Sunday, December 10, 2017

Get out the Vote Alabama




Dear Alabama,

You’ve been played – for generations you’ve been played.

Politicians understand that to win with you they only have to pay lip service to some one-line issues. They don’t actually have to do anything.

“They” pander to you. “They” line up your buttons and push them. What do any of them do for you?

Don’t judge a person by what they say – judge them by what they do.

Look through your history Alabama, under what leaders did the whole state – everyone regardless of economic status – do well? What leadership has benefited you as a state?

Review state and national history.

What is the economic history of Alabama? Historically and currently, what are the patterns of poverty and wealth in the state? While we’re on the topic, which states pay the most in Federal Income taxes and which states receive the most back from the Federal government?

DO YOUR HOMEWORK ALABAMA. It’s time to learn the difference between primary, secondary, and tertiary sources. You should do research around all sorts of things you want to know about: history, politicians; Jesus and his teachings; is there really a child sex ring in a Washington, DC Pizzeria, etc.

Primary sources are original sources. This would include things like declarations of succession; full unedited political speeches; the Constitution; the Bible.

BTW, in terms of the Bible, Jesus was called Rabbi (Mark 9:5, John 20:16). Rabbi means scholar or teacher, one who studies the law. If we are to pattern our lives after Jesus, then I think deep personal study is in order.

Also – FYI – making abortion illegal doesn’t make it go away. So, if you’re opposed to abortion maybe work at every turn to make unwanted pregnancies as infrequent as possible. Help single and struggling mothers care for their children. Make it less of a burden for women to have children. Be loving and supportive.

Illegal abortion means that the women who seek them will turn to unsafe measures. It means they will be forced to turn to those that would exploit them. It means that wealthy women will have access to this procedure while poor women will not.

Also - Stop supporting men who think that women are only there for their pleasure.

Stop winking at the idea that there’s a public set of values you pretend to subscribe to but we all know that you know “boys will be boys.”

I love you Alabama. I want you to do well. Please begin by electing politicians who actually do right by you and all your people. Enact these beautiful and loving principles you say you believe in. Jesus taught love.

Jesus taught love.

I beg you to turn away from cynicism, anger, bitterness – I beg you to reach out your arms to the world and embrace it all. Let go of fear – let go and let God – be the lilies of the field.
And vote your ideals, your best selves. Vote for love and inclusion.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Sutherland, TX - Trolls, Bots - This is War

The Texas Shooting – again – OMG, OMG, OMG!

Let us begin by considering the victims. So much grief, so much horror, how many times will this happen and how many things need to happen to protect us against these overt acts of violence?


Image taken from ABC News - Article linked - Texas church shooting no 'random act of violence' governor says

But adding to the horror of this event is the rapid leveraging of grief by those that would do us harm. Let me be clear, I’m not calling for a halt to a discussion of the real issues that underpin this kind of horror but there are those that would use this against us. Please let there be civil discourse, a real public dialogue – but let us be aware that into this conversation bad actors are looking for opportunities to divide us, to seed hate between us.

“'Very often, hate, anxiety, and anger drive participation with the platform,' said Frank Pasquale, a law professor at the University of Maryland, in the (Pew) report. 'Whatever behavior increases ad revenue will not only be permitted, but encouraged, excepting of course some egregious cases.'"

Quote from The Atlantic - Guys It's Time for Some Troll Theory

--

Troll - a human-managed account, may or may not be who they purport to be, disseminating inflammatory and provocative content with the intent to stir anger, hate, and discontent.

Wikipedia - Troll

Russian Troll – a human-managed account engaging in disseminating inflammatory content at the direction or in the service of Russia.

Bot – Web robot, software that performs automated tasks including fetching and analyzing web content at a much higher rate than humanly possible. Many of the tasks they are used for may be highly beneficial. Bot accounts on Twitter and other social media platforms are used in disinformation and discord campaigns to identify political or social content and reply to such posts in an inflammatory or provocative manner. They are also used to post and spread false information often in a form that mimics the appearance of legitimate news sources.

Wikipedia - Bot

Trolls and Bots are being used to wage war on the American people and to turn us against one another. They count on our, Americans’, trust in media sources. We often respond to bots and trolls without questioning their legitimacy.

Trolls and Bots make posts that are meant to stoke our most emotional responses. They intentionally make outlandish, “beyond the pale” kind of statements, with the understanding that we, their unwitting targets, will attribute these statements to the “other side.” Trolls and bots and their directors count on us painting with a board brush this “other side” and holding them accountable – and building up bitterness and hate – in response to these “beyond the pale” statements.

Right now there are Trolls and Bots leveraging the Texas Church Shooting to stoke discord among Americans. Their directors want us to hate each other. They want there to be violence and they’ve worked very hard to inflame the tensions that will lead to it.

We must wise up. We must be VIGILANT and resist being manipulated by those who would do us harm. THIS IS PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE – BUT MAKE NO MISTAKE - IT IS WAR.

The Daily Beast - Jenna Abrams, Russian Troll

Washington Post - How Russian Trolls got into your Facebook feed

WE MUST PROTECT OURSELVES AND ONE ANOTHER.

Rules I made for myself to do this (and I don’t know if this is the best strategy … I am just now coming to this):

1. If I see a post that pushes my emotional buttons or that seems so outrageous …
a. Look at the profile of the poster – the name, etc. Just because they say they’re a particular person and that they live in the U.S. doesn’t mean this is true. They often claim to be someone with unassailable credentials …
b. I look at their previous posts – are these consistently inflammatory?

2. I consider their strategies in posting – do they continually deflect, shift argument midstream, or go after emotional buttons?

3. Assess if they mostly promote bad feelings or anger toward a particular group(s) (this happens on the left and right) – We tend not to question those posting from “our side.” For instance, there’s been a lot of “body shaming” of right wing women –

4. If it’s all these things I block them and try to ignore it. If I feel absolutely compelled to reply I might call out the body shaming or whatever, post #Troll and then block


I don’t know if this is the best strategy but I don’t want to be “run out” of social media and it makes me feel a bit more empowered and less helpless to have a strategy.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Hugh Hefner's Ghost ...


Ruth Orkin - An American Girl in Italy

The real story behind "An American Girl in Italy" - CNN

Hugh Hefner’s Ghost is a specter before us …

A man in silk pajamas, a bon vivant, a beautiful young woman on each arm with extras bringing up the rear, the women proportionally younger to their aging master, proof of his continuing virility. Hugh Hefner lived the life that “any man” would crave.

He was not the author of this fantasy but he certainly helped promote it, normalize it. He contributed to and popularized a fantasy of masculinity that engaged in sex free of responsibility and without concern for partners. It is a fantasy that does not distinguish between coercion, or force and consent. It simply does not matter.

“I’m automatically attracted to beautiful women — I just start kissing them, it’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything," Donald Trump in his now infamous 2005 conversation. Trump Hot Mic - NBC News

What Hefner pandered was winked at. Just good fun. Like “locker-room” talk, it didn't/doesn’t mean anything …
Except that language begets a sense of expectations about what the world is… and should be.

When I was in my 20s, I was at a small dinner held in the honor of an artist exhibiting at the gallery where I was working. It was attended by “professionals” in the field, other artists, mostly men. The guest of honor looked at me at said he could “hang coffee cups off my nipples.” Everyone at the table laughed. I didn't feel titillated or flattered. I felt humiliated and diminished in front of my peers. I still feel humiliated when I think of it.

This is a minor story. It is mild. I, and many of my friends, have much worse.

