Mr. Trump, It Is No Longer ‘The Art of the Deal’

In another cynical example of how brilliant he is at the art of the (crooked) deal, Mr. Trump — by rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — is effectively holding some 800,000 young Dreamers, for who he professes to have “great love” and a “great heart,” as hostages to achieve his side of the deal.

In a cold, cruel decision (one he “didn’t have the spine to announce” himself), Trump is using these vulnerable, young human beings as pawns — bargaining chips — allegedly to get “comprehensive immigration reform” – something he knows darn well a do-nothing Congress cannot do in six months. It is a sinister reality that this sham is just part of his devious plan to get his beloved “big, beautiful wall” built.

The question arises, when will this President of the United States grasp the fact that it is no longer the art of the deal but, rather, the responsibility of governing; that it is no longer how much he can do for himself and his fortunes, but, rather, how much he can do for all the people and for keeping America Great.

America has been, from its very beginnings, by and for “We the People,” not by and for a “malignant narcissist.”

My good friend, a patriot, expresses such sentiments much better than this author can – and in the form or a poem:

Mr. President: “We the people” do say
Lead, Follow or Get out of the way!

You were elected to lead this country: not from responsibility to duck
Stand up like a man: do your job: don’t pass the buck
It’s no longer Pro Wrestling, Beauty Pageants or Reality TV
Where you made appearances just to puff up your image: for all to see

Why bring up and then punt on the “Dreamer Act” in such a cowardly way?
With all the critical issues facing the nation: are you trying to draw attention away?
“I care” you say: but to Congress you delegate: if they fail you hint: “I’ll fix it anyway”
What’s the point? Why the timing? Is it just for your base? Just politics to play?

“We the people” are now tired of your excuses and passing the blame
What have you actually done? By our count you record is historically lame
Your “Dreamers” story line is we must respect the law: there are no exceptions!
But on your Sheriff Joe pardon: You had a base to please: You only think of re-election

Let’s face it: the majority of this nation clearly sees you as deep down shallow
You have no principles: you just bend in the wind: it’s in self-aggrandizement you wallow
Your White House staff is in total disarray: as you tweeter they have no idea what to say
You insult and disavow what your cabinet says: even “your” Congress you betray!

While major issues face this nation: you are missing from your duty station
You do not lead: it’s others that have to take the heat: from responsibility, you retreat
You do not follow: given good advice: you ignore it: you back stab instead of following it
You’re a total disgrace: It’s not for the general public you care: Just your racist base!

So, Mr. President, your option is clear: “We the people” say: GET OUT OF THE WAY!

Lead image: Cover of “A Clear and Present Danger: Narcissism in the Era of Donald Trump,” a book about narcissism in world history and politics – including today – written by psychiatrists, doctors, psychologists, including “a notable storyteller, author, clinical-psychologist” Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés, who is known as “Dr. E.” and is The Moderate Voice’s Managing Editor

Cross-posted on The Huffington Post

Harking Back to Moral Leadership

PX 65-105:179

In the aftermath of the Charlottesville tragedies (pl.) and of Trump’s cowardly attempts to not ruffle his “alt-right” base’s feathers, many comparisons have been made of Trump’s faintheartedness to the words, moral leadership and clarity of past presidents.

One of the most oft-quoted, pertinent statements on moral leadership I have seen in the past few days is the one President John F. Kennedy made in Bonn, Germany, on June 24, 1963.

Dante once said that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality.

Another statement that struck me is one, not by a president, but by a respected, American journalist and political commentator, E. J. Dionne Jr., referring to Trump’s refusal to clearly identify the bigots and domestic terrorist in Charlottesville:

A president who cannot bring himself to say this immediately and unequivocally squanders any claim to moral leadership.

But it is not only former presidents who are being quoted or journalists who are speaking out about the current president’s moral weakness.

“Regular” Americans, by the tens of thousands, are expressing their outrage at and disappointment with this morally-lacking president.

While one does not have to be a poet to express such feelings well, it always looks and sounds better in poetry form.

Here is my good friend and patriot doing what he does so well, speaking from the heart and from decades of brave and devoted service to his country, recalling the words, character and courage of a great President.

“Ask not what your country can do for you
Ask what you can do for your country”

JFK’s wise and inspiring words still in our memories glisten
But it’s sad; it’s pathetic that Donald J. didn’t listen
As the least prepared and most ineffective President we ever did see
His sole focus is me, me, and me

No business interests did he flee: we’re still waiting for his tax returns to see
Fortunately, his shady business past: is being investigated at last
While he blusters, backstabs and insults: he has produced no promised results
His ever-changing administration is lame: and it’s others he does blame

Now his inner circle: “in them he trusts”: is his family that he holds tight
And a strange sloppy figure: Steve Bannon of the Alt-Right
So, when the KKK, Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists our values debase
Trump doesn’t immediately chastise them: they are part of his “base”

“I’d like to punch him in the face”: he jeered at a campaign event
An inflammatory dialogue of hate and violence is the message he sent
His staff has to re-write his comments: to “explain what he meant”
But the thinking public can easily see: just other examples of his hypocrisy

Trump’s “fire and fury” comment reflect his knee-jerk bullying ways
Not the calm and calculated approach by JFK: in the Cuban Crisis days
A blockade he set up: but it was negotiations he was about
While resisting “pull the trigger” advice: he compromised to make things nice

JFK, a war hero and experienced Senator of note: played just the right note
He knew how to close a deal: not like Trump who just blusters and squeals
His unannounced agreement to meet Kremlin’s desired “deal closer”
Moving U.S. missiles from Turkey was gutsy and quickly the crisis was over

He was articulate and cerebral: a book reader and writer: no TV nor Twitter for he
On civil rights, he took a courageous stand: no fawning to extremist of the land
Born to wealth: it was service to his country: not riches for himself
No President’s pay did he take: but unlike Trump: no publicity stunt did he make

Now I make the above comparisons: because I’m a concerned American
We all need to demand a return to normalcy: after all we are a Democracy
I hope that Trump’s shady dealings will be exposed in the current investigations
If not, then it’s our duty to hold him to account: and in 2020 to vote him out

Lead photo, credit John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

(UPDATE) ‘Semper Fi’ in a Trump White House

Gen. John F. Kelly

Update:

Margaret Sullivan at the Washington Post believes that an even tougher job for new White House Chief of Staff, General John Kelly, than bringing order and discipline to the people’s house might be “hacking through the thicket of lies that the Trump White House produces…”

“The prospects for that are grim,” says Sullivan, mentioning both the Post’s and the New York Times’ catalogues of lies and prevarications.

But, just as my friend the poet mentions below, General Kelly could turn for inspiration to the Marine Corps values “that presumably guided his decorated military career,” the bedrock being honor: “…the quality that empowers Marines to exemplify the ultimate in ethical and moral behavior: to never lie, cheat, or steal; to abide by an uncompromising code of integrity…”

Referring to the title of her column, “Here’s a sword, General Kelly. Use it on the White House lies,” Sullivan concludes:

It’s hard to imagine how that admirable ethos and this mendacious White House can coexist for very long. If there’s a sword involved, Kelly may have to fall on it.

Original post:

The Wall Street Journal, along with other publications, has some positive reviews of how the new White House Chief of Staff, retired four-star general John Kelly, is doing in his new job.

The question now is, says the Journal, “whether or for how long the new discipline can last,” in view of how the president revels “in chaos and [enjoys] public competition among his top advisers” and points out, “There are limits to what Mr. Kelly can control, with Mr. Trump’s Twitter account the most visible example.”

On the latter, Trump’s impulsive tweeting, “news articles and policy proposals will first be run through Mr. Kelly, in part to reduce the risk of erroneous material appearing on the presidential Twitter feed,” according to a White House official.

Also according to a White House official, the new Chief of Staff has been “very clear that he’s here to manage the staff, not to manage the president.”

My good friend, a Viet Nam combat veteran who was assigned to White House duties in the 70’s during the Nixon and Ford years, has a slightly different take, in a poetic form, with emphasis on Duty, Honor, Country:

How long will this “honeymoon” last?
With General Kelly as Trump’s Chief of Staff

Now it’s only speculation: the appointment of Kelly has led to optimistic expectations
As the Marine joins the scene: as Chief of staff in a White House both chaotic and mean
Can we expect “Semper Fidelis” loyalty: from the White House Royalty?
Or will his support slip away: As Trump continues his fickle Tweeter ways

The “yes sir; no sir; I don’t know sir, but I’ll find out sir” disciplined approach could work out
If the Commander-in-Chief exercised any discipline on things he talks about
How do you maintain discipline? Unless you start at the top: otherwise it’ll turn out a flop
Examples must be set: rigor in daily actions met: and honesty has to be the policy: full stop!

