Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Have you noticed... it’s Speaker Gingrich, Governor Palin, Governor Romney; but it’s Barack Obama or Mr. Obama in Republican debates, speeches, and political ads. Why is that?

Back in the sixteenth century a mostly poet and dramatist, sometimes essayist, said “The rules of fair play do not apply in love and war.” As far as I know, that’s the original statement that morphed into our commonly used phrase, “All’s fair in love and war.” I am dreading the time between June and November this year because it has become clear that in American politics “The rules of fair play don’t apply in love, war and politics.” Of course, there has always been a lot of stretching of the truth and a fair amount of bald faced lying by a few unscrupulous people who will do just about anything to win an election, whether it’s for a local school board or for mayor of Podunk City. A school district usually recovers eventually from the damage done to communities, families, and children from having chosen unethical, self-serving board members; a village and even a city can usually painfully dig itself out of a deep hole it sinks into under the inadequate and even criminal leadership of spurious city managers.

Just about everybody in the U.S. knows the story of Bell, California, a little city of 36,000 people near Los Angeles. In 2010 a couple of L.A. Times reporters investigated possible malfeasance in small suburban towns around Los Angeles, when they discovered that Bell’s city manager’s annual salary was $787,637 dollars (almost double the salary of the President of the United States) and with benefits received $1.5 million dollars in that year. The assistant to the business manager’s salary was $376,288. The police chief’s salary was $457,000, and all but one of the members of the city council received $100,000 for their part-time work. These people were conspiring together to deceive the citizens of their little city. Nobody believes these people should be excused for their misrepresentations.

Why then, should we be willing to excuse the obvious lying and misrepresenting of facts by people who are candidates for the office of President of the United States of America. I noted earlier that I am dreading the time between June and November this year. I dread it because I desperately do not want the people in the party to which I belong, the American Democratic Party, to resort to lying. The campaign strategies of “Speaker” Gingrich and “Governor” Romney, whichever wins the nomination, will continue right up to November 6. I desperately want President Obama and all of campaign strategists to stick strictly to the truth. Oh, I know... I know... there are those who say he didn’t tell the truth in his State of the Union message. Including something in a speech, or saying something in an interview that folks on the other side don’t agree with and is a matter of ideological opinion doesn’t qualify as “lying.” My friend who says the Social Security program won’t be available when we are long gone from the earth and our grandchildren are the age we are now is an opinion. It is appropriate for me to say I don’t agree with him, but for me to call him a liar is not. We both believe the program needs to be re-formed. Although neither of us is an economist or a politician with very much knowledge of the program beyond the amount that gets deposited each month from the Social Security program into our bank accounts, we have opinions based on what we hear and what we read. Of course, my opinion in the matter of Social Security reform has developed more subjectively than objectively. So is my friend’s opinion. I may be wrong when I say the program, or perhaps a better form of it, will be part of my country’s social net for all citizens for a very long time. But I’m not a liar for believing what I say I believe about Social Security. My friend is not a liar for believing what he believes, and it would be wrong of me to say he isn’t telling the truth. I can say that I desperately hope he isn’t right in the conclusions he has drawn from the same set of known facts that are available to both of us.

So, back to the reason for this writing. I hope the people on “my side” of the political contest that will play itself out over the next ten months will honor the truth. If they cannot honor truth, they will not honor themselves or our country.
Now, after the rant... I move on to some images that gave me a lot of joy today... the kind of joy that comes from being out in the world with friends and family... Jerome and Jeremy and a Juggler and children.

Monday, January 30, 2012

We’ve finally got one
up close
a black hole of our own
dark impenetrable
what’s in there
nobody knows
a pool of ignorance
they say
wants a change
it’s a freedom issue
where you carry your gun
what we need
but ain’t likely to get
is a fact based
so drop your
in the box
and hope
for the best.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Earth Was Without Form and Void...

because I choose form
over formlessness
and chaos

I was thinking
perhaps next week
or even today
but surely by sometime
next year
I’d like to address
the issue
you know
the lack of order
the random chaos
in practically
but not quite

Life supplies surprises
My eye delights
in the unexpected
song of a tiny bird
in the sudden break of clouds
above the sea at sunset
the startling burst into flight
of a clutch of doves
I hadn’t seen in my path

So I’ll get around to it
one day
until then
this is quite a ride

Saturday, January 28, 2012

San Diego from Udall Street

Just when you think you've seen something
in every way from every angle
and from every possible vantage point
you turn a corner and there before you
it presents itself
like an altogether new vision
a sight so new
you think it couldn't have been there
yesterday and perhaps won't be there tomorrow
so you stay to look at it carefully
and take a picture just in case
proof is needed.

