Taking Notes on Those Teachable Moments…

July 8, 2017

“When the effective leader is finished with his work, the people say it happened naturally”
–Lao Tse


July 7, 2017

My NYT editors picked “letter to the editor” response:

A very well written column; but like so many “Trump suicide voters” explainers-whisperers, it carefully avoids the importance of US racism and bigotry in the rise of Trumpism. “Make America Great Again” does not mean a mythical return to a never existed time when large numbers of White Americans did not take advantage of “entitlements” (i.e. GI Bill, food stamps, Medicaid and section 8 housing, etc.); rather it is a nostalgic dream for an era and time when women, Blacks, LGBT and Latinos knew their places and were legally (and violently) obligated to remain in them. Trump also provides a promise of a time (pre-1950’s?) when ugly words and behavior could be inflicted on the societal “others”; and there were no courts or news media outlets to challenge those words and behaviors. No amount of excuse making is going to make the rise of Trump normal, decent and civil; and the people who champion and support his actions are not noble human beings, in any stretch definition of the word. Mr. Brooks often talks (actually his best work) about virtues. He is less successful in trying to artificially sanitize the callous indifference of the GOP to suffering and the poor. Virtuous behavior (according to the past writings of Mr. Brooks) matters; and so let’s not make the error of inauthentically raising voter ignorance to a level of a virtue. This nation could, and should do better than Trump.



July 6, 2017

My goodness, no matter how angry you are with that other person, should not the fact that they are the mother or father of your child encourage (inner courage) some restraint?… Couple mediate, don’t social mediate your concerns.


June 24, 2017

Musing theologically:

Genesis 2:18 “The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.””

But my question is:

Is it “not good for man to be alone”; or, “not good for man to be lonely”?


Searching for hope in the era of Trump series:

Science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) may be badly damaged over the next four years, but I don’t believe that they will be destroyed. Because as in all creative human endeavors (unlike political works) the creative works of STEAM are irreversible…

Science will progress and go on…

Invention and innovation will go on…

And the creative and performing arts will continue to perform their magic, and never stop creating healing opportunities for humanity’s sake…


There is no viable counterrevolution to the march of modernity and progress revolution; there is only anger and a retreat into rabid nativism…


Ignorance as an affirmative defense:

It is this strange idea of asserting the “right” to be ignorant and backwards. And then legitimizing it by associating this false right with the rights of free speech individual and group independence, and some kind of territorial sovereignty. And finally the position of last desperate and silly resort… Religion! However I am not sure that ignorance is a right or a defensible state of being.


The South did not just lose the Civil War, but in fact there have been a series of “lost wars”; the Loving decision, the repeated statutes and decisions that strike down segregation and discrimination, the declining capability to impose pre-1950s white entitlement rights; have left the racially nostalgic with only a few remaining options. The politics of bitterness, and the false lynch mob sloganeering of witless political candidates; who promise (with no hope of delivering), to make their lives “great again”! Or they can just get on juries involving police murders and make themselves and their fellow bigoted Americans feel good by condoning the murder and brutalization of their fellow citizens of color. In the mind of many white American jurors in this nation; every black person who is killed are brutalized by police officer is in essence standing in for Barack Obama, and every other person and or subject that reminds them of the ever diminishing illegitimate authority. And so of course that offending officer is absolutely “innocent”, because both police officer and juror are absolutely doing their duty…


The poor people of Alabama, both black and white should take their inhumane prison system case against the state to the United Nations. And the only way for Alabama to win the argument, is that they offer a counter narrative-case, that the prisons of North Korea are worse, and in fact actually set the international standard for a form of incarceration guided by crimes against humanity; and therefore the state of Alabama is innocent because they have not yet reached (or descended to) North Korea’s standards. The “we are not the worst in the world” defense strategy…


Somehow I always find myself marching in the opposite direction of the “parade”!

The 2017 NYC Puerto Rican Parade…

This is one of those moments when I really admire the principled spirit of a Nelson Mandela; who always said (and lived); that the struggle was always bigger than himself; bigger then any one person…

I really wish that the focus and purpose of this years parade could have addressed the desperate, and long term dangerous (to the children and Island’s future) plight of public schools in Puerto Rico; and the terrible unimpressive educational outcomes for Puerto Rican children who attend NYC public schools… Now that’s a revolutionary idea that no progressive-liberal is even interested in addressing, let alone championing; and that is because educational progress and success for children of color represents real, concrete, and not nostalgic-symbolic change!

