The earth is not flat
Our sun is not at the center of the universe
Cigarettes are bad for your health
*Climate change is real*
The earth is not flat
Our sun is not at the center of the universe
Cigarettes are bad for your health
*Climate change is real*
An original song written about the hypocrisy of war and religion.
Soundtrack “Sympathy For The Devil” by The Rolling Stones.
I’m two beers and a shot past midnight as I make my way down a rainy street on a dying Sunday. I pass an old rundown house that’s still wearing it’s Christmas lights in late March. What a sad and pathetic sight. But after all, everyday down here feels as morose as the day after Christmas. I stroll past a group of bums huddled together under a tiny bus-stop shelter. They aren’t sad, they throw their heads back and laugh and hack deep husky coughs. I watch as they pass their generic cigarette around and count their beggars change to buy another bottle. This is socialism at its best.
I score a couple of rocks from a big black dude who’s street name is killer. He has sleepy red eyes and a bulge under his leather coat that corroborates how he’d acquired his nick name. Killer is an evolutionary capitalist, his philosophy is that the big fish eat the little fish. He wears a face that says “Don’t fuck with me”. This corner is his domain and if you know what’s good for you, you won’t question his Province.
I lean against the wall of the damp alley and light my pipe. I smell and taste that familiar chemical flavor I’d been craving. I’d promised myself that this would be my last time and that tomorrow I’d straighten up and start writing my great American novel. Man, when I’m high I can feel a million stories exploding through veins. I’d love to write some of this shit down, but I’ve pawned my computer, my phone————-my soul.
The devil keeps my redemption locked up in a cage down in that fiery netherworld. Salvation is a hard thing to come by when the key to it is held by my worst enemy—– that enemy being me. You see, the devil isn’t in the drug, it isn’t in the guy who sell’s me the shit, it’s in the bullshit I feed myself. We all have our devils and demons, but some of us just feed our’s better than others. I’ve gone from believing I’m the master of the beast to realizing that I’m his slave in a freak-show.
I’ve decided that today will be the day I stand up and face the devil and his cadre of demons. I’m going down into the belly of the beast to do battle. It won’t be as simple as one battle, it will be a lifelong war. Satan has the high ground, he can give me extreme earthly pleasures. He will make me feel like I’m right and the world is wrong. He’ll support my victim mentality. But there’s a high price to paid for unearned luxury.
There are only three types of people who dare trespass into the belly of the beast. They’re either holy men, madmen or those who have come to the stark realization that it’s either fight for redemption or dive into those eternal flames. I’m in the latter group, I’ve used up all my excuses and burnt all my bridges. I’d worn out all my friends and family and squandered whatever potential I once possessed. I’m done waiting on someone or something to come and save me. Salvation is a personal quest.
Some go into the belly of the beast and never resurface. Some go there and resurface as a Bodhisattva. And then there are those who lose their mind in search of their soul. But if you’re gonna go down there, you gotta go all the way and you gotta go it alone. No one can save you from yourself——–but yourself.
Hell is knowing that you’re a fraud, it’s hating yourself for becoming the worst possible version of what might have been. It’s intentionally pushing everyone away who cares about you because it hurts too much to have others care about something you’ve long ago given up on My god, I’m fucked up——but here I am again, in the alley, siting on the curb with my feet in the gutter. Damn, it’s so hard to believe I can do better when I feel worthless. Hating everyone and everything made my addiction bearable, these dark emotions fueled my self destruction. Self hatred has robbed me of my most potent of tools; love and courage. When I descend into that inferno I will need love to be my sword and courage my armor. I’m tired of being ashamed——-tired of being sick, tired of being what I’ve become.
I’m on a dark stairway that’s slippery from the blood of broken hearts. Above there’s a chandelier constructed of sun bleached bones. There’s a chorus of horrifying screams and god forsaken moans from the other lost souls. In the background an organ plays its mournful dirge. I tentatively push open the squeaky gates causing a flock of bats to take flight. The beating of their wings startles me.
There is a heaviness in the air, it feels as if this place is the center of gravity for all of the worlds unforgiven sins. I make my way down a candle lit corridor. It opens up into a cavernous cathedral of horrors. From the ceiling there swings decaying corpses with their red bulging eyes dislodged from their sockets. Drooling zombies rush about with dozens of hypodermic needles stuck in their arms. A goole hunches over a withering body as he repeatedly stabs at it and then licks the blood from his knife. In the shadows ragged figures fornicate with half goat, half human creatures. This is not only the theater of the absurd, it’s a chamber of pure evil. Above me flying beast with bat wings screech and rain spit down on me. The air is filled with an over powering oder of rotting flesh. Creatures in chains with putrid breath scream out asking for mercy as they are being led by demons into a lake of fire. From the lake comes the revolting smell of singed hair and burnt flesh.
