Donald Trump, Sadness, and Loving Kindness


I heard some of Trump’s speech at the Al Smith Dinner last night, and I began to feel truly sad for him. As he was booed over and over again for inappropriate remarks about Clinton and could not seem to grasp how unacceptable and unwelcome his remarks were, I could not help but begin to think about what has made Trump become what he is. I could not help but wonder about what has made him such a broken person.

I not only began to feel sad for him, but also for everyone around him, especially his family. Perhaps if he had experienced more love in his formative years and more examples for how to respect others, especially women, he might have had a deeply happy life instead of one that grabs for more power and approval. Relationships are so important, and we all fall short of helping each other grow as full persons into loving human community, but something has happened to wound Trump’s soul in such a way that it seems unlikely he could ever recover.

If more persons had helped Trump experience a more fully loving community, it might have made a difference, but it seems now that his die is cast and he has chosen the path that will not lead him or those who follow him to a life of care and compassion.

I also feel sad for my country that so many people are drawn to follow Trump down into the abyss of fear and hate instead of pursuing paths of reconciliation and loving kindness. We must find ways to heal whatever it is that makes people believe that the way to their fulfillment depends on the building of walls, the turning away of refugees, and the rejection of persons we experience as “other.” May our individual souls and the soul of our community find healing and peace, somehow. This is the work of our time – this is our common task, and the more we allow the systems and structures that support flourishing community to be diminished, the more difficult our work will be.

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An Open Letter to the Fraternal Order of Police


Dear Members of the Fraternal Order of Police,

I respect that you use democratic processes within your union to select which candidate you choose to endorse for the Presidency of the United States. I disagreed with your decision to endorse Donald Trump for a number of reasons -including his approval of profiling practices, his approval of registering Muslims, his call to ban Muslims from the country, and his call to engage in unspecified surveillance of Muslim Americans – all of which violate the constitutional principles of the free exercise of religion and equal protection of all citizens under the law. Given Mr. Trump’s rhetoric, I also have deep concerns about how Mr. Trump would treat Latinos within the United States. These reasons should have been enough for the Fraternal Order of Police, whose members are called to protect and serve all Americans equally, not to endorse Mr. Trump.

As of yesterday, there is another and urgently pressing reason for the FOP to rescind its endorsement of Donald Trump for the Presidency of the United States of America. We now have audio evidence of Donald Trump bragging about his sexual assault of women and claiming that he can do anything to women because he is a star. I will not go into the details of his lewd and demeaning remarks as it is now a matter of public record. Your organization is now in the position of endorsing a candidate from which you are called to protect all women. The acts he described that he did to women constitute sexual assault, which is a crime, and it is your duty to protect the citizens of this country from criminals.

For the sake of respect to all women and all persons whom you swear to protect and serve, I call on your Order to make the respectable and responsible decision to denounce Mr. Trump’s remarks and actions and rescind your endorsement of him to be our next president. Your motto is “law is a safeguard of freedom.” Out of respect for the law, our safety, and our freedom; the public that you serve deserves that you take this action immediately.

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My Prayers for Oklahoma’s “Oilfield Prayer Day”


Oklahoma’s Governor Fallin has declared October 13, 2016 to be “OilField Prayer Day.” Here is the full text of the official proclamation:

  • Whereas, Oklahoma is blessed with an abundance of oil and natural gas, allowing the state to be a prosperous producer of these valuable resources; and
  • Whereas Christians acknowledge such natural resources are created by God; and
  • Whereas the oil and gas industry continues to produce countless opportunities for wealth generation for Oklahoma families; and
  • Whereas Oklahoma recognizes the incredible economic, community and faith-based impacts demonstrated across the state by oil and natural gas companies; and
  • Whereas Christians are invited to thank God for the blessing created by the oil and natural gas industry and to seek His wisdom and ask for protection; now, therefore, I, Mary Fallin, Governor, do hereby proclaim October 13, 2016, as “Oilfield Prayer Day” in the state of Oklahoma.

