Pilate at Station 1


Station 1 – Jesus is condemned by Pilate

Pilate

Make me loyal and make me kind,

And pray you find me when I’m astray.

Make me honest and clear of mind,

To hold to Truth and make me brave.

The lame now walk and sin forgiven.

And strength revealed in modest love.

In broken hearts your Word is written,

Because of kinship with those above.

But hear you not this howling mob?

Yet there you stand without defense.

They rage, they rail in constant throb,

Though in your eyes is no offense.

And in your Silence, I am not brave.

And in my Darkness, I am a slave.

Copyright, 2012, Joseph Neri, All Rights Reserved

Electoral College vs Popular Vote


As of November 22, Hillary Clinton received over 2 million more votes in the election than Donald Trump yet Trump was elected because of the distribution of those votes throughout the electoral college.  This discrepency has led to calls to abolish the Electoral College, altogether, in favor of a direct vote for President.  I’m no fan of ditching the electoral college in favor of the popular vote. I do think small states deserve a greater influence in national affairs than their populations might gain them on their own. Otherwise, small states might have no influence, at all. That cannot be considered fair.

It’s also fair to recognize that over-weighting the small states is no answer either. Since the college reflects the representation in Congress it does make sense for each state to be treated equally in the Senate giving each state equal opportunity to represent their constituents fairly. That has been easily accomplished by assigning two senators to each state. However, the House is a different matter because it represents the people at large in Congress, but as part of a state delegation in the electoral college. The college, therefore, ought to reflect the true nature of congressional representatives as those who represent their citizens directly, whereas, Senators represent their individual states.

To that end a different apportionment of congressional representatives ought to be devised. A baseline number of citizens should be established to be represented by one congressman. Since every state deserves at least one congressman, we must look to the least populated state to provide that baseline: Wyoming with a population a little more than 500,000 souls. Wyoming has one representative, plus 2 senators. Therefore, each congressmen around the nation should represent 500,000 people. This formula will increase the number of House members, of course, but it will be a fairer representation of a growing population and where it resides. Currently, for instance, California has 53 congressmen and, therefore, 53 electoral votes (plus their 2 senators = 55). If California were to have the same ratio of congressmen per population as Wyoming does their representation would jump to 76 congressmen, plus their 2 senators, giving California 78 electoral votes.

To align things even more closely with the make up of Congress, the Electoral College should also apportion their votes as winner-take-all for each of the two senate delegates but congressional delegates ought to be awarded to the candidate who wins each district. Therefore, if candidate A wins a certain number of districts in California but loses the state as a whole they would only gain those delegates associated with the districts won but not the two delegates associated with the entire state. This would more accurately reflect voting in larger states but still maintain a certain ‘handicapping’ for the smallest states. In this example, Wyoming’s 3 delegates would always go to the popular vote winner, maintaining a weighting in the small state’s influence.

This solution is a fair compromise, I think. It preserves the equality among states but is a more accurate and fairer representation of the population of America as a whole. A representative government is preserved but direct democracy is served in the national election of a president

Trumpfied


Has it only been less than one month?  Heartbreak, anger, denial that turns to protests in the streets, instances of violent backlash, gloating, and ideas, ideas, ideas.

Since Donald Trump’s shocking election Liberals, Progressives, Immigrants, and Minorities of all stripes have been hard at work dealing with an astoundingly different set of political circumstances than what most people took for granted only two weeks ago.  No Democratic President, no Senate control and several formally reliable blue states flip red, at least for this single election.  And everywhere from everyone is one thing that all agrees on:  things have got to change!  For Trump supporters that means a return to the heyday of industrialization when the laboring class could earn enough from union jobs to afford a middle class lifestyle.  Where the future promised more prosperity from the very same industries that supported past prosperity.  For Clinton voters it had meant a continuation and expansion of ground breaking policies of President Obama, the first Black to be elected President and a precursor, so we thought, of an equally historic election of the first Woman as President.  Instead, this country is even more at odds with itself and the direction(s) it wants to take.  It’s as if we simply can’t still decide.

