Wednesday, August 24, 2016

For-profit Prisons & The Politicians Who Get The Most From Them

"These groups have also publicly stated that leniency towards non-violent drug users and undocumented immigrants could "potentially reduce demand for correctional facilities", thereby impacting their revenue. Many have pointed to private prisons' vested interest in keeping inmate populations above a given threshold as a key factor driving the 'war on drugs', a set of policies that impose mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug users, which have resulted in a 700% spike in state prison populations over the past three decades."

Click on the link below to read the full article.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Jerrymandering via Incarceration... A Fact Of American Life

The United States is truly exceptional in terms of the number of people in our prisons. This country incarcerates 716 people for every 100,000 population, more than any other country in the world. While we have under five percent of the world's population, we account for around twenty five percent of its prisoners. The Prison Industrial Complex in the USA has a vested interest in keeping their facilities full even if crime statistics are on the decline. 
Stop for a moment and let that sink in...  What are the implications of this reality for the way our justice system operates? It is time for a critical examination of the process of what is blatantly an “injustice system”. Can a society that ignores this fact escape its consequences? 

When our aspiring candidates for political office talk about being “hard on crime”, let us loudly interrupt them and ask them how much money they are getting from this prison industrial complex. Are they and the judges we elect the compliant cronies of the system of injustice which now exists to target the poor and underprivileged in our communities...especially our communities of color? 
Paul Waldman writing in The American Prospect observes the following:
"... you can't talk about prisons without talking about race. African Americans in particular are over-represented in prisons; though they are 13 percent of the population, they made up 38 percent of the population of state prisons.... The crimes that landed them there, however, are not too different from their white and Hispanic counterparts. Eighteen percent of blacks in state prisons were convicted of drug crimes, compared to 15 percent of whites and 17 percent of Hispanics."
In addition to the disproportionate number of persons of color in our jails, it is also a fact that the US imprisons more women than any other country. This raises other disturbing questions about the political culture being perpetuated here. Think for a moment about the history of the disenfranchisement of women and minorities in this country's politics.

Keep this in mind as you mull over this issue- Studies have shown that States budgets for education have declined even as their budgets for incarceration have increased. It is a well documented fact that the vast majority of our imprisoned population are from communities with poor school districts. So as the educational infrastructure in disadvantaged communities suffer from crippling deficits, the prison industrial complex has grown more and more muscular. In 2009 the School District of Philadelphia faced a deficit of $147 million after losing $160 million in State funding. Yet, during this same period, taxpayers spent nearly $290 million imprisoning residents from its most economically depressed neighborhoods.
In a Democracy such as ours one may ask... in fact must ask... who benefits from the disenfranchisement of this part of the potential electorate which is disproportionately affected by our present policies on incarceration? Is the excessive incarceration of women and people of color a way of thwarting the democratic process? Does it tilt the balance of electoral power in favor of the same influences that historically wanted exactly that state of affairs? These are questions worthy of further examination. Is this in fact jerrymandering via incarceration?
Let us be very clear about what is at stake here. There are inescapable consequences of this kind of injustice. The institutions in our communities must begin to take this issue to heart. I say this especially to those institutions that focus on the moral issues we face as individuals and as communities. We must do more than is being done to conscientize our fellow citizens about this problem. 

The proliferation of  “prison ministries” focusing on saving the soul of the incarcerated is unlikely to change the hearts of the captives in this new system of slavery. Poor prisoners are more aware than the preachers that the dichotomy assumed between their physical and spiritual needs is mostly false. The moral voices among us must be employed to bring a specific focus- to shine a bright light- on the degradation, misery, and disenfranchisement, created by a system of greed and it's corrupted agents. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Like Daedalus was to Icarus...So is the GOP to Donald Trump

A depiction of Daedalus and his son Icarus as Icarus plunges to his death

Daedalus was to Icarus what the Republican Party is to Donald Trump... his daddy.

All considered, Donald Trump's ascendance to the leadership of the Republican Party is in essence the ultimate expression of a politically incestuous relationship. Some have deemed the ongoing drama of his dismantling of Republican ideals as poetic justice. Trump is the chicken that the GOP hatched after seven years of roosting with their backward, obstructionist, Tea Party cousins. 

