A portrait in honor of a seagull

I photographed this seagull with a broken wing in front of my home today about half hour before it died.

Johnathan Livingston

I thought about the lessons of the book by Richard Bach that was so popular when I was a young teen. Johnathan Livingston Seagull was probably the first book I read at age 12 or 13 after my mother died. It would not be an exaggeration to say that book had more influence on my spiritual life than the Bible. The music of Neil Diamond reinforced those messages as I must have listened to hundreds of times as a teenager and into my 20s.

In honor of this seagull , I will pull the book off the shelf and listen to the music once again.

The meaning of Apollo 11, 1969

On this weekend in 1969, 52 years ago, the Sunday edition of The Philadelphia Inquirer, our local newspaper, included in its special edition, a large glossy color print of the astronauts landing on the moon on July 20. I taped that photo high on the wall, almost touching the ceiling of the farmhouse bedroom wall where brother John and I had our bunk beds. The unwritten but well understood message of that event and that era was that we, as a nation, could do anything we set our minds on. 

We saw that photo every day. The message of its meaning confronted us as we climbed out of bed each morning. We were the rural middle income kids of a single father, without any noticable social advantage or predictor of notable future achievement. But as I look back on that era and the parenting and societal mentorship of that era it could be encapsulated in that photo:
We, as individuals, can do anything that we set our minds on. 

As far as I know, that photo remained on the bedroom wall of the farm house until the farm was sold when I was in graduate school more than a decade later. Coincidently or not, both John and I went on to become national champion athletes in our own different sports and each of us launched separate businesses that were recognized as national leaders in their respective fields. Anecdotal coincidence? Perhaps, but it still feels like a compelling connection all these years later.

For younger generations who may not understand the psychological impact of this moon landing event had on millions of us then, I feel sad to think that their memories will be of multibillionaires efforts to exploit space. I feel sad that the nation has lost its way and ability to commit to common goals. I feel sad that the abilities of individuals to accomplish great things are limited by the widened gaps in wealth, income and community influence compared to our world of decades ago. 

Today we continue to march forward with the same values, influences and sense of determination. But my perception of the world’s opportunities has clearly changed.

Woody Guthrie “Old Man Trump”

“I suppose that Old Man Trump knows just how much racial hate
He stirred up in that bloodpot of human hearts
When he drawed that color line
Here at his Beach Haven family project

[Chorus]
Beach Haven ain’t my home
No, I just can’t pay this rent
My money’s down the drain
And my soul is badly bent
Beach Haven is Trump’s Tower
Where no black folks come to roam
No, no, Old Man Trump!
Old Beach Haven ain’t my home

[Verse]
I’m calling out my welcome to you and your man both
Welcoming you here to Beach Haven
To love in any way you please and to have some kind of a decent place
To have your kids raised up in

[Chorus]
Beach Haven ain’t my home
No, I just can’t pay this rent
My money’s down the drain
And my soul is badly bent
Beach Haven is Trump’s Tower
Where no black folks come to roam
No, no, Old Man Trump!
Old Beach Haven ain’t my home”

Bends toward justice

“I do not pretend to understand the moral universe. The arc is a long one. My eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by experience of sight. I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends toward justice.” – abolitionist Unitarian minister Theodore Parker in a 1853 sermon.

““The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” – MLK, brought to new fame by President Obama, and now likely one of the most cited quotations of the past year.

Wishlist for my planet

Wishlist for my planet:

  1. We lose our nationalist and tribal attitudes and see that we are all in this together.
  2. That a third US political party emerges to break the lock jam of our government.
  3. That government incentivize sustainability above all else. (Yes, even above “constitutional rights”)!
  4. We reinvent the concept of corporations.

Spirituality of Spinoza

The following is either compiled or copied. I do not know the source.

When Einstein gave lectures at U.S. universities, the question students asked him most was: Do you believe in God? And he always answered: I believe in the God of Spinoza.

Baruch de Spinoza was a Dutch philosopher considered one of the great rationalists of 17th century philosophy, along with Descartes.

According to Spinoza, God would say: “Stop praying. I want you to go out into the world and enjoy your life. I want you to sing, have fun and enjoy everything I’ve made for you.

“Stop going into those dark, cold temples that you built yourself and saying they are my house. My house is in the mountains, in the woods, rivers, lakes, beaches. That’s where I live and there I express my love for you.

“Stop blaming me for your miserable life; I never told you there was anything wrong with you or that you were a sinner, or that your sexuality was a bad thing. Sex is a gift I have given you and with which you can express your love, your ecstasy, your joy. So don’t blame me for everything that others made you believe.

“Stop reading alleged sacred scriptures that have nothing to do with me. If you can’t read me in a sunrise, in a landscape, in the look of your friends, in your son’s eyes—you will find me in no book!

“Stop asking me, ‘Will you tell me how to do my job?’ Stop being so scared of me. I do not judge you or criticize you, nor get angry or bothered. I am pure love.

“Stop asking for forgiveness, there’s nothing to forgive. If I made you, I filled you with passions, limitations, pleasures, feelings, needs, inconsistencies, and best of all, free will. Why would I blame you if you respond to something I put in you? How could I punish you for being the way you are, if I’m the one who made you? Do you think I could create a place to burn all my children who behave badly for the rest of eternity? What kind of god would do that?

“Respect your peers, and don’t give what you don’t want for yourself. All I ask is that you pay attention in your life—alertness is your guide.

“My beloved, this life is not a test, not a step on the way, not a rehearsal, not a prelude to paradise. This life is the only thing here and now—and it is all you need.

