Its Her Time

The wave was presaged for me in my college years. Meeting with friends, I had to ask what this t-shirt slogan meant:

A woman needs a man, like a fish needs a bicycle.

Growing up, I noticed at church gatherings that while all the men stood up to strut, the women went around quietly in the background and actually got things done. This was what they were allowed. Then in the seventies something snapped. That t-shirt was preceded by bra burnings.

The era of gender turmoil could be abusive. My college dormie warned me that if I didn’t hold the door open for his mother, she would call me rude, and if I did she’d call me condescending.

In Genesis, it is said that a man will go live with his woman because they “become one flesh.” When I came into my spirituality in my 40s, I began to realize how much of what goes on in the business world has to do with the woman at home. They build their men up in spiritual armor and send him out in the world to rape and pillage. They don’t see it that way – they see it as protecting their man. But when their man needs protection because he rapes and pillages, that distinction is moot.

Among the counsel that I received when I was going through my divorce, two things stood out. The first was to be warned that ethically I was way outside of the norm, and the court system would have no clue how to respond to me. The second was that I had married somebody from a culture that was far less sophisticated than ours, and that I should be more selective in the future.

Unfortunately, that was followed by a dream in which an elder showed up to announce that I was a “nation of one.”

Understanding that the cabal of homemakers wants a peer to negotiate with, I’ve spent most of the last twenty years studying feminine virtue, trying to figure out how to call it out of hiding. In his song “Winterwood,” Don McLean gave voice to my inspiration:

No time can pass your sight unseen,
No moment steals away unfound.
A lifetime lived in such a dream,
Floats like a feather to the ground.

A woman has the power to guide her man around conflict, not push him into it.

And of course the feminist would complain that women have their own gifts to express. That’s true, and I become frustrated when the dynamic among people is dominated by sex. Talent doesn’t reveal itself in those circumstances.

If this has been confusing, well, that’s how gender politics has been in America for the last forty years. Everybody has to figure out their own path.

I have been as frustrated as anyone else. A friend at work yesterday counseled me to look at Japanese or French women – ladies that “grant their men their space.” I affirmed that capacity, but observed that it was an outgrowth of their need to submit to male-dominated societies. When I was in my teens, my  mother told me that I should find a Geisha to marry. There is an attraction there.

The other path is the Muslim or Orthodox path, where women veil themselves and lead a separate existence. I’ve seen amazing beauty in such woman, but they are often brittle.

The American experiment is chaotic and often ugly, but it’s worth supporting. If I’m ever going to be in a relationship again, it will be with a woman that has chosen to exit the game, allowed men to celebrate her without possessing her, and come back looking to figure out how to join her virtues to a man’s.

The Answer is Right in Front of You

In my last post, I took a long view of the process through which we as a nation have struggled against the forces of Mammon – the tendency to reduce all human relations to currency.

There are two positive paths forward from the crisis we are now in. The first is to trust in historical trends and human steadfastness. The second is to mature in our relationship with God.

History is on the Side of Justice

Hope is found in this simple historical fact: this pattern of oppression has been experienced again and again through human history. When wealth and production become decoupled (as we see with outsourcing from America since 1970), financiers eventually control politics because debtors must continue to pay interest on their obligations in order to maintain access to additional financing.

This is a fun game for the financiers until tangible goods begin to decay. This was first evident in the Rust Belt, but is now visible in America’s degraded infrastructure. Initially the cost of living rises as the population attempts to preserve its lifestyle, but in Detroit and Flint we see the end point: a dramatic decrease in the standard of living that drives down the value of property.

When there isn’t anything worth buying any more, what’s the value of money?

Ultimately this leads to the collapse of currency and the dissolution of nation states (such as during the American Revolution, driven primarily by taxation issues, and in current events as California and New York actively rebel against federal myopia on climate change, trade, human rights and taxation). In that liquidation, regulations are established to prevent recurrence.

