Bob Schwartz

The January 6 committee has figured out how to hit Trump pitching. Now what?

When a talented pitcher arrives in baseball with new and unseen stuff, hitters have to “figure him out.” For a while, sometimes for a long while, hitters are baffled. The better hitters are patient, watching, waiting, calculating. The lesser hitters just keep swinging and striking out.

For four years, Democrats on average couldn’t hit Trump pitching. Taking mighty swings like the Mueller Report and two impeachment trials, they whiffed.

Now comes the January 6 committee, which combining Democrats and a few willing Republicans, has figured out Trump pitching. Public hearing after hearing, inning after inning, they hit some singles, maybe a few for extra bases. With the testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson, they hit one out of the park.

Have they broken the game wide open? We read today that the Washington Examiner, the capital’s conservative newspaper, has now said that “Trump is unfit to be anywhere near power ever again.”

The best hope is that Democrats will study and analyze the hearings and try to learn some lessons from them. Even if Trump recedes from the scene as the main player, there are going to be many years and elections featuring some of the same game. Those pitches are coming high and hard as soon as this November. Let us not strike out again.

© 2022 Bob Schwartz

9 x 9 = 81


“Yunmen (d. 949) was one of the latest and greatest masters of the classical era, known for exceptional brilliance…

“He also insisted on common sense in Zen practice: when someone asked, “What is the road beyond?” Yunmen replied, “9 x 9 = 81.” Asked about Zen in these terms, “How does one apply it on the road?” Yunmen replied, “7 x 9 = 63.” These are not silly nonsequiturs, like so much nonsense seen in cults; and they are not just numerological symbolic statements either. Nine times nine does equal eighty-one, in the daily world we face when we wake up in the morning; a variety of “Zen” that does not help you is obviously not too useful…”

Thomas Cleary
Instant Zen: Waking Up in the Present
The Teachings of Foyan (1067-1120)

Where I sat and sit

This brown mat and cushion
that old beat room
in an old beat house
there I sat
knowing nothing
a magic carpet
flying to every floor
I landed on
here it is now
surrounded by mountains walking
still know to breathe
still know nothing

© 2022 Bob Schwartz

Close all the churches for a day

Some are guilty, but all are responsible.
Abraham Joshua Heschel

Close all the churches for a day. The synagogues, the mosques, all the houses of worship.

We may believe in God and all that implies. We may believe that worship, prayers and other divine rituals and messages, personal and group, affect the course of events and society.

That may be, but that is not enough. Maybe if the doors to those buildings are barred—they are only buildings after all—that will remind us of that shortcoming.

What is enough?

“Action” is the common and reflexive answer. A good answer. But when we review the actions born in the name of God in those buildings, we have to wonder if that answer is incomplete or misguided.

It is incomplete. The more complete answer is the personal transformation that is supposed to develop from frequenting those buildings or otherwise engaging in the traditions. Without that transformation, one follower after another, actions and speech may hit the higher mark, but can also horribly miss the mark by miles, turning traditional ideals and aspirations on their head.

Maybe if the churches, synagogues and mosques were closed for a day, and followers could not rely on those buildings to justify their cases, maybe transformation would take a featured place on their religious agenda. Just for a day.

© 2022 Bob Schwartz

Coyote Cathedral

Coyote Cathedral

The height
The angles
White walls
Window sun
The music of the mountains
The silence of the mountains
Busy and awestruck dumb
Inside out
Outside in
Another Sunday
Like no other

Our minister, Reverend Cody

© 2022 Bob Schwartz

The last times before covid that America had crises affecting everyone were the Great Depression and World War II

The Great Depression in America lasted, depending on how you count, more than a decade. World War II for America lasted about four years. The effects of those were felt by a wide swath of America, more or less independent of geography, social and economic status, or other factors.

For decades to follow, these were the two milestones that marked American life, for those who had been affected directly and for those who didn’t experience it firsthand. Stories of family histories involving Depression struggles still linger. “Postwar” still means “post-World War II”.

Covid is like this, will be like this. It may only be about two years so far, so we still don’t know exactly what the long term impacts will be, other than being sure that, like the Great Depression and World War II, those impacts will be there.

