Saturday, February 20, 2010

These Crazy Times - Comment from Grandpa Dan

Let Obama hear this.  If you want to know the opinion of the grassroots, then read the opinion of Grandpa Dan, 

Subject: These Crazy Times

     This is one of those times when the purpose of my writing weighs more on its therapeutic value to me ,  than imparting information....sort of like  a Catholic at the confessional or an orthodox Jew at the Western Wall.....
     Yesterday I received my latest issue of "Mother Jones".....The front cover shows a photo of an American soldier beneath which is the caption, "Age of Treason-This soldier is ready to take up arms against the Obama Administration. A further photo shows the same soldier holding a pistol across his chest, forefinger "At The Ready".... He is not alone".......
     I found the accompanying article depressing for a variety of reasons , not least of which is the wide number of well known's who lend approval to what this soldier represents......
     While reading this disturbing tale of modern day dissidents, my mind drifted back to my teen-age days when "The Young Communist League" and "Bund  Meetings" were in full bloom.....All of the malcontents, the extremes , both left and right , had suddenly found their voices ....loud and clear....  
     The biggest difference between then and now is that Then it was more or less subterranean, and mostly all talk , and now it appears to be preparation for an armed rebellion..........Never in my memory did participants attend public political gatherings , armed with sidearms , rifles and shotguns.....Open talk of violence against the U.S. Army and the Administration....Hidden is the racial bias which belies the supposed advances we have achieved in social justice.....
     Normally I shun quotations , but the coalition of the very far right  has taken on dimensions which appear to me as more dangerous than any outside enemy could possibly pose....The open hostility they display is so widespread that it resembles an uncontrollable wildfire .....Some quotes follow:
     "He , (Lee Pray, the soldier on the cover) , considers the Bushmaster (a $ 5600 rifle and scope ) his preparation to take on the U.S. Government when it declares martial law"..."His belief that that day is imminent has led Pray to a group called "Oath Keepers" ...."A patriotic org . of the 'Right'....."Established itself as a hub in the sprawling anti-Obama movement that includes Tea Partiers, Birthers, and 912ers , Glen Beck, Lou Dobbs, and Pat Buchanon have all sung it's prases"....
     "What makes the Oath Keepers unique is that its core membership consists of men and women in uniform, police, and veterans....At their ceremonies , they pledge to protect the Constitution , but then vow to disobey" Unconstitutional" orders from what they view as an increasingly tyrannical government"...                                                                                     
     "........They are recruiting military buddies, stashing weapons, and ammunition ,  running drills, and outlining a plan of action" ...."The Brass would be shocked by the number of soldiers willing to turn against their Commanders"  ...."Pray is both a Birther and a Truther...He believes that he is following an illegitimate , foreign born president, in a war on terror launched by a government plot --9/11".............And much more .....
     It is all too easy to brand these dissidents as crackpots but the likes of " Glen Beck,  Michele  Bachman, and Sarah Palin, all  share the same animus" .....It seems to be a pandemic....You may have noted the revival of the notorious  Birch Society ....
     The days ahead bare close scrutiny.....Love, Grandpa Dan       

Grandpa Dan is a WWII veteran living the American Dream.  He was born of European immigrants fleeing Pogroms.  He was drafted into the military and served in WWII.  The military taught him watchmaking, and he used GI Bill to open a jewelry and watchmakers shop after he got out of the service.  His business grew, he retired to Florida where he became friends with my mom.  He now lives in assisted living where he enjoys the good life with his wife and writes political commentary to his personal friends. 

I also would like to comment that it is unconstitutional to have private militias on our own soil, yet we tolerate firms like Xe/Blackwater building bases in North Carolina.  Then we cut domestic spending in order to bankrupt our treasury waging endless foreign wars paying top dollar for "security services" from private militias funding their massive buildup of strength.  

When US militaries and National Guards all are exhausted from endless foreign wars, the private militias building up on our own soil will easily overtake the skeleton crew left behind by budget cuts. 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

An Open Letter to President Obama

Dear Mr. President,

Your administration and your party are in trouble. That is clear from the elections in Massachusetts and Virginia, from the drop in your approval rating, from the rise of conservative opposition groups.  In fact, the whole USA is battered and on its knees waiting for the final blow. 

This is a time when progressive forces in this country need to mobilize to prevent a backlash that will take this country further to the right.  Without decisive Congressional action to benefit the Common Good, opposition candidates will win big in the next election.  Progressives, as well as your own supporters, are disappointed and demoralized. Look at me.

