An Open Letter to the Congress of the United States

HELLO. AMERICAN CITIZEN HERE.

Question. What’s wrong with you people?

Congress, I disown you. I disinherit you. You are dead to me.

I am not up to date on the latest five-minute news cycle. I don’t know what happened yesterday or this morning, but I know without knowing, it was atrocious. I speak only for myself when I say, I can’t take any more. I cut myself off from the news like a guillotine due to high blood pressure, mental health concerns, and the right to pursue happiness. Self-defense mechanisms demand I never again expose myself to that smarmy-mouthed pumpkin-headed creature until he’s escorted out of the Oval by the FBI. If I scroll by his image on the web, it sends a shiver down my spine. The kittens app doesn’t always work.

I write to voice my dismay, disbelief, and disgust

that the dangerous charlatan D$%#^@ T%$@*  has retained office despite displaying every kind of bad judgment and behavior since Day 1. It’s not only disappointing, it’s insulting; I can’t tolerate your tolerance of him. There’s a cartoon that asks, why is T&^%$ not being impeached? Because Congress likes to carry a baby to term. I am astonished, sick at heart, and furious that he has had as long a run as he has, after the grotesque electoral “victory” that catapulted a delusional dishonorable reality-show clown into the highest office in the land, where he would immediately begin proving he was unfit for that office, or even to run for it. The man is the Orange Plague of the 21st century, who either poisons or kills anything infected by him.

Women’s March on Washington, 2017

His presidency is not viable.

At first, every time T&^%# committed yet another violation of basic decency and humanity, or demonstrated his lack of respect for others, his lack of vision or reason or understanding of the role of presidency, I would think, his gig is up!

Yes I stupidly thought

grabbing women’s pussies was enough to destroy his candidacy, but oh who cares if he’s an admitted sex offender! What powerful good ol’ boy do we know who isn’t? Gotta stick together! Punishing women who’ve had abortions? Pfft! Courting Putin, his personal ally and campaign manager? Admiring Kim Jung-un because “he speaks and his people sit up at attention”? Tearing families apart, shoving children in cages and not taking responsibility when they die? Children dying! Not giving a whit if a journalist ­is murdered and dismembered if it interferes with raking in money and bonding with MBS? History of family fraud, refusal to submit taxes, backing out of the Paris Accord and the Nuclear Arms Treaty, demeaning LGBT citizens–not one of these has been deemed egregious enough for official censure, none of it deemed treasonous, yet somehow Clinton gets impeached over a blue dress, for committing two acts of perjury, one act of obstruction of justice and one act of abuse of power to commit perjury. Where was the hand-wringing over that decision?

Now, apparently, anything goes!

T%#&%’s midterm campaigns were interrupted by “the bomb stuff”! Talk about an epic fail! Thirteen high-profile attempted murders—and HE is the victim of false news and hostile treatment. Tiny violin. When we most needed strong guidance and peacemaking, he is missing in action ranting away as usual at rallies that massage his vanity. Given the great opportunity to demonstrate leadership through a national security crisis (albeit one provoked by himself), he prioritized once again his massive ego.

Source: NBCNews

His litany of bad-to-criminal behaviors

refreshes so often we can’t remember the last one. “If this were a normal presidency,” pundits pronounce, “this would be the scandal of the century.” No. If this were a fully functioning Congress, it would be. “Anyone else would be taken out in handcuffs.” OK, well why not him? Has he been granted special behind-closed-doors dispensation to be a complete ahole and get away with it? The fact that this not-normal presidency is by now just a sound-bite of what-has-he-done-now? IS the scandal of the century.

If this were a fully functioning Congress,

“unacceptable” would be not just a buzzword but a reality. You would reject the DOJ guideline (not law) and establish a protocol for indicting sitting presidents. Eliminate the electoral college. Challenge and revoke nepotistic top-secret appointments of the unqualified. Enforce subpoenas. Establish a Secretary of Transparency who safeguards the public interest over the private interests of its elected officials, like the police OIA. Too bad it’s needed!

