In Memoriam, 1951-2012

January 24, 2012

We will miss you, Yo Mama.

Acknowledging 2011; Reaffirming in 2012

December 31, 2011

To all of my friends, I wish you a hearty and happy New Year!  In retrospect, we have much to be grateful for and even more to aspire to.

It has been a tough year, often seeming like a grind to get through each day.  The financial markets finished the year basically unchanged.  However, there were plenty of ups and downs within that time span.  And that is the icing on the cake, as well as the cake itself: things happen, we become ourselves as if no change is visible, but in the end, so much has altered our course.  The true measure of progress is not where we start or finish, but rather in all the stuff that happens in between.  Here are 10 things to be thankful for over the last year:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-burnett/thanksgiving-politics-top_b_1111818.html

The year 2012 will appear on the horizon whether we are ready or not.  Politically, the old year was a draw also. The push and pull of partisan government has turned out to be a stalemate.  The ambition to get re-elected held definite sway over the community spirit of governing by the people and for the people.  In my opinion, the deciding factor, although seemingly benign on the scale of moveable feasts, was the caving in of Boehner’s House to extend the 2% payroll cut for two more months.  Of course this was just another incident of kicking the can down the road, i.e. not really governing by dealing with our budgetary woes on an annual basis but instead just a short-term extension (woe be to those actions that might endanger a politico’s re-election).  A mere band-aid.  How ironic it is that our government is afraid of doing what they were elected to do and that the elected individuals lose sight of any cohesive plan on a longer basis?

We are faced with a new beginning tomorrow.  Can we as individuals, as members of a community and a force in the global mechanics of government make the interval between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012 matter?  Can we take a stance that reaffirms all that our Constitution and rich history imply?   There were a few incidents where we really hugged the edge of moral and financial solvency and almost fell off the cliff.  Yet, our great American resiliency brought us back to safety.  However, how many times can we avoid falling off of the precipice?  It is a dangerous pattern.  To tempt fate for the narcissistic  purpose of self-fulfillment over the greater goal of communal benefit is a losing proposition.  One of these days, it just might result in not a shove over the edge of values and oaths, but all it might take would be a gentle push.

It is time for us to not take any more chances.  Let the new year be yet another opportunity to re-affirm our ideals, smothered in our resiliency, to eventually stand up and do the right thing for the right reasons.  The year 2011 might have finished where it started, but significant strides were made over the last year.  Despite our questionable behaviors, U.S. Treasury notes still were scooped up by other countries, as if to reinforce the true meaning and strength of the phrase “the full faith and credit ” of the U.S. government.  We still have “it”, and other countries want “it.”  But we must try harder to fill that coffer with justice, honesty and hard work.  Our confidence in ourselves and the confidence that the world holds in our nation must be backed up with worthy, pertinent actions.  So even better, we can use the artifice of the first day of the new year to try even harder in 2012:

http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2011/12/the-ides-of-2011.html

Happy 2012!

T’was, ‘Tis and T’will Be

December 23, 2011

To all of you special friends and readers, I send you the happiest wishes for Chanukah and Christmas.  May you find that special peace within yourself and then share it with the world.

Talking about our world, I find the rise of Newt Gingrich to be emblematic of the pitfalls of our political system and of our internal, individual selves.  Until we monitor our own desires, and hold them to a higher standard instead of  our current mantra of “Me first,” we will continue down this empty, selfish and twisted path.  Personal actions must be considered in the election of public officials because their professional actions will mirror their individual moralities.

Over the years, Gingrich has taken on different leadership roles and proclaimed himself a master of them all.  Hogwash.  He is a master of none of them.  He is a man who “scans”, ignoring scholarship and substance.  Thus, his focus is fleeting.  In his personal life, with three wives on record, he cheated on at least the first two.  In his Congressional endeavors, he took what he could get (which believe me, taking a stand against President Clinton in the 1990’s, was NOT a victory for Newt) and exaggerated his impact.  Just as in his his failed marriages, which included loyalty, love and honor vows that were blatantly breached, his professional career was never as successful as he thought it to be.  Newt is a surface man, not a substance seeker.  Frank Bruni, a writer for the New York Times, summed up the makeup of Newt in this article.  Not only is Newt’s behavior analyzed, but so is the actions of other politicians.  Bruni’s piece says it all.

