The Path to America

I am on a tour of Civil Rights history sites in the USA. What strikes me deepest is the degree to which fascism had a hold on the American South during the period of Jim Crow and Segregation. The language I hear today from many Trump supporters is an echo of the words said not very long ago to oppress fellow Americans. Lots of times, those words are preceded by, “I’m not a racist, but…” It is my experience that racists tend to start a lot of their sentences that way, so it’s best to avoid that phrase if one is not a racist. Racism is the brother of fascism, in which the government is hand-in-hand with businessmen to create pyramids of power. Someone has to be on the bottom, and racism supplies those slaves, prisoners, and second-class citizens quite easily.

Alongside the racism, fascism also involves networks of informers and people willing to commit extrajudicial killings. Sometimes the networks are formal, sometimes informal. In the South not too long ago, those networks existed, and they oppressed good people of all kinds.

More than anything else, this trip is helping me to see the ugliness of racial hate and the deep nobility of the men and women who struggled against it. If America is not a place, but an ideal we seek to attain, then it was the bravery of the Civil Rights Movement that showed us the path we should follow in order to attain that ideal.

Minitruth to Clinton’s Rescue

1984 was not supposed to be an instruction manual… all the same, the news headlines trumpeting that Clinton was the presumptive Democrat Party nominee like so many Buzzfeed links was a disgusting sight to see. There are some major primaries today, primaries that Clinton could lose, and this kind of news is the kind of propaganda that can sway some voters to “vote with the winner,” even though she’s not actually the winner. The reporting was completely orchestrated. There’s a Ministry of Truth out there, maybe part of the government, maybe not, and it’s working on behalf of Clinton.

To me, the “why” is clear: there are strong forces that fear the prospect of a president that would reset the rules they’ve so carefully constructed to favor themselves. Trump has a strong chance of upsetting a number of apple carts, Sanders would definitely upset even more of them. Clinton? Well, those $250,000 speech fees from Goldman Sachs don’t tell no lies: she’s the choice of the status quo. At a time when America desperately needs a safety valve to release a great deal of anger, frustration, and potential violence, Clinton represents keeping a lid on all that explosive pressure.

There were times when the USA was about to blow apart in its past. In 1860, it actually did when a no-compromise Lincoln got elected. But in 1900 and 1932, the nation was about to face tremendous upheavals if something wasn’t done to make it possible for average working families to get by. Socialism and even Communism loomed large as possible solutions for America’s problems, but Roosevelts in both those elections were elected on trust-busting and New Deal platforms that they largely carried out. Leftist agitation subsided with those victories, and the far right was placated enough to not launch a coup.

But this time around? We really should have had our reset in 2001. Instead, we got a Bush and the status quo. We were promised a reset in 2008, but Obama delivered more of the same. Clinton in 2016 is not going to be good for most Americans, but her backers are too blind to history to see that their best chances for survival lie in letting go of the throttle a bit and allowing things to get back to where they were 50-60 years ago.

What happens if they don’t let up? Simple. Other countries have shown the pattern. Either the peasants with nothing to lose rise up and put their mansions to the torch while they rend the rich limb from limb, or the authoritarian government put in place to keep the peasant uprising from happening turns on the rich and uses their profits for “the good of the state.” Democracy doesn’t survive in a world where the media blatantly lines up to lie on behalf of a candidate, not for long.

Muhammad Ali

Ponder well his words… There is a deep connection between sports and the Civil Rights movement. Muhammad Ali spoke for millions when he said these words. But for changing where the war is, these words could be said today and ring as truly as they did in the 1960s. He has passed on, but his spirit inspires me…

“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?

No, I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over.

This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here.

I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality. If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow.

I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.”

About Those School Bathrooms…

My thoughts on the school bathroom issue… it shouldn’t be an issue. Kids know which bathroom they need to use, particularly at a high school age. When we take time to understand one another, there’s no need for a law, one way or another. But if we’re going to have a law – and I speak directly to the conservatives here – one that respects property rights and individual freedoms is the law to support. We must support nondiscrimination in housing, employment, and access to government-owned facilities.

As for restaurants, bars, gas stations, and other small venues, most of those are one person per bathroom affairs, regardless of gender. They are essentially private, so it makes as no difference who goes into which one, unless there’s a line.

