13 January, 2019

Make Every Day Count

I do not wish for pathways free of obstacles
Nor views unmarred by haze or fog.
I do not seek a life of ease on a bed of roses.
I do not wish to avoid bitter pangs of doubt, sorrow, and regret,
Nor to live a life free of pain or fear.
I do not wish for any of these.
They are not what truly matters.

My wish is for courage in times of trial.
When skies darken and dread descends upon us all
And others lose heart, and burdens and blame fall on me,
May I find a quantum of resolve.

And see a ray of light amidst the gloom
When all seems lost but life itself,
May every gift life has given me flourish anew,
And may I share this blossoming with all entrusted to my care.

May I always be a friend worthy of that name.
And have in my life others who are the same.
May we abide in trust,
Supporting one another in times of sorrow,
And rejoicing together in times of joy.

May we defy the storms of life side by side.
And exemplify solidarity in word and deed,
In days of triumph and hours of need.
May my presence be a gift
That enriches the lives of all I meet
And may their presence elevate and enlighten mine.

I have but one more wish:
In every moment of every day
May I feel the worth of life and be inspired
In every hour of serenity or stress,
May I feel the truth within me:
That where there is life,
there is time, and
Where there is time,
Hope, however slight, endures!
These are my wishes for me without any pause.
And for all of us - now and while yet breath draws!

Larry Conley

08 June 2018


30 November, 2018

Land of the Tree and the Home of the Knave


Here's to the State of Mississippi
For within its borders, evil draws no lines,
By researching its bloody history, countless atrocities you’ll find.
For the Confederacy still holds sway here; treason is heritage and bigotry is fine,
The calendar is lyin' when it reads the present time.
Whoa here's to every citizen you've poisoned the heart of,
Confederates find yourselves another country to be part of!

And here's to voters in Mississippi
They say liberals and centrists, don't begin to understand
While they tremble in subservience to Confederates, Neo-Nazis, and the Klan
Neither tears nor sweat can wash away the blood that stains 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,
Confederates find yourselves another country to be part of!

And here's to the apologists and publicists for Mississippi
While they're prattling and preaching to Mississippians that they don't have to care
Stoking resentments and hatreds among people everywhere
And every program or policy is derived from hatefulness and despair
There's not one among them who champions equality for all anytime or anywhere
Whoa here's to every citizen you've poisoned the heart of,
Confederates find yourselves another country to be part of!

And here's to politicians in Mississippi
The spewing of bigotry and racism has resumed with a roar
Biases are blinding them to justice as they praise the days of yore
As they spin out rationales for going back to how things were before
Behind their smiles and platitudes lurk injustices by the score
Oh, here's to every citizen you've poisoned the heart of,
Confederates find yourselves another country to be part of!

And, here's to Judges in Mississippi
Who wear robes of honor as they slither into the court
They staunchly guard all bastions of the Confederacy they support
And justice is a stranger to those with whom they all consort
Minority and women’s rights to these rogues in robes always come up short
Whoa here's to every citizen you've poisoned the heart of,
Confederates find yourselves another country to be part of!

And here's to officials in Mississippi
In the swamp of their hypocrisy, justice loses round after round
And criminals are posing as law enforcement in many towns
And they hope that no one sees the sights, and no one hears the sounds
And the speeches of senators and the governor and are the ravings of clowns
Oh, here's to the democracy you've torn out the heart of
Confederates find yourselves another country to be part of!

And here's to laws in Mississippi
Congress Members condone a Confederate winning the day
While the Constitution is drowning in an ocean of decay
Liberal student voters should be blocked, I've clearly heard them say
Yes, corruption can be classic in the Confederate way
Oh, here's to the civic life you've poisoned the heart of
Confederates find yourselves another country to be part of!

And here's to the preachers in Mississippi
Once doing unto others was proclaimed to be the way
But now patriotic blue has been switched to treasonous gray
And the Good Samaritan has been thrown into the dust
Heaven only knows what sort of God Confederates trust
Oh, here's to the citizens you've poisoned the heart of
Confederates find yourselves another country to be part of!

Note: this poem is an adaptation of the Phil Ochs song: https://youtu.be/WU3o9Tl7zTk

Photo Credits:



22 November, 2018

Thoughtful Thankfulness

On the fourth Thursday of November,
If tradition wins the day,
Many loved ones get together
To express gratitude in a special way.

With any luck, we are loved, not lonely;
We have some who are dear and near.
Before the feast lays upon the table
Let us try to see beyond the mirror.