The leaders of the Republican Party, such as they are, now find themselves in the awkward position of desperately wanting to defeather their own hatchling. They are powerless in this regard, since to do so would create the kind of intra-party schism that could very well result in the end the Party as we know it. I am led here to take liberties with a line from a hymn by the English poet and hymnodist William Cowper, a line inspired by the Old Testament prophet Isaiah's profound querry: "Can a mother's tender care cease toward the child she bear?"... I ask:

Can the Grand Ole Party's tender care cease toward this bombastic candidate they have hatched?

This is without doubt a painful existential moment for the Grand Ole Party. When they look at Trump's face, and listen to the scurrilous bleatings of this bombastic offspring of their own reactionary overindulgence, they see themselves... And it is not a pretty sight. They would love to snuff out his political breath... Or put a cork in his outrageous mouth. But it is too late. Short of breaking his proverbial wings with the blunt force of some kind of obstructive maneuver, they are helpless. They are at the mercy of his ignorance. They are left to cringe in embarrassment at his bombast. And so they continue to twist themselves into rhetorical pretzels in their attempts to account for his vain bluster. 

The GOP is now left to tend to its own self-inflicted wounds. One look at Reince Priebus' face reveals the extent of their pain.

For Donald Trump's part, the true nature and potential of his ascendance is about to be revealed. The prospect of having his wings clipped by the Grand Ole Party that now regards him with unbridled disgust is one thing. Finding out that his rise has largely been a function of the superficial nature of our political and media culture will be quite another. He seems genuinely incredulous that he rose to the top of what was quite a heap. His perceived closeness to the luster of the nation's highest office is apparently quite thrilling to him. Like the son of Daedalus, he is all fired up about his ability to rise to unexpected heights... After all, he has "never done this before".  Hell... he had no problem negotiating his way through the GOP's grossly ill-conceived political labyrinth.

But, like Icarus, the GOP nominee is discovering that flying too close to the sun with wings unsuitably engineered, has certain inherent risks. He employed a by any means necessary approach to rising above his fellow inmates in the institutional circumstance he confined himself to. But now The Donald is discovering that the feathers enabling his political flight are fixed by wax... the wax of his Party's hypocrisy...the wax of a sensationalist media culture...the wax of his own gross unpreparedness...the wax of ignorance, hatred, and bigotry, that he so willingly exploits. 

His is quite a dilemma. The fate of Icarus awaits Trump. The Primaries are over. The country has endured his unconventional Convention, and the incoherent doting of his selected enablers. We expected more, but in characteristically Trumpian manner, we were treated to... and unsettled by less. The little we got that was uplifting, we discovered was covertly borrowed. He must now continuously face the unrelenting glare of public and media scrutiny; and it is now obvious that he is woefully unprepared for the bright lights of a meaningful election campaign. 

Recent statements of his suggest that Mr Trump may be preparing himself for what will be a rather precipitous fall from political prominence. 

If Mr Bombastic is lucky he may land in another one of those TV reality dramas... much diminished of course, but with the ability to rehabilitate his unwieldy ego much like the banks have repeatedly rehabilitated his financial life. Icarus was not so lucky... he fell into the sea and drowned, leaving his father to bitterly lament his own craft... Much like the GOP will lament the reality of their own inevitable demise. 

Well... lets wait to see what jewels of wisdom their next autopsy uncovers... Again.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Beyond Partisanship... Why We Must Elect Hillary Rodham Clinton POTUS

Eight years of partisan and cultural tensions in our country have served to produce the clearest choice for President of the United States that we have had in a generation. That choice, without doubt, is former Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The challenges of our time, and the fundamental principles of our democracy, demand that we reject the candidacy of Donald J. Trump. In a political moment such as we are experiencing as a nation, and as a world... we must rise above the partisan impulses that have come to define our political behavior. We must do so because to do otherwise compromises any claim to intelligent moral leadership that we might make as Americans.

It has been declared that politics is about life. I want to expand and expound on that: Politics is about our lives together. Beyond our individual interests, and the group interests that are at times used to divide and rule us; there is that greater imperative that calls us to build the kind of national and international community that will secure our mutual interests and bolster our collective security. The leadership that this vision of our lives demands is what we are now being called on to elect... to choose. Donald Trump's lack of moral acuity, his demonstrably horrible temperament, and his ill-mannered attitude toward others, are antithetical to everything we should be working toward as a society.