Then Robert Reich drives home the blindness our lawmakers have as to what is their job to the general population first, with a much higher precedence to those advantages the jobs hold for personal fulfillment.  It is so simple: the public servant owes his constituency his all.  Period.  He was elected to deliver an organized, financially sound and a fair and just safety net for those who have less.  What perks are available to the official should not be the deciding factor on his duty to enact laws and programs for our nation.

Our government has always been open to corruption by the lawmakers and power players, to the detriment of the American people.  Despite this old practice, a pattern that t’was, one fact remains whether or not the minority party agrees, is that in the past, and as ’tis true in the present, they are occupying their offices with the intent of personal fulfillment rather that governing for the people.  What t’will be in the future, remains to be seen.

In the ever-shocking development of human behavior and endeavor, I hope more Americans than not will find it in their hearts and minds to dig down deep and not only set a new, higher-valued mind set about what is right, but also decry and protest the base, self-fulfilling actions of our elected officials.

On a lighter note during this holiday time, I present to you the wonderful video of a talking dog.  It is a serious mistake to deny some higher mental functions to our furry friends.  Probably mixed up with once again, our tendency to compliment ourselves by demeaning others.  During my thirty years of parenting dogs, I can vouch for their (at least in the Labrador retriever breed) ability of word recognition.  My current honey of a canine, Castine, certainly knows the meaning of “cheese”, steak” and “bacon.”  In fact, a few years ago I was draining a pound of just-cooked bacon on a paper towel on the kitchen counter.  I left the room for a while, and when I returned, the paper towel was still there and looked like it had not been moved one iota, but the bacon was gone, baby, gone.  Pretty smooth move from my pet.  No punishment was necessary: these Labs have huge super-egos, and she sent herself into exile under my desk.  Obviously, the bacon was well-worth the self-inflicted punishment.  Our current crop of movers and shakers in government have no sense of self-punishment.  Aha: could it be that dogs are actually more moral then some humans?

Think on that thought a while during your holiday festivities.  Enjoy yourselves, your family and devoted friends.  Was t’was is over.  What “tis” is.  But what “t’will” be is still wide open for improvement, a possibility for a sea change of individual behavior and standards that would trickle down and penetrate all of our institutions, public civility and most important, be taught BY EXAMPLE to our children.

A joyful holiday to you all.  Remember:  “T’will” be again.

Please Give: The Cost is Just

December 11, 2011

A driver was stuck in a traffic jam on the highway outside of Washington, D.C.  Nothing was moving.

Suddenly, a man knocks on the window.  The driver rolls down the window and asks, “What’s going on?”

“Terrorists have kidnapped Congress and they are asking for $100 million ransom.  Otherwise, they are going to douse them all in gasoline and set them on fire.  We are going from car to car collecting donations.”

“How much is everyone giving, on average?” the driver asks.

The man replies, “Roughly a gallon.”

 

 

 

 

A Ha-Ha Weekend To You All

December 9, 2011

I just had to share this clip with you.  It is reminiscent of the old Grouch Marx show “You Bet Your Life.”  Bill Cosby was a natural to play this moment to the max:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1NsC98xVN0&feature=related

I have a lot to report politically wise.  However, it is just more of the same old, same old.  A much better strategy is to start off the weekend with humor.  The serious issues can wait; after all, agenda item after agenda item has been going nowhere for as long as I can remember.  What’s left to do?  Laugh your fucking head off!!!

 

P.S.:  Special thanks to ERG.

To Give Thanks

November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  Enjoy the following video which is a testament to the loyalty, patience and love in its most primal form.   Oh my: look at all we can learn from a boy and his dog.  Eat hearty, play gently and love whom and what you have.

http://www.angelfire.com/ak2/intelligencerreport/boy_dog.html

Special thanks to ERGR for sending me this video.

 

The Tradition of Cannibalism

November 18, 2011

Here are some laughs to launch your weekend.  Cannibalism?  It most recently came to my mind with the inception of the Tea Party.  The GOP does not have the guts to offer solutions for the many ills that plague this country.  Instead, over the last three years, they have been trying their hardest to unseat President Obama.  Their mission has had but one goal: get that smart, charismatic, well-behaved, Peace Nobelist, black man out of the White House.  Predictably, the GOP has not embraced the more right-wing Tea Party, as they see the Teabaggers as an obstruction to regaining power.  I always knew that the GOP was capable of “eating their own” if it would aid the Republicans in winning more elections.

