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Playlist: The River Is Wide

Compiled By: Susan J. Cook

 Credit: Susan Cook
Image by: Susan Cook 
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The River Is Wide

The River Is Wide is written by a political activist and psychologist. Citizen's Guides, the occasional Congressional Guide, sonnets when no other format seems appropriate, A Sixty Second Moral Inquiry from time to time, original poetry from our Department of Poetic Justice, the NEW 2 and 1/2 Minute Conspiracy Theory section and brief essay-ish commentaries all speak to the many events every day that change our lives. In the wake of the 2016 election, we will soon be offering a new part called 'My Human Family', brief essays and interviews with people who have sought asylum in this great civil liberty honoring country of ours. All of these parts of The River Is Wide series tell the story that belongs to everyone at some time in life- the times when crossing the river is very very difficult to do. Public radio that stirs the public conscience- free of personal influence peddling- that values thoughtful voice and speaks truth above partisan rhetoric - helps us all get across. The series began when a local editor refused to publish a letter he called "uncivil" for criticizing a political candidate for a failure to acknowledge human rights violations by the Chinese government. Another inspiration has been Maine Public Radio's censorship of a 30 year jazz radio program "The humble Farmer" whose producer dared to talk in 2003- about disliking war and the Iraq War in particular. After refusing to sign a list of Employee Guidelines censoring his speech as an independent, non-journalist producer who was paid $30 a program, he quit. The event remains uncharacteristically small-minded and partisan on the part of a public broadcasting station better known as broad-minded and thoughtful, especially in trying times when public discourse often helps uncover the moral underpinnings instead of concealing them by firing the questioner.

The River Is Wide (Series)

Produced by Susan J. Cook

Most recent piece in this series:

Speaking As If They Know, Part Two: Reproductive Choice, Provider Trust and Billing Specialists

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 06:47

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Speaking  As If They Know, Part Two:

Reproductive Choice, Provider Trust and Billing Specialists

 

The moral responsibility of reproductive choice is frequently reduced to the slickest "messaging" for those on either side of the political divide. The paucity of knowledge among those asserting viability of a zygote, embryo or fetus becomes quickly apparent when the complete dependence on the mother's mental or physical wellbeing is ignored. If a woman chooses to terminate a pregnancy, reasons for the termination should remain as private as every other aspect of medical intervention, equally protected by the Health Insurance and Portability Privacy Act.

 

The reason women terminate a pregnancy is documented in the electronic billing forms every medical practitioner must use for payment after an abortion procedure, when the patient's health insurance is either Medicaid or a United Healthcare insurer. Approved by the National Uniform Claim Committee, the form itself is frequently revised. Childbearing-age women are targetted.

 

In a dropdown menu, on the electronic HCFA-1500 form, in Section 10D, a list requires the billing party to "click on " the circumstance:

"Abortion performed due to rape

Abortion performed due to incest

Abortion performed due to serious fetal genetic, deformity or abnormalty

Abortion performed due to a life endangering physical condition that is caused by, arising from or excerbated by the pregnancy itself

Abortion performed due to physical health of the mother that is not life endangering

Abortion performed due to emotional/psychological health of the mother

Abortion performed due to social or economic reasons

Elective abortion

Sterilization"

 

If the medical procedure code billed in Section 24D of the HCFA-1500 is termination of a pregnancy, not filling in Section 10D likely means the bill is rejected. It is not at all clear that the information in Section 10D is HIPPA- protected just because it is included on the HCFA-1500.

 

On a recent Fresh Air episode, a New York Times reporter described recent Supreme Court cases potentially effecting Roe V. Wade, one being the Court's decision to let stand a lower court decision overturning a law that said a woman " can't have an abortion if [she's] doing it for a bad reason. And among those reasons were that the fetus has a disability or you wanted to choose the sex of a child". Terry Gross asked the important question:  "The law that said that a woman can't decide to have an abortion based on choosing what gender she wanted to have or deciding to have an abortion because the fetus was diagnosed as having Down syndrome or another, you know, serious illness or abnormality - if a woman says, I'm having an abortion just 'cause I want to, who's to say that she's having it because she's choosing the gender? Who's to say she's having it because the fetus was diagnosed with Down syndrome? I mean, how can you know what's in a woman's heart when she decides to have an abortion? "

 

In response the New York Times reporter said about the laws "They're symbolic, in a way. They'd be very, very hard to police. What woman is going to announce that - in the face of such a law, that she's aborting a fetus because of Down syndrome? It's also a curious law that says, sure, you can have an abortion on a whim. You just can't have it for an expressed reason that a lot of people might think was a sound reason. "

 

The New York Times reporter may be unaware that "the reason" for the termination of a pregnancy is already collected and mandatory on the required HCFA-1500 billing electronic form when a termination is performed. No provider gets paid through Medicaid or United Healthcare (or its subsidiaries) without Section 10D and Section 24D completed. That is not argued out in the Supreme Court. It is now determined at the form scanner of a billing specialist.

 

There is nothing trivial about the collection of that information deemed important by the National Uniform Claim  Committee of Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services . Even HIPPA-protected information can be subpoened through law enforcement. That data potentially provides the answer to Terry Gross' question and the New York Times reporter's uninformed response. There is nothing symbolic about data from millions of HCFA-1500 forms at risk of disclosure to partisan groups who deny the critical dependence on the mother of the developing blastocyst, zygote, embryo or fetus and create law holding that termination reasons are subject to their approval.

 

Any reporting on the fate of Roe v. Wade must be closely attuned to the ground-level tactics that invade the privacy and trust level between a patient and a provider and the vulnerability of that breech to the partisan co-option of a woman's body and reproductive choice.

Apple and The 15 Year old's Myopic World View

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 05:07

So we now know that Apple has made the extraordinary contribution called ‘Enter the wrong password 10 times and all the data on your way-too-expensive made in human-rights-violating China I-phone' disappears.

This leads me to believe that yes, Apple is run by and its products designed by those with worldviews like 15 year old Information Technology hackers who live with their parents but stay in their rooms most of the time and have never actually read a newspaper printed on actual paper held in their hands, not even The New York Times.

There are worse things in life than having your parents know what’s on your I-phone. Finding out who mass murderers have contacted is important for the whole world. Many 15 year olds don’t realize that.

Apple doesn’t seem to see that clever 15 year old hacker privacy features which they use to promote faith in the I-phone is as damaging as any privacy breach. Eliminating all the data on an I-phone can be as damaging and terrorist-like as reading what’s on the I-phone in the first place- depending on whose I-phone it is. And you don’t even need a password to do it. You just need to enter the wrong one ten times. I don’t see too many I-phones being carried around in armored vehicles- more usually in back pockets.

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Apple and The Fifteen Year Old ‘s Myopic World View

-Susan Cook-

 

So we now know that Apple has made the extraordinary contribution called ‘Enter the wrong password 10 times and all the data on your way-too-expensive made in human-rights-violating China I-phone' disappears.

Which leads me to believe that yes, Apple is run by and its products designed by those with minds like 15 year old Information Technology hackers who live with their parents but stay in their rooms most of the time and have never actually read a newspaper printed on actual paper held in their hands, not even The New York Times.

There are worse things in life than having your parents know what’s on your I-phone. Finding out who mass murderers have contacted is important for the whole world. Many 15 year olds don’t realize that.

Apple doesn’t seem to see that clever 15 year old hacker privacy features which they use to promote faith in the I-phone is as damaging as any privacy breach. Eliminating all the data on an I-phone can be as damaging and terrorist-like as reading what’s on the I-phone in the first place- depending on whose I-phone it is. And you don’t even need a password to do it. You just need to enter the wrong one ten times. I don’t see too many I-phones being carried around in armored vehicles- more usually in back pockets. Eliminating all the data from a 15 year old’s phone so parents can’t see it may be absolutely inconsequential- depending on the health and well-being of the 15 year old. If the I-phone belongs to a Chief of Staff or an Airlines executive, that amplifies the consequence. But the 15 year old hacker is often the most important person in the 15 year old’s world. Which brings us to the difference between a visionary world view and the myopic one of Apple’s 15 year old worldview.

Making products in China with no acknowledgement that China remains one of the worst violators of human rights in the world is a passive acceptance of human rights violations. In China, the government Mom and Dad get your information and you are in jail like Liu Xiaobo- but of course they don’t need your password to do that. Publish a paper very similar in content to the political platforms of the Democratic or Republican parties and the Chinese government will eliminate access to paper, pens, and yes, I-phones by putting you in jail. Ask Nobel Peace Prize winner Lui Xiaobo when they let him out of jail.

Apple’s 15 year old world view brings it to make products in China which ties this enormous American company to Chinese workers whose human rights survive by a string. It ties Apple to the Chinese economy which is kind of how the Chinese like it, of course. And the Chinese figured out a long time ago that accessing your private data by figuring out your password is old school. They will tae that I-phone completely and eliminate any data making- privacy feature or not- and sentence you the other way- in a court. Apple in its 15 year old worldview has not yet realized parents do that kind of thing which - by making I-phones in China- Apple makes itself vulnerable to- the parent Chinese government taking things away. That only changes when China has civil liberties - not just an I-phone privacy feature. Which brings us back to having an easy way to eliminate I-phone data that does not even require a password- just 10 wrong ones- is as damaging as being able to read the data itself.

Apple could solve the problem by getting rid of the eliminate data feature. If Apple could just get over itself- and realize there is a big human rights violating world out there- which a psychologist could lain is extremely difficult for most 15 year olds who stay on their I-phones all day to do.

Harper Lee' s American Mirror

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 04:07

Twenty four hours or so have passed since a portrait of the older Atticus Finch as a bigot, complaining about the integration of “Negroes” into the culture, has been given to us by Harper Lee in the newly published "Go Set a Watchman". She has given us a mirror of the struggle to sustain and protect deep compassion, that is, in many, many ways a uniquely American mirror.To Kill a Mockingbird could not have been published when it was in many other countries. And in another country, or culture- maybe this Atticus Finch in Go Set a Watchman wouldn’t have stung quite as much - because the good one is no longer purely good. But so many people here feeling the sting- recognizing that is part of this country too. We all are the watchman in our own way.

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Harper Lee’s American Mirror
-Susan Cook
Twenty four hours or so have passed since a portrait of the older  Atticus Finch as a bigot, complaining about the integration of “Negroes” into the culture, has been given to us by Harper Lee.  She has given us  a mirror of the struggle to sustain and protect deep compassion, that is, in many , many ways an American mirror.
We long for the good one to be the good one and the bad one to be the bad one. Deep compassion like that of the  father of the 8 year old boy who died at the finish line of the Boston Marathon is rare and very difficult to sustain. He said  his  family did not want the death penalty  for the bomber . The child’s father said the bomber chose hate in his actions. The death penalty is about hate. The child’s father said  “We chose love. We choose kindness. We choose peace.” And that is what makes us different from him.
Sometimes the bad one cannot be sacrificed because if you sacrifice the bad one, compassion and love are also sacrificed. Harper Lee’s mirror in Go Set a Watchman tells us sometimes the good one is not all good and the bad one is not all bad and not worthy of compassion.
It is far easier to kill the mockingbird than to tolerate its imitation - mirroring- and yes- being fooled- over and over- because you cannot tell if it is what it really is- which  bird the real one- which one not.  The truth saves us from that or saves our trust in what we hear and see. And so, as an older man, the truer Atticus Finch is not who we thought he was- or not completely.  He is a portrait of the difficulty of sustaining compassion. It is not  impossible- an eight year’s old grieving father shows that- but difficult, taxed out of us by an intrusive culture  or media or a political system that insists- and will lie if it has to- that good ones are good and bad ones are bad. 
There are many examples of  us being fooled, compassion lost when we thought it would be, there,  the good one being the bad one , the bad one turning out to be a delusional schizophrenic - who maybe was never asked about his delusional fixation- guns- if he had guns, where he kept them, where he bought them and why he wanted them.  And sometimes, the good one being inexplicably mean, greedy, completely ignoring the stark cruelty of what’s been done, running fast and furiously away from any mirror someone might hold up. 
Harper Lee’s mirror is an American mirror- though.  To Kill a Mockingbird could not have been published when it was in many other countries. And in another country, or culture-  maybe this Atticus Finch in Go Set a Watchman wouldn’t have stung quite as much - because the good one is no longer purely good.  But so many people here feeling the sting- recognizing that is part of this country too. We all are the watchman in our own way.

