“A Team of Vipers” Review

A while back, I finished reading “Team of Vipers” by Cliff Sims. This horrifying and thought-provoking book offered a look into the beliefs and rationalizations of the man who was hired as a media specialist for the Trump campaign and later became White House Communications Aide. This is a deeply concerning book and not totally because of what it showed of human behavior and the meeting point between ethics and money. For example, Mr. Sims continually explained how he set aside his conservation religious views because Trump’s presidency was not about ego but about doing what God wanted.  Let me state up-front that it would be impossible to fact check every aspect of the book, but Sims admitted they wrote fictional accounts to be disseminated as political weapons.

As a religious conservative who accepted the job of working for Donald Trump’s campaign, Sims’ salary included a rent-free a two bedroom apartment in Manhattan (a pricey piece of real estate he never could have afforded).  Ironically, Sims was offered the job because of his lambastes against Alabama Governor Robert Bentley accusing him of unchristian behavior with a mistress (note: Bentley was later arrested for ethics violations).  It wasn’t long before the scandalous Trump video hit — in which Trump bragged about inappropriately grabbing women and getting away with it because he is rich. Despite Sims previous work to help bring down Bentley, for some reason he chose to stay with Trump despite accusations of similar actions.  Perhaps the Manhattan apartment helped him “set aside his ego and do the Christian thing” in staying?

At Trump Tower, Sims was given the responsibility to come up with “hot” talking points about Bill Clinton’s sexual exploits and how Hillary Clinton bullied the women who complained about that behavior.  Sims rationalized some horrible behavior. In fact, he confessed that he made up complete fictions about Hillary Clinton — lies that somehow were leaked to the media. What does Sims write about that? He remarks in amazement that he did not get fired but was praised for the fabrications. He was told that such “hot” writing was necessary for the campaign.

Repeatedly, Sims recalled similarly immoral, decadent or unethical situations. Immediately afterwards, he wrote once again that such conduct was okay because he believed Trump was the right person for the White House. He never really clarified why that was so. After the election, he wrote that Trump was the best president ever. Even after he was fired, he continued to believe that.

I’ve focused on the campaign, but the tales of perfidy continued to grow after the election.  Those stories were no less upsetting — more so. And the emotions they raised is why I am not focusing on the days Sims spent as White House staff.

After reading the book, I still cannot explain why Sims so easily set aside his religious beliefs or why he believed Trump was a great person and president. The clearest compliment in the entire book is when Sims credits Trump the candidate with being calm no matter what was going on.

Yet, the book did not present a thoughtful and concerned candidate, but one who wanted to be in control of the media.  Sims mentioned contests where Trump or would decide what should be covered on news reports that evening, and how the teammates competed to see who could get it done. I read the tales of the campaign and thought to myself, Trump didn’t care how much of a mess he created because he got what he wanted: to be the center of attention for another news cycle. Over and over, that seemed to be the goal of the media team on which Sims worked; control the news and keep Trump in the reports. Later, as Trump the president in the White House, this desire for control spread.

I admit it took me a long time to wade through this book. Because it spoke of people who had the chance to make the world a better place, the knee-jerk comments about what God wanted rankled. The justifications refuted the beliefs that Sims claimed to have — beliefs that he had used previously to help bring down another conservative politician, and yet, he chose to utilize them now in service to an irreligious rich man.

Don’t read this book for enjoyment; you will not feel better about the current occupants of the White House. It is not particularly well written. Read “Team of Vipers” if you want to glimpse Trump’s power over those who work for him. Read the book if you want to gain understanding into the beliefs behind the messages. Read it if you want to understand how people of moral reputation were swayed by money, a feeling of superiority, and nebulous faith into supporting an agenda that despises the basic tenants they valued.

Read this book to educate yourself. The lesson is not about doublespeak (previous politicians excelled at that); the lesson in this book is about using words to mean something that is implied or spoken or lied about, and those words, and the hypocrisy behind them, purposefully cut to the core of the American ideal. It is an insidious message of separation, cynicism, greed and discord. A message we need to learn how to reject and refute.

