A welcome to readers

As a resident of this planet for more than three quarters of a century, I have enjoyed both successes and disappointments in a wide variety of vocations, avocations, and life experiences. This blog satisfies my desire to share some thoughts and observations--trenchant and prosaic--with those who are searching for diversions which are interesting, poignant and occasionally funny. I also plan to share recommendations about good/great movies I've watched and books and articles which I've found particularly mind-opening, entertaining, instructive. In addition, I can't pass up the opportunity to reflect publicly on how I am experiencing the so-called Golden Years. Write anytime:
markmarv2004@yahoo.com

Thursday, April 9, 2015

MEASURING CANDIDATE QUALITY….BY BUCKS RAISED? OR ARE WE MEASURING DEMOCRACY ITSELF?

A headline article in the Washington Post today excitedly reported that yet another milestone has been reached in the seemingly inexorable creep of  democratic America toward a plutocratic and oligarchic America. The Citizens United decision has produced its expected results as millions and millions of publicly untraceable dollars continue to pour into the coffers of Presidential candidates. The candidates, of course, know from whence the money comes and will shape their policies accordingly if and when elected. The 90% who barely afford to subsist on their salaries and wages can't really get into this "buy influence" game at all. So, the minority wins--not really a guiding tenet of representative democracy.

The greatest democratic experiment in the history of the world is being sorely tested on a battlefield where dollars combined with with voter apathy and stagnant incomes will weaken or eliminate what used to be championed as "one person, one vote." A key operative principals of capitalism now seems to be: everything can be bought because everything has its price.  Apparently, the Koch brothers et. al. have discovered this truth and are exploiting it with 'no holds barred' to achieve their vision of self aggrandizing democratic rule.

To be a "premier fundraiser" qualifies a candidate for what? Winning the  "money race?"

Groups backing Ted Cruz raise $31 million in a single week
GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz vaulted to the top tier of the 2016 money race Wednesday as supporters announced that super PACs backing his bid had raised $31 million in a single week.The haul — which ranks as one of the biggest fundraising surges in modern presidential-race history — served as a sudden wake-up call for the rest of the likely Republican field, particularly Jeb Bush, who until now had enjoyed his status as the premier fundraiser in the contest’s early stage. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

FINAL FIVE IN INDIANAPOLIS

This morning, I saw a headline in the Washington Post that read:

In Indianapolis, concern that religious freedom law will harm local economy


For many, the objections to the Indiana law are all about its potential negative impact on the local economy while the human concerns of the Rainbow community are not mentioned or headlined at all.  

Another example, from my point of view, of the way money and greed are the chief drivers of American culture in 2015.

The Final Four will be settled on the court; the Final Fifth (and most important) Issue will probably have to be decided by the Court.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

HINTS OF A WEB OR CHAIN OF BEING

This story struck me as another indicator that "Being" in this universe is interconnected an interconnected web-- an expansion and elaboration of John Donne's concept of "No man is an island…."

Note the distance in miles between the animal lover's home and funeral.

I love this story. It reminds me that I must focus on trying to treat everything as Everything--and to treat each sentient individual as a noble, worthy, irreplaceable,  and integral part of the  Whole.

Pack of Stray Dogs Stand Guard at Animal Lover's Funeral

Good Morning America
Pack of Stray Dogs Stand Guard at Animal Lover's Funeral
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Pack of Stray Dogs Stand Guard at Animal Lover's Funeral (ABC News)
A woman who spent her life caring for stray dogs received an unexpected -- and surprising -- tribute from the animals when she died.
At the funeral for Margarita Suárez in Cuernavaca Morelos, Mexico, there was a pack of stray dogs who came inside the funeral home to stand guard.
Suárez's daughter Patricia Urrutia told ABC News that they were shocked, but delighted by the appearance of the canine celebrants.
Adding to the other-worldliness of the situation was the fact that these stray dogs were not even the same ones that her 71-year-old mother had helped during her lifetime. Suárez lived in Merida Yucatan, but her funeral service was in a town more than 830 miles away, her daughter said.
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Patricia Urrutia
Patricia Urrutia
"They stayed with my mother all day, and then at night they all stayed- but In the morning all the dogs vanished but one, but one hour before we brought my mom to be cremated the dogs came back and grouped around as if to say goodbye," Urrutia told ABC News. "I swear by God that it was beautiful, marvelous."
She said that the dogs do not normally hang around the funeral home, and that workers there had never seen anything like it before.
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Patricia Urrutia
Patricia Urrutia
"My mom has always been good with all animals and people," Urrutia said. "Always fed the dogs on her block and the 20 stray cats that lived there."
Urrutia posted photos of the scene on her Facebook profile on March 15 and the moving images have been shared across the Internet. As of this morning, the post has been shared more than 50,000 times on Facebook and has received more than 192,100 likes.
Urrutia said that the dogs' presence helped her through the difficult day, and it was an unexpected message that she will always remember.
"When I was in a moment of so much pain these dogs that came, they showed me that everything was going to be okay," Urrutia told ABC.
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An undated family photo shows Margarita Suarez with her daughter, Patricia Urrutia.
An undated family photo shows Margarita Suarez with her daughter, Patricia Urrutia.
The dogs were not the only animal friends to pay their respects to Suárez, as Urrutia also spotted a bird come through the window at 3:00 a.m., glance down at her mother's coffin, and then fly off while singing.
"Because of them we were happy," Urrutia added. "They made a sad situation an incredible one."



