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Ideas with consequences: The Federalist Society and the Conservative Counterrevolution (Studies in Postwar American Political Development) by Amanda Hollis-Brusky (2015)

Impartiality? That word comes into mind and the question surrounding it, upon perusing this scholarly work. The atmosphere whether in a judge’s chambers or in the halls of Congress or the offices of the US Supreme Court – there’s been a distinct change over the past few decades and it continues. The line between politics and policy and law is blurring. Context: There’s a harshness that’s been developing in the daily life of politics and the law and the public square. Lives are disrupted and distrust sets in while polarization rises. What are the downstream effects of judicial decisions and policy making?

Perspective depends I suppose on how close you are to the action or whether you have been paying attention to the decisions being made by district judges and politicians affecting your daily life.

Power. Who has it, why and how is it used. During the first years of the Reagan administration Yale and University of Chicago students created an organization as a response to what they perceived as the left of center liberal view of law schools and justice in the country. The agenda was to move the discourse from the training and credentialing of lawyers to the judicial system itself to the right if not far right. The society eventually grew to 40,000+ lawyers including judges and policy makers and a number of the wealthiest corporate leaders among others.

This is a thought-provoking, scholarly, exhaustive work and the author treats the subject matter in-depth and even-handedly. Her research / bibliography are quite substantial and remarkable.

The state of “justice’ in the United States is disconcerting. More right of center judges are appointed for life in district courts across the country. Judges were once vetted on their impartial views and non-political credentials. Today that has changed.

Interestingly, former Pres. Obama’s selections for district court and a “center oriented” Supreme Court justice opening was/were routinely blocked by a Republican Congress influenced by the Federalist Society, leading to the most conspicuous – Mr. Gorsuch’s appointment under a Republican president. There are four Supreme Court Justices who are members of the Federalist Society (Chief Justice Roberts, Justices Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch.

From a citizen perspective watching a district judge or Supreme Court justice making a ruling one might ask do they fully understand the downstream effect of their decision? Yes they do. Entire generations are affected: When police enter a house without a search warrant based on a suspicion or misplaced rumor, when a corporation is treated like a flesh and blood human being with an individual’s rights, when an elderly man in debt is imprisoned because he can’t pay a bill, when campaign finance is held in secret by private interests for public control, when gun control issues are so blurred nonsensical arguments develop, when abortion rights are based on politics not on a mother’s emotional and physical health are made policy, etc., etc…the list is lengthy. Are the human and humane issues obscured to divide and conquer? The judges understand. Decisions are made based on partiality. The former impartial center is now considered “left.”

Another example of partiality: A Supreme Court justice (and member of the Federalist Society), invites a lawyer (also a member of the Society) to present their case before the court. The Federalist Society in effect become “gatekeepers” of lawyers securing a position within the judicial system and what cases will be heard and supported. That’s called influence. The posture of the Society is to create an alternate elite who “controls” the reins of power.

This is an important book for understanding how the US Constitution and “Originalism” is being translated and how the district court system that affects all of our lives is a primary vehicle for the Federalist Society perspective on how we think, act and live. Freedom is a politicized word that ultimately depends on how much money you have.  The book is a useful reference tool to be consulted and reread and compared with other studies.

I woke up in a fog unsure of where I was.  The lights were bright and I could hear people walking around and talking quietly. I couldn’t make out what they were saying.

My strength dissipating, my body sought sleep. My eyes closed sending me back into a dream like state.  Was I in an operating room? Had they performed the costly liver transplant that I needed?  Even with Medicare there would be many out of pocket expenses and years of expensive anti rejection drugs that would surely put me deeper in a “Black Hole” where only a shadow of light might escape the gravitational pull of mounting debt. I dreamt I was gasping for air or was it real?

After a number of struggling attempts I finally woke enough to realize I was in a hospital recovery room and had a titanium rod inserted in my femur, hip to knee.  Then memories of the fall in my garden came back and the neighbors who had gathered to help and the ambulance ride to the hospital and the excruciating pain.

After three days post surgery in a hospital lying flat on my back and drugged sufficiently I was moved to a rehabilitation center for 2-3 weeks of physical therapy and skilled nursing care.  I was totally out of control of making any decisions so my daughter and son took charge of my care.  I was transported to the rehab center in another ambulance. This was a private for profit facility that accepted my Medicare unless my money didn’t take care of it.

