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2016 Election


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Conventional Wisdom Yields Convention

As election day approaches, some of us might still be struggling with who to vote for and how to come to that conclusion. I am honored to pass on this blog by blogger and author, Peter B. Roth, that captures, exactly, what I have been feeling during this election year. I could not have written a better article that explains why it is imperative that we vote for what we value and not for “the lessor of two evils.” Enjoy!

I woke up today and checked Facebook like I often do and to my dismay, I was disgusted by people gloating over voting for Hillary. It was quite obvious to me that they had not done their homework a…

Source: Conventional Wisdom Yields Convention

Gary Bryne


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July Book Review: Crisis of Character: A White House Secret Service Officer Discloses His Firsthand Experience with Hillary, Bill, and How They Operate by Gary J. Byrne

Gary Bryne

Having had the very important job of protecting President Bill Clinton and the First Family, former Secret Service Officer, Gary J. Byrne, in Crisis of Character: A White House Secret Service Officer Discloses His Firsthand Experience with Hillary, Bill, and How They Operate discusses his observations of the character of the President and his wife, Hillary Clinton, inside the White House. He also discusses the culture that emerged during the Clinton presidency. In his book, he explains how his dream of being a secret service agent became a reality when he was given the chance to protect President George H.W. Bush and the Bush First Family toward the end of Bush’s term. Byrne was later assigned as Secret Service Uniformed Officer outside the Oval Office during the Clinton Administration.

Reading Crisis of Character: A White House Secret Service Officer Discloses His Firsthand Experience with Hillary, Bill, and How They Operate by Gary J. Byrne educated me on the lifestyle and struggles of a Secret Service officer and the politics of the agency.  Author Byrne discusses the Clinton scandals including Whitewater, Vince Foster’s suicide, Travelgate, Filegate, Troopergate, Bill Clinton’s affairs (while president, in the White House and as former governor of Arkansas), the Monica Lewinsky trial and affair, and more. In every case, the Clintons denied allegations, and it came down to their word against others’ word. He discusses how Bill Clinton arrogantly denied his affair with Monica Lewinski until he was forced to acknowledge that he blatantly lied as evidenced by the taped conversations by Linda Tripp between herself and Monica. He also writes about what he witnessed in the White House from former First Lady, Hillary Clinton – her outbursts, rage, and violent behavior toward her husband. She also used abusive language towards the Secret Service officers on many occasions.

Byrne also explains how he was put in the horrible position of having to testify about what he witnessed in the White House (Monica Lewinski and President Clinton in the Oval Office alone on many occasions and more) while upholding his oath to protect the President, and having to balance that with telling the truth and not jeopardizing his job as a Secret Service officer! The stress it put on his family finally resulted in Gary resigning from his position with the Secret Service, then taking a job as a trainer, and then as a law enforcement officer for the Federal Air Marshal Service.

I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for the truth about the character of the Clintons from the perspective of someone who was assigned to protect them.  The author’s experience is an indication of what kind of culture we will have in the White House again, if Hillary Clinton should become president. There are positive and negative criticisms of this book that have arisen. I am not including them here.

A bit about the author, Gary J. Byrne:

Gary J. Byrne’s career was in federal law enforcement for nearly thirty years. He served in the U.S. Air Force Security Police, the Uniformed Division of the Secret Service, and most recently as Federal Air Marshall. While an agent for the Secret Service, Byrne protected Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Gary Byrne can be contacted via Facebook.

To purchase a copy of Gary J. Byrne’s, Crisis of Character: A White House Secret Service Officer Discloses His Firsthand Experience with Hillary, Bill, and How They Operate, visit: Amazon.

© 2016, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.comMusings and Inspiration for Abundant Living for all Beings from One Creative Being 

 


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My Voice Matters: A letter from an Immigrant to Bernie Sanders

Dearest Bernie,

You have truly done it.

I have not been one to get heavily involved in politics, but this year, I couldn’t help myself. The reason is you, Bernie Sanders.  You have reminded me that I have a voice, and my voice is heard.

