FREE POLITICAL POSTER: Judge Kavanaugh covers Trump – I’ve got your back, that is, backside – “We should not burden a sitting President with civil suits, criminal investigations, or criminal prosecution.”

Prez Donald Trump is all about Donald Trump. The Don picks a perfect cabal member to cover his ass from the Supreme Court bench. Judge Brett Kavanaugh has demonstrated huge judicial deference to expansive executive power. In tribute to this pick, I offer you this FREE POLITICAL POSTER: Judge Kavanaugh covers Trump – I’ve got your back, that is, backside – “We should not burden a sitting President with civil suits, criminal investigations, or criminal prosecution.”

FREE POLITICAL POSTER: Judge Kavanaugh covers Trump - I've got your back, that is, backside - "We should not burden a sitting President with civil suits, criminal investigations, or criminal prosecution."

A New York Times opinion piece, Will Kavanaugh Provide Cover for Trump?, provides insight to why Judge Kavanaugh may have captured Prez Donald Trump’s interest:

In the coming weeks, the Senate will undertake its constitutional duty to vet Judge Kavanaugh on issues like health care and abortion. But the Senate must also explore a question central to evaluating the judge’s commitment to the rule of law: Does he have the requisite independence from President Trump to serve as a check on his abuses of power?

This issue is particularly important given repeated claims by the president’s attorneys that Mr. Trump is essentially above the law — that he can even refuse a subpoena to testify. Given the looming Mueller investigation, these weighty, knotty constitutional questions may soon come before the court.

When it comes to these questions, Judge Kavanaugh is not a blank slate. He worked for Ken Starr, the independent counsel who aggressively investigated President Bill Clinton. But Judge Kavanaugh later adopted views that are outside the mainstream in their deference to the executive.

In a 2009 law review article, Judge Kavanaugh argued that a sitting president should be able to defer civil suits and criminal prosecutions until after he leaves office and should be excused from having to answer depositions or questions during his term. He went so far as to advocate that Congress “consider a law exempting a president — while in office — from criminal prosecution and investigation, including from questioning by criminal prosecutors or defense counsel.”

It is hard to imagine that these extreme views weren’t part of Judge Kavanaugh’s appeal to President Trump, a man who is a defendant in several civil suits and the subject of at least one criminal investigation. According to media reports, the White House has looked at the judge’s views on indicting a sitting president.

Nor are these mere academic musings. During his service on the appellate court, Judge Kavanaugh has written opinions reflecting an expansive view of presidential power, and on several occasions he has expressed concern about executive branch agencies that are insulated from direct control by the president.

What does this tell us about how he would view the ongoing investigation by Robert Mueller, the special counsel? There are important and — at least under current law — decisive differences between the independence enjoyed by the agencies at issue in those cases and that of the special counsel, who reports directly to a political appointee serving at the pleasure of the president. But the logic employed in Judge Kavanaugh’s opinions could easily be extended to argue that the president should enjoy the power to control the course of all criminal investigations — including those into his own alleged misconduct.

Judge Kavanaugh’s approach to executive power could, moreover, affect other aspects of the federal investigations relating to Mr. Trump. One of the most important is whether a president can pardon himself. In our view, the idea that a president can grant himself a pardon is anathema to our constitutional structure. One need not be a judge to see how antithetical this is to our Constitution: 85 percent of Americans (including 75 percent of Republicans) say that it is unacceptable for a president to pardon himself of a crime. Given Judge Kavanaugh’s position on executive authority, it is unclear where he would stand. Senators must find out.

Judge Kavanaugh’s writings and opinions also suggest he will be receptive to the bizarre argument that the president cannot obstruct justice by firing Department of Justice officials or taking other actions pursuant to his constitutional authority. There are multiple flaws in this argument, chief among them that both the Constitution and hundreds of years of precedent support the validity of congressional restrictions on the exercise of executive power. Will Judge Kavanaugh stand with the rule of law or allow the president to interfere with our system of justice with impunity?

Then there is the legality of Mr. Mueller’s appointment, which Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, has already tested in the two federal courts where he is facing charges. Both the District of Columbia and Virginia federal district courts rejected motions by Mr. Manafort to dismiss his criminal indictments, and the District of Columbia court rejected a collateral civil suit that he filed there challenging Mr. Mueller’s prosecution of the case. The reasoning behind these decisions is straightforward: Congress has given the attorney general broad authority to delegate power to subordinate officials. We cannot help wondering whether Judge Kavanaugh will view this delegation as an intrusion on presidential direct removal authority and reject the commonsense holdings of these lower courts should he have the chance.

The usual practice at Supreme Court confirmation hearings is for the nominee to refuse to answer questions about issues that may come before him or her. But we have never had a nominee who was chosen by a president identified as the subject of a criminal inquiry — one that already has resulted in serious charges against top aides and could implicate the president himself. We need to know the judge’s views on these issues so we can have an honest and open national discussion, and the Senate make a fully informed decision.

If he refuses to share them, Judge Kavanaugh must agree that if he is confirmed he will recuse himself from any decisions concerning the special counsel investigation and the related exercise of presidential powers —or his confirmation must be delayed until after the investigations are resolved. If the Senate confirms him without resolving these questions, we face the prospect of a new associate justice who poses a grave danger to the legitimacy of the court — and our democratic system of checks and balances.

POEM: Just Dew It

Round
Mid night
Countless drops
Fall free
In to the loving alms
Of Mother Earth
Making a mud pact
With trees, meadow, and flower
To dew wet sow ever
They thirst for

Life has an incredible capacity for renewal.  As the snows begin falling in this winter season, this poem can serve as a reminder that we are one day closer to spring.  They can cut all the flowers, but they can never stop the spring -- Pablo Neruda quote POLITICAL BUTTONEven spring in awe of its glory is not my favorite season, due primarily to its muckiness.  I, as most humans, have an incredible capacity to see what I don’t like about something.  As winners of discontent, it is easy to see the parent flaws in creation, weather it be subzero temps or mucky life springing forth.  Nonetheless, in life’s absences or parent death, summer in due course rounds the coroner transcending hour brutal figurings.  Even fall has a frolicsome way of upstaging the looming death weave awe faced.  Still, the con founding cycles of loss and renewal, life and death, seem to fallow us through life.  After witnessing countless of these cycles, how many more must we witness to deem them reliable, trustworthy?