Something to cheer about…

“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” ― William Shakespeare, The Tempest

He was after all, from the beginning never really their President. At some point “repeal” became a pathological obsession (Is racism a form of psychopathology?) It was as if he had achieved the presidency in an illegitimate manner, through something like the combined powerful and evil efforts of the FBI and Russia. But I digress… The exuberant cheer that went up from the GOP Representatives and their spiritual leader D. Trump, was not due to the defeat of the ACA (“Obamacare”), as a Democratic health bill; nor was it due to the fact that the Republican’s have once again mislead their pre 1950’s America hungry-seeking white constituents, that inflicting a wound on the “other than us” is worth it, even if it means that at the same time they are inflicting a wound upon themselves. No, the cheering was for the defeat and erasure of an act of a Black POTUS; an attempt to remove his name and his color from history. The celebration was the symbolic putting of Mr. Obama into “his place” (How dare he act like a white POTUS!); to put all who look like him into our collective places; to make America great and safe for Black dismissal and denial, again… But history is rich with the names of those whose pride led them to cheer prematurely; the “over the top” celebration at the triumph and power of evil intentions; and where is the “glorious” Nazi Third Reich now? Central to the DNA of evil acts, are the elements of its own undoing; Biblically defined as “Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall…” And no one, no matter how powerful can gather enough votes to repeal the future.


Ok, what part of “Great” and “Again” am I not understanding?

1) Your coal mine is not reopening, not as you were told because of Pres. Obama, but because the companies who own the mines can no longer squeeze enough profit out of your lungs or the mines to make opening them worthwhile.

2) That manufacturing company that left your town is not returning from overseas because they can pay their new workers a fraction of what they paid you, and then the company can pocket the difference.

3) You are about to lose your healthcare insurance you voted for politicians to repeal because the author was the Black president, who both you and your GOP representatives resented (Remember those man/woman in the street interviews where you said that you: “love the ACA but hated Obamacare!”)

4) And now your mama/grandma is about to lose the wonderful anti-hunger, nutrition and health booster, “check up on seniors” program: “Meals on Wheels”.

Is this the “great” you wanted again?


I guess some people find the pain and suffering Trump is inflicting amusing…

I don’t find anything funny about Trump (except in a Samantha Bee, Trevor Noah and Langton Hughes kind of way….) And watching the journalist laugh and joke with Sean Spicer I realize that I live in the other America; the one inhabited by nervous and frightened US Muslims, and by the Latinos I suddenly no longer see selling pealed oranges at my local highway intersections. It is the America a former Republican president ignored as the hands of hurricane Katrina choked the life out of the lower 9th ward Black population. One callous and racially confused Trump cabinet member says that slaves were immigrants. The descendants of those “vacationing laborers” who made America great then, now see again that 3/5 of their voting rights are removed, 3/5 of their humanity unrecognized; we are permanent exiles in our own country; we are the official permanent “others”… #Iamtheother


The sad state of our nation…

The sad state of our nation: A sledgehammer wrapped in silk; The political theory of POTUS leadership low expectations…

Last night I listened to Mr. Trump’s speech to both houses of Congress. I can’t remember a more thoughtless, visionless and morally weak speech made by any previous POTUS, regardless of party affiliation. And of course you are elected to be the POTUS (why the need to constantly remind us?), It’s not like we were voting for or against you for the position of Chancellor of Germany! (Hmm, a frightening historical metaphor!)

The hopelessness of the message was only matched by its commitment to idealistic smallness. But I suspect that many members of the news media (MSNBC was careful not to let Joy-Ann Reid anywhere near a microphone last night!), and professional cable news “talking heads” class will like the speech (Karine Jean-Pierre on PBS, was a brave and courageous non-drinker of the kindler and gentler Trump false narrative kool-Aid!) After all, there was no frothing and foaming at the mouth; there was no: “beat them up, get them out of here!”; and it is now clear that it will be American taxpayers and not the Mexican government who will be responsible for: “paying for that wall! I guess for those who are much kinder than I am, this no openly “ugly talk”, the “wall payment” admission, represents a kind of progress.

He could however, not (help himself) resist for old campaign times sake, to urge on the hate-seeking mob, by slandering all of Islam, but this time the campaign mob was the elected Republicans who now stood, and cheered on a national leader they help to create through the exploitation, manipulation and misguidance of white America’s nostalgic disappointments.

