Reblog: Sit With Me For Awhile — Misifusa’s Blog

Come sit with me for awhile. Right here, dear one, on the bench. Let us enjoy the sunshine on our faces and its glistening sparkles on the water. Look up, see the leaves changing hue. Fall is in the air. I am well dear girl. Looking down on you with joy in my heart. You […]

via Sit With Me For Awhile — Misifusa’s Blog

This is a beautiful message today that spoke to my heart and I felt I should share it.  May be the words will speak to you too.

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9 Oct 2017 In the moment, Poem (California on fire again) and revisiting the past (can be painful!)

9 Oct 2017 – drawing I did today…The Amnesiac’s. I was thinking about how it seems like we keep forgetting things that are important.

Hello to you.  It’s Monday evening as I start to write to you.  How was the day you just lived today?  How are you doing in this moment?  What is everything in your “now?”  For me it’s drinking coffee that is a tad bitter but I’ll keep drinking it because I don’t want to waste it.  Link and Spot are on edge because I was just outside and rang the doorbell like an asshole after walking Kyle out and looking for gecko’s….only found one.  Ever since we put up the new siding…less gecko’s.  May is meowling again about who knows what and it drives me crazy….sounds like a baby crying.  Almost impossible for me to ignore her even if I try.  I am in no physical pain, comfortable temperature and there is an annoying smudge on my glasses again.  I hear the random pinging of raindrops on our metal siding which is a good thing.  I’m grateful for this moment I am in and grateful to have this cyber place in which to express my random “stuff.”  I’m grateful for whoever you are reading this, for your taking a moment from your busy world to visit me.

I have some quiet time to myself so this is going to be long lol.  I’ve finally resolved to myself that brevity is never going to be my thing lol!  If you don’t have time right now, please come back when you can.  There is something for you here. 

Yeah…..so I wrote this little poem today.  It’s not positive, complicated or even very eloquent….just one of those poems that started to come in while I was doing something else and I jotted it down.  Then I saw on the news later that California is burning even more so than normal…..sigh.  (http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/09/us/california-fires/index.htmlFast-moving wildfires kill 10, spur evacuations in Northern California By Ralph Ellis, Joe Sterling, Paul P. Murphy and Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN Updated 7:48 PM ET, Mon October 9, 2017)

9 Oct 2017 – Jackie Wygant poem

I hate you

You hate me

I hate me

So it goes

Through our family tree

Barren seed in fallow soil

A life

Of blood, sweat and toil

Where is the love we once knew?

Is it only ember and ash now

Against the darkening red, white and blue?

It’s weird sometimes the random things that I will pick up and they end up in poems, writings and my art.  Guess that’s the way it’s always worked for me.

Today I found something out about myself.  It’s now not an easy thing for me to look at pictures from the past….just as bad as reading my old journals.

Kyle was sleeping and the internet was off so I decided to take a trip down memory lane and look at some old photos from 2009 when we still lived in Newark DE and some since we’ve been here.  This turned me into a mass of sobbing wet tears.  What happened that really set me off was I saw video I had taken of our kitty Amber when she was still here and our Spot during one of the visits from the squirrel.  The furniture in our house was different.  We still had the pergola which the squirrel has sorely missed since its removal.  We still had our old back fence!  In just a short little video I saw how much time had gone by and all that was changed….missing.

5-march-2015-my-sunbeam-kitty-amber-alvarado-tx

Part of my current resentment at our remaining cat May is May has never loved me like Amber did and she’s still alive and Amber isn’t!  It’s so hard for me to get over that!  Amber was the kind of cat that was more like a dog than a cat in her personality and behavior.  She got that way after we got our cocker spaniel Sam.  She was smart enough to figure out that if she was going to get any time with me she had to become more like a dog.  So she did!  Amber was a big part of my heart.  I used to hold her when she’d come visit me on the toilet and just hold her and start crying I loved her so much.

Yeah…..but I think Amber has found her ways, through perhaps the ashes we spread about the yard, to find her way back to me.  Whether it be a positive or negative insect interaction…..sometimes it seems very personal lol.  Like a fragment of Amber making herself known to me whether it be a fire ant bite or a butterfly randomly flittering through my hair.  Amber isn’t the Amber I knew….she’s much more and that comforts me some.  It’s just when I go back looking for what she was and isn’t anymore that hurts so bad.

What happened to me today reminds me that we must be careful going back for what we have lost.  We can be reminded how much it hurts that we can never get any of it back.  Even if we can get something back from our past,  it can never be exactly as it was.  Kind of like it was for me after joining the military and going home to visit.  I wasn’t the same person even if the people and places I left behind were much the same.  Going backwards on anything can sometimes open wounds that had finally closed.  I am reminded of this today.  Sometimes I go back to things better left in the past.

I don’t want to forget the past ever happened.  I don’t want to forget the people, animals, places and things that made me the me I am now.  I just really had it hit me today looking at those old pictures and videos that I don’t want to emotionally torture myself in my present with facts  and parts of history that are fixed….set….unchangeable.

There will never be another cat exactly like Amber in my life.  There will never be the exact version of any other person, animal, place or thing that I loved after they have left this physical world or been destroyed.  For as long as I live and can retain my memory, they will exist in my mind, heart and even my soul.  Even fragments of their existence, rejoined with the energy God of my understanding, will remain in the air, the water, the food, my sleeping and waking world …but they will never be them again.  They are part of my past and I cannot get them back again!

This was taken during a visit to the San Francisco CA Zoo in *cough* Nov 1987! The note on the wall behind me, “This bench is reserved for primates only” is appropriate lol!

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/William_Beebe – the first time I saw this was when I visited the San Francisco Zoo:

The beauty and genius of a work of art may be reconceived, though its first material expression be destroyed; a vanished harmony may yet again inspire the composer; but when the last individual of a race of living beings breathes no more, another heaven and another earth must pass before such a one can be again.

  • The Bird (1906)

I feel like my little blurp here could be a bit of a cautionary tale of the direction I see us going in this country….in this world.  I see a fading mass of people trying to take those newer on the scene kicking and screaming back to the caves by the hair without Wi-Fi.  Why?  I think, speaking as someone who can be averse to change, because it’s comfortable, it’s safe, it’s familiar, it makes them feel like they have control over something and it means not having to change.  This world is changing so fast!

This is an ironic observation as I live in a world of people who seem to thrive on change and new external stimulation!  Kyle and I notice this especially with video games and how the industry seems to have such a hard time “feeding” gamers with new content.  As soon as new content is released, people eat through it like a bag of chocolate and get pissed and act like addicts going through withdrawal waiting for their next “hit.”

We want change but we want to control the how, where, when, why and what of it happening.   For many, and this is the case for myself, not having any sort of input or control over changes like those coming from our government,  that affect me and those I love,  has left me feeling quite powerless and angry.

I  cannot really get to mad at my parents, teachers and other role models in my life for all the dirty secrets I’ve found out about my country and the world since my growing up years.  I’m finding out from personal experience that history is a contextual thing.  It’s also a matter of perception…your experiences, your background, your family, your education shape your perception of the world and how you live in it.

Depending on where you are in time and what you know at that time, determines how you live in that segment of history.  What was acceptable behavior for white people in the context of history going on during the time of slavery isn’t what should be going on in our current times in the context of modern history….why? Because we know better!  My parents and all the teachers through my life probably didn’t know or realize half the things that have come to light in our current times.  Now we do know what was and is still yet going on.  Are we as a world going to just keep revisiting and repeating the past or finally let go, let God and move the fuck on?!!

I think we have a lot of people in this world who feel powerless in our times.  So they are clinging on to whatever they can to give them some sense of stability…certainty.  Many are choosing to hold on to history, be it positive or negative, to have some sort of certainty, identity, purpose and meaning .  I am living in a country that makes it seem like you have to go on America’s Got Talent or something to be worth a shit…to have value.  If you have ever watched that show, you have seen the lengths people will go to be worth something.  They will nearly kill themselves!  It feels like you have to “be something, someone or connected to something or someone” in order to have any sort of self-esteem.

People are still not being taught how to light their own fire inside.  They are still being taught in every conceivable way that they must seek their value and worth outside of themselves – other people, places and especially things.  It’s a lie perpetuated all the way back to the first real fire I think!

Anyhew….

Kyle and I watched this tonight and I thought John did a really good job on this very sensitive subject in our country – confederate monuments.  I didn’t know that a large majority of monuments in our country that depict Confederate themes were erected decades after the Civil War was over, meant to be the middle finger of sorts towards minorities and many were dedicated by members of the KKK!  I think these statues should be put preserved, as John suggests here.  I think they should definitely be put in museums with background information and historical context provided.  I think destroying the statues would be not much better than what everyone has gotten upset about ISIS doing.  It isn’t a good idea to erase history…especially history we really shouldn’t repeat!  I feel like people should be able to choose to go to a museum and view them versus not having a choice about being subjected to them in sometimes unavoidable public places.

Confederacy: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

 

We can only go forward and through….that’s the only way to survive the callous master that is Time.

 

9 Oct 2017 I see it too Senator Corker (concerned with the president’s volatile behavior and that rhetoric from the White House could set America “on the path to World War III”)

Hello to you.  It’s Monday here again!  This weekend was restful for  Kyle and I and I’m grateful for that.  It was so good to have him home again even if it wasn’t for very long!

I saw in the headlines that things have escalated again with the NFL kneeling issue and now owners like Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys are actually saying they will fire players if they don’t stand for the flag before games: (https://sportsday.dallasnews.com/dallas-cowboys/cowboys/2017/10/08/cowboys-owner-jerry-jones-player-disrespects-flag-allowed-play.)  I guess he finally let President Trump get to him.  I thought he was standing up with and for his players….guess not.

I say, fine, do that.  I get it, professional football is a business.  What I would say to anyone who doesn’t agree with people like Jerry Jones and the President, there is another way you can protest…..don’t choose to play football period.  If you are playing, find something else to do…walk out!  Can you imagine how fucked these people would be if they didn’t have any players?!

If you are considering playing, go to college, learn a trade, become a teacher, become some sort of scientist….do anything but play football.  Protest with your freedom to choose another career.  Use your 1st Amendment right of free speech (while you still have it…sigh) and start booking speaking engagements at public schools and colleges in mass and warn the young men and women who are so desperate to follow in your footsteps for the perceived fame and glory of professional football.  If White Nationalists can book those sort of gigs (https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/uf-white-nationalist-speaking-event-scheduled-for-oct-19/The University of Florida says it has confirmed Oct. 19 for a speaking event featuring white nationalist Richard Spencer) so can you!  Bankrupt the “business!”  Shut down their pipeline of disenfranchised youth who see professional sports as their only way to escape poverty, injustice and crime.  Pool your resources together and make sure young people have other choices.  What are they going to do?  Start drafting people like they did in the 60’s for the military to make people play football?!

I understand what people like Colin Kaepernick and so many other up to recent games have been trying to do.  It is within your power to find another peaceful, meaningful and powerful way to make change in this country!  A way that people like our President and the “owners” like him can’t affect with Twitter.

Speaking of Twitter and our President.  ZOMG!  Why the hell haven’t they blocked him from using it yet?  Why are people still following this guy?! There’s another way to peaceful protest against a narcissistic bully!  What would he do if he woke up one day and found out the only person following him on Twitter was himself and the NSA?!  The reason I’m bringing this up is because of the latest duel he is having with someone from our government, Senator Corker a Republican from Tennessee,  who has decided to stop drinking the koolaide.  This weekend he actually expressed he’s as concerned as I am about what President Trump’s tirades on Twitter are doing to this country and the world.   I wish he and the rest of these fools in the GOP would have heeded the warning signs before we got here as it’s almost too little too late!

Kyle and I suspect that the President might have a Hero complex, that he actually wants World War III so he can be the hero, push the button and “save the world.”

“Syndrome: See now you respect me because I’m a threat. That’s the way it works. Turns out there are a whole lot of people, whole countries that want respect and they will pay through the nose to get it….”

I hope we are wrong, I’m still hoping that “this” that has been going on since January is all some sort of global reverse psychology experiment but I don’t think so.   In my heart of hearts I want to believe Trump, Pence, Sessions and others like them in our Government, not just Republicans either,  aren’t what they seem, that they are actually good people.  Yet day after day,  headline after headline,  Tweet after Tweet….it’s getting harder for my heart to find any good yet in them.  Good people don’t intentionally, very publicly,  bully and attack people, specifically minorities, LGTBQ, immigrants and sovereign countries…pretty much everybody who isn’t them – especially people who don’t do exactly what they want them to.  What I am seeing start to evolve here in the US is a gradual dictatorship.  If you watch, fewer and fewer rational people have the stomach for this administration so they resign if they aren’t fired first.  What does this do?  It leaves a power vacuum to fill and who is going to step up to the growing number of empty spaces?  It doesn’t take too much imagination to figure that out!  If you are a concerned citizen, pay attention to the headlines in and out of our country and do what you can while you can still do it.

https://www.anxiety.org/psychology-of-dictators-power-fear-anxiety

The Psychology of Dictators: Power, Fear, and Anxiety

Mao Zedong addressing a group of Communist Chinese workers
Mao Zedong addresses a group of workers. He survived assassination attempts which may have given rise to anxiety and paranoia.

