Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

As often happens when performing mundane tasks, I was surfing through samples of bathroom tiles when it really hit me. The thought has been coming for a while—several months, if I’m honest—but even so, yesterday’s version was a mule-kick.

Strokes, heart attacks, cancers . . . relatives, friends, icons of my time: Death has been stalking my cohort, scything us down, bringing in the sheaves.

When combined with retirement broaching the horizon (I retire in a little over 300 days), it has become impossible not to look ahead toward my own end game. Facing facts, if I’m lucky, I probably have about twenty years before I hit my sell-by date. Twenty years. That may sound like a long time to some of you but let me tell ya, by the time you hit 65, it’s a blink, a flash, a mere moment. I’ve been working for fifty years. I’ve been married for forty years. I’ve been working for the same company for thirty years. I’ve lived in the same house for over twenty years. And those years, with all their challenges, their dreams, their lessons, they’ve sped by in a breathless rush, leaving only dusty memories.

So, twenty years does not feel like a long time, especially when it’s the final act of my story. It’s not like I had lofty ambitions. It’s not like I’m afraid I won’t “make my mark” or “live up to my potential” in my remaining time—I gave up on those tropes long ago—but I did expect that the path we’d all been traveling for most of my existence would plod along in the same basic direction, rather than taking the sharp U-turn that it has.

I think I can be forgiven for having had faith in our progress as a species. My earlier life saw increases in protections—for minorities, for women, for the environment, for consumers—and ever-greater acceptance of people as individuals. We survived wars and riots, assassinations and upheavals, and emerged confident, devoted to the betterment of society and cooperation between nations. Things were still far from perfect—far from acceptable, truth be told—but steps were being taken, and progress was being made, and I had faith in the trendline; I could see its upward arc and imagined my future, following it as a guide.

All that has changed. Or perhaps it only seems to have changed; more likely, I simply misjudged the breadth of human compassion and the influence of our “better angels.” While some . . . many . . . still work toward a society of inclusion and mutual respect, of peace and shared prosperity, many others live the dogma of exclusion, bent on the imposition of control over those unlike themselves.

Too many are now governed by the philosophy of NOT.
NOT this. NOT that. Thou shalt NOT.
–Thou shalt NOT teach about bad things in our past.
–Thou shalt NOT allow those unlike yourself to have the same opportunities as you.
–Thou shalt NOT even respect the facts.

The trendline of the next twenty years—likely my last—has been pretzeled into a knot, a strange loop from which we may not emerge while I live, if ever. And that’s a bitter pill.

The thing is, it’s so easy to be kind. In fact, it’s easier to be kind than it is to be hateful, angry, cruel. All that rage, it takes energy; it eats away at the psyche, corroding the soul.

I don’t have an answer, other than to be kind myself and advocate for kindness. Conflict has been with us forever—it’s part of our nature—so there will always be times when being kind is a challenge.

But it’s better to fail at being kind than never to try.


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Is there no coming back,
no retreat from this landscape of ire,
this canyon of sorrow

Far beyond the limits of hope,
bordered by despairing walls,
unable to care

Except for our own kind,
our own mind-like echoes,
our mirror selves

Where every difference,
each flower of nuance,
challenges the power

Born of our righteous rage,
grown fat on bias and lies,
clothed in trappings of heaven

Armed with tools of denial,
building myriad barricades,
but never a bridge

To link us,
to lift us,
to exalt

In all that we are?




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There is something we share;
it is an idea, a thought,
a dream.

We call it a nation.

We dream that it is as real
as the earth beneath our feet,
as eternal as the stars.

We recall histories of its birth,
tell sagas of its darker days,
make plans for its future.

We believe that as it is now,
so shall it always be.

It is the same with
other peoples,
other dreams.

But we are wrong.
All of us are wrong.

These dreams are fragile, ephemeral,
dew-dazzled hopes of gossamer.

These dreams can break, vanish,
burnt by cruel suns, torn by raging winds.

All it takes is another’s dream, another’s will.

One person’s dream of power can destroy
an entire people’s dream of peace.

If we let it.

If we let it.


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First, in Colorado, a woman wanted to expand her web-design business to include wedding websites, but she didn’t want to create websites for same-sex couples, as doing so would (somehow) be counter to her religious beliefs, so she sued her state and the case now sits before the SCOTUS. 

