Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Trump Seeks $54B Military, Security Increase in Spending Plan

Donald Trump seeks to increase military spending $54B
Military Defense Increases to $603B, All Non-Defense Spending Shrinks to $462B


According to Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, the Trump administration has proposed a $54 billion military and security spending increase for the coming year. Meanwhile, all other departments of the Federal Government would see stark decreases in support.

Up to one-quarter of the Environmental Protection Agency's funding can expect to be slashed, according to CNN.

Trump summed up this budget as a "public safety and national security budget" at the White House on Monday. A CNN source identified as a Trump administration official said foreign aid and the EPA are specifically being targeted by the administration.

The unnamed official said that cuts would come through defunding programs currently in operation in the government that Trump considers "unauthorized" and said, where there is duplication in efforts, services will be consolidated.

A budget "congress" has been announced by the White House on March 16. Meanwhile, Mulvaney said Trump's administration intends to add to the lopsided budget next year when, in 2018, Trump intends to begin public financing of the U.S.-Mexico wall he promised to build as a candidate.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Being a Consumer of Mental Health


There are many issues surrounding consumers of mental health services. It is a holistic problem so its fall-out for people so afflicted are far-encompassing -- from personal to professional to medically.

I am a mental health care consumer. I have Major Depression, Generalized Anxiety, PTSD and complicating all of that is alcoholism. Are these 'real disorders'? Well, doctors think so. Living with this mess, I can assure you I regard them as legitimate disorders also.

But, there are people who say that these disorders are made up: not real. They cannot be seen. Well, for that matter, gravity cannot be seen either -- nor can time -- but they are very real as also. Still, I would not offer an argument to detractors who may think otherwise. If the idea is that mental health disorders are not real, then that opinion is informed by the individual.

Where it gets dicey is when those who do not regard mental health disorders as bona fide medical problems somehow convince consumers of mental health services of the same thing they believe. There is nothing quite so spectacular as a mental health patient who does not take their medication. If medication moderates erratic behavior, and it does, then abandoning such medication will give rise to erratic behavior again.

I am well medicated. Yet, even still, there are those days when depression and/or anxiety gets through. There are days when medication will fall short. There will be times of challenge, even regulated by a well thought-out plan for meds and despite regular talk therapy.

The mental health consumer has to know that not everything will be 'solved' for all times with talk therapy and medications. All these things do for me is give me a fighting chance to interdict very difficult emotions, feelings and moods.

When a mental health consumer is un-medicated, though, they have very few tools to work with, if any, There is always talk about support networks, and support networks of other people can literally be the difference between life and death at their most necessary. However, I would say to measure people in your networks. Be sure that they are people who can handle 'your crazy,' for lack of a better term. They also need to be people who know when it is time to get professional services involved.

Living with mental health disorders is hard. It is not a zero-defect situation. If it were then there would be a shot and  -- boom -- no more mental health problems. This is not the case yet. Maybe some day.

I am writing this just to bring up the challenges of living with mental health disorders, maybe to remind people who have fallen away from treatment to consider it again -- at the very least to let other consumers of mental health services to know they are not alone.

A Basic Human Need: Ending Housing Discrimination for Mental Health Cons...

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

George Washington: Lessons in Leadership

President George Washington Born This Day in History: Feb. 22, 1797

It is too easy to fill the page full of amazing and great things about America's first president, George Washington. In all of America and its history, he is perhaps the most deserving and popular of all citizens.

George Washington was a farmer, a surveyor, a citizen-soldier and adventurer, general, president and statesman.The United States needed, at one time or another, all of Washington's considerable talents.

Now, more than two centuries later, after historians have long finished their weighing and judging of this man, it is still universally believed that there would be no United States of America without him.

For more information about President Washington, please click on this LINK. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Generations: Mom and Dad


My parents were from the World War II Generation, which they characterized as the Depression Era Generation. They were an uncommon people, and thank God for them, which is not to say that there were not a lot of problems with those folks. They just seemed to to make things work out, though, for the most part.

My father was born in 1919 and my mom was born in 1925. They were products of their environment, which is to say they were from Newark, New Jersey and were both from Irish-American families whose feet were still wet from walking off the boat. They were part of a community of people like them: Irish people. A portion of those people had some kind of life in Ireland before, some didn't. Those who didn't were being raised by parents who still bought into a lot of the traditions from the Old Country.

I remark on this because the same things was true of Italian-American communities, German-American communities, Polish get the idea. There were communities where people were essentially homogeneous and maintained what they thought of as 'pure racial lines' among White people. Of course, if White people were so hung up on whatever country their parents were from and someone from another Caucasian experience was considered different or 'other,' then how Whites looked at Blacks or Latinos must have been liked they were from the moon. In fact, that was how they looked at Blacks and Latinos. Mom and Dad thought there was a place for Blacks and Latinos in their community -- on the other side of it in their own part of town where they lived their lives among one another.