They see themselves as “very special” people, deserving of admiration and, consequently, have difficulty empathizing with the feelings and needs of others … Not only do dictators commonly show a “pervasive pattern of grandiosity,” they also tend to behave with a vindictiveness often observed in narcissistic personality disorder.


Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong (or Tse-tung), Josef Stalin, Pol Pot – names such as these haunt our cultural imaginations. These men were, by all available accounts, totalitarian dictators, who sought to maintain complete control over their respective governments and populations through radical methods, including the systematic murder and imprisonment of all who stood against them1-4. In some cases, the terror they wielded helped them maintain power for years and emblazoned their names into our history books forever. Each of the names listed above is responsible for more than a million deaths, and even those citizens who were fortunate to have survived their reign lived in persistent fear of death, forced labor, or torture.

Dictatorial leaders such as these represent the extreme potential of the human capacity for evil, and yet, despite their apparent omnipotence within their individual spheres of power, these individuals also tended to suffer from excessive anxiety – mostly regarding paranoid fears of citizen uprising and/or assassination. For example:

    • Saddam Hussein displayed a level of paranoia so great that he had multiple meals prepared for him across the Iraqi land each day to ensure that no one knew where he was eating. He even went as far as to employ surgically altered body doubles5.
    • Kim Jong-il, the former leader of North Korea and the father of current leader Kim Jong-un, exhibited such an excessive fear of assassination while flying that he exclusively traveled via an armor-plated train6, including when he traveled as far as Moscow7.
    • Than Shwe, a Burmese dictator, was so concerned about the tenuous nature of his rule that he once moved the capital of Burma to a remote location in the jungle without running water or electricity; an extreme tactic that was spurred on by the advice of his personal astrologer8.

Power and Fear

In each of these dictatorial examples, men who sought to rule with an iron fist appeared to also behave in a manner driven by a hidden, extreme, and sometimes irrational fear of what fate might befall them.

This behavior does not seem to align with what we know of dictators. Not only do such individuals wield far-reaching, real-world power, a large number of these individuals also maintained a cultural and political environment that fed grand delusions regarding their self-importance. For instance, Saddam Hussein thought of himself as the savior of the Iraqi people5. Muammar Gaddafi once had himself crowned the “King of Kings” of Africa9, and the North Korean Kim line of succession proclaimed themselves to be almost god-like10. Why would individuals who are so confident in their power have such severe anxiety?

One explanation is that many of these individuals were actually under constant threat of assassination. For instance, a former bodyguard to Fidel Castro said that he was aware of 638 separate attempts made on the leader’s life, some of which were orchestrated by the CIA8. Mao Zedong survived an assassination attempt, plotted by high ranking officers within his own military11, and Saddam Hussein’s own sons-in-law once attempted to kill his eldest son5. With such real and present threats, even from trusted allies, some sense of paranoia might be warranted.

Given the extremity of many dictators’ fears, though, further explanation is warranted. An additional explanation of their behavioral patterns might be rooted in their individual personalities. Colloquially speaking, people often use “personality” as a synonym of how interesting a person appears to be in the eyes of onlookers, both within and from outside their respective sphere of influence. For instance, we might say that a loud comedian has “a lot of personality,” whereas we might describe someone we view as boring and quiet as “lacking personality12.” In the psychological literature, though, personality is defined as the “enduring patterns of thinking and behavior that define the person and distinguish him or her from other people13.” In other words, your personality is what makes you distinct from those around you. In studying personality, psychologists can examine common traits across people and note how these traits may interact to predict behavior. In so doing, researchers can develop a better understanding of why people behave the way they do over the course of many years.

Narcissism Is A Consistent Trait

With regard to dictators, one particular trait that consistently stands out as relevant is narcissism. Narcissistic individuals have a “greatly exaggerated sense of their own importance” and are “preoccupied with their own achievements and abilities13.” They see themselves as “very special” people, deserving of admiration and, consequently, have difficulty empathizing with the feelings and needs of others.

When narcissism becomes extreme to the point that it:

    • interferes with daily life
    • appears to be unusual as compared to others within a society, or
    • permeates multiple areas of an individual’s life …

… that individual may be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, which is defined by a:

    • “pervasive pattern of grandiosity”
    • “need for admiration” and
    • “lack of empathy14.”

These individuals are “preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success” and “power.” They believe they are unique and can only be associated with others of equally high status. Furthermore, they require excessive admiration to remain happy, possess an extreme sense of entitlement, exploit others, and are often envious of others.

Vindictiveness Is Common

Descriptions of narcissistic personality disorder seem reminiscent of what we know of dictators. Not only do dictators commonly show a “pervasive pattern of grandiosity,” they also tend to behave with a vindictiveness often observed in narcissistic personality disorder. For instance, in now famous psychological experiments, researchers found that highly narcissistic individuals were more likely to try to punish those individuals who negatively evaluated their work, even when the narcissistic person believed they were administering painful electric shocks15-16. More recent work shows that, after a negative evaluation, narcissistic people will demonstrate greater aggression even to individuals unrelated to the feedback17. Such experiments can help us understand the aggressive behavior of dictators, who are known to lash out against negative evaluations18.

Surprisingly, narcissism could also help explain the anxious behavior displayed by dictators. Researchers have identified two forms of narcissism: grandiose narcissism and vulnerable narcissism19. Though grandiose narcissism is associated with all that you might expect from a narcissist (e.g., grandiosity and aggression), vulnerable narcissism is associated with an “insecure grandiosity,” which seems to produce intense defensiveness and feelings of inadequacy20. Such individuals are often described as being “worrying, emotional, defensive, anxious, bitter, tense, and complaining19“.

These components can be so extreme that narcissistic personality disorder can be misdiagnosed as borderline personality disorder, which is associated with high levels of anxiety14. The intensity of the emotional experiences produced by narcissism in combination with actual dangers could produce remarkable levels of anxiety, worry, and uncertainty – to the point that one might actually consider moving their entire capital to the middle of a jungle based on the advice of an astrologer8.

Predicting Future Dictators

Given that the majority of dictators seem to be incredibly narcissistic, could we possibly use that fact to predict individuals who are likely to become dictators? That is, if we know the prominent people in an unstable country, could we predict which of those people are likely to try force their way into power and try to stop them? This question is difficult to answer. First, not all dictators come to power in a similar manner or under similar circumstances. For example, Hitler came to power after an intense propaganda campaign and copious amounts of intimidation and violence on the part of the Nazi Party21. Mao Zedong became dictator after serving as a successful military leader throughout a long civil war22. Saddam Hussein climbed his way through the Iraqi political system for years until he was able to strong arm his way into power23. Finally, Kim Jong-un, who by available accounts, was raised in an extremely privileged, “Western” childhood24 also went on to exhibit the traits of a dictator.

Moreover, researchers remain uncertain as to why narcissistic personality disorder and narcissistic behaviors emerge. We know that the majority of individuals diagnosed with the disorder are male14, and researchers speculate that certain genetic factors and parenting styles may increase the chance that someone develops the disorder. However, further research is necessary to understand whether these factors cause narcissistic personality disorder.

Combined, these factors make it incredibly difficult to predict which leaders will embody dictatorial tendencies. We simply do not fully understand the contributions of cultural, environmental, or political influences that facilitate the rise of a dictator. However, that does not mean that research into these issues is a fruitless endeavor. By better understanding the sociopolitical contexts that allow dictators to attain and maintain power and further investigating the role of personality, we may one day be able to proactively identify and attenuate dictatorial leadership prior to the emergence of their often horrific actions. In so doing, there would be the potential to save countless lives and stem the tide of years of oppression in many countries.

4211

Date of original publication: August 01, 2016
Updated on: January 12, 2017

 

9 Oct 2017 – drawing I did last night before bed, I labeled Watcher. Which ironically looks a bit like Mr. Incredible with long hair! It’s funny how I get clues as to where to go for these blogs.

 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bob-corker-trump-world-war-iii_us_59dad12de4b0f6eed3513cf8
POLITICS

10/08/2017 10:13 pm ET

GOP Sen. Bob Corker Says Trump’s Volatility Could Spark ‘World War III’

“He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation.”

Joshua Roberts / Reuters

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker (R) blasted President Donald Trump in a scathing interview with The New York Times on Sunday, saying the “vast majority” of congressional Republicans were concerned with the president’s volatile behavior and that rhetoric from the White House could set America “on the path to World War III.”

During the interview ― an unprecedented assessment of the head of the senator’s own party ― Corker said Trump concerns him and that the president’s proclivity for Twitter tirades had “hurt” the country during times of negotiation.

“I know he has hurt, in several instances, he’s hurt us as it relates to negotiations that were underway by tweeting things out,” Corker said, adding that “everyone knows” the “president tweets out things that are not true.”

“Look, except for a few people, the vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here,” Corker continued. “Of course they understand the volatility that we’re dealing with and the tremendous amount of work that it takes by people around him to keep him in the middle of the road.”

Corker, a powerful and respected Republican, was an early supporter of Trump during the 2016 campaign but has since become one of his most outspoken critics in the Senate. He lambasted Trump over his response to protests by white supremacists in August and has been critical of the president’s foreign policy decisions.

Corker continued such condemnation on Sunday when he said the president was running the White House like “a reality show.”

“He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation,” he told the Times.

Trump launched his own Twitter crusade against the senator earlier on Sunday, saying Corker “begged” the president to endorse him for re-election. Corker announced his impending retirement from Congress in September.

“He also wanted to be Secretary of State, I said ‘NO THANKS,’ Trump tweeted, before continuing: “He is also largely responsible for the horrendous Iran Deal!”

Corker fired back an hour later, saying it was “a shame the White House has become an adult day care center.”

Finally, this speech is very timely and resonant to what I’m watching happen in Washington right now…..I really think it’s almost too little, too late folks!  Where was your conscience, misgivings, doubt and resistance before now?! 

Obama blasts GOP for creating Trump & running away at last minute in Columbus speech

http://time.com/4531245/barack-obama-swamp-crazy-speech-transcript/ – – if you use the link, which I recommend, there is video from the actual speech

Politics

“This is in the swamp of crazy that has been fed over and over and over and over again,” he said. “Look, I—and there’s sort of a spectrum, right—it’s a whole kind of ecosystem. And look, if I watched Fox News I wouldn’t vote for me.”

Read a complete transcript below.

OBAMA: Hello, Ohio! (Applause.) Hello, Democrats! (Applause.) O-H!

AUDIENCE: I-O!

OBAMA: O-H!

AUDIENCE: I-O!

OBAMA: O-H!

AUDIENCE: I-O!

OBAMA: Oh, it is good to see you all! (Applause.) Thank you. I’m just warming you up. (Laughter.) Because I know the Buckeyes have a big showdown at Wisconsin on Saturday night. (Applause.)

Thank you so much, everybody. Please have a seat. I’m going to talk to you for a while, now. (Laughter.) Tonight, we’re here to talk about the showdown that’s happening right here in Ohio over the next few weeks. (Applause.) And, of course, it would not be an Ohio Democratic Party State Dinner without your former governor and your next United States senator, Ted Strickland. (Applause.) Love this man. Your current Senator, who is fighting for you every single day, Sherrod Brown. (Applause.) A couple of your outstanding members of Congress, Joyce Beatty and Tim Ryan. (Applause.)

I know the Ohio Democratic Party has been preparing for this election. You know a strong party depends on great public servants being elected at the local level, and the school boards, and the city councils and the mayor’s office. And your field operation has helped us win important races from Akron to Toledo, Chillicothe to Warren. And through the spring, even as we Democrats had a hard-fought primary, you kept signing up thousands of volunteers, registering thousands of voters, organizing on campuses all across the state. You were already looking to the fall campaign. So we are going to benefit bigtime from the infrastructure that you’ve already got in place.

So I just want to say thank you for giving us the edge that we need. Thanks for organizing. Thanks for mobilizing. Thanks for not getting tired. Thanks for still being fired up and still being ready to go. (Applause.) Because right now is when the fruits of all that labor are going to start paying off. It is game time. Kickoff was yesterday. Early voting started yesterday. (Applause.) The game does not start on November 8th, the game ends on November 8th.

So, everybody here, enjoy your dinner. (Laughter.) Everybody looks cute. (Laughter.) But tomorrow, you got to put on those walking shoes. You got to start making those calls and knocking on doors, getting everybody out to vote early. That’s how we won in 2008. That’s how we’re going to win in 2016. (Applause.)

