Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, by Al Franken

I was very surprised.

I actually got inspired about politics recently, just by reading Al Franken’s  new book.  His book inspired me such that I might even attend a city council  meeting.  (How inspired and crazy is that?)

But first,  I wrote a little piece  about his book for Writers With No Borders. You can find it here.

Or, what the heck,  I’ll make it easy and just copy and paste the Writer’s With No Borders piece right here. As always, I’d like to hear your response. read more

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More Sandals on the Ground: A Buddhist Methodist Solution in Afghanistan

“An army of principles can penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot.”—Thomas Paine  

I admit that for me, to pray for our Minority President and his generals and their approach to Afghanistan– —to meditate such that I can think of them and their plans without losing my peace—this presents  a Mt. Everest- size challenge.  Nevertheless, as a practicing Buddhist Methodist, this is my challenge. read more

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Nobody “Won” in Mosul

Recently, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi flew into the tragically besieged city of Mosul and declared “victory” over ISIS.  Here’s a  photo of what Mosul looked like after this “victory.” 

Does anybody ever “win” an earthquake?  How do you win an orphanage fire? Who wins when the senior center collapses? Here’s a very simple observation: nobody ever “wins” a war of destruction, a war conducted with weapons. read more

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Ten Stocks I Own

Wishing to live in a more open society, it recently struck me that we all keep our personal money matters way too secret. I suspect it has something to do with the old Puritan belief that money is dirty, and that the love of money is the root of all evil. We don’t have to love money to talk openly and honestly about it. So that’s what I’m doing in this post. read more

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EVERY Air Strike Is a War Crime

Hearing about the thousands of US air strikes that have not been reported— (even the airstrikes that have been reported are tragic and sad)– I wrote and posted this today on my Dads Against Martyr and Military Mindsets (DAMMM) site.  We can’t pretend such air strikes– reported or not– are legal, or moral or make sense in any way whatsoever.

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The Power of Turning 70      

    I wrote this essay  because I needed to read it.

The real danger, or problem – – or, more fundamentally, the challenge – – of turning 70 is not primarily with our physical bodies—though of course there are challenges there. But the real challenge, the sneaky challenge rises up out of our non-physical minds. And the root of this mind-problem rests not, primarily, with our own mind, but rather with the communal mind, the collective mind, what by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin  called the noosphere—the mental atmosphere surrounding earth, built up over millennia.

The problem, of course – – or again, the challenge – – is that our personal minds are deeply intertwined, indeed enmeshed, embroiled with the collective mind, creating a single, long simmering mind-stew.  Where the personal mind stops and the collective starts is impossible to tell.

Put more simply, turning 70,  I find myself—thanks to the collective mind-stew — thinking of myself as past my prime. And I find myself thinking thus,  thinking this, with a seeming authority, a visceral certainty and emphasis far beyond what my direct personal experience (other than this chronological number) would support. read more

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First Steps of the Resistance

By the end of the first week of the Boy Bully’s administration, I recognized I needed to do something for my own mental and emotional health, just to understand what was happening, and be able to artfully respond. So I decided to pretend I was now in a concentration camp, and live my life as if this were so.  

Clearly, and thankfully, this concentration camp I am now in—that we are now in– is not as extreme as Hitler’s death damps or the Japanese POW camps or even the US internment camps. Nevertheless, both the mood and the circumstances seem similar. So lessons that were learned back then, like from Victor Frankl   and Oskar Schindler, can be applied right now. read more

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Lovely, Lucky Friday the 13th!

This, from a few years back, when I was writing a weekly column for our local paper:  

We’re lucky: We have another Friday the 13th this month. If you want to quit some old habit— like quit smoking, say, or quit kicking the dog or quit spitting at your neighbor– and start your life fresh, Friday the 13th’s a good day to do it. I’ll explain why in a minute.

First, I confess to some bias. I was born on the 13th, and I turned 13 years old on Friday the 13th. For that, I had my picture in the paper, sitting under a ladder, holding a black cat. (“I ain’t afraid of no ghosts…”) Friday the 13th and I go way back.

