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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Baby Authoritarian Meets His Big Daddy!

This image comes via Wonkette... yes, agree, absolute genius. The little baby Authoritarian meets his Big Daddy!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Gaseous Dirigible Named Roger Ailes Implodes!

Schadenfreude. Not very Buddha-like. To "derive pleasure from the misfortune of others." At the least, it's seems like bad form.

But I can't help but exult in the implosion of Roger Ailes. You hope to come to this planet, live your life, and leave it a better place than before you arrived. Or maybe, at least, "do no harm."

But of course, that doesn't really pay. Ailes has been an active malefactor for decades. He helped remake and elevate Richard Nixon. He helped create our corrosive political culture. He was the primary architect of Fox News - the great Right-Wing Propaganda Noise Machine of our era.

He has twisted and polluted our discourse over the last 40 years or so. As David Remnick of the New Yorker writes:

"At each stage of his career, he has helped amplify the reactionary memes of the moment: Willie Horton, Whitewater, Travelgate, Monica Lewinsky, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, Benghazi, “the war on Christmas.” Ailes also helped weaponize the language of casual racism in the Obama era. When one of his hosts, Glenn Beck, declared on the air that the President had a “deep-seated hatred for white people,” Ailes hardly reprimanded him. “I think he’s right,” Ailes said."

So now he has fallen amid a slew of accusations of sexual predation. A man brought down by his own hubris, arrogance and bad action.  There is something satisfying in the tale. Man of power finally brought down by a woman, a victim, and then many supporting victims voices, who had the courage to call out his bad behavior.

Of course, he walks away from the big corporation with a fat paycheck. But the man is brought down, his reputation is besmirched. And now maybe his terribly negative Noise Machine can become a bit less noisy. That would be great!

Friday, July 29, 2016

See the Light, Pass It On!

I am a sucker for the positive pitch. Always have been. I see the glass half-full. I lean to the light. I love a sunny day, blue skies, puppies, flowers, smiles, kind words, happy people.

I do have my existential edge. I can go dark. I have my "dark nights of the soul," I can conjure the darkness with the best of them.

But when it really comes down to it, I am a hopeful, optimistic soul. Even in the darkest moments, I reach to the light, the positive idea, the last hopeful thought.

So yes, I am all in with Barack & Michelle Obama. And Hillary Clinton. And Joe Biden. And Tim Kaine. Etc. 

I know these people just stood on a stage this week, and said a lot of words. But words do matter. The "vision thing" is important.

I do believe in the progressive movement. I do think we can make a better world. I do think we have to conjure up the best ideas, imagine the best futures for each other, and try to implement them, try to improve life for every one.

I do believe it "takes a village." None of it is easy. There will always be darkness, pain, death, and broken dreams, but we do need to "wake up," and try to see the light, and pass it on. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Second Hand Thoughts on Trump

** Just watched Obama's speech last night. And it kind of renders what I posted below null & void. A wonderfully masterful speech. I truly, madly deeply love the man and all he stands for. The best of America. For sure. I do wish everyone would watch his speech.

Link here: http://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2016/07/28/dnc-convention-barack-obama-entire-speech-sot.cnn

Kevin Drum's recap (see below) doesn't do it justice... Obama is talking about the best stuff. I don't understand how anyone could listen to this speech, see the man embody what he does, without admitting he's a fine American, embodying the best of us.

Certainly the finest President in my lifetime. No contest... what a speech-maker too...

This is what I had to say before watching the speech...

Actually I don't have anything to say about the Democratic Convention last night. Didn't listen or watch. I do hope to catch up on some of the speeches this morning. All I have is second-hand opinions to pass on. 

For instance: 

Kevin Drum is in the house, and I do like his wrap-up:
Tonight's speech roundup:
  • Michael Bloomberg: Trump is a con man.
  • Tim Kaine: Trump is a liar.
  • Joe Biden: Trump is a sociopath.
  • Barack Obama: Trump is an asshole. *
  • Decisions, decisions. Who's right?
    Whatever else you think of it, the Democratic convention sure has had a strong lineup of speakers. Even Bloomberg, who's a little stiff on the podium, was pretty good tonight. Biden and Kaine were both sociable and folksy, and Obama, as usual, was inspirational. We'll see how the public responds to all this, but it's hard to see how the Democrats could have done much better in the prime time hour than they have over the past three days.
    *My translation from the original Obamish.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Antidote!