I tried to make my stay there as pleasant and positive as possible even comparing it to a cruise…meals provided, a gym and beauty shop and a room with a big window and cleaning service.  The ocean had to be imagined. I rationalized.

The nursing staff, both registered and technician appeared very over worked on 12 hour shifts.  The technicians did their best to see that basic needs were met including a shower every other day if time permitted.  The RN’s kept up with medications.  Physical and Occupational Therapists spent three one hour sessions a day with me.  They were awesome and overworked with circles around their eyes in the name of profit.

Still the fear I felt as I was wheeled into this institution was palpable.  I was on a lot of pain medication still so I was in and out of reality.  When lucid I could feel and smell and taste the depressive surroundings…the reality of the elderly,  the incompetent and incontinent and incurable with empty looks and hollow eyes doomed to a forever life here.  A life counted not by months or years but by when the next meal was to be served.

When I was on enough drugs it was easy to sleep my way through chunks of time but with horrible dreams and hallucinations.  Twice I was found on the floor in the middle of the night.  The staff believed that I fell out of bed.  I knew in some altered mental state that I was trying to escape.   Somehow the pain medications I was taking caused a bad reaction and since my liver wasn’t metabolizing them I went into severe psychosis.  I was sent back to the hospital for two days of detoxification.

After that back to the rehab center for another week of PT before being discharged.  I am now able to walk again but am still trying to clear the cobwebs from this nightmare out.

This particular chapter of old age ailments is thankfully behind me.  I am a little more than fearful of what lies ahead.  There should be a better way…a better way than dark brown double rooms with limited personal space.  A better way than spending all of your time in bed or wheeling your chair around the gloomy halls.  A better way for permanent residents who disappear into themselves when no one comes to visit. A better way than showering when someone has time to help.  A better way than waking up each day to the depressing sameness as the yesterdays spent here. A better way than watching for profit health care companies making fortunes off of our misfortunes. A better way than losing total control of the remaining future.

Is this the only country that treats the elderly as income and the only country that enjoys large profits from our aging and ailing population? There has to be a better way.

Detroit, An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff (2013)

I really didn’t want to read this book when it was first published in 2013. I’ve been putting it off. I was born in the inner city of Detroit. After a brief stint at St. Mary’s Hospital established by the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul on June 9, 1845, the place under another name was demolished in 1990. It was rubble for a while which brings me to LeDuff’s story. It’s gritty, bleak, uneven and a vivid portrayal of a city called Detroit named by French missionaries in the 17th century. It’s a restless city, at times bustling with the automotive industry, other times decaying like a body at the bottom of an elevator shaft in an abandoned automotive plant. If you’re black or poor any one, it tastes like hopelessness.

I grew up in the inner city through my elementary years which makes this scathing, insightful, witty, expressive and heart rendering drama in part, all the more poignant.

Intolerance, graft, human loss, shattered dreams, racism, lack of money, the blasphemy and violence of poverty, the breath of hope, homelessness, and race riots (Detroit is the only city where thousands of federal troops had to be sent in on three separate occasions and occupy the city – 1863, 1943 and 1967). It’s a city known for its sports, bars, cars and more freeways once used as an escape out of the city now slowly a movement toward returning since LeDuff wrote this memoir (his book is part autobiographical).

Still, Detroit in 2018 is a tumultuous place that appears on the edge of hope and hopelessness depending on the cash you have in your pocket. Poverty still remains substantial as it is in other cities as does high unemployment and higher under-employment; buildings torn down are slowly replaced with inner city cropland. Hope comes in the form of people doing the moral and ethical thing – from a fireman, a cop, a judge, a teacher…the list is long. Every one that comes into contact with the city has a stake in its survival even if it’s at a casino.

The author writes like a novelist…and this book has the slight feel of a war novel…. the city has experienced the disease of institutionalized racism, religious intolerance, corporate and political corruption and greed in it’s history…times change…flickers of hope come from the human heart mid the tragedy and comedy of the city, a person and a people find a way of coming together or perish. There are some parts of the city that feel like a refugee encampment and other parts are hollowed out structures that once housed families. The despair is real. The solutions are more provocative.

Yet, there’s a glimmer of light for Detroit but on some days it seems rather distant. It’s being rebuilt. The author’s autopsy of Detroit is also one of possibilities. Detroit is seeking not a reincarnation but an awakening in the present moment.