Historically speaking, for most women, there is no power to be had. Historically in the west, women of color most especially, but all women, in all or almost all “civilized” cultures, constitute one of the most repressed and abused groups.

Culture and the human/monkey mind has bred the expectation that to exploit those with less power is one’s right; a demonstration of one’s place in the hierarchy. Like wild dogs, for the human-monkey mind holding down the weaker “proves” something about strength and dominance.

It is the most monkey-minded human who flexes their “power” by imposing and inflicting on the bodies of others.


Every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted.
1 out of 6 women has been the victim of a rape or attempted rape.

Rainn Org. Sexual Violence Statistics

Every 9 seconds a woman in the United States is beaten.

Domestic Violence Statistics

Human trafficking, rape, etc., these are extreme examples of what we’re talking about, but be sure it is shot through at every level of our society. “A thousand tiny cuts” of taking liberties, of cultivating shame - acts which culminate in a kind of psychological prison.

Abusiveness is a transactional relationship. The monkey-mind definitely understands this -
"You are beneath me, whatever I 'give' you, is an act of generosity. It is your obligation to please me. You cannot earn anything. It is given, and you should be grateful for it. You owe me your loyalty. You owe me more loyalty than you owe yourself. If you damage my reputation by telling what I take from you, instead of what I have “given,” you have betrayed me. You will be punished. I will give you tiny tastes of approval or validation: love, kind words, professional acknowledgement, but you have never earned any of it and it will come at a terrible cost. I will remind you, every day you are near me, that I am doing you a favor, that I am so much more important than you and you owe me everything."

Harvey Weinstein is such a man.

Every single person of a status lacking power, whether a kid being bullied at school, a person of color, a woman – Every. Single. One. - has known this abuse. If you’ve ever lacked power you know what I mean. It is pervasive. For women it comes in a cultural attitude that says your body is for others. If you are young and beautiful – it is for the pleasure of others. You are not to be trusted with it. If you are not beautiful, you are to be held in contempt for your failure to please.

There is not a woman out there who cannot say “me too.” It is wrenching to know what that means, really.

Sexual Harassment, Roger Ailes - The Guardian

Hugh Hefner Dark Side - The Guardian

Did the Sexual Revolution Liberate Women - Dame Magazine

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Dear Christian Politicians –


If you insist on touting your religion as part of your political profile, if you claim your religion as any source of your legislative agenda, then be a Christian.

I think we can all agree that being a Christian means studying the words of Jesus and meditating on their meaning, internalizing his message. At the forefront of that message is Love: compassion, generosity, concern for our fellow human beings, all as expressions of LOVE.

Jesus never said, “Love only those who look like you.”
Jesus never said, “Hate those that you think hate you.”

Jesus never said, "Punish those who sin for my sake."

And Jesus actually never said, “Go forth and attain political office so you can legislate my will.”

He did say, “My Kingdom is not of this world.”

And – Mark 12:29-31
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[b] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[c] There is no commandment greater than these.”

If you want there to be no abortions then do all that you can to relieve the conditions that lead to unwanted pregnancies. Be compassionate and forgiving and without judgment.

You should be fighting for healthcare, prison reform, immigrants, and education. You should be working to make the United States a beacon of hope for all of humanity.

Provide for the children of others, as you would have your own children provided for.

Call out hate. Do not support or look away when others proffer hate. Your ethics cannot be ethics of convenience. It is through your example that others will know you.

Have compassion for those who mourn.

You cannot legislate faithfulness. Faith can only come from freewill. It is not faith if one does not choose it.

If you are a Christian then do your religion justice, study the words of Jesus. Don’t’ imagine that it’s ok to disregard some parts of his message because they aren’t practical for “real life.” Nothing that Jesus did was very practical.

And as a conclusion, I leave you with the Woes of the Pharisees.

Bible Gateway The Woes of the Pharisees

"The woes are all woes of hypocrisy and illustrate the differences between inner and outer moral states."
Wikipedia - Plain English The Woes of the Pharisees



Wednesday, June 28, 2017

WTF Paul Ryan?: Healthcare, George Bailey and American Greatness

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. – Preamble to the United States Constitution

It is our patriotic duty to strive perennially toward this ideal of a more perfect Union.

Paul Ryan and other Republicans have touted the possible repeal of the ACA as a liberating event, freeing individuals from the burden of “having” to have insurance. That it is “merciful” to eliminate the ACA.

WTF?

I would argue with their definition of liberty – of freedom.

It seems to me much more liberating to be free from the fear that a health event, even somewhat minor, could disrupt the balance of the paycheck-to-paycheck existence of most Americans.

My Secret Shame - The Atlantic

Because we love anecdotal “evidence” – let me put this in personal terms – I was diagnosed with cancer in 1996. It is an ongoing condition for me. My loved ones, my family: my mother – my father – my sister – have had catastrophic illnesses - cancer. Do you know how much it costs to have cancer? Even if you have insurance. Do you know what it feels like to be perpetually terrified that you won’t be able to work or that your job will go away and you could lose your health insurance? A friend of mine recently died of Leukemia. Throughout his illness he worried that he wouldn’t be able to work. In the early 2000s I knew a man who brought his IV tree to work with him as he was being treated for a very rare form of cancer. I remember Clare who didn’t get follow up radiation for breast cancer because her insurance didn’t cover it and she couldn’t afford it, Clare died. – How to pay for staying alive should not even be a thing in the wealthiest country on the planet.

Who, with any good conscience, could argue that this kind of fear is freedom?

No one should ever have to delay treatment because they lack funds.
No one should ever be financially wiped out because they became sick.
No one should ever have to worry about how to pay for treatment as they’re fighting to stay alive.

All of those “go fund me” campaigns for families suffering through illness – WTF? How is this how we go about things?

Yes – we as a nation will have to pay for these things. No it should not be paid for on the backs of the working class, the middle class, the working poor, the elderly, the impoverished – the 80+%.


Wealth Gap - Pew Research


“Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you're talking about, they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community.” – George Bailey, It’s a Wonderful Life

Our national fortune, our greatness, our standing in the world is only as strong as this 80+%. It is this majority that created the wealth that the 20% now benefit from. It is this 80+% that fight the wars, work in the factories, own the small businesses, work in the fields, wash the dishes, serve your dinner, raise the children – and buy all the things you want them to buy – and pay the majority of taxes. They are the source of your – all our - wealth and it’s not unreasonable to expect that a nation to which they have given so much should insure their health.

“Why -- here, you're all businessmen here. Don't it make them better citizens? Doesn't it make them better customers? – George Bailey, It’s a Wonderful Life

It is not too much ask that those who have benefited the most from these labors should give back proportionally …

We need an end to political posturing. We need bipartisan leadership that puts the welfare of the people before the profits of corporations. We need to fix Healthcare not eliminate it. Populism, in its truest form, is concern for the common people. Let us be Populists then as demonstrated through action rather than rhetoric.

The Senate Health care bill isn't Populism - Washington Post

PS – money should not equal speech, it will forever shout down “we the people,” and will most often speak in the interests of itself.

George Bailey's speech to the board, It's a Wonderful Life You should read this - really.

Joe Kennedy v Paul Ryan - sorry I couldn't find a better clip of this

Thursday, June 22, 2017

An unfiltered Letter to the Democratic Leadership ...

Dear Democratic Party Leadership –

Here’s some critique and some advice from a white female educated southerner who now lives in Ohio but goes home regularly. For the record I’m middle-class and, so far, a yellow-dog Democrat.

