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Beware The Gatekeeper

Beware the gatekeeper

www.HelloFred.com

America is a divided nation that flourishes when united.  What’s stopping us?  Our individual gatekeepers.

A part of our mind protects the status quo of our beliefs. Let’s call it the gatekeeper.  Our gatekeeper checks to see if a concept is in agreement with our existing beliefs. If it is, the gate is opened, if it isn’t, the gate stays closed and information is rejected.

For us to accept new concepts we have to wholeheartedly want to explore and be willing to change or learn.  A person realizing they need to change is not enough for the gatekeeper to open the gate.

Authority figures can also bypass our gatekeeper. For example, we tend to believe people we think know more than we do. This includes doctors, schoolteachers, preachers, and motivational speakers. All kinds of people bypass our gatekeeper. Anytime we are feeling a strong emotion such as love or fear, anger or grief, we are more suggestible. Things said to us, or things we say to ourselves, will bypass our gatekeeper and become part of our subconscious programming.  Normally nobody wants to be gullible but most people are at times when feeling angry or fearful especially when we are not recognizing within ourselves anger or fear.  Be aware, some people are good at manipulating the gatekeeper in us.

Nourishing our minds requires getting beyond the status quo, recognizing when our gatekeeper is restricting us and finding time to grow as a person by observing all that comes in front of us, finding truths, searching for love within our souls and in other souls.  Nourishing exercises the more evolved parts of our brains and rests the more primitive parts of our brains.  Nourishing has a lot to do with the company we keep and don’t keep.  Nourishing requires a decision.

It has become clearer and more obvious to me that our purpose in life is to gain spiritual knowledge, self-awareness, understanding, and a loving and serving nature.  I think we evolve through use of new perspectives, introspection, and meditation.  We either view nature and people as souls or we don’t.  If we don’t, we see from fear, impatience, and intolerance and if we do we see from love and we live and die with grace.

It has also become clear to me that we have  two personalities and one wants to act, think or make decisions one way and the other personality wants to act, think or make decisions another way.  It is like there were a force pulling and pushing us in two directions.  Some feel this much more than others do.  Why?

Often heard is that some of us only accept what we can see, hear, feel, smell, and taste.  For those people their world is a material one.  Others of us add to this material world an acceptance of a spiritual world full of mystery and magic.  Those that accept the spiritual world gain perhaps a greater understanding of the meaning of life.

When we feel pulled in two directions it is because there is a gap between our spiritual and material consciousness.  Gaps result in restlessness, lack of focus, and a sense of unbalance.  This causes stress which leads to health issues and depression.

Our potentials are blocked by stress, anxiety, doubt, and limited introspection.  Sometimes we seem to be tightly locked-in to the world as we are experiencing it.  When we see and feel from this small world we limit ourselves to the small picture.  Relaxing allows our body and mind to surrender.   When we surrender, stop the hunt, we tend to find answers and observe from a new perspective and we begin to see the big picture.  When we see the big picture we feel lighter, laugh more, walk more fluidly, and have more energy.  Seeing the big picture expands us and seeing only the small picture shrinks us.

Great leaders use introspection not only within themselves but within their own tradition and heritage.  Leaders can become great leaders if introspection leads to new perspective and a more global pluralist worldview.  There should not be two sets of rules.  When we find ourselves becoming annoyed or irritated with another’s heritage, behavior, or tradition we need to look inward for that irritation is reflecting back to us some aspect of our own heritage, behavior, or tradition that we can examine.

If we were to grasp a ring as a symbol of possession and squeeze it in our hand, the ring is captured and so is the use of our hand. Imagine holding this ring out in front of you with your palm either up or down.

If our palm is facing down and we sense the ring getting loose, our tendency is to quickly squeeze our hand.  This is natural, we all do this.  But some of us will feel threatened when that ring begins to fall and we find ourselves wanting that ring more and begin to squeeze tighter.  Grasping and squeezing something is an attempt to own it and graspers and squeezers do this because they like to keep things, even if they don’t like them. Giving up the freedom of one of our hands to squeeze something is annoying and it follows that graspers and squeezers would become annoying as well. Graspers and squeezers tend to have lapses in ethics.

But if our palm is facing upward we tend to feel the ring less as a possession and more as a symbol of our own freedom.   Open your hand and the ring is still there.  Now with your imagination allow this ring to become a beautiful butterfly resting peacefully and gently on the palm of your hand.   Enjoy the moment and then with awe watch the butterfly float into the sky taking with it nourishment it received from you and sharing it wherever it goes.

Love with attachment is nothing more than fear emotionally.  To finish this thought I give you this by William Blake:

He who binds to himself a joy,

Does the winged life destroy;

He who kisses the Joy as it flies,

Lives in Eternity’s sunrise.