Gen. McArthur’s words as he “faded away”: despite being fired by Truman: had many a fan
Duty requires disobeying an illegal or morally wrong command: one needs to take a stand
Honor requires moral strength, unwavering against dictates: even from the highest placed man
Country first: We swear a loyalty oath not to a President, but to the constitution of the land

Trump demands Loyalty from all: if you don’t deliver you’ll fall
His record of returning the loyalty to those beneath: except for family: has been nothing at all
If you just “cow-tow” to your boss’s dictates: no real airing of the issues will it facilitate
Loyalty is a two-way street: honest disagreements you need to air: to get solutions effective and fair

“One-way” loyalty might just be fine: If you’re running a private company: Ok, it’s not a crime
But managing a complex country without including dissenting voices: can lead to disastrous choices
Trump’s zero results from a Congress he “controls” is a prime example of “one-way”
He lifted not a finger to push his healthcare Bill: then to them “you’re disloyal” he did say

Trump had his ten-day wonder “The Mooch”: who turned out to be the proverbial “Pooch”
Comey, Priebus, Spicer and others yell: come join us: it’s great down here under the bus
While Sessions just titters on the curb: suffering insulting Trump Tweeter blurbs
And Republican Senators revolt: giving Trump’s Agenda a devastating jolt

So, Mister President: as any combat experienced Marine would say:
Lead, follow or get out of the way!
You have not been a Leader: just a prolific misleader
Loyalty has to be two-way: just changing a Chief of Staff won’t make your problems go away!

Six Months of Presidential Lies and Paralysis

As Trump reaches his six-months-in-office milestone, many commentaries have been written about his performance – some good, some not so good.

However, in one area – honesty – the reviews are uniformly damning.

So bad that several news sources used the six-month mark as an opportunity to update their definitive “catalogues” of lies.

Here is the New York Times’ updated list.

Commenting on it, David Leonhardt says:

Many Americans have become accustomed to President Trump’s lies. But as regular as they have become, the country should not allow itself to become numb to them. So we have catalogued nearly every outright lie he has told publicly since taking the oath of office. Updated July 20: The president is still lying, so we’ve added to this list, and provided links to the facts in each case.

The Washington Post updates its “catalogue” here.

The Post notes:

So it goes with Trump, the most fact-challenged politician that The Fact Checker has ever encountered. As part of our coverage of the president’s first 100 days, The Fact Checker team (along with Leslie Shapiro and Kaeti Hinck of the Post graphics department) produced an interactive graphic that displayed a running list of every false or misleading statement made by the president. He averaged 4.9 false or misleading claims a day.

Readers encouraged us to keep the list going for the president’s first year. So at the six-month mark, the president’s tally stands at 836 false or misleading claims. That’s an average of 4.6 claims a day, not far off his first 100-day pace.

Here is another six-month review by my friend, the poet, who has had experience with Russia and the Russians since the 70’s.

Six Months In, Trump’s Accomplishments are Thin
While Political Controversy Paralyzes His Presidency

No need to waste many a line
To re-cap Trump’s accomplishments versus his promises in rhyme
No wall: repeal and replace: tax cuts: infrastructure plan: full Muslim bans
Nothing of substance passed through his Party’s majority controlled hands

Ok, a new Conservative Supreme Court Justice he did nominate
And a bunch of “Obama” regulations he did invalidate
But for one that took credit as a great negotiator in the Art of the Deal
His lack of ability to successfully negotiate with his own party shows his claim is not real

He dug his own grave when he fired Comey: his changing reasons led to lots of confusion
Was it because he had some evidence of collusion? Some would see this as a logical conclusion
But his impulsive act led to a Special Counsel: now he’s open for everything
From simple collusion; obstruction of justice: tax fraud: racketeering and money laundering

It doesn’t take a “Dick Tracey” to follow his “shady” long time Russian connections
In Trump’s business deals, even back to the 80’s, that could have affected the 2016 elections
The President has yet to release his tax returns and is yet to his businesses divest
So my conclusion: It smells like at least collusion: It’s tied to his family’s business incest

As we get into details of Trump’s Real Estate schemes
Could they include money-laundering machines?
No wonder there is a connection to the Kremlin
For that’s where most of the dirty cash did Rush-IN

Now Don Junior’s almost laughable double speak on his recent Russian meeting
First it was a ridiculous “didn’t happen event,” but now we know how many were seating
And who in the world would believe the President did not know and support
Long time Russian connections to Dad are evidenced, with video, in many a news report

Now even Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is under the gun
Exxon Mobile is being sued for violating U.S. sanctions on Russia: a company he did run
Then there is Flynn, Kushner, Manafort, Page, Stone and Sessions to name a few
Who had Russian connections reluctantly acknowledged: will even more come into view?

Meanwhile our President: seems essentially absent
In the governing of our great country; no true leadership has he lent
He tweets insults to all: complains about things and boastfully claims he is a hero
But as policy producing leader or an active participant he’s nowhere: he is a zero

The ‘Cruelty’ of Trump – Two Takes

In this week’s New York Times Sunday Review, Maureen Dowd calls Trump’s latest sexist escapade part of “cruelty on a Grand Guignol scale” and recounts just a few of this man’s cruel remarks and actions such as his vile “taped boasting about assaulting women and his habit of rating women’s looks on a 1-to-10 scale,” his viciously mocking of a disabled Times reporter, his obsession with bodily fluids, especially women’s “hormonal” ones, etc.

It is almost revolting reading, not because of how it is written, but because of what it tells us about the man we call “our president.”

Dowd concludes:

Of course, since Trump and some of those close to him have such an elastic relationship with the truth, and since some staffers have been known to feed journalists false details just to mess with them, you can never be sure of anything that comes out of this White House.

Except the cruelty.

…and except for the vulgar tweet certainly to be aimed at Maureen Dowd by “our president.”

Talking about presidential tweets, here is what a friend*, a patriot, has to say in poetic form.

He has to fight back — “they” are on the attack
But who’s “out to lunch” — who threw the first punch?

Over 30,000 Trump tweets have been stacked and racked — on people and things he attacked
McCain was no war hero, the endless number of people he called a zero
Multiple times it was “fake news”, loser, dumb, dopey, fool — bully words used in grammar school
So now he’s in a snit, can’t he recognize he started “it”?

As he struts about in an oversized suit with dangling ties, we’re kept busy adding up his lies
We see a buffoon with a comb-over hairstyle and a face painted orange with white rings around his eyes
Can’t this bizarre rich “man-boy” with such thin skin: know that with insults you don’t win?
If he continues to act as the “class clown”, his disapproval ratings won’t go down

The world’s laughing at the USA he does claim, but he’s the laughing stock: it’s at him they aim
His administration is in a shamble: while he on impulsive and insulting tweets does ramble
To get his attention you need to gush compliments: on his yet-to-be “accomplishments”
His contributions to Obama care repeal and replace were zip; he reportedly did know what was in it

So here we have a man well versed in the etiquette of Pro Wrestling and Reality TV
Who’s trying to fit into the serious job of President: but all he can do is think about me, me, and me
He out-sources the job of policy making: so he can focus on “mud-raking”
Don’t bother me with the details — that’s no fun: I’ve got TV to watch and family businesses to run

So, while his Press Office can’t figure out what to say
He is out there mixing it up in a self-promoting publicity fray
He says he needs to fight back — the fake news press in on the attack
But he ignores the fact that it’s he that is “out to lunch”: it’s he that threw the first punch!

* The author is a Viet Nam combat veteran who was assigned to White House duties in the 70’s during the Nixon and Ford years and later travelled to and marketed US products throughout Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

Lead image credit: donkeyhotey.com

Yara (with intro by Dr. E)

Dr. Arif writes, knowing the editor in chief of this blog is from ancient Judaic people, and that I, managing editor, am a crypto Jew Christian derived from our own ancient people as well. Dr. Arif who is one of our writers at The Moderate Voice, is also from an ancient people: he is a Muslim.

In a recent note to us, he wrote “You know my writings and thinking ,in that we are People before we are Religions and Countries. Being a member of One Universal People family, is more important for me than our divisions.”

It is concurred that in our many conversations over the years, we most often place human race, before any particular race, and place devotion to higher values before any label of nationality, heritage, religion, while striving to honour many aspects of the latter.

