A Traditional Polish Easter 



When I was a boy every Saturday before Easter Sunday my mother would bring a beautifully prepared basket of food to our Immaculate Conception Church to be blessed. The basket would have a sampling of the foods for the Easter Sunday meal.This continues to be the Lenten Polish Catholic tradition.





We used the same graceful wicker basket every year. Lined with a spotless white cloth napkin there would be a delicious assortment of Kielbasa sausage, baked Ham, decorated hard boiled Eggs, Chrzan (a mixture of grated Hosrseradish and Beets) — de rigueur for the meats and eggs — a butter lamb, bread, maybe a chocolate bunny, sometimes a cake in the shape of a lamb.


Easter is the most joyous holiday in the Christian calendar. Especially when Springtime was showing itself at it's best, Easter Sunday was indeed a blessed day. You could feel it in the sunshine, and smell it in the air. In your heart.

Happy Easter.





The Four Noble Truths


"(1) The Truth of Suffering. The First Noble Truth is known as dug ngal [sdug bsngal] in Tibetan. To confidently walk the path, we must have a clear understanding of the suffering of impermanence that pervades all existence. It is often said that for an ordinary person, this subtle impermanence is as imperceptible as a hair on the palm of one’s hand. For an enlightened being, however, it is felt as sharply as a hair on one’s eyeball. Though we can all admit to experiencing pain and sadness at least occasionally, it takes deeper investigation of reality for most of us to perceive the more subtle modes of suffering that shadow even the happiest occasion. This suffering can take the form of awareness that the happy occasion must come to an end, or it can take the form of the persistent intrusion of minor irritations. Generally speaking, whatever we do is in need of constant adjustment. For instance, we are either too hot or too cold; we are either hungry or stuffed. No matter where we are or what we are doing, at some level our bodies or minds are uneasy or uncomfortable.

Buddhist doctrine classifies suffering into three root sections and eight branches. The three root sections are (1) the suffering of suffering itself, (2) the suffering of change, and (3) all-pervasive suffering. The eight branches are (1) birth, (2) sickness, (3) old age, (4) death, (5) unfulfilled desire, (6) unexpected misfortune, (7) separation from loved ones, and (8) physical discomfort.

(2) The Cause of Suffering. The Second Noble Truth is known as kunjung [kun byung] in Tibetan, meaning “source of everything.” This basically indicates that the source of all suffering is the interplay between ignorance and karma. Suffering is the result of karmic causes that we accumulate by engaging in various activities rooted in ignorance.

(3) The Truth of Cessation. The Third Noble Truth is known as gogpa [’gog pa] in Tibetan. This indicates the cessation that bring freedom from both suffering and the causes of suffering. “Cessation” is sometimes referred to as the “state of extinguishment,” “ultimate joy, peace, and relaxation,” and “nirvāna.”

(4) The Cause of Cessation. The Fourth Noble Truth is known as lam [lam] in Tibetan. This is the Eightfold Path2 that brings about nirvāna.
Such are the Four Noble Truths, which definitely exist on the relative level. Since conventional reality forms a huge part of our experience, it is necessary for us to fully understand these precious truths. We can highlight them using the metaphor of sickness. To begin, we can say the First Noble Truth diagnoses a disease. As we all know, if we want to cure a disease, we must discover its cause. This is outlined in the Second Noble Truth. Once we know the cause of a disease, our doctor can prescribe effective treatment. Here, the Buddha is the doctor prescribing the path of Dharma, the Fourth Noble Truth. This is like the medicine that will bring us to a state of complete health, or cessation, described in the Third Noble Truth.

That is the relative level. On the absolute level, the Four Noble Truths have no more inherent existence than anything else we have discussed so far—they are all based on great emptiness. Having thus pronounced the emptiness of both the ground and path, Avalokiteshvara arrives at the fruition or goal of practice: transcendent wisdom. This, too, is empty of inherent existence."

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoche ...


Ceaseless Echoes of the Great Silence: A Commentary on the Heart Sutra Prajnaparamita (pgs 50-52)
Jesus and Buddha
What is the Difference?



I first wrote this during Lent 2004. You know, that time between pączki and flashing skin at Mardi Gras and when the colored eggs magically appear in all the nooks and crannies around the yard. This version is slightly edited with deepened insights and recent developments. Jokes, too.

