Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Greatest Day

The Greatest Day




Every seventh day or so,
A honeymoon again:
A new sun rising
On a new day to love you.

This morning, the first voice I heard was yours,
The first flesh I touched was yours—
     Hand in hand—
The first cheek I kissed was yours:

Cats purring by our feet,
Dawn’s light in-streaming,
Cool breezing: for another minute
Together under covers.

Another seventh day with you,
At the alter of you:
A new sun shining
On another day to love you.

Today, the best voice I heard was yours
The best hugs I had were yours—
     Hand in hand—
The best cheek I kissed was yours:

Cats chasing lizards,
Sunlight carving shadows,
Humid chaps wrapped round,
Bickers and banters.

Alas these days end with us
At the threshold again:
Full sun to moonlight,
Full love absorbed in you.

Tonight, the last voice I heard was yours,
The last flesh I touched was yours—
     Hand in hand—
The last cheek I kissed was yours.

This day was the greatest day,
In your orbit again, twenty-four
Perfected hours with you:
                   Honeymooned again. 


Read more of my poetry, essays, and stories at Momentitiousness.com 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The State A Forensic Outline

The State: A Forensic Outline



Who we love,
Who we need,
Who we abhor and why:
Who we fear and how.
Who we protect,
     Or should.

Always lead with love
     And a giggle,
     Plan to smile,
     Intoxify with charm.
Carry on with love
     And optimism:
     Name heroes,
     Invoke nostalgia.

Enumerate allies
      And thank partners,
      Extend hands:
      Prayers and fist bumps.
Traverse aisles
      Across the Mall,
      Across the seas,
      Over the tracks.

Call out enemies
      Scrap secret lists,
      Give ideas life,
      Uproot deep naysays.
Break false allegiance,
      And palace intrigue.
      Make foes friends,
      Re-sew the deep soil.
  
Isolate anger,
     Exchange for hope.
     Isolate hatred,
     Expand equity.
Eschew pettiness,
     Know words matter
     As do results:
     Wisdom over smarts.

Embrace our others,
     Really hug them
     Validate us
     Do it, don’t say it.
Approach discomfort,
     Fear fear itself,
     Bridge us toward
     Treasures with empathy.

Protect huddled masses,
     Our own and others’,
     Polish gold streets,
     Gild inbound channels.
Proclaim a new state,
     Strong and copious,
     Big hands and hearts,

Monday, January 29, 2018

Radical Centrism

Radical Centrism


I’ve been referencing Radical Centrism quite a bit lately. In a recent essay, I described Radical Centrism as:
1.  More than championing compromise.
More than appeasement.
More than RINOism. More than traditional Centrism.
Not Libertarianism.
Not "Social Liberalism and Economic Conservatism."

2.  Positioned within the first sigmas of a "Liberty Bell Curve" it stridently, actively--radically--opposes the apoplectic noise from beyond those sigmas.

3.  A strain of compassionate patriotism that treats rational policy solutions to otherwise divisive issues with a moral urgency. Its prescriptions are rooted in historical reality and poetic imagination: aggressively, stridently, and uncompromisingly. Its solutions eschew partisan hyperbole and are radical in their opposition to the divisive frames that politicians present. We needn’t compromise, Radical Centrists argue, to arrive at a radical center. Rather, a radical center is the best absolute position unto itself.

I have been challenged to present a set of policies that would make up a Radical Centrist’s platform. Policy, of course, is far more complex than broad statements of ideology.  Given the opportunity to present a set of policies, I assert that they come as an intermingled suite: a set of interconnected causal and affective solutions that work together. The policies that I enumerate below should not be taken in isolation. 

Over the next several weeks, I will expand upon each of these points in their due. I’d like to especially develop the concept of the “Liberty Bell Curve” as the metaphor for how this works.



I’m confident that some of these bullets will induce gasps from my friends on the Right who know me to be an economist and traditional Conservative; doubtless, I’ll garner some rolled eyes from friends who know me as a poet, teacher, and academic. Most importantly, I know that it will also set off the noisy timbre on the outer edges of the Liberty Bell Curve. My goal is to rile the sigma-sitters:  to advance a catalog of Radical Centrism that is so discomfiting that they may fall into apoplexy (a state that is not too far from their normal state, anyhow).

With that as preface, I feel a sense of urgency to publish this before Trump’s first SOTU.  So, without further hesitation, I present the following list of policies that hold together a Radical Centrist platform.


