KEEPING IN TOUCH by Anonymous

KEEPING IN TOUCH by Anonymous

This explains why friends forward jokes. I’ve never thought of it this way before.

A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead. He remembered dying and that the dog walking beside him had been dead for years.

He wondered where the road was leading them. After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight. When he was standing before it, he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother-of-pearl and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold. He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side. When he was close enough, he called out, “Excuse me, where are we?”  “This is Heaven, sir,” the man answered. “Wow! Would you happen to have some water?” the man asked. “Of course, sir. Come right in, and I’ll have some ice water brought right up.”

The man gestured, and the gate began to open.

“Can my friend,” gesturing toward his dog, “come in, too?” the traveler asked. “I’m sorry, sir, but we don’t accept pets.” The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going with his dog. After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road leading through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed.  There was no fence. As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book. “Excuse me!” he called to the man, “do you have any water?” “Yeah, sure, there’s a pump over there, come on in.” “How about my friend here?” the traveler gestured to the dog. “There should be a bowl by the pump,” said the man.

They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it. The traveler filled the water bowl and took a long  drink himself, then he gave some to the dog. When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree. “What do you call this place?” the traveler asked.  “This is Heaven,” he answered. “Well, that’s confusing,” the traveler said. “The man down the road said that was Heaven, too.'”

“Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That’s Hell.”

“Doesn’t it make you mad for them to use your name like that?” “No, we’re just happy that they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind.”

So-o-o-o. Now you see, sometimes, we wonder why friends keep forwarding stuff to us without writing a word. Maybe this will explain it. When you are very busy, but still want to keep in touch, guess what you do?  You forward email’s! When you have nothing to say, but still want to keep contact, you forward jokes! When you have something to say, but don’t know what, and don’t know how . . . . you forward stuff!

A ‘forward’ lets you know that . .

. . . You are still remembered,

. . . You are still important,

. . . You are still loved,

. . . You are still cared for. So, next time if you get a ‘forward’, don’t think that you’ve been sent just another forwarded joke, but that you’ve been thought of today and your friend on the other end of your computer wanted to send you a smile. You are welcome at my water bowl anytime !! So here’s to keeping in touch . . .

Even if it means only forwarding on an email!

[This brief story came to me in an e-mail from a dear friend.  It is my pleasure to share it here with readers.  There’s a lot of truth in this story!]

 

 

 

 

A PUZZLE:  HOW WELL CAN YOU CONNECT THE DOTS? by Milt Hankins

A PUZZLE: HOW WELL CAN YOU CONNECT THE DOTS? by Milt Hankins

DID YOU KNOW that despite the president and his Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s assertions, Paul Manafort played a primary role in the Trump campaign and the Republican National Convention?

TRUMP TOWER

DID YOU KNOW that Paul Manafort lived in Trump Tower before he became Trump’s campaign manager? [The Daily Beast]

DID YOU KNOW that Paul Manafort “worked for a Russian billionaire with a plan to ‘greatly benefit the Putin Government?'” [Washington, Associated Press, March 23, 2017]

DID YOU KNOW that, according to the Associated Press, Paul Manafort received millions of dollars from Russia to influence American politics and businesses? He drew no salary for his Trump campaign work. 

DID YOU KNOW that Donald Trump said that Paul Manafort “had done a great job” the day after the Republican National Convention? Did Trump know that Manafort was working for a millionaire ally of Vladimir Putin? [Trump speech]

HILLARY CLINTON SPEAKING AT THE LAST PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

DID YOU KNOW that Roger Stone is “under investigation for what would be his dirtiest trick–colluding with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton and to put his friend in the White House?” [Maggie Haberman, The New York Times, March 21, 2017]

DID YOU KNOW that Carter Page, an American oil consultant and “an early foreign policy adviser to Donald J. Trump who was scrutinized by the F.B.I. on suspicion of private communications with senior Russian officials over the summer, was back in Moscow on Thursday.” [Moscow release to The New York Times, December, 2016]

DID YOU KNOW that Representative Devin Nunes (R, Calif), who is running the House Intelligence Committee on the Russian-Trump connection, was a member of President Trump’s transition team?

