New Preamble Project


WE THE MANY PEOPLES of the United States of America, joining together as citizens & communities, in order to…

  1. Create a more coherent & harmonious society, diverse yet unified;
  2. Help our communities become more resilient;
  3. Clearly define the rights & responsibilities of citizenship;
  4. Respect & defend the human rights & freedoms of all people;
  5. Protect our fellow citizens, our families, & our friends, residents, & guests;
  6. Promote the cause of Peace at home & abroad;
  7. Manage, utilize, & preserve our natural, social, & financial resources wisely, sustainably, & for the benefit of all;
  8. Establish & maintain a fair, impartial, & equitable system of Justice;
  9. Facilitate honest Commerce, & protect the interests of workers & consumers;
  10. Ensure that all citizens have fair & effective representation in government, & a voice in decisions that affect them, no matter their social or economic status;
  11. Acknowledge & preserve our history, both good & ill, live up to our greatest common values, & constantly strive to be a better nation;
  12. Fulfill our responsibilities as a member of the worldwide Community of Nations;
  13. And promote the general well-being of our citizens, including their physical, mental, & emotional health & development,

…do hereby ordain & establish this renewed
Constitution for the United States of America.

V 1.2, July 2022

A different kind of virus alert

Beware, folks!

There’s another dangerous virus going around – but this one isn’t biological, it’s PSYCHOLOGICAL.

It affects how we think, and how we communicate – what we say, and how we interpret what others say to us. People infected with this “mental virus” might say or do cruel or unkind things without intending to – indeed, without even thinking about it. It can make us more suspicious of others, angrier, less patient, more prone to fly off the handle at the slightest provocation. It can confuse us, befuddle our logic, and make us believe things that we know are ridiculous. It can destroy relationships, disrupt families, and turn well-functioning workplaces into hellholes. Even houses of worship are not immune from its pernicious effects.

Eventually, unless it’s recognized and treated, it can – and will – kill.

It’s not just transmitted face-to-face. Mass media, social media, even simple phone conversations can serve as vectors. Masks don’t prevent its spread. Neither does social distancing. No vaccine or OTC medication can halt the progression or severity of its symptoms. Fortunately, there are time-tested countermeasures that are available to everyone – including thoughtfulnesss, kindness, consideration, compassion, and patience – and we know they can work, but only if they are used.

This virus goes by many names. Humanity has had to fight it almost constantly in one form or another since civilization began, and we may never be rid of it completely.

But you can help stop it.

Prayer of Last Things

May my last act be an act of kindness.
May my last breath be a song.
May my last words be words of comfort.
May my last thought be of gratitude.
May my last dream be of peace.
May my last gesture be of love.


There’s a lot of kerfuffle regarding the Supreme Court these days. Liberals, sill chafing under the Republican shenanigans that denied Merrick Garland’s nomination a fair hearing, are talking about increasing the size of the Court. Republicans, who seem to still be pissed about what happened to Robert Bork, for crying out loud, call such a move “Court-packing” and threaten fire consequences if the attempt moves forward.

It’s all just a tug-o-war- or maybe rugby is a better analogy.

I have a suggestion to get us out of this mess.

Let’s balance the Court.

The number doesn’t matter as much as the idea of balance. Say we keep the Court at nine. Then we should specify that 3 seats should be held by conservatives, 3 by liberals, 3 by centrists.

How do we know? Independent organizations like the American Bar Association issue ratings of all judges.


A few years ago, a certain couple I know got divorced.

This isn’t big news, of course. Divorce is still fairly common in America, though the rate has been dropping in recent years (about 40% of marriages fail, according to one statistic I found). Among divorces, about 30% are uncontested, 70% contested, and my friends fell into the former category. The details aren’t important, but basically after nearly thirty years together they had realized that they were no longer compatible… something their friends had seen long before they did. They had grown in different ways, developed different interests and points of view. They tried couples therapy, but finally, after their children had grown and left home, they just simply decided to end it. Amicably, as the saying goes. There were no tearful courtroom confrontations, no protracted negotiations over property or custody. The lawyers drew up the forms, they signed them, and that was that.

No big deal.

So I am writing these words the day after the Supreme Court refused to hear the lawsuit brought by the state of Texas against Pennsylvania and three other states, trying to undo the results of the 2020 Presidential election. This ruling seems to be the end of Donald Trump’s legal battle to stay in office, and Texas Republican Chairman Allen West (you might remember him, he ran for President once himself) had a few choice words in response:

“…This decision will have far-reaching ramifications for the future of our constitutional republic. Perhaps law-abiding states should bond together and form a Union of states that will abide by the constitution.”

In other words: he’s thinking about a divorce.