Let's say you've fallen into a nest of vipers. And you have been bitten in all the usual places, and some unusual places too. And the venom is coursing through your body. And you are knocking on death's door. Poison. You are poisoned! That's what it's like this election season.

What to do?

If you can, watch this video. Right now. It is the antidote! A blast of hope. And positivity. An amazing woman. Professional. Accomplished. Beautiful. Graceful. Inspiring. The ultimate role model. A wife, a mother. A woman of substance. Intelligence. Blazing integrity.

Think - authentic, genuine, the absolute best. The best of America embodied in one tremendous package. If you don't agree, don't see her as the finest example of what makes America great, you are blinded, by race, by hate, by ideology, or some other malodorous condition.

For the rest of us... the antidote. I watched this speech yesterday morning, and walked around in a bubble of joy and good feeling the rest of the day... amazing, inspiring... 

Michelle Obama is not a politician, she doesn't talk policy much, but she brings it all into focus, as a mother, a wife, a woman filled with charisma and grace. Watch this... do yourself a favor. Get a healing of the spirit, the mind, the heart... the life you save may be your own...

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Expect the Best!

I've probably written this before, because I know I've thought it before, but I have no desire to look thru my old blog posts...

Too much irony, cynicism, sarcasm, conspiracy-mongering, scapegoating in the land. Too many of us just don't believe a thing. We think everything is actually something else.

Now, of course, this "everything is actually something else," rings true for me. We live in the midst of a grand mystery. Everything is symbolic, and metaphorical. We live in a poem, a grand mystic poem.

But we need less "wise-guys" and more open-eyed, open-headed folks. We need more bridge -builders. More folks who want to roll up their sleeves and work together, try stuff, experiment.

We need fewer extremists, and more "pragmatists." Maybe even a few more moderates. People willing to pick and choose solutions from the vast middle of the argument. 

Give me a little hope & optimism. Let's give it up for some honest, heartfelt naivety and innocence. Let's try some trust, respect, and instead of stoking a blatant distrust of everyone and everything, let's give each other the benefit of the doubt.

At least, at first. Let's not assume the worst. Let's expect the best!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Grab Hold of One of Your Strings!

How free is free?  Does "free will exist?" Does it matter? Are we just biochemical puppets? Weighty questions for a Monday morning.

I suppose we are free to believe or not, but maybe that freedom is illusory? How illusory is illusory? And is the grabbing a free act, or not?!

"This understanding reveals you to be a biochemical puppet, of course, but it also allows you to grab hold of one of your strings." - Sam Harris

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Tribes.

We are so tribal. We gather in tribes. All of us. It's a human thing. Even if some of us aspire to be in the tribe of no tribe, we end up in a tribe, by default. 

A social division. Shared customs, ideas, etc. We identify ourselves by dividing ourselves from the herd. This can be a strength. And a weakness. 

And if the division is too deep, too severe, much pain & bloodshed, and madness can ensue; one tribe beating and battering another...

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Bubbles Can Pop!

Yes, it's true at some point "political science" does not help. We are left with psychology, psychiatry, psychoanalysis.

This last week, listening to a few of my fellow Americans speaking on NPR sends me into a funk. An African-American for Trump? A Mexican-American for Trump? An Evangelical for Trump?

The mind reels. Folks who seem totally "fact-resistant." Ill-informed. Irrational. Emotional. You wonder how a democracy can survive.

My only hope is that these folks are out-numbered. But I realize I live in a progressively liberal bubble. And bubbles can pop!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Turns Out the Art of the Deal = American Dystopia!

I suppose I could be wrong, I have been in the past, but I am pretty damn confident that the Short Fingered Vulgarian will not be President. I don't believe in his dystopian vision, I don't believe he is the only one who can fix our problems, I don't think he really understands America, or the world.