 

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Astrology Overview May-Dec 2019

For those who are interested in long-term astrology, I’ve been doing an intense period of watching presentations by one of my favorite astrologers[1] in order to find a foundation from which to view the craziness of the current time. Although many astrologers focus on the faster moving planets, there is no way to avoid the energy of the outer planets this year.  Several of them have gathered together in Capricorn, that misunderstood, overworked (just ask one), and difficult sign that focuses on labor, power, discipline, and ambition.

First, Saturn and Pluto are conjunct in Capricorn with Uranus trine that conjunction.  The Leo King says that the Saturn-Pluto conjunction is about learning to understand the world so that there can be worldwide changes and new definitions of culture. These slow-moving planets can help us focus on exploring the world. To me, these energies will push us to make decisions that take us on new adventures. If we refuse to do that, they will leave us sitting in the same places we are now. It’s our choice: to choose to stay where we are or decide to make the changes and go after what we want.

When Jupiter also enters Capricorn in December 2019, per the LeoKing, we will be living in energy similar to the 13th century. My interpretation of that era emphasizes large religious powers going to war against each other and against individuals who did not submit to their powers. When Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto are all ensconced in Carpicorn, what does that mean for us? It means that religious institutions will hit the wall: they will have to choose how to react to the world around them. Will they continue to hide behind dogma or change to meet the modified needs of the people?  In the last century, Wilfred Cantwell Smith, a religious philosopher, wrote that religions evolve over time in order to remain relevant.[2]  If you consider yourself religious, what changes will you expect of yours?

This is the year that spiritual institutions and spiritual people will have to deal with the reality of the physical world. They won’t be able to sit in their meditation room and ignore the world. Too many things are close to a breaking point. With these aspects, Mother Earth and the slow-moving planets are demanding that you learn how to walk your talk. How you do that is up to you.

Regardless of where you see yourself on the spiritual continuum, whether or not you make changes will impact you, those around you, and the world.

Even if you do not consider yourself spiritual, this aspect will be about who has control.

If you wonder why so many people are upset about freedoms, water purity and food supplies, they are feeling this energy and pushing for us to react now while we have time to prepare. The challenges of the physical world are already obvious: homelessness, poverty, prejudice, climate change, desertification, air pollution, mountain topping, water pollution, and storms (all affecting poverty, famine, etc.).

The good news is that we can bring about a different outcome this time around. Astrologically, Uranus is in Taurus and will remain there for a long time. This gives us some positive energy, comfort and perhaps security. LeoKing mentioned that technology can provide assistance too. With the North Node in Cancer, we will be able to discover or rediscover our home and return to that place that brings us sustenance and safety. This is going to highlight our residences as well as issues of safety and security.

Certainly there are a lot of other things to be said about these aspects. They will affect structures of all kinds; they will influence building whether those are physical constructions, emotional support systems, spiritual connections, legal equity, or worthy charitable organizations.

Again, moving out from our home bases, we can make a choice to actively create a better world.

Yes, this may be a difficult time. Change can be challenging, but it can also be exciting and hopeful.

Decide what you can do.  Plant a garden. Send money to environmental organizations and other charities. Participate in a march. Vote.  Do something about the homeless. Clean a river. Pick something to act on. Whatever you choice, live your life as best you can with integrity. Your heart will be happier.

——

[1] I am thankful for the availability of intensive Leo King videos, and recommend them. For more details, check YouTube or go to https://www.theleoking.com/astrology.

[2] For more information on that, I suggest reading The Meaning and End of Religion: A New Approach to the Religious Traditions of Mankind by Wilfred Cantwell Smith.

