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The Buddha sat under the Bodhi tree and meditated on the meaning of life for 49 days, and after awakening, he reunited with his companions who would become his disciples and gave his first teaching on the Four Noble Truths.  The First Noble Truth is the existence of suffering or discomfort (dukkha).  Everyone gets sick; everyone grows old; and eventually everyone dies — and we often experience discomfort whether our lives are deprived or priveleged.  The Buddha also taught that much of our suffering comes from our attempts to turn our attention away from these facts by chasing false comfort in an uncomfortable world – through pursuit of wealth, fame, sex, fantasy, alcohol, drugs and other empty distractions.  

The First Noble Truth of Politics is Frustration. Anyone who makes the choice to care about politics knows the frustrations that take the form of an opposition that never sees the … Read the rest

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The First Noble Truth of Politics

by Sheri Rivlin and Allan Rivlin on April 14, 2014

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The First Noble Truth of politics is frustration. 

Politics is inherently, profoundly, maddeningly frustrating for all of us.  Anyone who makes the choice to care at all about politics knows the frustration of losing a major election and seeing the other side take control of the agenda.  If you have been around for any length of time you have also learned that winning a major election leads to frustration as well, as the elected leaders disappoint and the opposition continues to block major progress.  (Obama supporters, does this sound familiar?)

There are all kinds of structural reasons for this including:

1)      The checks and balances built into our political system,

2)      The organic pendulum swing in voter enthusiasm,

3)      The differences between campaigning (relatively easy) and governing (relatively hard),

4)      The impossibility of reaching policy consensus in a large pluralistic population.

5)      The inherent tension in a capitalist democracy (between … Read the rest

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The Box

Life, Health, Etc. American and International Politics American and Global Economy
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Practical Chakra Balancing Progress, Spiritual Weightlifting and You

Real Magic on the Street:  There are many web pages for working with your Chakras, unfortunately many sites seem to skip many of the details or give a very academic answer.  I hope in this blog to give you many more of the practical details, and more so, what to expect.

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Oprah Talks To Thich Nhat Hanh

Oprah Magazine: The moment I meet Thich Nhat Hanh at the Four Seasons Hotel in Manhattan, I feel his sense of calm. A deeply tranquil presence seems to surround the Zen Buddhist master.  But beneath Nhat Hanh’s serene demeanor is a courageous warrior.
 


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Bill Clinton Explains Why He Became A Vegan

AARP: Prodded into action, Clinton started by rereading Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease, which urges a strict, low-fat, plant-based regimen, along with two books that were, if possible, even more militantly vegan: Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, by Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D., and The China Study, by Cornell biochemist T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. (When I suffered a heart attack in late November 2010, Clinton sent me all three books.)

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10 Simple Ways To Eat Clean And Save Green

Kris Carr: Ever since I started sharing my journey from Hot Pockets to whole foods, I’ve often heard that it’s difficult to afford a healthier lifestyle. I won’t argue with you there. Real food is pricier than processed food made in a lab or a factory. And you will certainly see a jump in the grand total on your grocery receipts. But over time you’ll get the hang of it, and I promise it will become more manageable. There’s always a silver lining, my friends — and the price “jump” can be more of a baby bunny hop.

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And Excerpt From Mika Brzezinski’s “Obsessed”

Mika Brzezinski: To the extent that I may currently have that look, I am grateful. So the question is how do I make my point—that absent a fundamental change in the way we consume, prepare, and market food to our children and all citizens, we will never be able to attack the myriad eating disorders that affect millions of Americans today—without coming out and addressing my own internal food issues, despite an external appearance to the contrary?

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Our Feel Good War On Breast Cancer 

Peggy Orenstein: I used to believe that a mammogram saved my life. I even wrote that in the pages of this magazine. It was 1996, and I had just turned 35 when my doctor sent me for an initial screening — a relatively common practice at the time — that would serve as a base line when I began annual mammograms at 40. I had no family history of breast cancer, no particular risk factors for the disease.

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Mindfulness, Meditation, Wellness and Their Connection To Corporate America’s Bottom Line 

Arianna Huffington: There is a growing body of scientific evidence that shows that these two worlds are, in fact, very much aligned — or at least that they can, and should, be. And that when we treat them as separate, there is a heavy price to pay — both for individuals and companies. The former in terms of health and happiness, and the latter in terms of dollars and cents.

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What You Don’t Know About Processed Foods 

Huffington Post: If a food ingredient company wants to introduce a new additive, they — not the FDA — hire some experts or a consulting firm to make the determination about whether this new ingredient is safe. Sometimes you’ll hear that company X has been awarded “GRAS status” for its new ingredient, but the FDA doesn’t award anything. The agency merely has the option to review what companies tell them.

