Tag Archives: election 2016

Election Reflection: Turn Inward

This was intended to be a general ‘life is rough’ article, but as events unfold and we reel from the recent election, it seems prudent to change the angle a bit.

I mean, after all, we are a hurting nation at the moment.

Many fear for the security of their lives since it has been threatened, and like most humans, allow their ‘fight or flight’ instinct to overcome reason.   I understand the protests.  I will never condone the violence.

Many are in shock at the idea that a bully could have garnered enough support as to be elected to the highest, most respected office in the land. They are concerned about international politics and fear permanent damage to allied relationships  as well as world economic functions.

Many are happy.   They wanted change (I completely understand this sentiment) and they got it.   Whether it plays out in their favor or not, time will tell, currently the president-elect is filling his cabinet with very cozy Wall Street employees so I personally don’t hold out any hope.

Some are gloating.  In my hometown a high school student was passing out home made ‘deportation notices’ to the minorities in his classes.   An elementary lunch room in Michigan was the scene of chants of “Build that wall,” instilling fear and shame into Latino children.

On top of all this, we each have our personal problems to deal with.  A friend of mine is a recent widow.   Another friend just lost her sister.  My niece is bound for lung surgery this week.   Someone, somewhere is going through a divorce.  Someone, somewhere was just betrayed by their best friend.  Someone, somewhere is dealing with a child who is struggling with a heroin addiction.

Life is pain, meanwhile we must be kind to ourselves.

What does that mean?  It means giving the world some space.   We can’t control everything (we can control very little) so quit trying to control everything and turn inward towards yourself.   Allow  yourself to validate your own feelings, allow yourself to accept shortfalls as part of the human experience rather than some defective character flaw, allow yourself to just be and gather strength from ‘mental stillness.’   It is empowering.

Go for walks. Getting in touch with nature never fails to put things into perspective.   The

mtshasta

photo credit to the author 11/09/2016

leaves are turning and littering the earth right now, another summer is over, another cycle consummated, time goes on, we are but a mere speck within it’s marching.  In this bigger picture, our troubles are less taxing.

Meditate.  Shut out the world, listen only to your breathing.   Connect with the universe as a part of it, not separate from it.  Speak gently to yourself.

We must be kind to ourselves at this moment as we reflect on the election and what it means to us personally,  so that we have the capacity to be kind to others.

There are many who need it.

Yours,

Frankie

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Civil Grief

There was a time when we could count on civility.  There was a moment in our history when we could actually respect another’s opinion, maybe even weigh it against our own with no harm, and then move on without a grudge, without name calling, without hostility.   We enjoyed a rare exhibit of humanity when an election was over;  when the people had spoken, we accepted the outcome and went on with our lives, knowing that the constitution and reasonable compromise would prevail.  I was taught this in school and in church, and it was exemplified by my elders and former national leaders.

It’s become increasingly apparent that civility is a lost quality in our nation.  This should concern us all.

It began with the election of the current president and a remark from a senator that the commander-in-chief would only get ‘one term’.   It gained momentum when the house speaker in charge couldn’t (or wouldn’t) lead his cabal and a power play over the national budget suddenly became evening news fodder.   It culminated when a law, upheld by the checks and balances of the supreme court, was repeatedly voted upon for repeal (or parts of the law as some would clarify – either way, the inability to accept the high court’s decision  has marred our national landscape).

It continues with this election cycle.  We have witnessed some atrocious behavior towards one another.   We don’t respect each other’s opinion, instead we resort to name calling and vitriolic attacks on friends and family.   This isn’t civility, it’s anarchy.  This isn’t democracy, it’s tyranny.  This isn’t respect, it’s cynicism.

We.  Are.  Better.  Than.  This.

I understand there is fear, but there is peace with unity.  I get that there is lack of integrity, but we can have great confidence in reason.

We will elect a new leader tomorrow.  May we honor the votes, honor our democracy, and come together again at the end of the competition, under one flag, under one ideal and move forward once more as one –  because without civility, we  can no longer claim to uphold the torch of democracy and the “American Dream”.  We cannot exclaim that we are exceptional.

E pluribus anum.

Yours in peace,

Frankie

 


“Make it So”

I wrote a while back about the way that science fiction provides examples to us of what a world without religion looks like.   It’s an important point to think on since there’s quite a lot of hullaballoo surrounding the thought that atheists or agnostics can’t be nice or get along and are particularly evil so a future filled with such people is certainly vile, discordant, and unlivable.

