I liked it but I am disappointed. Disappointed because of all the spoilers. No, not on Amazon, Goodreads or elsewhere, but on the news media. Most of the blockbusters were discussed on cable news (often times with Woodward and Costa) or quoted in web news. One could reasonably expect the reading audience would be folks who watch or read such reports. If so, what new you learn from the book are details. Details that serve to illustrate or confirm the journalistic and writing credentials of the authors and stuff not juicy enough for prerelease.
From that experience, if you are a person like me, you would be best served avoiding all reports and promos and taking on faith that writers you know will offer something startlingly good. For a book like this, that would be difficult at best given all the coverage.
The one major surprise was the significant amount of reporting on Biden’s campaign, decision making and more. That covers some number of years and events. Possibly as much as fifteen percent or more of the book. Trump and his cult followers, formerly known as the Republican party, are covered in depth on the peril they pose for American democracy’s future. That threat continues growing.
If you don’t follow news of any sort, this book may offer a lot of shocking information to you. Otherwise, it offers some element of schadenfreude–along with increasing your fears for the country.
It’s been nearly a week now since the leader of Richard Nixon’s White House Plumbers unit passed away. Many, if not most of you, have heard neither of him nor these plumbers. They had nothing to do with pipes in the White House. They were charged with doing what they could–legal or otherwise, to get Nixon reelected in 1972. As it turned out, he really didn’t need the help; he won by a landslide.
On the other hand, his second term ended early because of their criminal activity–and that of countless top White House staff or cabinet members in trying to cover up their misdeeds. Many of the perps went to jail, including Liddy. Oh, and then there was the tape of conversations between Nixon and those conspirators–that he had installed in the Oval Office–that was the “smoking gun” that the Supreme Court said must be released.
Quite a difference between them and former 45th President Trump. Not nearly as many went to jail–though more still may do so. Nixon pardoned NONE of his criminal conspirators. Trump pardoned most of his. Unfortunately for those who stuck it out to the bitter end of Trump’s unsuccessful effort to reverse the 2020 election results, they didn’t get pardoned and now never will.
But let’s get back to Liddy, who served 4 1/2 years in prison back in the 1970s. Nixon resigned the White House in 1973, when it all came out. He would have been convicted in a Senate trial of impeachment–but it never came to that. The GOP has changed greatly over those decades–giving Trump a free pass, TWICE.
Notably, none of the media I read or watch had any word of Liddy coming to Trump’s aid on January 6th or any time over the four preceding years. One might be excused for thinking he might have followed in Roger Stone’s footsteps (or tattoo of Nixon on his back) working for Trump.
In 2015, we had dueling book reviews here on Views. One of Viktor Frankl’s best selling Man’s Search for Meaning. and one of Liddy’s memoir, Will. I won’t rehash that post; you can read it here.
But, I will repost my review of Liddy’s book, in somewhat sardonic honor of his recent death at age 90.
This has to be one of the most hilarious, surprising and ultimately tragic books I have ever read. Far into the book I remained convinced that Liddy must have been writing a self-deprecating satire of his life just to spite all the liberals, Nixon-haters and antiwar protestors of the Watergate era.
Who would brag about tying himself to a tree in a lightning storm to overcome his fears? Who would describe choosing his spouse in major part for her strong Teutonic stock? Who would extoll many aspects of the Third Reich?
But no, I eventually concluded, he was serious. He really did do all the nutty stuff he described. He really believed all the nonsensical things he professed. He really did all the criminal acts he was charged with and did so proudly–thinking that his self-perceived set of American values superseded the Constitution and the applicable laws. It explains a lot about his behavior during Watergate. That he not only was but still is so deluded is the tragedy. You should read the book, but check it out of the library–don’t buy it.
It’s another new beginning. A new year. It could scarcely fail to be a better one than the last. Nonetheless, it’s off to a mixed start in the America, with the attack on the US Capitol.
We had hoped to be able to dispense with posts about Trump by now. Yet here we are, already well into 2021 and I must offer more pending his departure, in no more than 11 days from the White House, perhaps fewer. Will he resign? Be removed via the 25th Amendment or impeachment and conviction? Who can say.