In 2004, that year Mr. Mel Gibson’s latest movie The Passion of the Christ kicked off the Lenten season. And almost everyone by now knows that it had created a whole lot of debate. Not to mention a few dollars, too. What was he thinking? A family movie? As David Denby wrote in the New Yorker Magazine, “Jesus said, ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me,’ not ‘Let the little children watch me suffer.’ ” Frank Rich in the NY Times called the movie a "sadomasochistic gorefest".

This is not a movie review. I’d like to give Mel Gibson some credit, however. [Yes. Credit. Even though he has since then moved on up and added public displays of racism and misogyny to his resume. But, this year is now an 2016 Oscar contender. Crowds! Sometimes they love you. Sometimes, not. Ask Jesus about that one.] 

By my lights, and setting aside whether you agree or disagree with his portrayal or his Christology, I appreciate a healthy general debate on religion itself.

My hope is that the conversation opens to a discussion on what’s at the heart of religion, and not just be something to appropriate by someone seeking to win some narrow sectarian argument or co-opting it to gain a political prize. Or, shamelessly burnishing a public image with a reputation of sanctimony and goodness. I am all for goodness; saintliness, even. But, goodness gracious, not as a branding device. An old car sales dog I once knew had this sage advice, “Ya know how to tell if their lying? Their lips are moving.” [Completely unrelated, I am sure, watch Oprah on OWN network.]

It is at their heart that I find a great deal of unity among religions, even though, on the surface, there seems to be a lot of separation.

My take (hope?) is that Mel’s movie has boldly triggered the “dangerous” theme of religion itself into our stridently secular, cultural conversation. Secular, as in “Did you have a good Christmas? Get everything you wanted?” “Are you ready for Easter? Nice decorations at Michaels at the mall. There’s a sale on!” I am interested in living into the holistic worldview for myself and offer my expertise as a professional to those who would also want that for themselves. Religion fits.

Religion (also, read spirituality) is concerned with everything that is, the whole enchilada; as opposed to only those things we can get our hands on (read science/technology). [Then there's Scientology. A complete got-the-world-on-a-string package. Or, Madonna and her Kaballa, and their little red string.] I see it as a plus to be confronted to consider the big life questions: Who am I? What is this? Where did I come from? Where am I going? For what purpose? Don’t look at Reality TV for any of those answers. (Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Temptation Island! The Bachelor. Ya, sure.) [A personal aside: I’m working on a TV project with some of my show biz buddies. It’s called “Who’s Got My Divot? It’s about bald celebrities and patches of grass. That’s all I can reveal at this time. And there’ll be a real mind blowing twist at the end of the 20-week run. So far, the pilot is green lights as far as I can see. Even Trump is on board. Tune in.]

Returning: I don’t know if Mr. G had what I’m talking about in his mind for his controversial project, but I can make my own point even if I don’t spend $25 million to produce this article. [For my appreciative and supportive readers, send only checks and money orders. In-kind contributions also accepted. I don't want much. Only, let it have taste and quality.]

Just to clarify a bit more, my hope is to see this conversation shift to a higher level. In the so called culture wars that may be a part of what now seems to be 24/7 political campaigning, the issue of religion could be appropriated only for political advantage to score points with potential voters by hanging that subject on some hot button issues. The real nugget could be overlooked. I am personally interested in making a religious orientation a part of the fabric of my life and support others who choose to do the same. So what is a religious orientation to life, anyway?

If you are a reader of books I highly recommend Why Religion Matters by Huston Smith. This is not about going to church on Sunday or whatever other observance you follow or the set of words and names unique to your religion. It is about the significance of the spiritual side of things; how in the current climate in our society the sphere of religion is marginalized to the sidelines in our mass/mad dash to a promise of a scientific and technological future of more, better, and different; and, as he so eloquently makes the case, why religion matters. Read the book.

Then, of course, there’s Jesus. If Henny Youngman

I am not attempting to author the definitive exegesis. Just my own view.

Here it is: Jesus is a Buddhist.