A Musical Tribute to the 2016 Presidential Primaries: "Tonight" (The song and dance genre)

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:22

The River Is Wide today offers a musical tribute to the 2016 Republican primaries to the tune of "Tonight" from the Broadway musical "West Side Story." The tribute is called '"Tonight".

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‘Tonight- A Musical Tribute to the 2016 Republican Pirmaries’

To the tune of ‘Tonight’ from West Side Story

-Susan Cook-

Tonight, tonight,

won’t be just any night.

Tonight we will be hearing

more news.

Voters don’t want

a President named Cruz

or Rubio politically,

who can’t tie their shoes.

At least, it seems

that way when voters

see the screws

now coming loose

When Rubio or Cruz

Tell them the truth

On what it is they’ d do

As president, what they’d choose.

If they can win.

But anyway they lose,

wondering what

Jesus would do.

Instead, they bring

Mitt Romney back

to soothe

them in his familiar voice

So similar to

An information

-ad

for laxatives

to re---move

You-Know-Who,

toooooo-night.

A Hackle o' Meter in Every Home, A Not-Politically Fit bit On Every Wrist

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 03:19

Elected officials or politicians aspiring to be elected officials say things that would register on our Hackle o’ meters and our Politically Unfit Bits- if someone would just invent these tools. Our Hackle o’ meters would go up because well, our hackles would go up. And our Politically Unfit bits would practically fall off our wrists because of all the calculations of political unfitness they’d be making.

I am not taking about You-Know-Who. I think You-Know-Who, for some people, raises adrenaline by stimulating the amygdala- the part of the brain which raises adrenaline and fight-or-flight hormones because something feels dangerous. Dr. Joseph Ledoux , a neuroscientist says the path signals take to the amygdala is fast and spontaneous, thus he calls it the Low Road. We also respond to danger, he says, by signals sent to the Frontal Cortex when we sense danger but those signals are slower so he calls that path the High Road.
A Hackle O’ Meter or a Politically Unfit Bit works very differently. Both work from subtle, subtle visual and auditory cues. And they might be good for the country.

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A Hackle o’ meter In Every Home; A Not Politically Fit Bit On Every Wrist

-Susan Cook-

 

Elected officials or politicians aspiring to be elected officials say things that would register on our Hackle o’ meters and our Politically Unfit Bits- if someone would just invent these tools. Our Hackle o’ meters would go up because well, our hackles would go up. And our Politically Unfit bits would practically fall off our wrists because of all the calculations of political unfitness they’d be making.

I am not taking about You-Know-Who. I think You-Know-Who, for some people, raises adrenaline by stimulating the amygdala- the part of the brain which raises adrenaline and fight-or-flight hormones because something feels dangerous. Dr. Joseph Ledoux , a neuroscientist says the path signals take to the amygdala is fast and spontaneous, thus he calls it the Low Road. We also respond to danger, he says, by signals sent to the Frontal Cortex when we sense danger but those signals are slower so he calls that path the High Road. So when we listen to You Know Who, your amygdala might get revved up and you turn off the television, radio or click ‘Power Shutdown’ on the PC. If your Frontal Lobes start firing, you just say ‘I am not voting for him.’

A Hackle O’ Meter or a Politically Unfit Bit works very differently. Both work from subtle, subtle visual and auditory cues. We Observe Mitch McConnell for the 450th time say he will not give President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee the time of day. We see the visual image of his clamped shut jaw, creating a glacier of pale skin beneath that jaw. I hope he has a sense of humor because really, landscape metaphors work best. I am not saying the man is dangerous ala’ Gorilla walking into your living room. But he may well get your Hackle o’ Meter going and if you had a Not-Politically Fitbit, it might fall off your wrist with its calculations going wild.

Now, there are Democrats who effect Hackle o’ Meters and Non-Politically Fit Bit. Some of the ones in my state register so strongly on the Non-Politically Fit Bit, I had to take mine off.

If only someone would invent these tools. It would be good for the country. Someone could slip one on Mitch McConnell’s wrist or one of the Politically Unfit Bit high registerers in my state and very gradually- it’s better to go slow- the Hackle o’Meters and the Politically Unfit Bits would convince them. Not their job to undo the US Constitution, not their job to use Internet Bullying to trade votes with Republicans, no amnesia about policy positions and no blocking duly nominated Supreme Court nominees.

Why Women Don't Tell: Dying from Silence

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 07:59

The anniversary of the loss of my childhood friend who died from suicide just passed. She, like many women, was sexually abused and never told anyone. This year, many assaulted by Harvey Weinstein are finally telling. For the silence of those who have been exploited or sexually assaulted to end, shame needs to be disenfranchised, for once, from telling. Which means that the blame, the ready cacophony of ‘She’s lying’, the persistent undermining of women’s credibility, no matter what her experience or credential ends. We all bear witness to that in the reduction of an exceptionally experienced, brilliant woman who ran for president reduced to liar, sneaky untrustworthy thief and criminal. We should all fear that the same specter awaits those who have accused Weinstein and that in time, his accusers will be met with the same sanctioned dismissive view.

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Why Women Don’t Tell: Dying of Silence
-Susan Cook-
The anniversary of the death of my childhood best friend, who I’ll call ‘S’, passed recently. 'S' drove to an isolated country road, parked her yellow convertible by the side, and, in time, died. She committed suicide. Someone found her there. Over the next few weeks time- word of her death spread to me when her roommate answered my call late one Sunday night,  hoping to talk  to my longest friend. Her ashes were scattered  from a mountain overlooking the ocean.   The long disoriented grieving then began for a 24 year old, who I knew had not always been happy, but presented happiness to everyone else. Yellow was her favorite color.
Years later, her roommate, who had an unusual first name, was mentioned in a memoir I was reading. I wrote the author, wondering if the mentioned person was the roommate I had spoken to that night.  It was. In the conversation that followed, the roommate  told me that yes,  ‘S’ had been repeatedly sexually abused by a sibling. ‘S’ and I shared much about our  lives but she never told me that.
Sexual assault and abuse unravel the innocence of human development.  I remember when her first high school boyfriend told  her , she had ‘bedroom eyes’. one of those precipitous moments when, she and I knew, there was something emerging in the way she was seen and we did not know what it was. Then there were the nights when  her parents weren’t home, when we each with our then 2 or 3 week - long romances,  disappeared into  separate rooms, the radio on, playing "Strawberry Fields Forever", sometimes. From ninth grade on, she bleached her hair with ‘Summer Blonde’, lighter and lighter shades, the older she got. She had learned males like blondes.
Why S never told me, or for that matter, only one other person  was, I suppose, emotional protection- of an extremely isolating and dangerous kind . Not all sexually violated people commit suicide . But if  suicidality doesn‘t come, substance abuse and deep despair and distress may.
All of this comes to mind , as it does every year,  because  ‘S’  not telling  makes her like the hundreds of women who have not told. This year, it comes at a time when many women have- only now-  come forth to identify themselves as victims of  sexual assault and harassment by  Harvey Weinstein. They are finally telling.  S never got that opportunity or could not take whatever one arose.
We don’t need to travel too far to witness the subtle and unsubtle signs that telling will be met with blame, the ready cacophony of ‘She’s lying’, the persistent undermining of women’s credibility, no matter what her experience or credential . And this year the question is again raised. Why hasn’t shame been disenfranchised, once and for all from the telling of sexual assault and abuse? 
Many may remember Rep. Todd Akin raising the question in a Missouri television interview about whether a woman claiming rape  “was really raped”. After all, he said, discussion of the choice to terminate a pregnancy after rape is irrelevant because “rape doesn‘t cause pregnancy.” 


And then, there‘s the coverage of a 2013 Maine prostitution trial  following the exploitation of a young woman by 140 men. Her feelings, her body, her violation were pretty much ignored as the media devoured the events. The statewide newspaper headlined the “dilemma” of men who paid for sex with her trying to prevent the embarrassment of publicity . And then there was  the Maine Press Herald columnist  who  wrote of the young woman  “oh yes, having sex with well over 140 men who paid dearly for an hour of her precious time” and questioned how contrite she was  when she said “These actions were not taken because I wanted to. I did not feel like I was in a position to choose.” Bill Nemitz, the columnist wrote, “Come again?” “The Madam glides from the spotlight insisting she'd been tricked into turning tricks,” he wrote.
The young woman was held in sex slavery  (the human rights term for prostitution)  by Mark Strong, the Thomaston insurance agent barely mentioned by Mr. Nemitz or his newspaper. After her trial, in which she was sentenced to 10 months in jail, she announced that she “was feeling free“. Any humanitarian observer would note that anyone who says she is ‘feeling free’ after being sentenced to 10 months in jail has been  imprisoned by far worse jailers.
Most recently,  the same male columnist shared the stage as the interviewer of this year’s winner of the Frances Perkins Center award for  Intelligence and Courage, named after FDR‘s very accomplished Secretary of Labor. This an interviewer  who quite crassly dismissed  the credibility of a sexual assault victim . It was  as if a sexually assaulted  woman’s undermined credibility in telling had absolutely nothing to do with  that of Jane Meyer, the award winner or Frances Perkins, both of whom no doubt encountered as women many efforts to dismiss their believability.  Maybe the Center thought interviewing Jane Meyer would be ‘easy’. Of course, different day, different dollar, as the saying goes.
Which brings us back to not telling- and where the  permission to shame and discredit sexual assault victims comes from. To accuse them of lying,  ‘she deserved it’, sometimes with  the subtle collusion of women using long familiar tactics for shaming girls and women. We should all fear that, in a short time, Harvey Weinstein’s accusers will be met with the same sanctioned dismissive view.
So, this time of year  yes, I’m angry about that. But not as angry as I am that my friend ‘S’ could not tell about her long sexual abuse because she knew  the consequence of telling and thus died, from silence.

A Citizen's Guide to the Difference Between Telling the Truth and an Attack

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 04:51

I heard Jill Abramson , the former executive editor of the New York Times say recently that since the George W. Bush administration, there have been no less than eight lawsuits against members of the press for disclosing truth from information held in government documents.

Because the truth can change people’s beliefs, we are now in a time when telling it has been raised to the “orange alert” stage- the now unused system for alerting the public to danger. Fourth grade girls knew the truth is threatening in this way all along anyway. But as citizens, we have to ask what we lose when telling the truth is called an attack, something to prevent at all costs and thus beyond the reach of our beliefs because the powers that be don’t want us to hear it. The inner fourth grade girl in all of us is silenced and we are left with whatever the real consequences of the abuse of power are- which getting back to the outcomes history has displayed are often far worse, more damaging because the observers and the people in power who could have stopped those dangers did not have truth on their side or chose to ignore it or pretend that truth telling was an attack rather than act of protection.