It is also true that, from my part, there may not be a Muslim God, nor a Christian God, nor a Jewish God, nor Hindu Gods, nor other. Rather, striving to abide in Live and Let Live, abiding insofar as possible in peaceful heart and open mind, but not so open one’s brain falls out, and not so closed one’s brain turns black and dies. Same for the heart, the mind, the spirit, the soul and the body.

“There are many things in a day’s work to disagree about, especially those things we have no power over, and not even with. But we do carry the power over our attitudes, our mercies, our finding laughter with others, sharing music with one another, and caring for one another the universals that most often leap over the trip wires placed by those who want us to keep to smaller minds in order to divide us. Von Clauschvitz, the Tao te Ching, Patton and others, all war strategists said time and again, if you can get a people to turn against each other, you can take their country from them.

I say we foil the dividers and in that spirit, here is Dr. Ahmad’s poem Yara.

kindest regards,
dr.e.


Yara>

Out in the wilderness, and this feeling
The rhythm, and this something
All around in them all being
With no beginning,
or end
My own though inevitable, impending

Miracles large and small
Here nothing on show is in my control
So much life so full of life
Silver exuding moon, sun pouring gold
The umpteen shades of green
Smiling for no reason, crazy I ain’t

Still that presence
One calming influence
Feel it at times
Besides my weight in sins
Yes
Yara
Bandeya
Bulleya
What is Taqwa?
Is this Khuda?

Footnote:
Khuda is God.
Taqwa is God consciousness.
Bulleya is Bulleh Shah, a Sufi, poet, philosopher of the yester years.
Bandeya a person, a creation of the Divine.
Yara is an informal close friend.

PHOTO via StockSnap.io

Who do your trust? Comey or the “Phoney?” (Guest Poetry Commentary)


Who do you trust? Comey or the “Phony”
by a Combat veteran and Patriot

Trump fired Comey and called him a few names to please his base
A “show boater”, a “grand stander” and a “nut case”
He claimed the FBI was in total disarray and morale was in the pits
And Comey was a “leaker”: those were just some of his choice bits

Talk about disarray and morale in the dumps: the administration of Trump
“Totally illegal” and “Cowardly” Trump adds: as he digs himself deeper
He impulsively adds insults to his claim that Comey is a “leaker”
While “Trump just doesn’t know the system” states the House Speaker

Now a “show boater”, “grand stander” and “nut case” describes someone
And it’s not the head of the FBI: it’s someone who the election just won
And as far as a “leaker” is concerned: how about Trump’s classified slip
To the Russians in the Oval Office on where we got a Middle East tip

Who would you trust: a professional lawyer or a raving mad clown?
One who in government service has experience and a record sound?
Or an inexperienced rabble-rouser who shoots from the hip?
A thoughtful and articulate professional: or one who can’t control his lip?

Now Trump has experienced over 3,500 legal battles to sort
His company lawyers may have more time than Comey in court
His Trump University was charged and convicted of fraud
His record of truth telling is nothing to applaud

Now to my knowledge Comey has been consistent with his story
While Trump just jumps all over the place: impulsively looking for glory
His administration is in disarray: even his spokesmen don’t know what to say
His self-generated confusion: his legislative accomplishments are zero today

His ethical standards are questionable at best: rationale for his actions thin
He has turned the White House into a family business with profits to win
Comey’s background has been thoroughly vetted over the years: he’s clean
Contrast with Trump is clear: dedicated to truth; the other slippery and mean

So is your trust in Comey’s clean record; his service to our country’s needs?
Or Trump’s falsehoods aired wildly on tweet, with his ethics in the weeds?

Now I’ve heard the case and pondered the evidence on who to trust
For me it’s Comey and not the Phony.

Dear Mr. President, Zip It Up

I have previously expressed my deep disappointment at having elected as our nation’s leader a man with so many serious moral flaws.

Similarly, I have copiously written about the shame I feel at having as our president a man so dishonest and so unqualified to carry out those solemn responsibilities.

Today, I have no words to express the anger and desperation I feel seeing the commander in chief reveal the most sensitive information to our most dangerous enemy and, in the process, not only compromising methods and sources, putting our own national security at risk, but also betraying our allies who have trusted this man to keep his mouth zipped.

However, a good friend, a Vietnam War combat aviator and a patriot does express what I believe must be our nation’s horror much better than I ever could:

Loose Lips
Sink Ships

Dear Mister President, here’s a tip
Button your lip
Or else your childish insecurity
Could endanger our National Security

We all know you like to brag
And the American press to gag
But if anyone knows your boast that you have great sources of intelligence
It’s the Russians, who for ages have been a source of belligerence

You repeatedly dig your own grave
With the foolish and un-guarded things you say
Is it lack of competency?
Or simply insanity

You figuratively have the shortest White House staff it is said
For you consistently cut off their legs by changing your stories again and again
Now you did pick a few good Cabinet choices
So, Mister President, get out of your egoistic bubble and listen to their voices

Oh, you with the itchy tweeter finger
On self-promotion try not to linger
Engage your brain before you speak
Staff your announcements beforehand; then you’ll have fewer problems with leaks

You have established yourself in the World’s eye
As an unstable and unpredictable teller of lies
Your actions have made you a laughing stock and seen as an uneducated buffoon
Snap out of it now while there is still time, while there’s still room

You won the election, so stop campaigning and act like a President
Accept the fact that a popular vote was not lent
Do your homework, listen to your advisors and quit rambling on tweeter
Your opposition grows for real reasons; it is not because they are bitter

Now the rumor (you’ll say Fake News) is that you have a short attention span
I’ve heard that for your up-coming NATO Summit they know it and have made a plan
So, I’ll summarize this verse with words short and terse:

Dear Mister President, here’s a tip
Button your lip

Lead image credit: American World War II poster by Seymour R. Goff, also known as Ess-ar-gee

(Political) Poetry in the Time of Trump

Lamenting the gloomy prospects for our nation — and for his students — as a result of the 2016 presidential election, an English professor prepares to teach for the first time after the election and asks himself, “How does anyone walk into a classroom and teach a poem after Trump’s win?”

The professor, Blaine Greteman at the University of Iowa, had planned to present “an upbeat lecture on Walt Whitman and the great American idea of his great American poem ‘Song of Myself.’”

“But I’m an English professor, and my usual business is poetry.” Greteman writes, adding, “lessons in the finer points of prosody seem almost perverse in the wake of a campaign that swept to power by flouting introspection, critical thought, and tolerance—all the values central to a liberal arts education.”

I am sure Professor Greteman and his students will do just fine, for poetry — especially “political” poetry — is alive and well in the Time of Trump. As Greteman himself points out, while “poetry isn’t politics…it can be the fertile soil for our better selves.”

Greteman concludes with the final lines of one of W. H. Auden’s poems, written in 1939, which “as the world lurched to war, have never been more vital”:

In the deserts of the heart
Let the healing fountain start,
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise.

And indeed, while professor Greteman is not referring to political poetry per se, political satire, comedy, cartoons and poetry have been flourishing in the Time of Trump as “resistance-themed” expressions of aversion to Trump values, culture, policies and politics.

Political poetry has always been a part of the American landscape. The late Michael Silverstein, wrote a few years ago at The Moderate Voice:

The first recognized political commentators, the first political talking heads, the first true Op Ed professionals, were bards. Before there was even writing, members of ruling elites never really knew where they stood until the old blind guy with the lyre posted the insiders scorecard in rhyme.

Silverstein added, “Percy Shelley, whose ‘England in 1819’ is a marvelous example of such [political poetry] work, spoke of poets as being the legislators of the world.”

In that poem, quoted by Silverstein, Shelley wrote of:

Rulers who neither see, nor feel, nor know,
But leech-like to their fainting country cling,
Till they drop, blind in blood, without a blow…

Political poetry has been especially popular among liberals and especially “[w]hen times are dire.”

Alexandra Alter, at the New York Times, reminds us in “American Poets, Refusing to Go Gentle, Rage Against the Right,” how in recent decades, “American poets used the medium to oppose the Vietnam War and racial oppression. Many wrote raw, mournful poems after the Sept. 11 attacks, and pacifist poems protesting the war in Iraq.”

As an even more recent example, Alter points to the “new, politically engaged generation of young African-American, Latino and Asian poets” writing verses that address institutionalized bias, racism, civic identity and social justice — for which “there is an enormous appetite.’”

