Sunday, June 30, 2019

The REAL 'Enemy of the People'.....


        At this late date, it is now firmly established, i.e. beyond any doubt whatsoever, that climate change is not only 'real', but that it is going to be a catastrophic cataclysm if we continue on the path we have been on since the beginning of the industrial revolution. 
       In fact, it is so utterly 'real' that climate scientists have begun referring to it as the 'Sixth Great Extinction', and they are doing this, in part, to get our attention.  It is the headlight at the other end of the tunnel.  It is the looming 'end of times' that evangelical Christians are counting on, and even looking forward to, because it will mean they get to go to heaven.  It is the planetary systems spiraling out of control because of the massive amount of carbon dioxide and methane that we are pumping into our atmosphere......every day.  2018 was the highest CO2 producing year on record, so it appears that all that has been said and the very little that has been done, has not been nearly enough to even slow our assault on the planet down, much less reverse it.
       And, this morning we are told by the media that the Big Fool is going around to the leaders of the G-20 countries and urging them to roll-back regulations intended to address climate change.  It's not enough that he is so ill-informed and so dense that he denies climate change...he has to campaign for avoiding doing ANYTHING that would even help in some small way to mitigate it.  At this point, it would be difficult for any person who is able to tie their own shoes to argue that this man is not perverse, intentionally obtuse in his never-ending quest to plunder the planet's resources, especially coal and other fossil fuels.  He's a destructive maniac who doesn't care in the least about 'facts' or 'truth', no, those are for suckers.  He will provide all of the 'alternative facts' that his followers need to stay pacified and content to carry-on with driving the bus off a cliff.
      It has become too commonplace to label him.  It does no good, because his followers are on board the 'Trump cult' for the duration.  Despite many of them being self-proclaimed righteous Christians, they don't mind following a man who lies pretty much all the time.  He rarely opens his piggy little yap without telling a lie.  This is not hyperbole; it's a fact...yes, one of those pesky little things that he has such disdain for. All the lying is coming from a man who is also a sexual predator, a racist, and clearly he's a sadist who doesn't mind causing suffering in innocents if it serves his deviant purposes.
     Donald Trump might be pleased to know that he is causing such angst, consternation and fear in the majority of Americans....and in other countries, we are told.....he lives to piss-off  his perceived 'enemies'.  And, in order to make that long and growing list, one merely need disagree with his lies and his assault on decency and even democracy itself.  I doubt, however, if he'd be pleased to know that history is already regarding him as the 'disaster president' and he is certain to eclipse any presidents from our history as the holder of the esteemed title, "Worst President Ever".  Hey, he loves attention.  He may even take some perverse joy in knowing how much he has destroyed and how much harm he has done to the people he berates and whom he denies their humanity.
      An article appeared today in the progressive press saying that now we finally have come to the point where it's accurate to compare Donald the Dipshit to Adolf Hitler. If the shoe fits....   So, obviously, the question arises: well, what do we do about this miserable state of affairs?  And, I believe you already know the answer to that question:  VOTE.
      If Americans who feel disenfranchised and are going to be petulant about it stay home and decline to participate in our democratic process this time.....again....we will have another four years of this maniac and that will be more, much more, than our somewhat fragile democracy can survive. 
     He has already done tremendous damage to almost any area of governance that you can name.  He lies awake at night just dreaming up more ways to destroy anything that he perceives as standing in the way of maximizing profits for his big business cronies and the oligarchs who own him.

WE NEED TO VOTE HIM OUT!!!   Nevermind impeachment; it won't accomplish anything because the GOP controlled senate will never vote him out.  So, all this dithering about to impeach or not is a distraction and a waste of energy.  Sure, it feels good to think of bringing his sorry ass up on charges....but, in the end, with his control of SCOTUS and the senate, it will not make even a small difference in his ongoing mayhem.  In fact, it might well backfire in that it will motivate his base to get out there and find more people who cannot see the writing on the wall.

