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All posts for the month August, 2022

I DUNNO….

Published August 13, 2022 by Nan Mykel

 

When things and the state of the United States get too tense during blog writing, different folks let off steam in…well, different ways, whether it be by having snarks, remembering and sharing soothing old songs  (Filosofa’s Word) or  Dr.  Rex’s Wordless Wednesday and Friday Fun Facts (It Is What It Is).  And someone has Caturdays.  Me, I’m not into fun too much.  I prefer  acting out, being weird.

For example, today I dawdled on Google and marveled at all the different acronyms that have been used in titling congressional bills:

Some acronyms are more popular than others. The most popular word, SAFE, is used 131 times, meaning such things as:

  • Screening Applied Fairly and Equitably
  • Secure Access to Firearms Enhancement
  • Screening Applied Fairly and Equitably
  • Security Against Foreclosures and Education
  • Security and Accountability For Every
  • Swift Approval, Full Evaluation
  • Security and Fairness Enhancement
  • Stop Abuse for Every
  • Safe, Accountable, Fair, and Efficient
  • Security and Financial Empowerment

Other popular words include CAREFAIRSTOPHELPHOPEDREAM, and PROTECT.  [noahveltman.com/acronyms]

__________________________

On a lark, giving myself free reign to be (ahem)  different,  I remembered the flying bishop as described on pages 218-219  of Colin Wilson’s 1971 book The Occult.  I was curious to see what  Google had to say about the flying bishop.  There was silence about Wilson’s “strange sickly boy  who became known as ‘Open Mouth’ because his mouth usually hung open; one commentator remarked  that ‘he was not far from what today we would call a state of feeble-mindedness’.”   But maybe Google had him listed by name?  Duh.  Wikipedia, via Google,  had him under St. Joseph of Copertino.  Wikipedia’s descripion of the flying monk  is more skeptical than Wilson’s.  No surprise there, I guess, and Wikipedia did not even list The Occult as a resource.  Wilson’s version is a happier one, and that’s what I was seeking today.  So nice I get to choose.

At the age of seventeen Joseph was accepted into the Capuchin order, but was dismissed eight months later because of total inability to concentrate.  Soon thereafter the Order of Conventuals accepted him as a stable boy, and at twenty-two he became a Franciscan priest.  One day, in the midst of his prayers after mass, he floated off the ground and  landed on the altar in a state of ecstasy. Floating in the air in a state of delight seemed to be his sole accomplishment.  The flying bishop was oberved to repeatedly fly when joyous, in full sight of  the congregation.  Kings, dukes, Leibnitz and even the Pope witnessed him floating or flying in the air.  When Joseph’s canonization was suggested after his death at the age of sixty, the Church started an investigation into his flights, and after  hundreds of depositions had been taken. he was declared a saint  on February 24, 1767 by Pope Clement XIII.

As I read on, the sources of information opened and I read that since flying was associated with witchcraft, he was called before the  holy inquisition, but after more than one session he was found not guilty, largely because it became apparent that he did not take pleasure from his levitation, was not proud of them, and could not control them. For the rest of Joseph’s life after the trial, he was shuffled around, treated by the church as a dirty little secret and moved to out of the way locations, being occasionally called back before the authority of the Inquisition for some further questioning before being maintained innocent again.  As mentioned above, four years after his death the church’s  “dirty little secret” became a saint.

Now that’s out of my system, maybe I can attend to  reblogging Bob Shepherd’s post tomorrow.  Whew!  That’s my exercise for today.

WHAT KIND OF HEART LOVES…

Published August 12, 2022 by Nan Mykel

 

WEAPONS  OF MASS DESTRUCTION?

If you were beaten and yelled at too

and told to be seen and not heard

If your parents were drunks and hated you

And your nickname was The Little Turd,

I’m so sorry…

Even so, how can you love those weapons

of mass destruction?  Did the army do it

to you?   Your wife?   A teacher or

a dirty old man?  A boss who fired you?

Fess up. Who is your target?  And then

what happens next?

I’m so sorry for you and the targets….

Accidental or otherwise.

SO FAR THIS MONTH IN MY STATE (OHIO)  there have been 26 deaths and 77 wounded in mass shootings, according to gunviolencearchive.org.  I’m sorry….

