Posts Tagged ‘abusive situations’

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 167: HPtFtU [part 3] A Cautionary Tale

September 15, 2018

Francis Spufford, in his wonderful book, Unapologetic, uses the term HPtFtU for the Human Tendency to F**k things Up. If you watch any legitimate news outlet today, you will see countless examples of HPtFtU on display; especially in Washington DC.

BOGUS

I was scammed out of $450 this week. The good news is that the intention was for me to get scammed out of $3300; thanks to my dinosaur brain, it didn’t happen.

I received an email purporting to be from someone at the San Francisco office of Landor Associates, an international graphics and branding business. The email said they liked my work and wanted me to be interviewed by someone in their HR section via Google Hangout; and they gave me a name and a landoronline@gmail.com address.
The ‘interview’ process was very well rehearsed. They asked me to walk them through my online portfolio; they asked the reasonable questions to ask, for someone looking for a remoted contractor for work. Then they dropped the magic words:

We will pay you $55/hr (USD) with benefits and you will receive your pay via Direct Deposit or Check bi-weekly, taxes are taken out of your pay as you will be an employee. Working Days are Monday-Fridays and you may work remotely for us. You can work overtime hours on Saturdays if desired and we will arrange working equipment for you to get started ASAP.

I told them that this sounded like full-time language, rather than part-time language, and they assured me that my hours would be flexible. Then they asked me about the work that would be needed, and whether I felt confident doing these sorts of tasks; which I am.
Then they provided me the list of ‘toys’ they were going to provide me with, for which the above check was being provided. The plan was to take a pdf of the front of the check, and a png of the back of a check, and deposit the money with my banking app on my smart phone.
Rescued by dinosaur brain—I have 5 computers. While it would be convenient and fun to have a computer in my pocket, the reality is that I do not need a computer in my pocket. So I have a Bluetooth compatible cell phone that does texting, and if one is really desperate or patient, will connect to the internet. It’s about the same level of sophistication as dial-up; and it does not do apps.

When I finally got them to understand that I am one of the last 12 people on the planet with out a cell phone that does apps; ‘she’ told me that the check would arrive in the mail. The following day, I was informed that to get started with Landor, I would need the program that keeps track of time, for my training. So, I needed to send $400 to someone in Texas via Western Union. Given the presence of the above check in my email, it seemed like a little flexibility was in order. BTW it was explained to me that Landor worked as a payroll company for the State of Oregon, consequently the money was coming through the State of Oregon.

After all of the folderol with getting Western Union to like a card from my collection, I was then told that there was a bargain available to me:

The iMac is of 2017 and it will cost you just $698 and it will come with a brand new printer and we will reimburse you all the total amount next week…

At which point, the conversation went as follow [I’m in red]:

You realize this is all rather weird…
I answer an email; I get hired via a chat; you send me a pdf and a photo of a different check; the check is from the State of Oregon, not Landor Associates; you have me send $400 to some lady in Texas; and you are now asking me to send her money for equipment you want me to use.
If someone told me I was getting scammed, I’d be inclined to agree with them.

No, this is all legitimate
You need to trust this, we have lots of others working for us and the reason why we sent you the check is to assure you that you will get the full reimbursement.
We can call you and also re-assure, we have a lof of others who go through same process and none has ever had a bad experience
I will not deceive you Marty.

So are you instructing me send Mandy more money to buy last year’s iMac?

Yes.
and she will buy and ship all the items to you
I need you to trust me
You will get the tracking # to the package coming by tomorrow via FedEx and it will all be delivered to your door step
Trust me ok
You will see everything arrive in the mail
Are you with me?

OK, when your check arrives here, and is deposited, I’ll send her the money.
You may need me to trust you, but at this point you are a name on a screen.

The $400 software [presumed] did not arrive. Before that confirmation, I did a bunch of research and sent messages and a FAX to various executives of Landor [no one has email addresses when you want them]. I heard back from one of the execs, who assured me that the name wasn’t associated with Landor, and they never hire remote employees…

So, why am I sharing this embarrassment? So that hopefully you, dear reader, will avoid the scam. I’ve contacted the State of Oregon, the FBI, the Internet Fraud people, as well as a few others. I did not give them a SSN, nor did I give them any information that isn’t already in the public domain. I did send them a high-res image of my new driver’s license [birthday in July]; which concerns me. The Landor exec told me that they were contacting authorities in San Francisco. The authorities have the transaction information from Western Union; and I’ve contacted my bank. The reality is that I voluntarily sent money to a private individual, who did not provide me with the stuff I was supposedly paying for; but I wasn’t coerced.

The State of Oregon responded to an email, and told me that the check would bounce, after a few days. So, I would order $3300 worth of toys, from my account, to be reimbursed by the bogus check… Big surprise—I don’t have $3300 lying around in my checking account.

