Tuesday, March 14, 2017

My Nation

My nation has entered upon difficult days.
Dark and dangerous times.

Two competing visions of America.
One, generous and kind, mindful of people, not the dollars.

Determined to help everyone find the American Dream.
Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Fully understanding:
We're all in this together.

Because all of us owe a huge debt to one another.
A debt paid without question or regret.

The other, of course, all about the dollars.
Government on the cheap.

With a mission to further feather the pockets of the mega-rich.
While telling everyone else to take a hike.

Or, worse,
"Improve yourselves and get your own money."

Somehow or other believing the money taken by the mega-rich,
Will trickle on down to the rest of us.

Which it never does.
Because once it's gone into the money machine of the rich.

It's gone.
Gone forever.

Taken from us.
US ... you and me.

Who made this money, in the first place.
With sweat of brow and brawn and brain.

Two visions.
And the contest is on.

We've seen it play out before.
In the fateful days leading up to Sumter.

Gettysburg and Shiloh.
Bull Run and Chickamauga.

And out of the smoke and blood.
Other such seasons, as these two recurring visions lock horns.

Hoover and the Great Depression.
Busted banks that went too far.

And then FDR.
Out of the blue, so to speak.

A man of polio.
Who knew what it was to depend upon others.

FDR. Who wasn't perfect.

Understood this America of mine.

So did Eisenhower.
And even Nixon.

But the GOP has, as of late, gone mad.
I mean, really, thoroughly, deplorably, mad.

There is no kindness left in its ranks.
Bitterness and bigotry have consumed its soul.

Racism and misogyny.
War and power.

A disgust with the poor.
And love of money.

Led by a madman.
A Russian puppet?

Who knows what scurrilous elements comprise this closet.
What shenanigans hide beneath that mop of hair.

So, where are we?
For now, bad times.

As the GOP flexes its muscles.
To deconstruct FDR's America.

And create Amerika anew.
A feudal society.

A few haves.
And the rest, have-nots.

This, too, will run its course.
But not before damage has been done.

Real damage.
That may take years to repair.

And some damage, permanent.
Beyond the failsafe point.

Two visions now test America's soul.
I stand with FDR on this one.

An America for all.
An America ... for all.




Friday, March 10, 2017

Republicans Have a Chance

For 8 years, Republicans have screamed at the top of their lungs that given half a chance, they'll make America great again.

Well, they have a chance, and so far, it's been a first-class mess.

Transitions are always marked by some confusion, but this transition takes the cake because the current office holder believed that the scrawl of his pen would change the world and everyone would cheer.

Perhaps it works that way on the top floor of the Trump Tower, but not in government.

I have long suspected, and history backs me up on this, that Republicans are unable to govern ... given power, which America has a need to do now and then, they always end up the same way: more for the rich and less for everyone else.

This is not a governing philosophy, and, for me, flies in the face of my Christian Faith.

As for the faith, I've been at it awhile ... with all the requisite work of prayer, study and consultations.

So, I'm comfortable with where I am, as opposed to offering opinions on the status of Pluto or the latest in Hip Hop.

Getting back to the Republicans: the depths of confusion and scandal show no signs of letting up, and plenty of signs that it's going to worsen.

This is what money does. And it seems that the Republicans are all about money, their money and my money, too - i.e., taking my money and giving it away to the mega-rich.

The Republicans hold to a philosophy destined to ruin this nation (it's happened before); a philosophy that cannot govern, but only plunder.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

My America

My America.
America, kind and generous.
Wise and wonderful.

From sea to shining sea.
Yes, more than our share of shit.
More than our share of sin.

But My America.
Something profoundly good in our DNA.
A nation of kindly people.

My America.
Dustbowl and Depression.
Immigrants and migrants.

People on the move.
Some said: Not here.
But others said, Welcome.

My America.
Boat people and refugees.
Charities and Churches.

Today, I celebrate My America.
A good nation.
A welcoming place.

No matter what, I will not forget.
My America.
Land of the free, home of the brave.


