Hope for 2018: Have courage and be tender

This blog posting is a shameless paraphrasing Richard Rhor’s meditation today – I hope it’s ok w/him! You can find his work at the Center for Action and Contemplationhttps://cac.org/

All too often, governments become rigid and need to be revived, reformed, and reborn.

When governments become machines more than movements, it’s a sign that they must shake off the historical and cultural calcifications so they can continue evolving as a useful servant of the people. Just as in our own lives, growth is never in a straight line; it is often three steps forward and two steps backward.

This year, when so much decency has been lost in government, it is a good time to again rebuild our people driven democratic ideals “from the bottom up.” Rather than coming from those in power at the top, the most effective and lasting change happens at the grass-roots level, led by those who are on the “edge of the inside” and are not afraid to shake and challenge the status quo; and are not afraid of those that aim to destroy the goodness of responsible government by deconstructing it for their own self gains.

I hope in 2018 we (re?)gain the strength to mend the breach between the world as it usually is (Power) and the world as it should and could be (Love). Both love and power are the necessary building blocks of an empathetic, caring government. Love utterly redefines the nature of power. If it is true that power corrupts and destroys, love respects and builds up.

Power without love is mere brutality, and love without power is only the sentimentality of private lives disconnected from the Whole. Goodness in its fullness holds power and love together, creating new hope and healing for the world.

As this year draws to a close, may we go and grow forward as breach-menders, restoring the places in which Goodness and decency have become hidden or misrepresented.

Have courage and be tender. #RESIST

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I just bought a $10,000,000 house. And I will not be paying for it.

Oh shucks. I could not help ourselves. I did it!

It is Christmas time, so it is time for gifts, right?

I’ve bought us a new house. Not to brag, but it did cost us $10,000,000.

No problem though. I’ve borrowed the money in a way that it will be paid off by my children and grandchildren – and great grandchildren, and their children.

You see, we have all the confidence in the world that our children and their children will be making at least $1,000,000 a year by 2025.

And if that does not come to be or they don’t have the money to pay the mortgage? NO problem there either. They’ll just declare bankruptcy and let others pay it.

THIS, my friend, is exactly what the tax bill about to be passed by Congress does. We are borrowing $1,000,000,000,000,000,000 (one trillion dollars)so corporations can pay less taxes in the hopes and prayers they do something they have never, ever done: prioritize investing those tax savings in a way that creates jobs and increases wages instead of pocketing the profits.

Think about it. We are gifting the same people that took us for a ride and sank us into the worst recession we’ve ever had a decade ago – the same people we had to bail out with tax payers money – and we are expecting them to increase wages and create jobs rather than buy themselves more luxury items and spend away, increasing their luxury lifestyles.

We also are praying and hoping that the economy will improve so much so fast that paying for that trillion will be simple because we as a nation will be producing so much more and our productivity will be at least twice as much as what it is today.

And, if the economy does not improve to that totally unrealistic level?

NO problem! The government will simply cut other programs so the $1T loan can be paid off.

And what are those programs that will be cut – probably more drastic than ever since their inception? Medicaid. Medicare. Social Security.

Yep. You have it right.

This Christmas the modest and middle class are about to gift the ultra rich $1T so they can further enrich themselves. And we are paying for it by reducing our social commitment to the poor and elderly.

Welcome to the American Oligarchy. It’s here.

Call your Republican Senator TODAY. Not that it will do any good, but their conscience must be nudged. They have to know we care. They have to know we are watching. And they have to know we’ll see them at the ballot box.

#RESIST

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This is nothing short of a partisan dictatorship

Welcome to the partisan presidency – a precursor to the partisan dictatorship.

Not all dictatorship come to power after some coup or revolution. Indeed, since the latter part of the 20th century most dictatorships have come to power through the ballot box. Some were rigged from the get go, but not all.

Venezuela comes to mind. Hugo Chavez was pretty much duly elected. Yet he used the power of the position to chip away at democratic institutions, militarize his cabinet, discredit any press that disagrees with him, reshape the judiciary, and drive a partisan wedge in the legislative… Sound familiar?

Paraphrasing MLK, in the US the arc of democracy bends toward inclusion and diversity. But, that arc is bound to sometimes be bent backwars, dipping into exclusion and tribalism.