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Swan Greens Juice

Pure Food and Wine: Founder Sarma Melngailis swears the blend soothes a full tummy. Can’t make it to the NYC outpost? Whip up your own Swan Juice with this recipe.

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Raw Food Cleanse

Pure Food and Wine:  If you’re used to a more conventional diet, then going all raw is a big step and very cleansing. Then, you can take it a step further and go all liquid by having just juices and shakes. Then, just juice. Whatever feels right. But, no matter what, starting every day with a big glass of quality filtered water with juice from a fresh organic lemon squeezed into it is the best. It sets you up right and feels good and helps flush away toxins built up overnight.

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Predicting Trends in Targeting for 2014 

Cook Political Report: Some of the top names in political targeting—from data providers to interpreters—offer their predictions for trends and innovations we’ll see in the election year. Two 2014 Senate races already have seen seven—seven—TV advertisers apiece. But first, a quick look back at some issues of 2013: In the year since Newtown, gun-control proponents have outspent gun-rights supporters on broadcast and national cable TV by 7:1. Immigration reform supporters outspent critics of reform by almost 9:1. And among interests who fought hardest for DC’s attention in 2013: Big Tobacco, Big Soda and Big Oil. 

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The Unpersuaded 

Ezra Klein: Nearly four thousand of the votes were of the mission-to-Mars variety—they should have found support among both Democrats and Republicans. Absent a President’s involvement, these votes fell along party lines just a third of the time, but when a President took a stand that number rose to more than half. The same thing happened with votes on more partisan issues, such as bills that raised taxes; they typically split along party lines, but when a President intervened the divide was even sharper.

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How The Republicans Failed To Understand The Democrats’ Debt Ceiling Logic

Jonathan Chait/TNR;  They see the debt-ceiling fight as being mainly about the long-term question of whether Congress will cement into place the practice of using the debt ceiling to extort concessions from the president. The price of buying off a debt-ceiling hike would surely be less than the risk of a default. But doing so would enshrine debt-ceiling extortion as a normal congressional practice. This both skews the Constitutional relationship between branches — allowing an unscrupulous Congress to demand unilateral concessions at gunpoint rather than having to compromise — and creates endless brinksmanship that would eventually lead to a default.

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Why The Right Fights

Ross Douthat/NYTimes: What this passage gets at is the deep, abiding gulf between the widespread conservative idea of what a true Conservative Moment would look like and the mainstream idea of the same. 

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Obamacare Glitches Are Real – They Matter Less Than You Think 

The New Republic: 

Republicans spent Tuesday highlighting Obamacare’s opening day glitches. Democrats spent Tuesday highlighting Obamacare’s opening day successes.

Both spoke the truth. One truth matters more.

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We’ve Already Essentially Adopted The Ryan Budget 

Wonkblog: The sequestration is hurting a lot of things, but in terms of the safety net the big ones are WIC — nutrition assistance for women, infants, and children, the only major nutrition program affected by the sequestration – then Head Start, and then housing assistance. 

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Reclaiming the Politics of Freedom 

The Nation: If there is to be a true realignment—not just of parties but of principles, not just of policy preferences or cognitive frames but of deep beliefs and ideas—we must confront conservatism’s political philosophy. That philosophy reflects more than a bloodless economics or narrow self-interest; it draws from and drives forward a distinctly moral vision of freedom, with deep roots in American political thought.

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Syria and the Return of Dissent

E.J. Dionne Jr.: Nonetheless, Obama faces substantial resistance among Democrats because Vietnam and Iraq turned a large section of the party into principled noninterventionists who set an extremely high bar to any use of America’s armed forces. The same can be said of libertarian Republicans such as Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Justin Amash. This left-right anti-war coalition has a long American pedigree, going back to the periods before both World War I and World War II.

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Boehner Backs Short-Term Measure To Avoid Government Shutdown

First Read: “I believe a continuing resolution for some short period of time would probably be in the nation’s interest,” Boehner said at his weekly press conference. “But having said that, the idea of operating for an entire year under a CR is not a good way to do business.”

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GOP’s Secret Fear: House Majority is in Trouble

Brian Beutler: If you listened closely last week, you heard the unmistakable sound of the air of certainty seeping out of a bubble of conventional wisdom. For months — in some cases, years — political junkies have held the notion that the GOP’s House majority was semi-permanent as an article of faith. Times change.