Friday, March 3, 2017

The Rot Is Growing

RW writers are trying to make the case that much of the hatred and bigotry erupting across America was present during O's admin, but ignored by the media, "the enemy of the people."

Look, let's be honest: America has a lot of sickness in its soul. We're not pristine, we're not pure as the driven snow, more like the muck on a Detroit street in Mid-January ...

Sure, junk happened during O's term, but the media didn't ignore it.

What's changed is the tone of the day.

We now have in the highest office of the land a man of tawdry character who loves to bait the weak-minded, encourage their wantonness, while making wild promises of peace and prosperity.

And it's not just him; it's the whole damn GOP enterprise with its misogyny, bigotry, racism, christian nationalism, and states' rights.

Within the ranks of the GOP, a lot of crazies, a lot of angry people who fear the stranger, who can't stand other languages and other cultures, who are suffering financially because of the GOP, but are not bright enough, I fear, to see all the GOP lies being told to them.

Like it or not, Conservatives, your friend in the Whitehouse has upped the volume of hate ... has given permission to the crazies to beat LGBTQ persons, desecrate Jewish Cemeteries, burn Mosques, and ramp up racist language.

From the get-go, it's been nothing but lies and deceptions from the GOP, and in such an environment, and with such a tone, the rot increases exponentially, like mildew in a dirty sock drawer.

President Obama spoke up about all of this ... and signed executive orders and sought legislation to protect people and build up our society.

But not so the man currently in the office - whatever's been said by him, per his speech-writers, has been said half-heartedly, without conviction, and without any commitment to protecting people, other than the already-rich.

The rot is growing now, thanks to the man who sits behind the Oval Office Desk.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

It's the Children!

A little boy, born without legs and only one very small arm ... his mother here ... illegally, seeking care for her son.

I could't take my eyes off this little boy ... held so sweetly by his mother ... along with other mothers and their children ... on the run, on the move, searching, to do what any parent does: seek the welfare of our children.

I looked at the little boy ... innocent ... holding up his little stub of an arm pointing at something, and tears welled up ...

And how many children are like him ... and his parents ... and families seeking life ... fleeing untold cartel violence in their homelands ... living every day with gang extortion ... death close at hand?

In the face of great danger, they seek the welfare of their children.

And I wonder about America.

What risks are we willing to take for the children?

I fear that some in our ranks have blown out of proportion the "danger" of immigrants, playing upon irrational fear, crafting "alternative facts," crafting a narrative of lies and half-truths, in order to further their own nefarious political goals, which is mostly about money and power.

And so the heart of American has hardened, and it seems, growing harder every hour.

In some kind of a mindless quest of absolute safety ... and as is the case of any mindless obsession dealing with self-preservation at all costs, the heart grows cruel and callous.

We are forgetting some very important realities:

1) There is no such thing as absolute safety.
2) A nation that fears is a nation that is losing its mind and heart.
3) A nation that turns away from the children is a nation choosing blindness.
4) A nation that chooses fear chooses insanity.

As a Christian, I'm clear: Love entails risk.

When Jesus moved south toward Jerusalem, he was warned repeatedly of the danger facing him. But love entrails risk.

The Apostle Paul knew all about risk, and so did the Prophets.

But love entails risk.

At the risk of losing our humanity, we choose fear.

At the hope of gaining our humanity, we choose love, and whatever risks love entails.

And for every immigrant who might pose a threat (very low), love can open the door to thousands of children, their families, and to the world.

And in so opening the doors, so the heart leaps for joy.

And we'll be the stronger for it.


Friday, February 24, 2017

Bluff, Bluster, Arms ... the Power of Nervous Energy

I read a lot ...

History and historical novels ... set in and around the "great" wars that rocked Europe and drew into their maelstrom the whole of the world, with untold cost of life and enterprise, wasting entire generations, leaving untold numbers of men and women mauled in body and mind, families devastated by loss - widows and widowers and orphans, many on the cusp of poverty.

Time and again, bluff and bluster rear their ugly heads in such times, as heads of state try to push one another around ... along with the appropriate saber-rattling and arms buildups.

