The Democrats have won 40 House Seats in the next Congress–meaning they will have a 235 to 200 majority. It won’t be pretty for Trump. Investigations will ensue. Agency heads, cabinet officials and others will be called to testify. All those people who weren’t subpoenaed by Devin Numbnuts (Trump co-conspirator and chair of the House Intelligence Committee) or were allowed to not answer pertinent questions will have to answer in the Democratically controlled House.
But what of Mueller? Will more indictments come from Mueller in December? More in January? A report to Congress? Yes, it could all happen. On Friday comes the sentencing memo for double-flipper Manafort. The prevailing opinion is that this will be a public document detailing all of Manafort’s misdeeds. Meanwhile, Trump is once again publicly adding fuel to obstruction fire–all but admitting that he has dangled a pardon for Manafort in exchange for info on what Mueller is up to.
But is all the chagrin and worries advanced about the duplicitous behavior of Manafort, his lawyers and Trump’s half-assed legal team (calling them JV would be overstating their legal acumen) warranted? How much would Mueller’s team have let Manafort in on during their hours together? Not much, in my opinion. As tight-lipped as the Mueller team has been with news media, Congress and everybody else, why the hell would Manafort be trusted with intimate details of what others had testified to–or what evidence Mueller had???
A best of previous posts celebrating this great American holiday (and one observed in other countries as well–but on different dates) .
On this day we offer our thanks and appreciation for the bounty in our lives. For some, it’s a religious occasion. For others it’s all about eating turkey and watching parades or football. For me, it’s all of that.
I am so very thankful for the loving relationship with my wife–a marriage that has endured for 38 years now. I am also thankful for still being alive and kicking after some medical challenges facing me this year. More on that in December but meanwhile, click on this short music video with the “Alive and Kicking” chorus.
“None of us can exist in isolation. Our lives and existence are supported by others in seen and unseen ways, be it by parents, mentors or society at large. To be aware of these connections, to feel appreciation for them, and to strive to give something back to society in a spirit of gratitude is the proper way for human beings to live.” Daisaku Ikeda
I owe gratitude to countless people. My parents, who brought me into the world, especially my mother who did her best to care for me after my father passed away. My brother and his wife who took me in at age 16 after my mother too passed away. Another brother who offered many life lessons. Teachers who inspired and gave me tools I use today. The person who introduced me to Buddhism and all those who have guided and inspired me in continuing to grow in that practice which has enriched my life.
Whatever your observance of this day may include, I hope it will bring much joy and happiness. Eat well if you can but not more than you should. Stay away from politics if possible; it likely won’t help the digestion or make for a happy occasion. Give thanks and appreciation in the way best suited to you and your family.
In May of 2018, we published the last Quarterly issue on Eagle Peak Press. As noted then, henceforth an annual edition will be published, with the first one coming in Spring, 2019. In the meantime, just to refresh some of those articles and remind people to tune in next year, we will share some of them here over the next few months.
With thoughts of Thanksgiving in America coming soon and New Year’s not far behind, it seems timely to consider getting a head start on planning celebrating successes and vowing for more. That could mean not settling for less than optimal outcomes in one’s life–whether they be in health, wealth, relationships or more.
Sound familiar? If you watch TV much, you may remember seeing the silly commercials for DirecTV trying to switch you from cable to their satellite television service. The commercial made a good analogy. The point? Accepting shortcomings rather than challenging them. We stay up too late. We mean to apply for that promotion. We want to exercise more or eat better but we don’t. Sure, it’s easier to simply accept the status quo. It could be procrastination. It could be avoidance. Or it could be just settling. The things we settle for aren’t necessarily bad. Other things may well be more important. But if we settle for less, we’re missing out on better.
As a Buddhist, I am supposed to be aware of such things and make use of my practice to improve my life. But I too sometimes settle. Year after year, I made goals to exercise and lose weight but failed. Weight WAS a perennial problem for me. Then I determined that 2017 would be the year that I succeeded. From January 1, 2017 through November 10, 2018 I went from 240 to 160 pounds. Read more about weight loss techniques that work in this article. [NOTE: I continued the program in 2018 and achieved that current weight].
