20 July, 2018

Trump's Treacherous Conceit

Trump’s Treacherous Conceit 

Countless suffer tonight from Trump’s treacherous conceit
Millions struggle tonight with Trump’s treacherous conceit
It came down like thunder and crossed every line
Ripped up our social fabric and ruptured the ties that bind
It sets America on a precipitous pathway to defeat
Trump’s treacherous conceit

Bond’s broke tonight from Trump’s treacherous conceit
Alliances have been shaken by Trump’s treacherous conceit
He steps onto the podium and shows he’s lacking a soul
Over his self-serving urges, he has no control
Ain't nothing too discreet about Trump’s treacherous conceit

People are endangered daily by Trump’s treacherous conceit
Lives may be lost soon due to Trump’s treacherous conceit
He respects no promise and doesn’t care what we want
What the rest of us admire, he loves to flaunt
He's riddled with rot like a spoiled piece of meat
Because of that treacherous conceit

Trump’s treacherous conceit is a disease malignant and rare
Various remedies have been tried, but none got anywhere
Countless suffer tonight from Trump’s treacherous conceit
Millions struggle tonight with Trump’s treacherous conceit

He’s got delusions of grandeur and an evil eye
Thinks he is great, but nobody knows why
Seventy-inches of bullshit from his head to his feet
Trump’s a monument to treacherous conceit

With gratitude and respect to Bob Dylan

14 July, 2018

Here's to the RepubliCON Party

Here's to the RepubliCON Party,
For underneath its banners, evil draws no lines,
In its haughty rhetoric, countless falsehoods you will find.
Party fat cats finance bald-faced lies time after time,
The calendar is lyin' when it reads the present time.
Whoa here's to every citizen you've poisoned the heart of,
RepubliCONs find yourself another country to be part of!

And here's to people in the RepubliCON Party
Who claim liberals and centrists, just don't understand
And tremble in subservience to Neo-Nazis and the Klan
Tears and sweat can't wash the blood off their hands
They smile and shrug their shoulders at the cruelty of a man
So, here's to every citizen you've poisoned the heart of,
RepubliCONs find yourself another country to be part of!

And here's pundits and scholars in the RepubliCON Party
Who prattle and preach to citizens that they don't have to care
Stoking resentments and hatred among people everywhere
Their every program or policy stokes suspicion and despair
Not a one champions equality anytime or anywhere
Whoa here's to every citizen you've poisoned the heart of,
RepubliCONs find yourself another country to be part of!

And here's to due process under the RepubliCON Party
The spewing of bigotry and racism has resumed with a roar
Biases blind them to justice as they knock you to the floor
No, they like to push up the body count in a private racist war
Their tarnished badges hide murderers by the score
Oh, here's to every citizen you've poisoned the heart of,
RepubliCONs find yourself another country to be part of!

And, here's to the new Justices from the RepubliCON Party
Who wear robes of honor as they slither into the court
They guard all bastions of the patriarchy they support
And justice is a stranger to those with whom they consort
Minority and women's rights will always come up short
So, here's to every citizen you've poisoned the heart of,
RepubliCONs find yourself another country to be part of!

And here's to governance by the RepubliCON Party
In the swamp, they’ve created through greed and power lust
Criminals pose as Senators and Mayors to gain our trust
And they hope we won’t see the sights or hear the sounds
Of their speeches that resemble ravings of demented clowns
Oh, here's to every citizen you've poisoned the heart of,
RepubliCONs find yourself another country to be part of!

And here's to the laws under the RepubliCON Party
RepubliCON officials gather all the loot their patrons will pay
While our Constitution they assiduously dishonor and betray
Contraception does not matter, and men rule in every way
Yes, misogyny is pervasive when the RepubliCONs hold sway
Whoa here's to every citizen you've poisoned the heart of,
RepubliCONs find yourself another country to be part of!

And here's to pastors and preachers in the RepubliCON Party 
While wrapped in the flag and brandishing a cross, 
Put both patriotism and piety forever at a loss
And sermonize on Sunday morning to justify power lust
As fallen heroes and martyrs are trampled in the dust
It seems blatantly obvious in what malicious God they trust
So, here's to every citizen you've poisoned the heart of,
RepubliCONs find yourself another country to be part of!

Larry Conley

14 July 2018

With gratitude and respect to Phil Ochs [Here’s-to-the-State-of-Mississippi]

Photo credit: http://jobsanger.blogspot.com/2014/11/gop-Venn-diagram.html

04 July, 2018

A Patriot’s Creed

I believe in America’s Constitutional Republic
As an instrument for responsible governance
Of all the people,
By representatives of the people,
For the good of all the people.

