Truth and Consequences?

As I listen to the mountain of compelling evidence about President Trump’s attempted coupe, I hear the same complaint repeatedly from friends: 

Even in the face of undeniable evidence, Republican voters and politicians continue to deny facts. They refuse to admit that Trump was, and is, a threat to Democracy.

The presumption that Truth and Democracy are unifying principles in America is false.

The fact is this:

Millions of Americans could give a flying-fuck about truth or Democracy. 

If Trump supporters had a choice between living in a Democracy or living in a system where “their guy” runs the show (regardless of whether he was duly elected), they’d choose the latter. Every. Single. Time.

For the rest of us, it’s time to stop thinking that Republicans will experience a “come to Jesus” moment as it relates to democracy and truth. It’s not going to happen. There won’t be a tipping point or epiphany where millions suddenly realize Donald Trump lied.

There are two reasons this won’t happen:

1: For most Trump supporters, truth and democracy matter less than their vision for America and what they feel in their gut.

2: Trump’s lies have spread and metastasized as an “alternative truth” in the collective minds of millions of Americans.

Historically, the phrase “The truth will come out” implies that truth cannot be suppressed forever. Eventually, it is revealed. In the past, when truth was revealed, there was some sort of backlash against the lies and liars who tried to suppress it. Those days are gone.

In America, truth has become inconsequential. Today, when the truth is revealed and that truth conflicts with what millions of Trump supporters want to believe or what they feel in their gut, they simply deny the truth.

So, what’s the consequence of truth becoming inconsequential? Disorder and conflict. And that’s where America is heading, sadly.

Republican voters were fed a constant diet of lies from when Donald Trump became the leader of the Republican party throughout his presidency.

There were lies from Trump and his surrogates.

There were lies from Fox News.

There were lies from conspiracy-based websites and groups like QAnon.

A constant diet of lies is not unlike a constant diet of junk food. If you eat nothing but junk for years, your body turns to shit. Likewise, if you consume nothing but lies yearly, your mind becomes damaged and malleable mush.  

Honestly, it’s difficult not to get angry at Trump supporters who constantly spout nonsense entirely refutable by facts. But getting angry at them is like getting angry at a 10-year-old who still believes in Santa Claus.

From the time that 10-year-old child was old enough to comprehend language, they were fed the Big Santa Claus lie — most likely by someone they trust.

Trump supporters (like that 10-year-old child) were lied to for years by a person (or a website or cable television network) that they trusted implicitly. As a result, millions of Americans refuse to believe the truth, and a boatload of truth-denying anti-democratic politicians seek public office.

American Democracy is teetering on edge. Will you fight for it?

Tired of the AR-15 yet?

Wrote this post nearly 4 years ago. I hate that it still resonates today.

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Memo to gun rights enthusiasts:

We’re not living in the land of the Walking Dead. We’re not trying to survive the Zombie Apocalypse.

If someone breaks into your house, it’s probably not a gang of crazies looking to kill and eat an entire family. It’s more likely a desperate schmuck looking for cash or something to hock. A decent home security system can provide the deterrence and protection you need in most cases. But if a criminal persists, I suspect a 12-gauge shotgun or a handgun is sufficient protection.

Do people really “need” their AR-15? Of course, they don’t. Any citizen who argues they “need” an AR-15 is full of shit. But here’s the thing – they LOVE their AR-15. They enjoy firing it, and more to the point, they enjoy the feeling they get when they fire it. They get pumped like John Rambo on crack when they fire…

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Baby teeth and bullets

bendingtheneedle

I’m Calvin’s lonely cousin
the one without a friend
The darkly-quiet moody one
The one who couldn’t blend
I’m the smoker in the stairwell,
skipping school all day
the fall-between-the-crack-type-kid
the one who slips away

I’m the ink inside the headlines
the lead story on the news
The kid the network anchor says
was surely born to lose
I’m the details at eleven
a community in shock
I’m the often-bullied quirky kid
who lived just up the block

I’m a parent’s darkest nightmare
I’m my doctors deep concern
I’m the angst that no one seems to get
the match about to burn
I’m an issue in the social science
circles of the day
I’m the brush it underneath the rug
that never goes away

I see angels circling the sun
feathered wings and halos
golden and hand-spun
Frozen little angels
Circling the sun
bursting into rain drops
cleansing everyone

I’m…

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Middle-aged Man Buys First Condo He Sees

“Sandi Beaches, nice to meet you.”

Across from you stands 5-feet seven inches of sunshine, splendidly packaged in twinkly eyes on a lightly freckled face, each freckle perfectly placed by one of God’s angels.

“Nice to meet you, Sandi,” you suck in your gut and shake her hand.

She turns and walks ahead, her hair bouncing playfully on tanned and toned shoulders as you stroll towards the front door of an overpriced, undersized 2-bedroom condo.

