Bob Schwartz

Category: Uncategorized

Meditation is not about meditation

zafu-and-zabuton

Meditation is not about meditation.

Many meditate. Many think about meditation. Many talk about mediation. Many write about meditation.

The Zen expression “just sitting” is helpful. So many ways, with or without meditation, and so many ways of meditation. “Just” says it is enough in its unadorned, undecorated, uncomplicated way. Whether it is Zen or some other practice, “just” does not stop people from decorating, as they would a bare-walled house.

Without adding to this, without hanging one more picture on the wall, the thought arose: meditation is not about meditation. Not an original thought, but an essential one, maybe the essential one. Rather than explain it, I just repeat it. If you are meditating in any way, or thinking about meditating, or talking about meditating, or writing about meditating:

Meditation is not about meditation.

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Birthday

Birthday

For K

The birds don’t keep a calendar
or mark occasions.
Every day is an event
for celebration and music.
But today from the first slice of sun
that is their cue
I heard the wordless symphony
include you in the manifest of wonders.

Trump’s Scorched-America Strategy

scorched-earth: relating to or being a military strategy involving deliberate and usually widespread destruction of property and resources (such as housing and factories) so that an invading enemy cannot use them.

Trump knows nothing about history or about military strategy. He is, as his closest advisers have said, an idiot. But instinctively, he recognizes that anything or anyone that cannot help him or that might harm him must be destroyed.

A scorched-earth strategy has been used throughout history. In America, this has happened a number of times, including most famously during the Civil War. General Sherman’s March to the Sea, including the burning of Atlanta, caused $100 million (1863 dollars) in damage to Georgia.

Trump’s March includes the attempted destruction of government institutions, public servants, the free press, the rule of law, truthfulness, core American and moral principles, and more. In this, he has been aided and abetted by numerous Republican enablers, who either don’t realize that this is a scorched-America strategy, or who do recognize it and want to be part of the victorious army.

In war, it must be devastating beyond description to watch the land you love, live in, and have developed be totally destroyed. In America, we are learning how that feels.

Republicans are either stupid (in a stupor) or think people are stupid. Either way, the fix is in for Kavanaugh.

 

Even before the limited FBI investigation is completed, at least one Republican Senator has incongruously announced that there is “no corroboration” from an investigation that isn’t done yet.

This is the latest illogical move in a process never designed to approach the truth.

There is never going to be corroboration under these circumstances. Only three eyewitnesses: Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh, both of whom testified, and Mark Judge, who no doubt repeated to the FBI that due to his blackout drinking he has no memory of the event. Blackout or not, neither Kavanaugh nor Judge are about to own up to activity that is a crime.

Instead, the Republicans are appropriately being asked to determine, in the absence of corroboration, which one is telling the truth. The current position being taken by Republicans is that they really don’t want to call Ford or Kavanaugh a liar. Which position is untenable when two people tell totally inconsistent and opposite stories.

What Republicans really want to ignore is growing corroboration that, aside from the question of the sexual assault, Kavanaugh lied about himself repeatedly throughout his hearing.

Maybe Republicans really are simple-minded and haven’t noticed any of this. Or maybe they are smart enough to know that they are being illogical and deceptive, but expect that American people are stupid enough to believe and support their position.

Would you rather have Senators who are stupid, or Senators who think you are? That may be the question of our time.

The Kavanaugh Hearing and Investigation: A Tiny Preview of What Happens After the Mueller Indictments and Report

As expected, the small accommodation and reasonableness following the Kavanaugh hearing are almost certainly an illusion.

The White House has not just limited the scope of the FBI investigation; it is essentially managing it. Trump and Trump-servile Republicans are more committed than ever to getting Kavanaugh immediately on the Supreme Court—despite his clearly lying, not just about a sexual assault, but about his life. He also exhibited temperament unsuitable for any judge, let alone a Supreme Court Justice: angry, belligerent, evasive, weirdly emotional, and particularly defensive about his drinking. Besides rambling on about how much he liked beer, he rudely asked not one but two United States Senators what they drink. At times, it seemed less like a hearing and more like an intervention for a functioning alcoholic.

