Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ex Post Facto?

I started out writing this post with the thought of peace and tranquility on my mind. Then listening to the radio I heard the fact that the Senate cleared the way for a vote on an insider-trading ban for the members and the staffs of congress.

“Cleared the way” I’ve got news for Congress and the rest of the takers in government. There is already a law against insider trading. Apparently there are some loopholes that congressional members and staff that had special knowledge because of legislation upon which they were working could circumvent the law and make a few insider bucks.

No wonder congress has an abysmal approval rating.

I keep wondering if we the electorate are lazy or ignorant? I think it’s both. We have, for far too long, let congress operate without the over-site of the people. The elected members of congress and much of their staff see themselves as special and in many cases above the laws and the rules and regulations that the rest of us must follow.

Each one of us, by ourselves, can do nothing but stand up for what is right and shout into the density of darkness, but collectively we are powerful and we can change the corruption of the system. It begins with changing our congressmen and women and letting all representatives know we expect them to serve for the greater good of us and not create a career for themselves.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Sound of Silence

I want to share with you some places that may not be of your choice or current experience. They are based solely on my interests and to me they are profound.

These are places of extreme quiet, where silence and nothing are one and you cannot tell them apart. Places where only nature speaks and her sound is deafening when no other audible intrusion is near.

One place is on a silent river. Where portions neither ripple nor descend through noisy cataracts, but carry liquid volumes in the stillness of deep flows and where it is far enough away from man’s concoctions that the only thing you think you hear are your own thoughts, but they aren’t.

If you’ve never been to such a place and find yourself in it, there will come wonderment, a revelation, a spiritual attunement, a surprise appreciation of the empathetic knowledge that only stillness engenders in a singular moment of time.

The first time I found such silence was on the Green River in Utah as I rafted in a quiet eddy pool and found myself in involuntary prayer with nature whose sacristy I entered and then sustained by the choice of benevolent thought.

The second time was at night alone at the edge of a lake in the Allagash wilderness of Maine. The stars have a noticeable brilliance when civilization is far away. They also have a sound that man rarely hears for we occupy a space of things and doing in the Cosmos of life.

I know that science has learned much from the music of the spheres in the vast cacophony of the heavens. I know that religions promote silence to reach the unreachable. I know that the frigid stillness of winter creates a cocoon where sound will not enter because of density.

What I didn’t know until I experienced it was the joy that silence gives the listener and that robust laughter needs no sound and God needs no dogma. The thoughts you think are yours, but aren’t, are God’s. He talks to all of us, as us, in the stillness of life.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Headlines and More

Here it is Friday again and already I am throwing my hands up in the air over some of the news headlines.

Governor Romney citing the fact that his Father was born in Mexico, but left there at the age of five. His parents were missionaries. The current Romney does not speak Spanish, but would love to parlay the distant connection to the Latino voters in Florida as votes.

A government report shows that federal workers owe 3.4 BILLION in back taxes. You must be kidding! We pay them with our tax dollars and they don’t pay their fair share of taxes.
The Associated Press reports in the Washington Post Newspaper:

“The data showed that 467 employees of the House of Representatives, or about 4.2 percent of the workforce, owed more than $8.5 million. In the Senate, 217 employees, or about 3 percent of the workforce, owed $2.13 million.

Obama’s staff was not immune, either, with 36 people in Obama’s executive office of nearly 1,800 workers — about 2 percent — owing the government $833,970 in back taxes.”

The IRS found that more than 279 thousand federal employees and retirees own 3.4 billion in back income taxes as of September 30, 2010.

Come on…..Congress you want something to do this year as you bicker and bilk. Do something about this.

I have to believe that this kind of thing has been going on for decades and continues to follow the old admonition, “do as I say, not as I do.”

When are we as participating and controlling citizens of this Republic going to stand up for what is right, what is fair, and what is necessary in order for our democracy to return to compromise, courtesy and common sense?


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Arizona Political Heat

It seems to me that politics no longer makes strange bedfellows, although it might in the caves of controversy within the Washington environment.

