16 October, 2016

Drumpf and the Deplorable Neoconfederates!

If the American endeavor has any core and any enduring coherence, that core and that coherence consists of abiding ideas which informed and insightful citizens hold to be self-evident truths. Taken together as they surely should be, these foundational ideas and fundamental convictions establish that is America is a state of mind, a quality of character, and a code of conduct.
America is not about a specific ethnicity, nor a certain complexion, nor a particular religion. People who think America is a White, Christian, European, Patriarchal, Straight, nation may well be “birthright citizens,” but they are not and barring a comprehensive change of view, never will be authentically patriotic Americans.

As M. G. Oprea correctly states in a 20 June 2016 post in the Federalist:

“The entire project of America is rooted in the fact that you don’t have to be from any particular place or claim a certain ethnic background to be an American. This truth is part of what makes America so exceptional. It’s what the country was built on, the idea that anyone can come and make his home here and become a citizen. We have birthright citizenship, which means if you were born in America you get to become a U.S. citizen, regardless of your ethnic heritage.”

America, as it was conceived and launched, has receptivity and inclusivity in the warp and woof of its formulation. Our practice has too often and too long not aligned with our principles, but that reality demonstrates a failure and a flaw in our efforts not a fault or an error in our controlling ideals.

            If this is hard to see, it may be because too many people have relegated these ideals to relic status. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, The Bill of Rights, the Gettysburg Address, the “Ask Not” speech, and the More Perfect Union address have been consigned to history, and while they have a historical context, they are not merely artifacts nor talismanic relics. Essentially these guiding documents, properly understood, fully appreciated, and correctly interpreted are eighteen compelling, vibrant, and as yet unrealized, commitments.

            Authentically patriotic Americans have abiding commitments to the following:
1.    Human equality
2.    Inherent rights
3.    Governments of just powers derived from the consent of the governed
4.    A mutual pledge to one another
5.    Ongoing perfection of the Union
6.    Establishing justice for all
7.    Ensuring peace among all citizens throughout the America
8.    Providing a common defense for every part of the Union
9.    Promoting the well-being of all Americans
10.  Ensuring the liberty of all current and future Americans
11.  Equal protection of due process of law for every American
12.  Prohibition of involuntary servitude for any American not convicted of a crime
13.  Unabridged voting rights for all citizens of age
14.  Free political expression via speech, petition, publication, and assembly
15.  Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth
16.  Since its country founding, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty;
17.  This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected.
18.  We are Americans. We will not turn on each another or turn on our principles

There are other widely held beliefs among 21st-century Americans, but these seventeen are the essentials. They unite the American endeavor from its origins in 1776 to the present, a span of 240 years. Anyone who denies any one of them may nominally be an American by birth or naturalization, such a person would not be a fervent and principled patriot.

            Merely living in the United States and wearing a flag pin on one’s lapel or flying the flag outside one’s home is not sufficient. As America is about ideas, not ethnicity, so patriotism is about substance, not symbols. Americans have no one skin color, they have no single spiritual persuasion, they have no definitive ethnic heritage. What distinguishes Americans from all the other peoples of planet earth is a mindset and a set of socio-political convictions such as the preceding. The idea of birthright citizenship is familiar to many, but few recognize that American citizenship is not only a right but a responsibility. It is not solely an opportunity, but an obligation. Not just a chance, but a challenge! 

No person nor anything except honor imposes this obligation. Whether or not we rise to the challenge is completely up to each of us. Nonetheless, 2016 is another time that tries the characters of us all, and once again, summer soldiers and sunshine patriots are insufficient to the need. They who refuse to “shrink from the service of their country”; but stand by it now will indeed earn the love and thanks of man and woman!

