Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Down at the Stern....and Listing to Starboard

I have always liked the unique manner in which metaphors can illuminate a point by 'taking it to the side', using a parallel situation to make things more understandable.  Well, the metaphor that has come to me around taking a wide-angle overview of our that of a sinking ship.

She's taking on water, is losing ground and her rails will be awash before we know it. Her hull just has too many 'leaks' for her to stay afloat. Of course, it's always possible that a miracle will happen. I just watched the Columbus Blue Jackets sweep the supposedly best team in the NHL, the Tampa Bay Lighting, in the Stanley Cup first round, let's say anything is possible.

But, it looks pretty dire if you are willing to be objective and look at the confluence of factors that are all emerging simultaneously.  The biggest, and by far the most lethal, is Climate Change...unless you are of the ostrich persuasion and insist on keeping your head in the sand, you are already experiencing some of the by-products of it, i.e. droughts, wild-fires, mega-storms, arctic melting, and on and on.  It's not just projections anymore; events are happening all over the planet that point to an ongoing and burgeoning catastrophe.  That alone will sink the ship, perhaps even despite a late awakening on the part of humanity.  But, as we look out across the planetary landscape, it's clear that there are a vast number of people who are just not ready to accept the reality that is already upon us and starting to make itself known in numerous ways.  It's not my purpose today to enumerate all of them, but, Google will find all the information you well as provide you with good examples of how the too large segment of the population is practicing denial.

One of the biggest leaks in our planetary ship of state is the so-called 'Population Bomb', which is exploding in slow motion as we watch.  There are already more people--1.7 times as many--on the planet than present methods of food production can feed.  Famine is already over-taking large parts of Africa, Asia and more....even as we are so used to walking into our local supermarket and gliding past mountains of vegetables and fruits, then on to shelves groaning with canned and packaged foodstuffs.  When you imagine how this might appear to a person from Somalia,the Sudan, Ethiopia, and on and's beyond surreal, more like hallucinatory.  But, because that is our daily reality, we are blinded from seeing how many people are starving....yes, here and now on planet Earth in 2019.

As the population bomb continues its horrific, slow-mo explosion, we are seeing the people who are no longer able to survive in these drought and famine plagued regions fleeing toward parts of the planet that hold out at least the distant hope of survival.  They are literally dying in great numbers to make this move.  We are witnessing a 21st century diaspora of growing and eventually gigantic proportions.  Millions are starving....right now.

Then there is the gigantic political swamp we are mired in.  The Right vs. The Left is becoming ever more vitriolic and hateful.  There are people on both sides of this great divide who are projecting it will come to violence.  Whether a race war, a class war, or any other 'us and them' conflagration, the scenario is something out of a Hollywood blockbuster; you can almost hear the announcer in his uber-urgent basso voice telling us that, ".....they're coming!!!  And, the flood of immigrants is now being alluded to as an 'invasion', not of the body snatchers, but of starving families and lost souls who are just trying to survive, who are being cast as 'monsters, criminals, rapists etc"...not just by some lame-brain commentator on Fox, but by OUR PRESIDENT. 

And, there is another serious leak that will sink us.  The highest office in American politics is occupied by an insane megalomaniac, who is often referred to as, 'the most powerful person on the planet'...and is a liar, a hateful buffoon who is doing his damnedest to keep upper-class Americans isolated from the suffering that is already overtaking so many people around the earth.  He will brag and lie to convince us that this is the only way we can survive, by closing our borders completely......uh, well, okay not so closed if you're a college educated white person from Europe.  He's said he prefers people from Norway.  This mentally aberrant and unstable non-genius, read 'idiot', also has the unspeakable power of nuclear weapons at his command.  And, apparently and much to the horror of decent people everywhere, there are few if any safety mechanisms that could stop him from initiating a nuclear attack.....on whomever. 

Are you convinced? In fact, not only is our ship in mortal peril, it is sinking faster and faster all the time.  These situations are all exacerbating, and climate change is demonstrating the ability to confound the scientists who study it in great continually accelerating and out-pacing even their most dire projections.  The use another metaphor....hasn't just lost some braking ability.  The throttle is stuck open and it is going faster all the time and nobody knows where the end of the line is.

So, as bad as all of this is, and I am not even elaborating on it to the degree that I could, we still have some choices we can...and make. 

The foremost of these has to do with deciding what kind of a society we want.  Do we want the society that the Chief Crook wants?  That would mean allowing racial tensions and hatred to divide us into essentially warring sides.  If America chooses White Supremacy as it's code of ethics to carry us forward, it will mean immense suffering on BOTH SIDES.  If we embrace Trump's idea that this country has no room for the 'brown invaders' and we are to conduct ongoing operations to block, and otherwise suppress minorities...which we already do domestically via a violent policing policy that allows black males to be murdered with only rare consequences for the cops who pull the trigger....then we will create a living hell on earth.