Every fiber of my being is telling me to turn around and bolt back up the stairs to a place of green fields, where I might negotiate for forgiveness and pray for the rarest of commodities——-a second chance. Sitting upon a throne on a high riser sits Lucifer the prince of darkness. His eyes are red like burning coals, where his feet should be there are hoofs. He amuses himself with an anaconda as it curls and constricts around his arms and neck. He bites into an apple and offers me a sinister grin. He stretches out his hand and asks in a deep throaty voice “How about a nibble? You look like a lover of forbidden fruit.” I nervously shake my head no. He stands up and yells in a death metal scream “What the fuck do you want?” I try to speak but my mouth is to dry to form a word. “Speak up you little bastard, a good servant should never makes his master wait.”
I muster all my courage and manage to speak in a squeaky voice “I’ve come to take my soul back.” He throws his head back and laughs. “You’ve got a fucking short memory. You signed the fucking contract. You traded your soul for all those little goddamn things you said you wanted, desired, needed.” My fear was beginning to lean towards anger. “You never gave me shit. You used me.” He looked me straight in the eye and laughed.“You struck a deal with the devil, what did you think you’d get, honesty, integrity? You’re gonna get what you fucking deserve, an eternal timeshare in hell.” He removed his purple robe and spread a pair of huge black wings. “Do you like my wings? I can give you wings just like these. All you have to do is to continue to do my bidding. Just keep being as bad and evil as you have been and someday you’ll have dominion over all this darkness.” He offers me a mocking thunderous laugh.
“I don’t want your wings. I don’t want your darkness. I want my soul back. Our contract is void because you never gave me any of the things I bargained for.” He gives a snide little snicker as one of his minions fly to his side and hands him a paper. “Here is your contract. Now let’s take a little gander at what you traded your sour for. Number one. You asked for ecstasy and I gave you crack—check. Number two. You asked for a loyal family. I gave you a group of gang bangers made up of thief’s, thugs and murders—— check. Number three. You asked for a profession. I made you a thief to support your drug habit—–check. Four. You asked for unrestricted sex with many. I made you a prostitute to support your drug habit——check. Number five. You asked for freedom. I gave you the street and homelessness—–check. Number six. You asked for a purpose. I made you an addict—– check.” “You tricked me. You twisted my words and made a fool of me.” “No shit, I’m the devil and that’s what I fucking do. I break hearts, I steal souls, I tear apart families and friendships. I’m a destroyer of hope, a revoker of faith. And now it’s fucking time for you to pay up ass hole.”
I stammered, “What about love? What about self respect? Why can’t you give me those things?” He just shook his head, “I can’t give you what you’ve never asked for. Those are things only you can give yourself. You should’ve read the small print kid.” He points to the backside of the contact where there’s an extremely small line of written words. In a mocking voice satan reads from the contract. “By signing this contract I agree to no longer love myself. I agree to shed myself of all integrity and self respect. I will be an instrument of hate and loath everyone, everything——including myself.” He stretched out his wings in a show of power. “Something you dumb shit mortals never seem to understand is that if you don’t love and respect yourself, then how the fuck can you ever love or respect anyone else.”
He straightens the gold pentagram around his neck. “I have power over many things, but I have no dominion over love and ones self worth——those things are god given. I deal in the transitory sins such as desire, vanity, money, greed, drugs, pride, alcohol, sex, power and possessions. These are the tools that make it easy for me to enslave mortals such as you. These bargaining chips are extensions of the seven deadly sins, also known as the cardinal sins spoken of in Revelations. It never ceases to amaze me—–what evil mortals will do for such petty prizes.”
He spread his wings and circled around before landing in front of me. He encroaches into my space. “I’ll give you back your soul under one condition. You must deliver to me a man who rivals my evil, possesses my hate and has the power to deceive and divide humanity. I need such a man to lead my apocalypse. Do you accept my challenge?” I allowed myself to show some bravado as I stared straight into his eyes. “I know of such a man. He worships all the things you have to offer. He’ll gleefully exchange eternal damnation for your earthly pleasures. He will mount and lead the charge of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” Satan nodded in confirmation. “So be it! I will provide whatever is needed to make this monumental deal a sucess.” He grimaced showing his yellow fangs and exhaled a ball of fire that singed my eyebrows and hair.
I awoke face down in a dumpster. In a daze I stumbled out of the alley. Had I awoken from a nightmare or was this vision a drug induced hallucination? There lingered the smell of burnt hair in the air and the soles of my boots left a trail of bloody footprints. I knew then and there that I’d struck a deal with the devil and this would be my final chance to redeem my soul.
I opened my wallet to find it stuffed with hundred dollar bills. I went to the most expensive tailor in New Your and purchased the finest suit that money can buy. I then went to a spa to have my hair styled, a shave and a manicure. I placed both my hands on my briefcase and summoned the credentials I would need to close this deal. I looked in the mirror and was amazed at my transformation. If you can judge a book by its cover, then I resembled a wind swept hero on the cover of a cheap pulp fiction paperback.