And times are dire today. Again, Alter:

Like virtually everything else in the Trump era, poetry has gotten sharply political these days. Writers are responding to this turbulent moment in the country’s history with a tsunami of poems that address issues like immigration, global warming, the Syrian refugee crisis, institutionalized racism, equal rights for transgender people, Islamophobia and health care.

The Trump era poets have “a powerful sense of urgency and reckoning and responsibility,” says Alter, “[they] are using social media to respond quickly to the news, posting new verses online.”

Danez Smith, who wrote a poem titled “You’re Dead, America” — a poem about losing faith in our country — hours after the Nov. 8 election, and published it on Buzzfeed the next day, says “There’s something beautiful about the poem that is needed right now…It might not be as powerful a couple of months from now.”

As Trump nears the 100-day mark of his administration “as the least popular chief executive in modern times… one whose base of support has not expanded since he took the oath of office” and without much to show for those 100 days (Trump: I think the 100 days is, you know, it’s an artificial barrier. It’s not very meaningful.”), poems documenting such a debacle are “needed right now,” and I am sure there will be plenty of them.

Here is an early one by a good friend, a combat vet and a patriot who has given us some sage voting advice before and doesn’t need to wait till the hundredth day to have his say:

Dear Mister President

Help me understand
What is your actual political stand?
Is it simply “fire — ready — aim”?
And say Obama is to blame?

In your desperate search for popularity
All you have done is increase America’s political polarity
Now you are clearly not a true Republican
For you threw all your primary opponents in the can

You have changed positions faster than a chicken on a hot tin plate
This is a fact that is not even up for debate
“China is a currency manipulator,” but now your best friend
“NATO is obsolete,” but now support you do lend

Russia is our new partner and “Putin could be my friend”
But now there are some real broken fences to mend
“I’ll build a Great Wall with Mexico and they will pay”
But it’s the Congress will pay, according to what we hear today

You promised a fantastic first 100 day
So what is now the state of the play?
All you’ve provided is total disarray
And now you even deny that the above you ever did say

Do you know what you’re doing?
Or just firing “bird shot” to keep your base swooning
A bungled “Muslim” ban you tried and failed to put in place
A failed repeal and replace Obama-care plan left egg on your face

OK, lots of Obama executive orders you cancelled with a pen
But we are waiting for some positive legislation for you to send
You are the butt of international jokes
With your inane Tweets and the alternate reality words that you spoke

The list goes on, it’s too long to detail
The bottom line is that you and your administration are “off the rail”
You praised WikiLeaks and a “Russian” connection investigation does follow
The White House is full of relatives and in questionable ethics you do wallow

Do you actually have any political philosophy?
Do you actually have any true policies to see?
Or are you as you appear
Just someone who will do anything for a cheer?

~~

Read more “Poems of Resistance” here.

Lead image courtesy DonkeyHotey.com

Cross-posted from the Huffington Post

(UPDATE) As More Trump Shoes Drop, Some More Verse

Update:
One of the stanzas in the poem below reads:

Now you would think that his Attorney General named Session
Would have learned a lesson
Now this “highest” lawyer in the land
May soon have to take the stand

It is not clear whether Sessions has learned a lesson, but he did take a stand – of sorts.

Less than an hour ago,

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, facing a chorus of criticism over his contacts with the Russian ambassador, recused himself Thursday from any current or future investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. His conversations with the ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, came amid suspected Russian hacking directed at Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Mr. Sessions said he made the decision after meeting with senior career officials at the Justice Department. He said he would not take part in any investigations “related in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States.”

Will this be sufficient? Will more Russian shoes drop?

Read more here

Original Post:

As Trump’s shoes were dropping all over the White House last night (Any ‘normal’ human being would have run out of shoes by now, but here we are dealing with a ‘shoellionaire’), and less than 24 hours after Trump’s “seventh-grade reading level” “Nothinburger,” my good friend — a combat vet, a patriot — was busy once again rejecting ‘Trump the Perverse’ in verse.

First, came the New York Times shoe, as the Times revealed that Obama White House officials had scrambled last year to protect, preserve and “spread” information about Russian efforts to undermine the presidential election “to ensure that such meddling isn’t duplicated in future American or European elections, and to leave a clear trail of intelligence for government investigators.”

Then, the Washington Post shoe dropped with a report that then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (a Trump surrogate during the campaign) had spoken twice with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, “encounters he did not disclose when asked about possible contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign and representatives of Moscow during Sessions’s confirmation hearing to become attorney general.”

Here is, “Some musing from afar About a President that’s – Well, Bizarre

High above the Potomac’s waters
There’s a stinky smell that rises
Some say it’s a nearby dump
Others say it is Donald J. Trump

From family business dealings quite obscure
To twitters and “ranting” that are frankly immature
“I want to be friends of Russia”, but not help for an election to win
Then it turns out that his National Security Advisor named Flynn
Had to “resign” because of unacknowledged dealings with the Kremlin

Now you would think that his Attorney General named Session
Would have learned a lesson
Now this “highest” lawyer in the land
May soon have to take the stand

Now Trump twice promised to “love and obey”
Before two wives he sent away
How long number three lasts is hard to say
Promise, promise is his way

Now the market has taken a huge bump
On the promises of Trump
Repeal “Obamacare” and quickly replace
Do it at a break neck pace

Slash taxes to give the “middle class” some slack
And cut those regulation that hold the economy back
Bring back coal to its rightful place
Build the “wall” to make us safe

Repeal NAFTA and other bad trade deals to save our jobs; we just can’t do enough
Start a Trillion dollar infrastructure program “on the cuff”
Cut immigration and push those illegals out
“Keep America safe” with a laughably inept Muslim ban
This will insure peace in our land*

Add Billions to our budget for defense
As we “hunker down” behind our impregnable fence
Repeal a gun ban on those certified as mentally unstable
To curry favor from the gun lobby and the power of the NRA to further enable.

Of course we will not have to sweat
A massive increase in our national debt
Tax cuts, immigration bans and tariffs will work just like in Hoover‘s day
Trump has the same things to say

In the “Roaring Twenties” the markets did soar — and the public applauded with a roar
Bush 2’s Great Recession followed de-regulation and tax cutting – Trump wants to do more
His recipe and bio follow previously unelected businessman Hoover’s almost to a tee
Now I hope America success, but the current trajectory and President just stink to me

Does one need to look from afar – to recognize that things are so bizarre?

* Added by author: A ban so “urgent” to save America from imminent terrorist attacks, that it is now waiting for an opportune political moment to be issued.

Lead image courtesy donkeyhoteycom.

Rejecting ‘Trump the Perverse’ in Verse (Re-Posted and Updated)

In Thursday’s New York Times, Nicholas Kristof has a piece titled, “To Reject Trump the Perverse, Poets Wage a Battle in Verse.”

In it, Kristof provides examples of how poets battle President Trump with an arsenal of verse.

Coincidentally, about three months before the 2016 presidential elections, “a good friend, a combat vet, a patriot,” wrote a poem exhorting us to get out and vote: ”Don’t be a Dolt – Get out there and Vote!

The poem concluded:

Now I’ll say it one more time, I can’t say it any louder
As an old combat vet, of the USA I could not be prouder
But it won’t stay the same if our own vote we give away
To ideologues who by fear and nostalgia arguments are swayed

Whether because too many of us were “dolts” or for whatever reason, we now find ourselves in the situation my friend so well predicted in the poem.

In a new poem, my friend describes the havoc the new president has created in just the first two weeks of his presidency.

It took 700 words to do so and he hasn’t even started into the third week, which promises to be as tumultuous. “Now I could go on with verse after verse…And the case against Trump would get even worse,” says my friend.

Here it is:

We’re coming to take you away, away
We’re coming to take you away

Two weeks is enough
To stomach Trump’s crazy stuff
In his overpowering search for popularity
Has only led to polarity

Americans seek a President that is calm and steady
Not one that is impulsive and “heady”
A “Uniter” who pulls the country together and stuff like that
Thoughtfully communicating through a “Fire side chat”

What has this “Uniter” done so far – what’s the score?
Here’s some examples, there are many more
A “travel” ban – pulled out of thin air
With no coordination, notification and legally unfair
Confusion reigned – none of the countries affected had sent “bad” guys
Including Iraq – they are one of our best allies!
None of the countries of the 9/11 bombers were included
Do you think Trump is ignorant or simply deluded?
He has already sown confusion and chaos
Mr. President, have you your marbles lost?