The fatuous notion that we can have a segregated and isolated society even as the rest of the planet suffers is just that: fatuous.  The idea that the white race can have a plutocracy run by the very rich and have it be either harmonious or peaceful is also HOGWASH. Minority populations are no longer willing to accept such a situation and they are coming into the political arena intent on rectifying the massive imbalance that has existed for so many generations.  The day of the 'old white men' is over. And, people like Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell, are dinosaurs without even realizing it yet. But, they will become just as extinct as more and younger people of all ethnicities and gender/orientations, and of all social backgrounds, step forward.  It is especially hopeful that more and more women are getting involved, no longer content to watch as old white men run the show, based on their desire to accumulate even greater wealth and more power. 

If we are going to deal with the huge challenges that face humanity, we need to do it from a place of harmony and strength.  And, that means ALL PEOPLE need to be considered as human beings, not as a plague of locusts who need to be pushed back and allowed to starve while we still live in the 'land of plenty'. The biggest decision we need to make is: how we want to treat other people, especially those less fortunate.  If we have learned a single iota from Christianity, we should know by now that we are ALL IN THE SAME LIFEBOAT.  There will not be one planetary reality for the super-rich, another one for the 'working people' and a third nightmarish scenario for all those from areas of the planet where a normal even half-way decent life is no longer possible. 

As the ship continues to settle...and, it will.....we need to decide that we are all in this together.  Some are thinking that they'll motor off into the future on their 200 million dollar yachts, perhaps carrying them to their exclusive compounds where the angry and starving cannot touch them.  Some have already bought 'condos' in missile silos where they can sit out hibernating groundhogs.  I cannot imagine that being a kind of existence that any actually sane person could tolerate for very long. 

Then there are those who are so deeply asleep in their consciousness, that they imagine they can kill enough of the people who threaten them to somehow come out on top of a race war.  This is actually a very popular notion on the far right.  Don't believe it?  Visit some of the alt-right, neo-Nazi and white power websites.  You'll believe it.

We can choose to go down the path of hatred, fear and violence....which is where the head-case in orange wants us to go....or we can choose to find humane and compassionate solutions to the gigantic problems we have created ourselves.  We need to know--in our Hearts--that we really are not all just separate individuals, bouncing around earth like so many ping-pong balls, each person doing their damnedest to get what they need for themselves.  We are as much a tribe or a family as we're willing to be and together we can create the means of surviving and learning to be kind to each other. 

In one direction, lies our very own self-created Hell; and, in the other lies the potential to do the best we can to create harmony and to live with an awakened sense of compassion......which, is a very good working definition of "Heaven on Earth". 

What's it going to be, Humans?

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Does The Pathetic One Really Think He Can Have His Own Brown-shirts?

By now, one might think most of us Americans who aren't mesmerized by the charms of the Orange Fool, would be somewhat inured or even wholly immune to the blathering that comes out of his 'hooter'.  But, then, along comes his comment that if things don't go his way as the future unfolds, his followers in law enforcement, the military......and bikers for Trump gangs, will become violent and it will be, "...very bad, very bad". 

It doesn't take much effort to deduce what he's aiming at: we should be terrified that if we stand up to this asshole, he's going to have his trogs in these groups use violence against the American people at large.  Really?

For starters, he wants us to believe that 'his followers' in the police and military are numerous, perhaps comprising the majority of these groups. And, then there is the astonishing implication that he'll turn his 'bikers' loose and let them commit mayhem. 

This is where I am calling BULLSHIT.  Yes, there are some far-right people in each of these groups, but when you get right down to the numbers, they are not what the Great Orange Porker wants us to believe they are. Commanders in the armed forces--all five services--are not going to look on as their commands go rogue.  If there is one thing the military understands, it's that people have jobs and there is a chain of command.  Everybody is expected to do their assigned job, whatever it may be, and to do so to the best of their ability. 

In every army unit that I was assigned to, there were slackers, non-conformists and goldbrickers, but they were few, and the great exception.  Most units have competent leadership, and it is an ongoing process to weed out those, at all levels of leadership, who either don't have the mustard, or are just not on board with the unit's mission.  If there is one thing the U.S. Army is very good at doing, it is recognizing leadership potential and finding ways for those who exhibit it to fill slots where it is necessary and even essential.

I was in the infantry.  The infantry soldier is the figure around which the entire rest of the army revolves.  Tanks are great, as long as they're supported by infantry troops on the ground.  By themselves, tanks are terribly vulnerable to all sorts of very efficient anti-tank weapons, some small enough to be easily concealed and carried by individual enemy soldiers.  Artillery is awesome, so able to project explosive power even beyond the horizon, but, the only reason it can perform it's mission is because infantry units are going to move into the area they have just shelled. 

No grunts....nothing happens. 