Body by Kathryn Thompson

With each embrace

there is no distance between us

and yet we hold the space of the whole cosmos,

indefinable.

Each one of us,

a thought in the mind of

the ocean of perception.

Our minds

our hearts  yearn to name

what we feel,

to be loved, to be known,

each

 

is the power we need,

 

folded into one another

 

we hold the future shared

 

together

 

is to gather

 

like a wave, a tide, the ebb and flow

 

we make the land

of tomorrow from the

 

beautiful yearning of

 

each

 

drop

 

* An over-educated expat Brit, artist, poet, writer, etc, living in the Northern Territory, Australia (28 yrs with brief interlude of 2 yrs in New Zealand). Worked in Aboriginal education at the Red Centre for 25 years. Currently, working as a counselor and therapist.

I love Terpenes, they are one of my favorite subjects to talk about. The terpenes found in Cannabis are especially fun to discuss. First, what are they? Terpenes are component of a plant and essential to their own built-in defense center. They are natural pesticides and miticides and act as a communication tool for plants. That is why feeding your soil and making sure that you provide all the proper nutrients is so important

In nature, terpenoids serve a variety of purposes, of which is defense and signals as the key agents in the metabolic processes.

Terpenoids have been used for fragrances, cosmetics and medicine for thousands of years and are still extracted from their natural sources today.

One of the best aspects of cannabis is the scents and flavors associated with the various varieties of the plant. These compounds known as most plants produce terpenes as a defense mechanism communicate chemically with other living things by what we now know as organic chemistry, because plants and animals produce such a diverse range of chemicals. There are over 120 different types of terpenes that can be expressed by the cannabis plant, although some are only found in trace amounts.

Terpenes make up between five and 10 percent of the total oils that are produced in the trichrome glands. Although they are constantly being produced, they’re easily vaporized by heat and daylight throughout the day, making the morning an ideal time to harvest.

When cannabis is grown in different soils or with different fertilizers, some strains can produce different variations because they are classified into primary and secondary metabolites. This is what adds the fragrances and physical effects and is also partially responsible for the kinds of effects that are induced by different strains of cannabis.

Here are some of the most common terpenes found in the Cannabis plant:

Limonene is much like its name, as it is a citrus terpene that smells like lemon and orange and is used for stress and moods disorders. Limonene also has cancer fighting properties.

A common cannabis flavor is the natural taste of pine needles, which comes from the pinene terpene. Investigations into the chemistry of pine components have made invaluable contributions to our understanding of carbocation chemistry. It has allowed us to discover that this terpene can also be used as an expectorant, topical antiseptic and bronchodilator.

Borneol smells like menthol and is known to be calming and to relieve stress. Borneol is mainly utilized in traditional Chinese medicine.

Myrcene is a kairomone produced by the ponderosa pine. This earthy and musky scented terpene can also be found in bay, ylang-ylang, wild thyme, parsley and hops. It is famous for its sedative effects, and for reducing pain inflammation. You will find may topical applications use myrcene.

Another sedative terpene, linalool produces a flowery fragrance. Aside from promoting relaxation Linalool is widely used in patients suffering from seizure activity.

Delta– 3-Carene has a very sweet and cedar aroma but is more importantly used to dry excess fluids like tears, running noses and excessive menstrual flow. That is what causes red eyes and cotton mouth when using Cannabis.

Found in the eucalyptus plant, and in many of the herbs that we cook with, eucalyptol is a balancing and stimulating terpene that gives off a spicy and minty aroma. Medicinally, it can be used to increase circulation and relieve pain as well. Eucalyptus can be rubbed on the soles of one’s feet to relieve symptoms of a cold or flu.

These are the most frequently used in essential oils and are often referred to as caryophyllene and humulene. Humulene is also very widespread in oils such as sage, ginseng and ylang-ylang. Beta-caryophyllene is a terpene found in cannabis. This terpene is among those that has been known to ease pain and can be used medicinally as an anti-inflammatory.

Humulus lupus, cannabis also produces high amounts of this sesquiterpene, as hops and cannabis have similar traits and fall into the same taxonomical category called Cannabaceae.