With that said, how people who were so self-segregated and who believed so much in tradition could cooperate together to do something so phenomenal as winning the kind of World War they fought, and establish the industrial-manufacturing/pre-technological society they did astounds me. My parents did not like the fact that I rebelled against their traditions or notions of right or wrong. Maybe every generation does that, though, to make their own mark. Still, I recognize what my parents did, and their generation.And, my parents were very ordinary in the ranks of their peers.

Dad was a street kid when he was very young, who easily could have fit in to the mold of one of the "Dead End Kids" of the 1930s. He loved his parents and went to school when he could, earned whatever money he might find for his family and played sports when there was a chance to do it. He was a working man, not an intellectual or academically inclined. During the war, he was already in the New Jersey Army National Guard, where he was a combat engineer. So, he knew what he was going to do during the war. He was one of those brave souls who fought in Normandy and came to liberate Europe on June 6, 1944. I cannot imagine the rare variety of hell that was. After the war, he came home and owned a taxi company briefly before he settled down and became an oil truck driver for Liberty Fuel Company, in Linden, which was his last job in life. He worked it for 30 years. He married a pretty girl from the neighborhood, had two sons, bought a house in the suburbs and did everything his generation expected from him.

Mom had a common story. She was from a big family. Mom loved her parents and did not like school. She was very social and well liked. During the Depression, she did without, helped her family make things stretch for the good of the household. She was a 'good girl' who went to church and went to dances at church and school. Then the war came and she became a factory worker very much in the picture of "Rosie the Riveter." She worked on an assembly line in Edison, helping to create component parts for tanks being used to fight the Axis.

These people were part of a team -- they did their best in teams. Their generation was able to come together like no other generation has in the history of this country -- including that of the Founding Fathers -- and fight back a darkness from the face of the world that would have consumed light as efficiently as a black hole from space. And, they made it look as easy as it could have looked. They bore terrible sacrifices and hardships, and did it all with a grit and determination that informed the world 'they got this.' No matter what it was.

My mom and dad were uncommon for the achievements they had in their life. But, they were part of a larger class of people, Americans from every walk of life and color who, as a group of contemporaries, were so dynamic and industrious.

A friend of mine, who was from my parent's generation, died about a week ago. John was affable, good-natured and cut the perfect image of a kindly and benevolent grandfather. Even as he was dying, he had a serenity and hard-earned peace about him that gave a lesson to everyone who met him: Live life well, do things right and fight the good fight. During the war, John was an infantryman in the 45th Infantry Division during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. His unit, nicknamed the "Golden Lions," were savaged by the last gasp of Hitler's army. John's experiences are not easy to identify with, but they are easy to appreciate. He was a hero at a time when there were so many everyday heroes.

The Depression Era Generation cannot be put into a neat, spare box and quantify them in a few words. They were forward-reaching, if not forward-thinking. They were dynamic and a force to be reckoned with. They could accomplish anything from building marvels of engineering to fighting Adolf Hitler or, if they had showed up wanting to fight, Martians or enormous sea creatures. Still, that generation struggled with diversity and civil rights. They struggled with the role of the individual in society and what place society has in the lives of individuals. No, this generation was not good at sorting out everything. They left a lot to do for the rest of us who came afterward. But, we should all feel very lucky for them because they allow us the opportunity to have those conversations, those arguments, in a relatively free world where individual expression still has meaning. Because if the Depression Era generation had not made their contribution to this world, it would be a place of far less opportunity for the rest of us.

I say God bless to my mom and dad, to John and to all of those wonderful people we were lucky to have as parents or grandparents. They carried the water.

Nine Suggestions designed to Help Hard Core Criminal Addicts

  1. Continue to promote and encourage law enforcement to use the drug court for relapse prone addicts with a criminal background. The weight of the court and a pending prison sentence is enough pressure for many criminal addicts to enter and complete treatment.
  2. Try new approaches such as have been suggested in Scranton, PA. See article below. Once an addict is apprehended, allow the option of treatment even before any criminal charges are filed. This would be a real incentive for many if not most chronic addict offenders since the charge would not be filed if treatment was completed.
  3. I have noticed that regular visits with the addict in treatment by the criminal justice referring agent will have a positive impact on prolonged recovery. Addicts in treatment tend to forget that they're on Probation or Parole or Drug Court etc. The brief "legal" visits should be once every three to four weeks and must be face-to-face or virtual via Skype.
  4. The recovery process begins upon entering treatment. Legal video referral visits between the referring agent and the recovering addict in treatment must begin {or continue} for a minimum of once every three weeks.
  5. Random urine testing must be done and certified by the authorized same sex treatment staff member, occurring every two to five weeks based on the client's treatment plan.
  6. *There must be continuing face-to-face or video coaching after treatment for a minimum of four years. This is the most critical point to understand considering the relapse nature of the disease. The fear of the {observed} positive urine test along with the encouragement of the coach are essential to ensure long-term recovery, legal compliance and success. {This new protocol is well worth State funding.}
  7. The treatment coach and the legal referring agent should also maintain video contact while the client is in treatment and thereafter. 
  8. All treatment programs know the relapse prone nature of the disease of addiction and should stick to the protocol of maintaining regular virtual contact with their client for many years thereafter. If the legal referring agent mandates regular observed urine testing for several years after treatment, I encourage the treatment programs to comply provided there is State financial support. A very minimal investment for considering the relapse nature of the disease.
  9. It is my suggestion that the State Department of Human Services fund the coached recovery of each client during and continuing for several years after treatment, until recovery stabilizes as demonstrated by the client's new drug free lifestyle. More and more data shows that addiction is a lifetime disease similar to that of diabetes. Think of the need for an addiction treatment coach for a recovering person just as critical as the need for insulin for a diabetic. Based on my experience with thousands of recovering addicts over nearly 50 years, long-term coached recovery may be the missing piece in our present day protocols for treatment. This process is more likely to result in a durable long-term recovery. Credentials for a recovery coach should only require a signed approval letter by the treatment program director. Certification and degrees should not be a mandatory requirement for a recovery coach. Positive experience and the recommendation of the treatment director are more critical. If the recovery coach is in recovery as well, he/she must also submit to random urine testing by the State or by the treatment program.


