the strides made to protect the unborn and the suicidal. I guess this half-dead, bombed and starved Iraqi kid doesn't qualify for a right to life since he's not unborn, or suicidal, or an American or a born again believer.

How can so many Americans condemn people who choose to use contraception or get an abortion, or use assisted suicide when they support the killing of innocent people in Iraq? This is how George W. Bush operates. He says it's wrong to deny life to the unborn or terminally ill while saying it's right to invade a country, killing thousands of living innocents, because they might be an enemy. There are a lot of smart, compassionate, kind people that understand this seeming hypocrisy and who voted to re-elect Bush. I don't understand it.

Well, while I'm buying ornaments, maybe I can drop some checks to UNESCO and the Red Cross so they can continue helping desperate kids. I can also do more in my personal life to be peaceful and keep the com lines open just in case a right-to-lifer has a question about my beliefs.

Tuesday, November 9

Margaret Sanger is Rolling In Her Grave!

The battle for the hearts, minds and bodies of America's women is heating up. The Serena Joys of America are wielding the cattle prods of anti-women legislation, primarily in their own states, and things are definitely getting ugly.

The smoke is clearing from the presidential campaign and while Bush and Kerry have been busy beating their chests about who is the biggest and best terrorist-killer, Julee Lacey in Fort Worth, Texas has begun to realize that religious fundamentalists have infiltrated her local pharmacy and are permitted by law to deny her access to birth control pills because contraception goes against their religious beliefs.

Lacey rightly pointed out that, "Their job is not to regulate what people take or do. It's just to fill the prescription that was ordered by my physician."

Unfortunately, women have not been energized, myself included, or compelled to keep up with the rapid increase in Bush based anti-women, children and minority laws, legal rulings and federal interferences that now threaten to either change or eliminate basic civil rights for over half of the population in America. NOW has a pretty good punch list of the damage done at the state and local levels and it's a no-brainer to image future damage once Bush begins to replace current Supreme Court judges with his picks.

If I had any residual doubt that Reagan, Bush I and now Bush II have knowingly and actively enfranchised conservative religious zealots and disenfranchised the moderate and liberal element of American life, it's gone. I have to get actively involved in the women's movement and not sit back when a battle is won and watch us lose the entire war.

Wednesday, November 3

Reality 0 - Perception 2

"Subliminal perception, perception that occurs without conscious awareness, is not an anomaly, but the norm. Most of what we experience we can never tell each other about — with or without information technology — because we are not even aware of it."
- Tor Norretranders, author of The User Illusion

George W. Bush was re-elected President of the United States yesterday. He did not "steal" his re-election, nor was voter apathy an excuse. Both political parties delivered unprecedented numbers of voters to the polls; some say it is the largest voter turnout in over forty years.

John Kerry was defeated and Democrats throughout the country were defeated and at the end of the day, Republicans had gained seats in the House and Senate. The Congressional gains by Republicans together with the popular vote edging toward Bush must have propelled Kerry to concede the election, even before Ohio could count provisional ballots. This is the act of a brave and wise man. This is the act of any sane person wishing to avoided political death by majority strangulation. No Democrat can be an effective President with a forceful agenda if his plans and projects are consistently voted down by the ruling Republican party. Kerry ran his campaign with characteristic political savvy from beginning to the end and will be around to fight another day.

"In America, it is vital that every vote count .. but the outcome should be decided by voters, not a protracted legal fight," Kerry said.

So, what now. Here are what some of the political pundits representing all sides of the political spectrum are predicting. For those of us who like to lick wounds, there are post-election opinion pieces that soften the blow for the Democrats and progressives, and there are opinions that hammer home the unavoidable truth that religious fundamentalists now determine the fate of the nation.

I've discussed the Bush victory with family and friends, and it's clear to us that Bush supporters "voted from the heart" and Kerry supporters "voted from the head." Despite four years of an incomprehensible economic agenda, and four years of ever widening divisions between the rich and poor of America, and four years of environmental recklessness, and almost two years of horrendous bloodshed, Bush is perceived as a compassionate conservative. Still.

He keeps his language honed down to its most basic and appealing level and his speech writers and press agents have perfected the two-syllable spin (e.g., flip flop). He loses his temper, he tears up, he bows his head, he twangs his phrases with heartland fervor, and he is convincingly godly because he rules his obedient wife and honors his parents and pushes faith-based issues which are in direct conflict with America's laws. Even Jerry Falwell could learn a lesson or two from GWB as far as manipulating the masses with "heartfelt" messages while diverting their hard earned dough to create castles in the sky. He is every televangelists' wet dream.

Is America about to enter it's Falwellian Phase? A focus on limited social values such as the non-issue of gay marriage provides the Falwell's with two things: 1) a smokescreen to cloak a government which blatantly promotes the torture, repression and destruction of people it deems as "terrorists" in violation of international human rights laws, and 2) a vehicle by which Falwellian religious bigots can avoid tackling real issues, like the damage caused to families because fifty percent of traditional marriages end in divorce. The Falwellian style-over-substance approach glosses over the issues of the brain and even denigrates the "brainy" relegating them to the fringes of a well ordered, homogenized society.

Lately, whenever I visualize the difference between the Perception Citizens (PCs) and the Reality Citizens (RCs), a scene in The Pianist comes to mind. It's a pivotal moment where Szpilman, the pianist, is discovered by Nazi Captain Hosenfeld. In this scene, Szpilman is starving in a bombed out mansion in the Warsaw Jewish ghetto after surviving the devastation and horror of months of Nazi occupation.

****SPOILER**** He has just found a large can of pickles and is struggling to find a way to open the can. He's emaciated, grimy, shaggy with facial hair and in his weakened condition, he manages to puncture the can but it rolls away from him, spilling precious juice.