Whoa, Ho, Whoa! Now before you take the heat off Mr. Mel and put it on me, let me s’plain, Lucy. The Buddha saw deeply into things and handed down teachings about the nature of suffering and the possibility for freedom from suffering. (Thank you, Buddha!) The key to this freedom is the practice of detachment, surrender. In that practice we free ourselves from our unnecessary involvements with the illusory nature of the world; most particularly, suffering. Here’s a mind teaser for you: Do we experience suffering, or do we suffer experience? I believe it was The Buddha who put it as, “All is suffering.” My go-to teacher, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, (in I Am That… the last book you will ever read) asserts the latter; indeed, we suffer experience. Read the book.

The message of the cross is the same in this respect, I believe. Only, if Jesus transcended pain and suffering—saw through it—is he the real deal? You get to decide that for yourself. [I pray for you.] Bear your cross lightly. I see his crucifixion as his highest testament: “YES!” Not defeated and resigned to enduring the worst kind of torture. But, seeing through it. Accepting. Yes!

A long time ago at my EST training (yes, I’m one of those) I learned about how, if you fully experience something, it disappears. See for yourself. Don’t just believe it, do it. You’ll see for yourself. Take heart in seeing Jesus as accepting his karma and sacrificing his own personal sense of self to demonstrate the possibility for all. His realization and sacrifice also earned enough grace/merit for humankind in all the three times—past, present, and future—that all’s you got to do is live into his example, follow his advice: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” “Forgive.” “Let it go.” Cause when you let it go, isn’t it gone? I’m not much impressed for overlarge professions of faith and histrionic acceptings of Jesus, as such. Looks good on paper perhaps, but in the work place it’s still dog eat dog. On the highway, too. It’s time to walk the talk, pardner.

I recently attended a talk by a Tibetan Buddhist teacher who suggested that it is beneficial to develop a loving compassion toward oneself and all others. He further said that in order to open one’s heart you have to also open your mind. Now we’re talking real religion. Would Jesus disagree with that advice?

When I was a boy there was a crucifix with a life-sized figure of Jesus staring down at me every day at Mass. I was sincere lad but not a little goody, goody. We were compelled by the good Sisters to attend services daily before school. In fact (a little confession) I myself was the subject of a Sunday sermon on how a boy should not behave. I’ll leave it to your imagination what could possibly have prompted our pastor to use this kid as an example of a bad attitude and how that affected my psyche. Talk about a guilt trip. Where was PeeWee Herman when I needed him…”I know you are, pastor, but what about me?” [I was guilty of speaking my mind a little too freely in front of my elders; Pastor Alexander, in that most memorable instance.] On top of that I used to imagine whether, if I were in Jesus’ shoes (sandals, really), how would I deal with such torture and pain. In short, no way. More guilt. Seeing my own cowardice and weakness in this fantasy only made me feel all the more unworthy.

Now that I’m a committed meditator and have developed a glimpse at detachment myself, I can appreciate Jesus’ sacrifice in a whole new light. Could I/would I walk in his shoes. Still, no way; please, Lord. But I am not, we are not, asked to live in any shoes other than our own. So no good Christian should go on suffering. Nor Buddhist. Jew. Hindu. Muslim. Nor the rest. As for you atheists out there, you’re gonna get yours. Suffering, pain… give it up! Swami Muktananda’s said as much in his book entitled, Getting Rid of What You Haven’t Got.

I’m not here to tell you more on the spiritual life, as such. There are books and teachers enough. Regard this as encouragement to practice whatever path you are on. Further, if you’re not on a spiritual path, what are you on? Medication? Busy figuring out what to put on your next pizza? Racing to be first at the next red light? Tweeting with that world class “winner” Charlie Sheen?

So, just walk your talk. Get some religion. Practice makes perfect. Saying that pain and suffering are illusions may be true. But when you’re a-hurtin’, words-only may not be useful. The trick is to practice, and practice, and practice. And start ASAP. As they say, “Don’t wait until the house is on fire before you start digging the well.’ Grace is real. Take some. All you want. You don’t have to ask your doctor, I promise.

"Be Here Now" in ordinary conversation seems to have become a piece of toss-out jargon, the kind of thing you might want to put on a bumper sticker. I once recommended Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now) to a young fellow I know, and he brushed the subject aside with a "I have that on my book shelf". As the Church Lady says, "Well, isn't that special". The idea my dear young friend is to get it off the bookshelf and etch it on your bones. (I realize that there is some judgementalness in this recollection. If the shoe fits, you'll wear it. And, for the record, I am not concerned whether he or anyone else takes up this practice. It is enough for me to go there.)