Because, let’s face it, let’s face it, Ohio is always close. I don’t know what it is about you guys. (Laughter.) Just making me stress. I’ve always got to watch the TV — what’s going to happen in Ohio? (Laughter.) I mean, I pretty much parked here in the final days of both of my campaigns. In 2008, I was here in Columbus two days before Election Day. In 2012, I was here the day before Election Day. And it makes me think about how far we’ve come together — not just the fact that I had no gray hair in those pictures. (Laughter.) Think about the road we’ve traveled. Together, we fought our way back from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Our businesses have now turned job losses into 15 million new jobs. (Applause.) We turned around an auto industry that Ohio communities depend on, and our automakers are making the best cars in the world and they are selling more than ever, thanks to outstanding UAW workers who take great pride in what they do. (Applause.)

We slashed our dependence on foreign oil. Folks don’t even notice gas prices being cheap anymore. We more than doubled our production of renewable energy. We’ve got incomes rising again — rose faster last year than any time on record. All demographic groups. Poverty fell last year by the largest amount since 1968 — since I was seven years old. (Applause.) The uninsured rate is at an all-time low — 20 million people have health insurance that didn’t have it before, including folks right here in the great state of Ohio. (Applause.)

We brought more of our brave troops home to their families. We delivered justice to bin Laden. (Applause.) And in today’s America, wherever you live, you can marry whoever you love. (Applause.)

We’ve been busy. (Laughter.) We brought about change that’s made a difference in the lives of people all across this country. There’s almost no economic measure by which we are not substantially better off today than we were when I came into office. (Applause.)

That’s what the hard work and the determination of the American people can do. That’s what strong, principled Democratic leadership can do. (Applause.) That’s what a President who has your back and is listening to you and cares about you can do. (Applause.) And that’s what great members of Congress and a Democratic majority in Congress can do. And that’s why we’ve got to elect Hillary Clinton as the next President of the United States. (Applause.) That’s why we’ve got to elect Ted Strickland to be the next great senator from Ohio. (Applause.)

I will not be on the ballot, but everything we’ve done is going to be on the ballot. (Audience interruption.) Oh, lord, what’s going on now? Who’s hollering? I can’t even see you. Well, it’s great to see you, but I’ve got all these folks I’ve got to talk to. (Laughter.) Maybe you can get me a note. Write me a letter, all right? (Interruption continues.) Okay, I got you. Okay, thank you. (Laughter.) I can’t hear you that well. I promise you this will go better if you talk to one of my staff up there. I got you, okay. All right. Thank you. (Interruption continues.) Okay, I’ve heard you. Let me now talk to everybody else. Thank you. I love you. All right. Thank you. (Applause.)

Thank you. Thank you. I mean, I’m getting old so I can’t hear that well, I can’t see that good. (Laughter.) (Interruption continues.) I got you. (Laughter.)

Where was I? (Applause.) So, look, I’m not going to be on the ballot, but all the progress that we’ve made, all that stuff goes out the window if we don’t work as hard as we can to win this election. And I’ve seen what hard work looks like here in Ohio. (Applause.) I’ve seen it. I’ve benefited from it. I got elected by it. And now Hillary and Ted and every Democrat up and down the ballot has got to do the same.

I know that folks say this every four years, but this time it’s really true — (laughter) — I cannot think of a more important election in our lifetimes. (Applause.) Because the choice between candidates has never been this stark.

And it’s a choice between somebody who is as qualified as has ever been to run for this office — somebody who’s, over and over, proven that they know how to lead and how to work and understand the issues that working families are facing — that’s on the one hand. And then on the other hand, you’ve got somebody who, each and every day, every time he talks proves himself unfit and unqualified for this office. (Applause.)

And I don’t need to spend a huge amount of time selling this crowd on Hillary. If you want to hear the best case for Hillary Clinton, if you want to hear the very real stakes in this election, I would advise you to link up to Michelle’s speech from earlier today in New Hampshire. (Applause.) She was pretty good. I mean, she — that’s why you get married, to improve your gene pool. (Laughter.) So your kids end up being superior to you. (Applause.)

So I don’t need to sell you on Hillary. And I don’t need to sell you on Ted. You guys know her, know him, have seen the track record that they have put together. But I’m going to go ahead and say some nice things about Ted anyway because he’s here. (Applause.)

You know, I could not be prouder to call Ted a friend. He was a great Congressman for the people of southeast Ohio. (Applause.) He was a great governor for everybody in Ohio. He was a great campaign co-chair for me in 2012. (Applause.) And there’s a reason that Ted has always put working families first — because in those families he sees his own family. He knows what it’s like to struggle. He knows their hopes and their dreams.

He’s the son of a steelworker. He’s the first in his family to go to college. He’s a minister who doesn’t just talk the talk, but lives out his faith, and a public servant who puts his values into action. (Applause.)

So when he was in Congress, he fought to pass the Children’s Health Insurance Program — working alongside Hillary — something that still helps millions of children today. As governor, he froze public college tuition and made it free for Ohio veterans, which helped more young people succeed. (Applause.) And even though he took office as your governor about a year before the recession hit, by the time he left, Ohio was the fifth-fastest growing economy in America. (Applause.)

Ted delivered, and when it mattered most, he had your back. So on issue after issue, Ohio voters have a clear choice in this election — between somebody who sides with Ohio’s working families, and somebody who sides with the special interests who want to block all of our progress.

So if you care about workers’ rights, then the choice is pretty clear. Ted believes we should protect overtime pay so folks get paid what they’ve earned, that workers should have the right to bargain for better pay and better benefits. (Applause.) His opponent helped strip overtime from six million workers, backed a bill that would make it harder for workers to organize.

If you care about higher wages, the choice should be pretty simple. Ted believes that, in 2016, women should get equal pay for equal work. (Applause.) His opponent has voted against equal pay five times. When it comes to the minimum wage, in 2015 I told members of Congress if they truly believed they could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, they should try it. And if not, they should vote to give America a raise.

Ted actually tried it for a full week. He actually did it — walked in a minimum wage worker’s shoes. Understood how hard it was. Understood the reality of a single mom who’s working full-time and, at the end of the day, still doesn’t have enough to keep a roof over her child’s head or make sure that they get a good meal. That’s why Ted keeps fighting to raise the minimum wage. And his opponent has voted against it again and again and again. So that’s the choice in this election.

If you care about keeping our cops and our kids safe, you’ve got a choice. Ted Strickland supports common-sense gun safety measures like background checks, keeping assault weapons out of the hands of terrorists. (Applause.) Shouldn’t be controversial. His opponent blocked background checks and opposed a bill to stop people on the terror watch list from buying a gun. That’s why, as of last month, the NRA has spent more money against Ted Strickland than on all the other House and Senate races combined. Think about that.

If you care about our justice system and our most fundamental rights, then you’ve got a choice. Ted thinks we should have a full Supreme Court. (Applause.) That didn’t used to be a controversial position. Apparently, it is now. His opponent has helped to deny a simple yes-or-no vote to somebody who almost everybody agrees may be the most highly qualified nominee in history. Why? Does he think President Trump should fill the seat with somebody instead?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: No!

OBAMA: Does he have confidence that that would go well? (Laughter.) Which brings me to another fairly substantial difference. Unlike his opponent, Ted Strickland has never supported Donald Trump. (Applause.) Hadn’t done it.

Now, I understand that Ted’s opponent has finally withdrawn his support from Donald Trump — after looking at the polling, now that it’s politically expedient. But he supported him up until last week. So I guess it was okay when Trump was attacking minorities, and suggesting that Mexicans were rapists and Muslims were unpatriotic, and insulting Gold Star moms, and making fun of disabled Americans. I guess that didn’t quite tip it over the edge. (Laughter.) Why was that okay?

And now he says he’ll vote for the vice presidential nominee instead — except that guy still supports Donald Trump. Does anybody really think that Ted’s opponent is going to be a check on a Trump presidency? Are we really going to risk giving Donald Trump the congressional majority he’d need to roll back all the progress that we’ve made over the past eight years?

AUDIENCE: Nooo…

OBAMA: Look, we know that most Republicans don’t think the way Donald Trump does. Even in a banquet like this, full of hard-core Democrats. (Applause.) We have Republican friends, we’ve got Republican neighbors — at the Little League game, soccer game. At the parent-teachers conference, we meet them. Some great people. We don’t even think that most Republican politicians actually really believe that Donald Trump is qualified to be President. (Laughter.) I know because they — I talk to them. (Laughter.) They’re all like, man, this is really bad. (Laughter.) We’re just trying to get through this. (Laughter.)

But so the problem is not that all Republicans think the way this guy does. The problem is, is that they’ve been riding this tiger for a long time. They’ve been feeding their base all kinds of crazy for years — (applause) — primarily for political expedience. So if Trump was running around saying I wasn’t born here, they were okay with that as long as it helped them with votes. If some of these folks on talk radio started talking about how I was the anti-Christ, you know, it’s just politics. (Laughter.) You think I’m joking. (Laughter.)

If somebody completely denies climate change, or is filled up with all kinds of conspiracy theories about how me and Hillary started ISIL, or that we were plotting to declare martial law and take away everybody’s guns.

We did a military exercise — the Pentagon does these periodically in Texas, and suddenly all the folks in Texas were all like, they’re going to take over right now! (Laughter.) I’m serious. And then the senator down there said, yeah, we better look into that. (Laughter.) And the governor says, well, I don’t know. What do you mean you don’t know? (Laughter.) What does that mean? (Applause.) Really? You think that like the entire Pentagon said, oh, really, you want to declare martial law and take over Texas? Let’s do it under the guise of routine training missions — (laughter) — and everybody is going to be — but they took it seriously.

This is in the swamp of crazy that has been fed over and over and over and over again. (Applause.) Look, I — and there’s sort of a spectrum, right — it’s a whole kind of ecosystem. And look, if I watched Fox News I wouldn’t vote for me. (Laughter.) I understand. If I was listening to Rush Limbaugh, I’d say, man, that’s terrible. (Laughter.) Fortunately, I have more diverse sources of information. (Applause.)

And I want to make a serious point here — because I’m really not exaggerating. Everything I’m saying are actual things that have been said and that people — a fairly sizable number of people in the Republican primaries believe. And the people who knew better didn’t say anything. They didn’t say, well, you know what, I disagree with his economic policies, but that goes too far. They didn’t say, well, I’m not sure if his foreign policy is the right one for America, but we can’t allow our politics to descend into the gutter.

People like Ted’s opponent — they stood by while this happened. And Donald Trump, as he’s prone to do, he didn’t build the building himself, but he just slapped his name on it and took credit for it. (Applause.)

And that’s what’s happened in their party. All that bile, all the exaggeration, all the stuff that was not grounded in fact just kind of bubbled up, started surfacing. They know better, a lot of these folks who ran, and they didn’t say anything. And so they don’t get credit for, at the very last minute, when finally the guy that they nominated and they endorsed and they supported is caught on tape saying things that no decent person would even think, much less say, much less brag about, much less laugh about or joke about, much less act on — (applause) — you can’t wait until that finally happens and then say, oh, that’s too much, that’s enough. (Applause.) And think that somehow you are showing any kind of leadership and deserve to be elected to the United States Senate. (Applause.)

You don’t get points for that. (Applause.) In fact, I’m more forgiving of the people who actually believe it than the people who know better and stood silently by, out of political expediency, because it was politically convenient. (Applause.)

And if your only organizing principle has been to block progress and block what we’ve tried to do to help the American people every step of the way, so you’re not even consistent anymore — you claim the mantle of the party of family values, and this is the guy you nominate? (Applause.) And stand by, and endorse, and campaign with until, finally, at the 11th hour you withdraw your nomination? You don’t get credit for that. (Applause.)

You’re the party that is tough on foreign policy and opposes Russia — and then you nominate this guy, whose role model is Vladimir Putin, the former head of the KGB? (Applause.) I’m sorry, what happened? (Laughter.) It’s disappointing. It really is. Because, yes, I’m a Democrat, but I’m an American first. (Applause.) And I actually believe in a strong two-party system. And I think that the marketplace of ideas should have a reasonable, common-sense Republican Party debating a reasonable, common-sense Democratic Party. But that is not what we have right now.

And the reason is because people like Ted’s opponent who know better have stood silently by. They’ve been trying to block everything we’ve tried to do to help working folks for years now. Even here in the state of Ohio, they opposed us trying to save the auto industry upon which hundreds of thousands of jobs depend. And then when it works out pretty good you’re taking credit for it. Man, look at this economy, it’s gone great. (Laughter.) Yeah. (Laughter.) But you sure didn’t help. (Laughter.) It wasn’t because of your policies. That’s not why Ohio grew. That’s not why folks got back to work. (Applause.)

