The Political War Against the Kansas Supreme Court – The New Yorker

“Elections often make judges indistinguishable from politicians, and judging indistinguishable from politics. As of now, when reasonable citizens disagree with rulings of the Kansas Supreme Court, they mainly trust its good intentions and the nonpartisan process that has led to appointment of capable, well-qualified, and conscientious justices for the past three generations. The saving grace for the court is that it generally functions as a court, apart from politics. Kansans should do everything they can to keep it that way.”  For more click link below.

via The Political War Against the Kansas Supreme Court – The New Yorker.

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From the American Heritage Dictionary trump and or trumpery means 1) a card from a suit which outranks all others in the deck for the duration of a hand, 2) key resource to be used at an opportune moment, 3) reliable or admirable person, 4) to devise fraudulently, concoct, or counterfeit, 5) trumpet, 6) showy but worthless finery, bric-a-brac, nonsense, rubbish, 7) deception, trickery, fraud, and 8) showy but valueless.

In the current context of electing the President of the United States and/or Leader of the Free World whose hand may  eventually hover over the big, bad button, let us hope the hand is short and the game of cards mercifully brief. While opportunism is part and parcel of politics, statesmanship and gamesmanship may God grant us a dealer who knows the difference. (Most politicians know the difference.) May key resources be applied with caution and forethought. Let us remember that a reliable and admirable leader may not be the same beast in greed as in statecraft. May God protect us from a hand full of counterfeit concoctions.

And trumpet? “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?”( I Corinthians 14:8).

And as for demagoguery no person is more susceptible to being gulled than persons embittered, forsaken, angry, disillusioned, cynical, isolated, broken — and they vote. America needs an admirable and reliable person in the broadest and highest sense. Someone whose trumpet gives an authentic, genuine and unequivocal sound. David Milliken

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Loving and Bearing until Hope Acts

“To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite;
To forgive wrongs darker than death or night;
To defy Power, which seems omnipotent;
To love, and bear to hope till Hope creates
From its own wreck the thing it contemplates;
Neither to change, not falter, nor repent;
This, like thy glory, Titan, is to be
Good, great and joyous,beautiful and free;
This is alone Life, Joy, Empire, and Victory”

Percy Bysshe Shelley, Prometheus Unbound

The poet’s words capture the spirit of 19th-Century Romanticism.   We live in the 21st Century where men and women still defy seeming omnipotent Power when we rebuild a defiant tower on Manhattan Island.  The tower is a beautiful thing.  We are humbled only by the proviso that the tower has been built to withstand all known catastrophes to date and then some, but we have no illusions about the unseen realities like an iceberg that sank the unsinkable ship.  We have no illusions about new catastrophes that will always defy our poor power to prevent them.  We spend trillions on our audacious hopes.  It’s what human beings admire and do. We are awestruck at our own audacity. We rebuild and go on living in Pompey. Hiroshima and Dresden. We survive the Plague and wars and world wars.

1776 feet below the new tower  New Yorkers pursue as always, their hopes and dreams.   The drive goes back hundreds of years and earlier to ancient Rome and even earlier.  Indeed, as does all mankind whether in Paris or Sandy Hook. We have always if not forgiven audacious wrongs and conquered unintended consequences, we have faced events darker than death or night.

We  mortals cannot create a utopia on earth.The the best jobs and education can only make a dent in changing miserable lives.  All we can do is provide  a bigger token’s worth of social investment.  What if it were a mere tithe on the investments we make in our audacity and hubris. Once upon a time the Twin Towers were both a hope and a wreck.  In the end and given human folly, can we give more attention to perfecting what we contemplate  and make sure that audacity pays tribute to Goodness each time we create a symbol of our unquenchable,  audacious human hunger.  David Milliken.

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LOVE (1)


Immortal Love, author of this great frame,
Sprung from that beauty which can never fade,
How hath man parcel’d out Thy glorious name,
And thrown it on that dust which Thou hast made,
While mortal love doth all the title gain!
Which siding with Invention, they together
Bear all the sway, possessing heart and brain,
(Thy workmanship) and give Thee share in neither.
Wit fancies beauty, beauty raiseth wit;
The world is theirs, they two play out the game,
Thou standing by: and though Thy glorious name
Wrought our deliverance from th’ infernal pit,
Who sings Thy praise? Only a scarf or glove
Doth warm our hands, and make them write of love.
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Does fascism come from the right or the left? are the socialists and who are the fascists?  The answer is rather mixed.  The Nazis were “national socialists” and then we had the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.  It was all a rather mixed bag of leftists and rightists who came together in authoritarianism/totalitarianism.  Here’ are some answers.