And, all of the other branches of the army, the signal corps, the aviation units, the quartermaster corps, the military police...and on and on.....all exist to make certain that the infantry has the support and materials to get the job done.  An infantry the Big Red One, is an awesome gathering of skills and tools, all focused on getting one job done:  transcending any enemy resistance and winning the day.  If you were to see the army's flag, it has battle streamers, i.e. ribbons, attached to the top of the flag's staff....and one cannot help but marvel at how many there are, and what battles they commemorate.  From Valley Forge to Belleau Wood, to Guadalcanal, to Normandy, and Bastogne, to Inchon, to the central highlands and Hue, to Fallujah and Baghdad, and so many more....the U.S. Army has a very proud history.  Yes, it has had it's shortcomings and failures, but not due to the lack of quality of personnel, so much as to the quality of our politicians.

I am proud to be a veteran of the U.S. Army, and I tell you here and now that it will NEVER follow the orders of an insane idiot to attack the American people in the streets, forests and fields of this country.  It will not happen. 

You may rightly ask how I know this.  I know it because the army is full of people just like and women who love this country and have a deep respect for integrity and honor.  They will always find a way to sort out the confusing elements of a given situation and then find a way through that is as humanly close to 'doing the right thing' as possible.

Many of the pundits out there have speculated on how Trump aspires to become a full-blown dictator, and what it would take for that to happen.  He has been frequently been compared to Mussolini and Hitler...among others...and his call for 'his followers' to become violent if he doesn't get his way, is certainly alarming on multiple levels.  Hitler had his 'Brown Shirts', the Sturm Abteilung, SA, and Mussolini had his own Blackshirts.  Both were organized mobs, made-up of street thugs and ne'rdowells who were happy to jump on the Nazi bandwagon, or the Fascist train, because it was not merely adventurous, but held out the promise of opportunities to break heads and even to kill those who were identified as 'enemies of the people'.....yes, the same term applied to the press by the despicable Great Hog in the White House.

If things do get chaotic in America, and it's conceivable that His Giant Egoness could actually create such a situation--like the Reichstag fire--in order to be able to declare an actual national emergency, which would come, part and parcel, with martial law and rigid controls. There may indeed be some groups on both the far-right and the far-left that are ready, even eager,  to jump in and apply violence to the situation.  There may even  be 'death squads' such as those in Chile, Argentina, etc. who are telling themselves that they are acting 'patriotically' as they go about terrorizing the people in order to dominate them.   But, there is another reality that most of the journos and pundits seem blithely unaware of: citizens like me.  Well-armed, well-trained, and willing to fight, even to die, for what we KNOW is right.  And, based on what I have personally observed over the decades, there are a lot more of us than there are of 'them'. 

And, what's 'right' in America is freedom, a working code of Honor, born of a sense of what is really 'right' not just what one side wants.  Peace is right.  Non-violence is right.  Freedom from harassment and assault by the police...or right.  The rights spelled out in the Constitution need to be respected and used as a coda for life.  These rights are for ALL of us, not merely the privileged, the rich and the most manipulative.

What needs to stop, is one elite class engineering ways to bleed all the lower classes dry.  Whether it's big pharma, big energy, big finance, the medical industry in its entirety, the education system, the economy that depends on its lower echelons being in debt peonage...i.e. debt slavery....all of that needs to either go away or drastically morph into something more humane. 

Donald J. Trump is a deluded and clinically insane leader.  Too many psychiatric professionals have been willing to step forward and say this and it's based on their ongoing observations of the man's behavior.  Our president is fucking nuts.  It's not up for debate anymore.  It used to be, but he keeps giving us new material that re-confirms the his current assault on John McCain.  This man not so secretly pines to become a dictator and be in office for life.  He has no observable conscience and has only a tenuous grasp on reality.  So, the idea that he'll have great legions of soldiers, sailors, marines, police from all around the country....coming together to pummel the rest of us into submission to his will, is simply fatuous.  Even if he makes a stab at it, it won't work.  Those bad-ass bikers he thinks are a force to be reckoned with......will crumble and wither under direct fire from armed veterans and others like myself. 

Hey Donny-boy, bring it.  We're waitin' on ya.

A society that has billionaires calling all the shots, and a vast under-class that has no hope for a better a society hurrying on its way to self-destruction.  It will eventually either implode, or even explode and chaos and suffering will rule the day.

And.................none of this even takes into account the vast and growing scientific body of factual knowledge that clearly demonstrates how we are destroying our host planet.  That is a whole other ball of wax.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Why Should I Vote? It Won't Make any Difference.

Okay, fair question:  why vote when you have good reason to believe that it's all crooked and rigged anyway?  What difference is it going to make?

Answer:  You should vote because this is our last chance to slow down and maybe even halt the advance of an autocratic state......yes, a DICTATORSHIP.  If you cannot see by now that this is what the Orange Idiot wants to create, then you must be blind, deaf and dumb. China and Russia now have dictators for life, and you betcha it has occurred to the Big Fool that he should have that role to play here.  After all, he's the smartest, cleverest, most deserving, and the most stable genius the world has ever seen................................................right?