Wednesday, March 4, 2015

JUST A MILLION DOLLARS__FOR NOW

Here goes what's left of American democracy; welcome American plutocracy. Never mind which political party.  We're talking  major "system failure," engendered by the triumph of the new contribution guidelines established by the Citizens United ruling. No surprise, really, just profound sadness that a noble experiment in the "peoples' rule" is losing ground--and maybe the battle--to the self-interest of ultra-rich. And we write and talk about a million dollars as if it were nothing.

As I write this, I am watching three Hispanic men, heavily clad to protect themselves against the 9 degree, snow, cold and wind, pushing snow shovels to clear the walks of a strip mall across the way--for probably minimum  Colorado wage of $8.23 an hour, or $66 a day, or (for a 6 day work week) less than $400 a week, or $1600 a month. At the same time, I know that there are a minimum of 5000 homeless men, women, and children trying to survive the winter blasts--just in Denver.

By the way, it would take one of my snow-shoveling workers 625 months--or 52 years--to earn a $1,000,000.

Please limit your contribution to $1 million--at least for now.

Awash in cash, Bush asks donors not to give more than $1 million – for now

 March 4 at 9:32 AM  
An unusual request has gone out to wealthy donors writing large checks to support former Florida governor Jeb Bush: Please don’t give more than $1 million right away.
The requested limit, confirmed by multiple people familiar with the amount, may mark the first time that a presidential hopeful has sought to hold off supporters from contributing too much money.
The move reflects concerns among Bush advisers that accepting massive sums from a handful of uber-rich supporters could fuel a perception that the former governor is in their debt. The effort is also driven by a desire to build as broad a pool of donors as possible among wealthier contributors.
So even as Bush is headlining a series of high-dollar events for a super PAC backing his bid, fundraisers have been instructed not to ask donors to give more than $1 million per person this quarter.
“This campaign is about much more than money,” said Howard Leach, a veteran Republican fundraiser who recently co-hosted a finance event for Bush in Palm Beach, Fla., and confirmed the limit. “They need substantial funds, but they don’t want the focus to be on money.”
Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell declined to comment.
The perceived need to put limits in place for contributions, even if only for a few months, underscores the extraordinary role that elite financiers play in political fundraising, which increasingly centers on super PACs able to collect unlimited sums from individuals and corporations. The move reflects the sensitive challenge facing candidates who want to tap into those resources­ without relinquishing their claims of independence.
Bush has yet to officially declare his candidacy, but he is already on track to raise tens of millions of dollars by the end of this month for two political action committees, both named Right to Rise, that were set up in January. His potential rivals have acknowledged that they have little hope of matching his current pace.
Pro-Bush fundraisers have been encouraged to stick to the $1 million per donor limit for the first 100 days. Of course, many donors who give large amounts now are likely to be repeat givers — and write even larger checks — once the campaign starts in earnest.
Bush is entering his third month of an intensive, cross-country fundraising tour that has included stops at lavish Manhattan apartments, premier Washington lobbying shops and luxury hotels in Florida.
During a stop in Las Vegas this week, Bush had a private meeting with casino mogul Steve Wynn. On Tuesday, he was slated to headline an evening reception for the Right to Rise super PAC at the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort, just outside Scottsdale, Ariz. Among the fundraiser’s co-hosts is former vice president Dan Quayle.
Amid the nonstop drive for money, Bush advisers are cautioning fundraisers in conference calls and in-person discussions not to allow a few mega-donors to overwhelm the effort.
“It shows they are disciplined and appreciate that the dominance of a few key people early on is not a productive thing for the campaign or for Jeb Bush,” said Rick Hohlt, a longtime Republican fundraiser in Washington who is familiar with the guidance.
Such a dynamic dogged the 2012 campaign of former House speaker Newt Gingrich, whose bid for the Republican nomination was lifted by a super PAC financed with $15 million from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his family. Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum’s super PAC benefactor was investor Foster Friess.
Bush is tapping into a much wider pool of wealthy donors. Dozens of backers have given $100,000 a piece to get into high-end super PAC fundraisers, such as one last month at the Park Avenue home of private-equity titan Henry Kravis.
And some are offering substantially more than that.
Leach — who served as ambassador to France during the administration of Bush’s brother, George W. Bush — said he knows of “numerous” people around the country who have already given $1 million.
“They didn’t need to be persuaded,” he said. “The reason people are willing to write checks like that is because they feel this election is so important to the future of this country.”
Among those donating large amounts, Leach said, are Democrats disenchanted with former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is nearing her own bid for the 2016 presidential race.
The eagerness among political financiers to support Bush is evident in the high goals his team has laid out for donors and fundraisers to reach by March 31, with tiers set at $50,000, $100,000, $250,000 and $500,000, according to people involved in collecting checks.
Bush’s rapid fundraising clip puts his super PAC on pace to far outstrip Restore Our Future, a super PAC that backed 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and raised $12 million in its first six months.
In the coming weeks, Bush is scheduled to headline additional fundraisers in Denver; Sea Island, Ga.; Boca Raton, Fla.; and Atlanta. There, the cost of co-hosting a one-hour breakfast at the city’s elite Capital City Club has been set at $25,000 a person.
Ed O’Keefe contributed to this report.