Not so.  Many science fiction movies and television shows exemplify that humankind can actually thrive where religion is absent and reason prevails in it’s stead.  Is there evil?  Yep.  We can’t escape it because it is part of ourselves, but we do see in each instance that love or relationships or family overcome and save the day, and tellingly, no supreme being is needed.  (By the way, we really don’t know how else to write the story except that good always defeats evil – such an optimistic species).

With the release of the newest Star Trek movie, a fellow writer picked up on this theme and discusses it in this Atlantic article.   It is hopeful in this time of turbulence – especially as an American watching the current election cycle – to see a standard held for us all to claim:  we can rely on each other, as well as our own reasoning, to create a decent society.

May we ‘make it so.’

Yours,

Frankie

 


First Perhaps, Not Best However

You are the first, but you are not our best.  I know this with certainty, there are others with greater integrity and deeper loyalties – it is difficult to miss them among your repute.

You deliver promises from a podium and smile kindly at the masses.  I see a facade, I watch body language, I follow the money. Your words and warmth are alien compared to your deeds and transactions.

You have shattered a ceiling, but you have not fooled me.  I watched you keep the one who betrayed you so you could break that glass.  In doing so you betrayed yourself and each of your sisters, including your own daughter.

You may have seen this coming a long way off, for you have planned, colluded, devised, manipulated, coerced, and twisted yourself into this role. Methinks it looks like Cinderella’s shoe forced upon the foot of one of the ugly stepsisters: contorted, deformed, repulsive.

You will revel in the moment, claim a solid victory, and think the world astounded.  But history will bring justice and reality will reveal:  The moment is artificial.  The victory, merely a shell – like a hollow chocolate bunny.

I cannot concede this milestone, it is marred and scarred with the illness of selfish motives.    It is clouded from the pollution of the process you employed.  It is weighed heavy with the baggage you bring.   It is tainted by your dishonesty and false propositions.

You may be first, but we are not a better nation for it.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Choosing a President : A Thought Experiment

“Well then fuck the Prime Minister and cancel the State dinner.  No, wait!  We’ll have the State dinner but let’s invite that idiot from North Korea instead.  That oughta piss off all of those pussies in Europe.”

“But Mr. President, there’s international protocol, we can’t just dis-invite the Prime Minister of Britain because he didn’t agree with you on the whole Greek Reformation thing.  I mean, they really can’t fire all their workers when the people doing the firing are protesting as well.  And we can’t invite the leader of a nation that we’re imposing sanctions upon.”

“Oh for fuck’s sake!   International protocol my ass, this is the Greatest Nation on earth, we can change the protocol.”

“I’m sorry Mr. President but we really can’t.   This is a matter of National interest and prestige.   It’s not just about the US, I mean there are leaders all over the world watching how this visit goes down, especially in light of your, a-hem, the disagreement between yourself and the PM. I mean, this is fucking Britain we’re talking about and we really have to kiss their ass sometimes to keep our sway in Europe.”

“Goddamn he’s such a prick though.   Can’t I just send the Vice-President then?  Make up some excuse that I’m sick or something.”

“I, uh, really don’t think that’s in our best interest sir, we have to be seen as setting a high bar, as it were, in keeping a solid relationship with Britain.   That means the dinner must be perfect.”

“Whatever.  Just have your guys communicate to his guys that I don’t want any chit chat at the dinner table, and put some one cool and good-looking on the other side of me, I dunno, like Cindy Crawford and what’s-his-name her husband.”

“Yes sir, I’ll get right on that.” Jamie, the President’s Chief of Staff, closed the  door of the Oval Office and took a swig of his Starbucks.   He was grateful for the Cognac he added earlier to the remaining latte.  It’d at least get him through the morning.  The State dinner was only ten days away, he had no idea how he was going to keep this together. He sent a text to his secretary to get the number for Cindy Crawford’s agent along with a prayer muttered under his breathe,”Please let her be available on such short notice.  Christ this job is killing me.”  He took another swig and practically ran to the other side of the White House to find out if Bruce Springsteen would play the dinner even though he’d asked five times already and been turned down each time without hesitation. “God, what can I do to bribe the son-of-a-bitch.  And, why Bruce Springsteen?  He could’ve chosen a hundred other ass kissers to do the gig but he chose the one guy who would be a problem.”

