American Society and My Own Personal Grievances

  1. My First Personal Grievance is that I feel compelled to have a list of grievance and to maintain a negative and polemic attitude on so many things for so long.That I have had to live with the injuries to myself and others that go with such negativity. 

I can walk, speak and am not incarcerated. In that regard I am more free than many other people. I have known some fine people and still stay in touch with many of them. Many of the people I care the most about are still in touch with me and are alive and healthy. In all these regards I am more blessed and fortunate than many people better than me are now or have been in the past. But I am not a fount of gratitude for my good fortune. In fact I often feel abused, mistreated, cheated and robbed when I reflect on my life. Much like the people who fill the streets and rallies after all recent presidential elections in America i am more than a little annoyed with my state in life. But complaining is not my full time occupation — neither is it the full-time occupation of most of the TEA Party people who protested early in the Obama Administration, nor of the many who flocked to Trump rallies and still do. Also it is not the full time occupation of most of the people who joined the many Women’s Marches in the Trump Administrations early days.   Nor is it the occupation of everyone who shouted FEEL THE BERN! or BLACK LIVES MATTER! in recent months and years.  There is not much I can say about all of those grievances that  will fit into the introductory paragraph of a blog post.

During the time since my last blog post I have done some lawn work, jury rigged a repair on a washing machine and let a friend read the first chapter of a novel manuscript. Those are not the only things I did since I last complained online. Nonetheless, I do complain online quite a bit. An alcoholic who is not effectively engaging in some kind of process for not drinking  may still often know that hew drinks too much and yet be unable to stop drinking for long or mitigate his drinking in any way that makes his life much better. Although we do not know what that thoughtful drunkard’s life might be like if he did not drink those around him or her will usually agree that taming the addiction should be a high priority in his life’s plan. But full-blown and well acknowledged alcoholism is an unusual case. One can survive for a good long while no matter how little one drinks of alcohol even though many lives may be saved by moderate consumption that are not reported by those with anti-drinking biases. However, beyond that kind of addiction it is not so easy a shot too call in most cases. As life gets worse and we age badly in many cases we may still have real insight when we see that very few people are even remotely interested in understanding a viewpoint very different from their own. In fact unbridled hostility to new insights cloaked behind smiling faces are probably more common than a real desire to understand. But the questions confront us in life whether we try to mind our business or not. Does Mr. X play too much golf? Does Miss Y show too much skin? Does Mrs. K spend too much time chatting about other people’s problems? Do the Z family spend too much money eating out? Does business L work its employees too hard? It is not necessarily our business but it is part of living in community or society to take an interest in what others are doing and part of the human condition to question and evaluate human behavior. Reader of this blog may well ask whether I am too critical of the society in which I live and whether I complain too much. Complaining and criticizing are useful activities. They are also not without a whole variety of risks.

This blog, in every post and page is personal. A great deal of it shows forth my view of the world in the ways that it is affected by experiences. Many of those experiences have shown grievances. But still I have never posted a post just like this. As I work on this blog post I have many other things to tend to which are important but for which I scarcely have enough resources and which are not particularly lucrative, glamorous or transformative of society as I complain about it here. In this post I am going to use my own life as a seriously intended example and measure of the reasons the world is a horrible place and this society is dysfunctional.

This blog post is about grievance, loss and injustice at a personal level. My effort here is to state what has been done to injure me and to briefly discuss why the results or damages of those injuries are abhorrent to me.

I will focus on a list of twelve numbered Grievances, However, I will not restrict myself from rambling before and after each listed grievance:

2. My Second Grievance is that the new Trump Administration and his style have adversely affected my limited readership on this blog and unrelated but in conjunction with that Word Press did not send me the Year in Review packet of analysis for the end of last year. I feel the struggle to have a voice and believe in my voice.

So this year I may have smaller readership and last year and I do not have the nice little documentation of my last year. But the Trump campaign helped my readership a bit. So thus far that is not a big deal in terms of readership or views but it did happen. I got a bump during his campaign. However lately I have sometimes gotten more views that come form fewer readers but no big bumps. My October 2015 post actually focused on some of the good achievements of the Obama Administration as examples of him not being as bad as I predicted he would be. But those positive comments in 2015 followed this statement about my blogging, especially in the early years:

For me the election of Barack Hussein Obama as President of these United States of America was a signal that the time had come for me to expend the very little energy and resourcefulness which I could devote to criticism in criticizing a man who would make already intolerable prospects of this country much worse and do so much more quickly. I still think that was an appropriate reaction to his election. But this note will not be in the same vein as most of the others I have written. This note will be largely about better aspects of the Obama Presidency.
So it is with Obama’s Presidency, it may turn out that serious wrongs come to be connected to him in time for which he shall be held responsible – yet he has not been as bad a President as could be. I want to discuss what has been better than the worst possible case…I have been among Barack Obama’s most committed and harshest critics since the day he was elected President. In general that will continue until he is out of office or I am unable to criticize him. However, I have on occasion praised this or that decision he has made and this or the other thing he has done. In addition I have written a great many times that he did not personally create any number of problems and bad behaviors for which I hold him responsible. I am going to dedicate this essay appearing as a post or note to putting forth some balance as regards Obama. Balance is not the same as truth. This does not change our fundamentally polemic pose towards one another’s positions and even persons.

I wonder if Trump’s critics are willing to find themselves where I was in that 2015 moment. It is hard to say because this cycle of recrimination is moving so fast. While this post is new some parts have been edited from an earlier not identical post both as it existed in its original condition and as it existed in its edited condition.The major edits and the first paragraph of the post I am using in places were entirely from October of 2015, while the original version of that post was from May of 2013.  This post is being written in February of 2017. So the use of this material provides a sort of alignment of three lenses over time to perceive the reality of things. I am also including a litany of personal grievances that have not appeared elsewhere. We will continue with that here:

3.My third grievance is that I feel that I uniquely but in solidarity with many others  feel that my own understanding of our society’s security and my personal safety are not represented in the views put forth by the Trump Apparatus or the media largely critical of Trump 

Threats like the Russian deployment of nuclear cruise missiles and North Korea using VX gas in a foreign international airport are serious risks. The destabilized Middle East and the confusion in East Asia are all serious threats and I have had a contact or so or an experience which I feel have prepared me to understand them a little and I resent being do far out of the analysis loop.  But one does not  have to look so far from home to find reasons for concern.

In recent years many things have happened in Europe and in the United States which while they are individually much less significant than the events of the eleventh of September 2001 are nonetheless cumulatively a set of events that show a Western World deeply impacted by organized mass violence. San Bernadino, The Boston Marathon Attacks,the attacks on the concert hall and later on both a soccer stadium and in a number of smaller venues in Paris, the truck attack in Nice, the shooting at Fort Hood,  the attacks on mass transit in London and Spain, and a hundred other events make up the face of what Trump clearly denounces as Radical Islamic Terrorism. Those things and the energies around them some how connect with police assassinations such as the sizable mass shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge and the numerous small and usually individual wounding and killing of law enforcement by someone with an agenda. Then there are the riots facilitated by the most radical elements of the Black Lives Matter Movement, by Black Block Anarchists  which add a violent edge and sometimes core to demonstrations and protest that already feature civil disobedience and disturb the peace. Interspersed among this  violent symphony are notes struck by White Nationalist Dylan Roof at Mother Emanuel Church, far right lunatic Hauser in the theater in Lafayette and the really weird violence that claimed so many lives tragically in Sandy Hook Elementary School. Weirdness is not a crime murder is but weirdness is coming to be increasingly connected with America in many eyes. In the second Obama term which like the first saw wholesale public violence shaping our perceptions of the world it is also true that Amanda Knox has finally been acquitted of almost  all serious charges in a  truly final hearing by the Italian judiciary. This does not answer all issues related to her case. Did she murder the woman and were false approaches  a cause for a confusion that could never be overcome? Was there a ritual element that did or did not involve her or her boyfriend in any way? I assume and hope that she is as innocent as she now stands declared. I hope that she can go on with her life.  But at the time I wrote this I was upset at the way connections were made and the way that paths were pursued.  Italy is now retrying a woman executed for witchcraft 300 years ago. I do not believe there are no witches nor do I believe that none of them deserve to be prosecuted. I was very angry about the Amanda Knox prosecution because I did not believe a good case was made that she was a woman who was in fact a devotee of ritual murder.I am worried given all the violent images of American that American expats will be falsely accused of engaging in weird violence. The murder rate in Chicago is almost off the charts and Obama while he talked a lot about guns did not address a lot of the violent tensions in this country the way Trump has and is likely to again.  Spike Lee could make a film about the subject but Trump takes a more direct approach.

Obama was elected in a spirit of a national promise of hopeful and peaceful change. People came to this blog in part to see the threadbare qualities of that promise.Today it is easy to see that mass shootings across the United States, crises in Syria and related to Syria, bad relations with Russia and the rise of Donald Trump who from his gold tower in New York and his palace in Mar-a-Lago down in Florida  connected with the White Working Class Voters that nobady was sure existed and  the Bernie Sanders who connected in his quiet intellectual North East Jewish way with the mobs and people on the streets will be among the trends and events for which the second Obama term is  remembered. It will be remembered as the term when he failed to get Hillary elected and a lot of other people reelected.   Among the questions being asked are some discussed here but there are more exciting places to pose those questions that in this blog. Violence in this country is nothing that has suddenly appeared only under Obama and Trump. Not even significant and socially formative violence is new. In recent years and over the course of my lifetime the media has been on occasion filled with the violent deaths of people on such occasions as the President Kennedy Assassination, the Martin Luther King Assassination, the Bobby Kennedy Assassination, Jonestown massacre, the Oklahoma City Bombing, the Rodney King Riots, the Waco Branch Davidian conflagration and the  Ruby Ridge raid. This old pattern is at least connected prelude to the slightly different tenor of the events listed before or for the first time which include the Colombine High School Shootings, the 9/11 Attacks, the  Fort Hood Shooting, Colorado Dark Knight Shooting, The Newton Sandy Hook Shooting and the Boston Marathon Bombings. In addition to these violent episodes I think of all those I have known who have died suddenly and violently without so much media or public recognition. Many of these events which have touched me personally were pretty well covered in regional or local media but not at the center of the entire national discussion. It is in this context that the recent days of bomb threats on Jewish centers and destruction of tombs in Jewish cemeteries. Life is a complicated thing — but we must face the reality American violence as a whole. I think I do this more completely here than those discussing the new administration  or the apparatus of that beleaguered administration   often do but that is hard to prove. I don’t have the foreign affairs credentials some would have it’s true.