Of course, we are grateful for family and friends
And all the goodness in our life,
Be we should also seriously consider
That these benefits came from strife.

America has been called the land of opportunity
For millions, this description has rung true
But, not so for countless of our compatriots
So, we as a society, have a great deal to do.

We should be thankful for judicial independence
And the right to organize, publish and protest
For these features of our heritage
Allow us to continue with America’s quest.

While words of gratitude are welcome
Works make that thankfulness real
For to our better and bravest Angels
Deeds make the highest and best appeal.

Although our times are severely troubled
This November we made strides toward a new start
Let us continue on this path confidently
For honor blooms in the cockles of every grateful heart.

We hold these truths to be self-evident:
That all are born free and equal
Now, by our lives, fortunes, and personal honor,
11-9-2016’s catastrophe shall not have a sequel!

Larry Conley
22 November 2018

Photo Credit: https://www.slideshare.net/monsterww/10-inspirational-veterans-quotes/11-As_we_express_our_gratitude

11 November, 2018

Remembrance Day

On the 11th of November,
Near the midpoint of the Fall
Let us pause and remember
All who served gave some,
And some who served gave all.

If we can read news and opinions,
In a free and independent press,
The bravest and best journalists
Will be the first to point out,
It is the veterans we must bless.

If we speak out and share opinions
And feel this is our right,
It is not the poets, but the warriors
Who made this possible,
By winning many a fearsome fight.

If we are willing to come together,
To demonstrate for what we think is true
It is the veteran, not the activist,
Who secured our freedom,
To do what we need to do.

If we can pray upon the Sabbath,
 And worship as we see fit.
It is not the clergy,
But the veterans,
We must thank for it!

When we challenge the boundaries
Of society’s behavioral and legal rules,
It was the veteran, not the lawyer,
Who ensured that we don’t get tried,
In Kangaroo Courts by knaves and fools.

If we participate in politics and elections,
And strive for outcomes we think best,
It is the veteran, not the demagogue
Who secured our right,
To take part in this fundamental Civics test!

On the 11th of November,
When we gaze at the unfurled flag
Let us pause and remember
For those who served and died in its service,
It is a standard, not a rag!

Larry Conley
11 November 2018

05 November, 2018

Blue the Vote!

Tomorrow is election day
The time has passed to fuss and fight
Though millions may do wrong
We are not exempt from doing right

Candidates lie without pause or shame
They’re mocking, slanderous, and malign
 The Klan rides again without the sheets
Principled patriots must now rise and shine

The children all of us hold dear
Their futures we must save from greed
If fear and hate win out
We will fail them in their time of need

This election is far from routine
What’s at stake is America’s heart  
If we listen to our better angels,
We will vote for a fresh, new start

Whether it takes a minute or an hour
Doing what’s right has real power
So, once you are inside that booth
Cast your vote bravely do not cower!

Tomorrow’s chance may be our last,
At least this much I’m sure is true
The country fate is on the ballot
And it is up to me and up to you!

Photo Credit: http://voteblue.blogspot.com/

30 October, 2018

Deadly Republican Lies - 2018!

                  There is a pessimistic perspective that views all politicians as liars. As with almost every cynical view, it is wildly inaccurate and grossly over generalized. In 21st-century America, however, one prominent group of politicians are persistent, bald-faced liars. That group is virtually every Republican candidate, office holder, and Party, officer. The party nickname, GOP is supposed to mean “Grand Old Party.” It would be more accurately rendered as - Greedy Odious Prevaricators.

       Tax Cuts, Revenues, and the Federal Deficit

                While it is not the first of the RepubliCON falsehoods, it is perhaps the most treacherous. Mitch McConnell – as practiced and persistent a liar as ever held office – had “total confidence the GOP tax cuts were revenue neutral.” He even thought it would increase revenue! In fact, it caused revenue shortfalls when placed in proper context.   Ted Cruz echoed the lie in a debate: “This time with that tax cut we see the result, and to date, federal tax revenues have gone up. Federal tax revenues are higher this year than they are last year without the tax cut."