So the point is, if your only agenda is either negative — negative is a euphemism — crazy — (laughter) — based on lies, based on hoaxes, this is the nominee you get. You make him possible.

Now they’re shocked. It’s like remember that movie, Casablanca — the guy walks in, shocked that there’s gambling in this establishment. (Laughter.) Young people may not understand that reference. Go back, watch “Casablanca.” Great movie. Humphrey Bogart. (Laughter.)

So Donald Trump may make most Republican politicians look a little bit better by comparison — I mean, it’s like the bar has gotten so low. But these are the same Republicans who tried to block us from rescuing the economy; did not offer a single vote when it came to the recovery package that made sure that we started growing again, long before any other advanced economy did. Same folks who didn’t vote for the auto industry assistance that resulted now in record- breaking auto sales. The same folks who tried to take away folks’ health insurance every chance they get; who refuse to allow votes on giving minimum wage workers a raise; refuse to support making sure women earn equal pay for equal work. How hard a concept is that? (Applause.) Why would you want your daughter to get paid 80 cents for doing the same job that somebody else’s son is getting a buck to do? That doesn’t make any sense. (Applause.)

So don’t act like this started with Donald Trump. He did take it to a whole new level. I got to give him credit. But he didn’t come out of nowhere.

And that’s why we’ve got to win this election at every level. That’s where you come in, Democrats. That’s where your work will make a difference. That’s where all the volunteer recruitment, and the voter registration, and the campus organizing comes into play. Because when Democrats have everybody on the field, we can’t lose. And the other side knows that. That’s why they’re always trying to make it harder for folks to vote. (Applause.)

Which, by the way, that’s a big difference between our parties. We’re the only advanced democracy that has one party’s central principle being let’s make it harder to vote. It doesn’t happen other places.

We don’t think more voices participating in our democracy makes us weaker. Just like we don’t try to divide people by race or faith or orientation or gender. (Applause.) We believe we’re stronger together, not divided. (Applause.) And if we keep speaking to Americans’ hopes over their fears, and if we inspire them rather than divide them, if we have concrete plans to respond to the very real challenges that folks face with the same sense of urgency and compassion and empathy that we feel in our own families and our own communities — if we care about every kid the same way we want this country to care about our kids, then we’ll win in November.

I know that at times this has been a deeply dispiriting election year. And as I think back to 2008, or even 2012, and the sense of energy and hope that we felt, and I think about all the incredible work that we’ve done and the promises that we’ve delivered on, sometimes you wonder, how did we get to the point where we have such rancor. And there are a lot of theories about it. People have real struggles in pockets of this country. Change is happening fast, sometimes faster than we feel like we can absorb. There’s a constant stream of information coming at us, and so much of what attracts attention is the bad news instead of all the incredible things that are taking place in every corner of this great land.

But some of it I think really does just have to do with the fact that what’s best in us has all too often stood on the sidelines, and hasn’t been heard, and has left the field to some of our worst impulses.

So I want all of you to understand, when I reflect back on these eight years, and I think about all the places I’ve been — all 50 states — towns and hamlets and big cities, suburbs and metropolises, and met people from all walks of life, on the factory floor, in classrooms — there’s so much goodness in this country. There’s so much decency in this country.

(Applause.)

There’s so much hard work going on in this country. There’s so much ingenuity going on in this country. There’s so much optimism in people’s day-to-day lives, and so much resilience. And we’ve just got to give expression to that.

We have to reflect our best selves. And that means even during political campaigns. We’ve got to show our kids the values that we want to pass on to them.

And you know what, the Democratic Party is not perfect. I can say that even at a Democratic Party dinner. (Laughter.) We have our own blind spots, and we have our own disagreements. We have interest groups that oftentimes are understandably thinking about their narrow slice of the issue. And sometimes we contribute to sort of the lack of civility in our politics. We don’t always check ourselves. There are times where we’re not consistent in what we expect from our own leadership versus others; times where we ignore inconvenient truths ourselves.

But what I’m really proud about, what I continue to fundamentally believe is that, at it’s core, the Democratic Party believes that everybody counts. (Applause.) The Democratic Party believes in ordinary working people being able, if they’re working hard, to get ahead. The Democratic Party believes that we got to leave a country and a planet that’s better than the one we inherited for the next generation. (Applause.) The Democratic Party believes that everybody has dignity, and everybody has respect, and everybody is worthy of consideration. And the Democratic Party believes that we’re all in this together. (Applause.)

And that’s what we have to show for the next little less than 30 days. That’s what we have to fight for. This isn’t just about winning elections. It’s also about affirming this democracy and affirming the basic idea that people who love their country can change it. That the most important office in this country is the office of citizen. (Applause.) That ordinary people, when they get together, can transform this nation and can solve any problem, and can overcome any obstacle, and can heal any division.

If you believe that, if you don’t just go through the motions this time, but if you really dig deep and think about what’s best in us, and what are we fighting for and how do we give expression to that — if you believe that, I guarantee you we will not just elect Ted Strickland as the next senator from Ohio; we will not just elect Hillary Clinton to be the next President of the United States — but we will secure a brighter future for the greatest nation on Earth. (Applause.)

And I’m going to be right there with you as a citizen of these United States. (Applause.) I will work hard, and I’m going to organize, I’m going to mobilize, and I’m going to make some phone calls and I’m going to knock on some doors! (Applause.) And I want you along there with me. Because we got to keep this thing going. Because the journey is not done yet. (Applause.) Because I’m still fired up and I’m still ready to go! (Applause.)

Thank you, Ohio! (Applause.) God bless you. God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

3 Oct 2017 It was a freaky Monday

Hello to you.  It’s 5:20 am on Tuesday morning as I start to write to you.  We found out musician Tom Petty is dead….RIP Tom!

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/10/03/555157788/rock-star-tom-petty-dead-at-66 (excerpt)

“Rock star Tom Petty has died, his manager Tony Dimitriades announced Monday. He was found in critical condition at his home in Malibu, Calif., Sunday night after suffering full cardiac arrest, as first reported by the website TMZ. Petty was taken to UCLA Santa Monica Hospital, where he died on Monday at 11:40 p.m. ET. Petty was a widely lauded songwriter, singer, multi-instrumentalist and record producer. He was 66 years old.”

Yesterday was like one of the weirdest and most horrible days ever.  It started out with Kyle trying to fix his wedding band on my ring sizer and snapping it in half.  Then in a case of creepy foreshadowing to the shooting in Vegas,  the singer Marilyn Manson was attacked by two gun props on stage and hurt bad enough he had to cancel some shows.  Then we found out about the shooting in Vegas.  Then later in the evening I was going to check our mail and I heard this popping and cracking noise like fireworks behind me.  I turned around and was pissed at first that people would be lighting off fireworks and then as Kyle drove into the driveway, our neighbors tree decided to just drop about half of itself on their front lawn!  ZOMG!!!  WTF?!!!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2017/10/01/marilyn-manson-tour-on-hold-after-giant-gun-prop-topples-on-him-during-show/?utm_term=.bd39c821074b (excerpt, actual article has video clip of what happened)

Marilyn Manson tour on hold after giant gun prop topples on him during show

Numerous videos taken by audience members showed the prop falling on the shock rocker as he was performing “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” his cover of the Eurythmics’ 1983 hit, partway through his concert at the historic Manhattan music venue.

As Manson finished a verse, he appeared to turn to face a tall scaffolding — with two oversize props shaped like guns attached to it — at the back of the stage. Soon, the entire structure began tipping over onto Manson, who tried to shield himself with his right hand.

Source internet: Prop at Marilyn Manson concert that fell on him

Understandably, with all this crazy going on I didn’t sleep very well again.  I think our boy Link was trying to gas me in my sleep  as I kept smelling shit…his nickname is “Stinky Linky” and he sure lives up to it by goodness!  Anyhew….the snippet of a dream I remember was very strange.  I was with a man who took a knife and shattered a diamond into thousands of pieces that fell all over the floor.  I exclaimed to him, “You ruined my diamond!” then I got on the floor like when I’m doing beadwork and a bead gets away from me, and  tried to pick up all of the pieces but some were too small.  Just before the dream ended I caught a glimpse of a man holding his hand over a covered drink on a table.   Not sure what the symbolism is for this one!  May be this is my mind working through my thoughts about God being in the pixils…..the tiny pieces that make everything solid in our reality?  Hard to say.   Yesterday was just messed up on so many levels for me.

There is more information, but not much coming forth about the Las Vegas shooting.  Sadly and predictably,  our government is going to do what it has done every other time a shooting like this has happened, especially a GOP run one, they aren’t going to do shit.  The NRA and gun lobby is just that powerful I guess?!  Or is it just a case of saying “fuck it!!!”  I agree there are no easy answers with a country literally awash with guns and the blood of innocent people they are being used on.  At least make modifications like were made to some of Mr. Paddock’s guns (bump stocks in particular) completely illegal:

http://www.newser.com/story/249492/police-las-vegas-shooter-had-42-guns-in-hotel-home.html

(Newser) – Police investigating America’s deadliest mass shooting say they have found a total of 42 guns belonging to Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock—19 in his Mesquite, Nev., home, and 23 in the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino hotel room that he fired into a concert crowd from, killing at least 59 people. Law enforcement officials say they found multiple loaded high-capacity magazines in the hotel room, suggesting the death toll could have been even higher if police had arrived later, ABC reports. His arsenal included high-powered rifles capable of penetrating police armor, officials say. More:

  • Bump-stocks. Officials tell the AP that Paddock had two “bump-stock” devices capable of converting semi-automatic weapons into fully automatic firearms. Weapons expert Massad Ayoob tells the Guardian that the devices are legal but serious shooters tend to avoid them because they reduce accuracy. But that would not have been a problem for Paddock, who was “hosing a two-acre area with 30,000 targets,” Ayoob says.
  • Ammonium nitrate. Police, who have been searching a Reno property belonging to Paddock as well as his hotel room, vehicle, and Mesquite home, say they found several pounds of the bomb-making ingredient ammonium nitrate in his car, NPR reports.
  • Rifles on tripods. Federal law enforcement sources tell the New York Times that the weapons found in Paddock’s hotel room included two rifles with scopes set up on tripods in front of two windows. One official says his arsenal included AR-15-style assault rifles.
  • Legal machine guns. Wired looks at the different ways in which Paddock could have achieved such a deadly rate of fire, They include bump-stock or “gat crank” devices, illegal modifications to turn semi-automatic weapons into automatic ones—or buying one of the hundreds of thousands of machine guns that were made before the 1986 ban on such weapons and are owned by civilians in the US. The right to own those weapons was “grandfathered in.”
  • Background checks. Two Nevada gun shops have confirmed to NBC that they sold Paddock guns in the last year. They say he passed the necessary background checks and staff would not have sold him the guns if any “red flags” had been raised. “We’re very sad about the news of this tragedy. We’re in the business of selling firearms legally and took all precautions on this sale, as we do with all sales,” says David Familgetti of the New Frontier Armory in North Las Vegas.

(Neighbors say Paddock seemed normal, apart from his gambling.)

I will leave you with a couple of poems I wrote many years ago that seem resonant in our current times.  I’ve noticed several hits on this drawing I did back in July of 2005.  I was drawing A battle between the positive and negative forces in our world and the other side and all of it setting our nation’s capital on fire.  Pretty accurate of what is going on right now.  The chess game between “heaven” and “hell” and we are all, even the ones who think they are running things, just pawns on the board of life.

 

Pawns – Jackie Wygant 11 Sept 2008

The chess board rotates on a tilted table

The pieces not just black or white

The chessboard as old as Cain and Abel

Every living thing in it’s place

Every living thing in due time

Moved to another space

The players play with hands shielded from view

Everyday a new play

A grand perception, distraction each day anew

Nothing by chance

Carefully strategized by the powers unknown

The pawns dance

21 May 2017 123 pm Jackie Wygant outdoor chalk drawing The Messenger with one blue one green and one gold blue and green eye Alvarado TX 3

Time for Reflection by Jackie Wygant 30 Sept 2008

The leaves have started to fall down

The king and queen dissatisfied in their kingdom

Have started to lose their crown

Their room of treasures has grown wearisome and bleak

How much they have taken in their spoils

From the downtrodden and the weak

So in the darkness, in a castle made of sand

They realize now is a time for reflection

A time to live a life may be not so superfluous and grand

Time to dust off the playthings of the past

Not gold, silver and the coin

These things disappear into time and do not last

The old kingdom blows away, a seemingly whirlwind of dust

The crowns and jewels

Tarnish and rust

In the fields and meadows green and filled with song

All is forgotten

The king and queen soon have no recalling

Of what went wrong……


9 May 2017 Responsibility

Hello to you today from wherever and whenever you are stopping by. Today is going to be an “inside” sort of day I think. For the past two days Kyle and I have been besieged by allergies! It’s been dry, windy, it’s spring and lots of grass cutting going on.  Wanted to mention to my pet people that I found out using a dish washing soap like Dawn is best to remove a topical flea treatment if your dog experiences and adverse reaction like ours have recently.  Regular dog or people shampoo’s won’t get it out.  Our dogs haven’t been doing well with topicals, so we are going to try the internal – not wild about that idea either!  But with how many wild and stray critters we have around here carrying ticks and fleas, we can’t really leave them untreated.   Last year one of the dogs or us actually brought a tick into the bed!