You struggle to not let your gaze drift southward.

Newly divorced, you’re looking for your own place for the first time in 30 years – “A fresh start,” you tell yourself, and Sandi’s listing seems to
fit the bill — at least on paper.

At 60, you’re done mowing lawns; your achy knees are a weekly testament to that. You’ve convinced yourself a monthly HOA is a small price to free you from that discomfort.

As you enter the condo, Sandi begins her pitch:

“In addition to the living area, we have 2 bedrooms (one with an ensuite) and a lovely eat-in kitchen leading to a cheery patio overlooking the backyard.”

Sandi’s lilting voice bounces softly off the walls of the empty condo, mixing with her perfume to form an intoxicating blend of scent and sound that hangs in the air for you to absorb.

You quietly inhale.

Ballerina-like, she spins and says, “feel free to walk about,” then heads onto the patio, taking out her phone and sitting down in one graceful motion.

You realize you’re barely a blip to her. A soon to be forgotten notation on her calendar.

You sigh.

This unexpected encounter with youthful exuberance brings a heightened awareness to your current station in life. It wasn’t that long ago when purpose and promise filled your days. Now, in the full grip of a midlife crisis, you grasp for what’s no longer there.

Your situation hits you like a two-by-four to the back of the head. You tour the unit numbly; you feel yourself move from room to room, seeing it all but noticing nothing.

You walk towards the patio where Sandi sits in the sun. “I’ll take it,” you say, not because you want it, but just to see her turn towards you and smile.

Fascism’s Forest

All together now! Puppet faces others, all with raised hands

Every time he speaks

I hear the bluster and the lie

and what my mother taught me

about empty barrels

making the loudest noise

bubbles up inside

And I wonder how

the plainly evident

gets skewed in the eyes

of so many others

what did their mothers

teach them about

boisterous bullies and

skirt-chasing scoundrels

Perhaps the words

were never spoken

or maybe only as a token

and so,

we have the lost and broken

Unable to separate

the shit from shinola

they bend to the viciously simplistic

The fake paternalistic

Father-knows-best

how to rule the rest

They never question

they simply fall in line

No matter the level of asinine

As we march democracy

towards that empty pit

in fascism’s forest

we hope against hope

that eyes will open

before that final blast

to the back of the head

America 2020

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Stop asking, “what’s become of us?”

America was cut from and scarred by intolerance and bigotry early on, the deep wound concealed halfheartedly by a cheaply applied varnish of “American” ideals.

Under the hot and hateful glare of this president, the varnish has evaporated, and that once concealed scar appears on our society’s skin. You can run your thumb over its jagged ugliness — its toothy sneer snakes across the heartland like a drug-resistant malignancy. Fed by an unrelenting wave of lies, conspiracy theories, and half-truths (shared by the masses like communion wafers and wine), this malignancy threatens the republic.

America is at the precipice of an increasingly unstable democracy, wobbling like a drunken fairy on the head of a pin, while our enemies laugh and smile approvingly.

They never imagined it would be so easy.

“I’m not a racist, I’m an American!”

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Is it possible to be a racist and not know it?

Nationalism, disguised as patriotism, can expose racist tendencies, and
that’s what we see in America today.

President Trump blends xenophobia and patriotism to tap into America’s darker side.

America has always had racists, but they lacked the organization and critical mass necessary to progress beyond their hateful selves.

But when the President of your country is himself a racist, that loose band of bigotry that runs through America suddenly has something (and someone) to rally around.

Trump has become the knot.

Under the guiding hand of President Trump, that once ineffectual and dangling lace of racism has been organized and knotted.

From the red MAGA hats to the tightly tied shoes, racism is ready to walk about America. And like its black-booted, brown-shirted Nazi cousin, Trump supporters are hatefully kicking and joyfully harming the most vulnerable among us.

It’s difficult to untie the lace on a moving boot, but that’s what we need to do if we’re going to get our country back.

The Orange Snollygoster

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Worse than the Green Grinch

Who bamboozled Whoville

The Orange Snollygoster hates

Red-White-and-Blueville

Unlike the Green Grinch

Who sled in the snow

His ego is endless

and his heart doesn’t grow

Apathetic and petty

His mouth always shootin

A brain like spaghetti

A puppet of Putin


In need of a fixer

for his damn nasty deeds

He drinks an elixir

of hatred and greed

He lies so often

he broke the fact checker!

He’s a crook and a pig

In love with his Pecker


The Orange Snollygoster

lines his own pockets

He cuts down the trees

and fires off rockets

Peddling fear for political gain

The Orange Snollygoster

should be held in disdain


But for some, he’s savior

A call to the past

When white was a rite

In a system of caste

They latch on to fear

Like a babe to a breast

Strut in red hats

And pound on their chest


We need to resist

The Orange Snollygoster

A fraud and a cheat

A presidential impostor

We need to fight against

this historic disaster

Vote American values

and become our own master

Public access, private thoughts

I was walking down Tuckerman Avenue earlier today, when I came across this sign:

shore

Public access to the shore is the way the public can legally reach and enjoy coastal areas and resources.