You don’t have to be a Buddhist to challenge yourself. If you are, you know that you are the one in control of your own destiny. If you don’t take action, no one will. But again, whether you apply the Buddhist practice to your life or not, the point is that you don’t have to settle. You just must recognize when you have a bad habit you want to get rid of, make a plan to do so and execute it. You have a goal but it seems too much work or too difficult, so you settle for what you have. That’s OK, except after a time you become inured to living with less vigor. You become satisfied with being less than you could be. If will were a muscle, this kind of thing can leave you with an underdeveloped one.
Contrast this with Maria Popova’s observations about self-comparison in a commencement address she gave. [see Worth Noting, also in the June 2016 issue–at the top of the piece].
But here’s the thing about self-comparison: In addition to making you vacate your own experience, your own soul, your own life, in its extreme it breeds resignation. If we constantly feel that there is something more to be had — something that’s available to those with a certain advantage in life, but which remains out of reach for us — we come to feel helpless.
What she means is comparing oneself with others; not comparing a present self with a past or future one. Yet the essential truth is that once we accept some chronic condition or habitual shortcoming we settle on a lesser self. A self unable to accomplish all of our dreams. We are diminished.
I always wanted to be a writer, now I am; it only took a few decades. Because I am frugal (some might say cheap) I learned to do minor electrical and plumbing work in my own house. Ditto drywall and painting. Landscaping too. I had a decent paying job and my wife worked as well but being a do-it-yourselfer funded wonderful family vacations. When I retired from the day job, I began writing. But I had more do-it-yourself projects on tap, like establishing and maintaining websites like this one. I also needed to design the dream house we now live in; I used a computer application to do that. I didn’t build or paint that office at left, but I designed it. All it takes to do anything unfamiliar is a will to learn and the discipline to succeed. I won’t settle for not doing something because I don’t know how. Challenges are just that. Obstacles can be overcome. Persistence pays off; victory over procrastination does the same.
Don’t be a settler!
We should never decide that something is impossible and buy into the belief, “I’ll never be able to do that.” The power of the entire universe is inherent in our lives. When we firmly decide, “I can do it!” we can break through the walls of self-imposed limitations. Daisaku Ikeda.
Haven’t made much of a dent in the writing objectives this year. While the creative brain took a vacation most of the year I met and will surpass my goal of reading 24 books. It will be gangbusters on the writing front next year–stay tuned!
Another great read–the circle of light expands and more becomes known about the dark/evil ones. The great thing about this series is how the psychic powers are applied to current political and social events–focusing on greed vs things like healing and putting criminals behind bars. You need to read book one–don’t just jump into this one.
Keeps things moving along at a decent pace for the story line. The YA situation raises it’s head a little more with a challenge for the 16-17 year-old protagonist having in dealing with relationships between himself and two girls. If it weren’t for that and occasional age mentions, I’d overlook it and forget about it. That said, it’s a great read with all the extra-normal powers being developed continually and constantly dealing with the threats posed by the bad guys. For mystery lovers, there was some foreshadowing of an issue about who was leaking the info about where people were–but you’ll have to figure it out for yourself. By the time that was resolved, I’d forgotten about my early suspicion. Lots of action and suspense. If you liked the first book in the trilogy, you’ll like this one too. But you should read the first one before this; it won’t work well as a standalone.
This could be perhaps more accurately be labeled satire, literary fiction or simply fiction–all with Vonnegut’s typical “humor.” I’d have to say he was running out of gas at this point in his life. It could reasonably be written in half the space it takes if 2/3 of the continual redundancies about “big brains” were eliminated. Likewise the asides about Trout’s ephemeral self-assessments. Most of all, the “development” of the characters. Just not that funny, too telegraphed and too despairing without a rational explanation about why the devolution of the human race happened. He told the reader it had happened within the first chapter and spends the rest of the novel somewhat fleshing out the characters that take us there. I’d really like to give it 1.5 stars, but that’s not an option. Disappointing from one of my favorite authors of long ago. I once wanted to write like him; but I don’t have that dark a view of humanity anymore so I can’t.