(Remember, a full expansion of these bullets forth-comes):

Domestic
1.      Statehood for Puerto Rico
2.      Statehood for Cuba
3.      Universal catastrophic healthcare
4.      Fast path FDA approvals for “critical” disease pharmaceuticals; Shortened patent periods
5.      Tort reform for “critical” disease pharmaceuticals
6.      Preserve abortion “rights” but also preserve “rights” for doctors and local (not state) governments to decline such coverage
7.      National legalization, taxation, and regulation of marijuana
8.      Removal of any federal laws or regulations that discriminate against or act affirmatively for LGBTQ citizens
9.      Federal initiative to ban and develop a replacement for opioid drugs
10.   Outlaw capital punishment
11.   Federal education stipend funded by property tax (to be used for public or private schools) for all children from age 4-21 (or second year of community college)
12.   Compulsory 18 month tour for all men and women in Military/Peace Corps/AmeriCorps
13.   Require and fund body camera technology for all police in U.S.
14.   Reparations for living grand-children, great-grand-children, or great-great-grand-children of slaves


Economic:
1.      Maintain independent Federal Reserve
2.      Create an independent agency to regulate “consumer credit and banking” with a head appointed and approved solely by the party that does not control the Executive Branch. 4 year terms that coincide with President.
3.      National infrastructure initiative: Transportation and Digi-com
4.      National Climate Change policy that concentrates on adaptation rather than reversal.
5.      Further flattened income tax (with only a deduction for home mortgage interest, charitable donations, and catastrophe)
6.      Graduated Federal sales tax by item class, dollar value.
7.      Welfare, CHIP reform.
8.      Recalibration of Social Security funding and management

Citizenship:
1.      Comprehensive immigration reform, enforcement, and path to citizenship for all who enter legally.
2.      Grandfather existing DACA.
3.      Deport any illegals who have committed any crime (besides illegal entry) and/or cannot prove gainful employment.
4.      Two immigrant classes: 1. Merit-based with no set asides based on country of origin—and their immediate families. 2. Refugees who may stay max of 3 years and leave or enter pool for merit-based track.



International/Military:
1.      Development of Strategic Defense Initiative technology
2.      Disband CIA and FBI and reorganize under a single Global (National) Intelligence Agency
3.      Redefine NATO as an organization meant to protect “democratic” nations from “non-democratic” nations. To be led by America. To replace United Nations.
4.      Support Israel in claiming Jerusalem as capital. Support Palestinian independence.
5.      Withdraw from foreign wars except for purposes of “stabilization of peace” and “protection of innocents.”
6.      Create an embassy in every nation on Earth with professional diplomats.
7.      Expand and partial-privatize  VA model to provide basic healthcare for all who’ve served 18 month tour
8.      Free trade agreements with Canada, Mexico, Cuba. NAFFTA (Free and Fair trade).
9.      International FFT agreements w/Tariffs on goods that come in from any nation not participating.
10.    Assert dollar as money for all Int’l trade.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas Desserts

Christmas Desserts



Since it’s Christmas, many family gatherings are tense enough already: screaming kids, undercooked turkeys, overcooked pies, Legos strewn about. Frazzled travelers and distant relatives we may see only once or twice a year sit in the shadow of celebrations meant to highlight love, redemption, and miracles. A mixture of so many personalities could easily fuel hysteria.  

If your family is like mine, smart Aunts nudge us away from political talk as soon as it steeps: “Would anybody like some iced tea?” Having a political commentator—someone who sees cultural significance in things as innocuous as choices of coffee brands, types of snacks offered, and cars in driveways—in the family makes this  especially difficult. I know that people tiptoe around me, and thank the newborn King that my family hasn’t disowned me yet. No doubt, I am loved more than I deserve. 

I’ve learned that, aside from a well-placed sarcastic quip here and there, I am much better off filling my mouth with cookies and ham than I am by filling my mouth with words. My five pounds of holiday weight are as much a testament to my restraint from ranting as it is a taste for my family’s culinary genius. 

In many ways, my family looks like America. We tick off many identity groups: multi-racial, LGBT, Trumpers, Obamaniacal  liberals, academics, business-people, millionaires, teachers, Catholics, agnostics, and Evangelicals. 