So, to re-cap:  We are talking about the survival of our species, not to mention the thousands of other species that will go down as collateral damage.  This is NOT some minor political squabble that could go either way.  If it is allowed to continue building momentum and wreaking destruction on decency and common sense, it will CONSUME US.  You may want to dismiss such a stark statement as hyperbole.....but, that would be a dire mistake.
      The scientists who study climate year in and year out are not making up their findings. They are academic professionals who place huge importance of the dominance of FACTS.  They have dedicated their lives to revealing what is really and truly happening to the planet as we continue spewing billions of tons of CO2 and methane, among many other lesser pollutants, into the water and air that we must have to survive.  The parameters they have been using to gauge the progress of climate change keep getting re-set as the data is collected from all over the globe and is telling them that changes are happening MUCH FASTER than they ever anticipated, or even thought was possible. The train is going faster and faster, and now the guesses as to when it will jump the rails are all in turmoil because there are so many factors--such as feed-back loops--in play that making any solidly grounded predictions has become difficult to impossible.
       How can I make it any more clear what is at stake here?  Donald J. Trump is an evil man.  True. Based on his treatment of those whom he dis-likes and even despises, he is fine with causing massive pain to hundreds of thousands.  I am not speaking of just the immigrants who have arrived on our doorstep because leaving their countries of origin was necessary in order to survive.  I am speaking of black America, and Hispanic America, and Native Americans....essentially, anybody who is not white and already established in our society. 
       His remarks on various occasions since taking office have undeniably re-affirmed the fact that he is a racist xenophobe who wants all people of color to either leave, stay away or just stop existing.  He loves rubbing elbows with the most despotic dictators on the planet.  It matters not at all to him that the likes of Putin, Duterte, Kim Jong Un, Bibi Netanyahu, are all despicable human beings.  They are 'tough guys' and that is what the Orange Pansy wants to be too.  So, of course he hangs out with them and even gives them credibility that he denies the legitimate press and even the professional intelligence community that has served one president after another with honor and dilligence.
       More and more frequently Big Orange Doofus is labeling the press as the 'enemy of the people'.  He knows that if he says something often enough and never lets up, that his followers will soon adopt it as the truth.  This is actually one of the guiding principles of The Big Lie that was developed to perfection by Josef Goebbles and Adolf Hitler....who would have doubtless made The Idiot's short list of successful tough guys.


Hear me now and believe me later.  If you are a freedom-loving American, one whose hair on the back of your neck stands-up when the Star-Spangled Banner is will not like what is coming under the Orange Buffoon.  Trust me on that.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

When Heros Were Commonplace

As the seventy-fifth anniversary of D-Day approaches, I think back and sort through the large volume of mental images that I have stored during my lifetime.  They come from movies like "The Longest Day"(1962), which actually had a few actors who had been on the beach at Normandy, but mostly, they are from documentary film that was shot by combat photographers.

Some of the moments they captured are engraved in the American psyche. The one I am thinking of foremost in this regard is of three GIs making their way up the beach past landing obstacles, and one of them is shot and falls to the sand.  We never get to know who it was, or if he survived his wounds, but we have the achingly sad duty of witnessing his sacrifice....again and again.

Much of the film shot on D-Day and in the days and weeks immediately after, is also familiar. There have been countless efforts to either document or to dramatize the experience of invading Hitler's Festung Europa,  Fortress Europe.  One of the most viewed dramas has been, "Saving Private Ryan", with Tom Hanks and Matt Damon.  It is the story of a Ranger captain who was ordered to go find a private in the paratroops whose sibling brothers had all been killed--therefore requiring the army to pull the one remaining brother out of danger. It manages to do a very authentic job of letting the viewer know what these men....there were no 'boys' there.....went through.  And, it is daunting. Another must see series...if you really want to make the effort to understand what these Americans went A Band of Brothers. It is painfully authentic and deeply personal.

In my own mind, I have great difficulty in understanding how much raw courage it took to be one of the men huddled in a landing craft as it approached the beach, machine-gun bullets ricocheting off the ramp, mortar and artillery rounds crashing all around them. I doubt if anybody can understand what they went through without having been there.  And, I wonder how many of today's volunteer soldiers could manage to pull it off....knowing that you might very well be dead in the next few minutes or hours, and still charging down the ramp into the hail of machine-gun fire.