And last, but not least, terpineol is one of the major characteristics of the many essential oils found in plants. It has a sweet aroma and is used in different fragrances. The process by which nature produces the chemicals it needs is biosynthesis. The infinite variety of terpenoids produced in nature is such an elegant process and is amazing when we view the wonderful universe that we live in.

From Fascism to Populism in History by Federico Finchelstein  (2017)

Finchelstein, Professor of History at the New School for Social Research and Eugene Lang College in New York City offers brilliant and provocative ideas and insights into the nature of fascism and populism and the historical underpinnings and connections.

He notes in the introduction, “Fascism as a term has the uncanny ability to absorb any new event in a way that obscures its meaning and history.” He offers numerous examples of fascism’s nature from a historical context. The first chapter, “What is fascism in history?” He begins with the genesis of fascism in northern Italy in 1919 and Benito Mussolini and being ‘”rooted in the ideology of the anti-Enlightenment, fascism was not only a reaction against liberal politics and a rejection of democracy.” The author  revisits the roots, the entanglements and downstream effects of the workings of fascism. To say it’s complex is an understatement. His thoughts are quite accessible and stimulating, whether one agrees with him or not.

In chapter two the author delves into the question of what is populism in history? He states that, “ Populism is an authoritarian form of democracy that emerged originally as a post war reformulation of fascism.” He then offers in-depth examples . The author maintains, “fascism and totalitarianism are key parts in populism’s long history, and the ways in which populism has been and continues to be used are not limited to its origins.”

He begins the third chapter by observing, “Dictatorship is one of the foundations of modern populism, but populism is not dictatorship. In the context of the early Cold War this paradox played out in modern populism’s renunciation of dictatorial rule, which in turn created a new, authoritarian regime form of democracy.” He explores the observations and interpretations of other scholars on populism and its relation to fascism.

Though today’s populism is not fascism, from the author’s perspective, what exists today is “a revamped authoritarianism that transformed the dictatorial tradition of classical fascism into an anti-liberal and intolerant form of democracy.” America today is viewed in his words, “as arguably populism’s most stunning incarnation.” Its roots are in fascism and transformed into authoritarianism. Today’s populism is historically and genetically linked to fascism…”One might argue an heir to fascism – a post fascism for democratic times, which combines a more narrow commitment to democracy with authoritarian, anti-democratic impulses.”

Oligarchy, elitism, racism, intolerance, bigotry, misogyny, anti-Semitism are symptoms of a deeper anti-democratic, fascist/populist malaise beyond traditional left and right labels.

This is a fascinating, accessible, thought-provoking study by a scholar who is passionate about his subject and the complexities and historical trajectories of fascism and populism. There are a large number of other works on both fascism and populism from Jon-Werner Muller to Cass Mudde, etc. Finchelsteins’s work synthesizes the scholarship and inspires this reader to look even deeper. This is a timely work. The social and political implications are enormous and troublesome especially in light of our technologies that continue to outpace human relationships on a fragile planet.

Artist: Kathryn Thompson

 

I fell in love with you knowing you were a fiction masquerading as fact.

Your words the sweet sagas of a wandering hero,

Your silence a Haiku scribbled in invisible ink.

Your rambling tales made Scheherazade look like an amateur,

Your words, spouting from the fountain, washing away my apprehension.

You the proud Persian prince, strutting like a peacock in your palace gardens,

with your enticing mating dance.

Who could resist.

Your smile makes the Mona Lisa look petulant,

Your eyes, twinkling emeralds from a stolen ring,

Your sex, a bold blossom from a canvas of O’Keefe,

Your soul, a deep blue from the palette of Matisse.

I fell like a stone

dropped from high

This is a love song in case of good bye.

 

All I ever wanted

was my tongue to learn the language of your body

as it whispered secrets in the darkness.

All I ever wanted

was for you to play me as your beloved instrument

to make me sing a sweet ode to joy.

All I ever wanted was to utter the sacred words:

With my body thee I worship,

to offer myself as the sacrifice on the altar of Eros,

for us to enter the kingdom of heaven,

here on earth

In the garden

in the meadow

In the forest

in the glen

in me, in you.

We would  roam vast landscapes of our longing,

where rocks grow hearts of moss,

and streams gush cool clear water over aching mountains.

We would romp and play in wild weather,

wind blowing kisses through our tussled hair.

The sky would sing the blues,

as cuddling clouds scudded by

and rain fell in buckets of love.