It now makes confrontation appropriate whenever you get the chance.

Take for example the meeting on the Phoenix Airport tarmac when Arizona governor Jan Brewer greeted or better yet, confronted President Obama with a letter and a lecture.

It may have turned into a testy greeting, there is no way to know except by reading the body language.

I don’t think this picture is a finger point that says, “Gee, you are doing a great job.”

Supposedly it’s an intense gesture that says have you read my book, “Scorpions for Breakfast?” In it, she criticizes Obama for opposing her law on immigration.

Here is what Christi Parson of the Los Angeles Times says in her report on the encounter.

A White House official offered this take on the encounter: "The governor handed the president a letter and said she was inviting him to meet with her. The president said he'd be glad to meet with her again, but did note that after their last meeting, a cordial discussion in the Oval Office, the governor inaccurately described the meeting in her book."

Thick skin is in now, more than ever before, required in the Washington arena of hopeful ideas. In Roman times they just threw the inimical to the lions. Today the political fangs drip with uncompromising memberships in both parties.

What it also points up to me is that the United States of America may be an amalgum of cultures under the aegis of a collective one, but it is also a partisan dichotomy of political beliefs that can only be resolved with courtesy, discussion, compromise and the political dominator of seeking only what is the greater  good for America.

We see it! Why can’t the guys and gals we choose to represent us?


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

State of the Union

As I write this post I'm listening to President Obama's State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress.

I listened to a number of good ideas from the President that any American would and should embrace with compromise, yet I see little or no reaction from the republicans in applause or facial acknowledgements.

It is another reason why I am angry and frustrated with contentious members of congress who care only for their party to win the next presidential election rather than solving our serious problems and building a new America.

I also acknowledge that Democrats in their myopic view of sustaining power also share responsiblity for the current situation we are in. What does that tell us?

We need to work together, not for the benefit of individual party platforms, but for the greater good of America.

I have listened to state of the union addresses from Presidents since JFK. Some of the issues have stayed the same. Jobs, housing, the economy, taxes, health care, and social security. I don't know if any of those issues will ever be resolved, I hope so, but congress needs to try; partisan passions, if they continue, will stop any compromise and that needs to STOP.

Having ranted and raved, my friends, I still personally choose to move from within my spirit and know that all is as it should be and we, collectively, create our world as it is and we are responsibility for its condition.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Winter Scene

Winter Falls
©2009 Rolland G. Smith

It looks like nature’s raven hair.
Illusion from a flowing falls
Creates a snowy cameo
Long ‘fore a warming spring enthralls.

A moment frozen – wintertime -
And held within a fleeting thought.
When framed by icy clifts and woods
The soul of winter's stream is caught.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Cold Outside, Warm Inside

Yesterday morning the temperature was six degrees. Later I had a fire going and felt safe after a cold winter’s night.

The warmth of a long ago sun spreadsinto my room as a log fire dissolves its way to ash giving back the heat and light of many seasons' growth. Fluid flames dance in a flickering grace of form and orange light.

Heat is the result. Light a soft byproduct. A few feet away was the cold. It is a stinging cold with only a window glass to hold it back. It’s double glass, a bulwark of silica that another temperature and time turned into a transparent glazing of clarity and protection.

I grew up in old houses with single panes of flawed glass. Frost would decorate the panes into a translucent crystal of art, but not now. Modern houses are too tight for nature’s cryogenic beauty to seep in and paint the panes with a cameo of cold. Too bad! How many kids today will miss the vision of feathered frost on the inside of a windowpane where they can scratch their own design into the thin sheet of ice crystals.

Just beyond my outer pane is an astringent cold that if you stepped outside without protection it would burn with negative degrees, blister the skin, force he eyes to tears and tighten the inner nose when breath is necessary.

It’s an arctic tight. Not a tight of clothes and layers, but a tightness of breath.  But I’m inside and warm and I feel safe. Proximity to potential danger seems to do that.

