2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act

2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act

Hi homies. This is a brief excerpt from an opinion piece in the WashingtonPost.com dated April 11, 2014. I think most of us can probably agree that the Wash Post is not a whacko alt-news web-site, and in fact leans politically liberal. I appreciated the educational value of this article, and give credit to the authors Robert Kelner and Raymond La Raja. May we all someday connect the dots and arrive at peace. Happy Sunday!

[Start Excerpt] McCain-Feingold, as the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act is known, prohibited large contributions by wealthy individuals and corporations to national party committees, all of whose receipts were publicly disclosed. But, perversely, the ban on “soft money” left individual and corporate donors free to direct their funds to outside groups, where donations are concealed from public scrutiny.

Proponents of McCain-Feingold said the law would restore trust in the political system. Some suggested the parties would “thrive” because they would be forced to rely on small donors. Critics, however, predicted it would precipitate a tectonic shift of political power away from the parties and toward outside groups, which were likely to be far more extreme and far less accountable.

There can be no doubt today that the critics were correct. In the 2004 presidential election, outside groups such as Americans Coming Together and Swift Boat Veterans for Truth played a major role. By the time Citizens United was decided in 2010, well-funded outside groups had proliferated on both sides.

And as the outside groups expanded, the parties shrank. [End Excerpt]

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Communications Breakdown

Do you choose your words with precision, or do you speak well?

Forgive the reference to a pulsating nuke from one of the world’s most significant and influential rock bands. I bought Led Zeppelin’s debut album in 1969 upon the advice of my 8th grade algebra teacher. It was a vinyl, 33 rpm record.

For those who haven’t lived thru the evolution of recorded music from records to CDs to digital, we started out, more or less, with 78 rpm (revolutions per minute) records, that were hard plastic platters that spun VERY FAST, had poor audio quality, and if dropped would break. Next came 45 rpm records or simply “45s”. These spun slower, had better fidelity, but only had capacity for two songs – the “A” side and, when you flipped it over, the “B” side. Along with 45s came the beginning of the “hit records” or “singles” or “A sides”. Finally arrived the wonderful 33 rpm, or vinyl record “album”; great sound and capacity to hold around ten songs, five on side 1 and five on side 2. Plus, albums had their covers; often conveying great photos, art work and narratives that humanized the band and the music, so much so that buying a new album was often cause to gather with friends, drink coffee, smoke cigarettes and LISTEN.

This morning at the kitchen table as I ate breakfast with my youngest daughter prior to her leaving for work, a thought occurred to me. I was about to tell her, “You look nice today”, but instead I said, “You look well coutured and well accessorized today.” To which she looked at me suspiciously and carefully and slowly uttered, “ooooo kkkkkk…”  On a side note, yes, it is very bizarre having me as a parent, haha.

My point is… I was trying to be a 33rpm. It seems obvious to me that we as a society have a systemic “failure to communicate”. Topping the many reasons for this is our perceived lack of time and our chronic obsessing with “what comes next” versus what’s happening right now in this very moment.

How often have we started a conversation with a hastily and inaccurately constructed thought only to hear the reply “What do you mean?” At which point, we now have to back-peddle while feeling “put on the spot” to reiterate quickly, because we are anxious that the person we are addressing is a 78rpm and will soon starting tapping their fingers with impatience. In the end, if we are extremely lucky, our original message is finally conveyed, but usually we settle for hopefully getting the essence across. After which, we’re already thinking about what we’re going to say next, so at best we are giving the speaker 50% or our attention as he is replying in his own sloppy, inaccurate manner.

My gosh! Makes we wonder how we as a society did not self-destruct decades ago. Now, let’s exacerbate the situation exponentially. Vague messages, outright lies, inaccuracies are sent out to hundreds, thousands, even millions at the touch of a computer key, leaving a million people asking “What do you mean?” without any hope of receiving a reply.

Homies, we can’t control the receiver of our communications, but whether we are a 78rpm or a 45 or a 33, that’s on us. Feeling like we are so time-starved that we can only speak in overly-generalized sound-bites, that’s on us too. In the end, miss-communicating will cost us MORE time than if we slowed down a bit, became mindful of the moment and our audience, and chose our words with precision. We don’t have to use big words; in fact it’s better that we don’t. We don’t have to fear coming across as nerd-like; in fact if we did, it would probably relax the receiver of our message and help him or her to digest it in the way we intended. We don’t have to presume our listener is close-minded or open-minded; that’s on them, not us.

Politicians today by choice, design, or necessity, are 45rpms. This is very concerning. I will guess that over 50% of the eligible voters in America do not fully understand what a caucus is or what socialism is or what each of our current presidential candidates really represents because none of them (the candidates) are communicating precisely!!!

I’ve racked my brain black-and-blue repeatedly attempting to apply my problem-solving skills to what’s wrong in our existence today, and in the end, all I have to show for it is a bruised brain and a simple conclusion. We CAN change the world, but it starts with us. In my case, it starts with me. I see several behaviors, beliefs and cultural biases of which, if each of us individually became more conscious and self-correcting, we would like a cultural contagion “rub off” on others and actually begin to change our society and our world. It’s called leading by example, and it begins with you.