Yesterday was a very nice day for us. We went to one of our favorite local eateries, Taqueria Torres (https://www.facebook.com/Taqueria-Torres-514132938621565/) and as always it was delicious! You can taste love and happiness in every bite – it permeates the place! I think part of the reason we like the people and the place so much is there is such a peaceful and spiritual energy.  They   express their spirituality in their decoration and on one of their message boards in particular was a message that resonated with me from the Bible, James 1:26:

“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. (the rest of the passage) Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after ophans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

This passage resonated with me and my own struggle with knowing when to speak and when to listen when it comes to matters of the spirit and religion! Sometimes it’s just better to agree to disagree!

Yesterday in the mail, as if to celebrate our special day, a package from my beautiful friend Natalie from the company Pocket Orgonite arrived. She had chosen some pieces that she felt were for me and sent them as a gift. They look a lot like the being in the drawing I did the other day! Pink and blue pyramids! The smallest piece actually helped me get through the allergy attack Kyle and I both suffered after walking to and from lunch! The bracelet is still on my wrist! It’s much like one my friend Cyndy had sent but broke. I am honored and humbled by Natalie’s beautiful work and gesture. I am planning on sending her an example of some of my crafts in reciprocity.

Had a weird dream this morning and this song comes to mind to recall it for you:

Robert Hazard – Escalator Of Life (1982)

What I remember of the dream Paul Ryan was in it and there were a bunch of people on an escalator. It was almost like watching an amusement ride but there too many people being crammed into it. It started to get dangerous and sparks were flying and people were screaming. At the end I remember seeing someone sticking a stick with what looked like, well to be honest, poop on a stick, into someone’s mouth.

What comes to mind is what happens when you try to cram all sorts of different people into one system, “one size fits all”….you get a shit-stick of a deal out of it. That’s what I feel about what’s going on with this Healthcare business. There is “no one-size fits all” answer when it comes to taking care of people – especially in the realm of Healthcare. I feel like what is going on with this repeal/reform is totally missing the mark of what actually needs to be dealt with. The “American Healthcare Escalator” itself – the insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry and hospitals….ahhh but that is too hard….takes too much time and means admitting responsibility for our current “death spiral” of a program ! The elephant in the room on all of this – the very same party that is trying to “fix” this mess is the same party that did everything within their power to obstruct, sabotage and neuter Obamacare!

http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/20170305_Commentary__Obamacare_s_flaws_were_designed_by_Republicans_to_make_it_fail.html

Commentary: GOP’s legal and political sabotage crippled Obamacare

Updated: —March 5, 2017 — 3:01 AM EST

by Abbe R. Gluck

Like a healthy body, a complex federal legislative scheme needs nurturing. Obamacare was starved to death by its legal guardians – the U.S. Congress – the same caretakers who now have the audacity to argue that the law has collapsed of its own weight. That’s like refusing to feed a newborn and then saying it died because it was sick. You can bet that if a Republican replacement bill ever passes, this Congress will give it a lot more care and a chance to actually succeed.

Let’s be clear. Obamacare was not perfect. But how could we expect a federal law so complex, affecting one-fifth of our economy, to be perfect from the get-go? Congress never gave it a chance, or even a tweak, to help it work. The amount of legal and political sabotage incessantly directed at the Affordable Care Act appears to be unprecedented in modern American history.

Political opponents filed a lawsuit the very day the statute was enacted, arguing that the insurance purchase requirement – which President Barack Obama modeled on Republican Gov. Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health reform – was unconstitutional. Republicans then turned the state-based implementation of the statute into a political football, proclaiming that any governor who implemented a state exchange or expanded Medicaid was a traitor; never mind that the idea of resting the exchanges in the states in the first place came from Senate conservatives (or that nearly a dozen Republican governors eventually had the courage to say that the Medicaid expansion was in their states’ best interests and did it anyway).

When the Supreme Court, in 2012, refused to strike the statute down, the opponents didn’t stop there. The charge to their allies, which came from a high-profile 2010 meeting at the American Enterprise Institute, was to adopt a strategy designed to “exploit” “bits and pieces” of the law, calling it a “bastard [that] has to be killed as a matter of political hygiene.” That birthed the second Supreme Court case, one that attempted to take advantage of four sloppily drafted words in the 2,000-page law to argue – impossibly – that Congress never intended for the subsidies essential for all the ACA’s insurance reforms function to apply to the federal insurance exchanges. The Supreme Court quashed that suit too, in a definitive 6-3 smack-down, but not before the uncertainty caused by the suit prevented a smooth implementation.

The opponents didn’t stop there. Next, they took aim at the “three R’s” – the provisions of the statute on risk adjustment, reinsurance, and risk corridors. Simplified, those crucial provisions gave transitional financial relief to the insurance industry to stabilize the market and insurance premiums as the ACA began implementation. Congress never gave these a chance either. Instead, in 2013 it let Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) brand them an insurance “bailout” and then passed laws preventing the appropriation of some of this critical funding. Never mind that a federal court has now held that the government must pay the contractually obligated amount regardless, Rubio’s law notwithstanding. The damage was done.

What’s more, the House then brought a high-profile lawsuit arguing that another critical part of the ACA’s funding – the “cost sharing subsidies,” payments to insurers so they can charge individuals lower premiums – had not been properly appropriated. And that’s not even to mention countless other suits aimed to chip away at the statute, from challenges to its birth-control provisions, to its legislative process, to its implementation of the employer insurance mandate.

As noted, the statute wasn’t perfect. The insurance subsidy amounts were set too low in the law as drafted; a normal, responsible Congress would have stepped in to change that. Obama made his own mistakes, too. For example, many believe that the Department of Health and Human Services’ generous interpretation of the ACA’s grandfathering provisions narrowed the insurance markets in ways that contributed to premium increases.

Even with this strangulation, however, the ACA has had some enormous successes. Not only have 20 million more Americans been given access to health care, but health costs are way down and data on positive health outcomes are starting to come in. Indeed, the best testament to the ACA’s success is the fact that all of the proposed Republican plans keep its basic structure – requiring insurers to cover everyone at roughly equal prices, continuing support for Medicaid, and largely leaving many of the ACA’s less controversial provisions in place.

If there is any great weakness in the ACA, it is its overreliance on the insurance markets as the primary means of expanding health access. That makes the statute extremely vulnerable to the insurance industry and its politics. But that is a Republican preference. It’s a way to keep health care at least somewhat in the private sector, rather than federalizing the entire insurance scheme into a national version of Medicare for all. The part of the ACA that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) claims is “collapsing under its own weight” are these same insurance provisions; and they are collapsing because Congress double-crossed the insurance industry for political gain.

And here’s the kicker. The very first proposed regulation released by the Trump HHS aims to stabilize the very insurance markets that Congress and the ACA’s opponents spent the last seven years trying to undermine. President Trump met with top insurance CEOs last week to continue that effort. And of course, the Trump administration and the House of Representatives have decided to put the House’s cost-sharing-subsidy lawsuit on hold. Because if the House gets what it wants, it will further destabilize the insurance markets – and that no longer seems such a good idea now that a Republican is responsible for the ACA.

Trump has called Obamacare a “disaster” more times than one can count, and recently said, “Dems are to blame for the mess.” Let’s be clear about who is accountable. Considering how much the ACA has accomplished, just think what it could have done had our Republican-controlled Congress bothered to actually support it.

Abbe R. Gluck is professor of law and faculty director of the Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy, Yale Law School.

John Oliver’s latest on yet another hornet’s nest getting sticks poked into it:

Net Neutrality II: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Reblog: Passover from Rachelmankowitz

I feel like I want to take a pass on Passover this year. I’ve done it before. I tried to do the whole thing last year – closing up cabinets and shopping for matzo meal and gefilte fish and kosher for Passover candy. I spent an inordinate amount of time looking up articles about […]

via Passover — rachelmankowitz

19 March 2017 Active Hope (Daily Good, Joanna Macy) and the tragic story of Edward Daniel Dowd (Vet dies in detox center lobby – Greenfield MA)

Hello to you today. I hope this finds you well. I have been enjoying doing drawings of faces in chalk lately and have been meditating and praying a lot about things going on in our country and world at the moment. I hope something here will resonate with you. I am focusing on what I want in this world and having a clear understanding of the “why” of what I don’t.  Something else I’ve been doing is more lately is fact checking things I read – especially on Facebook.  It’s not always easy to fact check things, even the credibility of Snopes.com has come into question in recent years but it is still possible to do.  It is important that if you are going to form an opinion or belief about something that it is founded in as much truth as you can find!  Anyhew – much love to you!

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.
C.S. Lewis

Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.
Mohsin Hamid

You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it.
Albert Einstein

The welfare of each is bound up in the welfare of all.
Helen Keller

http://www.dailygood.org/2017/03/19/active-hope/

Mar 19, 2017— Shifting our world toward a life-sustaining society takes active hope. We need to counter the voices that say we’re not up to the task, that we’re not good enough, strong enough, or wise enough to make any difference. If we fear that the mess we’re in is too awful to look at or that we won’t be able to cope with the distress it brings up, we need to find a way through that fear. This piece, co-authored by Joanna Macy, describes three threads we can follow that help us stand tall and not shrink away when facing the immensity of what’s happening to our world.

“I’m fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.” George S. McGovern

*Update 5:21 pm

I looked and found this obituary for Mr. Dan Dowd this afternoon and felt I should share it.  He looked like a very kind person and I am sad his life ended the way it did!

http://hosting-6556.tributes.com/obituary/show/Dan-Dowd-104469282

Dan Dowd
November 17, 1953 – February 8, 2017
Greenfield, Massachusetts

REENFIELD: Daniel Dowd, 63, of Greenfield, MA, passed away February 8, 2017. He was born in Holyoke, MA and is the beloved son of the late James J. Dowd, Jr. and Mary Louise Teahan Dowd, and his step-mother Cynthia Clark Dowd Rowell. Dan graduated from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. He was a disabled veteran who proudly served in the US Navy at Guantanamo Bay Cuba. Dan was a lover of music, poetry and laughter. Always a musician, his passion for music was at the heart of his band – The Crybabies. www.thecrybabies.com. He is survived by his three brothers James J. Dowd, III (Dawn Chamberlain) of Conway, MA, David E. Dowd of Westbrook, CT and Timothy W. Dowd (Maggie Sullivan) of Orange, CT and his nieces and nephews James M. Dowd (Sheri) of Santa Monica, CA, Michael D. Dowd of Tampa, FL, Mark A. Nelson of Weare, NH, David J. Dowd (Gwen) of Webster, NY, Mary L. Dowd Stopka (Nicholas), Thomas J. Dowd, and Kathleen S. Dowd all of Orange, CT. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Friday, February 17, 2017, at 10:00 AM in the Chapel of St. Jerome Church, 169 Hampden St, Holyoke, MA. Friends and family are invited to call on Thursday, February 16, 2017, from 4:00 to 7:00 PM at the Barry J. Farrell Funeral Home, 2049 Northampton St, Holyoke, MA. In lieu of flowers, it is requested that a memorial contribution be made to The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, P.O. Box 160, 97 N. Hatfield Road, Hatfield, MA 01028 (www.foodbankwma.org), telephone (413)247-9738,

Sending men and women to fight in war is an expensive.  I believe when our Government sends soldiers to war they incur a life-long obligation to those soldiers, which includes men like Mr. Dowd.

Recorder Staff/Tom Relihan
The main entrance to Behavioral Health Network’s new detox facility at the former Lunt Silversmith property in Greenfield.

http://www.recorder.com/Greenfield-vet-ends-life-in-detox-center-lobby-8074983

By DIANE BRONCACCIO Recorder Staff

Monday, February 13, 2017

Vet dies in detox center lobby

GREENFIELD — Police are investigating an apparent suicide involving a gun in the lobby of the Franklin Recovery Center.

Greenfield Police Chief Robert Haigh confirmed a report that Edward Daniel Dowd, a Greenfield man in his 60s, died of a late-night gunshot wound to the head inside the lobby of the drug treatment center at 298 Federal St.

“Everything is still under investigation,” Haigh said of the Feb. 8 shooting, which occurred around 11 p.m. He said the shooting occurred in the lobby and “appears to be self-inflicted.”

He said no one else was injured and that he couldn’t give any other details. He declined to say whether there were any witnesses.

Dowd is listed as a disabled veteran, according to the Greenfield Street List, and was born in 1953.