                The newest federal data show that revenues rose between the fiscal years 2017 and 2018 by 0.4 percent. (Federal fiscal years run from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.) The increase is less than almost every previous year since World War II, except for a handful of years in which recessions caused tax revenues to decline. Also, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a group that favors shrinking the federal deficit, found that the small increase in nominal dollars collected disappears once you add in other factors. For example, adjusted for inflation, revenues fell by 1.6%. As a percentage of gross domestic product i. e., factoring in economic growth which should generate increased tax revenues proportionately — this measure fell by 4.1% over the first 11 months of the fiscal year. Finally, compared to the CBO’s projection of $3.531 trillion in tax collections based on population growth, inflation, wage growth, and other factors, tax revenue fell short of the forecast by 5.7%. Three strikes and the tax cut pays for itself lie is out!

The Press as the “enemy of the people.”

                  In his first 100 days, the Washington Post’s Fact Checker tracked Trump making 4.9 “false or misleading claims” — known to people who don’t have wary editors as “lies” — a day. That number has more than tripled to 15.4 in the last three months.” As a consequence of this fact-checking, DJT has asserted that the broadcast and print media who call out his lies are “Enemies of the People.” But Trump doesn’t slam the press to amuse himself or his base. He does it because his political future depends crucially on misleading people. His enemy is the truth, not the media. In this context, it is vital to remember and appreciate the following: “the Constitution specifically mentions freedom of the press for a reason — the press plays a critical mediating role in the functioning of a democratic society.” The ability of the media to report critically on incumbent officials’ actions is a big part of what makes the United States a land with representative governance rather than one within an authoritarian rule such as Saudi Arabia, North Korea, the Philippines, and Russia. DJT fails miserably, but not accidentally, to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. 

3.             Mob Rule

            At a rally in Minnesota last week, Trump said, “The Democrats are willing to               do anything, to hurt anyone, to get the power they so desperately crave.” Trump                   added, “They want to destroy.”

Conveniently, the party of Trump and the conservative Tea Party has amnesia regarding this behavior: Crowds at Trump campaign rallies have long chanted “Lock her up,” regarding 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. In recent days, they have switched to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who some Republicans have accused, without evidence, of leaking Dr. Ford’s letter claiming sexual assault by Nominee Kavanaugh.

Tea Party activists opposed to the Affordable Care Act noisily disrupted lawmakers’ town hall meetings across the country in summer 2009, booing and accusing Democrats of lying. One man in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, told a lawmaker that God will “judge you and the rest of your damned cronies on the Hill,” while a Boston woman demanded to know, “Why do you continue to support a Nazi policy?” Thousands of Tea Party demonstrators ringed the Capitol to protest the health care law and what they considered a wasteful, oversized federal government. These crowds dwarfed the hundreds or few thousand anti-Kavanaugh demonstrators, vented anger at times, shouting “Liar, liar” and waving signs. Black lawmakers were targeted by racial epithets and spat upon during a smaller rally by several thousand Tea Party supporters in March 2010, as Congress was voting on the health care legislation.

Keep in mind that the Republican Party often refers to itself as “strict constructionist” party when it comes to the Constitution. The truth is that our Founding Fathers were also worried about mob rule, even as they espoused that “all men are created equal. The Constitution was not written to launch a Democracy. As Franklin is purported to have said, the Constitution gave us a Republic if we could keep it.

Faced with majorities who oppose them and their efforts, conservatives have come up with a new nickname for this disapproving majority of the country: "the mob." This is part of a broader conservative strategy to convince Americans that the Constitution's counter-majoritarian features — meant to restrain the country’s majority from unduly oppressing minority factions — are actually antimajoritarian features meant to let the minority faction, temporarily in power, rule. In other words, they're trying to persuade Americans to stop believing in representative governance and accept oligarchic rule. This effort is not merely deceptive, it is a dishonorable, seditious, covert coup against America’s Foundational charter of governance!

                    Voter Fraud and Voter IDs

Republicans are older and whiter than the rest of the country. If they cannot broaden their demographic appeal, they are likely to lose power. Hence, they attempt to depict any opposition as illegitimate. This lust to hold on to power is behind the false and furious claims of voter fraud and the efforts to exclude voters by laws and regulations concerning voter identification. 

Allegations of widespread voter fraud, however, are greatly exaggerated. They grab headlines due to their lurid nature (“Tens of thousands may be voting illegally!”). Yet on closer examination, many of the claims of voter fraud amount to a great deal of smoke without much fire. The allegations do not pan out. 

“These inflated claims are not harmless. Crying “wolf” when the allegations are unsubstantiated distracts attention from real problems that need real solutions. The fixation on voter fraud distracts us from making real changes our elections need, from universal registration all the way down to sufficient parking at the poll site.”