That’s why trying to put covid in the rear view mirror may be understandable, but is senseless, almost delusional. As the Great Depression waned, after World War II ended, the direct and indirect aftermaths persisted (not all bad, as the postwar boom demonstrated).

It’s not just the covid virus that is endemic, never to leave. It is the covid world, like it or not, that we will be living in.

© 2022 Bob Schwartz

A look back at my useless anguished posts about mass shootings, dead children and gun violence in America

I’m not going to write a post about the shooting at Robb Elementary School that left 14 children dead. Instead, a look back at some of my previous posts. It was a painful review.

If Not Now When: Today Is the Day to Talk About Guns
Dec 14, 2012

“The dead can’t vote, and in the case of the children killed today at Sandy Hook Elementary School, they weren’t old enough anyway. So we have to speak for them and vote for them.”

God Does Not Like Guns
Dec 17, 2012

“God does not like guns, but as his instruments, we are bound to do the worldly work of reducing their number and universal availability. If we claim to be faithful, that is more than just a good deed. It is a divine mission. God, it appears, will be more disappointed than ever if we fail.”

Fish and Assault Weapons
Jan 15, 2013

“There is a fair amount of discussion about whether people hunt with assault weapons, and if they do, whether they should. It’s a good question, but not nearly as fascinating as the eccentric question of whether people fish with assault weapons. The short answer is that up until a few years ago, two states did allow fishing with guns. New York State has since repealed its law, leaving Vermont as the only state where you can legally shoot fish.”

Assault Weapons: The Art of the Art of the Possible
Jan 25, 2013

Watching Joe Biden back off the primacy of an assault weapons ban in the curbing of gun violence—following Senator Diane Feinstein’s introduction of exactly that legislation—is discouraging….Politics is said to be the art of the possible. The motto is roughly “we fight the fights we can win.” Very pragmatic, and there is something to commend pragmatism. That won’t be much comfort, though, when well-meaning politicians have to show up at the next inevitable massacre and solemnly announce that they aimed at the possible, and even then settled for half.”

If We Could See the Children of Sandy Hook
Jan 30, 2013

“The images of the children killed at Sandy Hook School in Newtown are blocked from us. This choice is almost beyond argument…. And so instead we have pictures of those children as they are remembered, beautiful angels, joy and potential, and we have the testimony and imploring of their parents. But somehow, this doesn’t seem to be quite enough to stop abstract arguments about the essential value of the Second Amendment, how it must continue unconditioned even by sensible restrictions that meet moral, practical and constitutional muster. First they come for my AR-15, this line goes, and next the deer and the police will be hunting me.”

Who Killed the Assault Weapons Ban?
Mar 20, 2013

“A ban on assault weapons is dead, at least for this session of Congress. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that the Democratic gun bill moving forward will not include it….Maybe we should be asking our politicians whether they believe in ghosts. The kind of ghosts who visit all of us, in the moments before sleep, in sleep itself. Ghosts of things done or not done. For Senators, ghosts of bills passed, unpassed, and too many times, never voted on at all. Ghosts that aren’t abstract, but that take stark, all too real form. Ghosts that look like mangled, barely recognizable angels, just wanting somebody to speak—and vote—for them.”

TMFG: Too Many F***ing Guns
Sep 19, 2013

“People are dying from politeness about guns….Constitutional arguments and political realities have their place, but so does this: There are too many f***ing guns. That is why and how too many are killed and injured—in our homes, on our streets, in our schools, in our movie theaters, in our military facilities.”

Shoes Required and Guns Permitted in Stores
Jul 2, 2014

“Let’s talk about the fact that across the country, virtually all establishments reserve the right to refuse you service and ask you to leave if you show up without a shirt or shoes. Yet some of the biggest businesses in the country are having trouble telling some customers to leave if they show up with weapons. Now that is insane.”

Guns. Period.
Aug 26, 2015

“It is not about angry people, frustrated people, mentally ill people having guns. It is about the finality of guns. The way they are the period on the end of a life.”

WWJDAB: What Would Jesus Do About Guns?
Nov 29, 2015

“If Jesus returned, and found America flooded with guns, and saw so many people drowning in that flood, what would he do?… I have a guess, or maybe just a hope. Jesus would make the guns disappear.