       The Proposed Scranton Project:

The department is preparing to apply for a federal grant of about $730,000 to fund a three-year program that would offer a treatment option to low-level offenders and others suffering from opioid addictions, before any criminal charges are filed police Chief Carl Graziano said.

If a person successfully completes the treatment program, no charges would be filed for what otherwise could have been a crime, such as simple possession of heroin, he said. That person won't have a criminal record and, hopefully, will have a better chance at full recovery, he said. If a person facing arrest does not complete the treatment program, charges would move forward.

Scranton        eyes pilot pre-arrest drug treatment program

Jim Lockwood, Staff writer/published: February 2, 2017

The Scranton Police Department hopes to offer certain opioid addicts a chance for treatment that, if successfully completed, won't result in any charges filed for potential crimes, authorities said.

The department is preparing to apply for a federal grant of about $730,000 to fund a three-year program that would offer a treatment option to low-level offenders and others suffering from opioid addictions, before any criminal charges are filed police Chief Carl Graziano said.

If a person successfully completes the treatment program, no charges would be filed for what otherwise could have been a crime, such as simple possession of heroin, he said. That person won't have a criminal record and, hopefully, will have a better chance at full recovery, he said. If a person facing arrest does not complete the treatment program, charges would move forward.

"Rather than get photographed and arrested, they would essentially sign what we're calling a 'Contract for Recovery,' " Chief Graziano told Scranton City Council during an informal caucus on Jan. 26.

He told council that the grant application would come before it soon for its consideration. City endorsement of the application is a required precursor of its ﮋling, he said.

The grant would come from a federal smart policing initiative seeking effective prevention and response approaches to prescription and/or illegal drug overdose and deaths, the tentative application says. The programs aim to help an addict get treatment before he or she has a criminal record, "to give them a real shot at turning their life around, of getting a job and having a future," the application says. It estimates the program over three years could help about 100 people, though the numbers could vary depending on lengths of treatments.

The Contract for Recovery initiative would complement Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition and drug court programs already in existence, but differ from them in a key way. That's because people in ARD or drug court have been charged with crimes that, even if expunged, could remain on the internet and hinder them from getting or keeping jobs and staying clean, the chief said.

"The difference (with the proposed Contract for Recovery) is they never actually enter the criminal justice system, so they don't get a criminal record," the chief said. "It's going to be a pre-booking intervention program. It will target the heroin and opioid addiction problem in our area."

This effort would take two approaches:

Pre-offense diversions, in which police would spread the word on the streets about the Contract for Recovery to entice those who want to seek treatment immediately.
Pre-arrest diversions of people involved in "minor criminal acts," such as simple possession, and in which officers could offer the contract option.

The Gloucester, Massachusetts Police Department has a similar program that relies upon citizens going to police seeking help for addiction. The United Kingdom has a "test on arrest" program that results in mandatory treatment assessment for those testing positive for drugs. Scranton's proposed approach would fall between these other two methods.

Scranton's initiative would involve two treatment centers: A Better Today and Drug and Alcohol Treatment Service of Lackawanna County.

Results of the program also would be empirically tracked by the University of Scranton's Center for the Analysis and Prevention of Crime.

Lackawanna County District Attorney Shane Scanlon praised the city police department for "thinking out of the box" to try to stem the opioid epidemic. Early intervention hopefully would prevent what otherwise could become a downward spiral of addiction and recurring crime and jail time, Mr. Scanlon said.

"I think it's an outstanding idea," Mr. Scanlon said of the proposal. "If we can get a person on the right path — the sooner the better."

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Mob is in the Streets, at the Door


The Patriot Movement: It is an interesting phenomenon. It is a movement that promotes itself and its members as 'true patriots' to the nation. These people claim to be the ultimate Americans, more knowledgeable than any political party, academics, military or governmental active people or veterans, subject matter experts or any other enthusiasts of government or public policy.