            The Neoconfederate Republicans in general and Donald J. Trump, in particular, strike a hyper-patriotic pose, but their beliefs and behaviors are more similar to that in many European nations than the noble norm that characterized America and Americans at their best. Nationalism in most such countries is so wrapped up in ethnicity, language, and patrimony that others find it hard to integrate fully, let alone assimilate.  A French friend of M. G. Oprea, once “told her how surprised she was to find that immigrants in New York City expressed such positive attitudes toward America when asked about it.” While the “land of opportunity” phenomenon contributed to these positive responses for sure; a more fundamental and pervasive factor was likely the fact that Americans did not have the same concepts of nationality and nationalism that Europeans had. Never forget that America was “Conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal,” as Lincoln put it. America emerged from the mind, rather than the mist.

            In 2016 as rarely, if ever, before, authentic American exceptionalism and idealism are gravely imperiled. The enemy is not merely within, but they are legion. The demagogue America has heretofore been spared rampages among us as the nominee of a subverted, but significant, American political party. Arrayed against this demagogue and his legions stands a good, but hobbled leader and a confused and divided array of good, but unenthusiastic, supporters. Fanaticism stalks the land with an opportunistic authoritarian at the head of the horde. Summer soldiers and sunshine patriots must prepare for battle in the cold and gloom of autumn.

            As the Dallas Morning Herald put it in their 7 September 2016 editorial: “Trump’s values are hostile to conservatism. He plays on fear — exploiting base instincts of xenophobia, racism, and misogynyto bring out the worst in all of us, rather than the best. His serial shifts on fundamental issues reveal an astounding absence of preparedness. And his improvisational insults and midnight tweets exhibit a dangerous lack of judgment and impulse control."

What the Herald neglects to mention or perhaps does not recognize, is that what they call conservatism is not conservative, but reactionary. The heritage and high ground of America and Americanism are liberality and liberalism as expressed in the above-stated seventeen commitments. The Confederate perspective rejected all of these in its initial incarnation and did so more emphatically the second time around. Now, as the lethal theory of confederation rises again, they attack more stealthily and promote the cover story generated since the 1970s by reactionary propagandists. Various Republican officeholders have suggested various schemes for nullification of federal laws, especially the ACA. In Texas, reactionaries set off alarms about a longstanding set of military exercises - Operation Jade Helm – that reactionary talk radio and Internet propaganda mongers claimed was a scheme by the Obama Administration to impose martial law and take over states by extra-constitutional means. Among the alarmists was the governor of Texas who asked the Texas National Guard to shadow the U S Army.  In fact, some used the word – invasion – to describe Jade Helm in apparent ignorance that the army of a nation cannot invade any part of that nation! Contrary to the propaganda of reactionaries, the United States of America is “one nation, indivisible.”

The subversive conceptions of the reactionaries are so pervasive that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and four Associate Justices gutted the Voting Rights Act’s enforcement mechanism due to their notion that voter suppression is a thing of the past. Not long after this updated version of Dred Scott, North Carolina enacted a law which a Federal Circuit Court said targeted Back voters with “almost surgical precision.” Nothing says – “The South shall rise again,” like precise disenfranchisement of black Americans. The Circuit Court ruling was a setback for the reactionaries in North Carolina, so they appealed. The Appeals Court upheld the ruling; so like the Energizer Bunnies of Bigotry they are, the N C Republicans took it to the Supreme Court. The Chief Justice and the three surviving Associate reactionaries voted to void the ruling, but four liberal Associates voted to uphold. Consequently, the Confederate resurgence momentarily stalled. In true, Confederate fashion, the N C reactionaries declared their intentions to reinstate their voter suppression via county election boards that they dominate.

As this makes clear, in the Confederacy, liberty, justice, and equal rights for all do not slow down the march of White Supremacy. Now, these thinly disguised subversives hear the bugle launching a new charge against the oppressive central government of their ancestral fever dreams. Their boogie-woogie bugle boy reviving the Confederacy is none other than, Donald J. Trump.

Many people who support Trump have been described as the ‘basket of deplorables’ [“The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it.”] by Hillary Clinton “LGBT for Hillary” fundraiser Friday night in New York.  With little time lost, DJT announced that the racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, etc. people Hillary denounced were “so many great Americans.” The Donald went further on 15 September 2016 in a speech before the New York Economic Club saying: "The people Clinton calls deplorable are the most admirable people I know.”