Thus, legislative battle after legislative battle we have seen the GOP unable to rein in the Tea Party.  Health care for everyone?   Higher taxes for the wealthiest 1% of Americans?  A fair policy towards immigrants?  A jobs bill that would help towards lowering our unemployment rate?  Nah.  These agenda items  (and mind you, these are only the tip of the iceberg) were all vetoed by the GOP simply to obstruct the President regardless of  the necessity and value in bettering our citizens.  Looming over us is yet another battle before year’s end to balance the budget.  Will this be the third or fourth attempt by our Congress to enact  legislation to keep the United States “in business?”  Without the support of the Tea Party votes, the GOP is dead in the water.  Our Congress, with a satisfaction rating of 9%, has no qualms about sacrificing our AAA bond rating for political muscle.   Total self-destruction.  Thus, my curiosity for political cannibalism.

THE CANNIBAL

A cannibal was walking through the jungle and came upon a restaurant operated by a fellow cannibal.
                                                   
Feeling somewhat hungry, he sat down and looked over the menu….

+Tourist:$5.00

+Broiled Missionary:$10.00

+
Fried Explorer:$15.00

+
Baked Democrat or Grilled Republican:$100.00

The cannibal called the waiter over and asked,
“Why such a high price for the politicians?”

The cook replied, “Have you ever tried to clean one?
************************************************************
And then in quiet desperation, The GOP realized that it cannot rely on their mainstream, bread-and-butter platform because the Tea Party wanted to take the GOP’s agenda and make it even more conservative.  That would not do, as the Tea Party’s agenda would definitely cut into the GOP’s electoral base and in doing so, would endanger the election of Republicans.
At the end of it all, there is no love lost between the GOP and the Tea Party; their relationship is clearly an example of eating their own.  The Tea Party has rocked that proverbial boat of GOP ideology.  As I read the following funnie, I found some humor in the GOP’s exasperation with their fellow Republicans and the relationship of old, set-in-their-ways married people.
OLD LOVE
I was in my back yard trying to fly a kite.
I threw the kite up in the air, the wind would catch it for a few seconds, then it would come crashing back down to earth.
I tried this a few more times with no success.
All the while, my wife is watching from the kitchen window,
Muttering to herself how men need to be told how to do everything.
She opens the window and yelled to me,
‘You need a piece of tail.’
I turned with a confused look on my face and said,
‘Make up your mind. Last night, you told me to go fly a kite.’
And so as you enjoy the stories herein, you will probably agree that the connotations of cannibalism apply to our current political conundrum of eating our own, then spitting out the end result.  And what IS the end result of all of this monkey business?  Simply to  wind up where we started from with the same old problems unsolved.  With all of the political finagling who has the time and energy to get down to brass tacks?

Pondering Measurment

November 16, 2011

Here is an interesting column I pulled out of the N.Y. Times about a month ago.  Today being “hump day,” I thought the ideas presented here would provide some food for thought to give you some oomph heading into the weekend.

In this piece, the author, Robert P. Crease, unsurprisingly a professor of philosophy who actually gets paid for exploring ideas (lucky devil), presents the juxtaposition of measurement versus non-measurement in our world today.  In a nutshell, I found this dichotomy to have implications in many facets of our world.  Overall, I see Crease’s ideas as a template for larger issues, such as fact versus fiction, hard power versus soft power and close-mindedness versus open-mindedness.  Is a concept valid only if it can be determined by our known systems of assessment?

I have a tendency to dwell on the “what ifs”, the hypothetical possibilities, of whatever issue is at hand.  Oh yes: Yo Mama is the What-If-Queen.”  Is something true and real only if it can be quantified?  Or perhaps, some topics cannot be measured anyway after all is said and done.  Furthermore, the methods of quantifying an idea can often be subject to the same uncertainty.  Is a concept valid only if it can be determined by our known systems of assessment?