1. You need to get your sh*t together.

2. Develop real economic, educational, international and social agendas with real policies and how-tos – Invite in all the smart people to work on this. It’s not a party platform to say we’re not Trump. Trump is lifestyles of the rich and famous. People are not going to turn away from that if you don’t offer something real. Also you have to address this line of “personal responsibility” that folks like Ryan spout. There’s a fantasy that there are scores of people not taking responsibility and the rest of us are suffering for it – there are, but they’re not who they’re saying it is.

3. Develop bipartisan strategies. Identify people across the aisle you can work with. Help the Republicans moderate. Make this part of what sets you apart – educate the public on what is good government and best governing practices. (Look into this so you know what you’re talking about.) Don’t attack someone just because they’re a Republican – make it worth their while to work with you. Become the grown ups we so desperately need. A functioning government requires dialogue, compromise and coalitions. We need to move away from all or nothing.

4. Pick your candidates and establish strategies now for 2018 and 2020 – manage expectations. You screwed the pooch on this in Georgia. Georgia was actually a win because it was a fight and it got a message out but you lost this gain when you failed to manage expectations.

5. Stop eating your young. This Bernie vs. Hillary thing is absolute bullshit. Identify talent – cultivate it – push it. You're distracting from your "young" talent by all of 2016 rehash. Do understand what you did right, and what you did wrong, but not everyone needs to be at the autopsy.

6. Develop strategies and best practices for being heard on social media. Educate your field troops in how to go about it. You suck at this. You try to play Trump, et.al.’s game and it stinks. It stinks when they do it and it stinks worse when you do it. Stop the hyperbole. Stop the name-calling. Go troll hunting but don’t be a troll. Let the professionals - the Baldwins, Larry Wilmore, Robin Thede, Samantha Bee, Trevor Noah, Stephen Colbert, etc. - handle that – they’re very good at it and its funny. Everyone else - at every turn speak truth to power but do it without Bullshit. Call out racism, sexism, classism, homophobia – at every turn – but do it without bullshit.

7. Inform and persuade. Take the time to inform people as to what Populism should be, the differences between private and public and what it means to provide for the common defense – the limits of libertarianism – how bias works and how f**ked up our legal system is, etc.

8. The accusation that you’re elitists is mostly true. Those not like you, who don’t agree with you, you hold in contempt and you heap ridicule upon them. The Right and alt-right does this too and to a greater degree, that doesn’t make it good, right, or fair. Our culture is drowning in contempt. Yes – there are people with some mind-blowing views but you have to do the hard work of winning hearts and minds. Some of those ideas are soul-cringingly repugnant (white nationalism for example), but if we don’t take it on at its core, we will never “win” – (stop a moment and think about what “winning” should mean). Check your prejudices at the door – (as a white southerner with a certain accent I’ve run into this) - all of them. Figure out why folks on the other side think the things they do and speak to it. Build a coalition with the religious left. Don’t shy away from religious issues. Have a real economic strategy for areas that struggle economically. Education is part of this and not just jobs training, but the kind of education that can lead to careers. Identify the drivers of homegrown economies that can lead to economic stability in areas like the South, the Rustbelt, the Midwest, those Urban centers that are struggling – what is your plan to build the middleclass? How do you cultivate entrepreneurship and small businesses? Stop writing off “Red” states – go there – talk to people about what matters to them – F**king persuade them. Be in this for the long haul – have principles and risk losing for them – know what you’ll die on your sword for – make sure people know what these are. We are in a fight for the soul of this nation - f**king act like it.

9. Give people room to change – when a public figure yields ground let them – praise them – give them credit – when they uncynically apologize or “flop” on an important issue – support that – keep watching - but give them room to come around.

10. Manage expectations – yours and others.

11. Have a f**king vision.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

For Liberals and Conservatives - a note on feeling(s)

Feelings are not truth – Feelings are not truth – Feelings are not truth – Feelings are not truth -

Acting on your feelings doesn’t make you authentic, but it can make you reckless and ill considered.

Serial killers act on their feelings, rapists, abusers, racists – all are feeling driven.

Feelings are the source of racism, misogyny, prejudice, sexism, and bias of all sorts.

Less antisocial but equally valid as an example – people with bipolar disorder must regularly sort through what is a “true” feeling and what is a product of brain chemistry –

Children, before they’ve learned self-discipline, are examples of an unexamined emotional life capable of equal parts joyful and uninhibited; and cruel and unrestrained.

Narcissists believe in the truth of their feelings.

Feelings are sometimes just intrusive thoughts that need to be ignored. YOU may not be the author of them. They may be a product of conditioning through life experience – or chemical shifts beyond your control. In the medieval period, intrusive feelings were sometimes thought to be the product of Satan or a demon.

Everyday minor biases play out so that we privilege those we FEEL comfortable with over those we FEEL less comfortable with. The system is an accumulation of these choices. It’s not always or even often a conspiracy, but most often a byproduct of people with power helping those they feel comfortable with – generally with no ill (but ill considered) intent -

Feelings are how the system gets rigged.

When you meet someone and you instantly dislike them; when you automatically choose to hire the friend as opposed to the possibly more qualified stranger; when you assume the guilt of someone without evidence but based on what you imagine about them - (how you imagine someone’s motives or intentions absent evidence) … these are feelings at work and they lead to an out of kilter system.

Good news – you don’t have to feel guilty for your feelings, … just for not examining them.

I think it’s important that we consciously decide what principles we are committed to and then as objectively as we can apply ourselves to these. It’s important to build systems that remove the potential for bias as much as possible. We must test what we do against the logic of what we say we believe.

For example – if you believe that it is an ethical imperative that we love one another – then what you say or do should follow the logic of this. Just as some feelings are a negative product of conditioning, some positive feelings must be cultivated, and we must condition ourselves to them.

If we long for a system that is fair, a world where everyone begins on equal footing, then, we really do have to examine our feelings and cultivate those that make us who we hope to be, as individuals and as a nation.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

My Fellow Americans ...

Citizens -

Look at history.

Once we pledged our troth to lords, kings, emperors –

then we decided we would pledge instead ourselves to one another, that your cause would be my cause and that we would die no more for the glory of others but for those things that really matter –life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness – the benefits of freedom for all –

From many, One –

We need to remember this – to follow the logic of it – through our voices demand compromise and reason – let us see things for what they are – let us then renew our commitment to our common cause and turn away from those who play the games of division.

Let us demand reason and common purpose of our leaders – Let us protect and defend the most vulnerable. Let us answer to our better angels – let us demand the best of ourselves and hold those who are first among us to our highest ideals. Let us make war on cynicism - because it is only in the fitness of our ideals that we can achieve anything of merit.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

On The Whitney Biennial Controversy

Many in the “art world” are thinking a lot about the controversy at the Whitney Biennial surrounding Dana Schutz’s painting Open Casket. Bear with me while I take my turn at it. (See below for links to other readings).

Does she have the right to make that painting and to show it? Yes. If we ever seriously start saying who does and does not own certain subjects we will be sliding down a step slope.

Should it be taken down? I don’t think so. Should it have been included to begin with? I don’t know –
I feel conflicted.
I feel my whiteness in this and I don’t want to lie to myself about what this is or how it works …

I am tempted to be silent rather than prove myself naïve or ignorant … but that seems contrary to my deepest ideals. I don’t want to be a coward.

