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.



Saturday, June 2, 2018

An Open Letter to the FBI

Dear Members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation:

There have been articles on the web in recent weeks claiming that morale is at an all-time low in your esteemed agency.  I am hoping that is hyperbole and not true.  Clearly, your agency, and, one might argue, all that you stand for is under attack.  President Trump is doing everything in his power to make the Bureau sound like it is corrupt, unfair and incapable of doing its job of pursuing justice for the American people. It couldn't be more obvious that he is attempting to render impotent the investigation into his involvement with the Russians. 

Aside: when I was growing-up, in the 50s and 60s, the FBI was admired and held in very high esteem. Ask any kid my age what he wanted to do when he grew-up and the response was likely to be, "I want to be an FBI special agent", which was probably just ahead of, "I want to be an engineer." or a fireman, etc. FBI special agents were indeed 'special' and regarded as the pinnacle of the law enforcement community.  The intro to the t-v series, "Superman" included these lines: "...faster than a speeding bullet, stronger than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound," and the announcer ended by saying that Superman fought for, "....truth, justice and the American way."
Many of my peers would have said that that last part was precisely what the FBI did. 

The word that still pops out at me is, "truth".  It is one of the pillars upon which our society rests, and without it, things get real mushy, real quick.  I have written several blog entries about the whys and wherefores of Truth and what happens to a society where it is no longer a core value. In short, that society breaks down.  History is our teacher if we allow it to be.

Please know that there are legions of Americans who both know who you are and believe that your goal is still and always to seek out the truth in any given situation and thereby achieve justice for those who have suffered an injustice. In the service of justice, it's impossible to abandon the fact that truth is and always will remain pivotal.  There will not ever come a time when lies can compete with truth for credibility.  And, as Trump and his cronies continue their assault on the truth, it becomes as vitally important as it ever has been.

The Founding Fathers, and every generation since theirs, knew this, and despite attempts to render truth somehow suspect...just by saying it is, and by attempting to counteract its vital importance with a steady stream of falsehoods....the facts of a situation such as we are facing now are still solid, and grounded in provable events. The TRUTH is the truth, and no amount of lying or sleazy manipulation can change that.

The American people need you now, as they have perhaps never needed you before. You can stand as a source of rock-solid counter proofs, based on demonstrable truths, against this war on honesty and, indeed, Honor itself.  If the lies are allowed to become 'normalized' and used to substantiate the Trump agenda, our democracy will, at the very least, be shaken to its roots, and possibly even devolve into some kind of autocratic and fascist nightmare.

We are teetering on the brink of a precipice, and a single misstep could lead to another very dark period in the history of the planet.  We need to focus our attention like a laser-beam on the people who are doing everything they can think of to bring this about....all the while posing as bringers of prosperity and security. They are here to loot and plunder, and to gain control over the masses via unprecedented amassing of wealth.

Many political scientists, historians and scholars in related fields have pointed out that we could lose our democracy.  Yes, it could actually be subverted and become an authoritarian and despotic form of government.  Hitler and Goebbels knew exactly how to manipulate the German people and to make them so afraid of their chosen scapegoat, the Jews, that they went along with draconian methods of stabilizing their society.  Of course, when the smoke cleared they began to realize the huge mistake they'd made, and it was already too late; people were being hauled off in the middle of the night by the Gestapo to places like Dachau, often for simply having made a careless remark that was overheard and reported.

It would be a terrible mistake to assume that could never happen here. The first vestiges of it are already happening: attacks on the media as an untruthful enemy of the people, attacks on the rule of law, attacks on the very notion of Truth being of critical importance, scapegoating Hispanics and all people of color, violent police killing citizens and not being held accountable for it....all of the steps outlined by historians who have studied and written about how the Nazis came to power are in their early stages....RIGHT NOW.

So, to all the men and women of the FBI, I say, please keep the faith that what you are doing is of boundless and crucial importance to the survival of our democracy.  Do NOT let the lies and innuendo get you down.  We need you and we need you to believe in yourselves and your mission.

thank you for your service

Murad Sayen, in Maine