By now I would usually have recapped the successes of the prior year and noted the goals or determinations for the new one. I don’t make resolutions; those are the things that late night talk show hosts mock for the failure of so many to achieve. Let’s skip the recap. Being retired and living atop a hill nearby to a small town kept us safe from the pandemic. Risk yes; trauma no—other than the usual ailments that accompany aging. Enough to deter some goals.
It’s only now that I am putting up my first post. I’ve been busy working on that compilation of short stories, verse and more that must be completed soon. Must only because that’s the determination. Without discipline to overcome obstacles that inevitably arise, goals will not be achieved. Thus, no resolutions. Tasks and an action plan—with a schedule, despite the likelihood it may have to be amended.
Meanwhile, America’s President has desperately done everything he could to retain power—unsuccessfully. Tacitly encouraging his most extreme followers to stage an insurrection. Over the past four years he has made such people feel free to engage in extreme rhetoric and violent behavior. All the while he has called for law and order and suppression of peaceful protestors against systemic racism and the policies of his own administration.
Among my goals for this year—and beyond, is to heal the divide that Trump has fostered and awaken those poor souls who have been deluded by him.Those conned into believing that he cares anything at all for their welfare. Projecting his own psychoses onto them that he won an election that he lost and that it was rigged against him.
As Timothy Snyder recently said from Vienna, it is truth that is required to dispel the “Big Lie.” That big lie is what Trump has been spreading since November 3rd. [More on Snyder here]
I must create value each day—not only in my own life but in the world. That is my paramount determination.That means less ranting about the malevolence of Trump and his sycophantswho share his perspectivethat it’s their own advancement and benefit that is their guiding principle.Most, while professing some allegiance to the advancement of fellow Americans, have no other principles–that’s all they have!
So, here are some of my goals:
Get that first book out early spring. Then a novel in the fall. Both have many words already written. The novel requires more writing—plus editing and revisions. Watch for updates here—on release dates and progress along the way.
To get those books done, I must have a clear mind that is fatigue free. That’s not always the case—for reasons undetectable by my doctor. So, I must fix that myself. That is more a determination than a goal. One that I must achieve through my own assiduous practice of Buddhism. As the Buddha says, one must be the master of one’s own mind rather than letting mind master oneself.
And, as Daisaku Ikeda says, “The real struggle in life is with ourselves. The true secret of success is the refusal to give up, the refusal to fail; it lies in the struggle to win the battle against one’s own weaknesses.”
Another goal–more mundane, perhaps, is financial management and planning. I have no expectation of an early demise, but I must simplify our finances and create some mini-tutorials for my wife just in case. The division of labor worked well when we were both working and had children under 20 at home. Now we both need to be able to do all a household’s tasks.
Yes, there’s many more objectives, but you don’t need to know about them all. Consider this one: There’s that vacation to Europe that didn’t happen last year. The one that’s paid for. Will it happen this year? Not so sure about that. But we must go somewhere. Even if it’s not until fall. COVID limits planning month’s in advance—as we and our travel agent would prefer. Maybe Canada with our dog—when Trudeau will let us American’s cross the border again. We don’t need an agent to do that.
The point is to have no regrets and to be confident and at ease with the turmoil that sometimes prevents completing tasks per a schedule. Defy the satirists and achieve those “resolutions” that you may have already set for yourself. If you need help. Check out this post from a past year. It has some tips to get you there.
As I said then, it would be difficult. Even more difficult than I expected. Not due to the resistance of ordinary folks, but to all those members of the Trump Cult.
My natural inclination is to simply say:
Get over it—he lost!
But they won’t buy that. They have drunk gallons of his Trump Kool-Aid and believe in him with all their hearts. The election was rigged and stolen from him.
They also believe one or all these options about COVID-19:
It’s a hoax
It’s no worse than a cold or at worst a flu and people get over it
Masks are worse than useless—they are an infringement on one’s freedom
Likewise, social distancing and closing bars, restaurants, gyms, etc.
Worse, they make death threats against even Republicans who won’t help Trump in reversing the election resultsthrough whatever means he and his associates try. Somewhat skilled attorneys withdrew after winning but one of 38 plus cases. Leaving semi to unskilled attorneys to continue frivolous lawsuits that judicially speaking ought to incur sanctions against them or referrals to the bar for misconduct.