In a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition of human equality, how can “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic” people be great Americans and among the “most admirable people” a major party presidential candidate knows?

Do great Americans deny others equal protection of the laws; the right to vote; the blessings of liberty? Do great Americans impose involuntary servitude on other Americans duly convicted of no crime? Do great Americans falsely pledge over and over in their youth an allegiance to a Republic with liberty and justice for all and then, only champion liberty and justice for people who look like, think like, believe like, and love like they do?  If the answers to all those questions are not resoundingly in the negative, then where is the great America these great Americans purport to live and love? It is nowhere on planet Earth, and the South of 1861 to 1865 without question or limitation has risen again! The great Americans Donald Trump extols and so admires do not reside in the USA; they live in the country they revived in the 1950s and revere today: The Confederate States of America!

The CSA, a realm of abductors and enslavers, came to a deserved and bloody end more than 150 years ago. For nearly a century after that, unrepentant White Supremacists tried to keep it alive in spirit if not in fact. Then, the Southern Strategy of the Nixon-led Republican Party spread the plague throughout the nation. As this video from a Pence town hall shows: Trumpsters do not bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the United States nor to the polity it ordained and established 237 years ago. They say they want a revolution if Hillary Clinton wins. It is a high fidelity echo of the fall of 1860:  https://youtu.be/UCTn3q-2XOY

In 2016, we must not betray those who gave the last, full measure of devotion by meanly losing the truest and best hope of humankind. We must not allow the undoing of the progress made. We must not allow the United States of America to be taken backward to the most benighted and fundamentally abhorrent periods of its history. It is time for all Americans of genuine and principled patriotism to answer the trumpet’s summons and continue the long, twilight struggle to advance the never ending perfection of our hallowed and precious Union and uphold the Republic, indivisible with liberty, equality, prosperity, and justice for all!

30 August, 2016

Larry Conley - Bio Poem


Lives in: Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA, planet Earth, Milky Way.

Who is: Liberal, Inquisitive, Genuine, and:

Wishes to: facilitate improvement wherever possible; fight for the right whenever necessary; stand up for justice whatever the risk.

Dreams of: America being, indivisible, as good as its ideals with liberty, equality, prosperity, and justice for all.

Wants to: fulfill the roles of husband, father, friend, and citizen optimally.

Wonders: why so many find it so hard to do the next right thing and the next ad infinitum.

Dreads: failing to rise to a challenge when it truly matters.

Likes: soccer, Chelsea FC, hockey, volleyball, women, Spanish, reading, movies, classic rock, flowers, forests, and waterfalls.

Believes: in Dao and Zen, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the premises and promises of the American Republic.

Loves: his wife, his sons, his shelties, his cats, his friends, learning, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and FC Barcelona, and the struggle to achieve a better world for all humankind.

Plans: to live as well as he can,t for as long as he can, and do as much as he can to make the world a better place than he found it at birth.

Core Convictions:  The known is a drop; the unknown is an ocean. We do not know what fate awaits us. We only know we must be brave, and fortune favors the brave!

As the Dao which can be named is not the eternal Dao, so the self that can be described is not the absolute self, but I tried to the best of my abilities to candidly and comprehensively set forth my understanding of myself. 

18 August, 2016

PA DEMS 2016 - Letter to the Editor Guide

If you want to help Hillary Clinton and Democrats across Pennsylvania, you’ve come to exactly the right place. We won’t be successful without Pennsylvanians getting involved and talking to your neighbors about why this election is so important. We are working together to build this campaign from the ground up and elect Democrats to offices across the Commonwealth, and one of the most efficient ways you can get involved is by writing a letter to the editor. In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know to get your family, friends, and neighbors writing letters.
Writing a letter to the editor (LTE) is easy and one of the most effective ways to reach a large audience to talk about the importance of the election and issues important to you.  LTEs appear on the editorial page, which is one of the most read pages in the paper.

