Sunday, October 7, 2018

This Is Not America


This Is Not America

Malicious face of twisted rage
Blindly led to disengage
From fact or logic or reasoned thought
A sense of truth is nary sought

This is not America

Demagogue screams fitful venom
Behold, amassed, the mindless plenum
Fascist bent, tempestuous crowd
Empty slogans, yet shouted loud

Diversity their greatest fear
Boogeymen are always near
Through bigot’s voice and rapist’s mark
Republic’s light will fade to dark

This is not America

Lies, corruption, a swamp of fraud
Spew the hate, buffoons applaud
Tearing down foundation’s core
The GOP, a loathsome whore

In Donald Trump they found their muse
Mendacious scoundrel, perverted views
If this is our road of choice
And scales of justice lost a voice

Then this is not America

Copyright SGW 2018

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Racists' Different Names


Racists’ Different Names

American NAZIs or Ku Klux Klan
No matter the names, they share the same plan
Hatred and evil and bigotry’s hand
Morality missing for all which they stand

Risen from swamps of a racist’s divine
Donald Trump wears the emblem of supremacist’s line
His message is wrapped in the worst we have been
Make American Great Again; our original sin

Through slavery, segregation and violent acts
Indian genocide and anti-immigrant tracts
Always “those people,” lent an image to fear
A small-minded dogma zealots cling to as dear

If you can’t see this evil or sit idly by
Bring a rationalization as deflective reply
Hide behind falsehoods that you wrap to your being
Denying the threat and pretend you’re not seeing

You don’t need the hood or the NAZI salute
Enabling of malice is its own absolute
History will show you as a partner of hate
Sides have been chosen and it is approaching too late


Copyright SGW 2018

Footnote: Inspired by Spike Lee’s “BlackkKlansman.”

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Poem: Fascist's Dupes


Fascist’s Dupes


Were you part of the crazed masses of people
Screaming madly, unyielding devotion
As the little man with the odd mustache
Spewed on about the Fatherland first?
Nationalist, fiery rhetoric and pounding fist;
Don’t trust the media beyond the Goebbel’s tools!
Keep out or destroy those not like us!
Were you frothing at the mouth within your hostile, twisted fealty?

I ask this;
Why?

We look at the pictures today;
Those enablers, blind followers, hateful fools;
Cast aspersions on their souls.

But this is not like that.

Except the rule of law is threatened and scorned.
Media is condemned as “enemies of the state;”
Unless Rupert’s state media apparatus speaks.

Brown people are animals!
Refugees are terrorists!
Scientists are lying with their damned facts!

Tyrants and dictators are fawned upon.
The rich and corporatists gobble up any crumbs previously missed or kept from.

Hatred, fear, intolerance, irrationality, fraud, corruption, lies.

Drained the swamp; built an ocean’s cesspool.

We buy it all because, well, lies are easier.
Or our own unmistakable hatred, ignorance and fear feed us.
We will offer excuses or mixed up explanations.
Our cowardice resides in the shadows,
Behind the screaming, chanting, violent enmity.

Someday people will look upon our photographed images,
As the gluttonous, orange mass of vile inhumanity
Stands before us offering the same fascism.
We will be equally stained and shamed by history;
Dupes.

Copyright SGW 2018



Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Poem: Burr - Misunderstood American


Burr – Misunderstood American

I am not throwing away my shot

Fateful day where aim was true
A shot was “thrown” to much ado
But was that more contrived excuse
Preparatory actions one might deduce
Determined foe who would not relent
Though ample chance was underwent
Hamilton more did instigate
‘Twas Burr who penned to mediate
Slurs sprung forth in Alexander’s wrath
Burr’s cool hand sought other path

I am not throwing away my shot

History makes Burr a shifty fiend
But to strike a deal was how he leaned
A politician, true, with all that hints
No more, no less, men before or since

Rivals conspired to ruin his name
First New York then Virginia same
1800 did not connive to steal
Campaigned for “Jeff” with fullest zeal
He was cast aside by the doubting Thomas
Career was lost, a broken promise

I am not throwing away my shot

Ventured west in a fevered state
But not the traitor that became his fate
Filibuster goal was a common theme
Of Spanish lands many eyes would glean
Though foolish in his ill-laid action
To split the nation was no attraction

His legal mind was marked outstanding
For middling classes sought better standing
And while quite the scoundrel in romantic fares
For women’s rights had fewest peers

Burr was flawed like any man must be
Yet much is lost by history
Reduced to villain by word and song
Lin Manuel, a genius, gets so much wrong
Most profiles writ hold Burr stained quite unfairly
We’ve heard his name but know him barely

He did not throw away his shot/He threw away his shot


Copyright SGW 2018

Footnotes: Based largely on information from Nancy Isenberg’s biography “Fallen Founder – The Life of Aaron Burr.” Repeated line from the Broadway musical “Hamilton.”