Other dangers will evoke a similar feeling. High winds, flooding, blizzards, and even summer heat can harm, but if we feel safe, protected while near the danger, then the rest of the feeling and fear basks in the comfort of illusion for safety is only as good as the protection that holds back the danger.

The glass in the window keeps me feeling safe and sustains my sense of comfort. The cold on the other side sets a tension for possible attack, but cannot penetrate the timid barrier of wood and glass. It is the knowing fierceness of potential danger that keeps me in the fort of comfort.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Some things don't make any sense to me.

Why can Congress vote billions of dollars to go to war where they know our young citizens die, but will only agrees to half the money to repair the Washington Monument where our young citizens are inspired?

Why is it that news organizations will interview the ex-wives or wife of a presidential hopeful whose initial separation was probably acrimonious. What did they expect an endorsement? Why has she been silent for so long?

Why do all candidates distort the facts to fit their positions? Whatever happened to truth?

If you feel like it add some other whys in the comment section of this blog.

Have a nice weekend everyone.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Akio's Post about my note re: Fukushima.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Thoughts From The Cold

It’s January and it’s cold where I live. It should be cold, it’s January, but we have had some warmish days since winter began and I am thankful for it.

I wonder what that means, if anything. I don’t think the planet climatology is changing beyond a normal cycle, but then again I’ve watched the weather statistics for a number of years and it does seem that things are different. I do acknowledge that we as a polluting species need to curb our trash.

Could it be global warming? A cyclical pattern we amateurs don’t understand? A adulteration in climate? It doesn’t matter, the cold is part and parcel of the season no matter what its cause and if we don’t like it, we can move.

That said, life goes on and on and on. A very simplistic observation, but one that embraces the truth of living and a truth we oft forget because we are a controlling species and life is not something we can even remotely control. We can only control how we think or feel about the episodes of life, but true control is left to the spiritual and physical consequence of our actions.

Life goes on in the minutia of things. It is the way it should be.

People say things, we react. We say things, people react. Unfortunately when we react either as a person, a people, a community or a country our reaction engenders the other’s reaction and conflicts and cultural separations often result that are adversarial in nature.

There is only one way out of this dilemma. Gandhi said it decades ago. A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes."

We need to change our minds to change our lives.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Need We Say More!

We need to  do two things between now and next November. We need to find new candidates for the jobs of those in Congress that we are going to vote out of office. And we need to vote out of office any incumbant who is currently in Congress because individually and collectively they have failed to do their job.

Here's a new poll from the Washington Post Newspaper and ABC News. It's not much different from the poll last fall. 

To wit:

"A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that a record 84 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing, with almost two-thirds saying they “disapprove strongly.” Just 13 percent of Americans approve of how things are going after the 112th Congress’s first year of action, solidifying an unprecedented level of public disgust that has both sides worried about their positions less than 10 months before voters decide their fates."

I can help all Congressman and women who are up for relection to
decide their November fates.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Martin Luther King

I've posted this poem before and I will again on the occasion of celebrating MLK's birthday.

I had a dream the other night
   and Martin Luther King was there.
He spoke in tones befit the wise
   and asked me if I’d share,
the news of how his dream came out,
   since he had been away.

I told him times had changed somewhat,
   but the dream was still a dream
and somewhere in these many years
   was progress, or so it seemed.
Tell me, he said, what has happened,
   since he had been away.

We’ve legislated out the hate,
   I said, but laws can’t touch the mind,
if bias reeks within the heart
   there cannot be a human - kind.
It’s still not true, he said,
   for he had been away.

And then he said, where he is now,
   there is no ONE color bright,
not black or white, yellow or brown.
   There is only a loving light.
It’s the truth I lived, and live,
   he said, as he went away.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Peeing on the Dead

I did not see the video, nor do I want to see it. It is a You Tube posting that reportedly shows four U.S. Marines urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters.

The Marine Corps is investigating and has said this action is not consistent with Marine Corp values.