You need to know, Mr. Sanders, that in the past, my voice shattered when I spoke. I stuttered badly as a child, because I was not secure in my skin. I grew up in an upper middle class neighborhood in California as part of a working poor class family. My family and I were considered strange – Mexicans that were a nuisance who would not amount to anything (even though we were Argentine; no offense to anyone who is Mexican or Hispanic reading this). I did not feel accepted, liked, normal, and especially, heard. I had no voice then. It was not until decades later that I realized what had happened to me and to my family. Thank you, Bernie Sanders, for speaking for immigrants and the working poor. Thank you for reminding me that my voice matters, that our collective voices matter.

Bernie Sanders

I am a first generation, Argentine-American who is now a United States citizen.  Like most of the masses of people in this country, I believed that what I witnessed in the world around me and what I had experienced first hand was all there was or will ever be. I believed that no one had the courage to fight for what we need, what we want, what we should have and what we deserve as citizens of this country or of the world. I believed there was no way to change the corrupt system we endure year after year. I believed with every cell of my body that there was no way to change a system that has been in place for decades, even centuries. I believed that I would not see significant social change and significant betterment of society in my lifetime. You, Bernie Sanders, have taught me that I was wrong. I owe this to you and only you.

As the eldest of three children, I watched my father devolve from a fun-loving, gregarious, and funny man who was usually the life of the party into a silent, dispondant, depressed alcoholic until his untimely death of a heart attack at the age of 59.  Dad worked in a book binding factory in an assembly line with no air-conditioning or heat for very little pay (he was a legal immigrant who did not speak English) and with an unrealistic production goal from management. My father was the sole breadwinner in our family and would often have to work overtime, sometimes as much as sixty hours per week.  He eventually secured a job working the swing shift so he could avoid the heat from the sweltering summers and meet the production assembly-line quota. Because of this change of schedule, we only saw an exhausted version of dad on weekends. My mother was left to care for me and my siblings and hardly spent any time with her husband. We were the working poor class. Dad sacrificed his life working his ass off getting paid minimum wage or less doing a job that would drive anyone insane. I am now part of the middle class because of my father’s unrelenting dedication and sacrifice. I acknowledge that sacrifice and commitment from my Papa. I have never forgotten that.  

Like my father, Bernie, there are many other fathers (and mothers) in this country working menial jobs where the pay is not enough to even survive month to month. This is the result of the unregulated, corrupt capitalistic system we have in place where greed flourishes and people are viewed and treated like machines for production. This is unacceptable. No person should have to work in deplorable conditions and earn a meager income. YOU, Bernie Sanders, are the only politician in a long time that has even addressed, (and much less cared about) the condition of the working poor or the immigrant, and I thank you for that. I thank you for standing up for working class families and fighting for an increase in the minimum wage in this country. June 24th would have been my father’s 82nd birthday. Below is a picture of him working at the factory. I often imagine what his life would have been like if he had been treated better at work. I wonder if he would have lived sober, if he would have not died so soon. I imagine how different my childhood might have been.

Dad

We have a long way to go in this country (and worldwide) to change or improve the systems in place that abuse and oppress people. It is your vision, Mr. Sanders, your courage and your passion that ignites the fire within each person to step up and do their part in changing our country for the better, not only for the plight of the poor and the immigrant, but also for all the other problems facing this country that you address. Thank you for your courage, your diligence, your inspiration, your unwavering conviction, your honesty and trailblazing spirit. You are the inspiration that we all needed to fight for change, to fight for freedom, to wake us out of our slumber. It is people like you who change the world for the better. You are our voice and have helped us rediscover our own voices. I sure hope you will be elected our next president, Bernie Sanders, but if you should not, I want you to know how truly grateful I am for you.  And, if my father were alive today, Bernie, I picture him shedding a tear (or two) knowing there was a candidate running for president that would have heard his voice.  He would have Felt the Bern, and he would have been SO INCREDIBLY GRATEFUL.

From one inspired immigrant who speaks for other immigrants,

Thank you, Bernie.