“Almost immediately, Jesus would be criticized for taking away a God-given freedom. God blessed the world with America, God blessed America with a Constitution, and God blessed the Constitution with a Second Amendment. Jesus might reply that he had a better idea of what God blessed and what God had in mind. And that what God didn’t have in mind was millions of people running around with deadly weapons and often wantonly shooting thousands of others. God also isn’t keen on Kindergarten teachers packing heat while shepherding five-year-old children. Jesus would close by reminding folks that it is the peacemakers who are blessed, not the gun makers.”

Shootings Are Not Normal
Feb 14, 2018

“The mayhem from today’s shooting at a high school in Florida is being assessed. It is news and will be for a while. Republicans shilling for the NRA will explain the problem, which won’t involve guns. Soon, we will move on. The injured will more or less heal, the dead will still be dead, their loved ones will mourn.

“Guns are one of the ways that America is “exceptional” in the world. Despite the patriotic pride that some take in this exceptionalism, it is nothing to be proud of. Shootings are not normal.

“And the dead still can’t vote.”

No new evils, old and difficult ways to treat them

Racism. Antisemitism. All the other intolerant beliefs that can lead to dangerous deeds. With us forever, like an endemic virus that will spread and surge, inflict death and suffering, and despite mitigations, never go away.

Good news about that. The recommended treatments have been around as long as the evils. They are described in the principles of most of the traditions—religious, spiritual or philosophical. You don’t even have to seek out brilliant teachers or complex texts. Just ask the children you’ve been raising. Maybe you’ve been teaching them these principles from the start. Of course, maybe not, or maybe if you’ve been teaching the principles—love, compassion, kindness, respect, truthfulness, humanity, etc.—you haven’t been modeling them.

And that’s the bad news. The evils aren’t new. The treatments aren’t new but they are very, very hard to do, in thought and in practice. Again, those traditions we claim to embrace make that difficulty quite clear.

If you believe that the solution to these evils comes from carefully reshaping society, you are partly but far from completely right. As we all know, we developed some effective tools to oppose our most recent evil health pandemic. Massive numbers of Americans refused, so hundreds of thousands needlessly died, and the virus will now go on forever.

Without people transforming, something as simple as the golden rule, a formula for compassion that even a five-year-old can understand, will have no effect. The evils will go on and on.

Where’s a five-year-old when you really need one?

© 2022 Bob Schwartz

Bad Moon Rising

Bad Moon Rising (1969)

I see the bad moon a-risin’
I see trouble on the way
I see earthquakes and lightnin’
I see bad times today

Don’t go around tonight
Well it’s bound to take your life
There’s a bad moon on the rise

I hear hurricanes a-blowin’
I know the end is comin’ soon
I fear rivers over flowin’
I hear the voice of rage and ruin

Don’t go around tonight
Well it’s bound to take your life
There’s a bad moon on the rise, alright

Hope you got your things together
Hope you are quite prepared to die
Looks like we’re in for nasty weather
One eye is taken for an eye

Well don’t go around tonight
Well it’s bound to take your life
There’s a bad moon on the rise

Written by John C. Fogerty
Performed by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Q: Why has this song never gone out style? Why have artists been covering it and fans been listening to it for more than fifty years?

A: You know.

Saguaro shelter

This saguaro is more than a hundred years old. It lived through the dropping of the first atomic bomb. It lived through the 1950s and 1960s when concerns about nuclear war prompted Americans to build fallout shelters to survive that war.

It was during that time that this saguaro began building a fallout shelter. But then it changed its mind. It wasn’t sure how well a saguaro could fit in a shelter. It wasn’t sure that others who were fearful and hadn’t built their own shelters wouldn’t invade and displace the saguaro. It wasn’t sure that even if it built a shelter that a saguaro could fit in and even if it stayed there for years, there would be a world worth returning to. Most of all it wanted to believe in world peace and an end to war. So the saguaro stopped building.

The uncompleted shelter still stands as a monument to the fears and ultimately the hopes of this saguaro.

© 2022 Bob Schwartz