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A Citizens Guide to the Difference between Telling the Truth and an “Attack”
-Susan Cook-
Much of the harm that has fallen to the  human race might have been prevented if people had told the truth. Cigarette smoking and lung cancer , carbon emissions and global warming, agent orange and cancer among Vietnam Veterans, and the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide,  the Armenian genocide and on and on. This does not include truth  telling on the Bernie Madoff scale of course credit swap default derivatives and the economic collapse of 2008.
I suppose we could turn to the Chinese philosophies of Sun Tze for the origins of the belief that deception is central to the art of war which presumes that telling the truth is contrary to successful aggression,  if in fact there is a war in progress. But these days, telling the truth can be cited in the media as an attack. To use the  word “attack” to describe telling the truth is a twenty first century twist on Sun Tze’s fondness for deception.  What do we have on our side if we don’t have the truth? 
But telling the truth as “attack”?  I heard Jill Abramson , the former executive editor of the New York Times  say recently that since the George W. Bush administration, there have been no less than eight lawsuits against members of the press for disclosing truth from information held in government documents.
I suppose on the one hand we could say that national security has now caught up with the social intelligence that fourth and fifth grade girls have mastered.  Paying attention to what is really going on,  telling the truth is very threatening to people in positions of power because part of what power subjugates is what you are willing to believe. How else would women have put up with being paid 69 cents for every dollar than men make for so long unless someone  had led them to believe that discrepancy was justified? Who would ever buy into the idea that one political party or leader or pubic policy is any better than another if belief systems were not what political power holds sway over? Who would ever believe that insurance company CEOs should be paid millions dollars annually unless people in positions of power had led  others to believe it was justified? Belief  levels the power playing field. Believing in the democratic process what keeps people voting and what makes people stop. Without it, unless there are weapons  and physical aggression involved,  power loses its scaffold- the story, the structure that justifies it.
Because the truth can change people’s beliefs, we are now in a time when telling it has been raised to the “orange alert” stage- the now unused system for alerting the public to danger. Fourth grade girls knew the truth is threatening in this way all along anyway. But as citizens, we have to ask  what we lose when telling the truth is called an attack, something to prevent at all costs and thus beyond the reach of our belief s because the powers that be don’t want us to hear it. The inner fourth grade girl in all of us is silenced and we are left with whatever the real consequences of the abuse of power are- which getting back to the outcomes history has displayed are often far worse, more damaging because the observers and the people in power who could have stopped those dangers did not have truth on their side or chose to ignore it or pretend that truth telling was an attack rather than act of protection.

Ode to Mr. Roubini's West Grand Lake Bass Revisited

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 03:14

In Maine, Bass fishing on West Grand Lake is a destination respite for many, including Mr. Nouriel Roubini, the legendary economist who was almost single-handed in anticipating the 2008 housing collapse and world-wide recession. This "Ode to Mr. Roubini's West Grand Lake Bass " is revisited as he has now predicted a worldwide recession in the wake of widespread tariff induced trade wars.

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ODE TO MR. ROUBINI'S WEST GRAND LAKE BASS REVISITED

MR. ROUBINI, DO  YOU THINK IT WAS THE WEST GRAND LAKE BASS
THAT HELPED YOUR BRAIN CELLS  FORECAST THE 2008 CRASH?
WHEN YOUR FRIENDS HAD IGNORED THE CREDIT DEFAULT SWAP  DERIVATIVES,
AND IN 2009, BEGAN TAKING SELECTIVE SEROTONIN RE-UPTAKE INHIBITORS,
DID YOU GO HOME, OPEN THE FREEZER, REACHING DOWN   PAST  THE CASH,
 GET OUT THE BUTTER, AND SAY "LET'S HAVE SOME MORE BASS!"

LUCKY FOR YOU, SOME BASS STILL REMAINED
FROM YOUR SUMMER FUN FISHING IN GRAND LAKE STREAM, MAINE.
WHICH ALL BRINGS US BACK  TO THE VERY BIG QUESTION
OF INTRODUCING ALEWIVES , NOT YOUR USUAL ECONOMIC REFLECTION.
PLEASE FOCUS  THOSE BRAIN CELLS ON THE FUTURE AND THE PAST.
 TELL US, WILL INTRODUCING ALEWIVES TO THE ST. CROIX RIVER DRIVE OUT  THE BASS?
IF YOU THINK THAT THEY WILL, CALL YOUR LEGISLATOR AND TAKE SIDES.
THERE ARE  EXPERTS THAT AGREE WITH YOU, THE GRAND LAKE STREAM GUIDES.
THESE ARE THE GUIDES WHO SHOW YOU WHERE TO FIND  BASS
( OMEGA-3S FOR THE MIND ) SO YOU CAN  MAKE A GOOD ECONOMIC  FORECAST.
WE KNOW MR. ROUBINI, YOU DON’T HAVE X-RAY VISION TO HELP YOU DELIVER
AN ASSESSMENT OF THE TOPOGRAPHY UNDER THE 1850'S ST. CROIX RIVER
BUT IF YOU WERE AN ALEWIVE FACING A 20 FOOT INCLINE
DOESN'T THAT  SOUND A LOT LIKE THE STOCK MARKET IN JANUARY 2009?
MR. ROUBINI, THE ONLY WAY FOR THE ALEWIVE IS UP, UP AND UP
BUT FOR ALEWIVES TWENTY FEET IS REALLY QUITE TOUGH.
YES, THERE ARE STRATEGIES, YOUR SPECIAL NICHE
BUT "BUY LOW, SELL HIGH" DOESN'T HELP OUT A FISH.
DON'T WE ALL WISH, GOVERNOR JANET MILLS HAD YOU ON HER SPEED DIAL?
WELL, SHE PROBABLY DOES AND CHECKS IT EVERY ONCE IN AWHILE.
MR. ROUBINI, MANY THINK THE COUNTRY CAN'T MISS
WITH YOU  ON HER SPEED DIAL AND YOUR WEST GRAND LAKE FISH.
MR. ROUBINI, YES, THERE ARE THE CRAPPIES AND LITTLE  SMALL TROUT
(AND NO, WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT HOW THEY WILL  VOTE.)
YOUR TASTE BUDS ARE NURTURED ON MICHELIN 5 STAR CLASS
SO THAT MEANS NOTHING  QUITE SUITS YOU LIKE A WEST GRAND LAKE BASS.

The Prologue 2018 
"The 2018 Prologue, Mr. Roubini, time to fire up the grill,
Get out your best marinade, put the Allagash on chill.
Your very best guide in this time of tariff upheaval
is not Bloomberg News or today's Wall Street Journal.
To keep your title as Dr. West Grand Lake Bass,
your Omega-3s jumping, still saving our last
nickels and dollars from going out with the tide,
go to www.grandlakestreamguides."

-SUSAN COOK-

The Generic Election 2018 Senate Candidate Anthem: In the Department of Poetic Justice (and Reckoning)

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 05:19

In the Department of Poetic Justice (and Reckoning) , a generic anthem for each and every Election 2018 Senate candidate.

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The Generic 2018 Election Senate Candidate Anthem

-Susan Cook

 

Oh beautiful, for spacious me, I am a profound man

So don't keep asking me to say for what it is I stand.

My friend Big Grouchy told me, "Just say you do not know

which Senators agree with you. Voters don't have to know.

 

" Oh beautiful, for spacious me, Big Grouchy meant to say

Don't tell them how you'll vote until they really have to pay.

Friday before Election Day, when Silver's polls are up,

Their vote will be your Hostage! Kavenaugh the final wedge!

 

Oh beautiful for spacious me. Big Grouchy says I can

hide all the facts about my past, my voting history.

I'm not anonymous you know. But Grouchy gets real mad

if someone tells the truth and he can't find out who they are.

 

Oh beautiful, for spacious me. Big Grouchy also said

Make sure you scan the Internet and pay some overhead

to Google every minute to tell you if they post

the facts you know, so they won't blow the cover off of you.

 

Oh beautiful for spacious me. Big Grouchy says he will

send out subpoenas rapidly when Truth's anonymous.

It's not that he's a liar. It’s public image work.

He says just show them what I want. The rest they can forget.

 

Oh beautiful for spacious me. My only problem is

because I have said things outloud, it’s not anonymous.

I mean the public record. It’s out there on the web.

Maybe Big Grouchy’s next lawsuit will ban the Internet.

 

Oh beautiful for spacious me, I know that I can win.

I've got them all so nervous. I think it is a cinch!

The most important thing to me is getting to D.C.!

Constituents? What's that? The issue's loyalty to me.

 

Oh beautiful for spacious me, I don't know what Brie is.

Food you know is not my thing. It doesn't go ka-ching!

My checkbook always needs me: I round up every sum.

The difference goes to charity, Guess what ! Lowers the tax for me!

 

Oh beautiful, for spacious me, I don't do sacrifice.

The Senators earn 100 thou. I don't plan to be one of them.

There is a difference, I'll tell you, no, I don't think I can.

I don't want citizens to think they are the ones I'm better than.

 

Oh beautiful for spacious me, I give to charity.

It comes to point zero zero one of my salary.

My supporters don't do math. Plus I am not a Mormon.

They give their ten percent away. No way I'll outdo them.

 

 

Oh beautiful, for spacious me, I won't let wages rise.

A dollar here, some quarters there. What do poor people buy?

I 'm not that big a spender, except for my TV,

It's part of my economy. Don't ask me: "So, tax-free?"

 

Oh beautiful, for spacious me, a trillion dollar gap,

would not be my problem when I am down there in DC.

It's not something I started . It wasn't on my time.

Too bad for you. you've got enough to pay me on your dime.

 

And yes, environmentally, contamination might

happen somewhere, the EPA has problems keeping sight

of chemicals and stuff like that. My votes will all be right

Don't start inventing reasons for me to take on your gripes.

 

Oh beautiful for spacious me. There are times when I'm wrong.

It doesn't really matter though, because I know I'm right.

It shows that I'm a leader. I will do what I want.

Do not forget I have to fend for my financ..um.. political life.

 

Oh beautiful for spacious me. I'm not a hypocrite.

Computers are for everyone and helps them feel they fit

into the world of cyberspace. Who knew they’d be Anonymous

and spread the truth about my past while I'm in politics.

 

Oh beautiful, for spacious me, I 'm so glad that I found

the time that I will really need to make my way around

to donors who will help me run my Senate race for free:

Make sure the check's signed properly "For More Money...For me."

A Citizen's Guide to Cynicism

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 03:04

Speaking and seeking the truth is not cynical.

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The editor of my local newspaper refused to publish two letters I wrote criticizing a political candidate who flaunted the Chinese as fertile potential investors in our state.  China has a horrendous human rights record which includes Tibetan genocide.  “You”, he said, “are doing the dirty work” for another "candidate's campaign" by "taking the moral high ground" which he questioned because of my "known" party activism. 
I reminded him that the Nobel Committee acknowledged the severity of China's violation of human rights by giving the Nobel Peace prize to the Chinese jailed  dissident Liu Xiaobo. “I’ve been a Tibetan Buddhist far longer than I have been a Democrat,” I said, “My Buddhist teacher's monastery in Tibet has been destroyed. I support a child’s education whose ancestors fled Tibet because of religious persecution.” He said "Well, now I know where you're coming from."
Outrage about atrocity has to be All About Me in order to be genuine? Talk about moral high ground is no longer valuable in and of itself and dismissed if the speaker also actively takes part in our Democracy? Speaking - seeking- truth means doing someone's dirty work? 
"Really?" as my 20-something friends say.
And we wonder where cynicism begins? Where motivation to speak and take part in this democracy  gets lost? How  " All About Me" becomes the only voice people recognize and listen to? 
Cynicism is a ball of dust that stays in the crevices- until we stop seeking and speaking truth because we no longer believe that someone somewhere is,  everyday, little by little, seeking the moral high  ground, where Liu Xiaobo is a media creation. Where taking part in our Democracy and political process is  "doing a campaign's dirty work".  Cynicism all by itself takes the prospect of truth- truth- not fiction- and chews it into tiny pieces that nobody can recognize and metaphor can’t help and that everybody is afraid to believe. When we don't have truth to seek and  speak about, we have nothing, and nothing  is not cynical, it is nothing.

Bannon's Farewell: An Addendum "I Was Seeing Him"

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 02:47

Great American Wrong Book lyrics for Mr. Bannon, now that 6 of his former campaign colleagues have been indicted.

