Sunday, September 27, 2015

Pope Francis speaks to prisoners and to all of us

I continue to be very moved by Pope Francis.  I saw his speech to the prisoners in a Philadelphia prison today.  It was such a fundamentally spiritual message.  He spoke of the message conveyed when Christ washed the feet of the Apostles during the Last Supper.  The message Francis conveyed is that we all get our "feet dirty" as we travel the paths of our lives.  And Christ, the Divine, the Transcendent Eternal Love of God Goddess All That Is, can wash us clean of the "dust" of the past.  Forgiveness.  Renewal.  Hope.  

What a beautiful message to bring to prisoners.  What an important message to bring to me, and to all of us.  Francis is clear that The Divine's cleansing is as needed for him as it is for those he spoke to.  And indeed, isn't forgiveness the key to our own true spirituality?  Allowing God's forgiveness? Forgiving ourselves?  Forgiving others? Not forgetting, of course, but forgiving, changing, starting anew, finding again our True Path, finding again our spiritual connection with the Divine and thus finding again our spiritual path connecting us to all of God's creations, including our world, each other, and ourselves?

Francis has the platform of being the Pope to bring his message to the world.  I stopped being a Catholic decades ago, and I have many issues with Catholic doctrine.  But this Pope's message isn't doctrinaire, it's a message of loving, caring, forgiving, redeeming.  It's a spiritual message not a religious message.  Or so it seems to me.  God bless him and his journey.  I am moved by who he is and his chosen mission.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Pope and what it means to be a man

What strikes me most about Pope Francis and his visit to the United States and his speech to our Congress is his incredible gentle, warm presence. I am especially struck by who he is in contrast to the Republican presidential candidate currently leading the polls who has taken over the news for the Summer - Donald Trump.

What a relief it is to have this contrast.  What a relief it is to have an oasis of kindness and gentleness in the midst of an endless assault of combative nastiness being spewed upon us by Trump (and his imitators in the Republican candidates).

The question most worth asking, in my opinion, is what is it to be a man?  Is it Trump? bottomless wells of aggression, attacks, defensiveness, hostility, judgment, threats, and ultimately violence?  Or is it Pope Francis? bottomless wells of caring, compassion, kindness, mercy, and love?

I think the question answers itself.  To be a man, a true man, the Pope is the model, not Trump.  Caring and understanding rather than attacking and intolerance.  

Nothing could have better highlighted to the American mind the stark choices we are facing in this election than a man whose existence is rooted in his spiritual experience and understanding - as a contrast to a man whose existence seems to be rooted in his relentless pursuit of financial wealth and domination. 

This has been the Summer of Trump.  I am glad the Summer of Trump has ended - the Summer of aggression, hostility, threats, and bigotry.

I hope that we are entering the Autumn of Pope Francis - an Autumn of caring, compassion, tolerance, and understanding.

Just a string of the salient words from the Pope's address to the American people in Congress today: common responsibility, dignity, common needs, freedom, extremism, fundamentalism, polarization, hope, healing, peace, justice, respect, cooperation, common good, dreams, relate, crisis, persons, help, grow, cycle of poverty, environmental challenge, culture of care, selfishness, violence, build bridges, family, freedom, dreams, justice, The Golden Rule.

What a wonderful man.  What a wonderful speech.  It can open our hearts to God, and the love of God, and the caring for God's creations - each other.

Monday, September 14, 2015

After 9/11...

Going backwards in time:

  • Syrian refugees flood Europe 
  • Isis terrorizes Shia in the Middle East  
  • Isis is created by disaffected and persecuted Sunnis  
  • Obama kills Osama, which doesn't really affect much of anything
  • Iraq becomes a puppet of the new Middle Eastern power, Iran
  • Obama keeps Maliki in power too long  
  • Bush keeps Maliki in power too long  
  • Shiite Maliki ruler persecutes Sunnis 
  • Sunnis kept out of the Iraqi government by the Shiite Prime Minister,Maliki 
  • Bush puts Shiite Maliki in power 
  • Bush de-Bathifies Iraq, throwing all Baath Party Sunnis out of power 
  • Bush invades Iraq 
  • Bush throws the Taliban out of power in Afghanistan 
  • Bush fails to find Osama bin Laden 
  • Bush invades Afghanistan 
  • Osama bin Laden kills 3000 Americans on 9/11/2001

  • Starting a war is easy 
  • Knowing what the hell is going to happen in war is impossible 
  • Ending a war is very, very hard

  • Maybe we don't elect a presidential candidate who promises to go out and win a bunch of wars for the American people.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

American History in a nutshell - Aristocracy, American Revolution, Plutocracy

American history in a nutshell: Aristocracy - American Revolution - Plutocracy.  