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Reflections on Bless Me, Ultima

I just finished reading Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya. To be truthful, this was the second time since I read it decades ago. At the first reading, I remember being equally confused and amazed by this story. After so much time, I thought I would read it again and see if a more mature me would understand it better. The book is typically described as a coming-of-age tale, but it that is all you expect, you too will be confused. It is much more than that.

This is a book of contradictions written in a brutally honest way. It’s a tale of conflict and cooperation. Catholicism contrasts and merges and divides once again from Paganism as the children learn about religion; they question sin, especially heaven and hell, and ask deeply philosophical questions. Is healing curenderismo or brujerio? Which people are “good” and which fit the church’s definition of “good?” Respect for the Earth’s mysteries and medicines compete against the desire to lead a good Catholic life and gain God’s forgiveness. As people are pulled in different directions, release from sin is weighed and judged in the scales of love and hate, revenge and forgiveness, good and evil.

All of this is glimpsed through the rich culture of a time and a region that might no longer exist. This book takes place during the final years of World War II in New Mexico. But the people of the book know that the history of that land remains in their lineage; it is merged even as it is divided and transformed. Reading of the father’s adjustment from life as a cowboy to married life in town, I could not help but think of the vastness of that land before boundaries were devised and border crossings were built. The father mourns because he experienced the time when the prairie stretched into the desert, walled only by towering rocks, and rarely spotted by towns. Yet, within these pages, the more important separations were between people due to the origins and principles of their parents or grandparents. Did they come from the plains or the town? Were they friends or relatives? Catholic? God fearing?

During the period in the book, the decisions based on beliefs and the qualities inherited from their parents separate and link the individuals in new ways. Anaya’s words paint a picture of friendship, despair, longing, poverty, decency, and righteousness, and always love against the backdrop of a vibrant extended family. The ancestral blood brings urges, responsibilities, and choices. Altruism, kindness and humanity are found and lost as people struggle to rise in the wake of tragedy, anger, selfishness, and the consequences of their raw desires; actions judged as immoral or disreputable. What brings honor or dishonor?

As I wrote before: an intense book. Just as the seen and unseen exist together in our world, the natural and supernatural exist inside the book. It brims with mythology, shamanic dreams, and portents. It is full of life. The book shines a light on a living culture, at once shifting and unchangeable, and the individuals who live within it. They are full of mistakes, biases, strength, weaknesses, and humanity. The story is well worth the time to read and understand.

 

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The Washington Post and the Super Bowl

If the hype is to be believed, one of the historic sporting events happened this past weekend: Super Bowl 2019. However, something even more important happened; perhaps even bigger than the sixth win by a specific football team (the Patriots, if you are interested and escaped that). I am referring to the Washington Post’s advertisement — although it might not actually fit the definition of an “advertisement” since it included a lot of famous news stories.

Since a few people did not watch the game, I’ll include the link below. If you watched the game but visited the kitchen when it aired, you should watch it now.  Either way, you missed something important.

Although it is difficult to understand why people are upset, this commercial has created waves today. Let’s look at the two common complaints: cost of the ad and content.

I know, I know, the Post spent a lot of money for a short block of time during the Super Bowl, and a few argue that money could have been spent better elsewhere.  But really, where else could the newspaper connect with millions of potential new customers? And more importantly, through this ad, the Post took its message to more than 111 million people.  You read that right: 111 million. Where else can one commercial touch that many individuals?

What was that message, you ask? Simply that a free press helps us stay aware and free. However, there was much more than that simple message in the ad.

With Tom Hanks’ dulcet voice-over, it might be easy to miss the tributes to missing and killed journalists. Following flashes of a few of the biggest stories of recent times, which included  cameos by living correspondents reporting on floods and bombings, the ad included some difficult news: the face of a newsperson who is  missing — Austin Tice — and those of murdered journalists Marie Colvin and Jamal Khashoggi.

Tom Hanks’ voice tells us what should be obvious: they suffered and died to bring the truth to the world.

Certainly that alone should give us a reason to support journalism. That alone should earn journalists some respect.