Saturday, May 5, 2018

Poem: Chui


Chui


Trees are my domain
Resting regally
Surveying horizons
Piercing eyes stare out

Nothing betrays calm
Waiting to spring out
Climb down from my perch

Hunger drives my time
Swalapala graze
Perhaps songura
Nyumbu, with luck
Cunning guides my course

You will not see me
Until I am there
Falling upon you
Did you quite suspect
Though no matter now

Belly full of meat
Again, I lie here
In the branches; high
Simba skulks below
Laughs of fisi range

This branch, sacrosanct
I sneer for effect
Mostly hold contempt

Drift off to sleeping
Dreams of future hunts
Trees are my domain


Copyright SGW 2018


Footnotes: Chui is leopard; Swalapala is impala; Songura is rabbit; Nyumbu is wildebeest; Simba is lion, Fisi is hyena.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Poem: Clusterfuck #45


Clusterfuck #45


Each day brings a brand, new disaster
Or chaos, confusion and con
Awash in corruption and vices
And any; all, sanity gone

One, lone “accomplishment” is counted
A tax scam of epic device
Shifting the wealth of the nation
So the rich gets much more to their slice

Corruption runs rampant in dealings
The Emoluments Clause laid to wreck
Shadiness pervades every action
When a mafia clan has no check

The level of incompetence is astounding
Tweets expose emptiest suit
He will lie and distract to no purpose
But the deceits are his one absolute

“Draining the swamp” was pure artifice
Since replaced by an avowed toxic waste
From economy to environment to diplomacy
The destruction arrives with posthaste

Disgraced to the world in our turmoil
As Trump clings to tyrannical mates
He has traded away our virtue
In collusion, betrayal, dictates

Putin, ah Putin, his favorite despot
With impeachable behavior he’s set
An unbridled, ass-kissing convention
Or is it pee that explains what we get

He is walled by the vilest hatred
Building on bigotry and racism and fear
All “MAGA” conveys in its message
Is his cowardice is proved crystal-clear

Every day seems to pass in disorder
A small, little man run amok
This Trumpian reign ‘be remembered
As a mistaken, unsound clusterfuck


Copyright SGW 2018


Sunday, April 1, 2018

Poem: Fools' Day


Fools’ Days
  
Trump supporters
Do they notice?
Today is no different from all the others
Fools are three sixty-five

Butt of the joke

MAGA
Draining the swamp
Tax cuts
Middle class relief
Job creation
Great negotiator
Best people
No collusion

April fools!
Rest of the year, too

Copyright SGW 2018


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Poem: Theorize

Theorize

Time is elusive and time is at hand
Absolute reason; chaotic, unplanned
Time imparts theory of fullness in being
Everything, nothing, upon us while fleeing
Time reaches, grasping, for understood thinking
Lost in a moment by reflex of blinking
Time passes surely while time’s made to live
Gone through the spaces of effluent sieve
Time lasts forever in its finite dominion
Withstanding convention or dissenting opinion
Time’s been provided until it is squandered
Lapses unnoticed; continually pondered
Time is cliché yet creative conception
Stands as the rule and recedes from exception
Time knows no boundary can be hoped to transcend
A Big Bang beginning; collapse for an end

Copyright SGW 2014


Footnotes: Inspired by “The Theory of Everything,” a movie about Stephen Hawking. M.A.D. assistance in this writing.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Poem: Random Kenya

Random Kenya
  
Kenya conveys a randomness

People by roadside
Selling wares
Lying prone, asleep
Simply looking to the distance
Walking cattle

Driving long, dusty backroads
To what feels like nowhere
Then, in vast emptiness
A man
Standing resolute
No obvious point of origin
Or destination
But he’s there if needed

Markets spring up
Awash in multitudes
Followed by open, bare roads

Broken down vehicle
A community appears from thin air
Some help
Others tinker
Children gawk, wave, take it all in

Kenya’s randomness is comforting
  

Copyright SGW 2017

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Poem: Kenya

Kenya  

An elephant’s power will be felt in its stride
No obstacles standing can divert them aside
Confident swagger in their marching along
Seemingly gentle, yet latently strong

Contrast with the grace of a giraffe’s slender cast
Softness implied as an elegance, vast
Legs to forever and neck stretching high
Trees reaching upward can’t extend to deny

Majestic, the lion, truly king and queens of the plain
Huntress stalks onward toward its prey by restrain
Male lies proudly with mane grandly sculpted
His Highness presides ever surely exulted

Speed of a cheetah feeds exhilaration fast growing
The moment awaits when a hunt’s undergoing

Zebra and warthog, hyena or jackal
Only first truly feel them when they live without shackle

The hooligan baboons as they probe of the camp
You can sniff at the tent, 3 A.M., naughty scamp!