Things in T&^%$-land called “unacceptable”

Close the Camps, Philly 2019

that have, for lack of consequences, been deemed indeed acceptable include gun deaths, mass shootings, murdering children, teachers, folks just doing their jobs or practicing their religion; fraternizing with the enemy; secret meetings with foreign powers; treating asylum seekers like animals (or worse than); crystal clear security breach of refusing to give up his iPhone; giving his daughter a pass on personal email use; giving his feckless relatives top security clearance jobs; sexual predation; lying every time he opens his sewer mouth; demonizing the “enemy of the people” press whose job it is to monitor his performance; sanctioning the gruesome murder of a journalist because the killer is a paying customer of his he needs to bond with; zero concern for the planet and its present or future inhabitants–ad nauseum. To what a hateful disgraceful SOB have we given the keys to our freedom! And he is said by the top Democrat to be “not worth” impeaching! Maybe you are, Speaker Pelosi!

GOOD OL’ BOY NETWORK

After Brett Kavanaugh’s crybaby woe-is-me testimony

at the confirmation hearing (he is so put upon!), I had to wonder how the many of you who confirmed him had achieved the offices of senator or congressman despite being blind deaf and dumb. He did not even show Dr. Blasey Ford the respect of watching her testimony, though his future and career depended on it! After that pathetic display, it was no longer about the truth of her accusations or even his qualifications, it was about his blatant unsuitability as a hysterical whiner for the post. Hundreds of law professionals and a former Supreme Court Justice agreed. Guess they weren’t Republicans!

And so it is with Trump.

It’s no longer about his poor performance, lack of shame, or whether he instigated the bomb scare or Tree of Life tragedy with his hateful rhetoric, hypocrisy and constant lying. He is not a “very fine” person with a few flaws. He is a raging megalomaniac, misogynist, narcissist, sex predator and coward who glorifies violence and delights in making a mockery of democracy. He is (literally) an international laughing stock and makes us look like a bunch of daft suckers. How dare you allow this fracker to retain office and represent the good people of this country? He obviously can fool a lot of people a lot of the time, but you’re way past due ending the reign of the Great Pretender. He is better suited to roastmaster than president.

Time to Impeach!

I am gobsmacked

by how much deference is granted to T&^%$ just because he’s president. He doesn’t merit the office, the title, or the consideration. One instance alone: He threatened Michael Cohen, slated to testify against him, and his father in broad daylight, on the air. Cohen cancelled his appearance before Congress out of concern for his family. Witness tampering, obstruction of justice. Just another news bite? No—that’s enough. Impeachable. Forget everything else. Start the proceedings. Yesterday.

Oh, that’s right. Only Democrats get impeached for obstruction of justice.

You’re letting him get away with unthinkable things!

Independence Hall, where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were debated and adopted.

The detention camp debacle alone!, children dying, people!, his delusional idée fixe of the border wall, kissing foreign ass, inspiring Americans to put their worst foot forward and Make America White Again, the disastrous snit of shutting down the government as a political strategy—obnoxiously demonstrating his lack of concern for the everyday American’s situation and well-being. Why does his vanity project affect a person’s ability to pay their mortgage? Because he does not care about anyone but himself and doesn’t care who knows it. Because nobody stops him! What on what’s left of God’s earth would it take to be worth impeachment? What a loser this “winner” is!

Of all the infuriating things

about T@#$%, the worst is the constant references to “beating Trump,” and “who can beat Trump?” You are betraying this country by keeping this incompetent, morally bankrupt joker in power. “He’s not worth impeaching?” He does damage every damn day! Whoever you may be who bows to T&^%$, smooths the way for T$%#&, enables him, ignores him, are you thinking “This is a good look for me”? “This will get me reelected”? Reelection concerns have no place in the policy/confirmation/law-creating decision-making processes of Congress. You know what does? The overall welfare and benefit to the American citizenry, who by the way are not corporations.“The best way to rid ourselves of T#$@^ is for the American people to vote him out of office,” it’s been said. WRONG. Are you nutz? Can the Republican Party be so brain-dead as to sanction him again? WRONGER. Not when the incumbent is Satan with a spray tan.

