Sunday, January 21, 2018

How and Why I must Not Respond to Hate with More Hate



One night when I was 15 I died. One night when I was 42 I almost died. Today, I have the same chest bug that turned into walking pneumonia in 1986. Let me try to explain how these three things relate to Trumpageddon 101.

When I was fifteen I died (some would say I had an out of body experience). And I went to a place where I found God. It was not really a place, not space, not light, or dark, though as I am human I use human terms to describe it. There was no word, only God. I understood that I did not belong there, at least not then, that I must go back home. There were things that I had to accomplish. I was to learn over time that those things are not special in the way we understand "special." However, I have done them, do so now, and will continue to do them because they are necessary to complete my existence in this life. In short, I must live as best I can. I must love and be loved and use that which I have been given in humility because all that I have and have become in this life is on loan. It is not mine. It is because of that all too brief moment, that I believe I do have some small knowledge of God.

That discloses the experience I had as a teenager. But what does all that have to do with almost dying again in 1986? It is a long and convoluted story that I shall try to make as brief as possible. On September 11th, 1986, my birthday I had the most annoying chest ailment and cough. It wasn’t a cold. It wasn’t terrible, but it did make me tired and I felt as though I carried heavy weights strapped to my arms, hands, legs, and feet. I went to the doctor and was told it was a virus and I just had to live through it. Antibiotics were not in the picture. I will leave out the two months that followed, several doctors’ visits, and rounds of antibiotics.

Two months later. I was preparing to lead a workshop for district-wide in-service. I was building a set for the fall play our high school theater group was to present late in November. I was teaching and working 10 to 12 hour days because of those and other commitments as department chair. I was a working artist adding bits and pieces to over sized hyperrealist powdered graphite drawings, a series of works based in part on historic photographic images. Along with all those commitments I made two weekly 90-mile treks a week to help an ailing parent.

On the night of Tuesday, November 11th, 1986, after putting the final touches on the In-Service plan I fell asleep only to wake two hours later coughing up blood. My partner of 18 years, Joe took me to the emergency room at Lancaster General hospital where I was admitted and treated immediately. I was to stay in the hospital for five days in isolation with a sign on my door that prevented entrance of any and all persons. The hospital staff had decided that I must have AIDS. My partner and I were monogamous, so I knew AIDS was out of the question, but my protestations were ignored. Never the less, after four days of testing, and having been given a list of 25 possible diseases and variations thereof - all were eliminated except empyema pneumonia (walking pneumonia) – our family doctor told me I was lucky to be alive and the AIDS signs were removed from the hospital room door. For the first time I was allowed visitors.

Fast-forward to January 20th, 2018 and once again I have that mysterious chest and throat malady that always throws me into immediate paroxysms of coughing and fear. I’ve been to the doctor and I have my drugs and I’m taking them exactly as directed always with fear.

“Will this be the time I die?”

I know it may be illogical, but each time these symptoms occur I fear that this will be the time I don't get better. And so, once again I return to politics and my possibly illogical fear that this “Trumpian” era marks the end of the USA, as we know it. I fear that I will not live long enough to see the end of the story with diurnal adventures in the destruction of governmental departments, Russian interference in our daily political process, disgustingly arrogant tweets by our narcissistic president, diametrically opposed arguments in Congress and Senate that are impossible to reconcile, the triumph of white supremacist policy in our domestic life, and foreign policy that is destructive to the world order of the past seventy years. I wonder how I can go beyond the binary opposition of the political parties. How can I possibly listen to and talk with those people that are opposed to the very basic tenants of my belief system - many claiming to be of my Christian faith - the loving instruction I received from parents and church, those ideals that Jesus taught us in the new testament - love for all people and things on this earth, God, the heavens above and universe beyond? In a transcendental manner, I must move beyond hate and anger. I must go beyond the disillusioned and tragically oppositional culture in which I live to a space where all is able to coexist in a state unlike mater versus antimatter in mankind's cyclotrons. The two actually do exist at the same time in God’s universes. So the lesson that I am beginning to learn from my death, near death, and current fear of death is that I must (at least some of the time) give up worldliness and be not of this place and time. I cannot discard the anger and yes, the hate I feel unless I peal away all the layers of my worldly conditioning, go back to the time before birth, even before gestation, back to God's universe. I can only do that by struggling against the block caused by my anger, hate, and fear of death. I must continue my prayer/meditation.