First of all I understand the dispassion some combatants can feel against an enemy they have killed. These Marines may have seen their buddies blown apart by IED’s or in a combative firefight and they were in no mood to pay respects or acknowledge it to the enemy dead.

Granted Peeing on a corpse is ignorance at it’s best, but then again intellectual diplomacy is not part of the Marine Corp training nor should it be. Each Marine is trained to be a killing unit, not a diplomat over the enemy dead.

The Taliban are more egregious in their treatment of prisoners or of enemy dead. Cutting off the head of an enemy is not a civilized action in today’s world, if it ever was in any time or ethic.

War is hell as the saying goes. War is filled with atrocities, indignities and insults on both sides. It is what war is. You have two choices. Get over it or don’t go to war.

What is not appropriate on either side is to second guess the actions of those who were there, by those who were not there or by those who have never been in battle who cannot know the power of fearful and then euphoric survival nor of survivals lingering pain of loss when comrades in arms no longer live.

The idiocy of war is that you can kill the enemy with impunity, but then you must respect their remains. 

Who thought that one up?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Warren Buffett calls a bluff

I have praised and touted Warren Buffett a number of times in this blog. The latest issue of Time Magazine has an extensive article on Buffett and why he is bullish on America.

I recommend you read it.

Here’s an excerpt from the Time website.

Warren Buffett is ready to call Republicans’ tax bluff. Last fall, Senator Mitch McConnell said that if Buffett was feeling “guilty” about paying too little in taxes, he should “send in a check.” The jab was in response to Buffett’s August 2011 New York Times op-ed, which made hay of the fact that our tax system is so unbalanced that Buffett (worth about $45 billion) pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. Senator John Thune promptly introduced the “Buffett Rule Act,” an option on tax forms that would allow the rich to donate more in taxes to help pay down the national debt. It was, as Buffett told me for this week’s TIME cover story, “A tax policy only a Republican could come up with.”

Still, he’s willing to take them up on it. “It restores my faith in human nature to think that there are people who have been around Washington all this time and are not yet so cynical as to think that [the deficit] can’t be solved by voluntary contributions,” he says with a chuckle. So, Buffett has pledged to match one for one all such voluntary contributions made by Republican members of Congress. “And, I’ll even go three for one for McConnell.” That could be quite a bill if McConnell takes the challenge; after all, the Senator is worth at least $10 million. As Buffett put it to me: “I’m not worried.”

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

NYC Subways

I spent a lot of time in the subway of New York City yesterday. I had to get to several places that were far apart. Uptown, downtown, and cross-town, it’s doable, but it takes some time and planning if you don’t do this kind of thing every day and I don’t.

Observations from the New York Subway.

Most people sit silently, staring into the abyss of three feet across the subway car. They don’t look out the windows for their stops; they feel the stops by internal numbers.

Many listen to their portable electronics and are mesmerized by their music so the staring has no significance of deep thought and no distance of focus.

Some people are seemingly crazy or at least act that way. They talk to themselves and shout at nothing. Others read a book, sleep or dose, write in a journal or eat some fast food morsel to assuage a hunger. I’ve seen everything from apples to sushi to beef stew consumed on a short subway run along with beagles, candy bars, hamburgers and covered containers of booze.

Occasionally musicians pop in and out of a subway car, sing a few bars and hold a hat out for a few coins. Tourists always reach into their pockets or purse and put something in the hat. We need tourists. It helps the troubadour economy.

The immune New Yorkers ignore the entertainment. It’s a shame, for sometimes these musicians are pretty good and deserve a shekel of two.

Today, a little girl probably around four years old, stood next to me and held on to a carriage her Father was pushing. Her other hand hung onto the chrome post on the train car. This little one had a smile that dissolved dilemma and melted angst. She held on loosely and seemingly, at her young age, knew how to balance the motion of the train to her tiny body. She never lost her footing and faltered.

