Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Feeling Vulnerable Today?

Street art by Banksy.
Feeling a bit vulnerable today? I am.

I feel like someone has taken my home away.

Through the years, countless courageous men and women have given their lives to defend our Constitution. Most, I reckon, really did believe they were serving in defense of freedom, for those they loved.

But, today, the man holding our nation's highest office has abandoned his solemn oath, it looks like, in favor of his never-ending quest for power by sowing hatred among us.

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." "So help me God"

To help push back my fears for our nation’s future, I sought out a comforting prayer, the Prayer of St. Francis. It may help you, too.

Lord make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O divine master grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it's in dying that we are born to eternal life

Sarah McLachlan - Prayer of St. Francis - 2013

The Official Sarah McLachlan
Sarah McLachlan and students from The Sarah McLachlan School of Music come together this holiday season with the Prayer of St. Francis.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Gort, We Need You.

Eleven innocents were slaughtered and several others were wounded by a crazed gunman this past Saturday at the Tree of Life Synagogue.

The slaughter goes on and on. This is the state of our nation today.

Congress will do nothing to protect us; to stop our evil epidemic.

But, we are smarter than this, aren’t we? We can no longer wait. What can we do to stop the carnage?

We can put an end to it all by demanding that a fraction of our defense budget be put to work for our real, actual defense against weapons of personal destruction in our homes, in our schools, at our public places and places of worship.

For Humanity… it’s Time*

Spending trillions on war technology is an every year thing here in the USA. Likewise, every year, one can count on a large percentage of that money disappearing into bottomless holes located in some God forsaken places such as Afghanistan, Iraq or the bank accounts of connected contractors like Halliburton.

Still, once in a while, the wealth does end up funding mind-blowing hardware and unbelievable, science fiction-like killing tools through which we maintain our “influence” as the one and only global superpower.

Has the thought occurred to you what else we could do with a fraction of those trillions of dollars and a little, itty-bitty bit of that mind-blowing technology?

Well, perhaps we could apply a few of those killing dollars and some of that murderous technology to stopping the senseless murder of our children.

Doing so could slow our headlong free fall into the chasm of barbarism.

Jam Up the Works or Gort We Need You NOW

You may not be aware of it, but our military and secret agencies can destroy missiles, rockets, boats, airplanes, mortar and artillery rounds with laser and other “beam” weapons. It’s also true that we can shoot microwaves at protesters, painfully heat their skin (accidently, of course, fusing their contact lens to their eyeballs) and force them to disperse.

Such is our power today that we can even cause targeted “subjects” to hear voices inside their heads (Sorry, tin hats are no protection.), manipulate weather, and even cause earthquakes. Even more frighteningly, we can cause atoms to “dissociate” on a molecular level, reducing steel, for instance, into nano-sized particles of “dust”; turning massive buildings into piles of talcum powder-sized particles carried away with the wind.

This “technology” exists.** It is under our nation’s control. Why then don’t we politely request that the “powers that be” use a bit of it for a preventative purpose?

Let’s start with something relatively easy: create a protective system which causes a rifle, shotgun, or handgun to misfire when someone attempts to use it in a school, retail store or public place.

**Go here for the rest of the story.

Remember Gort? He was one of the Intergalactic Robot Policeman given irrevocable powers to stop aggressive behavior on all planets He arrived on Earth with Klaatu (Michael Rennie) in the 1951 version of The Day the Earth Stood Still.

We need millions of “Gorts” to save us from ourselves since our political leadership will do nothing.

Hopefully, once invented, our “Gorts” will be unhackable as well as invincible and, of course, incapable of error when ciphering out which of us are the aggressors.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (2/5) Movie CLIP - Gort Appears (1951) HD

The Day the Earth Stood Still (4/5) Movie CLIP - Klaatu's Speech (1951) HD

*First posted 5 Oct 2015.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Other Ways to Make a Living

Why must we go on hating?

Why must every bomb, every landmine, every weapon of death have Made in USA stamped on it?

Aren’t you tired of seeing all the "collateral damage"... innocent dead and wounded… men, women and children... especially the children... sown by the war economy?

I am.

Can’t we choose other ways to make a living?

Is it because, has it always been because, the death economy produces a never-ending flow of gold for a select few to horde in their cellar vaults?

It’s time for the Peace Train to take us away from our death-dealing war economy to a life-sustaining Peace Economy.

It’s time for the Peace Train Party to end the carnage.

Peace Train - Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) - 1971 & 2008

Yusuf Islam, formerly known by his stage name Cat Stevens (born Steven Demetre Georgiou on 21 July 1948 in London, UK), is an English musician, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, educator, philanthropist and prominent convert to Islam.