You can save American lives if that’s your motive by voting to outlaw weapons of mass destruction and/or maybe attending the funeral for one of its victims.  This is the real world we’re talking here.  At one time in my life I played cops and robbers with other neighborhood kids, but none of us carried guns, real or pretend.

WHAT KIND OF HEART?  PROBABLY A BROKEN ONE.  I’m so sorry….

IF YOU BELIEVE THIS, GO…..

Published August 11, 2022 by Nan Mykel

 

 

 

 

 

 

STAND IN THE CORNER…

Republicans in Congress argued that none of these bills are necessary because the right to birth control and the right to same-sex marriage are safe. “In no way, shape or form is access to contraception limited or at risk of being limited,” Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.) said during Thursday’s debate on the birth control bill. “The liberal majority is clearly trying to stoke fears and mislead the American people once again because in their minds stoking fear clearly is the only way that they can win.” (Yahoo News)

“The FBI has gone rogue and is doing the dirty work of a communist regime,” tweeted Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).

Boebert “In Venezuela, they eat the dogs, and it started because they do not have firearms to protect themselves, to defend themselves against a tyrannical government.”

“We save the babies, we’ll save America,”   Mike Pence told  conservative youth.

At least Bostelman apologized:  So easy to repeat motivated misunderstandings:  A Nebraska state lawmaker apologized on Monday after he publicly cited a persistent but debunked rumor alleging that schools are placing litter boxes in school bathrooms to accommodate children who self-identify as cats. State senator Bruce Bostelman, a conservative Republican, repeated the false claim during a public, televised debate on a bill intended to help school children who have behavioral problems. His comments quickly went viral, with one Twitter video garnering more than 300,000 views as of Monday afternoon, and drew an onslaught of online criticism and ridicule. Bostelman initially said he was “shocked” when he heard stories that children were dressing as cats and dogs while at school, with claims that schools were accommodating them with litter boxes.

Sorry, I can’t handle any more at present…..

WHAT WERE YOU IN A FORMER LIFE?

Published August 10, 2022 by Nan Mykel

Image: nan mykel

I know, I know <hic> ,but just pretend.  Who or what do you feel like you might have been?  Look deep inside; let an image form.  Breathe deeply. Who or What?  And in what way? You can share in your reply.

Me?  (Gnashing teeth)  I feel like I used to be a fruit fly.  Go figure…  Forgive me my sins…

Medicaid expansion – letter to the editor

Published August 9, 2022 by Nan Mykel

I have trouble understanding cruelty for whatevr reason.

musingsofanoldfart

When the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, a key element was for people who made less than 133% of the poverty limit based on their family size. This group would pay no premiums through a state-by-state expansion of Medicaid. The federal government said it would reimburse each state for 90% of that cost.

At this point in 2022, there are twelve holdout states that have not expanded Medicaid. That leaves 2 million Americans with access to no healthcare coverage. The holdout states include my home state of North Carolina and big states like Texas, Florida and Georgia (see link below to a NPR article).

North Carolina was close to passing Medicaid expansion, but the effort stalled once again. Here is a letter I sent to my newspaper that they graciously printed this morning.

NC and Medicaid

As a retired benefits consultant and former benefits manager for a…

View original post 177 more words

Dear God, They’re Dangling Money…

Published August 8, 2022 by Nan Mykel

Per the release, effective from July 20 taxpayers can claim “a dependent personal exemption … in the amount of $3,000 for each unborn child.” Those expecting twins can claim up to $6,000. According to the The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, the new law also “allows expectant mothers to file for child support to cover the costs of pregnancy and delivery,” and requires unborn children to be counted for Georgia’s census records.

Poetry Reblog: Nan

Published August 7, 2022 by Nan Mykel

 

 

 

 

 

THE EARTH IS FLAT AFTER ALL

Dubbed Democracy, it used to be

top of the line, the lead ship at sea,

and on the land it served as well,

until the strains of its death knell fell,

 

having an underbelly swole

with all the pilfered things they stole

in broad daylight, and on tv!

Gone is the half belief in he

who’ll take us safely to the shore

while staying steadfast to the core.

 

The compass nestles in the deep

while those on board remain asleep.

They used to say the earth was round,

that right makes might, but I found

that all I knew I now know not,

and not so sure that we’ll endure,

to make a safe arrival.

Nan

If you don’t believe can you still pray?

