Fire Bird: Awakening

FireBird2017February 27 marks the Tibetan New Year and another opportunity to start fresh, abandoning old patterns of hope and fear.  That is really the crux of Buddhist philosophy: staying present and mindful in THIS moment, rather than hoping or worrying about other outcomes.

On our Western New Year I wrote about Seeing Clearly (also the subject of my last nonfiction book, here on the main page.) Basically it means accepting what is. Seeing things as they are, without our filters and interpretations– just “as is.”

Whenever we struggle with our situation (whatever it is) we suffer. That is what Buddha is said to have realized back in the day, and what all the various Buddhist teachers express. Grappling with this concept IS our practice (as one of my favorite teachers Tsunma Pema Chodron) is fond of saying.  (It is my intention to title my next book Grappling, for that reason.)

The rub, for me at least, is even accepting that fact. I constantly want to say, “yes but…”  As in what about physical pain? What about the need to rise up and fight against fascism? (or hate, greed, torture, abuse.) Isn’t it lame to let go of the Valiant struggles? Isn’t that just caving in and giving up?  Words matter, especially in Dharma.  Acceptance vs. resignation is a favorite topic for grappling.  Here’s a podcast from the Secular Buddhist on that very issue (only 11 minutes and worth the time.)

So, the upshot (as Noah explains in the podcast) is about how we handle our moment to moment experiences; responding– rather than reacting emotionally– to whatever is occurring.  It’s about creating the space and freedom to respond, not resigning or surrendering.  The answer comes by grappling with this process and letting go of our reactive patterns. Translating that to our big concerns takes practice, unless you are so fortunate as experience instant Enlightenment.  🕉️  (More on that in a future post.)

As for the Fire Bird, it is part of the Tibetan astrological phases based on a lunar calendar. It represents passion and also awakening.  Beautiful image!

VERY #SAD

Our U.S. Senate just voted 52 to 46 (Friday, Feb 17) to put the final nail in the planet’s coffin.  Approving Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency is truly tragic.  This Republican dominated so-called Congress has really shown us who they are.  TRAITORS.  Yes, they’re ALL traitors and they should ALL be in jail! They have betrayed Americans and now our beautiful natural resources.MoneyBag

First, be proud of our Senate Democrats.  They pulled several all-nighters to extend the debate time and allow the public to contact their representatives so we could oppose extreme bigots like Jeff Sessions (for Attorney General), the totally unqualified Betsy DeVoss who bought her way to Education Secretary, and the Dems testified again last night trying to stop Okie AG Scott Pruitt.  Pruitt’s claim to fame has been challenging EPA rules that protect human health and the environment.  As my own wonderful New Mexico Senator (D) Tom Udall says, “Pruitt is all about special interest, not the public interest.” Amen.  With thousands of pages of FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) material about to be released showing Pruitt’s links to fracking and oil money, we’re about to learn a LOT more about Scott Pruitt.

But, the self-serving Republicans couldn’t be bothered with facts. They’ve just been ramming through all of Trump’s appointees as fast as they can since they have the votes.  They wanted NO public comment time, and the creepiest creep Senate Leader McConnell actually had the Senate switchboard disabled (using fax signal rather than phone) so we couldn’t call Congress today.

Seriously, after we almost broke the phone system with opposition calls to Jeff Sessions and DeVoss, Mitch disabled it.

Yes, the same smashed-mouth Mitch who shut down Senator Elizabeth Warren on the Senate floor as she tried to read Coretta Scott King’s  (MLK’s widow) letter into the record during Jeff Sessions’ hearing earlier this month.  McConnell cited some antiquated, obscure rule to silence Warren.  She was told to “sit down.”  In my long career of watching and covering news, and now tweeting about it,  I cannot recall a male Senator being censured or told to sit down.  SC (R) Lindsey Graham said, “She had it coming.”  VERY sexist.

Today (after the Pruitt vote) weird Mitch had the audacity to stand on the Senate floor and attempt to make fun of progressives, calling us “knee-jerk liberals.”  I say attempt, because creepy goofball Mitch  doesn’t even know his name-calling facts.  Knee-jerk refers to “unthinking emotional reaction”, but sadly that’s the Republicans, not us. We’re the “elitist, fact-obsessed, media” remember? We actually know stuff.

There are no more real Republicans, as I used to credit them. Trumpism has taken over the entire GOP, and it’s far from a grand old party these days!

Now if you stuck around here’s your reward. Bonus material.  The REAL scoop. Trump actually is doing what he said he would.  FecklessRightThe real shock is that the ignorant Republicans (all of them combined) can’t outsmart him.  He told you he negotiates. So, the first name he tosses out is the most abhorrent– an actual joker. If you’re gullible enough to settle for the first offer (like Sessions, Mitch’s wife or Rick Perry) then score one for the deplorable Trumpers. They’re laughing their asses off. (NOTE: Not all Trump supporters are deplorable, but card-carrying deplorables are Trumper twits.) In Jeff Sessions, we have the most bigoted, throwback imaginable in charge of the Justice Department. Funny, huh?  You’ve got a hedge fund guy who scammed the system (and a lot of home owners) in charge of the U.S. Treasury. Hilarious, right?  A homophobic, pro-lifer running our medical system (BTW, he also pulled scams with medical stocks) and Big Oil (literally the CEO of the world’s largest oil company, Exxon, who has pending deals in Russia) running our foreign affairs.  WHY? 