Stretch that out a bit: British Aristocracy - American Revolution - Southern Aristocracy - Civil War - Industrial Plutocracy of the Robber Barons - Teddy Roosevelt the trust buster - Plutocracy of the Roaring Twenties - Franklin Roosevelt bank reforms and New Deal - WWII post war prosperity - Current Plutocracy of the modern Robber Barons.

WE NEED A NEW TR OR FDR - Obama tried but not enough force - none on the horizon? Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren?

The Republican Party might as well change their name to The Plutocrat Party.  Oddly enough, the current Plutocracy has convinced economic conservatives that putting the Plutocracy in power creates opportunities for them, and has convinced the social conservatives that putting the Plutocracy in power will make the country more moral.  What?


Time for an ending of this version of Plutocracy.

Friday, September 4, 2015

One of the many reasons Trump is a dangerous politician

Donald Trump is dangerous for many reasons, but this one stands out to me the most right now - Donald Trump attacks and punishes anyone who says anything against him, even the press which is supposed to be protected by the first amendment. Just one example is that he attacked and demeaned a woman reporter, Megyn Kelly who asked him a tough question during the first debate. And now he personally attacks Kareem Abdul Jabar who wrote and article in the Washington Post pointing out that Trump attacks the press who displease him and thus attacks the first amendment itself.   

That makes him more than a distasteful huckster, it makes him a threat to the country, should the country have a fit of insanity and make him president.

However, the story that most reveals Trump’s nature, in my mind, is when he sued a former beauty contestant who claimed the Miss USA contest was corrupt.  He sent his vicious attack dog lawyer, Michael Cohen,  to destroy her financially for the rest of her life.  What chance did she have against that level of viciousness and financial power?

Some key quotes from this article:

"The Trump confidant also bragged to The Daily Beast about how he “destroy[ed]” the life of a young beauty queen—a woman Cohen called an “idiot.”

…hit with a $5 million defamation penalty in arbitration for questioning the integrity of the pageant’s results.

When asked by host Harvey Levin about the size of the intended lawsuit (“How much money are you gonna get from somebody who works at the Sunglass Hut?”) Cohen said, “It’s not about the money. You understand that. You understand Mr. Trump.”

In her request to have the $5 million award vacated, Monnin asked the court “Please do not enter a judgment that will financially devastate me for the rest of my life based on this record.”

Oops, I think the worst word you can use when talking with an authoritarian, cruel, bully is “please”, shows weakness you see.
"Indeed, Cohen himself explained the meaning behind his nickname, Trump’s “pit bull,” in a 2011 interview with ABC News.
“It means that if somebody does something Mr. Trump doesn’t like, I do everything in my power to resolve it to Mr. Trump’s benefit,” Cohen said. “If you do something wrong, I’m going to come at you, grab you by the neck and I’m not going to let you go until I’m finished.”
That attitude was on display when Cohen spoke with The Daily Beast. “I will make sure that you and I meet one day while we’re in the courthouse. And I will take you for every penny you still don’t have. And I will come after your Daily Beast and everybody else that you possibly know,” Cohen told The Daily Beast reporter who reached out to the campaign for comment over ex-wife Ivana Trump’s 1993deposed assertion that she had been “raped” by her then-husband, allegations she later softened in a statement in which she asked her comments not to be interpreted “in a literal or criminal sense.”
“So I’m warning you, tread very fucking lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting. You understand me?” Cohen said."
Disgusting is the absolute best word to describe Mr Cohen, and his boss, Mr Trump.  Yuck.

This is an authoritarian and cruel man who should never be given power of any kind, let alone the presidency.  When authoritarians gain power, supported by authoritarian followers and voters, the result can be tyranny. 

I expect Trump to flame out as soon as people start asking real questions about real issues that reveal that he knows very little about anything that a president needs to be intimately aware of.  That is what happened to Sarah Palin, and it is what will happen to Trump.  There are many conservatives who see how shallow his resume and knowledge are, and if Democrats are lucky enough to have him as a Republican presidential candidate, either Clinton or Biden will be able to make him look ridiculously ignorant, which of course he is.  The only tool in his kit box is bluster, threats, and punishment.  He can hurt anyone, and he wants to.  Not good. But he can't win the presidency.