Katherine Wilson, chief executive officer of the Behavioral Health Network, which runs the Franklin Recovery Center, said the agency is “conducting an internal investigation of events leading up to the incident.

“We are deeply saddened by the recent incident at the Franklin Recovery Program site in Greenfield. We offer our condolences for the loss of a community member, as an organization and as individuals working in the field of recovery.”

Wilson said the agency has counselors who are assisting “those traumatized by this tragedy.”

She said all appropriate state authorities have been notified, but that health care privacy laws prevent Behavioral Health Network and its program staff from sharing any information or any details about the incident or care for the individual involved.

http://www.recorder.com/Franklin-Recovery-Center-suicide-case-comes-to-a-close-8166171

Suicide spotlights intersection between insurance and recovery


Recorder Staff

Friday, February 17, 2017

GREENFIELD — The 7-month-old Franklin Recovery Center got caught in the glare of social media this week following the suicide in its lobby of a distraught 63-year-old veteran, an alcoholic in crisis.

The longtime county resident, Daniel Dowd, who identified himself as suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism, left behind an angry and anguished note, spread on Facebook. His core complaint focused on the center’s apparent inability or, in his mind, unwillingness to take him into its detoxification program.

Since the death a week ago, members of the recovery community in Greenfield, specifically members of the Behavioral Health Network, which oversees and runs the recovery center on Federal Street, have spoken out to address issues raised by the suicide, while declining to discuss specifics of this case citing federal confidentiality rules.

Police Chief Robert H. Haigh Jr. said the shooting death was in fact a suicide and that the detective on the case found a note on the body of Dowd that corroborated the authenticity of the “suicide note” that circulated online.

“When someone does something in this manner, in a very public manner, you certainly don’t want to ignore the situation,” Haigh said. “You don’t want to shortchange it.”

 In addition to the police investigation, a state Department of Public Health probe is underway. A state spokesman would only say, “We are aware and are actively investigating the circumstances of this tragic death, and cannot comment further until our review is complete.”

The Franklin Recovery Center has been licensed to provide detoxification services by DPH’s Bureau of Substance Abuse Services since May 2016.

 Insurance

In light of the suicide, leaders at Behavioral Health Network, the Regional Opioid Task Force and The Recovery Project all noted the importance of finding immediate care for addicts who decide they want help. But finding that help with or without insurance has never been easy, one of the reasons that the state supported creation of the 64-bed recovery center in Greenfield. County residents seeking help in residential programs for themselves or others before last summer had to work the phones, scouring facilities in Springfield, Worcester or Boston to find a bed.

Within 48 hours of opening last summer, the Greenfield center was full — though with constant turnover. Currently there are 32 beds for the short-term detoxification and 32 beds for the second-step care, which if used, typically lasts the state-required 14 days.

“Some days I walk in and I’m like, ‘homeless shelter, psych unit, detox.’ That’s what we’re running,” Dr. Ruth Potee, medical director of the Franklin Recovery Center, said of her experience so far. “I didn’t know that’s what it was going to be like.”

Just how the center operates and who it can accept has been a prominent point of confusion following the suicide. It isn’t a state-funded facility but relies on private insurance and Medicaid money to keep its doors open.

If prospective patients have no insurance, they can be admitted to the Recovery Center, and the state covers the cost. If prospective patients have insurance that doesn’t contract with the Recovery Center, or are “underinsured,” commonly by Medicare, then they cannot be admitted to the center. Instead, the center staff tries to find other available options and if the prospective client desired, arrange to transport the person to somewhere with an available bed that takes the insurance or to a hospital emergency room or if the case is relevant, to the Northampton VA Medical Center.

“In fact, having zero insurance is better than having the wrong insurance,” Potee said. “But once you have insurance, you can’t pretend to have zero insurance. That’s fraud.”

Potee and the Senior Vice President of BHN, Candy Darcy, said fewer than 5 percent of their prospective patients have the “wrong” insurance, so that the inability to help is rare.

“We try to contract with every insurance provider out there,” Darcy said. “Some of them just won’t pay for detox services.”

Further, if a prospective patient is not able to walk or maintain their vital signs, the center cannot admit them.

“I’m not running a hospital,” Potee said. “I don’t have 20 nurses. It’s the level of care that is considered the state’s level of care, which is that people have to be functioning, walking, talking and not have such acute medical needs that they need an IV.”

Those patients are offered transport to the ER and a bed kept waiting for them for when they are stabilized, said Potee, who noted that they can’t force anyone to the ER or alternate programs. Hospital ERs are obligated to provide that care with or without insurance, often losing thousands of dollars in uncompensated care.

The VA hospital in Northampton will accept patients regardless of mental or physical circumstances, as long as they are eligible for VA care, Public Affairs Officer Andre Bowser said. Franklin Recovery Center would offer to transmit an eligible veteran there as long as beds were available.

Also, the Recovery Center sometimes has stretched its protocols. Most of its patients arrange admission by telephone, so that when they arrive, insurance issues have already been resolved. But if someone wants help and walked in at night or on the weekend when the center administrative staff isn’t available to check insurance and there happens to be an available bed, the person might be admitted temporarily. When the immediate treatment is concluded, if the insurance does not check out, then the center will refer that patient to somewhere that does take his or her insurance to continue the care.

The Recovery Center does not run a waiting list, but instead emphasizes immediate service.

Reaction from addiction communityMembers of the regional Opioid Task Force, which worked hard behind the scenes to establish the Recovery Center in Greenfield, say this incident points to the need for continual improvement in addiction programs and policies statewide.

“In some ways, we need to go back to our roots, ” said John Merrigan, task force co-chair, about the group’s education outreach objectives.

Sheriff Christopher Donelan, another task force co-founder, said he hopes to work with the task force to push state officials in Boston to consider changing rules.

“Let’s focus on the crisis first and the insurance second,” he said.

Local leaders in recovery have urged members of the community to refrain from particularly negative social media comments like those that swirled around the internet based on Dowd’s note, clearly written in a time of distress and anger, saying it doesn’t help.

“Finger-pointing or hashing out old stuff is not going to help at all. It’s going to take away the focus from this individual who was in a crisis moment,” said Michael Lewis, director of The RECOVER Project, a peer-to-peer participatory program for people in and seeking recovery from all forms of addiction.

Longtime friend Wid Perry said of Dowd, “I choose to remember him as an energetic and proud Shipmate Sailor who served his country well and made a positive difference in my career.”

Perry said Dowd was passionate and sometimes intense about his musical interests and national politics, “but I think for Dan it was our Navy connection that meant the most to him.”

Impact on staffPotee noted that it’s difficult for nurses and her staff at large to feel positively when vitriolic voices fill social media, especially if the comments aren’t necessarily based on facts.

She defended the facility’s staff as hard working professionals who care deeply about their work and their patients.

Since the suicide, the parking lot has had a security officer. The center will re-evaluate safety protocol, but Potee emphasized that this recent incident is a rare situation.

“We don’t consider our clients to be unsafe people,” Potee said. “I’m not running a jail, I’m not running a courthouse. This is a treatment facility. I don’t think that guns in a public setting are very common in this part of the world. I don’t live in fear and most of my staff doesn’t.”

She said her staff has experienced stress of late because of turnover by peers leaving for higher paying jobs at private clinics that have opened in the region lately.

“We’re hiring like mad right now, so that will de-stress the amount of stress my staff is under because they’re all working so hard right now.”

Instead of working eight-hour shifts, nurses have been pushed to closer to 12-hour shifts, Potee said.

You can reach Joshua Solomon at:
jsolomon@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

Other Links:

http://www.disabledveterans.org/2017/01/04/veterans-affairs-ptsd-suicide-cover-morally-indefensible/Veterans Affairs PTSD, Suicide Cover-up ‘Morally Indefensible’

https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/1181 – Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act (Rep. Roe, David P. [R-TN-1)

https://foac-pac.org/House-Passes-Bill-To-Restore-Gun-Rights-To-Veterans/News-Item/6391

http://www.quotegarden.com/war.html

These are just a fraction of the unfathomable amount of words used about the topic of War. Many of these I had never read before. Many, many messengers have lived and continue to live amongst us much like canaries taken into the coal mines.

A great war leaves the country with three armies an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves. ~German Proverb

 

15 March 2017 The Radical Power of Humility (The Daily Good Nipun Mehta)

14 March 2017 – my favorite face is Kyle’s so naturally he shows up in my art. He said I made him look like Jesus and I said we both know Jesus probably didn’t have blue eyes and blonde hair lol. No this is just how I view Kyle in my life, sunshine each day.

Good morning family.  How are you?  I am trying my best to practice mindfulness and a mantra I shared with you some time ago – “It doesn’t matter what they are doing, what matters is what I am doing, what I feel and what I think.”  It is so damn hard not to be literally swallowed up with what is going on in the world today but it can be done.  What we focus on with our hearts, words and deeds becomes OUR reality, not the reality other people want to impose on us.

Yes, there is a very old “war” of the houses, a literal “Game of Thrones” on the main stage right now for us to finally see.  The ancient quest for complete power and dominion over all people, places and things is alive and well in the world….to coin a phrase, “The Empire Never Ended – Philip K Dick.”  It’s like Dr. Wilhelm Reich said long ago, “It’s in their structures, in their tissues, in their blood.”

So this morning Kyle and I were talking about this surreal world and I asked the question, “What can we do?!”   The answers did not come easily but there are many things we can do and all of them start at the very core of our being….start with us. I was looking for comfort and wisdom and was lead to this story on the Daily Good. I especially like the fable of the sparrow. From now on when I put my feet in the air I will visualize this story lol!   Even if there seems like nothing we can do, that we are completely powerless there is always one thing we haven’t thought of yet we can yet do and it doesn’t have to be negative either!

My “sparrow” feet

Trying to squash a rumor is like trying to unring a bell.
Shana Alexander

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
William Arthur Ward

Decide what you stand for. And then stand for it all the time.
Clayton Christensen

Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.
Warren Buffet

http://www.dailygood.org/story/1096/the-radical-power-of-humility-nipun-mehta/I pasted the entire article so that you would be more likely to read it.  I have trouble reading long articles on the computer, so I understand if you have to come back to this.  This phenomena seems to be a “thing.”  Without meaning to, I do a lot of “scanning” of digital media versus what I do with the actual printed word.  I am realizing this is a dangerous thing to do in this day and age.  Scanning things versus actually reading them word for word means things get “missed” and overlooked….go unnoticed and go on unchecked!  Now are the times of paying attention!   SLOW DOWN!       

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/why-digital-natives-prefer-reading-in-print-yes-you-read-that-right/2015/02/22/8596ca86-b871-11e4-9423-f3d0a1ec335c_story.html?utm_term=.ef59ac2b73c0 – excerpt

“Earlier this month, Baron published “Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World,” a book (hardcover and electronic) that examines university students’ preferences for print and explains the science of why dead-tree versions are often superior to digital. Readers tend to skim on screens, distraction is inevitable and comprehension suffers.”

On to humility!

If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are. –Mother Teresa

The Radical Power of Humility

–by Nipun Mehta, Jul 07, 2015

[Below is transcript of a talk, delivered to four thousand people gathered at the National Jain Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. Prior to Nipun’s talk, civil rights legends John Lewis and Andrew Young shared insights from their journey with Martin Luther King, Jr.]

Thank you for this opportunity to speak to all of you. What an honor to be here with all you today, and a special honor to get to follow John Lewis and Andrew Young.

Today I’d like to surface an unpopular virtue. One that’s fallen out of favor in a time of selfies and relentless status updates. The virtue of humility. We live in an era that believes it can no longer afford to be humble.

Years ago, I sat down for lunch, next to a young villager in India. As usual, I closed my eyes for a moment of gratitude before eating. As I opened them, I saw the most unusual thing — this boy was preparing a bite from my plate. My plate! Seeing my confusion, he kindly explained, “I wanted a piece of your prayer, and so I figured the best thing was to be of service to it right now.” Saying this, he offered me that bite. Imagine hearing these words, and receiving that gesture from someone you’ve only just met. I was touched.

Curious to know more about him, I asked him about his work. He smiled and said, “Well, it’s hard to describe. It’s a bit like the sparrow in that fable. As the story goes, the sky is falling down and all the creatures are fleeing. The sparrow thinks to itself, ‘I want to help. But what can I do? I’m just a sparrow.’ Then, the sparrow has a flash of brilliance — it lies on its back and points it two feets towards the sky. ‘What are you doing, Little Sparrow?’ others ask. ‘Well, I’ve heard the sky is falling, and so I’m doing my little bit to hold it up.'” After a pause, my new friend adds, “That’s what I try to do too.”

Small, subtle, silent. And humble.

The world we live in is almost the polar opposite — grandiose, mundane, loud.