We can go back and forth contemplating Crease’s theory.  I am throwing them at you simply to enrich your thoughts on this Wednesday.

Specifically, people often engage in talk regarding the abilities of dogs (I know.  I know.  Not a topic of earth-shattering proportions), but small events, such as the following video, are valuable and entertaining when trying to make some sense out of events and actions, no matter how big or small, viewed in light of the quantity versus quality dilemma:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOmCCb1-4e8

I can vouch for the dog in this clip.  Our second dog, Sierra, would park herself right next to the piano.  She took various positions, i.e. standing, sitting or laying down.  Then she would strain her nose and neck upwards and start “singing” to the piano music.  I swear, she was in tune, hit those notes, more often than not.  Another aspect to consider when watching this dog’s behavior is to question if  this behavior translates into more meaningful “human” responses, such as sadness, trying to soothe an upset baby and offering help.  I cannot count the number of times in thirty years that our dogs have shown an understanding and possible solution to a problem at hand.  If one of my kids hurt himself or was subjected to a reprimand (who me?  Never!),  our dog of that moment would feel empathy and try to protect his “charge.”  A couple of times the dog would actually warn me off by her barking.  Is this is a validation that yes, indeed, dogs  do “feel”, “sense”  and respond in a way that  we typically assign only to human beings?  Think again.

Besides, I just loved this video and HAD to find away to squeeze it into one of my essays.  Sorry for the poetic license of which I am taking advantage.  Another example of trying to make things fit.  Fact or fiction?  A measurable event? Even more so, is this dog’s behavior and the underlying analysis of it worthy of such examination?

Aah —- the secret of it all.  A chance to ponder life’s mysteries.   However, in this case, an aide to get you through this Wednesday.  Happy hump day.

Breaking The Mold

November 13, 2011

I know I have been absent from this site for about three months, but I thought by taking this hiatus and stepping back from the fray, looking at our world from a distance, would give me deeper insight into the political and ethical mechanisms that run our country and our world.    Well, my absence did not do that; rather, I have come to accept the fact that our political system and overall society is indeed incompetent.  Believe  you me, the situation is even worse than I had thought it to be.   I was confident (read as “naive”) that there had to be “more”, something good that our institutions and politicians knew of and we did not,  that would justify all of their dawdling, lying, personal moral incursions and avoiding the real issues.  The GOP clowns who are running for President along with almost all of our incumbent lawmakers (affiliated with BOTH parties) are no better than the clowns who already hold office.  Our congressmen are not fulfilling their job duties and obligations but instead, continue to obstruct solutions to our real problems and turn their attention to preserving their very own political positions.

Before you jump all over me, even President Obama is guilty for some leadership failure.  However, given our current unworkable government and its political obstructionism, he keeps on trying to alter the landscape.  I still honor his abilities and standards.  However, perhaps the Office of the President is not going to be the venue for him to maximize change.  Maybe he will find another avenue to actually implement his vision.  Unfortunately, the Presidency is not that pathway.  Mind you, this is not an excuse for all of the compromises he has had to make.  Our divided country is deeply divided on ideological terms, political policy and its social agenda.

From our halls of government, corporate board rooms, religious synods, university sports programs and the personal morality of each and every American, we are experiencing a failure in leadership.  Steven Pearlstein writes today about this vast, widespread plague of ignoring justice, honesty and personal morality.  An infection of equal importance is when the individual himself is innocent of any wrongdoing, for not stepping up to the plate and calling the legal or ethical issue into question, better known as the “bystander syndrome”.  Please, please read Pearlstein’s article, as it is a great synopsis of institutional failure.

More important, all of these  failures that Pearlstein writes, occurred just last week.  Mind boggling.  The greater failure is on the individual basis.  My theory is that all of these failures of decent, humane and legal behaviors start with the individual.  I have always maintained that an ethical, productive society starts right at home.   Thus, you often read on this site about raising our children with a firm ethical hand, teaching them, with absolute  tunnel-vision and setting the example, that there will be consequences for their actions.  Pearlstein doesn’t emphasize the fundamental role of the individual in this wider, global leadership failure.