The focused insults were dumped on Americans who can’t broadcast their oppositional despair and resistance, because they don’t have ownership of print and electronic news media outlets. The “other” American’s were wielded a dismissive blow through “sugar coated”, but poisoned messaging. Besides, since the election, the news media has been on an endless and hopeless search for some inkling of decent and composed “presidential behavior”. And like that drunk and unruly family member who manages to somehow limit his embarrassing behavior by falling asleep during a family gathering, the news media is happy for any type of behavior that comes close to dignity; even if the underlying themes are hate, bigotry and division…

The problem, and always the problem with tyrannical movements, is that the moment the news media fails to provide the “adulation high” produced by ignoring the emperor’s nakedness, the deal will be off, and they will go back to being the “enemy”. The motivation for the inclination of continually creating enemies list, is that a narcissistic personality has no understanding or awareness of fairness, objectivity and a middle ground.

I also suspect that the calls for a foreign-domestic economic policy of selfish nationalism will unfortunately “play well” among those who are the least educated about the modern realities of industrial manufacturing cost. These poor people are not aware that it is corporate greed, the lack of a national educational “retooling and reeducating” plan, and not “Mexicans”, that has made their jobs/employment opportunities stifle and disappear… Forever!

And speaking of education, the speech offered no hope of a strategy as to how the vast majority of American students who attend public schools by the way, can ever hope for a better academic achievement outcome then what they presently are experiencing. It is the tired GOP idea that commercializing the critical and necessary societal commitments like health care and education is going to improve them; when it is the very culture of commercialization (i.e. The “real drug dealers”: The cruel and vulgar overcharging pharmaceutical companies,The profits first, patients second health insurance companies, the private prison industry depending on Black and Latino student academic failure) that created and benefited from their exploitable dysfunction.

This is the new political philosophy of leadership low expectations: “At least his delivery approached normal behavior”… This sadly, is The true State of the Nation!


“On Turning 36”–Javacia Harris Bowser… http://b-metro.com/on-turning-36/31971/

66 re-turning to 36

Dear Ms. Javacia Harris Bowser,

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article, and if I were still in the “grade awarding business” (which I have not been in over 36+ years), I would give it an A+! It was most interesting because it got me to thinking about what the heck was I thinking about when I was 36! I am not sure if it is the kind compassion of the loss of bed memories, or the absence of anything exciting happening at that age; or maybe these life events tend to condense and collapse upon themselves over time; but for some strange reason, everything between ages 30 – 42 was just a blur for me; and definitely there was no significant anything I could attach to age 36 in particular.

I remember 42 because that was the year I became a NYC high school principal, and I remember that number because a lot of people commented on the fact that I was at the time (1990’s) one of the youngest principals in the school system. But between teaching in my late 20’s and becoming a principal in my 40’s, no one birthdate seems to jump or stick out.

Perhaps it’s my own personal disinterest in my “marking” my own birthday celebrations; even as I am sensitive and responsive to the importance that other people place on these significant dates. I always worked through my birthdays, and despite a great deal of effort, I often failed to discourage my staff, family and friends from creating some kind of celebratory event (so much for your birthday celebration being about what you want!) I always saw any of my birthdays, as just another day.

I seem inclined to mark my life journey by way of important events, major transformational moves, things loss, things gained, lessons learned, lessons missed, lessons relearned, reinventions and redemptions, etc.; the problem is that these events show very little inclination to occur on a birthday; and when they did, I remember everything about the event, and nothing about the particular birth day.

But this I do know, I hold no reverence or wishful thinking for ages: 26, 36, 46 or 56 I have found that both “false memories” (alternative memories?) and regret are perhaps the two great wasters of human time. Given what I knew, and what I had available to me at the time, I always felt I made the best decisions possible.
And doing 36-66 all over again would be in my view a curse and not a blessing; I actually want to move forward to 67, 77, 87…

The memories I think about (able or choose to remember) and cherish as “time markers”, are not my birthdates; they are many of the same things you spoke of in your article moments of great: service, creativity, professional accomplishment, friendship, family; and most important love, which should be celebrated every day of our lives.

Thank you for your creative contribution,

Michael A. Johnson
February 26, 2017



Always starting something, at the start of something…

The enormous possibility that on this day, we could possibly be a great expression of a compassionate spiritualism; that potential promise alone is a singular motivational factor to get up and move…

The idea is to wake up any place in the world, and feel at home inside of yourself… I am getting there!