I am a fan of the simple comic genius of the movie, Being There, a more spare forerunner to Forrest Gump.  This movie is a conflagration of innocent naivete and mighty inanity.  In Being There, starring peter Sellers, as Even on the road to hell, flowers can make you smile. Deng Ming-Dao quote SPIRITUAL BUTTON“a simple-minded gardener named Chance has spent all his life in the Washington D.C. house of an old man. When the man dies, Chance is put out on the street with no knowledge of the world except what he has learned from television. After a run in with a limousine, he ends up a guest of a woman (Eve) and her husband Ben, an influential but sickly businessman. Now called Chauncey Gardner, Chance becomes friend and confidante to Ben, and an unlikely political insider.”  A signature dialogue in the movie juxtaposes the simple experience of a gardener, naive in the ways of the world, with the dinnertime musings of Washington power brokers:

President “Bobby”: Mr. Gardner, do you agree with Ben, or do you think that we can stimulate growth through temporary incentives?
[Long pause]
Chance the Gardener: As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden.
President “Bobby”: In the garden.Raise your words, not voice; it is rain that grows flowers, not thunder -- Rumi quote POLITICAL BUTTON
Chance the Gardener: Yes. In the garden, growth has it seasons. First comes spring and summer, but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again.
President “Bobby”: Spring and summer.
Chance the Gardener: Yes.
President “Bobby”: Then fall and winter.
Chance the Gardener: Yes.
Benjamin Rand: I think what our insightful young friend is saying is that we welcome the inevitable seasons of nature, but we’re upset by the seasons of our economy.
Chance the Gardener: Yes! There will be growth in the spring!
Benjamin Rand: Hmm!
Chance the Gardener: Hmm!
President “Bobby”: Hmm. Well, Mr. Gardner, I must admit that is one of the most refreshing and optimistic statements I’ve heard in a very, very long time.
[Benjamin Rand applauds]
President “Bobby”: I admire your good, solid sense. That’s precisely what we lack on Capitol Hill.

God reigns on…the just and the unjust.  It is hours to thirst for righteousness and feed the dewy dreams of one another:  To dew wet sow ever/They thirst for.

MUSE POEM: Awe Mused Up

At the end of the day
He was awe mused up
Know longer able
Too take it
Sow well

This poem was written amidst a streak of short poems when the muse struck.  Sometimes the muse needs to be addressed directly as a subject.  The glorious work as a scribe to a muse is only work in as much as handing off the words become incarnate into human language requires time and some small sacrifice of an alternative activity, say, sleep.  The muse’s musings are worthy of a voice, and even sometimes beyond a voice in my head.  May you on occasion find yourself in good service to a muse.

POEM: The Right and Wrong End of a Gun

I shot Bill
In the gut
He stood there
For a moment
Seeming like a lifetime
His blood flowing
Like
Well
Freely
Or
Might as
Well
Be
‘N aRiA
Souled
A Bill of goods
Now Kosher
A salt of the earth
A haughty boys’ game
So brand-ish
Shrouding
A right end
And a wrong end
Of a gun

This is another anti-gun violence poem in what is yet another recurring theme in my musings.  I can relate to the emotions leading to want to hurt someone, even kill them.  However, I am chronically puzzled by how humanity (or inhumanity?) allows these gut feelings to get the better of us.  This seems to be solidly within the immature stages of human development.  In this poem, Bill suffers from the incarnation of such a gut feeling, by feeling a bullet rip through his gut.  You may note that there is no context given for why Bill was been shot in the gut.  I suspect that many people might presume that Bill somehow deserved being shot in the gut. Our gun culture is moving us ever along a victim blaming worldview.  This thought process is similar to people’s reactions and inquiries when someone’s house has been robbed.  Were the doors locked?  Do you have a security system?  As if not locking your door or having a security system is justification for a robber to rob you!  Similarly, gun rights folks are selling Americans the wholesale paranoid notion that if you don’t have a gun then you are just asking for trouble, with no little irony, from a person with a gun.  The truth of such paranoia may very well be directly proportional to the self-fulfilling aspects of modern America’s love affair with firearms for personal protection.  As a trained public health professional, who has studied gun violence as a public health problem, there is a scientific consensus that the easy availability and increased presence of firearms leads to increased deaths.  Of course, most gun rights enthusiast deny such scientific evidence.  Who knows, maybe their being hot under the collar is confounding this whole climate change brouhaha.  What may be of some surprise to people is that increased gun deaths are very often suicides.  In fact, those with access to guns are more likely to kill themselves than be killed by someone else.  Perhaps this is some cruel twist of human evolution, but surely we can do better than killing off ourselves.  The polarization of views on the role of guns in American culture is stark.  Whatever your views, America is moving toward resembling the OKKK Corral, and I consider this a move toward increased terrorism, never knowing whose home and family might get caught in the cross fire.

POEM: Getting It Together

I see tragedy in the world
Not as the enemy
To be retreated from
Nor as an accident
Captivating my perverse stares
Rather a musing
These puzzling pieces
Of my heart
Shuttered into a million pieces
In chanting invitations
Entranced overtures
Moving beyond words
As a gait way
To the presents
Of an unbroken whole