He’s not the only one. Mortally ill conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh (who, by the way, has personally done more than just about anybody else to bring us to the present divisive state of affairs), said this recently: “It can’t go on this way… There cannot be a peaceful coexistence of two completely different theories of life, theories of government, theories of how we manage our affairs. We can’t be in this dire a conflict without something giving somewhere along the way… I think we’re trending towards secession.”

“Secession,” of course, is what a divorce among a federation of states is called. We tried it once before, more than 150 years ago, and as you may recall it didn’t go very well. Now it would be even harder, because our differences are not easily demarcated by state borders. Red states include blue enclaves, and vice versa – and to tell the truth, most of the nation is composed of various well-mixed shades of purple. Absent some kind of “ideological cleansing” or “Big Sort,” whereby we voluntarily or involuntarily separate ourselves, we’re going to be stuck with each other for the foreseeable future.

So what should we do?

A successful marriage depends on a number of factors – such as mutual respect, and the ability to communicate – especially a willingness to listen to each other. Shared sets of goals and interests are important, but it’s also important that each individual have a certain amount of personal autonomy. And as many elderly couples will tell you, the ability to disagree and argue productively is also critical. Unfortunately, these qualities and abilities have been systematically and deliberately undermined in our political life, by folks who have learned how to leverage conflict and division to increase their own political and financial power.

Overcoming that  – creating a “more perfect Union,” as the Founders would say – will require hard and sometimes uncomfortable internal work. But first we have to ask ourselves if we even want it.

The Peace and Justice Files: The Cruelty Was The Point

On the screen, her eyes were full of tears.

I‘ve written before in this space about my German fiancée Jasmine – and about our ongoing efforts to get her back in the USA so we can get married. We‘ve been separated since March – separated not just by an ocean  and six time zones, but by the pandemic, benighted government policies, bureaucratic recalcitrance, and (so far) an unresponsive judiciary. We‘ve sued, petitioned, called, emailed, texted, written… all in vain.

It’s frustrating. And the emotional toll is heavy. We talk every night over the Internet, trying to balance dreams of front porches and rocking chairs with the seemingly endless reality of waiting. In the Facebook Groups for the couples in our particular lawsuit (Milligan et al. v. Pompeo, if you follow such things) and others in similar situations, every few days we hear of another couple who couldn’t take the strain anymore and called it quits.

So here was another morning, alternating between trying to be a comforter and trying to feel comforted… wanting to hold her in my arms and reassure her, but knowing that there was only so much I could do.

But I‘m not talking about this just to garner sympathy for us (though believe me, we do appreciate the messages of support we‘ve received). I‘m talking about this because it‘s just one more example of how the policies of the Trump Regime have had real-life consequences, on real-life people, with stories that fall way below the radar of the media.

The last four years have brought a lot of unnecessary pain to many, many people – not just us, but other potential immigrants, separated families, detainees, deportees, thousands of lives thrown into uncertain limbo – hopes dashed, plans delayed, dreams deferred.

And that‘s just talking about immigration. Add the pain of those affected by the Trump Regime’s malfeasance during the pandemic… or the results of this summer’s militarization of the police during the Black Lives Matters protests… or the dangers posed by the deliberate denial of climate change… or any of a dozen other issues.

“Abuse of power,” said epigrammatist Jenny Holzer, “comes as no surprise.” Members of the Trump Regime abused their power, and have abused our citizens, our systems, and our values… because they could. Because they wanted to.

Because no one stopped them.

There’s been a common theme here, running throughout Trump’s reign. Adam Serwer, a writer for The Atlantic, pinned it down succinctly in an article title two years ago: (

“The Cruelty is the Point.”

From the talk of “safe spaces” and “snowflakes” to the T-shirts that said, “F*ck Your Feelings,” Trump’s supporters have been encouraged to belittle and disregard the pain of others… indeed, to wallow and delight in it instead. And hey, it’s fun, right? Just a little harmless joke, right? Don’t take things so seriously!

But such things can get very serious, very quickly, as my sweetheart and her fellow Germans know all too well.

Of course, now, after the election, things seem to have changed. And predictably, there will be calls for “reconciliation“ and “forgiveness,” as there were after the Bush Regime. Between us as individual citizens, that’s one thing. I encourage the mending of the social fabric. But the folks behind these abuses… that is another matter altogether. 

There is justice to be served.

What Finally Happened

As the Aeroflot jet passed into international airspace, Donald Trump realized that he had been holding his breath. There had been no air pursuit, no warning shots, no flybys.

He was free. Finally, finally free.

The people around him – his family, a few aides, the Russian Ambassador – were cheering. Backslaps, laughter, and high-fives mixed with the sound of champagne corks popping.