So between now and November lots of noise. Of course, "shit happens," so you can't totally count the Vulgarian out. But I will remain, sunny and optimistic, and I do "see" Hillary Clinton being sworn in as President in November.

And I do think it will be a good thing.

There is a deep "moral rot" in the GOP. What Republicans say about America is basically, fundamentally wrong, and they have no solutions, none. They are a party of hate, and dysfunction. An empty, ugly political movement, although, I don't really think it's a movement at all. Lots of unhappy, bitter, delusional people, mainly white people, who just want to yell, and rant and hit out at someone.

And the Short-Fingered Vulgarian is not fit for the office of the Presidency. He really, really could use an an appointment with a Freudian psychoanalyst.  Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter of "The Art of the Deal," paints a picture of a supreme "Narcissist and sociopath!"

So yes, better to try to understand the Vulgarian via psychology or psychiatry, not political science. I suppose the good thing is that the Short Finger Vulgarian has done for us, is to reveal the deep heart of ugliness underlying our political culture.

There is a supremely ugly strain, a sickening virus in the land called "aggrieved white nationalism." The Vulgarian has tapped into this ugly vein. Luckily for us, it's a small group, lurking on the margins. I do hope that the light of day will expose them and maybe that light will just evaporate them. Nothing more than sweat on the laboring ass of our country.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

GOP Highlights Day 3!

Day Three Highlight 1: I must admit I hardly listened. I just heard a short recap. But I did hear Ted Cruz the Zodiac Killer tell the crowd to "vote your conscience." Which really pissed them off. Hah! That's pretty good. I mean Ted is a supremely creepy guy who really makes your skin crawl, but I have to give him credit for standing up at the GOP convention and refusing to endorse the man they all love and admire. It takes guts, or at least a certain creepy cluelessness to actively seek such a negative reception, and to stand in defiance of the Short Fingered Vulgarian at his coronation. The Zodiac Killer Strikes Again! 

Day Three Highlight 2: I also listened to the "common" people, the convention-goers, speak. My fellow Americans at the Convention. I want to understand, I want to be compassionate. But it's really, really difficult. I would say that most of these folks do not have a coherent political philosophy. Many of them actually need therapy. There is a deep sickness in the land. These are orchestrated "days of hate." There is nothing to refute, there is no argument to understand. Many of them sound desperate, clueless. They feel like they have lost something and they are flailing about looking to hit someone.

Words that come to mind to describe this event: grotesque, sad, creepy, weird, unhinged, desperate, irrational, fearful, hateful, racist, delusional, psychotic. Yeah, that's the modern, of the moment, GOP!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

GOP Highlights!

Day One Highlight: Melania plagiarizing parts of her speech from Michelle isn't a federal offense. Hell, isn't Michelle a wonderful role  model?

What are the chances that Melania didn't plagiarize? Probably slim & none. I mean, put two monkeys in two different rooms with two different typewriters, how often will they type the same exact sentences?

Day Two Highlight: Ben Carson tells us that Hillary's main inspirer is Lucifer!  "The shining one, the light-bearer!" That is some kick-ass woman!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Disintegration of the Grand Conservative Hallucination!

Could it be that while the GOP Convention is rolling out in Cleveland, the man who constructed the great Conservative Propaganda Noise Machine, Roger Ailes, is going down for the count?! That would be just the sweetest news. And maybe a sign of things to come.

Seems the chickens really have come home to roost.  And maybe this GOP insanity in Cleveland is coming to it's crashing apotheosis? The Short-Fingered Vulgarian gets nominated and then goes down to a landslide loss of epic proportions in November? 

What little I heard from the convention last night, via the radio, seemed like absolute madness. Total idiocy. People completely disconnected from reality. It's Fox TV News Land. A wholly constructed dystopia. It has it's followers, it's true believers - people hyped on fear & racism and Hillary hate.

But maybe, just maybe, we are not watching the beginnings of a real political movement, we are watching the disintegration of a grand, Conservative hallucination. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Days of the Uncanny and the Weird.