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Addendum to Bannon's Farewell. "I Was Seeing Him..."

to the tune from "I'll Be Seeing You.."
-Susan Cook-

 

I was seeing him, yes

it was a minor whim

I probably should have stayed home

watching re-runs of

a certain Cosa Nostra film .

I had no idea

it was a favorite of his too.

I was hard at work helping You-Know-Who.

 

So I guess I'll change my pattern.

Try to get back to the gym.

Do a lot more yoga.

See if my PC could possibly fit in

The next space launch they're having

maybe Elon Musk could try

get it out there- headed straight

for Mars, hey, maybe for Saturn.

 

Actually, I barely knew him.

Roger Boulder, was that him?

The other thing I do not do

is send out emails

on a whim.

I hope you understand emails

easily are faked.

The important things- I say, face-to-face.

 

That was why I saw him briefly,

usually at yoga class.

He is a big tanner.

Not my style. Burns my nose too fast.

I spend enough time dealing

with my allergies to dust.

How I got by with no yoga,

Let's just say, it's now a must.

 

Now I won't be seeing him

at yoga anymore.

It may be a little while before

a class offered near him. But more

and more, federal prisons opt

to have it. Keeps the prisoners calm.

No more tanning booths.

Just downward facing dog.

 

I will not be seeing him.

I got my computer cleaned up.

Gee, I'm sorry that he's hit

a road bump. Sort of a hiccup.

I don't think back to those days,

I secretly admired

Mr. Mueller. Those head stand shoulders,

shout out, Yoga something he has tried.

 

AND DON'T FORGET!
THE ORIGINAL!

‘Bannon's Farewell Pose' 
A Poetic Tribute to the Departure of Mr. Bannon’
To the Tune from ‘I’ll Be Seeing You’

-Susan Cook-

Scaramucci didn’t read between the fine lines,
called reporters back, still read things in The New York Times,
I didn’t ever bother,
I never used words like suck or cock.
I’m a journalist.
You know I just like to talk.


I am Presidential. I think that came through.
Yes I’m allergic to
Certain foods, mold, cat dander too.
That’s why my nose looked stuffy
Kind of red, yes, my eyes too,
never got a chance to Photoshop my best side for you.

Then there’s Sean Spicer, Reince Pribus , they both do
A certain kind of yoga pose,
I’ll tell you just between us too,
I think yoga is liberal , Mahatma Gandhi had his version too
Who’d do that kind of thing?
Alt-left wingers ok Melania, too.


There might be a version made for alt-right guys
Politically on target
Where you keep your ammo by your side
I won’t have that much time,
I am not planning to retire
I’ll be back at Breitbart,
White guys only need apply!

Scaramucci may be starting his own studio,
Sean Spicer, Reince, maybe even
Mitch McConnell  might decide to go
And when the class is over
Lying in Shavasana,
They will all be chanting
Three times,
What happened,
Ohm, Ohm, Ohm, Ohm.

l

Myths, Proverbs and so on. The Sword of Damocles: A Citizen's Guide

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:23

Quick and to the point! Citizens' Guides adapted from Greek myths, proverbs and so on.

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The Sword of Damocles: A Citizen's Guide
-by Susan Cook-


Once in Greece, there lived a king, Dionysius. Many admired him for his wealth. One courtier, Damocles, admired him. Dionysius asked Damocles why he admired him. Damocles said he would like to do whatever he wished for a day like the king. Dionysius said tomorrow  the next day Damocles would do that. 

The next day Damocles was dressed in royal robes, he had fine food, and good entertainment. Suddenly he saw a sharp sword hanging from a thin thread hanging above his head.  He asked why  it was there. Dionysius replied, "I live with that sword above my head always." Damocles begged the king to take back his power. Damocles never did envy the king again.

COVER    A
MYTHS    A-
WRITING   A-
SPELLING   A-

Sonnet for Antoinette

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:03

This is a sonnet written for Antoinette, the school receptionist at the school in Georgia where a man stood outside, then fired a high powered weapon, carrying with him hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Antoinette spoke to him and he, in time, put down his weapon and surrendered to police.

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                                                     Sonnet for Antoinette
-                                                              -Susan Cook-

Antoinette, bring us to the small country
where you live and where that god you give to
stands, human tragedy right outside the
school who only needs to lift his foot through
one more door to show us what he carried
out when he went through the rooms where guns, his,
are manufactured, when he woke, harried
(we don't know why). It all comes down to this.
You speak to him and somewhere find the food
a crazy man needs most: what might have been.
"We might be family." Your hand soothes his mood.
"No man is an island." This is kin.
Antoinette, bring us to this country, near
you, where we  belong, truth louder than fear.

In the Department of Poetic Justice: LIMBO, A Musical Tribute (The Leave It To Beaver version with song and dance)

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 02:53

In today's Department of Poetic Justice, we offer a musical tribute to a fictional radio host, Rushton Limbo, who poetically longs for the respite of television watching and the iconic "Leave It To Beaver".

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L-I-M-B-O-
A Musical  Tribute to Rushton Limbo, a fictional Radio Host-
The Leave It To Beaver Version
To the tune of  the song ‘BINGO’
-Susan Cook-
My name is Rushton Limbo. I have a big TV.
It’s not nearly as interesting as listening to me.
But lately I’ve been thinking
So fascinatingly
Of turning on my TV, a little break for me.
Oh, L-I-M-B-O, L-I-M-B-O, L-I-M-B-O, Limbo is my name.
‘Leave It to Beaver’ is still on. I will be watching him.
Ward Cleaver is a lot like me
Way back when I was slim.
I’d like to watch some re-runs.  I don’t go on the web.
Especially the one of a President, denying he had sex.
Oh, L-I-M-B-O, L-I-M-B-O, L-I-M-B-O, Limbo is my name.
I have the fondest memories.  A nice big scrapbook too.
Of pictures of a girl from then.
I bet you know her too. Please join me in remembering
We’ll hold our nose together. As we recall repulsively
What our country had to weather.
Oh, L--I-M-B-O, L-I-M-B-O, L-I-M-B-O, is my name.
My moral sensibilities were shaken to the core,.
Oh why couldn’t Newt Gingrich
Get Bill Clinton out the door. So un presidentially, his index
Finger pointed, he even lied to you and me
Said he did not have sex.
Oh, L-I-M-B-O, L-I-M-B-O, L-I-M-B-O, Limbo is my name.
I’ll get out my old videos.
They help me to relax, less turmoil,
at least nobody has brought out a blue dress.
My job gets harder everyday. With the GOP's big clammor,
Where did Mitch and Newtie go, with Hastert in the slammer?
Oh, L-I-M-B-O, L-I-M-B-O, L-I-M-B-O, Limbo is my name.
The only thing I have to do
Is think of Hillary. Can’t  raise my Prozac dose
Higher, lest I  end up asking her on my show.
I need some comfort  now that the GOP’s upended,
a little harmless Beaver. Don’t go there, no pun intended.
Oh, L-I-M-B-O, L-I-M-B-O, L-I-M-B-O, Limbo is my name.
 

Who Rules The World and Why It Matters

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 06:00

Boys' State is an experiment in Democracy that a select group of high school boys attend in Maine this week. We can hope they will learn about the dangers of the cooption of the democratic process. The current administration leaves us all wondering what do they do down there in Washington, sometimes. Using political party membership as a sledgehammer to force agreement just one questionable technique. A democratic process stolen by a small number of Senators or Representatives or Presidential executive order - those who want their opinion to count more than anyone else's matters enormously.
This incident described happened about 12 years ago but it raises some of the same questions about the Democratic process the new administration does . So we re-visit: Who Rules the World and Why It Matters.

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Who Rules the World and Why It Matters
-Susan Cook
Some summers ago, I had the opportunity to swing on a hammock with my two young grandnephews, one five and the other a summer away from turning 4. They had gathered up from the sandpits two or three Power Rangers, two R2-D2s and several 3 inch tall good and bad guys and placed them in the hammock's webbing so we could all ride together.
After a moment or two, the five year old leaned back in the hammock's arch and gazed up at the canopy of oak leaves. he asked "Who rules the world?"
With the Power Rangers, the R2-D2s, the good and bad guys up on the hammock with us, I sensed the gravity of his question,. I asked, "Well, who do you think rules the world?"
"Queens and kings and presidents and the news," he said.
On a warm day, to listen to the honest musings of a five year old about the world is to be reminded that everyone's opinion matters, that we all have a responsibility to protect this opinion sharing, to protect what matters.
How does he know that already? Does he know how intensely kings, queens,, presidents and the "news" go about trying to rule the world? More than all the Power Rangers, R2-D 2s, the good guys and the bad guys combined, let alone what happens when Darth Vader rises out of the sand pile to once more have a go of it?
This brought to mind the firing of Maine's "Humble Farmer," Robert Skoglund by Maine Public Broadcasting."Humble". as his friends call him, was fired because he ventured, one sentence at a time, to share his honest musings about the way the world works, mixed into his extraordinary selection of our American musical treasure, jazz.
Why does this firing matter? Why has the American Association Against Censorship and hundreds of "Humble farmer" radio listeners protested, first to the Maine Public Broadcasting Board of trustees, then to Governor Baldacci and the Legislature and later to a Federal Communications Commission? Why have 60 legislators voiced their protest about the firing?
If the "news" is ruled by just a small group of people, say, a Public Radio Board of Trustees who have given big donation- of, say, more than $160,000 to kings, queens or presidents- it means their opinions count more than those of everyone else.
Thos of us who can't donate that much money will have our opinions left out. It means a "public radio" that pretends to be open and diverse is not, because the only opinions that really matter are those of the wealthy, white donors who are appointed to the Board by Republican politicians who received their donations.
That is not diversity. That is personal influence peddling that somebody has bought.
It leaves out the opinions of everybody else: the poor, people of color, of different ethnicity and culture, single parents, whose who won't earn $160,000 in their entire lives. And yes, it leaves out the 5 year-olds too or at least their first advocates whom in Maine are often working two or three jobs just to support their families.
There are places in Maine where there no cell phone service, no cable, no high-speed Internet access and very poor television reception. The only free radio and television programs are available on Maine Public Broadcasting.
When the rest of us are left out, the "news" that is ruling the world becomes very distorted. What is entertaining in their opinion may not reflect our opinion at all. What we thought was free and open, becomes something sold to a rich person.
What five year olds have taught me- that everybody's opinion matters- gets sold to a wealthy donor who - even five year-olds know- just might be using it to rule the world.
That's why the firing of the "Humble Farmer" matters.
And that's why a democracy that is not stolen by a small number of Senators or Representatives who want their opinion to count more than anyone else's matters and why a government shutdown because of it should never ever happen again.

A Citizen's Guide to What to Eat During a Government Shutdown

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 04:02

Citizens are being reminded these days of everything they don't have control over. Any nutritionist will tell you that the one thing you always have control over is the food you put into your mouth. Times like these require food with substance and comfort.You would be surprised at the comfort and substance found in the grocery store (as long there were not federal dollars involved in getting it there because of the You-Know-What.) A Citizen's Guide is here today about what to eat during a government shutdown.