A few years ago, this wasn’t a federal, state, or local decision. It was a personal decision. It should remain that way and the law should protect that personal decision.

The Blessings of Mothers

In the song, “Mama Tried”, Merle Haggard wrote this chorus:

“I turned twenty-one in prison, doing life without parole
No one could steer me right, but mama tried, mama tried
Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleading I denied
That leaves only me to blame, ’cause mama tried.”

He wrote this partly-autobiographical verse in reflection of his time in San Quentin prison. Although he was not doing life without parole, he did turn 21 in prison because he hadn’t respected his mother’s lessons. And even though Merle Haggard ran a few illegal operations in prison at first, it was when he saw a fellow inmate on death row making preparations for his execution that made him want to change his life and return to living the way that would honor his mother.

He was dead right, as well, when he accepted responsibility for his actions. His mama tried, and his awful state was his own fault. If he had accepted the blessings of his mother’s teachings, his life may have been just as hard, but it would be with the knowledge that he was living honorably, honestly, and doing what was right.

While both mothers and fathers teach their children right from wrong, they don’t always do it in the same way. Their message may be unified, but their delivery will be different. When a mother speaks from her heart, there is a spiritual force that accompanies those words. That force can embed her words in the hearts and minds of her children, and will whisper to them for the rest of their lives. Those words serve as yardsticks by which her children will measure their lives ever after. We’ll know if we’ve done right or wrong by how well we’ve kept the words of our mothers.

Even when a mother may be absent in a home, children will seek that motherly influence elsewhere. An aunt, a grandmother, even an older sister can provide that kind of influence. Left on their own, wise men may take wayward members of their group aside and repeat to them words that they learned from their mothers – that perhaps their errant brothers may not have heard, or respected. When we are living right, we know so because we don’t feel a twinge of guilt when we think of our moms.

Moms have the capability to bind children to their words. I choose that word because, in Hebrew, the word used for “bands” can also mean labor pains. Not only do moms know what is right, they carried us for many months and went through all the trials of childbirth, that we might live. It is not for nothing that baptism is described as being born again, having broken through the bands of death. Adopted children do not have an easy out here, by the way. The legal process of adoption is quite involved, which can cause much pain and suffering and travail. Your moms have equal authority, so see that you mind them.

We only have two mentions of the interaction between Mary and Jesus, both found in the Gospel of John. The first, at the wedding in Cana, is quite telling. In John 2:1-5, we read:

1 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:
2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.
3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.
4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.
5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.

Mary tells Jesus that there is no wine. Why? She knows what he can do and expects him to do it. A father would likely have just asked him to make some wine, but a mother wants her children to learn to take a hint of persuasion and think to do the right thing on their own. Jesus responded tenderly to his mother – “Woman” in the Greek dialect John wrote in is an endearing term – and hinted of his own that it was not yet time for him to start doing miracles. No matter: Mary had spoken to Jesus and was already making arrangements, telling the servants to follow his every instruction. He was going to do the miracle because his mom said so.

A lesser person would have complained or refused. A teenager would have groaned about being embarrassed. Jesus, however, set the perfect example and honored his mother straightaway by performing a miracle of turning water into wine. Such a good boy, this Jesus. Why can’t you be more like him?

And if you heard those last few words with the voice of your mother, that only underlines my point even more. Our mothers want what’s best for us, and they know that if they have to nag a little… or a lot… it’s for our own good. Who tells us to take the medicine, even if it’s nasty? Who tells us it’s better to rip off the band-aid all at once? Who tells us to take a nap because we’re cranky? And who has to deal with with our tantrums, outbursts, and willful disobedience?

I’d like to take this time right now to publicly thank my mom for making me take medicine, yanking off my bandaids, and putting me down for my naps. I would furthermore like to apologize for my tantrums, outbursts, and willful disobedience. I know I did a lot less of those things, once I had children of my own.

In raising my own children, by the way, that’s where my mom’s words and deeds come into powerful action. If I can justify a course of action with, “My mom made me do that!”, it’s as good as done. When I invoke the authority of my mom, my words transcend to a new level of might.