Published August 6, 2022 by Nan Mykel

 

I know, I know…it depends on what or who you pray to.  But somewhere there’s got to be some rectifying  solution, doesn’t there?  I know, no one ever said life was fair, but really!

I’ve been wishing that I still believed, that I had something to pray to.  I came back from atheism to agnosticism, because I don’t really “know” anything.  This morning when I took last night’s remaining coffee from my cup I spied an old fulgurite on my bedside table, and realized what a symbol—no, relic– of power that innate piece of melted silica was.  (I knew that fulgurite is a piece of fossilized lightning strike).  If anything symbolized–and even was–power, it resided in that blackened fossil.  Maybe if I prayed to it my prayers would at least be noted?  Nonsense, I knew, but I was moved to look it up on Google, anyhow.

Imagine my surprise when I looked it up on Google and read FULGURITE MEANINGS:  Manifestation of one’s higher purpose, enhancement of prayer, kundalini awakening, purification, sudden awakening  Chakras: All   Element: Storm    Zodiac Signs: Virgo, Gemini    Number: 6

Fulgurite Crystal Healing Properties

Fulgurites are a powerful high vibration stone for manifesting one’s visions through the power of prayer. They are stones of purification, releasing habits which no longer serve, helping to open and clear the psychic and intuitive senses in order to connect with Divine energy. It activates the Kundalini energies, arousing creativity, sexuality and inner power. It is an initiator of spiritual transformation grounding the Light body and manifesting one’s higher purpose through channeling Divine energy into the world.

From <https://feelcrystals.com.au/product-category/crystal-meanings/fulgurite/>

Heavy, huh?  But I still can’t cotton to the idea of God being an old, old, old man (?) surveying a worldwide playing field.  Perhaps a universe wide one?    Christians are right, everyone else in the world is wrong?  How convenient for them.  During the former president’s reign I marveled at how Christian evangelicals could put up with his unspeakable behavior, all apparently  motivated their thirst for power.  Has it not started to pay off?  Personally, I don’t care who your God is.  I’m happy for you to have one.

Forcing religion on anyone is not my cup of tea.  I’m even more resistant to Christianity since Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican Representative from Georgia,  touted that the  Republican Party should conform to Christianity to make it easier to identify with and sway Christian voters.  I strongly resist any attempts to “sway” my judgment.  From <https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/24325815/posts/179764> (Besides, they would be hypocrites if they did).

WANTING TO BELIEVE — On the farm, at five, I remember both realizing and regretting that no one else could share my experience,  that each of us is separate.  I still regret it.

As a youth, at bedtime, I would sometimes hold one arm up in the air for minutes.   Any involuntary movement of my arm might be by God.  Nan  3/28/2022

Well, I’m certainly not going to pray to my fossil, but it sure is a  great symbol of power.  I’ll hang onto it for awhile, just in case…

Worthy Reblog Reblog

Published August 5, 2022 by Nan Mykel

Coming to you via Jill Dennison, Ned Hanson and myself–originally in the Atlantic by Brian Klaas, a global-politics professor at University College London. He is the author of Corruptible: Who Gets Power and How It Changes Us, so he knows of what he speaks here:

America’s Self-Obsession Is Killing Its Democracy

The U.S. still has a chance to fix itself before 2024. But when democracies start dying—as ours already has—they usually don’t recover.  By Brian KlaasIn 2009, a violent mob stormed the presidential palace in Madagascar, a deeply impoverished red-earthed island off the coast of East Africa. They had been incited to violence by opportunistic politicians and media personalities, successfully triggering a coup. A few years later, I traveled to the island, to meet the new government’s ringleaders, the same men who had unleashed the mob.

As we sipped our coffees and I asked them questions, one of the generals I was interviewing interrupted me.

“How can you Americans lecture us on democracy?” he asked. “Sometimes, the president who ends up in your White House isn’t even the person who got the most votes.”

“Our election system isn’t perfect,” I replied then. “But, with all due respect, our politicians don’t incite violent mobs to take over the government when they haven’t won an election.”

For decades, the United States has proclaimed itself a “shining city upon a hill,” a beacon of democracy that can lead broken nations out of their despotic darkness. That overconfidence has been instilled into its citizens, leading me a decade ago to the mistaken, naive belief that countries such as Madagascar have something to learn from the U.S. rather than also having wisdom to teach us.