Ask yourself, what ring am I squeezing?  Is it a lifestyle, a title, a person, a job, a house, a car, old perspective, fame, fortune, victory, domination, ego, poverty, anger, hostility, revenge, resentment, jealously, greed, hatred, unworthiness, pain, disease, beliefs, prejudice, restlessness, Trump, materialism, inferiority, failure, phobias, coffee, cigarettes, alcohol, drugs?  The list seems to go on and on doesn’t it?

Learning to live is learning to release.  When we release change is possible.  Change involves releasing a bad and acquiring a good.  If we are full we might not be able to crowd in a good until we release a bad.  If we release a bad without having a good to replace it the void will be filled by whatever has been waiting in line to join us.

How would we improve America

Andrew Sorkin in his NY Times Deal Book portal recently asked the question what is the one thing we could do to fix America.  That’s why this year he and his cohorts undertook a special project. They canvassed a cross-section of leading thinkers and asked them: If you could do one thing right now to help fix the country — no matter how large or small — what would it be?

Their answers are collected in a new report, “How to Fix America,” which will also run in print on Sunday. Here’s a selection of what the experts had to say:

Let’s start our own conversation here at HelloFred.  How do we improve America?

Even modest housing deregulation, such as upzoning to allow taller structures, can substantially increase the supply of housing in the most prosperous areas of the country. This promotes economic migration to these areas, which can reduce poverty and inequality by giving lower-income workers greater access to higher-wage labor markets.

— Veronique de Rugy, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University

Birthright funds would be invested at birth in zero-cost equity index funds; be prohibited from withdrawal until retirement; and would compound tax-free for 65 years or more. At historical rates of equity returns of 8 percent annually, a $6,750 at-birth retirement account — which would cost the government $26 billion annually based on the average number of children born in the U.S. each year — would provide retirement assets of more than $1 million at age 65, or $2 million at age 74.

— Bill Ackman, chief executive of Pershing Square Capital Management

Appropriately triaged calls involving mental health crises coming into an emergency dispatch center can assure “the right work in the right hands” and help 911 center call takers, police officers and mental health personnel work together to provide persons in crisis with the best possible care.

— Chris Magnus, chief of police in Tucson, Ariz.

Here is my proposed solution, to be applied one conversation at a time: When confronted with a different view, try to find something you can agree on. You don’t have to change your views. Just be open to the fact that others have theirs, too. It may sound counterintuitive. But it’s the only place to start.

— Heidi Larson, professor of anthropology at the University of London and University of Washington and author of “Stuck: How Vaccine Rumors Start and Why They Don’t Go Away”

Governments must do more — especially when the reality of Covid-19 requires distance learning in so many schools across America. Giving children the necessary digital tools will help equalize education to meet this unique moment and enable a brighter future.

— Marcelo Claure, chief executive of SoftBank Group International
The Electoral College and democracy
The members of the Electoral College will meet in states across the country today. And while President Trump has tried to disrupt the process, his chances of succeeding remain very slim.
Still, Trump’s actions have made many democracy experts anxious about the Electoral College — specifically, how it could undermine elections in the near future. The Electoral College may have become a bigger threat to the healthy functioning of American democracy than at any other point since the 1800s, these experts say.
There are two main reasons, and the first one will sound familiar: The Electoral College is more likely to deny victory to the winner of the popular vote than in the past. The main reason is that political polarization has led to landslides in more states than in the past.
By The New York Times | Source: Dave Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections
The popular-vote loser almost won the presidency again this year, for the third time in 20 years. If Trump had received just 0.7 percentage points more of the vote in every state, he still would have lost the popular vote badly. Yet he would have won exactly 269 electoral votes, causing an Electoral College tie that Congress likely would have decided in his favor.
Imagine how disenfranchised many Americans would have felt in that scenario.
The second issue with the Electoral College may be even more troubling, scholars say: The Constitution allows states to award their electors almost however they want. They are not required to choose the winner of the state’s vote, as Jesse Wegman of the Times editorial board points out. (Jesse, who’s a lawyer, has written a book on the problems with the Electoral College.)
A state could pass a law, for instance, saying it would award its electors to whichever candidate would best serve the national interest. Or a state legislature could step in after an election, by claiming that the will of the voters was unclear, Richard Pildes of the N.Y.U. School of Law has noted.
These possibilities might have sounded outlandish a few years ago. They sound less outlandish today, Pildes and others say.
A sitting president is attempting to overturn the outcome of an election and remain in office despite losing the vote. Almost 90 percent of that president’s party members in Congress refuse to acknowledge the true winner of the election. Top officials in 18 states and more than half of House Republicans supported a lawsuit trying to reverse the result.
These moves indicate that much of the leadership of one of the country’s two political parties is willing to toss aside the country’s democratic traditions to support a power grab. It’s an example of what the political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt — in their book, “How Democracies Die” — call constitutional hardball.
Some observers believe that the situation will calm down once Trump leaves the presidency and that the Electoral College process will continue to be a boring, technocratic one that reliably rewards the vote winner in each state. Others aren’t so confident.
“Once people decide that the rules are different, the rules are different,” Zeynep Tufekci of the University of North Carolina wrote in The Atlantic. “The rules for electoral legitimacy have been under sustained assault, and they’re changing right before our eyes.”
Related: A small group of Republicans are plotting a challenge on the floor of the House of Representatives in early January to try to reverse Joe Biden’s victory.
And more from Jesse Wegman: A new Opinion article on why majority rule is so important.