Did they expect war?

Want it?

If asked, all would have replied, "Oh no, we just need to protect our national interests and keep the other guy in check. It's the balance of power. This is how we do business."

But they all miscalculated the amount of nervous energy flying around like a prairie electrical storm - the sky crackling and roaring with fire.

Until those fateful moments, when a rifle rang out, and the shooting started, and before anyone knew what had happened, it was full-on war.

All the armaments sitting in warehouses were close at hand ... already troops had been called up, put in place.

For war?

Not at all - but only for bluff and bluster, to keep the other guy in check.

But all that nervous energy reached the critical point, when the storm finally broke, and the deluge engulfed the world, and did so twice within 30 years.

When I read of Trump and all of his bluff and bluster, when I hear him call for increased military spending, and I hear Putin and others join in the chorus of tough talk and saber-rattling, with armies and munitions on the move, I see the storm clouds gathering, I hear the crack of thunder and see how the night sky begins to dance with monstrous bolts of light stabbing across the massive churning clouds of energy.

The nervous energy of nations ... if not dampened can only escalate ... until there's no holding back any more, and a crazy fatalism takes hold, as the nations hold their noses and plunge into the tar pit of war.

It's been a long time since the world has seen a major war, though there have been plenty of skirmishes all along the way ... limited war as in Iraq ... shock and awe, as some have said, but it was contained and controlled ... the fire never leaped out of the fireplace.

But at what point do all of these flashpoints meld together to form a massive conflagration, that no fireplace can any longer contain?

When the nations of the world, hold their noses, and follow the leader, jumping in with screams and shouts, rushing to war, opening the warehouses of arms, and ramping up the fury, until someone hits the one button, turns the one key, and hell's fury is unleashed, a fury held in check since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a fury fed by the nations, nourished by bluff and bluster, tamed in diplomatic cages, pacing, enticing in its strange beauty and power, until that fateful day when the cage is unlocked, and the creatures of death are let loose upon the earth?




Thursday, February 9, 2017

Steve Ban-Him

Written to a friend earlier this morning:

Bannon is nuts … this is always what happens to those who give in to these sorts of theories … if one believes the devil exists behind every tree and under every bed, sooner or later the the flight or fight mode adrenaline secretions wreck the brain.

All the “Second-Comers” were crazy … beset with notions of impending doom, and losing sleep over trying to extricate their views from the turgid waters of Revelation and Daniel.

And that makes him very dangerous … the nuts always want to drag everyone else into their manic world.

It’s Bannon, it’s DeVos, and tRump is their ticket … and, of course, Betsy can always call on her brother and Blackwater.

I have my names for ‘em:

Ban-him
DeVice
and, of course, tRump.

The unholy trinity of Revelation 12-13 - ha. The dragon, the first beast and the second beast.

I can only hope all of this collapses in on itself before lasting damage is done to our nation, and with guys like Bannon cheering on for war, to the world, too.

Bannon is best seen as camp chairman for some fringe group in Alabama, swilling beer and muttering under his breath that je-e-sus is coming soon … that he’s now in Washington reveals something truly hideous at work in the GOP, which, I think, sold its soul for power, power at any cost.

Monday, February 6, 2017

tRump at MacDill

tRump's speech to soldiers at MacDill Air Force base - he attacked the press, and claimed that terrorists activity here in the States is not reported, saying "They have their own reasons, and you know what they are."

Wow ...

Undermining the Press, and of all audiences, to the military.

Is this not a Hitlerian move?

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Drinking Beer in Milwaukee with tRumpians.

Wasn't going to write anything, but I was deeply troubled by the CNN interview with tRumpians in a Milwaukee bar, mostly men, older, employees of Harley Davidson, with their Hulk Hogan Fu Manchu mustaches and sleeveless t-shirts.

Interestingly enough, they're union, yet supporting a man, and living in a state, determined to do away with unions and collective bargaining.

I have no idea what they like about tRump ...