One does not have to look far in order to find the reasons that disqualify Mr Trump for the Presidency. Any casual observer of his conduct so far in this political season can, without much effort, identify a host of such reasons. His unapologetic divisiveness. His crass abrasiveness. His activist appeal to the racist underbelly of a nation still scarred by its history of bigotry. His disrespect for women, and for immigrants who are not white and rich. His obvious inability to intelligently address any of the issues of critical importance in our national life. His demonstrated lack of intellectual curiosity about our world. His careless disregard for those with disabilities among us. His history of exploiting the economic system to benefit himself to the disadvantage of others. His careless disregard for truth. His propensity to promote violence against those who don't share his worldview. His ludicrously inconsequential bravado, and his disrespect of those who have served in our military. 

Donald Trump's slighting of the suffering of our soldiers, and his disregard for the sacrifices they and their families have made in service to the country he wants to lead is in and of itself a reason he must never be Commander in Chief. And, in the face of all this, we can add his total lack of any ability to be meaningfully self-critical.

The contrast between Donald Trump and Secretary Clinton could not be more stark. What we have here is a choice between a candidate who has dedicated her whole life to advocating for those who are less fortunate among us; and a man who has no real record of serving anyone but himself and his own selfish interests. This is a contrast between someone who has fought for justice in our education and healthcare system; and a man who is accused of establishing a fake university to separate gullible clients from their money. We have a choice between a man who was being sued for racial discrimination in housing practices in New York; while Hillary Clinton was fighting for equal justice in the segregated South. We have a public servant who counts among her accomplishments CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program), which brings the added security of guaranteed health insurance to millions of low income families; and a man who regards the less fortunate as "losers".

Tony Schwartz, who states that he is the real author of the book that Trump has boasted about writing: The Art of the Deal... has declared his opposition to the Donald Trump that he came to know very well. Schwartz, who spent much time observing Trump for this now well known book, says this about Trump's character, and the possible outcome of a Trump Presidency:

I put lipstick on a pig,” ... ... “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.” He went on: “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”

The Republicans have spent much time over the years, and a significant amount of the nation's capital, in their efforts to make Hillary Clinton seem like a terrible person and a bad politician. Those efforts have largely failed. As unpopular a choice as they have succeeded in making her among many in the Republican base, there is no assessment of her that is as grim as that of the Schwartz assessment of Trump.

While the GOP has put a lot of resources into diminishing the appeal of Hillary Clinton, they are apparently ignoring the Trojan Horse which Trump represents. He has most certainly shown himself to be a hollow human being, but beyond that... he is a bearer of traits and ideals that go against the grain of the kind of society we aspire to be. The former Secretary of State has her faults, of which she is duly self-critical. But Donald J. Trump is a collective of the very values that we have spent the last two and a half centuries fighting against as Americans.

We must stand against the destructive divisiveness that Donald Trump represents. Let us affirm the strength that comes from a people united... Let us rise above partisanship, and elect Hillary Clinton President of these United States of America. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Michelle Obama... The Gift That History Gave

First Lady Michelle Obama To Speak At Maya Angelou’s Memorial ...
"That is the story of this country, the story that has brought me to this stage tonight, the story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, but who kept on striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done so that today, I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves — and I watch my daughters — two beautiful, intelligent, black young women — playing with their dogs on the White House lawn." --Michelle Obama, FLOTUS

So this happened. Last night I watched, along with millions here in America and around the world, as First Lady Michelle Obama spoke to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. And I could not hold back the tears that came to rescue me from my own efforts to control my emotions in the course of that speech. Thankfully, when she got to the part quoted above, our ancestor Maya Angelou came and sat beside me. She  rested her right hand on my thigh... and I found myself repeating with her that most profound, universally powerful, verse:

          "Out of the huts of history's shame... I rise!
          Up from a past that's rooted in pain... I rise!
          I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
          Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
          Leaving behind nights of terror and fear... I rise!
          Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear...I rise!
          Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
          I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
          I rise! I rise! I rise!" 

There I sat in that sacred moment... In the company of Michelle and Maya... Phenomenally

There is a life-proliferating quality in the words and work of these two women. In affirmation of the cultural and spiritual offerings they contain, their words stir in us certain emotions that are now inhabitants of  our consciousness as a result of our shared history. Maya came to remind me of this. And having done her work, she gently patted my thighs and left me alone with my thoughts and emotions... And the visage and voice of Michelle Obama.