Friday, January 27, 2012

I wandered down by the sea today
waiting for nothing at all
and when it came I said
yes give it to me and it
did breaking like waves

Thursday, January 26, 2012


My friend David Burnight send to me a hard copy of an essay by Richard Rohr which was published in the May/June issue of Tikkun. You can find the essay on the internet at the address above. I urge you to read it. I don’t usually share a private letter which I’ve sent to a friend, but this time it is my journal writing for today; so I’m including it here. I've sent the letter to David by "snail mail." I'm in the awkward position of posting the letter here before it is actually delivered to him by the Postal Service. Because he will recognize how very much I appreciate his sending the essay to me, I know he will forgive me for this breach of etiquette.

Thanks very much for the essay from the May/June 2009 Tikkun. I read it tonight just after I had made myself blue and discouraged by sitting and watching the four Republicans beat up on each other in an effrort to become their party’s candidate for the presidency. Except for Ron Paul, their “reasoning,” if you can call it that, is informed by their determination to make America bigger and stronger with more of everything than any other country in the world... and, of course, throwing Barack Obama out of the White House... I like Richard Rohr’s point of view and his thesis. I especially like his insistence that we have developed a “Cadillac faith,” that diverges radically from the clear, straight-forward Gospel that Jesus delivered to the world... a gospel which clearly warns that greed hurts people, that healing the world is not done by making mountains of everything that can be changed into money.

I like the way Rohr shines a light on our arrogance and superficiality masquerading as success. Although he doesn’t say is specifically, I think Rohr is saying we confuse self-sufficiency with self-actualization... or if we know the difference, we choose self-sufficiency. I personally have too much rather than too little of almost everything... and like most of my friends, I don’t make much effort to share what I have.

I also like his emphasis on the loss of joy in our culture, especially what he calls “inherent joy” that comes to individuals who somehow manage to find and preserve in themselves a simple presence---presence to ourselves, to others, to the moment.

He is bold to say that our society, our culture, takes us back to a time of the divine right of kings; and we insist that it is somehow guaranteed by “democracy” and “free markets” and “capitalism.” When we say we don’t want our grandchildren to lack the benefits of the America “that made us great,” we are actually putting our grandchildren in grave risk of becoming hollow people.

I especially like and join Rohr’s hope for smallness? I especially like his last paragraph: “I trust, I believe, I hope, and I even know that the new Imaginers are out there! This crisis of prosperity is an opportunity to again love the small, the local, the human scale, the human over the corporate, the soulful over the successful, and the common good over private advantage. This alone will offer us a future worthy of spiritual and wise human Beings.”

Thank you, David, for sharing this essay with me. I’ll pass it on.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Today's journal writing and the photographs don't match. The first image below is my photo du jour, and the next three are also from today. I couldn't resist posting some more of the pictures I got in the Mission Gorge fog yesterday. Perhaps I justify including them because they provide a kind of contrast to the brilliant, clear birds of paradise. As a nation, and perhaps as a world, we are facing an eleven month season of political fog. As you could predict, I liked the President's State of the Union address last night. It was a brilliant, clear statement of things as they are in our country.
Christine Legarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, is one of the persons on whom I place my hopes that the world can be spared a global economic meltdown. If I had the power to do it, I would make the report on Legarde in this week’s edition of Newsweek (January 30, 2012) required reading for all Americans. If I had to limit the homework assignment to a relatively small group of Americans, I would choose to have it studied by all members of the House of Representatives and Senators in Washington and all Cabinet Members in President Barack Obama’s administration. Knowing that he has already done so, I wouldn’t have to require the President to read it. I would ask for written reports from all members of Congress. I would grade them based on the attention in their writing to form and content.

In stating the assignment, I would ask members of Congress to pay particular attention to the following paragraphs from the Newsweek essay:

“...Legarde’s approach to running the IMF was quite different from Strauss-Kahn’s. And her first encounters with the 24 board members were a bit awkward. The sessions always tend to be a little ritualized, “like Kabuki,” says a woman who had attended many of them. And there was the question of how to address Legarde: Chairman? Chairwoman? Chair? She settled on Madame Chairman.

‘I don’t know if it’s male versus female, but I am told my management style is more inclusive,’ says Legarde. ‘It has to do with forming a team’s view, having a consensual approach, “wasting time” on occasion to build consensus so that “you will not need to waste it in convincing people to implement.”’

‘Even if it means not appearing as decisive--you know, ‘This is my way or the highway’--I don’t work that way,” says Lagarde. At the end of the day we have to reach a compromise and a common platform, but I think it has to include as many people as possible.” She pauses for a second. “I leave aside the bastards, because that’s one thing that I don’t compromise with: people who lie, people who cheat, people who are not with the group and behave like parasites. That, I can’t stand.’


“The word Legarde keeps coming back to is “confidence.” Without it, nothing works. And confidence comes from leadership. In her no-nonsense way, that is precisely what she aims to deliver--not only for her institution, but for the world.”

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

When I drove through Mission Gorge early this morning, a whimsical fog had settled along the river and among the trees...inviting everything to dance and sing. I heard something and it wasn't the hawk that came and looked at me, so it must have been the trees... or maybe the river.