Those are the facts. But what will I make of them?Will I deplore those who fall for the lies?Pity those who may die of COVID because of him? Many probably have already. Statistical analysis suggests surges associated with Trump rallies and in those parts of the country where votes for him were higher than for Biden.
Trump didn’t bring the virus here.He did mock those who took it seriously. They accepted his direction on this and other things. He didn’t suffer physically, so far, for his dismissal of the virus. His supporters have found his assurances persuasive—he is their political messiah. Republican elected officials, in fear or support of Trump, continue likewise to follow the same patterns of COVID oblivion—even as they or their constituents succumb to the virus.
Should I sink into the pit of hatred, vitriol and derisive attacks on those who offer death threats even to fellow Republicans who don’t support Trump in overturning Biden’s victory. NO! If I do, I can’t help heal the division. I must accept their humanity and, from my faith perspective, their inherent Buddhahood.
Yes, a difficult proposition.Whether you who read this find the principles, the concepts or tenets, of Buddhism persuasive, you still may find it difficult to accept the humanity of the Trump faithful if you are not among them.That’s the challenge if we are to get beyond the present turmoil.
We have an economy in tatters. Sickness and death confront us at the hands of an unthinking enemy we call coronavirus, COVID-19 or more formally–SARS-CoV-2. We have a would-be autocrat striving to milk the last bit of financial fortune and power from his tenure in the White House. Even he has a Buddha nature. Even he has a shred of humanity within his angry and hate-filled heart. It’s barely visible, but it’s there. As much as I have demonized, satirized and condemned him on this blog, I know that to be true. Still, he must pay for his crimes and suffer the effects of the karma he has created. He already has, at the hands of the voters. Beyond that, there are legal and financial perils ahead that he will likely face.
In the meantime, we must rescue and rehabilitate America from the harms he has inflicted. Reestablish a rule of law. An independent Justice Department. Oversight of the actions of the Executive Branch—which, according to the US Constitution is subordinate to Congress. The latter makes the laws, appropriates the money and declares war. The President and those in the administration implement and enforce those laws. He and the rest of the Executive Branch must yield to the scrutiny of how well and how lawfully are executing the laws passed by Congress that give him authority to act.
America has barely—and not yet completely, escaped becoming a dictatorship. Aided and abetted by a GOP controlling the Senate. There is lots to do. But political reforms are just treating symptoms. The underlying disease is what must be addressed. A disease of Us and Them.
That’s enough for now. We will be making updates as often as we can. Not so much on what politicians and ostensible national leaders are doing. No, on what’s happening among the populace. Who, myself included, are reaching out and making connections with the other side.
As Lincoln said in his Gettysburg Address, we need a
“new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Had Trump won, those famous words might very well have been for naught—due to Trump’s intentions and those he put into his second administration.
Joe Biden is President-Elect–so say all the major media, including Fox News.
A change is coming but not the radical one those on the other side feared. The Democrats lost seats in the House and at best may get a tie in the Senate.
The good news is that America dodged the bullet of losing its democracy and slipping into autocracy. Now, the people of America, led by a President who intends to serve ALL the people and to heal the partisan and cultural divisions will have the chance to be truly United States.
That won’t be easy. There will be resistance to change, this time by those who were enamored of Trump and enabled by him to defend white privilege. Also by those who feared “Socialism” would come to America (it never was coming and certainly isn’t now). Or some who thought COVID-19 was a hoax or would go away by itself.
There will be resistance by some of the progressive members of the Democratic party who were looking forward to establishing new policies that others viewed as a bridge too far. Not happening in 2021 or 2022.
Consider this excerpt (those of you who live in the US, at least) from a very long article in the 2nd Eagle Peak Annual, published on October 30th. It offeredcommentary and analysis on three books. Just check the link to see which ones.
We all live here, in these United States. We depend on one another producing goods and supplying services. Goods that we wear. That we use in our daily lives. Services at medical facilities, schools, retail stores, repair shops and more. “Can’t we all just get along?” Asked Rodney King in 1992, a victim of police brutality that resulted in costly riots in Los Angeles. Nearly 30 years later, the answer remains uncertain.