The ongoing ugly, illegal, immoral paths that governments, corporations and religions partake all start with one person.  The various people in The Penn State debacle who have been punished for their actions are not only the perpetrators of wrong acts; most of them, like Mr. Paterno, the university President, etc., were witnesses, not the actual perpetrator.  This is called the “bystander syndrome” and is a very real phenomenon.  The watchers, like the people of Germany and really the entire world during Hitler’s reign, are just as guilty as the people who actually committed the atrocities.

The worst part of this global leadership failure is that we accept it mainly because it is so prevalent.  Thus, the perpetrators, driven by their need for power and personal lucre, continue their atrocious behaviors because —– yes, indeedy —– they are getting away with it.  Their violations of any legal and personal code of ethics is the accepted state of affairs.

I remain amazed by the GOP presidential candidates because they are displaying an enormous vacuum regarding their political, historical and economic intellect, turning instead to half-remembered facts, lots of misinformation and boning up on the political ropes of a campaign instead of opening the books on history, economics and international relations.  However, Bill Maher’s take on this week’s happenings will not only reinforce their dull abilities and clownish antics, but shall be one of the funniest back-and-forth in the world of politics.  It has to do with candidate Herman Cain.  Cain announced today that “God wants him to be President.”  In return, Bill Maher commented relevantly.  But this is one of the funniest lines I ever heard.  After informing us today of Cain’s special relationship with God, Maher pipes up (and I paraphrase):

“Since God advised Cain to run, he must be fucking over the other Republican presidential candidates who have also claimed that God was their advisor.”

Oh no! Do we have another failure here?  And if so, has God messed up?  Is He lying?  Is He a fickle God, subject to all the temptations out there, kind of like the forces affecting those that rule?  Oh well.  If God is such a damaged force, if He can commit such hypocrisy, well then, why can’t the rest of us follow his lead?  Citing God as the ultimate decider is one big excuse for not fulfilling accepted standards of behavior.

So no: my three-month vacation from all of this nonsense backfired.  Things ARE exactly as they seem.  However, my fire has been rekindled.  Go for it, Occupy Wall Street.  Throw everything you’ve got at ’em, Elizabeth Warren.  Jam up the phone lines of your Congressmen and continue to let them know that they will not get your vote if they back illegal and unethical behavior.  Boycott those enterprises that are thieves.  Ma and Pop Jones, please stay active in your local schools.

Above all, teach your children well the morality that will result in a safer, saner and viable world.  For Heaven’s sake, sit down to a family dinner every single evening and discuss the larger implications of your day’s events in relation to world events.  Do not answer the telephone during those meals and turn off the damn television.  We can complain that events have a life of their own and that we really have no influence over those events.  Wrong.  Each and every one of us has the responsibility to alter our world, starting with our children right at home.  If we do not take advantage of that control in our own homes, then yes, we are doomed.  Mostly, children learn by example.  Set the right example for them.  Forgo the new, large-screen TV or a bigger house.  Instead sock away that money into a college fund for your kids.

Failure of leadership is a reality.  It doesn’t have to be so in your own home.  Break the current, static mold of legal and ethical deficiency.  Hammer home, often and consistently, the role of personal responsibility.  Then, watch how the “good stuff” becomes internalized into your child’s world.  Hopefully, desperately, the next generation can provide the world with a new mindset, a new path of transformation, a world where it is a real shame, a failure, to conduct and condone wrongful behavior.

Imagine a world where legality, social justice, honest economic rewards and individual responsibility ruled the roost.  Just suppose that leading a moral and productive life came back into vogue.  What a world it would be if we practiced what we preached.  It would be so self-reinforcing to strive for the good.  I’m in; are you?

October In Bloom

October 10, 2011

It’s a beautiful fall day and I am returning from the pumpkin patch.  I love Halloween and selecting my pink, blue, warty, humongous and teenie-weenie gourds.  This year however, I tried something new.  With My Wishmaster and her two little Wish Fairies whom, so very kindly, did all the driving and entertainment, I went to our local farm and lookie what we found:

It's almost Halloween! Party your gourds out, yes indeedy!

From sea or from land?

Halloween in glass.

Swan song.

Still life ----- or real?

AAHHHHHHHHHHHH! HAPPY GOURD SEASON!

Thanks for always coming back to this site.  Talk soon.

Special thanks to the Wishmaster and her Wish Fairies who gave me a spectacular fall day.