        "  ..., we cannot sit back and hope that everything works out for the best. We cannot afford to be tired or frustrated or cynical.'

Michelle Obama is the gift that History has given us. Her words serve us way beyond the exigencies of any election season. As a gift she is one of many... but an exceptional one. She has this wonderful ability to draw us to a most sacred place in our life experience; and in this place we become intimate with a mating of ideas and ideals that leave us pregnant with the expectation of something greater for ourselves and all those connected to us. 

Through her cultural and political genius the First Lady reaches deep within and calls forth the memory of our sacred obligation to be fruitful and multiply ... to take charge of our lives and our destiny... to never give in or give up on ourselves despite the challenges of our past and our present. Here is indeed a voice from the Eden of our experiences. It calls us to new dreams, and new hopes, and a new vitality.

Michelle Obama inspires us to refine and redefine who we are and who we would be in a world constantly holding up before us the forbidden fruit of a corrupted culture.  

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Bees In Our Bonnets vs The Butterflies In Our Boxes

Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself - free PowerPoint Sermons by Pastor Jerry ...
The appeal of the supernatural
Proselytizing is risky business. Religion has always been, and remains a powerful motivating force. It has the power to capture the minds and imagination of people, and move them to act out the convictions they develop. This acting out of convictions is at times executed with gross disregard for the perspectives of those who do not share them.

The need to make sense of the various, sometimes overwhelming, circumstances that we face leads many to reach for a "power" greater than the individual or communal self. That need to become connected to a force more awesome than one’s self, or more powerful than the sum of our communal experiences, drives many people to develop a reverence for existential imperatives that are perceived in supernatural terms. So, for example, instead of simply identifying with the need to live a balanced life and do right with each other, we come up with formulations about “doing the will of God”. We could call this the mystification of enlightened self-interest. We shroud the commonsense imperatives of our personal and communal experience in other-worldly language, and by so doing we transfer the authority for control of our lives from our selves, and one another... to a mysterious Other.

Invariably mystery and miracle become bedrocks of our belief systems. For reasons that we must continue to honestly and boldly analyze, we create the foundations of our faith in the realm of the supernatural. Our Saviors are born of virgins, and not just in the sense of a young woman of marriageable age, no... we make that 'maiden' conceive and have a child without having had sex! Our messiahs come back from the dead and talk to us. They bring the dead back to life... literally… even those who had started to rot. They make wine from water… just water. They walk on water. They feed multitudes with food barely enough for two people. And so, in the process of denying the ability and the responsibility that we have to change our world for the better, we attribute to our gods natures and abilities that are essentially super-human. We believe of course that they have made us to serve them, and that we are lost without our faith in them.

It is for these reasons that we should be aware and wary of the inherent risks in the reach for faith. The connection between our theology and our anthropology is often obscured by ultra-poetic attempts to place the one above and beyond the other. In a world where radical theisms have again become vehicles of  much social and political turmoil, it is useful to remember the essential truth that theology is what one person says and another hears about "God". Simply put, theology is nothing more than our conversations with each other about our gods. These conversations often suffer from our tendency to replace the discipline of critical analysis with dogma. Could it be that dogma is an affliction of the ever-present power dynamic in our relationships?

The butterflies in our boxes

(The general outline of the exercise I am about to describe is from a discussion that took place one evening over thirty years ago while I was a seminarian. The course was 'Development Studies', which sought to engage us in a critical analysis of god-talk in the context of post colonial / developing countries. Details vary, but the essential point remains. Our professor was the brilliant scholar Rev. Dr. William Wilberforce Watty.)

Imagine that you were the observer of a discussion that two parties were having about the super butterfly in each of their boxes... boxes that only each party could see into. So the one party describes in exotic detail the attributes and actions of the butterfly in his or her box. The thing is said to be beautiful and skilled at flight. It has colors that were too exotic to name, and features that defied one’s ability to detail. This butterfly is said to have appeared out of nowhere one day after a storm. That thing of inexplicable might and magnificent beauty could also talk... in every language... And it was able to tell stories of the past, and prophesy about the future.