James Fallows, writing in the Atlantic, proposes a two-pronged approach to redressing Trump’s misdeeds and destructive acts. First, Biden should address the corruption and corrosion of the executive branch by rebuilding every part of it: “Every executive agency and department needs top-to-bottom attention.” That pretty much goes without saying.

The second prong of Fallows’s proposal is a bit more ambitious. Fallows calls on Biden to launch independent investigations into three “catastrophes” inflicted on the nation by Trump: the mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic, the border policies under which U.S. officials separated children from their parents, and the “purposeful or negligent destruction of the norms of government, the most important being the electoral process.” For this, Fallows proposes that Biden establish a commission, perhaps something like the 9/11 Commission.

Bob Bauer and Jack Goldsmith, both of whom have served at high levels the executive branch, offer a far more comprehensive and ambitious set of proposals to make it more difficult for a future president to exploit fissures in the structure of the presidency in a fashion similar to Trump.

In their book, After Trump: Reconstructing the Presidency, Bauer and Goldsmith propose more than fifty concrete changes to the laws, regulations, and norms that govern the presidency. Far too detailed to summarize in a few words, the proposals include prohibitions on presidential obstruction of justice, reforms designed to reduce foreign state influence in elections and financial conflicts of interest, amendments of bribery statutes, prohibition of self-pardons, revisions of rules governing Justice Department independence and special counsel regulations, and much more.

While these proposals may look more like a wish list than a realistic plan of action, Bauer and Goldsmith recognize that getting from here to there is a long-term uphill climb: “This book is thus primarily about how to think about reform after Trump leaves the scene, whether that is in 2021 or 2025. Our primary aim is to spark informed debate about whether and how reform should proceed.”

The point is that the criminal justice system is not the only, and probably not the best, way to redress the damage Trump has done to our nation. There are other potential avenues to protect us from another Trump, whether it’s some kind of commission, legislative fixes, regulation reform, converting unwritten norms into written standards, or some combination of all of the above.

Do you recall when you decided to be a Republican or a Democrat?

www.HelloFred.com

We are a nation of Democrats and Republicans and maybe we haven’t explored to deeply why.  The more we tie ourselves to a political party the more we forfeit independent thinking.  We become biased.  If we believe something as true it is hard to recognize when it is not.  Mark Twain said it best:  It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.  It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.

Republicans and Democrats can be found everywhere.  They are both part of car pools, they are neighbors, they are parents of our children’s friends, they are co-workers, and they sit next to us in church, at ball games, at graduations, and at parades.  We can’t tell if someone is a Republican or a Democrat unless we talk politics or put up a yard sign.  And yet we have such a harsh view of the “other” Party.

That harsh view is usually well beyond being realistic or accurate.  We can be gullible the more our emotions are tied to a subject whether it is buying a Ford or a Chevy, rooting for the Dodgers or the Giants, or becoming an adherent of one of the major political parties.

The Founders of the United States warned against Parties because they thought politics was supposed to be rational and collaborative, not competitive.  Competitiveness has resulted in Americans voting for President and the US Congress based on Party and not person.  It started in the 1970s and has been significantly increasing to where voters overwhelmingly voted for their party’s nominee in the 2016 national election.

Not that anybody cares what President Bill Clinton might opine but here is a short, even for him, bit of wisdom he expressed that I like: 

“Politics and governing are one long conversation where you have to explain to people what went wrong and why, explain your plan to fix it, persuade them your idea is better than the other side’s.”

“Today, politics tends to be heavy on assertion, light on explanation, and bereft of persuasion.”

Do we need to free ourselves from the bonds of political party affiliation that divides our nation and makes it difficult to keep our nation in balance?  Balance is found in the middle between far left and far right dogma.  I think moderates in both parties should join forces and free themselves from the money and rigidity in the wings of the two parties.  It may be too late for an affiliate of one party to vote for a candidate from another party.  So, maybe a third party is needed, a moderate party.

We didn’t have political parties when Washington was President.  They gradually formed as we were trying to figure out what our fledgling country needed from Washington DC such as a central bank and national policy.

Long before there were Republicans and Democrats, there were Federalists led by Alexander Hamilton and the Anti-Federalists led by Thomas Jefferson.  In 1787 The Federalists became the first American political Party.  They were businessmen and merchants who wanted a strong central government to protect industry.

The Federalists were opposed by Anti-Federalists; a group mostly made up of small farmers and planters that wanted a smaller government that wouldn’t interfere with their lives.  The Anti-Federalists would later form a party called the Democratic-Republicans.