For me, I’ve already begun with simple self-reminders. In this case, “choose words precisely”. Rather than speaking well, I’ll take the time to try to communicate better. I choose to be a 33rpm, and that is my contribution for today toward changing the world. Peace, love, dove homies.

Barricades

Last night I awoke suddenly in the middle of the night, and I found myself THERE; in that place, alone, staring at “it”. The room was deadly still. Exposed and vulnerable, I felt the oceans rush to my eyes; connected once again. How did I get here? How did I get past the barricades? I was terrified; out in the open and waiting for “it” to break. I needed quickly to raise the shields, before I would perhaps succumb to the kryptonite of the insanity. What happened to those damn barricades; those gigantic sheets of corrugated steel, the size of billboards each displaying their messages to me loud and clear? One by one they stood in front of and behind each other, forming an endlessly-layered wall separating me from “it”, from the “place”; the early ones first erected in my youth, mostly by me but some by others, are now so rusted that their messages are illegible and long since forgotten. Yet, still they stand, protecting me, preventing me, keeping me untethered from that which would destroy me; from that which so senselessly defies logic and defaces love.

My body was shivering when I awoke. I thought at first from the cold, but it was because I was “there”, in that “place”.  The “it”… was my heart. Long since buried so that I might survive the insanity, I lay there last night for a brief eternity in the presence of that center of our spiritual gravity that constantly and perpetually draws us back home to “it”.  It, the truth, the love, the naked and eternal reality. Who or what let down my barricades? I do not want to be sorrowful and scared and vulnerable!!! I want to see the barricade that says “all men are evil”, so that I won’t melt into a pool of tears when a killer shoots a room full of children, or a defenseless animal is tortured, or the mobs and politicians they follow continue to march towards a cliff from which life as we know it will surely plummet.

The barricades down, my heart in plain sight, the dam breaks, and the fear floods in with nothing to stop it. But then like an automatic reflex, survival kicks in, and the barricades begin to rise up again one by one. The earliest ones first, I saw the rusted messages of grade school “You are cowardly and weak”, and of high school “No girl could ever want you”. And later, when friends seemingly betrayed me and girls dumped me, my Twin Towers of barricades broadcasting “You MUST protect your heart at all costs. Shut it down…. forever”. Like a great wall of massive dominos the barricades continued to return. A recent one stated “All terrorists are Muslims, and ALL Muslims are suspect”. How else was I to reconcile the savagery?

Continuing to regain my composure, I mused some more about the gravitational pull of the heart and the barricades in all of us. What billboards do the evil ones see; the lonely ones; the dishonest ones; the broken ones; and the heartless ones? I realized that no one is really heartless, but rather separated from their hearts by some bad-ass shit. Everyone wants to get back to their heart, but some are so lost that they never will.

My barricades were back, fully online. I closed my eyes in the hopes of finally returning to what passes for sleep for me these days, but I was again stirred by something; an image in my mind the size of an IMAX screen. I watched as a brand new barricade towered up from the underground; this one larger and more brightly lit than any before. This new billboard spoke aloud to me as I read along with the brilliant mega-font that stated, “Hey asshole, the time has come to take down the barricades.  The time has come for you to start living”.  Peace, love, dove homies.  It’s never too late.

Farewell Facebook

I think most people keep their true feelings sequestered in chambers waiting for that rare occasion to air them out with a close friend or family member, if at all. How sad for those of us on social media who are eager to know and say, “Wow, I’m like that too!”

Instead, we share family photos, recipes, wise words written by others, and those platitudes deemed safe and permissible by our self-imposed jailor named Society. What a missed opportunity to unify at a base level and begin to forge a new age of enlightened people who per The Who “won’t get fooled again”.

Me, I started using Facebook as my public diary. I felt alone; the last man on earth sending a beacon out into space, patiently waiting for someone to signal back saying, “Yes, I’m here too…”

I realize some of my posts have seemed like THEY came from outer space, haha, when actually most came unfiltered from inner space; my social experiment; another jump into a frozen lake. Validate me, so I can feel worthy. Recognize me, so I won’t feel alone. LIKE MY POST. Ultimately, I became someone who ignored his own posts, and Facebook became an addiction instead of a handshake.

If I’ve learned nothing else, I have learned this. Even if not posted on social media, life still counts. Enjoy yours. Peace, love, dove homies.

White Like Me?

Chapter One

“White. Black. Hispanic. Asian. I knew if we left these humans alone long enough, they’d mess things up”, said the creator. Ashley, his young and ambitious protégée nodded in eager agreement.

“Sir….” she cooed in her soft British accent, “I have an idea if you’re willing to entertain it”. The creator, weary, nodded.

“Well, the humans have taken to categorizing their species by a symbolic color. White people aren’t really white, except of course for albinos, and black people aren’t actually black. Likewise, hispanic and asian as labels are far too general and misleading.” Ashley waited for a sign from the creator to continue. She got it.

