REAL ID Act

It is hard to believe that Donald Trump has only been acting as president for about two weeks, and it is already getting tedious to think about his attacks on civil liberties and his actions making travel unnecessarily difficult.  Of course, Trump is not the first president to infringe on our rights in those areas.  Today, I want to look back at the REAL ID Act, signed into law by George W. Bush in 2005, and which will soon start having a large impact on many Americans.  You may read the text of the Act here.

First, let me engage in a little personal digression.  As I write this, my wife and daughter and grandchildren are visiting Southern California for a few days.  When we woke up this morning, there was freezing fog and freezing rain and multiple accidents on the highways.  It was a harrowing drive to the airport, and the plane was delayed in taking off, but they made it safely to their destination.

For some reason, our family seems to pick days like this to have to go to the airport.  Back in September of 2013, our daughter, Suzanne, and son-in-law, Jeff were flying out of town, and the time for scheduled departure coincided with the worst rainstorms and flooding Denver has experienced in more than 100 years.  There were trees washed away, roads flooded and closed and multiple travel advisories.  Nevertheless, I drove them to the airport.  It took longer than usual, but we made it.  That is not the happy ending, though.  When we arrived at the terminal, Jeff realized that he had forgotten to bring his driver’s license and had no identification.  Because of the road and weather conditions, it would take at least an hour’s driving each way to go back to get the license, and he would miss the plane, anyway.  Luckily, our son, Michael, was in town that day, so I called him and had him go get the license and bring it to the airport.  It all occurred timely, and that is the happy ending.

At least we knew that his driver’s license would be accepted for identification.  The situation would have been more complex if not for that given.  However, in the not-too-distant future, many of you are going to learn that your driver’s license will no longer be accepted.  We can thank the REAL ID Act of 2005 for that result.

That law essentially makes state-issued drivers’ licenses the equivalent to a national ID Card.  Certain documents must be provided and other requirements met before the license may be issued.  The license, itself is required to have certain information and be in a machine-readable format , which will facilitate the setting up of a nationwide database.  The information in that database is to be shared with our friends the Canadians and with Mr. Trump’s “bad hombre” boogeymen in Mexico.

Half of the states are not yet in compliance with the law (it is “voluntary,” after all), though the effective date has been postponed several times, and a number of the states have been granted extensions.

Presently, January of 2018 is the date that is important for identification at airports.  It seems that after that date, drivers’ licenses from Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Washington will no longer be accepted because those states have not complied nor have they asked for an extension.

An extension until June 6, 2017, has been granted to Alaska, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, and Virginia.  If they have not become compliant by then, drivers’ licenses from those states will no longer be accepted for entry to federal buildings and facilities.

An extension until October 10, 2017, has been granted to California, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, and Texas.  Similarly, if they have not become compliant by that date the drivers’ licenses from those states will not be accepted as identification at federal buildings and facilities.

As the effective dates get closer, we may look at the civil liberties issues that should be addressed.  For now, consider this a heads-up so that you in the affected states can start working on getting your alternative identification documents together.  Alternative documents include U.S. passport or passport card; DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST); U.S. military ID (active duty or retired military and their dependents, and DoD civilians); U.S. passport or passport card; DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST); U.S. military ID (active duty or retired military and their dependents, and DoD civilians); permanent resident card; border crossing card; DHS-designated enhanced driver’s license; airline or airport-issued ID (if issued under a TSA-approved security plan); federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID; HSPD-12 PIV card; foreign government-issued passport; Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card; transportation worker identification credential; U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766); and U.S. Merchant Mariner Credentials.

YEAR OF THE ROOSTER – 2017, PART 1

The new moon on January 27, 2017 (in the United States, which will be January 28th in many parts of the world) marks the beginning of a new year under the Oriental lunar calendar.  As you probably know, each year is symbolized by one of twelve animals and each of those animal years cycles through affinities to the five elements – fire, earth, metal, water and wood. This will be the Year of the Fire Rooster (or Fire Chicken, as it is called in Vietnam), which occurs every 60 years.

For the past several years, I have posted predictions for what may occur in the world during the upcoming year.  Rather than claiming to be any more (or less) psychic than you are, my approach has been to assume that the traditional cycles are valid.  Then, by looking at what occurred in previous Rooster years, we should be able to extrapolate forecasts for the coming year.  The posts of previous predictions are available for review, and most have been quite accurate.  If you would like to check what was prognosticated for 2016’s Year of the Monkey, you may do so by clicking here.

This year I am taking a slightly different approach and dividing the prognostications into two parts.  This first part is intended to be general, and look at matters in different areas of the world, which is pretty much the format I have used in the past.  The second part will focus on the political situation in the United States since it seems that will have a major influence on what occurs this year and for many years to come.