Let's take a trip to Crazytown

If you stay home--as over 100 million Americans did in 2016--the GOP will retain control of all three branches of government.  It will be a sick joke at that point to even mutter phrases like,"....government of the people, by the people and for the people".

It will be a government bought and paid for, and completely at the command of the uber-rich. They have been working assiduously toward this moment in history for over fifty years (arguably for much longer than that....all the way back to the beginnings of human history), and their moment of triumph is nigh.  Once it is all sewed-up and they can do just about any and all the things that will continue to enhance their power and wealth....there will be a very small chance that it can be undone.

All the mechanisms of power and control are in place. If they continue to be so, even the constitution will be morphed into something the Founding Fathers would not recognize.  But, they WOULD recognize the instruments of tyranny in it and know that this augured dire times ahead for the republic.

More than half the states, 34 was the last number I heard, have already approved the idea of a new constitutional convention.  This would be an occasion wherein they would wield their now unencumbered power to disembowel the original constitution of the protections and safeguards that protect the individual citizen from an over-reaching and oppressive government.  Anything resembling a 'safety net' or a handout would be gone.  The 'little people'--as many rich people refer to the working class.(I have heard it myself, so don't bother trying to tell me they don't) would be left twisting in the wind.  Period...for real.

The Founding Fathers were well aware that all citizens were in need of protection and that governments are subject to being over-taken, warped into something evil, and used to suppress and subjugate the very people they were meant to serve.

Because of this awareness, they attempted to install a series of safe-guards that couldn't be easily set aside....unless all three branches of the government agreed that it was permissible, of course.  Under the guise of 'updating' the Constitution, a convention would render it an instrument of oppression.  They would dump anything that stood to impede their continued assault on individual rights, and the ongoing and accelerating campaign to amass such wealth as to render its holders untouchable in perpetuity......until the dam breaks.

When there is no longer a web of laws and controls to keep them from abuse and even starvation, people change dramatically.  When a sinking feeling of hopelessness seeps in around the edges and then really takes that point, people are willing to fight and even to die for what they must have to survive.

Most Americans are still quite content with the circumstances of their lives. As I travel around this part of New England, I see lots of almost new pick-ups, SUVs, and sleek German wheels. They still have all the addictive amusements of this material society to distract themselves from the ugly reality of what we're doing to the planet and to each other. Most people are marinating in a fast flowing river of opulent advertising and social media.....all of it designed to keep us feeling as if we are among the 'haves' and obstruct any sense that we're being used and abused by the tiny clique of the exotically rich who have about 80% of the wealth.

Of course, if you go to various quarters around the country where police shootings and gang shoot-outs are a daily occurrence, then you will understand that a large number of people are already in that place of burgeoning hopelessness.  There is no path open for them, educationally, professionally, emotionally, or in terms of just a decent and survivable daily life...or even to a situation where merely sufficient food is available.  Hunger and hopelessness go hand-in-hand to create the conditions for a violent revolution.  The aristocracy in Europe in the mid-nineteenth century found this out the hard way.

So, if you somehow justify staying home and not will...just like the 100 million who thought the same way in responsible for your roll in helping to sustain and promote the nightmare that Donald J. Trump is intent on inflicting on all of us.

 And, THAT, dear friends, is why you really, really should get out to the polls on November 6th.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The REAL Reason they want Kavanaugh so badly.

       First let me say, "Dear Senator Collins, fuck you."  Thanks, I needed to get that out of the way.  This long-time Republican has announced that she is going toe the party line and be the final vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court....and thereby she is betraying not just the members of her constituency here in Maine, but women (and all of us) across the country.  Groups are already marshaling funds and energy to VOTE HER OUT OF OFFICE on the next go around. Honestly, I have a sense that she's not going to even run, that she knows somewhere down deep that she just committed political suicide. Time will tell. Mainers tend to be a mostly calm and introspective lot, but once they get a burr under their saddles.......look out. There is still some of that same iron-clad determination that carried the day at Little Roundtop.

     But, lest you think this has all been about how this man, Kavanaugh, behaved as a teenager, it is not.  The Big Cheeto, His Great Orangeness, has recognized all along that Kavanaugh would be the single added vote that would cause the SCOTUS to vote against indicting a sitting president.  It is Trump's best insurance that he will not either get impeached or criminally least, not while he is in the White House. We will be waiting, however, for the day when he leaves office.

    By insuring that this 'safety net' is intact, the demonstrably insane and malevolent actor in the Oval office will be able to continue his depredation on all fronts. People of color and immigrants, the environment, the most vulnerable segments of society who will otherwise be left twisting in the wind, unions, the elder population, the ability to get decent medical care, to not be hosed for prescription drugs, and the list goes on and on.  He is the Wrecker in Chief of all that working class Americans have gained over the last fifty plus years.