Then, in Virginia, a restaurant refused service to an organization that actively lobbies against women’s reproductive rights and LBTGQ+ rights.

And thus, predictably, many people began drawing an equivalency, leveling charges of hypocrisy and double-standards on the one side, and cheerily wagging the “What’s good for the goose . . . ” banner from the other.

Both, of course, are wrong. These are not equivalents.

I know, they seem like they are, but they aren’t. If they were, it would definitely be hypocritical to complain of the one whilst cheering for the other.

But they’re not.

Here’s the difference: The web designer wants to deny service to an entire class of people because of who they are, while the restaurant wants to deny service to a specific organization because of what they do.

The web designer wants to discriminate against a protected class of people, and that is contrary to federal and state law. She’s claiming that her personal religious beliefs trump the rights of an entire protected class. She’s not said how she would be materially damaged, were she to comply, and insofar as she hasn’t actually expanded her activities into the Wild World of Wedding Websites, she’s unable to show any damages beyond a preemptive fretfulness. 

What would we think if she wanted to deny service to another protected class, say people of color, or folks over 55? (I’m sure we could find some whackadoodle religion that looks with disdain upon interracial marriages or marriage for purposes other than procreation. What? Oh, yeah, right, we don’t have to look far, do we?) Would we be having this discussion if she wanted to turn those people away? 

The restaurant, on the other hand, has taken issue with the activities of a specific lobbying and activist organization. You might disagree with their decision to cancel the reservation, but not because lobbyists are a protected class of people (they’re not, trust me on this one). The restaurant owners aren’t turning away the group because they’re Christians, but because they’re activists who lobby against the rights and protections that many of the restaurant employees depend on (not to mention women and LGBTQ+ folks across the nation).

Now, if the restaurant said it was refusing service to all Christians, then yes, you’d have an equivalency, and I’d hold the door while you went to town on them. But they didn’t, so I won’t.

Take the case of Twitter and He-of-the-Ever-Shrinking-Moniker, KanyeWest/Kanye/Ye. Mr. West was recently suspended from Twitter (again). He wasn’t suspended because he is Black. If Twitter suspended all Black folks, there’d be riots in the streets. He wasn’t even suspended because he is an anti-semite. They didn’t even suspend him because of the anti-semitic comments he made elsewhere. They suspended him because he posted his anti-semitic trash on Twitter.

Twitter doesn’t ban anti-semites, as long as they adhere to the site’s rules of conduct. Mr. West didn’t, so he got put in a time-out. It’s the old “no shirt, no shoes, no service” rule of private business.

I find it frustratingly predictable that the camp which for decades has embraced the whole “no shirt, no shoes, no service” mantra has such a massive hissy-fit when someone applies that same rule to them. I also find it supremely irritating when the self-professed “progressive” camp so encourages what they (incorrectly) see as the same bad practices of the opposition.

And so, the saga of the American public’s consistent misinterpretation of both the First and Second Amendments continues, and judging from the arguments presented to the SCOTUS (not to mention the oh-so-helpful questions posed by the conservative claque, er, justices), we will pretty soon have a precedent that will erode the entire class of civil rights, where all you have to say is that God told you to do it and you’re good to go.

I’m pretty sure I’m preaching to the choir here (no pun intended), and that my dozen or so regular readers got the gist of things several paragraphs ago. And, sadly, I do not have a solution.

Some will chalk my opinions up to standard liberal nuance, and that’s fine with me, because I don’t think nuance is a bad thing. Life is complicated and chaotic, and we need to be kind and try to understand each other as much as we can. Nuance can help us do that, because nuance blends the black-and-white dichotomy favored by our binary brains into shades of grey, where our differences are not as distinct, and our commonalities become more apparent.

Thanks for reading.



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My sword is bright
it lights the path ahead
through treacherous times

My sword is sharp
it cuts to the heart
the dissemblers’ lies

My sword is strong
it survives unfazed
the illogic tide

My sword is my vote
it points the way forward
for right and for rights




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Well, that was quite the week.