First, let me say that this Oriental system of astrology is not really intended to make detailed predictions based on years.  The system is actually much more complicated and there is an animal-element rulership of each hour and each month, in addition to that of the year.  When looking only at the year, as we are doing here, one can imagine a pervasive annual vibration that interacts with the vibration that each person acquired from the year of his or her birth.  When those two vibrations come together, the resulting wave forms may be considered positive, negative or neutral.  Still, they only set the underlying tone.  It is the actions of each person that ultimately lead to a good or bad result for the year. Continue reading

YEAR OF THE ROOSTER – 2017, PART 2 American Politics

The new moon on January 27, 2017 (in the United States, which will be January 28th in many parts of the world) marks the beginning of a new year under the Oriental lunar calendar.  As you probably know, each year is symbolized by one of twelve animals and each of those animal years cycles through affinities to the five elements – fire, earth, metal, water and wood. This will be the Year of the Fire Rooster (or Fire Chicken, as it is called in Vietnam), which occurs every 60 years.

For the past several years, I have posted some predictions for what may occur in the world during the upcoming year.  Rather than claiming to be any more (or less) psychic than you are, my approach has been to assume that the traditional cycles are valid.  Then, by looking at what occurred in previous Rooster years, we should be able to extrapolate predictions for the coming year.  The posts of previous predictions are available for review, and most have been quite accurate.  If you would like to check what was prognosticated for 2016’s Year of the Monkey, you may do so by clicking here.

This year I am taking a slightly different approach and dividing the prognostications into two parts.  The first part was fairly general, and looked at matters in different parts of the world, which is pretty much the format I have used in previous years.  This second part will focus on the political situation in the United States since it seems that will have a major influence on what occurs this year and for many years to come. Continue reading

A POETRY PRIZE Eufeeling Haiku

Wouldn’t it be great if this blog was written by a prize-winning poet?  Wouldn’t that give it a little bit of class, perhaps a sense of gravitas?

You bet it would.  So, I would like to say that Nobel laureate Bob Dylan will be writing several ….. Oh, never mind.  I would like to say that, but wouldn’t be true.  If Mr. Zimmerman won’t return the Nobel Committee’s phone calls, I don’t have much chance of talking with him.

I guess the only way a prize-winning poet is going to write something here is for me to go out and win a prize, myself.  How would I do that?

Well, there is a gentleman named Frank Kinslow, who is a chiropractor with extensive transcendental meditation training turned guru of sorts.  He has written half a dozen books, which have been translated into many languages, teaching what he initially called “Quantum Entrainment” or “QE”; which has now expanded into the “Kinslow System.”  This is not the time or place to try to explain that system.  Let us just say that he recognizes a state called “Pure Awareness,” which is likened to David Bohm’s concept of implicate order.  It is also similar to Tao and Advaita in that it is that from which both consciousness and matter arise.

Even though Pure Awareness is always and everywhere with us, most people do not know or recognize it.  Dr. Kinslow’s books teach that it is possible to become aware of Pure Awareness, and we can start in the space between our thoughts.  As a part of becoming aware, one experiences what Kinslow calls a “Eufeeling.”  That is a made-up word that combines the Greek prefix “eu-,” meaning well or good or pleasant, with the word “feeling.”  It is supposed to be the feeling that comes with the first glimmer of individual awareness of oneself as both separate and a part of a single unbounded field.  Dr. Kinslow wrote a whole book on Eufeeling, so I won’t try to explain it any further.

Anyway, a few months ago I received an email newsletter about the Kinslow System, which included an announcement of a contest seeking poems on the subject of Eufeeling.  I felt like writing a haiku that day, so I wrote a “Eufeeling Haiku.”  Whoever the judges were, they liked the poem enough to award it third place and I am to receive an autographed copy of Dr. Kinslow’s book on Eufeeling.  The winning poems are not yet on the Kinslow System website, but I will include a link when they are posted.

For now, let me share the poem with you:

Eufeeling Haiku

In silence, nothing.
Breathe, pause, feel — and nothing blooms:
a perfect flower.

MOSE ALLISON 1927-2016

mose-allisonAfter recently writing about Leonard Cohen’s passing and some thoughts about the recent presidential election, it is appropriate that I should mention, too, the passing of a unique musical talent, Mose Allison, who died on November 15, 2016, four days after his 89th birthday.  Although his work has been called too bluesy for jazz and to jazzy for the blues, it has been accepted and honored in many fields.  In addition to his many recordings, many of his songs have been performed by the likes of the Who, the Clash, Elvis Costello, Georgie Fame, Van Morrison, Blue Cheer, Paul Butterfield, Bonnie Raitt, Leon Russell, Roy Rogers and many, many others.