We can easily show our support by subscribing to the publications that pay them to do this job.  Obviously the Washington Post hopes you will spend some money on them.  That’s what makes this an advertisement and not a documentary.

The commercial showed us clearly that journalism can certainly be a job just as dangerous as soldier, policeman or fireman.

Yet certain famous people, specifically, Donald Trump, Jr., described this advertisement as BS.  Remember Donald Trump, Jr? Currently he’s being investigated for working with the Russians to influence the US presidential election in 2016.

What is BS here? That a vastly wealthy man, one who has made some dreadful choices with the media (and he probably made another really bad choice with this latest), should call BS on people who are working hard to get us the truth, to obtain the real news. Why would this man call BS on a clip that recognizes those few individuals willing to go into a war zone with troops or hang onto a bridge to report on rushing flood waters? Apparently he hoped we would ignore this ad just as he wants us to ignore his (alleged) collusion with Russia to undermine the US vote. Perhaps he should have stepped away from commenting in this case.

Where is the BS here? Certainly there is no BS in the Super Bowl ad.

If anything, the Washington Post presents an understated view of the dangers involved in covering disasters, violence, totalitarianism, and warfare. The Post assumes we will view that ad and recognize the famous events that flash by: the Civil Rights marches, the moon landing,  the recent record-breaking horrific fires in California, and the equally horrifying war in Syria. What the commercial provides is a simple tribute to three people with only brief words displayed underneath their names. It also gives recognition to others who do the same work.

There’s no BS here.  There is only the sad truth that some journalists go where you and I would never want to travel. And they do it to report the news.

 

Here’s the link to the Washington Post ad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDjfg8YlKHc

It is well worth the watch.

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What Would You Say?

This blog is really a rant. You’ve been warned — especially those who might take it personally when it is not meant that way.

Yesterday I went to the grocery store. Going shopping is always a big energy drain for me. Sometimes I am lucky and a functional fully-charged cart is available. Even so, with the size of the stores, I drive up and down aisles, trying to fit into narrow spaces, avoid running over random individuals, as I dodge children who want to push the button located on the milk aisle that makes the fake cow moo, laugh, return to their parents, and then run back to do it again. The items I want always seem to be stocked on the top shelves, necessitating getting in and out of the electric vehicle. I try to be a good citizen: smiling at those who greet me and answering politely, using my manners when I drive around someone, and waiting patiently when I cannot get past. This trip began no differently.

Finally after dodging, stopping and starting, and adding two miles to the cart, I had everything on the list. Forward to waiting in line as we inched towards the check-out counter. Eventually, the purchases of the older man in front of me had moved down the conveyor belt, and room materialized for my items. (I can call him “older” since he seemed to be around my age.) Unfortunately, I could not reach the divider due to where he was standing.

I said, “Excuse me.”

The older white man did not react.  I said a bit louder: “Excuse me.”

He continued ignoring me. Perhaps he is hard of hearing, I thought. So I said even louder, “Excuse me.”

Finally, he turned.

“I didn’t want to bump you” — he interrupted me.

He said, “I don’t want to bump her,” gesturing to the woman in front of him.

Me: “I understand; I was trying to say that I cannot reach the divider, and didn’t want to bump you trying to reach it. Could you help me?”

He harrumphed and turned his back on me.

No, really, the sound he made can only be described as harrumphing.

The cashier, being an aware person who had probably seen similar interactions many times, pushed the row of dividers to where I could reach one.

“Never mind,” I said to OWM’s back, “she helped me.” Of course, he did not acknowledge my words. Looking at the cashier, I thanked her.

Forward again a few minutes: it’s my turn at the register. During the check-out, I asked the cashier if I could get help out to the car. Just then, a young man came over and said, “Let me help you with that,” and began bagging groceries and putting them into my cart. I thanked him.

