Sunday, November 27, 2016

Eight Years and Counting!!

Today marks eight years I have been posting blog entries at "Looking Toward Portugal." I thank you for your support over the years . . . over a quarter of a million hits.

For those of you who have followed my blog postings I must apologize for my silence over the summer when I was taking a deep look inward.

But I am back to posting and i hope you will continue to read and support my blogspot.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Why I Write What I Write and When

Not long ago a friend and fellow blogger posted an interesting comment on Facebook – “Where I Get My Blog Post Ideas.”   So it got me to thinking.  Why do I write what I do and when?  It has never been that much of a problem.  Since I first began this blog eight years ago today, I have posted 381 times.  I have written about whatever strikes my fancy at any particular moment.  Sometimes it is something I read or heard.  Or perhaps a commentary on a recent road trip or some place I had visited.  A recollection of some event in my earlier life.  Maybe a response to something I ate or drank.  Or perhaps something purely whimsical.  Some posts were outlined before they were written; others have been raw and spontaneous.  This is what makes a blog so interesting and challenging.  You write what you want, when you want, and there is no editor to tell you "No thanks."   This is why, until now, I have called these postings "random notes from the edge of America."  I have always thought of the edge of America in geographical terms, writing as I am most of the time along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.  I was always Looking Toward Portugal in the quest for something new and interesting to write about.

On rare occasions I have proffered a political or cultural commentary.  I have tried to steer clear of these as much as possible; I don’t expect my readers to believe what I believe or think what I think.  I simply want to expand civilized debate.  But every once in a blue moon I can’t help myself.   Something so egregious occurs that there is no place for debate.  Evil in every guise requires a full throated condemnation.  No mincing of words.

More recently these censures have addressed the growing attacks on free speech in Turkey where journalists and secular politicians have been jailed or worse.   Here at home there have been the broadening attacks on the LGBT community in North Carolina and elsewhere.  Many of you may have noticed a rather atypical silence during my long annual summer hiatus in Maine this year.  I took a deep look inward as I observed the vicious election rhetoric coupled with the rise of authoritarian populism (Fascism for a lack of a better term) and demagoguery throughout Europe, as well as here in the United States.  How am I to respond to these disturbing developments?  And should I do so here?

Perhaps this is no longer a time for random jottings about everything or nothing at all.  Times have become too uncertain . . . even dangerous . . . .to entertain whimsy.  And now, as I look at the turn of events in my own country following the recent election, I recognize the need to speak out clearly about injustices and cultural crimes emerging from the shadows here at home.  I wish this were not the case, but the future does not bode well for democracy in the American republic.  Now I suddenly find myself on the cultural and political fringes of my American homeland when my own rights, and those of many of my friends and colleagues, are being infringed upon and threatened from within.  

So I beg your patience if and when such polemics rise to the surface.  I will try to reign in my horses as best I can, but sometime things need to be said as directly and to the point as possible so that there is no confusion as to where I stand.  Again, I offer these to you only as food for thought.  Nothing more.  Take them for what they are worth.

As I noted in my Thanksgiving greetings yesterday, I shall continue to strive to share my impressions of those things that bind us in the American experience; places and events that exist regardless of one’s political sentiment.  We still have that in common . . . at least for now.  Let us pray no one tries to take this from us.  That is when we will man the barricades and the real revolution will begin!  

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Wishing Everyone a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving

Today we gather together with family and friends to give thanks for the what we have, whether it be much or little.  Regardless of what you might think of Eckhart Tolle, the German-born spiritual thinker, I have to agree with him when he wrote in his 2005 book A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose: “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”  Despite the uncertain times we live in, when it seems that we as a people are recklessly casting aside the gifts afforded us as Americans, let us be thankful for what we do have and pledge to ourselves that no person or group shall deprive us of what is fundamentally ours as sisters and brothers in the human community.

Today let us give thanks for what is still good and promising - those things that bind us in the American experience; people, places, and events that exist regardless of one’s political sentiment.  Let us build on our common bonds and renew our willingness to do everything in our power to insure that these are not usurped. 

So let us give thanks today for what we have and what we share.  “Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they don’t unravel.” 

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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Donald Trump - Making the Know Nothings Great Again

I have long tried to steer clear of political subjects and partisan rhetoric.  But with this country and the rest of the world descending into insanity, I find it more and more difficult to get a grip on my horses.  I feel I must speak my mind on what I consider to be one of the gravest threats to the continuation of the Great American Experiment set in motion 240 years ago by our Founding Fathers.

I never thought I would see the United States of America descend into fascism.  I was wrong.  I am not the first person to coin the term “the American Mussolini.” That distinction belongs to Dana Milbank, a opinion writer for The Washington Post, who affixed the moniker to Donald Trump back in early December 2015 when he pointed out that the candidate was “pulling the party to the black-shirted right by playing on fears of foreigners and racial and religious minorities.”  He refers to Trump’s physical and behavioral similarities to the clownish and bullying former Italian dictator who coupled his own fate with that of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime in Germany . . . his “chin-out toughness, sweeping right-hand gestures,” his ego and his fondness for pointing out the stupidity of his opponents.  Some have been quick to compare Trump’s overt fascism to that of Adolf Hitler.  Having long been a student of fascism and that which results from it, I have been guilty of this myself.  But Hitler, despite his inherent evil, was no fool.  Mussolini was.  And so is Donald Trump.  He is a fool and a fascist.  Furthermore Milbank points out that Trump is quick to show contempt for facts while feeding on the “pervasive sense of fear and overwhelming crisis” of his followers who, in my own humble opinion, show their ignorance more than their apprehensions.  Trump, like Hitler and Mussolini, finds a scapegoat for all that is wrong in America . . . usually foreigners and Muslims both foreign and domestic.  I have to agree with Milbank.  It is “necessary to call Trump the racist, bigot and demagogue that he is.”  Milbank’s assessment was repeated a month later by Andrew Roberts in The Telegraph (UK) who claimed to be dumbfounded and embarrassed by Trump’s “egotistical vulgarity” and “obscene self-regard,” finding Mussolini as perhaps “Trump’s secret template.”  Their words, not mine.  But I can’t help but agree.

This is a sad day for American democracy and the fate of our republic.  America is no longer a beacon to the world.   The rest of the world is laughing at us.  None of us will be laughing for long.

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