The Valley Has 7 Top 100 Companies! Huzzah! Valley Wages are Down! Huzzzwhat?

The Lehigh Valley now boasts 7 of the Top 100 Employers in PA.

Wages are down in the Lehigh Valley.

These stories were posted within hours, and paint the picture: we are supposed to be grateful for whatever crumbs we manage to catch from the table of the power elites.

Alan Jennings, we know all about the Mayor of Allentown’s inner-life because of your pipeline to the Morning Call. Where are you on this?  It seems to me that the “edge of poverty” is more than a name for your organization’s blog.

D’etre and D’etat: The Difference Between Jesus and Church

I worked at a big fat church for a few years once.

For about five minutes of those few years, the staff was charged to “live in the republic of ideas.”  I wrote what follows earlier today, but it strikes me as the difference between the Kingdom of God’s raison d’etre and the raison d’etat so many churches live and ultimately die by:

It occurs to me that our use of terms like “industrial” or “industrialized” nation reveals rather efficiently the willingness of our power elites (political and economic) to sacrifice most of us for personal gain; to spiritually, emotionally, and economically destroy the creative, academic, merchant and truly small-business class (let’s call it the bourgeoisie) right along with the cynically styled “working class.” We bourgeoisie and/or proletarians freely mingle, and not-so-freely mimic the choices of the power elites (be they Clintons or Romneys) with what we’re told are consumer “choices” but are really the gasping acts of hanging-on desperately performed by human agents too exhausted from surviving to enact true human agency. This is purely diabolical; if there is a God in heaven, that God must not endorse this system. Surely, the central Christian image of God not in heaven but on a cross is in reaction to the system that enslaved Judea, that murdered John the Baptizer, that found Jesus guilty of blasphemy and sedition. That Christ’s message — God is for the margin and not for the power structures we worship — brought about his death at the hands of those power structures isn’t only a sort of proto-theological poetry, it is the essential Christian fact, the essential Christian witness, the essential Christian claim about the nature and person of God. That Jesus spoke of a kingdom different from those of the Sanhedrin and Rome and Washington and Wall Street and Seattle isn’t some spiritual-only conceit. What Christ called the Kingdom of God is not so-called Christendom, not the so-called Church; it is a physical network of willing rebellion.

Response to The New York Times’ Julian Bond Obituary is also Post-Mortem On Bill Clinton, Good Guy

Many people rightly took The New York Times to task for its obituary of Julian Bond last week.  His great-grandmother, a slave, could not have been a “mistress” of his white great-grandfather, her owner.  The power dynamics of slavery allow only for rape.

This week marks 17 years since Bill Clinton’s admission of a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky.  It occurs to me that Clinton’s lecherous persona would not be tolerated in the Office of President, in primaries, on social media, were he rising now. That the Left gave him an intentional pass was, of course, the chorus of Clinton-hating conservatives then.  That progressives today question the possibility of consent when one party is the Most Powerful Man in the World is important, not just because it births another irony about the daylight between them and reactionaries regarding sex in general.  More to the point:  The Bill Clinton presidency would be impossible as a native development now.  By 2015’s standards, he is a predator.  The degree to which his inherent power muted the personal agency of Miss Lewinsky is a debate worth having, considering the limitations it assumes for the later.  There are implications for feminism here, of course, but also for the wider issues about cycles of power and abuse.

Hillary and the Clinton-Industrial Complex

By now, you’ve likely heard about the interaction between Hillary Clinton and Black Lives Matter advocates that took place over the weekend.  The advocates rightly questioned Clinton on her support (and her husband’s implementation) of policies that led to the mass incarceration of more black men than ever lived under slavery in this country in what has become the prison-industrial complex’s near-final solution to the natural outputs of centuries of systemic racism and injustice as praxis.

While Bill and Hillary Clinton gained political capital through their expertly cynical navigation of the so-called third way New Democrat ethos (a tough, Nixonesque liberalism that seldom met a Republican proposal it didn’t like, consume, and implement), hedge fund managers gleaned more concrete riches from the transformation of America’s penal system into a network of privately held plantations.

Some, like George Zoley, give to Republican causes and candidates (Marco Rubio is a Zoley favorite).  Others, like Jeremy Mindich, masquerade as progressives. $32,400 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee?  Another $32,400 to the DNC Services Corp?  He even supports ActBlue.  (Credit to this piece at Vice for concisely connecting these dots.  Click through to learn how you, too, are probably investing in for-profit prisons without even knowing it).

For Americans living in poverty, the Clintons’ 90s were a race to mandatory sentencing, three-strikes-you’re-out law and order.  For the Clintons themselves, not so much.  Hillary Clinton is so far above the strictures of law, she saw fit to keep state secrets on private email servers, shielding them, perhaps, from the prying eyes of our first Black president, a man she necessarily and clearly resents, all the while risking national security because she simply couldn’t be bothered to do otherwise.  Is it any wonder China reads the email of top US officials the way Ted Cruz reads The Drudge Report?

In good 90s fashion, the irony of the Clintons’ role building up the prison industrial complex is staggering.  So too Hillary’s detachment, encountering the Black Lives Matter movement with the same wonder with which George H. W. Bush scanned his first campaign-trail groceries.  Three weeks to speak out on Ferguson.  That’s apparently how long it takes to convene a focus group.  How about a grand jury?

New Zealand is Picking a New Flag

You know what doesn’t happen very often?  The rebranding of entire countries.

The move to change the New Zealand flag comes from various post-colonial realizations.  I’m an outside observer and a big fan of redesign: from baseball uniforms to business logos to superhero costumes and, naturally, flags.

What’s interesting to me is the conscious effort to remove vestiges of empire (even as the nation remains part of the Commonwealth, which is somehow still a thing) and replace them with New Zealand iconography honoring the modern county’s indigenous and imperial roots.  The designs vying for adoption almost all seek to depict what proponents see as the confluence of native and not-so-native-then but native-now peoples into a unique, distinct, modern nation-state.

I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting New Zealand, but we have NZ readers here.  If you’re one of them, I’d love to hear from you about the degree to which the last sentence of the second paragraph captures what people are looking for, and the degree to which it reflects the reality of multiculturalism and race relations in your beautiful country.