During the Donald Trump presidency, the news covered a relentless barrage of “unprecedented” attacks on the norms and institutions of American democracy. But they weren’t unprecedented. Similar authoritarian attacks had happened plenty of times before. They were only unprecedented to us.

I’ve spent the past 12 years studying the breakdown of democracy and the rise of authoritarianism around the world, in places such as Thailand, Tunisia, Belarus, and Zambia. I’ve shaken hands with many of the world’s democracy killers.

My studies and experiences have taught me that democracies can die in many ways. In the past, most ended in a quick death. Assassinations can snuff out democracy in a split second, coups in an hour or two, and revolutions in a day. But in the 21st century, most democracies die like a chronic but terminal patient. The system weakens as the disease spreads. The agony persists over years. Early intervention increases the rate of survival, but the longer the disease festers, the more that miracles become the only hope.

American democracy is dying. There are plenty of medicines that would cure it. Unfortunately, our political dysfunction means we’re choosing not to use them, and as time passes, fewer treatments become available to us, even though the disease is becoming terminal. No major prodemocracy reforms have passed Congress. No key political figures who tried to overturn an American election have faced real accountability. The president who orchestrated the greatest threat to our democracy in modern times is free to run for reelection, and may well return to office.

Our current situation started with a botched diagnosis. When Trump first rose to political prominence, much of the American political class reacted with amusement, seeing him as a sideshow. Even if he won, they thought, he’d tweet like a populist firebrand while governing like a Romney Republican, constrained by the system. But for those who had watched Trump-like authoritarian strongmen rise in Turkey, India, Hungary, Poland, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Venezuela, Trump was never entertaining. He was ominously familiar.

At issue was a classic frame-of-reference problem. America’s political culture is astonishingly insular. Turn on cable news and it’s all America, all the time. Other countries occasionally make cameos, but the story is still about us. (Poland is discussed if Air Force One goes to Warsaw; Iran flits into view only in relation to Washington’s nuclear diplomacy; Madagascar appears only in cartoon form, mostly featuring talking animals that don’t actually live there.) Our self-obsession means that whenever authoritarianism rises abroad, it’s mentioned briefly, if at all. Have you ever spotted a breathless octobox of talking heads on CNN or Fox News debating the death of democracy in Turkey, Sri Lanka, or the Philippines?

That’s why most American pundits and journalists used an “outsider comes to Washington” framework to process Trump’s campaign and his presidency, when they should have been fitting every fresh fact into an “authoritarian populist” framework or a “democratic death spiral” framework. While debates raged over tax cuts and offensive tweets, the biggest story was often obscured: The system itself was at risk.

Even today, too many think of Trump more as Sarah Palin in 2012 rather than Viktor Orbán in 2022. They wrongly believe that the authoritarian threat is over and that January 6 was an isolated event from our past, rather than a mild preview of our future. That misreading is provoking an underreaction from the political establishment. And the worst may be yet to come.

The basic problem is that one of the two major parties in the U.S.—the Trumpified Republican Party—has become authoritarian to its core. Consequently, there are two main ways to protect American democracy. The first is to reform the GOP, so that it’s again a conservative, but not authoritarian, party (à la John McCain’s or Mitt Romney’s Republican Party). The second is to perpetually block authoritarian Republicans from wielding power. But to do that, Democrats need to win every election. When you’re facing off against an authoritarian political movement, each election is an existential threat to democracy. Eventually, the authoritarian party will win.

Erica Frantz, a political scientist and expert on authoritarianism at Michigan State University, told me she shares that concern: With Republicans out of the White House and in the congressional minority, “democratic deterioration in the U.S. has simply been put on pause.”

Frantz was more sanguine during much of the Trump era. “When Trump won office, I pushed back against forecasts that democracy in the U.S. was doomed,” she explained. After all, America has much more robust democratic institutions than Hungary, Poland, the Philippines, or Turkey. “Though the risk of democratic collapse was higher than it had been in recent memory,” Frantz said, “it still remained low, comparatively speaking.”

When democracies start to die, they usually don’t recover. Instead, they end up as authoritarian states with zombified democratic institutions: rigged elections in place of legitimate ones, corrupt courts rather than independent judges, and propagandists replacing the press.