In response to this proclamation, I have decided to offer my prayers for “OilField Prayer Day,” in advance of the official day set aside by Governor Fallin. Here are my prayers:

  • I pray that Governor Fallin will adhere to the Establishment Clause of the Religious Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America and not prefer or promote one religion over another or over no religion in her role as governor of the state of Oklahoma.
  • I pray for a diversified, clean energy based Oklahoma economy that will be good for both people and the planet.
  • I pray for education and training of employees who have lost their jobs and livelihood in the oil and gas bust so that they will be able to participate fully in a more diversified clean energy based economy in Oklahoma.
  • I pray for a 7% gross production tax on oil and gas wells instead of the current 2% (and for a number of years it was 1%), which is much lower than the national average, including all of the contiguous states.
  • I pray that the income from a 7% gross production tax will be used to help cover the cuts Oklahoma has made in basic public services, including more cuts to state per pupil spending on education than any other state in the entire United States since 2008 (and that includes the years we were experiencing an oil and gas boom).
  • I pray oil and gas companies will be made to pay for all the earthquake damage they have caused in our state, including paying for all earthquake insurance premiums and deductibles.
  • I pray that Oklahoma and its politicians will respect science and recognize the reality of climate change and finally put people and the planet over profit for the few.
  • I pray that the Oklahoma Corporation Commission will permanently reject efforts by Oklahoma Gas and Electric to put extra use fees on distributed solar and wind power for residences and businesses.
  • I pray that during this oil and gas bust that Oklahoma will finally learn the lesson that unless we move away from a mono-economy based on oil and gas to a diverse economy based on clean energy that we will never break the cycle of boom and bust in our state.
  • I pray that we will not have an oil and gas industry induced earthquake that will cause human injuries and/or loss of life and that we will have the wisdom to stop the waste water injection that is causing thousands of earthquakes in Oklahoma.
  • I pray that Oklahoma will stop being one of primary contributors through its policies and practices to the creation of an unlivable climate for the human community and much of the rest of life.

Governor Fallin wanted all Oklahoma Christians to pray for the oilfields, and I am a Oklahoma Christian, so I have prayed and will continue to pray that generations to come will not look back on our generation with disgust that we ruined the possibility for them to enjoy a livable planet. Amen.

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The Case for Clinton


I have spent a great deal of time and effort giving warnings for why one should never vote for Donald Trump or do anything that would make it more likely for him to get elected, but the election is not only about avoiding the horror of a Trump presidency; it is also about having a president who will work for greater flourishing in our human and ecological communities.

Although I did not vote for Hillary Clinton in the democratic primaries, she is now the only viable (i.e. electable) candidate left in the presidential race who might keep open the window of opportunity we still have as a species to avoid a worst case scenario for people and the planet in the 21st Century.

Hillary Clinton is the only viable candidate left in the presidential race who will:

  • implement the Clean Power Plan and the Paris Climate Agreement
  • appoint Supreme Court justices who will support overturning Citizens United
  • support raising the minimum wage
  • not support torture
  • work to avoid privatization of public services
  • work to end systemic racism in our society
  • work for immigration reform instead of deporting 11 million people
  • work to keep marriage equality in every state
  • work for universal preschool education
  • work to re-establish the preclearance provision of the Voting Rights Act
  • work to end gender discrimination in education, employment, and health care
  • protect reproductive rights for women
  • work for equal protection under the law for persons of all religious faiths and persons of no religious faith
  • support the enhancement of the arts and culture in our society
  • work to make college debt free and provide relief to persons with student debt
  • work to enact legislation to decrease gun violence
  • unambiguously support the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons
  • actually know and be respected by the vast majority of global leaders and know all of their names

With only two electable candidates left in the race for president; a rational, pragmatic, utilitarian calculus points to a strong case for Clinton as the candidate with the greater probability of providing a real opportunity for present and future flourishing of our human and ecological communities. Will she have to persuaded, pressured, criticized, and sometimes even resisted when she is president? – Most definitely yes. But she is the only viable candidate left who shows herself to be open to such rational influence. #TheCaseForClinton

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To My White Evangelical Christian Friends


Photo: Reuters

To My White Evangelical Christian Friends,

Since you are one of the groups most strongly supporting Trump, could you please clarify some things for me?