In an agony of thirst and hunger he grabs for the can and notices that it has stopped. Just beyond the can he notices a pair of gleaming Hessian boots and the camera pans slowly up the immaculate pant legs, belt, coat and face of a Nazi officer. He's gazing calmly at the Pianist. The contrast between the wild haired, hungry and desperate Jew and the well-fed, polished and confident Nazi is so stark and immediate, it's like a mirage, a fantasy.

Szpilman's reality is finding ways to survive a world bent on killing him for no good reason. Captain Hosenfeld is Szpilman's agent of destruction, but in his mind, he is part of a glorious ethnic cleansing crusade which will return the German homeland back to its pure warrior roots. Their eye contact in this scene is a strange and terrible moment. Reality is struggling with propaganda and when Szpilman is allowed to play the piano, the music transcends the lies and failure of the Nazi crusade. It unites them in a sublime moment of grace, a moment Hosenfeld recognizes as being natural and inevitable and he helps the Pianist survive to greet his Russian liberators.

Bush proclaims that he is a uniter and it will be a challenge over the next four years for citizens who value reality to unite with the those who value the Bush perception of reality. As I see it, Bush perceives the threat of gay marriage as more devastating to the Republic than the threat of a theocracy. Here is where the challenge begins and ends. America was formed as a secular nation, respectful of all religions, races and political views. Amendment I of the U.S. Constitution proclaims the good news that....

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Truth can be based on perception but is always grounded in reality. I intend to keep it real over the next four years for truth's sake.

Monday, November 1

John Wooden

Promise Yourself...

"Remember that there is no substitute for hard work and careful planning. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail." - John Wooden

Just read a good article by Mitch Horowitz about the "winningest" college basketball coach in American sports history, John Wooden. The article is titled, From the Socks Up, and shows a picture of 94-year old Wooden with an NCAA basketball in his hands and a happy smile on his face. It's his eyes that fascinate me, though.

His eyes show a free and young spirit. The brief article describes how he lives his life today with simplicity and a focus on what is really important. I've seen this look in my parents eyes. It is a look filled with so much good that there is no room for regrets. Pretty amazing. I like his famous "preparation" quote, but the quote that probably says more about living a good life minus regrets is this one:

"Promise to think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best in yourself and others."

Where's the catch in this? Seems too simplistic and almost silly. The catch is in the limitations I put on myself by expecting the worst, I've learned recently. The catch or barrier is in complicating life with crap outside myself designed to make me a good consumer, a good patriot, a good worker, a good driver, ad naseum. The catch or barrier is really my own thinking, my own mind-over-matter or lack of it.

I remember rolling my eyes when my Mom would respond to my drama by stating that, "Everything works out for the best."

She and John Wooden share the same philosophy about life. She never gave up listening to my sob stories and when I became a mother, we became friends and shared triumphs, defeats, joys and burdens. She'd focus on the big picture and I'd focus on the often irrelevant details. She'd show the importance of not judging people no matter how wacky or out of control they appeared to be, and I'd learn that if I didn't have something nice to say about someone, I'd keep my mouth shut around her. She focused on solutions and taught me to stop taking every slight, every hurt, every set back as a personal attack. She taught me to keep communicating and to never give up on a friend or family member.

She taught me that everything works out for the best whether you realize it or not. Even though she's passed away, I continue to learn more and more about living a good and happy life by realizing the truth behind her simplicity and by valuing the truth behind the simple words and deeds of those around me.

Saturday, October 23

The Cardinals, the Red Sox, the Moon and You...

"Hello again, everybody. It's a bee-yooo-tiful day for baseball."
-Harry Caray

The days will be beautiful for this year's World Series, and let's not forget the nights. A lunar eclipse will occur during the fourth game in St. Louis, something that has never happened before.

I'm normally a Dodgers fan, but am happy to root for the Cards, a fantastic team of good sports managed by the classiest manager in baseball, Tony La Russa.

Wednesday, October 13

Tall Pine - Bass Lake, California

"I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree...."
-Joyce Kilmer - Trees

One of my favorite scenes in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy is when the Hobbits discover "Treebeard", the leader of the ancient tree-creatures that protected the forests at the foot of the Misty Mountains. Throughout author R.R. Tolkien's series, the forests represented mystery, protection and life itself. They were fearful places to strangers and havens to the elves who lived nearby. Trees are magical and magnificent in Tolkein's story and in Peter Jackson's movie too.

The movie becomes dark and angry when we see Sauren's minions stipping their corner of Middle Earth of trees to feed the furnaces that make their weapons. Destruction of the forests seemed to signal the beginning of the conflict to come. Isn't it always a tip off that the world is out of whack when the forests begin to die?

I recall my parents comments about their trip to Ireland. They loved the people, the greenery, the lovely buildings, the wild beaches and ocean scenes, but missed trees. Apparently, the British allowed and/or encouraged deforestation of Ireland in the Nineteenth Century which caused widespread poverty and death. No trees, the earth erodes and becomes infertile, and there is no fuel or building materials and the people die.

Wangari Maathai, this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, is a genius with trees. An astounding 30 million trees have been planted because of her simple idea: encourage village women to plant trees. These women were then able to renew the fuel they use, stop soil erosion and cultivate kitchen gardens. This is the essence of the Green Belt Movement she created. She and her village women bypass repression, conflict, politics, and the cycle of death by focusing on creating life. Creating and nurturing life is what peace on earth is all about. The idea that everyone and anyone has the power to do this is what true liberty and freedom are all about.

Power to all creative people!

Saturday, October 9

Was That Crazy or What?

Last night's second Presidential debate was scary! Initially, I thought Bush looked better and seemed amped up and aggressive, but holy smokes, he literally lost his reason after Kerry's response to his no-draft announcement. This was when The President lost the debate. (Link to Presidential debate #2.)

He pulled rank, frankly. Even when the moderator tried to reassure GWB that the issue would be addressed, he had to have it his own way.