I was ready just in case she did. She was comfortable and so was I because of her presence.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tit for Tat and Die

A story in the news tells about the arrest of Sami Osmakac, a 25 year old from the former Yugoslavia. He’s been charged with an alleged bomb plot to attack crowded locations in the Tampa, Florida area.

Every time I try to embrace a moderate view of the world and believe we can all get along something like this happens somewhere and I have to force myself to think in unconditional terms so I don’t sink into the abyss of mistrust.

I had a similar problem in understanding a decade or more ago, in another religious conflict, when Irish Catholics were bombing Irish Protestants and vice-versa.

I have the same issue with Israelis killing Palestinians and Palestinians killing Israelis.

And how about the Muslim Shiites killing and bombing Sunni sect of the same religion and vice versa.

The sadness and the idiocy of it all is that once it starts it becomes a tit for tat, an eye for an eye, a hate for a hate. Parents perpetuate it by teaching their children to hate others who believe differently because the other did something horrible. It goes back and forth and innocents die.

Just how ignorant are we as a human race? I don’t mean it to be a rhetorical question, but it is.

Radical believers think that killing solves the problem. Rational believers know that it does not.

We all know there is only one God and there are many prophets whose interpretative dogma of the one God becomes sacred to those who choose to follow that discipline.

Zealotry in any configuration is the sin against the sacredness of life and a denial of the God that is part of each of us. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Religious Power

What is different in the world today, and reminiscent to the times centuries ago, is that in some religions and belief systems, priests, rabbis, clerics, shamans, gurus and imams are now seeking the power that used to be reserved for chiefs, premiers, presidents, kings, queens, tyrants, dictators and despots.

In many ways religious leaders are seeking a return to a time when the spiritual hierarchy yielded great power. 

The religious leaders of Iran, Iraq, Al Qaeda, fundamentalists in Egypt, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Ethiopia are grabbing and holding power to say nothing of the quiet usurpations by spiritual keepers of fringe Christianity in Rome, Constantinople, England and the strict evangelicals of the world.

Centuries ago one or more of the other of these has maintained control of the population or at least dominant influence over the populace through fear of eternal damnation and or the terror of force through the exercise of power.

We, in this United States amalgam of tolerant beliefs, must be very careful that we do not relinquish our powerful and secular  constitutional franchise to the vocal intolerants of religious fervor.

It has happened in the Middle East with militant and controlling clergy with blind followers and it could happen in America if the silent and the tolerant majority are not vigilant and participatory in the electoral process.

Being conservative or evangelical is fine, so is being liberal or religious in structure, but if any fringe element succeeds through the ballot box with the result that all must believe and behave their way we could have a serious problem. It may lead our global, yet distinctly American democratic society into a national crusade of contensious idiocy.

Friday, January 6, 2012


There is something very wrong with our governmental systems if the headlines continue like I’ve been reading recently. Actually there is something wrong with our system whether or not I look at any headlines.
Anyway here are the headlines in question.

“Prosecutors say LA arson suspect raged at Americans.”

Where is the individual morality with which we are all born that dictates a balance between choice and responsibility? This young man was angry at the judicial system that might deport his Mother because she didn’t pay a bill for breast enhancement in Germany.

In his rage he causes millions of dollars in damages against innocent souls. He’s a German citizen. Why waste our tax dollars on him. Deport him to Germany along with his mother.

 “Obama Picks Nominee Fight”.

President Obama had to appoint an agency head when Congress was in recession because Congress won’t act on his appointments when they are in session. This is not the country or government that I remember when I was a kid. What a way to run a country. I still go back to the Buffett suggestion. (See the December 29th post.)

“Bachman Quits, But Perry Stay in”.

Jeeese! She should have quit a long time ago and so should have Perry. Why is it the male species takes longer to assuage their individual egos and come to reason than it does for the female? I think I know the answer, but please don’t remind me.