I sat in the back seat of my chauffeured limousine as it made its way down 5th avenue towards midtown I opened my briefcase and retrieved a cellphone with the number of my contact preprogramed. I pressed the dial button and waited for someone to answer. From the other end there came a stern and impatient voice, “Hello.” When I responded l was surprised to hear my voice come out with a thick Russian accent “Hello, I think you know who I am. I’m your handler from the East. I was hoping that you’d be available for a discrete meeting? And, if you are available, I’d like to introduce you to the greatest deal maker of all time.” I knew that this comment would set a hook in his ego. From the other end of the phone there came a gasp. “Bullshit! Everybody knows that I’m the greatest dealmaker that’s ever lived. Who the hell is this person you’re speaking of, and what does he have to offer me?” “He has anything and everything that you’d ever desire, at a basement price. In fact, he’s willing to take matters deeper than the basement.” He responded “I’m a busy man, so this had better not be a waste of my fucking time. I’ll meet with you and your so called deal maker. I’ll show you both who’s the greatest deal maker of all time. I’ll let security and my secretary know to allow you and your Monty Hall impersonator into my tower.”
I felt that little head rush that comes when taking an elevator to the the upper floors. The elevator stops at the thirteenth floor and in walks an immaculately dressed Lucifer. He tips his hat and offers up a sinister smile “Thirteen is my favorite number.” I press the button for the top floor. The elevator doors opens and we’re escorted into a large office. Behind the dark oak desk is a huge floor to ceiling window with a panoramic view of New York city’s skyline. One might even mistake this grand office as heavens vestibule.
“Please have a seat” He gestures for us to take a seat in the leather chairs facing his desk. “So, my Russian friend here say’s that you want to offer me one hell of a deal?” The devil nod’s and begins “Yes, I think you and I have much in common and many similar interests and aspirations. You are also a man of wealth and taste who possesses great intelligence. You alone are the only one who has the capacity to rule this floundering world.” I sit back and watch as he sets the hook ever deeper into his narcissistic soul. “I have the power to make all of your dreams come true.” Feigning disinterest, he leans back in his desk chair and begins to clean beneath his fingernails with a pewter letter opener with the initials “DT” carved into the handle. “And in exchange for this what do want from me?” “I will get to that, but first let me tell you of all the things I can lay at your feet.”
“I will make you the most powerful man in the world. I’ll give you authority over the largest and best equipped army ever assembled. I’m offering you the power to destroy your enemies with the push of one button. I will give you the ability to make your followers believe your lies as if they were indisputable truths. I will rain down on you billions and billions of dollars. As for women, I will make it possible for you to lay down with Playboy centerfolds and Porn Stars. I will make you more famous than the pope and you will be worshiped like the greatest of pop stars. You will be famous with your name and face plastered on every magazine, TV news program and newspaper. You will have every material comfort that any man might ever ask for. I offer you these things because I know that you are a man of discriminating taste and know the virtues of fame and fortune.”
He places his letter opener on the desk and folds his arms. “You have my attention. But what is it you want from me?” “What I require from you is written within this contract.” He motions for me to open the briefcase and provide him with a contract. “I’ve taken the liberty to draw up a cursory contract itemizing the minor concessions you need to provide in exchange for all the gifts, pleasures and powers I will bestow upon you.”
“Let me read to you the paltry stipulations required on your part. You must turn your back on those who’ve trusted in you. You will side with the East cover the west and in doing so you’ll solidify your earthly power. You will use your orator skills to deceive and manipulate the masses with lies and falsehoods. You must use all your powers to sew divisiveness. You will exploit the diversity in individuals and cultures to fan the flames of hatred. You will build walls to separate countries and foster mistrust. You must be willing to separate families and cage children. You will turn people against one another by promoting fear and hatred. Through fear and hatred you will create friction between faiths, nationalities, races, gender, political affiliations and ideologies. You will take credit for the rising stock-market making the rich richer, while the less fortunate die due to the lack of shelter, food and water. As chaos rages around you, you shall retreat to your castles and send out inflammatory rhetoric fueling your fires of divisiveness and hate. Many are called but few are chosen, and because of your greatest, you are the chosen one.” The hook has been set, the line now drawn taut and all that was left to do was reel him in.
He unfolds his arms and clasps his hands together. “This sounds like a reasonable deal, but what about those who are close to me? I must be provided with an assurance that I will have the power to pardon them from all earthly laws.” “Yes of course. I will also allow you the power to pardon yourself of earthly laws. You will have dominion over all earthly laws because you will be above the law. If this meets with your satisfaction all you need to do is sign right here on this doted line.”
He takes a golden pen from his pocket and reaches out for the contract. Satan shakes his head and takes the pen from him and hands him the pewter letter opener. “I’m sorry my friend, but I’ll require that signature in blood.” He takes the letter opener and grimaces as he pierces the tip of his finger. He then smiles “Sir, you drive a hard bargain but I’m the only one who’s truly mastered the art of the deal.” He pushes back his orangish hair to reveal a set of stubby horns. “As you can see I’ve acquired my horns. I can’t wait to earn my wings.”