There is “useless” and being “used less”; the former is the attachment to a meaningless world; the latter is the resistance to a meaningful calling…


Faith Circle: Without faith there can be no realization and recognition of a calling; there is no calling without a designated mission; there is no mission without a meaningful destination; there is no meaningful destination without a difficult journey; and no difficult journey can be survived without faith…

Creative Contradictions: Draw nearer to the human family through contemplative separation; shut down the noise of the world so that you can hear what the world is not saying; and then you can speak and be heard…


Doing less may actually mean that more is being done; but in appearances the “less” will seem to show up as “less more”.

We are given free will as a gift from God; but it is also true that it is soaked and cloaked in responsibility.


The NewsHour’s insincere and incomplete “profile” of Steve Bannon last night:

I guess the viewers are being asked to forget or ignore that Mr. Bannon was/is a leading force in promoting white racist supremacy-nationalism!

The daily news fear report is depressing, as we are being taught by the “agents of reporting” to accept a brutal ruthlessness as “normal politics”. But how many evil powers over the years have been granted (“duly elected”) full political control and power of the nation-state apparatus (Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Tojo, Pol Pot, etc.) Where are they now, where is their power?

The irony is that people like Steve Bannon crave nothing but complete capitulation; and so even this “powder puff” piece presented by PBS won’t stop him and his boss from wanting to cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; any news, no matter how much effort is invested in pretending to be “balanced” won’t be enough; any news reporting that is not a total praise-full untruth, a mendacious adulation, is unacceptable to them. And to borrow from a former British rock ‘n roll band: Money can’t buy you love from these folks!


The canine art of catching fleas…

“In the most startling shift, the White House issued an unexpected statement appealing to the Israeli government not to expand the construction of Jewish settlements beyond their current borders in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Such expansion, it said, “may not be helpful in achieving” the goal of peace.”–NY Times

Very interesting, PM Netanyahu did everything but cut a campaign commercial for this guy. But he and his Likud collogues are about to run into the same ugly reality as those voters who won’t see their coal mines reopen, or their manufacturing jobs return from Viet-Nam (Where $15/day, not hour, would put you in the ranks of the wealthy upper-class). Mr. Bannon’s White-Christian nationalism (proto-fascist and pro-nazi) movement; that has aligned themselves with right-wing Christian evangelicals; have failed to share one important part of their theology with Mr. Netanyahu: That the “2nd coming of Christ”, requires a great war and the destruction of the State of Israel; with the ultimate ending of everyone accepting and converting to Christianity!

A Theology Malpracticed works, at least for now…


The prince of alternative truth is their patron saint…

Anti the lives of children once they are born; “suffer the children unto suffering”, they say…

The bad Samaritan kicks the sick citizen without healthcare insurance, and the wounded, easy to hate immigrant…

Causing hate-blindness, by placing a mixture of spit and venom into the eyes of their self-harming followers; they have turned an election into a national lynch mob; eventually to lynch the lynch mob members themselves (isn’t that how it always turns out?)…

Condemn and contain the unentitled “other”: Black, Latino, Women, Asians, Native Americans, (“colored”) immigrants, Arabs, the disabled, Muslims, LBGT, the poor… Until all of the “others” cease to assert and affirm their humanity.

They mostly believe in the power of their non-belief, not anti-theism, but rather an adversarial-theism. (mostly) Men of “action” who rely solely on the visible and concrete, (Hitler, Stalin, and their philosophical father: Nietzsche). There are, according to them only two real choices in life: One is either inflicting or receiving pain. They understand that to build the world they want, they must ignore God; or at the very least, act as if God is unconcerned about human matters…

Atlas must shrug off any sense of compassion, responsibility and concern for their fellow human beings… (Atlas Shrugged a novel by Ayn Rand.)


All of the facts of life, “alternative” and real, can be found in fictional literature. The Grand Inquisitors (Dostoyevsky’s: The Brothers Karamazov) Playbook: The evil strength and power of “conservative christians” aka “right-wing evangelicals”, is that they behave like lions; while “progressive Christians” on the other hand, try to act like Christians; with the predictable outcome…


Democrats have a political self-esteem problem…

No “team of rivals”, no morally compromised “political Triangulation” theory; not trying to find a way to work with the other side, to be well… patriotic. Trump can at the very least teach the principles deficient DNC how to govern when you are in power; it’s simple, appoint people who think like you! But maybe that (appointing people who think like them) is what Democrats have been doing all of the time; and perhaps it is us, their loyal congregants who just haven’t noticed!

