The Republican Party is corrupt and dying of old age. There, I said it. I know that seems harsh. Especially to say when one of their more respected members, John McCain, my Senator, is being eulogized. But McCain was widely resented in the Republican Party for the very things that he did that made him better than average. His interest in campaign finance reform was resented and completely repudiated with John Roberts as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. His resistance to the embrace of the uber macho version of anti-terrorism that is enthusiastic about torture has often been cast aside as weak. But the Republican Party has spent the last 2 years of debasing itself way beyond what it had done in selling itself to the most generous individuals and corporations. Now it has decided that racism, scapegoating of minorities, open lies, bullying, and in other words, Donald Trump, is great. Or at least great enough, since he has provided to them a period where they can own the entire Federal Government.

So they use this time to help corporations poison people, destroy the environment, and enrich the executive upper class even faster. For them, climate change is not even a problem, and they are probably right. With so much money, the ultra-rich can afford to lose a couple waterfront properties over time. And the other disasters coming worldwide will likely provide more opportunities for profit for them. Sorry. I know this is harsh, but this is the reality that we are facing. But this ugly glimpse doesn’t even cover all the ugliness.

To maintain their power, the Republican Party works overtime to disenfranchise minority voters. Disenfranchise, a cousin to gerrymander, is a big word for finding elaborate, intricate, or creative ways to throw citizens off the voting lists so that there are fewer Democrats voting. It’s part of the many immoral ways that have been used to keep non-white people from voting after the civil war. For example, for decades lynchings and other anti-Black brutality were used to put the scare in people just before election day. It helped show people their place. Now, it’s usually done with a little more finesse, but it’s pretty obvious still. It’s not just voter list purging, it’s also turning back the clock on civil rights law. The conservative swing on the Supreme Court and carefully orchestrated legal challenges have left the voting rights act bleeding and much less effective, allowing some of the old, justice-challenged states to go back to what they’ve wanted to do all along, make it harder or impossible for minorities to get voting equity and enjoy basic rights. And there are the old standbys, too, such as setting up roadblocks near voting locations in minority districts, or making sure those locations have long lines or get closed shortly before the election. There are so many subtle ways to twist fate in your favor, if you lack a conscience.

Am I being harsh? Harshly frank! I am not just playing politics. It is not that the Democrats have been perfect defenders of all that is good. But they have been so measurably better. Some might say that they just don’t have the guts to do as the Republicans — such as to make up arbitrary rules, such as Black presidents who have only a year left in their term don’t get to pick Supreme Court Justices. Or that National Monuments designated in the last 20 years can be drastically shrunk by the President, especially if they were formed by working with native americans.

You can say I’m prejudiced, and I am, if feeling that white supremacy, racism, and lying routinely are unacceptable. But I don’t think I am the only one who sees many of these things. The corruption and winner-takes-all politics of the Trump administration has been remarked upon by the news media, earning them anger and threats from the Trump kingdom. But for most people with a more sober view of our nation and a knowledge of its history, and an appreciation of how to winnow knowledge from the noise, the signs are piling up that the Trump administration may have a limited lifespan. With an administration laden with corrupt people and numerous connections with Russia, it increasingly appears likely that Trump will be found guilty, too. Pundits are often saying in the media now that neither Democrats nor Republicans have a stomach for impeachment. But by talking about it, it’s clear that people are thinking about it, and for increasingly good reasons. We need not rush to impeachment, and should likely wait for serious findings against Trump by the Mueller-led investigation. But we should not shy away from impeachment either. Because we continue to be ruled by a President who was not elected by a majority of votes, yet he has pushed a hard-right, divisive, white-supremacist agenda. And an anti-environmental, pro-corporate agenda.

So as my house and yard is washed with a hard, monsoon downpour, I wish also to see a cleansing in Washington, D.C. soon. The coming election could at least change the makeup of Congress enough to make it harder for a corrupt leadership to damage further our nation, hurt the people here with the least power, and damage our friendships abroad. Wash it all away. Clean our government of some of the ugliest politics and politicians it has ever had. Vote in the upcoming election and study carefully the choices you make. Your nation needs you, just as Tucson needs this rain.

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I have discussed before how my friend the verdin and the other birds are all good at taking care of their young. I have no experience in caring for children, but since it’s clear that our government has made some bad judgements with regard to how you treat children, I thought I would put together some simple guidelines.

