A Farewell to Arms? Surely You Jest!

As I arrived home last night after a meeting and having been serenaded on the way first, by the end of Mr. Trump’s Afghanistan speech, and then by NPR’s commentators, I realized that I was more disheartened by the phalanx of commentators than by Trump’s final words. An additional irony for me was the reflection that here …

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A Prohibition Whose Time is Now

On July 7th, the UN passed the Nuclear Prohibition Treaty. A treaty the US will not join any time soon, just as it hasn’t joined many other global agreements including: Convention on Cluster Munitions Ottawa Treaty (Mine ban) International Criminal Court Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (Signed, but withdrew in 2002) As one might expect this UN …

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Not Capitalism- But What Else?

What follows are excerpts from two books I’ve recently finished. The first I pulled from my own bookshelf long ago purchased at a used book sale, but never read. It was referenced in something I read earlier this year. The book was written in 1969 and I was reading it simultaneously while I was reading …

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Not Enough Bullets

I am struggling to remember an earlier time in my life when I felt like the world was as surreal as I find it now. We have a person in the drivers seat so self-absorb, most professional mental health experts I know concur  that he suffers from Narcissistic Behavior Disorder (NBD), based upon his public statements …

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Oldies But Goodies

There is probably a built in mechanism in our culture’s brain that the newest ideas and thoughts are better than older ones. Today’s thinkers have the chance to stand on the shoulders of those who came before. I know I’m always looking for fresh new ideas in the books recently published, thus my almost weekly …

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The Rush to Avoid Taxes

We now have less than 30 days to finish up our federal tax forms and get them to the IRS and state capitols. As I noted recently in this blog, “taxes are dues for living in a civilized society”. So why do we all seek every advantage to reduce those taxes? We want deductions for …

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Cashing in on Fear

While it seems obvious to me, evidently it isn’t to many Americans. Donald Trump and other fear mongers among us are constantly trying to make us afraid of – immigrants, minorities, Muslims, LGBT, terrorists, criminals, axis of evil….ad nauseum. If they can sell the fear, we’re more likely to succumb to their proposed remedy – …

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There’s A Change A-Comin’, or Is There

One of the surprise results of the November election has been the stimulation of previously docile citizens to engage with the political and policy gears of our nation. I have attended many organizational meeting of groups I’ve been active with for some time, where attendance has doubled or more, seemingly overnight. The newcomers say something …

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Hope, Lies and Making Change

I was up early as usual yesterday morning to sneak in a little quiet reading time before heading off to set up for our local monthly recycling drive we’ve been operating for 28 years. It was chilly (14 degrees) and dark when I loaded up our 1999 Ford Ranger, 4-cylinder truck with our material before …

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Time to Break Silence

  Well I haven’t exactly been silent in recent years, but I think the circumstances we are in call for being unafraid to stand up to forces that are dragging us toward our collective demise, but also to offer alternatives that redirect us towards a more just and peaceful future. It will be 50 years …

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Maelstrom on Steroids

I know I am not the only recipient of countless takes on the U.S. election. Everywhere I turn there is a new attempt to either assess how it happened or that predicts what will follow. I’m pretty convinced that no one understands either very completely. Yet that doesn’t mean that we should not glimpse at …

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Seeking Advantage

Advantage  n – “superiority of position or condition”.   Thus seeking advantage is to gain a superior or upper hand.  We have allowed ourselves to be convinced that this orientation will produce all that is good and worthy for a life to be fulfilled, that it is a natural biological imperative. Some have argued that Darwin’s …

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That Exceptionalism Thing

I just finished reading Noam Chomsky’s latest work, Who Rules the World this morning, As the craziness of this presidential election unfolds around us both the major party candidates share the dominant script of America the Exceptional. In fact, both not only wish to preserve and protect that image, but one would even expand it. …

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The Sell-Off of Democracy

In the past few months we have seen an acceleration of mergers among giants in many industries. Dow Chemical and Dupont, followed by Monsanto and Bayer, Marriott and Starwood, Microsoft and Linked-In, Verizon and Yahoo, and recently Miller and Budweiser. Each of these firms were giants before a merger. By combining they not only grab …

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What a Racket!