This is yet another poem about hope, a familiar theme of mine.  With all of the tragedy in the world, it can be difficult to have a light heart.  I often muse that I have to laugh to keep from crying.  This seems to me to be a basic choice of perspective to bring to life.  How should I orient my attitude in life?  Staring at tragedy can become a perverse rubber-necking, like seeing a wreck that you can’t seem to take your eyes off.  My personality is built in such a way that I easily see the falling short of any given situation compared to some more perfect ideal, or even the being aware of multiple perspectives or choices that are equally inane, in some banal equivalency.  The former is a perspective of idealism.  The latter tempts infinite forms of nihilism, all leading the same place: nowhere.  Perhaps needless to say, I identify much more strongly with idealism.  I deal with -isms all the time!  For me, the decisive factor in choosing between idealism and nihilism is a devotion to a positive outlook.  Great minds have pondered the tally between good and evil, and it seems that it may be a close call.  Some try to escape the question by believing that it doesn’t matter, that it’s all the same.  Of course, it does matter what we believe.  Some times believing is seeing.  I’m betting my life that good is stronger than evil, or simply that I am going to try really hard to be on the side of good.  I see a major developmental task in life as sorting out my relationship with the One, which some may call God, perhaps Tao, or even hope.  This always takes place in context of the myriad of things, the many, the stuff of our everyday life.  This poem alludes to our hearts being shattered and shuttered into a million pieces.  The poem ends with the epic allure of an unbroken whole, or perhaps, within human capabilities, healing and reconciliation of broken and estranged people.  The transition, the path, the opening between, mere musings and such a desired positive state, is filled with invitations/overtures, most of which will go unanswered/unfulfilled, and movement beyond words to action.  This requires taking the lead.  This requires inviting people to be better when being worse seems much more plausible or practical.  This requires my own volition of acting better when being worse seems much more plausible or practical.  My best, most simple definition of leadership is this: bringing out the best in others.  I have hope because it brings the best out in me.  May our highest hopes incarnate hope for one another.  Make it so…

POEM: Wading for Gödel

Wading for Gödel

A play of mathematical imprecision
Fraught with everlasting interpretations
Malingering, idoling away the ours
For a character whose reputation must impossibly precede him
Like the brutal distinction of jealousy and envoy
More afraid of the unknown than vacant certainties
Hanging around
Where oddly even suicide guarantees no relief
Fearing that nothing can’t save you
You continue with your undertaking
However uneasy your stay of execution
Every certainty begs a certain vagrancy
To wander into a place transcending recognized laws
Leading only to recognizing more laws
And evermore places transcending those laws
Somehow forgetting
Too right your cycle
Hungering for certitude
We become backwards
Taking on some medieval Buridan
Like some starving ass equidistant between two bails of
Hey! That direction doesn’t feed me at all!
How can I drink it all in
This rarified and singularly absurd dox
I’m pailing in the face of a pair!
Grown instantly by the experience
Making bail
A boat
Time
In a whirled that is
“Now,
50% more axiomatic!”
Barely con fronting reason cruelly deductive
The take away message
Be aware of the trip
It’s juxtaposition
The present
The eternal
Borne in mind
Your out
Look!
And if you find yourself
With an accent on the Kurt
Go d’ell
Or waiting for some “go dough”
To get the hell out of there
Don’t for get
Consider it
In completeness

This poem requires you to be highly alliterate!  The title “Wading fo Gödel” is both a tribute to Kurt Gödel and his Incompleteness Theorem and a pun, and tribute, to the absurdist play, “Waiting for Godot” written by Samuel Beckett.  There is also a tip of the hat to the medieval philosopher Buridan’s Ass Paradox.  Please don’t sweat the everlasting interpretations!  Though I will offer one tip to increase your reading pleasure: the line “Go d’ell” should be read with an Austrian accent (Kurt Gödel was Austrian) — that is, give it your most dramatic Arnold Schwarzenegger accent, with attitude!  Enjoy the passage…

POEM: O Children of Mother Earth, Arise!

This poem has emanated from my musings about the oil tar sands in Canada.  The extraction of these oil tar sands, in some of the most pristine parts of North America, is the largest single scarring of Mother Earth ever undertaken by human-unkind.  It seems that our oil addiction has us scraping the last drops of oil from the planet, squandering nature’s wealth — our children’s children’s inheritance — and polluting Mother Earth which sustains our very life.  Greed is the most dangerous enemy of sharing a planet together.  I hope that people from locales all over the earth rise up and protect Mother Earth from the many assaults on her.  As for my Toledo friends, you can check out and join Occupy Toledo’s resistance to oil tar sands being processed here at the BP refinery.  Think globally, act locally — that’s local, not loco!

O Children of Mother Earth, Arise!

Listen, O children of Mother Earth!
Hear, those who have ears
Hear the streams of clean water, our tributaries of life
Hear the streams of cars and trucks dirtying the air we breathe
See, O children of Mother Earth!
See, those who have eyes
See the beauty of fields and forests, mountains and meadows
See the scars of strip mines and cesspools of toxins
Smell, O children of Mother Earth!
Smell, those who have noses
Smell the fragrance of wildflowers and gardens
Smell the stench of oil and coal combustion, and chemical cocktails concocted
Reach out and touch, O children of Mother Earth!
Reach out and touch, those who have hands
Reach out and touch the soil and sun which fuels nature’s bounty
Reach out and touch the concrete and landfills, the Alpha and Omega of so-called “progress”
Taste, O children of Mother Earth!
Taste, those who have mouths
Taste the fruits of her plenty, enough for all
Taste the bitterness of her children’s petty scarcity, robbing brother and sister
Feel, O children of Mother Earth!
Feel, those who have hearts
Feel the call of nature
Feel the greed of those who would of nature relieve themselves
Speak, O children of Mother Earth!
Speak, those who have tongues
Speak of the splendor of a Mother’s care
Speak of the horror of an orphaned race
Arise, every living creature, O children of Mother Earth!
Return to her lap, and breast, and arms
Turn away from her desecration
Take your rightful place, to neither rule from above nor rule from below
Work side by side
Play together
Live neighborly
For we share the same fate
Whether we share or not
O children of Mother Earth

Direction Headed

If Do Not Change Direction End Up Where Headed–PEACE QUOTE BUTTON

If Do Not Change Direction End Up Where Headed--PEACE QUOTE BUTTON

If Do Not Change Direction End Up Where Headed–PEACE QUOTE BUTTON

This cool design is linked to a button, but other great Top Pun products like T-shirts, bumper stickers, mugs, caps, key chains, magnets, posters, and sticker sheets can be accessed by scrolling down the product page.

View more Peace Quote Buttons.