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These seem like pretty basic rules for dealing with children. But all of them are happening to children in our country. This makes me sad.

The heat of summer is here, and with it, all life in the Sonoran desert comes to it’s peak of activity. The sun is peeking at the horizon at 4:40 AM and the cats are up and busy. The white wing doves outside start with “who cooks for you” even earlier, it seems anyway. But so much of the world outside, of living things that live in the spaces we leave between houses, is occupied with raising young. The verdin had a nest earlier in the year and maybe another since. The little screech owl has been gone all year, but just showed up with 2 or 3 young and has taken up roost in our back eaves again, while teaching them to hunt and live for themselves.

Two days ago, I was walking down the street and the garbage truck came roaring down the street from behind me, but across the street. Just as the truck came up to me, a quail family with 4 or 5 little ping pong ball sized chicks ran out from my side of the street and across in front of the truck. I cringed and my heart sank as the truck flew full speed rignt into the little mass of 2-3 adults and all the little ones. As the truck passed, a lone chick came out from the stones near the road on my left, and it ran, late, across the street. The adults and at least some of the chicks miraculously made it across the street and ran into the desert yard across the street and into the bushes by the house. The lone chick peeped and haltingly listened to its parents calls and eventually made it up to join them in the bushes. Then, my heart in my mouth, I started to walk forward again, but stopped as 2 more chicks ran from the rocks on my left and crossed the street. They, too, would run and then call their parents, wait for a response, and then followed their calls, gradually making it up to the bushes near the house. Finally I walked forward and out into the street a little to see better. There were no smashed or injured chicks on the road. I don’t know how that was possible, but I was glad of it. It’s only normal to hope for the best for families that face peril.

We see often in nature a bond between parent and child similar to what we expect among humans. There are exceptions, of course, but we constantly hope and wish for the ideal, especially in our own society. And yet we see, or at least those of that that watch and witness the news, we see the most painful and ugly of abuses of the bond between child and parent. Our federal government has created a new policy at the border with Mexico, which lies about 70 minutes drive south of here in Tucson. In an effort to keep the Trump voters singing His praises, the Trump administration has chosen to separate children from parents when they cross the border without visa or even if they come to the border to ask for asylum. Dehumanization of the latino people that live south of that border has been frequent and constant under the Trump administration. Trump’s incessant cry to build a wall with Mexico was another racist anthem to replace his earlier demands to see Barack Obama’s birth certificate. Despite the clueless or disingenuous complaints about our current Presdient being called racist, it is hard to escape the clear signs that come almost daily. Indeed, the dehumanization that powerless people are subjected to at our border when they have come to seek asylum, is heart-rending and insupportable, except for those who see these as lesser people, or care more about political power.

I recommend to all to read about this subject (http://tucson.com/opinion/local/isabel-garcia-and-dino-deconcini-we-must-speak-out-against/article_bd6b7006-73fc-5dc5-a22e-d8cae53e1de9.html), https://www.thenation.com/article/senator-jeff-merkley-saw-immigrant-detention-center-children/), or listen to or watch the reporting on PBS and NPR (https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/un-nothing-normal-about-u-s-detaining-immigrant-children). This issue is getting some coverage in the national media, but here in Tucson, we have a closer perspective of what goes on at the border and I am proud to say that many or most Tucsonans have a strong concern for migrants and many work as volunteers to help. This is a much more humane approach to the problem. Instead of recognizing the basic rights and needs of the children, the Trump administration admits to punishing the parents and children for coming to the U.S. for help, even those who have not violated our border laws.

I would be much more proud of my country if I felt that we were truly welcoming to all people, even poor and brown ones, and if I felt that we were doing all we can to help all children develop into happy, healthy, normal, and productive people. We do not benefit from having more damaged people in our world. We do not gain when people in neighboring countries have diminished lives, whether from conditions in their towns and cities, or from how they were treated at our border. If we were truly great, we would not be so worried about whether others were getting benefits from our government they didn’t pay for. A truly great government would be doing more for us, for those who come to our border for help, and those that are working some of the hardest and least rewarding jobs in our society.