I’ve been full-time self-employed for 20 years; including a part-time gig for the City of Salem, which was my last W-2 job. I assumed that I really wasn’t looking for another W-2 job. It was a surprise to find that a part-time job with benefits was so attractive. The money was better than I charge graphic art clients, a little less than I charge for architectural work.

For a few hours, I was hooked.

sheepish

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 155: He thinks that morals are paintings on walls

June 18, 2018

P45_mj

From the movie, Sabrina [1995]
Sabrina Fairchild: You know, you are not exactly what people say you are.
Linus Larrabee: Oh yeah? [beat] What do they say I am?
Sabrina Fairchild: Oh, you know.
Linus Larrabee: No.
Sabrina Fairchild: Well. . .that you’re the world’s only living heart donor.
Linus Larrabee: Oh. That.
Sabrina Fairchild: And. . .how does this one go? Um, “He thinks that morals are paintings on walls and scruples are money in Russia.”
Linus Larrabee: Well, that’s droll.
Sabrina Fairchild: And then there’s my favorite. . .
Linus Larrabee: No, no, no. I get the picture.

Many of us in America believe we are witnessing the Presidency of the Amoral Man. Not necessarily immoral—one who behaves in an immoral manner; but one who lacks morals altogether.
Is this a first? No, of course not; I lived through Nixon and all of the immoral Presidents that followed him. Most of our Presidents lived in a time where their every statement was not published by the Press. To a large degree, we have no means of comparison.

We are living in a moment of time where ‘the leader of the Free World’ has called one of the worst dictators in history ‘an honorable man’ and has afforded him the equivalency of the President of the United States of America. A President who justifies Kim Jong Un’s murderous dominance over his people as being ‘tough’. A President who insults our allies and fawns upon dictators.
It is well documented that the President lies all the time.

In the 466 days since he took the oath of office, President Trump has made 3,001 false or misleading claims, according to The Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement uttered by the president.
That’s an average of nearly 6.5 claims a day.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2018/05/01/president-trump-has-made-3001-false-or-misleading-claims-so-far/?utm_term=.9b1ca6bb375f

And now, the children…

More than 2,300 children were taken from their parents at the border between May 5 and June 9, according to statistics released Monday by the Department of Homeland Security, with the pace of family separations growing over that period to nearly 70 a day.
The separations were roundly condemned — including by all four living former first ladies — as cruel, inhumane and un-American. Administration officials rejected former first lady Laura Bush’s comparison of the detention centers to Japanese American internment camps during World War II.

The President is lying about this, also.

The situation has become a moral test for President Trump and his administration. The president on Monday voiced defiance and continued to falsely blame congressional Democrats for what he decried as a “horrible and tough” situation. But Trump is empowered to immediately order border agents to stop separating families as a result of his “zero tolerance” enforcement policy.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-defiant-as-crisis-grows-over-family-separation-at-the-border/2018/06/18/210c78ca-730f-11e8-805c-4b67019fcfe4_story.html?utm_term=.e438f94bb60b

Attorney General Jeff Sessions brings the Bible into the argument:

“Illegal entry into the United States is a crime — as it should be,” he said. “Persons who violate the law of our nation are subject to prosecution. I would cite you to the apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/06/15/what-jeff-sessions-got-wrong-when-quoting-the-bible/?utm_term=.82c7eabfa8a2

One article talked about how the parents are told that the children will be taken to the showers… and the children are never returned. Parents are told that their children will never be returned to them.
I haven’t read this notion yet; I think it’s probably too volatile to suggest in print:
To my way of thinking, the current way of dealing with immigrants is one, admittedly large, step from ovens—to get rid of the evidence. For all of the Holocaust deniers and all those who believe ‘it could never happen here’—we now see how it can happen.

I keep waiting for a National Guard company to have the guts to disregard their orders and to start defending the children. I’ve probably watched too many movies.

If you’re horrified by news of families being separated at the borders, here’s a bit of news you can use.

First, the policy: It helps to be incredibly clear on what the law is, and what has and has not changed. When Donald Trump and Sarah Huckabee Sanders say that the policy of separating children from their parents upon entry is a law passed by Democrats that Democrats will not fix, they are lying.

There are two different policies in play, and both are new.

First is the new policy that any migrant family entering the U.S. without a border inspection will be prosecuted for this minor misdemeanor. The parents get incarcerated and that leaves children to be warehoused. The parents then typically plead guilty to the misdemeanor and are given a sentence of the few days they served waiting for trial. But then when the parents try to reunite with their children, they are given the runaround—and possibly even deported, alone. The children are left in HHS custody, often without family.

Second is a new and apparently unwritten policy that even when the family presents themselves at a border-entry location, seeking asylum—that is, even when the family is complying in all respects with immigration law—the government is snatching the children away from their parents. Here, the government’s excuse seems to be that they want to keep the parents in jail-like immigration detention for a long time, while their asylum cases are adjudicated. The long-standing civil rights case known as Flores dictates that they aren’t allowed to keep kids in that kind of detention, so the Trump administration says they have to break up the families. They do not have to break up families—it is the government’s new choice to jail people with credible asylum claims who haven’t violated any laws that is leading to the heartbreaking separations you’ve been reading about.