Lightning was awed struck,

thunder clapped with delight,

tornadoes twirled with joy

as we loved out loud,

Oh what magnificence.

Listen

If we should ever part

let us share the story of our love.

Let us tell the doing of what we did:

How we planted the seeds of our longing,

held together the tender shoots of our desire,

How we inhaled deeply the scent of our loving,

and feasted on the ripe fruit of our passion.

How we sucked the sweet juice from the depth of our being and swallowed the seeds of our new becoming.

The wisdom of the ancients is written in our hearts,

Love is the Law,

 

the Yin and the Yang of it.

We sing the songs of innocence,

as we dance on the edge of the sacred,

day and night, night and day, through the seasons, through the years,

loving with the turning,

the axis mundi of the world.

So Descartes

If we should ever meet on the other side,

I will boldly tell you, that you should have kissed in the rain, made

love outside under the moonlight,

and Im sure,

you would have then declared,

I love therefore I am.

 

 

*An over-educated expat Brit, artist, poet, writer, etc, living in the Northern Territory, Australia (28 yrs with brief interlude of 2 yrs in New Zealand). Worked in Aboriginal education at the Red Centre for 25 years. Currently, working as a counselor and therapist.

Sue DeGregorio-Rosen

The Baby Boomer, we were the generation that was never going to get old. After all, we were the generation that on the night of Thursday, Nov. 13, 1969, the “March Against Death”was born. Washington, D.C., had never seen more protesters than any single event in its history. Attendance was higher, by tens of thousands, than at the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington. And regardless of the name that, nearly 50 years later, may appear as ‘curious” , the march was actually about a very scary moment in history.

The deaths we were protesting was the result of a war, a war known as Viet Nam.

As TIME reported in the Nov. 21, 1969, issue:

Disciplined in organization, friendly in mood, [the march] started at Arlington National Cemetery, went past the front of the White House and on to the west side of the Capitol. Walking single file and grouped by states, the protesters carried devotional candles and 24-in. by 8-in. cardboard signs, each bearing the name of a man killed in action or a Vietnamese village destroyed by the war. The candles flickering in the wind, the funereal rolling of drums, the hush over most of the line of march—but above all, the endless recitation of names of dead servicemen and gutted villages as each marcher passed the White House —were impressive drama: “Jay Dee Richter” . . . “Milford Togazzini” . . . “Vinh Linh, North Viet Nam” . . . “Joseph Y. Ramirez.” At the Capitol, each sign was solemnly deposited in one of several coffins, later conveyed back up Pennsylvania Avenue in the Saturday march.

  • We honored those that we had lost. We honored those that were drafted, children, as would be noted in today’s world, were sent to a foreign land, to fight a war that had no reason . While we might be “over the hill”, we said and accomplished things that will carry us out to pasture and still allow us the opportunity to continue to leave our mark as the generation that wanted and fought for change.
  • We are older, now, and with age comes a serene wisdom, a wisdom one can share with future generations.

We always talked about making the world a better place. We were the century’s most innovative & thought-provoking youth. But we were careless about our fiscal, economic, and environmental journeys. For all of our wisdom, our inaction in our environment would prove disastrous to future generations.

  • We weren’t total idiots. We did continue to initiate large social and economic paths for women, minorities, and people with disabilities. Those groups have gained rights that will never be reversed. Women can grow up to be lawyers or lead a major corporation. African-Americans can grow up to become president. We were responsible for the creation of Apple and Microsoft. We made the StarWars We even balanced the federal budget for a short time before the turn of the century.
  • We made medicine, Cannabis, we encouraged our children to legalize this plant that we used to get high. We knew it worked.

We were the first generation that populated integrated schools. We turned on, tuned in and dropped out. We went to Woodstock, closing down a major roadway in NY state to celebrate in the pouring rain “3 Days of Peace & Music” and saw Jimi Hendrix play his version of “The Star Spangled Banner” on an electric guitar. It was a beautiful celebration. No violence, just peace.

We refuse to be forgotten……….Here are some interesting facts that I came across.