I think we ought to give everyone a child timeout to think about their choices and actions and embrace the appropriate shame. We are all tired of the bickering, the contention, the partisan hatred and the untruths of campaign rhetoric.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


I have followed global visionary Akio Matsumura's posts on the Fukushima nuclear tsunami disaster. They are informative and contagious in their importance. Radiation contamination is not only a local, regional and a national tragedy for Japan it also has an exponential global effect.

I am disappointed that the global media has not latched onto this tragedy and problem in ways that would pressure governments, businesses and scientists to work under the aegis of truth in order to find innovative solutions to bring Fukushima under control.

Blame and false assurances are not important and are destructive at this stage.

Complete cooperation in the sharing of knowledge is the only way Fukushima can be safely neutralized thereby preventing further tragedy to the people of Japan and subsequently to the world.

I urge every journalist everywhere to look at the facts and the prognostications of continuing danger from the experts and bring their stories to the attention of the world’s people. Together we can solve this problem; alone we have our heads in the proverbial sand.

It is time for the nuclear ostriches to acknowledge all facts and dangers and open themselves to global cooperation otherwise we are all in peril.

Thank you Akio for your good work.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


A friend asked me the other day if I had ever written anything on friendship.

Probably one of the hardest things to do is to put friendship into words.

It is especially hard to describe a friendship seasoned with time.

I looked and some of my past writings and I have written about friendship through the years, but something else popped up in my memory with what  Gail Vetter Levin had written many years ago for me and some friends of mine. I altered it and added to it, but it truly expresses a thought or two about friendship and friendships.

"Friendships travel and weather. They suffer and survive. They change and transfer. All things said get forgiven and forgotten and remembered, but have withstood the task of understanding.

Friendships have moments of old laughter where the walls smile long after conversation has left the room.
Friendships taste each other’s tears and fears.

The rarest of friends have all the goods on each other and know all the good in each other. Maybe they even know the bad, but long ago they ceased to notice."

I think it was Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “Many people walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave a footprint in your heart.”

All of this fits perfectly today for this is my best friend and my 48th wedding anniversary.

Damn, who wouldda thunk it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Touch Of Nature

On New Years Day…looking out from my home’s high set of five stories above a meadow and a small pond an immateur eagle was perched on a strong branch. It was probably around two years old.

He or she had not yet attained the full white-feathered breast or head and a yellow beak. I would say the bird was about two feet tall, maybe more, with a wide girth and strong talons.

It lingered on its chosen perch for more than an hour and I was able to focus very strong tri-pod binoculars on his or her majesty. I could see the blinking of the eyes and the strong swiveling head gaze for pray in the meadow.

The eagle was sitting high in a tree branch in my meadow, but it was eye level for me and my binoculars because of the height of my home on a ridge.

I live not too far, by flight, from the Hudson River in New York State.

The Hudson estuary is known for having several families of Bald Eagles nesting along its banks. Perhaps this young one is from that area. 

I also live just seconds from another river that feeds the Hudson River farther North. I have seen highflying Eagles there once in awhile and maybe this one is from that clan.

It was a wonderful experience of nature for me for the time the bird decided to stay. I stayed with the binoculars for the duration.

Shakespeare was right. “One touch of nature makes the whole worlds kin.”

Monday, January 2, 2012


If you look for it you will find profound truths in a lot of places.
Gary Shapiro is President and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association. He’s written a piece entitled, “Has Politics Trumped Truth?” for Forbes.

He makes solid and perfect points.

To wit:

“America used to be good a facts – real good. Baseball, replete with hard statistics, was our favorite sport, and we used its hard data to argue who was the best at it. Our reliance on facts also attracted the world’s best scientists, engineers, doctors and researchers. We studied and reported and arrived at mutually agreed on facts. And we knew that when our government made statements and our trusted network news anchors reported them, you could take these facts to the bank.

But we changed. Facts and data have become less relevant, especially in Washington. Americans now choose their news more on the opinions of the news providers than on the fact gathering skills and objectivity of the reporters. We no longer want to be challenged by facts; we want to be reassured in our biases.”

BRAVO! Mr. Shapiro
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