So that is what is happening. Whether or not that is what the Bible demands is the subject of a different column. Good explainers on what is and is not legal detention of immigrants and asylum-seekers can also be found here and here and here.

The ACLU is litigating this policy in California.

You can find more information here:

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/06/how-you-can-fight-family-separation-at-the-border.html

A man without a sense of morality. Only a sense of winning. His win is our loss.

angel.grief_mj

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 151: I Saw Jesus Tonight

May 9, 2018

Voices of Our City Choir
Voices of Our City Choir, San Diego, California

Jesus is in the photograph. He doesn’t look like that picture that hangs on the wall in lots of churches. He never did. Jesus, on Earth, was a Jewish woodworker; probably with curling black hair, probably with brown eyes; skinned darkened by the sun, if not by melanin.

Jesus is in the face of nearly every person above; the homeless who have found a family amidst people broken like themselves; singing in a City Choir. The Veteran who sleeps on a bus bench, and does his homework for his Master’s degree in Neuropsychology. The guy who had a solid business when the economy got to him, and he ventured into drugs to keep himself working; and then couldn’t get out. The people who have lost their homes, their prized possessions and their entire way of life. Most of them are in the 40s and 50s, some in their 60s; they had ‘normal’ lives until life dumped on them. “If they don’t have PTSD when the get to the streets, they’ll have PTSD after a week.”

Their singing is showing them Grace; their singing is showing them Jesus in themselves. They mostly aren’t religious. They may not even understand the phrase, ‘showing Jesus in themselves’… I saw Jesus.

https://www.voicesofourcity.org/

http://ironzealfilms.org/homeless/

I saw Jesus in the lives of two women who would not want to be singled out.

My adult life has mostly been about seeing Jesus; I often do a crap job of it. It’s difficult to see Jesus in people when you don’t want to be around people. It’s taken 40 years, and I’m not done yet; but I’m better.

I honestly don’t expect to find Jesus in churches; I’ve missed very few Sundays in the last 45 years. Today, now more than ever in the last 45 years, it seems hard to find Jesus in a church. Our whole political culture, so NOT about Jesus, is so invasive that Jesus isn’t very welcome. One of my best friends left the professional ministry because people weren’t looking there to find Jesus. He will continue to find Jesus, just in different places.

After watching the PBS documentary, “Homeless Chorus Speaks”, I realized that Jesus is out in the streets of our cities. He left with the promise that the Spirit of the Creator would be with us; and the Spirit can be in many places at the same time.

21st Century humans are so anal… We don’t understand metaphor, and life is mostly metaphor. We protest violence in the schools and we watch violence at night when we get off work, in movies or in video games; we create violence in the latter—‘but it isn’t real’. I used to use that line with my children, when they were getting scared in movies—it isn’t real. My wife told me that our brains can’t tell the difference, and I didn’t understand. Movies and video games, 2D and 3D attempts to duplicate ‘real’—my whole illustration career has been about duplicating real—there is no screen in our brain. Light waves travel into our eyes; our retina converts the light into electro-chemical signals which travel into our brains via the optic nerves, and imagin-ary images—‘appear’ in our minds. Not through a screen, but through our brain; and its network of neurons.

Our bodies react to graphic images.
Any guy KNOWS this, whether or not they admit it. I presume there’s a similar response in women, but I’ve never know what goes on in any woman’s brain. Including my wife of 42 years, in June. I’m told that some of the connections between the two halves of the male brain are dissolved by testosterone, early in a boy’s life. I’ve never made the time to research the premise. Seems plausible.

We see the homeless every day in a metropolitan city like Portland. Neighbors in my ‘Neighborhood Social Media Bulletin Board’ complain about the homeless who live by a nearby creek, until the police chase them out. We who are far more fortunate and have roofs over our head—and only by hard work every day—earn enough money to pay rent, pay utilities, and find something to eat. Hard work isn’t always enough.

State of Oregon Facts
Minimum Wage         $10.25
Average Renter Wage $14.84
2-Bedroom Housing Wage   $19.78
Number of Renter Households      593,793
Percent Renters         39%

Affordable Rent for Low-Income Households
Minimum Wage Worker       $533/mo
Household at 30% of Area Median Income       $491/mo
Worker Earning Average Renter Wage    $771/mo

Fair Market Rent
1-Bedroom Fair Market Rent        $839/mo
2-Bedroom Fair Market Rent        $1,028/mo
http://nlihc.org/oor/oregon

People are out on the streets because working 50 hours a week at two minimum wage [extremely few minimum wage jobs pay overtime] jobs won’t pay rent, utilities and food. Do the math.

It appears to be very difficult to see Jesus roaming the marble and oak walls of Congress and the White House.