Here’s a couple more excerpts, snippets really, from that item on the Annual.
But change is sorely needed. Policy changes. Dealing effectively, for a change, with the still deadly dangerous pandemic. Spurring economic recovery. And healing the divisions of race, class and party.
Political solutions are not a panacea. Yes, we all hope that the candidates we vote for will keep their promises made on the campaign trail. Promises that suggest if only we did X, Y and Z instead of A, B and C, we all would be happier and more prosperous. We should all know better by now!
Don’t rely on elected officials to do it all! We all need to work together within our shared humanity to make America a better, more prosperous and more just nation. Don’t believe all the stuff that people post on social media–conspiracy theories and nonsense abound there. Verify through fact checking sources, what you do see on such sites. Go beyond the echo chambers of your favorite news sources that tell you what you want to hear. Make new friends among your neighborhood and community.
Finally, let’s get to the title of this post. It comes from a book by Daisaku Ikeda. Hope Is a Decision. My review of the book appears below.
For 43 years I have been practicing the engaged Buddhism that Daisaku Ikeda has spread throughout the world over the last 60 years. While you might suppose that indicates a bias on my part in writing this review. On the other hand, you might conclude that I know the extent of wisdom he can share. That said, I should also note that this book is neither an introduction to Buddhism nor an appeal to follow it’s teaching. It is what the title implies and the review below describes.
Even after so many years, one needs encouragement now and then. One needs words to share with others, words that provide hope in times of crisis. In the US and around the world we have been in a variety of crises–the worst pandemic in 100 years, poverty, political turmoil and more.
This is a very inspirational book of essays, with comments on the wisdom of poets, writers and historians from throughout the world. It’s easy enough to give in to despair, as Ikeda points out. At the same time, as the title says, hope is a decision that one can make. He spells it out in a series of essays written over decades. Here’s a couple examples. Both are from page 14 and 15 of the Kindle edition.
The moment we make a powerful resolve, every nerve and fiber in our being will immediately orient itself toward the fulfillment of this goal or desire. On the other hand, if we think, “This is never going to work out,” then every cell in our body will be deflated and give up the fight. Hope, in this sense, is a decision. It is the most important decision we can make. Hope changes everything, starting with our lives. Hope is the force that enables us to take action to make our dreams come true. It has the power to change winter into summer, barrenness to creativity, agony to joy. As long as we have hope, there is nothing we cannot achieve.
There may be times when, confronted by cruel reality, we verge on losing all hope. If we cannot feel hope, it is time to create some. We can do this by digging deeper within, searching for even a small glimmer of light, for the possibility of a way to begin to break through the impasse before us.
Starting now, you won’t see so many knocks on the current president of the US. They won’t be needed soon. We may have some comments on what transpires in the White House or the administration over the 70+ days until Biden is inaugurated. Perhaps some coverage of what happens in the life of Trump thereafter.
What you will see, often, is progress on the front of healing the wounds in America. Finding a path to accomplishing positive results in controlling the pandemic, restoring the economy, restoring civility and more.
Karma’s a bitch. Hoist by his own petard. Reap what you sow.
Yes, all those sayings apply to Biff’s (AKA Trump) COVID case. The Lincoln Project or some other group could take on a new spoof inspired, like me, by the Lowell George/Little Feat song, “Fat Man in the Bathtub. (Could replace Juanita with Covida or Covita).
But it’s the family and friends of those 212,000 dead of the coronavirus who will find nothing funny here. Nor those who had the preexisting condition of believing Biff’s lies.
He gasps for air on the Truman Balcony after climbing the stairs. Did Fox show that clip? Or maybe just the one he recorded after shedding virus cells amongst the White House staff. The one where he said of the virus, “Don’t let it dominate you. You can beat it.”
“He hosted a super-spreader event to honor a justice who would have the government control your body but refuse the duty to care for it, and when the virus he helped go around came around, he availed of the healthcare he would deny others, financed by the taxes he refuses to pay.”
Biff is obese, has high cholesterol, is 74 and is being treated by a primary care physician, with certification in emergency medicine. BUT Commander Sean Conley is not a pulmonologist, not an epidemiologist, not apparently well-versed in COVID-19 treatment either. He is, however, well versed in HIPAA–which enables him to withhold LOTS of information about Trump’s health that the public wants AND NEEDS to know.