But, the Present Moment is the master key. If you take the trouble to do it. Trouble? Well, at first, it may look like trouble. For to be in that Present Moment you have to let go of past things and future concerns. N'est–ce pas? It takes courage to enter the Present Moment. From the perspective of the past and the future it seems unknown and fearful. Just to stress, where else could you be but the Present Moment? The past is over, the future not yet. Free your mind. Let's meet in the middle.

I'm also thinking about how the Cross figures into this conversation. If you are a fundamental type thinker then, of course, the Cross is the wooden device what our Lord was crucified on. There's symbolism there too. Thing in terms of the vertical upright segment, and the horizontal, level one. In Oriental Qi Gung there is the concepts, pre-natal and post natal. Pre-natal refers to the Source of things. Post-natal, already happened things; that is, the created world. The post-natal orientation is the worldly, the mundane; past and future. The pre-natal refers to the Source of things, the creative, the yet to happen, the possible, the transcendent; you find that in the Present Moment, don't you know. The art of living is to find oneself at the intersection of these two directions. That I would say is the heart, the center of balance.

The World is Too Much With Us
by William Wordsworth 

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.--Great God!  I'd rather be
A pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

Let's leave it with Meister Eckhart…”What good is it to me for the Creator to give birth to His Son if I do not also give birth to Him in my time and my culture?”

To Jesus on His Birthday
By Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)

For this your mother sweated in the cold,
For this you bled upon the bitter tree:
A yard of tinsel ribbon bought and sold;
A paper wreath; a day at home for me.
The merry bells ring out, the people kneel;
Up goes the man of God before the crowd;
With voice of honey and with eyes of steel
He drones your humble gospel to the proud.
Nobody listens. Less than the wind that blows
Are all your words to us you died to save.
O Prince of Peace! O Sharon's dewy Rose!
How mute you lie within your vaulted grave.
The stone the angel rolled away with tears
Is back upon your mouth these thousand years


Thank you all. Thank you Mel. Thank you Buddha. Thank you, Jesus. I believe in love. And I believe in forgiveness. I believe in you.

PS What’s this talk about anti-Semitism? (Mel Gibson, and now that most flaming fashionista and j'accused anti-semite, John Galliano) If you said to any half intelligent person that Jesus’ death was instrumental in the redemption of humankind for which we should be deeply grateful, then what should be our logical attitude toward the people who where supposedly also there for that event? [News flash: Pope Benedict the XVI has just recently exonerated the Jews in the matter of Jesus’ death. Finally!] And, to button it up, aren’t we all of us instrumental in crucifying Jesus all over again whenever we fail to love one another?

I am also smilingly remembering Mr. Myron Cohen, a Borsht Belt era entertainer I used to see on the Ed Sullivan show Sunday evenings. He once on network TV confronted his critics who charged him with being anti-Semitic. “Anti-Semitic?” he asked. “Anti-Semitic?” And then, “But, I am Semitic!”

Now that I’m on to the Jews. [Yes, you Jews, I am on to you.] Take the Jews. Please.

No, but really…

What is a Jew, anyway? Isn’t “Yaweh” the name of God in the Hebrew Bible? Let’s break it down… Yaweh… Yaweh-ish… Yaw-ish... Jew-ish. Does anybody else see the connection? I say, that to be a Jew, is to be… god-like. And can’t we all be that? Aren’t we all, that? What’s this about anti-Semitism. So we’re all semitic! Literally, maybe not so much. But, figuratively, quite so. We be all wandering in search of our true home.

Happy trails.

God’s speed.

Try to be a mensch. (And, not a schmuck.)

This old Jewish lady comes back from her doctor check up. She says to her husband, Sammy, who’s engrossed in his newspaper at the kitchen table, “So, Sammy, you vant to know vat the doctor said about my brrreasts?” Sammy, showing the only slightest bit of interest and barely looking away from the paper, says, “Vat!” “The doctor said I have the brrreasts of a sixteen year old!” Now, here was his chance to level his proud bride, “And, vat did he say about your eighty year old ass?” After a small pause (wait for it), this curt come back, “Ve didn’t talk about you!”