Why that foreign service credentialing is limited is not so easy to say.  But here is a relevant tidbit. I don’t think that Trump’s lack of military service or min is compelling evidence of  either one of us being shirkers. Nor was Obama’s lack of such service. I have often praised the armed services here and do not hesitate to say it provides a good credential to have military experience. I think that a certain amount of conflict is simply part of human nature. I do believe that my own nature is more imbued with a propensity to conflict than most human natures. But I have been in a number of situations that have heightened that aspect of my life… It was never really likely that I would wear a uniform of any military or police organization and I never have. But if I had done so then perhaps my life would make more sense from a variety of points of view. The closest I ever came to adding that kind of public and rational disclosure to my life’s history was a prolonged episode involving the Central Intelligence Agency known by its initials the C.I.A. or the CIA. This organization is the largest American civilian intelligence agency the position and structure of which have been reformed more often than other agencies. It lacks the kind of institutional support which the military can bring to its own agencies. Like a lot of people I grew up fascinated with spy movies and television shows. Twice before I was eighteen I met someone overseas whom I interacted with and who may well have been with the CIA. When I was sixteen years old I published a long letter to the editor in The Morning Star a Roman Catholic newspaper objecting to the draft and then going further. I had lots of reasons but as time went on felt that perhaps I had closed off a career that might be my best channel for my particular talents. In an onging process of figuring things out I applied to the Central Intelligence Agency while in college, seeking a career as an operative. I spoke with my wife, went through several phone interviews and was sent a first application. It was sort of approved and I was sent a second application and for it I got a recommendation from then US Senator John Breaux. This was sort of accepted and I was scheduled for initial testing and I sort of passed. Then I signed a confidentiality agreement of some kind for whatever happened thereafter. I cannot say more than that there were head games involved and I would describe my connections with the agency as just enough to endanger my friends and associates overseas by association and not nearly enough to get paid and supported.
I have spent a lot of time in places where there was conflict but I also have spent a lot of time alone in my room, at a picnic table in a park or elsewhere – reading, writing or using a computer’s keyboard or mouse. Solitude has defined my life as much as any conflict has and as much as the whole of conflict in my life has as well. These themes of conflict and solitude define my life in distinction and contrast to whatever themes of community and family there may be as well. Like a good number of people who write a lot I am fairly interested in myself. People tend to be interested in where there daily bread comes from and in the years when I taught, wrote, did outside sales or a number of other things for a living my daily bread seemed to come mostly from my own inner resources. So in writing and in other parts of my life, self absorption has been another theme which has been in contrast and distinction to themes of community and family in my life. Yet is all of this enough to describe whatever sense of alienation I have? Do the reasons for alienation matter much?

 

 

4. My Fourth Grievance is that I have not been able to profit sufficiently from the work that I have done in recent years. it has been impossible for me to capitalize fully  on any of the worthwhile things that I have been able to do.

The most potentially lucrative area of my work has been in dealing with space and related projects. The Martian was a film which got Matt Damon the Golden Globe for best actor in a comedy. That award is in itself disparaging enough of the idea of writing seriously about space colonization. I also mentioned the heavy rockets repeatedly in this blog and there have been times since the film just mentioned  and now again with some successes from Spacex when we have been  seeing a real interest in exploring Mars related and these interests  will be related to current missions reporting from there and related to the fame of The Martian.  That book is interesting in many ways and there are almost as many ways to understand its significance in the scheme of things as there are interviews about it. What is certainly true is that Weir wrote it and as he wrote it on an open format on the web he received a lot of input from people on the web and chemist and physicists. It is possible to read his take on this experience here.  I could and may do a whole take on this experience one day which constitutes its own post. But here, as is often the case I have a crowded agenda to cover. I also prepared a model for space colonization and I also developed it basically alone and then I also set up a method for intellectual transparency and the exchange of information it was called the Crater Cap Colony Concept Group.  There is more about my view here. Then I serialized a novel online and it has never been published. But there is a difference or two between our techniques. He really invited in a variety of sources with little commitment to improve his work by taking it from many sources and crediting none of them. In addition, the man who has claimed a fear of flying, reinforced the sense that we are trapped on this Earth I did a lot of work, have flown a great deal — entered into frank and open discussions in favor of my ideas I argues at great length. My novel makes a unique effort to directly credit the space community over time and it aggressively promotes space colonization. Did Weir steal and distort and twist ideas received initially form me — very likely so. Was it only from me, not likely. But was it malicious, no. Was it legally plagiarism, almost certainly not. A longer time has passed since I  daily and aggressively advocated planning to colonize the Moon and Mars.  But the reasons to consider such a course are not less compelling. I have just today begun editing my Culkathadreil novel manuscript in printed form with an ink pen. And will eventually have to digitize it. In addition I have not had even the little jobs in journalism and education which have helped me survive in the past. Further I have experienced quite a few setbacks. All of this combines with other factors to greatly limit my life and prospects these days. But I rush through without setting it all out clearly.

So we now begin the more lightly edited section of this version of this post. I abandon the readers and history to the point of view that I had at that time. For many people it appears that all times seem largely alike even though new situations are always arising. Many people constantly say almost the same exact things about larger events than those in their own lives and some constantly revisit the same rhetoric for describing their personal situations. In other words history may not repeat itself, but as a clever person once said — it does rhyme. I have a friend I correspond with and I frequently write to him  (and occasionally to other people) by incorporating lyrics from songs we both know into the  body of an email. It is a sort of humor on a number of levels at the same time. But I am a writer and I like novels  (although I have not published a novel) and poems which are quite distinct from other novels and verses out there in the world. I refer often enough to other sources in my blog and even in novels and try to create new ways to be transparent and responsible to the way I connect with the ideas of others. But I am also concerned about my own craftsmanship and originality whether it promises a benefit to me in any real way or not. In other words — I say my own thing my own way.

For me and for some others it is perhaps truer to say that each time is a bit different even though the situation in it are somewhat familiar and reminiscent or predictive of past and future situations. So this is a kind of transition paragraph between where I am now and where I was then in my thinking. From here down little has been changed but the formatting of a few lines.  I can find in the lines below a view of who I was and what I was thinking a bit over two years ago.

For example in summing up the first weekend in May of 2013 for me I could write: “ My nephew won his first boxing bout at a scored tournament while others of us in his family, including me, have been absorbed in other matters. My call of congratulations missed him while he was out serving at Mass. Old friends have arrived from the Philippines to celebrate a big occasion with our family and my parents met them at the airport. My brother Joseph is celebrating a birthday a couple of days early. The weather is spectacular here in south Louisiana.” This exact mix of circumstances seems pretty unique to me.
This piece will be a bit longer than my average piece. Those who read my stuff frequently will know that I am interested in the dates on the calendar and what holidays are being observed and what seasons are in play from nature and the various political and cultural institutions of our time. For example when I was working on the edited version of the 2013 post in this blog I noted that  the Greek Orthodox Christians celebrated the Feast of Christ’s Resurrection and that I had been blogging about the coming of The Great Gatsby and what had been going on as related to the making of that film. More personally, In those days my laptop that had my movie making software was still working and I noted that I had put up two videos in anticipation of the celebration of a family event. Lastly, I  mentioned the struggle I had experienced with allergy season that year.But I did not focus as much as some readers might think on my many forms of  and reason for discontent with the Obama Administration. Yet overall in the blog and elsewhere I did decry the vices and shortcomings of that regime. Right now the transition form the Age of Obama to Pax Trumpana is the big event coloring much of my own thought and much of the news around me — and I am a news watching and analyzing guy. I did not vote for either of the last two Presidents, in this recent election I voted for Chris Keniston of the Veterans Party for President of the United States. Today the White House kicked CNN and the New York Times out of a briefing. Obama had of course once kicked Fox News out and the New York Times led the effort to have them included once again. Trump has blamed these media for issuing stories angled against him and his administration based on unnamed sources. Of course the possibility that Trump is a neo-fascist who will harshly punish those who give their names to the press and criticize him seems a plausible possibility to many.  On the other hand the idea that a biased and even hate filled media is lying and cheating to do him dirt seems credible to many people as well. To many people both assertions given above seem overblown but also seem in different to resemble the truth. My own sympathies with both the White House communications apparatus and the big media are limited. I do have some empathy with each but since neither have helped me pay the bills (with the exception of big media Gannet more than a decade and a half ago) and I have been wandering out in the desert a long time I could find it in me to say “a pox on both your houses” pretty easily.

This is a time like any other time since this blog has been around or before when I am in synch with some things and out of synch with some other things. In my edit of the original 2013 post  I am referencing here  I wrote:

I have felt some sense of doing something important to myself at least as in recent weeks I have prepared and posted two of my intended trilogy of videos related to the fiftieth wedding anniversary of my parents. They represent and preserve in very brief form a kind of narrative and description of a story that I believe is important and certainly is important to me. As for the general tone and view point of the two video, I stand by them and they are in my opinion both true and authentic. Both emphasize the positive and good aspects of fifty years which have been just a bit longer than my own life and have been the single most significant influence on my own life. In this essay I am going to take a moment to reflect on both what my own life and point of view are and how I am seeing the life ahead of me – however short or long it may be.

 

4. My Fifth Grievance is that some of the most useful kinds of excellence which I possess in some degree have been liabilities and have even been punished.