In the desert landscape that is my yard, the birds and animals of different species work together to ward off predators that are after their young. I’ve seen it with the cardinals, the towhees, the hummingbirds, and gnatcatchers, all gathering to yell at the Cooper’s Hawk when it sits in a nearby branch. I’ve seen the round-tailed ground squirrel chase and badger a snake as it followed a group of quail. At least the predators are just playing their part in seeking food. Right now, our government, in our name, is going out of its way to hurt our neighbors’ children. It needs to stop.

 

Every morning now, I hear the mourning doves singing loudly, because it is Spring, time for a rebirth of plant growth and the start of ever increasing temperatures here in the Sonoran desert. I enjoy the peaceful sounds of the doves and other birds, but I soon turn on the news and it seems almost every week my heart is broken again to hear of another school shooting. They are more predictable and perennial than the Spring flowers.

I get tired of the people, well-meaning most likely, who say that the citizens in our country are too polarized and that we need to find a way to communicate and work together to solve our problems. I know that there are aspects of that recommendation that make sense. But I also think that it is a very dismissive way of putting one’s self above the fray. Too many people in the U.S. just declare politics too ugly or too mean or just not that interesting. As citizens, we have no choice. We have that responsibility to participate in government. That requires knowledge, which takes time, effort, some measure of thinking and judgement. And for many issues, it requires taking sides. And I’m sorry to all those make nice middle of the roaders, but it requires that if one side has chosen extreme views that correspond to what one might expect in Nazi Germany, or the Gilded Age, or among those who have no appreciation for science, truth, or life on earth, then we are obligated to counter that side. Not with compromise to it’s extremes, but to call the extremists out for what they are. This is especially true for what we face now in politics.

We have in power a President that was not chosen by most Americans. And we have a Congress that does not really represent the views of most Americans on many issues. It is only because of undemocratic aspects of our government that we have this situation. And so I am in no compromising mood. Our government is in the hands largely of self-serving nihilists. They serve their wealthy masters for the augmentation of their own money and power. This is very obviously true for many issues. Let’s talk about school shootings. I’m in no mood to keep compromising on this issue, which in my state of Arizona means that guns become more freely available and that guns are specifically protected from what more liberal people like me might do to restrict access to them.

Before we have a panic about restricted access to guns, I mean just assault weapons and other semi-automatic weapons that can use large capacity magazines (cartridge-holders). Any time we have another mass shooting, even when it involves children in a school as was the case so recently in Florida, we’re told that we shouldn’t take advantage of the upset over what happened to compromise the second amendment. Lawmakers and other politicians will say glib things like ‘I have too much respect for the second amendment’, which I guess is what their followers and their owners (the NRA) want to hear.

Let’s be clear about what the conflict is: 1) liberals want to outlaw assault weapons; and 2) gun people and their loyal acolytes feel they have a right to own assault weapons. Okay, let’s look at what we could compromise. Restricting assault weapons helps stop most of the deaths that can happen from mass shootings — this has been found in many other nations across the world (https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/scottish-town-devastated-by-gun-violence-has-advice-for-america-say-no-more). Or we can love the second amendment and guns so much that we don’t solve the problem and just keep pretending to do things or do half-way measures that accomplish nothing. Currently the main proposal from the gun-lovers side is that we have teachers and other people in schools carry guns. This is the macho, wild west version of how to keep our kids safe. Given that the more guns we have around, the more likely they are used, then I really don’t think that would help in most cases. But fine. Maybe the principal should have a gun or at least one person in the school. But if we really want to reduce the deaths from mass shootings, then we need to restrict assault weapons for everyone. Not just for mentally ill people. Not just for young people.

And by the way, what is the rational compromise here? Every time this issue comes up, most Americans want more regulation of guns, and we have no compromise, which is to say we have no gun new gun regulations. Or in Arizona, we are given even more freedom for guns and gun purchases. So don’t talk to me about compromises. It is a hoax. And the politicians who start mouthing the words “second amendment” are part of the hoax. The teens from the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School know the hoax. And they have been very effective at calling out politicians for the lies and subversion of progressive (proven) policy. So far they have been effective in calling bullshit “BS” and not accepting the hypocrisy. It is very hard to turn away children when they know you are not being honest or fair with them.