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A Citizen's Guide to What To Eat During A Government Shutdown
-Susan Cook-
 
Well, citizens are being reminded these days of everything they don't have control over. Any nutritionist will tell you that the one thing  you always have control over is the food you put into your mouth. Times like this require food with substance and comfort.You would be surprised at the comfort and substance found in the grocery store (as long there were not federal dollars involved in getting it there because of the You-Know-What.)
Some suggestions:
Believe it or not, wild boar, organically fed, no pesticides or antibiotics, is right there in the freezer section. A little more expensive than hamburger but far more satisfying.
Moving down to the fish section, you can shop both locally and nationally if you choose the Crappie- an abundant fresh water fish. Just to make sure, if you shop alphabetically, that you find the Crappie, it is spelled C-R-A-P-P-I-E. Again C-R-A-P-P-I-E. Like what you vote for, sometimes how things are spelled is not how they sound or what you actually get.
Still in the mood to shop local, you could try some of the tender, locally caught trout. Innocent. Easy to fool, easy to catch.  Or bass, well-intentioned, dominant but well-intentioned. Salmon, always virtuous, even the farm-raised. Spelled just almost like it sounds. What you see (or voted for) is what you get. 
Moving over to Produce, ripe and ready for storage for future use or current consumption, the Squash which contain thousands of something the government has no control over, units of Vitamin A which as you remember helps vision, seeing from A to B, B to C, the Big Picture, the forest and the trees. Plus it has a pro-active taste and feel.
Of course, there's dessert waiting to be decided. Well, rescued with no help from You-Know-Who are Sno-balls whose company went under but came back- thank goodness because it would never happen now during the You-Know-What. A Sno-ball, pink, covered in coconut over devil's food cake, has marsh mellow inside. Sno-balls may not be loaded with vitamins but they are substantive now because they are symbolic. When the marsh mellows Sno-balls are made from  are rolled over each other and then covered with the devil's food and the pink stuff and the coconut ( which is the food of gorillas) what is in the center has little to do with what's on the outside. The marsh mellows that began the Sno-ball have nothing to do with the potentially gooey mess on the outside. But there they are. Be careful eating these. Too much swallowed too rapidly can get stuck in the throat and could choke you.

Civil Liberties for Sexists: The Purity Ball and Prostitution Laws

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 03:45

Recently, a man convicted of aiding the prostitution of a young woman who was exploited by over 150 men, was given a 3 week sentence. This sentence from a female judge, on her toes not to appear you-know-what, invites men to pimp. Like the right wing conservative Family Research Council director who promotes "Purity Balls" where fathers sign virginity protection clauses with their daughters, the pimp's sentence devalues women's sexuality and their worth. Women, with all their glorious advancement, are still there for the dirtying, still there for male credibility to prevail when big decisions must be made, that is defining what a women is really worth and whether she can credibly make her own decisions, about her body or anything else.

For many women, in the world, in this country and in this state, their worth still lies not when they lean in, but when they lean back.

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Civil Liberties for Sexists: 
The Purity Ball and Prostitution Laws
There is such a thing as a "Purity Ball", an event where fathers sign a pledge to protect their daughters' virginity and then throw a  tuxedo/fancy ball gown event to announce it, tuxedo/fancy ball gown events being a grand way to exclude, discriminate and promenade superiority. A field director for the extreme right-wing conservative Christian group Family Research  Council, is a  Purity Ball promoter. The How-To Purity Ball packet costs $90. According to the New York Times, 3 of the man's daughters have written a book called "Pure Women".
Before you begin to swell with humanitarian, card-carrying ACLU  pride because you immediately recognize a sexist double- standard, put down your copy of the Bill of Rights. Remember? The amendment to bar discrimination based on gender failed to be ratified. 
The double standard for men and women reverberates, if not  thrives, in the legal system, or at least in the case referred to here. There are pure women and there are dirty women and men the most eligible to determine who fits which designation and who will carry a label or consequence for the "dirtying", or a better word, the "traumatizing". Please bear in mind that the childhood sexual abuse of females by men is estimated to effect 2 in 5 women. A  signature psychological consequence for  the victim is a sense of being irreparably made "dirty".
Here in Maine, Mark Strong the pimp who financially supported and viewed through a webcam in his office,  over 150 men sexually exploiting a young woman, was given a jail sentence of less than 3 weeks for his promotion of prostitution. 
The newspapers speculate that the young woman, who was sexually exploited by over 150 men, who was physically and emotionally traumatized by being penetrated over 150 times, has now struck a plea bargain. She will spend close to 1 year in jail,  because there are also  the absolutely non-negotiable income tax evasion charges.
This is what Mr. Strong's sentence from a female judge, on her toes not to appear you-know-what,  means. It is an open invitation to men to pimp. It is a confirmation of what groups like the extreme right wing conservative Family Research Council endorse, all be it from the other end of the "sexuality and women’s value “ continuum.
Women, with all their glorious advancement in the work place and six figure salaries and opportunity to compete with men in every arena, are still there for the dirtying, still there for male credibility  to prevail when big decisions must be made, that is defining what a women is really worth and whether she can credibly make her own decisions, about her body or anything else.
For many women, in the world, in this country and in this state, their worth still lies not when they lean in, but when they lean back.

The Opposite of Love is not Hate, it's Indifference: Cupcakes and the Lineage of Hatred

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 07:52

When we don't recognize the unkindness of entitled hatred, we may be quietly consuming more of it than we realize. That may be a way in which a lineage of hatred quietly enters our system and our lives.

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The Opposite of Love Is Not Hate, It’s Indifference:
Cupcakes and the Lineage of Hatred
-Susan Cook-
Dutsi, depending on whether the translation is from the Sanskrit or Tibetan, means human remains. In Tibetan Buddhism, small amounts are consumed during some very high level spiritual rituals. It is said that when Chogyram Trumpah Rinpoche, a modern Buddhist spiritual leader, was a boy in a Tibetan monastery, he was given as part of his monastic teaching, dutsi to eat from his beloved brother who had died. What is consumed is no small matter in Buddhist circles.
I help staff from time to time Buddhist retreat weekends, during which Trumpah Rinpoche’s teachings are taught, bringing bagels, tea, sometimes more elaborate celebratory fare. At one retreat, an anti-choice participant brought 46 cupcakes, symbolizing 23 pairs of chromosomes- the veiled gesture being that some of those supporting reproductive rights- would be eating cupcakes , symbolically chromosomes.  as if they were cupcakes. Chogyram Trumpah Rinpoche was similarly deceived- the legend being that the monastics did not tell him that in his grieving moment of lost idealization of deep love- in this case for his brother. Such are the lessons of impermanence in Buddhism. Left un-grieved,  traumatic loss of idealized love and attachment brings consequences like permission to  physically and sexually abuse, abandonment, addictions , deep maltreatment and trauma. Un-grieved loss, in effect  perpetuates a lack of human compassion. And an absence of  love in the world.
Most of the people at the retreat didn’t count the cupcakes or notice the unspoken energy around the mockery in  eating cupcakes they were offered-  as might have been the case for Trumpah Rinpoche in his isolated dependence on his monastic  teachers. 
One might say that the compassion Buddhist teachings aim for was lost in dogma.  Buddhism’s  Four Noble Truths, include that we all have been given precious human birth. In Tibet, surviving beyond birth has always been and is still extraordinarily difficult. Precious human birth comes in that culture in very, very  different ways than it does in Western culture. Almost 40 years ago, I worked for a year on an observational study in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at a major hospital where we observed infants born before 28 weeks gestation and the environment around them. Very sophisticated medical technology, intubation, oxygen ventilators, umbilical IV monitoring and other complex interventions brought some of these neonates to survive. Others did not. And, no insurance did not cover all the costs, then or now. In 2015, the New England Journal of Medicine, published a study of 5000 premature infants which found that the gestational age at which  some neonates receiving this complex technology could survive - still not breathing on their own- was about  2-3 gestational weeks earlier than sophisticated technology made available 40 years ago. In the Far East where Buddhism began, that medical technology is not now and has never been available.
We don’t know how Trumpah Rinpoche experienced the consumption of dutsi. As an adult, he brought his interpretation of Tibetan Buddhism to the West in a palpable and palatable way to white, alienated, privileged westerners. His life characterized great spiritual accomplishment as well as sequelae of trauma. Nancy Steinbeck, one of his early devotees wrote about the "crazy wisdom’ of Trumpah in  her memoir “The Other Side of Eden".
Belief in reincarnation is also a steadfast truth among devoted Buddhists. The question often asked  is how could genetics alone and mere nurture bring, so quickly,  such ominous gifts to very very young children. In Buddhism, tulkus are children recognized at a very young age as being reincarnates of Buddhist deities and realized practitioners. In ‘Music in the Sky’, Michelle Martin wrote at length about the recognition and pronouncement of Tulkus.  They’re not recognized because of western smug science about the available gene pool , having ‘good genes’ and chromosomal status. There’s much, much more to the accomplishment of spiritual lineage than that.
To get back to the cupcakes, Buddhist teachings about compassion are often displaced by white western proprietary dogma and replacement of "what is" with what someone else thinks "should be".  "Dharma" the teachings of Buddhism, translates as "things as they are".  The holocaust survivor Elie Weisel said "The opposite of love is not hatred. It’s indifference" to things as they are. Indifference is transformed  to mindful awareness through Buddhist practices, meditation in particular. The Compassion that Buddhist practice develops means that hatred and acts of unkindness won’t be unnoticed.
During the 2016 campaign, the Presidential candidate- now President-  remarked with a not-so-veiled hatred that any woman who terminates a pregnancy should be punished. His remarks were met with some push back but certainly implied warning to any of his former casual sexual “dalliances“ which -  who knows- may have resulted in  unwanted pregnancy-  to not disclose their  private medical history.
Elie Weisel reminds us that hatred is not on the opposite end of a continuum that begins with love. Hatred is a different entity. If we do not recognize the unkindness, its mockery, its one-up-man-ship, smug claim to a better version of ‘what is’, in its hidden consumption either as cupcakes or dutsi, we may end up with more of it in our system than we know. And that may well be how the lineage of hatred is perpetuated after all.

How to Be Invisible, Part 2: Preventing Maltreatment By Listening to Someone Else

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 09:50

Our society has systematically discredited women's ability to know themselves, their bodies and their ability to parent. Child maltreatment, Harvey Weinstein's victimization and Ireland's long permission to invade women's private medical decisions are consequences of that discrediting.

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How to Be Invisible, Part 2: Preventing Child Maltreatment by
Listening to Someone Else

-Susan Cook-

 

I was driving to the local farmer's market the other day, in the rain. Not torrential, but still, rain. I passed a man walking by the roadside with a ma-a-y-be 4 or 5 month old baby in a baby carrier backpack, the child facing forward. No hat. Legs and arms completely bare and exposed. The child's, that is. I thought for about 3 seconds and I slowed and rolled the window and said to the father (I assume), "Your baby's head is getting wet." Father had his hat and rain jacket, on. He nodded and pointed generally down the road. I rolled the window back up and started to drive. Then, I thought about another 3 seconds, rolled down the window and said "You know little kids get hypothermia a lot quicker than adults do."

"Thanks for the help," he said, "[Expletive] ... off."

 

I continued driving , thought about Child Protective's 1-800- line, the local police and continued to drive. Child Protective in Maine has now been documented as negligent following release of a vague "investigation" of 2 child deaths by caretakers since December 2017. Three other events linked to the deaths of 3 other children at the hands of caretakers also took place. That's 5 children killed by caretakers since December. Largely uninvestigated. It is after all, the time of fertilizing political egos. Election season.

 

Child Protective will take a long time to be "on their game" enough to investigate a baby who "might" get hypothermia from bare skin completely exposed to rain.

 

I once told a father of a similarly small baby that he should not take the child in his canoe on a lake that becomes quickly rough during a canoe race. Oh, he had already placed the child in the canoe, the child with a life preserver on. Let's be clear- the life preserver was not the father's good judgement. I did call Child Protective that time.

 

Ego is inextricably bound to parenting. Every chicken speck of ego fragility, every blurring of the absolutely necessary distinction between what is safe for children and what is safe for adults- after a live birth- gets tossed into the more powerful, more dominant current of a parent's ego. Parenting means putting your own needs on hold- whether it means missing the farmer's market closing or abandoning your addiction.

 

"My kids are the ones that look like me," I heard a mother call out to someone recently.