“Ok then, I suggest we do a global delete on those labels from human society at large. We can agree later on a finite set of skin colors to serve as a descriptive attribute”, urged Ashley.

“Yes”, chirped the creator, now visibly engaged. Sounding eerily like Dumbledore, he volunteered, “I’ve always liked the Crayola crayon colors! Why don’t we use apricot, peach, maze, tan, raw sienna, red orange, red, chestnut, olive, tan, sepia, copper, light brown, brown and dark brown!”. His excitement was obvious.

“Uh… sure sir. That’s fine for now, but can we agree to discuss further?” asked Ashley treading lightly. With the self-accepting grin of an old mentor, the creator nodded. “Ok, thank you sir” continued Ashley.

“The humans will no longer check off whether someone is black, white and so on when filling out employment or government forms. No more media, entertainment and organizations catering to one label versus another; an entire erase of that mind-set”.

“I like it”, said the creator. “Anything else?”

“Yes sir”, replied Ashley. “And this is… a bit radical. It’s become clear to me as I observe the evolution of enlightenment amongst many and the decline into evil by some, that the old over-generalizations of good versus evil have become…. well, reality.”

“Go on”. The creator was now transfixed.

“Sir, I contest the species known as homosapien, or human being, is no longer relevant. We need a sub-classification to formally recognize the good versus the evil. I’m recommending that beneath the species of ‘human’ we add two ‘families’ – righteous and heartless, and that we ‘allow’, wink wink, the humans to stumble upon a genetic test that clearly identifies one from the other.”

“Hmmm, how would you define Righteous versus Heartless”, quizzed the creator.

“I see it in simple terms, sir”, offered Ashley. “The Righteous hold in sacred reverence the sanctity of life, freedom, and happiness of all living things, and they respect that they are equal with one another and can learn and benefit from one another. The Heartless are self-absorbed and self-serving with no regard for human or animal life. They hurt and kill liberally and without remorse, and their sole motivations are power and greed. They seek to control and rule over others”.

“Ok Ashley, I’m on board”, said the creator. “Why don’t you draft an implementation plan. We can review it when you’re ready.”

With humility, and righteousness, Ashley nodded, and smiled.

To be continued…

The Maze

Hi homies. So, here’s my “Theory of Health and Happiness”, originally posted on my Facebook page back in 2012.

Visualize one of those mazes you see in the newspapers. A circular one, where you start in the center and with a pencil, you have to find your way out. That’s your life. You start in the center. The center is who you are… your inner nature, your inner self. And, in the beginning, the center is also where you are. Who you are and where you are, are one and the same, and you are close to, in fact at one with, your inner self. You can almost remember a time, somewhere back in your dreams, when you were without fear… happy, and at peace – there, in the center of the maze.

And then one day, you were just sitting there picking your nose, and you were really getting into it. That one elusive bugger, way up there… you almost got it. And then suddenly, your parent slaps your hand and says, “You can’t be doing that.” And for the first time, you find yourself in a place where you can’t be who you are, or at least, that’s what you believe. Where you are, is no longer who you are. And for the first time, you’ve wandered into the maze.

You can still find your way back, but now there is separation, distance between where you are and who you are, and something has to bridge that gap.

Later, you find yourself in the school yard, and some asshole calls you fat, or ugly, or stupid. And, you let it get into your head, and you think, “I can’t stay the way I am, if people are gonna call me fat, ugly or stupid”. By the way, you never noticed how damaged was the asshole calling you those names, did you? So you “try” to change, and you wander further into the maze. The distance between where you are and who you are grows, and now, you can’t see the center anymore.

As childhood becomes adolescence become adulthood, your peers scrutinize how you dress and how you behave. The media tells you what to look like, and “authority figures” tell you what you can and can’t do. You’re way out in the maze now, adrift in the middle of the ocean with no land in sight. In the immortal words of Blind Faith, you can’t find your home.

Our brains are wonderful relational computers, but when it comes to reconciling the distance between where we are and who we are, they really suck.

The brain knows that where we are and who we are, are supposed to be the same place. It’s in our hard-wiring… our firmware. However, our brain is not equipped to bring us home by itself. It needs the help of our conscious mind. But, still it tries. Unfortunately, it tries to close the gap by filling it with bad stuff – anxiety, depression, mental illness, physical illness.

Sometimes, as a dumb computer, it tries to solve the problem by saying, “If distance exists between where we are and who we are, then let’s get rid of the distance by eliminating one of the variables.” You can’t have a line, if you only have one point. To the brain, the problem is the distance, or the gap, so… let’s get rid of who we are, then, there will be no gap, no distance.

The brain may be dumb, but it’s powerful enough to launch a campaign of self-destruction, all for the honorable purpose of eliminating the distance between us and our inner self, by eliminating one of the variables. So, without understanding why, we become alcoholics, addicts, high-risk junkies and self-abusers.

Now here we are today; lost in the maze. You know how you got here, right? So why can’t today be the day that you begin your journey back home; back to the center; back to you. Happy travels homies.