DID YOU KNOW that Representative Devin Nunes (R, Calif), who is running the House Intelligence Committee on the Russian influence in the 2016 election, told reporters he didn’t know who Roger Stone and Carter Page are? [Nunes interview]

DID YOU KNOW that Representative Adam Shiff, (D, Calif), a ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation, has said publicly that “he has more than circumstantial evidence” that Trump associates colluded with Russia. [Lawrence O’Donnell program, MSNBC News, March 22, 2017]

VLADIMIR PUTIN

DID YOU KNOW that Rex Tillerson, the current Secretary of State and General Mike Flynn, who served as Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor during the transition period and for a short period after President Trump took office, had close relationships with Vladimir Putin and the Russian oligarchs? [various news reports]

STEPHEN BANNON

DID YOU KNOW that “the reclusive mastermind behind President Trump’s nationalist ideology and combative tactics, Stephen Bannon, made his public debut Thursday, delivering a fiery rebuke of the media and declaring that the new administration is in an unending battle for ‘deconstruction of the administrative state.’” [The Washington Post reporting on the Conservative Action Pac conference]

DID YOU KNOW that it is commonly known that Vladimir Putin despised Hillary Clinton and therefore wanted to influence the 2016 election to see that Ms Clinton lost the presidency to businessman Donald Trump? [MSNBC news release]

DID YOU KNOW that President Donald Trump is on record “assert[ing] his desire to draw Russia and the United States closer together as president–building on a long-established track record of Trump’s fondness for the autocratic Russian leader?” [CNN Politics article, “Donald Trump’s Praise for Vladimir Putin” by Jeremy Diamond, July 2016]

DID YOU KNOW that, while he was telling his followers that Hillary Clinton was under F.B.I. investigation,

DONALD TRUMP

Donald Trump [himself] was the subject of an F.B.I. investigation? [released during the House Intelligence Committee Investigation]

DID YOU KNOW that “The U.S. intelligence community concluded in a report released publicly on January 6th, 2017 that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a massive influence campaign to interfere in the presidential election in favor of Trump?” [MSN article, Max Greenwood in The Hill, March 22, 2017]

Now that you know these facts and assertions, can you connect the dots (the relationships)? Would you say that the Trump administration has some ‘splainin’ to do?

I would.

THE BOMBSHELL OF THE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE HEARING HAPPENED IN THE HALLWAY by Jen Hayden

THE BOMBSHELL OF THE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE HEARING HAPPENED IN THE HALLWAY by Jen Hayden

Rep. Devin Nunes is the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee charged with investigating the possible collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and state-sponsored Russian hackers working to disrupt the 2016 election and western democracy as a whole. Many have questioned whether Nunes should be involved with the investigation in light of the fact that he was a key executive member of Trump’s transition team. The other members of that small team include Dr. Ben Carson, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Governor Chris Christie and the now disgraced Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. Several members of that elite team were rewarded for their loyalty to Trump, two were named to cabinet positions. Nunes must’ve been a highly regarded member of the inner circle to be tapped by Trump for that role.

And here we find ourselves with Nunes leading the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and an enemy state. Instead of grilling FBI Director for information on possible collusion, Nunes and the other Republicans on the committee repeatedly used their time to question Director Comey about who leaked the news Lt. Gen . Flynn and AG Jeff Sessions had repeated contact with the Russians. Not interested in the collusion with an enemy state, only interested in who leaked–even going so far as suggesting reporters who published the information should potentially face charges. Seriously.

All of that leads us to the most incredibly infuriating part of Monday’s proceedings. It occurred after the committee hearing ended and Nunes was fielding a few questions in the hallway. David Corn, Washington bureau chief of Mother Jones, joined a press gaggle peppering Nunes with questions and Corn’s report (and video) are absolutely damning.

NUNES INTERVIEW FOLLOWING CONGRESSIONAL HEARING

After the hearings, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif), the chair of the committee, sort of shrugged when asked why the Re

publicans had zeroed in on this leak and said almost nothing about Putin’s assault on American democracy. Maybe it was “overemphasized,” he said. But he contended the Flynn leak was the only crime involved in this widening scandal. When a reporter noted that hacking a political party, stealing its documents, and leaking them would qualify as a crime. Nunes grinned and said: maybe it was, but that was done by a foreign actor.

When I asked Nunes whether he agreed with Trump’s recent tweet that the “Russia story” was “fake news” cooked up by Democrats, he wouldn’t provide a straight answer. What part of the Russia story was Trump referring to? he asked. I countered: Is this all made up by Democrats? Nunes replied that he didn’t know.