So now, with Trump desperate to be reelected and suffering from COVID-19, we have a non-specialist pumping Biff full of experimental drugs and a high-dose of dexamethasone. A powerful NSAID with the potential side effects of mania, depression and more.
Assuming the Madman Trump makes it through the election (that he should lose badly), he could still be around in the White House until January 20th, 2021. Who KNOWS what he might do during all his free time away from Fox News, tweeting and golf. Be afraid, very afraid. Offer prayers in whatever faith you believe.
BTW: In addition to legislation making it mandatory that a future presidential candidate’s taxes must be disclosed, perhaps a HIPAA waiver should also be required.
Don’t forget to vote!
Addendum: If America is lucky–or the derelict spreading of the coronavirus among the macho maniacs among GOP Senators continues a few more won’t be present to vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. With a big loss by Biff, the GOP will be afraid to do it in the lame duck session.
“Great events never have minor omens. When great evil occurs, great good follows.” So says Nichiren, founder of one of the largest sects of Buddhism. The Buddhism that this writer has practiced for 43 years. That great good doesn’t come automatically.
We’ve said it before. We say it again with more confidence, as people are changing not just in America but around the world. We’ll stick to what we know best, America, in commenting on this principle.
While others might recount the founders of the United States, he extolled as heroes, those who sought to divide it. Confederate generals that seceded in rebellion against the union. All in the name of maintaining their right of dominion over other humans–unwilling people of African descent first as slaves then as lesser beings not entitled to the privileges of whites.
He castigated those who would have torn down a statute of President Andrew Jackson as ignorant of America’s heritage. Hardly, they knew full well Jackson was the one to who forcibly removed Native Americans from their historic lands to arid lands two-thirds of a way across the country. All so that Whites could settle in their verdant land. Thousands of the Cherokee died on that “Trail of Tears.” People who had a higher literacy rate than those whites who were freed from English prisons to settle in Georgia.
As we’ve said here before, Biff [AKA Trump] is the divider-in-chief. He want’s no “perfect union”—he wants a people filled with contempt for those different from themselves. His notion of making America great again is restoring those times when white supremacy was the law and the dominant culture of America.
Rather than honoring those who gave their lives in defense of the US against foreign adversaries, he and his minions ignore the payment of bounties on American soldiers in Afghanistan by Russia. We still don’t know what hold it is that Vladimir Putin has on him, but it’s clear that Biff owes his allegiance to Russia, not America. Continue reading From Great Evil Comes Great Good–Eventually, If We Do Our Part→
The US leads the planet in COVID-19 cases and deaths. Yes, with only four percent of the world population, it’s America First. That’s probably not what Biff (AKA, Donald Trump) meant when he adopted that international perspective. But he earned it.
Currently, twenty percent of new cases are generated in America. Five percent of those who contract it die–here and around the world. Over 125,000 dead so far–more than all military engagements since WWII.
Meanwhile, the Coronavirus Task Force held its first briefing–in two months! Here’s what VP Mike Pence, leading the briefing spoke of Americans “seeing encouraging news,” and said.
“all 50 states and territories across this country are opening up safely and responsibly”
If America leading the world in COVID-19 Cases AND Deaths, is encouraging–what the hell would he find discouraging?
GOP means: Gaslighting Offenders Party.
More than half the states have surging cases of COVID-19. Few, if any, reopened safely and responsibly. Most of the cases in those states weren’t declining AT ALL . Like Biff, Pence, Trump TV (AKA Fox News), all were pandemic deniers and/or gaslighters. Those red state governors had to dutifully, lemming-like, let people go wherever they wanted without any restrictions on social distancing or wearing masks. Continue reading America First–The MOST COVID-19 Cases and Deaths!→
Change is in the air–on the TV, the web, your town and around the world. That’s what this post is about. We will will get there shortly. Black Lives Matter.
November 3rd is less than five months away.Thecurrent poll numbers show Trump losing the election to Biden in a big way.Neither Mueller nor impeachment could put him away. COVID-19 and now Derek Chauvin, George Floyd’s killer are bringing him down.Well, actually, it’s his own ineptitude—his own incompetent impulses to crises way over his capacity.