A Great Wall on the Mexican border
Was one of your first Presidential orders
And you shouted: “they will pay”
But when you insulted the Mexican President he stayed away
You had to go to Congress for the American citizens to pay
Is Trump ignorant or simply deluded, for at the end of the day
How could anyone think a foreign country would pay?
[Now if you want to see a Great Wall, just go to China
13,170 miles long and from 25 to 46 feet tall – it is the finest!]

Now on “Obama-Care” he was on a tear
He impulsively repealed it to a Republican cheer
But it’s like trying to fix a flat tire on your car with no spare there
He is all velocity
And blind with pomposity
Again he sowed confusion and chaos
Mr. President, have you your marbles lost?

Diplomacy and compromise
Are signs of a good leader – it’s just plain wise
But he insists there has to be winners and losers to be strong
If he follows this perception in his approach it won’t be long
Before he has alienated both friend and foe
And our national economy and reputation will be low, low, low

We’re coming to take you away, away
We’re coming to take you away

Now so far in only two weeks
You have insulted many by word and by tweets
The Mexican President, Australian Prime Minister and plenty in between
This compulsive ranting, both childish and mean
Indicates a man who is off his beam

Now he wants to de-regulate, cut taxes, curtail immigration and add tariffs to our trade
Go back to Herbert Hoover’s time where comparison of a similar program can be made
Now as ironic as it may seem, Hoover and his background are similar even more
Neither had been elected to a public office before

Now if insanity can be described
By doing the same thing and expecting different results, then you get the right vibe
He’s a guy with an all-consuming need for approval with an ego stratospheric
If we let him continue his insanity we will suffer results cataclysmic

He’s a man who needs to be surrounded by fawning sycophants
People who will cheer when he rants
It is hard to keep up with his rambling thoughts and views – they come and then disappear
They apparently change by the input of the last one to have his ear

He’s not a man who has nor had experience governmental
Therefore it would be wise to rely on experienced hands and not go experimental
But he brings in family and an Alt-Right propagandist to be his strategy gurus
Now Steven Banner, the one with the caustic manner, can tell him all he knew

Oh he of thin skin, cannot accept that the popular vote he did not win
Three million illegal voters, more fans on the mall
These inane tweets make no sense at all
There’s no understandable logic
They are simply idiotic

Now I could go on with verse after verse
And the case against Trump would get even worse
His delusional view of reality
Just increased when he became President of Me, Me, Me

The only way out is to prove his insanity
For we can no longer suffer his hyper vanity
If we want to survive
We need to enact Amendment number twenty-five

We’re coming to take you away, away
We’re coming to take you away

Lead image,. courtesy Donkeyhotey.com

The Post-Inauguration Blues (Political Poetry)

T


The Post-Inauguration Blues

Though once I was sold on the ideal of democracy,
America now seems on the road to autocracy,
A guy’s in the White House who thinks that he’s great,
But he encourages racism and hate.
I got it now and I got it bad,
Much, much worse than I ever had,
A man’s now the president who I didn’t choose,
That’s why I got the post-inauguration blues.

The guy in office has the name of Trump,
Someone who I see as kind of a chump,
Yet he’s in charge of the whole damn place,
A guy lacking any class or grace.
A guy who sees women as toys for sex,
Handles his problems by dispensing checks,
And out of his mouth constant platitudes ooze,
Giving me the post-inauguration blues.

Accord the guy a decent chance I’ve been told,
But his tweets and bullying have gotten old,
He seems to be driven by ego and self love,
And yet he’s the leader of the federal gov,
A guy who thinks that he knows it all,
Perhaps he’s due for a woeful fall,
A constant purveyor of bluster and fake news,
Has given me the post-inauguration blues.

www.robertlevinebooks.com

Graphic via DonkeyHotey/Flickr

You greedy me

You greedy me

Take me on your list
1200 plus 1 or the one
This never warring child of Abraham
This ahmad, arif, remember
As you grow more relevant
One more time
Dear Mr. Schindler

‘It Would Be a Tragic Shame if From Voting You Abstain’

shutterstock_274063685

As the campaign heads into the final stretch — only 35 days to go — more and more people are beginning to realize the enormous consequences our votes will have on November 8 and more and more people are beginning to warn us, “Only [we] can prevent a Trump presidency.”

Among them, one of my favorite journalists, Eugene Robinson.

In a column at the Washington Post, Robinson begins:

I know, I know, the point I’m about to make is painfully obvious. But it is not in any sense trivial: If you care who wins the election next month, get off the couch, go down to your polling place and vote.

He then warns us, “If you’re tempted to think this is in the bag, however, look around,” and Robinson provides several examples where voter apathy, low voter turnout, voter over-confidence, etc have led to disastrous consequences.

Robinson concludes, “There is one sure way to avoid the nastiest of surprises on Nov. 8: Vote, or you’ll have no right to complain.”

A good friend — a combat vet, a patriot — uses his poetic skills to tell us:

It would be a tragic shame

If from voting you abstain

You may find the choice between two charged with “sleaze”

As rational voters you are caught in a squeeze

But listen up, if you please

Take some time – get on your knees

Consider what happens if you walk away

The ideologues and extremists will vote and have their say

Democracy requires active participation

Don’t get caught up in mental constipation

Voting is a patriotic duty that many died to defend

Without your involvement Democracy will end

It took 144 years for women to get their say

It took many brave women to lead the way

You know who will vote, those at the loud extremes

They whom toward a conspiracy monger leans

Take some time before you enter the voting booth

Screen the political claptrap and then look for the truth

Make up your mind, even though you may find it a bitter pill

If you leave it to others you could pay a heavy bill

For each of you who does not mark a ballot

Increases an extremist’s power by 100 percent – and that’s a lot!!

Not much left to the imagination here.

Please vote on November 8, or before.

Lead image: shutterstock.com

Who I really am

From Lahore, Pakistan which I am.

A Physician, a Muslim, an American.

Only this is a beginning for I am more.

A piece of you, a part of all denomination.

Our place, its relevance, this canvas.

My thought is Earthian, in my mind the Universe.

We are the World in this as one.

The World is who I really am.

America is its people

America is its people

We smile at each other for no obvious reason.
We hold doors open without knowing the other person.
We cherish our way of life, our freedoms.
A nation of immigrants, we are The Americans.
We debate passionately, we disagree.
We teach our young the decency.
We attract the best from all over the planet.
To an equal for all society.
The world’s largest economy.
Where anything is possible.
Here skies don’t limit us.
We sit atop the World Giving Index.
And the Research and Development spending list.
The biggest contributor to the United Nations.
The most decorated nation in the Olympics.
By Holly, we create magic on the screen.
Microsoft, Boeing, IBM, Google.
Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Apple.
Tracks on Mars, footprints on the moon.
Never by chance, not a coincidence.
Our substance, this eminence is for a reason.
All for that brilliantly written word.
We the People.
For our Constitution.

Children ‘Conquering’ the Unicycle and Achieving Much More

Unicycle Julia

Ode on a Unicycle

Unicycle, unicycle,
radiant and round.
Spying you, you spoke to me
without a single sound.

Unicycle, unicycle,
beautiful and kind,
like the petals on a flower
wheeling through my mind.

Unicycle, unicycle,
you’re my one desire.
Losing you would break my heart.
Of you I’ll never tire.

Unicycle, unicycle
always by my side.
That’s, of course, because you are
impossible to ride.

Copyright © 2006 Kenn Nesbitt. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Unicycles fence

Uni-Saders hanging out in the staging are before a parade in Dripping Springs, Texas.

Most of us remember well the sense of joy and accomplishment we experienced when we first mastered the “art” of riding a bicycle.

Many of us will also remember the sense of pride we felt when our 6-year-old was able to ride his or her bicycle for the first time, without those training wheels.

But how many of us have tried to ride a unicycle? You know, one of those contraptions with only one wheel, “so impossible to ride.”

I do not remember how the subject of unicycles came up during one of our regular coffee klatches with a friend a while ago.

Something about a bunch of kids riding around, perched on unicycles.

Recently, it came up again and, pursuing the subject a little more, I discovered how a colleague of my friend has truly made unicycles, as Ken Nesbitt’s poem says, “beautiful and kind, like the petals on a flower.”

The unicycles my friend, Dwight Bawcom, was talking about are not necessarily beautiful in appearance — many of them are well used, some have scratches and dents. But they are beautiful, “like the petals on a flower,” because of how these “contraptions” are helping young children overcome, achieve and excel.

You see, my friend’s colleague, Jimmy Agnew, uses unicycles to inspire children “to grow physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially.”

It all started eight years ago when Agnew, a teacher at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Austin, Texas, and his second graders began gathering unicycles from Craigslist and neighborhood garage sales and started meeting in the school’s small gym every Friday after school.