To learn about Bernie Sanders and his vision, visit BernieSanders.com or Bernie’s Facebook page, BernieSanders.

© 2016, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com,

 

 


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September Book Review: The War on Choice: The Right Wing Attack on Women’s Rights and How to Fight Back by Gloria Feldt

I am an advocate for women’s rights. I want what I deserve as a woman: the right to choose how I live my life; the right to control my sexual and reproductive health, the right to live with dignity, the right to choose to reproduce or not, and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Taking away my choice to decide what I do with my own body, and thus my own life, is nothing less than tyranny.

War on Choice

I am not going to highlight the recent attacks on Planned Parenthood in this country in this blog. I will say, however, that the fight for freedom is far from over. I am writing to encourage you (especially if you are female) to read Gloria Feldt’s, The War on Choice: The Right Wing Attack on Women’s Rights and How to Fight Back. Gloria Feldt, former president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and founder and president of Take The Lead, has compiled an easy-to-read argument for the right-wing fundamentalist attack on women and their reproductive rights. She argues for and very convincingly proves that the fundamentalist right’s agenda is not only to outlaw abortion, but that it goes far beyond that: it is to control women’s full reproductive and sexual rights. Feldt gives countless evidence in her book showing how a minority of right-wing, misogynists are trying to control women (not just outlaw abortions) for political purposes. They do not care about the life of the unborn, and they surely do not care about women! They care about controlling women by controlling their reproductive rights. Let me be frank: they want to control women because they are afraid of women.

Although The War on Choice: The Right Wing Attack on Women’s Rights and How to Fight Back by Gloria Feldt was published in 2004, it is still relevant because the fight is not over, and only the tactics have changed (as evident by the recent faked videos to discredit Planned Parenthood, as one example). Gloria Feldt, in her book, illustrates how those opposed to women’s rights have fabricated lies and manipulated the public to believe nonsense. It clearly shows how propaganda and very strategic campaigns have deceived people. I recommend this book to anyone seeking information on the subject of women’s rights. I especially recommend this book to young women because it is vital that you understand how your basic rights are being systematically removed.

In case you did not get my point above, let me be crystal clear: the fight for a women’s right to choose is not a gray area. It is black and white. It is no one else’s choice but mine whether I want to reproduce or not. And, if you are a woman reading this blog, it is also yours. It is not a politician’s right; it is not your husband or boyfriend’s right; it is not your mother’s, and it is not your doctor’s. It is yours and yours alone. I do not get to choose what you do with your body. If you are against abortion for religious reasons, then by all means, don’t have one. But, do not impose your religious beliefs on all women in the United States or abroad.

The following is a list taken from The War on Choice: The Right Wing Attack on Women’s Rights and How to Fight Back:

Imagine a country where:

  • The government promotes the myth that a safe medical procedure causes a deadly disease
  • Laws require physicians to give false, ideologically-based information to trusting patients
  • The government’s largest and best-known public health organization censors its own publications under pressure from the administration.
  • Appointees to scientific advisory committees claim condoms are ineffective and can cause promiscuity and disease.
  • Leaders ban promising scientific research into a range of diseases because of fundamentalist religious beliefs
  • Government “experts” are appointed to health committees because of their right-wing ideology, not their knowledge

Now guess what country this is? You got it: The United States of America!

A bit about the author, Gloria Feldt:

Gloria Feldt

Gloria Feldt is co-founder and president of Take The Lead, the new women’s leadership movement to prepare, develop, inspire and propel women to take their fair and equal share of leadership positions across all sectors by 2025. The bestselling author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power, Gloria is an acclaimed expert on women, power and authentic leadership, and an inspiring keynote speaker who motivates with heart and humor as a practical activist. She is former President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. To learn more about Gloria, visit: GloraFeldt.com.

To obtain a copy of The War on Choice: The Right Wing Attack on Women’s Rights and How to Fight Back by Gloria Feldt, go to Amazon.com.