This is a great Chinese proverb.  Its simplicity and inescapable logic is a powerful way to break us out of inertial thinking.  Western civilization and its fixation on rationality (which ironically brings about irrational consequences), walks right into the inescapable logic of this proverb.  One of the many dangers in life is being desensitized to the negative aspects of the status quo.  Since we tend to rationalize whatever situation or behavior we are experiencing, and, in this respect, reality has a conservative bent, meaning a tendency or a bias towards maintaining what is already in existence and resisting a different course than wherever we happen to be headed.  I’m amazed at the powerful force that cognitive dissonance plays in the human psyche.  As a former health educator and having some training in human behavior, I was surprised to learn that the seemingly obvious assertion that behavior follows knowledge is actually largely backwards.  While knowledge may very well be a necessary component of a particular behavior, it is typically far from sufficient.  More typically, we engage in a behavior and then do what is necessary to align our thinking, attitudes and feelings with that behavior.  This makes sense if you reflect on the relative difficulty of changing behavior versus thinking.  It is usually easier to rationalize than actually make a behavioral change from whatever present course we are on.  So, cognitive dissonance serves as a psychic energy-saving mechanism by aligning a less difficult process in the face of a more difficult behavior or situation.  Of course, the way we think feeds back into our behavior.  Nonetheless, there is some mystical reality to acting on faith, when and where one may sense that a particular behavior may be better than a current one, but one can’t muster the psychic resources to first change one’s larger set of thoughts, attitudes and feelings, before giving the change in behavior a try.   I have heard counselors and therapists marvel at clients who struggled with many issues related to their thinking, attitudes and feelings, and found help on this front to be unhelpful, until taking the advice of “fake it till you make it;” then, found that when they changed their behavior everything else just “magically” fell into place (and, of course, the helper often received little credit for what seemed like stupid advice at the beginning).  Back to the concept of inertia, I’m reminded of the saying that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  Both of these sayings or proverbs imply that the past present and future are connected – duh!  While this may seem oddly oversimplified, it may just remind the reader that we can change the future by changing the present, just as we can assure more of the same by not changing our present course.  If you want something different, try something different.

One last reflection on thinking and behavior change.  Trying to figure out which comes first, thinking or behavior change, is sort of like asking which came first, the chicken or the egg.  For example, what needs to change for someone to actually take the advice of “fake it till you make it?” — a hurdle that may reap a quantum leap of change.   Of course, this can very well involve thoughts and attitudes.  So, maybe you shouldn’t try any of this behavior change mumbo jumbo (that’s reverse psychology by the way…)

Hate Free Zone

Hate Free Zone – Pink Triangle (Rainbow Heart) – Gay Pride Rainbow Store BUTTON

Hate Free Zone - Pink Triangle (Rainbow Heart) - Gay Pride Rainbow Store BUTTON

Hate Free Zone – Pink Triangle (Rainbow Heart) – Gay Pride Rainbow Store BUTTON

This cool design is linked to a button, but other great Top Pun products like T-shirts, bumper stickers, mugs, caps, key chains, magnets, posters, and sticker sheets can be accessed by scrolling down the product page.

View more Anti-Homophobia Buttons.

This simple design with a pink triangle declares a hate free zone.  Of course, the pink triangle signifies gay pride which is a reclaiming and redemptive response to the evil and hateful symbol that was used by the Nazis to mark persons as homosexuals in society and in concentration camps.  Some folks, typically religious folks, say that they can condemn people such as homosexuals without hating them, and in fact, love them while condemning them.  I think that this is a tricky a nuanced position the ultimate comes down to one big rationalization: we have the right to condemn others.  This rationalization comes easy because it’s hard to imagine a society with its many orders and stratifications that is not built somehow on condemning one another in one way or the other.  From a religious perspective, I think this boils down to one’s conception of hell.  Many religious folks believe that God condemns people to eternal damnation in some form of hell.  Gladly, I am not one of those folks.  I believe that hell is a totally human creation that completely misrepresents an all-loving and unconditionally loving God.  Hell is a convenient notion to justify one’s own hate and fear of others, and have a justifiable place to condemn those we dislike.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe in hell.  I just believe in hell on earth.  Not the Earth is necessarily a hellish place, but humans certainly do have a capacity to create hell on earth, and there’s more than enough of it to go around. It’s hard to imagine why God would have to add to the hells we’ve created.  I find it quite ironic that John 3:16, probably the most quoted biblical scripture on the planet, is immediately followed, in verse 17, about how Jesus’ purpose on this planet is not to condemn the world but to save it.  Maybe these two things are actually tied together; perhaps salvation is living in the reign of non-judgment and being free from condemning others and what I believe to be the necessary hate and fear that comes with that. Unfortunately, hate and fear are much easier to sell.  Thus, the difficult job and challenge of religion is to demonstrate non-judgment in such a profound way that we don’t have to “sell” it, because we’ve already paid for it with our lives, or how we live our lives.  I think Jesus freed us from fear of death, not from being persecuted unto death.  Both hate and love have a cost to them.  I supposed  the only real question is which of them is worth paying for.

 

What Are Conservatives Conserving?

What Exactly Are Conservatives Conserving (Earth) POLITICAL BUTTON

What Exactly Are Conservatives Conserving (Earth) POLITICAL BUTTON

What Exactly Are Conservatives Conserving (Earth) POLITICAL BUTTON

This cool design is linked to a button, but other great Top Pun products like T-shirts, bumper stickers, mugs, caps, key chains, magnets, posters, and sticker sheets can be accessed by scrolling down the product page.

View more Political Buttons.

What exactly are conservatives conserving?  This is a great question!  Of course, I love the play on the similar root of the words conservative and conserving.  Conservatives love talking about freedom.  However it seems that if we listen to conservatives we would be free to live in a world that is being consumed by all of its so-called free human beings, and all these human beings would be competing to no end against one another.  Sounds like a crappy version of freedom to me.   Freedom without understanding and honoring the limits of the natural world seems to me to be simply a license to ignorantly destroy the planet and all of its inhabitants.  Of course, the shared reality of the natural world, if it is going to be protected for the benefit of humanity, must put demands and limitations on human freedom.  Human beings, though seen as the pinnacle of reality by many, are certainly not exempt from the feedback or karma that the rest of reality causes in response to our actions.  Oftentimes, when I hear conservative speaking of freedom, it sounds to me like some immature fantasy of being free from anything and everything (or anyone).  However, I believe that true human wisdom lies in discerning what we should do, not simply what we can do (or get away with).  Reality gives plenty of good feedback about what we actually can’t do, so the obsession with freedom seems to me to be a sort of moot question.  Like the existentialist philosopher John Paul Sartre says, “we are condemned to be free.”  Freedom actually isn’t even a choice; we are born free.  Certainly, living in community with other human beings is a complicated and difficult thing.  However, it strikes me as foolish to ignore or greatly discount all the great things that we get from community as somehow too fuzzy or somehow reducible to some  individualistic form of math (the whole equals the sum of the parts, not more) that need rely only on some “invisible hand” to do the difficult and messy work of creating and maintaining a healthy and functional community.  In the end, it seems to me that what conservatives are conserving is the right to be selfish – more of an excuse than a human right.  Then, to get out of this amoral or evil conundrum, they claim that selfishness is the highest form of selflessness or benefit to the common good.  I suppose it’s very difficult to argue against an ideology that creates both its central tenet in its exact opposite.  Let them eat cake and keep their cake to.  What could be more conserving than that?

