Archive for December, 2015

3 Months in Juneau and it’s Christmas for Christ’s sake.

December 19, 2015

It’s different here in Juneau. And after 3 months, I’m pretty sure I’ve changed a little to accommodate it. I’m equilibrating, fitting in. I’m more inside my head than I been for a while. I’m more aware of my apartness from people than I thought I would be. Not alone so much.  Apart from. As in not ‘hooked up’ with close pals like I’ve been for years. I’m pretty much free standing – maybe a little wobbly. 

To be expected.  I’ve met a lot of people, many who I think will become good friends. We’re just not there yet. It will come I’m sure.  I’m being absorbed – people are nice and generous and are making space for me and I’m working on filling my own space. These things take time.

Nothing to be worried about certainly…and in all honesty I haven’t worked too hard at it.  I know I’m out there somewhere.  Some more depths and a lot of shallows to plumb. Figuring out me in Alaska. More specifically perhaps, me in Juneau – which is its own world I’ve come to understand. I’m adding and subtracting and absorbing things to think about at least. New questions about old answers.

Juneau’s footprint is very visual…but the place comes into you through your feet. Earth and shear bio-mass – and dampness, and water from everywhere – and temperature shifts – and darkness…and up and down grades…all of which slowly work there way up into your consciousness. And then overload your sense of equilibrium – and makes you wonder about your relationship with it all. There’s so much that is visually and experientially and tactilely new. I don’t quite don’t know what to do with myself.

It takes time. Especially in winter when rain and mist and clouds and dark form the filters you see things through. It can be a tad overwhelming. And it also tends to hide the things that drew you in in the first place, that made your heart soar. All sitting just out of sight behind this flat gray scrim.  You know they are there, you just can’t see them. Every once in a while the clouds and drizzle lift and the sun bursts out and you get a remainder peak.

While all this sounds (and sometimes can actually be) pretty bleak…the space created makes a impact on the way you look at things. Juneau’s grayness, and it’s “just out of reach” time delay behind the rest of the world – and its “fiord-like” topography has the net effect of closing down the urgency in caring about things that don’t really concern you.

Outside world things become irrelevant after a while. And that was a surprise for me. I’m not so sure I like it yet.  In all honesty, I miss the ‘diversion’ of worrying about things that don’t concern me – and the illusion of ‘being involved’ in the larger world. I keep wondering what I will do with all that time. I think I know. But letting go of diversion and “noise” is hard but seems almost a requirement for living here.

I think that worrying about stuff has been a bit of an addiction for me all these years – keeping me away from thinking about more important work. Like letting go and expanding a stronger sense humanity – and achieving proper size.

Not a very Christmas-y message, I agree.  But that’s what I’m thinking about heading into this New Year.

Life here is better (certainly different) than I thought it would be (I really tried not to build expectations)…and the daily involvement in my grandson’s growth from babyhood into little boy-ness, forces me to think about those same years that were so much a blur at the time we had and were raising our children. Spending serious time watching the miracle of it all is a really important piece in understand how the rhythm between beginning and the end go together. At least for me it is right now.

While I’m not at all sure where this is all going, I at least feel a sense of personal and perhaps spiritual evolution. And that feels right to me. I do miss my old and dear and easy comfortable friends (and if you’re reading this you undoubtably are one of those) – and my dear daughter Heather who stayed in St Paul.

Love to you each and all.  I miss you.

And Merry Christmas.




J.McD.Burke – Dec 2015



I’d like to buy the world a coke…

December 14, 2015

We became a nation of “good intentions” somewhere along the line in 1971. We stopped fighting for right reason and just cause — and to preserve rights hard won…and indeed for  justice…and became a nation of well-intentioned folks who genuinely believe that if we ‘dream’ hard enough, and ‘intend’ purely enough — that bad things will get fixed — that bad people will come around…and that good times will come, automatically — and will match our hopes and beliefs and dreams and intentions…and, that we can sing unfairness and misfortune and evil of all stripes into submission.

I think perhaps we just got tired of fighting sometime around then.  Vietnam broke our will to fight for what we believed in. We were slow to accept that we needed to fight to stop a senseless war…but quick to stop fighting when the war was all but over.  Counting body bags helped…but mostly, it appears in retrospect, that we did indeed, sing that one into submission.  We sang of injustice…and loss…and the futility of war.  We sang at rallies and protest marches and outside political convention halls.  All very sweet and peaceful.

In the end we sang what Martin Luther King sang:  “That we shall overcome…” and later, buoyed by our success in forcing Nixon to acquiesce, and to give up the grand terror that was Vietnam, at last…we collectively decided that it wasn’t the marches and violent and non-violent protests that turned the trick…but the purity of aggregated intention. That it was “Peace and Brotherhood” and karma that changed the tide.

And when Coke Cola first aired it’s magic :60 spot “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” (Coke on a Hilltop, 1971) — we found it fit perfectly into the space in our souls that the war had hollowed out. And then we wrote it up a little larger — up to anthem size actually, with “I’d like to teach the world to sing…in perfect harmony” (1972).

And subtly but inexorably the will to fight for what we believed in and hold most cherished — leached out of the American soul. To the point where the whole idea of our dear sweet country slipped through our grasp without us even noticing it, or doing much of anything about trying to stop what we knew way down in our heart of hearts, was going on.  We allowed the immoral and the unconscionable to occur.  We allowed leaders to commit our country to war again – this time through false witness and pretense…though most of us knew we were being lied to.  And even though we knew they lied, and even through the results of their deceit was calamitous to the stability of the country — we let them escape justice for what they had done.