He cannot be nominated again, he cannot be allowed to run again, he cannot be given a .01 chance of winning—again! He cannot be allowed to complete his term. The world has to witness the United States of America removing this chancre sore from the presidency. The world has to know we will not tolerate his contempt for the American people, the Constitution, the rule of law, and the whole rest of the world.

Why? Why? Why? Someone tell me why.

How any educated, humane individual

can continue, after his many misfires in terrorist emergencies and internationally sensitive scenarios, to offer him the respect of his office, which he has so grievously failed to earn, is beyond belief. This has been a hopeless, wearing, depressing two+ years for this country; this blatantly un-American bully needs to be called out—AND BY REPUBLICANS!—on every transgression of office he has ever committed, and no more chicken-shit looking the other way. He needs to be told, by Congress, you cannot act like this! You’re embarrassing the country and your party, and disgracing our reputation as a world power and it’s intolerable. You can no longer allow him to get away with it; otherwise you are putting party or perhaps cowardice above country and betraying billions of Americans and citizens of the world. If this phony fraudster makes it to 2020, it will be your, Congress’s, fault.

IT IS YOU, CONGRESS,

I hold responsible for this travesty of justice

we call the T&*%$ administration. He may have with smoke and mirrors finagled his way into a job, but it is your solemn and sworn duty to get rid of him. He has made a farce of his oath of office and the office itself. There is no political consideration more significant than cleansing the soul of the nation of him. Can he even be held responsible for himself, this delusional narcissistic psycho with barely a grip on reality? I pity him, because despite being surrounded by devoted family, staff sycophants, and ass-kissing Republicans, he does not have a trusted best friend (who might have warned him about the toilet paper on his shoe on the plane), because your best friend is the one who tells you what you don’t want to hear. That person would take him aside and calmly advise him, “D%$#&*, the best thing you can do for yourself, your family, this country and the world, is to step down, and take Pence with you. It’s the only way you will leave office with a shred of dignity. After that, I recommend you commit hara kiri. It’s the only way you will leave this earth with any honor.”

Short of that, let him buy his own private island, move all his “base” supporters there, and reign as Supreme Leader for Life with his own population of rallying AK-47-bearing chanters sucking up to him. Then the Trumpeters can trumpet his glory unto the heavens and leave the rest of us alone.

Often when I sign petitions

the personal comment I add is “Straighten up and fly right.” You know that song. Or the other, Accentuate the Positive. “Don’t mess with Mr. In-between.” That’s Congress for you: Mr./Ms./Whatever In-between–because D@#$% T&*%# is somehow! after 900+ days! still! in office! Of the dozens (100s?) of things that have been a national disgrace for the past few years, his continued occupancy of the Oval is unconscionable. He is the fourth worst person in the world. The first three are Kim Jong Un, Putin and Mohammed bin Salman—his heroes, his loved ones. He no doubt envies their superior positions and won’t rest ‘til he’s at the top of the garbage heap.

Really, what is wrong with you people?

Close the Camps, Philly 2019

What kind of sick codependent abusive relationship do you tolerate with this jester? How has he entrapped you? What does he have on every one of you who refuse to toss him on the junkyard of history? If you betray your loyalty, will he sic the Russian Mafia on you? You should have “wrong side of history” reverse-tattooed on your foreheads to remind you in your morning and evening mirrors just how low you have sunk.

Gone are the days

of “anyone can grow up to be president.” This is not an entry-level position. Requirements: 10 years of tax returns and proof of citizenship to be submitted with application to Dept. of Elections. Literacy test. High school-level reading comprehension test. Psychiatric assessment before nomination. Desirable: Degree in law, political science, economics, history; demonstrated leadership in prior elected office or public service positions.

Disclaimer:

Pardon my generalities, those of you to whom this tirade does not apply. I exclude any decent, honest, educated, science-savvy patriot Rep or Senator (you know who you are) from my despair. You have my respect and gratitude, all you who have the best interests of the American public at heart. The Republican Party clearly does not. They want to make it as difficult as possible to be a human being on earth so they can keep their boots to our necks because no amount of power is ever enough power, just as no amount of money is ever enough to ensure that humanity continues to want and suffer.