He was, though, quick to say he has seen no evidence of any coordination between the Trump camp and the Russians during the campaign. But, as another reporter pointed out, the committee has just started its investigation. Oh yeah, Nunes said.

By far the most stunning part of the Q&A came when Corn asked Nunes about Trump campaign advisers Roger Stone and Carter Page, both key figures in this investigation, both widely reported to have had direct contact with the Russian hackers themselves and the Russian ambassador. Nunes reply? “I don’t know those people.”

Roger Stone has acknowledged being in contact with the Russian hacker during the campaign. The Senate Intelligence Committee sent Roger Stone a letter on February 17, 2017, instructing him to preserve any Russia-related documents.

ROGER STONE, TRUMP CAMPAIGN OPERATIVE

The Senate committee asked Mr. Stone, who is also under scrutiny from other federal investigators, to “preserve and retain all hard copies and electronically stored information as specified below in furtherance of the committee’s ongoing investigation into Russia actions targeting the 2016 U.S. elections and democratic processes globally.”

Mr. Stone confirmed the existence of the letter, which was dated February 17. However, he said he had received it only on Friday, by email. Mr. Stone has acknowledged trading messages over Twitter with Guccifer 2.0, the online persona that officials believe was actually Russian intelligence officers.

Are we really to believe Rep. Devin Nunes, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has never even heard of Roger Stone? Never heard of Carter Page, who’s done a series of increasingly embarrassing interviews and changed his story several times and now admits he spoke with the Russian ambassador?

Representative Maxine Waters (D-Calif) is absolutely right. Devin Nunes and the other Republicans on the committee have demonstrated, without question, their inability or unwillingness to fully investigate possible collusion between the Trump campaign and an enemy state. That should worry every American, regardless of political affiliation. A bipartisan, independent special prosecutor is required. Yesterday

Tuesday, Mar 21, 2017 - 11:47:35 AM EST - Jen Hayden

An important update to note that in February, Rep. Nunes acknowledged in late February that he’d been dispatched by the White House to combat the idea appointing a special prosecutor to investigate. At that time, he seemed to know who Roger Stone was then:

Nunes also confirmed Monday that he was one of the lawmakers to whom the White House turned to combat the story. The report mentioned Flynn, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and former campaign aide Carter Page, as well as Trump associate Roger Stone.

Nunes described the White House giving him a phone number for a reporter. He said he did not see anything inappropriate with the request and his follow-up in calling the reporter.

Tuesday, Mar 21, 2017 - 1:18:20 PM EST - Jen Hayden

Twitter user @dru star points to another Nunes interview from February 27. In the interview with Fox News, Stone and Page were specifically mentioned:

Congressman Devin Nunes (R-Calif) said on “Your World” that his committee would not partake in a “McCarthyism witch hunt” just because one press report made allegations against American citizens.

Nunes said he will not immediately subpoena former convention manager Paul Manafort Jr., former advisor Roger Stone nor former campaign consultant Carter Page before his committee after their names appeared in the Times’ report.

[This report first appeared in Daily Kos and is reprinted here with permission.  Readers who want more information are encouraged to go to Daily Kos and Google for details and videos.  Photos are in the public domain.]

 

 

HOUSE SPEAKER RYAN – A RELIGIOUS HYPOCRITE? by Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox

HOUSE SPEAKER RYAN – A RELIGIOUS HYPOCRITE? by Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox

A PRIESTLY LETTER TO SPEAKER PAUL RYAN FROM

REV. DR. MATTHEW FOX

Dear Speaker and Congressman Ryan,

As a priest who commemorates his 50th year in the priesthood this year (28 as a Roman Catholic and 22 as an Episcopalian), and as your elder, I am writing you this letter because I am worried about your soul.

REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE

We all know you take good care of your body, working out frequently in the congressional gym we taxpayers provide for those in Congress, and that is a good thing. But I am concerned that you are neglecting your soul. It too requires work-outs and practice to stay healthy.

You claim to be a good and practicing Catholic Christian but I have serious doubts that you are. Our Christian beliefs include these words of Jesus after all: “What does it profit a person if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?” These powerful words are surely important for anyone serving in public office or any other places of responsibility, whether in government or business or church or wherever. Yes, they even apply to your close buddies the Koch brothers, upon whom you depend so fully for your income and ideas and campaigns and job.