The sad thing though is that we continue to see intransigence in the legislatures and Congress. We still hear “second amendment” blocking the way like a cheap remedy for a leaky radiator. But any reasonable interpretation of the second amendment does not stop us from blocking the sale of assault weapons. The reality about the second amendment is that it was repeatedly interpreted to mean that it applied to a modern version of a militia, e.g. National Guard, not to any individual who likes to play with guns.

Now the gun people, the ones who seem to love guns more than the lives of our children, will scream because we are taking away their toys. What they may say is that we need real, current weapons of war to be able to take on our military if our government becomes unrighteous in how it rules us. This just sounds like treason to me, and I really don’t think this is what was meant by a “well-regulated militia”. The High Country News has an intereting article to address this phrase in the context of history (https://www.hcn.org/articles/opinion-no-one-needs-an-ar15). I won’t repeat it here, but we can say that the Supreme Court, throughout the 20th century ruled that “well-regulated militia” was a function of the state, and not to be applied to the individual. This changed in the past few years after years of NRA marketing among conservative justices.

However you interpret the second amendment, we have never had the right to buy, as individuals, any weapon we may want. We can’t have machine guns. We can’t have artillery. We can’t have ICBM’s. We can’t have rocket-propelled grenades. And for a while, we couldn’t have assault weapons. But they are such great toys. And many men want them. And we don’t have leaders with the courage to say that this is ridiculous and just grow up and give up having your murderous toys. There are many other guns and weapons you could own. You just don’t need to kill people with a single shot and be able to deliver hundreds of shots in short order.

Then someone will say, ‘you can stop selling assault weapons, but there are so many out there, it won’t make any difference.’ It’s true that we have waited so long that it has gotten much harder to solve the problem quickly. But if we start now, even if it takes 20 years, shouldn’t we start now? And we could have voluntary gun buy-backs by the government or citizen groups to speed their destruction. Except in Arizona, where it is illegal now for any level of government to destroy guns. I’m serious about that. That is the clearest marker of how much power the NRA has here and how inadequate most of our government leaders are.  But if sanity were to rule in the U.S., we would start ridding ourselves of toys that can be used for mass murder. I think in the end we will feel better for doing it. And we won’t see so many of our fellow citizens, so many of our school kids murdered senselessly. That’s my compromise. Gun people give up only their assault weapons, and we all (even the gun people) get to see our children live in a safer society.

I know that despite what I (and the rest of the civilized world) recommend as a cure for American mass murder, the current political order will stall and deny and insist. And the arms industry will continue to buy votes with blood money. But everyone should be warned: American young people are coming; and they are tired of seeing their peers among the constant, rising body count. If they are steadfast in their efforts, they will not take excuses and half measures for long. Then maybe the peace of my early Spring mornings will stay peaceful longer.

The Sonoran desert is finally cooling down and my friend the verdin seems mostly focused on basic eating, to help him get through the Winter month and half here. I, too, am focused on simple tasks of living, because I don’t have the means to do much more. I see the worst of things going on, but that is to be expected – –  we have the worst of governments doing their best to destroy our planet and score political points for their cesspool of cheerleaders. Meanwhile Wall Street is oh so very happy.

I tell myself that there is hope in the growing number of men who are facing their inappropriate (at the very least) behavior toward women. Sadly, this seems to include men that we may otherwise respect. But the behavior of men toward women has been abusive for generations back to the dawn of man. I am not an expert in anthropology and human behavior, but it seems that the abuse of women by men is part of our species, part of our history, and part of our social institutions. It was only a generation or so back that women were allowed to vote and have their own property, and have jobs that were previously only for men.

Before moden times, religion was an important part of what defined our separate roles for the sexes, and religion still maintains the patriarchal order, which is so much of what our society still has for roles: man as the patriarch; woman as his lesser companion and servant; and everything else man’s property. Yes, many women and men have gone beyond these roles that were historically reinforced by violence, anger, and social ostracism. But sadly, these roles live on in the more conservative people of America, and they seem to still live at some level in practically all of our brains.

Patriarchy and gender-based roles may well go back to the creatures that were our earliest, non-homo-sapiens ancestors. In any case, the earliest societies of man likely were built on an exchange of sorts — maybe a trade of less rape and more protection from the men, and more sex (except for incest) and some level of subservience from women. Men were likely the patriarchs of whatever social groups were formed, and their influence was based on physical strength, intelligence, and ability to be productive of offspring.