That stuff can cut both ways, though. One time, me and my family were visiting my parents. Malia was about 2 or 3 and I was running the “I got your nose!” scam. This was making Malia angry. So, she turned to my mom and said, “Grandma! Your son is teasing me!” Young as she was, Malia knew the power of a mom. I was quickly compelled not only to cease and desist, but to apologize. Lawyers should be so effective. Malia knew that I had to mind my mom and that there was no appeal beyond her. If I had tried to go to my dad, he would have just shaken his head and pointed at his wife, my mother, as the final authority in this matter.

As a former child, I can say that my life was blessed by listening to my mother. My life was cursed when I didn’t. Even so, she was there to take me to the hospital when I cut my finger after horsing around with my Cub Scout pocket knife. She wasn’t about to let me bleed out on the patio. Likewise, she was also there in my life to make me conjugate Latin verbs every time when my grade in that class took a dive. She wasn’t going to let me just fail and be done with it. Because with a good mother, those rules that she gives are intertwined with deep, incomprehensible love.

Often, the rules themselves were imperatives to love my neighbor, to do unto others as I would have them do unto me, and to seek after things that were praiseworthy and of good report. Moms are not only the givers of law, but the enrichers of lives. Each mom has her own set of specialties. There is no “perfect mother” capable of delivering exposure to all things to all her children. My mom was not perfect. Then again, neither am I. But my mom did have an affinity for the arts, and she brought music, art, and literature into my life. Other moms would have done other things: all I know is what my mom did with me.

Music was the easiest. She put the records on and played what she liked. I just ran around in constant circles as I listened. Apparently, running around in circles is the best way to learn because, to this day, I remember every word and every note of those songs. I don’t remember the naps I had after running those marathons, but I have a love for the Irish folk songs, golden oldies of rock and roll, and the Bach concertos she played. I didn’t ask for them: mom just shared them with me and that was that.

Art was next. As I became interested in books, I preferred picture books at first. So, she picked up volumes of art prints and placed them on shelves that I could reach. I stared for hours at those masterpieces, but I just thought of them as some neato pictures. Later on, she was able to talk with me about those artworks and develop a sense of art history that deepened my appreciation.

Literature followed suit. We had a million books in our house, growing up. People asked my mom if she had read them all and she said, “yes.” I hadn’t read them all, so I guess that made an impression upon me. Books were meant to be read. We didn’t buy them to keep dust off the shelves. Some I read for fun, others I read because a teacher had assigned the title and we just happened to have a copy at home. I haven’t read all those books, but I’ve since read plenty others. The things she loved, I learned to love.

The second time we see Jesus interact with his mother is at his crucifixion. From John, 19:25-27, we read:

25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.

He was leaving the world, and his mother was at his side. Where others had abandoned and denied knowing the Savior, Mary was there to claim her son as her own. Jesus was equally devoted, as he made sure that she would be cared for in his absence, and that John would understand that the care would not be for just anyone: John was to care for Mary as he would his own mother. Mark that – John was to care for Mary as Jesus would have done so.

But the inverse of that was also true: Mary would now also care for John as she would her own son. They would grow old together and enjoy each others’ company. That is a third, great blessing of a mother – the ability to share moments all through one’s life. We honor our fathers and our mothers, it is a commandment with a promise. I’ve seen enough borscht-belt comedy to know that a mother left alone too long is prone to say, “What, you can’t even take two minutes to pick up a phone and give me a call?” They like to know what’s going on. Yes, they also like to meddle, but that’s what a mom does. If a child isn’t saying “Mooooooom” every now and then, there’s not enough communication, I say. Be there with her. That time is a gift from heaven when it’s good. The times when it’s not so good are for your own good, so be there, all the same.

I am fortunate that I live near my mom and I’m able to be with her almost every week on her radio show. OK, again, not all moms have a radio show. Do what you’re good at, not what someone else is good at. I never sang opera with my mom and the world is a better place for it, trust me. But I do love spinning those stacks of wax on the air with her every time I’m able to make it in to the station. I love them because that was the music she played as I grew up. I also love it because it’s what my mom likes to do, and I like to join in the fun. I also also love it because we can bring some fun into the lives of our listeners, whoever they may be, and my mom taught me how important it is to be kind and friendly to everyone.