A few years ago, Google released a searchable database of 5.2 million books published since 1500. Researchers soon discovered that, between 1960 and 2008, individualistic words increasingly overshadowed communal ones. The usage of “kindness” and “helpfulness” dropped by 56%, even as “modesty” and “humbleness” dropped by 52%. Our language reflects our lives. Phrases like “community” and “common good” lost in popularity to “I can do it myself” and “I come first.” We moved from We to Me.

The archetype of today’s hero is a go-getter, with a nice-guys-finish-last mindset. Our systems are designed to privilege power, where respect is calibrated by our titles and bank balances. As business cards lead our handshakes and hugs, our daily lives have morphed into a relay of commercial intentions. In a rat-race to pad our resumes, we’ve condensed our nuanced experiences into elevator pitches. We’re primed to “speak up”, and to favor ambition over surrender.

The question is no longer if we can afford our humility, but rather can we really afford our own arrogance?

Without humility, our overblown sense of entitlement disconnects us. It increases narcissism and reduces empathy. That may be good for the economy but certainly not for societal well-being. A couple of months ago I was in Bhutan with the folks who implemented Gross National Happiness, and from them I learned about some remarkable research at the University of Michigan. It turns out that ever since 1980, our empathy levels have been gradually dropping, but in 2000, they suddenly plummeted 40 percent. Forty! Not surprisingly, a Gallup report just released last week reported that the US has dropped from 12th position to number 23 on the global well-being index. It’s a strange paradox, we are at the same time, more self-centered than ever, and less happy and healthy for it.

With humility, though, we can give birth to a whole new story.

In the late 70s, two Buddhist monks — Rev. Heng Sure and Heng Chau — began a mind-blowing bowing pilgrimage along the California coastline. For 900 miles, they would walk three steps and take one full bow to the ground. Their practice was to meet everything as a reflection of their mind and rebound it with a heart of love. One day, crossing through a rough neighborhood in LA, they found themselves surrounded by a bunch of gang members. One of them threw down a trash can, removed the rod connecting the can with its lid, threateningly started screeching that rod around the side of the trash can. Sluzzzz, slussssh, as if sharpening his blade and signaling the impending fate of the monk’s head. Other friends egged him on with a menacing chant. As Rev. Heng Sure would later write in his journals, “All the hair of my body stood up in fear.” Yet his commitment was to unconditional compassion: no matter what you bring to this moment, I bow to the goodness in you. May you be blessed. And so he humbly went for that final bow at the teenager’s feet. His would-be attacker’s fist was raised in the air poised to strike, but he froze. Completely froze. Others around him fell silent. Imagine if you’re about to pummel someone and he bows to you with great compassion. The monks continued bowing right past the dumbstruck gang.

Humility is seen as a sign of weakness, in today’s culture, when, in reality, it is the gateway for an unparalleled and profound strength.

We see examples of this across all wisdom traditions. In Sikhism, Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth of their ten gurus, offered this credo to all the warriors: “Humility is my mace; becoming the dust of everybody’s feet is my sword. No evil can withstand that.” Jesus Christ washed the feet of his disciples, the 12 apostles, and then adds, “Know ye what I have? I have given you an example.” At another point, he explicitly states, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” In Jainism, as you all know, there is the powerful practice of Micchami Dukkadam on the last day of the holy Paryushan period, where Jains actively seek and offer forgiveness: “If I have caused you offense in any way, knowingly or unknowingly, in thought, word or deed, then I seek your forgiveness.” Every year, on this day, I receive many such emails from Jain friends. Simply being on the receiving end is such a humbling feeling, that I can only imagine what it means to be on the other end.

We have so many contemporary examples as well. Mother Teresa called humility the “mother of all virtues” and reminded us, “We can do no great things. Only small things with great love.” And, of course, we have Gandhi. When he died, with less than 9 possessions to his name, journalist Edwin Murrow read this across the radio waves: “Man without wealth, without property, without official title or office. Mahatma Gandhi was not a commander of great armies nor ruler of vast lands. He could boast no scientific achievements or artistic gift. Yet men, governments and dignitaries from all over the world have joined hands today to pay homage to this little brown man in the loincloth who led his country to freedom.”

Today, then, I want to share three progressive doorways of power that humility opens up.

The first doorway is the power of many.

In the absence of humility, we forget the shoulders that we stand on, and foolishly begin to take singular credit for what we’re doing. I remember my mom telling me a parable from the Mahabharata. A dog is traveling on Krishna’s chariot, and lo and behold, when the dog wagged its tail to the right, the chariot turned to the right. And when he wagged it left, the chariot turned to the left. It was an example of correlation, not causation, and it would have been nothing short of ludicrous for the dog to actually believe it was controlling the chariot with its tail. Yet, that is precisely how our arrogance deceives us. We forget that behind each one of us lies an invisible stream of conditions that supports our every move.

Growing up, I had certainly forgotten that wisdom. I started out doing all the “right things”: did well in high school, got into UC Berkeley, landed a prestigious job in Silicon Valley. Then, in my early twenties I left the corporate world, and started ServiceSpace. My television debut was a half an hour interview on CNN. People celebrated my accomplishments, and initially I believed I deserved the credit. But over time, I realized that I was just a dog on the chariot. The ego is ever-ready to build a story around our exclusive special-ness. Whether it’s about worldly achievement or even service, pride comes in one flavor. And our world, unfortunately, encourages this. Slowly, though, I started seeing the long series of cascading conditions that had to conspire even just for me to stand here today. How could I possibly think that this is all my doing?

New science is now pointing to the power of many. We have a greater impact on each other than we think. Studies have shown that the strongest influence on someone’s behavior is — their friend’s behavior. According to groundbreaking research by Harvard’s Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler, happiness loves company — it spreads virally, in a network. So does obesity, cancer, and even divorce. If you have a divorced friend, you are 147% more likely to divorce yourself. So if you want to stay married, we have to work on strengthening your friend’s marriages. I try to tell my wife that if she wants me to get into shape, she needs to get my brother and mother on the treadmill. 🙂 And it works the same way for philanthropy, kindness, and good news too. Everything we do ripples out and affects each strand in the web of our connections.

With this understanding, a significant insight emerges: everyone matters, and everyone has something to give. And if we organize around leveraging people’s gifts we begin to create breakthrough possibilities.

I recently met a guy named V. R. Ferose. He had turned around a Fortune 500 company’s R&D department, and by age 36, had 5000 employees working for him. He married his college sweetheart, became a father and one devastating day, he and his wife learned that their son, Vivaan was on the autism spectrum. They were shattered by the news, but in the crucible of their despair, Ferose and his wife forged their lifes’ calling. As Ferose succinctly put it, “I want to change the world for Vivaan, and my wife wants to change Vivaan for the world.”

Soon after, they launched many successful projects. Ferose looked deeply into the unique gifts of the autistic population. Well, if you’re autistic, you are never bored, and you never lie. Ferose looked at those traits, and then took a revolutionary leap — he hired 5 autistic staff at his Fortune 500 Company, and then matched them with roles that allowed their gifts to shine. It was a huge success. The new staffers excelled at their jobs. News of their contributions reached the CEO of the company and he was so moved that he announced that, by 2020, 1% of their 65 thousand world-wide staff would be people on the autism spectrum. “That day a friend came into my office and said, Vivaan has just created 650 jobs. I had tears in my eyes,” Ferose remembers. Now, the UN is exploring a mandate to inspire other Fortune 500 countries to do the same.

All this transpired because Ferose understood that the best way to support his special child, was to help create a world that supports the specialness of others, and to build a community that thrives on the belief that everybody is good at something.

Tapping into people’s gifts can’t be done by brute force or authority. It takes a heart of humility. It takes deeply trusting the synergy of our inter-connections, and understanding the power of many.

The second doorway that humility opens is the power of one.

Last year, I had the pleasure of spending some time with Francois Pienaar, a rugby legend who was very close to Nelson Mandela — and famously played by Matt Damon in the movie Invictus. As he shared many personal encounters with Mandela, the thing that struck me was how practically every story spoke to Mandela’s humility.

One of the most pivotal moments in Francois’s life came when he visited Mandela’s jail cell on Robben Island. Holding his arms out, he said, “This is what how much space he lived in, for 27 straight years. I grew up thinking he was a terrorist. All Afrikaners did. And yet he come out of jail with an open heart that can hold everyone.” Indeed, Mandela’s first words, after being released from jail: “I stand here before you not as a prophet, but a humble servant.” Humble. Servant.

A telling example of Mandela’s servant leadership came in 1995. Amidst rampant civil tensions that were taking hundreds of lives, he had come to power as the first democratically elected President of South Africa. That also happened to be the year that the country’s rugby team was winning a lot. With millions cheering on, many South Africans saw this as a symbolic opportunity to signal the end of Apartheid; they were eager to change the team name, colors and jersey in a sport that was widely considered a “white man’s game”. Mandela, on the other hand, saw a different opportunity. An opportunity for forgiveness. He went from sport clubs to town halls to rally his countrymen to take the higher road: “We have to surprise them with compassion, with restraint and generosity; I know, all of the things they denied us, but this is no time to celebrate petty revenge.”

That was the thing about Mandela. He had the audacity to believe in each person’s capacity to transform their suffering into love. He had done it himself. Where the power of many teaches us that everyone is good at something, the power of one points to our unbounded capacity for inner transformation. Everyone can find greatness in love.

They kept the same name, same jersey, same colors. Springboks in green. That year South Africa makes it to the finals, where they faced New Zealand. At the end of regulation, it’s tied 12-12. Overtime. An epic game. And South Africa wins the World Cup, for the first time in the country’s history! Mandela humbly comes out onto the field, not in a Presidential suit, but wearing a green Springboks jersey — what many considered the “uniform of the enemy.” The 65 thousand person crowd spontaneously erupts into a chant: Nelson, Nelson, Nelson! It was electric. “Never seen so many grown men cry,” players later said. The crowd later goes on to sing “Shoooo–shaaaa-llooooo–aaaaa” — a Zulu song that Mandela had often sung to himself while in jail. In that moment, an entire nation stood united under Mandela’s leadership — and his love.

In the concluding trophy presentation, as Mandela handed the trophy to Francois, he whispered to him: “Thank you for what you have done for the country.” Francois paused, deeply moved. And then spontaneously came his response, to the man he had once thought of as a terrorist, “Thank you, Madiba, for what you have done for the world.”

Mandela shook the world, not through the might of his ego, or his considerable skills, but through his breathtaking capacity for inner transformation and humility. He believed in the power of one, he embodied that power of one, and showed us how it is a force beyond measure.

The third, and subtlest, doorway of humility is the power of zero.

I recently met a 96 year old Sufi saint named Dada Vaswani. He has a great many followers around the world, is highly respected by monks and nuns from various traditions, and radiates a profound sense of peace. I was deeply grateful to meet him. But his first words to me were, “I’m so grateful to have met you.” It wasn’t just a pleasantry, he really meant it. And it wasn’t because he thought I was special — he just knew that everyone is special. Because everyone is connected to everything, and the whole show is sacred.

Everything about him, and around him, was humble. When we met, in his private study room, we sat on simple, white plastic chairs. Another plastic table stood flimsily between us. You could tell these surface trappings didn’t matter to him. The way he carried himself, the words he shared, the kindness he emanated, it empowered me and everyone around him — empowered us, not to be bigger, grander, somebodies… but rather to be small, simple, nobodies.

Dada shared that his own teacher was once asked who he was. “Are you a poet? Are you an educationist? Author? Saint?” He responded with, ‘I am a zero.’ Then he paused for a while and added, ‘I’m not the English zero — the English zero occupies space. I am the Sindhi ‘Nukta’. In Sindhi, zero is written like a dot. So that was the ideal placed before me,” Dada shared.

When we succeed in radically downsizing the ‘I’, we find true expansion. It is when we shrink our preoccupation with self, that far greater energies course through us. We no longer attempt to drive change in the world, but rather to “be” that change we wish to see. St Francis’s prayer was not, “Make me CEO of your peace”. It was make me a channel of your peace. And to be a channel, is to understand the true power of being zero.

At one point in our conversation, I asked Dada about his plans for the future. He’s 96 and the spiritual leader of millions, so the succession plan is a natural concern for many. Yet, his response was unequivocal: “Oh, that’s not my concern. I’m not the one making this happen now, and it won’t be me in the future. I just try to be zero.” He had given a lifetime to this work, and yet was not trying to control its future. He knew his job was to simply – be an instrument.

To probe into this idea of being an instrument, of being zero, I asked him about Bodhisattvas. Similar to Jinas in Jainism, Buddhists define Bodhisattvas as beings who forsake their own liberation for the sake of others. He paused for moment, locked eyes with mine and recited a poem by Shantideva. One deliberate word after another.