In the interest of completing the conversations that I will avoid today, the input I would offer to split the divide:

1. Overheard: Why does it matter where we recognize the capital of Israel to be?  
What I would have said:  That’s important to consider this time of year. For many in the world, a “two-state solution” would give Palestinians and Israelis a way to coexist. Both would claim Jerusalem as their capital. The city is a confluence of significances for myriad cultures and religions. To give it to one of those cultures is a symbolic rebuke of that multiculturalism. More importantly, it is a diplomatic slap in the face of the other cultures that claim it. Most importantly, it is a significant deviation from the existing peace process and the tense stability in the region. 

It, however, is a bold negotiating tactic that may bring parties back to the negotiating table. To blame new violence on this verges hysteria, and ignores the fact that the Trump decision was the promise made by several politicians on both sides of the aisle  over the past thirty years. Let’s agree to not feed the hysteria. 

2. Overheard:  Lives are being destroyed by the #MeToo movement, in many cases without evidence, by accusations of things that “were ok” before. 
What I would have said:  If the groping, propositioning, or lewd talk (or demonstrably worse)by someone who exerted power over them had been directed at your wife, daughter, or mother, would it matter differently? Would you wait for evidence? Would you automatically believe your wife, daughter, or mother? That such actions were ever considered ok is appalling, but I get that the culture accepted and tacitly exerted it. As recently as the 1990s, we had a POTUS who did it without repercussions. We had a SCOTUS nominee, probably equally guilty, that still sits on he highest court in the land. 

In 2017, we are again gripped with a hysteria that undermines our most basic human interactions. We are actively redefining what is an appropriate way to speak to and act around neighbors, subordinates, and strangers. We are, probably unfairly, judging past actions by current, in-flux norms. We are injecting a new power gradient into the patriarchy and, yes, some men in power are being disempowered. How do we move forward? Let’s maintain and enforce the standard that we expect every man to treat every woman with the respect we demand for our wives, daughters, and mothers. Of course, this isn’t the full realization of what it should be. Every woman should be treated equally and with the respect we (men) expect to be treated with. Meanwhile, let’s agree to not feed the hysteria. 

3. Overheard: This new tax bill ignores me in favor of the rich. 
What I would have said: Let’s say that we all earn $50,000  and pay $10,000 in taxes. Our taxes will go down by, let’s say $1500 per year. Now let’s say one of our neighbors earns $500,000 and pay $120,000 in taxes. Let’s say their taxes will go down by $15,000 per year. They still pay about $100,000 more than we pay. Because of math, and not unfairness, they get a larger portion of the cut. And, likely, they get back a smaller percentage of that back in direct benefits. Keep on adding zeroes and we recognize that the very rich pay to keep this government afloat. Our individual portions are pittances, really.  

As for corporations who must compete for international customers and capital, they are suddenly in line with the tax rates of other nations. Business folks know that there is now incentive to repatriate money, jobs, and leadership. However, the chance that the results will “trickle-down” to raise wages, productivity, saving, and investment are up in the air. The hysteria of unfairness is nothing really more than recycled rhetoric. Truth is, there is empirical evidence that tax cuts coincide with economic growth. It’s tough to, in a dynamic economy, draw a straight line of causation. Meanwhile, let’s enjoy a little more jingle in our pockets and hold the government accountable for how they spend their portion of our earnings. Let’s agree to not feed the hysteria.

4. Overheard: Trump is the most divisive, hateful president ever. 
What I would have said: Since the beginning of the republic, just over half of the electorate has despised whoever is in the White House. Political intrigue, partisan bickering, dirty trickery, and calls for impeachment have swirled in Washington since, well, before Washington was even a place. Each generation has had its own means for magnifying the noise. Pamphleteers begat yellow journalists begat network newsmen begat 24-hour “breaking news.” 

We have had presidents who fit molds and we have had presidents that made them. Definitely, Trump is a disruptor and is a source of discomfort for many who see him as the anti-Obama. Obama fell right into line with how we, as Americans, expected a president to behave. Obama was moderate and willing to split the middle in some ways that frustrated those who expected him to be more disruptive. There is little equivocation in the actions of this president. Like a bull in a hallowed hall, Trump offends and disrupts and uses the insensitive language of a bygone era to call upon the “good old days” that he doesn’t recognize were the province of privilege. There are those who believe he is criminal and who question his motivations. He may be unpolished—to the point of rude and offensive—but I believe that he truly wants what he thinks is best for America. Despite warnings, he has not rounded up and ghettoized gays, hasn’t re-instituted Jim Crow, or rolled back freedoms of speech. Trump is in the lineage of Jackson and Teddy Roosevelt: egomaniacal, sometimes cruel, but transformative of the presidency and of America. Let’s agree to not feed the hysteria.  