Donald Trump and the conservative movement he rode, are now fully and completely in power and yet, oddly, they are not.  Half the country is unwilling to concede the point.  While Hillary Clinton has graciously conceded the electoral victory to Donald Trump, it appears she is the only one who has.  If anything, it seems the Left is more committed to continue fighting for principles they just recently believed were won and established.  Now, everything is at risk; everything is under siege.  Everything must be defended even if it means flirting with fantasies of separation from the rest of the country.  If you’re a student of American history, that is a terrifying thought: another civil war. Not likely a violent one, but a division so deep that America tomorrow will not be anything like the America of two weeks ago.  Yet we know this: that road has been closed forever.  What then, is to be done about an onslaught of conservative activism that is sure to come pouring forth from Washington DC, now that the hounds have been loosed?

It might be useful to remember what politics truly is.  Von Clausewitz is remembered for his incorrectly quoted aphorism, “war is the extension of politics by other means.”  While this is close to his actual quote it is not quite as close to the truth.  For anyone who has worked or volunteered for a campaign, been or is a public servant or advocated for a special interest knows that quite the opposite is true: “Politics is War; it never ends.”  Already different blue states and municipalities,  Democratic party members, special interest groups and individuals have thrown down the gauntlet to Trump and the Republican party:  this is no victory for right wing ideology or agendas that threaten the well being of half the country, our foreign relations and, indeed, the planet itself.  Two days after the election the California Legislature issued an open letter to Washington DC, essentially saying, “do your worst; we will take care of our own.”  Two days after that New York City declared itself a sanctuary city for immigrants and minorities and its lead was followed by many other cities in the following days.  In subsequent days, liberal non profit organizations have seen a bonanza in new donations and new memberships.  Wealthy activists like Tom Steyer, George Soros, and countless others from Hollywood to Silicon Valley and even Wall Street, have also pledged money and support to fight an extreme right wing agenda from the Capitol.

But can all these entities stand on their own?  Certainly, states like California, New York and Illinois are powerful in their own right and able to withstand and compensate for drastic change from Washington.  But how is Maryland or New Mexico to resist federal policies being formulated right now, that threaten to eliminate hard won progress?  They must unite in regional agreements to strengthen their hand.  Multi-state compacts that further their common interests and agendas while the national Democratic party plans its counter offensives for 2018, 2020 and beyond, is the best way to build the strongest resistances.  Health care, environmental protections, the promotion of renewable energy and even infrastructure spending are all possible.  Most importantly, upholding civil rights protections specifically spelled out in the Constitution and supporting court decisions is now of utmost concern.

There are already examples of multi-state arrangements that meet challenges of this sort in place.  If California, Oregon, and Washington can agree on forest management policy and resource sharing, why can’t they agree on health care coverage if the Affordable Care Act were repealed?  In fact, a favorite Republican policy point in health care can be used to further regional alliances.  Republicans have always advocated the selling of insurance policies across state lines to further competition, they claim.  Fine, let them, but only when a multi-state compact has worked out common rates and coverage that all insurance companies must adhere to if they plan to sell in the states forming that particular compact.  In that event, similarly constructed health care exchanges could remain in place without the assistance from Washington. The same could be said for the promotion of wind power off the New England coast or solar power in the Southwest.  Why can’t the states from Connecticut to Maine and those including and surrounding California, agree on common targets for renewable portfolios – a minimum set of standards that the individual states could exceed but not ignore?  It was once a goal of those wishing to fight climate change that a national renewable power standard could be implemented.  That seems no longer possible, at least for now.  But when times change, as they surely will, regional portfolios for renewable energy targets will make a national portfolio that much easier to establish.  Ironically, the extension of renewable tax credits from last year’s Republican Congress provides for a five year window to hammer out those cooperative multi-state standards.  This was certainly not the intention of Congress but it is the consequence, nonetheless.

Finally, if the rights of our fellow Americans are threatened because of their sex, skin color, religion, personal lifestyle or any combination thereof, then those rights must be protected by common state practices that adhere to the letter and spirit of the Constitution and let’s see Congress and Trump try to convince the courts that somehow the Constitution is no longer to be believed in the provisions that they disagree with.