 

And then there’s this:
There are at least three world leaders tonight, probably more, who think that this can somehow be considered a win…

Ashes of Hiroshima
The Ashes of Hiroshima

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 142: all of those who take up swords will die by swords

February 21, 2018

angel.grief_mj

Dear Kat-

In the world that I grew up in, largely guided by television shows that showed families who ate meals together; and kids that could go to their grandparents when they had big problems, and the grandparents always had an answer. Now I’m the grandfather, and you live in a world that no kid should ever half to live in, and I don’t have the answer.

Based on one Facebook page I visited yesterday, the problem with our society is a lack of Jesus. That same Fb page says that the other problem in our society is the lack of assault rifles… a video with a 10-year-old, like I was, who stops his bicycle; jumps off, and pulls a pistol out of his holster. He takes a shot or two—I didn’t see a muzzle flash—and then pulls an assault rifle out of his backpack and begins ‘firing’ again. The video was filmed from far enough away that I couldn’t see if the weapons were real, or artfully crafted toys. Another video with a girl around 10 or 12, almost hysterically joyous that she’d been given the gift of a rifle…

So, apparently, the solution is Jesus and assault rifles. Everyone should be allowed to carry a weapon, including the children in schools…and we can all shoot each other to death; where we will go and meet Jesus… right?

A little Bible teaching: Matthew 26:52, from the “Aramaic Bible in Plain English”
Then Yeshua said to him, “Return the sword to its place, for all of those who take up swords will die by swords.”
Today, the verse probably needs to be updated: ‘…all of those who take up assault rifles will die by assault rifles.’

I was in my early twenties when I first heard of Jesus. He didn’t come with assault rifles, back in the 1970s. A good thing: there was a girl murdered in the dorm I lived in, by an immature, angry teen who wanted to have sex with her. The whole campus was on alert for what seemed like weeks. There was a ‘security’ team who prowled our hallways at night—stoners who wandered the hallways armed with .22s from home. I didn’t have a God to thank, that they weren’t carrying assault rifles.

The world is broken. It’s always been broken—this is the inheritance of being human beings who have the power to choose. People choose to do evil. Fortunately, not all people; not all of the time. Some days I think America is more broken than many other societies.

gun homicides in Americahttps://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/mar/15/so-america-this-is-how-you-do-gun-control

Although a lot of people refuse to see it, according to the graph above, guns are the answer to the mass-killing problem. The countries listed make it very difficult for someone to acquire a weapon designed to kill people. Fb friends of mine are having debates on whether or not people should have guns. Our Constitutional Right; of course, healthcare isn’t included in the US Constitution…

I’m not ‘Grandpa Walton’ [the analogy probably has no meaning for you—it might have meaning for your Mom]; and I don’t have a team of scriptwriters deciding what kind of answers to give you. My 45th re-birthday—the day that, as Jesus called it, I was ‘born again’—is on Friday. Forty-five years of studying the nature of the Creator; and I still don’t have answers. People do stupid things; especially in large groups. You don’t have to be like them.

Treat people in the same way that you want to be treated.
Be kind to everyone. Even to the stupid, abusive ones.
Don’t return harm for harm.
Be grateful for everything you are given.
Most importantly, search for the signs of the Creator in your life.

By nature, I’m a recluse; I don’t like to talk with strangers. I have a ‘persona’ that I can ‘strap on’ and talk to groups of strangers. There are techniques that one can learn; but that guy isn’t the real me. I avoid people, which makes it easier to follow the above suggestions. You are a more outgoing person. Listen to your Mom.

Jenn_Katelina 1-1002

I believe that we are born with the Spirit of the Creator in our soul; and that our soul is ‘standard equipment’ in human beings.  You have the Spirit of your Creator within you.

It’s entirely possible for someone to spend their entire life ignoring the Spirit of the Creator. The Spirit never forces herself upon us. It is also possible to ‘open a door’ in your mind; create a new neural pathway in your brain—to be more scientific; and to realize that your understanding of the world is so small; and the world of the Creator is so large.

There were lots of people, during my first 2.5 years of college who wanted to ‘save’ me. I didn’t want to be ‘saved’. I wanted to be loved and appreciated—which is an entirely different skillset and requires effort on the part of another. Forty-five years ago, I was ‘saved’—it’s taken much of my adult life to realize that I was saved all along; I was simply unaware of it.

I know a guy who fears that he is going to Hell because he swears. Some people taught him that God doesn’t allow swearing in Heaven. I continue to tell him that what happens after he dies has nothing to do with the words he uses when he’s angry [he’s angry a lot of the time and refuses to admit it].

The Creator of Time and Space entered life on Earth in the form of a carpenter in a backwater town. He became a ‘street preacher’ for three years, afflicting the comfortable, and comforting the afflicted. The religious leaders of His day had Him tortured and killed, so that He’d shut up. Three days after He died, He came back. He talked with hundreds of people; and then disappeared, an unspecified time later. Those hundreds changed the entire world.
A lot of their descendants made life horrible for lots of people—they became like the religious who had Jesus killed.