Every President in recent history (and throughout history!) has been partisan. They come to power with a definitive national agenda that reflects his Party’s platform agenda.

However, every President – once in office – also reaches out to those that did not vote for him and at least tries to welcome them into the national agenda. Most of the time this leads to pursuing policies that at least have the semblance of “across the aisle” compromise. Sometimes that is just not possible and the party in power goes at it alone. Sometimes. But that is the exception, not the rule.

This Administration has made partisan voting the rule and by-partisan compromise the exception.

Past Presidents made at least token attempts at speaking as the leader of the Nation first; as leader of their political party second – if at all. And, when they spoke as leaders of their Party, it was clear they were doing so. This President speaks almost always as the leader of his Party – and very seldom (and disingenuously so) – as the leader of the Nation.

Therefore, he is well on his way to establish nothing short of a partisan dictatorship, constantly disparaging the other Party, mocking those that protest and resist, and humiliating anyone that opposes any of his partisan positions.

In talking points terms this is called “speaking to the base.”  In actuality this means he is solidifying the one third of the Nation that blindly supports him, placating the other third that continues to see him as a useful idiot to get their agenda passed.

The danger in this partisan presidency is that it makes “the other” the enemy, rather than affirming the American tradition of compromise, dialogue, and bi-partisanship. The consistent degrading of the opposition pins brother against brother, cousins against cousins, and makes it increasingly difficult to come together – sometimes even as family.

President Trump’s blatant partisan politics – couple with his distaste for any sort of accommodation for the opposition – is clearly a tell-tell sign of the beginning of a partisan dictatorship.

The only way to stop this is at the ballot box.

Therefore, #RESIST

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This useful idiot may have just outlived his usefulness

To my Republican and Conservatives friends:

I get it. You wanted a majority in the Senate and the House; you wanted to stack the courts with conservative judges, including making a Supreme Court appointment; you wanted to pass a tax bill; and you very much wanted to somehow be able to say you saved us from Obamacare. I get it.

Well, you’ve accomplish the first two and are about to do the latter two. Congratulations. (I guess.)

You paid a high price for your success – a high price indeed.

You sold your soul. You held your nose and accepted a leader you can’t stand. A leader that insults you, degrades you, embarrasses you, and is no more Republic or Conservative than I.

Yet, you took a calculated risk. And it worked. Congratulations. (I guess.)

Now, what use to you is this useful idiot?

Surely you don’t want to play along with his next game – his Second Act – right? He is now embolden – and expects you to to:

  • Build the wall
  • Ban Muslims
  • Deport Dreamers
  • Gut the Park System
  • Defund the Departments of State, Education, and Environmental Protection
  • Walk away from sensible – if imperfect – trade deals

And that is only the Second Act. Surely you don’t want to embrace the Third Act, his embrace of Steve Bannon in deconstructing their so called ‘administrative state’. That, my friend, may very well be the most dangerous of all his games and ploys… (Might that be The Final Act?)

I am so with you that the bureaucracy is dysfunctional. Believe me, I know. And, it needs fixing. For sure.

And yet, the backbone of that bureaucracy is rooted in essential American principles; the mission of the many departments and agencies are visionary and have been built with consensus; and most importantly, the vast majority of the people working there are solid professionals with strong ethics.

We don’t need to ‘deconstruct’ the bureaucracy. We need a fresh recommitment to their core values and ensure we fix how they function to achieve their mission efficiently… No, we don’t need to throw away the baby with the bathwater…. (And, I think you agree with that.)

We need an evolution, not a revolution. And, part of that evolution is to return the Presidency to a decent role.

Grant you, it’s been entertaining for a year. But, no más please. It is verging on the catastrophic.  It is time to say adios to Trump.

It’s time for this useful idiot to go. He has outlived his usefulness to you; and he has never been of any use to us.

Now mind you, I am no lover of Pence. He too is dangerous, in a very dangerous kind of way.

But – and I never thought I’d say this – I’d rather see Pence’s (seemingly) authentic evangelical zeal come to the forefront and debate its merits in the public square than continue this circus of craziness that is Donald J. Trump as President of the United States of America.

#RESIST

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