We allowed truth to be subsumed, by allowing our once mostly heroic independant media to be rolled up and owned by just a few — who turned responsible reporting and truth telling into a sideshow of right wing excess…and never once contested the wholesale destruction of laws governing media ownership and public responsibilities that allowed the impossible to occur.

We sat silently and in disbelief as insidiously destructive legislation was passed right before our very eyes…that suspended Habeas Corpus, eclipsed search and seizure legislation, wiped out personal privacy rules, allowed government agencies to listen to personal conversations, and to access and archive our most private and personal information…that seriously curtailed our most basic civil rights including: voting rights privilege…rights to assembly and protest…rights to collectively bargain…rights to govern and control decisions regarding our own bodies…and the rights to speak one’s mind openly and freely.

We allowed ourselves to be bamboozled by a totally rigged “war on terror” panic — that allowed the hijacking of America to occur in broad daylight – under the banners of Homeland Security – and obeisance to the political right and its silent manipulators — who held the chips and controlled the game.

We allowed our dear and precious country to become corrupted to the core…because we had no will to challenge – and no heart to contest those who were dividing our country.  We refused to believe that we had committed enemies – mostly on the extreme right wing — who were seeking to take over our country and our lives — who were  working with complete and focused commitment to undermine our entire political process — who bold facedly were buying up legislators and their votes at every level of government – and to subverting our candidate selection campaign process — and our electoral process…by allowing the very rich and corporations to funnel in unimagined amounts of dollars to buy candidates and to influence political discourse as they intended.

Super elites that thought nothing of paying in speaker’s fees and trips to stack the deck of the Supreme Court — towards their purpose — creating the world where human and civil rights – and the American dreams of equality and freedom and for opportunity — were only for them, and were denied from all others.  We allowed the greatest tragedy of our generation…perhaps the greatest in the history of our nation to occur.  We turned our vigorous and righteous protest over to a couple of comedic fake news programs — and a small handful of people who refused to be silenced, and stepped aside to watch who won.  They did – and they did it without a meaningful protest from the vast majority and increasingly oppressed.  And while doing so…they power right quietly structured and implemented a system wide architecture of civilian espionage and absolute individual and mass population control systems — that makes one feel like maybe 1984 had actually happened on the designated calendar year and we just missed it.

We live today in a dream world.  In a world where the strong words and promises are pit against each other — constantly and on every subject – but sound promising and hopeful to the sides aligned behind each side’s speakers.  But no matter who says or promises what – nothing ever makes things better for either side — or for anyone…except for those designated to win…who have already won.

But we keep hoping and wishing that things will be made right again – because we collectively really want things to get better…and we know by experience that when politicians hear what we want, and understand what we are saying – that they will do as the always have and will do the right thing and give it to us.

And yes we have devolved that far.  We now completely accept the lies and believe what we want to believe…because we don’t want to accept that we’ve been had.  Well, we have been. And we ain’t going to be singing our way out of this one folks.

I’d like to teach the world to sing…in perfect harmony!

You got to be shitting…


J.McD.B. – May 3, 2012  (my mother’s birthday coincidentally)

Is there a way to suspend the 2016 election process?

December 4, 2015

I’m dead serious on this. I have reached the point where I am completely convinced that democracy in America has become so entirely corrupted that holding an election in this moment of disintegration of political process, insidious manipulation by powerful and self-serving finance and corporate elites outside of the government – and the abject insane defiance by GOP candidates of right reason on issues threatening survival of the species…is inconceivable right now.

I think that risking the future of our dear country by handing over the reins of leadership to a soft-spoken know nothing babbling incompetent, or a felon, or a megalomaniac, or a bought up right-wing pawn, or a bigoted racist, or a professional malcontent, or a blood filled necked militarist, or a NRA toady, or a dynastic loser with really bad family history on dealing with big issues – is too great a risk to be allowed to happen right now.

There’s way too many secret influencers in this game right now. Way too much dark money and murky donors who scare the hell out of me. Too much divisive trickery. Too much hijacking of governmental decision-making. Too much bribery. Too much beholding. Too much extortion. Too much gerrymandering. Too much election machine and voting rights tampering. Too much deceitful politicking. Too much bold-faced lying. Too much fear-mongering. Too much diverting focus from massively important issues. Too much spin. Too much angry invective. Too much media involvement and partisan dishonesty.

And there are too many hugely important and critical decisions to be made across the entire spectrum of our lives – each and all requiring the best and smartest decisions we are capable of making.

I’m thinking that the best thing we can do right now, given the clear presence and stench of corruption seen at every level of the process – is to to shut it all down and suspend national elections until we clean up this snake pit that has become our money and influence besotted election process…and indeed our legislative process. Our congress and our political process has become an obscene joke.

Getting it right the first time is absolutely critical in these precarious times. We are rapidly reaching a point where it will be impossible to fix this country. And given what we are looking at in the field right now, only Bernie seems to be virgin enough – and only he seems to have a grasp of the magnitude of the problems we need to be dealing with.

If we could be assured of a Bernie outcome, and could accept that Bernie’s the horse to ride – we will need to make damn sure he’s surrounded by a solid bullet proof people’s mandate – and an A Team cabinet…and is allowed to install legal protections to act with impunity for the length of his terms in office.

If elected, his mandate needs to be cleaning up the place. Period. That means we need to figure out how to deal with, and over-ride, a do nothing/obstructive congress (which Paul Ryan is only going to try to make more dysfunctional if a conservative right-wing zealot isn’t elected president).

If we can’t be assured of a Bernie or a Bernie clone who the majority of the population is will to support – then I think we need to shut the whole thing down – and maintain status quo and let the people’s voice ‘not to proceed’ settle into political consciousness – and then resume the political process when we can be assured that the process is safe enough to use again.  It is not safe to use currently.


J.McD.B – Dec 5, 2015