However, the idea that I must transcend the “Trumpian” era doesn’t mean that I will lay down and accept the hate filled white Supremacism infesting 2nd decade 21st century USA. It doesn’t mean that I accept this president of no character and morality. It doesn’t mean that I accept the damage he and Congress are doing to this country. It doesn’t mean that I can’t or won’t fight for the things I believe in. Instead I must stop descending to the level of hateful derogatory language and behavior that our president and congress and so many millions of others exhibit. Instead I must continue to work with my LGBTQ brothers and sisters, women and the “me too” movement, all people of color, Muslims, Christians, and Jewish people to bring us back from the brink of malediction and self destruction. But I must do all these things while simultaneously removing hate from my heart.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Time to Panic: USA Is In Danger of Sinking Beneath Nasty Quick Sand In Trumpian Swamp



It is obvious to this writer that the actual purveyors of fake news on the far right, FOX, Breitbart News and others have succeeded in their propaganda campaign against the lawful elements in our government. Because of their attacks we are witnessing the Republican Congress and Senate attack the Muller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the possible obstruction of Justice by DJT and his presidential campaign. I am not looking at charges of possible collusion between the DJT election team and Russia because there is so much evidence demonstrating that actually did happened including parts of the Christopher Steel Dossier that have been proven correct. Never the less DJT, most Republicans, all the powers that be, pundits and news institutions tell us it is impossible to prove collusion. Instead, last week the Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI capitulated to the Republican congress and gave all the confidential documentation that Muller needs for said investigation to Paul Ryan because the Republican house was considering a contempt charge against the DOJ and FBI. Additionally, charges are to be filed against Christopher Steele for creating a “phony” dossier, thus preventing the possibility that any Steele testimony can be considered in the Muller investigation. With Senator Diane Finestine’s release of Glenn Simpson’s full testimony on January 9th, it would appear both investigative committees, House and Senate are now dead in the sullied congressional waters. And, to throw more sewage into the federal swamp, the DOJ is to launch new investigations into Hilary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. It would appear that the far right is completely successful in pushing the Republican Congress and the Department of Justice into a thorough attempt to collapse the Muller investigation thus preserving the DJT presidency, the most corrupt in the history of the United States. In this author’s eyes, the current government, both houses and the presidency have committed treason against the people of the nation by preventing a thorough investigation into a foreign power’s cyber attack and invasion of the United States of America.

We, you and I, all of us together have 10 months until the 2018 elections. We must work toward the complete turnover of this Senate and Congress. None of us should care if it the two institutions are split between Democrat and Republican as long as most of the current players are replaced with new members that understand they work for all the people of this country, not just the super rich Corporate Oligarchy and Donald J. Trump. Meanwhile the current Congress, Senate and President must be informed by the people that we understand their agenda to be a detriment to the nation, and only a massive march of millions of us on Washington D.C. will be affective in achieving that goal.

News Articles Consulted

http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2018/01/breaking-fbi-doj-announce-will-finally-deliver-subpoenaed-docs-phony-dossier-congress/. Viewed January 4, 2018.

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/justice-department/republicans-step-attacks-special-counsel-robert-mueller-n829306. Viewed January 4, 2018.

http://www.msnbc.com/am-joy/watch/mueller-gop-leaders-attack-russia-probe-prosecutor-1118158403963. Viewed January 4, 2018.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-attacks-on-mueller-push-us-closer-to-the-precipice/2017/12/10/97762606-dddb-11e7-89e8-edec16379010_story.html?utm_term=.905338b08d12. Viewed January 4, 2018.

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/01/dianne-feinstein-release-fusion-gps-steele-russia-dossier-testimony.html. Published 2:03, PM, January 9, 2018. Viewed 1:57 PM EST, January, 10, 2018.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Joyous New Year Day Dinner Turns Sour: Republican and Democrat Friends, the Trump Agenda and the LGBTQ Community

This is an entirely emotional report based in fear. I make no attempt at rational thought, and I do not apologize.



Yesterday Joe and I went to a New Year Day Pennsylvania Dutch style pork and sauerkraut dinner with our hosts from Pennsylvania and other friends. To be clear the dinner took place in south Florida, not in Pennsylvania. It is also necessary to clarify the political composition of the group. Of the six couples attending three were of the middle or upper middle class. The other couples count themselves among the upper classes. Politically, the majority present were Republican, 2 of the middle class couples, Democrat. Joe and I were the only LGBTQ couple attending. To be clear, I know that two of our Republican friends present at the dinner party did not vote for Donald Trump and I suspect that two others are not at all happy with DJT.