As "Cat Stevens," Islam has sold over 60 million albums around the world since the late 1960s. His albums Tea for the Tillerman and Teaser and the Firecat were both certified by the RIAA as having achieved Triple Platinum status in the United States (three million sales each); his album Catch Bull at Four sold half a million copies in the first two weeks of release and was Billboard's number-one LP for three consecutive weeks. His songwriting has also earned him two ASCAP songwriting awards (for "The First Cut Is the Deepest," which has been a hit single for four different artists.)

Stevens converted to Islam at the height of his fame in 1977. The following year, he adopted his Islamic name Yusuf Islam and left his music career to devote himself to educational and philanthropic causes in the Muslim community. In 2006, he returned to pop music, with his first album of new pop songs in 28 years, entitled An Other Cup.

He has been given several awards for his work in promoting peace in the world, including the 2004 Man for Peace award and the 2007 Mediterranean Prize for Peace. He lives with his wife, Fauzia Mubarak Ali, and five children in Brondesbury Park, London, and spends part of each year in Dubai.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Gift Star

I didn’t notice it at first. In fact, I wouldn’t have noticed it at all except I decided to go outside early in the morning to go to the overnight store for eggs and berries. It was 2:30, you know.

Most humans don’t venture into the dark at 2:30 am. You know why—ravenous coyotes; car-jacking-criminals; gun-toting-ticket-giving-in-the-bushes-hiding-police and such things are out there waiting for unsuspecting citizens on their way to the store in the darkest hours of the early morning.

All that aside, I determined that this morning was to be different. I was on a mission because the boss needed her eggs and berries for next day lunch, even though she hadn’t asked for them.

I knew we’d eaten up our stash, and worse, forgotten to go to the store earlier. She needed to leave at 5:30, so there was no time to go to the A&P like normal people. So, I decided it was my job to go for supplies.

Outside the night was cold as usual for this time of year. But the sky was clear—I could see stars. Now, that was unusual for our S.E. Michigan sky.

That’s when I noticed the star. It was bright and beautiful.

There must be a reason for my seeing that star, I thought.

Later that morning I found the reason.

Researchers may have discovered a safe way to kill pancreatic cancer tumors.

Several of our friends have died a very painful death due to pancreatic cancer. Once diagnosed, they all had precious little time left on this Earth—nearly every minute of it overflowing with terrible pain and suffering.

I decided that star, so bright and beautiful, was a Gift Star... there for those who have passed and those who will not now suffer death by pancreatic cancer. No one can tell me I'm wrong. Right?

Here’s the story:

Pancreatic cancer: Chinese tree compound helps destroy tumors, Ana Sandoiu,, 22 Oct 2018.

“A new study, published in the Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research, finds that a synthetic analog of a compound found in a rare Chinese tree can be used to tackle treatment-resistant pancreatic cancer.”

“New findings may drastically improve the outlook for people who have pancreatic cancer.”

“The American Cancer Society (ACS) report that around 55,440 people will develop pancreatic cancer in 2018 and around 44,330 people will die as a result.”

“This cancer is particularly difficult to both treat and diagnose.”

“A lack of specific and accessible screening methods means that specialists often find the disease in its later stages, which can impact the patients' outlook.”

“The ACS estimate that 12–14 percent of people with early-stage pancreatic cancer go on to survive for 5 years.”

“New research offers much-needed hope; scientists have found that a derivative of camptothecin — which is a Chinese tree bark compound whose anticancer properties were discovered over half a century ago — can effectively kill pancreatic cancer tumors.” -more-

Starbright - Jim Brickman - 2015

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Rep. Jamie Raskin for President

Neither Democrat nor Republican am I.

But one thing is clear to me: Democrats cannot fail our nation again as they did in 2016. They must offer the people of the United States a presidential candidate who will serve the best interests of the 99.9% and decisively trounce Mr. Trump in 2020.

Further, this election, the Democrats must clearly articulate a party platform which represents the interests of the 99.9%. Finally, after the midterm elections this November, assuming the Democrats at least regain the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Democrats must immediately begin to enact legislation to serve the interests of the 99.9%.

Why Raskin?

Rep. Raskin is one of a handful of Democrats who is clearly speaking to the extent of the Trump-emboldened, Republican-enacted, 99.9%-punishing, legislation passed by the U.S. Congress this year. Please go here for the details:

Who could be our next President? Rep. Jamie Raskin, (D-MD).

Below are three short videos showing Rep Raskin at work for the 99.9%, the people of the United States.