Religions, including Western civilization’s dominant Judeo-Christian tradition probably grew out of the same basic tenets of society in our early history. Judaism anchors our social history with the various texts of the Old Testament or the Torah that provide a history of a line of patriarchs — some of it clearly based on a prehistoric set of stories passed on for generations in an oral tradition. Even though many of us may spend little or no time reading the stories recorded in the Bible and/or propagated in churches, the sometimes nomadic, sheep-herding and otherwise peasant cultures in the Middle East whose lives were mirrored in the Biblical stories have had a lot of impact on what we do today. But  we are also the same animals that men were in Biblical times. Men have strong sexual urges and violent tendencies that surge at times and often overcome our better tendencies or even wishes. We cannot or should not excuse these behaviors by pointing to their origins, but at the same time, we as a society must look at the pervasive basis of these behaviors in a lot of our history, our religions, and our cultural traditions. With this awareness, we can reform our behavior, change what is unacceptable, and maybe change our traditions to better reflect our current awareness.

As for most religion, the patriarchal way of Christianity has clearly a sad history. When we look at the Catholic church, for example, we see the sexual abuse of children by multiple priests. The abuse has probably long been a part of the church, but it persisted because the guilty were also the patriarchs of a very powerful, dominant religious institution. The abused wives of many otherwise “godly” men in various churches also know the cost of living a traditional, passive role defined by religion. Yet women often feel compelled to support the same churches, because of the perceived central importance of religion to society.

Christianity has, especially in the Old Testament, made clear the passive, subordinate role of women in society. Take a look, for example, at Genesis 3:”16. Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. (King James Version). But earlier in Genesis, it was made clear that man, as the patriarch, was given power over not only women, but also over the world, according to this tradition. Genesis 1: “26. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” And so our patriarchal forebears passed on to us the belief system that gave men control of pretty much everything on earth, including all living things.

Currently, our childish President makes a point of having a fight or provoking conflict almost every day, but conflict gives him an excuse to play the role of the tough, strong patriarch. His followers, traditional in orientation, seem to love this aspect of him, so he renews it constantly. His policy is also based on being the tough, powerful patriarch. He threatens annihilation to foreign enemies. He will exclude from the country and treat poorly the lesser foreigners, especially the Muslim and Hispanic ones that can readily be defined as social outgroups. And his whole campaign started with putting down a Black man, President Obama, and disparaging and threatening a woman, Hilary Clinton. He cares nothing about diplomacy or any existing treaties, and insists that he will negotiate, i.e. dictate, terms to our fellow inhabitants of the earth.

At the same time, President Trump has essentially declared war on the environment and any regulations that might protect it. He is the true patriarch who will dominate the land. His plan for land and water management is literally based on “energy domination”. He will ignore science and other peaceful pursuits because he seeks power in its most basic form and he knows that some of his power is based in the power of the corporations, especially the fossil fuel corporations, which are very patriarchal social organizations. No wonder that our Presidents Bush and their cabinets came from oil corporations.

While the earth suffers under the patriarchs that we have leading us, women are starting to fight back. Many people felt that we as a society were becoming more enlightened and women were treated with more respect. But a year ago, the Republican party, the more patriarchal of parties, with a stronger attachment to the military, to religious tradition (if not real religious piety), to traditional roles in society (with an attendant disparaging of gay, lesbian, and transgender people), and to guns (the ultimate powerful phallus), chose a very patriarchal, wealthy businessman as its Presidential candidate. His admission to abusing women routinely and the forthcoming testimony of many women about his abuse seems to have only reinforced his followers’ devotion. What less can you expect from a patriarch, for it is his due to have domination over women.

To put this in context, take a look at the Old Testament again. King David was an important leader to the Hebrew tribes of Israel and yet he had some clear moral failings, including with respect to, for example, the woman Bath Sheba. But in his old age, he was still the revered patriarch — Kings 1, “1. Now king David was old and stricken in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he gat no heat. 2. Wherefore his servants said unto him, Let there be sought for my lord the king a young virgin: and let her stand before the king, and let her cherish him, and let her lie in thy bosom, that my lord the king may get heat. 3. So they sought for a fair damsel throughout all the coasts of Israel, and found Abishag a Shunammite, and brought her to the king. 4. And the damsel was very fair, and cherished the king, and ministered to him: but the king knew her not. ” This latter part, “the king knew her not”,  provides cover for those who might be squeamish about a young girl being compromised by an old man. Maybe this passage is a favorite of Roy Moore, who, like Trump, seems to gain political power (at least in Alabama) with the revelation of his abuse of young girls.