The number 13 has had some bad press. Because of my personal connection, I’ve had opportunity to research the facts. In the “forbidden science” of numerology, the picture symbol for 13 is a skeleton in a cape, riding a horse across a field, swinging a scythe, lopping off heads, which can be seen rolling around in the pasture. Not an image, granted,  to which it is easy to apply a benign spin. read more

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My Problem with Trump Is Gandhi

“Our resistance is never against a particular person. It is always  against an unjust, unfair  and dehumanizing system”– Gandhi

Gandhi can be a very irritating guy, even here almost 70 years after his death. The dude keeps reminding us – – not only reminding but insisting on – – the higher path, when the lower path is so much easier, and the path almost all of our friends and colleagues  are currently following.  As Winston Churchill might have said, ”Gandhi would you just shut the hell up and go home?”

It’s easy to demonize Trump, the Boy Bully. He brings it on himself. What Gandhi taught is ahimsa,which means nonviolence, or non-reactivity, non-playing that game, not violently reacting, mentally,emotionally or  physically to Trumps persistent violent tweets and acts.   Gandhi would have us not play the Boy Bully’s game, which the Bully has mastered over a lifetime.  and instead continue to persistently express, in spite of the headwinds, whatever wisdom, patience, determination, love that we can muster.

Gandhi became a symbol for a sane and creative life force that is within all of us – – a force that is all inclusive, which is ever practical, simple, yet unstoppable. He called that force ahimsa. He rallied hundreds of millions of people around the single cause of self-determination, freedom from a foreign power.

The Boy Bully acts like a foreign power, a foreign occupier, relative to the values that most Americans hold (even most of those who were led to vote for him.)  If we are to rally, we must learn to rally , as Gandhi—and Bernie Sanders– showed was possible,  around ahimsa, the gentle, sweet, unstoppable, ever sane, ever rational life force that is ever evolving to higher and higher expression of balance, justice, inclusiveness, openness, respect, and good humor, with just a touch of the coyote trickster.

Let’s remember, and constantly remind each other: the majority of the people did not vote for the Boy Bully. So we are legitimately empowered to resist, block, dodge,  undermine and in other ways disregard his attempts to make us demonize anybody, anybody at all. Perhaps the biggest challenge will be to not demonize him

Gandhi resisted making any person the “enemy” because he said everybody was, before they were anything else, a child of God.  We might or might not agree, but we can modify that insight and agree that  we are each, before anything else, simply another child of the earth, or a child of the sun, or simply another bumbling human being who by birth is part of the human family. (See, doesn’t Gandhi get irritating when he reminds us of this stuff?)

The trouble with our resistance to Trump is the successful example Gandhi set. Gandhi encourages us to  take up ahimsa, and by doing so let the air out of the Boy Bully’s  consistently divisive puffery, whenever and wherever he lets it loose. We’re the majority here. This should be easy.

You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty”.—Mahatma Gandhi

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ISIS Claims Responsibility for Recent Polar Vortex: National Media say, “It could happen.” 

 

“Our faithful soldiers were behind the recent polar vortex that let the  infidels in North America freeze their asses off,” a spokesman for ISIS claimed from his secret hideout in an anonymous Algerian Starbucks with free wifi.

“Sacrificing their own lives, two brave Muslim Eskimos stole two trucks belonging to the oil companies and drove them directly into the Arctic jet stream, causing the stream to loop southward and thus bringing the record breaking low temperatures across the entire infidel country,” the spokesman said. When asked about the fact that some Muslims were among those who froze their asses off, the spokesman said, “Allah understands. They will be warmed up when they get to heaven.”

National Media-—from Fox News to the New York Times to the Des Moines Register—all agreed, “it could happen,” and so printed the ISIS claims as if they were real news.

The recent claim of the ISIS controlled Polar Vortex comes on the tailwind of the claim that ISIS was behind the recent Berlin Christmas tragedy. “Just because the high school dropout, Anis Amri, the crazy man who drove a truck into the Berlin crowd had a personal history of drunkenness, repeated theft, prison, and setting fire to his own lodging, just because his last words were “poliziotti bastardi” — police bastards. that doesn’t mean he wasn’t one of our faithful soldiers,” the spokesman wrote.

The ISIS spokesman continued. “In fact, anything bad that happens to anybody anywhere in the world —anybody who isn’t one of us–  when something bad happens, we made it happen,” the spokesman continued.

“It could happen,” the national media people said again. “So if they claim responsibility, we’ll report it. What could go wrong with stoking the fires of Islamaphobia? Giving ISIS more power than it actually has. And besides, fear and loathing generates ad clicks, and sells newspapers.”

“Is this fake news?” A 6th grader from Burlington, Idaho asked.

“What do you mean by ‘fake’?” a national media spokesman asked back, seeming a bit miffed at the implication.

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