Don’t blame Trump, blame Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan. These Traitors, along with Lindsey Graham, and other former “Real Republicans” have a scheme that’s backfiring.  They thought they could use Trump to ram through their key legislation, like repealing “Obama Care” (the Affordable Care Act) and screw poor people in other ways by messing with entitlement programs, BUT #FAKE45 is having the last laugh.  (Click and read the image above.) What they’ve really done is stick America with a truly deplorable cast of characters. (Notice that when unions and the old organized labor networks pulled together, they were able to dump Puzder for Labor Secretary.)  Trump negotiated in return offering up the more reasonable (and Hispanic) Alexander Acosta.  Did Mitch or Lyin’ Ryan try to negotiate?  Nope, too stoooopid.  The original wheeling and dealing (before Repubs totally sold out)  had to do with the Supreme Court pick, but that’s a longer story.

BOTTOM LINE:  When Trump is inevitably impeached for all his lying, Constitutional violations, con jobs and bufoonery, we’ll be stuck with VP Pence and people totally incapable of running the departments they head.  Oh, and Trump will have still made a killing with the deals and contacts he’s cultivating.  The country will be bankrupt by then, real people will have suffered (and died) and our democracy left damaged by #RussianCollusion (aka Treason.) PLUS we’ve just spent somewhere between 10 and 25 MILLION in less than a month for extra security (travel and intel costs)  for Trump’s weekend jaunts to Mar-a-lago and to keep the First Lady holed up at Trump Tower.  Wait til we see the other bills racked up by Bannon, the Flynn fling, and all the fam hanging out at the White House.

So much for America First! (you might want to read that NPR link and also my last post on Who is Moral?

Who got duped? More than just the deplorable supporters, that’s for sure.  Sad, very #SAD!

Who is Moral?

It’s actually pretty obvious what’s at the crux of our HUGE political divide. How the Right (and Alt-Right) and Progressive liberals (even moderate Dems) can look at the same  240 yr. old Constitution and come to entirely different conclusions.  I just heard VP Pence conflate capitalism with liberty! How can the same founding documents be interpreted so differently?  It’s one reason why the Supreme Court Justice picks are of critical importance. Current U.S. law is based on the 1976 High Court ruling that money is speech (plus 1979 amendments and other citations led to the 2010 “Citizens United” ruling. Details in the Amendment Gazette )
MoralityCloudEveryone is shouting past the real issue– and each other– protesting, boasting or posting their own opinions, from the left, from the right. No one is listening!  So if you want me to say it plainly, take a deep breath… exhale.  Ready?

Under those rulings, money IS speech. Capitalism IS everything. We are living in Orwell’s 1984 and were even back then, under Reagan.

Progressives like myself, Independents and many Democrats believe MORALITY, not money, is our standard and right. Is it? or are we sadly mistaken?Integrity is Everything

If you think corporations and other polluters can buy the right to ruin our remaining protected, sacred lands, and ruin our health with toxic chemicals and unregulated poisons in our food, air and water, then you probably agree with the “Citizens United” view of America. Many of us view those actions as immoral and inhumane. We feel morality means true concern and compassion for ALL– regardless of stature or ability to pay. You know, “Liberty and Justice for All” as in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Politicians like Pence and Senator Jeff Sessions (R – Alabama) who is nominated to be our next U.S. Attorney General say plainly, they will uphold and enforce our laws.  Currently, that means money is speech and corporations can use unlimited amounts to buy and bribe their way into every aspect of our lives.  In other words, money talks  (literally!)

At the controversial Prayer Breakfast (Feb 2) Donald Trump assured the religious leaders that their churches and organizations would have UNLIMITED ability to “support” (give money through super pacs and donations) religious freedom. My jaw dropped when I realized they will use their deep pockets to buy the best attorneys, analysts and yes judges to make sure those laws remain on the books. I don’t believe that is what most hardworking Midwesterners and “Evangelicals” voted for.  They want jobs, but even when it requires dealing with the devil? (Writer David Brooks nailed it with his “Republican Fausts” opinion piece in the New York Times this past week.) Maybe Trump really is the #AntiChrist.

Trump and Co. say they won the election “fair and square” (despite their own claims of a “rigged system” and Russian involvement.)  The Resistance claims the election was stolen using dirty tricks like voter suppression, diversion tactics, outright lies AND Russian collusion.  Both sides are now claiming high ground and “moral authority.”

I vividly recall when the original alleged Moral Majority emerged.  I was a young reporter in the 1970s.  After Nixon’s impeachment, there was right-wing backlash to hippies, women’s “lib” and all the liberal politics of the time. Fundamentalist Churches began urging their members to support and vote for certain political candidates (often picked by their new leader Baptist preacher Jerry Falwell.) Midwest and Southern “evangelicals” (as they’ve come to be called) were pushing back against abortion, emerging gay groups and feminism in all forms. This is when they discovered the real power of the pulpit and the almighty dollar.  They gerrymandered districts, suppressed the minority vote and bought themselves a judicial system.  Somehow they’ve convinced themselves that is moral.  Me and 70 million other voters disagree. That is why protests continue.  We are the majority and we have a very different view of what is moral.

Regardless what our ridiculous Republican-concocted laws say, giant corporations and mega Churches are exactly what our Founders did not want running this country.  They crossed the ocean in rickety ships to get away from such oppression. But with a billionaire baby in the Oval, Faustian Bannon in his ear, and unlimited amounts of cash pouring in, it will take some savvy detangling to get us out of this mess.