Parts of the following appeared in a viewpoint published by the Lansing State Journal (9/19/2016). The march to war continues unceasingly regardless of which of our two major parties holds the highest office in the land. Last month, President Obama, without any discussion with Congress, authorized air strikes into Libya. We have been in endless …

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Getting Wasted

I have been meaning for months to raise the issue of the great waste ignored by us in this community. There are numerous reminders, but the one that sets me off the most is the ongoing construction near the MSU Federal Credit Union’s headquarters off State Road and US 127. Driving by the rising structure …

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Reading is Democracy

I was reading from the pile of books stacked nearby earlier this morning, John Harris’ How to Be Good: The Possibility of Moral Enhancement (Oxford University Press, 2016) It’s a philosophical treatise that I bumped into on the new book shelf a few weeks back. As I was reading it, I kept reflecting on, “why am …

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We Are What We Eat/Read

We took our son, Noah and his partner, Andy, to dinner last night at a new Thai restaurant in Detroit, Katoi. The menu was unique to my culinary experience. The mix of tastes and combinations of ingredients was so distinctive, that I could not possibly imagine what these combinations might taste like. I was struck …

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The Exceptional Bully

Upon glancing at our local Sunday paper this morning, I realized why what appears to be a majority of the public, knows little of the rest of the world. It rarely exists in the pages of local media. I suspect my rather late recognition of the obviousness of this observation was jolted to consciousness as …

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For What It’s Worth

There is lots going on in the world of sports. There must be, as our local daily newspaper devotes more space to covering it than any other subject, seven days a week. Some of the most watched television are sports events. And it doesn’t take a genius to recognize that there is big money to …

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Enlightened Minds in a Darkening Time

It’s been more than a month since I finished reading two very insightful books, Sheldon Wolin’s Democracy Incorporated (2008) and John Ralston Saul’s The Collapse of Globalism. I have been wanting to write about them but have felt mentally paralyzed by fear that I could not possibly provide an adequate synopsis of their depth of …

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Black Holes of Federal Spending

The elephant in the room that most seem blind to is our utter acceptance of a bloated and constantly expanding and UNAUDITED military budget. Even our Nobel Peace laureate President is not beyond offering up another increase in the current budget for our supposed ”defense.” The Project on Government Oversight called his budget a “Mardi …

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Time for a Leap?

Time for a leap, that was the message last night from Naomi Klein as she spoke at Michigan State University. In addressing both the seeming conflicting euphoria and dismay that followed the recent Paris Climate Agreement she summarized it as: on the Euphoria side that the world had agreed to a plan to keep climate …

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$1 Trillion – It’s Your Money

The Ploughshares Fund tracks nuclear weapons production and spending in an effort to reduce and eliminate the ultimate weapons of mass destruction that like the sword of Damocles hangs above our collective heads. They currently estimate there are 15,375 with the vast majority in the hands of the U.S. (6,970) and Russia (7,300) and the …

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A Nuclear Option

The moose in the room that most everyone is blind to it seems, is our utter acceptance of a bloated and constantly expanding military budget. Even our Nobel Peace laureate President is not beyond offering up yet another increase in the current budget for our supposed ‘defense’. The Project on Government Oversight called the new …

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Days of Decision

To believe in the possibility of change is something very precise. It means that we believe in the reality of choice. That there are choices. That we have the power to choose in hope of altering society for the greater good. Do we believe that our governments must inevitably tax the poor through stealth taxes …

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War – What is it Good For?

President Obama is about to release his budget for fiscal year 2017. There is every reason to believe that the amount we spend for war will dwarf every other discretionary expenditure. The National Priorities Project “Costs of National Security” website helps paint that picture. But numbers are cold facts that like the winter winds numb …

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Putting a Lid On It

It is time for me to get off my duff. I have been sitting safely a bit too long, ensconced in my middle class security. A security a majority can’t share. Time to push forward some radical possibilities. Here’s one to start, some of which I’ve hinted around in the past. It’s time to enact …

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A New Year, A New Economy?

I did not begin the day with any intention to write about anything in particular. Several ideas popped in and out of my consciousness during the day, but no one thing grabbed me. But then I skimmed the new January 2016 issue of Too Much, diligently compiled by Sam Pizzigati, and saw a familiar name …

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Credit and the Public Good, Part 1

(An earlier version of this was published in City Pulse, a local alternative weekly serving Michigan’s Capitol region.) I suspect that few folks reading this don’t have an account at a bank or credit union. I belong to two credit unions. Credit unions differ from traditional private banks in that they are member owned. This …

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Arming Ourselves to Death

Such a fixation our culture has on guns and violence as a response to fear. From Dwight Eisenhower’s famous farewell speech warning against the Military Industrial Complex to the NRA’s no holds barred to make sure everyone has a gun on them at all times, our culture is sick, probably cancerous, and possibly stage 4. …

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Three Years to the Day

Today is three years to the day I decided to try and blog about “possibilities”. While they have been rather sparse over the past couple of months, in total this is number 197 that I’ve published along with another dozen started but left dangling. The purpose for me was to share inspiration that we might …

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Beyond Individualism

Two books completed recently share some common ground although using different lenses to see it. George Rupp, former Harvard Divinity School dean, President of both Rice and Columbia University and most recently president of the International Rescue Committee, has penned Beyond Individualism: The Challenge of Inclusive Communities (Columbia University Press, 2015). The chapters are largely …

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