Archive for April, 2011

I’m running for President!

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

I do not expect to win. I will not form committees, solicit contributions, or vie for screen time with more formal candidates. I will, if elected, be a better president than any of them. I have, I confess, spent my professional career as, well, a businessman. That’s lousy training for an elected official. But the operations of government are appropriately conducted by civil servants. The role of the president is to encourage the people, and make the guiding decisions. Qualifications for president concern judgment and character. I haven’t tried to trademark my name, borrowed money to open a casino, or spied on innocent Americans in their own homes. I have courage, understanding, and a firm belief America exists for our middle class. Which includes you.

I think you should run for President, too. Ignore the antique nominating process. Announce your candidacy and address the issues, on your social network! The country needs you. We’ll quickly identify – without the billions spent by corporations to elect their friends – which candidate Americans want, from who attracts the most on-line support. You can change the nation. Announce yourself. Tell us where you stand.

I address six issues in my campaign: employment, retirement, health care, energy, environment, and war. Constituents have many other concerns, but these are the issues that determine life for our middle class. Maybe you’re upset about education, gun control, or immigration policy. Maybe you cast your vote for the right position on abortion, same-sex marriage, or paying the federal debt. Look for a different candidate. I’m for the rebirth of democracy in the United States. I’m for the prosperity of the middle class.

God’s will be done.

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Republicans scoff at the Democrats for trying. Hopeless arrogance, they call it. The world is controlled by invisible forcesĀ  – either ‘markets’ or the ‘Lord God,’ depending on the section of their grandstand you’re cheering from. There’s nothing we can do about it. The Democrats have elected a man who openly violates the Constitution, and traded the prosperity of the nation for the good will of a few bankers. No American of conscience will vote for him a second time.

What, then, is an American of conscience to do?

Thrice

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

The power of enduring religious faith is the single story of human experience. Every other narrative is simply rephrasing. And how. Everyone who ever sought power for themselves fell into envy of the invisible Thing, before whom people bowed and waited. Scientists observe, and describe the remarkable re-ascendence of disembodied beliefs, passed from parent to child, which revive again and again to guide their faithful, as the ‘absolute’ rulers of history rot in the soil.

It is our own story, too, lived in small against the backdrop of eons. We cannot know what is true. We only choose to believe. Even those who believe themselves transformed completely, even ‘born again,’ feel simply they have come home. And the envy is with us, also. Many want to believe we are our own power, switched-on molecular configurations fated only to be…switched off.

The smartest of us recognize all this, and twist the simple faith of people to our temporary purpose while we can. So we have churches promoting Republicans today, to their success, while Democrats are embarrassed by religion, and ignore the country’s controlling votes. All of this is fine. All of this is wonderful. The final surprise of all our lives is always the same. That which created and loves us, is real!

Speaking is easy. Saying is hard.

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

I’m sure I have something to say. I even know what it is. Then, I think about the person I’m talking to. I open my mouth to speak. Out comes something else. The writing I do here is relentlessly the same. I want to say, ‘I’m sure we’re okay.’ Out comes, ‘we’re in great danger.’ I want to say, ‘the future is ours.’ But instead, ‘we’ve lost the war.’ I want, ‘keep your faith!’ But here it is: ‘you might as well give up.’

It comes from thinking about my audience, instead of just rushing ahead with my intent. I feel capable of anything. I look at you and figure, maybe not. From the people I bump into everyday to those I see only on TV, everyone is complaining, and cynical, and sure somebody else is to blame. But we started telling ourselves, decades ago, we were going to borrow too much to have our own Social Security. We said it before we borrowed too much. Then we borrowed anyway, just to prove ourselves right. Every so-called ‘problem’ we have now is the same: we made it up.

I just want to say we can simply decide to fix things. It would be easy. We’d all be healthier, and happier, and live longer. The future would be bright. Look at what people are scared of. It’s hard to believe we don’t choose to suffer. Why do we hate ourselves so much?

Three pieces with a harbor view

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

I’m sitting behind a window over a little harbor, a fishing boat going by. In the lobby, last night, the clerk asked me to check a box agreeing to an extra ten dollars, if there ‘is another person.’ I was confused, then realized when men my age check into a hotel, alone for three weekend nights, they’re often meeting someone. I wished the form made sense. I wished some pretty woman were waiting for me at this port. One who doesn’t already know every idea I’ve ever had. Someone who looks at me and sees more than a list of things she wants me to do.

That’s an intense moment, and never really goes away. I can’t make sense of who I am without my wife, any more. At odd, unexpected points in any day, I imagine her face and smile out loud. Seeing her happy makes me soft and contented. She is where I am; where I hope I’ll always stay. We’ll grow into our sagging, white, crippled flesh together, and I’ll hold her hand and kiss her eyelids while she rattles her last breath.