Amazingly, at that point, when Bush could have created a major advantage for himself, he carped on how Kerry is disrespecting our allies, one of his weakest issues. He then lost the advantage when Kerry made the point that eight countries have left or are pulling out of the coalition, including POLAND.

The last question of the night asked Bush to admit his mistakes and he wouldn't do it. He was handed the perfect opportunity to co-opt many of Kerry's campaign promises, admit his mistakes, apologize for them, tell people how he'd make amends and do better, but he didn't do it.

No wonder our current foreign policy does not include negotiating or debating or talking to our allies or our enemies. They are supposed to endure his campaign speeches (e.g., his last visit to the UN) instead and gawd help them if they talk back. I can't image what anyone is thinking who would elect this angry, impulsive person to a position where his itchy finger is on the nuclear trigger.

Instead of putting a leash on his daughters as he mentioned in the first presidential debates, he should put one on himself.

Wednesday, October 6

Retaliation Time!

"Well, let me just tell you, I believe to this day that they knew that the charges that they were trying to prove against the Clintons were not true. I think that they knew all along that the story David Hale had told them -- that Clinton had come to him and told him he wanted to borrow $300,000, but he couldn't have his name on the document, so Susan McDougal should come and sign the documents and give him the money -- was not true."
Susan McDougal - 2003 Buzzflash Interview

And so it begins...

Does the Bush administration expect to lose this election? And, if they do are they going to retaliate like they did against Bill Clinton for eight long and scandalous years?

Their main fundraiser, Republican "hammer", Tom DeLay, has been embroiled in a major campaign funds scandal and was reprimanded by the House Ethics Committee twice... THIS WEEK! The House wimped out and did not bar him from serving in the House, but slapped his wrists, both of em. Now, he must curtail his unethical fund raising activities. Maybe the Bushites were counting on DeLay's financial coercions to get more money for the attack ads they so desperately need. I don't know, but DeLay is arrogantly unapologetic. Read his comments.

Apparently, he is not to blame for his actions. It's the Democrats!

"For years, Democrats have hurled relentless personal attacks at me, hoping to tie my hands and smear my name. All have fallen short, not because of insufficient venom, but because of insufficient merit."

He must have overlooked the Republicans on the bi partisan, House Ethics Committee, who are trying to reign him in before he gets even more scandalous.

So... while Cheney fluffs off his blatant favoritism toward Halliburton during the VP debate and DeLay shakes off his wrist slapping, the Justice Department goes after Sen. Hillary Clinton's 2000 Senate campaign in pursuit of possible fund-raising violations?! Is this a lame attempt to get even with the Democrats?

If so, you'd think they'd go after someone who hasn't functioned successfully under a Whitewater microscope for twelve years. I'd bet anything that she's so squeaky clean, the only dirt they'll find is a lost receipt or two. Unlike DeLay, she's not bleating like a wounded sheep about partisan politics, but then, she doesn't live in the wingnut bubble either, insulated from reality and personal responsibility.

In last night's VP debate, Cheney was reminiscing about the good old days when Dems and Repubs could coexist and *gasp* even be friends! I developed an instant case of acid reflux just witnessing this hypocrisy. He just shook his head in bafflement wondering how those golden days had slipped away, meanwhile kicking Condi's butt to neutralize Bremmer's anti party line (e.g., the truth) about Iraq. I noticed that today's spin machine was especially virulent and frenzied. It reminds me of those little kids who react to bad news or criticism by holding their ears while babbling meaningless phrases to ward off the disapproval. The louder the noise the better.

The resurrection of investigating Clintons caused me to dust off Susan McDougal's book, The Woman Who Wouldn't Talk. McDougal was "detained" for twenty-one months in seven different jails for refusing to testify to Ken Starr against the Clintons. She spent seven weeks in "solitary confinement" in the mental ward of LA County jail. She was purposely taken from Arkansas and put in this hell hole to coerce a confession or statement. Finally she was tried publicly and her trial resulted in a hung jury who acquitted her on the charge of obstruction of justice and was divided on the contempt of court charge. She was released from jail that day.

McDougal claims it's the religious right that zealously pursued the destruction of the Clintons' reputation and political careers using any means to justify the ends. There is certainly that righteous element run rampant in the Bush administration and many other elements that would think nothing of hounding a person to bring down an opponent. Here we are again with another investigation of Hillary Clinton based on the word of another desperate con man. When will the Bushites put down the microscope and pick up the mirror?

And so it goes....

Monday, October 4

The Rape of the World

"Mother of us all
Place of our birth
How can we stand aside
And watch the rape of the world?.."
- Tracy Chapman (
lyrics from The Rape of the World)

A couple of weeks ago, I happened to stay up late and watch an episode of the PBS, Charlie Rose show. He had just begun to interview Robert Kennedy, Jr., about a book he authored titled, Crimes Against Nature : How George W. Bush and His Corporate Pals Are Plundering the Country and Hijacking Our Democracy. Normally, Rose is an unashamed blabbermouth who competes with his guests in voicing his opinion which irritates me, but this night, Robert Kennedy, Jr., dominated the conversation and spoke an amazing amount of raw, undiluted truth. As Rose listened and interjected obligatory interview stuff, he was twitchy but enthralled, just like me.

I can't find a reference to this show on the Charlie Rose site, although the forum does discuss Kennedy's book, but I did find a BuzzFlash interview from 2003 that covers much of the same material. I've ordered the book and will give a little report back once I've read it.

What strikes me most about the interview with Kennedy is this assertion:

"..,All of our federal agencies have now been captured by the industries that they’re intended to regulate. The head of the Forest Service is a timber industry lobbyist. The head of our public lands is a mining industry lobbyist. The chief of staff in the White House, Andrew Card, was chief counsel to General Motors and its top lobbyists. And 22 of the top 38 White House officials all have energy industry pedigrees."