Those regulations must cover the reach of the financial system, and so we see that government always expands in the aftermath of collapse. This happened not long after the Revolution of 1776 when the original Confederation of States was reorganized as a Federal system under the US Constitution. It occurred again after the Great Depression, when the bureaucracy was expanded to regulate interstate corporations. After World War II, the shell of global financial regulatory systems was set up in the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the European Union.

We should be encourage now that we are faced with the final stage of harmonization of financial regulation. Commerce is now global, and English is established as the language of business. All we have to do is organize the political will to establish that framework.

And, despite resistance, the financiers have always been unable to prevent that step – largely because they eventually discover that there’s nothing left to cheat out of the impoverished masses, and turn on each other. The financial game is no longer worth playing, and those that want to make money return to the problem of trying to create value.

Maturation in God

When asked about the age that we are in now, Jesus made vague remarks about “wars, and rumors of wars,” foul weather and disease. When I first read that material, I thought “Well, when has this ever NOT been true.”

But there was a reason, for Jesus had already told them the answer. The age ends when we learn to love God and our neighbor.

When I make this point to people, I follow it up with the observation that “there’s a conspicuous omission there.” Most of them recognize that it’s “myself.”

Loving unconditionally, as God loves us, has the problem that the beloved can abuse our trust. We see this arising again and again in the Old Testament. The Fall, the Flood, the silence in Egypt, the punishments for the Golden Calf, the rules regarding access to the Holy of Holies, and the Fall of Jerusalem are all motivated by the pain suffered by the Most High due to the infidelity of the Chosen People.

So love is metered out to us in the measure that we are trusted to use it. If we don’t respect God, we lose his love.

That shouldn’t surprise us.

In recasting faith as a process for regulating the flow of power from the Most High to our neighbors, Jesus was offering this wisdom: we are the instruments that God has placed on this earth to regulate the flow of power to others. God seeks to empower us, and when we empower others, their witness is a testament to our worthiness to receive power.

On the road to Jerusalem, the Apostles argued over the rights of each in the realm to come. Jesus rebuked them with the parable of the talents. Two beneficial paths are identified: if you have skills that will allow you to help others, God will give you power when you exercise them. If you do not have skills but invest your strength in support of those that do, God will give you power to facilitate that work.

But if you hide your power because you fear to lose it, you will be lost, because to enter the kingdom of heaven requires far more power than you can hold in your self. You can only enter in relationship with others that hold you in loving regard, preserving your spirit from the enormous forces that swirl around the Most High as he seeks to fulfill his compact with us.

How does this work against criminality in business? Because when we hold someone in our loving regard, we know when they are endangered. We can feel it even from a distance, and that knowledge forms a cyst around those that would do ill to us and others.

Of course, in that knowledge, we have two choices: we can choose to do unto the criminal as they did to us, or we can ignore them and focus on constructing functional relationships. When we get wrapped around the axle by management wrangling at work, this is what I tell my peers: “Forget them. We are here for each other, and every day that I am here I will do my best to help you succeed.”

This is what Jesus meant we he said “pick up your cross and carry it.” When we devote ourselves to that task, there is no weakness to exploit in the bonds of good will.

Conversely, we do create a culture that justifies financial fraud in that passive investments are merely an attempt to profit from the labor of others. If we are seeking to get more than we deserve, why shouldn’t our financial advisers do the same?

So this is the bottom line: stop worrying about yourself, and focus on caring for others. And as you do, remember this: there is a billion times as much energy leaving the sun than warms the earth. That’s enough energy for every eight people to have a planet of their own. There is nothing that we can’t do once we have earned the right to it, and nothing that we need fear from those that have.

Because we will rest secure in the knowledge that, as God, they exist only to love us.