Unsure how to write a letter to the editor? Follow these quick tips:
      Make it Personal. Editors want letters in their papers to be original and from a reader. Be sure that you take the time to write the letter in your own words and write about an issue that you care whether it’s women’s equality, racial justice, climate change, marriage equality, voting rights, investments in infrastructure, campaign finance reform, college affordability, or protecting Social Security and Medicare.
      Keep your letter brief. Letters should be concise but make sure your first line is catchy, compelling and attention grabbing! In general, letters should be under 200 words, 150 or less is best. Editors are less likely to print long letters.
      Use Facts.  When addressing specific issues, use as many facts as possible.  You can find out some facts about Republicans and their out-of-date policies as well as Hillary’s record at https://www.hillaryclinton.com/briefing/.
      Respond to an article or an issue in the news. Letters are most likely to be printed on topical and current issues.

You can learn more about Hillary’s vision for Pennsylvania and facts about her by visiting https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/.

If you have any questions or concerns about content, email letters@pavictory2016.org. Don’t forget to send us an e-mail us when a paper publishes your letter!

Ready to submit?
Please follow the submission guidelines for each newspaper. If emailing, please include your full name, your city of residence and telephone number.

LTE Submission Link
Alexandria Times-Tribune
The Allentown Morning Call
Altoona Mirror
The Scranton Times-Tribune
Bloomsburg Press Enterprise
The Bradford Era
Chambersburg Public Opinion
Clarion County Explore Clarion
Potter Leader Enterprise
The Doylestown Intelligencer
Bucks County Courier-Express
Lehigh Valley Express-Times
Erie Times-News
Gettysburg Times
The Harrisburg Patriot-News
Hazleton Standard-Speaker
The Indiana Gazette
The Tribune-Democrat
Lebanon Daily News
Times-News (Carbon/Lehigh  County)
Bucks County Courier-Times
Dauphin Press and Journal
Milton Standard-Journal
Montgomery County Times-Herald
Metro - Philadelphia Edition
Philadelphia Daily News
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Tribune
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Pottstown Mercury News
The Pottsville Republican Herald
The Reading Eagle
St. Mary's Daily Press
Twin Tiers Morning Times
The Scranton Times-Tribune
The Shamokin News-Item
The Sharon Herald
The Somerset County Daily American
Centre Daily Times (State College)
The Pocono Record
The Somerset Daily Item
The Daily Review (Troy County)
The Uniontown Herald-Standard
Delaware County Daily Times
Observer-Reporter (Washington County)
Wellsboro Gazette
The Daily Local News
The Citizens' Voice (Wilkes-Barre)
Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre)
Williamsport Sun-Gazette
York Daily Record
York Dispatch

09 August, 2016

Up to Us - Rise and Renew National Unity and Global Sanity

On March 19, 2011, a friend wrote these perceptive and provocative words - "The guilt belongs to you and me, the society of people lavished with riches. And what was built can be torn asunder by our own silence. It’s comin’ to our door, Baby. I know that. ‘Cause we only cared about our own appetites and fed ourselves plenty. Now the world has gone mad and I just need you to sing to me, Baby, while I try to pray for lost souls and scattered angels."

The insights are hers, but the emphasis is mine. What she said over five years ago, rings true more than ever today, She also cited Professor Andrew J. Bacevich from Boston University as follows: "Transformation is not something that outsiders can induce or impose or control. The process is organic, spontaneous and self-sustaining.”

For its faults and all its flaws, the American Constitutional Republic is a polity committed to and capable of continual improvement. While too many of us have too often been derelict in our duties as citizens and too immersed in our private lives and personal struggles, we have had the good fortune of honorable leaders who have at crucial moments recalled us to the "better angels of our nature." At such times, the polity in which we live has afforded us the opportunity to raise the level of our conduct and demonstrate the caliber of our character,

These splendid appeals to reason and benevolence merit prolonged attention. Let us never forget it is perfectly possible and eminently patriotic to fervently oppose divisive demagoguery and ardently oppose those who incite suspicion, resentment, hostility, and divisiveness among us. Let us be satisfied with a clear conscience as our only sure reward and go forth to lead the land we love in perfecting our union and fully achieving one nation, indivisible, with liberty, equality, prosperity and justice for all.