But I think it has something to do with his "tough talk," a take-charge, kick-ass attitude, don't tread on me ... which leads me to think that these guys and gals are just pretty much pissed off at things they can't define, at nameless people they think are screwing them, and given to complaining ... which is easy to do in a small barroom in Milwaukee.

I didn't see any other ethnicities at the bar other than whites, which leads me to think that racial resentment plays a role - folks who are lazy, and "we're paying the bills for them" sort of thing. And, of course, the "illegals" who come here with their drugs and crime, wanting to live on our easy street, while "we have to work our butts off every day."

I don't know what they're thinking, and a part of me wants to say they're not thinking very much or very well about most anything.

The reality is this: they're gone down the sink hole of tRumpianism ... they're not likely to start thinking, nor are they likely to turn off their hate-radio and FAUX news which feeds into the spirit of complaint and ill will, blinding them to what really counts and who it is who stands with them, and those who simply use for the rubes they are.

About them, tRump was right - he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and they'd still love him, because shooting someone is what they have a hankering to do.

I have no doubt that the men and women in that bar are also part of Amerika's gun culture, and somehow or other, guns are righteous. There's power in a gun; challenge their right to own and use guns, and somehow or other their power is diminished, and being people, I suppose, who perceive themselves as mostly powerless anyway, the gun is one of their few sources of power and pride.

Oh well, I think they're pretty much a lost cause and are not likely to change their minds.

In a state like Wisconsin, then, once a proud state of progressive views, where's the hope?

It'll have to be with the people who voted for Hillary, even for Stein and Johnson ... or wrote in Sander's name.

It has to be with people who honor progressive values and yearn for a Statue-of-Liberty kind of America, and more than ever before, these people have to stand strong and united.

The future of Democracy belongs to the young ... to those now on the streets ... and to housewives running for the local school board ... and people of good cheer.








Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Originalism

The whole "originalist" idea is a smokescreen for the maintenance of the status quo of the ruling class. 

"Originalism" works very poorly with any text; for centuries, conservative scholars have tried to claim the "original idea" of the Bible, and what has it produced? A myriad of opinions and conflicts. 

And it doesn't work any better with the Constitution, because we simply don't know; we can only guess. Sure, a good guess, but a guess nonetheless, and an educated guess at best. 

The "originalist" hides behind the term and doesn't have the guts to simply say: This is what I think it says" rather than the silly suggestion, "It says THIS!" and it requires no interpretation (except mine, of course, which is no interpretation, because I know the original meaning). 

Hogwash, which is pretty much what the whole conservative bandwagon is all about.

The Dems Are Losers

Let's face it, the Dems are losers.

And deservedly so.

Dems lost state houses and governorships a long time ago, and along with state houses, the power to draw district boundaries - most often, it's gerrymandering, which now pretty much insures GOP control of the House for a long time to come.

During the recent national election, Dems lacked coherence ... too many were complacent, too many stayed home, too many, in some fit of purity and self-righteousness, cast pro-tRump votes by voting for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson or write-ins for Sanders.

With too many office-holding Dems, throughout all layers of our government, who look and sound more like Repubs than Dems; and why would anyone want a Dem pretending to be a Repub when they can have the real thing?

So, now the GOP controls all three branches of government, and will soon comfortably control SCOTUS as well, and if one of the liberal judges should retire or die, then tRump will appoint another "originalist" (read ideologue for the right), and absolutely control SCOTUS, casting the die for a loss of Roe v. Wade and virtually all the other hard-won freedoms and civil rights achieved since Brown vs. the Board of Education.

The party that defeated the Slave Empire is now hellbent for fury to reinstate it, with its Right to Work laws, and everything else to roll back voting and civil rights, marriage equality and social safety nets like Social Security and Medicare and just about anything else that smacks of "government interference" in our "personal freedoms."

The party of T. Roosevelt that broke up the monopolies and laid down the law on regulation to protect the people is now the party of the Plutocrats, who will strip away all regulations and rebuild the economy to suit the hyper-wealthy.

Tie this in with the 81% of evangelicals who cast their vote for je-e-sus, and their love of guns and war, and their hatred of LGBTQ persons, and we have a juggernaut, a tsunami of madness.

