Marching with My I-Pad

I cannot march on Washington today. I would like to have been able to do so.  But I am waiting on a plane to take me to Texas due to a family emergency.

But I can Tweet my support, which I have done.  And I can dedicate this blog to a call to end the slaughter of our children in their classrooms.

I am not against the 2nd Amendment.  Like all Constitutional Amendments, however, it is open to legal interpretation.

I know die-hard NRA members think their right to bear arms is “God-given.”  Funny, I missed that part in the Bible.

Yes, our Founding Fathers invoked God when crafting the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. But I have never read a history book that says they were led by the Holy Spirit in doing it.  Nor is there any hint in my Bible this would happen.

Invoking God’s name and God approving of something are two different things.

Since Jesus was God Incarnate and He said if your enemy slaps you, offer your other cheek, I find it hard to believe He is happy with our President’s idea of arming teachers in classrooms.

After all, Jesus is the same guy who could have allowed a woman to be stoned for breaking one of the Ten Commandments. His response to that was to write something in the sand.

So why do we think we have a God-given “right” to any kind of gun we choose to own, without limitation or restriction?

For those who say we need it in case we have to rise up against the government-sorry guys.  But unless it is the Generals leading the coup, you are already out-gunned, tanked, planed and nuked.

We are not “Rambo.” Nor is Sylvester Stallone.  He was just pretending.

But the death and destruction of our children is real.  It happens with too great a frequency and for no reasonable explanation.

Contributions to PACs and Presidencies does not qualify as reason.

I have admitted to “trolling” Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla) on Twitter because of a remark he made at the CNN town hall after Parkland.  I continue to do so.

He said he supports people and organizations that support his “agenda.” It was his explanation for his willingness to accept the NRA’s money for his campaigns.

It was a word that has stuck in my craw. His “agenda.” As if that overrides any other considerations and is something unmalleable.

I wonder.  Has he realized that if he were to support banning private ownership of weapons designed for war and reasonable gun control regulations, there would be plenty of people willing to support him on that “agenda” item too?

And that his chances for re-election might not be dimmed a whit?

”Agendas” change all the time.  It is past time for Senator Rubio – and the rest of his Congressional colleagues – to change theirs.

 

 

 

DJT: Another “Face in the Crowd”

Remember that post not long ago when I said breaking the abstinence from caffeine was not a good thing?

Well, I should have read my own blog about it.

It’s just my head hurt so badly in the early part of last evening. It’s not hurting now, but I am both exhausted and too wired to sleep.  Caffeine trumps whatever meds I take at night to help the sleep process.

Speaking of Trump, I saw the perfect movie that presaged the power of television to raise a glib con artist to the heights of fandom.

You can count on TCM to have an old movie to fit every modern occasion.

This one was “A Face in the Crowd,” a 1957 feature with Andy Griffith and Patricia Neal.

Neal’s character, a patrician Southern girl whose father owns a radio station, among other media marvels, turns a down on his heels but slick talking jail bird and drifter into a real life radio sensation and more.

His slickness is wrapped in corn pone, but the thrall with which “Lonesome Rhodes” holds his audience has just as much fervor as Trump at one of his eternal campaign rallies shouting “Who is going to build the Wall?”

Rhodes is quickly hustled from small town radio stardom to the bright lights of New York prime time television, with generals and politicians eager to capitalize on his audience connection to package their vision so that the “little people” buy it because they trust in Rhodes as the seller.

The only problem is, the higher Rhodes’s  trajectory in the firmament of fame, the more abusive he is to those around him.  He relies more and more on what he alone believes “sells” and less and less on the more experienced surrounding him.

Finally, his absolute contempt for everyone -including the audience that adores him – is on full display. The latter find out when his creator, Neal’s character Marcia, allows him to be heard on air berating and belittling all those avidly tuned in to hear him.

You see, they were never people to Rhodes…just a ratings number he gloated over each time it rose.

Even after his huckster shtick is exposed and all the rich and powerful desert him, Rhodes believes he can still get the “little people” to believe in him again by telling them a lie. He will regain his power and then he will destroy the sound engineer he mistakenly thought to blame for the on- air “reveal.”

For every Trump moment, there seems to be a TCM movie moment that captured it before it happened. We could even call this one a “McCabe” moment.