  • Baby Boomers make up about 26 percent of the population. California has the highest population of Baby Boomers (9 million), followed by Texas (5.6 million), New York (5.1 million), Florida (4.6 million) and Pennsylvania (3.4 million). (55places.com)
  • On December 31, 2029, the last of the Boomers will turn 65.The 65+ population segment is projected to double to 71.5 million by 2030 and grow to 86.7 million by 2050. Possibly more than 80 million will be on Medicare and Social Security. (CNN)
  • There’s a widely paraded myth that Baby Boomers have a lot of wealth. They don’t. Sure, they have more discretionary income than any other age group. However, in 2007, before the housing bubble burst, older households (between 55 and 64) had a median net worth of $266,000. By 2010, that shrunk dramatically (33%) to $179,400. (Governing.com)
  • Boomers financially support their adult children. Almost 60% of Baby Boomer parents provide financial support to their adult children, including living expenses, medical bills and paying off loans. (Forbes)
  • Baby Boomers are the Web’s largest constituency. They make up over 30% of US internet users. They spend 16 hours per week watching T.V. and 19 hours per week online. (Google/Ipsos)
  • Search and email are the top two online activities among Boomers. A DMN3 survey of online Boomers found that 96.1% of use search, while 94.8% of Boomers use email. They often use the Internet to research health and wellness information, as well as plan and book leisure trips. (DMN3)
  • Boomers contribute more positive online product reviews  than other generational groups. They contribute 45% of the total online product opinions and assign 3% more five-star ratings. (Bazaarvoice)
  • Boomers love Facebook. An astonishing 84.9% of Boomers said they use Facebook. (DMN3)
  • Boomers are comfortable with online transactions. Almost 9 out of 10 Boomers have made an online purchase. (eMarketer)
  • Baby Boomers are confident, independent and self-reliant.This generation grew up in an era of reform and believe they can change the world. They went from Hippie to Yuppie. Baby Boomers understand that the world doesn’t owe them anything. They’re not afraid of confrontation and will not hesitate to challenge authority and status quo. (About.com)
  • So, before you blow us off as the aging self-centered hippie generation, the generation that may be a drain on Social Security and all of the other rights we have paid into, remember that we are loving and caring, and we meant well, just as the generations of today do and please read the slogan I have posted below. I believe it covers all of our people, we are American, and we are proud, no matter what age category we fall into, we will survive.

Artist: Primordial Soup by Kathryn Thompson

In the quiet moments

I take deep breaths,

that turn into deep sighs,

and an inconsolable grief percolates up

from the depths of my being,

I feel  sorrow and grief so unbearable

I know not what it is

or whence it comes.

pause breathe

 

I cannot comprehend the enormity of this presence

it is threatening to engulf me,

I am drowning in a sorrow so much deeper,

darker than I have ever known or could imagine

the enveloping of an inky  blackness

fills me with fear.

pause, watch the breath

 

I am drowning

I am falling

teetering on the edge of the dark abyss

there is nothing to hold on to, nothing to hold me

pause  and watch the breath

 

a still small voice gently whispers

wait

sit patiently in the darkness

the darkness is the source of all life

like a mother holding her beloved child, the dark earth holds the seed

you are but a seed waiting in the darkness

and as the seed breaks through the hard casing of its shell,

and grows towards the light

your freedom is waiting to break through the hard resistance

of your fear that holds you so tight

pause breathe

trust in life that brought you forth

as the seed sprouts, you may shed your pain

so  sit  patiently, in the darkness of unknowing

place your fear on the wings of your breath

let it go into orgasmic surrender.

 

* A over-educated expat Brit, artist, poet, writer, etc, living in the Northern Territory, Australia (28 yrs with brief interlude of 2 yrs in New Zealand). Worked in Aboriginal education at the Red Centre for 25 years. Currently, working as a counselor and therapist.

Image for Writings

Credit: Jean Philippe-Cypres, photographer

I was born in a country with political boundaries and within a capitalistic system. Capitalism is based on profit.

A number of economists suggest capitalism is necessary for survival at least to a degree. In the extreme, it encourages greed.

In such a system, one is a political and an economic creation as much as being of flesh and blood. I have identity cards, licenses, records, documents, certificates, diplomas, degrees and job evaluations that measure, label and categorize me now all in digital format and allow me to work or shove me out the door at will. At will is a pretentious legal term that philosophically suggests my existence and value exists at the discretion of others. Competition is inbred into the capitalist philosophical disposition and has become a political creation. Genetics is another story. The artificial and the biological are now woven with the technological. Consider artificial intelligence with thinking software and the future of human welfare.