As he continued bagging, the cashier asked him if he would help me take the groceries out to my car. He said “yes” and then promptly walked away and began bagging groceries in the next lane. To give the full story, he had finished bagging my groceries. However, I was a bit flabbergasted that he said he would help and then walked away, not to get a coat, but to start another task.

With surprise on her face, the cashier in my line stopped to watch  him. I turned to do that too. After a bit, I asked him, “Are you still going to help me with my groceries?”

He said, “Yes.” Then he stopped bagging and stood there looking at me. Everything stopped in both lines as both cashiers observed him. He and I stared at each other for a minute in silence.

Just to be clear, this was a young white man, well-dressed, and undoubtedly a college student (since most of the employees are) who appeared to have normal verbal and cognitive skills. Remember he had spoken politely and clearly earlier when he first came over.

Him: “Oh, did you mean now?”

Of course, being a well-behaved older person — all right, all right, I’m not always well-behaved, but I try to reach that standard in public — I responded, “Yes, please.”

Although I am sure my teeth were gritted, I was pleased with myself that I managed such a polite answer.

Him: “Oh, I guess I can help you.” With that, he left the remainder of the neighboring line’s groceries on the counter and began slowly walking towards the door.

Quickly realizing I’d better follow, my cart piled high with groceries, I headed out to the car as he wandered towards the door. When I arrived at the car, I opened the trunk, and he lifted the trunk lid higher. I used my cane to get out of the cart and put the bread in the front seat so it wouldn’t get smashed in the trunk. After doing that, I turned around to see how things were going. I noticed the cart was full of bags of groceries, and he was simply standing there once again staring at me.

Me: “Is there a problem?”

He pointed to the trunk. He didn’t say a word.

I walked back to see what he was pointing at and saw that there was a sleeping bag in the trunk.

Now, the trunk of my car is big enough that mobsters could easily stack four or five of the proverbial bodies in there comfortably. So the sleeping bag was surrounded by half an acre of empty space.

I looked at him and said, “It’s a sleeping bag; it’s fine, go ahead, the groceries won’t hurt it.”

Silently, he began loading the bags into the trunk. I won’t bore you with the rest.

Perhaps you see a pattern here.

Apparently there is a contingent of our society that thinks it is fine to grunt or gesture instead of using words to communicate. Perhaps they believe it is better to turn away and ignore a stranger in the hopes that they won’t be required to continue the interaction?

Evidently some of those same uncommunicative people think it is fine to say they will do something and then walk away. Could it be when faced with a task that they don’t want to do, they become nonverbal? Am I expected to tell them “never mind” because they do that?

What happened to talking as a way to solve problems? Is communication supposed to be considered unnecessary? Does no one remember that polite comments help in social settings?

Fair warning, world, I’ll just keep on expecting a two-way conversation from all verbal adults. For now, I’m going to drink some tea (possibly with a little medicinal addition). Maybe one of you dear readers will come up with a better solution to this problem.

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Yes, We Need Feminism

After watching the latest Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, berate and aggressively question female Senators, I was appalled that no male Senator rebuked him about his reactions, his sneering demeanor or the condescending tone of his comments. That is why we still need feminism.

As powerful rich white men degraded the testimony of a woman who came forward to offer information about her accusation of that same nominee, my friends (male and female and trans) were griped by rage or grief or both. That is why we still need feminism.

When people in positions of authority continue to cover up sexual assault of girls and boys that is why we still need feminism.

When stories of rape and sexual harassment by the men in power come from areas as different as the Catholic priesthood and college football — abuse that went on for years and was ignored — that is why we need feminism.

Now we have two men who were accused of improper sexual acts, men who never saw a courtroom as a defendant, sit on the highest court in our country. That is why we need feminism. Not because they are guilty — only a court can decide that under our laws — but because rich white men decided those charges could be ignored. That is why we need feminism.

Girls and young women are trained that their fathers and husbands own their bodies, while church leaders accept and condone such attitudes. That is why we need feminism.