I think it would be a mistake to condescend to these people. They arrived on the political scene as a response to societal stress, winds of historic change, economic unrest....take your choice. But, it was a real thing that created them. And, mob rule is not new.

Every mob in history has needed more than just the environment to spark, they have needed the strong man, a relatively permissive society that would allow the machinations of revolt in the first place, and a means of communication to the mob. And, the mob is a breathing, living thing. It has one mind, one focus, it seeks destruction. Indeed, destruction is the point of the mob. It cannot build. It cannot create. It must destroy. Once assembled, it will do one of two things -- it will be put down or it will fulfill its ultimate mission of destruction of everyone and everything that breaths even a hint of opposition. It is humanity at its worst -- it is the illogical conclusion of political thought.

Facts no longer matter.

Realities no longer matter.

Common sense no longer matters.

The mob is a seething, toothy beast.

It is a historical creature, who has prowled the streets of Ancient Israel, the Roman Empire, Paris during the French Revolution, Moscow during the October Revolution in 1918 and all the way to Arab Spring in 2010. Now, the mob has convened here in the United States. And, it is circling, building up its courage. If it is allowed to circle this republic long enough, it will strike.

Mr. Trump is the focus of these people and they have imbued this very self-centered, hedonistic, mentally unstable real-estate developer from New York with super-human strength of character and wisdom. And, frankly, he has done nothing throughout the long stretch of his 70 years that would incline a reasonable mind to believe he has any superior abilities in anything. Well, reason is not in the house here right now. It has vacated the premises. It no longer resides in the halls of power, in the streets surrounding those halls, in the homes along those streets or in the hearts of the nation's citizens.

Yet, when the mob controls the halls of powers; When its strong man rules a mighty nation, rest assured that havoc is loose in the streets. Where will it go? Beats the hell out of me.

As bad as it might get, as terrible as its historical consequences of the past (and quite possibly the future) the mob can be an agent of change -- and even the most brutal change can bring good in its wake. Not right away. Right away it is bad. And, it will be bad for a long time. With America being the greatest democracy in the world -- leader of the free world -- all of that is by the way side in the wake of some mob going loose in this country. I think that is likely.

This mob loves guns. They will use them.

This mob hates people who are not white. Well, we all know how that will work out, historically speaking.

This mob hates central government. And, it will direct its ire against it, probably using the guns they love so much.

Of course, this is if things go as far as they can. This will happen if there is not an agent of change. This will happen -- and innocent people will suffer -- if there is not an agent of change to disperse this crowd of "Patriots." These people are not devils, nor any other supernatural thing -- they are our neighbors and family. They are our friends. They are us. They are simply caught up in something that they cannot control, and God help the rest of us.

Hopefully, things will not go South. Hopefully, this whole thing -- this whole country -- does not melt under the weight of its angst. It almost did in the 1960s. But, Hippies were about peace and love -- not about guns and God. I do not know what is the more deadly of the two -- God or guns. Arm someone with a gun and they can take lives. Arm someone with a false idol and they will take many more lives. Arm an angry mob with guns and a false idol -- do the math.

For the record, I am under the impression that God is about peace and love, caring for the poor and instilling peace among nations. I know that is not a popular idea right now, but it is the one I live with. There is no use convincing the New Patriots of Jesus in the Book of Mark or about God's gentle hopes and desire for us. The mob is loose in the streets. The course will be run.

What is left is prayer.

Sometimes, it takes Divine Providence to sort out the wheat from the chaff.

As a younger man, I would have argued common sense, science, God and recorded history to try and convince a mob from its appointed duty. But, I am not a younger man: I am one who has seen something of the world. I think people are going to do what they are going to do, and relying on their better angels, sense of right or duty is an utter waste of time.

This drama involving President Trump and his followers will play out in American history. I have no idea what the result will be. I do not believe anyone does -- not Trump himself. We are all in God's hands now. Now is the time for those of us who profess faith to have it. Sometimes, the best we can do is get by the day until we catch a break -- Lord knows we all need one.

Fingers crossed, folks. Fingers crossed.

I Love the Lord whitney houston gospel

Mark, the Restored Deserter (Mark 1:1)

SpaceTime - Full Documentary HD 2015

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Tribute To Lt. General Hal Moore: Feb. 13, 1922 - Feb. 10, 2017

A tribute to the late and great Lt. Gen. Hal Moore. If ever there were someone who deserved an easy rest, it is him.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Arby's reports serious security breach


According to a report filed by Abigail Elise for National Curator, more than 335,000 people who ate at Arby's between October 2016 and January 2017 may very well have had their credit or debit card information stolen. She cited a statement reportedly issued by the fast food chain.

Arby's reportedly discovered the security breach around mid-January. The fast food chain has more than 3,000 sites nationwide. Arby's Senior Vice President of Communications Christopher Fuller said, "Although there are over 1,000 corporate Arby's restaurants, not all of the corporate restaurants were affected."