I have spent a lot of time doing the deep reading, traveling, talking and thinking which are required to detect and to understand the problems and issues of importance to our world and our society. I believe I am a good social critic rather than a hot and trendy pundit. But I still need an income and an audience and I feel agrieved.  The word English word critic and related words such as critique, criticize and critical come from Greek κριτικός (kritikós), “able to discern”, which is a Greek derivation from the word κριτής (krités), which means roughly “a person who offers reasoned judgment or analysis”. It is unclear whether there is any connection to a man named Crito and the Dialogue in Plato’s Dialogues or (Dialogs) named for Crito – The Crito. This is the last of the dialogs or conversations about philosophy in the life of Socrates. He is executed at the end of it and the pending execution forms the basic framework of the conversation. Crito is certainly both critical of Socrates for his refusal to resist execution by fleeing from prison with his assistance and he is criticized by Socrates for what he says. Thus it could be the character is given the name Crito by Plato (or fabricated with the name Crito –not everyone accepts that the dialogs are based on fact) or it could be that they try to live up to his name in the tone of their conversation. Also, despite some texts seeming to indicate that the word existed before Socrates it may be that this is a gloss by some ancient clerks and that the word came into Greek in honor of the death of the great gadfly and the actions of his companion. One is reminded of the conversation between Peter and Jesus regarding Jesus going up to Jerusalem to face crucifixion which follows upon Jesus declaring Peter’s role as Rock and precedes the mystical peak of the Transfiguration. When Jesus foretells his condemnation by the leaders of his own people and crucifixion by the Romans Peter is eager to persuade him to change his plans to avoid these horrible events. Jesus tells Peter (as retold in Mark 9 and Matthew 16) that he is in this instance “Satan” – opposing God’s will. So Crito criticizes the legal system to which Socrates has been a devoted citizen subject. When one comes across Jesus and Socrates one is reminded that not only they but quite a few other people have been very serious about things. It is a fact we can sometimes forget. While people often use the term pundit for people who comment on politics and events I think that I am by many measures more of a critic than anything else as regards the sort of writing I do in Facebook Notes and Blog Posts. Perhaps like Crito and Peter that criticism is often born of a sense of resentment for the way things are turning out and the costs involved. However, in the case of both Jesus and Socrates both were men who spent years being largely critical of others, of institutions, of laws and of sacred customs. Each intended to bring about change and each on did contribute to vast webs and ripples of change across space and time. Both were executed. In each case this had at least something to do with their own criticisms of the status quo.
Crito (Ancient Greek: Κρίτων) is a short but important dialogue by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. It is a conversation between Socrates and his wealthy associate Crito regarding justice (δικη). The men gathered in the cell or chamber where Socrates awaits his poisoned cup also converse in a disciplined manner in the same dialogue about injustice (αδικια), and the appropriate response to injustice. The truth is that it is more than just possible to empathize in both these cases of ancient teachers being killed with the opponent and critic beside them. Even such an unusual modern reader as myself readily wants to see a form of justice that does not require killing Socrates and a divine plan that does not require Jesus’s death. In the case of the Athenian philosopher Socrates thinks that justice cannot be repaid with injustice and two wrongs don’t make a right either. What that means is that when Crito offers to use money and influence to help Socrates escape execution the philosopher will not accept this and argues that he has been nurtured and lived under the Laws of Athens and should be willing to die by them as well. His duties to his family, friends, reputation and other matter Crito brings up to criticize his plan of accepting death are not relevant. He ends by having his disciples pay the sacrificial chicken he owes to a certain god. Part of human life is to face death and to try to find a way to face one’s own death well. Of course facing life is no easy task either.
I am not a hypochondriac but in addition to my health problems I have most of the problems which are experienced by those afflicted with a myriad of merely imagined diseases. I have been exposed to many horrible diseases and do not even have the resources to screen for which ones I might or might not have contracted. I am really stuck in a new way in my life despite the fact that it is a life in which being stuck has been a big motif all along. It may be that I was simply always going to be someone who negotiated a deal for something I did not much like rather than seeing life as a realization of hopes and dreams. It certainly appears that such an outcome is an ever more foregone conclusion. I am writing about this and wondering whether to try to continue on with anything else that I am doing online after my upcoming birthday. It seems to me that June 15, 2013 is a time to perhaps admit that I have done almost and at least nearly all I can do and it has brought me to a place that has nothing much to offer me anymore.
I am at a place in my life where it is possible and perhaps inevitable that I confront and analyze where life has brought me. It is a good time to take a moral inventory and also to try to define my own motivations. I also think that America is still at a place of crisis…
I am going to try to explain where I have come by some of the basic components and qualities of my point of view in this post. I think that there is not so much a need for this as there is a possibility that such an action could be useful.

I take a critical position and have a critical point of view partly because I often oppose the politics of those in leadership in my own country. Partly, oppose the politics of those in leadership in my own country because I have already undertaken critical commitments.
Many people are more “oppositional” in much of their behavior than I have ever been. Jails, mental hospitals and cemeteries around the world are filled in part by people who acted more rashly and directly in opposing the order of things around them than I ever have. Yet, I have long and often opposed many of the powers at work in this world. Certainly I consider myself a more pronounced political opposition than either major party in these United States faces in the other party. Opposition has a high cost and is tiring. When one has confronted many opposing forces on behalf and in defense of one’s church and then other opponents in one’s church there is a cost in that. When one has confronted many opposing forces on behalf and in defense of one’s country and then other opponents in one’s country there is a cost in that. When one has confronted many opposing forces on behalf and in defense of one’s ethnic affiliations and then other opponents in one’s ethnic affiliations there is a cost in that. When one has confronted many opposing forces on behalf and in defense of one’s former political party and then other political party in one’s church there is a cost in that. I am not alone in having paid all of those varied costs. However, not nearly everybody has paid such costs.  But despite that reality of continuous risk I know I have already paid a price and risk paying a greater price. Yet I do choose not only to discuss events and trends but to criticize and oppose. I choose to state my grievances on many matters. My own life would provide plenty to write about, however, I am still compelled to address national and global matters in these posts.

 

5. My Sixth Personal Grievance is that there is so much good that could be happening that is not. I feel I deserve a chance to be involved in much of it.

At the time that I am posting this blog post NASA has just  recently discovered a star with  a whole array of potentially  habitable planets. My only embedded link in this post is to that story here.  Whatever bad things may have been happening in the space program the discovery of exoplanets has certainly been a very important and worthwhile boom in recent years. In addition early on in this blog  I was very concerned about a lull in heavy lift rocketry development but at the moment and into the near future the heavy lift rocketry program is not as badly off as I then may have suggested it might be by now.  SpaceX and the Antares rocket system are both promising developments. And the Atlas program seems to be improved and ready to play a role. It may be that Elon Musk and others are going to bring America surely and not so slowly into a better position in terms of the space industry than we have been in and do so with sufficient speed to make a difference. I think there is a lot wrong with the space industry and with US space programs but I think things are better than they had appeared to me to be and better than I had indicated in some of my early writings in this blog. But I have already mentioned  that I worked on my novel (and other novels) and the Crater Cap Colony  Concept Group and I believe that in a universe full of potential Earth-like planets I deserve to be playing a better role than most are playing in structures that do not exist to meet challenges that are scarcely imaginable.

One of the many obstacles to that kind of progress in the Space future is social unrest and the kind of chaos and acrimony that has gotten a lot of airtime under the Trump administration. I do not deny that his administration has seen a great deal of unrest. However, it did not start with him. I have seen a change in America sense Barack Hussein Obama became President of the United States and it has empowered a flagrancy of violence and anti-social behavior as I predicted. It is also true that his rhetoric was often of the type which undermines the coherence of this society and puts a great deal at risk. I never said Obama would directly incite total social chaos and upheaval –  I never implied that either. However, Obama did in fact been sacrifice a lot of  the advantages of the presidency to be a mere demagogue. It was not a very big difference but he did better than the overall tone of my remarks and predictions would suggest at the start of this blog and of his Presidency. Likewise I do not predict that Trump will pursue a Fascist demagoguery to the full extent. But he does flirt around the edges.. those are not nice edges to visit in many cases.
I have proposed a new Model Constitution and yet consider myself a Constitutional Conservative in many ways. While Obama was not  a great model of either reverence for the constitution or effectiveness in dealing with the constitutional machinery and political realities of governance he did not completely given up the effort to govern legitimately. I never said Obama would do that but early on I sounded some alarms  I suggested that he was a truly hostile force as regards our constitutional national well-being. In time history may be written that shows most of my worst fears were true or such history may not be be written. But America under Trump is less bound by Constitutional niceties than it ever would have been but for Obama’s precedents. I think that had I not been robbed and cheated in many ways I would be playing a better role in the renewal of the American constitutional balance.

 

The American Crisis and my Own Crises

On Facebook this past week a certain post appeared which I pasted on to my timelin and now reproduce here:

R.I.P. Justin Allen 23, Brett Linley 29, Matthew Weikert 29, Justus Bartett 27, Dave Santos 21, Jesse Reed 26, Matthew Johnson 21, Zachary Fisher 24, Brandon King 23, Christopher Goeke 23, and Sheldon Tate 27…. All are Marines who gave their lives this week for us ….for our freedom! There’s no media for them at all… not even a mention of their names. Mainstream media not reporting why…too wrapped up in politics maybe???. Please honor them by copying and pasting this post.R.I.P.
It is the least we can do. 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

That does lend some perspective to the feelings that Americans have. I have a lot to get done and won’t get it done but I am committed to trying. America has had easier moments and so have I. There are lots of places I go to check in on ideas other than my own. but current events can have a way of bringing minds together if we let them. Here is a blog post that touches on some events that I have been thinking about. But they are not at the center of my thinking.

 

 

So I am drawn to political thought, have been trying to help a friend settle back into life here and have not been finding a way forward in my own life in any real sense. Life is not much worth getting excited about compared to its many other phases and is mostly about the unpleasant dead ends and impossibilities and about many other things but not about hope, happiness or success. I have a sense that the readership of this blog,  which was never huge may be declining overall as the Trump administration proceeds. Meanwhile, I find that even undertaking the tiniest risks by past standards is increasingly challenging. I know how horribly things can go for how long and keep getting worse and so it makes it very difficult to plan to make an appointment on March 21 in Dallas and possibly get a decent pay check f0r a few days work, I know  now that for me there is no balance here between disappointment and anything else there is just disappointment.  If I was not busy before and had a sibling living in Dallas and could get a decent gig doing something good I would be making plans — but now I know that in this country everything almost always works out between badly and horribly for me for layer upon layer of reasons. So I will probably pass on the first decent break in years — it is small if it were bigger I would have to look for a way. But all of this makes it very hard for me to relate to Trump’s sense of opportunity. I have never found this land to be a good place to live and work and do business and so I know that we are very different people.