Another Biblical passage that comes to mind is the story of Lot, whose wife was disobedient and so she was turned to a pillar of salt. This story is so much like other myths from the Mediterranean and Middle East, but in this version, Lot’s wife perishes for her seemingly trivial disobediance. Later, because Lot was without wife or male heir, his daughters took turns sleeping with him so that they could bear him a son. Such is the extent of the importance of the patriarch and the patriarch’s heir.

As long as we hold tightly to all our traditions, and refuse to examine them for their inherent value, then we will continue to fight with patriarchal roles and the abusive roles for women and girls. This reminds me of a comment I sent to a TV station many years ago, when women were starting to openly call for the Catholic church and other churches to let women into the priesthood. In my comment I said that as long as religious institutions are seen as a product of God, it makes no sense to give women the priesthood. If you don’t agree with a church’s fundamental patriarchy, then you should leave the church. The dominance of males is just one more example that churches are only one more corrupt social institution, nothing uniquely holy. I know that many don’t agree with me, but if you start taking it apart piece by piece, why not just find your own core beliefs and start anew?

In the end, it will take changes on many levels to bring women more freedom from abuse, and to a greater parity with men. It would help if we could agree as a society that this is the goal. Meanwhile, we fight with our history, our social organizations, and with the tendencies of men and boys that need to be curbed. The current active public dialogue is a good starting point for long needed change. We all could benefit from that change, even if it can be painful.

This has been a harsh year for me. My father’s death a couple months ago was certainly a blow, but adding to that loss was the realization that now my life and (to some extent) that of my extended family is in my hands and the hands of my siblings. Yet I feel poorly equipped to deal with the economic situation I have, i.e. being unemployed more than 2 years before full retirement is possible. I plan, for now, on having a more modest retirement and I am starting to assuming now that I’m starting it now, without the aid of social security. I’m sure other Americans face the same situation commonly, because as you get older, it becomes harder to get a job. I am doing my best to enjoy my more abundant free time, but I spend a lot of that time reading about the state of the world. Such reading is hardly relaxing. I find more frustration because I feel relatively powerless in the face of the unbroken link of Republican power across the three main branches of government. It forms an impenetrable barrier to progress.

I read about other nations, especially in Europe, where they have free healthcare for all. I see pictures of attractive cities where people live in convenient settings with shopping and restaurants in easy walking distance, and where public transportation is convenient and relatively efficient. I see the old and new comfortably brought together with aesthetic, often beautiful buildings and neighborhoods, and societies where the adoption of alternative energy resources and energy saving practices are being advanced at a rapid pace. I see well-educated citizens who are, for the most part, not raised to be xenophobic but who have learned multiple languages and have developed economies where people readily move to another nation to find the job and lifestyle they want. I don’t see governments dominated so much by industry and a neoliberal, free-market mentality that they can’t accept the concept of climate change, or that they can’t regulate industry to protect the citizenry.

In my country, I have the opposite. I have an expensive healthcare system that I am largely responsible for figuring out and paying for, and I’m lucky to have my healthcare through my retirement pension. So many others are facing the decline of a publicly available healthcare system that is being deliberately subverted and openly destroyed by our president. We have a president, as I have said before, who is a demagogue, a compulsive liar, a bully, a racist, sexist, and an anti-science, anti-environment, and anti-enlightenment lout. He has textbook facist tendencies. And our Republican government will do nothing to counter him, because he is part of their lock on power for now. So they accept their own measures of abuse at his hands, and struggle to get their extremist laws in place before President Trump totally implodes the government or causes irreparable damage that even they can’t stomach. The American people are largely unhappy with what is happening in Washington, or they are part of President Trump’s minority of loyal, but seemingly unthinking base.