There, according to Agnew, the children “would laugh, and play, and celebrate their failures as they consistently fell over and over again” trying to ride those unicycles.

Unicycles  Jimmy Agnew with St. Andrew's students reporting Texas

“Jimi Pedals” Agnew supporting two collaborative pillars of play.

Agnew continues, “Only with perseverance, determination, and constant encouragement from their peers, did they eventually, one by one, learn to ride.”

It soon became obvious to Agnew — a former college basketball player — that what the second graders were doing was much more than just learning to ride a unicycle.

They were overcoming self-doubt and replacing it with self-confidence.

They were gaining self-esteem, inspiring themselves and each other, learning and displaying patience, trust, courage and especially perseverance: “It’s about getting them used to failing but then working through it,” Agnew says in an interview.

Dr. W. Eric Grossman, an associate professor of education at Emory & Henry College, Virginia, puts Agnew’s “failing but then working through it” in a slightly different way.

He refers to attempting to ride a unicycle as “an unnatural, difficult, and complex skill” where one has to — taking from Samuel Beckett — “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Grossman adds:

Riding a unicycle is physically striking. When kids finally reach the point of wheeling out of the schoolyard on their unicycle, they will have also achieved at least two additional goals: they will have a captivating means to stay active and fit and they will know what is required to learn something difficult.

Eight years after Agnew founded his modest yet trailblazing program — today called “One Wheel Many Children”– more than 700 children have “wheeled out of the school yard on their unicycle.”

Agnew’s original after-school program has now been replicated at other schools in Austin and San Antonio, Texas, and is currently being launched at Austin’s Comunidad School, one of our nation’s 200 KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) public charter schools, as part of a formal, play-based literacy curriculum.

Unicycle group


Third Graders at KIPP Austin Comunidad learning to unicycle along their Empowerment Path.

Agnew’s vision:

Through child-driven literacy, we aim to create a forum for children to share their voice and launch additional school unicycle clubs. Essentially empowering through play to develop a growth mindset. The unicycle is an ideal childhood development tool and our goal is to use that tool to empower communities and develop such mindsets.

UInicycle Rhythm night

Annual “Rhythms Night” Unicycle Demonstration deep in the heart of Texas

The unicycle was invented more than 100 years ago. It was born out of the “Penny Farthing” bicycle, named after the English penny (the giant front wheel) and the farthing (the miniature rear wheel).

ZenArtsLA.com:

It wasn’t long before some people realized they really didn’t need that back wheel of the penny farthing. First the back wheel was removed, then the handles too…and pretty soon the unicycle was born.

A curiosity, a challenge, popular among circus clowns and acrobatic performers, the unicycle started seeing widespread popularity in the 1980s, “when new unicycle variations created an entirely new generation of riders.”

A little more than three decades later, another generation of riders are taming those contraptions: Agnew’s young Uni-Saders who are learning, among other things, “support, patience, trust and courage” thanks to dedicated and visionary people such as Agnew and generous volunteers such as my friend Dwight.

The words “support, patience, trust” are written in each spoke of unicycle drawings by third graders, displayed at one school in Austin, Texas, reflecting what these young Uni-Saders believe they are learning from conquering those unicycles, “impossible to ride.”

A young Uni-Sader expresses similar feelings in a “daily reflection sheet” at KIPP Austin Comunidad, below.

Unicycle child's feedback

Words only begin to describe the joy, challenges and frustration experienced by Uni-Saders as they learn to “unicycle,” and grow. Please watch the video below and also view the story of one youngster who conquered the unicycle and achieved much more here.

Also, visit the One Wheel Many Children site to learn more about this unique project and to perhaps contribute to this commendable non-profit organization.

Lead photo: Uni-Saders enjoying “life’s ride” in the small gym of St. Andrew’s Episcopal School of Austin, TX.

Photos and video courtesy One Wheel Many Children

Edited to add a link.

American Joker

American Joker

There’s a joker in our midst
Somersaulting, pretending, condescending
Irresponsible, isolating, insulting
Inhumane racist
Dangerously naive and inept
A world class embarrassment
Arguably the most despised face on the planet
A psychotic volcano staying erupt
Ill-tempered, thin skinned
There’s a joker in our midst

Pass the blame, scare and shame, torch the flame
Declare the endgames open
Championing hate, division, and confusion
Specializing in blunders, one after another
In your face bully, encouraging violence
An egoistic, narcissistic maniac
Disaster in waiting to forever re-happen
Mocking people, calling them names
Utterly, unabashedly, unapologetically un-American
Here’s to a dose of its own medicine
Poor choice of words, such mediocre taste
Passed a mirror and caught a glimpse
There’s a joker in our midst

Don’t Buy the GOP Economic ‘Snake Oil’

Employment statistics

Reacting to Republican “snake oil and economic lies,” back in February President Obama made a powerful speech — “a dose of truth” — on the 7-year anniversary of the Recovery Act alerting voters to Republican economic lies and shenanigans.

The President was speaking to employees at the Saft America Advanced Batteries Plant in Jacksonville, Florida.

You can read the full remarks here and listen to them below.

Here are some of the highlights.

Back then [seven year ago], all around us, the economy was in a free fall — 800,000 Americans were losing their jobs every single month. That’s almost the entire population of Jacksonville joining the unemployment line every few weeks. Families lost their homes, families lost their savings. And people here in Florida were especially hard hit — the unemployment rate here in Florida hit 11.2 percent, which was even higher than the national average.

Fast-forward today. Businesses like yours have created jobs for 71 straight months — 14 million new jobs overall. We’ve cut the unemployment rate by more than half. Nationally, the high was 10 percent — it’s now down to 4.9 percent. And here in Jacksonville, it is even lower. Our auto industry just had its best year ever. We’ve created more than 900,000 new manufacturing jobs in the past six years.

Meanwhile, our high school graduation rate is at an all-time high. Nearly 18 million Americans have gained health care coverage — although here in Florida, there are a whole bunch of folks who haven’t because the state hasn’t expanded Medicaid, but that’s another topic. Businesses like Saft are leading a clean energy revolution that’s creating jobs and making our planet safer and more secure at the same time.

Now, you don’t hear a lot about this from the folks who are on the campaign trail. They’re spending all their time talking down America. I don’t know when it became fashionable to do that…anybody who says we are not absolutely better off today than we were just seven years ago — they’re not leveling with you. They’re not telling the truth. By almost every economic measure, we are significantly better off, and Florida is significantly better off. Jacksonville is a whole lot better off.

The President continued to illustrate why America is much better off than seven years ago when a Democratic administration took over from the disaster that was the Bush regime.

He concluded:

The future is ours. But to finish the job requires steady, persistent effort. We can’t grow complacent. We can’t chase false promises. We’ve got to be smart. We’ve got to work together. But I’ve never been more optimistic than I am now that we will get to where we need to go, because I’ve seen what you can do. And if we keep working together, everything is possible and our best days are just ahead.

What an uplifting, positive message and what a contrast to the dark, doom and gloom vision of America painted by Trump & Co.

The President did not use as many statistics as he could have to corroborate his claims, but they are abundant and overwhelmingly positive.

In his “Just the Facts, the Stock Market” Ned Lips provides exactly such irrefutable data on the amazing recovery of the stock market since Obama took office and promises to continue to provide a “moderate’s view of the facts.” Much needed and much appreciated, Ned.

As I have written previously, I am not a poet, but I admire those who are, especially those who can take political issues and turn them into smooth, “rhyming” poems.

How about going one step farther and include well researched statistics, percentages, numbers and facts into a poem?

Address the Dow, unemployment –“U-3 and U-6 numbers” — the deficit and inflation in a poem?

My “good friend, a combat vet and a patriot” has done exactly that and, in my opinion, done it well.

Here it is:

Obama: A Zero – or Hero?