Force Attracts Men of Low Morality

Force Always Attracts Men of Low Morality–PEACE QUOTE BUTTON

Force Always Attracts Men of Low Morality--PEACE QUOTE BUTTON

Force Always Attracts Men of Low Morality–PEACE QUOTE BUTTON

This cool design is linked to a button, but other great Top Pun products like T-shirts, bumper stickers, mugs, caps, key chains, magnets, posters, and sticker sheets can be accessed by scrolling down the product page.

View more Peace Quote Buttons.

Albert Einstein is recognized as perhaps one of the greatest geniuses that ever lived regarding physics.  However, few people realize that Albert Einstein was also a great genius of metaphysics, or spiritual physics if you will.  This simple rule that force always attracts men of low morality can be a powerful organizing principle in how we relate to the world.  What if we realized, truly realized, that the world of command-and-control, the world of the military and security apparatuses, did not attract the so-called best and the brightest, but attracts those of low morality.  While Einstein certainly devoted the better part of his life to understanding physics, his number one extracurricular activity was to work for peace and the uplifting of all humanity.  Of course, these types of activities typically don’t make the history books, if for none other than the simple reason that history books only deal with great persons in history with a few paragraphs at most.  However, dealing with issues of morality in our culture seems strangely avoided.  This seems to be entwined with the Western civilization worldview that science is objective and all is science, that is reductionistic science.  We simply don’t know what to do with subjectivity, of which morality is one of the more obvious subjects.  Is it any wonder that Western civilization can be strikingly amoral?  So-called Western civilization has nearly perfected the ability to neuter any productive conversations about subjectivity or morality.  Oddly, this is probably viewed as a highly moral position.  You’ve got to love the irony!  Well, back to Einstein.  I like to think that his commitment and fascination to humanity springs forth from the essential truths that he reflected and meditated upon in physics.  I believe that all things are connected, and that this is a profound truth that underlies both physics and metaphysics.  I would hope that very few would object to the premise that all things are connected, as this is profoundly interwoven in the assumptions of any science.  The problem that many people shy away from, of course, are those connections that could be called subjective between humans and the rest of reality.  In the end, I guess my point is that many would view of what Einstein as a prototypical scientist.  If this view is based in any reality, we should pay attention to the fact that Einstein concerned himself with the nature of humanity that cannot directly be put under the proverbial microscope.  While Einstein is perhaps the best example, and he is the most well-known, there are many examples of theoretical physicists who have  immersed themselves in and accepted a mystical reality that cannot be fully explored with traditional hard science.  Yes, Einstein was a softy – a really smart softly.

Any Jackass Can Kick Barn Down, Takes a Carpenter to Build

Any Jackass Can Kick a Barn Down Takes a Carpenter to Build–PEACE QUOTE BUTTON

Any Jackass Can Kick a Barn Down Takes a Carpenter to Build--PEACE QUOTE BUTTON

Any Jackass Can Kick a Barn Down Takes a Carpenter to Build–PEACE QUOTE BUTTON

This cool design is linked to a button, but other great Top Pun products like T-shirts, bumper stickers, mugs, caps, key chains, magnets, posters, and sticker sheets can be accessed by scrolling down the product page.

View more Peace Quote Buttons.

Destroying stuff is a lot easier than building stuff up.  Ironically, this seems to give a certain power to people who destroy or threaten to destroy stuff.  Since destroying stuff is easier than building stuff up, there seems to be a certain efficiency, or competitive advantage if you will, to be a destroyer or terrorizer of destroying. While I don’t care much for this apparent bias that seems to favor the stupid and the violent on our planet, it seems to be a reality with which we must deal.  Nonetheless, this reality also points to the value, and even sacredness, of those things which are both vulnerable and treasured.  There seems to me to be a reality that is way beyond our ability to change that is good and beneficent.  I think it is this deeper reality that has hardwired us for hope.  Still, it is difficult not to have one’s attention distracted from this deeper reality when there seems to be plenty of stupid and violent behaviors to go around.  I think that building and protecting those things in life which are both vulnerable and treasured is the most important battleground for humanity.  Then, the real question becomes am I going to vote with my humanity for building up things of real value, or am I going to use the power vested in me by being human to destroy or threatening to destroy that which is built by others in order to get my own way, whatever that maybe.  So, we need to pick sides.  Do you want to be on the side of the jackasses, or do you want to be on the side of the carpenters?  I hope that this answer is an easy one to nail.

POLITICAL CARTOON: Country Club Jesus – Jewish, Non-American, Non-English-speaking

Country Club Jesus Speaks!

Jesus Cartoon: Country Club Jesus - Jewish Non-American Non-English-Speaking

Country Club Jesus speaks to us in many ways.  Ironically, Country Club Jesus, perhaps soon to be an American icon (lol), is neither American, nor speaks English.  Even more shocking, is that Jesus was a Jew.  Of course, this week’s comic touches on all three of these issues.  Hearkening back to the days when country clubs simply did not accept non-whites or non-Christians, the revelation of Jesus’ Jewishness would be better kept as a secret, and better to let people assume that the Christ is in fact a Christian.  Returning to current day America, with a new brand of xenophobia, suspicions of the need to exclude would probably center more around Jesus as a Middle Eastern man rather than a Jew.  Profiling Middle Eastern men as potential terrorists it second nature in America today, and may even be classified as a national hobby/obsession.  Notwithstanding, I’m most curious as to how the English-only crowd sees Jesus who in reality is a foreign speaking (Aramaic), well, foreigner.  Even more oddly for the American English-only crowd, they seem to often have a fetish with the King James version of the Bible, which is hardly an American version of English, let alone modern-day British English, since it was completed in 1611.  Sticking to such a version strikes me as an unwise balance between tradition and accessibility.  I would argue that if the Bible cannot be translated into more accessible English, in the case of American English speakers, then there must be some fundamental disconnect between biblical truths and modern life (which I don’t believe to be true).  I also find it incredibly ironic that one of the most popular version of the Bible was commissioned and given oversight by a monarch, a king.  I find this ironic because I see Jesus as standing against worldly authorities, monarchies, and the like.  But hey, I guess you’ve got to have a wealthy and powerful sponsor to get your message across.  Maybe we should sell naming rights to the next version.  How about the Wal-Mart Bible, or the Exxon Mobil Bible, or the Bank of America Bible, the McDonald’s Bible, or the J.P. Morgan Chase Bible?