Tom Brady - The Greatest Of All Time

Alright, I want to self-identify as a New York Jets fan. I have no love of the New England Patriots or their stand-out quarterback, Tom Brady. With that said, Tom Brady is the greatest player to ever play the quarterback position and I believe in giving the devil his due.

How Great Is Our God: Chris Tomlin

Better Together: A Sermon By Joel Osteen

My name is Jim Purcell and I operate this blog. I am the one who posted this sermon by Joel Osteen and I stand by it. When I went to seminary at the New York Theological Seminary, a lot of scholars and ministers there disapproved of Mr. Osteen. Why? Because he never attended seminary anywhere. He never became an actual biblical scholar. He is not a biblical scholar. However, he has something to say.

I do not believe it is wrong for anyone getting up in front of large crowds of people and giving them positive words of hope. Meanwhile, nowadays one would be hard put to find ministers ordained in traditional ways. With that said, I invite my readers to click on today's sermon and find strength in this gentleman's words.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Empty Stomachs Make History...Always Have


There are many issues about the poor, the elderly, the infirm and those who are traditionally marginalized in American society that are about to be revisited by politicians of every stripe in our nation.

The winds of political change have seen to it that a different kind of president has been elected to the highest executive office in the United States, someone who has a great deal of affinity with the basest of reactionary elements in our society. And, the majority party in Congress, for the moment, is the most conservative collective on the national scene.

This president and this majority will remain so for at least the next four years. The stated mission for this president and this Congressional majority is to revisit the reforms of the past several decades and, with great impunity, wash away the contributions of progressive thought and social safeguards put in place by members of both party since before the 1980s (in many cases).  This will create a dramatic seachange in everyday American life, and unleash considerable chaos, I believe.

Fundamentally, I subscribe to Dr. Abraham Maslow's theory of mankind's hierarchy of needs. Yes, I studied this psychological theory in college and seminary, but this is not the reason I subscribe to it. A half century of life has sufficiently proven this theory's merit to me, through both personal experience and observation.

What concerns me very much is there is a notion loose in the political streets that disadvantaged people do not wish to work and, rather than working, they want to collect the paltry sums of money connected to state-funded relief programs for the poor. In addition, these people, debased because of this perceived malaise, should not, in the minds of the current president or the prevailing majority party, receive any form of guaranteed healthcare. I have great concerns about the future of Social Security, civil rights, women's rights and foreign policy, as well. But, I think the handling of America's poor is probably the flashpoint of my concerns.

In history, whether the discussion turns to the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 4th century AD, the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 15th century, the French Revolution of 1789, the Russian Revolution of 1917 or the Great Depression of the early 20th century in America, the power and the urgency of hungry stomachs destabilize governments, nations and peoples. There are many more examples, of course, but these are the ones that come to mind most quickly for me.

Because of mankind's hierarchy of needs.

Those who are rich sometimes believe they are right because they have more than others. And, they believe their merit is weighed by their riches and that their riches are not a symptom of luck or circumstance, but of merit itself. So, I am saying someone believes they are right and good because they have wealth, to the exclusion of other consideration. So, in righteousness and goodness, perhaps they believe that they also possess wisdom -- great insight. And, it is this so-called wisdom and insight which moves them to seek to change the world around them.

It is a mistake to take what little most people have, even if a rich person tells themselves it is the morally right thing to do. Because empty stomachs, not just great egos, have written the history of this world. Wars and causes tend to get written about more than times of great peace. It is the nature of man's interest to be drawn to stories about conflict.

What is government? 

What is government's responsibilities to the poor? This is an important question today. Well, in America, our manufacturing and industrial bases were very compromised during the latter 20th century by globalization and technological advances. The American middle class suffered heavily with unions being discarded, with factory jobs being moved overseas to Asia and the increased use of commercial robotics. People who were neither rich nor poor lost so much during this time.

An entire class of people used to working hard at non-office jobs were used to buying respectable homes, sending their children to good schools, wearing nice clothes, taking vacations and having small luxuries. Between the end of World War II, and into the late 1970s, the American middle class enjoyed the highest standard of living in the world.

Now, almost 50 years removed from that era, the American upper and middle classes are farther apart than at any time since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Americans are a people whose prosperity has been given away by politicians and captains of industry for so long that there is institutionalized resentment, frustration and enmity. Meanwhile, Americans are not a patient people. They want things solved now...not gradually; not eventually; but right now. And, when there is frustration to this level then reason and sense are abandoned in favor of wild attempts at immediate positive change. Of course, abandoning reason is a a horrible choice.

Make no mistake about it, the little this government provides to people who are disadvantaged is the cost of Big Business and Big Politics surviving and thriving in this country. Americans are not European serfs. They will not long endure deprivation on scales greater than they have become accustomed to already. People do want to work. They do want change. But, what allows this country to function as a governmental entity is not its military, its many law enforcement agencies, its regulatory commissions, captains of industry, celebrities, wealthy or outspoken. What allows this country's prominent interests to enjoy the money and power they have siphoned off the middle class is, in fact, the tacit consent of the growing and staggering numbers of disadvantaged people in this country. If common people find themselves unable to find work, live in decent housing, have no access to healthcare, receive no material support to live, and face increased law enforcement authoritarianism because they seek social justice in lieu of actual economic opportunity, then there will be social and political instability.