 

But as I look at the struggles going on around the White House I also see a recurring theme of Russian influences, Russian contacts and Russian concerns. Well, I do not see this as a simple thing. America and Russia are two great powers that live on the same small planet. There are not any great projects going on to really improve the standing of all players, no rising tide that raises all ships — not in reality. There is competition, chaos and conflict. Forces are deployed, countries are aligned  and lots of people are behaving badly in all sorts of places.  All those realities have to do with why those Marines died and why the Seal died in Yemen who did get more press as he fell in the raid on a cache of information sources linked to Al Qaeda and ISIS possibly — or possibly not.

There is a lot of tension. Israel is at risk in this tension and is seeking to cement its relationship with the Trump Administration.  I value the relationship with Israel and I applaud Trump’s efforts. But the world is a complex place.  For now there seems to be a small supply of optimism in much of the country and in my life as well.

Flynn,the Grammy Awards, Trump and American Me….

I am posting this blog post on Valentines Day with only the very slightest nod to love, friendship, the life of St. Valentine, the history of the holiday or the specific women I have loved and nearly loved in my life.  I put a Happy Valentine’s Day balloon on my parents door and gave the aunt with whom I share a roof a smaller balloon. After leaving the  library where I am typing this a friend who went to school with Sean Spicer in high school and is temporarily without a car is going to buy me a hamburger. I did send one woman I actually have care for a Valentine’s Day note online but it is not a romantic day. This all falls into the American Me part of the post. I also changed the spark plug on my lawn mower and cut and vacuum raked the large lawn around the house where I live for much of the day. But politics is much on the mind of many Americans and it is much on my mind as well.

Michael Thomas Flynn, Mike T. Flynn, has resigned his White House appointment as National Security Adviser.  He was the 25th National Security Adviser serving from January 20 to February 13, 2017. Many people including me, believed that to some degree he and the vision he laid out in book The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies, co-authored with Michael Ledeen,  laid out a key component or sets of key components of President Donald (yes John !) Trump’s military philosophy and grand strategy. Some, like me, who believe such things, really do not know the book as well as we should. Flynn was only technically in office since the Presidential Inauguration on January 20, 2017 but he has served in the transition position more or less since the election. I have said in a recent previous post here that he and Bannon, De Vos and a few others may represent the first real members of the far right to have key roles in an administration in many years. But Flynn served as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency under President Obama, was reared in a family of Democrats in Rhode Island and had many moderate credentials. He has a Rhode Island connection in common with Sean Spicer who was both a fellow  Rhode Islander himself and unlike Flynn attended the very distinguished Catholic boarding school — Portsmouth Abbey in that State. Spicer, Flynn and Bannon all had in common an Irish Catholic background, military experience and service as well as appearing to challenge the political correctness of our time as a real threat. Now Flynn is out of the loop. that will be a reality which will be visited again to some degree over time. Spicer has said that Flynn has been fired by President Trump.  However, it is also reported that President Trump had no particular problem with Flynn’s initial contact with the Russians and was aware of it.  The strong and tough man seems to have struggled awhile against the inevitable. But at the time of this posting his resignation is a well established fact. One has to ask what this may portend for the future of the Trump Administration, it seems that the way they have been doing business has a cost and Flynn has paid and himself become part of that cost.

So that is the big news, as Confirmations continue in the Senate and the President seems to be getting mostly what he wants we are also seeing that he can lose a key figure who never needed a Senate confirmation. The follow through from the  transition and the new Trump era is moving forward with some alacrity.  But there is also plenty of committed resistance, close scrutiny and outlandish attacking going on with the trump Administration at its center.  The sense of many Americans, again such as myself, that America needs a dynamic new direction, does not assure the Trump Administration of broad support for his policies and initiatives. He will have to build that support and confront the criticism and deal with the costs and outcomes  of the things he does. The change in the Supreme Court that will come with appointing Gorsuch to fill Scalia’s seat should be one conservative for another. It really does seem to me, a Catholic Christian, that there ought to be a Protestant Christian on the court and Gorsuch is such a judge and such a man. But there will be acrimony and Gorsuch has already said that Trump’s comments about the US judiciary were disheartening.

Disheartened is a state of mind which I know very well. I am so very disheartened at so many levels. My resources are strained, my options constrained and my prospects few. That colors my view of the world and of the country. Lots of people are disheartened about their careers, professions and communities these days. Perhaps some of the anger associated with this time comes from such an overall position in life and in their minds.

This post is largely about American me… It is less of a personal post than the last one but it still carries some personal baggage pretty well.  This is of course my personal blog. One cannot help but feel  that the Trump administration is being savaged by much of the media  when one turns on the recent television broadcasts of important major media events in many cases that  have included the Golden Globes, several episodes of Saturday Night Live, The Grammy Awards and any number of other events. America has also seen a wide variety of demonstrations and protests and the social media networks are buzzing with anti- Trump activity. Although there are crowds supporting Trump and there are many on the social media supporting him as well. But the striking thing is how much flack he is taking from the media. We cannot say for sure how much it all matters.  The President seems to be making adjustments for the struggle, and he still catalogs perceived slights from the media. His nominations seem likely to get through the Senate and Flynn seems not likely  to represent the coming collapse of the administration any time soon. On the other hand there is trouble and plenty of signs of it.

There is a television series on public Television called American Experience which is at the least kind measure  a pretty good show, with a broad title which allows them to choose a wide variety of topics and subjects for the many episodes. I am sure the producers of the American Experience can predict the course of the show into the near future.  But the   ) of the American experience that all of us will have to live is not so very easy to predict. The challenge of this moment in history is very real. I am invited to go to the confirmation of my nephew in Dallas in a couple of weeks where my sister works at a Catholic school. I hope to go, but my resources and energy are too limited for me to feel really enthusiastic about the trip even for such a good cause and reason. I hear a lot of Catholics worried about the mistreatment of Mexicans especially but also those hoping the Trump administration will bring new protections for religious freedoms.    But I am largely preoccupied by the many crises in my own personal life. My own American Experience is precarious and largely bad these days.

I had two friends nominated for Grammys this year. Barry Ancelet and Sam Broussard were nominated as were other Cajun artists in the regional roots category which my ethnic community and the associated Creoles frequently dominate. I consider the distinguished Professor Ancelet a friend although just barely. Hewrote the lyrics and the Warren Perrin’s brother in law (Mary Broussard Perrin’s brother) wrote and performed the music. nwith they nor any Cajun artist won the category this year. I also have a friend named Julie Yannatta  who was my study group partner at Tulane Law School    She has founded Be Why or Being the Why which has produced and supported various recording artists and their works. She participated in the win of her artist White Sun for beast New Age recording. Julie and I have drifted in and out of touch but she is  definitely a friend. I was happy for her and disappointed for Ancelet. I had been especially thing of Julie partly because she was sick and I was worried about her and whether the event would worsen her recovery. While she was not breathing well Maddie Briann Aldridge daugheter of Jamie Lynn Spears who was my Facebook Friend for a good while and who is the sister a multi Grammy winning Britney Spears who is also form Louisiana — little Maddie was fighting for breath and life as well after an ATV flipped over and held her under water. Both people I care about seem to be OK. Britney was not in evidence at the Grammys and posted this about that time:

britney-on-maddie

 

So there was a fundamental sense of relief as I watched the Grammys. But as I watched the show and found out results on social media I enjoyed the entertainment but  was very disappointed at the absence of these categories and others from the television spectacle broadcast on CBS.  While the Grammy Awards Show could not be bothered to cover large portions of recording excellence they could make room for a full out assault on Trump as a political and media figure using political media and music tools. This reached its zenith in the performance of the Tribe Called Quest. That is a lot of acrimony so early in a regime.

So this is the environment in which a new  Justice and a new Cabinet are being introduced to America. As is almost always the case I am not so much reaching the end of the post but simply stopping it. This American me wishes all of you a Happy Valentine’s Day — although I have had happier ones, myself. There is evidence of America in a worrisome place and I cite a great deal of it in this blog now and then. But people are finding it easier not to choose us, key grad schools see foreign student leave when they seldom did before, but the trend is broader than that. American me finds it hard to feel optimistic but still does not completely despair.

 

 

A Personal Post Before the Pause

I am going to slow the rate of my posts now. At least for a while. It will not be easy to do the other things that I am going to try to do but I am going to attend to them as best as I can. that will involve slowing my posts for a while. Today , Wednesday February 8, 2017 — I did my laundry at my parents house as I usually do on Wednesday. I got up later than usual although not so late as a lot of people get up every day and when I woke up I put the plants from my little sitting room out and watered them as I usually do on Thursday mornings. So when I bring them in this evening they will be fine but when I don’t water them again until next Thursday they may be a bit parched.  These are among the little things that I do each  week that fill up my day. Sunday, I installed the new Snapper bag I got on E-Bay and cut and vacuum raked Mom and Dad’s lawn. Monday, I had coffee with my sister at Mc Donald’s as I often do, gave her kids little gifts and watched them play on the playset there. Then I went to the library and fired off one of these posts.  I came by   my parents afterwards for the purpose of contacting parish solid waste from my mother’s phone to complain that the many leaf bags, a Christmas tree and some other items had not been picked up by their trash pick up in too long, but I got some new that caused me to forget about that. I stopped by to ask them to pray for Maddie Briann Aldridge — the daughter of a former Facebook friend, Jamie Lynn Spears. Maddie had been caught under an ATV and trapped in the water. By the time of this posting she is off the ventilator, speaking and is believed to have no neurological damage. We had lunch. I went to pick up the burgers and fries. Later I showed a friend who is just back in the country and back in town an apartment that was available for rent and we visited for a while, smoked and he gave me a book on cigars and some candies from the country he was returning from. He seems to feel the department is not for him and I urged him to share that with the landlord  — but he is still trying to decide. We also talked a bout what an enjoyable time we had watching the Super Bowl at the party at my mother and father’s house.  I did a tiny shopping and that was about it until I got back to my current residence and shared one of the foreign sweets with the aunt who lives there and lived there before I moved in this time.