The Republicans don’t care. There are going to be plenty of legal questions and cases involving Trump and his associates coming before the Supreme Court. It is essential that Trump have someone fighting for him not just at the Court but on the Court. Nothing can stand in the way of that.

Kavanaugh is tainted, thanks to his own behavior, and will remain so if and as long as he sits on the Court. He is in his fifties, those who knew him, worked with him, and socialized with him are in their fifties or younger. For decades, revelations will keep coming out about the real Brett Kavanaugh. As angry as that may make him—and us—he will have the ultimate advantage if he is on the Court, as one of the nine most powerful people in America—with lifelong tenure.

The bigger point is that this has been a preview of what Trump, his executive staff—including the Justice Department and the FBI—and the Republicans will do as soon as the cascade of indictments and the report come from Mueller. If you thought last week was crazy, fasten your seatbelts—it’s going to be a wild and bumpy ride.

A Republican Supreme Court Nominee Lied in a Senate Confirmation Hearing

ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct
Rule 3.3 – Candor Toward The Tribunal
(a) A lawyer shall not knowingly: (1) make a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal or fail to correct a false statement of material fact or law previously made to the tribunal by the lawyer;…(3) offer evidence that the lawyer knows to be false.

Brett Kavanaugh, outraged and defiant, lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee about a number of matters in the hearing yesterday:

Washington Post:  Here’s where Kavanaugh’s sworn testimony was misleading or wrong

A Republican Supreme Court nominee lied in a Senate confirmation hearing.
A Republican Supreme Court nominee lied in a Senate confirmation hearing.
A Republican Supreme Court nominee lied in a Senate confirmation hearing.

Forget about the allegations of sexual misconduct. Forget about the chronic drinking. Forget about any other suspected behavior. Forget about all of that and focus only on that one sentence:

A Republican Supreme Court nominee lied in a Senate confirmation hearing.

The drama continues, with Jeff Flake’s equivocation leading to a request for an FBI investigation strictly limited to the incident with Christine Blasey Ford. If Mark Judge agrees to talk to the FBI, which he may not, it is expected that he will continue to maintain no memory of it. The limited scope insures he won’t be asked about any other matters concerning Kavanaugh.

The Republican fix is in, the leadership has been clear on that, and relenting on a limited investigation doesn’t change that.

Instead, just look back and forth between that sentence and every Republican in office who demonstrates spineless disregard for American values and norms. Every citizen, every lawyer, every decent American should look. Look at those Republicans, then look at this:

A Republican Supreme Court nominee lied in a Senate confirmation hearing.

What Trump MEANT to say: “I wanted a Supreme Court nominee willing to lie to get and keep his job. Like me. And I got it.”

What Trump said immediately after Kavanaugh’s appearance at the Senate hearing:

“Judge Kavanaugh showed America exactly why I nominated him.”

What Trump meant to say:

“I wanted a Supreme Court nominee willing to lie to get and keep his job. Like me. And I got it. You’re welcome America.”

The Trump/Cosby/Weinstein Analysis Becomes the Kavanaugh Analysis: Individual Incidents or Pattern of Behavior or Bad Character. Or All of the Above.

We’ve been learning the hard way how it works when people of power, prestige or celebrity are accused of bad things. Individual and isolated incidents are denied or covered up. Even if there is a smattering of proof, this keeps the focus away from the more important issues of patterns of behavior or bad character. In fact, when you bolster with endorsements of “good character”, the impact of the individual incidents is softened, and a pattern of behavior becomes unthinkable.