Why did former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt enact wide-spanning social welfare reform in the 1930s? Historians argue this until today. However, I believe President Roosevelt was fulfilling the most basic obligation of his office: He was keeping the union together. Nationalism is not based on a flag, a strong man standing in front of indirect lighting, theme music or sports teams. Patriotism is based on a spoken or unspoken understanding of a complex network of understandings between those who govern and those who are governed. Wealthy people already achieved the 'best deal' they were going to get in the United States: Most people have been asleep politically for more than a decade.

Though life was not great anymore, though America was not the global leader in business or education or any of that anymore -- life was good enough. Now, however, the apple cart is looking at being upset. And, I think arrogant leaders of today should slow down and examine just what they are proposing to do in the name of self-interest. Media manipulation by the Right, authoritarianism and disinformation will only go so far. The great political leaders of today should not make great changes by further disenfranchising the already disenfranchised anymore than they have already been. It will become dangerous if this is done. Maybe this is inevitable. I actually believe it is inevitable. There is nothing that will stop the wheels of wealthy self-interest once it has begun -- until it meets the historically predictable power of the 'hungry stomachs.'

The hungry stomachs have cast down emperors, kings, czars, nobles and political leaders in every corner of the world, and throughout history. Yes, some people who are denied human rights will always take to the streets and irritate for change. However, historically, they do not have great success in their efforts to unseat the powerful until they have the active cooperation of those who are not able to fulfill basic human needs. This political regime was put in office by the angry mob, who voted in an authoritarian American regime in frustration due to long-standing problems. This regime will not be able to fix anything by actively targeting vulnerable, at-risk elements of this society with more deprivation and punitive actions. It will lead to enormous social change, which will amount to anarchy.

Empty stomachs do not care about flags. They care about eating, having opportunity and sleeping indoors instead of in the woods. And, if they do not get that, and a reasonable amount of support, then there will be social unrest. Modern times are not set apart from history. Our days right now are simply another page. There is science to politics. And, scientifically speaking, this regime is putting itself in the position where it will relearn the lesson of what reaction takes place when a lit match is exposed to a swimming pool full of gasoline. It is so predictable and yet seems so inevitable.

If social welfare in its various forms is removed before the fantasy of promised economic opportunity for all is delivered, it will create a condition of extreme tension that will not peacefully hold the demographics of the United States. I am not talking about sparking revolution. In fact, I am saying that common people cannot spark revolution today. Revolutionary spark occurs from the lack of opportunity. FDR knew this, and he put in place social welfare to keep intact American borders, the itnegrity of American nationalism and the essential consent of the people to be governed by central authorities like the state and national governments. What he did was nothing less than preserve the union during times when the survival of America as a national entity was in question. FDR put welfare reflief in place until an actual economic boom blossomed in the form of, sadly, World War II. Social welfare was the band aid that government and the people needed until real solutions for prosperity were found. Removing the band aid before wounds are healed is a prescription for instability. Unfortunately, I am firmly under the impression this is exactly what is in the process of happening.

Well, philosophically, perhaps this is just a time when great instability was supposed to happen. Maybe this situation was inevitable. In the long run, perhaps the coming time of social discord is historically necessary for some greater insight that will follow after the dust has settled. It is some comfort that, even after the worst of times, prosperity does return. Not all change is comfortable, though, and I think that will be the case in the coming years.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Chris Tomlin - Whom Shall I Fear [God of Angel Armies] [Lyrics]

I want to thank everyone for another week of reading The Chronicles. God bless to you and yours. Happy Sunday!

The First Sunday After the Epiphany

It is ignorance that binds man to evil.

In the Liturgical Calendar, this is the first Sunday after the Epiphany. Simply put, the Epiphany was the baptism of Jesus, as it is taught in Matthew 3. In it, Jesus comes to an incredulous John the Baptist in the Wilderness to be baptized. God showed his impartiality in His works by Jesus presenting himself to the prophet John, a holy man but still a man. Jesus came to be baptized in the way any one of us would be baptized. In response to John's surprise, Jesus said, "Let it be so for now; for it is prosper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness."

So, Jesus was baptized and the heavens opened up and the Spirit of God descended like a dove and God said, "This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased."

This was a defining moment in the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, an ongoing ministry that began so long ago in Nazareth and continues until this day. In Acts 10: 34-43, the Apostle Peter tells us that he truly understands that God shows no partiality and expects every nation -- every one -- to do what is right by God. God announced Jesus with the Holy Spirit. Jesus was healed the people, preached the law of God and the Kingdom. As a result, he was later crucified, died, was raised from the dead by God and was raised as the judge over the living and the dead.
Understanding who we are, and the world around us, is our liberation. 