When a young person is raped, regardless of gender, they hide because they have seen how others who report the criminal acts have been treated. They have seen schoolmates laugh at and hassle the reporter, call both boys and girls ugly names — and then there is the way that police and courts treat those victims. That is why we need feminism.

When other young women and men hear these stories, they become scared, and rightly so, because they question if they are allowed to possess and control their own bodies. That is why we need feminism.

When “presumed innocent” means a different set of rules for the rich white man than it does for the man of color or the poor person, that is why we need feminism.

Time for a very tiny bit of history.

In the United States, all birth control methods were illegal even for married people until 1938. This included condoms. Thanks to a nurse named Margaret Sanger, the ban against contraception (at that time, condoms and diaphragms) was lifted. Yet, many current politicians want to close all Planned Parenthood locations, thus preventing them from giving away condoms and stopping their doctors from fitting diaphragms. This type of medical care is not about abortion. Right to choice is about more than abortion. That is why we need feminism.

Even after birth control pills were approved by USFDA, they were illegal to purchase in many parts of US. In 1965 in Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court ruled that birth control pills were legal for married women. You read that correctly: married women were not legally allowed to purchase and use birth control pills until 1965. It was not until 1972, when the ruling in Baird v. Eisenstadt legalized birth control for everyone, that finally, unmarried people were permitted to purchase and use birth control.

Not even fifty years later, politicians have succeeded in removing birth control pill coverage from insurance policies — and they have accomplished the removal of low cost and free clinics from many regions of the country. We are not talking abortion here; we are talking contraception methods legally prescribed by a doctor. That is why we still need feminism.

Sadly, it is still legal for a husband to rape his wife in certain states in the United States. Therefore, drugging and raping a wife (what Bill Cosby was found guilty of) or more violent actions might not be considered a crime between married partners. There are different laws for criminal behavior between married partners in Oklahoma, Ohio, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada, Rhode Island, Virginia, Minnesota, Connecticut, and Michigan. That is why we still need feminism.

And now, a comparison.

In Sweden, new parents (both mothers and fathers) are given eight months paid leave, and they can (and often do) take the leave at different times. In USA, the majority of parents get no paid leave. That is why we need feminism.

In fact, mothers are harassed for taking too much time off work, and quite a few lose their jobs due to giving birth and raising their children. That is why we need feminism

Unless they work for Facebook, new fathers who want time off for a baby are told that women can take time off — with their supervisor’s comment, “why would you want to take time off?! So get back to work.” That is why we need feminism.

Men are still told to “man up” whatever the hell that means. That is why we still need feminism.

I could continue to list many more sad or horrible issues of daily life. I could, but I won’t. All of them are real on-going problems. And that is why we still need feminism.

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Puerto Rico One Year Later

I tried to read the Time Magazine article focused on the lessons learned from hurricane Maria; it was a beautifully-written and heart-wrenching piece about Puerto Rico one year later.[1] As I read the true horror stories, tears began to well up in my eyes: a man’s mother dying from a heart attack, another person keeping her insulin in a nearby stream to keep it cold because there was no electricity, the anguish of so many lives.

There is only so much human destruction a person can read — only so much devastation followed by the lies told by unconscionable powerful people — before the emotions pile up just like the wreckage caused by the storm.

Shock. Sympathy. Frustration. Empathy.

The pain of feeling what if: what if it were my mother, my son, my medicine.

The reality is that Puerto Rico is still fighting to return to normal.

Once again, I am confronting lies told by POTUS or his representatives. One week ago, Trump again stated that the claim of 2,975 deaths was a lie made up by Democrats.[2] However, that figure was the official number as reported by the same government he purportedly heads. And that number did not include individuals that the officials thought would have died anyway. Therefore, the number of deaths was even higher!

One Puerto Rican funeral home reported performing three funerals a day for three weeks. That adds up to 63 from one mortuary.  More people died due to this hurricane than any other in recent years.