Last week, Donald Trump lied about lying to Justin Trudeau.  And his supporters believed it and paid a high price per plate to hear it at a fundraiser.

I suggest those people watch “A Face in the Crowd.” There’s a similar tale on TV nightly news right now, and they are co-starring in it.

I Said Trump’s Win Was Cherry-Picked: I Was Right

Not to toot my own horn, but if one went back in time on my Twitter feed, he/she would find from long ago my assertion that the Trump campaign was able to cherry-pick just the right districts it needed in key swing states to win the election.

I wasn’t sure how it was done.  But I did figure Cambridge Analytica may have played a part somehow.

Now we know they did it by using Facebook. And once again, Facebook knew and only acted when publicly it had no alternative.

It says a lot about Mark Zuckerberg and his company. He and it have no concern for the 50 million people whose data were mined and then abused by Cambridge Analytica and Team Trump.

The stakes in terms of money were too much to pass up.  As for user security – well, we gave ourselves over to a kid who launched Facebook in his dorm room ( and perhaps using methods actually developed by others, if the story-line of “The Social Network” is to be believed.)

In some ways, we have only ourselves to blame.

Living in a democratic society with a free-flow of information requires a willingness to be open with who we are as a people. Perhaps we were stupidly so in terms of our addictive use of Facebook.

But that genie is out of the bottle and not to be put back, especially in an ever advancing technological age of driverless cars, increasing AI and robotics. And our personal data pretty much everywhere.

Even with a willingness to accept we should exercise  more care and concern, we are very much at the mercy of anyone able to hack our cell phones or computers. Or the very “cloud” itself.

So, do we now have an illegitimate Presidency?  I don’t know how to answer that.  I am not a legal scholar.

But I do believe 2016 was not a free and fair election as we were used in the past to experiencing it. And the abuse of our openness combined with technology is the reason.

Now finding a solution in the immediate future to ensure U.S. elections are free and fair is critical.  We need this “fix” sooner rather than later to keep our society based on the democratic ideals I think everyone – Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike – choose as U.S. citizens to live by.

Please God send us leaders willing to do so.

Mea Culpa

Repentance is one of the tenets of Lent. As Catholics, we are especially called to make confession during this time of year.

As today was not a good day, I hereby confess and repent of the following:

  1.  Instead of getting back into my Lenten routine this week (reading a book on Psalms and another on Christian meditation), I have spent too much time on Twitter. But in my defense, Trump and the GOP have given me a lot to tweet about this week. Still -mea culpa.
  2. I have been trolling Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on the gun control issue because of yesterday’s student walkouts and for a comment he made during the CNN town hall that he works with people who support his “agenda,” aka the NRA.  I believe gun control – especially a ban on semi-automatic weapons and devices that turn them fully automatic (aka bump stocks) – SHOULD be on his “agenda.” And because he sounded absolutely supercilious and uncaring when he said it.  Anyway, for trolling him repeatedly about his “agenda,” – mea culpa.
  3. I have also been trolling Speaker Ryan just because he has so come to deserve it.  Whatever moral force he was during the 2015-16 campaign season, it has evaporated as so much dust in the wind. So, even though mea culpa, have to mea culpa again for not being so sorry about it.
  4. My support for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is greater right now for than our own President, who was widely reported today to have deliberately lied to Trudeau about trade deficits that don’t exist.  This caused me to apologize twice to Trudeau on Twitter on behalf of we, the people, and reference cherry trees.  Now I have just learned Trump may have been lying about a meeting where he lied to Trudeau  because Trudeau doesn’t even know what he is talking about! Like Rex Tillerson, I confess I think Trump is a “moron.” Mea not so culpa.
  5. I yelled at my cat tonight. Mea really very culpa, especially as she is sleeping so peacefully beside me right now rather than meowing for I don’t know what to feed her because her kidneys are failing, she is hungry, but won’t eat much of anything I try to give her, including $20 a plate salmon.  Have to say mea culpa culpa again on this one.
  6. Every night I do The NY Times mini crossword twice, both on my I-phone and my I-pad, then post whichever is the fastest time to Twitter because I am arrogant about my intellect. Mea culpa.
  7. I am glad I don’t have a husband to explain to about my $200 shopping spree this afternoon, which included three pairs of shoes I didn’t need but wanted because they were so cute. I give myself a half a mea and a full culpa because, well, one pair was a Calvin Klein brand for only $25.
  8. Even though I went to dinner, ate a full grilled chicken salad and had a caffeinated Coke, I came home and ate the last Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough ice cream bar because it was there and I have no impulse control. Mea culpa, culpa mea.