Cindy Crawford was available (thank god), Bruce never did say yes (fuck ‘im), but Jamie convinced the President during an opportune moment that maybe  Coldplay would be an acceptable substitute.   Their agent had tentatively agreed, they were British so it was a brilliant nod to the visiting Prime Minister, and they were cool with the mainstream since they just released their biggest album ever.  As far as Jamie was concerned, it was a win-win-win.

The next few days were a blur.  Once the final pieces were in place Jamie immediately forgot about the dinner as he ran around, spiked Starbucks cup in hand, defending the President’s comments:  “No, he wasn’t endorsing bankruptcy as a solution to the national debt problem.”   “What he meant was that China should pursue the right policy for their nation and if that means no more petroleum based engines imported from the US then we of course regret the loss of their business, but I assure you we will continue to engage in other trade with them.”   “I’m sure the President didn’t mean the comment literally, it was a figurative reference that the President of Russia was a momma’s boy.  He meant that Russia appears to sometimes hides behind the skirts of the EU or China.”

The dinner went off without any trauma and Jamie was close to letting his guard down by the time dessert arrived.   The Prime Minister was happy to oblige the request to ignore the President and Cindy Crawford was even more beautiful in real life than he could imagine.  The President flirted with her all evening long and drank lots of champagne.  Jamie sensed that his wife was getting a bit pissed at the ordeal; she kept shifting in her chair and giving him horrible looks.   Jamie thought if the President didn’t realize he was in trouble with her, he was a complete idiot.

Finally the call came for the first dance which required the two to be ‘alone’ in a loose sense of the word; they were in front of powerful world leaders, A-list celebrities and a zillion staff and press.  As Jamie watched them dance to the first few measures of some sickening sweet love song, he could well discern the forced smile on both faces and imagine the conversation taking place behind the masks; he’d heard them personally more often than he’d care to recall, her accent was burned into his memory forever.   “Get your shit together, you are starting to cross the line and get everyone pissed.  Her husband is getting angry too.  He looks like he’s about to hit you. We’re almost done here, keep it zipped in every conceivable way, do you understand me?  The entire fucking world is watching you, act like a grown up!”   Jamie figured the cue for other couples to join on the dance floor came at a fortuitous moment.   They couldn’t speak with others around and their silence saved everyone from an escalating, longstanding argument.

Jamie took a long swig of his bourbon as he watched the President sit in his seat when he returned from the first dance and the brief conversation with his wife.  He knew the pose, the look, the rhythm of the breathing of his chest:  shit was about to happen.

He saw it unfold with such perfect consistency it put a knot in his stomach.  First the harsh snap at the poor waiter…as if he should have read his mind and switched the drink from champagne to scotch.  Then the invisible line crossed…ever so slightly with just a nod and tilt of the glass to the Prime minister.   A short comment, the lure of perhaps a fragile but sociable conversation, and then the bombshell.   The pent up, misdirected anger so beautifully put together in a short quip guaranteed to upset even Jesus himself.

The Prime Minister was visibly shocked by the remark when it was finally delivered.  Jamie’s first instinct was to look around the room and determine what the press was doing.   Thankfully he saw that they were all enamored with Cindy and her dance moves as she worked it to the newest, hippest Coldplay tune.  He finished his bourbon, grabbed another and turned to see the Prime Minister, always polite, whisper in his wife’s ear.  He saw her expression as it morphed from disbelief to horror to disbelief and then to hardened rage.  She put her napkin on the table and intimated that she was ready to leave for the evening.   It was early, tongues would wag, there would be explaining to do.

Jamie felt when the press turned their attention to the exiting couple.  A short span of silence was followed by a rustle of voices and texts and pictures and motion at the horror of Britain’s early exit from the dinner.  The President was alone at the table for the moment.  Jamie watched him squirm a bit then he drank his scotch in one go and nodded for another.  As he waited for the blessed waiter to reappear he caught Jamie’s eye and motioned for him to come sit beside him.  He couldn’t refuse, he knew the press were watching so he went to the table and sat down with a confidence he knew he didn’t possess.

“Those Brits are such sensitive babies, the guy can’t even take a joke.”

It was going to be a long night, Jamie asked the nearest waiter for a pot of coffee.