1/27/2017: It’s like waking up each morning and reviewing the previous day’s casualty report…
My new Clemson attitude: Embrace the put down; or, if everybody says you’re going to lose, then what do you have to lose?

Hmm… The Bernie or bust folks are quiet now that we see what “bust” looks like!


There is the WestWorld, and then there is the rest of the world…

Every week WestWorld provides me with a lesson on the state of Black public education:

“They (Host-Robots) cannot see the things that will hurt them. I’ve spared them that…” –Dr. Ford

“Host (robots) are programmed not to see the house, and other things they aren’t supposed to see…” — Bernard

Says it all!


The state of Black appointed/ “anointed” leadership on the “broken in need of fixing” approach to Black student education:

US: “what’s behind this door? (Theresa)

Them: “What door?” (Bernard)


The false myth of manufactured concern and political sharecropping:

Black folks and the “new and improved” Democratic party.Will it be the same old DNC (particularly with matters relating to education); after our memories of past pain and betrayal are wiped clean like the “memories” of WestWorld’s robot-host?… _____________________________________________________________________

For the people who repeat that racially/gender offensive statement that ignores and marginalizes all working people except White men: “She should have made more effort to ‘go after’ white working class male voters.”

There is the WestWorld, and then there is the rest of the world, flipping the idea of our otherness…

This 2016 election campaign results has definitely raised the question of the “American other”. One candidate essentially made the: “them vs. us”, the core of his campaign theme. And we have seen this poisonous and divisive concept (even seeping into schools and classrooms), has “awaken” and brought to the surface, not created, that which already existed in the heart and soul of this nation.

It is not economic displacement; rather it is a displacement of time; a yearning for a 1950’s (and before) period of entitlement and the power to treat the “other” badly; and not be bothered by the language, practice or behavior of political correctness (Translation: respect).

It was no mistake that as the election reports were declaring his candidate the presidential winner, Rudy Giuliani announced this as a “(Andrew) Jacksonian” moment; a former slave-owning president who waged brutal wars against native Americans in Florida. Again, it is the power to engage freely in the dehumanization of the other that represents the core of this national nostalgia.

But where there are forces of nullification; there will also be forces of cultural resistance and affirmation. And art is one of the primary battle grounds; and that is why I thought the TED talk video presentation by Ms. Thandie Newton, fit so nicely with many books I have read in the past. English teachers are right to encourage us to “compare and contrast” works of different types of art, to works of literature; and works of both fiction and non-fiction to each other. And so all of these works came to mind as I listened to her presentation:

Invisible Man: Ralph Ellison
The Outsider: Richard Wright
Nobody Knows My Name: James Baldwin
Beloved: Toni Morrison
In the Castle of My Skin: George Lamming
Krik? Krak!: Edwidge Danticat
Native Son: Richard Wright
Their Eyes Were Watching God: Zora Neale Hurston
Souls of Black Folk: W.E.B. Du Bois

They all fit nicely next to this wonderful talk where the concept of “otherness” is turned on its head:

“Embracing otherness. When I first heard this theme, I thought, well, embracing otherness is embracing myself…”–Ms. Thandie Newton



All of the profit-making off of Black suffering ain’t just White folks!

(In my Martin “Payne” Lawrence voice) Wait, wait, hold up, hold up! Messrs. Killer Mike and Cornell West are now concerned about the deleterious effects of a 4 year Trump presidency on the Black community. Were they not the ones who advised Black folks to vote him in, by not voting for Hillary Clinton? I guess this is the opening show of the lucrative: “Audacity of Hypocrisy Book and Tour!”


Wow, not sure if I remember congratulatory speeches to a U.S. president-elect ever sounding like this. We are in interesting times indeed:

“During the campaign, I found so many of President-elect Trump’s comments to be deeply abhorrent, and I never want to be — I am not ever prepared to be — a politician who maintains a diplomatic silence in the face of attitudes of racism, sexism, misogyny or intolerance of any kind. We hope that President-elect Trump turns out to be a president who is very different from the kind of candidate that he was and that he reaches out to those who felt vilified by his campaign.”–First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon


“Germany and America are connected by values of democracy, freedom and respect for the law and the dignity of man, independent of origin, skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political views. I offer the next President of the United States close cooperation on the basis of these values.” — Chancellor Angela Merkel