Opinions differ across the political divide
Let’s look at some facts to help us decide

When Obama came The Dow was at eight thousand and went even less
Now it is more than double – to an all-time high – but he’s called anti-business
Unemployment was 7.8% then went up to 10% before the current downward fall
Now it’s 5.0%, but of course it had nothing to do with Obama at all
And Jobs lost in G.W. Bush’s final days -Were 800,000 a month and more on the way

Now all those jobs lost during G. W’s swagger
Are recovered (longest positive job growth ever) – But Obama is still called a laggard
From Clinton G.W. Bush started with a surplus of 100 Billion and more –
And ended with a deficit of one trillion four – When Obama took the floor
It has been cut way more than half as of this date – But Obama they still hate

So the market is up and the deficit and unemployment are down
Yet Republicans still make a booing sound
“Obama care will break the bank, inflation will skyrocket and the dollar will fall”
Now nothing like that has happened at all

Immigration reform, minimum wage increase – we reject them because you are you
The Republican rank and file – Have a mission to continue to put feet in the aisle
Oh, “Obama is on foreign policy weak, he doesn’t fight; it’s just talk that he seeks.”
But he simply followed Bush’s Iraq disengagement plan, which should be admired
And he has not got us into a Syrian ground war quagmire

He recognizes the complicated Middle East mess needs a hand that’s steady
He choose a measured response not “fire – aim – ready”

Republicans spout we’re not safe in our land until there’s a gun in everyone’s hand
While shooting in several cities have gone up, overall we’re in a safer land
Obama to his principals is persistent: despite mighty Republican resistance
Republicans claim they’ll change our country around because it’s a mess
Before you believe that just review the above as a reality test

So before you go into the voting booth – look for the truth
For a great case can be made: Obama is a Hero and not a Zero

Lead chart: Employment Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Don’t Be a Dolt – Get Out There and Vote!

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In a little less than four months, millions of Americans (hopefully 219 million of them) will be casting their votes to select the next president who will continue to keep our country free and great in what many are calling the most consequential presidential election in a generation.

Why “hopefully 219 million Americans”?

Well, that is the total number of Americans who were eligible to vote in 2012.

OK, let’s be a little more realistic and say, hopefully 146 million Americans will vote this November — that would be the total number of Americans who were registered to vote in 2012.

On second thought, perhaps we shouldn’t set our sights so high: Let us hope that at least the same number of Americans who voted in the 2012 presidential election — 126 million — will cast ballots in November.

Some will rightly say, there should be more Americans voting this election since there are definitely more Americans today than four years ago and, although the data is not out yet, there must be more Americans eligible to vote, ergo more Americans registered to vote. Again, let us hope so.

The 126 million represents a meager 57.5* percent of Americans who were eligible to vote in the 2012 presidential election.

Why did the other 42.5 of Americans not vote?

According to statisticbrain.com, these were some of the most common reasons:

• Too busy/ conflicting schedule: 17.5%
• Illness or disability: 14.9%
• Not interested: 13.4 %
• Did not like candidates or campaign issues 12.9%

There were also a 7% of the potential voters who didn’t know why they didn’t vote and 2.6% who forgot.

One statistic is especially worrisome. In 2012 when we had Barack Obama running against Mitt Romney, a whopping 12.9% did not like either of the candidates or the campaign issues.

Worrisome because we are hearing from so many voters that they don’t like either of the candidates — with a passion.

In an election that supposedly may be the most important election of our lifetime, this phenomenon does not bode well for our democracy.

I will not bore the reader with stories about how the U.S. voting record is dismal compared with other developed democracies; how in other countries voting is compulsory; how in other countries people would die for the right to vote, and so on.

I will just share a poem by a good friend, a combat vet, a patriot, hoping that you won’t be “a dolt.”

Don’t be a Dolt – Get out there and Vote!

It would be a tragic shame
If from voting you abstain
You may dislike the choice between two charged with “sleaze”
As rational voters you are caught in a squeeze
But listen up, if you please – Take some time – get on your knees
Consider what happens if you walk away
The ideologues and extremists will vote –they’ll have their say
Democracy requires active participation
Don’t get caught up in mental constipation

Voting is a patriotic duty that many died to defend
Without your involvement Democracy could end
Many are swayed by nostalgia of a former “glory”
But it’s a new “globalized” world – it’s a whole new story
A return to the past is like promising you the Fountain of Youth
So remember that when in the voting booth

The U.K. Brexit result is an example prime
The young put in a nickel, the old put in a dime
The young wanted in but only 36% voted
The old listened to “back to old Glories” and bolted
Make up your mind, even though you may find it a bitter pill
If you leave it to others you could pay a heavy bill
For each vote you do not send – power to an ideologue you lend
You double their power, so think hard about it, my friend

Now just a reminder if you think I over-state
In 2014 there was a dismal 36.3% USA voting rate
We now have a “grid-locked” Congress with disapproval of 80 %
And in 2012’s Presidential election only 53.6% in the booth went

It’s not just for a President on whom to decide.
We need a Congress that does something, not everything decry.
And future judges Supreme Court judges are at stake
With our “grid-locked” Congress they more decisions make

Now I’ll say it one more time, I can’t say it any louder
As an old combat vet, of the USA I could not be prouder
But it won’t stay the same if our own vote we give away
To ideologues who by fear and nostalgia arguments are swayed

Don’t be a Dolt – Get out there and Vote


===

* Voting statistics vary slightly depending on the source.

Additional sources for voting data:

Pewreserach.org

wikipedia.org/

Lead image: shutterstock.com

Edited to make clear that the 126 million who voted in the 2012 presidential election represent “a meager 57.5* percent” of Americans who were eligible to vote.

Struggling to be

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Struggling to be

Them animals are more civil
There is better order in the jungle

Not one deer a racist
Or any rabbit a terrorist

Pheasants never commit violence
Bears have better conduct, greater tolerance

No wolf a compulsory war-ist
Lions don’t kill what they can’t eat

Them fur, feather, four-legged beasts
Different and yet coexist

Them two-legged me in the cities
Struggling to be

Can I look up to them animals
Can they be my role models

PRAYER FOR ALL THE INNOCENTS SHOT DOWN

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Dear Brave Souls:
PRAYER FOR ALL THE INNOCENTS SHOT DOWN:

I ask for your peaceful prayers and helping comments. No rants. Most are well and painfully aware of the issues, as am I. Consider this space for now, a temenos made for you, what I write about to you many times, my “Little Red Chapel of the Heart.” It is right here, right now. Consider we are in that quiet place, being in calm bright heart… Together.

We Are A Brave and Decent People

We mourn
because we are a decent people.

We cleave to the priorities now.
First, without ‘sides,’ without
politicizing anything or anyone,
we mourn the dead.

First, without distractions,
we mourn the dead.
First without analyses,
we mourn the dead.

Sometimes easy to forget
the precise instructions
from the ancients:
Creator said
we are made in the
image of G-d. And,
didnt Creator say
even a sparrow
falling was noted
and grieved?

Thereby,
we do not choose
who to mourn
by color.
we do not choose
who to mourn by age.
we do not choose
who to mourn by heritage.
Not by gender.
Nor by religion.
Nor by any other division–

just that the dead belonged
to someone who loved them.
Just that they belonged
to the enormous wheel
of humanity…

We mourn the dead.
We mourn fathers,
mothers, brothers,
sisters, grandparents,
friends, wives,
husbands, lovers,
children. We mourn
the swaths
of Creator’s forest
cut down.

We mourn all
because we are a decent people.

We pray for the families,
the mates, the friends,
the colleagues, and the very
animals also,
who are so sad this night
and for nights yet to come.

We pray that whatever helps
can come,
will come–
and in ways
each person
can understand
and put to good use
immediately.

We pray for all
because we are a decent people.

We pray for fire to render
hatred to ash, but
not burn down
the living forest.

We pray for the unthinking
to recall that mere sparks
can cause conflagration.

We pray for the cool rain
for the too hot heart
and rain for the dry heart.
We pray for the soft winds
of the chinook to flow warmly
over the chilled heart
and over the heart frozen.

We pray for all
because we are a decent people.

We pray for all because many of us
have lost many and much.
We pray for ourselves, because
we still stand
and because we are
many and much ourselves.

We pray to be steady like
the many lodgepole pines
who withstand much
in high winds,
bending, limber,
hair flying
trunk creaking
but not breaking.

We mourn, we pray
because we are a decent people.

We pray
that whatever others say
that is not decent…
whatever others do
that is not decent …
can have no part of us,
seizes no part of us,
infects no part of us,
poisons no part of us.

That we remember–
the living forest
holds the mountain
to this earth,
the living forest
holds the waters
to their beds,
and most of all,
most of all my babies,
the living forest
transmutes poison
into
oxygen
for all.

We mourn,
we pray,
because we are
that living forest,
we are a living,
walking forest
in full force,
because we are
a decent,loving people.

This comes with love … and beyond sadness for all … that is, the majority of people on planet Earth, who are the decent loving people of this earth… for whom STILL, the loudest, shrillest voices in violence, cannot extinguish, the still small voice, born into the greater soul.