   It beggars belief that so many working people still cannot see through his ever deeper pile of bullshit, and still think he's on THEIR side.  The hell he is.  Donald J. Trump works for the oligarchs and plutocrats.....period.  He's a proven liar on a daily basis, a devious con-man and his con on the American people is working like a charm.  And, now, with a 'get out of jail free' card on the table, his looting and his destruction of any kind of protections for consumers, not to mention our environment itself,  is going to proceed at a furious pace.  Wait and see.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Post Truth Era.....

Some of the pundits on various sites are using this catchy term to describe the fact that we are now living in a time when the Truth has been effectively rendered irrelevant.  Some of them are belatedly grieving for the past, when Truth did still matter.  And, some of them are actually supposing that we can make the transition away from a slavish devotion to the idea that facts matter....and further arguing that this is both appropriate and alright.

America's Liar in Chief

These particular pundits are all of the hard-right conservative persuasion, as you might expect they would be.  I mean, after all, Fox News is a media monster built on the premise that truth is merely an inconvenience that gets in the way of furthering their sicko ideas.  Fox is very successful, having six of the top ten most watched 'news' shows.  The idea of leaving the Truth twisting in the breeze is very appealing when your agenda is to achieve political and then social dominance.  If you crave being in charge--as, of course, old white men have been for many generations--impediments that hold your feet to the fire in a test of whether or not your viewpoints actually have factual gravitas are not welcome. It's so much easier to simply make-up your points of contention and to argue them on the basis of how they appeal to the lowest instincts of your audience.

So, here we are. We have a president in the oval office who lies all the time and never even gives any indication that what is coming out of his mouth is based on stuff he just makes up according to how he would LIKE THINGS TO BE...instead of how they really are.  For Donald J. Trump, the Truth is not something to be honored or valued.  It is merely an inconvenient pain in his ass. This is carried almost to the point of becoming an art-form, a performance on a daily basis in which he believes he can re-shape reality according to his personal needs and desires. He lies to get his way, to pad his own wealth and to maintain control over the strange party that used to be one of Honor and integrity....way back when my parents were devoted to it, and Eisenhower was their poster-child.  We did actually 'LIKE IKE' and it was inconceivable that this war-hero turned politician would intentionally stand in front of the press corps and lie his ass off.  Trump does it several times a day.

I suppose the underlying question and primary concern should be: how does this impact our society as we move into the future?  Well, the answer to that is that it will destroy us.  Straight-up.  Yes, and that is not hyperbole.  Any society that comes to this point...of having lost its respect for what is actually and factually TRUE, is terminal.  Bold words, eh.  But, true.

Here's the reason such a society cannot survive for long: When people feel permission to lie anytime it will help them get what they want for themselves--which is what the Donald is all about--everything quickly becomes adversarial.  It is all about 'Me, Myself, and I' and to hell with your needs.  In fact, people pursuing this path are practicing selfishness on a level Ayn Rand would find admirable.  Her pseudo-philosophy, Objectivism, was all about, "I've got mine, and it sucks to be you."  So, here we have a segment of society that has risen to positions of power and wealth, based on the principle that each person is in it just for themselves.  And, they are more than happy to see you fail if it means more for them, or makes their path to dominance just a tiny bit easier.

In a society where a class of people are determined to get the upper hand, and are willing to cause endless harm and suffering to do so.....nothing good is going to happen in the long run.  This is precisely because you have an entire segment that feels disenfranchised, rejected, passed-by and even the lack of opportunities, lack of access to decent and affordable education, living under conditions that destroy a large number of lives, violence, drugs, and gangs all in the mix.

Once a society turns its back on the less fortunate,  the eventual result becomes like that newly bulging mound in a Mexican farmer's field, with a smoking fumarole, and that soon grows into an active volcano of mounting rage.  History clearly indicates that the population will eventually get fed-up and erupt.  When an entire segment of a society loses hope of a better future, or that they can at least live a decent life, then violence is going to happen sooner than later. It has happened too many times to think that it won't happen now.  When people feel truly oppressed and subjugated it will boil-over and explode into revolution.  That is just human nature.

There are exceptions, of course.  Once the mechanisms of terror are in place, it may be too late and futile for a successful revolution to gain any momentum.  In Nazi Germany, people only realized what was happening when it was really too late to do anything effective. The price of resisting was immediate arrest and a quick trip to Dachau, or similar.

The people of North Korea, have suffered under Kim and his father and grandfather endlessly.  The means of their subjugation have been in place for three generations and the dictator.....really a nice fellow with a good sense of humor, if you listen to Trump.....has a good handle on how to keep them down.  It's nothing new, really: send any dissenters away to concentration camps and kill them by forced labor and starvation. Result: not enough people are willing to stand up and be whacked down as in the Whack-a-Mole game.  Terror is undeniably effective, and dictators of all flavors, including Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Saddam, etc, have all known this.