I took last Thursday off for my wife’s birthday. I didn’t get her a present—I long ago stopped trying to surprise her with a gift and now merely provide her with whatever she desires—but if I had, it certainly wouldn’t have been what she got, courtesy of SCOTUS. Thanks to them, everyone’s packing heat, women are chattel of the state, prayer is back in schools, voting rights have been further eroded, native sovereignty is diminished, and the government is hamstrung in its battle against climate change.

This all got plopped down on top of plates already over-filled by the war in Ukraine (served with a side dish of “Why so serious?” courtesy of Russia), the onion-peeling revelations from the January 6 Select Committee, and the smoldering root fire of pandemic, inflation, and civil unrest.

Good times, eh?

I think we can all be forgiven if we find ourselves a tad out of sorts, short on patience, or (in my case) fighting a persistent long-term, low-level depression. To combat the latter, I generally try to “accentuate the positive” by focusing on the good bits. It isn’t easy, but thankfully, in the midst of last week’s maelstrom of sewage, I did find an island of serenity.

Last Saturday, I married two young people. This was my second opportunity to officiate a marriage, and even though I don’t enjoy public speaking (an understatement), being asked to perform a wedding is an honor I’m not sure I could ever turn down.

The bride is the daughter of my adoptive family, and the ceremony was at the groom’s family home, a lovely Craftsman-style house nestled in a dell, deep in a birch forest. We arrived Friday for the rehearsal, and were met with the expected combination of almost-too-late preparations, near-to-breaking nerves, and brink-of-tears composure. My job on Friday was easy: radiate calm and stay out of the way.

Saturday . . . different story.

To complete the picture, I should mention that this was the weekend the Puget Sound region decided to turn the heat up to eleven. We went from a Thursday high in the mid-60s (20°C) to a Saturday with temps in the low- to mid-90s (35°C). And we were outside. And my spot was in the sun. And I was wearing black. Including my blazer.

At a wedding, it’s easy to interpret a profusely sweating minister as an ill omen, but I was able to maintain a cool appearance via sheer will. It wasn’t until the exchange of rings that I felt the first trickle of sweat on my sunward temple, and I didn’t have to mop my brow until the recessional was complete. Whew!

The thing I love about weddings—and I’ve been in more than my fair share—is that everyone wants them to go off well. Participants, family, friends, guests, even the caterers and photographers and musicians, everyone wants it to be beautiful and happy and glitch-free. But while beautiful and happy are do-able, I’ve never known one to be glitch-free. At mine, the judge arrived on crutches; she’d torn a ligament sliding into second base, and since we our wedding was in a forest, she had the devil’s own time negotiating the terrain (at one point the entire wedding party had to take one step backward so she could get her foot out of a hole). At another, the bride forgot the rings at home and had also locked her keys inside; we had to break in through a window. Weather is always a crap-shoot for outdoor venues. Hangovers often throw sabots into the machinery. And let’s not forget the gremlins of technology; unintentionally hot mics, recalcitrant PA systems, looping cables and wires stretched across traffic paths, they’re all just glitches waiting to happen.

But even with these myriad disasters waiting in ambush, I’ve never known a wedding to go completely off the rails. The glitches happen, to be sure, but they get handled, and they become part of the story, the one thing that makes this wedding unique, the thing we all laugh about afterward.

Weddings are built, from bottom to top, of hope.

And for me, that was definitely a bright spot in a week otherwise filled with drear and dread.

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This is who we want to be

We want our neighbors to go hungry
So we can enjoy the myth of our exceptional diligence

We want people to die of a preventable disease
So we don’t have to suffer the discomfort of a filter mask

We want kids to be stigmatized, bullied, and ashamed
So we can believe in the binary nature of gender

We want the oppressed to shut up and take a seat in the back
So we don’t have to think about the crimes of our ancestors

We want people to work long hours in unsafe conditions for paltry wages
So we can promote the fairy tale of corporate benevolence

We want women to bear babies, even if it kills them
So we can revel in our prideful righteousness

We want nothing to change, even for the better
So we can remain faithful to the tribe of our forebears

We want our children to be traumatized, maimed, and murdered
So we can have our guns


This is who we want to be

A nation without compassion, without sense
A nation without morality beyond our own selfish wants
A nation without shame, without courage

And we are succeeding

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