5. Overheard: People forget that Jesus is what this season is all about. 
What I would have said:  For you and me and for our family, that is true. We are not the only family in America. In America, the holiday season is not all about Christmas. America is a diverse nation and even among Christians there are many “right” ways to celebrate Christmas. Other communities celebrate their cultures and their families and their own gods; how lucky are we to live in a nation where we are not all required to worship a god that we do not know as our own with traditions that do not fit into our heritage?! That said, we can worship together, side by side, and share our common rights to worship—or not worship—as we see fit and right. This time of year, regardless of whether we are Christian or Jewish or Muslim or Buddhist or Atheist, we can take this time to reflect on the values that should link us all: respect for ourselves and our families, altruism toward those less fortunate, stewardship of our planet, and understanding of our place within a global village. Holidays should be a time to remember what makes us alike and to overlook those forces—entropic hysteria—which work to tear us apart. Let’s agree to not feed the hysteria.

Merry non-hysterical Christmas, y’all. Love you!


Read more of my poetry, essays, and stories at Momentitiousness.com

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Windows, Panes, and Portals

Windows, Panes, and Portals

Backdrops for occasions,            
Momentous and less-so, 
Life-affirmations and                    
Daily tedia complicated:              
Changing seasons:             

Wet Springs to high springs:                  
Seeds, births to fall leavings,      
Suns, clouds and moons’ phases:                     
Risings, settings, obscuring passings.  
Buds and blossoms.                      

These panes and portals:
New pains and new blessings,   
Befores before afters,                  
Glare-blinding, wind-cracked and clean-streaking,
Glass for reasons.



Out which we’d glance                
At Christmastime,              
Warmed at the hearth,                
Or Easter or just ‘cause,              
Into which we’d peer                   
On each arrival                                           
To see the season’s scents         
Before they were caught
On seasons’ breezes                     
From the kitchen’s heart.           




Out which we’d glance                
At blooming mounds,                   
Flowers planted                             
On our last visits;               
While washing dishes                   
After splendid feasts,                   
Or hand-snapping fresh beans, 
Or licking beaters                          
From cookie and cake,                             
Batters sweetly mixed.    



Out which we’d glance      
While local news               
Or Fins football--               
Or college football—                    
Chattered amongst cheers.        
We’d playfully dote                                  
With Grampa soft-snoring,                     
Full-belly hard-earned,                             
After long-days’ works,                
And a life well-worn.         



Out which he’d glance,                
To watch her tend            
Flower beds, and               
Us climb trees, or pick                 
Blackberries, or build                   
Palm-forts, while he rolled         
Tobacco in papers             
And listened to “The                    
Rest of the Story,”            
While box fans rattled.    



Out which she’d glance,              
To watch him chop                       
Hardwood and build                     
Fences and feeders                       
For her flowers and                      
Critters and robins;                       
Stole away for catnaps,               
Or to fix her hair,               
Or her gloss so she                       
Was always perfect.              

Glass, framed and righted:         
Letting light in and out.               
Muffling playful shouts:              
For spectacles, for dew-to-misting,
For being seen.                  

Perfect for greetings,                   
As if on movie screens.                
Perfect for long good-byes,                    
Sorrowful and longing and final
Soundless endings.



Read more of my poetry, essays, and stories at Momentitiousness.com

Friday, November 17, 2017

Future Facts

Future Facts





Tearing the October page from the calendar—black, witch-hatted cats giving way to Pilgrim-cloaked tabbies high-fiving turkeys—I’m reminded that an image of three cats dressed as wise men in front of a red-stockinged hearth is just thirty days away. I know it’s coming, just like I know that hurricane watching will give way to sleeping with windows open; oak leaves will clog gutters and the culture war flashpoint, ‘happy holidays’ versus ‘Merry Christmas’ will clog checkout lines at Bath & Body.

Even without a scientific study to legitimize it, my intuition tells me that this will be the balsam-scented season of ‘future facts.’ These are not merely facts that have yet to be created, they already exist and merely require discovery. On the surface, this makes sense. The sun was the center of our solar system before that fact was discovered. Gravity, it seems, held people from floating away from the Earth long before it was named. I know that Christmas-kitty December is coming before I even turn the page on the calendar.