Moreover, these claims of voter fraud are frequently used to justify policies that do not solve the alleged wrongs, but that often disenfranchise legitimate voters. Overly restrictive identification requirements for voters at the polls — which address a sort of voter fraud rarer than death by lightning — is the most prominent example.

So, the repeated shrieks about voter fraud are doubly deceptive. They are false alarms, to begin with, and dupe people into accepting policies and practices that undercut the validity and integrity of our elections rather than strengthening them!

Refugees as Threats, Invaders, and Criminals

National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, Aug.21, 2004: All but one of the nineteen hijackers presented visitor visas that immigration inspectors used to decide whether to admit them as tourists or on business. All but two of the nonpilots were admitted as tourists and were granted automatic six-month stays. This allowed them to maintain a legal immigration status through the end of the operation. One of the two nonpilots admitted on business was granted a one-month stay; he, along with another of the nonpilot operatives, was in violation of immigration law for months before the attack.

The one pilot who came in on a student visa never showed up for school, thereby violating the terms of his U.S. visa. Another of the pilots came in on a tourist visa yet began flight school immediately, also breaking the terms of his U.S. visa. This pilot came in a total of seven times on a tourist visa while in school. In both cases, the pilots violated the law after their entry into the United States.

The nineteen 911 hijackers came to and stayed in the United States on visas. Fifteen came from Saudi Arabia, two came from the United Arab Emirates, and one each came from Egypt and Lebanon. Not a one came with numerous refugees crossing the Southern border. Therefore, history does not suggest in any way that “Middle Eastern” people come to the United States as part a crowd of refugees from Central American violence.

In truth, the people in the much-maligned caravan and those before them are fleeing countries with the highest homicide rates in the region and the world. 

                    Incidentally, the gangs Republicans love to loathe, both were formed in Los Angeles: M-18 in the 1960s by Mexican youth, and MS-13 in the 1980s by Salvadorans who had fled the civil war. MS-13 and M-18 are the region’s largest gangs. They are estimated to have as many as eighty-five thousand members in total. Their presence in Central America grew in the mid-1990s following large-scale deportations from the United States of undocumented immigrants with criminal records. The Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates there are ten thousand MS-13 members in the United States.

                  On 18 October 2018 the extreme-right legal advocacy organization Judicial Watch published an article headlined “100 ISIS Terrorists Caught in Guatemala as Central American Caravan Heads to the U.S.,” suggesting an alarming confluence of events:

                 On 11 October 2018, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales announced that his government had arrested and deported 100 people “highly linked to terrorist groups, specifically ISIS.” This statement was reported by the Guatemalan newspaper Prensa Libre in a report aggregated by Judicial Watch. One day later, on 12 October 2018, about 160 people formed a growing migrant caravan in Honduras with plans to cross through Guatemala and then Mexico to seek asylum in the United States. The caravan didn’t cross the Guatemalan border until 15 October 2018, meaning the ISIS-linked individuals apprehended and deported by Guatemalan authorities were gone well before the caravan ever reached that country.

               President Donald Trump later tweeted that “unknown Middle Easterners” were among the migrants traveling north, but he offered no evidence for the claim. NBC News reported: “there is no evidence that any Middle Eastern terrorists are hiding in the caravan.” Journalists traveling alongside it and caravan participants themselves have refuted having knowledge of any “unknown Middle Easterners” traveling among them.

              Lastly, refugees are not criminals. In fact, modern refugee law, like international human rights law, has its origins in the aftermath of World War II as well as the refugee crises of the interwar years that preceded it. Article 14(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which was adopted in 1948, guarantees the right to seek and enjoy asylum in other countries. Subsequent regional human rights instruments have elaborated on this right, guaranteeing the “right to seek and be granted asylum in a foreign territory, in accordance with the legislation of the state and international conventions.”

              Under 8 U.S. Code § 1158 – Asylum any alien who is physically present in the Unit Any alien who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States (whether or not at a designated port of arrival and including an alien who is brought to the United States after having been interdicted in international or United States waters), irrespective of such alien’s status, may apply for asylum in accordance with this section or, where applicable, section 1225(b) of this title. People doing what both International and American law say they have a right to do are not lawbreakers and their actions are not criminal. 

                The Healthcare and Pre-Existing Conditions

              “Republican officials, who have spent the last eight-plus years trying to undermine and repeal the Affordable Care Act and its provisions protecting those with pre-existing conditions, have in recent weeks been saying they are not actually doing the things they are doing.” As usual, BLOTUS aka as Donald Trump, took this to a ridiculous level last week when he tweeted: “Republicans will totally protect people with Pre-Existing Conditions, Democrats will not! Vote Republican.”