Ah, but I hear the distant baying of hounds objecting to the building of stout fences and protective walls of state policies.  “States may not enter into compacts that threaten or usurp the power and authority of the federal government,” they howl.  And that is certainly true but if the federal government concedes to the states the right to manage their affairs without their interference from the central government, it is certainly sour grapes to complain when they do exactly that.  Besides, non of the issues important to progressive states involve activities that could lead to establishment of a power threatening the central government like minting coin, raising armies or conducting their own foreign policies.  The issues of concern are mainly those where federal authority is absent or willfully neglected.  The states’ authorities, individually or in cooperation with one another, extend as far as the void of federal authority allows.  Therefore, we say, “let those who would lend a hand step up but as for the rest, be silent and content that your wishes have come true.”

And while a consolidation of ways and means to protect and promote progressive change can happen at the state level how can we keep pressure on conservatives now in power?  That, as they say, is another story.

Until next week.  🙂

 

Is D.C. Necessary?


In the Wake of Trump it may be time for the the Blue States to consider forming one or more regional alliances among themselves to share and commit resources in order to address and advance a progressive agenda built upon the major points of the Democratic platform crafted between the Clinton and Sanders campaigns. Joint powers agreements between the Pacific states, the Atlantic seaboard and Illinois could bring some of Clinton’s agenda to fruition without the help of a Republican White House and Congress. If we join with those blue states, which are collectively the richest and most advanced, we can achieve many of the goals we want.

We don’t necessarily need Washington DC, anymore.

November Rains

mallory-23

November Rains

The first rains come,

Warning of Winter and the shortening days.

All old fears, all past coldness

Drowning the brightness.

No longer.

November is weak and Winter not cruel.

The rains just echoes

Of brave words in Summer,

Of love known in whispers.

Heard by all and given.

Hearts grow and the hands are strongest in holding.

November is come but not unkindly.

The rains promise Spring.

copyright 2014  Joseph Neri

painting by Mallory Ann Caloca copyright 2016

Pillow Talk


We lay on the bed; head upon breast; breath just apart.

Our bodies are lovers; our warming that covers. 

The stars summon teardrops; the joys there, unstopped.

Those are tears of belonging, those salt tears of great longing.

Close your eyes for small dreams; close your eyes for a little.

 I will watch You and keep You and but sleep, just a little.

And now my darling has spoken ‘neath her hair’s silken tapestry,
“If you dare but to snore, then get out my front Door!”

“And take you, you Villain, your most vile, base travesties!”

Cursed am I and my snores!  So forlorn are those lovers of Tragedies!         

                              copyright Joseph Neri 2016

The Hallows


Christine is in the willows, amongst the tangled boles.

The blue skies far above her, the shades amongst the leaves.

She strayed into the forests and tripped into the shadows.

That separate the moonlight from creatures she should see.

In the reeds stir thin voices, despairing of their needs,

Left among the shadows given over to their pleas.

Christine’s eyes shed sore teardrops for her wounded, bloody brow

For she harbors her resentments as the fears inside her growl.

 

But Christine, among the willows, sees a path before her feet

Now ascending, now traversing the pillars of the skies,

Once a gleam of sunlight has dried her bleeding eyes.

Climbing high upon the mountain to a summer noontime seat

Is the hope above the willows if she turn to look upstream.

There is sunlight on the mountain; it’s enough to make her scream.

 

Copyright 2016 Joseph Neri

By the Sea


Incessant surf, along a silver shore,

The unheard Song of absent longing

Has thundered here before.

How long it moans without belonging,

My absent lover, long ago.

 

The tide comes in; the moon rides high, then low.

Her distant face, a constant afterglow.

I reach and almost touch her, and beg that she may stay

I reach to her in longing, the endless love in “always.”

The Sea will call her, in tones of so much woe.

 

Her alabaster skin is shimmered in waves upon the sands

Her eyes of deep, dark forests, turn once more from the land.

She hears the names I’ve named her; the ones her Soul will share,

From underneath the Waters, the dreams that she would bare.

 

Her Soul is next to mine now, her heart instead of mine.

I wonder that I knew Her so long ago in time.

 

copyright 2016 Joseph Neri