The #MAGAbomber, brought to you by Donald J (for Jackass) Trump.
Was it Steve Bannon or Stephen Miller that appropriated “America First,” Lindbergh’s Nazi sympathizer slogan from the 1930s? No matter, Trump eagerly adopted it. What results is America Worst. Trump is the laughingstock of the world and America is looked down upon by developed nations. Instead of being the shiny city on the hill, America is in danger of being regarded as the sh**ty city on the hill.
What does MAGA really mean? I came up with Making America Grievously Abhorrent. I’ll bet you can come up with a better one. Let me know in the comments.
When he says, he is a Nationalist, he implicitly means he is a White Nationalist. He distinguishes himself from Globalists, which can be an economic term but is also a code word for Zionist financiers–or an anti-Semitic smear. He encourages violence against protesters at his rallies and against others. The racism, xenophobia and religious intolerance that Trump repeatedly espouses gives free rein to right wing extremist violence.
In addition to the MAGAbomber, Trump is ultimately responsible for these other attacks from just the last week–the anti-Semite shooter at the Pittsburgh Synagogue and the Kroger shooter that would have killed people at a Black church if he could have got into it. Since Trump’s ascendance, white nationalist terrorism has increased dramatically.
Sarah Sanders said (Monday, 10/29), “I think the president had a number of moments of bringing the country together. . . .” Well, that’s for sure—more and more people in America are coming together opposing Trump’s imperial presidency, his cruelty, his corruption, his lying, his racism, his misogyny and more.
What can we do, coming together in opposition to Trump? We can vote. Democrats and true Independents may not take over Congress completely, but just defeating the corrupt Trump sycophants that make up the GOP Trump Cult would make America better. Let’s restore a modicum of decency, morality, honest and integrity to America. Let’s elevate America’s status in the world to somewhere near what it used to be.
Perhaps Trump will be impeached by a Democratically controlled House, but he could not be convicted and removed by a Senate even if the Democrats won a majority. Well, maybe–if the Mueller report and additional indictments are strong enough. Not likely to happen. Maybe Trump will have a stroke or heart attack? With his diet and lack of exercise (he drives golf carts onto the greens!) it’s possible. Time will tell.
But what’s the scariest Halloween costume you could imagine? A person with a Trump mask holding a newspaper heralding his reelection in 2020—now that’s a real horror!
So vote NOW to give him a clue of what’s to come and maybe he’ll leave voluntarily if it gets to hot in the White House.
An oddly entertaining story about the (mis)adventures of Kate Stevens, Federation diplomat. The author sets up some humorous situations and laughably named characters–like Really Big (her supervisor). For anyone who has ever worked in a government bureaucracy, the bosses and their behavior will be unfortunately all too real. Still, it’s sci-fi–so we have the issues of meals aboard a spacecraft, the effects of gravity that’s higher or lower than Earth’s. That makes for some interesting development of the emigres who live there. On the political side, we have the standard problems of greed, corruption and malfeasance. In examining the development of colony planet cultures the author even tosses in a planetary regime clearly modeled after North Korea–complete with a “Beloved Leader” and not just secret police but secret, secret police. I enjoyed it. You will too if you like your political humor a paler shade of dark than Vonnegut or Dick–maybe a mid-range gray.
An intriguing work of the perhaps no longer new but not yet widely known cli-fi genre (a subset of sci-fi). Lanning develops well the lead character of Lowry Walker, her somewhat estranged (and angry plus manipulative) father, an uncle and the nefarious political villains. She throws in some dishonest politicians and the corrupt intent of–yes, latter-day colonialists against what in Canada are known as First Nation folks, just like what happened in the USA way back when. But then, all is not what it seems in the conflict over who really attempted to sabotage the International Space Station (ISS). Despite her credentials, the author doesn’t make this a truly hard sci-fi story so don’t be put off by technological talk–it’s not much more than most of us are familiar with in today’s world. A great book. I’ve already downloaded the next book in the series, which apparently stands alone along with an upcoming third one.