For me it’s the leopard as definitive resplendence
Shoulder blades roll with a gait of ascendance
Or perched on a branch to survey the terrain
Eyes piercing distance with no hint of a strain
The cunning and beauty, and remarkable stealth
As I watch full of wonder I’ve a limitless wealth
  
Copyright SGW 2017


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Poem: Resilience

Resilience

Watching the love by intensity’s stare
Struggles and hardships two people might bear
Tragic the turns come upon as they dance
One looks away just as other will glance
Hindrance springs forth too enormous to check
Ship starts to founder ‘till the rocks leave a wreck
Frightened of stigma, betrayal and loss
Frailty’s victims are each weight of their cross
Words left unspoken mark a road ever beckoning
Trail soon lost while the doubt’s ever reckoning
The heart proves resilient for the bond that’s been built
There is always more milk when a glass has been spilt

Copyright SGW 2017



Footnote: Influenced by the movie “The Big Sick.”

Friday, January 27, 2017

Rating the presidency of Barack Obama

In attempting to place Barack Obama historically in a presidential ranking, there are many complicating variables that would not normally be present. I attribute this to the election of Donald Trump to follow Obama into the White House.
Because Trump is likely to be such an extremist, irrational and unqualified train- wreck, there are bound to be Obama accomplishments that are undone. This could include the Affordable Care Act, the Iran nuclear deal and environmental and financial regulations, to name but a few.

A second factor that presents a challenge in grading Barack Obama’s presidency is the Republican obstruction during his two terms. Never before has a president been faced with opposition so severe, extreme and absolute. This was evident to such a degree that Republicans actually opposed their own ideas; the Affordable Care Act being the most obvious example. Opposition to Obama was a virulent reaction to his being black, well-spoken, reserved, and thoughtful, with the racism being at the top of the list.

With these qualifications in mind, I have ranked Barack Obama where I believe is appropriate. I feel that had his successor been Hillary Clinton, or even a rational Republican (which in 2016 was nearly impossible to find), this position would be more historically settled. However, depending on the Trump presidency, and how quickly the pendulum swings back to sanity in the nation in 2018 and 2020, Obama’s place could rise or fall by a few slots.

I rank Barack Obama reasonably high, and believe true historians will as well, for many reasons. However, I would first point out his most obvious failures, shortfalls and missed opportunities.

Domestically, his weak points can be viewed as a product of his early tenure timidity, or faith that he could bring Democrats and Republicans together. This resulted in his providing for inadequate spending to combat the Great Recession (with too many ineffective tax cuts included), relying on Congress to lead the way on health insurance reform (Thus succumbing to the tendencies of men such as Ben Nelson, Max Baucus and Joe Lieberman to significantly weaken the final product, and Republicans to whip up a frenzy of misinformation and lies leading to the creation of the Tea Party), and in not prosecuting anyone on Wall Street for the reckless behavior that enabled the economic collapse Obama inherited.

On foreign policy, Obama’s greatest failings were in his too closely adhering to George W. Bush Administration policies on drone strikes and warrantless wiretapping (I place this in foreign policy due to its terrorism connection). Obama, also, was sometimes too reasonable with the thugs and tyrants in the Middle East and Russia. While I will point to this as a strength, too, drawing lines in the sand (Syria), being too reflective (Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, China) and not recognizing the value of at least showing the stick more transparently alongside the carrot, allowed the various strong men in these countries to act without genuine fear of repercussion. Lastly, he, like most all other experts, underestimated ISIL’s rise.

While peace between Israel and Palestine remains out of reach, probably further away than it was when Obama took office, I blame this fully on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli extreme right, Mahmoud Abbas and the weak and cowardly Palestinian leadership, Republican intransigence, and AIPAC.

However, Barack Obama’s successes, while some potentially will be ephemeral, outweigh these weaknesses by a sizable margin, thereby making him an above average to very good president.