“I have set you absolutely free, no prizes or punishments, no sins or virtues, no one carries a marker, no one keeps a record.
You are absolutely free to create in your life. It’s you who creates heaven or hell.

“Live as if there is nothing beyond this life, as if this is your only chance to enjoy, to love, to exist. Then you will have enjoyed the opportunity I gave you. And if there is an afterlife, rest assured that I won’t ask if you behaved right or wrong, I’ll ask, ‘Did you like it? Did you have fun? What did you enjoy the most? What did you learn?’

“Stop believing in me; believing is assuming, guessing, imagining. I don’t want you to believe in me, I want you to believe in you. I want you to feel me in you when you kiss your beloved, when you tuck in your little girl, when you caress your dog, when you bathe in the sea.

“Stop praising me. What kind of egomaniac God do you think I am? I’m bored with being praised. I’m tired of being thanked. Feeling grateful? Prove it by taking care of yourself, your health, your relationships, the world. Express your joy! That’s the way to praise me.

“Stop complicating things and repeating as a parrot what you’ve been taught about me. Why do you need more miracles? So many explanations?

“The only thing for sure is that you are here, that you are alive, that this world is full of wonders.”

The New Finances of Politics

Turning lies into profits has proved hugely successful. New federal financial reports show that the pressures of losing have actually helped Trump raise $13 million per day over the past two months. What are the long term financial implication on other elections?

The MAGA movement fundamentally changed the finances of American politics. Since the time two months ago when it appeared highly likely to independent observers that he would lose the election, Trump and his fundraisers have raised $13 million per day primarily through text message appeals to the MAGA crowd. Yesterday the Trump campaign, the RNC, Trump Victory, and Trump Make America Great Again Committee, filed reports with the Federal Election Commission for the reporting period of Oct. 15 to Nov. 23 disclosing that they collectively raised a total of $495 million in tis short time.

Since there are no laws that the text message appeals to donors need to be factual or honest, the people solicited have been misled with false statements and sophisticated appeals to their emotions. It is easy to argue that election finance laws are specifically designed to allow legalized fraud. The fundraisers target the cognitive weaknesses in potential donors through brilliantly designed fundraising messages. This explains why most MAGA individuals believed that he would certainly win the election despite other more credible data, will still win the election through post-election maneuvers despite all other sources, will be president despite losing the election based on speculator fantasies, and will be president again in the future. There are no signs that this unprecedented financial campaign will slow down.

In fact, the financial appeals for Trump’s 2024 campaign are expected to begin soon and will likely be the strongest early financial campaign in our country’s history. Trump is clearly able to leverage his folk hero status and polished TV image as a successful businessman among the MAGA crowd into an extremely profitable cash generating machine. The money is funneled through a Political Action Committee, better known as a “PAC”, a type of organization authorized by federal law that bypasses the limits of campaign contributions and allows Trump to use the money without the usual restrictions imposed on campaign funds.

What effect will this have on other federal, state and local political fundraising? The Republican National Committee has indicated that it is willing to consider backing other candidates outside of Trump and the MAGA circle. Will this fragment the parties’ fundraising?

My own role is focused and limited to the required accounting and legal compliance of political campaigns, including a PAC. I have set up the mechanics of text message based donation campaigns. I know that this relatively new technology is a mechanically efficient process. Most of my campaign clients have been independents or Democrats. Only two were Republicans. I understand that it would be expensive but still highly profitable to run a text message based fundraising campaign like Trump is doing. It is not clear to me, in my limited capacity as an accountant, whether others will be able to be as successful following this newly proven strategy. My observation and personal opinion is that other candidates of both parties are light years behind in their ability to manipulate voters into this type of cash-generating machine. Yet I do not doubt that Trump’s fundraising success will cause future fundraising campaigns to copy this proven strategy of appealing to the ‘dark side’ of voters. I regret to conclude that fundraising based on fantasy – storied completely separated from facts and reality – will increase in the future. I’ll be watching for other Republicans who follow this same financial strategy. Some observers write that it is unlikely that Democrats or independent candidates would be as successful in this type of strategy. I tend to agree but that’s well outside my area of expertise.

In summary, I see huge financial potential ahead for this completely legal method of turning lies into a profitable long term business model. While it isn’t clear who will do this, I have no doubt that others will follow.

National To Do List

  • Recommit to the Paris Accord
  • Rejoin WHO
  • Reinstate DACA
  • Reuinite refugee families
  • Support and strengthen ACA
  • Raise highest bracket corporate tax rates
  • Add higher individual tax bracket over $400,000
  • Supported and coordinated coronavirus task force based on science not politics
  • Expand Supreme Court so that one president’s appointments does not have undue influence
  • End drilling on national lands
  • Strengthen Clean Water Act

That’s good enough for day one.

The power of protest against evil

A reporter once asked A.J. Muste — a social activist who, during the Vietnam War, stood outside the White House night after night — ‘Mr. Muste, do you really think you are going to change the policies of this country by standing out here alone at night with a candle?’

“‘Oh,’ Muste replied, ‘I don’t do this to change the country. I do this so the country won’t change me.’


This passage is widely quoted but this blog post on The Liberal Pulpit caught my attention. I am grateful that I’ve been able to stand for a lifetime of powerful protest to resist the evils of man from the Vietnam war in the early 1970s to the environmental evils of climate change deniers in the 1980s to the evil of trumpsters from 2016 to 2020. Only through this process of perseverance to upholding our core moral values will we, as individuals and as a human society, prevail on this earth.