I am old enough, my life isn’t what I am any more. It’s what I was. I didn’t do what I thought I wanted. I didn’t do what I knew I could. A thousand inconveniences got in the way. A thousand complications took up my time. I looked in the mirror this morning, and realized, partly my life’s been easy because, well, I’m a good looking guy. I remember the boy who wanted so much. I was so excited, looking forward to it. But I didn’t do that. I did something else. Nobody’s fault but my own.

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At night, I lie on some bed with my family and pray. Dear Lord. Hear my plea. I mean it.

I preach to my family. I preach to myself. I preach to you. Two days ago I was enraged by my child at dinner. I yelled at him. I swore at him. I called him names. He was confused, and frightened, and mad. He can be as mean as I am, now. His mother sat beside him, defending him. Every nasty accusation I made was met by equally thoughtless retorts. I looked across the table and yelled at my family. I couldn’t even hear the words. I saw their mouths open, angrily, yelling back. ‘At least they’re not afraid of me,’ I thought, even proud of myself. The angry adults had terrified me, when I was a kid.

My heart just sobs. It’s not the first time I’ve been mean. My prayers make a mockery of my faith. I can’t go to the family bed. My children learn not what I teach, but what I do. This is what I have done. I want to declare it’s actually the right thing. I want to blame my poor kid, and justify my despair on holy principles. I want to wage war and cause suffering, so people know how I feel. I’m fastidious and thoughtful. I check everyone’s schedule. I finish up some clerical work. Wash the dishes. Leave a note. And drive far away.

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When I was a young man I had a young dog, and it disobeyed and I punished. It was a puppy, so of course it continued to disobey. And I to punish. Then one day, I reached out to strike, and it turned mean. It’s a big God, indeed, who will forgive a thing like that. I don’t beat my children, so I can’t make the same mistake with them. But of course I have. I’ve just done it with words. I think up the worst labels I can, and I call my son those, thinking, ‘he won’t want to be those, so he’ll change.’ Unh-uh. He just feels like hell inside, thinks I hate him, thinks up the worst labels he can (usually my own words) and calls me those, too.

When I was a kid I read a lot of books, and plenty had stories of terrible fathers. Terrible fathers and anxious mothers, privately telling their sons that Father is trying to be good. He means well. He’s just doing what he thinks is right. He really loves you. What a joke.

At least now I know how it happens (I guess the stories couldn’t change the inevitable). I do know my child will grow up. I do know what my child will want. He’ll want appreciation, recognition, and a whole lot of love. He’ll want the deep satisfaction of doing well the things he was created able to do. He’ll get those, if he does get them, through hard work, self-sacrifice, and honesty. A little boy isn’t hard working, self-sacrificing, or even honest. He’s a little boy. But you’ve got to get the lesson, kid. Failure is pretty horrible. This is Fear, cursing at you across the table. Your dad is an old guy, who knows. All your talent and promise is dead weight that will drown you. Wake up!

Is lettuce a green, leafy vegetable?

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

We learn about ourselves from the company we keep. I don’t keep much. So there I was, getting old, listening to myself think. I congratulated myself on my own ideas. I laughed at my own jokes. Occasionally, I bummed out with nobody bothering me. I began to wonder who I am.

There might be something more than what you see, when you look at me. There might be. But this an exciting age, full of so many facts and ideas. We can prove anything we want. Even that we’re not really here. I’m familiar with the sense of being something. I’ve watched people pound their fists declaring a point, and I’ve known they felt it, too. But I can’t see yesterday’s me today. I can’t be too sure I even was, then.

So I thought I might write about it. About anything, really, that came to mind. To see, as time passed, if words built up into a pile of anything recognizably myself. I wondered if I would be able to read, from yesterday, the words I might use if I spoke again on the question today.

So I have done. And you know? I’m comfortable with how I look. I’m more religious than I thought. I’m less fanciful and funny. Sigh. And I’m clearly concerned for my country. Maybe that’s just loving my kids. But there I am, starting to pile up. I think I’ll have more to say.

The big lie

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Free market capitalism is the very best way of doing things. Over and over, history proves the other ways end up with governments telling people what to do.

Free market capitalism works because we all get to do what we choose. We benefit according to how good we are at it. Each person sells whatever we’ve got – maybe it’s a skill or a product – without interference from the government. Since we all compete equally in the market – without government regulation – things are bought and sold at the fairest prices. This way, our whole society gets more benefit than possible using any other system.

Of course people still suffer. Some people always have to suffer. But if governments stay out of things, then the smallest number of people suffer, and they suffer less.

Campaign 2012 (5)

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

A working person who votes for a Republican is a stupid person. That’s a fact.

Republicans repeatedly say jobs will have to be sacrificed to pay debts. They promote an anti-middle class autocracy. They advertise it with every speech they give.

As Democrats, christian socialists believe the prosperity of the middle class is the reason we built this nation. Big business is inevitably bad business. Of course it’s better to have a few dozen small companies in an industry, than two or three giant bureaucracies. They hire more people. They build stronger communities. They make better products. They actually compete. Banks too big to fail are simply criminal. No amount of profit to the already rich can make it right.