I know that Bush is systematically destroying environmental protections going back to the Nixon White House, and that he uses Orwellian terms like "Clear Skies" for legislation that creates the opposite effect. I know that the Bushites are owned by corporations which have perfected the semi-lie, better known as deceptive advertising. They are now using these same tactics to continue to keep the Bushites in the White House and some American voters are so conditioned to buy what these people sell, they actually believe the deceptions and spin. It doesn't occur to them that the Bush administration is simply one big advertising agency, selling a palatable vision of Americana, including yummy godliness, tasty security, and a healthy trickle down economy. What they are really selling is a lot of misery for the most vulnerable and defenseless of our citizens. Sad.

I need to read Kennedy's book to get the names of these officials, but I would image Christy Todd Whitman, former Director of the EPA and Secretary of the Interior, Gale Norton are probably mentioned.

I just scanned the Fedstats EPA site and see that the new/current Director is former Utah governor, Mike Leavitt, and his really new "enforcer" for EPA regs, is Deputy Administrator, Stephen L Johnson. Their bios are posted and they both seem to be career bureaucrats, except that Johnson worked for Hazelton Labs and Litton. I'd have to look up the polluting records of these companies, but I do recall that Litton had some "toxic clean up" difficulties in California some years ago.

The most interesting (i.e., don't know what to make of this) group is the Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee (CHPAC). Why this committee would include representatives from Monsanto, Bayer, Proctor and Gamble, and BP Products NA, I can't imagine. After reading some of the committee's action item reports and correspondence, it appears that they are getting lots of input, much of it from California, about pesticides and air pollutants harming children, but I didn't see much action other than info gathering and recommendations for more studies.

There was a glimmer of hope when I saw the President's Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children link. After a quick review, I found that this group was initiated in 1997 by Clinton's Executive Order 13045 to:

"a) shall make it a high priority to identify and assess environmental health risks and safety risks that may disproportionately affect children; and (b) shall ensure that its policies, programs, activities, and standards address disproportionate risks to children that result from environmental health risks or safety risks.

1-102. Each independent regulatory agency is encouraged to participate in the implementation of this order and comply with its provisions."

There's a report at the bottom of the linked page that details the accomplishments of this group. So far they've set up an asthma awareness day in schools, and are studying more things. You can really feel GWB's true commitment to America's children as he issued two of his own Executive Orders both of which eliminated the urgency to act until 2005 and the second one deprioritized the issue by making it unnecessary to have high level representation at the meetings.

Ah Ha! I now understand why the EPA has a Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee with Monsanto, et al, advising the advisors who will advise the the President's Task Force (working groups) into the year 2005. I was trying to determine if Robert Kennedy, Jr.'s "industry ties" stats in the quote by him above was bombast or observable fact. It's fact.

I seriously doubt Bush will say much about his environmental accomplishments, but he may try to "sell the sizzle" of those enticing "Clear Skies" and "Great Lakes Environmental Restoration Act" enviro buster bills. He may sell the sizzle of those snappy and deceptive titles, but it would be idiotic to delve deeper into this mess.

He will brag about the things he's doing to kids, though, and I'm going to remember this fact finding exercise. I'll also remember the assessment of The Children's Defense Fund, a co-author of "No Child Left Behind" legislation, which gave the Bush administration and most Republican representatives failing marks in supporting America's kids. Instead of doing some "hard work" on making life better for Americans by simply maintaining current environmental and child protection laws, they substitute industry friendly legislation or fail to enforce them.

The Bushites want Americans to exist on a diet of sizzle when we have the right to eat steak.

Thursday, September 30

View of a Millennium Crystal

Which came first the meditation crystal or the desire to meditate? Answer: The crystal. I saw this "Millennium Crystal" in a shop in Sedona, Arizona and bought it last year. Might say it's a little piece of heaven here on earth, haha.

Maybe it's been exuding cosmic impulses because I am finally studying metaphysics and transcendental meditation, two things I've always been attracted to but have never taken time to study. I can't say these studies are enjoyable right now because the course causes me to delve into my murky selfpool, but I am experiencing good things and making progress. Gotta love it!

I'm beginning to focus on more positive things in life and take positive actions. In my previous post, I bitched about the elections and the Bushites potential for badness, but also recognized that I need to do something to counterbalance the negativity and .... I signed up to be an elections poll worker! Wahoo!

Speaking of positive... I love it that John Eisenhower the son of Republican icon, President Dwight Eisenhower, publicly announced his support for John Kerry and gave his reasons why. (Link) Also, the newspaper in GWB's hometown of Crawford, Texas is endorsing Kerry! (Link)

Hmmm, there is a disturbance in the BushBorg. Bwahahahaha, not all your base is mine.

Think peace.

Tuesday, September 28

Republican Definition of “Fair and Free Elections”

“I saw a poll (of Iraqis) that said awww, right track, wrong track in Iraq is better than here in America.”
-President Bush, White House press conference on 9/23/04

Surprising how Bush pulls those facts out of .... thin air?

The link above gives you a text transcript of the Allawi/Bush White House Press Conference but you may wish to skip the hyperbole and view their performance on this Daily Show link to “Escape from MessOpotamia.” You skip the chatter and get right to the laughs while witnessing our fearless leader and his minion radiating Iraqi peace, love and harmony.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the “poll” was true, especially if it asked whether the national elections scheduled in Iraq for January would be as free and fair as American national elections in 2000 and 2004.

I’m sure the entire world remembers the messy maneuvering and manipulations of the 2000 election with it’s “tie” and subsequent “Florida Recount” and subsequent US Supreme Court ruling that overturned the recount and appointed George W. Bush as President. If your memory will not dredge up this historic drama, do a google search using the words, florida recount, and you’ll relive the moment with all its gory details. Pun intended.

When former President and world respected elections monitor, Jimmy Carter, goes on record with a warning that Florida is as bad if not worse now than it was in 2000, you have to pause and ponder the Republican definition of “fair and free.”