Please, Fire Mueller

The breadth of the GOP conspiracy in the 2016 election was illustrated yesterday when, in response to a demand from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes that the FBI produce all documents related to the Steele dossier, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray scheduled a surprise visit with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

Nunes, a member of the Trump transition team, is obviously a conflicted choice for chair of a committee so essential to unraveling the Russian investment in Donald Trump. The free press has been steadily amassing evidence that Trump is a Manchurian candidate whose political ambitions were stimulated and financed by Russia, and whose fragility and incompetence alone make it inevitable that American will be humiliated by the two criminal super-powers, Russia and China.

My guess is that Rosenstein and Wray presented evidence that Nunes has been interfering actively in the Russian investigation, probably by funneling information through to the Trump Administration, thereby confronting Ryan with criminal complicity if he did not act to protect the investigation.

But the American public should be tired of this charade. In hearing after hearing, Republican lawmakers have strutted and huffed and humiliated the most dedicated members of American law enforcement. Those individuals have been unable to defend themselves against slurs and innuendo because it would compromise the active criminal investigation led by Mueller.

So I hope that part of what Rosenstein and Wray conveyed to Ryan is:

Go ahead, punk: make our day.

If the investigation is shut down, all these figures will quit, and in defense of our democracy will air publicly everything that they know, exposing GOP criminality to domestic and international condemnation.

The only question left in the balance is whether the Republican base is sufficiently indoctrinated that they will swallow whatever Fox News broadcasts regarding the “Deep State.” Fox News claims that in order to protect the federal civil service jobs targeted by budget cutters in Congress, the right-wing leadership of the FBI is manufacturing evidence that the GOP is a criminal enterprise. That claim is ludicrous on its face, but if the base remains firm, the GOP may indeed be able to hang on to power in the mid-term elections, largely because they have gerrymandered the electoral map to disenfranchise Democratic voters.

But given recent special election results, the odds are long against it.

A Republican friend at work, in the immediate aftermath of the Trump victory, mournfully predicted the death of his party.

I fear that the other alternative is destruction of our democracy as it is transformed according to the Iranian, Chinese and Russian model: pro-forma elections among candidates hand-picked by kleptocrats dedicated to ensuring that the federal bureaucracy no longer intervenes in their rape of the middle class.

Casting a Paul over the Republican Party

Obviously my continued focus on this issue reflects my sense that the GOP is no longer legitimately part of a nation that styles itself as “Under God.” They may continue to wrap themselves in the flag, but I’m going to do my best to beat them over the head with the cross.

Continuing the object lesson that “the end justifies the means” is a slippery slope to criminality, reports emerged yesterday that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan – and last-year’s chief strategist for Republican Congressional campaign efforts – made active use of information hacked by the Russians from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. These ties are under active investigation by the Mueller’s team, explaining  Ryan’s ongoing coordination of attempts by Trey Gowdy and Devin Nunes to undermine the House investigation of election interference, and recent smears against Mueller brought by the Republican Congressional delegation as a whole.

The singular piece of public evidence is a pre-election letter from Minority Leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi to Ryan warning that use of the hacked material was to facilitate  Russian attempts to undermine America’s democracy

At the state level, one RNC operative that accepted DNC and DCCC materials from Russia has stated that he didn’t care where the information came from so long as it served the campaign. Clearly, the RNC is not applying its resources to ensure that its operatives are knowledgeable of and comply with election law. Winning is the only thing that matters to them, and it appears that Ryan himself was actively involved in the rule-breaking.

That Russia hacked the RNC and failed to provide the information to Democrats is a clear indication of Putin’s affinity for the Republican Party. It is now left to Mueller and his team to discoverer whether that affinity reflects criminal affiliation – and the degree to which the hacked information may make the Republican Party vulnerable to blackmail. For parity, I would hope that Ryan and others in the Republican Party would publish the hacked RNC data. As it is not national security information, it seems inevitable that it will become publicly available through the Mueller investigation.

Holiday Correctness

We’ve had a lot of agonizing over the disappearance of Christmas. It’s not just that PC holds that you wish people “Happy Holidays” or that we spend more time shopping for gifts than we do honoring the reason for the season. It’s also the political manipulations.

