Fire, Rage and Hope 

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same…
                                                —Rudyard Kipling 

We live in a time when meaningful commentary about the affairs of the day faces the challenge of being overrun by ever more head-shaking events—and by the 24-hour news cycle that barely has time to chronicle those events before a new one crashes in commanding our attention.

It’s like one of those diabolical amusement park rides that no sooner dumps you out from a screeching, white knuckle series of turns than it drops you and your stomach down a precipitous descent far speedier than gravity would seem to allow.

And then the speed and lurch build up much too quickly again and you find yourself praying for the end of the r...

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The Essential Impeachment Question

Is it permissible for a sitting president of the United States to bring pressure to bear on a foreign leader to investigate a political rival of the president for the sole purpose of casting that rival in a negative light?

That is the essential question members of the House of Representatives and Senate must answer for themselves as they confront the impeachment investigation now fully underway in the House. Those who have weighed in thus far on this point include a number of Republican legislators, including South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham (“If you bring articles of impeachment based on this phone call, I think you’re nuts”) and Iowa’s Joni Ernst (“I’ve looked at the transcript; I don’t see anything there”).

Note: Trump and his defenders never claimed that enlisting a foreign power to intervene in our elections was permissible—only that his campaign had nothing to do with it...

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Song of My Stuff

We come into the world naked and possessionless, then are scooped up within moments to be swaddled in warm comforting materials, diaper in place, our toes wrapped in plastic name tags, a little beanie on our vulnerable heads—all of these our first possessions, serving as the forerunners of hundreds of thousands more if we are fortunate enough to eventually join the ranks of the aged.

Human beings: Homo-accumulitis.

In my youth, I owned an MG Midget, a sporty wisp hardly bigger than the plastic cars parents push their toddlers in as they circle the block in that charming, devoted way they do.

I jammed most everything I owned into that Midget in the several moves I made while it was in my possession during my four-year early career as a special education teacher.

Two weeks ago, some 40 years later, I employed one of those giant pods (biggest size available at 8’ X 8’ X 16’) to move my life from the wes...

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Brilliant Songs #9: James McMurtry’s “We Can’t Make It Here” 

Sometimes a particular piece of music hits you as so insightful, so acutely reflecting the issues of your time, that the songwriter seems to be channeling some urgent message the gods require in order to restore a measure of balance and perspective to the insanity that abides, on the events of your historical moment that leave you shaking your head and wondering, “How can this be happening?”

And then, in a kind of doubling down on the songwriter’s vision, the message of his or her song in a subsequent era, rather than fading into irrelevance, instead achieves even more urgency, as the forces that helped shape the original message grow only more dominant and oppressive over time.

And then, as if anticipating the far more divisive and nativist rhetoric that would sprout from the seeds planted in the Bush era, McMurtry scores with this bull’s-eye painted with eerie prescience right on the back of the ...

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The Coming Climate Catastrophe in Words and Song

Only the introductory portion of this post will be mine, and I hope the rest of it will ring loud alarm bells in your mind while also causing you to consider for a moment just how ardently you love this earth, and what you might do to defend it.  Two  different sources here: One is a review in the current “London Review of Books” of “The Uninhabitable Earth: A Story of the Future,” by David Wallace-Wells.

I have not read the book but the review itself has put a chill in my bones on this otherwise warming and pleasant summer Sunday morning that will not soon subside. Nor should it, as I trust you will realize soon enough.

The second is from Jackson Browne’s absolutely prescient and heart-rending 1974 song, “Before the Deluge,” written when he was 25 years old, and which I had often sung and hummed along with over the years without ever really picking up on the words’ prophetic power—until today...

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