When black college students are threatened with prosecution by their county’s Republican district attorney because they used their college dorm address as their voting address, you begin to get a clearer understanding of the Republican definition of “fair and free” and note that the "Rock the Voters", especially the black ones, get the "fair and free"-lite definition. It's low on those filling civil rights and packed with tasty hype.

When the state of California joins a lawsuit filed by a voting rights advocate against Diebold for misrepresenting the accuracy and security of the e-voting machines used in the state, a person can begin to feel a little queasy about casting a ballot, especially in California. I feel even queasier after looking at Diebold campaign contribution records . The warm and fuzzy Republican campaign tag line of “fair and free” elections loses its zippiness. I get nightmares about election hijackings, figurehead governments, rows of obedient drones in grey unisex outfits standing enraptured by the spiteful ranting of officials on podiums.

I have come to the logical conclusion that any time a Republican politician says something, I have to interpret the meaning to be the opposite. So, “fair and free elections" in Iraq probably won’t be fair or free. The renown Republican dreamer and philosopher, Donald Rumsfeld, kind of confirms that interpretation.

Old Ashcroft has pretty much let the “fair and free election" cat out of the bag for us here in America as well. His persistent "terror warnings" have reached unprecedented screechiness and paranoia. I suppose some of those terror intercepts backlogged for months at the FBI have just been translated and he can only see more in the pipeline.

Will America's "fair and free elections" be cancelled before the Iraqi's elections? Should GWB's "poll" comment lead me this far afield and park me in a mean and bitter place where he might actually cancel US elections for the first time in history? He can do it. Should I apply the Republican word-decoder to the elections part of "fair and free elections?" The opposite of "elections" is depressing. Am I a hopeless paranoid? Not hopeless, never hopeless.....

We should all stay home and vote with absentee ballots this time around. That would circumvent being turned away from the polls or blown up; we wouldn't have to use the diebold hackermagnet, e-ballot; and if anyone needs to register to vote, now is the time so that they can resolve any bogus qualification claims ahead of time and receive their ballots. I don't believe this is an original idea, but it sure is a good one.

If you feel as I do that terrorists are not going to attack local polling places, another good idea would be to volunteer to help out at the polls, either as an observer or worker.

Think peace. It helps.

Saturday, September 25

Raise Your Hands In The Air....

Friday, September 24

Pick Your Poison

"We are different from previous generations of conservatives. We are no longer working to preserve the status quo. We are radicals, working to overturn the present power structure of this country."
-Paul Weyrich - Free Congress Foundation

It's the end of a busy week. There are lots of things to be thankful for, especially in my personal life. My cold is almost gone. The family is healthy and not complaining. I'm learning to meditate. Got a positive resolution to a tricky financial problem without bloodshed. Enjoyed a great sunset and can even see a few stars among the brown, smog-clouds. Life is good on the home front.

Elsewhere, there were positives. No devastating hurricanes in Florida. Kerry has finally
articulated a clear and convincing opposition to the Bush brigade. The local news did not include a freeway car chase today. The California legislature just passed the strictest auto emission pollution control law in the world. LAX airport security worked today when TSA workers confiscated a handgun from the carry on bag of LAPD's anti terrorism official. The movie, "End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones" had a brief, successful run this week. Just noticed that Gonzalo Rubalcaba is playing at the Catalina Bar and Grill next week, so life will continue to be good.

Now, for the bad and the ugly news.
Here's the latest, and I guess Florida is getting ready for another hurricane tomorrow, so strike out the happy dance for Florida in the paragraph above. The GOP Intel bill is worrisome since it was drafted behind locked doors to keep the Dems out. The death toll in Iraq is the highest ever and hideously vicious. And so it goes. No sense perpetuating redundancy tonight.

Of all of these major activities, the most disturbing was the passage of The Pledge Protection Act which has the strange purpose of not allowing a federal court to hear any challenge to the "under God" reference in the Pledge of Allegiance. Looks like Weyrich and his followers have a victory in the making. It's clear that the
moral majority is holding some elected feet to the fire and is revising the Constitution to suit its religious agenda. The the voting public is becoming alarmed and mainstream churches don't seem to like this direction either, especially if it means churches may lose their tax exemptions.

Interesting that Congress seeks to limit the authority of the Supreme Court just before an election. Maybe Bush is not confident in winning the White House, and the Republicans might be worried about their Republican majority elsewhere if Kerry wins. They have reason to worry if Teresa Kerry was able to raise one million dollars for Kerry/Edwards in one night. And, she did it in Arizona, McCain/Goldwater country. The local and state Democrats have it so well together, the Kerry campaign has decided to cancel their ad campaign there. Amazing. The spin I got from mainstream media is that Kerry couldn't win in AZ!

The Republicans definitely need to worry about the direction of the Supreme Court if Kerry is elected. Three Supremes will most likely retire in the next few years and a more aggressive and liberal court might temper the moral majority's attempt to reinvent the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Wednesday, September 22

Feeling Kinda Khaki....

Nothing like combining shades of black, grey, sand and khaki to capture a nice silhouette. The color shot of the Santa Monica pier didn't work. Too much mist from the ocean and a little glare from the setting sun. I could have used my macro lens, and gotten some clearer shots, but was in a hurry to get to the boardwalk and listen to the KCRW "new band" showcase.

"AM" Band - Good, Folky Rock Stuff...

I sure like the beach!

Yesterday's blog chronicled my continuing befuddlement about the 2004 Presidential Election: Why would anyone vote for Bush?

Sorting through today's Blognews, still fixated on the CBS fact checking gaff btw, I ran into several other forum discussions which answer the question pretty well.

deviantArt's got some pretty intelligent comments...
Re: Why should i vote for bush

No real missionaries for Bush here, interesting ...CIO's Sound Off Forum Re: Why Vote For Bush

I've been searching via google, hotbot, and yahoo for forums addressing the question and keep getting sites urging people to vote against Bush. Take a look.