May I be a guard for those who need protection,
A guide for those on the path,
A boat, a raft, a bridge for those who wish to cross the flood.
May I be a lamp in the darkness,
A resting place for the weary,
A healing medicine for all who are sick,
A vase of plenty, a tree of miracles;
And for the boundless multitudes of living beings,
May I bring sustenance and awakening,
Enduring like the earth and sky
Until all beings are freed from sorrow,
And all are awakened.

His voice died into silence, and no words could describe the electric feeling in the room. My heart was overflowing with gratitude. With whatever limited humility I was capable of, I asked, “Dada, how may I be of service to you?” Then, he did something that blew me away. He cupped his two hands in front of me, as if holding out a begging bowl, and gently said, “I request your tears of compassion.”

Long pause. This time, on my account. No questions were arising, no answers were arising. We just gazed into each other’s eyes. Finally I managed to get a few words out, “I’ll do my best, Dada,” I said.

When Dada asked for my tears of compassion, what he was pointing to is the power of zero – that capacity to be an empty vessel, so that compassion’s flood can effortlessly surge through you. And it all begins with the wisdom of humility.

In conclusion, I want to end with a story of a friend and a wonderful person, Shakkuben.

Shakkuben spent most of her life working as a school janitor in India. One day, however, she had this beautiful wish arise in her heart: I want to serve. Immediately after, she had another thought: what can I possibly give? A friend told her a story of how Gandhi had once lost a very small pencil, and he was looking everywhere for it. When someone told him, “Bapu, you’re the father of the nation; you don’t have time to look for a small pencil, here’s a dozen more,” Gandhi simply replied, “But a child had given me that pencil with a lot of love,” and carried on the search for the pencil. For Gandhi, size of love mattered a lot more than the size of the pencil. And Shakkuben took this to heart, and started her own experiment in service. Everyday, she would sift through the trash at her school, look for those small pencils that others had thrown away, and give them to people who couldn’t even afford that much. And for her, it wasn’t about the pencils but the love that they’d be wrapped in.

One day, after breakfast at home, Shakkuben offers me a parting gift. A slightly-ripped pink plastic bag, I still vividly remember it. Her first collection of those small pencils. I was so touched, I couldn’t even open it in front of her. I had another event that morning, and I couldn’t resist sharing her story there. As a show-and-tell, I opened that pink bag, put my hand in, and held out a fist full of small pencils, broken erasers, blunt sharpeners. Oh, man. It wasn’t just the pencils … it was what they were wrapped in. The love of this humble janitor. I couldn’t hold back my tears.

When our gifts to the world are draped in such humility and reverence, an unspeakable thunder roars behind those rain drops. And this is precisely what Jainism invites us to do. Bow to all life, Ahimsa; bow to others points of view, Anekantvad; bow to our inter-connection, Aparigraha.

When we bow to all that is, we reframe our understanding of success and accomplishment. We discover that everyone is good at something. That anyone can find greatness in giving, and that each is connected to all. We know then that our job is simply to be like the sparrow, and do our little bit to hold up the sky. Like my young friend who broke a piece of bread and offered up that bite, may we always strive to serve one another in small ways. And to hold a piece of each others’ prayers.

This is a transcript of an address at the 2015 National Jaina Convention in Atlanta, delivered by Nipun Mehta. Nipun is the founder of ServiceSpace.org, a nonprofit that works at the intersection of gift-economy, technology and volunteerism. You can also view his other talks online.

 

 

7 March 2017 Dream triggered after seeing Waiting For Godot’s Obamacare Replacement Starring Patrick Stewart and Dalai Lama: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Good morning family.  How are you doing?  I’m doing alright, just staying in gratitude as much as I can.  Got a letter from my Mom yesterday and that always helps!  Thank you Mom!  I woke up to blowing winds and heavy rain this morning.  Nothing serious, just a quick band of showers passing through.  The woman/angel I drew yesterday is gone this morning.  I have to admit I was a little sad about that, I was really pleased with how she turned out!  Such is the literal nature of drawing things outside in chalk and why I have really taken to it.   It is a true lesson about Attachment and the Impermanence of all things.  My deepest condolences to fellow blogger and artist Dymoon on the passing of her Mom: https://dymoonblog.com/2017/03/07/mother-1921-2017/

So now I have lots of fresh canvas to choose from out back!  Kyle gave me some ideas of things to draw that I’m going to attempt.  He suggested trying to draw his FFXIV avatar Morrigu so we’ll see how that goes!

From FFXIV the Elezen female Morrigu DeAngelic in her Paladin gear. Paladins are tanks that can heal themselves.

I had a bunch of dreams last night like one about being at some property that had a sort of Southwest feel to it that supposedly cost almost a million dollars but whoever bought it paid for it in cash.  Yeah, I have no idea where that came from.  The one that was really fun was triggered by this video I saw yesterday of a skit with Stephen Colbert and Patrick Stewart:

Waiting For Godot’s Obamacare Replacement Starring Patrick Stewart

The dream was of being with Patrick Stewart, he is my favorite Star Trek Captain (Star Trek Next Generation) so that’s a dream unto itself!  Anyways, I was standing in the dark with him and we looked up and saw a ship of bright lights.  It looked a lot like some of my drawings, like a spaceship in the shape of the Flower of Life or something.  He asked if I wanted to go on the ship and I said, “Oh God YES!” lol.  I can remember feeling so much happiness and relief at the thought!  Well we were beaming up and it was like being inside the elevator at the Willy Wonka factory!  He had forgotten someone and we had to go back down and then back up and I was aware of the journey both directions lol.  Thankfully, unlike reality would probably be, no motion sickness!  That’s all I remember but it was so fun I had to share.  At least in my dreams I’m escaping at last getting to travel in space ships!

We watched the latest Last Week Tonight with John Oliver this morning and I found myself get very teary watching it.  It is sad to think this could be the last Dalai Lama.  I think he is a blessing in this world and he is on my gratitude list for today.  Thank you John Oliver for your courage and going to interview him.  It was an absolute delight to see the two of you.  You two brought laughter, love and light into our home today and that’s not an easy thing to do in these times.   I pray for peaceful relations between China and Tibet.

Dalai Lama current name

The 14th Dalai Lama /ˌdæl.aɪˈlɑː.mə/ (religious name: Tenzin Gyatso, shortened from Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso, born Lhamo Dondrub, 6 July 1935) is the current Dalai Lama and is the longest-lived incumbent.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/14th_Dalai_Lama

Dalai Lama: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

6 March 2017 Honesty, How the USDA’s New Privacy Policy Undermines Animal Welfare (Petful.com, Dr. Debora Lichtenberg), possible NOAA satellite funding cuts and outdoor chalk drawing

Hello family, how are you today?  It’s Monday, 3:33 pm as I write to you.  If I’m honest with you, I’m not sure how I’m doing.  I’m really not.  I’ve been pulling out my mental gratitude list a lot and that’s helped some.  Each time I do this, I find I have far more to be grateful for than to complain about!  It’s been very difficult for me these past few months to stay positive.

The word that came to me as I sit here today is Honesty.   I can remember as a kid I was dusting in my parents room and broke a figurine of my Mom’s.  Instead of telling her I broke it I tried to fix and cover it up that I had broken it.  Well I wasn’t good at either thing and I ended up getting caught and punished for what I had done and rightly so!  That’s how I was raised.  When you did something wrong you were expected to tell the truth about it or risk getting punished more severely for either an outright lie or a lie of omission.

Honesty is something I’m not seeing very much out of very many of our elected officials in this country and it’s downright disheartening and shameful.

When a deep injury is done us, we never recover until we forgive.
Alan Paton

The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.
Henri Bergson

Joy is not in things; it is in us.

Richard Wagner

More of what is going on you may not have known about in Washington:

http://www.jamestownsun.com/news/4227948-under-pressure-usda-restores-some-abused-animal-reports-website – I was surprised to hear this had happened!  I don’t think this was mainstream news.

http://www.petful.com/animal-welfare/usda-problems/

How the USDA’s New Privacy Policy Undermines Animal Welfare

Citing privacy concerns, the USDA has scrubbed welfare reports and animal abuse data from its website.

With the USDA’s new privacy policy, puppy mill operators have little incentive to cease. By: Nikita Kravchuk

Petful does a great job keeping us up to date on animal welfare issues.

In the last month, animal welfare has suffered an enormous setback — and everyone should be aware of it. Animal welfare reports and animal abuse data have been obliterated from the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) website.

Let’s unpack what this means.

The Way It Used to Be

Before February 2017, a person could find out if animal laboratories, puppy mills, horse farms, animal transporters, breeders, small circuses and other animal enterprises were abusing animals, not passing USDA inspections or creating unnecessary or unethical pain.

For example, you could look up certain puppy mills and find out if the operation was breeding dogs until they died or keeping moms and puppies in stench-filled hovels.

Now, no one will have access to this and other important animal welfare information anymore. More importantly, animal welfare activists and watchdog organizations (no pun intended) won’t be able to ascertain this information either.

How It Is Now

In order to access USDA information regarding inspection reports at about 9,000 animal facilities, an individual or organization will now have to file a request under the Freedom of Information Act. These requests can take years.

The obliteration of these records not only means the information cannot be checked by a concerned individual — it also means the people and employees running these facilities have very little incentive to obey regulations.

Even when the USDA information was available, many animals at these facilities were suffering because guidelines were being broken by researchers, animal handlers and inhumane puppy mill operators. Now that they will have even less incentive to take proper care of the dogs, cats and kittens, rabbits, horses, monkeys and other animals in their care, the result does not look good for improving the welfare of these poor animals.

The Animal Welfare Act and Horse Protection Act may exist, but they aren’t necessarily enforced.

The welfare of cats, horses and other animals are also undercut by this new policy. By: Max and Dee Bernt

The Humane Society’s Response

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) said, “This action benefits no one except facilities who have harmed animals and don’t want anyone to know.” HSUS is threatening to pursue legal action if the USDA does not reverse this bad decision.

Why would the government block public access to information regarding animal welfare? HSUS says, “the posting of these documents has been an invaluable tool in rooting out some of the worst abuses that are occurring. Essentially, this is now going to give a bit of a get-out-of-jail-free card to horse soring, puppy mills, delinquent roadside zoos and animal research labs that are flouting the law.”

My Experience With a Laboratory Dog

The first dog I ever adopted on my own came from the University of Pennsylvania’s Veterinary School. Elvis, the walker hound, was thin and already de-barked when he became a part of our family.

A sweet laboratory assistant took tender loving care of these laboratory dogs at Penn. When I asked him where Elvis came from, he said, “An animal transporter, I guess.” An animal transporter obtains animals from shelters and pounds and sells them for research. Elvis was lucky enough to end up in a “no-kill” laboratory and finally in a loving home.

But who de-barked him, and why? Why was he in poor health when he arrived at the university? He seemed to have been somebody’s pet at a happier time in his life.

The trafficking of animals, the animal research complex and all other for-profit animal industries need all the regulation possible to ensure that the simplest of guidelines set forth under the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act are followed.

With the new lack of transparency at the USDA, I fear the worst.

This pet health content was written by a veterinarian, Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD. It was last reviewed March 1, 2017.

Editor’s Note: On Feb. 7, 2017, the USDA reposted a portion of the data it originally removed from its APHIS website due to the new privacy policy.

This one affects all of us and it is very upsetting to see why it may be happening: 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/noaa-satellit-funding-cuts_us_58bcff7be4b0d2821b4efb52 – see link for entire article

Satellite shots by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are incredible, but who knows how long they’ll be on this Earth?

NOAA is yet another federal agency that President Donald Trump has targeted with funding cuts.

According to an Office of Management Budget memo obtained by The Washington Post, Trump hopes to slice NOAA’s funding by a whopping 17 percent. That would include cutting 22 percent ($513 million) from NOAA’s satellite date division, and axing another $216 million (26 percent) of funds from NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research. Some of the programs hit hard would be coastal management and developing ways to aid coasts in dealing with rising sea levels.

In an indication of how draconian the cuts could be, the memo inquires about ending leases on facilities and “property disposal.” As rationale for the cuts, the memo said the administration wants to “prioritize rebuilding the military.” –

I suspected this was why we are seeing what we are with the proposed elimination of complete government departments (EPA, Education, ACA etc), defunding and cutting of programs vital to the health, safety and well-being of the American people!  Why do we need a bigger military?  It is may be because one of the main sources of revenue for this country is from the manufacturing of arms and implements of war?!  Rather than do what’s right and hard, like fixing what is broken about our country, they seem to be intent on scrapping it all for profit and go the tried and true route of the war machine.      

https://www.nationalpriorities.org/cost-of/ – this site has a continuing tally of how much war has cost us, to date and what the money could be spent on instead:

Total Cost of Wars Since 2001

Cost To:

Every hour, taxpayers in the United States are paying
$8.36 million for Total Cost of Wars Since 2001.

Source Internet – from the Gilded age of cartoons. Some things never change.

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