Many folks have heard the admonition to “write from life,” especially those who are writers. Broken World is styled as fiction but the characters are so real that one might easily conclude there were some biographical (if not autobiographical) elements to it. Assuming not, then Hightower has some good observational skills and a vivid imagination enabling the creation of a very dysfunctional extended family of characters. Parents who verbally abuse children. Spouses who argue with one another. Self-absorbed people who justify their own misbehavior and withdrawal into small worlds of their own. It’s not a book with a happy ending. Nonetheless, it’s entertaining and worth reading for how the protagonist, Byrd Keane, escapes the insanity of the broken world that surrounds him by his excursions outdoors in rural New Mexico. He is intelligent beyond his twelve years and seemingly one of the few normal characters in the book. In some ways, I can see elements of John Irving mixed with Kurt Vonnegut. Take note that the fictional northern New Mexico town that Byrd lives in is called Alma Perdido, which means Lost Soul in Spanish. It could mean abandoned, missing or other things; you be the judge if you read the book.
Still good, but I’m getting less keen on the Julia Child parts, the song lyrics and the church services. The characters, the crimes and looking for foreshadowing is all there. It’s not quite a “cozy mystery,” as I understand the term but it is certainly not as hardcore as some. So if you are looking for less blood, gore or heavy violence (It does have some but not too graphic) then this is a good choice.
Remember, as Kavanaugh says, “What goes around comes around.” Only, however, if Democrats, Independents and what few remaining principled Republicans with a conscience vote in Democrats in the midterms. Then we will see karma in action.
The cloture vote is at 10:30 am ET on Friday. The vote to confirm, IF cloture passes, will be around 5 pm on Saturday. People MUST call, visit or otherwise exhort their Senator to vote no on Friday. Kavanaugh is unfit to sit on the US Supreme Court.
He is a liar
He is an unbridled partisan–not capable of reaching independent decisions apart from his Republican ideological beliefs and treating others impartially
He may have a drinking problem and may be guilty of sexual assault
He is temperamentally unfit–as his rage showed during the hearing last Friday
One might argue that his rage stemmed from being falsely accused. While possible, he certainly didn’t stop at protestations of innocence. Oh no, Sam Seder summed it up a few days ago on an MSNBC show explaining the roots of the rage. What I prefer to call a trifecta:
and Class Privilege
Who–that is not White, male or upper class can question him about his behavior from his youth?
He is entitled, as a White male, to dominate and subdue women when he chooses to. Take a look at his wife, seated behind and to his right. At times, during his raging opening statement at the Judiciary Committee hearing, did she not display the long-suffering face of a spouse. A spouse who has endured many such rages at home when she didn’t fulfill his expectations–a late dinner, kids misbehaving, etc.? Did she not relive those experiences and wish he wasn’t reenacting them for national audience? I’m not a profiler, but that’s what I saw on her face.
He is entitled, as member of the wealthy upper class to not be questioned about his behavior by those beneath his station.
Kavanaugh is not alone in his rage. How much did he resemble, speak like and behave like Donald Trump? Oh, he didn’t have the orange face and Barbie hair of Trump–but he nearly outdid his so-called President after all those practice sessions at the White House.
Lindsey Graham could have been Kavanaugh’s clone in his belligerency, his outrageous anger. They are all of a piece. Then, in conjunction with Trump, they orchestrated a sham “investigation” which interviewed a handful of people and followed up with no one. Then those same Senators in a chorus said there was no corroboration to the charges against Kavanaugh–of course not, the FBI was instructed to find none!
All those aging White men in the Senate. Those Trump voters. They worry about the rising tide of women. First they got the right to vote–now they’re running for office in increasing numbers. They’re speaking out and demanding justice for sexual harassment and want equal pay in the workplace–even promotions!