If you scroll through the sites, about the fourth page or so, the Republicans and Conservatives archive reprints the Ed Koch speech at the RNC. I'd have to say Ed Koch probably gets it right when he says that people want a president who will not back down to terrorists.

Good enough reason. Really. Stand up to terrorists! They want to kill me and mine, and it's time to take out the garbage and kill them and theirs. Right?

I'm one of those "think peace" people so I'm a lost cause as far as supporting a government which unilaterally "takes out the garbage" whenever a rumor surfaces. That's the Bush foreign policy that Koch loves so much.

So, is Bush better at standing up to terror than Kerry? So far, Bush has proven to be ready to bankrupt the US, and soon the world if our deficit spending isn't controlled, to fight terror. I have no doubt that Kerry will fight terror also, especially with a Republican House and Senate prodding his ass. So they're even on this issue.

The big question is who is better at standing up to the right terrorist? My money's on Kerry. Bush has already shown a pig headed resistance to the truth. His stubborn miscalculations + a lot of firepower = unnecessary death.

Assuming that Kerry will be elected, if he follows the Bush formula for defeat above, he'll be gone in a NY minute.

Anyway, it's a good day to think khaki.

Tuesday, September 21

Three Strikes and You're Bobblehead History!

Oh those polls! The people I know are mystified that half or over half of the Americans that are polled continue to support the "boy in the bubble", the "bobblehead" president, Mr. GWB!

I have have met the bobblehead people who love the bobblehead president, and they all "feel like they can sit down and have a beer with ol GWB."

Well, we all know that GWB is drinking again according to inside sources somewhere which has raised a fluttering eyelash or two in the press corps. So it probably is possible for the ultra elite in the world to knock back a brewski with the pres. If you're not ultra elite, simply contribute $99 to the RNC, and attend one of those idol worship dinners where you pay $1,000 a plate to dine on CNR (chicken and rice) and bad wine while listening to the latest rant about anyone who isn't a white, male Christian making over 100k a year.

Anyway, they love the codger. They love it when he falls off his Segwey, or swallows a pretzel, or miscommunicates so horribly entire books are filled with his gaffs, or when he holds his crotch instead of his heart during the most recent 9/11 memorial photo op, and on and on.

They can't believe article after article written by the corrupt "liberal" press that he continues to ignore his generals on winning the war in Iraq. (Link to General Zinni interview.) Or, that he looks other way while innocent Iraqi and Afghan "detainees" are kidnapped, tortured, buggered, raped, and held hostage in a prisons under siege or in "secret" prisons around the world while the "contractors" (i.e., mercenaries) responsible are not fired but continue their "work" without any supervision. Still! (Link.)

He's not the man that allows his Vice President to campaign on the promise that if Kerry is elected, we'll all die because Kerry has a mythical connection to Saddam who has a mythical connection to Osama who is definitely connected to Bush, but that's covered in Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, and "gosh hecky darn" those bobblehead loving homelanders mustn't soil their virgin eyes with the dirty, complicated facts in Mr. Moore's film. GWB says we're fighting terrorists who are against freedom and they believe it. It's simple.

They can't believe report after report from the government itself, that the tax cuts, fighting two huge wars, rewarding corporations that cut staff and move off shore to avoid taxes, and so many other illogical "economic plans" of GWB are simply bad for the country. He says "we're turning the corner" on the "recession" and they believe ol GWB. Simple.

So, of course everything Bush says contains a grain of truth, he makes everything sound good, and godly and patriotic and simple. Simple is secure. Simple is godly. Simple is well behaved. Simple is standard issue. Simple is not sick, or powerless, neglected or overlooked. Simple doesn't require messing around with icky politics.

Simple is baseball. Three strikes and you're out!

Strike One: Afghanistan - we won some real estate but have not caught Osama or stopped al Queda.

Strike Two: Iraq - we are losing what little real estate we won, the death toll is rising, our money is running out along with our allies, and we're now realizing it was IRAN not IRAQ that has weapons of mass destruction!

Strike Three: US Economy - see the two strikes above which represent a slashed monetary artery that's hemorrhaging billions, add two TAX CUTS, a useless Medicare drug program, a bloated new wing of the govt called Homeland Security, and you have a perfect storm of economic disaster looming.

Bench "bush league" thinking. Bench Bush!

Friday, September 17


I couldn't resist posting this Monkeynaught comic. I love this site and hope more comics are coming soon.

Here's another monkey site: Monkey Hot or Not! There are some pretty crazy monkeys on this planet and it's fun to rate their hotness or notness.

Well, gotta close my windows. The neighbors dog has been barking for the past two hours and it's clear she's hungry, but the neighbors aren't home. You gotta love people who buy a dog, put it in their backyard and leave it to noisily go insane from neglect. Don't get me started!

Tuesday, September 14

Here's a view from my hammock! Wish you were here, hehe. Posted by Hello

"..,For many people alive at this time, loss is experienced as loss of meaning. In other words, life seems to lack purpose and doesn’t make sense anymore. Loss of meaning is often part of the suffering that comes with physical loss, but it can also happen to people who have gained everything the world has to offer – who have "made it" in the eyes of the world – and suddenly find that their success or possessions are empty and unfulfilling. What the world and the surrounding culture tells them is important and of value turns out to be empty and this leaves a kind of painful inner void, often accompanied by great mental confusion."

-Eckhart Tolle interviewed by Sounds True in Boulder, Colorado, USA

Here is a link to the rest of Tolle's interview.

I am realizing that I've been working around a rule I made for myself a long time ago. The rule is to avoid the "news."

Too much awareness of the injustice, cruelty, greed and lies in the world causes the painful inner void, Tolle cautions against. Too little awareness of the miracle of this moment causes mental confusion. It's time to hit the hammock, look at the sky and the clouds, count blessings, and radiate a good vibe.

Ahhhh! It's a good day today.

