Monthly Archives August 2015

The Cynicism of Donald Trump

There were some truly extraordinary exchanges in the Republican Party debate earlier this month. To read the full transcript available here is to come to a deep “appreciation” for the circus-like atmosphere that characterizes so much of our politics in this media age.

And make no mistake, that circus is every bit as much (or more) a creation of the modern news industry, with its personality/ratings/polls-driven sensibility, as it is of the candidates. And the candidates have certainly taken notice—every one of them looked to have been schooled and rehearsed to death by their handlers in the fine arts of cliche-mongering, sound bite policy proposals, question-dodging and general fact-twisting bloviation.

That impression only grew for me in reading the debate transcript...

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“But” And “Yet”: The Arrogance Antidotes

Back when I made my living as a journalist editing a weekly newspaper for which I wrote the editorials, I noticed something over time.

I got far and away my most laudatory feedback when I was the most certain of my position and conveyed as much in no uncertain terms. When I fired away with all guns blazing, rat-a-tat-bang with an occasional grenade of  humor, I would draw admiring comments from a cohort of readers who collectively said, via one expression or other, “You go, Boy! Take it to ‘em!”

And when the subjects deserved to be taken to, as in the stupidity and just plain heartlessness of so much of the AIDS-phobic anti-gay rhetoric of the time, it was easy—bringing a kind of smug satisfaction—to carpet-bomb the opposition and consider it a good day’s work.


It bothered me a little that in cases where I wasn’t nearly as certain of my “position,” where there were at least valid cons...

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A Poem: “The Last Japanese Soldier”


(Hirō Onoda was a World War II Japanese army officer who surrendered only in 1974, having hunkered down in the jungles of the Philippines for nearly three decades, refusing to believe the war had ended. He returned to a hero’s welcome in Japan, where he died in early 2014.)

I’ve been tracking him, trying to ascertain
what caused this severance from reality,
this deep ignorance of the situation awaiting him.

Duty-bound to a fault, he goes about his pinched days
calmed by routine and subservient to no one save
the fear of exposure from the dark of his hut.

The world closes in.

It’s tragic, how he missed the good news that
followed the bad, the war’s disconsolate
end opening to vistas so long obscured.

I go in alone, no cover or air power behind me,
hoping to coax him into conversation and the
beginnings of trust, understanding, rapprochement.

My heart goes out to him.


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Why Bother With Poetry?

Because there’s a drop, on a leaf, and it seems to weigh a hundred pounds, but it’s not falling, and you are amazed, and you want to help it along but you just watch dumbstruck instead as the morning sun brings forth some back light and still you wait, it’s almost unbearable, this wonder, this anticipation, this incipience, and someone really should write a poem about it.

So you see if someone has.

Because entire civilizations of ants are at your feet, in the garden dirt, scurrying.

Because of them.

Because of vultures mad with the sight of the fresh-felled antelope, and the lion who has finally yawned and stretched and left it behind.

Because of the flaps of a million wings, and a thousand camera clicks trying to capture them.

Because sometimes you get to bursting, and you try to find a word or three and all that tumbles forth is, “Wow, that’s so great!” But you know that won’t cut it.

Maybe p...

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Anti-Police, Anti-Government: What’s the Difference Between the Far Left and Far Right?

I was walking through San Francisco’s Mission District the other night at the tail-end of an all-day City wanderlust when I inadvertently snagged this little bit of walk-by conversational snippet, one young man asking another on the sidewalk, “Are you going to the anti-police rally?”

The “anti-police rally.”

The phrase immediately struck me at the time as being rather odd and discomforting. Why would anyone be “anti-police?” If you’re “anti-police,” does it mean you’d prefer the police would just go away so we could all go back to some self-regulating state of nature, with no police at all?

Of course I understood the context out of which this phrase and whatever rally was to take place was drawn...

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