Tuesday after the news I stopped by my parents and did make that call to solid waste. Then I came by the library and fired off another blog post.  I did a bit more shopping (also very little) and stopped by a friend’s house to smoke and chat. I had arranged with Mom to bring by the DVD of Killing Kennedy and watch it with my Dad while she had her weekly meeting. Then I went back home and read for a few hours mostly.

On my way back, I brought them each a foreign chocolate and ran into my sister from the coffee and her kids. I watched the film and then went home and watched Louisiana Public Broadcasting’s airing of a show on Timothy McVeigh and the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building bombing.  Later I stayed up and was able to post good news about Maddie and find out about another friend getting out of the hospital. Later I watched a public TV show on Birth of  A Nation from an African American perspective. That brings me back to today, I blew leaves off the patio and did some dishes and ate leftovers from my parents fridge while doing laundry.  These things fill up my time but my life, not without merits is  not a workable concern in many ways. Early last year I was working a plan to make it workable and since then I have done a lot of interesting things but they are not working out to provide a sustainable life. This blog matters to me and I am invested in it but it does not provide and income. So I need to find the strength to work against hope and reason for something that could be  a life and a living despite all the reasons not to hope for such things. So I hobble forth licking life’s wounds and seeking to find a way back into the often unrewarding fray.

My next post will probably not be personal in this way but I plan to do a few personal posts and frankly discuss some of the challenges that confront me. But I really need to try to get an edge on a few of them and probably get back to posting about once a week. I have laid a foundation and we are  squarely in the Trump administration. Whatever, I post now will be about that administration in some way or another when it is about US politics.

January 20 to February 7: the all important first 19 days.

Trump, Donald J. Trump is President.  There are many ways to evaluate and see his administration so far which is astonishing almost considering how briefly he has been in office. I remember before the election how many people in how many media outlets claimed this simple fact could never occur. Many believed he could never be the Republican nominee. I was not one of those people and this was not one of those outlets. Posts about Trump before his inauguration can be found here and here among other places. Since his presidency began here and here among other places.  I am not inclined to trust Donald Trump to always do what is right and necessary to make America great again. I am not inclined to believe that there are no real risks in his proposal. But I am inclined to agree with him that this is a dread and dark time that must be faced boldly. Such a position is inherently risky. My own political proposals are vastly more radical than anything trump is doing however, I am careful to show my work in advance, to include the adherence to American checks and balances and to be very transparent. I may do these things more definitely than the President of the United States. Here I will try to take a quick and dirty look at what conflicts really amount to in the country today.

I will be posting a sort of personal bullet pointed article which is a long litany of complaints about the administration that appeared in the first few days that he was in office in several places around Facebook. The mechanism of transmission is described by the purported author in the last line of the message — which I reproduce here in advance of the main text instead. If you plan to share, please copy and paste rather than share. You’ll reach more people. Thanks. This is just one of the  many Facebook campaigns that has been out there over recent months.  The whole question of what is and what is not Fake News is of course relevant to all of these campaigns. You can see some of the engines of truth here and here and see if you trust them to evaluate these allegations.

The mosaic of American life and information is a very complex one currently. it is not so easy to take in what people are feeling and why they address things as they do. Breitbart News Network associated with Chief White House Strategist Steve Bannon has expressed legitimate concerns about a climate of violence directed against President Trump by the left. this is doubtless driven home for them by the violent demonstrations staged against the appearance of Milo Yiannopoulos at U.C. Berkeley. America has been dealing with those events and so has Breitbart. This event strikes a special chord in American political consciousness because of UC Berkeley having once been designated as the home of free speech, based on other demonstrations and protests that took place before most of the current demonstrators were born. There certainly are people and institutions in the American left who greatly dislike this British homosexual journalist of Greek descent and believe he and his association with Breitbart News are threatening to American Democracy and society — articles substantiate this animosity. Steve Bannon the Irish lapsed Catholic of several divorces (like his boss) really is linked to the controversial Yiannopoulos. So they should all have a feel for the hate and rage out there.    But really where do we stand with the Trump phenomena so far?

 

Yiannaopoulos has been a strident critic of the establishment left and of positions taken by mainstream feminists and representatives of the LGBTQ community. In addition, there is a sort of cultural critique of where we as a public culture have been headed. Trump according to the Left and some others has been active in restricting the promulgation of a Leftist agenda which has the cultural trappings of that largely feminist and LGBTQ defined established intellectual space.  The Facebook campaign I site begins with Trump’s alleged action on January 19, 2017. of course anyone who actually pays the slightest attention to politics in the United States of America is aware that the Republicans and others right of center have a strong desire to reduce many government programs considerably – but here is what Trump has allegedly done.

To recap:* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the DOJ’s Violence Against Women programs.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Minority Business Development Agency.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Economic Development Administration.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the International Trade Administration.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Legal Services Corporation.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Environmental and Natural Resources Division of the DOJ.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Electricity Deliverability and Energy Reliability.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Fossil Energy.
* On January 20th, 2017, DT ordered all regulatory powers of all federal agencies frozen.
* On January 20th, 2017, DT ordered the National Parks Service to stop using social media after RTing factual, side by side photos of the crowds for the 2009 and 2017 inaugurations.

 

Of course there are many who have felt threatened and oppressed and put upon by the institutions that Trump has tried to bring to heel. There is also little chance that we can fully detect the direction that these agencies will take in moving into the future. the whole point of many of the media, education and art programs is that they do go very much and very directly to the inner values and the social and communal core of the society in which we all must live. A brief and limited example of this point of view from the right  which is excerpted below is linked here.

It’s amazing how quickly artists’ fear of government censorship evaporates when a candidate they support takes office. In the late 1980s and 1990s, the arts community vigorously protested when conservatives questioned whether the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) should fund art works that many considered acts of blasphemy, obscenity and pornography.

That was during the days when Andres Serrano dunked a crucifix into a jar of urine and photographed it. The public was outraged to learn that the NEA provided a portion of the funding for a North Carolina arts group that celebrated Serrano’s work and awarded him $15,000. The arts community responded by screaming “censorship” over efforts to cut funding for these displays. It was equally outraged at the suggestion that government policymakers should have a say in the content of their art work. Left-leaning arts groups said bureaucrats and congressmen should play no role in artistic decisions made with taxpayer money.

The recent administration also was eager to allow for a public insistence that conservative artists must support celebrations and  rituals which offended their conscience. Photographers and cake decorators many Obamaniacs should be legally prohibited from the activity which feeds their family if they would not support a gay wedding. The position is extreme on many levels. The Facebook cut and paste campaign piece goes on:

* On January 20th, 2017, roughly 230 protestors were arrested in DC and face unprecedented felony riot charges. Among them were legal observers, journalists, and medics.
* On January 20th, 2017, a member of the International Workers of the World was shot in the stomach at an anti-fascist protest in Seattle. He remains in critical condition.

Statistics and studies here are all but useless. But the underlying connection of groups like the Black Lives Matter movement and even the Clinton campaign with a variety f realities ranging from mild violence at Trump rallies to well organized slaughter of police is a murky world in which just and fair analysis is difficult.  There was bound to be a reaction and now it is starting.

there has been an untrammeled extremism of the acceptable Left in recent years which reminds me a lot of the Weimar Republic that gave birth to the Third Reich. Whether the forces of that period are matched by a really Fascist element near to the heart of the Truimp regime remains to be seen. But there are no easy promises that all will be more or less as it has been.  As President trump meets more and more ineffectual but uncompromising opposition what real choices will he have? The Facebook campaign goes on to assert problems around us due to Trump :

 

* On January 21st, 2017, DT brought a group of 40 cheerleaders to a meeting with the CIA to cheer for him during a speech that consisted almost entirely of framing himself as the victim of dishonest press.
* On January 21st, 2017, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer held a press conference largely to attack the press for accurately reporting the size of attendance at the inaugural festivities, saying that the inauguration had the largest audience of any in history, “period.”

* On January 22nd, 2017, White House advisor Kellyann Conway defended Spicer’s lies as “alternative facts” on national television news.
* On January 22nd, 2017, DT appeared to blow a kiss to director James Comey during a meeting with the FBI, and then opened his arms in a gesture of strange, paternal affection, before hugging him with a pat on the back.

* On January 23rd, 2017, DT reinstated the global gag order, which defunds international organizations that even mention abortion as a medical option.
* On January 23rd, 2017, Spicer said that the US will not tolerate China’s expansion onto islands in the South China Sea, essentially threatening war with China.
* On January 23rd, 2017, DT repeated the lie that 3-5 million people voted “illegally” thus costing him the popular vote.
* On January 23rd, 2017, it was announced that the man who shot the anti-fascist protester in Seattle was released without charges, despite turning himself in.

* On January 24th, 2017, Spicer reiterated the lie that 3-5 million people voted “illegally” thus costing DT the popular vote.
* On January 24th, 2017, DT tweeted a picture from his personal Twitter account of a photo he says depicts the crowd at his inauguration and will hang in the White House press room. The photo is curiously dated January 21st, 2017, the day AFTER the inauguration and the day of the Women’s March, the largest inauguration related protest in history.
* On January 24th, 2017, the EPA was ordered to stop communicating with the public through social media or the press and to freeze all grants and contracts.
* On January 24th, 2017, the USDA was ordered to stop communicating with the public through social media or the press and to stop publishing any papers or research. All communication with the press would also have to be authorized and vetted by the White House.
* On January 24th, 2017, HR7, a bill that would prohibit federal funding not only to abortion service providers, but to any insurance coverage, including Medicaid, that provides abortion coverage, went to the floor of the House for a vote.
* On January 24th, 2017, Director of the Department of Health and Human Service nominee Tom Price characterized federal guidelines on transgender equality as “absurd.”
* On January 24th, 2017, DT ordered the resumption of construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline, while the North Dakota state congress considers a bill that would legalize hitting and killing protestors with cars if they are on roadways.
* On January 24th, 2017, it was discovered that police officers had used confiscated cell phones to search the emails and messages of the 230 demonstrators now facing felony riot charges for protesting on January 20th, including lawyers and journalists whose email accounts contain privileged information of clients and sources.
And today: the wall and a Muslim ban.