Feeling adventurous, I decided to take the path less traveled (at least for me).

On my trek from curbside Tuckerman Ave to the shoreline, I couldn’t help but think, this public access is not very accessible.  The path was overgrown, uneven and rocky in most parts, muddy and narrow in others. At one point, I had to crouch to make my way through a tunnel of shrubbery, the ground beneath my feet, a treacherous gully (can a gully be treacherous?).

As I made my way down the path, I imagined an animated discussion between Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, with an exasperated Clark shouting “Turn around Lew, she’s impassable” and “It’s risky business, this path to the shoreline, I fear we may lose some people!” – but I soldiered on.

If you ask me, accessible should mean accessible to a wide spectrum of people. If your  Nana can safely walk the path with a less than 50 % chance of fracturing a hip, then I say its accessible. I’m not sure the path from Tuckerman Ave to the shoreline passes the Nana test.

 

Once I made it to the shore, I headed in the direction of Sachuaest beach, hoping to make my way to Purgatory chasm and to the lower end of Tuckerman Ave — and eventually back to my car, which  I had parked at the local YMCA.

I’ve lived on Aquidneck Island for nearly half a century and this was the first time walking this particular shoreline – its really quite beautiful.

The rocky terrain was not easy and it was slippery in parts. I was reminded several times that mother nature doesn’t give a shit when you say “I got this” — having slipped twice on slimy seaweed-covered rocks.

I ran out of walkable terrain before I could reach Purgatory Chasm, so I had to double back. But all-in-all, it was a productive, mind-clearing walk, and a nice reminder of how fortunate I am to have ended up on Aquidneck Island.

 

Ambien, time, and the ferryboat captain

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For more than a decade, I waged a nightly battle against sleeplessness.

Every night, shortly after shutting my eyes but before falling into unconsciousness – a movie-reel of the worst parts of my day and an unending series of previews for upcoming work-related deadlines would play inside my head. No matter what I did – or how hard I tried – I could not turn off the projector, and I could not fall asleep.

Before being introduced to Ambien, I devised strategies to combat my worry-borne sleeplessness. As soon as I flipped the bedroom light off and plopped my head onto my pillow, I would construct a quiet secluded place in my mind. For example, a cabin on the side of a mountain – surrounded by acres and acres of protective evergreens that shielded me from the buzzing reverberations of my day. I placed myself in this imaginary cabin, alone in a bed. Then, like a god, I painted a cold, crisp, blue-black sky and splashed it with sparkling stars – I envisioned myself enveloped in a cocoon of silence and serenity – sheltered safely from the remains of my day and the rumblings of my tomorrow.

This nightly exercise to keep anxiety at bay and worked for a while. But eventually, all my dreamscapes (be they cabins in the mountains or mud huts on a beach) would dissolve in a wave of worry- and I’d end up right where I was the night before – tossing and turning and unable to fall asleep.

I don’t t know what Ambien does physiologically – I have no idea how it acts on the brain – all I know is it works. I envision Ambien chemical agents starving the part of my brain that feeds on the memories of my day and the fear of my tomorrow – somehow disabling the mechanism that switches on that relentless movie-like projection of all things stressful.

It was 5 years of taking Ambien before I started to think hard about the fact that I needed this drug to trigger what was supposed to be a natural human function – the act of drifting off to sleep at the end of a busy day. I wondered what had changed in my life that made it impossible for me to fall asleep without chemical aid. I couldn’t pin it on one specific event. Perhaps it was the disconcerting realization (that simmered and hummed just under the surface of me), that more than half my life was over and that as a commodity, time was in short supply, while responsibilities and obligations were growing, creating a perfect recipe for worry.

After five years of being prescribed Ambien, I began to look at my habit as a character flaw. A drug addiction with none of the perks.

Last year our family took a trip to Maine to tour some colleges and universities. I left my Ambien home on that trip, and I’ve not taken it since.

I couldn’t tell you what changed in my life that allowed me to fall asleep without that little pill. My work is still stressful, and achieving a work-life balance is as impossible as ever – one son is heading to college in the Fall – and the other is close behind – so if anything, there’s has been an uptick in financial stress.

The only conclusion I can come to is that somewhere along the road, I arrived at perspective. All the things that kept me awake for years remain firmly ensconced in my life. Perhaps I understand futility – that all the worrying in the world will not shake these things loose – and that time remains a steadfast and unapologetic ferryboat captain – not caring one iota about what lies on the other shore or whether our arrival suits our schedule.

And so it is – and so I sleep.