In order to retrieve my soul I headed back down into the belly of the beast. “I’ve fulfilled my obligation and I’m here to retrieve my soul.” The devil gives me a little smirk and responds “I’ve been thinking about you and was hoping that perhaps we might work a new deal. I remember you once saying something about wanting to write the great American novel. I could maybe help you out with that.” I defiantly shake my head no. He continued “Imagine having your novel being number one on the New York Times best sellers list. I can arrange that. In addition, how about having your novel recommended reading by Oprah’s book club? I can make that happen too. Maybe we could arrange to have that novel turned into to a screen play and a winner of numerous Oscars. You’re so talented and gifted, it’s only right that you receive some recognition and compentsation for all your hard-work.” I could feel my chest begin to swell with the thought of attaining all of these accolades. “I’ve taken the liberty of drawing up this little arrangement and it awaits your signature.” I take the contract and pen in my hand and stare at the dotted line. I take a deep breath and hesitate. I pick the contract up and tear it into pieces. “I’ll take my soul back now—–and as for you—–you can go to hell!”
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Although some interpretations differ, in most accounts, the four riders are seen as symbolizing Conquest, War, Famine, and Death, respectively.
The seven deadly sins or cardinal sins.
The seven capital sins, also commonly referred to as the seven deadly sins or cardinal sins, are pride, greed (or covetousness), lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth. These are thought to be the sins to which human nature is most susceptible, and they are said to be the origins of other sins.
I’ve heard the quote by Michelle Obama “When they go low, we go high”. That may hold true in many circumstances, but when dealing with a bully, sometimes the best response is a punch in the nose. Trump is a bully and bullies maintain their power through fear and intimidation. With impunity he makes fun of others and uses immature tactics such as name calling. He threatens to unleash his wrath on those who challange or disagree with him. His own republican party is afraid to confront him. In fact, there’s no longer a republican party, it’s now the Trump party. A party that embraces divisiveness, hatred and trades in the currency of lies. If you choose not to be a victim, then you need to stand up to this bully and fight back.
A bully strolls about the playground taking cuts in line, taking other’s lunches and bragging about their greatness. They create a reputation that allows them to act as if they are above rules and laws. They demand complete loyalty and respect from others and expect their circle of minions to do their dirty work. When they are in the wrong they refuse to apologize. They place blame on others and never accept personal responsibility for their flaws and faults.
It’s time that someone figuratively give Trump a punch in the nose. The funny thing about bullies is they depend on people being docile and not standing up to them. It’s similar to dealing with bullies in a prison setting. If you don’t stand up for yourself the prison bullies will be eating your lunch, taking your canteen money and calling you their bitch……(doesn’t that sounds like something Trump would say).
Once someone fights back at a bully and gives them a figurative bloody nose, others begin to realize that he is not superhuman or invincible. Bullies can be humbled, hurt and defeated like everyone else. In fact, bullies are usually quiet thin skinned and easily befuddled. A bully does not respond to reason or logic, the only way to defeat a bully is to go toe to toe and give them a taste of their own medicine.
I am by no means advocating physical violence against Trump or his followers. But I’m advocating a need to stand up to those who are bullies and misusing their power. When a bully chooses to fight dirty, you have two choices. You can remain civil and mannerly while getting your ass kicked, or you can take your gloves off too. If someone decides to hit below the belt, then I say bring it on! If a baker reserves the right to deny services to a gay couple, then why shouldn’t a restauranteur reserve the right to deny service to Sara Sanders. How did it feel for her to be treated like a minority, like a refuge, like someone with no money, power or privilege. When Trumpers are given a taste of their own medicine, they ironically play the victim card. I say give Trump and his buddies a taste of their own medicine.
My first punch is to make up a moniker for Trump, just as he has so often done to others (do unto others as they do unto you). I will refer to him as “Truth-less Trump”. This suits him well due to his aversion to the truth. Or, how about “Doofus Don”. This pseudonym refers to his immature tendencies of mugging for the camera and his childish need to be the center of attention. Then there’s “Toupee Trump”, fake hair to go along with his fake news.
My second punch is to not allow him to dominate or manipulate the conversation. When he starts blathering on and not allowing others to speak or attempts to change the topic, interviewers need to demand that he answer the specific question. When he tells falsehoods or lies, he needs to be challenged to provide facts and legitimate reference to support his claims. He is a master purveyor of “fake news” and propaganda. The truth is kryptonite to cereal liars.
My third punch is to hold Truth-less Trump and his minions to the precepts of our democracy. There needs to be a relentless campaign that exposes all of the instances that Truth-less Trump and his administration have manipulated the truth and abused their power. This includes the times that Truth-less Trump and his administration have lied, falsified facts, misused taxpayers money, paid hush money to a porn star, used crude and inappropriate language, incited violence and promoted racism, sexism and fanned the flames of divisiveness. His past and ongoing flagrant lies need to be delineated and repeatedly exposed. Truth-less Trump uses this technique of relentlessly repeating his lies and falsehoods in tweets knowing that if he repeats something enough times his mindless followers will accept it as the truth. In the month of May 2018, Truth-less Trump has used the term “witch-hunt” 15 times on his tweeter account (reference Times@realtrump). Fox News is his ally in repeating, spreading and promoting his propaganda.