Consider, for example, our President, who was supposed to delay signing the tax bill so that Medicare extensions would be funded in 2018, and instead stole a march on the signing so that he could reap millions of dollars in tax benefits. The next day he was the centerpiece of a call-in show for little children wishing to share holiday cheer with him. An editorial from a conservative media outlets extolled the virtues of a president who puts Christmas “front and center.”

That was the last straw for me. How can anyone use Jesus, who came to die for us, to legitimize a man that systematically sacrifices others for personal gain?

My Christmas plans were completely upended by a cold. I backed out of Church, and the family dinner organized by my brother. But after reading the news about Trump, I resolved to go up to Santa Barbara yesterday morning to wish my friends – at a safe distance – “Merry Christmas.”

They are a culturally astute community, and I received different reactions. Most went with the flow, responding “Merry Christmas” back to me, but I was harangued by one who listed all the other options, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah among them.

She probably found me obstinate, but this is how I feel about the matter:

When I say “Merry Christmas,” I am offering my joy to you from its authentic source. My heart opens and love flows out of it. If you celebrate Kwanzaa, well then, wish me a “Happy Kwanzaa.” You’ll find me wishing you “Happy Kwanzaa” back.

Retail America adopts “Happy Holidays” because it doesn’t care where your money comes from. But I can tell the difference when a Jewish child wishes me “Happy Hanukkah.” There’s a ringing in her soul. That’s what we should celebrate and honor – not uniformity but recognition of all the paths by which light and love enter our lives.

So, yes “Merry Christmas!” to you all! And if you drop me a comment to say “Merry Festivus,” well you’ll find it coming right back at you!

 

A Christmas Carroll

For those of you weary of my ranting like Lear, a recommended holiday treat: Lewis Carroll’s marvelous satire on blind ambition and subscribers to half-baked promises.

The Hunting of the Snark

Presented in its entirety here.

What can I say about a poem whose tragic victim is introduced with:

He would answer to “Hi!” or to any loud cry,
Such as “Fry me!” or “Fritter my wig!”
To “What-you-may-call-um!” or “What-was-his-name!”
But especially “Thing-um-a-jig!”

Oh, tonic of confusion, a blessing you are to my mind!

RNC Half-Lives

The GOP caucus in the Senate has indicated that it is unwilling to defend Special Counsel Mueller from attacks by the Trump Administration.

Why? Why stand up for the most unpopular president in the modern era?

Because the Russians didn’t just hack the DNC. They also hacked the RNC. And I’m certain that when those e-mails are released, we’ll discover that Priebus and Giuliani and the rest were engaged in selling out the American public to the global community of elite money-launderers. How do we know this? Because it isn’t an isolated incident. The Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision, authorizing unlimited campaign spending by corporations under the ruse that they were “persons” with protected free speech rights, was a narrowly partisan decision (Republican appointees over-riding Democratic appointees). And it covered for the fact that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had been funneling illegal foreign money (primarily Chinese) into GOP coffers for years.

I’m certain that Mueller, in possession of thousands of Trump Transition e-mails, is already pursuing those links. We’ll see probably not only collusion with Russia and other foreign interests, but also collusion with the GOP Congressional Caucus in criminal misuse of government funds for political purposes in the Benghazi and Clinton e-mail server investigations.

The Congressional delegation isn’t fighting for Trump. They’re fighting for their Party. They’re fighting for their jobs. Jobs financed by foreign corporations whose only interest in American politics is that they gain a profit from their investments.

Stranger bed-fellows we have never seen. There’s no point calling them “low-life.” Their life expectancy is too low.

Maybe, in fact, they’re already dead, in the sense that they’ve sold their souls for power.

Maybe this is what the Zombie Apocalypse actually looks like. Not the undead wandering around mumbling “Brains…brains…” but “Rubles…yuan…”