CODA
If you like, you could use the rhythm of this prayer to calm the body, for it was written and is set to the slow beat of a calm heart. To do so, say it aloud, and you will see the remedio of this.
Remember, Tribe of the Sacred Heart, many of us Scar Clan. I love you. Courage.
dr.e

photo credit: Turn my Darkness into Light via photopin (license)

On Political Poetry

Poems

I don’t know anything about poetry.

I understand that some of the basic elements of poetry are (I had to look these up): rhyme, rhythm, meter and stuff called “alliteration,” “assonance,” etc.

Now, that is not to say that I don’t enjoy reading poems.

I regularly receive poems from a couple of friends.

One friend’s poems are more traditional. That friend writes beautiful poetry about dreams, memories, love, the seasons, nightfall, the sun, the moon and the stars.

I love them.

My other friend’ poems are more politically oriented.

It so happens that we share similar political views and social values. Ergo, I enjoy them very much.

I want to share one of my friend’s “political” poems.

But, first, I wanted to do some research on “political poems,” so that I would not sound too uninformed.

Lo-and-behold, yesterday, Ken Chen at the New Republic wrote a long, long article, “What’s The Matter With Poetry?”, where he takes Ben Lerner (the great American poet, novelist, essayist and critic) to task, among other, for his stand on “political poetry” in Lerner’s new book The Hatred of Poetry.

If I understand it correctly, Chen disagrees with Lerner’s argument that if one loves “poetry’s promise of transcendence, you must also hate poems for their failure to keep up their end of the bargain.”

But I will let more informed readers decide for themselves, so here is some more by Chen:

“Poetry,” Lerner writes, “arises from the desire to get beyond the finite and the historical—the human world of violence and difference—and to reach the transcendent or divine.” The only problem? Poems are ultimately human rather than divine in character. “As soon as you move from that impulse to the actual poem,” he continues, “the song of the infinite is compromised by the finitude of its terms. In a dream your verses can defeat time… but when you wake… you’re back in the human world with its inflexible laws and logic.” In other words, if you’re a poet, you may declare yourself the unacknowledged legislator of the world, but you’re really just a hobbyist in the verse game.

Specifically on political poetry, Chen claims, “Merely disliking poetry, Lerner presents himself as a voice of reason, one who can moderate these excesses and defend the art against the pollution of politics.”

Perhaps as testimony to the impact of political poetry and in a rebuttal to Lerner, Chen shares a couple of stanzas (I hope I got the terminology right) of that very controversial — some say “infamous”– poem by Amiri Baraka*, “Somebody Blew Up America.”

The poem, released more than a year after September 11, according to Chen, is “an anti-matter ‘Song of Myself,’ a maximalist litany about everyone who’s ever been annihilated by or opposed American imperialism…”

Who need fossil fuel when the sun ain’t goin’ nowhere

Who make the credit cards
Who get the biggest tax cut…

Who locked up Mandela, Dhoruba, Geronimo,
Assata, Mumia, Garvey, Dashiell Hammett, Alphaeus Hutton…

Was it the ones who tried to poison Fidel
Who tried to keep the Vietnamese Oppressed
Who put a price on Lenin’s head
Who put the Jews in ovens,
and who helped them do it

Who said “America First”
and ok’d the yellow stars

Now, my second friend, the one who sends me “political poems,” is not as controversial — or infamous — as Baraka is, but his poems are very timely, relevant and, hopefully, do not “pollute” the art of poetry.

Here is his most recent one. It is called, “Hey Mate – I’m going to be Great – So listen up to what’s on my plate.”

Build a wall — And terrorism will fall
And who will pay? The Mexicans if we have it my way
Stop this national identity blight
Just keep this land for the Christian white

Bury your head in the sand — Don’t get involved in a foreign land
We won’t be safe in this land — Until there is a gun in everyone’s hand

Forget about those trade agreements poor
Cancel them all and we’ll prosper more

Climate change is as a Chinese hoax seen
Dig more coal, cut EPA and we’ll be just as green

Cut them high taxes — Chop them up with axes
Now don’t sweat about Social Security and Medicare
I’ll keep those benefits and even more because I care

Now clearly the defense budget should rise, but I’ll re-prioritize
I’ll get right in there with my businessman’s hat to give them a surprise

We’ll cut waste, fraud and abuse – so don’t you sweat
We’ll balance the budget and eliminate the National debt

It’s now $19 Trillion and growing every day
But we don’t have to pay — As a businessman I know the way

I’ve used bankruptcy many a time
My lenders didn’t get their dollars they only got a dime

So when I push the debt down to zero — You’ll call me a hero
We will set a new record for the growth of GDP
We’ll double it from the fifty-year average – you have heard it from me

It won’t be long — Before Radical Islam is gone
It won’t take long; it’s easy as a song — We’ll just carpet bomb

We’ll make those lazy foreigners for their security pay
And if they don’t; we’ll just push them out of the way
We’ll reap trillions by imposing tariffs on imports from far away
But on our own manufacturers there will be little taxes to pay

We’ll kick out the lazy “illegals” for their sin
And we won’t let any new ones come in

Now Congress – who are they? I’ve financed many in my day
If they don’t do what I say – I’ll fire them and send them on their way

We’ll be happy as a little clam — In our self-sufficient land
We’ll once more be great — Behind our 50-foot Gate

Now I’m an outsider, not a Washington lackey
I admit sometimes I say things wacky

No public office have I held – but what I’ve done sure has been swell
Now if you disagree, take it from me
If you don’t vote for Trump – we’ll all end up in the dump
And if you disagree, too bad for you, not too bad for me

And don’t try to start any fights
Or I’ll punch you in the nose and turn out your lights

Also, please read “Putting Political Poetry on America’s Op Ed Pages,” by “our own” Michael Silverstein.

* Baraka died in January 2014. He was 79. Read more about Baraka and his (in)famous poem here.

Photo credit: Textual Interstitial Vector via photopin (license)

News (Poetic Commentary)

news-426892_640

News of gloom
That of the impending doom
Negative news and then some
That lump in the throat
Reporting on the ugly, broadcasting the terrible
Over and over
A disproportionately pessimistic view of this world
Dampening of the good, exaggerating the bad
Keeping us on the hook and edge
Calling, one disaster after another
Ignoring most of which is better
And our misery addicted minds
(Misery often that of the others)
Keep buying into this sick sensationalism
A frustrating experience it is
Most of what we get as News
Whatever sells and is good for business
I guess

Muslims cannot be trusted (Satire)

shutterstock_389377501 (1)

Muslims cannot be trusted

(Originally written and posted in September 2015, this piece is probably still relevant today as I feel that Islam and Muslims have finally been busted)

I told you so, Muslims cannot be trusted.

These people eat their young for breakfast.

What part of this did you not get?

Let me start all over again.

See there was always a plan.

Lincoln was a Muslim, yes one of them and freeing up the slaves was his master stroke.

The idea was to spread Islam in Blacks and get their foot in the door.

Remember Ali, their poster boy.

And trust me when I say this.

George W. Bush is their agent.

See Bush and Osama conspired to torch the Middle East and call it the Arab Spring.

And then send tens of thousands of Muslims disguised as refugees into Europe to spread their religion.

Ha Ha, are you getting the drift, still with me?

Now, wait till you hear this.

Trump in an implant too.

He is the smoke screen to keep us entertained while the unthinkable happens.

Yes, Obama for sure is one of them.

And you think Obama got Osama.

Think again.

Osama, Obama, Osama, Obama.

Prez, they have saved for the endgame.

For when sparing the Holy Sites, Gaza, West Bank and the Arab Neighbors, Iran is going to nuke the remaining miles of Israel.

Then no one in America would find their bombs for by then he would have dunked them all.

And yes he could not have done all this on his own so Hillary has to be his accomplice.

Don’t find it plausible?

What then is hiding in them emails?


Disclaimers: This is a work of satire inspired by current events and growing Muslimophobia.

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.

Even though deer season is officially open, no animals were harmed during this writing.

Smoking is injurious to your health. The smokers in this writing did not inhale.

graphic via shutterstock.com

Prez O (Guest Voice)

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Prez O
By Arif Ahmad

My Dear Prez O
Congrats on your last year in office
You have done good, some more than the other
And you have faltered, recovered
Kind at heart and you have tried
As we saw your hair turn white
Though, there is something
The big leaders lead
The great ones unite
Somehow they rise above the strife
So, Prez O, can you try even harder and bring us together, please
For our country, this world, your very own legacy

Arif Ahmad is a Cardiologist in Wisconsin, USA