Raskin Debunks GOP's Conspiracy Theory with Quotes from GOP - Jul 12, 2018

Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) debunks GOP conspiracy theories in his questioning of FBI's Peter Strzok in a joint hearing of the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees. July 12, 2018.

Rep. Jamie Raskin On Removing Trump From Office - Dec 13, 2017

Rebel HQ
TYT's Cenk Uygur spoke with Rep. Jamie Raskin, a progressive Democrat representing Maryland's 8th district, about his bill regarding the 25th Amendment and President Donald Trump.

Rep. Jamie Raskin Surviving Colorectal Cancer, Advancing Medical Research - Sep 19, 2017

American Association for Cancer Research
After U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D., Maryland) was diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of 48, he was treated with radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery. Rep. Raskin’s experience with cancer has strengthened his resolve to ensure that federal investment in biomedical research will continue the progress against diseases like cancer. Read Rep. Raskin’s story and those of other survivors in the AACR Cancer Progress Report 2017 here

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

What Does it Mean to be an American Today?

I grew up in a mass delusional world.

Most Americans back then were afflicted with a something akin to delusions of grandeur — only different, in a special “American” way.

We thought we were a special people. We were divinely chosen to spread our form of Democracy (American Capitalism) throughout the world. We were entitled because we were the victors. We had triumphed over evil. After all, had we not just singlehandedly won World War II?

It was our manifest destiny to spread our businesses throughout the world and impose our way of thinking because we were good, just and always right. And, of course, everyone else was envious of our American Way.

The TV told us how great we were, too. Superman said he fought for, Truth, Justice, and the American Way.

O.K. then. So, did I.

I not only believed in various versions of the Cowboy Creed Creeds* I saw on TV and read about, I actually tried to live by them, too. Those cowboy heroes — Hopalong Cassidy, Gene Autry, the Lone Ranger, and Roy Rogers — along with my other heroes, Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, and later, Sgt. Saunders and 2nd Lt. Hanley of the TV Series, Combat!, were real to me. They weren’t actors playing parts. No, I believed they were real. The things they did were the things I could aspire to, as well.

Along with millions of other American kids, I admired the even-handedness of Fess Parker’s, Davy Crockett; the inspirational bravery of his Daniel Boone; the self-confidence of Vic Morrow’s, Sgt. Saunders; the “take care your men before yourself” of Rick Jason’s, 2nd. Lt. Hanley; and most certainly, the “never leave your wounded” and “under fire bravery” of Conlan Carter’s, Doc.

It wasn’t only me, you know. Millions of other kids thought so.

It was the American Delusion of the '50s and '60s. That’s the reason some of us were and remain so messed up. We believed in the inherent good of mankind and we knew it was up to us to make things better.

That was then.

It’s now… now.

Things are different.

Today. What can one say about today?

We no longer have a vision of what it means to be an American. We have just lost our way.

*The Lone Ranger Creed
  • I believe that to have a friend, a man must be one.
  • That all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.
  • That God put the firewood there, but that every man must gather and light it himself.
  • In being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for that which is right.
  • That a man should make the most of what equipment he has.
  • That "this government, of the people, by the people, and for the people," shall live always.
  • That men should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.
  • That sooner or later...somewhere...somehow...we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.
  • That all things change, but the truth, and the truth alone lives on forever.
  • I believe in my Creator, my country, my fellow man.

So, what does it mean to be an American... today?

Please go here for an excellent description of the Cowboy Codes (Creeds) and other stuff.

Gene Autry - Back in the Saddle Again (from Back in the Saddle 1941)

Friday, October 19, 2018

Second Class Republicans?

Trevor Noah of the Daily Show has come up with an outstanding solution to the Republican Party’s never-ending voting restrictions schemes that deny millions of black, brown and Native American people their guaranteed right to vote. He suggests registering as a Republican and then voting for the candidate of your choice. You'll at least get to vote.

Great idea!

But, on second thought, that may work only once, until the Republicans invent a "second class Republican" status that will once again deny the “wrong class of Republicans” their right to vote.

I sure like the idea, though.

GOP Voter Suppression Ramps Up in Georgia
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah - Oct 18, 2018

Thursday, October 18, 2018

It’s Our World, Too!

Our world is topsy-turvy, inside out.

Most of us live hand-to-mouth, paycheck-to-paycheck, way over our heads in debt, eking out an existence.