First will come the rise of women. That’s what the Kavanaugh nomination is all about. To stave off the rise of women and reassert male control over reproduction–which, after all, is the main purpose of women (along with fun) from the dominant male perspective.
Next will come the inevitable minority status for Whites (it will take some time, but demographic trends say it will happen). Trump, with the able assistance of his White Nationalist copywriter Stephen Miller, is working hard to keep Brown people out of America. In aggregate with Asians and Blacks the nonwhite population will eventually make Whites a minority. Alas! That’s what the immigration battles are about. That’s what the limit on refugees is about. And that’s what the wall is about!
The class warfare, that filthy rich right-wingers cry out about whenever the subject of more taxes for the rich comes up. That change in America may not come this century, if ever. The Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, and others want Kavanaugh in place to keep Citizen United case and other means to ensure that money controls who gets nominated and elected to office.
In the unfortunate case that Kavanaugh is confirmed, it will be a stain on the Supreme Court. It can be remedied however, if the Democrats gain control of Congress (or at least the House). Then they can proceed to investigate not only Trump and his administration, but Kavanaugh as well. Justices of the Supreme Court can be impeached.
Well, Jeff Flake lived up to his surname and Susan Collins will be turfed out of office in 2020. Meanwhile, we can hope karma will catch up with Kavanaugh.
Before we get into the book reviews, have you noticed how much weight Trump has put on? You can see it in his cheeks and his waistline. Stress can make you eat more of that KFC, burgers and fries. No doubt he has plenty to be stressed about, eh? Manafort, Cohen, the Kavanaugh appointment and when will the indictments drop. Not to mention what 2019 will be like with the Democrats in charge of the House and now maybe the Senate too–especially with the way the Republicans are now and will be treating Christine Blasey Ford.
An amazing book that reads very quickly and easily as a novel does. Except, there is little fiction here–except perhaps in the beliefs of Donald Trump and people like John Dowd. As I finished, I found photos, footnotes, source material by chapter and an index that added another 25% or so to the page count. So, no fiction on Woodward’s part.
As for Trump, consider the old adage, “Don’t confuse me with the facts, I already have my mind made up.” In Trump’s case, he is never confused with facts–he has his own and rejects all others. Here’s a shortened quote from page 138.
“Mr. President, can I show this to you?” Cohn fanned out the pages of data in front of the president. “See, the biggest leavers of jobs—people leaving voluntarily—was from manufacturing.”
. . . .
Trump wasn’t buying it.
. . . .
Several times Cohn just asked the president, “Why do you have these views?”
“I just do,” Trump replied. “I’ve had these views for 30 years.”
Of course, the problem of opinions no based on fact is well known about Trump and illustrated often within the book. I won’t spoil the fun of reading more of them.
You’ve undoubtedly seen many interviews or excerpts about the book. You’ve also read or heard about the many faults of Trump and the way his White House operates. Woodward offers chapter and verse on most of them, such as these (and many more):
—The chaos and the predatory relationship among staffers
—Trump’s short attention span, unwillingness to read more than a few paragraphs
—His laziness, coming to work at 10:30 or 11:00 and not knowing what’s on his agenda for the day despite a briefing book provided the night before.
The book also details all the legal battles, the effect of the Mueller investigation on Trump and much more. Like information that hasn’t been detailed in the news. For example, the alliances of some staff members with others. Woodward also confirms stories like those in that anonymous Op Ed, about how some people kept stuff from Trump to protect the country.
My only disappointment is that the book had, by the necessities of editing and printing, stopped in March. But then the news has covered so much more that’s happened since. While Woodward has has provided details confirming many things already knew, he goes further in fleshing them out and giving us new stuff. Fear is a good title in many ways.
By the time I finished reading this, I already knew virtually everything that the book contained. That said, the work that went into this is impressing. Not only that, but it came out before all the content was widely known. It remains a great resource for those doing their own research and potentially using the information for blog posts and the like.
So far, I’ve read 16 books this year, on my way to 24. It’s past time to share some of the reviews of those books. A little bit at a time. These are all from ones I’ve posted on Goodreads.View all my reviews from Goodreads.