Two men drinking together at a bar. One is Chinese, the other Jewish. After a few tilts the Jewish fellow punches the Chinese guy in the jaw, knocking him down. “Hey, what was that for? Huh?” “It was for Pearl Harbor!” “Pearl Harbor? That was the Japanese, not the Chinese!” “Japanese, Chinese… what’s the difference?” That seemed to end it and, after things settled back and a few more tilts, the Chinese man punches his Jewish friend, also knocking him down. “Hey, what the heck was that for?” “That was for the Titanic!” “The Titanic? That was an iceberg!” “Iceberg, Greenberg; what’s the difference.”

A man is walking down the street looking for a shop to have his broken watch repaired. There’s a store with a big clock in the window and he goes in. He says to the proprietor that he is there to have his watch repaired. The proprietor, somewhat perplexed, informs the customer that he is a Mohel, specially trained to officiate at the circumcision rite in the Jewish tradition. The even more perplexed man with the watch says, “But, you have a clock in the window?” The Mohel counters, “What would you put in the window?”

You know how there are things we say to one another that pretty much amount to what’s called “social grease.” How ya doin? What’s Up? How are you? How do you do? [On that last one, Groucho would say, “Well I haven’t had any complaints lately.”] The mot of the moment, Wassup? I am my father’s son and have a thrown urge to see such things as an opening to tell my life story. But, in fact, as you know, it’s just a way to toss something of an acknowledgement out there without any real expectation of a reply any more detailed than the usual fine, thank you. But I like to mix it up a bit. When I am feeling particularly Christian, I respond with that topper of all toppers, I am blessed. If I am feeling really frisky, I’ll add a Praise the Lord and a Thank you, Jesus. Who's the man? When my Jewish gene is dominant, my retort is---think Jackie Mason---Ech, how should I feel?















EXCEPTIONALISM

There's a Problem


No doubt you've heard the term used in this context: "American Exceptionalism". That there refers to the special character of the USA as a uniquely free and democratic nation. Thus, we [obviously!] feel free to assume a leadership role in world affairs. An obligation of our manifest destiny. Though, others may differ. Violently so, it now seems.

Never mind that this credo has been the cover for some pretty, pretty, pretty bad behavior. Blame all around. 

Exceptionalism, I define this way: We're better than you. It's an Us-vs-Them construction. The philosophers will say that as soon as you name something, you invite separation and therefore some form of violence. Conflict. I know that I could be argued down on the literal meaning of the word. But, there is a huge coded connotation in the direction of, "We know better".

True exceptionalists take it a step further and feel permitted to take ... steps. Maybe even obliged to. In the hands of idiots you get, well, the story of civilization. If you don't think you're an idiot yet, then you are in denial of a part of yourself and that part of yourself is coming to bite you on the ass. Chum! Heard of Karma? Nobody exempt.


To clarify on the foregoing: “A man who is unconscious of himself acts in a blind, instinctive way and is in addition fooled by all the illusions that arise when he sees everything that he is not conscious of in himself coming to meet him from outside as projections upon his neighbour.” (Carl Gustav Jung "The Philosophical Tree" (1945). In CW 13: Alchemical Studies. P.335)

Everyone in some sense considers themselves to be exceptional. Why, my children certainly are. Interestingly, though, they don't consider me so. Karma! Even I — can you believe it?! —have been given to consider my particular set of job skills as exceptional. I once described my skill to a prospective client as, "Not bad". She didn't think that was good enough. 

So many world religions consider themselves to be exceptional. So much so, that all manner of idiocy has been — and continues to be — perpetrated on those outside the fold. Zealous missionary converters. Those Bible clutchers knocking at your door. Those adherents to certain faiths who look upon the unanointed as fodder for exploitation. The radical elements of whatever stripe who will subjugate and murder to achieve God's will on Earth. 

We divvy the world up into its many separate components. Mainly for the sake of making things work. It gets problematic when the components begin to believe that separation is real and then take the next step and see themselves as "Exceptional".

Now we have a candidate for high governmental office who boasts himself to be exceptional, and promises on the stack of Bibles which he loves so much that he will take us beyond exceptional, all the way to supremacy. 

Über alles in der Welt!  


TO WHOM THE SHOE FITS ...


Whatever, if any, settled notion(s) you may have about me — or, about yourself — know this is what I have set out to undo. 