At the time I am posting this the travel ban from several predominantly Muslim countries is being contested in court. There will be a lot more of this. Vice President Pence will be casting a tie breaking vote to confirm De Vos as Secretary of Education. The President of the Senate is deep in conflict. So where are we headed. I only have time to raise the questions now. I have little else I can do just yet.

Superbowls, Superegos and Superlatives

Last night, (as I started typing this post), February 5, 2016 I watched the new England Patriots led by Tom Brady play the Atlanta Falcons led by Matt Ryan. Coaches Belichik and  Dan Quinn dueling things out at a more cerebral level and many other match-ups taking place as particular members of each offense conflicted and struggled with particular member of each defense — all this on the great autonomous stage that is the Super Bowl. This Super Bowl was one for the record books certainly. Robert Kraft certainly got more attention than Arthur Blank but he was  very much in evidence from events like the NFL Honors which  aired on Fox the night before the game to other events and to the big stage itself. Lady Gaga performed at half time and there was a pregame presentation of Hall of Fame players who hailed from Historically Black Colleges and Universities The after game interviews featured the many African American players and their family stories in some cases. The commercials had a strongly multicultural flavor. But even more than I ever remember seeing it before the main story line in sportswriting and sportscasting was the duel between these six rich, famous (Blank being the least famous) white guys in formal leadership positions. More than usual that was appropriate. This was a clash of very different franchises. It was a clash of a relatively up an coming coach and an old legend. It was the clash of a 2017 MVP quarterback without a ring  and a quarterback playing in a season he started with a suspension who was playing to set himself outside the debate as the most successful quarterback in NFL history. It was the clash between the uniquely successful Kraft and the hungry Blank. Somehow all this multicultural tension and celebration mixed   powerfully with regional competition and the anxieties of the recent Presidential election. And somehow the duel of the six rich famous white male leaders provided a uniquely bright frame for national emotion. This was a function many other Super Bowl contests have performed this on was not more stark and clear than other games but more stark and clear than much of the confusion of life just now for many in America and the World.

No Super Bowl is ever likely to measure up for me to the Super Bowl forty -four (XLIV)  that was the first in which the Saints ever played and the one that they won. But of course, if they won another  I would be very pleased. But it was still grand and super, we also had a super meal. I brought catfish fillets brought in courtesy of a complex reciprocal relationship with a friend and my mother mad a courtbouillon  as well as many other snacks and side dishes. Dad and I and Mom and a a guest whose invitation I arranged but who is also my mother’s godson enjoyed the evening together. The event shared among us competed with the game, related events and halftime show more than if it had been the saints or we had been more hard core Super Bowl fans. But still we mostly watched the Super Bowl and related events and observed a great American tradition. Our guest was joined by brief drop-ins passing by. The guest himself had just returned form a long stay abroad and is here without his recently wed wife. But we all discussed travels and homecomings and enjoyed good food and good music in ways which sometimes interrupted the game.

In some ways our Super Bowl party reminded me of the different ways there are to participate in and observe the institutions and events associated with citizenship in the United States. Right now I am more obsessed with politics than most of the time. But still I like to think that this blog is a bit like that little Super Bowl party. It is about the big events but also about smaller events  and bigger events that are not known in a big way. The change from the Obama Era to the Trump Era has been momentous but so was the living breathing experience of being a human being as millions have experienced. I had coffee this morning with my sister and enjoyed being with her children as often happens on Monday. I wrote down the dates of the play her older son is in. Yesterday, having been to vigil mass on Saturday I did lawn work most of the day in the unusually pleasant weather. I also have lots of negative experiences and woes which best my thoughts, pocket  and health. All those are human realities more immediate and just as relevant to me as my current concern about politics as we know it from walls, travel bans and Senate rules. Sports play a special role in joining public communal interest and private concerns and values. The Super Bowl party is often a bit more than it seems.

The Donald, Darwin, David Duke,the DOD and Deconstruction

The alliterative title of this post leaves out one important d: Derridas, Jacques Derridas is the founder of Deconstructionism and that is a formidable achievement that had a lot of impact in field I studied formally at the universities. This post will do a quick and dirty job of asking if his theoriesJ have anything to do with the Trump phenomena in foreign policy. Bannon is perhaps a deconstruction of the far right which has poisoned itself with bad interpretations and self- destructed as with David Duke’s political career. Generals Mattis, Flynn and Kelly  may represent a deconstruction of American politico-military ideology in favor of something more real. The other big thinker and academic behind this piece on current events is Charles Darwin. I think he has given us a view of the harshest realities which is distorted in favor of extermination. I think deconstructing Natural Selection theory — known as the theory of evolution — would show that Alfred Russel Wallace offered a healthier, richer and more nuanced view and the credit he deserved was stolen by Darwinists. Trump is doubtlessly affected by Darwinism and the ideas he has of the basic reality underlying convention are shaped by Darwinism.  His promise to wipe Radical Islamic Extremism off the face of the earth has a possible Darwinist ring to it.

Deconstruction is getting old without ever really having had its day in the popular mainstream of American culture. It comes from literary studies and is a way of looking at literary texts which strips away a great number of assumptions, conventions and  ways of looking at things which might stand between a reader and a text. It claims to allow a reader or critic to approach a text in new ways. It claims to allow for new insights and more effective forms of expression by freeing up and destroying the constructed interpretations of the text. The term deconstruction has not been applied to the Trump phenomena very much so far — as far as I can see. Partly because President  Trump is seen as rightist and Deconstruction tends to be the province of the allegedly liberal and avowedly leftist parts of society. There is also a competing term — new breakout forms of behavior in business are described as disruptive. The business analogies are quick and easy for a business man like President Trump. But Deconstructionism has been applied to politics before, here is an article which outlines a deconstructionist political view.  The question I would like to begin to ask here is whether Bannon, Trump and Generals Kelly, Flynn ans Mattis form a new deconstructionist military bureau? Unfortunately for serious readers, in this post I only pose that question and abandon it as this discussion largely goes elsewhere.

I used to belong to more groups, administer a lot of them and like a lot of pages on Facebook. That has been reduced a good bit over time.  The image below this paragraph comes form a group that you may not be able to access but is linked here.  Like a lot of pages it was cross shared to another group that I belong to.  There are many kinds of ideas and conversations floating through the blogosphere. the webs and crazy labyrinths of the totality of social media present us with various ways of looking at the world which are not ones we might otherwise have had available to us. The Department of Defense in the United States government is charged with doing the hardest and most unalloyed calculations of human cost in preserving our union and society. They will not be likely to be going out of business any time soon. But of course merely knowing that hard choices must be made does not determine how those choices must come out.  James Mattis, known as “Mad Dog” Mattis is the current Secretary of Defense. He is both a soldier and public servant and has distinguished himself as a competent general officer in the armed services of this country. I am sure that I will be visiting his career again in this blog if it continues in operation. But he heads an enormous organization which is far more than a manifestation of his will and ego. But the image below and the name Mad Dog Mattis related to a direct and perhaps deconstructed view of America’s military realities.  One hears “let’s be real here” in various phrasings around the country. There is a sense that things have not been real lately.

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Donald John Trump, yes I wrote John, is of course the Commander in Chief. There is a lot to wonder about as regards President Trump. There is plenty to wonder about as regard his views of the military and their mission and function. We will have see what his plans and positions will be over time and he is in fact quite likely to cost us something real as we find these things out — as would anyone else. But he is part of the conversation a manner based on learning in classrooms and the experience of an academic journey –like Deconstructionism.

Trump is not entirely devoid of military experience. Nor do I entirely discount the experience he had. The history of dealing with conflict and knowing combat is just one part of the experience of military life and culture. President Trump may have gained something of that kind of experience in his many dealings across the world, in dealing with the organized crime elements that lurk around the construction industry in New York and in dealing with whatever personal crises may have affected his life which I am not fully aware of and not going to blog about now. But there is also a culture and body of knowledge related to the military and things martial which one can learn in school and arguably The Donald has brought that knowledge into the oval office in no small degree. He is an alumnus of the New York Military Academy and may or may not have played a crucial role in keeping it afloat since his graduation. I value military education and although I have not had much of any myself it was a part of the environment in which I taught at the Shandong Institute of Business and Technology in Yantai, China. In addition I have relatives that have attended Riverside Military  Academy, Forks Union Military Academy, the Virginia Military Institute and the United States Military Academy at West Point. I have visited most of those family attended academies although mostly not in the company of the right student or alumnus when they were in attendance or even afterwards. All in all, I think it is a lot more than nothing for Trump to have had some military education.

In recalling these moments of conflict and the visions that they can produce, I think a bit of David Duke who was a major political figure in my state at one time. For a little information about his run for Governor of Louisiana in which he was in the run-off as the soul Republican against the Democrat Edwin W. Edwards look here. While the significance of the following statistics can be overblown, it is nonetheless useful to remember that he won a small majority of the White votes cast in that election. Which means that a whole lot of White people in Louisiana voted against him as well. A popular bumper sticker during the election said, “Vote for the Crook, It’s Important”. People in other places took this often as a joke, but it was a serious recommendation tinged with wry humor for many who posted it. there were those who tried to see the Trump — Clinton election in those terms.  But in Louisiana it played out quite differently Trump won big. Duke was actually on the ballot for Senate in this election and did not make the run-off. His presence in the election gave people a lot to talk about but he only polled 3.4 percent of the vote in a 24 candidate field. Moderate(ish) Republican and former State Treasurer john Kennedy won the seat. The rough tough populist of the season who succeed was the Congressman from my District Clay Higgins. I supported Charles Boustany for Senate and Scott Angelle for Congress. So neither of these two victorious gentlemen owe me a vote although I have some real if minimal ties to both Kennedy and Higgins. The complexities of the electoral process or two numerous to completely discuss in this blog much less this post. Duke wrote a long and detaled book which sold well but alienated a lot of people. Bannon meanwhile has stayed alive and alert and open to new ideas and fresh influences.  Although Duke earned a Ph.D. after running for governor his views seem more alienated over time.