For me, in strange ways, the controversy reinforces the mechanisms of privilege and power. The attention to Open Casket drowns out and distracts from the work of lesser-known artists who are also in the Biennial. Their biennial moment is being occluded, washed away. It grabs the media – the public eye – and moves it away from what else might be thoughtful, meaningful, or potent in the show …

It is an unfortunate side effect of people caring about things that matter.

But maybe this moment could be used as a magnifying glass to turn attention to the full roster of the show’s artists? Maybe it could be used as a megaphone so that conversations that don’t usually happen – happen? –
How do we talk about things that really matter?

Whitney Biennial 2017

This is an art show – an art show – an art show – it mediates and objectifies. Sometimes this gives us the distance or the emotional armor to approach real things – and sometimes it numbs and aestheticizes –

The original photograph gives us neither armor nor beauty.

Emmett Till’s murder is an example of the horror that grows from one person’s ability to dehumanize another person. It was a murder committed from an assumption that one human, because of the circumstances into which they are born, inherently deserves hate, violence and contempt. It is a piercing example of a kind of depravity that is unable to consider the value of human life that is somehow other than its own.

It is a symptom of a kind of social psychopathy that is still with us.

His mother’s grief and rage held up a mirror to those who would dismiss and diminish his suffering and her gapping loss.

However this moment came again to our attention, it is a reminder of something that is radically prescient. We can pray that we steel ourselves against those thoughts and feelings that tempt us away from a commitment to shared humanity but any ideology that reduces human beings to something “other” only propagates a living nightmare. Such ideologies assure future horrors.

I think a lot about the “they” some speak of – the confidence that those speaking have that “they” are evil. This capacity to believe that there is a “they” is terrifying.

It’s important to know where our empathy goes first.
Maybe the painting does us a favor of reminding us of its source – maybe.
And maybe Till’s murder still has some power to awaken in our social consciousness an understanding that more recent events have somehow failed to do - maybe. We can use all the help we can get.


Other Readings on this subject:

"On Dana Schutz's Open Casket: A Masterful Yet Imperfect Painting" by Paddy Johnson, Artfcity

"The Violence of the 2017 Whitney Biennial" by Hrag Vartanian, Hyperallergic

"Black Artists Are Calling For An Emmett Till Painting To Be Destroyed" by Jordan Danville, Fader

"Dana Schutz’s Painting of Emmett Till at Whitney Biennial Sparks Protest" by Lorena Muñoz-Alonso, Artnet

Added on March 29, 2017

"Censorship, not the Painting, Must Go" by Coco Fusco, Hyperallergic

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Manufacturing Jobs (it's the economy stupid)


Image source Library of Congress - 11 year old Nannie Coleson


When pundits and politicians talk about the economy they talk about growth. “Is the economy growing?”

I’ve often wondered how something can infinitely grow.

And with a consumer-based economy, how can we infinitely consume? Isn’t there a point where I have most of what I need? Even if we go with the model of continually replacing everything we have due to changes in fashion or “upgrading,” won’t this plateau? As an economic model/goal, how is this even practical? The only way it makes sense for the economy to continually grow is for the population to continually grow. Logically there has to be a limit to this.

Jobs. Manufacturing jobs.

I shop at Target. On very rare occasions I shop at Walmart. I buy a lot of cardigans and tees. I always check prices. If something is $24 or higher, I hesitate. Sometimes I wait for it to go on sale. The things I buy are made in places like China. Things that are made in the United States I largely can’t afford. Most Americans are in a similar or worse economic state. We spend a lot of time working on the appearance of how we are doing and struggling behind the scenes. The sweaters I buy at Target are thin and cheap and only have the appearance of their more expensive cousins.

We talk about bringing manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. Somehow we’re going to out compete places like China. China is attractive to manufacturers because wages are low and the environmental regulations are less stringent. The conditions of workers in Apple’s Chinese manufacturing sites have been widely discussed. Similarly there has been media attention given to garment workers in countries like Bangladesh and India. Beijing struggles with air pollution.

China Air Pollution Woes

I own an Iphone and I buy the clothes.

Can we manufacture goods in the U.S. at costs that will make them competitive? Will we, SHOULD WE, produce the conditions that would make this possible? If we impose tariffs, will American workers be able to afford the goods they produce?

As automation becomes more prevalent, and it is inevitable that technology will continue to replace human workers, what then?

We the “99%”* are addicted to the cheap goods produced by suppressed and often slave wages. Corporations are addicted to the profits that this system feeds them.

Corporate executives make millions for the profits they are able to provide to their investors. Workers struggle. Their low wages are a very real part of this system. I’m not the first to say it, but for manufacturing to be viable in the U.S., we need to turn to the manufacture of high-end commodities with a consumer price point that can sustain a living wage. This however will require an educated and trained workforce and consequently an investment in this education. Yet education and training is increasingly out of reach.

At every level there is a call for “fiscal responsibility” as more and more of various cost burdens are shifted onto the “99%”. At every turn the profit gatherers seek to extract an extra dollar or dime.

We have seen what deregulation looks like. Study the history of the 19th and 20th centuries: child labor, pollution, killer smogs, the shirtwaist fire, Black Tuesday, etc.

I think we need paradigms, new indicators of economic health and public wellbeing.

We need, I think, to stop listening to what sounds good (and easy) and actually deal with the quality of the lives we are producing. Life is too short. We should not live only to work and struggle.


*I’m not fond of the term “99%” but I use it here to stand in for all working classes: middle, low and poverty.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Why I Oppose Donald Trump

My parents taught me to stand by my principles.

They taught me not to be ugly to people, not to call people names, to hold my temper and let reason win, to be kind.

Why I cannot support Donald Trump:

• Birther claims
• Steve Bannon/Alt. Right
- These first two I think are symptoms of the same motivation on Trump’s part.

• Trump University
• Twitter Rants
• Name calling

• Apologies are rare and thin

I find him reprehensible and an embarrassment to the nation. I think surely if there is a cause you would rally to you could find a better leader than this.

He was elected but sometimes, history has shown, the public is swayed away from its best interests.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

#endgerrymandering

Too many of our citizens are shut out of our election process. It is dominated by money and gerrymandering. Too many are disenfranchised and too few of us are outraged by it.

If you’re a liberal in a “red” state or a conservative in a “blue” state – your vote doesn’t count. Often you don’t even bother voting. Only the “swing” states matter.

Frankly any “popular” vote is grossly skewed because of this.

The Electors in our Electoral College system don’t debate or confer.

We watch the Republican and Democratic conventions and we already know the outcome. It’s a coronation not a process.

We have undermined our processes for building consensus. We don’t believe in consensus – only winning.

We have become so very very cynical. – Our elections are like sporting events. On the spectator side it’s more about personality and the team you want to align yourself with. There seems to be a real desire to punish the other side. On the political side, it’s a craven approach to the game – saying what has to be said to line up support. The public understands that there’s a disconnect between what a politician says and what they really believe. We play the outrage game when it suits us.

I know I am naïve to imagine that the principles we espouse should actually mean something.

I think a lot about Venn Diagrams and how we find those points of overlap.

We need to end gerrymandering. Surely we can find a less political system for establishing our voting districts, one that protects the voices of all our citizens. We simply require the will to do it.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Are you not entertained?

I have come to believe that of all the Christian principles “Judge not” might just be second only to “Love one another.”

Rather than divide, let us reconcile. Rather than let pundits tell us what to think, let us do the real work of patriots and educate ourselves on the matters at hand. Let us let go of popularity contests and our fantasies about one another and talk about issues and reasons. Let us be faithful to our principles and to one another.