The literal heel of oppression

They want to keep take, take, taking

from others no matter how pretty they’re sitting, just in case we ever get well off enough or educated enough to rise up and render them irrelevant. For instance, the tiresome and misplaced threat to defund Social Security, erroneously called an entitlement but already paid for by American citizens. Could it possibly not be against the law to raid those funds belonging to those who put them there? No one calling themselves public servants could be hypocrite enough to deprive our most vulnerable citizens of basic survival care, or conspire to restrict the vote.

Unfortunately the genuine public servants among you are part and parcel of a wasteland of namby-pamby bloviating blowhards who mouth platitudes and give our criminal president a free ride, an ineffectual body of vascillating wimps who are not getting the job done–the #1 job being GET RID OF D$%#^& T$@%&. I don’t care what else is on your agenda, Congress, straighten up and fly right. THROW THE BUM OUT, or resign your office.

So many American problems

could be solved by reversing T$$$$’s tax breaks for fat cats (but as someone put it, “he has to repay his donors”). But guess what? We don’t need to raise taxes or cut programs to solve our budgetary challenges. Where’s the money going to come from?
Out of that big blue slice of pie will come across-the-board raises for all teachers and first responders, funds for infrastructure repair and replacement, Medicare for All, Social Security expansion, retraining fossil fuel workers for solar and wind energy jobs, habitat restoration, and your pet project.

Let’s start with this premise:

An American citizen should be the most privileged, protected, and proudest in the world. America should be the world leader in education, conservation, public transportation, pollution remediation, sustainable farming, habitat preservation, species protection, homelessness and starvation solutions, ecological restoration, medical research, industry and manufacturing, and civil rights protections. We should be proud to subsidize our citizens to become the best-educated in the world. Instead we are foremost in corporate greed and corrupt political shills. We should be ashamed–I am ashamed–that any American citizen can risk bankruptcy over an illness, or end their life in squalor with no guaranteed long-term care and minimum-wage attendants in some subpar facility. Did you know, Medicare is health insurance; if you are going to require Medicaid coverage for long-term nursing, and you gave your daughter a $25 birthday gift within the last five years, you (someone) has to pay it back before you can get coverage? I’m not making that up! Don’t be giving all your money away without considering the “five-year look-back.”

We should be assured

that American citizenship shields us from foreign interference, natural and climate change disaster losses, poverty, starvation and homelessness, not only because of our oft-heralded status as richest country in the world (that’s hype) but because our government values and respects our humanity and believes every American, by virtue of their citizenship, is entitled to the opportunity to pursue liberty and happiness. Isn’t that how this country started?

A friend remarked

that his 75-year-old grandmother still works in the floral shop down the street. Oh, she doesn’t want to retire? She can’t afford to! No one can! Have you been to the Giant store down the street? There’s nothing but seniors bagging groceries. If that’s the case, we have failed. We, as a society, have failed.

He’s right, all right.

If a senior can’t afford to retire and enjoy home security, guaranteed health care, long-term care, and funeral benefits, we have failed.

Oh my Grace I got no hiding place

Has anyone ever dared

to say to T#$%^ to his face: “Mr. President, you are lying. What you just said is an easily demonstrable lie. What gives you the right to tell obvious lies to the American people? What kind of fools do you take us for?” “Hah! The kind who would elect me.”

If he said to me, an ordinary citizen, as he did to a CNN reporter, “You are a rude, terrible person,” I would say, “I guess the rudest and most terrible of them all would know! I don’t care what your job title is; you do not speak to me like that.” We all deserve the ordinary respect of civility, but that does not exempt us from the right to confrontation when we are abused. Trump is “wrong all over the place” and must be sanctioned every single time he crosses the line, if there are any left to be crossed.

There’s no doubt America’s founders

committed genocide against native inhabitants to seize this land and there’s no doubt that white male racist slave-owning landowners seized control of voting and lawmaking. Those are facts. There’s no doubt that racism, discrimination, and oppression are still going strong here in the US, as we have a president who champions these things, embodies them, promotes them, and reinforces the “rights” of the privileged to feel superior to others.

