Saturday, November 30, 2013


Today I’ve been determined not to let anything provoke me into a rant. I went looking for images about which I could feel something… preferably something that I can remember with gladness… perhaps at least one image which I can call up with satisfaction just before I drop off into a satisfying sleep the last night of this Thanksgiving week and the last day of the month of November.

The sycamore trees in our valley are holding onto a few leaves.
I got the pictures when the late afternoon sunlight
intensified the gold in the few that were left.

The hibiscus was golden, too; 
before I decided I'd see how it looks
as a negative image.

In San Diego we're coming into bird of paradise season.

Today at the Asian market up the hill from where I live, I bought this cabbage for supper tonight
and decided it deserves as much attention as the showy bird of paradise.
As a matter of fact, when I downloaded the picture from my camera... 
and set the cabbage against inky blackness, I thought about the comet Ison,
whatever is left of it, speeding away from its close encounter with the sun.

Friday, November 29, 2013

John Henry Twachtman's Mother and Child
at the DeYoung Museum

I think I may have figured out how it is that ultra-right conservative Christians, especially those serving in Congress, who continue not to be moved to compassion toward the plight of children living in poverty, have misunderstood altogether the Biblical advice, “suffer the children.”  The word suffer came into the English language from Anglo-Saxon influence, and it hung around in formal use though the Elizabethan period with a meaning quite different from the definition we commonly mean when we use the word today.  King James’ translators used the word to mean “allow” or “permit” in Matthew 19:14:  “Suffer little children and do not hinder them from coming to me…”  Anyone who can deliberately tamp down children into even more grievous poverty must think, clearly a strained exercise if they do, that their Jesus said it’s all right to make children suffer. 
Janine di Giovanni in this week’s Newsweek Magazine describes in frightening detail the effects of the war in Syria on the children of that country. She begins by asking “What is it like to be a child in Syria?”  She reports (Oxford Research Group, a London think tank) that of 110,000 killed by the end of August this year, 11,420 were children.  I would like to hear that our Congress has established a committee to gather and present to its entire legislative body a thoroughly developed report on the numbers of American children living in poverty. I want all politicians and all religious leaders and all educators and indeed all citizens in America to ask, “What is it like to be a child in America?”   I want to hear of a movement sweeping through American churches that all of them are united in determination to lift all children out of poverty. Of course, I don’t have to go on with this BLOG writing until it reaches a crescendo approaching rant.  

What I must do in this BLOG post instead of ranting is to hope all of us living in comfort and affluence will remember as we go into and through the Christmas season and see our beautiful, well nourished and beautifully costumed  children singing like angels that not all the children in our own country and in our world are well nourished and adequately clothed and in good health. Taking appropriate care of all the children in the world is a moral imperative. Ignoring the plight of suffering children is the grossest evil.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Family and friends served Thanksgiving Lunch at the Senior Community Center in Downtown San Diego.  We had nearly 300 people served in three sittings.  Life is especially good for some of us, and we're trying not to forget to stay in touch with folks for whom life isn't especially good right now.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

PLAYING AROUND...with a Sycamore I know and feeling Thankful

what i
‘m thin
king is
gh i


for some people 
got a hell
of a lot
to be

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


The Catholic Church has got itself a new kind of Pope.  Some of my Methodist and Presbyterian friends are adopting a wait-and-see attitude about reports from the Vatican that Pope Francis is serious about his job.  I like him very much.  “The Pope” isn’t his official title.  He is Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, and Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City.  In his sermons, news conferences, and general writings, Pope Francis insists that his primary calling is to lead the renewal of the Roman Catholic Church. Early in his reign he is making sure the world knows what he means by renewal, and he invites the world to participate.  

Pope Francis’ latest published writing is called “Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel).  His predecessors preferred a more formal, academic style of writing and speaking.  Pope Francis’ writing feels like the sincere preaching of a warm, humble pastor genuinely concerned with the practical problems of living in an increasingly complex world. He continually articulates his commitment to the ancient church while insisting that he is committed also to taking a fresh look at its doctrines and to the traditional pronouncements of his predecessors. 