There are exceptions. Frantz pointed to Ecuador, Slovenia, and South Korea as recent examples. In all three cases, a political shock acted as a wake-up call, in which the would-be autocrat was removed and their political movement either destroyed or reformed. In South Korea, President Park Geun-hye was ousted from office and sent to prison. But more important, Frantz explained, “there was a cleaning of the house after Park’s impeachment, with the new administration aggressively getting rid of those who had been complicit in the country’s slide to authoritarianism.”

Those examples once signaled a hopeful possibility for the United States. At some point, Trump’s spell over the country and his party could break. He would go too far, or there would be a national calamity, and we’d all come to our democratic senses.

By early 2021, Trump had gone too far and there had been a national calamity. That’s why, on January 6, 2021, as zealots and extremists attacked the Capitol, I felt an unusual emotion mixed in with the horror and sadness: a dark sense that there was a silver lining.

Finally, the symptoms were undeniable. After Trump stoked a bona fide insurrection, the threat to democracy would be impossible to ignore. As Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell denounced Trump on the Senate floor, it looked like Republicans might follow the South Korean path and America could finally take its medicine.

In reality, the denunciations were few and temporary. According to a new poll from the University of Monmouth, six in 10 Republican voters now believe that the attack on the Capitol was a form of “legitimate protest.” Only one in 10 would use the word insurrection to describe January 6. And rather than cleaning house, the Republicans who dared to condemn Trump are now the party’s biggest pariahs, while the January 6 apologists are rising stars.

The past 18 months portend a post-Trump GOP future that remains authoritarian: Trumpism without Trump.

“Democracies can’t depend on one of two major parties never holding power,” argues Brendan Nyhan, a government professor at Dartmouth College and a co-founder of Bright Line Watch, a group that monitors the erosion of American democracy. But that may be the necessary treatment for now, because Republican leaders “are defining a vision of a Trumpist GOP that could prove more durable than the man himself.”

Frantz concurred: “What did surprise me and change my assessment was the Republican Party’s decision to continue to embrace Trump and stand by him. The period following the Capitol riots was a critical one, and the party’s response was a turning point.”

That leaves American democracy with a bleak prognosis. Barring an electoral wipeout of Republicans in 2022 (which looks extremely unlikely), the idea that the party will suddenly abandon its anti-democracy positioning is a delusion.

Prodemocracy voters now have only one way forward: Block the authoritarian party from power, elect prodemocracy politicians in sufficient numbers, and then insist that they produce lasting democratic reforms.

The wish list from several democracy experts I spoke with is long, and includes passing the Electoral Count Act, creating a constitutional right to vote, reforming districting so more elections are competitive, establishing a nonpartisan national election-management body, electing the president via popular vote, reducing the gap in representation between states like California and Wyoming, introducing some level of proportional representation or multimember districts, aggressively regulating campaign spending and the role of money in politics, and enforcing an upper age limit for Supreme Court justices. But virtually all of those ideas are currently political fantasies.

The American system isn’t just dysfunctional. It’s dying. Nyhan believes there is now a “significant risk” that the 2024 election outcome will be illegitimate. Even Frantz, who has been more optimistic about America’s democratic resilience in the past, doesn’t have a particularly reassuring retort to the doom-mongers: “I don’t think U.S. democracy will collapse, but just hover in a flawed manner for a while, as in Poland.”

We may not be doomed. But we should be honest: The optimistic assessment from experts who study authoritarianism globally is that the United States will most likely settle into a dysfunctional equilibrium that mirrors a deep democratic breakdown. It’s not yet too late to avoid that. But the longer we wait, the more the cancer of authoritarianism will spread. We don’t have long before it’s inoperable.

Filosofa’s Word.com

         https://nedhamsonsecondlineviewofthenews.com/

 

I WOKE UP THIS MORNING WITH MY MIND SET ON….

Published August 4, 2022 by Nan Mykel

FREEDOM!  Since suddenly getting old, my mind has been invaded by lines of old jingles.  Today I recalled hearing Jane Sapp sing the above mentioned song at an education gathering at Ohio University.  I even recorded it for ACTV.

Then I recalled the nursery rhyme allusion in Ruth Reilly’s poem (2022 Torch Song, my post yesterday).  The connection with freedom?  A winning jingle for the coming election….

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe                                                                                            She had so many children she didn’t know what to do….  

                                             So  SHE VOTED DEMOCRAT!

Thanks to Ruth!

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