Things my mother taught me… She taught me to never make fun of anyone’s culture or beliefs, and that I should never turn away a potential friend if he was someone that other people were mocking. I had some friends whose moms weren’t always there for them. I suppose that when they were over at my house, my mom was able to help out, in a way. She told me that, when she was a Den Mother in the Cub Scouts, she took all the kids that nobody else wanted into her den. Somehow, we seemed to have the most fun as a Cub Scout den. That, in turn, made me not only take all the kids nobody else wanted into my patrol when I was a patrol leader in Boy Scouts, but there were times when I was a teacher that I went to other teachers and asked them for all the kids they didn’t want in their classes.

I have had great blessings in my life from what my mother gave me. I’ve had other blessings from other motherly types, as well. Each time I have been with a caring woman that had strict rules and love for the children in her care, I have benefited from the lessons in subject matter and life itself that that woman had to offer me. My life is not a wreck only because I have chosen to heed the mothers in my life. If you want your life to be better, listen with care to the mothers in your life and follow their examples.

I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Current Beautiful Moment

On my porch, wonderful weather, listening to the 4th Movement of Beethoven’s 9th (Georg Solti conducting), and the song of the birds, the rhythm of the winds, even the pulse of street traffic, all merge with the symphony to remind me that, in spite of our prejudices, all men are truly brothers.

Cash, Panama Papers, and You

Well, now, what are those kooky little bankers up to today? Why, it seems as though a few of them were laundering money in Panama! Those clever little weasels! Such fun! And we get to read all about it in the Panama Papers, right?

Well, not really.

The Panama Papers look like an amazing revelation, dumping all kinds of cool secret facts on us peons in the 99%. Except, when I started reading into the press about them, it all seemed to be slanted to cast aspersions on Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad. There were brief mentions of a few Arab sheikhs, and an Icelandic PM got tossed under the bus, but most of the ire went towards Putin’s crowd. That seemed fishy to me.

See, when I read about offshore banking criminality, like with the Nugan Hand Bank or BCCI, the CIA is usually all over the story. Drug runners, lots of oil money going to terrorists, weapons dealers, it’s all there. In this story, no CIA, no CIA informants, no drug money, no oil money for terrorists, maybe a little weapon dealing… kinda strange, really. And the infographics with the press were about al-Assad’s regime using the law firm in Panama to get illegal weapons… huh?

I mean, yeah, DUH, a regime facing an embargo or sanctions is going to use a shady offshore arrangement to get stuff or to keep assets liquid. That’s why Putin’s friends were using these guys. I mean, if they’re a bunch of criminals, they’re going to do criminal stuff. It was the same with the Nazis in WW2: that pack of criminals used offshore arrangements to get vital war materials for the Reich’s war effort.

The real story is the identity of those counterparties in the West to those shady deals from Syria and Russia. Why are they not named? Well, we get a possilbe answer from Wikileaks. Wikileaks says that this whole Panama Papers thing is run by George Soros’ people, and it’s common knowledge that Soros has a huge axe to grind with Putin and anyone affiliated with Putin. That sounds like a plausible explanation for the Panama Papers reporting to be so Russophobic – and so blind to the Western counterparties. It’s selective information, and that’s propaganda.

One explanation for the lack of US involvement in this mess is that, because of US laws, Panamanian tax shelters aren’t all that popular. Fine, that’s the lack of civilian involvement explained. How does that explain the lack of CIA mentions? These guys are constantly using back channels to run their clandestine deals with global criminals. They ALWAYS crop up in deals like this. ALWAYS. Their absence here is conspicuous, and indicates further that these Panama Papers are a propaganda piece.

Which brings me to calls from central banks to get rid of cash: that’s more propaganda.

Let me explain… cash prevents central bankers from forcing people to spend money. Central bankers would very much like to force people to spend everything that they have, in order to prop up their economies. Getting rid of cash and putting everyone on debit cards with expiration dates can develop a “use it or lose it” mentality in people and keep the nation’s businesses awash in transactions. If you want more economic details, just ask and I’ll put them in the comments. Long story short is that central bankers want to get rid of cash.

So, in the name of fighting crime, bankers have begun to propose getting rid of the $100 and the €500 notes. Get rid of those, they say, and it will be harder for criminals to do crimes. The truth is that criminals will still do their crimes, but will be increasingly forced to turn to banks to launder their profits – and that’s where the banks get their cut.