In the newly published 84-page document, officially referred to as an apostolic exhortation, Pope Francis calls capitalism “a new tyranny” which must be addressed by world leaders if they are serious about fighting poverty and confronting rapidly growing inequality among world citizens. His Evangelii Gaudium says the global economic system glorifies “the idolatry of money” which denies many of the world’s citizens opportunities for “dignified work, education and healthcare.” He said, “How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses 2 points?”

News agencies like Reuters reported that the Pope in this new writing declares, “I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.”  He went on to say, "As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world's problems or, for that matter, to any problems.” He adds, “I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor.” 

He begged for cooperation among the leaders of all religions to address the problems of the world. I like this Pope. Time will tell if this is sunrise or sunset.  I'm betting it's rising.

Monday, November 25, 2013

apropos of nothing… and everything

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Been thinking…  Some learned historian or Bible scholar should get in touch with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to lend a hand with cold case murder investigations like the one reported in the L.A. Times this morning.  Here’s what the paper reported today.  A body was found in 1988. Case was never solved. In church this morning the Pew Bible I picked up fell open to Deuteronomy 21.  The instructions were there for handling bodies found slain with no sign of who did it:

“When a dead body is found lying in open country, in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to occupy, and it is not known who struck the blow, your elders and your judges shall come out and measure the distance to the surrounding towns to find which is nearest.  The elders of that town shall take a heifer that has never been mated or worn a yoke, and bring it down to a ravine where there is a stream that never runs dry and the ground is never tilled or sown, and there in the ravine they shall break its neck.  The priests, the sons of Levi, shall then come forward; for the Lord your God has chosen them to minister to him and to bless him in the name of the Lord, and their voice  shall be decisive in all cases of dispute and assault.  Then all the elders of the town nearest to the dead body shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck has been broken in the ravine.  They shall solemnly declare: ‘Our hands did not shed this blood, nor did we witness the bloodshed.  Accept expiation, O Lord, for thy people Israel whom thous hast redeemed, and do not let the guilt of innocent blood rest upon thy people Israel: let this bloodshed be expiated on their behalf.’  Thus, by doing what it right in the eyes of the Lord, you shall rid yourselves of the guilt of innocent blood.”
—Deuteronomy 21: 1-9

Any questions?

Well, that's settled then.  Now, if anybody wants to know what to do with a woman captured in a battle, the next paragraph (Deuteronomy 21: 10-14) gives explicit instruction.  

I'm just wondering if I should get in touch with John Kerry to let him know he can probably find something in Deuteronomy that might help with the Iran problem.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

i came across a poem
i like... by e.e.cummings
of course...
no pictures to post with it...i used it anyway.

"next to of course god america i
love you land of the pilgrims' and so forth oh'
say can you see by the dawn's early my
country 'tis of centuries come and go
and are no more what of it we should worry
in every language even deafanddumb
thy sons acclaim your glorious name by gorry
by jingo by gee by gosh by gum
why talk of beauty what could be more beaut-
iful than these heroic happy dead
who rushed like lions to the roaring slaughter
they did not stop to think they died instead
then shall the voice of liberty be mute?"

He spoke.  And drank rapidly a glass of water

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Joke's on Us...

O.K., O.K., O.K……  I can’t hold out any longer.  I did BLOG posts for a couple of days that weren’t even close to RANT, and I’ll confess it felt pretty good… BUT I’ve had it up to the jokes about failed sign-up systems and continual dumping on the President for his efforts to create, with Congress, a program that at least begins to try to meet the health needs of All 317.13 million of us.  My discouragement has turned into full-on disgust with anybody who doesn’t want all people who need medical care and better health to have it… And I don’t want to hear all that “stuff” (I’m holding back here…) from the people who like to trot out “examples” of why the poor are to blame for their own poverty. I’m tired of excuses and “but if…