Sunday, September 12

Everybody, Must Get Armed...

"They'll stone you and then say you are brave.
They'll stone you when you are set down in your grave.
But I would not feel so all alone,
Everybody must get stoned."
-Bob Dylan "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35"

Humans have a remarkable capacity to forget pain.

I was seven or eight years old when I questioned my mother about giving birth. The details of the process were still pretty unclear in my pre sex-education mind. I knew that childbirth hurt and that the baby did not come willingly into this world but had to be pushed out of a small opening somewhere on Mom's body.

"Does it hurt to have a baby, Mom?" I asked.

"Yes, but you forget the pain, eventually," she reassured me.

My Mom gave birth to six children, all of them, except me, eight pounders plus, and she wasn't a big woman at all. I felt pretty good that she didn't resent me for causing her pain and that the memory of the pain lessened throughout the years. I also remember thinking that my Mom had a lot of courage to keep having kids and that maybe someone without as much courage as Mom, someone like me, might never forget the agony. As it turned out, the pain of child birth is awful, yet the miracle of birthing and caring for new life supersedes this consideration. Kids are worth the pain. Some things are not.

I don't know how people live with the pain after a loved one is killed. I don't support the death penalty, but I do understand why people want it. It satisfies the need to seek vengeance and it recognizes the aftermath of murder which is rage and fear. Unlike the natural pain associated with childbirth, or learning to ride a bike, skateboarding, football, rock climbing and so on, the pain caused by killing, for whatever reason, never seems to go away, except for those that die.

We can be in a suburban bank one afternoon, cashing a check and wind up shot with an AK47 armor piercing bullet and we can most likely die like these North Hollywood citizens and police did on March 1, 1997. Businesses and homes in the surrounding area were hit with gunfire and people died just walking from one room to the next. Starting on Monday, September 13, 2004, the Assault Weapons Ban will be lifted and the AK47s used in this robbery will go on sale, again. A shootout like this can happen again. It can happen in anyone's neighborhood. Survivors and families of dead loved ones can't forget the pain and loss.

We can be one of the students or a teacher going to lunch one day, and be hit by a "full metal jacket" bullet fired by a TEC9,that pierces your heart and then pierces the lung of the person behind you. Living in an upscale suburb like Columbine, Colorado will not guarantee protection from a killing spree and a smoking hole in your chest. Starting on Monday, September 13, 2004, it can happen again. It can happen in anyone's neighborhood. Survivors and families of dead loved ones still can't forget the pain and loss.

The only people who have forgotten the pain and loss are the NRA and the gun manufacturers and dealers who are celebrating a stunning victory in its war against this ban. Our elected officials in Congress did not even bother to debate the issue for fear of becoming a lobbying target of the NRA-ILA like those on their "hit list."

While neglecting to debate this important public health and safety issue, Congress did debate and decide to fund SB 2634, the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act, a suicide prevention measure which would fund $82 million for suicide prevention programs. It's a component of the President's mental health committee recommendation that advocates mandatory mental health screenings in grade schools. I hope it will also fund grief counselors, just in case someone gets their hands on another TEC 9 and decides to kill a few students or suburbanites while exercising their "right to bear arms."

Wednesday, September 8

Are We Crazy?

Any President who supports the insane notion that respectable hunters need AK 47s and Uzis to "hunt" Elk is seriously deluded. Haven't the gun runners made enough money on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? Business has been so good for these misery merchants that the USA is running out of bullets and is buying more from Israel (Link).

I guess greed is a mental illness that has debilitated our House of Representatives and maybe these people should be screened for hostile, anti social, suicidal tendencies before running for any government office. Why should grade schoolers and pregnant women in America be the only ones subjected to mandatory mental health screenings and put on impulse control medications for the rest of their lives?

Many of our politicians and paid elected officials are becoming more insane than the handful of high schoolers who occasionally massacre their school mates and teachers, or the postal workers who rampage against their bosses, or the home-grown terrorists who blow up federal buildings. Why?

They are allowing the assault weapons ban to sunset next Monday, and according to Senator Dianne Feinstein it's because the NRA will not endorse Bush for president unless the ban is lifted (Link). Most Americans don't own guns (Link). They don't like guns. They don't want to fear that their next door neighbor, or the guy in the cubicle next to them or the frustrated driver on Interstate 5 might have an Uzi handy to help them vent their rage. Most Americans are tired of hearing about the carnage caused by crazies shooting up the place and most Americans think the sane thing to do is to get rid of the frickin things.

Bush seems to be genuinely worried about the mental health of our nation, yet he sits by and allows the assault weapons ban to expire! No wonder America's collective conscious is mired in anger, fear and loathing. The Bush administration talks up these issues while actively promoting catastrophe. Why else would any person concerned about terrorism allow assault weapons to be sold, and sold by such nice people who truly care about the health and safety of our citizens (Link). Right! If American's are getting crazier we have the Bush administration to thank.

Wake up politicians. Children are scared shitless to go to school because they might get shot! Wake up Mom and Dad NRA members. Fear of being shot to death makes little Johnny and Mary antisocial. Wake up Republicans who control the votes in the House of Representatives, your children are becoming maladjusted trying to find the truth in your commitment to fighting “terror.”

What a truly insane world in which to live. Urge your representatives to continue the ban on assault weapons in America. It's the first real step to eliminating terror from our streets, right here and right now.

Monday, September 6

Counting on the Sheep

The Wolfe and the Sheep
by Aesop

"A Wolf, sorely wounded by dogs, lay recovering in his lair. Being in want of food he asked a Sheep who was passing by to fetch some water from a nearby stream. "If you will bring me drink," he said, "I will find meat myself." "No doubt, said the Sheep. "If I should bring you drink, you would make mince-meat of me."

Hypocritical speeches are easily seen through.

Old Aesop knew a thing or two about politics. He never experienced anything like the American Sheep, though. These Sheep not only bring the water to the Wolf, they also bare their necks to make it easier for the Wolf to make mince meat of them.