Trump has used his platform as president to humiliate others, to degrade private businesses and mock anything or anyone he does not like. He make Don Rickles look like a motivational speaker.
Don’t be lulled into complacency or become immune to Truth-less Trumps incessant barrage of bullshit. Democracy is fragile and we need to fight to keep it intact. The rich and powerful have always tried to destroy democracy or manipulate it to serve their selfish goals. Democracy has faith in the goodness of the majority. It is a political system that believes that there are more good then bad folks, that there are more wise individuals then fools, that there are more compassionate people than self centered individuals and that truth will always prevail over lies.
Our Declaration of Independence and Constitution are scared. Many have died to protect the civil liberties and freedoms we enjoy today. I encourage you to vote for those who will restore our civil liberties and protect our democracy from the corrupt and mean spirited. I say, “When they go low they’d better be ducking, cause I got a right hook they aren’t expecting”.
Drawing by M.C. Esher.
I have come to the conclusion that Trump has all the qualities of a cult leader. In spite of his broken promises and litany of false statements, his fanatical followers remain mesmerized and loyal. In this piece I’m going to examine the psychology of why people hand their minds, their very lives and souls over to charlatans and con men.
Cult leaders such as Trump are master manipulators. They possess a bag of tricks that provide them with the power to control individuals who are vulnerable. The individuals who are lured into a cult have a need to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They are looking for a way to avoid the angst of an existential crises. Charley Manson, Jim Jones and the Hitlers of the world are quick to recognize individuals who are willing to give up their independence in exchange for a leader that provides them with simple answers to life’s complex questions.
Trumps campaign promises were built on unrealistically simple solutions. Here’s a sample of some of his quick, easy and absurd solutions—–Build a wall and have Mexico pay for it, seize and deport millions of immigrants, quickly and effortlessly wipe out ISIS and all related terrorist groups, immediately withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan, renegotiate all of the United States trade agreements with his “Art Of The Deal” smarts, repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with his secret program that he claimed would be cheaper and provides better coverage, provide the middle class with a huge tax break while vowing to never reduce funding for the Social Security program, dropping the United States support for the Paris Climate Agreement because climate change is fake science, to discharge all transgender individuals from the military, to bring back coal mining jobs, to drain the swamp in Washington by kicking out all the lobbyist and special interest groups.
The crowds at his rally’s cheered and applauded enthusiastically as he made these baseless promises. They believed that his path to “Making America Great Again” would be simple. He provided no details or substance to his promises, they were emotional slogans designed to appeal to a frustrated and angry constituency. The impulses of anger ultimatley lead to poor decision making.
His support has gradually begun to shrink, but many of his core supporters continue to believe in his campaign slogan to “Make America Great”. But like the cult leader who’s end of the world prediction date fails to materialize, there are followers who still continue to be loyal to him and his failed promises. Such individuals are so emotionally and mentally invested in the cult and its leader, that it becomes impossible to back out and admit that they’ve been duped. Ironically, as the leader is exposed to be a fraud, his core followers become more fervent in their loyatley. Fanaticism is fueled by impulsive emotions rather than logic and common sense.
Lets examine some of the common traits shared by cult leaders and Mr Trump.
Cult leaders prey on individuals who are emotionally weak and mentally lazy. These individuals seek out a leader to do their thinking for them. They willingly abdicate their personal power to a leader who will provide them with simple answers to life’s difficult questions. Below are some suggestions on how you identify and confront a cult leader.
Democracy depends on the personal involvement of its citizens. In order for a fascist leader or an authoritarian leader to rule, it requires it’s citizens to no longer remain engaged in the political process. When citizens stop turning out to vote they are relinquishing their personal power. To combat fascism citizens need to hold their leaders accountable for the things they say or do. A healthy democracy includes a free press that fact checks politicians without being ridiculed or called “fake news”.
We are once again at a pivotal point in the struggle to preserve this grand experiment known as democracy. I encourage you to do your research and fact checking to draw your own conclusions regarding President Trump and his ability to lead this great country. I have come to the conclusion that he lacks the moral fiber, mental stability and trustworthiness to be a leader of a democracy.
I do agree with one thing that Mr Trump has touted, and that is we need to “Make America Great Again”. Lets start by stripping Mr Trump of his power by exposing his embellishment, fabrications and out right lies. Lets question his moral character by calling him out on his veiled racist statements as well as his past abuses of woman. Lets pull the covers on his corrupt administration and his flawed leadership. Don’t give up hope, stay involved, vote, call and write your representatives. Demand that your leaders speak the truth, have good character and lead with compassion and empathy.
A novelty comedic song with political implications. It’s sure to piss off rednecks, republicans and Trumpers. Give it a listen and tell me what you think.
Soundtrack “Fool On The Hill” by the Beatles.
Me at the presidential inauguration.
“The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.” Charles Bukowski.