So, until next Sunday, with the next edition of Comedian Jesus, CEO Jesus, Country Club Jesus, etc., let me know what you think.

POEM: Flowers Cut

I set before you these flowers
For your reflection and edification
These flowers were cut from my yard
A yard not unlike the two yards that will cover us all some day
Some may say that cutting short the lives of these flowers is wrong
But what do I say to this?
That the greater danger is cutting our own lives short
For it is much easier to harm ourselves than to harm another
Unlike most flowers and most of nature
This flower lives in the city
Most flowers and most of nature
Are as beautiful as they are unseen by human eyes
But these flowers, these city flowers
Go largely unseen, even as so largely present
People pass by, out of their minds
Racing to that whose beauty cannot compare
Neither flowers nor nature require our attention
But, ahhhh, the beauty is all sufficient
So, if I have cut short the life of these city flowers
By some few days such is life
Pardon my offense
And help me repay such expense
With such beauty they briefly impart
Not unlike this poem
Which from the mind will soon depart
Let such beauty replenish the beauty of your heart
And prepare you for every worthy start

The beginnings of this poem struck while I was taking a walk late yesterday afternoon.  I was to go to an Occupy Toledo General Assembly meeting early that evening, and I decided to take some cut flowers from my yard.  I love it when the muse strikes!  It is a glorious curse of the poet to pay homage to the moment when inspiration strikes.  Having a life where I’m able to do this brings me incalculable joy.  Some may say that I have too much time on my hands, but I certainly don’t have a watch on my wrist, or a cell phone in my pocket.  Anyway, to the calculating chronologist, we all have the same 24 hours each day.  Poets know better, I say in all humility, or rather awe.  While many of us live a similar amount of time, in terms of times our heart is beating and there are waves in our brain, there are simple and great differences in how well we live that time.  I am partial to the blessing given by the late Will Rogers in saying, “May you live all the days of your life.”

POEM: Arguing with Atheists

Arguing with atheists is like panning for gold in a bathtub.

This one line poem is certainly provocative, and probably dangerous.  First I would like to concede that I cannot prove that God exists.  Secondly, and equally, I don’t think that is a proper understanding of reality to conclude that God cannot exist.  Thus the chasm between theists and atheists.  Actually, the term “God” is so loaded for people I would like to suggest a different tack.  I think the issue boils down to an argument between subjectivity and objectivity.  I find that the predominant view of atheists that I have met or read about seem to take an objectivist view, what I would call scientific reductionism.  While this view can be very helpful for understanding part of reality, it specifically rules out any subjective reality.  While this seems eminently reasonable to most modern people of a scientific bent, it ignores the most basic experience of human life: that humans are subjects, subjective.  If folks would argue that people are not subjects or subjective, then we don’t have much to talk about, and perhaps all that we do have to talk about has been predetermined in the infinite cascade of objective cause-and-effect.  The philosophy or arguments that preclude or exclude subjects or subjectivity destroys both humans and God in a single stroke.  Now, while it seems quite easy in terms of simplicity or Occam’s razor, to just eliminate God, the “Subject”, from the equation, eliminating oneself and all other subjects seems much more dangerous, even foolish.  I can probably appreciate absurdity as much of the next person, probably more.  However, scientific reductionism comes to a nice clean and neat end when it reaches absurdity, which perhaps ironically, it inevitably does.  It can go no further.  I wish to go further.  This requires uncertainty, even absurdity.  However, I think that this is where the gold is found.  Panning for gold can be a long and tedious process, and it may not even pay off for many, maybe even most.  Nonetheless, such gold cannot be found in a bathtub, the proverbial scientific reductionist billiard ball world.

One last note, on the concept of arguing.  Arguing is often seen as an intellectual exercise.  Unfortunately, the intellect has its limits, and there are places for which it is not an adequate instrument to explore.  These are the matters of the heart, of subjectivity, of life itself, which cannot be reduced to a machine, at least not with the unintended consequences of killing life.  Residing in the heart, centering our experience around the heart, living a wholehearted life, is a way existential enterprise.  There is meaning, and we discover that meaning through our subjective faculties.  I must surpass or transcends mere intellect.  I must literally vote with my life, my life force, the subjectivity that is mine.  Ultimately, talking about or arguing about things is inadequate.  What we do matters.  How we live our life matters.  Ultimately, our life is our message.  If someone else’s life seems argumentative with our own message, then so be it.  A certain amount of conflict and absurdity is necessary in life.  I don’t think many would argue with that.  Though feel free to pan my views…

POLITICAL CARTOON: Country Club Jesus – Blessed are those who exclude others for economic reasons

Country Club Jesus Speaks!

Jesus Cartoon: Country Club Jesus - Blessed are Those who Exclude Others Economic Reasons

Welcome to Country Club Jesus!  This is the latest installment the Top Pun series of comics that run on Sundays, featuring CEO Jesus, Free Market Jesus, Country Club Jesus, General Jesus, Comedian Jesus, and who knows what other incarnations!

This is the first appearance of Country Club Jesus, but he will undoubtedly return again!  Country Club Jesus has finally got some balls, a bucket full of them as a matter of fact.  You have to wonder with Jesus being so special why he waited so long for this exclusive members only thing!  But, he’s finally caught up with his church that seems to focus more on guarding its exclusive member benefits than actually growing the circle of members, or God forbid, actually living out its mission to set the oppressed free.