In 1828, Andrew Jackson changed the Democratic-Republican Party’s name to the Democrats.  Jackson’s opponents changed the Federalist Party’s name to the Whig Party.

The Democratic Party was well on its way to splitting between North and South when in 1854, the Civil War finalized the split into the Northern Democrats and the Southern Democrats with the Southern Party being pro-slavery pro-states’ rights members.  Shortly thereafter the Whig party split and the Republican Party was added.  There were essentially four parties—Northern Democrats, Southern Democrats, Whig, and Republican.

After the Civil War the Republicans grew and the Democrats shrunk. Republicans would favor business interests and taxes on imports. Democrats supported free trade and attracted farmers and immigrants.  Democrats didn’t expand until 1932 when Franklin Roosevelt created economic relief and social security.  Democrats wanted the federal government to actively help those affected by the Depression. Republicans, being more pro-business, preferred to not burden business with those costs.

The next major shift in party affiliation came when huge numbers of southern state democrats became republicans after President Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

So, when did you decide to be a Republican or a Democrat?  Why are older working class white men especially in rural areas generally Republicans?  Why are college educated younger men and women generally Democrats?

Newer research that includes brain maps, gene pool analysis, and unconscious attitudes shows the following generalizations:

People who prefer a simple vision of good and evil, are cognitively inflexible, are fond of hierarchy, are inordinately afraid of uncertainty, change, and death, and are unaware of their unconscious fears tend to vote Republican.  Republicans want to spend on the military and the military industrial complex.

People who are more open to reason and nuance and complex policy tend to vote Democrat. Democrats want to spend on people.

The Republican Party of today is pro-business and the Democratic Party is pro-people.  Being pro-business does not mean people support greed and being pro-people does not mean people do not want businesses to be very successful.  Does being pro-business mean someone is materialistic or does being pro-people mean someone is more spiritual?  No!  But if it did we would again need balance between the two parties.  Material prosperity without spirituality leads to greed, lack of inner and outer peace, and war. Spirituality without material development leads to poverty and famine.

We need balance in our lives. America needs balance in their politics. Moderates seek balance.  The Supreme Court needs balance to make decisions that support the balance people need in their lives.

A wise President and Senate would seek balance for the Supreme Court. And within that balance there should be more moderates and less far right or far left Justices. We should not be able to accurately predict how a Justice will vote based on the title of the case and without hearing testimony or reading the briefs.

While Americans have moved from state to state, job to job, young to old; there has been a political battle for control of the direction America takes. The direction is dependent on how we incorporate into our voting these words from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: That government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth and shall have a new birth of freedom.

Does America move in the direction where we become a nation where all people are equal before the law and have unrestricted participation in self-governance?  Or, does America move in the direction where only some us enjoy the full blessings of liberty; where only some of us can decide on who is granted privilege and who is capable of self-governance?

The Democratic Party has seen a liberal socialist element grow within their party but has for the last 12 years seen moderates win control over far left liberal/socialist elements.

The Republican Party has long had battles between progressives and conservatives for the control of the Party. It has been in the grasp of conservatives since Reagan and has moved away from progressive icons Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt.  In 2008 the Tea Party, now called the Freedom Caucus, became part of the Republican Party.  The Freedom Caucus is very conservative and wants to balance the budget by reducing entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, Affordable Health Care Plan, etc.

Centrists Progressives/moderates in both Parties have a chance to bring this country together and take more steps toward the America that exists in words contained in our Declaration of Independence and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. 

Maybe there is a need for a third Party called The Moderate Party– A Party that doesn’t have the baggage that the Democratic and Republican Parties have in the eyes of the other Party.

Unwritten Republican Party Platform

The Republican Party held its convention without creating a platform but it’s not like they don’t have an unwritten platform because they do.  It has been orally presented over and over again piece by piece, tweet by tweet, interview by interview, rally by rally.  It is a Trump platform and elected Republicans have gone along with it and Trump voters have cheered it on because they cheer most things Trump.

The platform is contained here.

It was written on August 25, 2020 by David Frum, Staff writer at The Atlantic.

He says the question is not why Republicans lack a coherent platform; it’s why they’re so reluctant to publish the one on which they’re running.

I have argued in previous posts that for change to happen smoothly and more quickly we can’t start with the answer and instead have to start with an hypothesis.  The hypothesis could be a problem or an opportunity but in either case it has to be defined and measured as the first step followed closely by getting consensus that the problem or opportunity actually exists.  Only then can we search for alternative answers, evaluate their pros and cons and then choose the most acceptable alternative.

Bill Clinton believes that “politics and governing are one long conversation where you have to explain to people what went wrong and why, explain your plan to fix it, persuade them your idea is better than the other side’s,” this Democrat noted. “Today, politics tends to be heavy on assertion, light on explanation, and bereft of persuasion.”