“You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” Abraham Lincoln
Soundtrack, “Get Up Stand Up” by Bob Marley
“The answer my friend is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind.” I could’ve sworn that I heard that wobbly melody playing in my head the other day. The original vagabond and singer of protest song is now the Noble Prize winner in literature. And it leaves me wondering, how much change has really taken place since 1962 when that song was first released. Even Dylan doesn’t sing protest songs any longer, instead he mumbles songs from the Great American Song Book. It was never his singing voice, guitar or harmonica playing that made him a legend; he once was angry and had something to say——-“Yes, and how many times can a man turn his head And pretend that he just doesn’t see?”
Where’s the rage and the contempt for the established authority? Where’s the cadre of enraged youth demanding that the old guard move aside so that they can fix the mess they’ve been left by their parents? There’s a pervasive complacency in the world today that frightens me. There’s nihilism where idealism once reinvented itself with each new generation. When did the power of music, investigative journalism and critical thinking fall out of vogue? When did taking to the streets in protest get replaced by insipid tweets, trendy FB posts, and lame blogs——-insert angry emoji here.
It’s not as if the world has evolved into a kinder and gentler place. To the contrary, if you take a good look around you’ll see that we’ve begun to de-evolve. We’ve elected a president who’s a racist, sexist and a xenophobe. For over a decade we’ve remained mired in wars in the middle east. A conflict that was initially predicated on a lie regarding WMD. We have the “one percenters” who’s resources and wealth continue to grow as the middle class evaporates. Earnings and benefits for workers continue to shrink as the rich blatantly pay no taxes. Mr Trump hasn’t paid federal income tax for twenty years. He proudly defended this conduct by stating “Because I’m smart. “Smart” should be replaced with “greedy”. Scientist warn that global warming is destroying our environment, while leaders of industry choose short term profit over the long term effects of climate change. We have a system of government that allows billionaires to buy the outcome of elections. We have a “democracy” where a candidate can be elected president even though the majority of voters voted for the challenger. There’s mass shootings occurring on a daily basis, yet NRA refuses to indorse a ban on AR-15 “assault-type weapon,” or support thorough background checks. Every day children unnecessarily die of starvation and preventable deseases. The cost of medical care and college education has spiraled out of control. Can someone please tell me where the answer is to these travesties. Oh yes, I forgot, “The answer is blowing in the wind”.
The twenty four hour, seven day a week news cycle has diminished our capacity to feel empathy or comprehend compassion. We’ve become passive observers watching the news as a form of entertainment. We’re a society of rubber necker’s gawking at the daily mayhem. It’s reminiscent of the spectacle of blood and guts that the masses once cheered for at the Roman Coliseum. We’ve become anesthetized, desensitized and numb to the suffering of others. As the masses are fed a daily diet of misery, they’ve become consumed by a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness. We’ve become a “fuck it” society. It’s a culture that’s lost faith in the system, in democracy—–in integrity. The greatest threat to our freedom and liberty isn’t the power vested in the elite but rather in the apathy of the masses.
Imagine a mythical island that’s comprised of 100 acres of land. The island has only coconuts, bananas and goats as its form of currency. There are 100 inhabitants living on this island. An individual who calls himself the Lord Of The Land has ownership of 99 of those 100 acres of land. He also has ownership of 99% of the coconuts, bananas and goats. All the inhabitance of this island depend on this man to secure their housing and food. He picks a man to be a candidate for the position of Island chief. He gives this candidate 2 coconuts, 2 bananas and some goat cheese. This island is a “democracy” so in order for this man to become the chief he must have the majority of the 100 islanders vote for him in order to become the island chief. He divides the gifts given to him by Lord Of The Land into smaller pieces. He offers these small gifts to islanders to entice them to vote for him (trickle down economics). He promises the islanders that he will represent their rights and liberties. These promises are in conflict with the Lord Of The Lands goal to maintain ownership of 99% of the land and its resources. The new chief is indebted to the Lord Of The Land because he provided him with the coconuts, bananas and goat cheese. Once he’s elected chief he is obliged to repay the Lord Of The Land by creating laws that protect his dominion over the islands resources. Can you imagine a land such as this? Can you extrapolate how this metaphor relates to our system of governance?
The word revolution hasn’t been uttered since the writing of The Declaration of Independence or the call for equality and change echoed in the 1960’s. The only way we will be able to restore equality, fairness and justice is by organizing and utilizing our power of civil disobedience and non violent resistance. It’s always been the kings and queens, the land barons, captains of industry and the ultra rich who’ve suppressed, manipulated and taken advantage of the masses. From the beginning of time, the redistribution of wealth, resources and power is something that the majority has had to rip from the greedy hands of the powerful minority. It’s through the union of the majority (Unions) that we’ve been able to demand our fair share of the pie. Leaders that preach divisiveness are manipulating the majority into splinter groups to fight amongst themselves. It’s a diversionary tactic that’s used to keep the majority from unifying and challenging the elites control and hold on power.
Ironically it isn’t the youth of this nation that’s risen up and demanded freedom, liberty and justice for all. No, it’s a seventy five year old Jewish man who’s attempting to mobilize a revolution. His bold message is captured in the following quote “With your support and the support of millions of people throughout this country, we begin a political revolution to transform our country economically, politically, socially and environmentally.” ~ Sen. Bernie Sanders.
