Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

I was going to write something about gullibility this morning and while I was searching for something to kick off the post, a quote or an image, I came across this little bit of mirth from the late Shel Silverstein. It pretty much summed up everything you need to know about our willingness to often accept things that make no sense or are demonstrably false.

Of course, none of us will admit to wearing the plunger. We convince ourselves it’s a damn fine hat because Teddy or someone else, maybe someone named Donnie, says it is just that. If he says it looks good then it must, because he always tells us just what we want to hear and believe. We’re to smart and wary to fall for something other than the truth.

But in fact, we are actually like the character in All the King’s Men that Robert Penn Warren described: “I suppose that Willie had his natural quota of ordinary suspicion and caginess, but those things tend to evaporate when what people tell you is what you want to hear.”

And when someone is telling you that the toilet plunger on your head looks great, you really want to believe him. Because otherwise you’re just an idiot with a damn toilet plunger stuck on your head.

You know, whenever I see one of those godawful red hats on someone from now on, all I am going to see is that person with a toilet plunger on their head.

There’s a brain somewhere inside that bony box sitting between your shoulders, people. Take off the plunger and use it.

 

 

Read Full Post »

**********************

Darling remember, when you come to me
I’m the pretender; I’m not what I’m supposed to be
But who could know if I’m a traitor?
Time’s the revelator

–Gillian Welch, The Revelator

***********************

I came across an image of the painting at the top, a piece from 2006 called What Is True that holds a lot of meaning for me, and it set me thinking.

Truth is patient. It waits for the light of a sun that sometimes travels through the vastness of space and time, millions and millions of light years, to shine on it.

Time always finds truth at some point and when it shine its light upon it, there is revelation.

Every day is filled with revelation, so it seems.

Time and truth are coming together.

Here’s a favorite song of mine from Gillian Welch, The Revelator.

Read Full Post »

*******************

“Against legitimacy is arrayed usurpation; against modest,

single-minded, righteous, and brave resistance to encroachment

is arrayed boastful, double-tongued, selfish, and treacherous

ambition to possess. God defend the right!”

 

–Charlotte Bronte, Shirley and the Professor

**********************

I am perhaps more nervous than at any point in the past three years of watching the slow motion collapse, or rather dissembling, of our democracy. We are at a point where there is either going to be a price to be paid by the one person* who has abused the vast powers of the highest office in this land. In the idealized future world that our founders imagined, our system of checks and balances will hold and he will face severe consequences and democracy, as we know it, will continue in a direction that we all recognize.

If not, if this person ( I am being generous in the use of that term) is not punished, does not face grave punishment for his actions, the future is much less certain. If you think the past three years have been crazy and divisive, brace yourself for a future with a person who will then, as he already does, see himself as an emperor, a divine and untouchable being who can, with the tremendous and now unchecked powers of the presidency, operate with impunity.

This would not be a benevolent tyrant. You all know that. You can see it in the vengeful and punitive nature he so readily displays. He is not familiar with the concepts of generosity, of justice or fairness. No one will be safe from the whims of his addled brain. Opponents will be severely treated as will those who are perceived as being disloyal to him. The treatment of immigrant children, while horrific now, may well get worse. Environmental regulations will continue to be stripped away. White supremacy will force its way even more into our public lives.

Justice will have a new face and the scales she holds will be even more rigged for those with power and wealth. Your power to defend yourself will be limited.

Truth will not be truth, it will be something altogether different, dictated by those in power.

The president* will use every possible thing at his disposal– and his position gives him tools that are unimaginable to most of us– to maintain power, to strip away any oversight and to enrich and insulate himself. And we are all going to pay for it in awful ways that most of us can’t see coming down the tracks. Even my most generous imagining of a future where this man* holds onto power is bleak.

Sorry to spoil your coffee this morning and sorry for not staying in my lane, as they say. But this is not a game, not the genial “my side is better than your side” of politics of times past. It is a serious and potentially deadly business and if we don’t engage and take whatever actions we can to stem the tide, there will be dire consequences.

And I am desperately worried that we may not be able to do enough to turn the tide.

And to those of you who somehow and inexplicably support this person*, I say: Be careful what you wish for.

Below is an essay from award winning journalist/author Kurt Eichenwald that appeared yesterday in the form of a Twitter feed that sets out one possible scenario that could take place if there are no consequences for corruption and illegality. It is well worth a read.

***************************

“You could be next.”

The GOP has made it clear it has become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Russia/Trump, and no amount of evidence is enough to justify removal of a corrupt president. They will not protect Americans.

So key message from Dems should be: “You could be next“…the President of the United States attempted to compel a foreign nation – one he claims is corrupt – to investigate and possibly jail an American citizen.

