Recommended: Thomas Friedman in the New York Times on Immigration Policy

Thomas Friedman wrote an excellent review of immigration problems, procedures and policies for the New York Times in this morning’s edition. It is listed as an opinion piece but Friedman always writes from a background of solid reporting and this piece provides a comprehensive review of the current situation at the southern border and the likelihood of future developments if we do nothing to change.

Fans of the president may not get beyond his endorsement of the need for physical barriers. That is unfortunate because he makes the point that a wall alone accomplishes little or nothing. However, he also describes places where physical barriers have worked to the advantage of communities on both sides of the border allowing commerce to thrive and homeowners to enjoy their property.

Federal employees whose job it is to enforce our rag-tag immigration policies are underfunded and tasked with carrying out unenforceable laws. Comments you are likely to encounter on FB often present our choice as being between open borders and building a wall. Not so. Life is so much more complicated than that and it gets more complicated the longer we ignore the real problems we share with our neighbors.

(The Friedman article is here. If you cannot read it from this link, you may have to subscribe to the NY Times. Maybe it’s time to throw your support to good journalism.)

Methodists – Stay Put! We Have Work to Do.

A few days ago, a strange instrument of polity we United Methodists created to resolve – hopefully once and for all – the question of the denomination’s acceptance of gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex marriages met and failed. Without going into all the details, suffice it to say that the special session of the General Conference “resolved” the issue by emphatically endorsing existing language of the Book of Discipline that forbids the ordination of gay clergy and prohibits any ordained member of the clergy from officiating marriages for same-sex couples.

This all started in 1972 with the insertion of language into the Discipline of a statement meant to support the rights of gay members in the church and in society. However, conservatives at that General Conference succeeded in capping it off with  following additional clause: “…although we do not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.”

To the contrary, it is this exclusionary provision that is more likely incompatible with Christian teaching in the estimation of most 21st century United Methodists in America. Most of us see it as wrong to pretend that God’s love and the grace of Jesus Christ is somehow less available to people who express their love and commitment to each other in relationships that do not conform to 19th and 20th century ideas of acceptability.

Continue reading “Methodists – Stay Put! We Have Work to Do.”

A Prayer at Christmas

We offer our thanks today for the gift of a story of a baby born in Bethlehem whose own offering of grace and love has sustained us for centuries and given us hope and strength to overcome murderous dictators and those who have brokered power through violence.

We give thanks for our own free press and reporters like Nicholas Kristof who recently forced us to look see the image of Abrar Ibrahim whose starvation in Yemen at the hands of powerful men, able to give her the needs of life but use her instead as a pawn in struggles for power. The image of a 12 year old girl who weighs 28 pounds on a planet of plenty gives us no room for excusing ourselves. And, in her misery, she represents millions of suffering children and adults. Continue reading “A Prayer at Christmas”

D Day, November 6

Next Tuesday, November 6, 2018, is a crucial day in our history.

The United States Constitution is a masterpiece of Eighteenth Century Enlightenment mechanics. Part of its genius is in the system of checks and balances that protects against the concentration of power in the hands of a single actor or group within the constitutional system.

Different actors are beholden to different electorates and some roles are selected at different times to provide overlapping periods in power. The effects of momentary passions are tamped down through these and a variety of other means. People in different power roles are accountable to different electorates and are chosen at various times to reflect and sometimes neutralize the passions of the day.

Thus, the nation has survived some perilous times and, often, the effects of incompetent leaders.

However, when all three branches of the government come under control of a single party, we have a problem. Assuming an ordinary level of party discipline, the checks and balances are upset and any hegemonic entity – we usually think of the presidency – has relatively unrestricted power to impose its will on the polity.

That brings us to our urgent need to get out and vote on Tuesday, November 6, if you have not already participated through early voting.

The president currently operates without any effective check on his power. Even if you love the man and his leadership, you should hope for a change of power in the Congress so that he will not operate unchecked any longer. While he provides some policy outcomes that some voters prefer, he has many disturbing leadership traits that ought to make any “small d” democrat very uncomfortable.

There is no need to list these traits here. If you read a newspaper at all you are well aware of his anti-democratic behaviors and the terrible example of his amoral leadership. He seems to know next to nothing about our country’s history, our leadership in the world, the ethic of sharing, or the constitution he is sworn to preserve, protect and defend.

Furthermore, the world hangs in balance as he ignores science and commits us to a course that will almost certainly make the planet uninhabitable by human life. Our summers get worse with fires, storms and floods. Each new announcement coming out of climate science seems to confirm that all their earlier alarms were underestimates of the damage already done, its irreversibility and the amount of time left to take action before we hit a final tipping point.

Our job on November 6 is as serious as the job of the allied forces waiting in the English Channel in June, 1944. The labors they undertook and the sacrifices they sustained were profoundly more daunting than anything required of us to go vote next Tuesday. But what we do may be just as important for the future of mankind.

Your vote is a right. It is a responsibility. And this year you need to vote for Democrats at least for the Senate and House of Representatives. For us Lake Jackson folks, that means a vote for Beto O’Rourke and Adrienne Bell. They will be a major part of the constitutional structure that will hold this president accountable. Even better, they are both excellent candidates and people.

And they really will keep the pre-existing conditions requirement of the Affordable Care Act. They were in favor of it before it was cool.

Global Threats of Climate Change: Nepalese Context

Flat landers on the Texas Gulf Coast tend to think of the dangers of climate change only in terms of tropical storms, rising tides, and high electric bills. They fantasize about moving to the mountains to escape it all. Not so fast, cowboy. This article reveals Nepal as high on the list of nations at highest risk of climate change calamity. We really do share a single planet.

Sustainable Safety Solutions, NEPAL

climate change(Photo Source: Google)

Verisk Maplecroft, a global risks analytics and research organization, published a Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI) in 2010, ranking Nepal as the fourth most vulnerable country to the impacts of climate change. Recent estimates show that Nepal, in the past few years, has already been facing an annual economic loss of 1.5 to 2% of GDP due to climate change events. One may argue climate change to be a natural phenomenon but environmental and climate researchers think otherwise.

Air, water and soil are being polluted left and right. Many developed and industrialized nations are heavily emitting greenhouse gases day and night. Businesses are not performing enough for environmental good and rather seem busy lobbying against it. Very little is being done to manage ever growing garbage, pollution and toxic wastes. This in turn is causing environmental degradation, global warming, climate change and chronic health hazards around the…

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Properties at Risk: LJ Alert

The Guardian published an article this morning giving fairly specific location information regarding forecasts of U.S. properties at risk of flooding from rising sea levels within the next thirty years. The maps were prepared by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a group not known as a fake news source unless you read more fake news than real. You can access their maps by clicking on site below:

https://ucsusa.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=cf07ebe0a4c9439ab2e7e346656cb239

There are a couple of maps in particular that should interest Lake Jackson residents. One map shows the Lake Jackson area within the zone predicted for significant property losses within the period of a typical thirty-year home loan suggesting a loss of property values right away. Another map shows the areas that could be affected positively if action is taken by nations having advanced developed economies.

They make it easy to express your concerns to the folks in power. It can’t do any harm.