Unless you have a pre-existing condition of surplus wealth, then you can’t live satisfactorily outside the boundaries of the country or rules of the “political state of being” in which you are born and are subject to. Without a record of yourself, you are without a home unless you have sufficient financial resources. It’s the economics of power. Those who control the wealth are mostly in control or at least the framework exists for such a liberty. Wealth effectuates liberty of movement. And, the earth turns giving the illusion that the sun rises. Art, music and poetry are just three expressions to help assuage our physically transitory existence and the setting of the sun. Philosophically one could say one is moving as the earth whirls at approximately one thousand miles an hour. That’s not wealth, or liberty of movement, merely the power of observation.

The politics of liberty are interesting. Libraries, fire departments, schools, colleges, water, sewer, roads, etc., are dependent on government and government is only as successful to the degree that it’s nonprofit and its services are available to all people. To suggest that supply side economics is an answer is indeed to play into the hands of the superstitious. Some have previously called it “voodoo economics.” In different words, outsourcing is about profit-making. The poor get lost in the shuffle and corporations explore their greed.

I think it’s become natural for politicians to vacillate between politics, policy-making and fundraising; the last tends to take up most of their time. Some days I wonder how a Navy man served an insightful four terms during the depression and WWII, and how much he and his cousin at the turn of the century from another party who also understood what it meant to “possess a conscience” and a heart, were able to keep corporations from gaining too much control. Democracy was defined differently than it is today. What was considered progression in one era is redefined as digression in another period.

History is continually revised as new perspectives and insights are either eschewed or espoused within the context of power and the packaging of ideas. For example, the poor have their place and will always be with us. Is that a serious argument? Rationalizations are a calming self-help spiritual ointment fostered by the wealthy and supported by religious proverbs inscribed under the authority of politically inspired rulers.

Political jargon and epithets are repeated for a purpose and are antithetical to the spiritual. Repetition creates affirmation. Bias is infused within the believer’s mind. Cultish behavior grows. Collusion exists between the person(s) who purposefully collude and those receptive to it. People, who want power, collude. Manipulation, arrogance, bullying behavior and narcissism are siblings to fear, insecurity, self-loathing and true belief.

Democracy is a nice term for the pre-twenty first century. It is now being redefined and reshaped into an oligarchic and authoritarian framework. Packaging ideas point toward the espoused belief that prosperity is for winners.

The gospel of prosperity has infected the theologies of modern religions based on ancient metaphors. The book of Revelation was determined sacred by men and written by a man seeking wealth, for who would desire an eternity wandering streets paved of gold singing alleluia to an invisible “Being.” It was allegory filled with metaphors from an individual I suspect who was “naturally high” on some plants he was ingesting at the time. Still, much can be learned from ancient and medieval mystics. The insights gained can be profound and provocative and retain a spiritual quality.

Artificially defined sacred works achieve power when they subjugate material wealth to the wealth of the soul – the ethics of conscience. The human spirit can easily be infected with the virus of the unethical. In times of volatile political change, spiritual greed and material greed can easily be woven together in a viral fabric and find itself contaminated with ignorance, arrogance and abuse.

While in Bombay (Mumbai), India several decades ago I spoke with an old Hindu woman walking alongside a dirt road with a stick in her hand to balance her gait. She nodded and greeted me and we talked as we headed toward a village. At one point we stopped at a restaurant and sat outside at a small table with two chairs. We had some tea and she smiled and looked into my eyes and said, “You are both fortunate and wealthy in experience. Your soul is in your breath. Gandhi intimated poverty is the worst form of violence to the human being; money is only needed for the basis of food and shelter. Until one suffers and experiences life you can’t uncover the joy of seeking something deeper within your soul. I can see in your eyes that you are on that journey.”

And when you showed me the Bridge*

in the morning,

and me leaning on the lamppost wiping eyes,

Nobody knew I cried

or would have cared anyway

slip on the water and fall

down the stairs in the hall

and the long line of chairs,

And when you showed me long gold hair on a Cheshire cat,

I knew God you had better plans than that.

 

*Belle Island Bridge. Detroit.

Artist: Kathryn Thompson

 

Bring me your shattered mind,

your bruised and battered soul,

and lay your weariness across my lap

like swathes of silken cloth.