A lot of things in life cost a lot of money.  The world tends to focus on what it can’t afford and the infinite versions of trying to use money to meet needs that money cannot fill.  Like John Lennon says “All you need is love.”  Right, that and a Cadillac will get you a Cadillac, others say.  I can certainly relate to how complicated it is trying to sort through all of our basic needs and meet them, and certainly money has a role in that process.  Nonetheless, I find it much more useful to frame our most basic needs in terms of what I can’t afford not to do.  This hones in on those relatively few, yet most important, values that get roughshod on a daily basis.  This helps foster a more conscientious approach to that which is important but not necessarily urgent.  It is essential to be able to define what the good life is.  If money is the lowest common denominator in this definition, then you can expect that your life will not rise much above this lowest common denominator.  I return often to the classic and profound dichotomy that Jesus laid out:  you can serve either God or money, but not both.  This is a basic choice that cascades into the rest of our life every day, every month, every season, every year, every decade, every generation.  If we screw up that basic choice between God and money, our life will necessarily be disordered.  First things first.  Seek ye first the realm of God and all else will follow.  The screwed up worldly version of this is: no money, no mission.  If you can’t tell the difference between these two versions, then it’s time to get back to the basics.  Oh, and by the way, it probably doesn’t include beating up others with your exclusive club!

So, until next Sunday, with the next edition of CEO Jesus, Free Market Jesus, etc., talk amongst yourselves or let me know what you think.

War Travels By Night and Bidet

War Travels By Night and Bidet-FUNNY ANTI-WAR BUTTON

War Travels By Night and Bidet-FUNNY ANTI-WAR BUTTON

War Travels By Night and Bidet-FUNNY ANTI-WAR BUTTON

This cool design is linked to a button, but other great Top Pun products like T-shirts, bumper stickers, mugs, caps, key chains, magnets, posters, and sticker sheets can be accessed by scrolling down the product page.

View more Anti-War Buttons.

Truth is the first casualty of war.  To successfully wage war this truth needs to be hidden.  This design in a simple and even in a crude way exposes this.  The “traveling by night” reference alludes to fly-by-night operations or those requiring the cover of darkness.  The pun on “by day” with “bidet” steals away the natural balance of the night with day, leaving behind only a bunch of crap or other waste products, which at best are put out of sight and out of mind to protect our civilized sensibilities.  In our modern Western civilization, we typically do not ponder where all of our crap or trash goes.  Not surprisingly, in the long run we will have to deal with the fact that we are drowning in our own waste products.  War is the perfect example of denial and cost shifting.  We flush all the bad stuff out of sight and pretend that all of the shit that we send someone else’s way just works itself out somehow.  But like they say, all weapons are boomerangs, and what goes around comes around.  Some high society sophisticates try to pawn off war as some kind of noble enterprise built on courage and service.  Those who profit from war has convinced many others that violent warriors represents some ideal.  Our culture’s worship of military service and veterans is proof of this.  Though I would argue that our actual treatment of veterans is proof of our hypocrisy.  War is an enterprise built more on tearing apart human lives and shitting on creation than some courageous service.  If we are not careful, our highbrow leaders may just find sustainability only in the death brought about by drowning in our own waste products.  Of course, those of us familiar with food science, know that this is how fine wine is made: you allow bacteria to consume all that is sweet, producing a waste product called alcohol at such levels that eventually kill the bacteria themselves.  This is why wine has an alcohol level of about 12%, because that is the concentration of alcohol that kills the bacteria and stops the process.  And while downing this slurry of dead bacteria and their waste products has a certain appeal to those of finer tastes, if we end up with a slurry of dead humans and their waste products one can’t help wonder who could possibly enjoy that.  But alas, I merely want us to stop whining!  The alcohol level of Western civilization is rising and those drunk with power seem to have severely impaired judgment.  Those still sober and awake need to take action.  Otherwise, we all may well end up in the bidet (swirl slightly and wait for the aftertaste).  And who wants to waste, especially a vintage 1984 Orwellian, where drunk is the new sobriety…

Homosexuality Prevents Abortion

Homosexuality Prevents Abortion BUTTON

Homosexuality Prevents Abortion BUTTON

Homosexuality Prevents Abortion BUTTON
This cool design is linked to a button, but other great Top Pun products like
T-shirts, bumper stickers, mugs, caps, key chains, magnets, posters, and sticker
sheets can be accessed by scrolling down the product page.

View more
Gay Political Buttons
.

I like this cool design because it deals with a crossover of issues.  Also, it ties together two seemingly unrelated issues, but when combined the two issues create a delicious cognitive dissonance among right-wing religious folks.  Homosexuality, or any sexuality for that matter, is an issue that seems to pique the interest and even outrage of many conservative religious people.  About the only other issue that can peak such passion is abortion.  While homosexuality and abortion are not generally tied together, they are tied together by the issue of sexuality.  However, when homosexuality and abortion are tied together, particularly with the proposition that homosexuality prevents abortion, there are surely some people in their right-wing mind with smoke coming out of their ears.  Of course, it may be impossible to determine exactly whether the smoke coming out of their ears is the inability to compute such a logical juxtaposition, or whether they are just mad at having to be challenged on one or the other of these issues, or worse yet, both of these issues at the same time.  Both homosexuality and abortion are issues among right-wingers that are almost irresistible to parody, because of the almost complete demonization of their opponents on either of these issues.  Thus, posing that accepting even one of these issues may help ameliorate the other issues breaks through the crusty armor of this demonization.

It’s the Greed, Stupid

It’s the Greed, Stupid POLITICAL BUTTON

It's the Greed, Stupid POLITICAL BUTTON

It’s the Greed, Stupid POLITICAL BUTTON

This cool design is linked to a button, but other great Top Pun products like T-shirts, bumper stickers, mugs, caps, key chains, magnets, posters, and sticker sheets can be accessed by scrolling down the product page.

View more Political Buttons.