Treat people in the same way that you want to be treated.
Be kind to everyone. Even to the stupid, abusive ones.
Don’t return harm for harm.
Be grateful for everything you are given.
Most importantly, search for the signs of the Creator in your life.

I would love to tell you that this advice will protect you from all of the people who wish to do you harm. I would be lying to you if I did. Shit happens; even to those who devote their lives to following the Creator. If you read ‘the news’ on any given day of the week [and I’m glad you don’t], you’d find that shit happens to people of every faith, nearly every day. The Creator doesn’t shelter us from pain and grief; if that was so, people would think that the Creator is magical. The Creator isn’t magical.

Whatever happens in your life, good days and bad days, you are never alone.

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 135: The Consent of the Governed

December 3, 2017

the consent of the governed

America in Distress

“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” The Declaration of Independence

“A Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 49 percent of people who were aware of the measure saying they opposed it, up from 41 percent in October.”  (Reuters)

“Half of Americans oppose the plan, a 6-point increase from September. Only 33 percent support it. Among Democrats, 79 percent oppose the plan, while 75 percent of Republicans support it.”  (ABC News-Washington Post)

“…independent analysts have concluded that this bill would add roughly $1.4 trillion to the deficit, according to estimates made by the Congressional Budget Office. In the Republican party as recently as 2010, that would have been considered an absolute non-starter. Pre-Trump, lowering the deficit by curtailing government spending was a central, unwavering principle of conservatism.”  (http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/02/politics/tax-bill-analysis/index.html)

The Founding Fathers must be ‘rolling over in their graves’.
People who read my ramblings probably think that I’m a Democrat; incorrect. I’m a ‘Progressive Moderate’ who believes that the role of Government is to promote the general welfare of its citizens; and where necessary, provide the funding for social improvement programs where the citizens refuse to do so. I believe that healthcare is right, not a privilege; I believe that homelessness needs to be dealt with by providing homes for those who are unable to support themselves. I believe that we need stop sending teenaged-‘heroes’ off to war in other lands; and to stop considering those returning home in boxes ‘heroes’, while ignoring those who were broken by our practice of Endless War.

I believe that the job of Government is to provide jobs, when the Private Sector refuses to do so; or in the case of National Emergency. We are currently in the midst of a National Emergency and have a huge potential workforce that can serve a new WPA or Civilian Conservation Corps.

So, what do we do about it?

We need to vote. We need to remove from office every Senator, every Congressman who put the needs of the already-outrageously-wealthy [not from work, but from hedge funds] above those who can only put food on the table by working 2-3 jobs.

The already-outrageously-wealthy do not need additional tax cuts; the Trickle-Down theory has never worked the way that President Reagan said it would; and as every Republican administration since, has so promised.

FDRr-fireside chat_mj

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 132: Katrina again.

September 28, 2017

P45_mj

Football.
Millionaires who play games for a living, funding an industry that derives hundreds of millions of dollars selling everything that can be sold under the guise of professional sports.

3.4 million Americans are stranded on Puerto Rico, victims of the most devastating hurricane in history, and American news is full of stories about professional football players, many of whom are incredibly wealthy, living in Privileged comfort.

Of course, the real story isn’t about football and flags; the story is about America’s shameful history of Race.

Let me repeat: 3.4 million Americans are stranded on Puerto Rico, victims of the most damaging hurricane in history. They are without food, they are without water, they are without power. FEMA has sent aid; and the aid is sitting on the docks.

President Donald Trump has made it clear his administration isn’t planning to allow any additional outside aid to get into Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday afternoon [9/27], the president cited business interests as the reason for refusing calls from lawmakers and activists to allow international organizations and governments to ship aid to the island.         Newsweek

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says food, water, and other supplies have reached Puerto Rico a week after Hurricane Maria plowed through the island, and Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and shipping firms concur. Most of the 3.4 million Americans on Puerto Rico haven’t gotten that aid, so CBS News correspondent David Begnaud went to find out what’s happening. He found some 3,000 shipping containers sitting at the docks in San Juan, the capital, he said on Wednesday’s CBS Evening News; most of them are filled with relief supplies, and some of them have been there since before Hurricane Irma hit, three weeks ago.
The problems, according to Rossellé and the shipping companies, are many and frustrating. Roads are still blocked or flooded around the island, truck drivers are tending to their damaged homes, their trucks were destroyed, they don’t have fuel, or they’re incommunicado because electricity and cellphone service are out across the U.S. territory, and the bus drivers Rosselló is trying to recruit to drive trucks in their stead have the same problems. In the meantime, nearly half the island doesn’t have potable water, food and water are scare, “gasoline has become like liquid gold,” Begnaud says, and there are lines for everything. You can watch his report below. Peter Weber

Katrina again.

The victims tend to have brown skin, rather than pink skin. Only the dead have white skin. And many are dead.