My aim is to be a good example. No need for you to agree or understand. You're invited to follow. 

We all live in some framework. Some adjust the framework as new information enters. Others, assiduously attempt to maintain the status quo. Unaware perhaps that the seeming intrusions of different or new inputs may be actually useful. Blessings in disguise.
Few, are self aware to seeing that in fact there is a framework. Nothing wrong with frameworks. Just to know they are provisional, at best. Relative. Made up. False, really, to the core.
______________

— Carl Gustav Jung "The Philosophical Tree

“A man who is unconscious of himself acts in a blind, instinctive way and is in addition fooled by all the illusions that arise when he sees everything that he is not conscious of in himself coming to meet him from outside as projections upon his neighbour.”

________________

I once met one of my heroes, R. D. Laing. This stays with me: In a conversation on how to rid the world of its problems, I said I was going to purify my heart. He said ... that is most anyone can do.
_________________

From Mooji ... Rishikesh March 11, 2016:


There's nothing wrong with anything in the world. There's nothing wrong with having a job, a family. Nothing wrong in themselves. But, if they have become symbols of freedom for you, then you will be disappointed. If they can be enjoyed inside your Freedom, great! Enjoy, but don't say, "This is who I am." There are Powers in the Universe that have a joy that you are here amongst the mass of human beings. There are Great Powers in the Universe that support your Presence Here and your search, if your search is genuine and for deliverance and Truth. All over the world satsang is taking place in various forms. I have to say this to you and those who can hear this, that you will feel resistence, but it is necessary in order to awaken in you the aspiration for Freedom. You have to fight for yourself but I will fight with you, for you, but only if you are willing to fight for yourself, also. If you have even a hint of what awaits you, it is worth it. It is greater than anything in the world and I am not against the world. I enjoy my life also and bless life, but this is for Freedom. There's no real freedom on the planet if it doesn't begin inside your Heart.Otherwise, it will only be theatre, only some play. So, resistence will come but you say, "I am able to hear you." Sometimes a space opens up and you can really hear things deeply so that in your hearing a great space opens up inside, a great peace, a great love that no matter if you tried by human effort, you could not reach this love. And yet, in your recognition of your True Place, it is releasing this Love. Abundant Love and Peace. So, don't apologise for being here. Don't apologise for your existence because it is written for you that your awakening will somehow spread Light in this world. Not everybody has to become a guru. Your very awakening, your recognition is a great healing for so many, beginning with yourself. So, don't be surprised that sometimes you get a mind attack. But, you have every power in you to transcend that. That's the greatness of the game. Whatever mind can bring, greater still is the One who dwells in your Heart. Don't be afraid.

-----------------------------------

THE MUNI OF THE SHAKYA.

"Things are not what they seem;
Nor are they otherwise."

LANKAVATARA SUTRA

Duh ... Media

I'm surprised the media has still not reaped the enmity of the populace as have seemingly the politicians in government and their corporate backers.

This is about the media vis-a-vis the current 2016 election.

For more than a few election cycles now the media, television in particular, has been covering elections like sporting events. Who's winning, and how are they going to win/keep from losing. Now we have a candidate who is canny enough about the zeitgeist to have sussed this out and/or he is enough of a product of that groupthink that his campaign speaks inordinately and unapologetically about how well he's doing. (That would be Mr. Trump, if you haven't guessed.)

Once I saw a great satire of the New York Times slogan. Theirs is, "All the News That's Fit to Print." The snide interpretation, "All the News That Fits."

My criticism is mainly for the broadcast media, television in particular. It seems relative to the take on the NY Times, there we have these news shows with time to fill and audiences to attract. In other words, just how much news is manufactured to fill the time allotted. 

Also, just who is the media beholden to in terms of the choice of items to cover, emphasis, and slant?

Just today I read on the Google News feed the headline that Bernie Sanders, ".. is not going away quietly." Who the heck decided to frame it that he's going away at all. This seems to be part of subtext notion that Hillary Clinton is the foregone Democratic choice. If that is so, who's perpetuating that? The Clinton campaign, I would imagine. And her supporters. 