An instrument whose just powers derive solely
From the consent of the governed;
A government existing to secure the inherent rights of all citizens;
With equal privileges, immunities, and protections of law,
For all people and malice toward none.

I believe this Republic is one and indivisible;
Established upon the principles
Of liberty, equality, equity, and liberality
To which all authentically patriotic Americans
Commit their Lives, their Fortunes, and their Sacred Honor.

These are also times that try our souls;
Will we prove to be sunshine patriots and summer soldiers?
Or will we find the courage to rise and right the wrongs,
And make our nation once again true, honorable, and whole?
Though times are turbulent the battle continues; it is not lost;
Now, every true American patriot must pony up the cost.
Let us resume the struggle to bring our ideals to be;
And ensure no treacherous claim any longer stains the banner of the free

Furthermore, I believe I owe a duty
To this hallowed Republic to love it,
Support its Constitution,
Champion its ideals,
And further their realization.

Also, to preserve, protect, and defend it
Against all enemies whether they be foreign or domestic.
In executive suites, armed gangs, public office, or fanatical sects.
And that any people betraying or threatening our Constitutional Republic
Are personal adversaries, who I am honor bound to oppose!

R. Lawrence Conley
04 July 2018

23 June, 2018

In Memory of Antwon Rose

He wasn’t a choirboy, a saint, or a prince,
But he was a citizen so that should make no difference!
We are supposed to receive equal justice under the law,
For Black Americans, however, that is too often jaw-jaw!

Antwon had participated in a drive-by they say,
But he was unarmed when shot and running away!
If justice is ever to run a true course,
Police must not so quickly resort to deadly force!

Some have complained that protests caused inconvenience,
And they need to get over a perverse sense of grievance.
Black American males it can be truly said,
Live in real jeopardy of being unjustly shot dead!

Some liars released a baldly false claim,
That GSR was detected on his hand after he’d been slain.
Others said he’d been videoed firing a gun,
But that too was no truer than the previous one.

My brothers and sisters no matter your color,
We must come together and protect one another.
Each American must fully enjoy every civil right,
Allowing their denial to any puts us all in a plight!

So, hear my plea whatever the color of your skin,
Antwon was our compatriot even if not our kin.
Don’t wonder why the alarm bell rings out so loudly,
If you are annoyed or indifferent, it is tolling for thee!

03 June, 2018

A Fortunate One!

Despite what CCR says, I am a fortunate one. My eighteen months in Vietnam, though a trial beyond what I expected, made me the man I am today. It paved the way for a life that has been far better than I had any reasonable expectation of living.

Due to this service and the other eighteen months I served, I was able to finance my college education. The three-year interval allowed the girl who would become my wife and the love of my life to mature into a young woman. These two effects laid the foundation and formed the launch pad for all that followed and for every significant aspect and experience in my adulthood after my service in Vietnam.

My service in the Army made my enrollment at Robert Morris University possible, and that led directly to my initial encounter with Nancy because neither she nor I had acquired a car for the commute and we met at the bus stop that was roughly halfway between our homes.

Because I had grown accustomed to the rain in Vietnam, I did not hesitate to ditch my old umbrella and walk up to the pretty brunette and say, “Nice weather we're having.” She took pity on me and invited me to share her umbrella. Then, we shared the bus ride to our adjacent, but different, colleges, and I had secured her contact information by the time we parted for the day.

From the Fall of 1968 to the Summer of 1973, Nancy and I explored the wonders of young love. Nancy’s love kept me from joining “Weathermen,” and quite literally, saved my life. Although I proudly served in Vietnam, my loyalty was more to the warriors than the war. Also, the murders of John [1963], Malcolm [1965], Martin [4/1968], and Bobby [6/1968], had convinced me that a reactionary coup was underway. My perspective was that the combat skills gained in Vietnam could be best deployed against the internal enemies who were destroying the Republic. I had, after all, taken an oath to defend the Republic against all enemies be they foreign or domestic. Loving a beautiful woman who gives you all she has can ease one’s troubled mind and spirit. Finally, on 23 June 1973, Nancy and I were married. Now, a few days shy of 45 years later, I realize how fortunate I was to have spent time in Vietnam and the US Army so that Nancy could change from a lovely girl into the splendid, sensuous, young woman, I first met in the Fall of 1968.

Some might say that any posting would have provided the time lapse that enabled me to meet encounter Nancy at that bus stop on a rainy Fall morning. They would be right in one sense and utterly wrong in the most crucial aspect. Flag Day of 1968 was a transformative experience for me. If I had served in the US or Europe, it would have just been another barely observed patriotic holiday. In the Central Highlands of Vietnam, over a sixteen-hour period, it became the crucible in which became who I am. After my last Flag Day in Vietnam, I fully understood the meaning of this phrase: “Warriors don't worry, we win!” My outlook on life changed forever, and my approach to life generally and women specifically switched from diffidence to the confidence. Thus, this crucial encounter would probably not have gone as it did if Nancy had met the callow youth I was rather than the committed citizen I had become.