When my wife, Abigail, and I got together--almost 20 years ago now--I soon became aware that her father, Donald Downs, had been in WWII.  What I did not understand immediately was that he went ashore with the 29th Infantry Division on D-Day plus 1, as an infantry platoon sergeant. I learned that Don had only been in France for about thirty days before a German sniper shot his arm off and he was evacuated.  I knew that he died at age 59, of complications from cirrhosis and had been a very unhappy soul up until his death.

What I did NOT know at first, was that in those thirty days, Sergeant First Class Donald Downs, had been awarded two Bronze Stars and one Silver Star for his actions under fire. The father-in-law I could never know was not merely a hero, he was on track to be another Audie Murphy, the most decorated GI in WWII.

I eventually was able to obtain and read the citation for his Silver Star.  During a fire-fight in the bocage--the hedgerows behind Normandy Beach--Donald had picked-up a BAR, (a 19 lb. automatic rifle with a 20 round magazine capacity), and assaulted a German machine-gun nest, killing the Germans inside and moving on from there.  It wasn't his BAR,. but that of a dead platoon-mate, also apparently from Martha's Vinyard.  Donald had realized that something needed to be done because if they remained pinned-down the entire platoon would be chewed away to nothing, sooner than later.  So, he did what he knew needed to be done.

That, by any measure, is heroism on an extraordinary level.  But, the thing is, this was happening all over the hedgerow country and in the towns...everywhere within dozens of miles.  American, Canadian and British soldiers were acting out the same scenario with only the details being different.  It's not unreasonable to posit that the invasion could actually have failed and become a rout if this indomitable spirit of self-sacrifice was not as prevalent as it was. After Iwo Jima, Chester Nimitz was quoted as saying that "...uncommon valor was a common virtue", but this applies to so many battles in that and other wars.  The American soldier, sailor, marine has demonstrated again and again that otherwise ordinary men will rise to the occasion....even when it means they are very likely to be killed for doing so.

In the battle for Normandy, there were approximately 209,000 Allied casualties, and almost 37,000 of those were KIA.  Another 16,000 approximately were killed in the air war. German casualty figures were likewise astronomical: approx. 200,000, wounded, missing and killed.  It was a blood-bath and was followed by weeks and then months of heavy combat as the Allies closed off the Falaise pocket and fought across France.

A few years ago, I was speaking with a woman who mentioned Memorial Day with some disgust.  Her words were something along the lines of, "I don't see why we should honor war.  It's a despicable thing that we do to each other."  And, I could not keep my mouth shut. I said, "It is not war that is being honored. It is the bravery and the ultimate sacrifice that generation after generation has that we can choose how to live our lives in Freedom."  She got it at that point.

So, here's the kicker:  now we find our dear republic in dire times, and the freedom that not only the WWII generation fought and died for, but almost every generation since the Revolutionary War has fought now endangered.  If  "Old Bone Spurs", Donald J. Trump, manages to steal another term in the White House, his fantasy of becoming King for Life will be within reach.  True.

He will have all the opportunity he needs to finish engineering the Supreme Court and much of the entire federal judiciary, and his slimy colleagues, like Mitch McConnell, will ramp-up their assault against decency, the lower classes and even American institutions like the Constitution.  Don't think so?  Wake up.  As of this writing, a majority--37 is the number I have heard most recently--of states are on track to support a constitutional convention......the purpose of which would be to slam through a new version of it, one that would abrogate and otherwise render impotent many of the rights guaranteed in the original one. The New Constitution would be the top .01%'s final and complete permission to finish looting the underclasses, and destroy the environment as they do it. It will seal the doom of a prosperous society where fairness and compassion have been held aloft as ideals....and they will be traded for self-interest and the dispassionate destruction of the planet as the pursuit of unimaginable wealth takes over completely.

The oligarchs will have their way....if we remain apathetic and decline to vote.  I am not making this up...our democracy is in greater danger than it has ever been, with the notable exception, perhaps, of the Civil War.

Time to Wake Up America.