And, yesterday, a very well known commentator, remarking in a "balanced" way that Sanders' snappy rejoinder to Clinton interrupting him during the last debate was 1) very mild compared to the scenes on the Republican side, and 2) Sanders is probably not being as harsh as he might since he wants to save some face when he supports her in the general election. Very sly — maybe unconscious — messaging framing Hillary as having a lock on the nomination. The news media  is co-opted.

For my money Ms. Clinton is the Pringles of Potato Chips. Reconstituted to meet the expectations of participants in focus groups. Her assertions to trust the wisdom of the American electorate are pure pandering. From my seat, what wisdom is there among the Trump supporters. They may be a lot of things, many good — and Donald  would say, "There's probably some good ones." — but wise just doesn't fit.

As for Mr. Sanders, I believe his main obstacle among Democrats is to overcome or quell the notion that he can't win. Who cooked up that idea. In fact, he can win. All's it's going to take is voter turnout. If you stay home because you think he can't win, then you've bought the media version of the world.

Here's a report on the several stories negative to Bernie Sanders appearing in the Washington Post. 
This Just In ... More Trump

Actually, more than we want.


We've recently been assured by Mr. Donald Trump that his hands are just fine, and there is no problem in that other department. But, we should hold him to the same standard he holds for others.


Pretty ... Pretty ... Pretty ... Pretty ... Good!

Sit quietly for a while, and listen to this ...


A Donald Trump Presidency




Cheesy ... Great!

By now it's pretty well hashed out how Mr. Trump's success in his bid for the Republican Party's nomination for the 2016 Presidential election is, to date — albeit, surprising, even amazing — 
a result of public distrust and disaffection with the political process in general, together with the encroachment of special interests dominating public discourse and policy. 

People are fearful. People are pissed. People feel powerless. And, Mr. Trump is the past master at capitalizing on the lowest subconscious motivators in the prevailing zeitgeist. He's not pissed. He gets even. He's not fearful. He's confident. He's powerful. Just what we need. Yes?

Here's a scenario which we could likely see should he be elected as Commander in Chief. 

A word regarding Democracy in general. Keep in mind, Mr. Trump is a businessman. And, a successful one. At least by his own estimation. Lets' not debate that, though. He certainly can be described as an individual who's will is hardened to getting what he wants, as he seems to project a rare kind of unquestionable certainty of purpose and motivation. 

If you've ever worked for a living, you know that Democracy ends as soon as you enter the work place. The boss rules. Yes, there are legal recourses to abuses. But, in general, your job is pretty much at the pleasure of the boss. You do what you're told. Mr. Trump is a boss. Just wondering how he will adjust to working in a collaborative model, having to sort through differing points of view and opposition to his agenda from many directions.

Maybe, though, he will attempt to adjust the system itself to his style. Remember, the ethos is "to win". And, from my take of it, he seems to be willing to win at any cost. "Scorched Earth" is a useful metaphor as a form of verbal usage, but an actual scorched earth is a whole other thing. 

So here's The Donald in the Oval Office. He wants to do great things for the country. Of course, he's right. He meets opposition within his own administration. Simple. Fire the bastard(s). Dumb! Done! Next? (That, by the way, was a favorite phrase of a one Mr. Robert "Bob" Crandall, former President and Chairman of American Airlines. A legend. Also, a tough SOB.)

Opposition in Congress? No problem. Remember, no matter what the electoral vote, if Trump wins he'll spin it as a mandate. And, the key point will be that business concerning the dissatisfaction with the inaction of the legislature and its beholdingness to special interests. 

In other words, the leverage will be that if you oppose the President, you will be seen as playing politics as usual and at the behest of the lobbyists. It seems people are pretty much fed up with the business of politics as usual. Insert here, public outcry. That may be enough of a stick to bring lawmakers into line. If not, then come the mid-term elections, the folks who voted Mr. Trump into office will vote in some new faces who will see eye-to-eye with the Great Man.

Further — as we got a hint of it during the Bush fils administration — anyone who opposes him could run the risk of being seen as unpatriotic. 

That's one possibility. If so, then we can all sit back and munch our Cheetos and let our Fearless Leader move us over the horizon to our destined greatness. Confident that he's the man for the job ... for no reason more than that he says so. Admittedly, most confidently. 

It's the art of the deal, folks. Who's sold?








Distribution of World Languages


To Whom It May Concern:


You may find yourself at some point in a position of seeing what needs to be done that no one else can see. Or, care about.