One of the most memorable things about Allison’s writing was the wry sense of humor with which he observed the world around him.

I would like to share a couple of his songs that seem to be relevant to our current political situation.  First, here are the words to “Everybody’s Cryin’ Mercy”: Continue reading

ANOTHER DISCLAIMER ON BEHALF OF GOD* About Choosing Trump

There are some folks who have written that it was God who chose Donald Trump to lead this country and God who is going to make America great.  On behalf of God, I Trump's posturewould like to point out that God certainly loves Mr. Trump — just as he loves Hillary Clinton and you and me and the homeless man you see walking around with a grocery cart. However, the president-elect was not chosen by God, but by a reasonably healthy, though distinct, minority of American voters.  God gave us the free will to make that choice (and accept the consequences).

God has warned us about what we should expect, though, in these words (slightly paraphrased to bring them up to date) from 1 Samuel 8:10-22:

 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a [president]  He said, “This is what the [president] who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots.  Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots.  He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers.  He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants.  He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use.  He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves.  When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the [president] you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a [president] …

When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord.  The Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a [president].”

That is how free will works.

Jesus, too, made it clear that there is a clear dichotomy between the things that belong in the realm of politics (the things that are “Caesar’s”) and those in the realm of the divine (the things that are “God’s”), as we see in Matthew 22:20-22, Mark 12:16-17 and Luke 20:24-25.

Now, just because the election of the president was the work of mere mortals does not mean that everything is not in divine order.  It is.

Also, it does not mean that the election is not an important symbol for our world.  It is.

For many centuries the world was predominantly patriarchal, with women forced into a subservient role, with the richest 1% of the population exploiting the other 99%, and with various tribes and racial groups competing with one another for control of limited resources.  Although that worldview is becoming less common and must soon be replaced by one that is more sustainable, Donald Trump clearly represents the vestiges of the past and his presidency will keep them in the spotlight, “warts and all.”

Imagine, then, what it will be like two years from now when Trump’s presidency ends early due to his health problems, which may begin manifest within a fairly short time.  As sad as that may be to many, it will be a powerful symbol of the changes that are taking place right now and are not going to be stopped.  I think it will happen.

___________________________

*The previous disclaimer my be seen by clicking here.

ELECTORAL COLLEGE

The 2016 presidential election is finally over.  It appears that when all the votes are counted, Hillary Clinton will have received nearly a million more votes than her opponent, Donald Trump.  Consequently, Mr. Trump will be the next President of the United States.

How does that work?  Although the result is not what would be expected in a democracy, iconstitutiont is par for the course in the constitutional federal republic under which we operate in this country.  When I am asked why that should be so, I generally reply that the answer is obvious from the words “par for the course.”  The Framers of the Constitution were mostly good old boy politicians who got together on the golf course and had come to expect that the lowest score should win.

That explanation may be accepted by the average American; but I know that you, Dear Reader, are well above average.  I know that you know that the first American golf course was not established in Savannah, Georgia, until 1794 – five years after the Constitution came into effect.  Recognizing that, I will proffer a more detailed account.  In doing so, I want to keep within certain space limitations and I do not intend to write an academic paper.  There will be no footnotes and many of the statements will be general, though I will gladly provide references for anyone who feels they are necessary.

ORIGIN

Under the United States Constitution, the selection of the President falls to the members (“Electors”) of what is known as the Electoral College (although that term is not used in the Constitution).

After the Revolutionary War, the new United States of America operated under the Articles of Confederation, which was a form of constitution agreed to by the original 13 states.  It soon became clear that those Articles were deficient in many ways, and a new Constitutional Convention was convened in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in May of 1787.  By July that year, most of the basic elements for a federal government had been agreed upon and a committee was appointed to work out the details.  One of the most important of those “details” was the office of the President.  Continue reading

LEONARD COHEN 1934-2016

leonard-cohenSinger/songwriter/poet/novelist Leonard Cohen departed this world yesterday, November 10, 2016, less than two months after his 82nd birthday.  He was admired and famous enough that today the print and electronic media include numerous pieces remembering him and his work.  I won’t add to that, except to say that in 2013 I posted some thoughts about a Leonard Cohen concert I saw with my brother Jim more than 40 years ago, when the singer was still a “youngster.”  You can read it by clicking here.