The evening began with delicious hors d’oeuvres that each of the couples had brought to the party. Joe made his mother’s recipe of deviled eggs and we brought those along with homemade cookies and red wine to share. Our host made each of us whatever cocktail we desired and that amplified the lively conversation and camaraderie. When we were summoned in to the dining room for dinner we found a table decorated with a large mound of roses, heavy laden with huge platters of pork, bowls of sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, apple sauce, and homemade rye bread. Once everyone had filled their plates, the conversation and laughter continued until one of the ensemble brought up Donald Trump. That elicited the following remark from a Republican in our company. “I’m so appreciative of all the wonderful things DJT has done for our country including the destruction of Obamacare.” I countered with the example of a friend who had obtained health care through Obamacare for her employees and herself for the first time since she bought her business 6 years ago, only to have the cost double since DJT signed his orders to the department of Health and Human Services to stop financialy supporting Obamacare. The Republican friend responded with a statement that someone she knew had to pay $42,000.00 for health services obtained with Obamacare. During the conversation one person at the table said she was frightened enough to consider leaving the country. She was told that indeed she should leave, at which point I said, “we best not discuss this any further.” That statement was effective, cutting off all DJT talk. Instead the conversation reverted to nothing much of consequence. However, though our host’s cooking was delicious and everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time, my mood had been squelched and the evening irreparably damaged. I couldn’t help but think about all the harm done to our nation beginning with Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, an actual cyber attack and invasion of the USA. The new president whether he and his campaign committee helped Russia in that attack or not has proceeded to change the political face of our nation drastically beginning with the defense of white supremacists and Nazis in the fal of 2017, institutionalization of religious intolerance toward people of the Muslim faith, official shunning of young DACA Americans brought as infants to the USA illegally by their parents, presidential orders taken against Transgendered people in the armed services, Obamacare severely handicapped by the president and congress, Justice, EPA, FBI, the CDC, State Department, Health and Human Services and Education Departments all hindered and denounced as inadequate with new department heads installed who are on record as being opposed to the standard decades old practices of their departments, judges put in place with little or no court experience, not to mention the inflammatory and incendiary attacks DJT made against the 5th Estate, and against foreign governments including our most important allies.

I left the dinner unnerved, feeling a sense of foreboding because it should be obvious to all our friends that in addition to all the concerns I outlined here, this current president and his government represent a possible danger to Joe and myself as we are part of the LGBTQ minority the president and vice-president have disparaged repeatedly. * This evening I felt (illogically or not) that Joe and I are witnessing the beginning of something akin to the late Weimar Republic in Germany as the Nazi Party first began to gain power and influence.

Notes

*Verandani, Suman, What Will Happen to LGBT rights with Donald Trump as president? International Business Times, published 5:30 AM, 11/10/16, viewed 11:50 PM, EST, January 1, 2018.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday, October 13: On Christopher Isherwood, Our Current White Supremacist President, WWIII Nightmares and other existential threats



What other existential threats are there that might have something to do with this president (not capitalized on purpose)? I know, for instance, that DJT and his few appointees are undermining and/or humbling our various government departments; the EPA, Justice, Homeland Security, FBI, CIA and others. The EPA protects our environment; air, water, soil, the foundation for all life. The CIA and FBI are there to protect us from criminal elements at all levels, so of course the president is undermining them because they are actually looking into allegations that he, DJT may have colluded with a foreign government in an effort to influence the 2016 election. The president is purposefully destroying healthcare in the USA thus threatening the existence of every middle class, working class and poor member of our country. Additionally, by negligence and/or neglect Americans are dying of avoidable disease in Puerto Rico because of a poorly mounted rescue effort after Hurricanes Irma and Maria. By extrapolation, what other natural disasters will be poorly tended to because this president is so preoccupied with fancied threats to his own personhood? However, the greatest threat of all is nuclear war, the total destruction of the northern hemisphere and our civilization caused by tweeted braggadocio, arrogant name calling, foolish ignorance of history and an inability to heed the advice and warnings of others. This is a short list of existential threats being created by the Pied Trumpster!

Recently I’ve had a series of dark abstruse dreams. Upon reflection I realized that these nightmares mirror my fears of the threats listed above. Herein enters the slightly tangential connection to Christopher Isherwood. You see, I am a lazy intellect and I’ve been reading “Christopher Isherwood: Diaries” off and on for several years. Not having a photographic memory I vaguely recalled a nightmare Isherwood described early on in that weighty thousand page plus tomb and scanning the chapter about his first year in the USA I found the following entry dated August 6, 1939.