As penance,  I commit myself to a weekend without Twitter, as soon as I post this blog. And ten Hail Marys.

Mea no longer so culpa? 🤷🏼‍♀️

Rex, We Hardly Knew Ye

I find it ironic that it is the GOP -which often rails against the entertainment industry and the media-that gave us our first “movie star” President in Ronald Reagan.

Now we have had more than a year of our first “television star” President, again thanks to the GOP.

To say it has been eventful is to under state the state of the Trump presidency.

And today we lose the Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, who was never cut out for the job, but who at least was smart enough to know he was working for a “moron.”

Too bad he said so aloud. It was, I am sure, the beginning of his demise.

Tillerson was not a stupid man. You don’t become chairman of Exxon that way.

But he did have a “corporate mentality” that ill-suited him for leadership on policy.

(By the way, for those who have not worked within a large corporate structure, they have their own versions of State Departments, often known as Political Affairs.  Even corporate leaders get input on the public policy stances they take.)

Corporate leaders care about policy for how it impacts shareholder value, not for the sake of policy itself.

So Tillerson never had the right “lens” for the job he held.

But to be fair, neither does Trump.  His lens is colored by a profound ignorance of history and world affairs, what Constitutional limitations there are on the Presidency, how differently government runs compared to a family business.

Yet Trump, thanks to being given a pass by Speaker Ryan and Devin Nunes (R-CA) from the House Intelligence Committee’s look at Russian intervention in the election, is now feeling “unfettered” and free to let “Trump be Trump.”

High off a campaign rally in PA this weekend, Trump is ready to leap in a single bound over those prototypes of the great “Wall” this afternoon.

If anyone thinks Trump having his way on things will be calming, think again.

I have a feeling “Trump’s Wild Ride” is just beginning.

 

 

 

 

Teleporting Gregory Peck

I have concluded it is not wise to reintroduce caffeine into your system after two years of abstinence, even if it does -along with a pain pill and a large dose of Tylenol – take the edge off what felt like a migraine coming on.

It is now 3:26 am and I am still not able to sleep, unlike my cat who is curled up tightly into a ball upon my legs as I lie abed this early March morning.

It is also not good to review recent blog posts and discover you have left words out of sentences that render them meaningless – especially if you have bragged in your bio about winning awards for your writing.

Sigh. Perfection continues to elude me.  If only the pollen blowing steadily from the pine trees all afternoon had done the same, I wouldn’t have been near migraine and would have avoided the caffeine.

But of course, then I would have missed watching the Gregory Peck-Greer Garson movie on TCM so perfectly themed for yesterday’s  announcement by Trump on tariffs for steel and aluminum.

The movie was about a wealthy scion of a Pittsburgh steel plant and the Irish housemaid with whom he falls in love.  These characters are played by Peck and Garson, respectively.

It is a reminder that we were once a country that built things, like railroads and suspension bridges, that required the unending fires tended by iron workers that sent billowing smoke over the Allegheny.

Perhaps if POTUS had announced infrastructure plans to warrant the tariffs, I could understand them.  But since he didn’t, it seems they are just for the sake of argument. Arguing seems to be something Trump enjoys, whether there is purpose to it or not.

Aside from further alienating both friend and foe alike, I am stumped.  Trump, after all, makes the best deals.  So if he is negotiating all these new best trade deals, why would we need tariffs?

Still, in the limited economy of the knowledge he seems to have accumulated with his Wharton business degree, his best deals will end up eating into our pockets and gobbling up any positive tax bonus messaging the GOP planned to use for November mid-terms and beyond.

I mean, seriously, why didn’t Trump propose the same sort of tariffs on textiles to incentivize a Renaissance in that industry? Oh, that’s right: his ties are made in China.

Trump makes the best ties, even if he doesn’t make them here, because somehow he understands THAT makes business sense. (Or is it that Ivanka makes the best tie-dyes?  I get these things confused.)