“What was the joke?”  He was beyond any attempt to imagine what might’ve been said. After two years as Chief of Staff, Jamie knew he should just be prepared to be shocked and count on working his ass off for the next seventy two hours addressing damage control.

“I told him I had a great idea for a new reality show, we could pitch it as promoting international relations:  World Leader Wife Swap.  But I told him it wouldn’t work out very well, I’d end up with both chicks cause his sure as hell wouldn’t wanna leave me once she was in my house!”

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Biggest, Fattest Corporate Lie: One Nation Under God

I’ve just come across an excerpt from a new book  “One Nation Under God:  How Corporate America Invented Christian America” written by Kevin Kruse.  I’ll be tripping to my local library this week to check it out.   It’s message couldn’t be more timely for our Nation.

The excerpt focuses specifically on “How one reverend’s big business-backed crusade altered the political landscape.”  It’s an important read because it details the origins of the incongruent marriage between christianity and the corporatocracy.  Here are some quotes from the article:

“Fifield and like-minded ministers saw Christianity and capitalism as inextricably intertwined, and argued that spreading the gospel of one required spreading the gospel of the other.”

“Notably, Fifield dismissed the many passages in the New Testament about wealth and poverty, and instead assured the elite that their worldly success was a sign of God’s blessings.”

“The first step would be making ministers realize that they, too, had something to fear from the growth of government. “The religious leaders must be helped to discover that their callings are threatened,” Haake argued, by realizing that the “collectivism” of the New Deal, “with the glorification of the state, is really a denial of God.” ”

“The magazine (Faith and Freedom) repeatedly denounced the Social Gospel and, just as important, clergymen who invoked it to advocate for the establishment and expansion of welfare state programs.”

With quotes like these, I can now understand memes like these:

republican jesus

According to Mr. Kruse, one individual and a whole lot of corporate money hijacked our democracy under the guise of maintaining our individual independence from government intervention.   What really happened is that we gave up our independence in the name of religion to the coporatocracy and they relentlessly colonized the American public to the point of third world status.

As I read the excerpt, I couldn’t help but notice the effects of Mr. Fifield’s movement in America’s Unseen Revolution where the financial elite control policy making and legislation (a shift from democracy to oligarchy).   Within the framework of Mr. Fifield’s  ‘One Nation Under God’  message, modern corporate leaders are allowed to claim a disproportionate sense of doing God’s work with “a messianic belief in privatization and profits” (John Perkins, Hoodwinked).  One could correctly conclude from the message that God has ordained the third world status of America by empowering corporate leaders.

Corporate leaders are doing a superior job of making loads of money on the foundations of Mr. Fifield’s movement, and they are doing it to the exclusion of the rest of the American population.

We have a few weapons in our arsenal as citizens of the Republic:   We can educate and inform ourselves – no matter how uncomfortable the material.  We can vote for leaders who aren’t afraid to impose boundaries on Wall Street.  We can choose to keep religion within the four walls and privacy of our homes and out of government decision making.

I am not the only one who understands that our nation is at a crucial point in its history – with the next election we will decide whether to continue as a democracy or give over completely to oligarchy.  It is information such as Mr. Kruse’ book that will sway the balance.

Here’s to a healthy nation,

Frankie


Here’s the Real Challenge, Gweneth, but Thanks for the Effort! #FoodBankNYCChallenge

One of the big headlines this past week in celebrity news was Gweneth Paltrow’s pledge to survive on $29 of food in a week.  Here is the instagram snap she shared of all the food that amount of money can buy.

gwennie

Ms. Paltrow is taking part in a sort of ice bucket challenge gig to bring awareness to the issue of SNAP assistance (food stamps), or more to the point, how small an effect SNAP assistance really has on helping a person to survive, .  I mean just look at the picture.

LOOK                   AT                          IT.

Contained within that one picture is not just a week’s worth of food.  It’s an entire lifestyle.

You see, there’s a psychological framework that we all work within and an astute man by the name of Abraham Maslow put it in a tangible illustration called Maslow’s Triangle, or Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

maslowpic

At the base of the Triangle, as the very very very very foundation of our needs, we must be safe and fed and have a roof over our heads.    Maslow observed that until our physical needs are met, we are trapped at the first level of Need. We cannot meet our social needs of feeling loved and having a sense of belonging until we reach a point where we consistently have full tummies, safe sleeping quarters, and clothes on our backs.