If Trump believed a crime had been committed, he would have turned to the FBI. Instead, he tried to outsource to a foreign nation. Even if you are irrational enough to believe that there was no pressure on Ukraine, no attempt at extortion or bribery, that action is undeniable. He was taking an act with the ultimate outcome potentially being an American citizen and political rival locked up in a foreign prison.

This is *exactly* the kind of action taken by dictators, except they do not have to hide their actions by trying to engage in them in secret by pressing a foreign nation. This alone without any other facts is an impeachable abuse of power and the GOP, Lindsey Graham, Devin Nunes et al have all made it very clear that they “do not care” if a president outsources criminal investigations of Americans to foreign states.

Worse, they “do not care* if this is set up for “announcement first, defense someday” when you have an outsourcing of investigations, corruption is inevitable. Next, it could be me. It could be you. Do you really want to live the rest of your life in a Russian or Ukrainian or Syrian prison cell, simply because you angered Trump?

The GOP will not care given their willingness to avoid all evidence, people like Lindsey Graham will shrug as the Trump Administration extradites Americans overseas to be tried in corrupt foreign courts as the result of investigations instigated in other countries by our president if Trump wins reelection, which he might, the GOP senate has made it clear that no action, no crime, no corruption is off the table.

Will Trump send troops into the offices of the New York Times, or Amazon, or any other company that angers him to arrest his “enemies” and then extradite them to Siberia, in an investigation he instigated? Will he send “critics” he despises? Will he go after democrats as a whole unit? If acquitted by a party refusing to look at evidence there will be no limit to what Trump can do without consequence, will it be safe to be a prominent Trump critic or political opponent, given he has been freed to do anything?

Next time, it could be you.” That needs to be the phrase the Democrats need to deliver in every Senate and House election we are truly at the verge of a collapse of all checks and balances, with an Administration that believe it can tell Congress and the courts to go to hell, knowing that the most corrupt party in American history will cheer him for it.

Once the “see no evil” party sends the “all-clear” for any act of corruption, anything is possible.

Sound far fetched? It has already been done by the Republicans. In the 2000s, Americans falsely concluded that a Canadian citizen was a terrorist and asked for evidence from Syrian government. The Syrians brutally tortured another Canadian they held before he falsely said, “Yes, this other Canadian is a terrorist.”

The man, Maher Arar, was headed home to Canada, was seized by American authorities at JFK Airport and, because we had no basis on which to hold him, the US outsourced the investigation to Syria, a place the man had never been. He was shipped there, beaten, burned, raped, tortured in every horrible way imaginable.

And only after this man was wrecked, did we say “Oh. Maybe we’re wrong.” The Canadian government had to pay $10 million settlement to Arar, US government refused to pay, claiming “national security.” And no Republican cared.

Outsourcing of criminal investigations by Trump is corruption of the highest order. It puts every American who might criticize Trump in danger.

And, just like they did before when we outsourced the torture of a Canadian citizen, Lindsey Graham, the RNC and the Devin Nunes of the world will go on Fox and declare that Trump was right to rob us of our rights, to submit us to any abuse by pushing foreign nations for corrupt criminal prosecutions of critics and opponents. There is not a single Republican who will stand up for our rights, who will protect us, so long as they get tax cuts.

We are all in danger.

Next time, it could be you

Every house race, every senate race, where a Republican has argued that there is nothing abusive about the President of the United States attempting to get an American citizen charged with a crime and locked up simply because they are his opponent, needs to focus on the power the GOP has granted Trump to violate our every right.

Want your guns? Not in lots of overseas nations, where you might be sent.

Want a lawyer? Sorry – you’re not in the US anymore.

“Next time, it could be you.” And GOP will not protect us.

They all must be voted out and if you are “well, I don’t like this dem or that dem” – always remember that those who supported the most left-wing candidate in Hitler’s first national German elections. The supporters – as well as the candidate – died in a concentration camp because they didn’t think the other candidate was progressive enough.

Now, I am not saying Trump is Hitler or that we are heading into Nazi Germany. I am saying that our rights are at stake, we have no defense, and failing to fight back at the ballot box could be disastrous.

People always say, “It can’t happen here.”

It can. The president tried to secretly get American citizens locked up in a foreign nation on the basis of a conspiracy theory. It can happen, & the GOP will do nothing to stop it.

And next time, it could be you.

Vote them all out.

—–Kurt Eichenwald, Twitter, November 21, 2019

Read Full Post »

*************************

MALONEY: Why do you have confidence that you can … tell your dad not to worry?

LT. COL. VINDMAN: Congressman, because this is America. This is the country I’ve served and defended. That all of my brothers have served. And here, right matters.

MALONEY: Thank you, sir.

Applause breaks out.

*********************

Those short few sentences above from the testimony of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman during yesterday’s Congressional Impeachment Hearing pretty much sums up what the stakes are in this hearing.