While the world exploded due to the Arab Spring, most United States connection to this would be longstanding, dating back to post-World War II. No president could have drastically altered the events that took place. Egypt was a mess because the Muslim Brotherhood and the military both refused to govern inclusively. Iraq fell apart due to Bush policies, Iran’s influence and the Shiite unwillingness to, again, govern inclusively. While I have mentioned Obama’s failings as to Syria, I also believe he wisely did not engage more fully. The American people overwhelmingly opposed the boots on the ground that would have been required, Congress, cowardly, was unwilling to act in any manner, and the reality within Syria showed that the opposition to Bashar al-Assad was incredibly fluid and unreliable. Arming militants could have led to a repeat of the disastrous outcome of arming the Afghani jihadists of the 1980’s.

As such, I view Obama’s Syria policy as limiting the quagmire for the U.S. ISIL was technically an already existing threat – a product of the Iraq War and al Qaeda in Iraq. Iraq itself had no true means of being a success because of their own leadership. Obama got the U.S. out of the sinkhole that Iraq had been as best as possible. The same was true in Afghanistan.

The Obama Administration had clear successes, too. Ties to India grew by leaps and bounds. The failed Cuba policy was ended, with great promise for the future. Despite some serious problems with its Rohingya population, Myanmar gave up a solid measure of its military rule. Al Qaeda was seriously weakened, including the death of Osama bin Laden. There were no significant terrorist strikes within U.S. borders. The open hostility and negative image of the United States internationally, a product of the Bush Administration’s “Cowboy Diplomacy,” was greatly reversed. And, most importantly, despite unprecedented political opposition from Republicans and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Iran Nuclear Agreement was signed. This deal made the world much safer for the foreseeable future and possibly bought Iran enough time to moderate when Ayatolluh Khamanei dies, hopefully soon.

Domestically, the Obama presidency could have been great. Sadly, due to Obama’s early naiveté that Republicans would be reasonable and act in the best interests of the nation, combined with those Republicans intentionally harming the country solely to deny Obama any success, less was accomplished than was possible. I do not put too much of this upon Obama’s shoulders.

The Obama Administration was handed the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression. Unemployment was rising, banks were becoming insolvent, the auto industry was collapsing, and the country was on the brink of disaster. Obama’s steady hand provided enough stimulus to stem the tide. Bailouts to the auto and banking industry, building on what the Bush Administration was virtually forced to begin to enact, saved millions of jobs and prevented a complete economic catastrophe.

Once things stabilized, with the help of an engaged and late-to-the-game, proactive Federal Reserve Bank, unemployment eventually leveled off and actually achieved near complete employment. Obama’s negotiating led to a reversal of some (though not enough) of the Bush tax cuts, resulting in a lessening of income inequality. Towards the end of Obama’s tenure, income growth began to show real signs of picking up momentum. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created, greatly reducing the risk of further financial fraud and protecting the middle and lower classes significantly.

While the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” has produced incredible controversy, and is far from a perfect piece of law, it’s success is beyond logical question. It did not fully address cost containment, but it did slow the growth of increases. It allowed for a wide array of innovation to make care more efficient and effective. Most importantly, through the insurance exchanges and increased Medicaid enrollment, 30 million additional people received affordable (due to subsidies) health insurance. The plan also had a substantial impact on income inequality by effectively granting raises to people in the lower and middle classes via affordable care, while paying for the care with tax increases on the wealthiest people.

The Affordable Care Act clearly needs tinkering to fix the various problems that any large piece of legislation can lead to. Sadly, the potential for repeal by Republicans following the end of the Obama presidency could undo all these gains and negatively impact tens of millions of people. This is one key area where Republican success would, sadly, negatively impact Obama’s legacy. However, judging by early news from the post-Obama presidency, Republicans appear to have succumbed to the notion of insuring more people. Though all their alternatives will not actually result in this, the change in the tone of the conversation is to Obama’s credit. The best hope is that once Republicans make things worse, the Obama legacy will allow for a second reversal that restores coverage levels and goes further than the ACA.

While some might argue that President Obama did not do enough for the environment – increased oil production domestically, allowing fracking – the truth is his administration did protect vast expanses of the nation and made major efforts to improve auto fuel efficiencies, address climate change globally and shift the country to alternative energy sources.

The Obama Administration was essentially scandal-free. In fact, the only real scandal during Obama’s term in office was Republican attempts to manufacture scandals through countless irresponsible, fraudulent and shameful investigations into, frankly, nothing.