“The final number, calculated by experts at George Washington University, was 1,000 beyond the upper estimates for Hurricane Katrina and almost exactly the toll from the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.” [3]

Please read that again: the same number of people died directly due to hurricane Maria as died in the 9/11 attack.

As I sat reading the personal stories of Maria, anger rose up and smashed into the grief.  How can an arrogant powerful man ignore the pain and suffering of US citizens? Puerto Rico is part of the United States and so it is part of the country that the president swore to serve.  How can he turn a disaster of these proportions into a personal vendetta against a political party?  Nearly 3,000 people died!

And those who lived had to survive not only the storm but its consequences. No hospitals. No roads. No water. No electricity. No outside assistance.

“Of 13,000 “cyclone events” since 1950, the Climate Impact Lab says, only five were more intense than Maria.” [4]

As previously mentioned, hurricane Maria directly killed more than hurricane Katrina (2005); with Maria’s direct toll at almost 3,000 Puerto Ricans as compared to Katrina’s official fatality rate of 1,833. By comparison, hurricane Sandy (2012) caused 233 deaths in nine different countries. And the recent hurricane Florence (2018) caused 48 direct and indirect deaths in four states.

When contact and electricity was re-established, they had to deal with the lies.  The same number of people died from hurricane Maria as 9/11, but Trump claimed 18 deaths. Yet, the people knew many more had died in their own communities. News reports claiming FEMA’s aid was delivered when it was not. Officials talked about damage in the mainland as if those areas had suffered as much as Puerto Rico.

They had enormous complications arising from lack of electricity, impassable roads, difficulties with sanitation, and no municipal water for months and months. What would have happened if Houston had been without electricity for seven months? If Washington DC had no water for months? Would Trump say that it wasn’t a “real catastrophe?” Would FEMA delay releasing funds to Kansas or Florida?

Puerto Rico is part of the United States. The people are US citizens.  After all of those  months of struggle, did they feel ignored by the United States?

I wouldn’t blame them if they did. They still have to live with the losses.

And the memories.

 

——–

[1]  “After Maria: Lessons from the 3,000 Deaths in Puerto Rico” by Karl Vick (Sept. 20, 2018) Time Magazine online at: http://time.com/longform/hurricane-maria-lessons/ (retrieved 9/29/2018).

[2] “Fact Check of the Day: Trump’s False Claims Rejecting Puerto Rico’s Death Toll From Hurricane Maria” Linda Qiu (Sept. 13, 2018) New York Times online at: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/13/us/politics/trump-fact-check-hurricane.html (retrieved 9/29/2018).

[3]  “After Maria: Lessons from the 3,000 Deaths in Puerto Rico” by Karl Vick (Sept. 20, 2018) Time Magazine online at: http://time.com/longform/hurricane-maria-lessons/ (retrieved 9/29/2018).

[4]  “After Maria: Lessons from the 3,000 Deaths in Puerto Rico” by Karl Vick (Sept. 20, 2018) Time Magazine online at: http://time.com/longform/hurricane-maria-lessons/ (retrieved 9/29/2018).

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Musings on the News

Hello out there.  I haven’t written much lately, and I will admit it is because the news has been overwhelming.

You have probably noticed that countless people are upset. And rightly so. One reaction is that the public seems to be more interested in the news.

What you may not have noticed is that much of the news that is being reported is actually opinion. Sometimes a news anchor offers a news report that includes what happened and the story behind the news. That is excellent reporting. Sometimes, the reporter adds personal opinion at the end of the story. That is also acceptable reporting. However, much of the time, an opinion is offered with an assumption that the listener should accept it as valid (that is, truth) without any corroboration. As someone who regularly offers opinions in writing (and verbally), I have no problems with people giving an opinion as long as they can offer something to back up that viewpoint.

It has become immensely difficult to separate so-called fake news from real news. Why? Because newscasts rarely offer listeners evidence.

Again, opinion is fine if it is titled that way. But opinion is not news.