© 2015, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.comInspiration for Abundant Living for all Beings from One Creative Being


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July Book Review: Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light by Valerie Tarico

“Rigid beliefs that are above question often inhibit or even prohibit the sublime objectivity needed for truth-seeking.” – Valerie Tarico

Trusting Doubt, Valorie TaricoValerie Tarico in Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light relays her personal thought-journey from a born-again, fundamentalist Christian to an unapologetic atheist. She examines the authenticity of the bible and the Christian’s assumption and unwavering belief that the bible is the inerrant, inspired word of God. She points out some of the bible’s many errors and contradictions and blatant violence while explaining the historical and cultural context in which the “good book” was compiled. Tarico demonstrates how without this examination and understanding, the bible can be seen by the individual as well as by groups of people as the “timeless, perfect word of God” and rigid adherence to its commands can provide a substitute for nuanced moral judgment.

What makes this book different than the many other books that thoroughly explain the irreconcilable problems with the character of the god of the bible and with the bible’s textual errors and contradictions is the author’s education, experience and unique perspective. As a counseling psychologist, Valerie Tarico examines the reasons we believe what we believe and how that pertains to Christian beliefs specifically. Each chapter of this book begins with an explanation of basic Christian doctrines and is then followed by a “to consider” section, a short recap of the elements in the chapter and very thought-provoking questions for further study and contemplation. I found the organization in this book easy to follow and the author’s voice enjoyable.  In addition, it is well researched.

Essentially, Tarico, in Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light, asks the question (as it pertains to religious belief) that all of mankind needs to answer in order to create more workable and congruent communities, and I quote, “Where is our greatest loyalty – to our ideology or to our shared ideas? And which wins when the two are in conflict?” How do we build upon the philosophical wisdom from those before us while remaining vigilant about the (sometimes very tragic) errors of our past? This book is a logical, very thought-provoking exploration of these questions.

Valerie Tarico

A bit about the author, Valerie Tarico:

Valerie Tarico, Ph.D., is a former fundamentalist Christian and graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois. She holds a doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the University of Iowa and has completed post-doctoral studies at the University of Washington. Dr. Tarico writes for ExChristian.net, for The Huffington Post, and also hosts a television series in Seattle, Washington, on “moral politics.” She promotes interfaith and shared values that link all humanity and speaks to churches and groups on topics such as moral development, the psychology of belief and wisdom convergence.

To learn more about Dr. Valerie Tarico, visit: ValerieTarico.com.

To purchase Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light, visit: Amazon.

© 2015, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com, Inspiration for Abundant Living for all Beings From One Creative Being

Peace not Violence


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Reflections on Violence and Guns

Yesterday was the start of a new week after the needless shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Sandy Hook, CT, on Dec 14, 2012. I dropped off my child at school yesterday morning and was saddened to see a police car and two officers with their guns standing outside the school in place of the principal who usually greets the children as they arrive at school. I have to admit I was a bit relieved to know that if someone were to start shooting, the police would most likely stop it before it got out of control, and my child’s life might be spared. However, the reality of this situation flattened my spirit, and I felt a profound sadness because of the state of our world. Why so much violence?

When I was in middle school, all I worried about was what I was going to eat for lunch that day, what boy would or would not like me, or if I was going to be chosen on the better team for kickball. Possible bullies at school and getting in trouble at home was all we feared. I was a happy-go-lucky child who looked forward to guitar lessons, girl scouts and cheerleading after school; I knew all my classmates. If one were to go missing, we all would feel the loss. Now kids have to worry about being shot and killed at school, a place where they should feel safe. What child would not be afraid to go to school this day in age? How does a child feel when they see policemen in their full uniforms – guns included – standing in front of their school waiting to take aim and shoot, if needed?