For me, the Epiphany was a dynamic moment for many reasons, one being that it was a time when God peeled back the layer of heaven for a moment to show mankind the world beyond this world, and the order that existed beyond our knowledge; beyond our ken. God showed his confidence in mankind to accept the revelation of His works as He intended them. It is not for mankind to edit or change, or add to or take away from the Word of God.

In American history, one of our giants is the immortal Frederick Douglas, born a slave named Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, in 1895. He is not remembered as a slave, though. Frederick Douglas is remembered as a social reformer, an abolitionist, an orator and a statesman. It is he who said, "Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe."

These are good words from a good man. Of course, Mr. Douglas was addressing equality. But, in this quote he tells us that ignorance is the environment that allows for injustice. Before even one man or woman is unfairly judged or any people are oppressed, first there must be ignorance and the few controlling the many unjustly.

How does such a bitter root take hold in the ground? Well, there are those who will tell you science is the enemy of faith. The enemies of peace will want to control the facts. They do not want God's message to make itself heard in the world. They do not want the justice of heaven to rule the nations because that is something other than the justice of corrupt men. We are left asking: What is the truth?

I am a fallible man, who has been broken before in my life. I am no different than any other sinner among us. But, I go out of my way to grow as a person. I win some battles and I lose others. Yet, I never cease to wonder and express awe at the revelation of God's universe every day. I see God and His works in the every day miracles of our universe, in the insights into God's universe that are constantly evolving our broadening our spiritual landscapes and in the understanding that it is not a few men and women who should rule us, but the precepts that God instills into us, as individual people. God gave us humanity. God gave us the daring to move beyond the shadows and into the light. It was God who taught us that the ignorance of the status quo is an unacceptable way to live life.

How do we know that? Well, if everything was hunky dory then He never would have needed Christ to walk among us. He never would have needed to announce his Son. If everything was just fine, then God would not have needed to peel back the heavens and show mankind the world beyond this world. It was God that showed us ignorance is the death of the spirit. And, it is His wisdom, not the false wisdom of man, that we should look to for answers.

God shows us where we should walk in the discoveries we make in the quiet of our own souls, in the warmth of those who love us and in the achievements of those who reveal our universe to us and make it larger than it was before that showing. No, do not look to one man, or one political party or one guru to decide how you will live, or how a people should live. Let the Word of God counsel our hearts and let our hands and minds join together to understand ourselves more clearly, and our universe more accurately, than we did just yesterday.

Have a wonderful Sunday and thank you for reading this. AMEN.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Parents Role in the Prevention or Spread of Opioid Abuse

Does our 2017 culture at home and work “acknowledge the realities and priority of parenthood?”  

By  David H. Kerr  
Founder, Integrity House             

Here are two problems today:
1)   Not enough parent to child time
2)   Negative role modeling by some parents even including parents who abuse of addictive substances

According to the New York Times editorial board, 1-16-17:
“Opioid overdoses have claimed more than 300,000 lives in the last 15 years, including some 33,000 in 2015 alone. But those numbers do not tell the full horror of this epidemic, which has devastated the lives of countless children whose parents have succumbed to addiction to prescription painkillers and other opiates. In one terrible case last month, a Pennsylvania couple died of apparent overdoses, and their baby perished from starvation a few days later.”

Parents should understand that when they have children, their actions as adults are heard and mimicked by those children, far more than their words.  Parenting by one’s own positive attitude and behavior often serves as the best predictor for children to grow up in a like manner – not what you say but what you do.  This article goes on to say that “the number of foster care children jumped 8% nationally between fiscal years 2012 and 2015. Experts say that opiate abuse accounts for a lot of that increase."[1]  {See complete article below.}  David Leonhardt, Op-Ed Columnist for the New York Times makes a key point about a balance between the workplace culture and parenting:  I should make clear that I find The New York Times to have an excellent workplace culture.  Yet even here, there’s clearly a large demand for a new approach to designing career paths that acknowledge the realities of parenthood.”

Does our 2017 culture at home and work “acknowledge the realities and priority of parenthood?”  Linda and I live in a beautiful suburban community, not far from Newark where I worked for 47 years.  We’ve seen a change in values in suburban communities since March, 1970 when we moved into town.  Then, Moms’ stayed home with the children and Dads’ went to work.  Moms were always with the kids and they learned about their child’s needs and sensitivities, usually offering clear guidelines and rules for them.  Parents often exchanged experiences, good and bad, while watching kids play in a soccer game.  We worked together with other young folks in town to create a fun social group called “Friendship.”  There was a real sense of community in the 1970’s and parenting was a full time job for Moms and a number one priority for both parents. 

Now it’s 2017, and no surprise, things are different.  Now it’s likely that both parents leave home in the morning for work, not returning until 6pmor well-after.  The daytime surrogate parent is often a paid “baby-sitter.”  The high cost of taxes may be one reason for both parents working and when they return at night to their children, they are happy and caring but exhausted!  Then there are often activities at night that parents are part of and the children are sometimes again left with a babysitter.  Are our children getting the kind of strong foundational love, caring and discipline coming from their loving and caring birth parents?  Do we as parents understand the responsibility we have in our own lives, our actions and attitudes and feelings that are absorbed by our children when we least expect it? Here are three suggestions of mine:  1) Make an effort to eat together as a family, 2) Spend some time every night with your spouse and children – leave for your meetings after this, 3) Encourage listening.  These three suggested points, if practiced regularly may help to build a responsible and caring family.  There is no guarantee of course, but why not try it for a while and keep a record what happens?