Violence.  Some days you feel like you are living in Shakespeare's "Macbeth." A world of witches and strange destinies. Ambition. Jealousy. Will to power. Madness. Blood.

And we are all trying to wash that blood (real and imagined) from our hands.

Dark things brewing in the night. Dark things brewing in the community of humans. Broken dreams. Broken hearts. Hatred. Deep in the bone hatred. And the trees march forward. To swallow us all. Days of the uncanny and the weird.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

An Enigma Wrapped in a Mystery!

What is this? A slice of the night sky that contains 48,741 galaxies. Might make you feel small. Kind of confirms the idea I have that we have no clue what's going on. We are all wrapped in a mystery. Yes, a grand mystery.


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Thousands You Don't...

I am on a Flannery O'Connor kick. She really is sort of my unofficial patron saint. When she was a child she liked to dress her chickens in clothes. I think much of my life in business, theater & music has been pretty much "dressing chickens in clothes" too.

Here is Flannery reflecting on the advantages of living in a big city...

"Although you see several people you wish you didn't know, you see thousands you're glad you don't know."

Friday, July 15, 2016

Not So Understanding!

I consider myself an "understanding" and compassionate person. But I have limits. Just like everyone.  There are some things I just can't understand: Willful cruelty. Torture. Acts of terror. Racism. The "conservative" mind-set. I mean the Contemporary American version of Conservative! You know, the party that has decided to throw their lot in with the Short-Fingered Vulgarian.

So yes, I pride myself on being a progressive, open-minded individual. But when it comes down to it, I do not understand at least 45% of the voting public in America. I mean, I really don't get them. And I kind of don't want to get them. I'd rather just kind of tune them out. So if I'm honest with myself, I guess maybe I'm not such an understanding person after all...

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Quiet Center

How to live "nobly?" (See previous post.) I decide to talk less. Listen more. Be there for others. Do what I have to do without worry, doubt, or complaint. Think less about how I can "make things happen," and more about how I can be "Zen," about what does happen. What does happen? The world turns. Lots of churn and burn. Toil & trouble. Swords & arrows from all corners. I decide to be the quiet center of a raging storm.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Noblesse Oblige!

Funny. This phrase, "Noblesse Oblige" was in my head this morning. Sort of tapped me awake. Not sure where I saw it, or read it, but it was upfront and center in my consciousness. Strange.

Noblesse Oblige -  "whoever claims to be noble, must conduct himself nobly." I am not of "noble birth," I come from humble roots. Still, I like to think that I can "conduct" myself nobly.

I take my own thoughts and feelings seriously, if I don't, who will? So, okay, odd, potent phrase pops into my head. I will take the message, and incorporate it into my being. Why not?! Today there will be the "noble me."  And if I can do one day, why not another, and another, etc. And anyway, conducting myself nobly sounds like supremely good advice. Got it!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Architect of the Grand Disinformation Noise Machine!

This Gretchen Carlson vs Roger Ailes lawsuit sounds like "chickens coming home to roost." A messy, "he said/she said" kind of thing. I tend to give the woman the benefit of the doubt. It takes a lot of strength to stand up against a man of extreme wealth and power. A "Media Titan!" 

Of course, I am also comfortable with the possibility that the architect of Fox News, a major corrosive political, cultural and social phenomenon, the grand disinformation noise machine of our time, is a serial sexual predator. 6 other woman have spoken up since the story emerged. It would be poetic justice if the voices of the women could bring this sucker down. He is not a "force for good."  That has been clear for a very long time. Justice. Sometimes you would just like to see justice served. These stories of men of influence and power abusing their positions to take advantage of others gets a bit old.

Monday, July 11, 2016

A Force for Good!

Still in the mode of silence, quiet contemplation. I turn on the radio and brace for the latest news. I do think it's important to be engaged with the things of the world, but we all need a bit of distance and space. Don't want to  be in a purely "reactive" mode.

The eternal chaos of emotion.