There’s an active shooter instructional video

at 30th St. Station in Philadelphia! How to (try to) save your own life and perhaps others’. What a crying shame. Anyone accepting contributions from the NRA, you have so much blood on your hands you’re now swimming in it. How does that work? They make a campaign contribution so you “owe” them, and if you don’t act in their favor, you won’t get any more money from them next time? Or do they pass actual stacks of bow-tied cash under your desks? I did hear some good news though. Aren’t they on the verge of bankruptcy? No more campaign contributions and suddenly you’ll be all about gun control.

Perhaps guns are part and parcel of the good ol’ boy mentality that maneuvered K onto the Supreme Court despite his obvious juvenile flaws of character and temperament.

Attention: Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham, Justice (hah!) Kavanaugh—your GOB network is being dismantled as you sleep on your 1000-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets. Oh, you put up a valiant defense of changing the narrative with history-making hysterical men’s tantrums on national TV. Can you imagine the blowback from a woman of color acting like that?

Of course eventually getting your way was worth the cost of making complete fools of yourself on the world stage. No one will remember that once Fracker K is wearing that robe. And perhaps good ol’ boys are the father to the warrior?

That is the T%$&# era in a nutshell—

the need for citizens to protect themselves from terrorism and often from law enforcement, rather than sane and sensible laws keeping us safe—that and the horrific shameful sickening image of a smiling border patrol officer emptying out water bottles humanitarians have left for the refugees. He was high-fiving his crew over Budweiser Light that night. If I didn’t have family obligations in the US, I would already be gone.

If T%#&$ has a shred of concern

for the country for which he so lamentably and incompetently serves as figurehead (he doesn’t), he will admit (he never will) that HE is our greatest security risk and resign his office without delay (he won’t); if he cannot be convinced of this by rational advisers (he can’t be), I call upon the House of Representatives to initiate impeachment proceedings immediately (now, today). I beg you not to waste one more second of America’s time accommodating this insane fracker. You owe it to Hatice Cengiz (who?), a doctoral student in Istanbul and Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancée, and to Jamal Khashoggi, to every refugee and asylum seeker on the border, to every lover of peace and decency around the world, to show this joker the door.

 FRACK YOU-FRACK YOU-FRACK YOU-FRACK YOU-FRACK YOU

(Fracking is more offensive than f*cking.)

That was my instant reaction when this alert showed up on my phone:

What does this have to do with me, our families, the ordinary citizens of the US or Iran? Hey armies of the world, call a strike. Don’t show up for work. Why should a country’s citizens fight the senseless hateful wars of its leaders? Let them duke it out mano a mano in a boxing ring. World “leaders” who lead us only into disaster, death, famine and war, we are sick of your lust for land and money and power and world domination. What are you so lacking in that you can’t stand anyone else having it, or anything at all? No amount of resources you can commandeer will fill the void of your hunger for control of others or the hole in your soul. It’s a sad, sad situation.

Source: Flobots [published pending sanction from Flobots]

I encourage the billionaires of this world

to prioritize some of the obvious challenges calling for immediate resolution. Some of you have, and made quite a difference, but there is so much more the lot of you can do to advance human progress. Your piles of wealth extend for generations into the future of your heirs and beneficiaries, but guess what—the planet does not!

THE COST TO END WORLD HUNGER

is all about priorities.

“World hunger and its devastating effects can be eradicated with a fraction of the United States Federal Budget…— $30 billion per year [estimated by the UN] is needed to end world hunger; $737 billion per year is the amount Congress spends on Defense.” (borgenproject.org)
How many 000,000,000s of dollars got wasted on T$#@%&’s July 4th ego fireworks?

 

No, we didn’t need that for anything else. Certainly not to reunite refugee families, provide them with medical care and basic supplies, and offer them the future they came here looking for. Had I been asked, I’m sure I would have preferred the funds go to an awkward rained-out personal party for the president (I don’t actually know anything about it, I didn’t pay attention). Reminds me of Bush II’s frivolous reelection inauguration ball ($150M+). Inauguration costs are split by private donations to inauguration committees (fun) and the taxpayer (security etc.), but I would be super impressed if they just called the whole thing off. $150M? Too much! Let’s build some hospitals instead in our first 100 days in office.