Good parenting can be a trying experience at times but for the most part it can be fun and rewarding.  Bottom line, it’s an awesome responsibility.  Parents who use and abuse legal and illegal substances day in and day out are gambling with their children’s future.  If you are one of these parents, you might want to contact the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services for help:
1-800-382-6717. Or you can mail to the following address:
Mailing Address:
Capital Place One
P.O. Box 700
Trenton, NJ 08625

Or send me an email at

Finally to restate, make a priority of what you do since your children will be far more likely to learn from that as opposed to what you say.

Albert Einstein- How I See the World

Friday, February 3, 2017


Trump Repeal Will Help the Religious Left



The president of the United States, Mr. Donald Trump, is advocating repealing a rarely enforced rule at the IRS that says pastors who endorse candidates from the pulpit place losing their tax exempt status at risk. According to YahooNews, the president said, "I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution."

This struck me today, and I will explain why. As the former associate pastor for the Stelton Baptist Church, in Edison, New Jersey (2006-2010), there were regularly stringent warnings from American Baptist Churches -- New Jersey to avoid preaching politics from the pulpit of churches. This was despite the fact that the denomination, in my opinion, endlessly endorsed right-wing causes and politicians of every stripe. In fact, in my practical experience, this IRS edict did relatively nothing to silence the Religious Right and was , instead, used almost exclusively to silence the Religious Left.

I remember the Right within American Baptist Churches, during 2007 or 2008, actually mandating that denominational seminarians and clergy sign oaths stating that they would not advocate abortion politically or participate in any marriage ceremony involving gay couples. I know this because I was asked to sign this at the First Baptist Church of Long Branch, and I declined to put my signature on any such thing. 

You see, when the denomination, especially in the person of its then and current leader, Bishop Lee Spitzer, put out anti-abortion rhetoric and anti-homosexual rhetoric from the pulpit years ago, it was promoting a religious/political agenda. The Religious Right wraps themselves up in the belief that their translations of scripture, called exegesis, are so absolutely correct that it is something other than their personal politics -- that their opinions transcend their opinions and enter into some kind of hallowed truth. Of course, that is not true.

There are many opinions about how to read and interpret biblical scripture. To interpret scripture along political lines, especially the politics that one subscribes to, is inconsistent with Christian preaching and teaching. It should be the Lord's message found in the Lord's Word ideally, not the message of the person preaching, the human who has ulterior motives and agendas. The message of whomever happens to be preaching that day should not be the one that is searched for in the Bible fervently to support some personal belief they hold. It should be, it must be the Word of God, given to us in the Bible. Still, the world is what it is, and honest and true it is not. 

I vividly recall liberal clergy in American Baptist Churches -- New Jersey, several years ago as of this writing, being very bullied by this law that Mr. Trump plans on repealing. It is Right Wing clergy that espoused this law, who used it as a weapon against their more liberal colleagues to gain their silence. Some of us liberals, though, would not shut up. Some of us were sanctioned informally by our denominations, if not formally...because we interpreted scripture in ways that were not popular with powerful cliques in our religions. Some of us preached reconciliation with the gay and homosexual community, and some of us advocated for the life of a mother over the life of a fetus. Unlike conservatives, progressive clergy does not tend to group together in groups. My censure was one that was an example, I suppose, for people who might speak their mind over the party line. 

In my case, there were several things that stymied my career decreed from the Bishop's office. On top of that, despite winning a scholarship from my denomination that year, it was never paid because I had refused to take part in bias against homosexuals in the community. 

 However, I do not think Mr. Trump quite understands what he is doing with this action. He will, in essence, empower those who have been silent to speak out, some for the first time, because they will no longer have the long arm of this law hanging over their head. Mr. Trump's supporters are not the ones who were impacted by this law -- it was those who would be sending messages in direct opposition to Mr. Trump's self-proclaimed 'Christian Agenda' who would be emboldened by this action. 

Conservative watchdogs masquerading as clergy would no longer have their 'big threat' over their colleagues. So, I think this is a good repeal of a bad law, though it may be one that Mr. Trump regrets doing in the near and long term. Truly, removing this road bump to free speech will have a positive effect. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Barrymore, Olyphant star in 'Santa Clarita Diet'

Drew Barrymore is "Sheila," the newbie zombie and Timothy Olyphant is her adoring husband, Joel. They are married and have a real-estate business. One day, Sheila dies and returns a flesh-eating zombie. Though some things change, others do not and Joel stands by her side. This is the recipe for Netflix's original show, "The Santa Clarita Diet."

Inside Einstein's Mind - The Enigma of Space