The above paragraph comes from a short article from Politico and does a good job of indirectly describing the differences between Trump and Clinton. Like I said it is short and likeable.

https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/08/18/bill-clinton-comeback-altitude-397492

All of us can be gullible at times and sometimes after we realize we were guilty of it we have to laugh at ourselves.  Where our emotions are high we are prone to gullibility more than when we are less interested in a subject.  We seem to now be most gullible regarding politics.  It is shameful but interesting that we are so divided that we don’t trust anything and yet conversely aren’t willing to disbelieve anything.

We spend a lot of time worrying about interference from Russia, China or Iran. But disinformation needs to have a receptive audience to work. If Americans weren’t so divided and all news media shared set of facts before offering wildly conflicting worldviews, it would be harder for a foreign power to meddle.

I’ll close with a quote about racism and while the quote mentions people of color it applies to all prejudices that maintains the status quo that keeps America from being what we say we are regarding life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

What’s most important is the outcomes and experiences of people of color. When we know that those inequities exist and we refuse or fail to address them, that is racism. It is allowing the system to perpetuate itself because the status quo is racist.

— Melissa Williams, director of student equity and inclusion at Clark College

Two new polls show the damage Trump has done to U.S. standing in the world

Before we get to the poll data let’s look at the type of things that have caused other nations to think less of us.  There was a time where the world could look at our C.D.C. for guidance and truth and science.  Not any more and it is because the Trump administration now controls the information.  For example, C.D.C. scientists didn’t write the virus testing guidance on its website last month, and it was published against their objections, officials said.

The Pew Research Center found, in a survey of 13 countries, that America’s current standing in the world has dropped to unimaginable lows.  

In 2020, Only

  • 26 percent of Germans,
  • 30 percent of the Dutch,
  • 31 percent of the French,
  • 33 percent of Australians and Swedes,
  • 35 percent of Canadians, and
  • 41 percent of the Japanese and British

Have a favorable impression of the United States.

In 2016,

  • The U.S. favorability rating ranged from a low of 57 percent (Germany) to a high of 72 percent (Japan).

In 2020,

  • Only 15% of respondents give the United States good marks on the pandemic.
  • China’s handling of the pandemic is more than twice as popular.
  • Trump is more unpopular than Russia’s Vladimir Putin or China’s Xi Jinping.
    • Eighty-three percent of respondents in U.S. allies have no confidence in America’s president.
    • Only 16 percent trust him to do what is right in world affairs. 

A new survey out Thursday from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs shows that most Americans reject Trump’s isolationist, protectionist policies.

  • 62%  say that the lesson of covid-19 is that we need to “coordinate and collaborate with other countries to solve global issues.”
  • 68%  say it would be better “for the future of the country if we take an active part in world affairs.”
  • 65%  say that globalization is “mostly good” for the United States.

The majority of Americans are in favor of free trade, alliances and international leadership — the traditional pillars of America’s post-1945 foreign policy.

  • 60%  of Republicans now support for NATO.
    • 85%  of Democrats now support NATO
  • 21%  of Republicans now view climate change as a threat.
    • 75%  of Democrats now view climate change as a threat
  • 40%  of Republicans are now concerned about Russian power.
    • 57%  of Democrats are now concerned about Russian power.
  • 61%  of Republicans now are concerned by large numbers of immigrants and refugees coming into the U.S.
    • 13% of Democrats now are concerned by large numbers of immigrants and refugees coming into the U.S.

Democrats want to address the United States’ internal problems and take an internationalist approach to foreign policy.

Republicans favor a nationalist, unilateralist approach while denying that America needs to address serious flaws such as racial or income inequality.

Republicans are far more friendly toward Russia, and far more hostile to NATO, than they used to be. However, 40 percent still see Russia as a critical threat and 60 percent still support NATO.

Most independents are closer to the Democrats than they are Republicans on foreign policy.

Political Party and Christianity Adherents

This is probably a stretch but the purpose is to just get the reader thinking about locked in political party adherence anyway.

We didn’t have political parties when Washington was President.  They gradually formed as we were trying to figure out what our fledgling country needed from Washington DC such as a central bank and national policy.  We are still arguing today about the role of central government versus states rights.  We even had a massive Civil War over the direction of America.

The conditions of Christianity’s expansion were diverse.  Communities from Jerusalem to Rome were established.  The expansion was not supported by political or economic means.  It spread rapidly even under persecution and did so without real textual or organizational controls.

Jesus was a rural itinerant preacher and the first people that called themselves Christians were urban, living in the big cities in the Roman Empire.  The growth of Christianity involved a linguistic transition from Aramaic to Greek and it involved a a cultural transition fro a predominantly Jewish culture to a predominantly Greco-Roman culture, and finally, it involved a demographic transition from being a movement among Jews to an ever-increasing movement among non-Jews or Gentiles.