– Who would Jesus torture?
– Who would Jesus tell to go f*** themselves?
– What women would Jesus call fat pigs?
– What women would Jesus treat like s***?
– Who would Jesus “bomb the s*** out of?
– Which families (including children) of bad people would Jesus go after and kill?
– Where would Jesus build walls to keep people out?
– Which refugees would Jesus reject?
– Which workers would Jesus refuse to pay?
– Which people would Jesus refuse to rent apartments to?
– Which people would Jesus want to punch in the face?
– Which people would Jesus think deserve to get roughed up?
– Which women would Jesus call “Miss Piggy?”
– Which people of other religions would Jesus discriminate against?
– Which 11 million people would Jesus deport?

I know the Bible is important to you, so it would be helpful if you could please ground your answers in scripture.

Peace to you.

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Coalition of the Sane


To my republican friends who know that Trump stands against everything you believe in:

If Donald Trump becomes president, you will likely never see anything that closely resembles a party of which you can be proud for the foreseeable future. Your party will be in the hands of racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, and Islamophobic authoritarians and there will be no place for you or your values.

You are the republicans who would have liked to have seen someone like John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham, or Marco Rubio be the republican nominee. I know some of you have already made the decision to vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton for the good of the country even though you have serious reservations about her. I also know that many of you are either not voting for president or voting for the Libertarian candidate for president, Gary Johnson.

If you are one of those republicans not voting for Trump, but you can’t see yourself voting for Clinton, I encourage you to reconsider. Any non vote or third party vote on the part of those opposing Trump does not fully oppose Trump. The inescapable reality is that Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be our next president, and Trump’s best chance of winning is if many people decide to not vote at all or decide to vote third party. After this week’s debate, I even hope that some of you who were planning to vote for Trump while holding your nose will now also consider voting for Clinton. 

Secretary Clinton needs a broad coalition of the sane to win this election. She needs everyone who cares about the stability of our country to vote for her. I know you saw the debate. I know you know Trump is not stable enough to be President of the United States and that he will do great damage at home and abroad. You know that he lies at sociopathic levels, treats women with great disrespect, divides our country along racial and religious lines, is deeply ignorant about the nuances of foreign policy, and exhibits dangerous megalomaniac and authoritarian behavior. You can’t deny it. Perhaps you hope that if he becomes president that somehow Congress will control him, but you know that history teaches us a different lesson.

Today, I am asking you to please be a part of the broad coalition of the sane who will vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton to become the next President of the United States of America. Your country needs you. The world needs you. Voting for Clinton does not make you a liberal or mean that you agree with her or even like her. It is simply the best defense against the most dangerous and unstable candidate for president we have seen in our lifetimes. 

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It is Happening Here


I used to teach a course called Contemporary Political Theory in which I had students study Wilson, Lenin, Hitler, and Mao. We also read Jacques Ellul’s seminal work on propaganda. I mention this simply to say that I have actually studied the rise of Hitler fairly closely, I have read Mein Kampf four times, and I have looked closely at the propaganda Hitler used both before and after coming to power.

In my entire adult life, I have never compared an American politician to Hitler, with only one exception – Donald Trump. The megalomania, the scapegoating, the acceptance and encouragement of violence, the xenophobia, the racism, the authoritarianism, the harking back to some golden age of the Republic that only he can restore, the simplistic economic remedies, the manipulation of fear and hate, the casual use of the threats of military force, the use of religion to divide people, the methods of propaganda that make his followers see him as the only one who can make all things seem right again are all classic indicators of a person who is working to create a fascist state under authoritarian rule.

This is deadly serious. People and the planet will suffer greatly under Trump’s authoritarian rule. Our systems of democracy and checks and balances are not as robust as we think they are. With a Congress afraid to stand up against a president who has come to power on a wave of fascist populism, with courts stacked with Trump appointees, with a police force whose national union has already shown its support for Trump, and with the force of the military under his command, it is naive to think that Trump will be controlled.

This is a a warning, a warning from someone who has actually studied and taught about the rise of Hitler – it can happen here, it is happening here; and at this point Clinton and the people who vote for her are the only ones who can stop Trump from becoming President of the United States of America. Clinton is a lot of problematic things, but she is not a potential Hitler. Trump is. Progressives who are not voting for Clinton and who are working to keep people from voting for Clinton are aiding in the rise of Trump, whether they know it or not or admit it or not. I plead with you to look carefully at the reality of our situation. In January, our president will be Trump or Clinton. Anything we do to enable Trump to win will lead us into an era of real consequences for real people and all of life.


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