NOTE: I read this book not as a standalone but as part of a boxed set of other novels, At Odds with Destiny.
It’s my first exposure to Aaron Paul Lazar and it won’t be my last. While Gus LeGarde as a music professor, is an unlikely hero of a mystery thriller, Lazar does a good job of developing his character. There’s plenty of family drama and some surprising twists (well, twists should be, right?). I will be moving on to some more in the series about Gus LeGarde.
The Clock Winked carries on the wacky world of Pomegranate City’s characters (used in the slang vernacular, rather than the people within a novel). If you liked the first book in the series, Wounded World you’ll probably like this one too. The author adds some interesting new characters, like an android monkey to keep readers on their toes. There are some challenges, as in the first, understanding who is who and why they are doing what they are doing. But I got past that and you can too if you find the whimsical action and dialogue amusing like I did. If I said much more, you’d get spoilers. You can get enough idea from the description here on Goodreads or Amazon to know what the book is about.
An encouraging book for those within the Third Stage of Life, consisting of interviews between Buddhist scholar and leader of the SGI Buddhist lay organization and others. Examples of how best to live one’s life to the fullest on into the 80s and beyond are provided by chronicles of individuals who exemplify the best of human progression.
A really hilarious crime story about a mythical small town in Texas where a handful of corrupt people enjoy an abundance of sex, cigarettes and booze. Not to mention some instances of setting other people up to take the fall for their financial crimes before killing them. I know, that doesn’t sound too appealing but that’s where the dark and bucolic humor comes in that makes it a fun read. Plus, it has one of my favorite things, a twist at the end.
I preordered the Kindle version of Woodward’s book, which notified me of delivery to my account at 10:15 last night. I guess Amazon is on Eastern Time; I’m in the Mountain Zone.
Is it a coincidence that Simon and Schuster released this book by Bob Woodward on 9/11, the anniversary of America’s worst attack since Pearl Harbor? I think not.
I have already posted three commentaries on the events of 9/11, their personal connection to my family (2008, 2011 and 2014) and how my Buddhist faith applies. This will be my fourth post on the subject, in which I will explain my lack of coincidence comment and how times have changed–for the worse, politically. Some snippets from those prior posts will help explicate things. I’ll start with the 2014 post.
At the outset, I offer my profound sympathies to those who lost friends and loved ones to the actions of Osama Bin Laden’s terrorist followers. . . . While death comes to us all, it is disturbing when it comes unnaturally at the hands of another. From my Buddhist perspective, this is a function of karma–the effects one receives as a result of causes one has made.
My wife, who worked as a civilian for the Department of the Army, had applied but failed to get a job at the Pentagon a few years before the 9/11 attack. Here’s an excerpt from the 2008 post.
The location of the section she applied for was at or near the point of the plane’s impact on 9/11. Several people in the section, including the person who did get the position, died in the attack that day. . . . Karma is a strange thing, which we cannot fathom or explain completely. . . . I empathize with those who lost loved ones on that day even as I feel great appreciation that my wife didn’t get a promotion that would have killed her.
The clip below comes from the 2011 post. In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attack, a bipartisan fervor swept the the nation, during which Democrats and Republicans united in support of efforts to care for survivors and rebuild. The unity and bipartisan cooperation lasted perhaps 18 months.
More than ever, we all need to remember the sacrifices of those who died on 9/11 and as a result of the aftermath. More than that, we need to rekindle the compassion and cooperation that briefly enveloped America.
Alas, for the last 15 years, division and derision have instead enveloped America. The 2016 election gave us Donald J. Trump–the most corrupt, ignorant, incompetent, racist and unfit person ever to occupy the White House. He did so only with the able assistance of Vladimir Putin’s agents, James Comey’s inappropriately ill-timed announcements about investigations of Hillary Clinton’s emails and Clinton’s own inept campaign strategies–not to mention voters who stayed home. Then there’s the antiquated Electoral College. Continue reading Fear: Trump in the White House and 9/11→