You see, another passage that grounds Catholicism and Christianity is found in Matthew 25: “Do it to the least and you do it to me.” Not to mention he golden Rule which is found in Matthew 7:12 and is reflected in some form in every world religion since the time of Hammurabi: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

Now I want to ask from a spiritual and theological perceptive how you can possibly reconcile these basic teachings of the Gospels with your continued efforts to create budgets for our entire nation that do the following:

1. Threaten to privatize and thereby destroy Social Security for elders and disabled people.

2. Destroy critical health support systems for the sick, handicapped, mentally disabled, and homeless by effectively scuttling Medicare and Medicaid.

THE HOMELESS AND THE POOR

3. Dismantle the EPA so that the rest of God’s sacred creation is imperiled by human narcissism (Pope Francis’ words). Have you not read Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si that teaches everyone–believer and non-believer alike–that we humans are not here to destroy but to support creation for the good of all beings on earth now and in the future? If you have studied this great document–as you must as a thinking believer–where is it to be found in your legislative agenda?

Another Biblical teaching is the warning that we are not to worship idols. But Wall Street is a purveyor of the idolatry of money. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer in that system.

POPE FRANCIS I

Pope Francis has spoken to that truth also when he speaks of the “savage capitalism” and the “god of money” that dominates so much of decision-making in western culture.

Your naked efforts to give more and more tax breaks to billionaires like your supporters the Koch brothers is proof that you have up to now chosen to be on the side of the savage capitalists and the gods of money. Have you no shame? Have you no conscience? Do your faith and Jesus’ teachings mean nothing to you because you are mesmerized by power and the powerful?

WALL STREET

Do you not know–or do you simply not care–that when the uber-rich do not pay their fair share, the struggling poor and middle class must pay from their meager resources to subsidize the rich? And when the uber-rich get still more tax breaks, the poor and middle class are forced to make up the difference?

Meanwhile, until you and your party pay attention at last to these basic issues, I as a Christian priest and theologian can only conclude that you are not at all a Catholic or a Christian but just one more hypocrite flaunting your bogus religion on your sleeve to garner more votes and stay in a cushy job while you sell your soul to the Koch brothers and other Wall Street misers. People who don’t have a clue about the “weightier matters of the Law–justice, compassion, good faith!” (Mt. 23:23) that Jesus preached, and who could not care less.

Jesus has something to say about that too, remember? It was strong stuff. He was speaking to you, Paul Ryan, and your fellow politicians when he said, “Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You who are like whitewashed tombs that look handsome on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of corruption. In the same way you appear to people from the outside like good honest men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness….You are the sons of those who murdered the prophets.” (Mt 23.27-28,31).

I hope and pray that you and your fellow politicians, Mr. Ryan, so beholden to the rich and uber-rich, might heed Jesus’ words. And if not, at least do him the courtesy of not invoking his name to justify your lawlessness.

Sincerely in Christ’s name,

Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox

REV. DR. MATTHEW FOX

[The Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox’s communication was described as an “open letter,” and its subsequent publication places it in the public domain.  Illustrations by Pixabay and Google have been added by the Editor. Dr. Fox fully documented his statements in the original text.  Those who wish to see additional documentation and sources Dr. Fox used may contact Columnist with a View (www.columnistwithaview.com) and we will be more that happy to supply that material.  Matthew Fox currently resides in Oakland, California. Formerly a Catholic priest and presently an Episcopal priest, Fox is arguably the most important theologian of our time. He is certainly amongst the most controversial. A spiritual theologian and religious scholar, he has dedicated much of his life to developing/recovering the tradition of Creation Spirituality.] 

COMING TO A TELEVISION SCREEN NEAR YOU by Beth Rankin

COMING TO A TELEVISION SCREEN NEAR YOU by Beth Rankin

My parents restricted our television watching when I was young. I learned to tell time before kindergarten so I could turn on my program (Romper Room) at 11:30. I still rarely watch TV and been thinking we can let the cable access go without a problem. I watched only a few things in the past year and most of that was accessible online.

However, I know a lot of people have the television on just about all day. It’s background noise to some. For many, it is the focus of their activity. Perhaps, in time, it will be also for me. My mother-in-law, essentially bedridden in her last few years because of COPD, had no cable but still could watch local programs. She had public television on all day. Or at least when her local sports team was not being televised. The television brings the world to a lot of people, especially if they do not get out in to the world.