This country, as a nation and each and every one of us as individuals, has to decide if he is correct in the statement that here in the United States, right still matters.

We have to ask ourselves a simple question: Do we want to live if a country that lives by the hardset and time honored values of rightness, of truth, of honor, of duty?

Or do we want to live in a country where those values are negotiable and subject to the situation at hand and the person involved? A country where those values don’t really apply so long as you have enough power or privilege or connections to be able to shrug them off?

Listen, I am not naive to think there haven’t been plenty of situations in our past where power, privilege and connections have overpowered our values at times. But in the past, that sense of honor, duty and rightness has always somehow persevered. This nation has not always operated in absolute truth and rightness and honor but the hope is that we lean that way, that we somehow keep struggling and pushing in that direction.

That hope, that continual trending toward rightness, is the basis for any exceptionality we might claim.

But this feels different.

It feels like a defining moment for us and our future. It feels like there is part of us who have taken control and wish to ignore these values, who find them inconvenient and restraining to achieving their own aims.

They continue to move away from answering to a sense of rightness or duty. How do you reconcile that as a nation going into the future?

If the falsehoods and corrupt intent we have witnessed are not impeachable, not subject to oversight and being called out, where does that leave us for the future? Where do we then draw the line between what is right and wrong?

If we cannot stand up for what is right and true now, we may be looking at a future where we may not get the chance to do so.

So, ask yourself and answer honestly: Does right matter here still?

 

******************

I wrote the above yesterday. Last evening I then caught the end of one of my favorite movies, Watch on the Rhine. It’s a film set in Northern Virginia, around Washington DC, during World War II and concerns the daughter of a well-to-do family who has come home from Europe with her family.

I am not going to go into  the whole plot here but I will point out that her husband, Kurt Muller played to perfection by Paul Lukas, is an anti-fascist fighter and a leader in the European resistance against the Nazis. This character is one of my favorite characters on film, a man driven completely by rightness and truth, willing to sacrifice everything to fight for the lives and rights of other men.

Seeing this powerful portrayal of such an honorable character stood in stark contrast to the performance I witnessed earlier by the republicans during the hearings. There was no honor shown by these men, no sense of rightness or dignity. These are not people who are willing to sacrifice anything for anyone. They are only willing to protect their own interests and those of their buddies. Screw everyone else.

They are the antithesis of rightness.

To give a quick example, Lt. Col. Vindman and his family are under 24/7 protection from Us Army security forces and they are looking to move them into a secure location because of threats against the Lt. Col. from Trumpists spurred on by these jackals. This man, an immigrant who came here as child, has served and sacrificed for this nation for many years. He wears a Purple Heart for being wounded in action. He has honorably risen to the highest levels of military diplomacy and has been characterized in reviews by his superiors as being “brilliant” and in the top 1% of all the military. Yesterday, this man was subjected to all sorts of attacks on his character and motivations for simply coming forward and pointing out actions that he saw as being wrong.

He was simply doing his duty. Like Kurt Muller from the movie, he was simply doing that which is right.

I would put Lt. Col. Vindman’s sense of rightness and honor up against that of all the republicans in that hearing who have seemingly sold their souls, their dignity and their honor for god knows what in order to protect a vile and small man. A man without honor or loyalty who will throw them to the trash heap without a thought when they no longer serve his personal needs.

As I said, the contrast is stark.

Black and white. Good and evil.

Right and wrong.

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

********************************

When it comes back around you’re gonna get what’s coming.
You sit on your fence and you scream about justice.
Between the have and have-not’s only one feels the difference.
And when it comes back around you’re gonna get what’s coming.
When it comes back around you’re gonna get what’s coming.

Rival Sons, Get What’s Coming

************************

This is a little raucous for a Sunday morning but I think that’s just the way it has to be this morning. Just warning you.

Over the past few years, we have been subjected to reports of constant wrongdoing by this administration, ranging from ridiculous amounts of lying about things both monumental and trivial to corruption and abuses of power to actual atrocity.

This administration knows no bottom.

There is just so much wrong taking place that it’s hard to keep track of all the wrongs without losing sight of some.

Take for example, this week reports surface that the number of children detained by this administration is upwards of 70,000 now and that babies born to women in ICE detention are taken away without any way for independent child welfare observers, or the mother for that matter, to know their whereabouts.

Is this what we want to be now?

Or take another example, the president* grants a pardon to a soldier who is accused of war crimes, killing innocent non-combatants. This pardon goes against the advice and wishes of the Pentagon and its internal justice system. Nine members of this criminal’s own company testified against him and none backed him up in any way for his actions. This gives this nation and the military a black eye and makes the job of our troops even more dangerous.

Is this what we want to be now?