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Dag Hammarskjold, Hero of the UN Charter

In Katanga 1960I cannot fully explain my fascination with this man and his life. He was never my friend in the flesh and yet he was, a vicarious one.  I have had other vicarious friends because of what they were, what they did, what they tried to do and failed, how they dreamed and died and were forgotten.  Few people today have even heard of Dag Hammarskjold.  He was not the martyred, eloquent reformer as Martin Luther King  was.  He was not the towering, martyred statesman as Abraham Lincoln was.  Hammarskjold never crusaded like Joan of Arc  There was no flamboyance in the man. His suit was a little rumpled. Quite the contrary, he was artistic. poetic contemplative — a quiet man who performed no miracles. An acquaintance of celebrity, he was no celebrity.  Hammarskjold was not assassinated in a theatre box, nor shot on the street nor burned at the stake.  His plane, the Albertina, just crashed in the heart of darkness near the source of the Congo in 1961.  His martyrdom is still unproved.

He was accused of having a Christ-complex  — a criticism now discredited.  He was simply an imitator of Christ as all Christians are asked to be.  But he did it. As a diplomat and negotiator little was more important than the use of language, the word. A man’s word is sacred.  If Jesus, as Hammarskjold said was the “hero of the Gospels,” this Secretary-General was the hero of the UN Charter.  He lived and died as a peacemaker,

As most of his advocates, I discovered Dag Hammarskjold sometime in the Sixties, but I cannot remember precisely when.  Over the years he has often banished my insomnia and inspired my soul.  You must know his diary, Markings,  to love the man — and much more.  Soon you discover that he’s a disciple of Christ in a summer suit behind a podium.  And his words are a threshold to Another Place.   I am just at the threshold.  David Milliken

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Death of the English Major

dreamstime_8445313Death of the English Major?

“It’s nothing that drastic yet, but it’s something we’re going to keep an eye on,” says Eric Walker, chairman and professor of English at Florida State. Professor Walker speaks of his own university in an article by Colleen Flaherty in Slate(Jan 2015). I hope his view isn’t myopic where nationally the trend is still downward. The Modern Language Association reports a drop in English graduate degrees from 55,518 in 2009 to 52,489 in 2013. At George Mason University there were 800 English majors in 1994. There will be 422 this fall. At George Mason the English major was dropped as a requirement for the certificate in secondary English teaching. There are other indications in this article that English major enrollment is tied to whether or not the major is required for professional certification or as part of core curriculum.

Part of the problem can be charged to the general notion that English like other humanities(history, philosophy, etc.) are not “practical” vocationally. Global studies and criminology strike students as more “pre-professional.” And yet, for pre-law, colleges still recommend English, history and philosophy as excellent preparation for law school. And certainly the forms of rhetoric(exposition, argument, persuasion, etc.) are “pre-professional” in every pursuit. Perhaps four quarters or two semesters of English composition are seen as sufficient. They are not.

After all, when a student studies the work of Shakespeare, Melville, Hawthorne, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Flannery O’Connor, Hemingway, Jane Austen and countless others, he or she practices analysis, critical thinking and interpretation. Captain Ahab and Howell’s Silas Lapham have much to teach us about human behavior. In a whole lifetime we will never meet as many personalities in their diversity as Shakespeare gives us in his characters. And how often does any one of us actually meet a Willy Loman? To meet these figures is to live more fully. . Meet Iago and you’ll recognize him in life. You’ll see him coming.

Maybe a full-blown major is not necessary, but certainly a generous helping of humanities courses are. And yes, it is only required courses that force us to do, even for a short period, what we do not normally do — confront the “other.” And who among us does not need help dealing with the “other.” Lets heft up the demand for humanities experiences. Create courses that do that. Humanities majors will follow. I do not know when the first college major was offered, but I do know human beings were dong literary, historical and philosophical study well before each became an “academic concentration.”.

We should be less concerned about how many English majors we have as economic “supply” for our universities than we are about how many students are at least exposed to deep and profound experiences in the humanities. As Matthew Arnold would understand, when a society loses touch with the “best that has been thought and said in the world,” that society will have regressed to barbarism. Matthew Arnold was not an English major. But in his day humanistic studies were the privilege of the few and the well-fixed. Then and it seems now, most folks cannot afford in money and time, the luxury of a deep and abiding experience with literature — let alone the “best.” Somehow society must at least provide exposure to the humanities — just in case the unknowing might find them very useful everyday at work and after work.. Many people have discovered that English and the humanities on the shelves of life are right next to bread, water and livelihood.

David Milliken

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