Once we married, Nancy and I began building a home and a life together. We invested the first decade of marriage in strengthening the relationship and maturing. We did not want the responsibilities of parenthood while we were still in any way still kids ourselves. We pursued careers and traveled. We made friends that were not part of our respective childhoods. We relocated so that our lives together blossomed in a venue different from that of our youth. We homesteaded our adulthood. To slightly paraphrase Steppenwolf’s Rock and Roll War: 

“Tell everybody I'm feelin' better, it’s been slow, but I'm healing
Through mother earth and father time, I don't hurt like before
I love a good woman; we have two sons, they’re our joy, our             salvation
May they never fly in, fight in or die in some rock 'n roll war
Tell everybody I'm doin' all right, yes, I'm livin' and lovin'
For I'm done flyin', livin' and dyin' in that rock n' roll war.”

Bryan and Sean, our sons, have grown into splendid young men. They are politically aware; productively employed, and people Nancy and I are delighted to call friends as well as sons. But for the time in Vietnam and the US Army, they would not exist, and their presence would not enrich our lives.

In college, I protested the war in which I had fought. It seemed to me that politicians had sold out the cause I risked life and limb for and they sought to abandon the people my brothers in arms, and I had fought to protect. Virtually everything I believed was proving to be a lie! Thus, my already liberal orientation became a lifelong commitment. Never again would I relent in my efforts to promote governance of the people, by the people, and for the people.

 A new enemy became the target of my disrespect: The Republican Party and the plutocrats, theocrats, and bigots who bankroll and empower it! Although I had left the Army, I never rescinded the first thirty-three words of my enlistment oath:

“I do solemnly affirm that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”

I was never big on the part that spoke of obedience, but I did my duty while in the Army because I was committed to the first thirty-three words and separation from the service did nothing to alter that.

This Flag Day will mark 50 years since what I call the Battle of Thân Thiện (Amity). As far as I know, it never had an official designation as such. That doesn’t matter to me in the least. The adult I have been for these last five decades came to be on that day in that place. What I learned about struggle, valor, loss, loyalty to others and fidelity to one's promises in that crucible changed me fundamentally and forever.

When I returned to the United States, I had a mild case of what we now call “post-traumatic stress.” Neither I nor anyone else recognized it for what it was. Fortunately, I met Nancy before I was utterly lost. Loving her gave me numerous reasons to keep on with the keeping on. Her loving me made it possible for me to do so.

After college, I pursued a business career for some years but did find genuine satisfaction in my work until circumstances propelled me to become a teacher. At last, I had a job I did for its own sake! Of course, I was not independently wealthy, so pay and benefits were necessary. They were by no means my main motivation for teaching. I felt I finally had a chance to fulfill a promise made long ago to make my survival count.

As time moved along and my twin sons grew up, I coached their soccer teams. Win or lose I loved every minute of the practices and the matches. My soccer coaching concluded with an indoor match for the championship of a local league.

Our opponent had beaten us during the regular season by a score of 11 to 1. I could sense the boys were apprehensive. As we assembled on the pitch, I told them to “forget about the previous game. Whatever happens, remember we play for the exercise and the love of the sport. You are already Champions in my mind.” They visibly relaxed. We won the match 3 to 0. Their response and that victory were my cues to retire from coaching!

As our boys progressed through public school and then onto college, Nancy and I transitioned toward a role more like peers than parents to the emerging adults. We still provided support of various kinds, but increasingly the boys made their own choices and paid their way. Their growing independence meant another phase for Nancy and me as a couple and a partnership. Once again, I was a fortunate one, and this new stage commenced smoothly, and it continues to go well.

Eventually, the flow of time brought first myself, and a few years later, Nancy to retirement; it too is going well. Once I retired, and this allowed me to become more active on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. As a teacher, I had been quite circumspect in this area.

My good fortune in other areas continued in many ways on social media. Many former students became my Facebook friends. This connection enabled me to keep in contact with them and allowed us to converse like adults. I am delighted by their progress and enjoy our exchanges.

Facebook was also a venue for me to connect with new people. Some have become valued friends. For example, Larry Valdick, a fellow Vietnam War veteran, Dan Sanders, a fellow anti-war protester, and Shelly Duarte, another Cancer fighter and true, blue liberal! Larry is my brother in battle; Dan is my brother in protest. Shelly is my sister citizen. Only the fabled luck of the Irish could bring us together in spirit, if not in person, to fight side-by-side for the Foundational premises and promises of the land once known as freedom!