So, there is no stopping the GOP right now.

Not until the American People get sick of the avalanche of greed and aggrandizement.

Not until Dems get serious about local government.

Not until Dems get serious about a coherent vision for this nation, the FDR vision, the Obama vision, and if Dems want to pretend to be Repubs, then do it the Lincoln way, or the way of Teddy.

Until then, the Dems are losers.






Friday, January 27, 2017

The Logic of the Anti-Abortion Group

The logic of the anti-abortion group is unassailable.

It simply says: Abortion is murder.

Never a choice for anyone.
Never a medical necessity.
Never for rape or incest.
Never ever anything but murder.
MURDER OF CHILDREN.
M U R D E R.
M U R D E R.
Period.

All pregnancy (including rape and incest) is the will of God, and, thus, to ever prevent full-term delivery, is a contravention of God's will.

And a nation that allows abortion is guilty of the grossest of sins, and can never enjoy the favor of God.

So, while I might support abortion rights, and I do, I would never question the right of someone opposed to abortion ... they are free, in my world at least, to practice their pro-birth stance.

But I am not free in their world to choose abortion, or to support the right of a woman to choose.

Given it's logic, there is no way in heaven or hell that they could ever allow anyone ever the choice of abortion.

To do so would be to the condemn the person to everlasting hell, by allowing them to commit sin, a sin of the grossest kind.

Those, then, who support abortion rights are themselves guilty of aiding and abetting murder.

MURDER ... COLD-BLOODED MURDER!

Thus, in order to protect people from going to hell and to save this nation from the judgment of God, there can never be, must never be, will never be, one legal abortion. The very notion of making it "legal" flies in the face of their faith, their logic, their image of this nation, their patriotism, their prayers, their social and personal convictions.

And for some in this camp, the punishments for such a crime ought to match the crime, as they see it - at the very least, prison; while some even espouse capital punishment, especially for providers of abortion, or, as they believe, the murder of children.

There is no room here for negotiating, and certainly no room for allowing anyone the choice.

There must never again be another legal abortion in this nation, and every effort must be made to prevent the illegal ones, as well.

This kind of logic is unassailable.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

A Letter to Some Friends ...

I awoke in the middle night with my stomach clenched … 

I kept thinking about the latest effort in Texas - the Supreme Court there has agreed to hear a case against benefits for gay spouses. Perhaps the Texas Supreme Court will put it to rest, but my fear is simply this: Nullification, the theme-song of the South … if it’s Federal Law, we’re not bound to uphold it.

I can’t help but see all of this as a million steps backward.

They despise all things related to the freedom and rights of LGBTQ persons … and a whole lot of other people, along with voting rights. Sadly, the Republicans were smarter than the Dems and for 40 years, the GOP has been building a base in the states - state houses and governorships, leading to gerrymandering …. which leads to the control of the US house. They did it right, and now we reap the bitter fruits of their strategy. And it’s going to take a long time for the Dems to regain all of this lost ground. And it’s more than conceivable, I fear, that with SCOTUS appointments, we could see the undoing of Roe v. Wade.

And all of this has been supported in evangelical churches, megachurches, Liberty University and other such “educational” institutions, and religious radio and TV … as Joseph Goebbels said: “It would not have been possible for us to take power or to use it in the ways we have without the radio.”

For me, this is evil … the deconstruction of the welfare of the people for the sake of the few, driven by dark ideologies … whether it be the religious elite guarding the Temple and it’s big business of selling animals for slaughter and sacrifice, the moneychangers and the Temple Taxes and the Plutocratic Roman Empire working together to suppress the people and ultimately to arrest and condemn a public threat, namely Jesus … or similar forces these days.

Anyway, just some Saturday morning ramblings … my daughter is going to the Women’s March here in LA … I have friends in Washington … gonna turn on TV and watch them do God’s work on behalf of justice and peace (real peace, not the rotten peace of compromise or suppression).

Argh.

With love and hope, affection and attitude,

Tom