Instead of demanding that our Government solve the problems of distribution [we can], people are arguing all over the Internet about whether or not someone is disrespecting the flag by not standing; when the Supreme Court ruled in 1943 that Americans are protected by the Constitution when they decide not to stand during the National Anthem; and when they refuse to pledge allegiance to the flag:

West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943), is a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States holding that the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution protected students from being forced to salute the American flag and say the Pledge of Allegiance in school. The Court’s 6–3 decision, delivered by Justice Robert H. Jackson, is remembered for its forceful defense of free speech and constitutional rights generally as being placed “beyond the reach of majorities and officials.”

I quit pledging my allegiance to the flag when I realized that America was built on the graves of the indigenous people who were killed so that the white population could practice their Manifest Destiny. As a follower of Jesus, I cannot in good conscious support a government that refuses to acknowledge the crimes that were committed to getting to this place in history.
This place in history where our President refuses to do everything in his power to rescue citizens of his country. Instead, he shames African Americans who protest the murders of African Americans by white police officers who receive no punishment.

Lynching, again.

The President uses language on global television that would have landed me in great trouble by my father, growing up. He uses language that should be an affront to every Believer in Scripture, regardless of the Scripture being read.
The depravity continues to make me ashamed of our government; and mocks every person who has died defending this country.

Liberty_mj

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 115: I’m sorry I’m interrupting your puppies and kittens and desserts…

January 28, 2017

…No, I’m not. I’m sorry for your ignorance.

declaration_cover-lgCover Image: The Declaration of Independence by Melinda Lilly

You grew up thinking that your life was about you. I did the same thing. This is the way our country works—teaching us that what’s important is us. When we think that the important part of this country is our self, those who actually run this country—the 1%—never have to worry about entering the 2%.

Your life was never about you.

Your life is about your relationships with others. Your lack of understanding of this truth is what causes all of your problems.

Some of those reading these words have a serious problem with those who are marching; they believe that somehow these protests demean the country.

If one reads the Declaration of Independence, one can striking parallels between the Declaration and the Executive Orders of Donald Trump in his first week in office. Our Founding Fathers, whether or not they considered women and people of color as “men” this meaning has been interpreted by the Supreme Court. Our Founding Fathers found that the harsh circumstances in which they lived under King George were cause to dissolve their union with Great Britain:

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness…
The history of the present [one-week history of the President] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has
[“will”, because on March 16, 2016, President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, to fill the vacancy created by the death of Antonin Scalia. Defying their Constitutional authority, the Senate refused to hold a hearing or vote on this nomination made during the last year of Obama’s presidency, insisting that the newly elected president should fill the vacancy, nearly a year later] made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent
[the Mexican Wall and the proposed 25% sales tax on Mexican imports:

 And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

And then they went to War, instead of staging protest marches.

So far, the protesters, following the Worldwide Women’s March on Washington—one week ago—stand in lines, or march, chanting and holding signs. Today they are in airports; protesting Trump’s ban on arrivals from the Middle East. In Dan Rather’s words:
For generations, we have been an imperfect but vital beacon of freedom to a world too often wandering and failing in moral confusion. But that ultimate strength has dimmed considerably in light of the recent actions on immigration from the new President Donald Trump. We are turning around desperate refugees. We are singling out men, women, and children on the basis of their faith – and we are doing all of this with a randomness and capriciousness that defies reason.
“A colleague of mine used the term “heartless” to describe so much of the President’s executive actions. Sadly, I found it an apt and dispiriting diagnosis—especially when faced with the results of his executive order on immigration. For over the years, I have seen that our greatest American leaders extol empathy rather than condemnation. They have known that in a complicated world, it is best to make policy choices with a scalpel – not a hacksaw. Sometimes, when our national security is threatened at the level of World War II, all-out conflict is the only recourse. But those instances are by far the exception.”

Thankfully a Federal Judge has just ruled that Trump’s Ban on Muslims is unconstitutional [http://m.motherjones.com/politics/2017/01/muslim-ban-federal-court].

I’m sorry if your Facebook feed isn’t full of pleasant thoughts and images that make you feel warm and comforted.

It’s a harsh world now, and our President and his ‘Cabinet of the 1%’ have no investment in solving the problem; their investments, literally, are in making the problems worse. A dependence on coal and fossil fuels and a denial of research in alternative means of energy production. Ties to foreign governments. The Conflicts of Interest among Trump and his proposed Cabinet defy imagination.

I am an Immigrant Son—First Generation American on my Mother’s side of my family heritage. My Grandparents and family came here from Norway, when the 20th Century was young.
My paternal grandmother and her siblings were First Generation Americans from Swedish immigrants. My paternal grandfather and his family crossed America by land, their ancestors having come from England and Wales.

By no choice of my own, I come from Northern European stock. So when my grandfather and my father joined the US Army in World War II, the women they left behind weren’t sent to “Internment Centers” [aka Concentration Camps] because they weren’t Japanese. They did not have to give up their homes and belongings because of the color of the skin, and the Creator-given design of their eyes.

There were no German Concentration Camps on American soil. Hard to tell a German by sight.