               Let’s get this out of the way first: Democrats don’t have to do anything to protect people with pre-existing conditions because they already did. That law is called the Affordable Care Act, and then-President Barack Obama signed it on March 23, 2010. 

              Trump and Republicans, however, are pushing the gravest threat to the ACA’s promise that even people who’ve been sick can get health insurance through a lawsuit brought by Republican officials in Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The attorneys general in these states, most with the approval of their GOP governors, are trying to get the entire Affordable Care Act thrown out on dubious grounds. Even more abhorrently, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is asking a federal judge to leave most of the law in place, except for the parts about protecting people with pre-existing conditions. No, really. Trump’s Attorney General is helping other Republicans eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions!

             Furthermore, the Trump administration has taken numerous steps to worsen the health insurance market for people with pre-existing conditions. It is allowing insurers to sell more so-called short-term policies, which insurers can refuse to sell to people with pre-existing conditions. It wants to permit states to set aside the ACA’s insurance regulations and set up new markets for policies that people with pre-existing conditions can’t buy. At the state level, Iowa and Tennessee already have parallel insurance markets that allow insurers to turn away people with pre-existing conditions, and Idaho wants to join them.

            And even though GOP candidates want everyone to forget, let’s remember what Congress did last year: The American Health Care Act ― the ACA repeal-and-replace bill that the House passed was explicitly designed to make it harder for people with pre-existing conditions to get and keep their health insurance.  This bill would have meant 23 million more uninsured people by 2026, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The failed Senate Obamacare repeal bill authored by GOP Sens. Bill Cassidy (La.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) was the same.

            Finally, Last year, Trump triumphantly signed a massive tax cut bill. The GOP line when this legislation was going through Congress was that it would pay for itself. It did not. It predictably blew a giant hole in the budget and increased the deficit.

           Predictably the Republican solution is to cut. Of course, that’s the solution. Mitch McConnell told Bloomberg TV “It’s very disturbing and it’s driven by the three big entitlement programs that are very popular ― Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid.” 

          Don’t be surprised. Gingrich planned to let traditional Medicare “wither on the vine,” as he put in 1996, more than 20 years ago. Paul Ryan may be retiring from Congress, but his 2012 plan and later versions to slash Medicare and replace it with a voucher system remain popular among fellow GOP politicians, even though they tend to hide this during election years. Or even straight-up lie about it.

            The Economy and Return on Investment

           As with so much else, BLOTUS is willfully deceptive concerning the economy: 
“The Stock Market is up massively since the Election, but is now taking a little pause - people want to see what happens with the Midterms. If you want your Stocks to go down, I strongly suggest voting Democrat. They like the Venezuela financial model, High Taxes & Open Borders!”

          The problem is “in a paper released by the National Bureau of Economic Research, Princeton economists Alan Blinder and Mark Watson dig into data stretching back to World War II to measure the magnitude of the gap in economic performance during Democratic and Republican administrations …
         They found that the gap in economic performance was, “startlingly large.” They write: 
“The U.S. economy not only grows faster, according to real GDP and other measures, during Democratic versus Republican presidencies, it also produces more jobs, lowers the unemployment rate, generates higher corporate profits and investment, and turns in higher stock market returns. Indeed, it outperforms under almost all standard macroeconomic metrics.”

The graph below illustrates the gap in economic performance, as measured by GDP growth:

           Bill Clinton talked this in Charlotte in 2012. He connected these results to Democratic values.
“It turns out that advancing equal opportunity and economic empowerment is both morally right and good economics, because discrimination, poverty, and ignorance restrict growth, while investments in education, infrastructure, and scientific and technological research increase it, creating more good jobs and new wealth for all of us.”

          President Clinton was right then and is right still. Americans may have sailed from different shores in different ships under vastly different circumstances, but we are all in the same boat now. All of us will be better served if people who understand this truth, are elected to preserve, protect, and defend governance of, by, and for the people!

Photo credits: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwiY-vi3zZreAhUF64MKHRwBDD0QjRx6BAgBEAU&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.heraldnet.com%2Fopinion%2Feditorial-cartoons-for-sunday-oct-21%2F&psig=AOvVaw1Z7K_37LQbUAzz6Z-xXS0m&ust=1540316814481123