Now the other party, not to be outdone, looks into his or her box and sets about describing the butterfly therein. Not only does that creature possess all the attributes and abilities of the already described butterfly, but it's wings are larger and more powerful. The looker into that box states that every time this creature moves in flight, it becomes the source of all the winds. The back and forth between the two parties is sometimes heated, as each attempts to describe the occupant of a particular box in terms that would give that particular butterfly supremacy over the other.

As an intelligent observer, you look on with great interest as the banter goes on. The rivalry between each protagonist grows and becomes more and more obvious. You notice that at times they make claims about their butterflies without even looking into the box in which the creature dwells. This tends to happen especially when the conversation gets very heated.

Eventually they turn to you, each one of them, and ask you to vouch for the veracity of their individual claims... based on their assumption that you now believe what each has been saying about their butterfly. It is then that you are struck by the singularly astute observation that no one can see into the box of each of these persons but them. The experience of actually seeing into those boxes is exclusive to each. No one else has access to those boxes. The prospective convert is left with the very real disadvantage of believing… Or not.

And so you awaken from the more than momentary incursion of consciousness only to hear them each clamoring for you to take sides. Not only do they expect you to believe the stories they tell, they each want you to be a witness for their version of things. That is until you confront each of them with the question: How do I know that there is even a butterfly, or any other creature in your box? You know that they won't give you a meaningful answer... They will of course forbid you to look into their boxes, that is how they maintain their hold over other acolytes. Mystery. The power of each claim is maintained by way of its given mysterious nature. It is enough for them to get you to just “believe”. And I'm thinking that I will give due regard to the claims of each; that is if they in turn will recognize my right to not believe in the very existence of the butterflies in their boxes.

The bee in our bonnets
Where does our unrelenting preoccupation with god-talk come from? Why this perpetual harangue about our origin, our state of being, and our destiny? The competing narratives about faith do not take place in a vacuum. They happen in the context of very real, and at times, competing interests in our social and economic environment… Rich vs Poor… Haves vs Havenots… Good vs Evil… Theist vs Atheists...

Historically, those who have preached to us about rewards that await us in Heaven, or eternal damnation in Hell, have invariably been the agents of those who have taken the liberty to reward themselves with the bounties of a culture of inequity. Yes. The priestly classes have mostly been the servants of the ruling classes. This has been true for all the major religions.

In cases where the religious instinct has been cultivated by the economically and politically disadvantaged in contradiction of the prevailing belief system, any new movement is usually viewed with scorn and ridicule. Almost universally, they are initially singled out for brutal repression. This was the case with the Rastafarian movement in Jamaica. The Rastafarian rejected the idea of a white messiah, favoring instead an Ethiopian emperor of their own ethnicity. This new consciousness is expressed by the Rastafarian artist Sizzla as follows:

"I have no white God... don't teach anything wrong
Would di(the) white God save mi(me) from whiteman oppression?
I have no white God... It's just a BLACK MESSIAH
If a white God a Bless(If a white God blesses)
How him naw bless Sizzla(How is it He doesn't bless Sizzla)?"

The dialectic in which Sizzla engages brings to the fore the basic incongruence between what he was taught to believe and his lived experiences. He declares unapologetically against the idea of a white God in a cultural and political circumstance in which White racist domination functions as an oppressive reality in the lives of Black folk. His new consciousness is expressed in the the cultivation of a new sense of self in which a rejection of European aesthetics and Theology is an ontological imperative. The dread-locked Rastafarian became a symbol of rebellion against White cultural domination, and was reviled and feared as a consequence.

Persecution was a fact of life in early Christianity until the Roman Emperor Constantine realized that he could domesticate the new religion and co-opt it for the cause of stabilizing and expanding the empire. Thus martyrdom gave way to Christendom, and the marriage of Church and State became a reality. Wherever it is the case that strands of religious dogma become the impetus for revolutionary change, the believer is martyred… persecuted and in some cases, annihilated. Alternately, the domesticability of new movements is exploited to further the ambitions of the State.

In societies that are strained by the burden of inequality, the very real antagonism between hope and despair in people's lives becomes the breeding ground for instability. The loss of hope, and the breeding of despair, are the context in which violence develops in such societies. A sense of hopelessness and the futility it generates, is the animus that drives people to do violence... to themselves… and to others.