Christianity was diverse from the beginning because of all these transitions, shortage of written word and organization, and how rapidly it spread.  Everywhere Christianity appeared, it was something slightly different.

Today there are Christian adherents all over the world but the meaning of being Christian perhaps still differs from place to place.  For some it is all about the Crucifixion and for others the emphasis is the Resurrection and it seems like it is what one believes that is most important.

Sometimes Christians misconstrue other religious traditions because Christians believe questions like “what do we profess”, “what do we think”, “what are our convictions”, are important to other religions.  But for some religions what is most important is what they do.  They don’t ask “what do I believe”.  Instead they ask “what is it that we are doing” and “what are our practices”.

Is it that much of a stretch to compare Christianity adherents to political party adherents in that perhaps being a Republican means something different from state to state or from person to person and likewise to adherents of the democratic party?

Progressives in both Parties understand that material prosperity without spirituality leads to greed, lack of inner and outer peace, and war and that spirituality without material development leads to poverty and famine. 

What does it mean to be a Republican? The Party of Lincoln freed the slaves.  Is this the same Party that has been making it difficult to impossible for blacks to vote?  Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights Act resulted in a huge migration of Southern Democrats into the Republican Party which has had a profound effect on both Parties through addition to the Republican Party and subtraction to the Democratic Party. In 2008 the Tea Party, now called the Freedom Caucus, became part of the Republican Party.  The Freedom Caucus is very conservative and wants to balance the budget by reducing entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, Affordable Health Care Plan, etc. 

Do Republicans accurately define what it means to be a member of the Democratic Party and vice versa? Do we as Americans have enough in common that we can recognize those things instead of what we seem dead set to see negatively in the party they are not adherents of?

What does it mean to be a Republican or a Democrat?  Has it always been the same?  Has being an adherent always been in your best interest?  When might it not have been?  Why are you so stubbornly tied to one of the Parties?

Jesus had a distinctive appeal to the outcasts.  He did not address himself to the religious elite among the people, but rather to the outcasts.  “Blessed are you poor,” rather than “you rich.”  His ministry was characterized by an open-table fellowship with sinners and tax collectors, people who were outcasts among the Jewish people. 

  • Which Party’s adherents are most like Jesus? 
  • Which Party wants tax cuts for the rich? 
  • Which Party wants to cut or privatize Medicare and cut Social Security benefits to reduce deficit spending?
  • Which Party increases spending into the Military Industrial Complex that along with tax cuts creates deficit spending?
  • Which Party spent a trillion dollars on the Iraq War and paid for it with debt?
  • Would Jesus want to protect the environment and stop global warming?  Which Party more closely agrees with Jesus on the environment and global warming?

James Mattis, a four star US marine corps general and served as Trumps Secretary of State, said that Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.

Campfire Politics

If our goal as humans is to evolve, then we need to think.  We should incorporate our spirituality and our responsibilities toward each other, ourselves, and our planet.  We should be open to new information that can help us mentally, physically, materially, and spiritually.  We should be balancing our lives materially and spiritually.  We should be living our lives with love and without fear.

A grandfather was talking to his grandson about a negative experience he had early in his life.  The grandfather was saying.  “At the time, I had two bears growling inside of me.  The first bear was filled with anger, hatred, bitterness, and mostly revenge.  The second bear inside of me was filled with love, kindness, compassion, and mostly forgiveness.”

“Which bear wins”?  The young boy inquired.  The grandfather responded:  “The one I feed.”

Deserving has more to do with what we send out in the form of thoughts, feelings, words, and deeds than it does with how smart we are.  The energy we send out is the energy we get back. The energy we send out reflects what we feel.

It’s the feelings that create the energy we send out.  Reality can be nothing more than the result of how we have been flowing our energy.  It only takes 16 seconds to link up vibrationally with negative or positive energy.

We can look at ourselves and at others as campfires.  When building a campfire or trying to get one restarted we can pile on the firewood, stick a piece of paper or a few twigs under the larger pieces of wood, light the paper with a match, and hope to get a fire going.  Usually if we try to jump from the tiny to the large the large never gets going and so it is with our campfire.

Usually, we need to nourish the tiny flame or we will find ourselves complaining about the stubborn large pieces that just won’t cooperate, just won’t burn.  We too end up with a little smoke and it cost us a match and, we have to start all over again.

To get a campfire to burn we need to build from tiny to small to medium to large and it all starts with nourishing the tiny hot spot.  We take a deep breath and blow on this tiny hot spot while we nourish it with twigs and then kindling.  When the kindling starts to burn we add pieces that are just a little larger, and we keep repeating this making sure the little fire gets hotter by fanning it and feeding it.  Eventually we have a big campfire and once we do we can throw the big logs on it and it will thrive even more.