We are intoxicated on the opiate of the public drama. “Are you not entertained?” Saturday Night Live got it right in that regard. The Gladiator quote is spot on. The Flavian Amphitheater (aka: the Roman Colosseum) provided free entertainment for the Roman public, a distraction from daily hardships. Our contemporary public/political theater likewise distracts us. As if we were at a football or basketball game, we seem primarily concerned with “our side.” We hurl sound bites and trash talk our opponents and in general fail to consider the real issues at hand. As part of this we make sweeping generalizations about groups of people. We imagine who they are in the most unsavory terms. Conservatives, Liberals, intellectual elites, “white working class”, People of Color, Blacks, Hispanics … fantasies of an arch type of each in which we believe so deeply we cannot remember the individuals we personally know.

Instead of giving into the drug of public drama – let us for a moment imagine truthfully the kind of world we want to live in, personally and then in terms of our communities. What does that world look like and how does it come into being? I personally long for a society that cares more for people, that is more accepting, that is more respectful and compassionate. I long for a world in which fear is consoled and compassion is a greater virtue than profiteering.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Jesus, religion, wealth and politics ...

I find the rancor in the world today so deeply distressing.

I hear people who would identify as Christians saying horrific things about their “enemies”.

I do not wish to judge but I do think that for Christians meditating on Jesus's teachings and early Christian practices would be a worthy guide.

Whether with the “news” and its pundits or on religious matters, I think too often we let others think for us rather than studying, researching and meditating on these things for ourselves.

Jesus was Jewish.

As I understand it, study and interpretation of religious texts are an important component of that religious practice, an intellectual component of a religious practice. This is true in the history of Christianity as well, thinkers like Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Augustine and Martin Luther have modeled lives of thinking and pious Christianity. We have free will for a reason. (From a Christian standpoint: How can you do the will of God if you're compelled to do it? Doesn't it have to be a free choice of us to truly to do the will of God?)

No matter your beliefs – to be the best we can be, to consider the good for humanity – It is essential we meditate on those things we say we believe and not to do so cynically. It’s vitally important that we not say we believe something and then toss it aside for “practical” concerns.

Mark 8:36
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

I want to be careful to not misrepresent myself and I have many nuanced beliefs that would exclude me from the wider definitions of Christianity but the core of these teachings are the foundation of my own beliefs. So I offer these things to my friends that are Christian – not as a volley in debate or warfare but as points of hope.

On welfare and wealth –
Luke 18:18-29


18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’[a]”
21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”
27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
28 Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”
29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”

Acts 2:45
45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, …


On the rancor of our current public discourse -

Matthew 5:43-44

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

John 13:34-35
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”


On how to deal with bullying –

Luke 6:28-30

28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.


On taxes –

Mark 12:13-17

13And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. 14And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” 15But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denariusd and let me look at it.” 16And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” 17Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.

On the economic fear –

Matthew 6:25-34

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these...


Thursday, November 10, 2016

with love and thanks to Hillary Rodham Clinton


Image from Time.com

Dear Hillary,

You deserve better than this …

You haven’t been treated fairly.

I want to thank you though for standing up and having courage.


You understand how politics works. You know that as a woman the scrutiny is that much more intense, that all you do and say is amplified and distorted. You have worked tirelessly to achieve your political ends, ends that a review of the history tells me that I largely support, and to do that you’ve had to negotiate the landmines of a public media dominated by the likes of Roger Ailes and a public that demands to be fed drama at every turn. It’s a public that won’t do the work of a real comparative study between politicians to get at the reality of who you are. It’s a public largely incapable of a nuanced conversation about issues or policies, unwilling to do the homework that you’ve so selflessly done for us.

It’s not fair – so unfair - but thank you. You are my candidate. I have had your experiences on the micro-scale of my life and I, a middle-aged woman, am INSPIRED BY YOU. Your courage and your dignity, your steely commitment to the course – thank you. I watched you in those debates and we of the oh-so-not-cool demographic of middle-aged/older womanhood have benefited from your example. I’m sorry so many others couldn’t see how radical you really are – the audacity of being a grownup.

I hope that after you take some time that you’ll stay with us a bit longer and continue to work and speak out for the things that matter. Please don’t walk away from leadership just because so many weren’t ready.

If I were you – well I couldn’t be you – but if I were in your place my pain would be so deep I couldn’t move but I want you to know – that despite what the loudest voices in the room might scream, there are those of us who are so grateful for your work and feel great love for you.

Thank you for having more courage than I could ever imagine.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Why I'm a liberal ...

I’m a liberal because of my spiritual beliefs.

I don’t usually talk about this. Like my father before me, I want to be careful that I don’t become a hypocrite by presenting myself as something I’m not. I belong to many communities where I’m not sure the nuances of my beliefs will always be apparent and I fear being classified. I am, to the point, very uncomfortable expressing these things. At this moment, however, in the hopes of furthering understanding, it seems appropriate to share.

I believe very deeply in the divine. I believe that the natural and the “supernatural” are one and the same. I believe that life is the presence of the divine. I believe that to look into the face of others is to see the face of God.

I have studied the teachings of many religious leaders. I am from Alabama and I was raised as a Christian and my dad and I spent many long nights talking about the bible. The teachings of Jesus were held up to me as the truth. Jesus was, in my mind, a philosopher and a social activist. From the turning over of the tables of the money changers to the “giving unto Caesar” or the eye of the needle or the loaves and the fishes or the giving of coats and cloaks and even unto his death, - love your enemies - Jesus, as the bible describes him, was about asking us to see, to feel, our common humanity.

These ideas of love and mutual care are ideas that at every turn of my spiritual quest I have found reaffirmed as the truth. While I fall short (so short) – these are ideals to which I aspire.

Jimmy Carter is a hero of mine. I have many, but in terms of politicians, he’s stayed true to his principles. Unfortunately, I don’t think we were ready to follow where he was trying to lead us.

I hope that as a nation we will reject nastiness. I hope we will lift up all of our citizens. I hope we will open our hearts and see the grief of others. I hope that we will work to ease the suffering of this world and to truly embrace and value all of humanity. I hope that as a people we come to understand the fleeting nature of life and that we become more generous with one another.



Friday, August 05, 2016

Political Monsters

Donald Trump is awful, just awful.

He “speaks his mind” and gives voice to the repressed hate and fear too many of us contain.

He uses disdain for political correctness as an excuse for a lack of empathy and straight up cruelty.

Name-calling, ridicule, saying what suits his purpose rather than what may be true: his ultimate interest is not in the welfare of our nation but for his own ego. He lashes out to satisfy this ego without concern for the collateral damage (and I don’t give a shit what you think his “true” motives are).

He’s on us.

He is a product of a political system that we the people have allowed to become entertainment.

He is what we asked for, what we demanded. We stitched him together out of the putrid remains of our ideals. He is our Frankenstein’s monster.

We talk endlessly of the failures of our politicians but very rarely of our own.

They pander and we consume. Our political system is rife with a cynicism that produces politicians who say what they must in order to placate – and we punish them if they don’t. The misrepresentations that garnered public support for the Iraq war are exactly a result of this. The Neo-cons who envisioned that war saw it as the path to establishing democracy in the Middle-East, growing our own Western-style government in the region and ensuring a long-term ally for ourselves… But of course they knew that the American people couldn’t digest such a nuanced argument. Our anti-intellectual culture has made a real public discourse impossible. So the war was never vetted on its actual goals and the American people followed where the sound bites led – and we’re still following.

Trump should have been dismissed even before he called John McCain a Loser. The Republican establishment enabled him out of fear. No principled ideology gave them the courage to stand up and resist. Instead they busied themselves with turning Hillary Clinton into a super villain (rather than the very real human that she is). The possibility of a debate based on policies and leadership is well beyond of reach. (The Democrats are little better by the way.)

Whatever happens with this election – we the people need to take a hard look at our duty as citizens and the principles we say we believe in. They can’t just be sound bites and we can’t just be passive viewers of the reality show that is politics. At the minimum we must take up the burden of critical thinking and through our votes demand that our leaders do likewise. We must turn our attentions to the ideas of the candidate as opposed to the entertainment value they possess (and whether or not we like them). We must be more critical, yet more forgiving. We must elect people rather than personalities. The alternative is an ever more surreal future populated by an increasing number of demagogues the likes of Trump.

Patriotism means that we are willing to do the work of being a citizen.

Trump and his ilk will not go away just because they lose. We the people are the only ones who can change the future course of our nation.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Our Sacred Duty ...


Image Source - America's Library - Original Draft of Declaration of Independence

As citizens – as patriots – we have the obligation to be educated and informed: to come to our civic responsibilities with seriousness, with our homework done and in a thoughtful manner. We’ve allowed our political process to take on the most despicable aspects of a sporting rivalry. Too often we don’t think, we just scream our team’s name and talk trash about the “other side.” The problem with this is that it’s the kind of thing that leads to the horrors of history. If we vilify and dehumanize one another then we run the risk of repeating those histories. We create an environment where people feel justified in participating in the Kristallnacht, the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing or the attacks in Dallas or Orlando.

Bear with me –

We’re responsible. We allow and propagate shaming and hate baiting.

If we don’t want body shaming or people derided because of how they look, then we can’t participate in that. If we say we believe in religious freedom then that means for everyone. If we want our candidate or our ideas considered on their merits – then we have to do the work.
If we ridicule Trump for his appearance we perpetuate this practice.

If we accuse Obama of being a secret Muslim, …

If we deride someone through memes or ugly pictures – we perpetuate that practice. I’ve seen terrible pictures of Melania, Michelle, Hillary and Donald.


If we demonize, if we vilify, if we use foul terms to refer to one another, if we engage in name calling and lose sight of our mutual humanity, we perpetuate, cultivate this kind of culture. When we lose sight of our individual humanity, when we demonize groups and refuse to engage in the harder work of taking us each on the content of our characters (King) – then we lose our empathy. Empathy is what holds us back from violence. Empathy knits us together and cultivates caring. Let us try to imagine into one another and understand where we are coming from.

I beg you to take a pledge to not participate in hate baiting – to be a bit more forgiving, a bit more kind …

Do the thinking. Discuss what bothers you, your fears, your hopes, how we can together achieve a better world. Do comparative research. Do the work of having real exchanges. Let us privilege a conversation of ideas and policies. Let us take seriously the future of our nation. Let us cultivate the “angels of our better nature.”

Friday, July 08, 2016

From many - One.


The difficulty in talking about racism is that racism is predicated on gross generalizations, sweeping statements and a dehumanizing set of biases. It’s difficult to talk about racism – particularly as a white southerner - because one runs the risk of becoming an apologist or a naïve denialist or even worse, slipping into gross generalizations that, even when well-intentioned, turn to an “us vs. them” point of view.

The public space where this conversation should happen, our political sphere, has become a shit show.

The rhetoric of hate, the politics of exclusion and fear mongering have dominated our public discourse.

Money, and we are obsessed with money, Money is speech. Every conversation we have of the public good is underwritten, undercut, by money. As a people we seem so fearful that someone might take something away from us.

Many of us claim to be people of faith. Many of us say we are Christians, Muslims, religious Jews or any number of other religions, and many more say we are committed to the ideals set forth by our founders, and yet, many of us practice an intellectual laziness that undermines everything we say we believe in. Many of us do not question whether or not the positions we take are in keeping with the principles we say we hold. For many of us our biases are so deeply rooted that we cannot muster compassion for our fellow human beings.

What is our responsibility as guardians of the principles we hold? – There is so much cynicism around the things we “say” we believe in. Too often it’s enough to say it or use it as a position from which to condemn others – but to actually practice what we say we believe … This is the hard work that we’re called to do – to put aside our selfish concerns, to look past fear, to hold our nation to the highest examples of those principles.

I get so frustrated when people who claim to hold to these ideals, who claim for instance to be Christian, can justify in their own minds the selfish and meanness that produces the very atmosphere of fear and hate that contributes to the violence we’re seeing now. The great leaders of history were philosophers, they thought deeply about ethics, about how the world should be and if we are to follow any one of them we must do the same.

How to we comfort one another? How to we take care for one another? How do we fulfill our responsibility to the ideals of our nation: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? that we are all created equal? How do we ensure that we are worthy of our inheritance, of those that we say we come after? Love one another - and part of that work is to dwell on what loving means.







Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Rules for (Political) Discourse ...


I believe the world would be better if we could argue and debate without it turning into mutual loathing. I truly believe that if we could step back and allow ourselves to be moved sometimes –

Well toward this end these are the rules I’ve laid out for myself – and of course I won’t be perfect but I am going to try.

1. Do not betray your ethics. You know it may sound sappy but I believe in all of the love one another stuff. I’m trying. Evaluate what you say and do against that ethic. Try to be a decent human being.
2. Try not to bait people and try not to take the bait.
3. Try to stick to issues – try to lay out positions cleanly, without getting personal.
4. Let people you don’t agree with have room to speak. (I won’t defriend you for differing views but I will for hate speech.)
5. Don’t call people, known or unknown, what my mother would have called “ugly names”.
6. Try to find the overlaps. Seriously – TRY TO FIND THE OVERLAPS.
7. I don’t have to have the last word.
8. Let go of anger – it only closes us off from one another.
9. Work in the garden, read a book, run, walk, watch the sunset – make art – dwell on what you love - see things for what they are.
10. Life – the world – is an aggregate – do your best to make your part of it kind.



Monday, June 20, 2016

Thank you LeBron #Believeland #AllIn

Way to shift the conversation! Props!



With poetry – on the field of play, against expectations – triumphant.
#ALLIN not just for now – All In – a rallying cry – a political philosophy – a future.

LeBron you really are beautiful – you made a believer out of me – you stayed the course – you fucking owned it – and all the while a class act.

We can feel the love you have for this place, it’s infectious. Your faith, your love, your tremendous will from since you were a teenager – in this moment, we get it, we understand it’s all possible, not just today but - everyday.

LeBron – a young man from Akron – a passion of a dream – There are other dreams, beautiful dreams, of fulfilling other destinies, in each of us, each of us to our gifts. #Believeland #Cleveland #AllIn

New York Times LeBron James 2016 NBA Finals

Image source: www.nba.com - Cavaliers

Thursday, June 09, 2016

a starting place - (the reboot)


Dean James Ryan - Havard Education

I spend a lot of time thinking about: who “we” say “we” are and are we really who “we” say we are? I think about how we listen to or how we hear such inspirational speeches as the one posted above. How well do we carry their messages? I wonder, as individuals, what is the slippage between who we present ourselves as and who we really, consistently, are?

How did we get here?
What are and what should be our goals?
How does our reality compare to the things we say we strive for?
What is the nature of justice?
How do we actually address gulfs between us?
How do we cultivate the will to do these things?

Monday, July 15, 2013

A few words for Trayvon Martin and the world we live in …


Statue of Liberty from National Geographic




It is not possible to directly feel the incredible grief this young man’s family, his mother his father and his friends must feel. I can only come to it by remembering my own grief from my own losses. I cannot imagine the rage they must feel at the senselessness of this loss. It doesn't matter what you or I believe the circumstances of his death were. His death is tragic.

What does the loss of Trayvon, and our nation’s reaction to it, give us? Have we gained anything from it? Is there something we can do better?

I think a great deal about bias and prejudice. I think it is hard-wired into us. Some would say it is “natural”. Some would argue that “nature” is right. It is the “right” way to be. I have heard this argument often. My answer to this is: “are we not human?” Are we not by definition at once a part of nature and outside it? Is it not our ability to operate outside our animal natures, or should I say natural condition, that makes us human? Is it not our obligation as human beings to know ourselves and resist those “natural” impulses that would cause us to repress or harm one another?

Am I not my “brothers’ (sisters’)” keeper?

Let us be honest with ourselves.

Ariel Castro’s treatment of three young women, his ability to see them as objects that he had the right to bend to his pleasure, is an amplified symptom of a lingering social understanding of women. The fact that society as a whole has a bias against women is borne out by simple statistics of leadership, pay and frankly perceptions of how women should act, should speak, should be. – Bias pervades our country, no doubt the world, few escape its presumptions, but the consequences for the individual vary widely.

Trayvon’s death is no less a symptom. The jury found that George Zimmerman had reasonable fear for his life – but they were not tasked with considering the assumptions that put him in that situation and that ultimately lead to an innocent young man’s death.

Meanwhile Marrissa Alexander is sentenced to 20 years for trying to protect herself.

Bias – prejudice – makes assumptions about groups of people rather than seeing an individual. It produces templates of identity that are then projected onto “the other.” A prevalence of bias assures that individuals must work to overcome, sometimes without success, these imaginings of who they are. These templates impede their success and by extension the progress of the whole of humanity.

The main systems we have for promoting opportunity and protecting civil rights – leadership, education and the judicial system – depend on your access to wealth and influence in order to access them.

Current statistics paint a clear picture of the patterns of privilege. It is undeniable and why in a country where we elect or reject leaders based on their religious affiliation don’t we have the political will to do something about it?

… And what is that we can do? What is that we should do? What is our responsibility to one another?At least let us begin with compassion and concern. If we see social ills, if we see struggle or lack – then less us take seriously how we can affect for good the lives of those afflicted.

We must at some point move away from assumptions, anger, mistrust and move toward conversation, dialogue and exchange. At some point we must take seriously what it means to “love one another.”

The New York Times: Reports Find Racial Gap in Drug Arrests

ABC News experiment having to do with profiling

The Wage Gap, by Gender and Race

Slate: Gender Inequality by State and County

American Bar Association: Domestic Violence Statistics –

Wednesday, February 06, 2013


When will we live up to our stories? When will we believe the things we say we believe?

Do we believe the things we say we believe?

Dear Johnny,

I hope this role you're playing is worthy of your history.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sandy Hook Elementary, Newtown, CT




I think the Sandy Hook Elementary School building should be turned into a living memorial that houses a center dedicated to the study and prevention of violence particularly against children and women. As an Institute it could be the home site of an educational center, think tank and political action group working to promote a more peaceful, child-friendly world.

We need an organization that works aggressively at the national and international level to prevent these kinds of crimes by working for policies having to do with everything from mental health issues to culture change.


LA Times - Timeline of Deadliest US Mass Shootings

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Newtown, CT

"My grief, I find, is not desolation or rebellion at universal law or deity. I find grief to be much simpler and sadder... All the things he loved tear at my heart because he is no longer here on earth to enjoy them. All the things he loved!"
- John Gunther, Death Be Not Proud



I am personally completely un-ironic. I fail at cynicism. I frankly detest it.

That is not to say that we should not be skeptical but it is to say that if you don’t chose to believe in something, and it is a choice, something beautiful and strong, you will fall into despair. It is to say that the point and meaning of life is to love and love well and try to live a world that privileges this. I do believe that “God is love.” The presence of any kind of goodness is the presence of this joy for an-other and the allowing of the joy of others – this is in fact the definition of God.

I cannot grasp what happened in Newtown. Who can? I know that there was somehow a failure – something failed. I think maybe the failure had to do with a failure to inspire to love. I know only one thing that might help and that is to embrace love … love as it really is.

Focus on the love people, focus on the love.

Let us be more joyful, more kind, more compassionate – let us love one another and follow the logic of what that means.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

overturning the tables of the money changers - Why I'm Voting for Barack Obama.


I am voting for Barack Obama because I believe he believes in equal civil rights for all people. I believe he believes that women own their own bodies and should receive equal pay for equal work. I believe that he believes that it is wrong to judge people, to impinge their civil rights because of their race, gender or sexual orientation. I believe that he believes in equal access to education – both in quality and availability. I believe that I and the people that I love will and have fared better under Barack Obama.

I cannot vote for a man who would callously dismiss 47% of the population when he is behind closed doors and he thinks it’s safe to speak the truth.

I cannot vote for a man who has to be told that there are qualified, smart, able women.

I cannot vote for a man who would pass laws that would curtail the rights of people because his personal religious views tell him to …

I am voting for Barack Obama because I remember George W. Bush and the condition his policies and practices left the U.S. in. I remember the economic spiral down, the financial meltdown that followed in the wake of two terms of financial policies meant to support “the job creators”. I remember the deregulation that lead to Wall Street and the need for bailouts. I shudder that Mr. Romney and so many others have forgotten what those policies did to this country.

So much of the vitriol is dressed up as Christianity. Jesus said “My kingdom is not of this world.” He really didn’t seem interested in what the government was doing … He didn’t speak of it except to say “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” … but I wonder if people who would legislate Christianity’s directives wouldn’t be serving their faith better if they focused on the love and generosity part.

Give to every man that asks of you; and of him that takes away your goods ask them not again. – Luke 6:30

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. – John 13:34

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. – Romans 13:8

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. – Romans 14:13


I find these tenets more in keeping with Obama’s policies than with Romney’s.

Friday, October 12, 2012

reconstruction in a time of war

“But who prays for Satan? Who, in eighteen centuries, has had the common humanity to pray for the one sinner that needed it most?” - Mark Twain
The uncivil discourse, the stalemate and partisan rhetoric that dominates our political landscape exists because we allow it to exist. We participate in it. We dehumanize and villainize our countrymen as if we were at war with them. We perpetuate horrific visions of the opposing sides’ standard barriers and we insist that they are the embodiment of evil. Our leaders act as they do because we provide them with the paradigm of their methods. Who are we that we espouse values of love and fellowship, charity and kindness … compassion … and yet we willingly eviscerate those who are not like us. We take satisfaction in their woes … we celebrate their failures. What we cannot see is that in hating our opponents, we hate ourselves. In seeking their failure, we race after our own. What Lincoln knew … the lesson we have yet to learn … the same divisions that tore us apart still reside.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

the gender gap

I've been in arguments over whether or not Feminism has a legitimate role today. Reading the news daily, both international and domesticate, I'm struck by the hate speech and the hate crimes that are directed toward women. Even in instances of domesticate violence, what gives someone the mental permission to harm a woman? Do we have a culture that, while appalled in regard toward violence against women, never-the-less sees it as inevitable, understandable? Is there a relationship between the male/female wage disparity and crimes against women? What is it that gives permission to cause harm to women? Mickey Shunick Gina DeJesus, Amanda Berry and Ashley Summers Amina and Sarah Said Drew Peterson Honor Killings in U.S. Cold Cases -- note the number of women on this list. afterthought: Huffington Post College women and Pay

Sunday, March 18, 2012

living and courage



In my small life, where courage has to do with smaller things, I wonder what the world would look like if folks like Martin Luther King jr had, when they were beginning, been diverted by practical concerns.