Here’s what we miss:   Statistically, if a person is utilizing SNAP to meet their basic needs, chances are their entire life is stuck at the first level of Maslow’s Triangle.

It’s not just the food you see, its the lifestyle that goes with the food.  It’s knowing I have food at the beginning of the month, but I’ll be eating ramen noodles the last week of the month – for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  It’s wondering if I can find a job this month, or if I’ll be able to keep the one I have, or maybe trying to deal with my work hours being cut.  It’s wondering if my babies will be safe in the neighborhood playground because I can only afford certain housing.  It’s working with a damnable toothache because I cannot afford dental insurance let alone the trip to the dentist.   It’s sharing a bed in the winter because I can’t afford the heating  bill.  It’s going without nail polish, using the same mascara for a year, and wearing torn underwear – the kids need clothes you see. It’s excruciating pain when my child comes home crying because he was teased for having holes in his shoes.  It’s fighting with my husband over steak or beans for dinner again.  It’s laying in bed, in the early morning hours, worrying, anxious, trying to figure out how I can come up with ten measly bucks so my daughter can go on the school field trip.

It’s the day in and day out grind, just barely surviving, just making ends meet (or learning to live with yourself if you can’t – a silent surrender to your circumstances, a compromise you never thought you’d make), its scratching out even a meager existence any way possible  –  THAT’S what this picture really represents:

gwennie

Education is the key to understanding.  I am grateful that some attention is given to the issue, but we must realize that it’s not just the food, or lack of it, that our brothers and sisters deal with.   They deal with the mere act of surviving on a daily basis, without physical safety, without choices, and without understanding. They cannot contribute to society in a meaningful way since all their attention is focused on meeting their basic needs one day at a time, they have no energy left over for anything else   I would challenge Gweneth, and any others, to look beyond the picture in order to comprehend the lifestyle.   THEN we might be able to effect some real change.

Here’s to making a difference.  Here’s to awareness.  Here’s to less of us struggling to merely survive.

Frankie


America’s Homeless: Taking the Fall for Alan Greenspan, Hank Paulson, and Co.

This past week a well meaning, albeit misinformed youth, posted a link to his facebook page about putting welfare recipients to  work instead of just giving them welfare money.  “Make them earn it” the message says, “They shouldn’t be allowed to be lazy.” it continues.

I quietly fumed inside.

This past year in my hometown there’s been a loud outcry for something to be done with the homeless population, all of them focus on making homelessness a criminal activity and a scourge on our local society.

I am deeply concerned and saddened.

Over and over the message I hear and see is that being homeless or receiving welfare benefits are a huge crime.  They are the ones ruining our nice clean cities.  They are the ones abusing the system and taking advantage of our hard earned money.

They are the ones taking the fall for the ills in our society simply because they are right in front of us.

corporate-welfare5

The real perpetrators, the real criminals, and the true manipulators of the system, people like Alan Greenspan and Hank Paulson are the responsible parties. they escape our focus however because they live quietly tucked away, out of sight of the public and certainly not on our everyday radar.

They are the ones however who deliberately allowed the past two economic crisis to occur and led us into the Great Recession.  It doesn’t take much reading for any citizen to discover that they are the ones who went out of their way to mutilate the economic system entirely in their own favor.   They consciously broke laws.  They ignored loud warning signs from economists that the system was going to crash.  They are the ones who deceptively invented ways to shift massive amounts of money from the pockets of the middle class to their own offshore bank accounts.

This disconnect.

This idea that welfare recipients are ‘milking’ the taxpayer while Wall Street members still receive obscene bonuses.

This stain.

This concept of blaming the homeless for the degradation of society when it was Wall Street who shuttered our homes and our stores.

This shame.

This……is one of the greatest social injustices we’ve ever created as Americans.

It is a situation easily remedied though, if we’re willing to take the time.  It means being aware and educated.  It means addressing problems such as unemployment and de-regulations instead of treating the symptoms such as homelessness.  It means electing leaders who are not afraid to let the right people take the fall.

We are a better nation than this, I am sure of it.  Let’s act like it kids.

Frankie

P.S.  Keep an eye out for a new website I am launching next week intended to help us be aware and educated as I admonished “Twentyfirstcenturyrevolution”.   It’s new information and provides some real focus to our current socioeconomic problems.  Here’s to finding solutions.