Science has given us a methodology for the discovery of facts: observe, hypothesize, test, measure, conclude. Folks engaged in true science argue that this is a thoroughly iterative task: that the work of science is most valuable when we conclude that the hypotheses based upon our casual observations are proved false. A bias toward confirmation has confused many in the lay-community to think that science only works when our hypotheses are affirmed. Contrarily, in the academic world, once an experiment has confirmed a presupposition, this occurrence is treated with such circumspection that scientists insist on its repeatability as affirmation.

Innocent until proven guilty, common law asserts. The court of public opinion, like bastardized science, is not beholden to such standards.

Theorists have shown empirically that the very act of observation can affect results. In the models upon which investigative experiments are built, a bias toward a conclusion affirms the observation.

The media and politicians, and even some politicized scientists-turned-activists have become peddlers of these future facts. They speak the language of science, but have conflated hypothesis with prediction. They’re so invested in driving narrative—narrative, nowhere in the scientific method—that conclusions have overpowered the gathering of data. The mere act of investigation stands as near-equivalence to proof. Witness that, according to a new WaPo-ABC poll, forty nine percent of Americans think Trump committed a crime. Without a shred of non-circumstantial evidence, they tell us to wait for future facts.



Caught up in Hallow’s Eve’s witch-hunting, they will find something. Witch hunts prove themselves. Judge Hathorne (from The Crucible), Ken Starr, and Former-Director Mueller, once set loose upon their investigations, root out lies, deceit, and criminality. Perhaps those lies, deceit and criminality—as in the case of the Manafort indictments—are merely a retread of five year-old facts uncovered and equally unrelated. Perhaps, as in the case of Papadpoulos, an overwhelmed novice does his best to cover up otherwise innocuous, though ridiculously suspect, activities.

Future facts are not limited to Trump’s (or the Trump Campaign’s or people who once sent an email to Trump’s campaign) collusion with Russia. Nor are they, as fact-futurists from the Republican Party are working to predict, limited to conspiracies that merely await disclosure of their own witch hunts like UraniumOne and golden-showered dossiers.


Then there are future facts that intersect with the man-made causality of climate change, carbon emissions, and the Right’s skepticism toward the self-affirming models that link them. Another favorite flashpoint in the war over scientific Methodism—an orthodoxy that approaches religiosity—occurs where tax cuts and economic growth converge.

As to questions thoroughly unknowable, where thirty and forty year old, long-suppressed and unverifiable memories that exist in the recesses of victims’ and perpetrators’ memories, the facts may never escape he-said-she-said-ism to ever become anything other than perpetually future.

Ultimately, those witches will sink or float—or swing. Future facts will either find the cathartic light of day or will drown in the cauldrons of their own making. The lines between fake news, alternative facts, and future facts are as thin as the veils of hypocrisy and partisan posturing that alternately demand and dismiss them to their own logical ends.

We may find that Trump is guilty of the collusion that set this witch hunt in motion. For some, this would be a political—if not actual—coup. For some, it will be a self-fulfilling prophesy. At the end of this experiment in faux-science, our republic is undermined, our institutions are hollowed, our standing in the world becomes a laughing-stock, and the infidelities of our Proctors replace the civic good toward which even the most imperfect among us can aspire.

I, like you, am ready to tear another page off of the calendar. Sometimes we just need kitten-pics to right the wrongs of time, future facts notwithstanding.


Read more of my poetry, essays, and stories at Momentitiousness.com




Tuesday, November 7, 2017

This First Jubilee

This First Jubilee



Closing out this first Sabbath year,
The first seventh year,
Our year of rest,
When we left our broad fields fallow.
I am renewed.
With you, I am new.

We grew our life so strong so fast
Even un-re-sown,
Culled without rest:
First jubilee, yeastless leavens,
Each day rising.
With you, I am new.

Magic beans and tall winter wheat,
Gardened side by side,
In all seasons,
Un-toiled ground uncultivated,
Weeds yield bounties.
With you, I am new.

With rocks and clay and sandy soils,
I’ve disappointed,
Times uncounted,
Overwatered and under-shone,
Tracked mud on thatch.
With you, I am new.

Grew, grow, we’ve grown, and growing still,
You’ve made me better,
You’ve inspired me,
Forgiven and fertilized me,
My deep wellspring,
With you, I am new.

Rich harvests and bountiful feasts,
Hue-rustled autumns,
And new-seed springs,
Steamy summers and cooled winters,
With moons and tides,
With you, I am new.

Seven thorough twelve-months counted,
Future unfinished,
Whole love, complete;
Completer with each tomorrow,
Our jubilee:

With you, I am new. 


Read more of my poetry, essays, and stories at Momentitiousness.com