In 2008, I realized that "Hope and Change" is not a substantial political platform, and remembered that George W. Bush ran on the same platform.  I understood that when you talked about getting out of Iraq, that it meant waging wars elsewhere.  I realized when big media, while broadcasting over the public airwaves, excluded all "peace" candidates from the presidential debates, that they were pre-selecting for the US public exclusively pro-war candidates.  I was not fooled by your vacuous rhetoric of Hope and Change.  I did suspect that you might attempt to put through populist programs while appeasing the war profiteers with endless foreign wars.  But you haven't. 

As 2010 dawns, change looks to me like more of the same.  We got more war, more torture, more innocent collateral damage, more fodder for spawning new, young terrorists.  Your concept of health care reform is to mandate Americans to buy private health insurance without any real cost controls.  You block what is known to work well, Medicare-for-All, and instead, provide a massive giveaway to the health insurance industry.  Health insurance companies are reporting record profits for 2009 and are raising their rates by 40%. 

After being laid off my job at school due to the budget cuts, I am now working 7 p/t jobs and barely making ends meet.  My union-provided insurance has high co-pays and deductibles and doesn't cover my children.  My income is too high for them to be covered by Healthy Families, so they remain uninsured. 

On the environment, one of your top priorities, you came back from Copenhagen with yet another non-binding resolution, more clean coal & clean nuclear, and a closed-door decision to wait until the planet's average temperature rises another 2º to catastrophic levels, to boot. 

Instead of helping struggling homeowners and small businesses during the financial crisis, bank executives were protected and rewarded and we have yet to see reform.  And Ben Bernanke, who enabled the world-wide financial collapse, was reappointed!  Wall Street firms ended 2009 with record bonus and profits while unemployment remains in double digits.

President Obama, after the Citizens United decision, I am hopeless!  Your concept of change is to exacerbate the injustices enacted by the Neo-Cons.  The change I believe in puts people and our planet before industry, it promotes Peace, international law, and human rights instead of militarism. As you are asking Congress to approve the largest Pentagon budget in history, plus another $33 billion to pay for your Afghan surge, the prophetic works of Dr. Martin Luther King sound a clarion call: A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.  The endless wars are also bringing our country to economic death. 

We have 3 branches of government that all collaborate with big business instead of defending the Constitution and the well being of the natural people. 

We need renewed leadership, we need you to show us—not in words but in deeds—that you can stand up to corporate interests that are blocking us from real healthcare, environmental and financial reform. We need you to show us—not in words but in deeds—that you will stand up for the Constitution, for due process, for the rule of law.  We need you to show us—not in words but in deeds—that you lead this country out of endless war to a nation that lives in peace with its neighbors.

In the meantime, without a change from pro-corporate to pro-populist policies, I pledge to replace your administration and Congress with a new guard (and mobilize others) that will not collaborate war-profiteers and other big business, but enact and defend policies of social and environmental uplift.

May 2010 be a year of renewed commitment and movement toward the change we so desperately need.


Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Liberation in Buddhism

In Buddhism, there is nothing to depend on.  There is no force outside that will give us salvation.  There is nothing permanent that we can always count on.  Some say we can only depend upon ourselves.  Others say that even our selves are not dependable.  That leaves us with nothing permanent in which to set anchor. 

Many people have a high value for Hope.  In fact, the last 2 presidents used Hope as their campaign platform.  The proselytizing Christians bring Hope for Salvation to people of color with a blonde, blue-eyed God man while exploiting these same people for natural resources and cheap labor.  Hope in Buddhism is defined as Delusion.  Delusion believes, for example, that something is nothing, and that nothing is something.  Delusion is a form of ignorance, which is the root of all becoming (making Karma). 
Buddhism Dictionary on Delusion (Ignorance):
"Delusion refers to belief in something that contradicts reality.  In Buddhism, delusion is ... a lack of awareness of the true nature or Buddha nature of things, or of the true meaning of existence. "

In the same way, every thing (karma, n.) only has the meaning that we ascribe to it.  There is nothing to hang on to.  Its a true wonder how much of our existence is constructed on beliefs.  And how so many of our beliefs are founded upon nothing more than morés. 

The facts that there is nothing permanent to hold on to, or that things have no intrinsic meaning other than what we ascribe to them, or that our own self may be completely void of anything substantially permanent beyond a force of becoming, is not depressing, but good news!  "Freedom's just another word for 'nothin' left to lose, but nothin' ain't worth nothin,' but its freeeeee." 

It is here when we realize the joy of putting down the Wheel of Karma, and just terminate the becoming force (bhavanga).  Making no more Karma doesn't mean dead or nihilist.  It is a state of Grace in which the right thing occurs without the Ego craving or clinging.  Such a state of Grace is full of joy and energy.  Quite the opposite of depressing.