Injustice is the bee in the bonnets of those who rise up against the status quo. It is a source of the torment expressed by its victim, which is in turn vented on everything and everyone within reach. In such circumstances the need to repair the breach results in the promotion of a choice between the bee in our bonnets and the butterflies in the philosophers’ boxes. To preempt the upset that injustice causes, the dispossessed are called on to defer their need of material fulfillment in favor of a spiritual life, and their desire of a hopeful future until an afterlife.

The question we must answer
More important than our reach for mystery and miracle, is the reality of how we view and treat those with whom we live, and move, and have our being. There is in fact a well established and very meaningful orthodoxy which declares that it is utter nonsense to talk about our fascination with gods we cannot see, while we foster a culture of inequity. The propagation of injustice is a direct contradiction of our claim to obedience to any loving God. It places our faith on tenuous ground, and nullifies all attempts, rhetorical and liturgical, to validate our stated beliefs.

Theological exercises that do not affirm the experiences and the needs of our common humanity are a gross misuse of physical and mental energy. Worse than that, they are potentially dangerous. To profess our love for, and our commitment to the butterflies in our boxes while we actively antagonize one another is to live
a lie. Lies have a tendency to erode our potential to live in authentic relationships. This is as true for each of us as it is for all of us. Lies negate and erode the life-enhancing potentials of individuals and of nations. A meaningful faith is one which finds expression through the cultivation of real equity in our stewardship of Earth and its fullness. Another word for equity... Justice.

In the physical, cultural, and political spaces in which we live out our lives we often have to confront the incongruities between the ideas that we have come to define ourselves by and the challenges that are inherent in the realities of our being together. The tensions herein are real and ongoing. Our efforts to resolve these tensions underline the necessity to engage philosophically with our selves and each other. The honest philosopher comes to acknowledge a truth that is universally affirmed: "There are more questions than answers; ... and the more we find out, the less we know". The less we know for sure that is.

Ultimately the most consequential question that we must answer is not about the nature of God. The responses to that philosophical piece are too subjective to be universally useful. We can agree that that question is indicative of a certain functional genius, and it most definitely has its place in our philosophical resumes. But the more pressing query is: Who is my neighbor, and am I his/her keeper? An affirmation of the wisdom and the duty implied in this question clears the path to the salvation we and our societies seek… and need.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Trump... From The Audacity Of Hope To The Atrocity Of Hate

... , sordid antivaccine history of Donald Trump – Respectful Insolence

"We're not gonna lose. We're gonna starting winning again, and we're gonna win bigly!". 

Witness the novel grandiloquence of one Donald J. Trump, soon to be the Nominee of the Republican Party for President of the United States. This declaration of his after winning the Indiana Primary summarized both his projections for his Primary campaign, and his analysis that the country was losing and that it would win bigly with his leadership. His followers cheered him. His opponents laughed at him. And those who entertain noble hopes for the future of America and the positive role she must play in world affairs let out a collective gasp. 

Trump took Indiana in the Primaries, and now he has taken that State's Governor, Mike Pence, as his Vice Presidential running mate. To compensate for his inability to make a coherent presentation on any aspect of American life and his lack of charisma, he conjures up an unsettling pomposity. Donald J. Trump parades his affluence with a grossness unbecoming of one who would lead a nation where the top one percent own more wealth that the bottom ninety percent. His "trophies", from Mara Lago to Trump Tower, all declare: 

If you are not me, you are a loser! Look at how bigly have succeeded... and how miserably the rest of you have failed!

Trump's pseudo-verbosity is devoid of meaningfulness. In terms of what we should expect of a presidential candidate and a world leader, he is the proverbial "empty suit". He insists that he is not a politician... of that we are sure. If by politician we mean: a person experienced in the science of government, or one engaged in conducting the business of government; then we are most certainly not speaking of Mr Donald Trump. He has demonstrated no real grasp of what is entailed in the position for which he lusts. Everything we have seen so far tells us that he possesses neither the temperament nor the character to be Commander In Chief.

What Trump lacks in substance he makes up for in bluster. He has demonstrated no fluency in any of the issues that demand the attention of an occupant of the Oval Office. What Mr Trump is very fluent in are the gross insults and indecent aspersions that he carelessly discharges at anyone who dares to require him to speak intelligently and cogently to any issue. "Lyin Ted!". "Little Marco". "Low energy Jeb!". "Crooked Hillary!". This is the sum of the Trump critique of his opponents... coupled of course with National Enquireresque insinuations to match.  In place of any effort to be a meaningfully articulate candidate, what we have in Trump is a carnival barker. 