Let’s be clear on this: opinion is opinion. Opinion is a judgment. It can be based on the facts. In which case, it is important. It can be based on research; again that makes it more valid. However, it is not enough to say, for example, I am a [insert political party here] and that person is a member of the same party, and so that person is a good person.

Nope, that does not really work. That is like saying all men are mean. Or, every plant on earth can be eaten. Neither of those is a true statement.

I know it is difficult to do your own research on news reports. After all, that is why we watch or read the newscasts. Nowadays when very few media sources are without bias, realize that many newscasts use specific phrases in an attempt to trigger your emotions — which makes it difficult to think clearly.

There are a few things you can do.

  1. Learn about logical fallacies and use what you learn to analyze news reporting.
  2. Pay attention to whether or not the news show is listed as opinion, reporting, or entertainment. Yes, most news shows on TV are truly part of the entertainment division of the network.
  3. Most importantly, look for the facts in the article, video, or report. Do they offer evidence?
  4. Assumptions lead to errors. It is easy to accept the opinion given in the report, especially when it involves religion, patriotism or politics. Try to be objective long enough to find the truth in the situation.

Until next time, don’t believe a lie just because it is repeated.

 

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Announcing “The Heart of the Elder”

Hello dear readers,

I have been away from here fThe Heart of the Elder book coveror a few months, but there is an exciting reason. I am thrilled to announce The Heart of the Elder: Good Elders and Their Influences, written with the nationally-known and wonderful teacher, Joy Marie Wedmedyk.

Beginning with our personal experiences, we communicated with many people in the Pagan and Neopagan communities, and interviewed a number of Elders. The Heart of the Elder pinpoints:

  • How to identify, meet, and work with Elders
  • Distinguishing the characteristics of great Elders
  • Originating and maintaining meaningful relationships
  • Navigating unique teaching styles
  • Amazing stories of life-changing events
  • Honoring them and saying goodbye through Ceremonies

It is available in Europe at Immanion Press website as well as other online book sellers.

Buy through Immanion Press website

Buy through Amazon.com

Buy through Barnes and Noble

Thank you for your interest in my writing!
Lillith ThreeFeathers

 

 

 

 

 

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Don’t Say “I’m Okay”

Habits can hurt you: don’t just say “I’m okay.”

The other day, I walked out of my kitchen to find my next-door neighbor wandering around my house in her nightgown and bathrobe, carrying a towel. She had no idea where she was and did not know how to find her way back to where she belonged.  Throughout the entire episode, she said, “I’m okay.” I’d ask her what was wrong, and she would reply, “I’m okay I’m okay.” I asked if she knew where she was, and she would say, “I’m okay.”  Yet, it was obvious that she was not.  As she paced around my house, it was also clear that she was not going to sit down, and she was not going to calm down until she was back in her own familiar surroundings. After a bit, I managed to get her attention and asked if she wanted to go home.  Although she continued stating, “I’m okay I’m okay,” she looked at me and offered a hint of a nod. I said, “Let’s get you back home.” When she charged outside, I got her safely into her own house and contacted her husband.

I’ll skip over any discussion of her health and get to my point. Even though she was not well, she continued to repeat over and over that she was okay.  The words seemed to be a mantra.

What is the moral of this story? Don’t get in the habit of saying you are okay when you are sick.  If you have the flu and people ask how you are feeling, tell them that you have the flu or say you don’t feel at your best. If you are getting better, that is a good comment. It’s fine to say, “I’m not doing too well right now, but I should be better in a couple of days.” But do not make a habit of saying you are okay.  Someday EMT or ER personnel may ask you how you are, and they might just accept that you are okay. To you, it is obvious that are not fine since you are sitting in the emergency room. However, even in the emergency room, saying you are okay changes the way people will respond to you.

In our society, countless people ask daily, “How are you,” and just as mechanically others respond, “I’m okay.”   However, that persistent reply might get you in trouble someday. It certainly did not help my neighbor.

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