Meanwhile, we live in a country that is supposed to be a world leader, but doesn’t bother to apply new technologies or basic maintenance to infrastructure, especially transportation. It lets cities develop as a swarming, ugly, plague on the land, as houses are built in isolated suburban “neighborhoods” and stripmalls crop up to accomodate the needs of residents in a chaotic boom and bust cycle. Developers get rich, the land is abused, and most people’s social needs are poorly met. People find themselves living in the relative isolation of their cars and with often ugly and even hazardous surroundings. Beauty and aesthetics are not so common, and living a green lifestyle not so easy. The adaptation of alternative energy technologies is slow, piecemeal, and sometimes even discouraged by the state governments. Instead of working toward a better future, environmentalists like me are left with the hope that things will get better some day, but we know it can’t happen any time soon with the current people dominating government.

Further, I see a decline in education, with good schools for some better neighborhoods, but largely diminished spending for education in general. Curricula are compromised to accomodate the Medieval religious tendencies of some parts of the population, and anti-intellectualism has undercut much of our society. Our president and many of our leaders choose government employees for their beliefs and political conservatism, instead of their training, knowledge, and professional accomplishment. The belief in the scientifically demonstrated problem known as climate change is not acceptable and is something to be actively erased from people’s words and minds. The stale, failed concept of supply side economics staggers on as a pale wraith, but our conservative government leaders follow its dictates as gospel and constantly sing its loving praises as if we hadn’t already learned of its functional demise. As government becomes useless and people give up hope, the cynical intent operating is that people will reject failing government and accept its further dismantling, all to the end of lowering taxes for our oligarchical, billionaire masters, and set simultaneously set them free to pillage what remains of nature and wildness.

So, ultimately I see that I live in a nation that has put all its efforts in enriching the wealthiest of people and the corporations that they love, and so my needs and even hopes all but die of neglect. I started my life with the hopes and can-do spirit of the 1950’s and the space race. Now I just hope to be able to put food on the table and live within my expenses enough to make it out of here (i.e live out my life) before it all goes to complete hell. Or maybe I’ll move to Canada.

I fell asleep last night listening to the rain drumming rhythmically on the roof. During the night I woke up to rain lashing the window next to my bed in my father’s house. I looked over and could see in a ray of yellowish light highlighting the rain running down the window. The sounds and sights of rain are soothing. Yesterday was the funeral for my father. Over the past year or so, my father gradually declined, not so much physically as mentally with the effects of dementia. Despite this, he retained his memory of family, his sense of humor, his ability to love those around him. He was sometimes confused, sometimes upset, and often forgetful, but he was still a husband, still my father, and father to many other family members. We are all learning to live now, knowing that my father is not there. Having him here in his home in Lewes has been a constant comfort to me. It provided a firm link to family, to my home state of Delaware, my childhood’s sense of security, and the many years that we as a family had to enjoy the beach life here. My father left with me a sense that I was loved by him, and that he was proud of me.

The funeral gathering of family was sad for the loss of my father, but was joyful with the gathering of extended family and many friends. I feel strengthened by the security of knowing that I do have the love of my family, and a renewed sense of my own value in that context. But I feel also that I will need all the strength I can get, because I no longer have my father to provide a physical or financial cushion if ever needed — a cushion against any possible setbacks I might have. Setbacks, because I live in a world that has a diminishing regard for my value. Because I am a scientist, not a financial or business expert. In a world that values money and people with money more than life itself, I feel increasingly like a relic. I feel vulnerable because I don’t have a lot of money and further, because I was fired from my job last year and have little income, and a decreased potential retirement income. It could be worse, but it is a diminished world.

What makes it especially difficult is that my country, which for my entire life seemed like a flawed but powerful, even unassailable United States of America, is now run by a self-obsessed, ammoral, emotionally unstable, and universally destructive President. One who creates chaos and instability as part of how he makes our institutions work against each other and seemingly for his benefit. And he has a whole political party to protect him, a party whose primary allegiance is to money. It will protect him at least long enough to compromise further the position of the average person, in face of rising global, corporate and financial powers.

My siblings all have limited means, too, but at least we have family, and it is a family with some resourcefulness and integrity. I can only hope that we can work together with our fellow citizens to eventually gain a better position. Or at least I can hope that I can retire one day without too much compromise of what I may minimally need. We inhabit now a diminished world, that is in all our hands, yet with little wisdom guiding.

Dads_screen_porch_in_the_morning - 1

Morning on Dad’s screen porch.