The way I see it, in the first place “Obamacare” shouldn’t have been a necessary strategy to get health care for everybody in a nation like ours, a society which is often described as “affluent” by those willing to forget about the bottom forty percent of our citizen.  Other less wealthy nations have managed to make appropriate health care available for all their citizens.  We could do it. Sí, podemos. Es posible. I stand with Senator Bernie Sanders (Independent-Vermont) and most Democrats who have long advocated for a single-payer health plan for America.  A single-player plan scares the shit out of some investors, many health practitioners, self-serving politicians, and CEO’s of insurance companies whose primary goal for their companies is to earn more and more profit from every policy sold.  Because a single-payer plan includes scrapping private health insurance and getting EVERYBODY into a program very much like Medicare (acknowledged dirty word for most Republicans… oddly unacceptable even to many of those Republicans of my generation who benefit greatly from Medicare and would be in deep “stuff” without it.) with a comprehensive set of benefits financed through (here comes another of those unacceptable words/ideas) taxation (just the way you pay for the road you take to the grocery store or to church)… a plan whose primary reason for being is providing medical care, not earning profits, the majority of Republicans in public office are unwilling even to talk about it. I know a whole bunch of people in medical professions whose primary motivation isn’t profit… my primary care doctor is one of them… and so are the people who work with him. They are part of the Sharp Health Care Care system in my area, a very good not-for-profit system where the people who work in the system are making reasonable wages with reasonable benefits (but are certainly not getting rich).  BUT the only way the poorest people, including many, many, many children… people typically without health insurance, can get treatment in any health system in San Diego and in most of America is to go to an emergency room. 

The President and the people in Congress whose commitment is to ALL citizens have had to settle for the Affordable Care Act.  Senator Sanders has said we are having to settle for “a system which is so complex, its main function is to enable insurance companies, drug companies, medical equipment suppliers to be making huge amounts of money off of the system.”   Republicans in the House of Representatives and in the Senate haven’t been willing even to let a plan get to committee for discussion, much less get to the floor of the House or the Senate for a vote. The serious flaw in the Affordable Health Care program is not the Internet structure on which it depends to work efficiently, BUT on the same insurance companies that got us the flawed, outrageously expensive medical care system that doesn’t meet the needs of ALL people, an insurance industry that has been able to refuse to offer insurance to people who are already sick, to exclude classes of people because they are more likely to need medical care at some future time. The Affordable Care Act is requiring younger, obviously healthier people to enroll in order for the insurance companies to continue to make huge profits because the program no longer allows them to exclude sick or older people. 

One good way to evaluate a single-payer plan is to look at the health care program provided to each and every legislator in the House and Senate. Those citizens, our elected legislators, are very happy with their health plan. What they enjoy, paid for by taxation, is what virtually all Democrats want for all citizens.  I’d like very much for all of those in Congress who are against a single-payer health plan but who enjoy health care benefits,  paid for by citizens, to look the nation squarely in the eyes and say out loud, “We can’t afford to provide for you what you are giving to us. You don’t deserve what you are paying for us to have.” 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Nothing political in the BLOG today... We had rain in San Diego; so camera in hand after my volunteer stint at the Museum of Photographic Arts, I went out to find something wet for my photo du jour.   Near both entrances to the Botanical Building tall shrubs stand sentry duty with dangling golden bells. They look as if they might raise an alarm if anything threatens the peace of this spectacular building. Except for the image above, I shot from underneath to get the pictures I wanted.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I talked with someone today who had experienced chaos and confusion in the country of his birth.
Today he found reason for hope.
He became a citizen of the United States of America.

Early in the morning once every month I ride my bike down to San Diego’s Civic Center and join a little band of Democrats who believe in America… who believe America not only can be, but will be better. We are committed to the idea that all people who become citizens by a process of (I like this word) naturalization are instantly eligible for the rights and privileges… and responsibilities… of American citizenship, including the right to vote. The one exception is the opportunity to become president. Other than that, the entire bundle of rights and privileges of citizenship is handed to each new citizen.  We are available every month at the formal “swearing in” ceremony to help new citizens register to vote. Today more than eight-hundred people were granted full American citizenship at the Civic Center ceremony in San Diego.

The occasion is always a reminder that “all” means ALL in the matter of citizenship… not more “liberty” and more “justice” for some, but “liberty and justice for all.”  Anyone who is not actively working to ensure justice for all people is complicit in the subjugation of every person who suffers injustice.