But, here's the take-away: all that dictators do to subjugate their people and to maintain order and control............depends on weaving a web of LIES.  Destroying the ability of a population to know what is really going on is critical, so attacking any and all sources of the actual TRUTH is necessary.  When Trump reiterates his disdain for the press, as he does many times each day, via Twitter, by calling them 'fake news' and any other pejoratives he happens to think of at that moment, he is accomplishing something critical to his ongoing success.  He is casting doubt on everything....yes, literally EVERYTHING. Once facts are given the same status as lies, it is possible to get people to think that anything you put in front of them is 'true'.  It doesn't take a vivid imagination to see how much easier it becomes then to manipulate the majority of people into believing whatever serves your purposes.

LIES ARE THE TOOLS OF DICTATORS.  If you allow them to become 'normal' then the means of knowing what is really happening to our society are GONE!

It matters.  In fact, it is pivotal and crucial that we not accept this wannabe dictator's attempts to blur the lines of fact and fiction.  He lies with no consequences at present.  He does it right in our faces, and is not the slightest bit hesitant to do so.  He tells lies that are easily debunked...and is not apparently concerned that his lying is so easily recognized.  In fact, as Obama said in his recent speech in South Africa, he just 'doubles down' and lies some more.


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Bankruptcy....of the Moral Kind

It is common knowledge that Trump has gone bankrupt in his business adventures, repeatedly...six times to be precise. Ever since he announced his run for the oval office we have been hearing stories about how either good or bad he is at business....depending on the source you are reading/watching.

The fact is he is very adept at using the laws around bankruptcy to lose money for his investors and to wind up with more money...much more.....himself.  He knows, or at least, his coterie of legal eagles knows, how to 're-arrange' financial dealings so that he comes out the other end smelling like a rose, and, more often than not, his investors are stuck with the losses.  He brags about this as a way of bolstering his reputation for making great deals and for being the most clever weasel in the woods.

All these months into his term as president, we are becoming almost inured to his lies and his attacks on anybody whom he perceives as not on his side.  There is considerable discussion about the dangers of allowing his behavior to become perceived as 'normal', even as acceptable. It, most assuredly, is NOT either one of those.

Fact is, I don't really give a fig about his finances.  He's just another greedy pig who is frantically scrambling to amass far more wealth than any person needs.....all to serve the continual aggrandizing of his pathetic ego. In literature there is a term for people like Trump:  picaroon.  A picaroon is a pirate, a rogue, a person who is just out for him/herself, and has no scruples that might stand in their way.  Whatever you need to do, is just fine.  Never mind morality, integrity, compassion...oh BLECH....or any redeeming quality that would seem to support the notion that we are all operating in a society of souls and that common decency is one of the tenets that makes this possible, even more tolerable.

There is another kind of bankruptcy that Donald J. Trump is apparently unfamiliar with: moral bankruptcy.  It is an umbrella term that captures the essence of a person who has no problem telling lies, stealing money by deception (think Trump University), and in a pinch, a truly bankrupt person is even willing to kill to achieve what they perceive as their goals.  The Orange One has intimated numerous times that he'll take whatever sadistic action is necessary to top whatever he perceives as opposition...not to the United States, as much as to him, his personal goals. Torture?  Not a problem.  Calling strikes where collateral damage is unavoidable? Hell, we were already doing this under the last two presidents.  It's a no-brainer for Trump.  His ideal form of government would be himself as permanent dictator for life.  He has said this in so many ways that it is clear he'd have no problem at all destroying our democracy in favor of his lifetime in charge.

The truly scary thing about this notion is that we are beginning to see signs that he could actually pull it off.  Yes, he could manage a way to end up on the throne of a thoroughly subjugated United States of America.  You may feel some skepticism of that idea.  I certainly did when I first encountered it.  I came up with all kinds of reasons why that would not be possible.  The genius of our constitution was supposed to be at least partially due to its deep insight into the potential pitfalls and foibles of the democracy it was creating.  Checks and balances were strongly positioned to stop just such a corrupt leader as Trump.  The Founding Fathers clearly were aware of the possibility that bad actors could try to subvert and otherwise render impotent the rule of law for nefarious purposes.  So, they included measures such as dividing the government into three branches that would serve to balance and counter-balance the power of a large centralized government.

But, there are some glitches.  That's the bad news.  A corrupt gang of operators....yes, just like those presently in office.....could find ways to gain power and to hold onto it.  One of the most obvious of these is what happens when an emergency occurs that directly threatens the safety and security of our country.  The government is suddenly in a position to start suspending constitutional rights by any number of means.  The most dire would be a declaration of 'martial law', under which we would suddenly find ourselves living in a totalitarian police state....for our own good, of course.  Remarkably, many Americans would see that as justified, as long as they feel safer.  Martial law supposes that maintaining the peace and the safety of all citizens is the highest priority...well above the mere freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.  Those 'rights' are apparently subject to being quickly set aside when things become a little dicey.  And, just what that means is subject to a broad spectrum of interpretation, depending on what party and even what sector of that party is being asked....or has the self-assigned right to make such decisions.