 

Ego is not just about vanity. It's about when parents won't acknowledge the impact of their actions on their children. Ego can make a parent's conscience as opposite as the perspective of the child sitting behind the father in the baby carrier. And it contributes to child maltreatment. (See Parental Awareness and Child Abuse and Neglect, American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, July 1983).

 

I told one of the fiercer peace advocates I know about this event later in the day. "I've done that and you pay for it."

She's right about that. I wrote a letter to the newspaper about the 4 Maine child maltreatment deaths since December. An immediate comment from a Republican said "She's a political operative who accused the Republican State Senate President of "tapping" her phone." The comment reflects the same sloppiness of detail the then- yes- Republican Governor and DHHS commissioner brought to reviewing the 5 child deaths. No effort to be accurate in response to the many calls to Child protective about these children that were dismissed.

 

The "[Expletive]... off" comment came on the same day that Irish women were celebrating the successful referendum to remove the abortion ban from Irish law. It comes the day after Harvey Weinstein was charged, arrested and lead off in handcuffs for rape and sexual assault of two of the many women he victimized. Both in their own way speak to the permission to discredit women- pregnant or not- who know best what their own bodies have experienced, their own suitability and ability to parent, and the suitability and ability of the fertilizing male to parent a baby born after that long period of incubation. It's not about the threat to the father's ego called on to support the woman's ego. When one unmarried, single woman who bravely and independently fended off society's then rampant familial shaming and humiliation to give birth to the child, called the emotionally disengaged father from her hospital bed to announce the child's birth, he hung up.

 

Emotionally, the immediate defense against shaming is a wish for invisibility. Fear of shaming- and its explotation- made Harvey Weinstein's accusers invisibile. Successful shaming leads to real invisibility. Irish women (and Americans) for generations were sequestered in 'homes for unwed mothers", their infants ripped from them and, a Maine newspaper recently reported, sold by the Catholic church to those willing to make donations.

 

The zygote, the newly fertilized ova, the embryo are now medically visible to pregnant women, as they have never been before. The physical and emotional needs of the developing fetus, for nutrition, medical care, substance- free, psychotropic- medication free, mothers whose emotional bearings are free from abuse and yes, shaming, remain the same. Very often unacknowledged and ignored. Maine's then Governor and then DHHS head banned child-bearing age women from receiving food stamps if they held over $5000 in assets- a reliable vehicle, a motor home, a savings account. They opposed Medicaid for poor childbearing age women.

 

The people who knows best what her body has experienced, much as Harvey Weinstein's victims know best what he did to their bodies, much as Irish Women know best their own invisibility to the physical intrusiveness of Ireland's government and the church, are the women themselves. Any politician's effort to suggest they know better than the woman replicates and breeds the theft of credibility, like that of Harvey Weinstein's victims. Like that of women sequestered in Irish homes for unwed women.

 

Unconditional credibility for women begins to end shaming as the tool that pries a woman off her own body's instinct to speak up or acknowledge what it knows and makes her gut invisible to herself.

 

This brings us to the Gag rule Congress now reviews to prohibit Planned Parenthood clinics from telling women about options for termination of a pregnancy. It is another version of the discrediting of Weinstein's victims, the practice of sequestering of unwed, pregnant women and yes, the hip young dad telling me to "[Expletive]... off". Child maltreatment is, as ever, put on the backseat made invisible egocentrically, by shaming, humiliating and discrediting. Just saying, "[Expletive]... off" if someone happens to notice it.

The Little Prince and His Imaginary Rose: Her Imaginary Care and The Proprietary Life

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 06:17

I’m not sure how one marries the  proprietary "I give the right to life”  to the “I give the right to life free from emotional and physical torment”. Like “The Little Prince” in St. Exupery’s book, the rose some in our society imagine they "give the right to life” becomes even more imaginary when it comes to her care, drawn only on paper. And even when the roses are real, a judicial system that gives only a verbal warning to an alleged sexual abuser to have no contact with children gives only imaginary protection to them.

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The ‘Little Prince”  and His Imaginary Rose:
Her Imaginary Care and  the Proprietary Life
-Susan Cook-
“I gave my children the right to life“,  a friend said to me recently.  I was struck by how proprietary that view- that who conceives a child owns the right to life. I had never quite heard it put that way. There is much more to be done to own life and nurture children than conception .
I remembered that conversation  when the founder of a local youth theater group was indicted for sexual exploitation, unlawful sexual contact with children under the age of 12 and violation of their privacy. The accused’s attorney  sought 500 dollars cash bail . The judge raised it to 5000 dollars cash bail and 50,000 dollars real estate surety and "banned" the alleged perpetrator from having contact with children under the age of 16. The tone of his defender in the local newspaper generously left room for doubt. The demand for a complete and thorough review of policy and practice, conviction on hand or not, was muted by comparison. The fear that some "citizen" might lead to disenfranchisement of the theater group seemed an undercurrent.
The founder of the local youth theater group has now been sentenced to 10 years in state prison for the sexual abuse of 8 children.
Sexual abuse and molestation damage the right to a life free from emotional and physical torment and life-long impaired functioning. I often wonder why the same  logic used by Second Amendment proponents "If guns are outlawed, only  outlaws will have guns" isn't  applied to someone who has been indicted on sexual abuse charges who has successfully deceived caretakers. Why wouldn’t that same deception apply to his agreement to ban himself from harming them? Why would a judge believe that sexual abuse indictments bring some magical restoration of a conscience which says do not hurt children?  The legal system's bar seems to be set very high for the proof required to show that children are in need of protection from an alleged exploiter.  Five hundred dollars cash bail? All the indicted has to do is nod his head "Yes." The  protesters outside Planned Parenthood clinics holding pictures of fetuses, directed toward those who see parenthood as a privilege, needing responsible commitment and planning are lawfully permitted to engage in far more shaming and hostility than this man indicted on sexual abuse charges will witness. 
Still, this “sole proprietorship” claim -“I give them the right to life”- does nothing to protect children when there is no ownership or accountability, personally, or by society, for a life damaged by   neglect and abuse, dangerous parenting, poverty, non-vigilant child care or a legal system that relies on a verbal caveat to alleged sexual abusers "to avoid contact with children under 16". I am reminded of the Portland Press Herald report that the average number of years spent in jail by people  convicted of murdering a child in Maine is six years. I am reminded of the Maine Children’s Death Study (1980, Maine Bureau of Health) which found that the co-occurring factor for most  children who die by any means between birth and age 18  is the family’s receipt of food stamps. In other words, poverty. The  "Adverse Childhood Experiences" (ACE) study  now further confirms that abuse and neglect lead to markedly higher levels of  physical and emotional illness, and impaired functioning throughout life.
 
At the same time, personal choice after conception to continue a pregnancy - or not- what an individual can claim as theirs to decide- is always being disputed by those who claim to be the better judge than the mother of whether she has the emotional, physical and social capacity to bear and raise a child free from abuse, neglect and torment. It is only the child who suffers from their misjudgement and the shaming and humiliation of a woman who does not believe she can give a child a safe life. Nobody contests the average 6 year sentence in Maine of murderers of young children. Nobody contests the gross inadequacy of a judicial system giving a verbal warning to an alleged abuser to have no contact with children under the age of 16. Ownership of the damage and suffering children experience  when raised by parents whose reckless self indulgence or deprivation take precedence over a child’s well-being may be nowhere to be found. It does not freely follow from the sole-proprietor “I give the right to life" claim.
We are not a society that takes care of children or mothers. They are not guaranteed good care if the state enters into the home because neglect or abuse has been recognized. The foster care system is miserably under funded and inadequate. Maine has witnessed in recent months yet another murder of a child by a foster home caretaker deemed adequate by the Department of Health and Human Services.
A woman  offered maternity leave at 1/3 her prior salary is inadequately paid. There is certainly no wish to extend any care or bounty to chilldren of illegal immigrants, asylum seekers or legal immigrants, a recent suggestion floated that parents and children seeking asylum be held in separate facilities by Immigration authorities.
I’m not sure how one marries the  proprietary "I give the right to life”  to the “I give the right to life free from emotional and physical torment”. Like “The Little Prince” in St. Exupery’s book, the rose some in our society imagine they "give the right to life” becomes even more imaginary when it comes to her care, drawn only on paper. And even when the roses are real, a judicial system that requires only a verbal warning to an alleged sexual abuser to have no contact with children gives only imaginary protection to them.

I've Been Having a Small Tirade: In the Department of Poetic Justice (and Reckoning)

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 03:53

With lyrics for the Great American Wrongbook, sung to the tune from "I've been working on the railroad" that American folk song written for the hard-working Americans who make our country a beacon of hope and prosperity for the rest of the world.

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In the Department of Poetic Justice (and Reckoning)

"I've Been Having a Small Tirade..."

sung to the tune of "I've Been Working on the Railroad..."

with lyrics for the Great American Wrongbook

 

I've been having a small tirade

all the live long day!

I've been having a small tirade

If it gets big, clear the way.

Can't your hear the fake news coming!

Fine with me. I'm on my game

Can't you hear the fake news coming

When they hear my name!

 

I've been working on my golf game

every chance I get !

I've been working on golf game

trim the ice cream off my waist.

Can't you hear the press complaining!

Why is he gone so much?

Can't hear the press complaining

Jealous, that's my hunch.

 

Yes, I get a little grouchy

if they say too quick.

Yes, I get a little grouchy.

But I can only take so much!

First, they say that I'm a loser

lost by one hundred thousand votes

Then they start to ask each other,

who wrote her that check?

 

Cohen don't you blow,

Cohen don't you blow

Cohen, don't you blow your horn..

Cohen . don't you blow

Cohen, don't you blow,

Cohen, you say, "I don't know!"

 

 

 

I know Mitch McConnell loves me

Yes, he's kind of shy!

I know Mitch McConnell loves me

He's afraid his a__ will fry

if he openly opposes,

says things that sound like Hillary

since he hasn't gotten an inkling

how I got chosen.

 

I have been extremely good at

making friends world-wide!

I have been so good at taking

the small countries for a ride.

Think of all those in Korea

worried I might be mad at them

I gave Kim Jong Un the idea

that we should be friends.

 

Rudy, don't you blow,

Rudy, don't you know

what you told the press last week!

Rudy, don't you blow

Rudy, don't you know

forgeting makes you seem real weak.

 

 

So the butler or the valet

wrote that I get a little cross

Actually, I am not certain

What a way to treat your boss!

Put it in the paper, now it's nationally on view

Just remember nothing changes,

It's still "Big Grouchy" to you!

 

Grouchy, I might be

Grouchy I might be

Grouchy I might be on Tues ues day!!

Wait a couple days!

Out on my golf range,

I'm a really fun golf guy!

 

It's Not What You're Given, It's What You Do With What You Get: My Supermarket Monopoly Game and The Pentagon Budget

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 08:36

Fifty-four cents of every federally appropriated dollar goes to the Defense Department budget. Exactly where, the Pentagon auditors find "impossible" to track. Maybe they should hire some Supermarket game auditors to help out.

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It's Not What You're Given, It's What You Do With What You Get:

My Supermarket Monopoly Contest and the Pentagon Budget

 

In my state, the annual "Shop, Play, Win Monopoly"game, a"Collect and Win" game offering" "over $250 million in prizes and money saving offers" after 3 months of fabulous opportunities at every checkout moment at my local Supermarket is winding down.

 

Fingers crossed . I finally went through the hours long process of tearing open (along the perforated lines, of course) each potential gold mother lode held in each small folded square (one for each 10 dollars spent) and then placing each individual rectangular stamp (after meticulously moistening the back) on the "Monopoly Board.

 

The one million dollar cash prize required that you randomly receive 6 certain stamps each with an assigned number (333A1, 334B1, 335C1, 336D1, 337E1 and 338F1) of bewildering complexity.