EMAIL FROM HANALEI

I don’t usually post something two days in a row because I don’t really have all that much interesting to say.  Yesterday, though, I posted some thoughts about a small part of a speech given by presidential candidate Donald Trump.  I am afraid that those thoughts were mostly negative and uncharitable.  After thinking about what Mr. Trump had said, together with some of the other things he has been reported to have said during the past few days, it has become apparent that he is suffering serious psychological problems, and is crying out for some sort of intervention.  While I am not in a position to help him, I would hope that someone in the Republican hierarchy can guide him to the treatment he needs.

What I can do has nothing to do with politics or psychosis.  I can print something that is more positive and uplifting.  Last night I received an email from slack key guitarist extraordinaire Doug McMaster and his wife Sandy.  If you are not currently on their mailing list, let me share that correspondence with you.  They have a good story to tell:

Doug and Sandy McMaster

Doug and Sandy McMaster

The Bigger Picture
Last week, as we were stopped at a crosswalk for our friend Dan to cross on his recumbent bike, suddenly we were jolted by someone hitting us full speed from behind.  We didn’t have any apparent injuries, the driver of the other car was also okay.  We followed procedure and a police officer took a report (just happened to be 50 feet ahead giving someone a ticket).

Later in the day, at the post office, one of the postal workers we know asked if we were okay.  She had been right behind the woman who hit us.  She said the woman never slowed down and never put on the brakes and actually bounced off the back of our vehicle.  Scary!  We suspect the driver was texting or something on her phone because when we went to her car to check on her, she was texting on her phone.
We were pondering why we needed to hear the story from our acquaintance at the post office, marveling at the ‘to the second’ timing the greater powers had to coordinate for us to have that encounter with her.  We didn’t need a witness as the other driver had admitted it was her error.
As we looked at the overall situation, we realized that if we hadn’t been there, stopped and taken the hit from the other driver, she would have run right over our friend Dan because he was directly in front in the crosswalk.  Another example of ‘perfect timing’ to achieve the goal of saving Dan’s life.
Vietnam took a serious toll on Dan, taking one of his legs, a lot of his eyesight and more injuries that affect  him every day.  A couple years ago, a man driving one of the lifted, big tired trucks ran over Dan and then backed up over him to see what he had run over.  Dan was in the hospital for a long time and survived to get back on his bike (a new one of course) and head out for a ride every day he can.  We see him most every day at breakfast, and always he has a smile and a good word to say.  He is our hero and inspiration.
We suspect that there is a tremendously important mission Dan is on in his life and he is watched over by a very special guardian angel or angels.  Despite our immediate dismay of being hit, we are very honored to have been in place to help those angels.
We love the mystery, magic, and awesome orchestration of greater powers and wisdom than what our small human minds can conceive… opening and stretching our perception… reminding us that there truly is always a bigger picture. And keeping us looking for what opportunities we are being presented to play a part in making the world a better place.
May your days be filled with blessings of aloha and opportunities to serve!
A hui hou,
Doug and Sandy
I would say the same – a hui hou – until we meet again.

GOD AND THE REPUBLICANS Rep. Klingenshmitt Turned Out to Green Pastures

Last year, in a post entitled “God’s Disclaimer,” I wrote:

This is not a happy story.  On March 18, 2015, a pregnant woman went alone to a residence in Longmont, Colorado in response to an ad on Craig’s List offering to sell baby clothes.  She was lured into the house where she was strangled and her unborn daughter was cut from her womb with a knife.

The following week, a Colorado State Legislator, Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt (R – Colorado Springs), who is also an on-line televangelist, mentioned the incident on his broadcast.  He said:  “This is the curse of God for the sin of not protecting our innocent children in the womb.”

It was reported in today’s (3-28-15) Denver Post, that the House Republican caucus met and released a statement saying that “the comments that were made [by Klingenschmitt] do not reflect our caucus – and we soundly reject them.”

Please note, too, that the comments made by Rep. Klingenschmitt express his own personal opinion and most definitely not that of God.

In a comment to that post, I wrote:

I aHope Signm pretty sure that, come the next election, Mr. Klingenschmitt may be referred to as a former legislator. I don’t see how anyone could win in Colorado Springs if his beliefs – and especially his public statements – are not endorsed by either God or the Republican caucus.

Well, yesterday the Colorado Republican Party held its primary election, and Mr. Klingenschmitt was challenged by former Rep. Bob Gardner.  Gardner received 68% of the votes, while Klingenschmitt received only 32%.  A minister like Klingenschmitt should know that one does not mess with both the Republican caucus and God.

It is hoped that the election results will help him to acquire the virtue of humility.  With that  he might meditate on God’s love, which does not curse innocent women and children – or anyone else for that matter.  Let us pray for him and with him.

Continue reading