However, it’s less hard to spot a Native American; their Concentration Camps are called “Reservation”. American treaties with First Peoples were broken as soon as the ink was dry on the impressive parchment. There was a 1% then, too. They were intent on stealing land from the people who had lived on that land for Centuries.

fallen-liberty

 

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Chronicles in Ordinary Time 111: What will we do with the time that is given to us?

November 18, 2016

night-watcherThe Night Watcher

As my legs continue to decline in their mobility, I have more challenges with my balance; particularly if I don’t have a solid surface to stand on. Inside the house I wear down boots with wool insoles; and tonight I was leaning over the couch to look for a movie to watch. Part of me said that I was going to hold off on Lord of the Rings until it had dimmed some more from my memory—but the cases were in front of other DVDs, and I proceeded in what could have been a scene from a silent movie. Boxes falling out of my hands [spasms, also], discs falling out of cases…etc.

I had made the choice to scan Fb before looking for the DVD—I’ve been visiting Fb less, because there’s so much crap going on in our political environment. Some good stuff, but a lot of other stuff. When I returned to the living room, I was looking for a mood changer before going to bed.

Given the comedy above, Fellowship of the Ring, Part One, was my choice—the choice that fell out of the box. I don’t have any Lord of the Rings images; the one above is the closest available.

The other day I found the following quotation from later in the movie:

Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.

Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.

What are we going to do with the time that is given to us?

As the new ‘Transition Team” grows, and grows more menacing to the “Other” in our society [speaking as an old white guy], it becomes clearer to me that what is needed is as much obstruction against dehumanizing people as possible. Whether that obstruction takes the form of Sanctuary Cities, or the building of a new Political Party or the encouragement of Senators and Representatives that are determined to make this country a haven for the oppressed, we need to continue.

I value Freedom of Speech, and Freedom of Assembly, and I value young people doing the only thing they can, to protest; there has been injury caused by the some of the forms of protest that have been taken. Forcing a driver on a highway to stop, when they really need to be moving, or stopping ambulances on the road does not help the Cause of Justice.

The votes from the Election are still being counted; Hillary leads Trump by nearly 1.5 million votes, and her lead is expected to continue to grow. It is no longer a ‘narrow margin’. My Magical Thinking is looking for rescue from the Electoral College. I’ve never had much faith in magic wands. I may be one of the very few people in the world who have avoided Harry Potter [I’ve seen a couple movies]; I spent so much of my life looking for a magic wand to solve my problems that the concept no longer has any appeal.

More than anything else in my life, I am a man of Faith. Civilization survived Nero and Caligula. Caligula used “Christians on a stick” as a method of yard lighting for his outdoor barbecues. I won’t elaborate. Rome fell from the weight of its shameful behavior; so heavy a weight that they stopped considering it a problem. At present, this doesn’t seem too different from naming White Supremacists to Cabinet positions in a country where the White population is no more in the majority. Welcome to South Africa, North…

The first African-American President is handing his office over to the man endorsed by the KKK. The KKK had parades after Trump’s election. Hate crimes are on the rise. The Southern Poverty Law Center documented 892 active hate groups in the United States in 2015. More than 400 Hate Crimes have occurred in the last week. People can say that this isn’t the fault of the President-Elect; but when the Future Commander-in-Chief demonstrates bullying, racism, misogyny and xenophobia every day for the last 9 months, why do people have trouble understanding that bullies and haters feel they have been validated in their behavior?

There are people who apparently been pretending to be ‘nice’ for the last 8 years; now they can go back to their regularly-scheduled behavior. When the American Church approves indecency by their votes [or lack of voting], what does that say about the Church? They may have gained the Supreme Court, but was it at the cost of their souls’ health? We will all have to stand before the Creator and account for our behavior. We may have to stand in the same lines as the German population in 1938…

we-dont-talk-about-2016

Chronicles In Ordinary Time 109_Is there room in our hearts for this?

October 30, 2016

REFORMATION DAY 2016

I’m not a big believer in coincidence.

I also cannot consider myself a Lutheran, having never followed all of the beliefs and the traditions of the Lutheran Church. I’ve never been Confirmed. However, I’ve served and worshipped among Lutherans for decades.

I was ordained as a Presbyterian Elder more than a decade ago; to my knowledge, I’ve never been un-ordained.

So I find it *interesting* that this matter has come to my heart and mind on Reformation Day.

A quotation presented by the Institute on Religion and Public Life:

“…Therefore, it seems fitting that we, Lutherans, make our own mea culpa. It seems fitting that we confess our sins associated with the Reformation and, especially, our continued unkindness toward our brothers and sisters of other theological traditions. It seems fitting that we, once again, make Jesus’ prayer our own, not only in word, but also in deed “ ut unum sint .”  (Latin: ‘That they may be one’)

Joshua Genig, pastor of The Lutheran Church of the Ascension in Atlanta, Georgia

TREATY WITH THE SIOUX—BRULÉ, OGLALA, MINICONJOU, YANKTONAI, HUNKPAPA, BLACKFEET, CUTHEAD, TWO KETTLE, SANS ARCS, AND SANTEE—AND ARAPAHO, 1868.