I knew it would be tough to win that. So I set my sights slightly lower, the $100,000 cash prize maybe with only 5 specifically numbered stamps .

 

In every single category I came up one stamp short with the exception of the One Million Dollar prize in which I came up 2 short. Correction, I also came up 2 short for the $500 Portable Grill and Groceries which I didn't really want. Last year, almost the same thing happened. I won nothing.

 

But how is it that a supermarket chain presenting the same contest in several states offering 28 different prizes manages to precisely track the distribution of millions of these tiny rectangular stamps and confidently state that 3 lucky shoppers "might" win the million dollars or 250 "might" win the $500 Portable Grill and Groceries?

 

This is in stunning contrast to The Nation magazine's article (November 27, 2018) "Exclusive: The Pentagon's Massive Accounting Fraud Exposed". Independent auditors Ernst and Young and others hired to externally audit the Department of Defense reported it impossible to have a reliable audit because of a completely flawed Pentagon accounting system. The audit request came because The Pentagon for 26 years failed to internally audit themselves despite the 1990 Chief Financial Officers' Act requiring all departments and agencies to reliabily internally audit. Only the Pentagon has failed to comply. Impossible to have a reliable Pentagon audit? So, why doesn't the Pentagon hire auditors who took the same statistics classes the people who design the "Shop, Play, Win Monopoly " game did? In the supermarket game, "impossible" probably means one person getting all the little stamps to win "the Million Dollars" and "the $500 Portable Grill and Groceries" and the "$30,000 Jet Skis" . Maybe the "$20,000 College Tuition". And, you know, the Supermarket statisticians know exactly the impossibility of one person winning all 4 of the prizes .

 

Now, the bookkeepers at the Pentagon have far better benefits and far better salaries. than the Supermarket chain contest makers, let alone the benefits and salaries of the high school kids and young adults who work as baggers and cashiers. But those Supermarket statisticians still figure out these complicated probabilities and get every penny the Federal government levies on the workers in taxes.

 

By the way, The Pentagon receives $.54 out of every dollar of federal appropriations.

It has a 2.7 trillion dollar budget and no one knows exactly where that money goes.

 

The Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said at least they tried and the Pentagon didn't think they would pass anyway. That attitude would not be tolerated at my local supermarket chain. They after all track those millions of rectangular stamps and insure that only 75 of the "$7500 Family Vacation" prize will be available. Or have the where-with-all to hire auditors who can. No way will more than 75 people ever become lucky winners of that prize- unless- through some miracle in which Pentagon bookkeepers are suddenly cast down the ladder of success and hold jobs at the Supermarket Chain corporate headquarters. And then more Family Vacations then you could imagine going to the unsuspecting shoppers who- it turns out- with the same stroke of Pentagon incompetence have a major lucky day.

 

The Nation article went on to say that years of fraud in the Pentagon books works like this. Quote "When the Dept of Defense submits its annual budget requests to Congress, it sends along the prior year's financial reports, which contain fabricated numbers. The fabricated numbers disguise the fact that the DoD does not always spend all the money Congress allocates in a given year. However, instead of returning such unspent funds to the US Treasury, as the law requires, the Pentagon sometimes launders and shifts such money to other parts of the DoD budget." All of it a violation of the US Constitution. And thus the Pentagon's budget increases every single year.

 

Congress does not demand that the Pentagon enforce the 1990 Chief Financial Officers Act . Each year, the cost of the military budget goes up and up.

 

Going through the Supermarket Checkout line is very poignant sometimes. Food is our life blood. Sometimes, there's the young mom trying to keep a baby quiet and a 4 year old engaged while waiting to see the cost of all the food piled high in her grocery cart. Food is a largely unsubsidized commodity in this country or at least never subsidized at the $.54 cents of every dollar that the military receives. Until Congress demands that the financial record be set straight, no one knows exactly what the Pentagon spends on what. But you can bet, when military conflict comes, the Pentagon is more than willing to entice the low-paid , no subsidized college tuition - federally taxed supermarket workers- to enlist or - be drafted- to place their lives in the the lottery that every military bloodbath inevitably creates.

One small correction. I did win won thing this year. A free bagel.

Teaching A Computer to Find You- A Citizen's Guide

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 06:29

Internet anonymity now is presented as ‘the standard’ . But being anonymous when online really is optional . If like many other human activities, anonymous engagement on the Internet required mutual consent, many of our new Internet ‘problems’ might soon end.

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Teaching A Computer to Find You
-Susan Cook-
I’ve been thinking that every problem that communicating using the Internet has created might be solved by making anonymity online something you have to ask to be given, not automatically receive.  Anonymity, right now, on the web,  has become something users must struggle to overcome- to find out the identity of the other person who has written a post, emailed you, designed and created a website, or put on the cloud. Two simple choices would be made up front. First, the user chooses yes, I would like to communicate and receive information anonymously . Second, the person who is receiving on the other end  must answer, ‘Will you accept this transmission anonymously? ‘ Adults can pick anonymous if that’s how they would like to receive or transmit information. Parents can make that choice for their children.  There are no technological barriers to making the standard for Internet complete clarity about location and identity. Anonymity has been the standard because Internet designers and users quickly learned they can exploit it.
I first started interacting with an IBM 370 mainframe in 1978. There was no question about who was receiving or sending information because the equipment used to do such a thing had to be interacted with directly. At first, I sat at a teletype printer kind of a thing that was connected to a phone modem and  after the phone line connected , I typed in commands including- don’t ask me how I remember this- ‘512K’ which meant that the mainframe had to increase the space allocated to the teletype kind-of-thing so as to accommodate the SPSS program I was using to do statistics. Just to zone in on how technology has progressed. That’s the same ‘512K’ that one little document in your ‘My Documents’ file eats for a snack when you open it.  Around that time, the little ‘teletype kind of thing’ progressed to a video screen which connected directly to the IBM 370 but in order to use the video screen I had to travel to the same building the IBM 370 was housed in. There, others in the ‘user room’ used video screens too. And what everyone was doing got ‘queued up’. When  ‘batch jobs’ as they were called were submitted- some via the commands on the video screens and some on- yes, IBM cards with punched out holes at the top that held the code that the card reader passed on that then got processed by the IBM 370.
No one was anonymous. Everybody knew who everybody was and they had to because if they didn’t the output, the printout, the new set of IBM cards, whatever it was would get lost or deleted or could disappear. And nobody sat there seeking idle entertainment. They were doing some task that required an IBM 370 to do. Well, there was not much idle entertainment except for the one guy who had programmed his video screen - which did not belong to him- he paid a fee to use it- so when he was logged on , if someone came by and happened to touch the keypad once, a large digital image of a middle finger came up. Early, primitive trolling I guess, but you knew exactly who it was that was doing the trolling.
But now the Internet-which existed in a very primitive form beginning around 1982 in exactly that User Room- is anonymous. Internet anonymity now is presented as ‘the standard’ . But being anonymous really is optional . If like many other human activities anonymous engagement on the Internet had to be mutually consensual, Internet ‘problems’ like the following would very soon end-
Fake News
Misinformation
Unsolicited Pornography
Dangerous Chat Rooms
Trolling and Smearing
Financial Scams
Spam
Bullying
False Information
Computer Viruses, Worms, Bots
Identify Theft
because unless you agreed to be anonymous too, the other person would know exactly where you are- just like GPS- and who you are. A name and  a place  which by the way is the only way the Internet finds you in the first place- through your IP address. Your computer and the Internet Service Provider know that to find you as soon as you connect. In a way, the little smart phone you carry is ‘located’ in relation to some big processor just like the video screen in the user room used to be to the IBM 370 at the Office of Information Technology at Harvard which is where I was at the time.  It was Bill Gates, I believe, who not too much later had the building torn down and donated millions of dollars to replace it.

Teaching A Computer to Find You- A Citizen's Guide

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 06:29

Internet anonymity now is presented as ‘the standard’ . But being anonymous when online really is optional . If like many other human activities, anonymous engagement on the Internet required mutual consent, many of our new Internet ‘problems’ might soon end.

Teachingacomputeribm6_small

Teaching A Computer to Find You
-Susan Cook-
I’ve been thinking that every problem that communicating using the Internet has created might be solved by making anonymity online something you have to ask to be given, not automatically receive.  Anonymity, right now, on the web,  has become something users must struggle to overcome- to find out the identity of the other person who has written a post, emailed you, designed and created a website, or put on the cloud. Two simple choices would be made up front. First, the user chooses yes, I would like to communicate and receive information anonymously . Second, the person who is receiving on the other end  must answer, ‘Will you accept this transmission anonymously? ‘ Adults can pick anonymous if that’s how they would like to receive or transmit information. Parents can make that choice for their children.  There are no technological barriers to making the standard for Internet complete clarity about location and identity. Anonymity has been the standard because Internet designers and users quickly learned they can exploit it.
I first started interacting with an IBM 370 mainframe in 1978. There was no question about who was receiving or sending information because the equipment used to do such a thing had to be interacted with directly. At first, I sat at a teletype printer kind of a thing that was connected to a phone modem and  after the phone line connected , I typed in commands including- don’t ask me how I remember this- ‘512K’ which meant that the mainframe had to increase the space allocated to the teletype kind-of-thing so as to accommodate the SPSS program I was using to do statistics. Just to zone in on how technology has progressed. That’s the same ‘512K’ that one little document in your ‘My Documents’ file eats for a snack when you open it.  Around that time, the little ‘teletype kind of thing’ progressed to a video screen which connected directly to the IBM 370 but in order to use the video screen I had to travel to the same building the IBM 370 was housed in. There, others in the ‘user room’ used video screens too. And what everyone was doing got ‘queued up’. When  ‘batch jobs’ as they were called were submitted- some via the commands on the video screens and some on- yes, IBM cards with punched out holes at the top that held the code that the card reader passed on that then got processed by the IBM 370.
No one was anonymous. Everybody knew who everybody was and they had to because if they didn’t the output, the printout, the new set of IBM cards, whatever it was would get lost or deleted or could disappear. And nobody sat there seeking idle entertainment. They were doing some task that required an IBM 370 to do. Well, there was not much idle entertainment except for the one guy who had programmed his video screen - which did not belong to him- he paid a fee to use it- so when he was logged on , if someone came by and happened to touch the keypad once, a large digital image of a middle finger came up. Early, primitive trolling I guess, but you knew exactly who it was that was doing the trolling.
But now the Internet-which existed in a very primitive form beginning around 1982 in exactly that User Room- is anonymous. Internet anonymity now is presented as ‘the standard’ . But being anonymous really is optional . If like many other human activities anonymous engagement on the Internet had to be mutually consensual, Internet ‘problems’ like the following would very soon end-
Fake News
Misinformation
Unsolicited Pornography
Dangerous Chat Rooms
Trolling and Smearing
Financial Scams
Spam
Bullying
False Information
Computer Viruses, Worms, Bots
Identify Theft
because unless you agreed to be anonymous too, the other person would know exactly where you are- just like GPS- and who you are. A name and  a place  which by the way is the only way the Internet finds you in the first place- through your IP address. Your computer and the Internet Service Provider know that to find you as soon as you connect. In a way, the little smart phone you carry is ‘located’ in relation to some big processor just like the video screen in the user room used to be to the IBM 370 at the Office of Information Technology at Harvard which is where I was at the time.  It was Bill Gates, I believe, who not too much later had the building torn down and donated millions of dollars to replace it.

Teaching A Computer to Find You- A Citizen's Guide

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 06:29

Internet anonymity now is presented as ‘the standard’ . But being anonymous when online really is optional . If like many other human activities, anonymous engagement on the Internet required mutual consent, many of our new Internet ‘problems’ might soon end.