So many problems. You realize you can't solve the world. You experience it. Try to live with grace, peace, intelligence, love and compassion.  When they finally lay you to rest, wouldn't it be nice if they said, "He/She was a force for good."

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Find a Quiet Time, A Quiet Space.

"Viral."  We all understand viral.  A virus passes from one person to the next. Also an idea, an image, an opinion.

A virus can make us sick. An idea, image and opinion too. John Robb reminds us of the powerful negative force of "social violence networking" .

And we are swimming an inter-connected universe of negative ideas, images and opinions. The only defense is to pull back. Reflect. Find a quiet time, find a quiet space.

Once in awhile we must disengage. And try to remember what's important... 

Saturday, July 09, 2016

A Good Time To Reflect

There are those in our midst who are happy to light the match, stoke the fire. There are the fear-mongers and hate-mongers. One Idiot with a Twitter Account can set off a chain of hatred, racism and stupidity.

It isn't pretty. Or helpful. And you do start to worry about your fellow Americans.

The best thing I heard this week came from a Pastor who was marching in Dallas. "Violence begets violence." Nothing good comes from it. Just dead people. Sadness. Tragedy. Broken hearts and broken families.

It's a good time to pull back. Take a breath. Reflect. Figure out how we can all pull together. Find our connection to each other as human beings. Get down to basic principles...

"Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive." - Dalai Lama


Image by Keith Haring.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Zero Sum vs. It Takes A Village!

Maybe I do understand the devolution of America (see previous post). Just take the time to read and think and you come up with some answers.

"Zero Sum" vs. "It Takes a Village." Two opposed world-views.  Opposed ideals. Opposed goals. Opposed language. Deeply opposed philosophies. No wonder we can't talk to each other, understand each other, come to any kind of working consensus.

One conception of the world envisions winners and losers. Winners who win everything. Losers who lose everything. Winners are born. Same with losers. It's all against all, baby!

The other conception considers all of us one family. A Global tribe. In it together. No one is alone. Everyone needs everyone. We succeed together. Or fail together.

The 2016 election is a microcosm of this deep dichotomy. 

The Authoritarian White Guy. The Winner. Declaring he will gather the winners around him and win. Against the immigrants, the Free-Traders, the Minorities, the whole, motley gang of losers ruining America.

VS. 

The Progressive White Liberal Woman. Declaring we can create a global village, a "win-win," situation where everyone has to "give a little." Chip in. Offer a helping hand. Carry their brothers to the finish line.

Okay. Simplistic. But maybe the essence of the matter.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

America Devolved!

Read it and weep. Or maybe despair. At least just a little.  George Saunders followed The Short-Fingered Vulgarian around the country, and met folks at his rallies, and writes it all down.

It's not pretty. Maybe too easy. Maybe a bit like shooting fish in a barrel. A really good writer tackling a pretty ugly subject. You do wonder about the good Ole USA. What's wrong with people? "A new understanding of America emerges." Not really. It's all sort of baffling.

The hatred, the racism, the unhappiness, the corrosive conversation. My fellow Americans. Are they as dumb, as ill-informed, as ugly, as irrational, as they appear?

Where are our "better angels?" Where is the intelligence? The native goodness? Where is the kindness, the love, etc? Am I a fool to even be asking these questions?

Too many people? Too close together? Too much cable TV and Social Media? I just can't explain it. America Devolved!

I wrote this first thing this morning, then came across this article on VOX "Limousine Liberal." Maybe there are some answers here? Maybe it all comes down to the haves and the have nots and those in the middle?


"The Limousine Liberal is a penetrating analysis of the resentments aroused by the efforts of affluent liberals to help the disadvantaged, sometimes at the expense of those in the middle," 

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Beyond the Fringe on Mind!

This has been a lifetime conundrum , you know, an "intricate and difficult" problem - minds thinking about minds, brains studying brains.

What is consciousness? Does it transcend our bodies? How does mind emerge out of "brain?" 

I don't think our brains are like computers or machines. I think our brains/minds are more like forests, or oceans, or rivers, or herds of gazelles. 

I don't think we are machines who mistakenly think we possess magic. I think we do possess magic. And we don't know what we are.