It is not a novel thought that we could instantly find ourselves in a situation where the administration would declare a state of martial law to be necessary.  Any event on the order of 9-11, or even one not as large or as egregious, would be sufficient.  I have been saying this for many years now, and I am not alone in this concern. Recovering from such a period of upheaval would be much slower than its onset.  In fact, due to the nature of having such a commanding grip on the power of our government, it might not happen at all.  There might be changes put in place that make it well nigh impossible to get back to the levels of freedom we have now and have had for over two and a half centuries.  Once a country has fallen over that cliff it is no longer a matter of just climbing back to the top.  No, no.

Studying the many autocracies that exist now and that have appeared in the last century or more, reveals a distinct pattern.  Perhaps the most singular factor that presages the onset of a totalitarian state is economic disarray.  When a country's economy goes in the shitter, people experience new and often terrible hardships.  Any person who cannot put food on the table for their family or maintain a roof over their heads rapidly becomes a desperate person.  Under such circumstances, it's not a surprise that they will opt for the politician and political party that holds the most apparent promise of being able to make rapid and substantial changes happen.  Hitler's early campaign slogan was: "Hitler, Arbeit, Brot", i.e. "Hitler, Work, Bread" and it was addressing the dire economic circumstances of the Weimar Republic where runaway inflation literally had people paying billions of marks for simple items of sustenance.  It was a bitter joke that one needed a wheelbarrow to haul enough cash to the market to buy groceries.  In 1923, a loaf of bread cost 100 billion marks.  It was a terrifying situation for most people and more than enough to get them on board with a radical strongman who was promising an end to all the enemies and policies that had gotten them to that point.  Oh, yes, Hitler had the answers.  And, we all know how that went down.

So, here we are with a man in the Oval Office who has repeatedly admired Xi Jinping for his now cemented status as 'leader for life' of China.  He has heaped praise on Kim Jong Un, one of the most sadistic dictators currently in power.  His fawning admiration of Vladimir Putin is legend. Comedians constantly speculate on what Putin must have over Trump....the most obvious guess being the 'pee tape'. Who knows?

So, having observed so very many traits and having witnessed his actions over the last year and a half....I don't think it's much of a stretch to conclude that Ol' Donny Boy is morally broke.  There is nothing in his under-developed sense of how the world works and what it takes to be a decent human being that would indicate that he not only knows what compassion is, but that it is one of the key ingredients that separates us from being just another predatory species.  And, it should be noted that when we humans are in our most potent predatory mode.....we are FAR WORSE than any animal predators on the planet.  We have raised predation to a level that outstrips the ability of any other species to compete for the title of most vicious.  We are it, and people like Trump are leading the way in acting out our worst inclinations and tendencies.

All of this should serve as a dire warning.....that if we do not rise up and get every possible citizen out to vote him out of office, we will have a future in front of us that is light years away from the utopian society that humans have only dared to dream of throughout history.  We have all of the assets, tools and traits that are needed to actually make such a dream become a reality.  But, as long as we let the people who think Trump's ongoing push toward a situation where he becomes the Supreme Leader is okay....we are in for a terrible shock and a whole lot of pain to follow. 

We have a chance to avoid this dark scenario.  But, it will never amount to anything if people remain disengaged, apathetic and passive.  The people who think Trump's stunning lack of compassion, his frequent sadistic impulses toward any who resist his will, and his despicable dishonesty are all just fine....will be in charge and the rest of us will have only ourselves to blame.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

A Great Big 'Ol Train Wreck....

   As a kid, I used to watch as my paternal grandfather recited dramatic performances of poetry: Gunga Din, Casey at the Bat, and The Ballad of Casey Jones were his favorites.  His crowning moment came when the mighty Casey took that last great swing....and struck out....for there was no joy in Mudville that night.  But, he seemed to enjoy Casey Jones imminent demise at the throttle of his locomotive almost as much. I never stopped to think about the fact that what these tales are focused on is failure.  They seem to make failing almost heroic and just a little glamorous. German culture has long esteemed the concept of noble failure, the 'Heldentot' or 'Hero's Death'. Samurai culture is also embedded with the same idea, that to fail is noble if it is done with great courage and self-sacrifice.

Having just re-read Casey Jones for the first time in many decades, it strikes me how this widely acclaimed engineer seemed so intent on wrecking his train.....all because the 'southern mail' was two hours late. As I read it now, it makes no sense at all.  The point of carrying the mail is to get it to its destination.  Yet, here is this 'man among men' who has been told that the tracks are somewhat unsafe....washed out road-bed....and his fireman (the poor bloke who shovels coal into the boiler) has warned him they would leave the tracks if they don't slow down.  And, the great engineer's response is to peg the throttle and go as fast as the locomotive can go. Wha?!!!