When will Americans do some homework and compare the Bush rhetoric with his actions. Can't we see through the speeches and recognize hard evidence that Bush is not what he seems and has not done what he was elected to do. Here's an example:

"If this were a spending contest, I would come in second. I readily admit I'm not going to grow the size of the federal government like [Gore] is." [Source: Debate transcript]

Not true! How about the bloated Department of Homeland Security? It's a multi billion dollar Frankenstein of government entities designed to put out color coded "terror" alerts. It was established as a knee jerk response to 9/11 and has served to restrict the rights of government workers and innocent Americans in the process.

The only reason why this giant barrel of Presidential pork would make any sense at all is if it incorporated the FBI and the CIA into one entity and thereby improve communication between the two intelligence groups. The 9/11 Commission Report in Section 13 identified this issue as the main reason why no action was taken on tips about the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Even before the HSD was created, groups were asking why this new department did not include the fifteen intelligence gathering government entities, including the FBI and CIA. The Bush administration had no answer and now we're looking at another CIA entity or restructure and another addition to government spending with little promise of improved cooperation and communication.

Instead of accepting the criticism and recommendations of the 9/11 Commission honestly, our current administration uses these issues as a reason to excuse their lack of judgment and spend more taxpayer dollars, give handouts to "faith based" groups, hand out more no-bid govt contracts, invade the privacy of more citizens, cut more social programs, and gain more control.

The American Sheep who ignore the obvious failure of GWB will give him and his pack of wolves another four more years to feast on our economy, debilitate our military, eviscerate our safety nets and civil rights, and destroy foreign policy. Who benefits?

The answer is obvious. America is becoming a land of the ultra wealthy and the dirt poor but Bush refuses to acknowledge this divide and glosses over the suffering of millions of Americans sliding into poverty or ending up in jail. He might well call his "ownership society" economic policy a catastrophic success along with his Iraq war. How can over 2 million people who lost their jobs, millions who have gone bankrupt and/or have lost their homes own anything? Makes no sense to anyone on that end of the spectrum, but the ultra wealthy love the opportunities these hardships represent. They get cheaper labor, scoop up foreclosed houses at rock bottom prices, and ship out the credit cards like toxic lifelines so more people owe their souls to the "company store."

It's an old Republican story with a new twist. The twist is that the Bush administration calls themselves "conservatives" while shamelessly creating the largest central government in US history. In the name of "security" this new wing of the central government seeks to spy on our grocery receipts and internet activities while it creates a list of suspect Americans barred from boarding airplanes. The list of central government population control activities is astounding and growing. I recently received an email warning that the federal government advocates and may indeed sponsor screening our children for mental illness in public schools. Apparently, such a program already exists in Illinois and concerned citizens with school age children are protesting the screenings and subsequent drugging of their children in the name of "mental health." Naturally big pharmaceutical is the main beneficiary of this intrusive program.

Republican "conservatives" supposedly ".., stand for less government, less taxes, less socialism, encouraging the citizens to be independent and to be the best that they can be rewarding individual achievement and small government." That's what Leo Hamm of Grand Rapids says in his letter blasting the Republicans who believe in this definition and oppose George Bush!

Oh, and by the way, I agree with everyone who says that George W, Laura and the twins are cute as buttons and probably some real down home folks. Indeed, they are likable people, but the Bush administration or machine is not. Send the Bush clan back to the Crawford ranch where they can do damage to sheep who know enough to run from the ax.

Wednesday, September 1

Zell Miller Channels Limbaugh?!?!

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so." Douglas N. Adams - (Might want to read or re-read his books - especially now.)

Bring on the dolphins.

Tuesday, August 31

Well? Which is it? Winnable or Un winnable?

The "War on Terror" can now be put on a shelf next to the "War on Drugs" and the "War on Poverty." Right? Just this week, Bush commented that a war on terrorism is un winnable. I tried to suppress the glimmer of grudging respect for Mr. Bush and reminded myself that this show of wisdom was probably a campaign ploy to show, ummm, something, can't think what.

I've always thought that warring against the result of a problem rather than its cause is pretty hard going and that more enlightened and communication-oriented approaches would better serve the global community in the 21ST Century. Rather than an isolationist, hard line, warrior approach, it's time to embrace an inclusive, more open and diplomatic approach to finding and eliminating the root causes of "terrorism", drug and alcohol addiction, ignorance and poverty in the world. Even though Mr. Bush's opponents might rightly point out this "flip flop" I was hoping they'd just say Bush finally wised up, 'bout time, blah blah blah.

John Edwards got his licks in with backhanded compliments about Bush's sudden "flip flop" and I normally would cheer, but instead became wistful and started dreaming of a two party political system in America filled with balanced and reasoned debate and wise decision making. *sigh* It's beautiful!

WHAM! Bush has flopped his flip or flipped his flop, or recovered from his RNC beating and now says America will win this war on, hmmm, bad people, places and things - "terror".

I'd love to work up a really snide laugh, but I like that dream of American political team work, unity and, ah hell, I guess there really is no Santa Claus and Easter bunny. If we don't keep this dream of unity alive, though, I think we'll have another terror to worry about over the next four years. We're looking at the terror of unbridled and hideous muck raking unlike anything we've ever seen during the Clinton years or at any other time. I have already canceled my newspaper subscription, rarely watch TV and am now afraid that Internet news is next. Maybe I'll write my own news stories according to my own view of reality and avoid the awful truth.

I can almost understand why Bush doesn't read the papers or follow the news at all. Most of the time it's best to be the boy in the bubble, except this time. I guess the bubble boy's speech writers forgot to check with Rove or Poindexter or whoever feeds the President the spin of the day, and now we have a frickin, flip floppin mess!

Merriam-Webster says "flip-flop" is the sound or motion of something flapping loosely.

Seems about right.