Back in 2000 I heard people talking about a new TV program, Survivor. They were excited about what the contestants of this reality show had to do. I actually watched one show; I think they had to eat bugs. It was an interesting concept but, to me, not worth the time. I had a six-year-old and my husband was dying of brain cancer. It was more important to me to spend time with them than spend an hour glued to what really seemed like the idiot box.

We were living in Huntington, West Virginia in 2010 when British Chef Jamie Oliver came to town to get people to change their bad eating habits. Part of the show was filmed at my son’s high school and he came home often with descriptions of what REALLY went on before the cameras started to roll. In addition, I spoke with one of the guys who was on the track team and had participated in the reality show. He described an incident where he informed an associate producer that he had a conflict and was told to tell Oliver. As he started to explain to the chef, Oliver struck his fingers in his ears and started singing “I can’t hear you.” Later, when the episode aired it showed Oliver having a fit because this guy had not had the courtesy to inform him that he would not be there.

So, it was very apparent to me that reality television shows are NOT about reality, but are staged as much as any scripted show. And it also became apparent to me that people watched these shows because they enjoyed seeing people lose. The excitement of the show very much included the idea that someone who is inferior would be kicked out. If the watcher voted for someone who got to stay, they “won.” This set people up, over these years, into a me versus the rest of them attitude.

Needless to say I had no interest in watching the Apprentice. I grew up in the New York City area and knew about Donald Trump’s ways to take advantage of people to get what he wanted. I did not need to give up my time watching him belittle people. However, it was a popular show. And many people voted for Trump based on that television persona. They did not realize it was fake. So, by accepting it as reality, guess what happened?

Now we have a new reality:



The head of the EPA went on national television and said carbon dioxide doesn’t drive climate change. This is a complete reversal of past EPA policy and a total rejection of all credible science and facts. This isn’t a joke–It’s the first step to killing all programs to combat climate change. Ask yourself WHY.

We have escalating fear that a transgender person will attack young girls in public restrooms although no such incident has happened. At the same time, young white men are getting slaps on the wrists for raping and sexually assaulting women, even when they are unconscious. Ask yourself WHY.

A member of the Congressional committee discussing the new healthcare plan does not want men to have to pay for pre-natal health care. Perhaps he is merely unaware how costs go down when the pool includes people who do NOT use a service, or maybe sees no reason for women to have health care costs as low as men. Ask yourself WHY.

The populations of more and more states are voting for legalized medical and recreational use of marijuana but the federal government is adamant that the risk to public health is equivalent to drugs like crack, meth, and heroin. So, the legal businesses have restrictions from federal banks and the government can continue to slap people into prison for sentences that are often longer than [sentences for] crimes against people. Ask yourself WHY.

While 17 intelligence agencies say they have proof that Trump and his cohorts had dealings with members of the Russian oligarchy, no one in Congress is willing to start an investigation but those same senators pounced all over the mismanagement of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails. Ask yourself WHY.

People throughout the country clamor that illegal aliens have stolen jobs from native-born Americans and support the deportation of all people who entered the country illegally. Farmers growing produce, restaurants, and the construction industry welcome people wanting jobs to come forward. Ask yourself WHY.

Trump promises a YUGE wall to protect us from “bad hombres” and also promises that he will get Mexico to pay for it. As the plans unfold, it appears that not only will we the people be paying for it with a surcharge on Mexican products but it is apparent that Trump’s plan to reduce the funding for the Coast Guard will offer a new door of entry to anyone wanting to come to stay. Ask yourself WHY.

Discussion about infrastructure construction includes giving the work to private companies who will get reimbursed by we the people with tolls on rebuilt highways and bridges. Ask yourself WHY.

And finally, because this list could go on and on….The new healthcare plan will be lowering costs not for we the people but for the government. The rest of us will have the option to pay more than we can afford for services unknown at this time, or die. Simple choice. Ask yourself WHY.



And the people are beginning to make some noise. Congressional town hall meetings in their home districts are having massive attendance. Some are calm as people ask questions and the representative or senator responds. Many districts, however, are not being visited or their meetings are cut short because the congressional representative or senator cannot adequately show that s/he is actually listening to his or her constituents.

But the majority of the people remain silent. Can you explain to me why?

One reader said I am asking too much of people to expect them to comment. Okay, here goes: don’t comment to me. Get involved. Turn off the television and go out into your community. Get involved. Only by your actions will you be known. If not you, who? If not now, when?