Yes, I very much like this...


panpsychism — the idea that consciousness is universal, existing as some kind of mind stuff inside molecules and atoms.Consciousness doesn’t have to emerge. It’s built into matter, perhaps as some kind of quantum mechanical effect. One of the surprising developments in the last decade is how this idea has moved beyond the fringe. 


And when someone says, "quantum mechanical effect," they may as well be talking "magic," or "mystery," or something like the "divine!"

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Two Films - A Positive Kick!

July 4th, 2016. No picnic, BBQ or fireworks for us. We walked around the hood, worked on learning our lines for a theater piece we are doing in August, and then watched two extraordinary, music-themed movies.

The first one, is a confirmed classic, Cameron Crowe's "Almost Famous." A beloved movie. For some reason, when I saw it many years ago it didn't blow me away. I thought it was a "nice film" but that's all. This time it was a transformative experience. The soundtrack is amazing. And this time I really understood the "death of innocence" theme -  took it in deep, it all hit home.

Every time Elton John started singing the tears flowed. Really!

But you know, it's a positive movie, grounded in Crowe's real experiences as a young rock and roll writer. And the innocence, the decency, the "positivity" of the whole enterprise seems so noble, and powerful, and touching. I realize I track with Crowe step for step. It's brilliant, beautiful. A truly great film. No doubt.

The second movie we watched was "24 Hour Party People." A film grounded in the real world experiences of Tony Wilson of Factory records fame. It's about the Manchester music scene in the late 70's and early 80's, and it's about a mad-cap dreamer, idealistic, unreasonable, unsinkable.

Another film about a madly beautiful time and place. Hilarious. A tour de force for Steve Coogan as Tony Wilson. To watch both films back to back was such a life-affirming, positive kick. Now that's a holiday for sure!

Monday, July 04, 2016

One of those 70's People!

Maybe it was the hat. The mirror shades. The stubble on my chin. The long hair sticking out from under the hat. Or maybe it was the black boots, the black jeans, the bright, green, flowery and over-sized shirt.

I helped the "handicapped" young man with his cart. He was stuck between two doors leaving a coffeeshop, trying to open one door and pushing his cart forward. He was stuck.

I volunteered. I took command of the cart and helped him exit. No big deal. A good act. Neighborly. Friendly. 

He was pleased with the help. He turned to me, slowly looked me up and down, seeing me clearly for the first time, and he declared: "You're one of those 70's people, right?!"

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Thoughts, Words, Images Collide this Morning!

Everything this morning reminds me the mystery of our lives. Thoughts, words, images collide.

Words. I think of the inadequacy of words. They are our friends but they can also mislead us. We sometimes think that the universe is made of words. We confuse the map for the territory. 

Think "river." The word conjures an image in our heads. But each of us "sees" their own version of a river. And of course the word doesn't do the phenomenon, the process, the reality of what a river actually is any sort of justice. The word is an attempt but also a sort of lie.

I pull some Tarot cards this morning Art/Alchemy, the Queen of Swords. Images. Iconic. Mythological. Another way of describing a world, a moment, an interior state.

And then I read Ray Pride in New City and read: The eye... “It’s the neon demon!” he says. “You can’t destroy it. The eye is more powerful than our reality. Our perception is more important than what is essentially there.”

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Mysterious Nature of Life!

Yes, well, when it comes down to it, I go with "mystery." Huge portions of my life are unexplained & unknown. Especially to me.

I have spent much of my time on earth trying to figure things out. And it slowly dawned on me that the most important things in our lives or at least my life, are actually pretty "unfigure-out-able."

There were times in my life when this realization was a bit disappointing. But now, not so much. I am on the search for "wisdom"  (or - wiz-dom!)  But there are no great expectations. I am not unhappy with the mysterious nature of life.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Word.

"A man of his word." Right? If you can't trust someone's word, you can't trust that person. Trust - a belief that someone is reliable, good, honest.

There are the words, and then the followup, the action. We expect the word and the action to line-up, work together. When they don't, we are all at sea.

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