And instead of mocking other campfires that can’t seem to get going we should not be looking and seeing only the campfire and the wood that is not burning; we should be looking for and seeing the hot spot that we can help fan and feed with just a little fuel here and there.  We are all powerful and we can help others get their fires burning and we can get our own fires burning if we just start with our hot spots and continuously nourish them with breath and the appropriate sized fuel.  If a log is thrown on too soon it will not burn and it could smother a campfire that is trying to get started.

To say another way lets think like race car drivers.  They know the best way to get past cars and debris that have crashed in front of them.  Instead of looking at the cars spinning out of control and piling up in front of them they immediately look for an opening and put their entire attention upon this opening and drive through it.  Sometimes the opening is small and not even obvious but whatever opening that seems to exist that is where they look.

We have a choice and it is to focus on the crash or to focus on our safe passage.  If we freeze our stare and concentration on the crash we add to the crash because that is all we saw and it pulled us in.  If we can find that one opening, that one opportunity, fan and nourish that one hotspot, and put our entire attention and sight on it, we will zip past the crash.  Those behind us can follow us into new opportunity or become part of the crash and likewise some will follow us into the crash if that is where we focused.

If we were to build a campfire that speaks of violence, hate, racism, anger, fear there will be those that will be attracted to those flames and act out hidden and repressed feelings.  Trump has built such campfires among others that may not be as destructive.

Biden’s greatest quality is the type of campfire he will build and nurture.  It is one that tries to bring us together by helping us calm our darkest selves and light our brightest selves.

Freud and Jung tell us the contents of the subconscious perpetually seep into conscious awareness.  Eventually they came to realize that when rage, lust, revenge, etc. are denied access to the civilized conscious mind, they do not disappear but continue to live out an entirely independent psychic existence in the subconscious.  There they drain away energy from the conscious system, causing depression, anxiety, neurosis, phobias, etc., or else they erupt as physical symptoms, irrational moods, or slips of the tongue.

Both Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud concurred on this fundamental picture of the human psyche:

that each of us carries within us a whole other world, shadowy and fantastic, to be sure, but teemingly alive with inner figures, melodramas, grievances and fears, that are constantly exerting their influence over our every word and deed.

So while it feels that we have a clean conscious mind, a civilized conscious mind, that mind can be corrupted.

It is so important to have a President that brings out the best of ourselves and not the worst.

Deceit typing the scales wrongly

Guns vs. Butter

Let me take us back to the 1950’s and 1960’s and think about two Presidents, one from each Party. In the 50’s we had climbed out of the Great Depression, World War II, and was finishing out of the Korean War.  Eisenhower in the 50’s objected to the expansion and endless warfare of the military industrial complex even though he led the way into the Viet Nam War.  In the 60’s we were in a Cold War arms race and getting more involved in the Viet Nam War. Johnson in the 60’s preferred to continue New Deal programs and expand welfare.

In Eisenhower’s “Chance For Peace” speech in 1953, he referred to this very trade-off, giving specific examples:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. … Is there no other way the world may live?

The United States spends more on national defense than the next ten countries (China, India, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea, and Brazil) combined. The United States has also historically devoted a larger share of its economy to defense than many of its key allies.

The United States needs a great military, a modern military. Technology is not unique to the United States and future wars and battles will be fought with modern technology.  Maybe technologies will allow us to spend less or maybe we just spend less on guns and more on butter. Defense spending is 15% of the Federal budget and is the third highest behind Social Security and Medicare.

If I said we spent $500 billion on defense would that be too much?  I ask because many of us express opinions about whether we should spend more or less on defense.  Actually in 2019 the United States spent $676 Billion on defense, with 40% of it spent on compensation and medical care.

In 2016, the Coalition for Fiscal and National Security, a group of former senior government officials led by Admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a call to action on the national debt. The coalition wrote:

“Today, to be pro-defense must mean being pro-reform. America’s national security budget requires updating and rebalancing in order to sustain our strong military posture and global leadership role.”

Conservatives crave protection and want to spend more on guns and are willing to cut social programs like social security and health care to do so to help us slow down our accumulation of national debt.

Liberals want to spend more on butter and want to modernize the military in an effort to slow down the accumulation of national debt.

Conservatives want to remove regulations from businesses and liberals want to hold them accountable for the well being of the environment and their workers.

As I have been repeatedly saying, we need balance.  Together we can get this right.

2020 Elections

Are we failing as an electorate?  Have we let elections become too competitive?

The Founders of the United States warned against Parties because they thought politics was supposed to be rational and collaborative, not competitive.

Competitiveness has resulted in Americans voting for President and the US Congress based on Party and not person.  It started in the 1970s and has been significantly increasing to where voters overwhelmingly voted for their party’s nominee in the last general election.

Both Parties have wings whether they are liberal or conservative and both Parties have a centrists and moderates.  We need balance within the Parties to help balance our politics and our elections.  Balance works.  We need balance between work with recreation.  We need balanced brains so that we are somewhere in between full stop and full go.  We need balance between greed/profit and workers’ well being.  We need balance between overly weak regulations and protections of the environment and our safety.