Why does Trump want to go back in search of a future?  Is that the way innovation works?  Because I always thought economies, like species, evolve or become extinct.  And in case DJT hasn’t noticed, ours evolved into a service sector economy fueled by technology a long time ago.

In fact, I am sure that despite what sounded like a congratulatory tweet, Elon Musk will build the first teleportation machine any day now.

And the phrase “Beam me up, Scottie” will become more than a line of dialogue from “Star Trek.”

Hey Siri, what do you think?

 

 

“Three Billboards: An Easter Story?”

So as my recuperating seems to need to continue, I spent the afternoon watching one of this year’s Oscar nominated movies, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”

If you don’t like movies with foul-language and can’t look past that to an investment in the story and characters, this movie is not for you.

If you can and your focus this Lent is on topics like atonement, love, mercy and forgiveness – done in the quirky, character-driven movies that draw Oscar talents like Frances  McDormand and Sam Rockwell – then you might want to give it a look if you haven’t yet seen it.

The premise is a sad one.  Mildred, the McDormand character, has lost her daughter to murder in an especially grisly manner.  Months have passed and there has been no news from local Ebbing police.

So Mildred, driving toward home on a local road that is little traveled due to the new freeway, notices three dilapidated billboards in a row and inspiration strikes.

She decides she will rent them and put pressure on the local police chief ( Woody Harrelson) by asking why her daughter’s killer has not yet been arrested.

From this act all manner of  anger, hatred, bias, grief, stereotyping, revenge, love, mercy, kindness, forgiveness and acceptance ensue in very sad and poignant ways.

It is not a movie with a neat ending. In fact, it is an ending that may be morally questionable depending on what Mildred and Deputy Dixon (Rockwell) decide in future to do.

And maybe you have to be in a Lenten frame of mind to see in it what I saw.

Humanity in all its forms of messiness. And assurance that God is at work in mysterious ways to heal us in its midst.

Okay, So I Am Still Watching “The Bachelor”

In my January 10th, 2018 post I said I did something I swore I would never do again…watch another season of “The Bachelor.”

Spoiler Alert: I also say the same things about “Dancing With the Stars” and the “Real Housewives” franchises, yet inevitably I do. So relax, Chris Harrison.  Relax.

This afternoon while recuperating on my new leather couch, I watched Arie’s  final rose 🌹 episodes. Of course, I felt as badly for Becca as the rest of Bachelor Nation. What a horrible experience to play out live on the public stage.

But I already knew he hadn’t picked the girl he most truly loved.  There was a difference in the way he kissed Lauren that was more deeply passionate. Rewatch the final episode. See if I am right. And remember this word: chemistry.

Besides, despite saying they like independent women, deep down men really like the ones they feel need protecting.  Or the women who pretend they need it.

Plus I think Arie was deeply influenced by the family consensus that Becca was a better long-term partner because she differed so much from the type of woman to which he is normally attracted. Yeah, well…I refer you to the above paragraph.  And the word “chemistry.”

I don’t know how this all ends, as there is yet another 2 hours or more of plot line left in this saga. Unfortunately I will have to record it, as I am spending the evening making up Easter baskets for disadvantaged children with my prayer group. I am sure that is the more charitable and valuable activity anyway. Which is why I am saving my physical energy spending the afternoon resting on my new leather couch.

But of course, I will watch it in recorded format when I get home. I am sure my opinions will be strong, as they are so far.

So, as a late arrival in Bachelor Nation on this subject, here’s my two cents.

Bachelors: Never, EVER, tell two girls you love them at the same time, even if you think you do. And NEVER do it while adding the words “very, very much.”

Contestants: Even if you are one of the last two people from which he will (allegedly) choose his “forever wife,” the operative word is TWO: there are two of you, and even if he has professed his love, presume he has told the other gal the same.  Guard your hearts more.  I know they throw around the term “reality TV.” This is not real life.

Which is why so many of the “engagements” from this show end up broken.

And why we cheer so much for the ones that don’t.

P.S.  Did I mention I got a new leather couch?86787908-17B5-41BB-B88F-DECA9F7E8260

P.P.S. And a matching chair!

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Meditation at Lent: Part Two

They say you can meditate anywhere, even in the midst of noise and distractions.