Or in Syria, reports last night of massive attacks against the Kurds, our longtime allies who we abandoned with little notice. There are reports of U.S. military officials expressing that they are ashamed and sickened by our treachery. While we have prided ourselves as being the “good guys” to the rest of the world, we are quickly becoming the “bad guys.” Our word is no longer our bond. Why would anyone trust us now, especially when being asked to sacrifice, to fight and die on our behalf?

Is this what we want to be now?

I could go on and on. Wrong after wrong after wrong after wrong, ad infinitum. Countless lies and deception. Abuses of power and a twisting of our laws and the Constitution. Massive amounts of corruption and self-serving. Every act seems designed to punish the public in general in some way while only benefiting those with great wealth or power.

Is this who we want to be now?

I don’t think it is. There have been points in these past three years that have been depressing and deflating, where it looks like we won’t be able to stop the fast slide we are on into real authoritarianism or at least a system of where wealthy connected oligarchs run everything behind a wall of sham democracy. Some of those days, the present and the future has looked very dark especially when you see family and friends eagerly accept the lies and deceptions without actually giving any real thought to future repercussions.

But there are signs that it does not have to go that way, that we can regain our footing once again. That we can be the nation that we want to be, the nation that we believe we are. There are cracks forming and the recognition by the general public of the great wrong before is starting to take hold.

Karma, my friends. What goes around, comes around. And those who know better, who knowingly are complicit to the corruption and deceit that has and is taking place, to the disassembling of the American system of governance and justice, had better either have a come to Jesus moment soon or brace themselves for a hard fall.

Because when it comes back around you’re gonna get what’s coming.

And it’s coming back around soon.

Okay, here’s the song for this Sunday, an electric Get What’s Coming from Rival Sons.

Brace yourselves.

And have a good Sunday.

 

Read Full Post »

Dark Gives Way

************************

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”

Plato

************************

You can interpret this to suit your own perceptions, either of current events or your own situations.

For myself, I see it taking shape in the form of the Republican party, both in its members of congress and just plain old members of the party, who are frantically bending themselves (and the truth) into pretzels trying to avoid the light from illuminating what has really taken place.

This is a tragedy for these people who are sacrificing their integrity and honor to keep off the light from touching an abhorrent creature of darkness who would never do anything near the same for them.

It is also a tragedy for this country and the rest of the world because, in doing so, they are sacrificing the security and well being of of us all. They do so by gutting whatever trust and belief we had in our system of governance.

Yes, it is a time of  tragedy.

These men want to hold back the light that comes with truth and fact. They know that in a world of darkness, those who hold the hammer, the power that comes with governance, dictate truth and fact as they desire it to be, as it best serves their own interests.

Yes, it is a time of tragedy.

Bring the light and the dark will give way.

****************

I came across the painting at the top this morning and it really struck me in a way that had me writing of this post. It’s from back in 2003 and, fittingly, the title is Dark Gives Way. I like that I am reading it in much the same way as I did all those years back.

 

Read Full Post »

*****************************

“Abandon the urge to simplify everything, to look for formulas and easy answers, and to begin to think multidimensionally, to glory in the mystery and paradoxes of life, not to be dismayed by the multitude of causes and consequences that are inherent in each experience — to appreciate the fact that life is complex.”

M. Scott Peck

****************************

There are times when one can simplify, where complex concepts can be broken down to easily digestible chunks that allow almost anyone to understand and appreciate that concept.

I would argue that is the basis for my whole career as an artist.

I do it in simplifying forms and compositions so that they enter the viewer’s eye easily, before it has had a chance to fully comprehend the underlying complexity in the colors and textures. There’s more to it, obviously, but that’s a nice shorthand explanation of my process– in itself simple.

But there are other times where you can’t take a concept or situation and simplify it fully without losing the impact of all the details.

I am not talking about art here. No, I am talking about the beginning of the impeachment hearings tomorrow. I am afraid that too many of us want that simplified version, one that makes us see unequivocally either the guilt or innocence of this president* without having to wade through detail and actual thought.

This is a complex and multifaceted case, one filled with a multitude of details. When placed side by side so that you can easily see them, these details tell a damning tale. Cutting out details to simplify the story would muddy the clarity of the motivations behind it. When you get only a simplified version, you fall prey to the whims and preferences of the person telling the story or painting the picture.

I urge you to pay attention in the coming weeks. Take in the details, the nuance of each witness’ testimony, and let the story unfold in full for yourself. If you can do that, you may well come to a conclusion that is similar to my own after having followed this whole thing closely for the past three years.

Or maybe not. Maybe you will see things in a completely different way. Maybe you will refuse to see the details and complexity and try to simplify it for yourself to suit your own biases and predispositions.

But either way, I believe that the closer you look, the more you will see and the more you will understand.

Hey, maybe we’re back to art now?

Whichever case it is, pay attention and take a deep dive if you want to really get a better grip on the complexity that you’re witnessing. It’s too important to be asleep at the wheel at this point.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: