Pinching me won’t help

I haven’t been commenting much about politics lately. I haven’t been writing much about anything. I have been collecting my thoughts, listening to what everybody else has said and is saying, and frankly have been somewhat in denial about the future of our executive branch and our way of life. But today I must say something. The events of the last several days have sent reality crashing down on me like the famous 1,000 plus-year-old Giant Sequoia we lost just days ago.

We are in an unparalleled existential crisis, not only for American democracy but for the human species and the entire planet. Dark days are ahead and it has already become dangerously difficult to avoid a catastrophic fate.

The confirmation hearings for cabinet and other important administration appointees are like Dad siding with your sister when she says you did it. We can protest with the truth all we want but the outcome is preordained. The gaslighting surrounding the claims and counterclaims of potentially treasonous personal and political behavior by POTUS has left us unsure and questioning everything about his relationship with foreign governments and their possible influence on our most intimate internal politics. Did he do this? Did they do that?

It’s hard to know what to believe, which to my mind is exactly the intention of Trump and his minions. The more mud in the water the less anyone can see clearly the truth. The doubt sewn here will mask the reality of future revelations of impropriety, whether true or false, a security blanket thrown over the chance any future indiscretions might harm his presidency.

Perhaps the least obvious but most damaging result of this telling series of events is that the Trump brain trust was not only able to deny the disturbing, disgusting allegations but was able to use that denial to fire the first volley in an attack on the free press, which, if I am correct, will be a battle that continues to be waged into the future. This is the truly scary result of this whole sick scenario. One of the first things to happen in the establishment of an authoritarian government is the destruction and/or capitulation of the press through lies and intimidation. Be afraid, be very afraid.

This frightening circumstance is accompanied by a thing I have been in complete denial about, the appointment of a murderers row of Cabinet heads and Federal Agency officials that in every case are well known to desire the abject destruction of the very department they will be overseeing. It is not folly to think that over time the federal government will be systematically dismantled. Once a SCOTUS justice is named and confirmed the social justice advances of a century or more will be in danger of being unceremoniously overturned. Draconian laws will be conceived, passed, and upheld.

We, in America, have been insulated from the coups, silent or violent, that have haunted so many other nations. We just don’t think it can happen here. We are the great democracy. We are free. We will never accept a dictator’s rule. Think again. This is the 21st century. The dictatorships of the 20th century no longer are valid save for what they have taught the tyrants of today. The modern totalitarian is an invisible puppeteer who allows the people the illusion of self-government. They sow the same seeds of death as their predecessors, but from behind an OZ-like screen of prosperity promised.

The election of President Obama was hailed in many circles as the hammer that brought down the wall of ignorant racism in America. A new coalition would change the face of American politics forever. But his election only precipitated the fear always present in the hearts of the oligarchs. They had allowed democracy to run its course, save for a little tough prodding when it got off track and their dominance was the slightest bit in doubt. But Obama’s election set off all the alarm bells. The rich white males who run things were truly threatened and now deathly afraid. So they brought down their own hammer, the hammer of ugly hatred, of racial, gender and ageist superiority, the hammer of I have wealth and you don’t.

Perhaps they had hoped to hold off for a while, let things slide as long as they were in control and raking in the dough. But as soon as their existence was truly threatened they knew they could only continue to rule by truly threatening our existence. Aren’t they aware that their gargantuan hubris threatens everyone’s existence? Have they no spiritual compass that tells them the truth about the finite nature of our natural resources, about the arrogant denial of their complicity in hastening the changes to our climate? Do they think they can defy death and take their ill-gotten gold with them when we all fry from splitting atoms, or poison atoms or burning atoms?

I’m at a loss as to what to do to reverse this, save to continue to do what I can, to love my neighbor and give of myself to those in need, to follow the God who speaks to me, who tells me there is a place for me and for all in an eternal kingdom. Perhaps I can start writing songs again. Maybe lighten a heart or two. But like the one percent of the one percent I have my unacceptable fears. I fear my children will feel pain and suffering, the torture of bearing the yoke of injustice. I fear for all the children of the world that they may never be able to become who they are. I fear that the human race will be snuffed out, unceremoniously, stabbed by a thief in the night, strangled from behind by a coward.

I am incensed. I will not accept. I will fight and resist incessantly in my own way. I will seek those real and good human values, values we all share and cast them as far and near as I can. I will become a fisher of men.

This may do nothing to change things. It may only assuage my guilt for allowing this to happen. Humanity can very well be in its death throes.

Damn, I hope I’m wrong

To Bern or Not to Bern!

I am growing weary of the superfluous yet at the same time deeply important clash between the #neverhillary Bernie supporters and the #nevertrump Bernie supporters. I’m not certain the split aligns perfectly with a millennial demographic or not, but somebody is either being somewhat politically naive or is incredibly ideologically pure about something. One puddle of wisdom (from my small reservoir of wisdom) that I have imparted to my millennial daughter on occasion, is that one of the things about life that sucks the most is you will have to sometimes do things you really don’t want to do. I’m pretty sure this is one of those times.

Here’s the thing. There’s a big difference between issues politics and electoral politics. The difference is that in issues politics it is necessary to demand 100% of what you want because that is the only way to get any of what you want. It’s you and your issue versus everybody else and their issue. There are multiple contestants in multiple battles so where you win you stay and where you don’t you move on. In modern electoral politics there are only two contestants (as far as is today’s reality) and the point comes (and it always comes) where you need other people’s supporters on your side to win, because your goal and reward is not a small victory in isolation but a majority victory in a contest decided by everyone. It is not a contest of you versus everyone else but of your coalition versus their coalition.

Compromise of ideologies is necessary in the electoral world and an anathema in the issues world. Many Bernie supporters come from the world of issues politics. They did not previously involve in electoral politics because they had no use for elections unless it directly affected their funding. Other than that they would only pursue an electoral victory if they had a champion for their issue(s). There have been single issues champions throughout the but rarely have there been any special leaders who could coalesce the numerous issues silo activists into a cohesive power bloc.

Issues activists are used to either getting what they want or leaving defeat behind and moving on to the next battle. They make black and white decisions. The concept of joining together in a coalition with the people who just caused you lose, who made you not get what you want, is utterly alien to them and feels dirty and immoral. So it’s not difficult to understand why they have trouble putting together movements. It’s just sad.

This phenomenon works in reverse as well, although people involved in electoral politics usually only drop in to work on issues when they feel burned out and made filthy by the deceits of electoral politics, and want to recharge and cleanse. Someone coming to issues politics from electoral politics will seek coalitions with what they consider to be like minded issues advocates, with similar issues. They don’t quite understand why the other issues groups leave the coalition once they get what they want. Then they remember why they were frustrated with issues activism to begin with and go back to electoral politics. To work in both electoral politics and issues politics concurrently takes some highly skilled compartmentalising, of which not everyone is capable.

This whole broken process has been a bane of the progressive movement for years, because it hasn’t really been a movement at all. It has been a bunch of separate progressive issues oriented advocacy groups all in competition with each other for grants and status and recognition. There is always a lot of rhetoric about coming together as one coherent progressive movement but it always dissolves into jealousy and competition for scarce resources. The scarcity of resources is intentional and part of a greater strategic initiative by right wing tricksters, but that’s another story.

These progressives have only come together in agreement when they have had a messiah figure to rally them. Gene McCarthy, George Mc Govern, Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich, all to widely varying degrees, were able to bring a number of progressives together into some semblance of a movement, enough to have some modest influence on the Democratic Party. Bernie has been the latest, most successful and probably least likely of these standard bearers. The rub is these movements died off with the relevance of their leaders. Without the focus of the strong leader the coalition descends once again into the relative chaos of egotism and economically manipulated competition.

Bernie is, and always has been, aware of this. Warnings about life after Bernie have been clear parts of his speeches from the get go. He has spent most of his time and energy since it became apparent he would not win the nomination imploring that his followers continue on and forge a game changing movement. This is true, and necessary. He has implored them to remember that this is not about him but about us. This is true, and necessary. He has implored us to defeat Donald Trump by any and all means. This is true, and necessary. He is showing and/or reminding us that 30% of 100% is much more than 100% of nothing. This is true, necessary and perhaps his greatest lesson taught.

What I don’t understand is why so many of Bernie’s followers, who have followed him through the crucible of mainstream efforts to get in his way, have now stopped listening to him. Actually I do understand. The messiah has betrayed them. He has not delivered on their issue(s) so they are expressing their rage. They will try another tack later after they get over feeling suckered by promises of glory in a progressive paradise. To be clear though, this type of betrayal is not an unusual occurrence. It is seen, commonly, in the affairs of both parties and is not fixable from the top down. Let me repeat, it is not fixable from the top down but only from the bottom up. This is why Bernie is so adamant that his supporters not run away licking their wounds but stay and fight and elect Clinton despite themselves.

In order to have a bottom up re-evolutionary movement that succeeds the Sanders coalition must stay together and organize. To accomplish this it is critical that the activated millennials not get jaded and cynical and go back to their X-boxes. Bernie is trying his damnedest to impart the knowledge that this whole thing is bigger than him and must survive his primary loss. And the first step towards that accomplishment is to prevent the uniquely American fascism of Trump and his minions from ever getting enough control to do irreparable harm to our nation and thus the globe. That would take generations to recover from.

So listen up kiddos and ex hippies. You think you need an unconditional Bernie electoral victory, when what you really need is for the many wonderful progressive issues activists out there to drop their ego facades, overcome their economic jealousies, and form the powerful progressive movement that has always been there, dormant, and ready to flip the entire political landscape. I can help, but I’m old, as are my beautiful tye dyed peers. The mantel is now being passed from Bernie’s hippie contemporaries to Bernie’s hipster acolytes. We’ll all help actually, if you let us, we’re experienced protesters. And we still know how to roll an English joint.

Here’s a parable for us to end todays sermon. When Mom broke out the Ben and Jerry’s  you told her you wanted 3 scoops of Cherry Garcia. She said no but you can each have a half scoop of chocolate chip cookie dough, because that’s all we have. Do you say no, I know you have some Cherry Garcia in there and it’s either the whole 3 scoops or nothing at all. Or, do you take the cookie dough and get at least a bit of a sweet taste in your mouth. If you all keep bugging mom maybe you’ll get some of that Cherry Garcia next time.

You weren’t that stuck up in school, were you?

The Bernie and Donald Hypotheses

A continuum is a line. A line extends infinitely through space, through the universe. The universe is curved. Therefore a line will eventually meet itself in space as in as circle. A circle with one point missing is considered a line. There can be an infinite number of points between any two points. Thus, speaking from the standpoint of nuclear physics we have established a paradox whereby a line can also be considered a circle based on the observers point of view.

Why am I starting off with all of this gobbledygook? Because it provides a mathematical basis for my hypothesis based in science. Using this information, continuums, which are nearly always portrayed as lines, are actually circles. Therefore the far ends of continuums, rather than being opposites, as is commonly perceived, are very nearly the same thing. Some examples include the fact that both extreme heat and extreme cold will burn the flesh. And obviously the continuum of the changing of the seasons does not have polar opposite ends but ends that run smooth;y into each other.

So to get to the point, (Thank God) it has always been my contention that radical right wingers and radical left wingers have more in common than they have in contention. It is our tendency as humans, these days strongly influenced by the media, to want to see dualities, black and white, in order to simplify life. This causes us to see the ends of a continuum as opposites and encourages us to see extreme liberals and extreme conservatives as complete opposites. This is just not true. This year’s presidential campaigns provide us with good evidence of that fact.

Conventional wisdom would consider Bernie Sanders and his followers to be polar opposites of Donald Trump and his followers. However while they disagree on a number of policies they share many of the more visceral and esoteric ideas about the issues and politics in general. I have experienced a large number of people who say they have been Democrats all their lives who will be voting for Trump as well as life long Republicans that will be voting for Sec. Clinton. Many of these folks go so far as to say they are changing parties permanently. Why is this?

Most of these switchers are Sanders supporters angry at the nomination process and appalled that the Democrats would nominate such a dangerous person who is not a real progressive. There are also traditional Republicans angry at the nomination process and appalled the the GOP would nominate such a dangerous person who is not a real conservative. What do these people have in common? A general mistrust of government and how it operates. Their main goal is to throw out all the mainstream politicians, who they feel are all corrupt sell outs, and replace them with outsiders who are not politicians but are ideologically pure. Most of them have never been involved in politics before, normally because of their strong mistrust of the process, and a belief there is no difference between the traditional parties. They want to throw away government as we know it and start over, based on their interpretation of the constitution and the idea of personal liberty.

But these two factions, as they are considered to be, are generally looked upon as opposites, especially by the press. Now this is true of of much of their overall reasoning, specific complaints, interpretations of the constitution,understanding of the intentions of the founding fathers, and most importantly who they blame for all of it. But the bottom line is they both believe America is going to hell in a hand basket and the only way to save it is to return to government of, by and for the people. And I believe that in essence they are right about a lot of this.

However, this is where I think things go off the rails. People want all of this change, right away,  but for a number of reasons they aren’t ready to do the work necessary to make it happen, especially in the way they imagine it will happen. There are a large number of folks, lovingly referred to as low information voters, who have little to no knowledge of how America works, what our major issues are, and what impact proposed policy will have on them,  the nation, and the world. These people are easily manipulated by appeals to strong emotions and will believe lies if they are told loudly and often enough.

Then there are voters who know a little civics and have opinions on things but who are just too busy to participate in the process. Some are simply disinterested in participating, for various reasons ranging from laziness to feeling that government never changes anything for anyone, ever. These citizens only care about elections the last two weeks before election day. Which is why most campaigns bombard the broadcast media with commercial after unfair commercial in those two weeks, virtually all of them about how awful the other candidate is. So right when they are finally looking for facts, after months of ignoring the campaigns, all they get is innuendo, half truths, and actual bald faced lies.

These two groupings are a very large segment of voters, likely  comprising a majority. And what they have in common is a need to hand over responsibility to those they elect and then forget about politics until the next election. The economy has forced them to be busier than ever before, in order to support their families. They might want to be aware but they can’t afford to be. So, many of us want and expect the president to solve every problem, and right away. They want a savior, a messiah to lead them figuratively out of Egypt, up to and including parting the Red Sea. This phenomenon is one factor that has made President of the United States the hardest job in the world.

The final demographic that needs a savior, and to me the most dangerous, is the radical activists. They are very aware of what is happening in politics and society, both domestic and international. They have a clear idea of what they think will save us and they know that to make it happen they need one strong leader who can get the job done in the face of adversity. It must be somebody who displays supreme confidence and the charisma to sell themself, even to the most opinionated of the activists, who will then follow them fervently and bring along their own followers.

There are many societies who have such a strongman at the top of their government, controlling virtually every aspect of society. Some of these leaders are benevolent but most are authoritarian and dictatorial. I believe the US has avoided such a regime primarily because it’s two party system keeps both parties from straying too far into uncharted authoritarian waters. They have never felt confident that taking such a dramatic stance could be successful, not with a majority of Americans having basically center left or center right views. But things have changed. I’m willing to guess that the change is, in large part, the responsibility of the rise of the political purist, brought on by frightened parties that felt they needed to pander to extremists to gain power. The extremists eventually gained enough power (This happened primarily in the GOP) to require an ideologic purity test for candidates. Which led to a bloc of legislators who refused to make compromises and thus ground the business of the legislative branch to a halt.

This paralysis has been the last straw for those of us who have been progressively more and more disillusioned with government and it’s failed ability to serve the people. They have come out of the woodwork to strongly influence the current presidential race. They were able to get Donald Trump nominated as a Republican, much to the chagrin of many prominent Republicans who know he is far from being one. And they nearly succeeded in nominating a Social Democrat, Bernie Sanders, as the Democratic nominee. What has transpired then is victory for the establishment in the Democratic Party, after a more heavily contested primary than they ever imagined. And their candidate, justifiably or not, has an extremely low likability rating. Lucky for them the GOP nominee, a loose cannon strongman, has an even lower rating.

This brings us to a place where we now have the most disconcerting race is recent US history. The hold your nose, lesser of two evils factor is off the charts. People are tired of having to elect this kind of President. They want someone they can admire. They want big change and they want it now. This frenetic anger has left us vulnerable to an authoritarian strongman being elected President. He will most likely break his promise to make the country a better place for the people, and will institute policies that oppress us even more than we already are. But in the event we can stop this very real danger, the alternative does not inspire much hope that she will ever institute many of the progressive policies this country needs.

This brings us round robin to the longtime democrats and republicans, plus the disillusioned radicals or traditionalists,who are abandoning their ostensible party’s nominee.Some of them are now voting for the other guy by write in , the other teams guy by write in. or a fringe party’s candidate. What affect will this have on the dynamic of the outcome of the election? I doubt any of the mainstream pundits know. This is out of their comfort zone.

We are entering a new era of American politics, one which may result in a system with multiple viable parties, and a more parliamentary method of creating government. The progressive revolutionary laundry list of changes is long. Right now the re-evolution is in it’s infancy and as in any revolution heads will fall. But should we call the executioner just yet? Who’s to say? I’m disqualifying myself.

It is a critical, crucial time to be an American, even more so an educated and aware American. This is the most important election in American history. I’ve said this every four years since Reagan’s second term. Perhaps prophetically that election was in 1984. At its core it was true every time. This time its true on steroids. It has existential implications for the planet. The arc of plant earth’s future will be forged this November, historic like never before.

Our Millennial generation are the only ones who can save us, in my estimation. But they are being systematically destroyed by overwhelming student debt. This is intentional. They are being squeezed by a shrinking job market and reduced public services across the board. They are being distracted by any number of petty playthings designed to numb them from their pain. We boomers, as our last redeeming gift, must protect them, we must run interference for them, we must exert ourselves to keep them from getting picked off one by one by despair. We must keep the light shining so they have something in the distance to aspire to.

A dictatorship will make that nearly impossible.

But we have defeated dictators before.

There is a reason both love and courage come from the heart.

Analogies Regarding Who Matters

Black Lives Matter is overreacting. Why are they protesting in such damaging ways.? It isn’t helping their cause at all. They haven’t even finished their investigation. Why can’t they wait for the facts before condemning the police? You can’t condemn all police for what  one or two do. 99% of all police do a wonderful job of protecting and serving their communities. All lives matter.

Those are among the more civilized responses to black protests of police brutality. There are other, much less civil responses that most of you know and I won’t go into them here. If you like, comment that you wish me to go there and I will. But for now let’s concentrate on why most white people don’t understand Black Lives matter protests. I myself don’t fully understand and as a white person can’t fully understand. I want to look at why.

If you have never removed a dead body from a crime scene you can speculate on what it feels like. You can empathize in the most humble and sensitive way. But you will still never know how it really feels. Only the medical examiner and their staff truly know. They are privileged. They have medical examiner privilege. They are able to cross the yellow tape of a crime scene and you aren’t. They are allowed to carry a dead body to the medical examiner’s van and you aren’t. They are allowed to carry the body into the morgue and you aren’t. Even if you are given permission to carry a dead body to the morgue or do it yourself unilaterally they are going to do everything in their power to prevent you from doing so because that is their job and always has been.

They have privilege but I’m sure they have never thought about it in that way. But if you make a good case for letting you transport, and reveal that it is privilege that is stopping you you are met with anger. How dare you call me privileged. I work hard being a public servant. You make a good case for your issue; you go to the media and ask why you can’t transport a corpse to the morgue when you are already at the crime scene with your van, and the forensics people are done, and the media decide it’s not a newsworthy event.

The people gathered ask why you want this particular body when what you told the media was that all bodies could be transported by concerned citizens. Even when you ask the police for permission to take the body they tell you you aren’t allowed to and besides, the medical examiner’s van and people are already here. They brusquely push you back behind the yellow tape.

People are outraged that you would even ask to do such a thing. Everybody knows that it is the medical examiner’s job. The next day you tell the media that your concerns haven’t been listened to and you surround the morgue with your supporters, arms locked together, and do not let any dead bodies in or out. People are outraged that dead bodies are going be left to fester out in the street and nobody will be able to walk to where they are going without either smelling death or going out of their way. What if someone from a rich family dies and they insist the police arrest the protesters because they want their relative embalmed immediately.

Aren’t the protesters going overboard? Aren’t they being idiots and hurting their cause by over reacting to one crime scene incident? Aren’t they being criminal in making innocent citizens late for work and appointments? Aren’t they threatening the vital needs of important people? Some would say so. Some would say they are ruining their chances to be heard.

What the protesters are doing is what they feel they must do to make society recognize that they are serious about this issue and want active and honest dialogue about the issue. They are tired of being subject to medical examiner privilege, even if everyone is unaware that it even exists. And no, the medical examine isn’t responsible for his privilege. He has just always had it. The mayor isn’t a bad person for not recognizing the privilege. The mayor is always looking for things that hurt the people but this one is invisible, and may not even be legal.

What the protesters want is for the people in power to simply understand their issue and support their right to petition to change policy, allowing anyone, under certain circumstances, to transport bodies to the morgue. Let the process work and bring applicable laws  before the courts. Don’t squash the issue simply because it might not be vitally important. Serve the people like your job description indicates

Now this is a ridiculous analogy but I think it gives us a vague approximation of the dynamic of my point. In this instance the protesters aren’t blaming the individual trained medical examiner employees, who are there to carry the body to the morgue, for having the privilege of transporting that body, even though the examiners enjoy that privilege. The employees in that van are only symptom of the problem. The real problem, to the protesters, is that the issue is systemic, institutional. The medical examiner has always been the only one allowed to transport dead bodies, and they have been supported by government and the people for years without ever giving regular citizens the chance to do so. The protesters  are serious about the issue, believe it is vital to the health of the city and want to make government and the people face it head on and do something about it.

I do apologize for this poor analogy. But it addresses, somewhat inadequately, the often complex relationship between the individual person or action and the group/society that I believe is germane to this issue. Most human issues, when boiled down to their essence, involve some aspect of the rights, duties, privileges and responsibilities of the individual and those of society, the two in conflict. What makes this issue so difficult is that there is confusion, sometimes on both sides, but more often on the side of privilege on who and what is involved in the essential issue at hand. Who is to blame, the system or the individual actor?

In this case of protest it is not the individual actor being blamed, even if he is a bad actor and is booed off the stage. It is the playwright (the system) and his work, the play, (the situation of privilege) that is the problem. The actor has been given all the good lines and almost all of the time on stage and the chorus (the oppressed) has been given hardly any lines. This ruins the play, but the audience (privileged society) doesn’t know better, because all plays are the same. The chorus knows the play would be better if they had more lines. The audience members are shocked and angered when the chorus asks for more lines. The chorus is determined and desperate, they threaten not to perform the play. The audience is enraged at the chorus and demands the play be the same as it ever was . They blame the chorus for the ruination of the play

And herein is the essential issue. The play has been ruined. But by whom. Is it the oppressed chorus, because of their radical threat. Or is it the playwright and their play (the system and it’s situations of privilege).

The truth is we need both the actor and the chorus. The actor will still be important with less lines and the play will be better with the chorus having more lines. The playwright  must be made to write more balanced plays and show both actor and the chorus that he has evolved. The audience will enjoy the new play better than ever and realize it’s because the playwright has evolved. And who makes the playwright evolve?

The critic (you and me)

 

 

Do We Have Room for This Crate Of Kalishnikovs?

I think if people really take a close look at things they will see that the real reason people fight so desperately to keep access to semi automatic weapons is that they want to be the ones with the powerful guns and stockpiles of ammo when the government fails and the country descends into anarchy. And to be honest the chances of that happening are not insignificant.

Yes, economic chaos is a real possibility. Fostered  by the wealthy and powerful fools who control and manipulate our economy, and thus the world’s, through greedy risk taking and egoistic speculation, the whole thing could come crashing down on their, and our own heads any any moment. The resulting domino dynamo that follows will plunge the world into a dark age.

This is only one possibility among many. But instead of brushing it off as conspiracy it is a real enough threat that it must be considered and attempts to prepare for it are not folly. This is the course that the gun hoarding anarchist/survivalists expect and in fact desire. They feel persecuted by a government that oppresses them and won’t allow them the freedoms they think the constitution ensures. They want the chaos, because with the guns and ammo they will turn the tables on the “weak and corrupt” government and will become the rulers, as is their right.

This is the source of the NRA’s fringe hardcore stance on semi automatic weapons. They have no problems with folks owning rifles and handguns under the 2nd amendment for protection because they will either get them to join their merry band or will have superior fire power with which to dominate them. But they absolutely must be able to own as many dangerous weapons as they can find large elaborate glass case for. They have already banded together and have huge stockpiles of powerful weapons. They come from that same government they hate and fear, who has more firepower than it knows what to do with. Yes, we have “well regulated militias” out there. They are not regulated to protect government interests but to suborn them.

Now I don’t have an issue with a man protecting his home in any way he deems fit. And frankly I’m not afraid of the quasi-military organizations and lone wolf survivalists. Egoistically I believe my life skills will be appreciated in a world like that. That ego might get me killed anyway but I have no family save my daughter, who gets it, so I can take the risk. Anyway, I strongly believe their dreams of conquest and vilification of the government will be squashed by a military that still functions amid the madness. That’s what the military is designed to do. It’s superior firepower will prevail, until there nothing more than small pockets of resistance.

Conspiracy theory 101. I’m not above it.

So here is my proposal for the “I’ll show you. I’ll be running this place soon and then you’ll have to answer to me” crowd. Go ahead, have as many AK 47s and AR 15s as you want and a silo full of ammo to boot. have some salvage military weapons, rocket launched grenades and pounds of C4. Go ahead, protect your homestead. Wait lovingly for the apocalypse. But if you take one step over your property line with any semi automatic weapon, including pistols, any military weapon, or even the ammo for such weapons the penalties will be more than draconian. For example, a minimum of 40 years and up to life with no chance for parole. Same for anyone found in public with such a weapon. No license to carry. No concealed carry. How is that for a compromise?

In the event of a nationwide meltdown I’m confident that when these radical Libertarians  go against the semi-organized remnants of police and military forces they will create the battles they have craved, and come out as oppressed as they ever were. The ironic thing is they created the military. They were the ones who wanted America to be strong in the face of its enemies. They wanted drones and cruise missiles and stealth bombers and hardened tanks and everything that will keep them pacified in the chaos. They created  the militarized police forces by insisting that anyone could get a powerful semi automatic rifle, and use them in committing crimes. They screamed that police forces were outgunned. So the police got their own tanks and troop carriers and hand held rocket launchers.

The irony.

So sit and stare at your beautiful gun collection. But don’t you dare bring them anywhere near me.

Like my daddy always said, “keep in in your pants”.

I’m a Lousy Ally

I’m a lousy ally. I think I know what racism is. I think I know how to fix it. I think I know what black people are thinking. And I think I know how to tell them what to do about it. Are you kidding me? I don’t know anything about racism, really. Not firsthand. Not from experience or with any real knowledge.

So it’s back to pre-school for me and for the vast majority of white people in this country who don’t have the vaguest notion of why black people are responding the way they are to the individual acts of police violence that have plagued this nation for a very long time, but more poignantly (a really white adverb in this instance) recently.

It is easy for isolated instances to be deflected away from pointing at their systemic root causes. We hear “You are just playing the race card”. This isn’t a card game. It’s not an expletive game. The mantra is “I’m not a racist. I don’t see color”. I hate to burst your bubble Mr. Racist,  but black IS a color and if you don’t see it you damn well should.

Ok, I’ll admit it. I do about what some kinds of racism. What I really don’t know is how devastating it is to the people who face it on a daily basis. But painfully, another thing I do know is how people try to muddy the waters when the waves of truth batter them.

That 99.9% of all the police are good people is said. That we don’t know all the facts is said. That the victim(s) acted poorly is said. One or all of these things may or may not be true. But white people, myself included,  please hear this. These things have nothing to do with the issue. To better understand the real issue I must swallow my false pride at being so “liberal” and  “sympathetic” and listen. We must all listen to the voices of color, full of both pride and desperation that together can only tear at someone’s soul. Yes, I can see the tear but it is impossible to feel it without the recipient bearing witness. Just the attempt at trying to tell us about the rending is far more painful than my simple epiphany about racist deceit.

I need to hear and understand, so that I can become a true ally, and teach what I have learned to other white people, especially those who think they already know what racism is and what black people are thinking. And graduating from pre-school, realizing that we have another 13,14 years of school, or more, before we can graduate is humbling. Humility is a poor apology for the hubris of”knowing” racism.

Teach me well people of color. Teach me well Americans of color. I’m certain you aren’t sugar coating the facts.

I’m a lousy ally. But that is changing.

I Kept Threatening To Do This

It’s time for the true identity of Will Servant to be revealed. It’s a pretty flimsily disguised nom de plume to begin with. A lot of you already know me anyway.

My name is Ric Studer and I’m coming out of the anonymity closet to announce my candidacy for School Board in my home town District 742, in the St. Cloud MN area. Several current board members whose terms are ending have chosen not to run. I have been feeling I should run for this important community service for some time and there is need for good candidates to step forward. I’m not normally one to toot my own horn but I believe I have the skill set and character to represent our community well.

Although I am politically a progressive it is clear to me that School Board membership must be a non partisan position. It is my goal to be a voice of reason based on common sense and humility. I will advocate for adequate funding to assure that every teacher and student, including adults, in the district gets all the tools they need to succeed. But I will also look for areas where we can reform and conserve in order to spend each dollar wisely and to the benefit and best interest of the local taxpayer.

There are new ways of approaching education that serve all stakeholders, including administrators, teachers, students and the taxpayers who support them and we must consider them before doing the same old same old because it’s easy and has always been done that way. At the same time we can’t just throw out the baby with the bath water. Many time tested methods and programs should continue to be used to serve the district and it’s community. We will be wise to fully explore there new ways of looking at education, and the forward thinking they represent.

Capital expenditures, currently in the form of replacement and renovation of aging structures, has been a major local issue for several years and the district has struggled to make an effective case for adopting their recommendations, even after extensive research into all the alternatives. The unfortunate disconnects between the Board and community can be bridged through hard work by all parties. I’m sure of it.

Trust in the board, by community leaders and citizens alike must be restored and that can only be done by reaching out into the community and having honest conversations with area residents from all economic, ethnic, racial, political, underrepresented minority backgrounds. Every voice must be heard and every decision transparent. This is the only way to conduct business in the 21st century and the only way the Board can regain the trust and support of the people.

St. Cloud area schools have also reflected the major social issues of the community, as religious tensions have found their way into our schools. As a quality learning environment is imperative if we are to give our students a place to excel, it behooves us to do everything in our power to resolve the religious and ethnic differences that have poured over into the school district from clouded and muddy pools that have sprung up in the community.

Although the conflicts have, to my mind, primarily arisen from the activities of small groups of activists. Their voices are loud and the fear they generate is real. It infects many in the community. Once again, honest, open and respectful conversations are the key to reducing the tensions that impair student’s ability to thrive. I am certain that through this effort the good hearted and self respecting people of the district can find the common ground that will nourish us all.

As we aspire to a new educational philosophy our efforts must can only be directed inward. While researching and discussing the direction of district development and allocation of resources from a new perspective, we must reach outward as well. We must go to the students themselves, in their environment, and meet them where they are, learning for ourselves by discovering what they know and want to know, their life experiences and how they learn.

We must also use this approach to work toward solutions of our social challenges, engaging in meaningful conversations with both the hurt and the hurtful to better create the unity so desperately needed, not only in our schools, but in our communities. We have to humble ourselves, coming together in good faith to listen to everyone’s concerns and working as one  forge a path toward what we all ultimately want, a school system that provides the best possible learning experience for the most possible students.

Everyone says that the single most important thing to them is the kids.  If we really believe that we need to set aside our egos and desires and surrender to our children, who are more precious than gold and and most worthy of our love and nurture. They will show us the way if we have ears to hears and eyes to see.

I ask for your vote and support in my journey toward excellence in service, both public and private, as I learn and grow through giving.