Some might place blame on Barack Obama for the increased national divisiveness. It is more appropriate to place almost no blame on the president. Any disparagement of President Obama for the rancor that grew during, and as a result of, his presidency would be the equivalent of blaming Lincoln for the Civil War. The truth is, as is often the case throughout history, a reaction to economic difficulty, often leads to nationalist excess, rightwing extremism and overt acts of hostility. The rise of the Tea Party, the extent to which the Republican Party became a rightwing, fanatical platform and the eventual rise of Trumpism, is not a reflection on the Obama Administration, or any failings on its part, but the product on an uninformed electorate and misguided rage.

Overall, Barack Obama merits the rating I have given him. Repeal of the Affordable Care Act with an insufficient replacement, or a rejection of the Iran Nuclear Accords, could drop his rating. But the United States was blessed by a thoughtful, responsible, dynamic, and good man, who had a plan of success for the nation. It was not fully attained, and could be undone in many respects. For now, Barack Obama stands as this nation’s #11 president.


Friday, November 25, 2016

Poem: Milk and Honey

Israel changes you. There is a deep, spiritual connection that takes over your soul.

Milk And Honey

Layers of lives past, embrace
Power in God face to face
Hands touching Wall feels the grace
Holiest highs to this place
Extremes doth remain a disgrace
Warmth, loving peace should replace

Float ‘pon the Dead Sea, serene
Walk through Masada’s lost scene
History knows what’s unseen
Too much the hate as routine
More than enough shared between
Caring, the hope I’ve foreseen
Wash away fear to ‘come clean
Killing knows none of God’s gleam

All of these people converge
World’s (main) three religions must merge
I’ve walked ‘long the roads to emerge
Joining of hands one must urge
Beautiful land reemerge
Israel brings forth heaven’s touch
Opening hearts offers much



Copyright SGW 2016

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Poem: Trump Mindset

Trump Mindset
(Dedicated to his supporters)
  
He is only a symptom.
A diseased contagion spread
From recesses of mindless
Hatred and inflamed raging.
Racism branching outward.
Frightened by what is not them,
For they are cowards and fools,
With orange, soulless leader.

The buffoons follow like sheep.
And he will steal where he can,
Because all he is, is thief,
Carnival barker and fraud.

How much destruction awaits?
  

SGW 2016

Monday, September 12, 2016

Bobby Kennedy

Yesterday, I finished reading, "Bobby Kennedy - The Making of a Liberal Icon." It was the third book on Bobby Kennedy I have read, not including JFK and LBJ books.
RFK is one of my five historical heroes (see below). While his flaws and failings are easy to discern and discuss - a degree of support for Joe McCarthy, impatience, abrasiveness, a sense of entitlement in daily living, among others - there is no question in my mind that RFK was one of the greatest Americans, and possibly world figures in the last 250 years at least.
I could go on as to what he actually accomplished. But I found myself reflecting more on what might have been. I came up with the following list:
1. Wins the presidency in 1968. We never get Nixon or Watergate. In fact, that is the end of Nixon's political career.
2. Based on #1, we exit Vietnam in 1969. Many lives are saved. Vietnam ends up being what it became anyway. But we re-establish some contact many years earlier than occurred otherwise.
3. Ronald Reagan runs for president in 1976, possibly even 1972. Either way, he does not have the wind at his back and we are spared the Reagan presidency. This dramatically alters financial de-regulation and significantly lessens income inequality.
4. We still get the EPA and some detente with China. But working with his brother, Ted, and other powerful members of Congress, we get universal health insurance coverage by 1974. Not during his presidency, but in the following decade, we get to single payer care.
5. George H.W. Bush wins the presidency in 1980.
6. RFK is able to build upon his work in JFK's presidency and, despite his shared animosity with LBJ, the Great Society, and achieves meaningful and durable civil rights gain. The country gets to 1976 with a long road still to travel. But we are much further along in the trip.
As the above shows, I consider RFK's murder one of the worst moments in U.S. history. I know it can be viewed as dreaming and wishful thinking. Still, I can't help believing, given what I have read, that Bobby Kennedy was so special and unique as to have been able to achieve the kind of greatest I speak of.
On that note, my Top 5 Historical Heroes, in no order:
1. Thomas Jefferson
2. Nelson Mandela
3. Robert Kennedy
4. Abraham Lincoln
5. Malcolm X
Honorable Mentions: Ben Franklin, George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Gandhi. Aung San Suu Kyi had a shot to be included until she showed herself to be a bit too much a domineering leader while too weak regarding the Rohingyas.