Because most of us know no other way, we have accepted the status quo as our way of life. We work our lives away, afraid to take a vacation day, less the boss replaces us with someone more compliant and/or younger. If we get sick or need time off for a surgical procedure, we worry if our job will be there when we come back from medical leave. It’s not paranoia. It is very likely that our colleagues will collude with our esteemed corporate management to screw-us-over, demote us, give our job to a personal favorite or replace our “full-time” job with a low-pay, rent-a-employee, located in India or Pakistan.

Then, even if we manage to keep our job, we don’t share in the abundance we produce and it's unlikely that we will keep our jobs long enough to see retirement. RETIREMENT? What retirement? By the time we reach retirement age most of the promised benefits will be gone. Social Security? Medicare? With one political party working day and night to eliminate them, it’s likely they will be history, too.

At some point we become depressed, over medicated and addicted - fighting for more of those ever-diminishing momentary “pleasure hits” conjured up from within our culture to make us buy more, eat more, and even vote against our own best interests.

Republican, Democrat, Progressive, Tea Party, conservative, liberal, blue collar, college educated, long-time resident, new resident - we all are feeling the pain alike.

We are not happy people. Things are not working. Things are topsy-turvy.

The question we must all ask of ourselves is: What can be done to make things work the right way? After all, isn’t it Our World, Too?

Mr Cellophane -John C. Reilly- The Movie Chicago- 2003

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Tell Me Lies

While reading Mr. Trump’s op-ed in USA Today I began to wonder if I had been captured by the outer space people and transported to another earth or somehow transferred into alternative universe.

Nope. I’m kinda sure I’m still on planet Earth and still living in the universe of my birth.

WOW, I thought! This stuff is so far from truth that even the most zealous Trumpster must see his outrageous untruths falling off the page in heaps.

Nope again. I’ll bet a zillion marbles that most Trumpsters will be unable to cipher-out even a single untruth.

For the rest of us, we can attempt to heal our “truth wounds” at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign by taking the new Trumpaganda class and learn all about Mr. Trump’s “War On Facts”.

Fleetwood Mac - Little Lies - 1987

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Corporatists Rule

I've been silent most of the summer months. There have been several reasons, the most paramount being despair… a deep foreboding sense of paralyzing hopelessness.

I guess I’ve been mourning the death of a childhood fantasy that my government is good and the people we’ve allowed to represent us have our best interests at heart. It’s been a post WWII, 1940s-born delusion of mine to believe that elected representatives will first do for the people of the United States before acting in self-interest.

The past “confirmation” carnival through which the Republican majority enshrined Mr. Kavanaugh as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States clearly has shown that we, the 99.9%, can no longer fool ourselves with the fantasy that our elected officials will do “the right thing” for us, for the nation. No, in fact, rather than an open and honest review of Mr. Kavanaugh the nominee, we witnessed a replication of 1800s, backroom, partisan political gamesmanship to install a self-proclaimed, crony conservative and corporatist, to a life-term on our highest court.

I will be truly, and delightedly, surprised if Mr. Kavanaugh ever decides, even once, in favor of the best interests of common people of the United States over corporate or Republican party interests.

What can we expect the Court to render in the days ahead?

If historian Dr. Howard Zinn was right, and I believe he was, we will see more American injustice than "equal justice under law". Without a doubt the corporatists rule America.  In 2005 Zinn wrote:

"It would be naive to depend on the Supreme Court to defend the rights of poor people, women, people of color, dissenters of all kinds. Those rights only come alive when citizens organize, protest, demonstrate, strike, boycott, rebel, and violate the law in order to uphold justice.”

"The distinction between law and justice is ignored by all those Senators--Democrats and Republicans--who solemnly invoke as their highest concern ‘the rule of law.’ The law can be just; it can be unjust. It does not deserve to inherit the ultimate authority of the divine right of the king.”

"The Constitution gave no rights to working people: no right to work less than twelve hours a day, no right to a living wage, no right to safe working conditions. Workers had to organize, go on strike, defy the law, the courts, the police, create a great movement which won the eight-hour day, and caused such commotion that Congress was forced to pass a minimum wage law, and Social Security, and unemployment insurance.”

"The courts have never been on the side of justice, only moving a few degrees one way or the other, unless pushed by the people. Those words engraved in the marble of the Supreme Court, 'Equal Justice Before the Law,' have always been a sham."

"No Supreme Court, liberal or conservative, will stop the war in Iraq, or redistribute the wealth of this country, or establish free medical care for every human being. Such fundamental change will depend, the experience of the past suggests, on the actions of an aroused citizenry, demanding that the promise of the Declaration of Independence--an equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness--be fulfilled."

Howard Zinn: Don’t Despair about the Supreme Court,, 21 Oct 2005.

The Politicians Song, Nigel Bradford, 2013