Republican Party moderates include Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Nelson Rockefeller, Dwight Eisenhower.  Republican conservatives include Ronald Reagan, George Will, William Buckley, Donald Trump although George Will has said he will vote for Biden.

Democratic Party moderates include Joe Biden, Bill Clinton, Barrack Obama, John Kennedy.  Democratic liberals include Franklin Roosevelt, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren.  Note that while the liberal wing of the Democratic Party is loud, it elects moderates.

I prefer to have moderates as Presidents but there are times when we have slipped too far left or too far right and gotten out of balance and we might need a President to be from one of the wings of the Parties for one term to pull us back to the middle.

Franklin Roosevelt is a case in point.  His New Deal policies and steady voice pulled America out of their mental depression caused by the Great Depression and led us to a victory in World War II.  Republicans fought those policies and wound up losing the Presidency for 20 years and got it back with a candidate that both Parties wanted as their candidate.  That was Eisenhower who was not only a war hero but moderate enough for both Parties.

Eisenhower warned us about the Military Industrial Complex which would put America in debt with too much military spending.  The tax rates were high during his terms of office and the economy was good.  Reagan reduced taxes and spent big on the Military Industrial Complex and while the economy was also good, the national debt climbed.

Republicans call Democrats Tax and Spend Democrats but Republicans spend just as much but use debt instead of taxes to pay the bills.  Medicare Part D, Desert Storm, Iraq war were used debt to finance.  I guess the term for that would be Debt and Spend Republicans.  Republicans tend not want to tax business and still keep pouring money into the Military Industrial Complex.  Democrats want to increase taxes on businesses and spend on health care.

Because we more and more vote for people based on Party lines we have become a divided nation.  In 2016 we had two candidates that were loathed.  It doesn’t help America to be more united by electing a President that the other Party loathes.  Neither Party should offer up one that is loathed by the other Party.

Candidates and Presidents should take to heart what Bill Clinton has said and practiced.  He believed that “politics and governing are one long conversation where you have to explain to people what went wrong and why, explain your plan to fix it, persuade them your idea is better than the other side’s.”  “Today, politics tends to be heavy on assertion, light on explanation, and bereft of persuasion.”

We are here on Earth with free will, right?

Our free will allows us to make choices in life.  It can be developed during life by making conscious choices, hopefully, based on a set of values we make for ourselves describing who we are or want to be.  If we act reflectively on those values instead of winging it based on our old habits and tendencies we evolve.

Free Will, to say it another way, is our ability to control our behavior by stopping and thinking about that behavior first. If we stop and think about what we are going to say and do before we say or do it, we are using our free will and not our habits.  But, we also have to examine the roots and validity of our perspectives, thoughts, opinions, prejudges, so that when we use free will to change unwanted habits and instincts, we actually evolve and not stagnate.

Why are you voting Republican or Democrat?  Why are you again Party voting?

Parties change.  Sometimes we change.  The original Party of Lincoln wanted to give blacks full citizenship.  But after Southern Democrats moved in droves from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party after Johnson was able to pass the Civil Rights Act, it’s hard to say that the Republican Party, based on membership, is still the Party of Lincoln.

I would say that what is needed most right now is for Americans to again be rowing the boat in the same direction.  That is powerful.

Kamala Harris, VP

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kamala Devi Harris (born October 20, 1964) is an American politician and former prosecutor serving as the junior United States Senator from California since 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, Harris is the Democratic presumptive vice presidential nominee for the 2020 election, running alongside Joe Biden. She is the first African American and South Asian American woman to be chosen as the running mate of a major party’s presidential candidate.

Born in Oakland, California, Harris is a graduate of Howard University and University of California, Hastings College of the Law. Harris began her career in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office before being recruited to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and later the City Attorney of San Francisco’s office. In 2003, she was elected the 27th District Attorney of San Francisco, serving until 2011.

Harris was narrowly elected Attorney General of California in 2010, and was re-elected in 2014. Harris faced criticism from reformers for tough-on-crime policies she pursued while she was California’s attorney general. In November 2016, she defeated Loretta Sanchez in the 2016 Senate election to succeed outgoing Senator Barbara Boxer, becoming California’s third female senator, the second African American woman and the first South Asian American to serve in the United States Senate. As a senator, she has supported healthcare reform, federal descheduling of cannabis, a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, the DREAM Act, a ban on assault weapons, and progressive tax reform. She gained a national profile after her pointed questioning of Trump administration officials during Senate hearings, including U.S. Attorneys General Jeff Sessions and William Barr, and Associate Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Harris ran for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in the 2020 election, briefly becoming a frontrunner before ending her campaign on December 3, 2019, citing a lack of funds to continue.[7] She was announced as Biden’s running mate on August 11, 2020, becoming the first vice presidential nominee of both African and Indian descent, as well as the second female nominee after Geraldine Ferraro.

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