Don't be sidetracked by those who lack imagination or inspiration. Or those who may criticize you for doing what they don't understand, agree with, or approve of.

Proceed. Quietly and unseen if that's how it turns out to be. And, at the same time, taking care to respect those others who may disagree and even go so far as to shun you for the path you're following.


INELECTION 2016

Statistics from March 1 Super Tuesday primaries 2016 versus 2008:





More stats:

Super Tuesday March 1, 2016 Voter Statistics (Source: NPR) ...

Republican: +81% 2016 versus 2012

Democrat: -31% 2016 versus 2008 (No Democratic primary 2012)

8.5 million Republicans voted in the 11 GOP Super Tuesday states that reported results. In those same 11 states in 2012, turnout totaled only around 4.7 million.
Among Democrats in the 11 states reporting results for Super Tuesday, turnout totaled only around 5.9 million, 2.6 million fewer people than came out in those states in 2008.

Based on those numbers, and after reading the excellent analysis in Chris Hedges' article linked at the end of this post, I have a few observations based on the current situation in the 2016 Presidential election process. This temperature reading taken just after the March 1, 2016 Super Tuesday results.

First. Voter turnout will be a key factor in presidential election. This seems to be Mr. Donald Trump's ... trump card. Clearly there are a whole lot of people more voting in the early primaries than in the previous two election cycles on the Republican side. The low turnout so far among Democrats should give Mr. Sanders concern since his campaign is predicated on a "revolutionary" voter turnout. 


Second. There is a third party in the making among the electorate. The so called Tea Party was the first glimmerings. But that group seemed to be from among the Republican ranks and about being way far right of the Republican center. The new, yet unnamed, third party appears to be a broader base. It may even cut across both party lines, including particularly those whose fear and loathing has brought them to the polls in record numbers for the first time. If there is in fact a de facto third party brewing, it appears to belong to Donald Trump. Or, to whomever now or in the future reflects his kind of authoritarian posture. By his own boast, he is responsible for bringing a lot of new people to the Republican party. 


Here's my thinking. Traditional Democrats, they vote Democratic. Traditional Republicans, vote Republican. But, then, there's Donald Trump. He may be a nominal Republican, and many of his supporters may also come from somewhere in the former traditional GOP base; but the strong increase in Republican turnout may come from the broad swath of the disaffected, disgusted, and disenfranchised who coalesce around the likes of The Donald. Many of whom heretofore have not factored in the electoral equation. Probably there are some Democrats in there also. I don't believe they owe any allegiance to the traditional two big parties, particularly since those parties have proven themselves to be beholden to special, corporate interests. Exactly what all those Trump voters are fed up with. And, interestingly, what Mr. Trump is campaigning against. The politics of special interests and business as usual.

Trump is the only Republican candidate who — believably — can lay claim to not be touched by any corporate lobby pressure. Bernie Sanders, the same on the Democratic side. Except in Mr. Sanders' case his pitch is more intellectual and heartfelt. Mr. Trump's is from the gut. And, if I'm measuring the temperament of the zeitgeist correctly, that's where the fervor exists. Anger, frustration. Feeling marginalized, tricked, and exploited.

Mr. Sanders can't be too cheered by the low Democrat primary turnout. Particularly since his pitch seems to be predicated on a voter revolution; i.e., voter turnout, and in large numbers. That may happen, but he'll have to persuade a lot of people to tear themselves away from the TV to see that happen. Plus, he has the obstacle that Clinton — and the media — are fostering by framing it like Hillary Clinton has it in the bag and is now the presumed Democrat candidate. Bolstered by the notion that Bernie is not electable. I get it that Hillary would want to say that. But, the media? Also, there's that bugaboo about Sanders being a Socialist. Those same people who are mobilized to support Donald Trump are probably not at all attracted to the term "Socialist". Even though Bernie Sanders has made it clear on that subject. But, as they say, you can't convince anyone whose mind is already made up. 

That's my amateur pundit analysis. Read the article from the noted Chris Hedges and see where I'm getting my take on things. It's must reading. For sure.

There's More ...


"Beyond being almost alarmingly prescient, this theory [The Rise of American Authorianism] speaks to an oft-stated concern about Trump: that what's scariest is not the candidate, but rather the extent and fervor of his support." Read another excellent, informative article.