I put this proposal to the test today as I began my Lenten reading and meditation practice while my plumber was clanking around the guest bathroom to install new faucets and a shower head.

I know. If I were a better feminist, I would learn to do such handiwork myself. But so long as I can still afford to have such chores done for me, I will leave it to the professionals, thanks.

The first grand interruption came when CJ popped out to show me how decrypt one piece of the plumbing was and what a hard time he had in pulling it out.

I explained it had been there since the house was built in 1992.  When he noted that was the year of his birth, I suddenly felt ancient.

The next distraction was the sound of the birds.  It had been raining earlier, so they were delighted to come out and sing cheerily when it went away.

Then came a ringing sound from the bathroom that put me in mind of lightly chiming bells.  Instead of 20 minutes, I ended up coming out of meditation in 15.

But I noticed something.  When I went on to do my Divine Mercy chaplet later, I did so with a more deeply focused awareness of each bead, dropping into a deeper silence of prayer.  The sense of peacefulness I had saying it was more profound and fully felt.

There may be something to this meditation thing during Lent after all.

Ecce.  Fiat.  Magnificat.

 

 

 

Meditation at Lent and Audrey Hepburn

You would think being part of a team to bring a very special Lenten retreat to our Church, I would be all over it when it comes to reading the two books I specifically picked out for this year’s Easter season.

Wrong.

I just spent the past morning catching up on more than a week’s worth of reading on the Psalms and Christian meditation. Unfortunately, the seven days of actual meditation I missed cannot be “made up.” Those meditation periods are now lost in the cosmic void somewhere.

Meditation is not a new practice to me. It is one I have repeatedly tried to make habit, from my mid-1970’s California days going forward.

Of course, back then, though I was nominally Christian, like meditation it was a way of life I fell in and out of habit of practicing. But since meditation is a recurrent topic in my life and I consider myself a contemplative soul, I was delighted to find a book on the Catholic practice of it at our local monastery.

The author of the book -a British monk-suggests the use of the word “maranatha” as a mantra. This word was an Aramaic expression that means “Come, Lord.

When I first tried it, I had difficulty because the way he suggests silently focusing on it -ma ra na tha -includes a syllable close in sound to the “harmonic” mantra I was given when a friend (again in California days) took me to a meditation group where I was “assigned” this sound.

So, I continued to read the daily Lenten passages, but gave up on the word “maranatha” and went back to this harmonic sound that I knew would reliably take me to this deep meditative state.

Then came our Marian retreat and my vow to take on a certain type of spirituality that focuses on Marian consecration and Divine Mercy in a more apostolic way of living.

So, from the mission handbook, today I tried a meditative breathing technique that focuses on three words: ecce, fiat and Magnificat

“Ecce” means “Behold (Lord, here I am in my weakness, littleness, brokenness and sin.) It is said at the point of the lungs being empty.

On inhalation comes “fiat” meaning “let it be done to me” (according to thy will).  Exhalation is “magnificat” – “my soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.”

I got a nice breath rhythm going and was pretty focused on the words and going to a deep place in my meditative state until I a stray thought entered my head.  “What happened to Sister Luke when she walked out of the convent and back into the world.

The night before I had watched “The Nun’s Story” starring Audrey Hepburn.  It is the story of a Belgian young woman who enters religious life shortly before World War II because of her desire to go to the Congo as a nurse it is a desire that is constantly being thwarted in different ways as her superiors detect in her -and she convicts herself-an inability to completely surrender in obedience to God.

I won’t go into the details of how she is constantly tested in this manner.  As I said, in the end she decides she is incapable of this surrender of her worldly compassion and concern to surrender to the bells that represented God’s voice to enter into communion with him at the appointed times.

i couldn’t go on meditating.  Sister Luke was too much suddenly in my head again as I, too, am trying to discern a will for my life. What happened to her when she walked out that door?

Two possibilities could be hinted at: that she went back to the Congo and nurse beside the doctor who had fallen in love with her, or that, upon learning of her father’s death in an air raid and her brother’s enlistment to fight the Nazis, she joined the resistance as a nurse based on a contact someone had given her.

I know I can order to book on which the movie is based and Google her to find the answer to where God called Sister Luke.

How I wish it were all that easy to find my own answer