Less Than Sixty Days

Just past the seven-week mark of this, the longest-seeming presidency of mine or many other’s experience, and the atmosphere is one of exhaustion and the taint of hopelessness. I try to not let the gravity of this whole thing weigh down on me. I live in a sanctuary city, in a state whose AG is fighting or vowing to fight the various and multitudinous injustices of a demagogic federal executive, on a coast which is unilaterally against the Orange Menace. And, I am objectively smarter now than I was when Bush slimed his way into the presidency (and subsequently injected the various neo-conservative filth from his father’s posse in the rooms adjacent the Oval Office), and certainly more sober. All the same, the shadow of it follows wherever I go.

This is not liberal over-reaction or the hurt feelings of some special little snowflake. We should not treat this as normal. Bush was not terribly normal himself, but compared with the present he would be a breath of fresh air.

Speaking of fresh air, try not to get attached. For all the crowing about the rights of businesses to make money without hindrance, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of sympathy for the rights of the humans within (and without) those businesses to continue breathing freely, or for that matter drinking freely. To be presented with clear evidence of destructive pollution and follow that by allowing for more is unthinkable. Businesses that do not respect people do not deserve to make money, let alone exist. Their rights end where they obstruct our rights to basic human needs.

flintwater

Flint, Michigan has not had clean water for three years. THREE YEARS. They are still being told to drink bottled water. The effect of this issue will haunt them for many years, an unalterable wrinkle that will decide the fates of so many people.

Coal will make a comeback, no matter the consequence. We can expect an increase in the usual air pollution but add to that increased pollution of creeks, streams, and rivers. With a lobby-driven flourish of his pen, 45 has stricken regulations on the mining of coal near streams (a regulation to protect water sources from surface mining debris). A government that protects business interests over human interests is a terroristic government. Without direct violence, they become responsible for the deaths of many.

A citizenry that openly applauds these efforts has been blinded by party politics and a false idea of American individualism. That citizenry heralds their own dismal future. We are not animals that can exist on our own. We are pack animals. We created government as a means of directing and protecting all of our kind, not just those who were able to climb over their brothers and sisters to stand on the tip of the pyramid. We are nothing if not a giant family. Our differences are what makes us dynamic and competitive and interesting. To deny that is utterly disheartening. We cannot become a country of villains, a country undeserving of any title of honor on the global stage. Not even a participation trophy.

329938-science-fiction-nineteen-eighty-four-screenshot

This turned out to be a bit of a rant, for which I am not sorry. If nothing else, this counts as therapy.

If you are still here, I would recommend a podcast I just found. There may or may not be a bias in the annals of the Washington Post or New York Times (despite being still very good journalism), but one outlet I’ve found to be unceasing in criticism no matter the party is The Intercept. They also have a podcast, which you should listen to, called Intercepted. Hosted by Jeremy Scahill (who most notably covered the evils of the mercenary group Blackwater) with great production and wonderful music.

And that is where I will leave you. Have a great week! Let’s hope for the tweet to end all tweets. And, not to overstate it, but Lucas would’ve hated this.

Advertisements

Lucas Would’ve Hated This

It’s been awhile. A pin drops in this blog and it rings loudly, like that sad and sleepless silence that pervades the countryside in the dark of night. Between the last post and this, many things have happened, too many to truly enumerate. I will cover a couple.

Occasional contributor to this blog and frequent contributor to my joy, Lucas Cain, passed away. Or that’s too soft, “passed away.” Lucas dropped off this world, suddenly and tragically. He was here and then he wasn’t. Laughing with us in a bar too late and then not doing that ever again. Theoretical loss can be painful, that is until real loss is born. Absence, and the knowledge that this absence is permanent, is flashing and loud in its lack of substance. That emptiness is what sits invisibly on your chest, obstructing breath and clenching the throat.

resting-man-copy

“Resting Man” Anne Petty

Lucas still lives on in our memories, in paintings that adorn my apartment walls, and in some pieces of this blog. He occupied a large space in many of our minds and continues to do so after his physical existence has ceased. He’d be overjoyed that we keep talking about him. He died with the real possibility in his mind that Bernie could take the White House, and for that he was lucky. He’d never believe the shit we’re in right now.

Which brings me to the other thing. He whom we shall not name, the Cheeto-dusted and bloated bag of Confederate memorabilia. A reality TV spectacle was elected to the highest position in our government. A man whose Goodreads account would begin with Mein Kampf and end with the assembled speeches of Adolf Hitler (where in reality he just scanned the Cliff Notes of each). A man who shits on a golden toilet but can’t seem to buy a suit or tie that fits. If the descriptor “presidential” had any meaning before, it has completely ceased to mean anything at this point. There was a time where we could laugh at memes of a child-like dictator pointing at various objects safe in the knowledge that no such idiot strongman ruled over our much more competent and thoughtful nation. Ah, the good ole days!

I wasn’t around for this country’s other more fractious and frightening times (or else I was too young to be aware of it), so where we are at is very disorienting and stressful to me. I assume that this is still the case for those who’ve been through such times (assuming they aren’t fawning after the failed steak salesman and his assembled band of clueless silver spooners). At no point could I have predicted that a party so vigorously opposed to the very idea of Russia would be, if not openly praising their dictator, shrugging away the blatant attempts at bending the West to their purpose. It defies logic.

At the same time, nothing short of this wannabe emperor could have engaged so many people in protest and activism. From coast to coast, we’ve assembled with passionate or comedic signs, to march, to chant, to debate, to express, in the streets, in city parks, at town halls, in each other’s living rooms, outside reticent congressmen’s homes. We’ve talked about things we’d kept to ourselves, admitted mistakes and committed to actions, watched documentaries and read non-fiction books. We’ve started reading more news than at any times in our lives.

womxnsmarch

Seattle Womxn’s March

These are the times that we need to understand what the essential character of our country should be, no matter where on the political spectrum we fall. Decisions based on fear, free of fact, cannot be trusted. Look at the statistics, mine the underlying reasons for the problems we face, understand the complaints of our neighbors. To line up blindly behind the big red R or the big blue D gives a sense of civic duty without the work to back it up. We need to stand for ideas, not for parties. If something is wrong, it is wrong, no matter what jackass found himself behind the big desk in the Oval Office.

Obviously, there is too much going on right now to speak to each unjust and/or idiotic action. Various news outlets can elucidate the particulars of the day (and, seriously, be various with your new sources). Suffice it to say, Lucas would’ve hated this (though he’d make a mean protest sign).

The Courage to Be Funny

The former headquarters of the Charlie Hebdo w...

The former headquarters of the Charlie Hebdo weekly (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The tragedy in Paris is unfortunately unsurprising anymore. I must admit that upon first hearing the news, I thought that Charlie Hebdo was a person, some notorious cartoonist with a death wish and huevos the size of the Notre Dame. I’d never heard of the satirical paper, or seen their controversial cartoons. Then I looked them up. And laughed (after availing myself of the translations). They weren’t all funny, or all in the best taste. But satire skates close to the line. Sometimes it is stupid, or mean, or tactless. But who cares? There is no image that could drive me to kill. I’ve watched Michael Bay movies all the way through and a stiff drink has sufficed to stymie any ill will I had toward the man or his actors.

I think about Salman Rushdie, a man who simply wrote a book that incidentally encouraged the leader of a country (the Ayatollah Khomeini) to call for his death. Did he read the book? Did any of them that would condemn him to death read it? I read it. It was quite good. I think of children with guns. Men in black masks having tantrums. People whose faith is so easily injured that they torture and kill. A fight in the schoolyard over drawings. I think of a poverty of intellect. Continue reading