We all hope for the good, for a place and a community that values us and the things we love. For all of us … we long for fairness and consideration. We hope for conditions that will move us to “a better place.” My better place, my ideal, is one that privileges creative excellence, the exchange of ideas, mutual trust and respect.

As one of my most esteemed colleagues has said, hope is passive. These things require actions to be made real. It is a failure of imagination and courage which keeps us from achieving our ends.

Daily, in incidental places and ways, we are challenged to perform our ethical position - to make words and deeds match. In the face of these challenges there is always a temptation to give into what would seem “practical.” It seems futile, foolish, to pursue the ideal. The path toward the ideal is easily abandoned. The constant voice of “they” admonishes us to be “reasonable.”

To walk away from our ethical imperative harms us – diminishes what we would call our soul. It makes us less than we could be. It takes a knife to our ambitions. It assures our bitterness.

In the large and the small, we must build the world we want to live in. We must adhere to, and not defer, our ethical position. We must match words to deeds.

We must demand of our leadership that, rather then divining the path, that they envision it. We must demand that they persuade us, and others, to the value of their course. We must demand that they lead us through the courage of their convictions, that they must risk failure in order to achieve real success. We must demand that they make war on mediocrity and complacency. We must demand that they inspire us through their example.

I believe that the place and the time I live in can come to fruition. I believe that we sit at the brink of a remarkable moment. I believe that the challenges that we face are merely opportunities. I believe that what is required of us … what will achieve our goals, is the courage to pursue the course of our ideals … and leadership, real leadership.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial


Courage … Courage.

What else would be an appropriate memorial?

Where are our leaders? Who will speak to the angels of our better natures? Who will demand that we do what is right, what is necessary?

Martin Luther King jr. was a human being of great courage. He had to know the danger he faced and yet he held to what was right. He stood for what he believed in. How many sleepless nights did he face? How many times did his heart race with fear? Even now there are those who diminish the accomplishments of his life … who would turn his life into a myth rather than the disciplined commitment of flesh and bones.

We require leaders who will not simply exploit the lowest desires of the people. We require leaders who do not pander for the sake of holding to a position. We require leaders who do lead because they wish for power but because they are committed to some deep sense of what is for the good of the people … what will move us to a better world?

I am continually impressed by the rush to proclaim a religious position by our politicians in order to establish a worthiness to lead and yet to often no deeper sense exudes from this position that relates to kindness and compassion.

Where are our leaders? Who leads? What will we as a people expect and demand of our leaders?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

the revolution ...

How do we rebel against those who have turned their hearts off?

Monday, June 27, 2011

a better world ...


Yesterday I went to the studio I’m using in Newark, but on my way there and back I got to see a very happy New York. For about two days now gay couples have become very visible and yesterday Penn station was filled with folks coming into town for the Gay Pride Parade. (I am not one for massive crowds so I decided to forego and just admire from a distance.)

It's fascinating to see so many gay couples on the streets -- male and female representing a such range of attractiveness and attire. What was touching were the number of older couples holding hands, particularly women, with gigantic smiles on their faces. You know they have been waiting years for this moment – all their lives for this moment.

One day we won't remember that there was a time before this - not really. It will be like the vote for women or black people. It seems so natural it's hard to remember there was an archaic time when society thought it natural to withhold these rights. This time of forgetting will be a good time.

These are the things that move us incrementally ever forward to a destination we can never reach. It must be an ethic which drives this movement, a conscious sentry on our hearts. We know quite well from the lessons of Hitler’s Germany, Rwanda, and Serbia … how easily thinking can betray us and allow us to believe in some conception of good which makes us blind to the suffering of others.

For the people, one ethic only, of hospitality – true politesse – if this guides and it is the criteria against which we measure our thinking and doing then we will move infinitely closer to that place we want.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

links to two new blogs

yes ... I needed more categories to write under:

a blog on art a prioriars, this is hopefully going to be collaborative with essays from others on art, painting, etc.

a blog for oneiric poetry somnibus (thank's to RLP for the cool title)

Sunday, May 01, 2011

The Death of Osama Bin Laden ...

Tonight I felt joy and relief at the news of Bin Laden’s death, grateful in fact that Obama, not Bush, is our President at this moment. We have all been made grateful for war and death. We are complicit in violence, in hate. There is no moving past this. Now what are the implications of this rejoicing which cannot be denied?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

everything new ...

It’s raining here.

Here is New York and I’m trying to fulfill an expectation and a dream by way of Newark, New Jersey. I am a romantic. I just can’t bring myself to the knees of cynicism. I think I would die if I did. Ever the optimist, believing and imagining that all will be well even when I know it’s not possible.

I stand on this edge of reason, waiting to jump off.

Catch me if you can.



I am waiting for the Fall ...

Monday, February 22, 2010

a project destined for failure




This has carried me through, this act of making.
For my work I hope to embody the wonder of being. The total unspeakable wonder of being, something beyond magic or god … a project that is doomed to fail and yet to undertake that which is futile with absolute optimism.

There are heroes truly of life who strive though striving is in vain. Doing so because adherence to an ethic demands it.

Profoundly did Martin Luther King, jr. stand and deliver his last speech. Who would have begrudged him the right to live to fight another day? Who would have denied him the right to step aside in the face of threats? What reasonable person would have denied him the right to salvage his own being? History would not have blamed him.

Most personal to me is knowing Derrida tended to his work, the act of thinking of venir in the face of his own extinction … his own erasure. A ghost already, he dwelled on and spoke of what was to come … in spite of knowing we would have been reasonable and excused him to tend rather to his illness and his own death. He did not accept the release from the responsibility of his ethic that our reasonable understanding would have granted him.

With nothing to serve but the standing for an ethic in the face of assured failure but nothing to reward this act but the absolute optimism of believing in this ethic. To stand and deliver because it is what you live for. It is the thing that is meaning, the thing that solves the existentialist crisis.

In my small way let me be like them. When confronted with failure, without promise of personal benefit, in fact in the face of assured loss … in some small way let me make the case for my optimism. It is through these drips and drabs that our goal is accomplished … an unattainable something, a thing that cannot be achieved.

Let me make this case for the sentimental, romantic and beautiful. Yes save the world but let us make a world worth saving punctuated by moments of an internal understanding something more than this doing …

Martin Luther King jr

Monday, November 30, 2009

when i become o


natalie portman from the film "closer"

closer

we seek
freedom

are we not slaves?

o

there is no greater freedom than slavery …
one abdicates
in favor of an other
authority … a greater authority …
the one that defines good
the one that dictates action …

thinking becomes and is dangerous …
thinking is questioning
it becomes heresy …

to be
good
to not think,
to be innocent
free …

intimacy is freedom
from fear
it is the complete trust of an other
control is relinquished without fear of consequences

it is a giving up of concern
for others
outside
this moment
it is a giving up of
responsibility


how are we now as lovers
to balance this
taking and letting go
how are we as lovers
to reconcile our love
of the self
of an other

where is the line between my lover and my self