It will take a revolution to right this sinking ship. It will take people organizing and standing up for the rights of all citizens. We need a new Declaration of Independence. With that in mind I’ve drafted the following document. This is a working document open to input, additions and omissions. It’s an evolving document.
The goal of the following document isn’t to provide all of the answers to our political issues, but rather to start a dialogue that gets people to utilize their critical thinking skills rather than irrational emotional responses to issues. It’s a document that requires input and inclusion from all its citizens. Please feel free to provide input and insights into the following document.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness——-regardless of sexual orientation, race, religion, gender, age, heritage, disability or any other individual differences.
Taxes shall be levied fairly and equitably. This entails implementing a flat tax that offers no deductions or write offs for individuals, cooperations or organizations. Those individuals possessing resources and earnings in the top one percent will be taxed at a flat rate of fifty percent of their earnings and resources. Those that are reaping excessive rewards must be held accountable for paying their fair share towards the good of the community.
A living wage will be paid to individuals. Any person working full time shall be able to afford their living expenses. This will negate the need to provide food stamps to individuals working for companies that do not adequately compensate their employee’s. This is a subsidy that tax payers are currently paying to support such profit rich companies as Walmart.
Each citizen of the United States of America will be limited to one vote.
Each citizen of the United States of America will be limited to no more than a $100.00 contribution per candidate. Companies, organizations, lobbyist and special interest groups are not allowed to contribute to a candidates election. This is to prevent undue influence of such entities over politicians with whom they have financially supported.
Gerrymandering will not be manipulated to provide a political party advantage over other such parties. The process is to support a system that determines a winner of political office by a majority vote, not by biased voting jurisdictions. The Electoral College is to be abolished.
As a citizen of the United States of America each tax paying citizen is entitled free access to medical care. Tax revenues are to be prioritize for this purpose. Health Care is not a commodity that only the rich can afford and access.
As a citizen of the United States of America each tax paying citizen is entitled free access to college or technological school. Tax revenues are to be prioritized for this purpose. Education is not a commodity that only the rich can afford and access. Motivated students should not be saddled with huge college debt upon their graduation.
Social Security and Medi Care are guaranteed to all tax paying citizens. These programs shall reflect the cost of living and not be privatized. Taxes are to be prioritized for this purpose. A nation is judged by how it respects and treats it most vulnerable individuals; the young, the old and those populations and individuals who possess limited resources and power.
Politicians will be limited to a maximum of two terms. This is to prevent politicians from using their power to stay in office rather than serve those who voted them into office.
Just like a vehicle, all guns must be registered and licensed. Automatic weapons are outlawed, thorough background checks are mandatory.
All vehicles, factories and related industries must meet strict environmental standards to counter the affects of global warming and pollution. Failure to comply will result in stiff penalties.
All candidates running for public office must disclose their tax returns. This is to prevent conflict of interests.
Freedom of speech and freedom of the press is protected and guaranteed.
Individuals or business that hire undocumented immigrants will suffer a stiff fine. The fine will progressively increase by the number of illegal employee’s and the frequency of infractions. The number of work visas will be increased in accordance with need and demand by employers. These employees will be compensated at an equitable rate.
Soundtrack “An American Tune” by Paul Simon.
Does copper rust? I sure hope not, because the statue of liberty is crying. Democracy has taken a wrong turn, and all of the soldiers who fought and died for such ethereal things as justice, equality and freedom have been betrayed. Our democratic foundation was built on the belief that all men (and woman) are created equal, but the outcome of our recent election has revealed cracks in these tenets that we once held as self evident. We have been mislead into an “us against them” world, creating a myopic America where those with different cultural backgrounds, religious beliefs, sexual orientation and racial heritage are no longer welcomed or tolerated. In fact, they’ve been singled out and blamed for our financial, social and national woes.
Our president elect has exploited these divisive beliefs in order to single himself out as the only person with the power and knowledge to solve our problems. He’s gained power by preying on our weakest of emotions—–fear! This is a primal emotion that causes us to dehumanize those that are different from us (please see Hitler and the Jews as an historical reference). This is the antithesis of what Hilary Clinton had proclaimed “We are stronger together.” Hate is the stepchild of fear and hate separates us and makes us politically weaker. Striking a single match of hate can ignite a firestorm capable of burning down the noblest of palaces.
I guess I thought we were better than this. Better than the hate spewed by an authoritarian fascist. It seems as though our blessed pledge of allegiance and our beloved “God Bless America” our merely flimsy words we’ve chanted until they’ve lost their meaning. And now, I sadly see the difference between pledges and actions, ideology and reality, democracy and rhetoric, integrity and malevolent tweets. Our covers have been pulled back to reveal something ugly and hate driven—–hypocrisy and bigotry.