“Then I noticed that the smaller boy was wearing a repulsive kind of truss or girdle with an electric light switch protruding from his thigh. He was crippled in some way. He was getting the worst of the fight. The larger boy hit him, drawing blood. The boy snorted up the blood through his nostrils and spat it out into a glass jar. The absolute stolidity with which he accepted his injury was what filled me with horror. I knew that his whole life would be like this – one cruel, stupid, savage fight after another – until he died. Woke sweating. I know the dream was somehow about a European War.

By contrast the previous page in Isherwood’s diary described his meeting with the Buddhist Swami Prabhavananda the day before the nightmare. In that meeting the Swami gave Isherwood four principles and I distill them here. First, search for an “all pervading presence. Second, project goodwill thoughts to every being. Third, the body is a temple that contains Reality. Fourth, meditate about the qualities of the real self, in all things, infinite (in the West, God). I think to remind myself of a fifth principal, to search past the immediate self centered consciousness that life has taught us is reality. However the important part about this mental meandering is the contrast between Isherwood’s nightmare and the Swami’s vision, and that opposition placed in proximity to a second opposition, my own. I fear that Trump’s madness will involve us in horrific events versus the “Art Cards” I created beginning in 2015 with “peace,” followed in succession by “Love, joy, harmony,” and finally in 2017, “create.”

Isherwood complained to the swami that he didn’t know if he could live up to those four principles in the everyday world. Prabhavananda said, and again I’m paraphrasing, not to worry, that it was part of Isherwood’s life work to integrate his existence with the search for the real self or God.

What does all this mean? The lessons I’m learning, - and I’m sure these will have to be reinforced over and over again before I am able to stop living in total panic 24/7 – are several. 1) I must work on my relationship with God, the “infinite.” 2) The most important life task anyone can tackle is to somehow integrate the self in this world with our search for God in all things. 3) If we neglect to do so, it will be at our own peril. 4) I cannot fix DJT, or this broken country and its people. 5) Instead, I must fix myself.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Friday, October 6, 2017: I Fear the Worst!



I admit that I force myself to write rational text lacking expletive. It is difficult to do so because I am angry and confused. I don’t understand how it is possible for the following to be continuing characteristics of our current national political reality. and I fear for the nation and the entire planet.

1.  Less than 60 percent of eligible voters actually vote in our elections.

2.  35 million of the voters in last years election continue to unabashedly admire DJT and believe to this day that he is repairing the political state of our country while dividing us, deconstructing his cabinet, government and tearing the nation apart.

3. ,Many among those who do vote actively ignore and/or deny the obvious mental infirmities of the current president, a narcissist who practices bullying, refutes proven Russian interference in the 2016 election and in so doing prevents our government from devising ways to protect us against such attacks in the future, marginalizes various groups of our citizens including women, all people of color, Muslims, and LGBTQ people, claims the fifth estate creates “fake news,” is unable to reflect actual empathy in times of disaster, and has recklessly put us in danger of nuclear war on one front, North Korea and works to add a 2nd nuclear front by unraveling the nuclear agreement with Iran.

4. Politicians in our Federal Senate and Congress, governors and legislatures of various states, and local government officials are willing to stand quietly by the escalating disorder caused by DJT in our body politic in order to maintain their own positions of power.

5. After many massacres in which Madmen among us have been able to buy multiple weapons of mass destruction and turn them against us, our own people, the president, and congress insist that we are not free unless we as individuals are able to own arsenals of mass destruction and that the constitution grants us the right to own these arsenals which can have no other purpose than warfare and/or mass murder of our fellow Americans.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!



The Donald J. Trump White Supremacist government has not and will not be able to bring old industrial manufacturing jobs back to the USA. The super rich president, his daughter and son-in-law maintain corporations with overseas sweatshops in China and other countries, as do all his super rich cronies’ corporations. That is reality! You put in office the very people who took your jobs away during the past three decades.

So far neither the Republican nor Democratic Party have voiced a coherent policy on jobs. Instead, Republicans maintain (contrary to actual possibility) that oil and coal will create the jobs of the future. Democratic folk simply have no jobs proposal on the table.