As I thought about this for a moment, I asked myself who really should hold the guns. On the one hand, I was thankful the police were there with ammunition (for obvious reasons). However, on the other hand, it was a sad and frightening thought that put fear into my heart – the fear of what might happen. Forty or so years ago, this “fear” did not exist as it does today. We have created a society based on fear. We are afraid to take a stand. We are afraid of losing our jobs. We are afraid of going broke. We fear illness, loss and death. We are afraid to walk outside our front doors.  We would rather stay inside our homes and surf online than walk to the neighbor’s house and introduce ourselves. We are afraid to feel our pain, so we fantasize, take drugs, eat in excess, and create chaos for ourselves by becoming addicted to substances, alcohol, recreational drugs and pills. We submerse ourselves in our I-phones, I-pads, I-pods, other electronic gadgets, the internet and TV. We have become numb and despondent, uncaring and cold, distant and confused, anxious and rude, lifeless and robotic, and disconnected. And now, we are even more afraid: we are so fearful that we clutch onto our guns (and rights) tighter. When will it end? What will it take to change our present reality? Why are we so afraid?

“Put more restrictions on the purchase of guns,” they say. More restrictions will make it harder to obtain guns, but will it stop the criminals from confiscating and using them?  I understand wanting to protect ourselves and our loved ones, but I cannot see any other way to protect myself from an attack unless I am always on alert with my gun. How am I to live always waiting for the impending “attack?” How is that freedom? It is not. It is living in chains and in anxiety each moment.

What about protection from tyranny? Yes, we need to have the right to own guns, just in case of an impending governmental or other assault. But, how many guns do we need to own and hide away? How many is enough?

Our world is filled with relentless greed. The hearts of the people who run institutions, corporations and governments these days are fueled by greed, whose driving force is fear. The dollar and bottom line is more important than the person. This cold attitude creates fear – fear to lose our jobs, fear of going broke, and fear of pursuing what we really desire. We lose our authenticity and we embrace someone we are not. We have lost our humanity. It is time to change the world and stop the downward spiral of fear to love and peace.

More guns will not ultimately solve the root of the problem causing the violence. Imagine, for a moment, a society where everyone owns and carries guns. Would you feel safe knowing that at any moment anyone at anytime can start a shoot out because someone else cut them off in traffic, for example? Would you feel safe walking out your front door then? A society with guns only perpetuates more fear of each other and makes it easier to kill.  It will further divide us, separate us, further alienate us, and further drive us to despair and loneliness. Nothing good can come from more guns in more hands.

I often dream about a world without the violence. Many tell me that it is impossible to have a world where something like Sandy Hook shootings only happen once in a blue moon or very, very rarely. Why is it impossible? It will take a change of consciousness; it will take a shift in focus, a collective arming of love, a collective new level of acceptance of all human beings without regards to social strata, religion, politics, sexual preference, gender and color. It will take a mass healing starting from each and every heart and spreading to every system we have in place that is not working or failing. We need to ask, “What’s in it for US?” instead of “What’s in it for me?” It will take responsibility. It will take each person choosing to live at peace at every moment. Not all of us will agree on everything – that is not possible – but I can safely say that every human being longs for safety and freedom, which I believe are our rights. The real fight is the fight for peace, not the fight for more weapons.

What can we do to change the consciousness and spirit of fear in this country and worldwide? It starts with each one of us. It starts with peace and love in your heart; it starts with releasing the fear; it starts with letting go and embracing love and peace in each moment. It starts with treating each other with respect, love, and embracing our differences instead of being threatened by them. We are at a crucial time of change in history because the fear and resulting violence in this world is at an all-time, disturbing high. Let’s switch the pendulum to love. “Be the change you want to see in the world,” said Mahatma Gandhi, who freed an entire nation without ever resorting to violence. It starts with you.

My heart and love go out to each and every person affected by the tragedy that just occurred. I cannot fathom the horror from that day. However, the answer, I believe, is not to arm more people with guns. The answer is not more violence. The answer is less violence; it is a shift in belief and action to one of unity, compassion, acceptance, cooperation, love and freedom regardless of differing beliefs and lifestyles. It is time to move forward without more violence. It is time to conquer fear with love, not with more guns.

Peace.

Vilma Reynoso, www.vilmareynoso.comInspiration for Creative Health. Abundant Life.

Copyright, 2012, Vilma Reynoso