That’s a discussion for another post.Today is about the changing times. To the rapidly evolving response, finally, to one more killing of an unarmed Black man.But first a brief explanation of a style change at Views.
Hereinafter, Trump shall be known here as “Biff.”Biff was Marty McFly’s primary antagonist in the Back to the Future movie trilogy. Search your recollection or the web for the physical resemblance. What urges the change are the character traits. Traits they share, like being a bully, dumb and good for nothing.
Biff’s tweets are typically false, insulting, vulgar, and sometimes libelous. We will call them Drumpf Droppings. (Biff’s grandfather Friedrich Drumpf, changed his name sometime after coming to America). Droppings are what birds leave everywhere. Drumpf Droppings extend the analogy—befouling America with their filth.
We’ll talk more about Biff’s declining election prospects another day. Today it’s all about what’s happening in America’s racial attitudes.
The Times They Are a-Changin,’ was a Bob Dylan album from 1964.There were indeed lots of changes in the sixties. Among them, a variety of laws were passed protecting the civil rights of African-Americans. Laws tell people what they should and shouldn’t do. They provide punishment for infractions. What laws don’t do is change people’s attitudes.That takes time and some intervening events.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. That’s how the beginning of a verse from Ecclesiastes goes. The reverend Al Sharpton cited the Bible passage at the first eulogy he gave for George Floyd. Pete Seeger wrote a song based on the entire passage. The Byrds version of the Seeger song was titled Turn! Turn! Turn!—an oft repeated refrain calling for change.
Change has been a long time coming.
Blacks have been killed in America since they arrived as slaves in 1619. They’ve been killed at the hands of police for nearly as long.Why is real reform on the table now? Was something special about George Floyd? Certainly special and loved by family and friends. Not the first unarmed Black man killed by a cop. Not the first on video either. What changed since Eric Garner’s death in New York City? What since events in Ferguson, Missouri?
One should always take a deep breath before posting.
Yesterday I urged a boycott of Twitter for it’s (and CEO Jack Dorsey’s) tolerance for Trump’s outrageous tweets. The problem is, the original one went out with very Trump-like verbiage. That’s intolerable, coming from me!
I did several edits and updates yesterday.Icame up with a more rational, more sensible version that reads like my normal self, eventually, and posted the improved version.
Unfortunately, of course, it’s the first one that many will have seen via subscriptions.Which is why one always needs to cool off. After a stressful day came the original post you might have seen, prompted by this:
I read how Jack Dorsey declined to delete Trump’s tweet of a conspiracy slandering Joe Scarborough–current MSNBC host and former GOP Congressman. It has been retweeted multiple times, a demonstrably false accusation that Joe murdered a former aide–more than 20 years ago.
It’s bad enough that he slanders Scarborough (the aide died of natural causes in Florida while Scarborough was in Washington, DC) but it also causes great pain for the parents of the 28-year old woman. It’s they who demanded the deletion.
Dorsey, quite apparently, doesn’t care.That’s why I suggest a boycott.
I realize that some people may have professional or business reasons to make use of Twitter. There are, of course, plenty of other similar programs to promote or communicate with.
I also understand that Dorsey is the founder and CEO of Square, an alternative for small businesses, street or market vendors to accept charges via credit cards. The rates Square charges are less than those imposed by banks for processing Visa, MasterCard, etc. So, the boycott is just for Twitter–not Square.
Oh, and you may have noticed that Dorsey did enrage Trump by putting a “get the facts” label on two equally false claims about mail-in voting. Read about it in this NY Times article. What’s so laughable about Trump’s blasting Dorsey for being biased against him is that it came where else–but on Twitter. Does this not remind you of WWE or other theatrical wrestling events (which Trump is proud of)? Dorsey makes big bucks off Trump’s tweets. Trump excites his dwindling base by his regular conspiracy and slanderous tweets. This feigned outrage is just like the trash talk at pro wrestling events.
If you can’t boycott Twitter, at least tweet some outrage at the free rein Dorsey gives Trump.
Seeing things as they really are, without the illusions or delusions
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