Given his current negatives among most polled demographics, his chances of being elected to the Presidency are close to zero. Of course there are the knights of the White Nationalist sect, ready to ride with him. He is their declared messiah, their one true hope, their prospect to make America hate again! Candidate Trump's dog whistles to racist elements in the national body politic have become full blown clarion calls. So much so, that these elements show up at his rallies ready to punch African Americans in their faces...with the promise that he will defend them. 

Trump is perceived as being such a liability to the GOP that many of their most prominent officials have vowed never to vote for him. Many Republicans are shaking in their political boots at the down-ticket implications of an election that has him at the head of the ticket. No living former Republican President will show up for his convention. Mitt Romney will not be there. McCain will miss it. Paul Ryan will hold his nose and do his duty as Party leader. And the list of Congress persons that will take a pass on sitting in Trump's shadow in Cleveland, Ohio, keeps growing.

All considered, Trump's ascendance to the the top of the Republican ticket is in fact the ultimate expression of political poetic justice. This is the chicken that the GOP has hatched after seven years of roosting with a reactionary TeaParty. They now find themselves in the awkward position of desperately wanting to defeather their own hatchling. This is without doubt a painful existential moment for the Grand Ole Party. When they look at the face of this bombastic offspring of their own reactionary overindulgence they see themselves... And it is not a pretty sight. They would love to snuff out his political breath, or put a cork in his outrageous mouth... but it is too late. Short of breaking his proverbial wings with the blunt force of some kind of obstructive maneuver, they are helpless. They are at the mercy of his bombast and bluster. The GOP is now left to tend to its own self-inflicted wounds. 

In Donald Trump the nation is presented with the choice of rising with the audacity of Hope, or flailing around in the stranglehold of Hate. To be clear, his candidacy is indicative of the latter. The time to boo and snicker is past. What is at stake here is more than just the usual promoted-for-profit theatrics of American political life. Let us not become victims of our own complacency. In the words of two-term President Barack Obama... "Don't boo. Vote!"

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Beyond Our Fears

In a world constantly evolving toward greater efficiency in our occupation and use of time and space, we are being challenged more and more to be greater adepts in our perception of the values and communal objectives we must develop in order to coexist peacefully. The alternatives to peaceful coexistence in the brave new world that advances in technology is foisting upon us are not at all attractive. We can learn to live together, or we can foolishly choose to suffer the consequences of our existential myopia.

Ultimately we must come to realize that a precondition to prospering together is the establishment of Justice. To live into this consciousness is to thrive in accordance with our most primitive instinct… the will to survive. That will to survive must be understood in terms of our Us-ness… our connectedness of being. The us against them mentality that has become a feature of our communal experience is at best an uncritical assumption born of fear; at worst it is a tool being used to further the cause of those who think they can continue to benefit from it. The violence that is a built in feature of this corrupted way of being will continue to wreak havoc among us as long as it is allowed to define our perception of things. This corrupted view of our shared humanity must be allowed to expire. There are now technologies available to us that make us or them an unviable choice. Behaviors that articulate the prospect of our mutual annihilation are inimical to progress in our world.
<b>Unity</b> Hands - ClipArt Best

In the interest of a world that can continue to develop and prosper, we... whether we find ourselves in Asia, in Africa, in Europe, in the Americas, or in the Middle East…; or in New York, or Louisiana, or Minnesota, or Ferguson... We must identify and connect with those ways of being that enhance our own fecundity, and that of our neighbors. We must face the fact that there is no wall that we can build that will negate the essential interconnectedness that is now a physical, cultural, and technological reality of our lives.

There is no greatness that is a product of the parochialism being fostered by greedy, insecure little persons who have so far failed to resolve the anxieties they harbor in their own corrupted souls. The only lasting resolution to the fears that haunt the purveyors of division in our world comes from a certain death... the dying of corrupted egos. We can attempt to shrink our world to fit our uncritical perspectives; but expanding our horizons to be more facilitating of the shared needs of our common humanity remains our only real hope for a secure future.