I am an old gay white male, and I doubt anyone cares what I think. Never the less, I would propose that the future of jobs lies with electronic technology renewable energy and robotic manufacturing, none of which offer traditional manufacturing jobs. Existing institutions in the USA, like public education, government, and private corporate industry should be offering job education to the middle class, to the blue collar working class, and the working poor in renewable energy, applied electronic technology, robotics, and applied robotic technology so that we are able to have jobs in the current economic reality. Unfortunately, there is no pressure on those institutions to offer actual workable jobs education because the wrong person is in the White House, the two houses of congress also show no desire to help us secure these new kinds of jobs, and the corporate elite demonstrates no willingness to help train us for the job market of the present and future. Instead all would hire educated persons from other countries who have been trained for the current jobs market.

In conclusion we need a president, congress and corporate elite that will spend resources to help prepare us for the actual - robotics, applied robotics, electronic and applied electronic, renewable energy – economy of the present and future instead of the lost heavy industrial manufacturing, oil and coal economy of the past.

We need jobs, jobs, jobs for the actual current economic reality!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Shouldn’t we worry about the president’s infatuation with Vladimir Putin?

First of two parts:

I will refrain from answering the question until the end of the second part of this entry.  Instead, I will refer the reader to a brief historic glance at Russia and Putin.  A close reading of current periodical literature is not reassuring.  And that leads to another question – why? Let me describe the many reasons.

A brief look at the current literature about Russia and Putin:

Peter Savodnik writes in an article first published in Vanity Fair that the danger Russia and Putin pose to the USA had its origin in the Westernization of Russia by Peter the Great. *  He also states that Russian history after 1725 has been a series of attempts to go back to the “old Russia,” an idealized past in which the nation was united, a large family of kindred kingdoms, Eastern in nature rather than Western.  A corollary to that process is the violence wrought by Peter’s Westernization of Russia and the attempts since to slide back into this "Eastern" past.  Savodnik leaves out the actual reason for Russian Eastern identity, the Mongolian conquest of the “Rus,”a large set of kingdoms in the 13th century.  That conquest inserted the Eastern identity, removing Russia from Western Europe at a time when the continent was leaving feudalism behind and developing into modern nation states.  Later when the Tsar’s unified Russia under one flag, Savodnik believes the stage was set for a conflict within the Russian national psyche, an equivocacy that lives on to this day.  However, to say that polysemy is the sole cause of Putin’s aggression is inaccurate because there are so many more causes for his and the Russian people’s desire to dominate Europe and possibly the world.  Among those are the following.  First, the feudal nature of the Russian system that survived well into the Twentieth Century.  Second, the angst over the lost Romanov Empire’s participation in international affairs as a dominant force, and later the Soviet Union’s - an empire of greater extant than Tsarist Russia - dominance in world affairs is a driving force within the Russian nation.  Additionally, the violence (assassinations and murder) that Peter the Great (1672-1725) used to introduce Western culture into the political structure and social order of the state maintained and accentuated a pattern of violence in Russian political history.  That pattern continued through the Bolshevik Revolution and the assassination of the Tsar’s Family and much of the Russian aristocracy, followed by Lenin’s Marxist government, the founding of the Soviet Union in 1922 and finally, Stalin’s brutal conversion of Russia from a peasant society to a modern industrial Superpower during which millions died (1929 – 1953).  Today, Vladimir’ Putin’s purported assassination of his adversaries, his aggression in Ukraine and his enabling Syrian dictator Assad in the mass murder of his own people, his cyber attack on the political process in Western democracies including our own is but a continuation of a violent history of conquest, and revolution that is built into the Russian psyche.  It is also much more than that, and I will turn in the second part of this essay to Putin himself and his role in contemporary Russian history.


Notes

* “The Secret Source of Putin’s Evil: The Brothers Karamazov,” Savodnik, Peter, Vanity Fair, http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/01/the-secret-source-of-putins-evil.  (January 10, 2017) Viewed 10:29 Am EDT, Saturday, July 8, 2017.

“How Peter the Great Modernized Russia, Cheney, Ian, in Construction, http://constructionlitmag.com/culture/how-peter-the-great-modernized-russia/.  Copyright 2017, Viewed 1:56 PM EDT, Saturday, July 8, 2017.

Anisimov, Evgenii V. (2015) The Reforms of Peter the Great: Progress Through Violence in Russia (Routledge)

“Joseph Stalin,” History.com staff, https://www.history.com/topics/joseph-stalin.  Published 2009, viewed  3:24 PM EDT, Saturday, July 8, 2017.