 

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US Companies Thrive As Workers Fall Behind

New York Times: AMERICAN companies are more profitable than ever — and more profitable than we thought they were before the government revised the national income accounts last week. Wage earners are making less than we thought, in part because the government now thinks it was overestimating the amount of income not reported by taxpayers.

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Seven Myths About Keynsian Economics 

Fiscal Times: Harvard Historian Niall Ferguson has apologized  for suggesting that John Maynard Keynes’ sexual orientation and lack of children made him indifferent to long-run economic issues. However, leaving the references to sexual orientation aside, it is commonly asserted, “Keynesian economists often dismiss … long-run concerns when the economy has short-run problems.” The claim that Keynesians are indifferent to the long-run is one of many myths about Keynesian economics:

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Meet the 28 Year Old Grad Student Who Just Shook The Global Austerity Movement 

New York Magazine: Herndon became instantly famous in nerdy economics circles this week as the lead author of a recent paper, “Does High Public Debt Consistently Stifle Economic Growth? A Critique of Reinhart and Rogoff,” that took aim at a massively influential study by two Harvard professors named Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff. 

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Five Takeaways From Fed Decision 

Wall Street Journal: Here are some quick takeaways from the Federal Reserve’s latest decision to keep its policies in place.

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Dropping the GOP’s Green Eyeshades

James Pethokoukis: But balancing the budget in ten years is a dubious fiscal goal. It isn’t necessary to rush to balance so soon in order to reduce the nation’s debt-to-GDP ratio steadily. Further, the U.S. almost certainly isn’t on the verge of an EU-like debt crisis.

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Unemployment At Four Year Low As US Economy Gains Steam 

NY Times: Even as analysts hailed a better-than-expected jobs report on Friday that pointed to an acceleration in growth, they warned that stronger employment gains are being put at risk by sequestration, the automatic spending cuts being imposed by the federal government.

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Fed’s Yellen Says Forceful Stimulus Still Needed 

Reuters: Yellen, seen as a potential successor to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who is expected to step down early next year, reiterated Fed officials’ intention to keep their foot on the accelerator even as the economy recovers.

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Our Debt, Ourselves 

Robert M. Solow:  I want to present a calmer view, by emphasizing six facts about the debt that many Americans may not be aware of.

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Austerity Is Already Here

New York Times: Federal government spending often falls after recessions and wars, but the current round of cuts in investment and spending on goods and services is unusually deep. Combined with cuts by state and local governments, the drop in government’s contribution to economic growth is the largest in more than 50 years.

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The Bad Economic Policy In America’s Next Set Of Automatic Spending Cuts

Quartz:  The reason the US has fiscal problems isn’t because it spends too much on education or research but because its health-care costs are rising out of control and its population is getting older. But Congress isn’t focusing on those issues, nor on investments that would make the economy grow faster than the national debt.

  • "We need to come together, just as we've done in other great struggles--in World War II and the Cold War, in passing the great civil-rights laws of the 1960s, and in daring to send a man to the moon."
    --
    Senator Edward M. Kennedy Newsweek July 2009

  • Some sites we sometimes like:

Obamacare’s Long Hard Slog — And the Alternatives

by Sheri Rivlin and Allan Rivlin on December 6, 2013

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The problems with the launch of the Affordable Care Act have always been far less severe than Republicans have been saying but quite a lot worse than many Democrats fully realize.  This has never been just about a bad website, and it is not going to be all better as soon as the glitches are fixed.  The truth is, had there been a perfect website and first month roll-out, the uphill campaign to make this law popular would nonetheless still be going on for years – and there are structural reasons for this that could be understood from the polling before the law was passed.   As the nation reached near consensus that there was a problem, there was never any such agreement on the specific solution. 

In speaking about Iraq before the US invasion in 2002 General Colin Powell was famous for quoting the pottery store rule, “you break … Read the rest

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After Duel Stumbles – a Return to Parity and Paralyses

by Sheri Rivlin and Allan Rivlin on November 10, 2013

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We saw the Republican self-inflicted wounds coming for months and then the Democrats celebrated their advantage by shooting themselves in the foot.  It is difficult to say which party is now in worse shape because the problems on both sides so fundamentally challenge each side’s reason for existence. Republicans squandered any claim they had to being the party of fiscal responsibility by paying hundreds of thousands of federal workers to stay home, damaging the economy and worse.  Now the pro-business wing of the GOP is waking up to the fact that the insurgent wing may hold a reckless disregard for what is in the best interests of the “job creators.”  On the other side, the party that believes government can do more to make people’s lives better fumbled the debut of the most ambitious new government program in memory.  Now both sides would rather talk about the other side’s … Read the rest

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