The Panama Papers show one thing, very clearly. That’s the extent to which criminality has shot through the global banking system. Or is it how extensively the global banking system has penetrated organized crime? Whichever it is, this move to get rid of cash won’t reduce crime. It’ll just make it more organized and more involved with the bankers.

Organized crime is so vital to the global banking industry that, during the Panic of 2008, money being laundered in the TBTF banks was the only source of liquidity in a system that had dried up and which refused to issue letters of credit to even the most trustworthy of clients. Trillions of dollars move in that banking system that’s off the official books, and the skim off of that is very important to the big banks. Why else would HSBC work with Mexican drug cartels to optimize their method of depositing money in their banks?

So, this is what we learn from the Panama Papers and the call to get rid of cash:

1. The Panama Papers are a propaganda piece, targeting Putin.
2. Banks will happily finance child sex slavery, if they can get a cut of the action.
3. Banks don’t like cash, because it means they can’t get a cut of the action that doesn’t go through their doors.
4. If one wishes to do illegal things, there are plenty of banks and plenty of lawyers that will help one do illegal things, provided one pays them handsomely.
5. The press in the West is firmly under control. It will not speak truth to power. It will churn out the propaganda for the TBTF businesses and the politicians that they own.

That last part is the saddest comment, really. Once upon a time, the press would actually try to hold the rich and powerful to account.

Time to go look at cat videos before I get depressed as I think about the head of HSBC buying a new car with the bonus he’s earned off of the child sex slave trade and the reporters that are silent about it.

Life and Mortality

Mortality is from birth until death. It is full of pain, unfairness, evil, wounds, hatreds, and atrocities.
It is supposed to be that way.
Life includes mortality, but also a time before and a time after. It also includes existence without time, which is eternity. But for the moments of mortality, life is peaceful, just, good, healing, loving, and beautiful.
It is supposed to be that way.
In realizing the relationship of mortality to life, I can find joy. I do not expect an end to my pain or other trials until this mortality ends. But I do look forward to the life that is beyond and I trust in it. I will endure to the end of my mortality and my patient endurance will make entering into the rest of my life all the sweeter. And that makes it easier to endure mortality and find the beauty of life that is behind the frequent sharpness of mortality.

My Plan for Election Day: Prayer, Humility, and Patience

Come Election Day in the USA, I will not be doing anything different than I should do on any other day. I plan to pray, to humble myself, and to be patient in my circumstances. But on the day that the USA looks set to elect someone that will be utterly unfit to be president, I suppose that I shall do those things with greater purpose.

Clinton is most likely to have the Democrats’ nomination. Here is a person that went out of her way to create a system to bypass security at the Department of State. Her own needs trumped those of the people of this nation. Her communications, which should have been the property of the people, became her own property, for her to deal with as she saw fit. I cannot have confidence in such a person in the role of the President. Add to this how she built up a foreign policy that resulted in the interventions that destabilized the whole of the Middle East and Ukraine, putting the USA on a collision course with Russia, and we have an extremely dangerous warmonger with poor operational security practices as the likely Democrat nominee.

I honestly don’t know who will emerge as victor from the knife fight that is the Republican nomination process. It could be Cruz, it could be Trump. Cruz is hated in the Senate and I see no good coming of that. He does not compromise, and that is a terrible feature in a president, if he is to avoid impeachment for his sheer odiousness in his role, as happened to Andrew Johnson. As for Trump, the man is a private army and an armband away from being a Nazi. He considers Americans of my faith – Mormons – to be “alien”, and that is the first step towards demonizing us for his political gain. He’s already demonized Muslims, and I won’t stand for that in a President.

Cruz and Clinton both are creatures of the current party system, totally beholden to special interests, particularly in the defense and banking industries. Trump may not be in their back pocket, which I would normally find admirable, but he is such a narcissist that he comes across as his own special interest. This is, utterly, a no-win situation.

So I shall pray, not for God to smite anyone or to change the choice of a nation, for that is not what I desire. I shall pray that I might have strength to endure the trials my nation will surely face in the coming days and years. I shall humble myself, that I will seek to work on my own imperfections, that I might be found acceptable when I return to my Heavenly Father one day. And I shall be patient, for I endure to the end, regardless of the hardship and suffering between now and the end.

The world is still a beautiful place, and there is good I can yet do. Even if the world is to end tomorrow, I have seeds to plant today.