Let me stroke the worn tapestry of

your torn misery.

My strong smooth thighs hold you

as you turn your face to nuzzle

deep into my musky darkness.

The ancient call and response

springs to life once more,

your yearning, my wanting.

I stoke your head and press you to me

and sigh

as I flow into your hungry sucking mouth.

 

*An over-educated expat Brit, artist, poet, writer, etc, living in the Northern Territory, Australia (28 yrs with brief interlude of 2 yrs in New Zealand). Worked in Aboriginal education at the Red Centre for 25 years. Currently, working as a counselor and therapist.

I was driving to Denver to pick up a few members of my family at the international airport. I was on Interstate 25 on the south end of the metropolitan area in very heavy traffic – six lanes in each direction. It was a clear sky kind of day and the sun was already heading to the western horizon.

My right rear tire blew out – a tire that was only three weeks old.  Fortunately, I was in the right lane and was able to get on the shoulder safely – next to one of those large concrete barrier walls.  The traffic was so heavy and fast I was feeling dizzy and very uneasy. Perhaps frightened is a better word. Yeah that’s the right word.

I started moving stuff out of the trunk so I could get to the tire and jack and was having a very difficult time getting the tools out of their home. They felt bolted down. I couldn’t help but notice all of the SUVs, Hummers and sleek European and American vehicles whizzing by – cars bearing Godly and righteous bumper stickers proclaiming their love for the lord, love for their neighbors, love for the troops, love for every unborn beating heart, but they had no love for this diminutive 59-year-old white-haired woman – this woman who by now was shaking a bit with a tear or two dripping down her cheek. Perhaps it was the last-minute chilly wind that occurs in the mile high city that caused the watery eyes. I doubt it.

My saviors arrived in a small old beat up white pick up truck with painting equipment in the back. They pulled up in front of my car and out rolled three brown men in baseball caps with white paint spattered on their skin and their clothes. They immediately took over the task at hand.

These gentlemen spoke no English – but none was needed for them to see a woman in dire need. No English was needed to help in perfect team work to get the tire changed in about 5 minutes; no English was needed for them to refuse the $20 I offered; no English was needed for them to accept the small bag of freshly made chocolate chip cookies that I had for family; no English was needed for them to understand my gratitude when I put my small and perfectly manicured hand in each of their tire-dirty, paint sprinkled brown hands to convey my thanks. No English was needed as we nodded and waved and smiled at each other as we each drove away on our separate trips.

I thought about it as I drove towards the airport and couldn’t reconcile or understand why language, color of skin or country of origin are something to fear. We’re all on the same planet. From a distance in space without a zoom-in camera you can’t notice the artificial boundaries. It’s difficult to defend the indefensible. And, my experience also suggests you may find a bit of humanity in the most unexpected of circumstances.

* A romantic traveler

Help a Library Transcribe Magical Manuscripts & Recover the Charms, Potions & Witchcraft That Flourished in Early Modern Europe and America

Magic is real—hear me out. No, you can’t solve life’s problems with a wand and made-up Latin. But there are academic departments of magic, only they go by different names now. A few hundred years ago the difference between chemistry and alchemy was nil. Witchcraft involved as much botany as spellwork. A lot of fun bits of magic got weeded out when gentlemen in powdered wigs purged weird sisters and gnostic heretics from the field. Did the old spells work? Maybe, maybe not. Science has become pretty reliable, I guess. Standardized classification systems and measurements are okay, but yawn… don’t we long for some witching and wizarding? A well-placed hex might work wonders.

Say no more, we’ve got you covered: you, yes you, can learn charms and potions, demonology and other assorted dark arts. How? For a onetime fee of absolutely nothing, you can enter magical books from the Early Modern Period.

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American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

Censorship, the suppression of words, images, or ideas that are “offensive,” happens whenever some people succeed in imposing their personal political or moral values on others. Censorship can be carried out by the government as well as private pressure groups. Censorship by the government is unconstitutional.

In contrast, when private individuals or groups organize boycotts against stores that sell magazines of which they disapprove, their actions are protected by the First Amendment, although they can become dangerous in the extreme. Private pressure groups, not the government, promulgated and enforced the infamous Hollywood blacklists during the McCarthy period. But these private censorship campaigns are best countered by groups and individuals speaking out and organizing in defense of the threatened expression.

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