Those that our weak and fearful give up their power to authoritarian leaders who will make decisions without their consent. After all, it’s easier to have someone give simplistic black and white answers in a kaleidoscope colored world. Those that want simple answers to complex social issues are willing to suspend their belief in decency, empathy and fairness in exchange for a catchy soundbites like “Make America Great Again”. Such slogans feel good to shout and fit neatly on bumper stickers. They’re emotionally potent but anemic in details and substance. What has always made America great has been its ability to create opportunity for all of its citizens, not just the ones who fit into a narrow minded definition of “American”. The American melting pot has morphed into a sifter, allowing only those of a certain pedigree to call themselves “American——enough”.
Donald’s “Trump card” has always been to delegitimize his opponents. Eight years ago he attempted to delegitimize President Obama by claiming that he was not born in America and therefor not eligible to be president. He tried to delegitimized Carly Fiorina by exclaiming “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for a face like that?” He tried to delegitimize Megyn Kelly by insinuating that she was asking tough questions because she was menstruating. He tried to delegitimize a reporter by mocking his disability. He tried to delegitimize Mexican immigrants by lumping them into a single group and claiming “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapist”. He followed this up by stating “They’re some bad hombres”. He delegitimized females by objectifying them and claiming that because he’s rich and famous he can kiss whoever he wants and grab any woman by their privates. He tried to delegitimize a judge who was presiding over his case by claiming that because he was of Mexican decent that he would not be impartial in doing his professional duties. He attempted to delegitimized Hillary Clinton by repeatedly addressing her as “Crooked Clinton”.
I’m still trying to comprehend why folks would vote for someone as caustic as Trump. I’ve come to believe that his inflated charisma is due to what I call the “Kardashian Effect”. We live in a culture that’s hypnotized by celebrity worship. Individuals become celebrities simply from their incessant media exposure. Their sole talent is in extending their fifteen minutes of fame by being a provocateur. If you’re trending, you’re winning. If it smells it sells. And, if it spins, repeat it again. Being civil and polite is so pedestrian, while being inflammatory and irreverent is sexy——and more importantly, it entertains and it sells.
And with fame there comes many benefits. Fame allows one to manufacture counterfeit truth. It then offers a megaphone so that this truth can be broadcasted far and wide. Fame provides celebrities with a teflon conscience and an alzheimer’s memory. And finally, it comes with a get out of jail free card, “I’m rich and famous, so the rules and laws don’t apply to me……”
Trump once claimed, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” I can only imagine Trumps twitter feed after such an incident “Today I shot and killed an individual on 5th Avenue. I believe he may have been an illegal Mexican immigrant rapist who practices the Muslim faith and was most likely an operative for ISIS.” His millions of twitter followers would read the tweet, nod their head and respond with “Good job”. As the saying goes, the only bad press is no press and the only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about. The media is the message. It no longer matters what someone says or does, what matters is if they’re accruing media time by creating drama. The individuals who dominate the media landscape and exploit their notoriety, are the people who are mapping the future of our culture.
We’ve become victims of the Stockholm syndrome. We’re willing hostages to a 24/7 media obsession. We’ve been brainwashed into thinking that the media is are our caretaker, our savior, our guardian of truth. If something is said long enough and loud enough it becomes reality. Perception isn’t reality, perception is propaganda. Truth and reality is no longer the message, entertainment and ratings are the message. We surf the internet or change channels until we find our preferred brand of reality. Where do you acquire your version of truth? Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, Rush, Bill Maur?
The pundits and the professionals newscasters have become puppets to whatever or who ever gets the highest viewer ratings or the most clicks on social media. Being outrageous and offensive allows those who are skilled manipulators a platform to garner attention and followers. It makes them appear to be “The next big thing” If it bleeds it leads. If it smells it sells. If it spins, repeat it again. News and politics are no longer about facts or checks and balances, its about entertainment. Trump is a showman, an entertainer, a master manipulator. He knows all the magic tricks, the art of distraction, deception and misdirection. When life becomes complicated, we may choose to suspend reality—-to believe in magical thinking. It’s naive to believe that someone can snap their fingers and make a white dove appear——and it’s equally foolish to think that someone can wave a magic wand and make eleven million immigrants disappear or sprinkle magic dust on the ground and suddenly have a 2,000 mile wall appear—-paid for by the Mexican government. Some tricks are illusions, while others are outright lies…..I suppose “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time”. Abraham Lincoln
As our democracy slips into a downward spiral we must be vigilant. Our leaders will be looking for scapegoats to blame for our countries financial, social and national woes. First they’ll marginalize those that they want to exclude. They’ll say things like “They’re American, but not as American as us”. The second step will be to delegitimize those that they want to sequester. They’ll say things like “They’re not Americans and they’re not like us”. The third step will be to dehumanize those that they want to eliminate. They’ll say things like “They’re not American, they’re not like us——they’re subhuman”. This is a predictable pattern that has been employed throughout history by fascist authoritarian leaders who are seeking to gain and sustain their power.
I’ll leave you with some suggestions to consider as we enter into this new area of designer realities and malleable truths……
It’s impossible to legislate morality, but I pray for the day when we evolve to the point where compassion, empathy and acceptance are valued more than power, greed and intolerance.