Well, here we are, in the early decades of the 21st century, and we have another mad engineer at the throttle. None of what is going on now makes sense when any reasonable criteria of 'normality' are applied.  It is all tinged with the stomach churning feeling of un-grounded insanity.  This latest debacle of separating children from their parents--a crazy-making, melding of lies, cruelty, and deflecting of any responsibility--is just one more warning....a 'red' block-signal, saying, "Stop the train."  But, just as Casey ran the last four block signals so does the madman in the White House ignore any idea that there are rules and guidelines for decency and that his job requires the frequent and skillful application of both wisdom and compassion.  We don't elect a president to be a constantly lying buffoon, a bully, a gangstah, a self-aggrandizing peacock of a figurehead who wishes he could have adoring subjects....just like his new BFF, one of the most despicable dictators on the planet.  At least, we never did UNTIL NOW.   [ASIDE: Anyone with even a small brain knows that Kim's 'adoring' subjects are so terrified of being hauled off to a concentration camp that paying homage to their 'Dear Leader' is just a survival strategy.]  It is another one of those 'red block signals' that Trump aspires to be like Kim......or Putin.

So, one minute he says he is powerless to stop the implementation of a policy that not only did he create and put in place, but which he did by simply telling his staff what he wanted. For all I know, he did it while he was tweeting on the toilet at 3 a.m..  And, the next minute he blames it all on the Democrats, saying it's the result of their foolish (read Obama's) policies and laws.....which the merest effort at fact-checking proves to be just one more of his lies.  And another minute later, he makes a big show of his magically returned power by rescinding the policy, signing another 'executive order' with his childishly out-sized signature, like a kid would do on the refrigerator with a magic marker.

It is of no bother to him, apparently, that he just demonstrably lied multiple times. And, if that stops being important to us....we will have surrendered to a world where the truth no longer matters and lies become true simply because 'he said so'.  Oh, dear God!!! Where is reality in that kind of a society? Suddenly, everything becomes a vast grey miasma of half-truths and lies.  There is no longer any firm ground in an endless swamp of misery.

We now find out that this big show of 'compassion' on his part, does nothing to solve the terrible situation of 2300 children who have already been taken from their families.  Some of them have already been flown as far away as New York state, even as Kristjen Nielsen, the DHS Secretary, denies that the kids are suffering.  She has developed the same ability to tell bold-faced and disprovable lies as her boss.  And, she was apparently raked over the coals by him when she was seen as being somewhat less than 'all in' on this policy to begin with.  The fool made sure she would act with the indifference and cold-hearted efficiency that he so admires.  That is his version of being 'strong'.

Here's the thing: it is beginning to least to me....that we might indeed have another Casey Jones at the throttle.  I believe he has and continues to paint himself into a corner, an untenable position from which there is no easy exit.  Yes, of course, he has his much vaunted 'base' of those sad souls who will support him all the way to the end.  But, I seriously doubt if many of them understand that so much of what he is doing is aimed at either his becoming another world-class dictator, on the throne of a thoroughly subjugated state.....or a good ol' fashioned TRAIN WRECK. Just before the trains are about to collide head-on, Casey Jones tells his fireman to jump for his life and to tell Casey's wife and kids that he loves them.  When I read that an hour ago, it finally struck me: some people need tragedy, feed on failure, are drawn to it like the proverbial moth to a flame.

I think he's absolutely capable of running this whole thing right off the rails and...should it come to that....blaming everybody else for sabotaging him and his sick goals.  Hmmmm...why does that sound so familiar?  No, not the crazy engineer, oh, of is exactly what Adolf Hitler did as the Third Reich descended into chaos and rubble.  He blamed his generals, called them traitors, and he blamed the German people, said they deserved to die in the flames of the Twilight of the Gods, the Gotterdamerung....despite the fact that millions of them had already died, and/or committed murder and mayhem for him as he pursued his insane destiny.

It boggles the hopeful mind to even consider the possibility of what will happen when Donald J. Trump runs the whole kit-and-kaboodle smack-dab into an oncoming train.  That could take the form of starting a nuclear conflict, pushing for trade wars that lead to economic collapse...or a variety of other scenarios.  I have this impending sense that he may actually be more drawn to that kind of tragic scenario than he is to seeing America actually thrive by being a country and a people who practice the ideals of compassion, love and kindness.  In his feverish mind, such a country would be too weak and vulnerable to survive. Never mind that we have survived for all these generations being the country that people admired and could count on for support....and I don't mean just do-re-mi....when needed.  We are the people who died on Normandy beach, Iwo Jima, Belleau Wood, and way too many more battlefields to list here. And, we did it for all people, not just to serve our own goals and needs.  Don't believe it?  Ask any older resident of Normandy....or so many other places.

We have a chance to stop this train, however.

If every single American who cares about our country, who cares about human lives and even the planet at large, and who sees clearly that Trump is indeed going to run the train off the tracks.....GETS OUT AND VOTES....then we may have a chance at avoiding what is beginning to look and feel like our very own Gotterdamerung.