“You did it, darling,” said Ivanka, kissing him on the cheek. “Congratulations.”

“Like no one could have ever imagined!” said another voice behind them. They turned, to see the grinning visage of Vladimir Vladimirovitch Putin looking down at them over the seat tops.

“Good morning, Vlad,” said Trump. “I didn’t expect to see you here on the plane.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t want to miss the moment of your greatest triumph, my friend,” said the Russian. “Ivanka, dear – would you mind if I sat with your father for a few minutes? Lyudmila requests the pleasure of your company in the aft cabin…?” Wordlessly, she nodded, and undid her seat belt.

“Well, Donald,” said Putin, as he settled into the seat, “how does it feel to have stolen a country?”

“Damn good,” said Donald. “Pretty damn good. Better than Stormy’s -“

“Ah, yes,” said Putin. “You have such a way with words, Donald. Such a way with words… You will pleased to know that, as expected, the streets of Washington DC are filled with chaos, as everyone tries to figure out which side is which. Your – what did you call them, “Proud Boys”? – have broken into the Capitol and set it aflame. The nation is waking to the news of your surrender, and your disappearance. Mr. Pence is even now on top of the Washington Monument, attempting to persuade the Almighty to smite his enemies. As per the surrender agreement, the Chinese forces – I’m sorry, ‘peacekeepers’ – will be landing in California soon… greetings from the Secretary, by the way; he sends his best wishes.”

“Yeah, tell him I said ‘Hi.'”

“Of course. The stock market has crashed, and the American dollar is nearly worthless – so it was very painless to have your debts marked ‘paid’… not that anyone is about to send collection agents after you!”

The two men shared a hearty laugh. Trump realized it had been a while since he had laughed. Quite a while.

“So,” said Putin, slapping the former President on the knee, “you must be very tired. I don’t believe you’ve been able to sleep, for what, forty-eight hours now?”

“Fifty-two,” said Trump. It occurred to him that in all the chaos, he may have forgotten some of his meds.

“Of course,” said Putin. He gestured to someone standing in the aisle a few meters away. Within moments, a well-dressed flight attendant – Trump noted with pleasure the way the woman’s uniform presented her decolletage – appeared with a mug and a small carafe.

“Here,” said Putin, “have some tea. My favorite blend. It will… relax you.”

A few minutes later, the doctor confirmed that there was no pulse.

“Чертов предатель идиот,” said Putin. He regarded the surprised expression on the dead man’s face. “Get him out of here. Get them all out of here.”

The plane flew low, very low, over the Greenland tundra. Like a bird relieving itself in flight, it released a series of dark bundles from its tail end, tumbling end-over-end to the not-so-frigid waters below.


“Let’s face it,” I wrote in this space back in January 2006, “every once in a while, an entire country can go, well, crazy.”

At the time, I was counting my blessings that some kind of post-9/11 psychosis – “a kind of deeply rooted, widespread mental malfunction that would manifest itself on the street level, in the eyes and actions of all citizens, resulting in witch hunts, pogroms, and lynchings” – had not yet taken over the mind of the American body politic. “There are no Neighborhood Committees on the Present Danger checking up on everyone and maintaining ideological purity,” I noted with relief – “no squadrons of brownshirts marching through town, no mysterious disappearances of dissidents in the middle of the night.”

Now, almost 15 years later, I think it may be time to reassess my optimism.

The recent fatal clashes in places like Kenosha, Wisconsin and Portland, Oregon, have upped the ante. 

Demonstrators protesting racism and police violence have been attacked by right-wing gangs, including pseudo-militias like the “Proud Boys,” and some have begun to respond in kind. Donald Trump has seized the opportunity to smash the glass “Emergency Only” case holding the fasces, and with dubious authorization sent “federal officers” into hotspots to maintain (as his favorite Twitter mantra puts it) “LAW AND ORDER!” 

Meanwhile, an increasing portion of Trump’s fanbase is being swept up into a bona fide psychotic delusion, the “QAnon” conspiracy theory, and another overlapping portion seems to have been convinced that Trump is, if not a Messiah himself, at least a divinely appointed and supported agent of imminent heavenly retribution.

And somewhere, in his watery grave beneath the Indian Ocean, Osama bin Laden is smirking.

Osama may not have planned it this way, exactly, but Donald Trump has become the final embodiment of his revenge.

You may recall how, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, practically the entire world reached out to us with heartfelt support and sympathy – only to have George W. Bush sour the moment with his bellicose “you’re either with us or against us” rhetoric, and his administration’s insane insistence on the unjustified invasion of Iraq. Drumming up support for that little misadventure required the systematic demonization of its opponents, and the creation of alternative narratives that cast suspicion on the news media, rationality, and the evidence of one’s own senses.