Now the trumpet summons us again as the barbarian is within the gates in the person of Despicable Donald Drumpf. This megalomaniacal demagogue presents a clear and present danger to the survival and success of the Republic, the perfection of our union, and the achievement of one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, Drumpf is the exemplar of self-absorption and personal aggrandizement. Even as he campaigns, he pollutes the political discourse with appeals to fear, suspicion, bigotry, and bellicosity.

These splendid appeals to reason and benevolence merit prolonged attention. Let us never forget it is perfectly possible and eminently patriotic to fervently oppose divisive demagoguery and ardently resist those who incite suspicion, resentment, and hostility among us.

In this context, I respectfully offer the following thoughts and observations.

It is easy to be hostile. It is risky to trust. In a world gone mad and a nation divided, free-floating hostility is a predictable response.

Hostility nourishes and supports the ego. Trust requires lowering one’s guard, risking disappointment, and testing one’s character.

Hostility can be very dramatic, complicated and sophisticated. It can make one appear quite impressive to others. It can camouflage cowardice and make bravado pass for courage. It drapes cravenness in the cloak of valor. It drowns out the whimpers of a quaking soul with the roar of rage.

Trust, on the other hand, is an expression of sincerity, humanity and composure. Others could be suspicious of our intentions, resentful of our efforts or envious of our fortitude.

Those who choose hostility, expend a great deal of energy and effort to maintain their state of rage. They stoke fear, suspicion, resentment, and bigotry in others in order to have a million mirrors for their own warped soul. By contrast, those choose trust actually, gain vigor and resilience from the additional options and positive perspectives this choice brings to light.

The choices between hostility and trust, enmity and amity are ones we all must make in each moment, repeatedly, day after day. Choosing the former rips and rends the social fabric; choosing the latter strengthens its warp and woof.

The far, far better course for our children, our nation, and ourselves is to run the risk of deception and disappointment and endure the errors and betrayals, which are, after all, humanity’s lot than to promote and practice aggression and suspicion. The first, more courageous, course offers the hope of revival and deliverance. The second, all too alluring, coursetoo commonly precedes cruelty and conflict. Whether we choose hostility or trust is completely up to us.

We, the people, are the true sovereigns in the Republic. Despite the relentless efforts of those who would divide us in order to rule us, we can strum the mystic chords of memory and summon to our aid the better angels of our nature. In years to come, will we look into the eyes of children we love about and tell them “We had the opportunity to make a difference, but lacked the courage to try?”

For the sake of the Republic and the land we love, let us rise and restore Power to the People. Let us remind Despicable Donald: "Time wounds all heels!"

Dao Is Never Done

Cosmos lays cloaked beneath apparent chaos; in all disorder abides a subtle order. All civilizations and all human beings, whatever their seeming cultural or conscious development, still harbor archaic remnants and tendencies beneath the stability and serenity. Just as the human body connects us with the mammals and displays numerous traits of shared evolutionary progress going back to at least the reptilian age, so human knowledge, understanding, wisdom, development, and culture are likewise products of evolution and vulnerable to devolution. The Dao is never done, and the story is never fully told while the world and life endure.

The way that can be named
is not the enduring way.
Dao is not the word; neither do our names
define nor limit us.
We, like truth, are not becoming;
we and truth are being!
Truth does not stop and start!
Truth streams and swirls.
The way of all truth
is the way for us all!
No one of us is what any one of us thinks.
No one of us is even what each of us thinks.
Neither is the whole truth or our full truth
what some say or what some call us.
Horrible slurs or noble honorifics
Hear all and heed none.
Neither the absolute truth
nor the fullness of our truths
are known or told until
time itself goes still!
DDJ Verse 1
R. Lawrence Conley