This cool design does not rely upon puns or complex twists.  This design is another tip of the hat to the Occupy Wall Street movement.  Of course, for those that been around for little while, you’ll recognize that this is a takeoff on the presidential candidate Bill Clinton campaign slogan, “It’s the economy, stupid”.  His Republican opponent, Pres. George H. Bush, was dealing with yet another economic turn downturn produced by the soon-to-be named “irrational exuberance” and casino economy that inevitably cycles into booms and busts.  Some things never change.  It almost goes without saying, since we worship the economy, that moneymaking by either corporations or by people in the form of jobs is perennially issue number one, and number two as well.  If you don’t think that we worship the economy, the next time you hear a news report or read a newspaper, just substitute “God” for “the economy” and it will make a lot of sense.  In this case, in this design, the simple twist is a substitution of “greed” for “economy.” This hones in on the normative driving force of the so-called neutral or generic economy.  The 1980s resulted in the coining of the phrase “greed is good.”  The inevitable logic that led us to such a stupid conclusion is centered around the idea that the economy is the ultimate provider of good in our society, i.e., our god.  This is why we must constantly serve the economy, feed the economy, and make it our ultimate focus. My simple definition for what constitutes one’s God, is what one values the most, what one serves over and above other potentially competing values.  It’s interesting to note, that in the 10 Commandments, while God commands us to serve God first, God does not claim to be the only god.  There are plenty of gods to choose from.  A companion to the incredible confusion that would lead us to say something as stupid as greed is good, is Western civilization’s quest for objectivity or neutrality.  Unfortunately, this perennially leads us to the conundrum of talking about what we value most while trapped in an underlying worldview that denies that any one thing is actually better than another.  This quest for ultimate objective reduces morality to simple if-then statements, neutering any morality.  This is the Achilles heel of denying subjective reality.  Just because something is subjective doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, it just means I can’t be pinned down in some definitive empirical way.  Objectivism in our culture, and current political environment, is probably best represented by Ayn Rand.  Ayn Rand and her ideas are idealized, even idolized, by folks of the libertarian variety.  There is great force behind these ideas, that is, if you don’t mind ignoring the metaphysical violence that inevitably results.  Another term for objectivism is scientific reductionism.  In both objective reality and subjective reality some things follow other things; there is an order to the universe.  Those who have ears to hear, and those who have a heart listen.  A contemporary case in point would be Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul.  Many folks with a libertarian sentiment find Ron Paul’s political philosophy very attractive.  In my judgment, his judgment is largely negated by his gross inhumanity that frequently crops up when he takes his political philosophy to its logical conclusion.  For example, in denying health care for those who need it and cannot afford it, quite literally saying “let them die”, reveals forcefully that his God is not about caring for one another, or caring for creation as a whole, but raises each individual to the status of a god, and is forced to accept the ensuing violence that is inherent in such an inhumane philosophy.  If the individual is a god, not subject to any higher power, then individuals are condemned to be at war, and civility, in its best sense, will be run roughshod over, necessarily so.  Bringing this all back to the economy, greed is not good.  To have to even state such a truism is a testament to the sickness from which we currently suffer.  The idea that greed is a legitimate organizing principle for society should be offensive to anyone with a heart.  Of course, if being heartless is not a barrier to living one’s life fully, then go ahead and follow this mechanistically violent path to its logical conclusion.  I guess my concluding point would be that logic reaches a conclusion before life does, and that to continue living, that is to not reduce ourselves to being some mechanistic robot, we need to transcend logic.  This is the realm of the heart.  This is the realm of God.  By living fully into this realm, logic need not be tossed out, it merely serves a higher purpose, a humane purpose, a godly purpose.  May it be so!

POEM: To Un-Jar Your Thinking

My point is not to jar your thinking.

My point is to un-jar your thinking.

This two-line poem, with a simple wordplay, addresses a fundamental dichotomy that is present in much of our life that may appear so subtle that it is oftentimes missed.  To jar one’s thinking is almost the opposite of un-jarring one’s thinking, yet, they also strike us as being very similar.  They both imply a significant movement, even an epiphany.  Eliciting such a significant movement in one’s thinking and/or perspective is exactly what I try to achieve with my wordplay and perpetual twists.  Still, the act of jarring one’s thinking connotes something more forceful, even violent.  While the act of un-jarring one’s thinking is akin to a release or letting go.  The act of letting go can easily be mistaken for some inaction or some passivity, when, in fact, it can be a very profound act.  Simply reflect on the difference between giving up and letting go.  If this is not immediately evident to you, then just wait a few years, life is bound to teach you this.

Jarring one’s thinking is more narrowly focused and implies a more specific intent of where to lead someone.  Jarring one’s thinking is more directive.  Un-jarring one’s thinking connotes a more nonspecific and open-ended beginning with an indeterminate number of possibilities.  This strikes me as an approach more appropriate to the complexities and infinite possibilities of life.  There’s no question that I have a particular perspective.  I am definitely not shy in trying to jar other people’s thinking into a particular way that I think is better.  However, an infinitely better purpose of mine would be to un-jar your thinking, creating a way of thinking that is not bound by my own particular perspective, but transcends it.  While I would like to take credit for helping create a launching place for another’s freedom, I truly relish another’s original thinking, un-jarred by my particular mode of thinking, and hopefully reflecting back to me something original that I can add to my experiences.  This is infinitely better for myself and the other than having another parrot back my own prepackaged thoughts, even when they are thoughts of genius.  In this case the point is probably simply to think outside the jar, because that’s where most everything is; and certainly the most interesting stuff.

A final note, for those really wanting to delve into the meaning of particular words, is on the word “point.”  The word “purpose” could have just as well been used in this poem would’ve lost very little of its meaning.  However, I chose “point” for a specific reason.  A point in a mathematical context is a singularity in space denoted by three coordinates XYZ.  In mathematics, a point does not actually exist in two or three dimensions, where humans inhabit — that would require two or three points.  In the context of meaning, rather than simply denoting a place in space, a point is the confluence between multiple concepts that most clearly represents those multiple concepts.  If unclear when speaking about a multitude of ideas, someone may say “get to the point.”  Thus, the word “point” is a conceptual pun that captures both the particularity of jarring one’s thinking and the transcendence of un-jarring one’s thinking.  The paradoxes of life seem to reside in this mystical place where both the oneness and the myriad things meet.  Conceptual puns are not surprising, are very common, and, in fact, unavoidable, since language is basically symbols representing or referring to something else, i.e., this is that.  My point being, that language is inherently metaphorical and will be rife with metaphors.  Consequently, the power of the pun is inescapable!