         Beyond social media, survival allowed me to build upon a friendship with Tom Garvin that goes back to high school. Due to Nancy's teaching career, I had the opportunity to become friends with John Loverti and Peter Kroll. Thus, if I had not made it back and met Nancy, my three closest friends would probably not be who they are. Just another example of good fortune that traces back to Flag Day 1968!

It is also in retirement that the Big C came to visit me. Once again, the amazing grace of Flag Day 1968 came to my aid. Five lived, and five died. I was one of the survivors, but on that day and in that place, I packed my bags. I learned then that life could end in a blink. In honor of my promise to my fallen brother from another mother, I have treated every subsequent hour of every subsequent day as a bonus. And the over 400,000 hours that elapsed between then and my operation had put me at ease with mortality while they filled me with gratitude at my good fortune.

In researching for another article, I learned that on May 17, 1781, the Boston Independent Chronicle published a story about Nathan Hale’s execution which quoted him as saying:

“I am so satisfied with the cause in which I have engaged, that my only regret is, that I have not more lives than one to offer in its service.”

I fully concur with Mr. Hale’s perspective. My only regret is that I have not done more and better to “make my service and survival count.” Some say what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. I am still here, and I will carry it on for as long as breath yet draws. I vow to use every ounce of my energy and every moment of my time to further make good on my promise of fifty years ago. “Making promises signals good intentions. Keeping promises signifies good character.” Believing the first helped me be a fortunate one; living the second made me worthy of that good fortune.

           Though it may seem counterintuitive, I am confident that due to my eighteen months of service in the Vietnam War, I truly am A Fortunate One! 

01 June, 2018

Never and Always!

All righteous protests have two things in common
None are about the obvious; all are about the pernicious!
Football players aren’t kneeling because of the anthem
They are kneeling because police have been vicious.
When students sat-in at lunch counters
They weren’t looking for a midday meal!
They didn’t care so much about food;
They wanted recognition as people and a fair deal.
Nat Turner wasn’t pushing a religious crusade,
His rebellion killed roughly 60 whites,
But it sought to end the yoke and the lash
It was most of all about human rights!
Rosa Parks wasn’t mainly concerned with a seat
She wanted Jim Crow kicked out on the street
And for segregation to experience
An unmitigated and resounding defeat!
When the Little Rock Nine went to Central High School
The issue wasn’t a course, a teacher, or a room
Though Central High had the money, textbooks, and supplies
The issue was ending the “Plessy v Ferguson” tune!
Now, in the NFL during the Star-Spangled Banner
When protesting players take a knee
It is not about partisanship or the Flag
It’s about the Brave calling out to the Land of the Free!

Larry Conley
01 June 2018

Photo credit: https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-6fTVlI2DSw8/WxGYXFx7qGI/AAAAAAAAEBE/eUCJD_sxxrUjgtXV_xWWjhzMM4huMaiTwCLcBGAs/s1600/CK-RP.jpg

28 May, 2018

The Essential Holiday - Revisited!

The essential holiday is Memorial Day because the people and deeds Memorial Day commemorates there would be no other Patriotic, National American holidays.

Heroes are no braver than ordinary citizens, but they are brave for five minutes longer - even to the point of dying.

“The Soldier is also a citizen. In fact, the highest obligation and most solemn duty of citizenship are bearing arms for one’s country while the greatest act of patriotism is laying down one’s life for its sake.”

"Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by those individuals who will freely struggle in the cause of freedom." 

On the final Monday
Of the warming, blooming month of May
Many will pause, and some will recall
Those who ultimately gave their all

This is fitting, and this is proper
And we owe them time; we owe them honor
For the fallen brave do not truly die
No matter how long and peacefully they lie

So long as there are some who don’t forget
To make a payment on this solemn debt
For glory illuminates the soldier’s grave
And beauty will ever cherish the brave.

Let them sleep in quiet rest.
They, our bravest and our best
They fought the fight and bore the scars
All glory is indeed theirs, and the duty surely is ours.

No matter how many years have passed
We must remember to the last
They died for us and for this land
So, we could in this moment stand

And with loud voices raise a cheer
For those who faced and conquered fear
Oh, time and weather kindly spare
These fallen heroes who did dare

To die and leave all us to live on free
And the banner we unfurl over thee.
All honor be thine through future days
Let scrolls and pillars speak fulsome praise

And cruel neglect must never claim the dead
Who bravely fought and ultimately shed
Blood and summoned tears and words to say
Thanks on this - the Essential Holiday!

Photo Credit: https://youtu.be/yqOaOwIeP58

Larry Conley
28 May 2018 
We live in freedom today because brave Americans before us were willing to 'Die Young.'