Teachingacomputeribm6_small

Teaching A Computer to Find You
-Susan Cook-
I’ve been thinking that every problem that communicating using the Internet has created might be solved by making anonymity online something you have to ask to be given, not automatically receive.  Anonymity, right now, on the web,  has become something users must struggle to overcome- to find out the identity of the other person who has written a post, emailed you, designed and created a website, or put on the cloud. Two simple choices would be made up front. First, the user chooses yes, I would like to communicate and receive information anonymously . Second, the person who is receiving on the other end  must answer, ‘Will you accept this transmission anonymously? ‘ Adults can pick anonymous if that’s how they would like to receive or transmit information. Parents can make that choice for their children.  There are no technological barriers to making the standard for Internet complete clarity about location and identity. Anonymity has been the standard because Internet designers and users quickly learned they can exploit it.
I first started interacting with an IBM 370 mainframe in 1978. There was no question about who was receiving or sending information because the equipment used to do such a thing had to be interacted with directly. At first, I sat at a teletype printer kind of a thing that was connected to a phone modem and  after the phone line connected , I typed in commands including- don’t ask me how I remember this- ‘512K’ which meant that the mainframe had to increase the space allocated to the teletype kind-of-thing so as to accommodate the SPSS program I was using to do statistics. Just to zone in on how technology has progressed. That’s the same ‘512K’ that one little document in your ‘My Documents’ file eats for a snack when you open it.  Around that time, the little ‘teletype kind of thing’ progressed to a video screen which connected directly to the IBM 370 but in order to use the video screen I had to travel to the same building the IBM 370 was housed in. There, others in the ‘user room’ used video screens too. And what everyone was doing got ‘queued up’. When  ‘batch jobs’ as they were called were submitted- some via the commands on the video screens and some on- yes, IBM cards with punched out holes at the top that held the code that the card reader passed on that then got processed by the IBM 370.
No one was anonymous. Everybody knew who everybody was and they had to because if they didn’t the output, the printout, the new set of IBM cards, whatever it was would get lost or deleted or could disappear. And nobody sat there seeking idle entertainment. They were doing some task that required an IBM 370 to do. Well, there was not much idle entertainment except for the one guy who had programmed his video screen - which did not belong to him- he paid a fee to use it- so when he was logged on , if someone came by and happened to touch the keypad once, a large digital image of a middle finger came up. Early, primitive trolling I guess, but you knew exactly who it was that was doing the trolling.
But now the Internet-which existed in a very primitive form beginning around 1982 in exactly that User Room- is anonymous. Internet anonymity now is presented as ‘the standard’ . But being anonymous really is optional . If like many other human activities anonymous engagement on the Internet had to be mutually consensual, Internet ‘problems’ like the following would very soon end-
Fake News
Misinformation
Unsolicited Pornography
Dangerous Chat Rooms
Trolling and Smearing
Financial Scams
Spam
Bullying
False Information
Computer Viruses, Worms, Bots
Identify Theft
because unless you agreed to be anonymous too, the other person would know exactly where you are- just like GPS- and who you are. A name and  a place  which by the way is the only way the Internet finds you in the first place- through your IP address. Your computer and the Internet Service Provider know that to find you as soon as you connect. In a way, the little smart phone you carry is ‘located’ in relation to some big processor just like the video screen in the user room used to be to the IBM 370 at the Office of Information Technology at Harvard which is where I was at the time.  It was Bill Gates, I believe, who not too much later had the building torn down and donated millions of dollars to replace it.

Teaching A Computer to Find You- A Citizen's Guide

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 06:29

Internet anonymity now is presented as ‘the standard’ . But being anonymous when online really is optional . If like many other human activities, anonymous engagement on the Internet required mutual consent, many of our new Internet ‘problems’ might soon end.

Teachingacomputeribm6_small

Teaching A Computer to Find You
-Susan Cook-
I’ve been thinking that every problem that communicating using the Internet has created might be solved by making anonymity online something you have to ask to be given, not automatically receive.  Anonymity, right now, on the web,  has become something users must struggle to overcome- to find out the identity of the other person who has written a post, emailed you, designed and created a website, or put on the cloud. Two simple choices would be made up front. First, the user chooses yes, I would like to communicate and receive information anonymously . Second, the person who is receiving on the other end  must answer, ‘Will you accept this transmission anonymously? ‘ Adults can pick anonymous if that’s how they would like to receive or transmit information. Parents can make that choice for their children.  There are no technological barriers to making the standard for Internet complete clarity about location and identity. Anonymity has been the standard because Internet designers and users quickly learned they can exploit it.
I first started interacting with an IBM 370 mainframe in 1978. There was no question about who was receiving or sending information because the equipment used to do such a thing had to be interacted with directly. At first, I sat at a teletype printer kind of a thing that was connected to a phone modem and  after the phone line connected , I typed in commands including- don’t ask me how I remember this- ‘512K’ which meant that the mainframe had to increase the space allocated to the teletype kind-of-thing so as to accommodate the SPSS program I was using to do statistics. Just to zone in on how technology has progressed. That’s the same ‘512K’ that one little document in your ‘My Documents’ file eats for a snack when you open it.  Around that time, the little ‘teletype kind of thing’ progressed to a video screen which connected directly to the IBM 370 but in order to use the video screen I had to travel to the same building the IBM 370 was housed in. There, others in the ‘user room’ used video screens too. And what everyone was doing got ‘queued up’. When  ‘batch jobs’ as they were called were submitted- some via the commands on the video screens and some on- yes, IBM cards with punched out holes at the top that held the code that the card reader passed on that then got processed by the IBM 370.
No one was anonymous. Everybody knew who everybody was and they had to because if they didn’t the output, the printout, the new set of IBM cards, whatever it was would get lost or deleted or could disappear. And nobody sat there seeking idle entertainment. They were doing some task that required an IBM 370 to do. Well, there was not much idle entertainment except for the one guy who had programmed his video screen - which did not belong to him- he paid a fee to use it- so when he was logged on , if someone came by and happened to touch the keypad once, a large digital image of a middle finger came up. Early, primitive trolling I guess, but you knew exactly who it was that was doing the trolling.
But now the Internet-which existed in a very primitive form beginning around 1982 in exactly that User Room- is anonymous. Internet anonymity now is presented as ‘the standard’ . But being anonymous really is optional . If like many other human activities anonymous engagement on the Internet had to be mutually consensual, Internet ‘problems’ like the following would very soon end-
Fake News
Misinformation
Unsolicited Pornography
Dangerous Chat Rooms
Trolling and Smearing
Financial Scams
Spam
Bullying
False Information
Computer Viruses, Worms, Bots
Identify Theft
because unless you agreed to be anonymous too, the other person would know exactly where you are- just like GPS- and who you are. A name and  a place  which by the way is the only way the Internet finds you in the first place- through your IP address. Your computer and the Internet Service Provider know that to find you as soon as you connect. In a way, the little smart phone you carry is ‘located’ in relation to some big processor just like the video screen in the user room used to be to the IBM 370 at the Office of Information Technology at Harvard which is where I was at the time.  It was Bill Gates, I believe, who not too much later had the building torn down and donated millions of dollars to replace it.

Compassion and Its Blindspots: Women's Turn for No Compassion in Alabama

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 08:09

A Buddhist teacher talking about Compassion told the story of the leader ripping open his vein to feed a starving stranger. Bodily acts coming out of compassion to prevent suffering are found in many spiritual traditions. The blindspots in compassion in this society it appears may now prevent recognition of the decision to end a pregnancy as one of those acts.

Allhappyfamiliesarealike_small

Compassion and Its Blindspots: Finding A New Dedication to Merit

 

I heard a Buddhist teacher talk recently about Compassion, he born in Bhutan. In Bhutan, wealth is measured by Gross National Happiness, not a Gross National Product. There is no military. Hatred, anger and suffering the teacher said are dispelled by compassion. He explained the origin of a Buddhist liturgy that like in any other tradition people will repeat without really understanding its significance. The liturgy recited after a lengthy practice session or teaching goes like this,

 

By this merit may all obtain omniscience,

May it defeat the enemy wrongdoing,

From stormy waves of birth, old age, sickness and death,

from the ocean of samsara may I free all beings

 

A variation of this liturgy says,

By the confidence of the golden sun of the Great East

May the lotus garden of the rigdens' wisdom bloom

May the dark ignorance of sensient being be dispelled.

May we all obtain profound brilliant glory.

 

The merit , he explained, comes from an example set by the ruler of a mythical and beatific country where establishing compassion was the standard by which everyone lived. Some very dark evil carnivorous beings came who had no compassion and because this was a country where killing to eat was not tolerated, they had nothing to eat. They came to the ruler, starving and on the verge of death and asked him to given them food. And the ruler ripped open his vein and gave them blood to save them and from this he created the Dedication of Merit.

 

From the beginning of time, war and conflict between men (largely) has been the source of blood sacrifice that is considered noble, patriotic, beyond question as an act of valor. Compassion rarely comes from that. Rather, we are more familiar with body strewn images of the Civil War, World War I and II, the Vietnam War, any war that comes to mind. and the misery of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder so closely associated with those who survive the horrors of war. Somewhere along the line, the ripping open of the veins to feed the starving as an act of compassion to end suffering has been subverted: the patriotic encouraging the blood shed unaccompanied by compassionate intent.

 

This brings us to the current vitriol surrounding the termination of pregnancies. There is much more beyond conception to creation of compassionate care for the breathing born 40 weeks or less later. This is not a secret. Women know what is not available to the unborn, the deprivations of the unborn in utero that psychological and emotional despair, poor nutrition, poverty, alcohol and opiod use, and abuse of the body of the woman carrying the child creates. Who bears the deprivation of care most significantly, if the infant survives to a breathing birth, is the child.

 

 

The decision to terminate a pregnancy is the ripping open of the vein like the king in the Dedication of Merit origin- a choice to bear the suffering oneself rather than 40 weeks later pass the deprivation, the abuse, the harm onto a being only able to breath on their own at birth.

Like the leader, it is an act of compassion in which one bears the consequence ones self. It is only in white Western elite societies that sophisticated medical technology allows survival of some infants after birth that in third world countries without medical sophistication do not never survive.

 

The "merit" that Donald Trump know endorses as a criteria for immigration to this country reifies the White Western elitism seen in births that survive because of sophisticated medical technology and the absence of that "merit" in third world countries.

 

There is no license granted in any spiritual tradition to my knowledge to reserve bodily sacrifice for the War dead. The ruler ripping open his vein to feed those filled with hatred and contempt as an act of compassion is not unlike those ending a pregnancy who openly acknowledge their own inability to provide compassionate care because no mystery here- society or family do not or will not provide the care either. The deprivation of care after birth is passed on after a 40 week gestation period- if a breathing being endures the deprivations. Many do not feel entitled to make the zygote, the embryo, the fetus bear the suffering of the deprivation. Like the Buddhist leader who chose to bear it himself, they choose to bear it themselves and terminate the pregnancy.

There is a spiritual blindspot in the pronouncements of the Alabama and Missouri governors who pass legislation to ban termination of all pregnancies because- this is no mystery either- they fail to acknowledge "the life" they alledgely are saving needs much much more to survive to a live birth let alone grow to and through a healthy childhood. In keeping with the Dedication of Merit, we could establish a new merit rating for each for these states that pretend to glorify life by assessing these qualities:

-availability of free birth control to all conception-eligible women to prevent unwanted pregnancy

-provision of housing, food, medical care and employment at a living wage scale for women during pregnancy

- provision of safe, reliable, well monitored child care immediately after birth

-Medicaid and Medicare for all

- Food stamps distributed without shaming or race-baiting

-psychological and psychotherapy intervention widely available 

-healthy, safe foster care if a mother cannot provide care

Men or family may well not be willing or able to provide care. In the United States,society is not- no surprise- our extended family. And for the woman who is victimized, incested, raped, shunned, broke, abandoned, partner-less, or damaged in body, mind and spirit, ripping open the vein, terminating a pregnancy may be the only act of compassion available and she chooses it.