We have reached the point in the Brett Kavanaugh consideration where individual incidents are being set aside or shot down, just as evidence of a pattern of behavior or bad character is creeping in. That evidence isn’t even new. His high school drinking and debauchery buddy Mark Judge has written in his memoir about drunken exploits with his thinly disguised pal “Bart O’Kavanagh”. Judge will not be questioned, and merely says that he was given to frequent alcoholic blackouts (in high school and for years to come), and so he has no memory of the particular incident. Which begs the question of whether he and Kavanaugh engaged in a pattern of drunken and drugged exploitation of young women—something Judge no doubt remembers, even in an alcoholic haze.

It took years—decades—for the sordid past to catch up with Cosby, Weinstein, and others. Astonishingly, the sordid past still hasn’t caught up with Trump. If you ask Republicans, we have literally days to decide whether Kavanaugh has the character to serve on the Supreme Court. There is evidence that he does not, and it is something that can be determined only by a true due diligence review of the individual incidents, of a pattern of behavior and of character. There is no need to rush to judgment, and every reason to pause.

Ben Franklin: My University of Pennsylvania Should Revoke Trump’s Diploma

“By the way this idiot Woodward who wrote this book which is all fiction said that I said something like that, but he put it in a crude manner…The concept is true, but the way it was said was very…hey, I went, like, to the best college.”
Trump at a North Dakota rally

Trump self-importantly crows about his degree from Wharton (like all the time), the business school of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Trump’s point is that he must be, like, a genius with that Penn degree. Penn, is, like, a very good school that continues to provide its students with an excellent education. Though in some small number of high-profile cases, it appears to be casting pearls before swine.

The bigger point is Ben Franklin, credited as founder of the university. Above is a photo of the Ben Franklin statue at the center of campus, in front of College Hall.

Penn has tried to walk a fine line in its relationship with Trump, and with other members of his family who have attended Penn. Just as the sins of the father should not be visited on children, the sins of the alumnus should not be visited on a college. Penn did the best it could, given what it had to work with.

Ben Franklin is having none of it. Among our American founders, he is the most famous for not suffering fools. That’s why he is asking the University of Pennsylvania—his University of Pennsylvania—to revoke Trump’s diploma. That won’t stop Trump from continuing to say he went, like, to the best college, but it will give the best college a way to say: thanks for the compliment and PR, but no thanks. And it will give Ben Franklin a way to stop spinning in his grave, just a few blocks from Independence Hall. Because this is not what he envisioned for the first-ever Penn grad in the White House. Not, like, at all.

The History Test: If the Bob Woodward book doesn’t convince Republicans to remove the president, history will brand them accomplices to disaster

The new Bob Woodward book Fear: Trump in the White House was expected to be explosive. It turns out to be much more than that.

The official book release date isn’t until next week, but the media have it today. Just from the first reports and the mind-boggling quotes from his senior staff and advisers, it is a startling picture—painted by those working closest to him—of presidential incompetence, ignorance, incivility and instability. It is not just a dangerous leadership morass unprecedented in American history; it is unprecedented in the history of world powers. (Which is to say, even the most vile dictators have been clever and knowledgeable, if not downright brilliant.)

Over the coming days, there will be a flood of quotes and reports from the book, followed next week by its public availability. Those who already know the president’s disabilities will still be astonished and even more dismayed. Those partisans who refuse to acknowledge those disabilities will try pointlessly to discredit Woodward—even though he is the dean of American investigative journalists, even though he has recordings of all his many interviews. As for the president, this may be the one that triggers the inevitable total meltdown, which is tempting to consider as a neon billboard to Republicans, but which none of us can wish for as long as he is in the Oval Office.

What now, what next?

As previously noted, even if some Republicans miraculously admit that the president should leave office, and even if Democrats take over one or both houses of Congress in January, the options for preventing damage or disaster are limited. Removal from office by impeachment requires a simple majority of the House but two-thirds majority of the Senate. Removal from office by the 25th Amendment is even more daunting, involving the agreement of the Vice President and the cabinet. And all of that takes time, allowing the incompetent, ignorant, uncivil and unstable president to stay in the White House.

But at least there’s this: When the president asks, “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”, we can just throw the book at him.