Apr. 29, 1868. | 15 Stats., 635. | Ratified, Feb. 16, 1869. | Proclaimed, Feb. 24, 1869.

ARTICLE 16.

The United States hereby agrees and stipulates that the country north of the North Platte River and east of the summits of the Big Horn Mountains shall be held and considered to be unceded Indian territory, and also stipulates and agrees that no white person or persons shall be permitted to settle upon or occupy any portion of the same; or without the consent of the Indians first had and obtained, to pass through the same; and it is further agreed by the United States that within ninety days after the conclusion of peace with all the bands of the Sioux Nation, the military posts now established in the territory in this article named shall be abandoned, and that the road leading to them and by them to the settlements in the Territory of Montana shall be closed.

What am I talking about…

The North Dakota Pipeline Protest

north-dakota-pipelineDAPL map overlaying Treaty Lands

shameful-day
Unarmed protesters, on their own land, being attacked by police and National Guard members in riot gear, armed with rubber bullets, pepper spray, a sound cannon and police dogs. Forcing the unarmed protestors off their own land.

Beating unarmed protestors.

On their own land.

Granted, Custer broke the 1868 treaty in 1874 because gold was discovered in the Black Hills. Gold, in America, is more valuable than treaties. Treaties are just pieces of paper [what’s in your wallet?]. One hundred and forty years, and the Courts still have not settled this dispute.

Medicine BottleThis is Medicine Bottle, originally photographed by Edward S. Curtis, a day or two before Medicine Bottle was hanged in the late 1800s. His crime? BEING A SIOUX.

On Reformation Day, can the followers of Jesus acknowledge and accept the idea that ALL LIVES MATTER?

That our promises matter.

That our honor matters.

That Justice matters.

That how we treat people matters.

May God have mercy on our souls…

 

Chronicles In Ordinary Time 107: Character

October 11, 2016

lincoln_charcter

Before I start writing these essays, I usually ask myself why I think anyone really cares what I think about the world…

Back when our first child had been conceived, I started writing her letters. Most of what I wrote about, I figured would have little interest for her until she was a teenager. I continued the process by writing to my sons, as well, when they first appeared. Many of the later letters ‘cheated’ in that I wrote the same letter to all three kids.

To a large degree, these blogs are a continuation of that process. I’m still writing for my kids; but the audience appears to be larger now, based on comments I receive…

 

If I had the opportunity, I would vote for ‘Jed’ Bartlett or Andrew Shepherd; since both are characters written from the mind of Aaron Sorkin, I’m out of luck. In The American President, Andrew Shepherd makes the following statement:

For the last couple of months, Senator Rumson has suggested that being president of this country was, to a certain extent, about character, and although I have not been willing to engage in his attacks on me, I’ve been here three years and three days, and I can tell you without hesitation: Being President of this country is entirely about character.

I don’t want to vote for any of the four names I believe will be on my Oregon ballot for the Office of President of the United States.

I would not vote for Portland’s Mayor, or anyone on the City Council for President; even if they had run for Governor. I don’t feel that a couple of terms on the City Council would qualify someone for the Office of President. I worked for the City Council for 14 years; that doesn’t qualify me for national office.

I don’t support the Libertarian Policy goals.

Given another option, I would never vote for HRC as the Democratic candidate. We had another option; the DNC never supported that option. This is sad. I think he would have made an excellent President.

If my teen-aged granddaughter came up to me and said she had the opportunity to work as an intern for Donald Trump, I WOULD NEVER give my approval.

If it was ‘locker room banter,’ it was the locker room in high school where I might have heard it. I avoided the high school locker room.

I heard this ‘banter’ in Freshman or Sophomore college dorm rooms where the participants were mostly stoned or drunk, and were trying to impress other stoners with their imagined exploits. It was the ‘banter’ used by a medical student who wanted to become a gynecologist. I hope he never achieved his career goal. His goal was to assault women; but he never thought of it as ‘assault’; women were merely sexual toys.

Did I object to this sexually-charged language? No; I didn’t know any better. I thought the people making the comments were asses, but I thought most of the people that I was around were asses. I generally had a low opinion of people; but I had no ‘moral center’ from which I could stand. I was a snob, more than principled. ‘The Donald’ might have approved of the dorm T-shirt I designed; although I refused to follow the design literally. It was based on ‘the Donald’s’ comments, long before he most recently made them.

Trump’s comments weren’t made in a locker room or dorm room. It was the passenger seat on a media bus, probably filled with recording equipment.

He wasn’t running for President in 2005.
No; his first Presidential Campaign was in 2000.

Being President of this country is entirely about character…
I wouldn’t want that character in my house, much less the White House.

Too bad Condoleezza Rice isn’t running. She’d probably win.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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