Do you see the direct line from “We will be greeted as liberators” to “Soon this virus will just disappear”?

The 9/11 attacks struck a fatal blow to the very heart of our inflated self-image. We could have used the moment, and the years afterwards, to engage in some soul-searching, to seek some humility. But instead, to protect that image of ourselves, we collectively doubled down on our sense of exceptionalism and entitlement. 

In 2016, we opted for bluster and bombast. We chose to follow a charlatan, a carnival barker who promised to make us “great again.” 

If he is allowed to remain in the White House, Donald Trump will finish the job bin Laden began.

Open Letter to Trump re Election Day

Okay, Donald, I’ll make you a deal:

We can delay the election… under the following conditions:

1. You RETIRE FROM POLITICS immediately – resigning from your office AND from your re-election campaign. All adult members of your family pledge to withdraw from government participation.

2. Mike Pence, after being sworn in, nominates a Democrat for VP., and names a Cabinet of National Unity drawing from all sectors and parties.

3. All existing GOP & Dem leadership in the House and Senate resign their leadership positions, stepping aside for new leaders to emerge.

4. National Governors Association convenes a transpartisan panel, including independents and members of third parties, to examine election procedures nationwide and devise verifiable national standards, methodologies, etc. that enable all citizens to vote.easily, safely, and securely.

5. We amend the Constitution to put these procedures in place, and ditch the Electoral College.

How’s that for a start?

The Undoing of the Deal

Once upon a time there was a Prince.

Actually, he was not born a prince – he was born the son of a rich and dishonest merchant, who was himself the son of a common thief. But he had greater ambitions.

So, having been born into wealth, and lacking any scruples whatsoever, he soon learned the trades of his forebears, and became richer yet.

And he set his eyes upon the throne of the kingdom.

He soon found a mage, an evil but shrewd man, who taught him the ways of grasping men’s souls, and twisting women’s hearts. The mage taught him how to feed off the life force of others – how to provoke their most primal fears and desires, and derive sustenance from both their praise and their panic.

And when he was ready, the mage introduced him to the Lord of Darkness…and a deal was struck.

He would gain the throne, and all its power. But not only that, he would have free rein to say and do whatever he wished; he would never be held to responsiblity or account. He could have his way with any woman – indeed, any female he desired. (And he desired many.) No criticism would ever touch him; no misstep, however foolhardy, would ever disillusion his followers. Also, he would be invulnerable to assassination or intrigue – his skin would resist even the sharpest steel, and reject even the craftiest poison. He could look into the sun and not go blind. Nothing would ever be his fault.

And in return, this Prince did not even have to offer his own soul. He simply had to ensure the delivery of a million souls to the Dark Lord by a certain date, about four years into his reign.

This had been done before, of course – many times – but usually by war. This Prince, who found warfare distasteful, asked if he could find another way – and the Dark Lord agreed to help him in this. “Be watchful,” he told the Prince. “It will be clear how you will accomplish your goal. I will provide everything you will need.”

So the Prince succeeded even beyond his own great dreams. He ascended to the throne, and enjoyed its many benefits and perquisites. And it came to pass that a great plague came upon the land. “Ah!” said the Prince. “This is the opportunity I was promised.” And so he did everything in his power to ensure that the plague was successful. “Don’t worry!” he told his people. “We shall live our lives, and enjoy our freedoms as no one has ever before.” And the people rejoiced… even as they began to die, first by the dozen, then by the score, then by the hundred.

The Prince kept careful track. He had only a few weeks in which to reach his promised quota, but he was confident that he would meet it.

Then one morning, he woke up not feeling well at all. His personal doctor, who knew the Prince’s secrets, examined him. “It is indeed the plague, My Lord,” he said. “But do not worry, we have found a cure.” And they brought in a syringe to inject him with an elixir that would kill the plague and save his life… but the needle broke when they tried to insert it.

“No problem,” said the doctor. “You can just take it orally.” But whenever they fed it to him, he threw it up immediately. It was, after all, a poison of sorts – and by the terms of his agreement, no poison could affect him, even if it was for his own good.

He called his people to gather in front of his castle. Perhaps he could draw enough energy from them to defeat the disease. But those few who were well enough to travel arrived drained and exhausted. There was nothing left for him to feed upon. Cursing the people, his servants, his forebears, and indeed the entire world – for after all, nothing could ever be his fault – he soon collapsed upon the highest parapet.

And that is where the Dark Lord found him… and with the agreement abrogated, he carried the hapless Prince home to his eternal fate.

The moral is: Do not let ambition blind you to the small print… for the Devil always collects.