 

I have never corresponded with any of the generals or with Bannon nor really with Trump. But I have corresponded just a bit with David Duke. It did not lead to a great deal of communication but it does show how  we disagreed  and what some of my questions were by implication. With no real excuse I excerpt some of my own correspondence with  David Duke reproduced from years ago without his permission, for honesty sake at least his letter is reproduced in full from March 4, 2012:

Dear Frank,

Nice to hear from you, but frankly surprised that after reading My Awakening you are not concerned about a hyper ethnocentric tribe with clear group interests having so much dominant influence in Media, Government and Finance, and the fact that such could bring us to such catastrophic and, dare I say it, evil wars in Iraq and now the planned one in Iran.

Dialogue is fine with me, but I can’t understand if you know the facts of the incredible Jewish domination of the media and its impact, that you don’t have a problem with it.

I have a B.A. in History from LSU and in 2005 I completed my Doctoral studies and Defense at MAUP, the largest university in Ukraine, I was living in Eastern Europe for six years.

Best to you,

David Duke

But the elections did winnow out some hopes and dreams and fan the flames of others. America is moving forward in a trump direction and not in any of another set of possible directions. Trump and Bannon are disruptive forces within the political system. Bannon is a military veteran and a successful and serious man and President Trump has never been a joke to me. But they are outside the mainstream  of where American politics have been going. Not as far out of the mainstream as I am of course. Darwin had a focus on death as the means of evolution which I think was different than his rival Wallace. One day I hope to post just about those two men. But his legacy stays at our center. We all are obsessed with life or death scenarios even in political terms. Whether are not any particular political future is dead is not so clear as with some other issues.

Of course not all dialog in this country is at the level of survival and conflict. Millions of people have intense political interest right now and think in other terms. I also think of them when I consider where the Trump wave is headed, of these people who want to show an image of their daily lives and of how it all plays out as they live those lives in America. There is a blog post here from a young mother who shows how each person faces the truth of daily existence and wonders how they will bring up their children in the emerging world which has challenges new and familiar. The woman’s point of view is still something that interests me in and of itself. One person who has embodied that point of view for me in American society is Amy Hungerford. She and others at Yale and such places in literature may have things to say about this election and presidency and perhaps will consider deconstructed theories.

As often is the case, my post has no final point. It simply is a post. It simply expresses a few insights. the closest I come to points of the kind many wish to see is in my long winded model constitutions. I like to think I could make a point with a sword point if required to do so by moral duty, but that is easier said than done. There are those in power now who do have such duty every day and my only point is that we should all make it a point to see them as clearly as we can.

LA LA Land and Why I blog about it

The story of Hollywood is a great story and fusion of stories. There are many versions of at least parts of that story.  Most people don’t have huge amount of time to devote to the telling or hearing of the tales of that great American industry. LA LA Land is a  Damien Chazelle film which attempts to give us a look behind the veil that covers the lives lived in the capital of American entertainment. Damien Chazelle’s Hollywood does somehow have tonalities of the painterly French Vision of the Artist and I am French and American enough to feel that he has some elements in his visual language that come from the confluence of those cultures. his sense of music, muse, absorption in art and  the nature of genius as displayed in Whiplash have brightened somewhat here. But, while knowing Damien Chazelle  a bit helps us to see the vision on the bigger screen than usual — there are other things the film requires us to know better and more urgently. In this post I focus on Hollywood, love, movies, Los Angeles and the real cost of making choices as the major thing to understand while watching this film.

My parents and I were out celebrating on January 30,2017 and saw the film. It moved me to see what the story attempted and its ambitious ending was a part of the scope of the film exhibited in the greater vision of Cinemascope. From the acting to the choreography and the writing,  I thought this movie was an exciting example of both great innovation and great preservation of important traditions in movie-making.  The Washington Post review of what’s up with this year’s Oscars had to focus on this film because of its many nominations. But there was a follow-up  story  about the backlash to so much love coming to this new musical from the Academy. I think that the thing that distinguishes the film most is a sequence which comes near the end and reminds me of two other films. It reminds me of the opening sequence of the fine animated film UP! which makes that movie and it reminds me of the early montage sequence cut from The Big Chill in which Kevin Costner plays the deceased character Alex. The sequence changes all else there is and I relate to it profoundly — it adds the blues to the Jazz that defines much of the film and it pushes American audiences to understand the tensions that really exist in love, responsibility, happiness, communication and the needs of kids as well as the urgency of earning a living. In the scene around the sequence the central characters are in a real sense mysterious strangers where an observer would be challenged to detect the mystery but would readily know that they were strangers.

Movie-Made America is a book which attempts to tell part of that story which is the story of all Hollywood as it relates to all America. I had the book assigned to me back in the 1990s in a class on the history of popular culture at Louisiana State University and I read it again later on.   This film is also really quite a thoughtful story about the relationship between Hollywood and Los Angeles as the dream capital and the rest of the country.  The intrinsic challenge which is part of this film is that of telling that historical and social tale which defines the film industry while telling this very specific love story. That larger social challenge  is certainly not fully met in the film but the full story of Hollywood is quite a story to tell.

 

There is not much one can say about the stuff dreams are made of that falls into the realm of journalism and perhaps less that falls into the realm of hard sciences. But movies are dreams and Jazz music is a language of dreams as well and actresses and pianists long to interpret the substance of other people’s dreams. The distance between Emma Stone and Mia is not an easy distance to determine. They both come from other states in the West to seek the fulfillment of screen dreams in Hollywood. Presumably Ryan Gosling is less like Sebastian. But the movie speaks to far more than that. It speaks to  All American dreaming of greatness and the struggles they face and personal costs that can never be calculated. Like a friend of mine who is a black rocket scientist dreamer in a largely white world it speaks through the white  Jazz man in L.A. about greatness that is off the racial and regional beat. This movie allows anyone, especially Americans, to seriously remember and evaluate where their own dreams have taken them.

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3783958/mediaviewer/rm3967749632

In La La Land,  a film that is the most movie oriented film I can remember in quite a while, one of the major characters is not directly tied to the movies. We can remember seeing Julianne Hough, Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin and Katherine Zeta Jones remind us of the massive meaning of the music scene in L.A. in Rock of Ages not too long ago.  But many of us forget that Los Angeles is a real town where music and movies have a complicated industrial relationship but real human being in both worlds have very human relationships. Jazz pianist Sebastian as played by Ryan Gosling reminds us of the  way that entertainment lives in L.A. and that many of the performing arts are located as largely there at any industrial level and worldwide magnitude as they are in any other city. The purist with a small club is part of the total picture of L.A. life — there two we remember Rock of Ages. Albums from small producers and independent labels may still very likely hail from L.A.  in one sense or another. The people who are in that world are people as complicated and authentically human Mia  Dolan and Sebastian. My father left the film saying it reminded him of West Side Story, a very New York musical. But perhaps that is what they each had in common — they each spoke of a great American coastal city in a very specific time. The recent election reminds us of what the Oceanic  coasts have in common. The Gulf Coast and the Great Lakes are not inland either but they are a separate vibe altogether.

Some reviews of the movie have been kinder than others but most can see the appeal of the couple  Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone)  who are young nice to look at and are drawn together by their common location and a respect each has for the others desire to do what they love as they try to do that as well. Success is hard to define but the path to mounting successes presents them with choices and with each set of decisions the fragile fabric of their love affair is strained and then tattered, and the dreams they worked so hard to maintain in each other threaten to rip them apart. The Wall Street Journal review is I think more on point than most. But, although I deeply respect the film, I am not ready to give up on the super happy endings. I would love to have one myself. But this is a very human film about what people can believe might happen who are in the habit of looking both at greatness and personal cost in their lives. Our political class could learn something from it too –but it might be a bit to subtle for many of them. That is an uncharitable remark, the film is not uncharitable.

 

 

What I say is see the movie and play it over in your own head ….

This Blog in the Trump Era

Monday, January 30. 2017 is the birthday of Fred Korematsu who died in 2005 and it is the event which graces the Google Search Engine. The connection between this Civil Rights Activist and the events at airports around the country as protesters disrupted the enforcement of Donald Trump’s travel ban is made more obvious by Google having taken a position on the travel ban. This has been reported at the last embedded link and elsewhere. Those reports will show other interests in Silicon Valley have joined in objecting to Trump’s travel ban halting most immigration from a number of Muslim majority countries.  the reaction to this executive order goes far beyond Silicon Valley however.  There is an overall sense of apprehension about trump that seems greater than normal even in our currently dysfunctional system. This has been captured in the Trump cartoon shown below. Some of my more regular readers and even someone just happening upon this post might wonder about how I am reacting to the new regime not in terms of comment on a specific policy but in more general terms. Do I think, for example, that Trump is likely to bring us as a country to a better future?

In discussing that I want to say first of all that Korematsu protesting the internment of third and second generation American citizens of Japanese descent seems to me quite different than the mobs of protesters and demonstrators disrupting the function of airports where a relative handful of migrants from a list of countries were subjected to extreme vetting. Trump is a pretty mainstream guy and a man deeply connected with such establishment institutions as the Wharton School.  I have posted about him anumber of times in this blog including posts linked here, here and here. However, a search of this blog will reveal far more posts. Obama however was discussed heavily for much of the life of this blog. It will take time to see how differently the two will be treated here in this blog overall — differently surely for they are very different men and very different Presidents of the United States of America.

As for the tone of this blog and of me, its author, my political ideas are outlined in many places. Those include embedded comments in posts such as the one you are reading. The ideas I espouse also appear in more general comments on ideas and structures such as those here and here. Finally, my ideas are put forth in the Model Constitutions of the United States and of Louisiana.   I think that taken together, the two very different Presidents Barack Hussein Obama and Donald JOHN (gasp! I used his middle name)Trump have together made such changes as I propose more likely. Before Obama’s election I would say the chances of those type of reforms were one in five thousand in my lifetime.  Through Obama’s election and during his administration the chances rose to one in a thousand. Since the election of Donald trump and the events ensuing there has been an increase to a chance of almost one in a hundred. I cannot help but think it would be great if such changes were to take place.  However, I still do not see them as likely. So more often than not I will discuss the events of the Trump administration from other points of view. Trump has an agenda that he has put forward which has nothing much to do with my own ideas and proposals but which he has made clear in his campaign as well as statements made before and after the campaign for election to the Presidency.

Trump has since elected sought to repeal Obamacare, he has created and executive order that is somehow a reminder of his famous “Muslim ban”, he has ordered that the wall on the border with Mexico begin.  Those are in line with his campaign promises. But he has done much more than that – he has been meeting with executives and CEOs of   various types. Famous deals including the Carrier deal have reputedly saved jobs and he has approved continuing with the Dakota Access Pipeline opposed by the Lakota and other Aboriginal American Nations. He has said he will cut regulations and now has issued a very strong executive order to achieve that. In addition beyond his campaign promises he has made specific choices of personnel such as Steve Bannon and Betsy De Vos who arguably are the first real representatives of far right political thought in many decades. These folks and General Flynn seem to be particularly controversial. They seem to me like intelligent people with a sense that the country is in crisis and that real disruptive change is needed. Whether they will do real good for the country or even intend to I really cannot be sure at this time — I hope to be watching.

As Trump frees up energy and money from the existing bureaucracy will there be a chance to undertake dynamic new projects like my crater cap colony projects or ones like this and this? I would say that there is no strong evidence for that so far. But it might happen, he does seem to have the high energy that he promised that he would have — that is even more remarkable for a man who is so much older than many others have been. The flurry of executive orders, the many meetings, the stream of tweets (now coming from @POTUS) and many other acts and speeches show the energy he brings to this task.  This could be a new Trump  Technology Tour de Force — or it might not be such an era. That depends on a great number of different factors. Renewal of the inner cities, the development of clean coal technologies, investments in a better oil industry and  updating our nuclear arsenal are all things Trump has shown some interest in achieving. We will see where that ends up.

My own life in many ways went from bad to worse during the Obama administration and has gotten very much worse during those eight years. There seem to be no real reasons to believe that there are good  chances it will improve under the Trump administration. But there is a sense that forces which have been continuously and ever more openly acting against elements of society with which I am associated have been called off. I have few real regrets but it is nonetheless true that in surviving, doing the good that I have been able to do and getting where I am — I have ended up in a situation with little promise or security. Nothing I see happening under Trump has a real good chance of placing me in a good position for the foreseeable future. But some calamities that I could list but will not seem to have been delayed or temporarily averted. That summarizes the view that I have of my won current position — from which I  blog.

 

Marching For Life and the Life on the March

At this 42d  March for Life Mike Pence became the first Vice President to speak at the annual March For Life. Links to that speech as it is variously covered are available here, here and here. The March for Life and the Pro life movement has many components and many of them are groups of people motivated by the highest and noblest of motivations. They represent student groups, crisis pregnancy groups and traditional adoption agencies representing both religious and secular  facilities along with many other people working together. The expression of the values that drive hundreds of thousands of people there every year is in many ways a beautiful thing. This year, with the speech by Pence and the address by  Trump’s former campaign manager Kellyanne Conway there is among parts of the movement a celebratory and hopeful tone.

This March for Life takes place  during the weekend that follows the January 22, 1973 decision Roe v. Wade  which established in the law of the United States a constitutional right to an abortion. fifty-five to sixty million abortions have been performed legally in the United States since that time. The implications of that number have to have a place in any real discussion of the abortion related issues in the United States of America. Over the years I have attended my share of pro-life events, brought supplies I paid for myself to protesters and sidewalk counselors near abortion clinics, helped people find  adoption and support services and challenged those who asserted some parts of the Pro-Choice agenda. That is one side of my personal story. There are more than two sides to it.  I have never been to the March for Life. I participated in Catholic memorial services for girls who died in abortions, legal and illegal in other countries in areas where the official diocesan position was not to have such services. I knew a  good number of girls who had abortions when I was a teen in youth ministry and sometimes my keeping their secrets could be argued to have  encouraged or at least supported their decision to end the life of their unborn — I do not think that was ever my intent.   This mostly happened outside the United States but it happened here as well.

The significance of fewer people being born in the United States is one that can be argued. It has many causes and abortion is only one. I think abortion has served to help sever men from the real sense of procreation as a social responsibility. Abortion is one thing, laws related to marriage, types of legal filiation and   child support are other contributing factors. The war on men is real enough and has a thousand faces but abortion is widely supported by many men and the one who did not want to support the kids produced by bad behavior have been a  major factor in the pro-choice movement .The cultural aspects of birth have certainly changed over the years since Roe v Wade, that change may very well have been accelerating in recent years. Here are a few quotes from a study by Pew Research Foundation not tied to that  Supreme Court decision but illustrative nonetheless:

Another notable change during this period was the rise in births to unmarried women. In 2008, a record 41% of births in the United States were to unmarried women, up from 28% in 1990. The share of births that are non-marital is highest for black women (72%), followed by Hispanics (53%), whites (29%) and Asians (17%), but the increase over the past two decades has been greatest for whites — the share rose 69%.

There have been changes in the other direction but they hardly count as seen in this report by Fact Tank:

In 2014, 40% of births were to unmarried mothers, a slight decline from the 41% share that had held steady since 2008. The share of births to unmarried mothers had been climbing more or less steadily for many decades; the last dip happened in 1995.

Although the single percentage point drop in 2014 was small, it was only the third one-year dip in this measure since the end of World War II. The decline also is notable because it occurred among all racial and Hispanic origin groups.

Still, the share of children born to unmarried mothers has more than doubled since 1980, when it stood at just 18% of births.

The odd thing is that while abortion is more common among unmarried women it makes the choice of bringing a baby into the world a woman’s decision and not a couple decision. It has also led to conservatives being less judgmental of women who have babies out of wedlock because they choose to give them life. A further factor in all this is that the rising divorce rate makes births to unmarried women less readily distinguished from birth to married women.  As a childless divorced man the fact of childlessness is not irksome when I consider how horribly my life personally has turned out. But it is possible for me to wonder if it might have been less horrible in a less abortive society. In other words I would not want a kid in the life I live but, yes I really think I deserve a better life and yes I really do blame a society in which abortion has played a key and formative role in our social and cultural development over my lifetime.  The stresses on fatherless kids and their mothers, on fathers abused by an irresponsible and idiotic system, on men unable to find wives or keep them — these are all real stresses beyond our usual debate. Population crises really can occur in both directions by population going up or down. But economies need people and they come from somewhere even when they are born here they are not replacing the old populations exactly.  Quoting the same Pew Research Foundation study as before.

Another influence on births is the nation’s growing number of immigrants, who tend to have higher birth rates than the native born (although those rates have declined in recent years). The share of births to foreign-born mothers, 15% of U.S. births in 1990, has grown at least 60% through 2004. Births to foreign-born women in 2004 accounted for the majority of Hispanic (61%) and Asian (83%) births.

The March for Life reasonably has focused on protecting the Right to Life which is a separate issue than what I have been discussing. I quote from the student prolife link given above:

Today, those who receive a poor prenatal diagnosis are more-likely-than-not to be legally aborted. This country allows the abortion of any child with a “fetal abnormality.” Although the law protects people with abnormalities after they are born, it fails to do so prior to birth. Law Students for Life is honored to lead the March for Life this January in support of the principle that the law must protect all people – including those who have not yet been born.

The totality of the right to life among Catholics has been called the seamless garment and embraces a movement to a culture of life and away from a culture of death. It gets into lots of arguable specifics right away. Other strongly pro-life groups such as Evangelicals and Mormons have often taken at least a nonjudgmental passive view of this larger teaching . It is a real body of work and it matters in terms of social justice the death penalty and other matters. But abortion is the big issue and there is an emotional appeal in the site just quoted that rings true to much of the feeling expressed at Pro-life events.

The decisions that steered this nation away from the culture of life were rendered long before we were born. Yet, the consequences of abortion continue to impact every generation. There are empty places in our hearts for siblings, friends, cousins, nephews, and nieces who were never born. We see the pain on a woman’s face – the remorse in her eyes – when she remembers the child she never met because she chose to end an innocent life. We cry with men whose girlfriends abort their child while they stand powerless to prevent it. That is the state of our laws.

 

Not everyone agrees with how much this concern for the lives of the unborn connects with respect for other lives. The truth is that respect for the sancity of human life is by no means assured to any society. We can think of many examples of the callous  disregard for taking life but a few stand out.  This year the March for Life coincided to a large and principal degree with the January 27 observance of Holocaust Memorial Day.. The largest Nazi death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated on January 27, 1945 by Allied (principally Soviet) troops. About 1.1 million people were executed at Auschwitz. Almost all of whom were murdered under  established standards of international law and virtually none of whom were legally put to death for capital crimes legitimately prosecuted. In addition, the evidence of how vast the killing operations were in the Nazi Third Reich continues to mount.

This year the March for Life also coincided with the Chinese Lunar New Year or Spring Festival in that it is a festival that spills around and the official day this year –January 28,2017 is also a day when many March for Life activities are going on. The coincidence can be seen as significant if one wishes to see it that way. In many ways this holiday is a vast celebration of life and family in China. yet China has in recent centuries known huge amounts of killing and forced abortions continue. Starvation has killed millions in the past and the issues of how to create and define a right to life have challenged the regimes there in many ways.

Where is the discussion of human life and its value going to take us in years to come? I don’t know. I do have many friends who are concerned about the repeal of Roe v. Wade. I really do believe that we have to face all of the realities of life but I also can empathize with the joy of those who hope for a different and better statement of our values as Americans than the ones currently enshrined in law.