CRAZY EXPENSIVE WARS

Why is there never, ever

a lack of funds to build a $152,000,000 Raptor fighter jet?

This is the worst time in human history

to have a loose cannon making decisions about our future, assuming unabated climate change does not deprive us of it. What a hateful, embarrassing, shameful face we put to the world!

HEL-LOOOO-OH!

Humanity is at a crossroads

in our evolution. Either we are going to prioritize the quality of life for all people and all species living in this volatile environment, or we devolve and doom ourselves. The #1 emergency condition is the state and fate of our planet and the immoral incompetent who has jurisdiction over much of it. This is where we live, fools! All our lives, all our own futures and that of coming generations (would) take place here. Is a $7B border wall more urgent? Frack you T%^&$#! Constantly manufacturing “illegal and unconstitutional” wars for war’s sake, which somehow still manage to be waged? Look at all the species and habitats we have already wiped out! Are we ourselves next? “In the end, nature rules. We’re just a part of it.” – Jose Martino Amoedo, wilderness survival expert.

HOW T^%$# ROLLS–BACKWARDS

There is NO MORE CRUCIAL consideration

than the actions we must take to admit our mistakes and correct them. At this specific time in the history of our species, all of humanity must cooperate to reverse the stunning damage we have done in our short history as the top of the food chain. We can’t be out there stupidly threatening each other with aggressive actions. How we respond determines our fate as the human race! If ever there was a time and motivation for the peoples of the world to come together, is this not it? Come on people now! Smile on your brothers!

Source: Know Your World

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Oh big whoop. OK, so you had a fancy red chair. Where are you now, fracker? Someone or other’s throne, The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

― Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space

We are the custodians of the earth. We are obligated to manage and shepherd our resources. It is our duty to future generations to maintain them and perpetuate them. We must exhibit respect for all people, all species, all habitats. Earth is where we make our stand.

Where do you stand, Congress?

Let America Be America Again
Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed–
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek–
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean–
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today–O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home–
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay–
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again–
The land that never has been yet–
And yet must be–the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine–the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME–
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose–
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath–
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain–
All, all the stretch of these great green states–
And make America again!

Close the Camps march passes the Museum of the American Revolution, Philly 2019

This column was brought to you by the First Amendment and my desire to reclaim my country before Congress gives it away.

“The most violent element in society is ignorance.”
Emma Goldman

 

A Screaming Came Across the Sky

IT WAS THE SOUND OF SUNDERING MYSELF FROM FACEBOOK

And then, the silence.

You could hear it. Peace descended upon the earth with a great silence like the inherent silence of the Apocalypse. (As Jack Kerouac described what would happen if men fell to their knees and begged forgiveness of their women—a line deleted from the original 1951 scroll of On the Road.)

A year ago I decided I’d had enough of Facebook. The bald shock that registered on a friend’s face when I told her I had deactivated my account lingered a bit. Is that a big deal? I asked. Only because I was pretty active on there, she clarified.real life

If I’m active on there it’s because I spend many hours online most days editing photos on PicMonkey and posting them to flickr. It’s my job I don’t get paid for. And when you’re online for long periods of time, you want to distract yourself from the task at hand every so often. Or always. Five minutes on Facebook is a nice online break from being online. Except when it turns into an hour every time I get a case of the fuck-its (A condition whereby you’re content to spend nine hours on YouTube watching a cat flush a toilet–Dana Carvey) and don’t want to be responsible for creating my own mind food. Now and then one needs a social media cleanse, a high colonic of the mind.

Everyone likes to be served.

Here! Instead of planning and cooking and eating a nutritious meal of your choosing, here’s an instant plate of junk food handed to you piled with ideas you don’t have to have yourself. Kind of like the free cell addiction I acquired instead of dealing with renting my Portland house out and moving to Berkeley.

It’s my understanding that all games of free cell–open-faced double solitaire–are winnable if you make the right moves. You’ve got to look at the big picture and map out strategies. Free cell is one of my McDonald’s substitutes. I don’t eat meat so I need to replace it with other junk food. All the crap out there, says comedian Jim Gaffigan, is someone’s McDonald’s, whether you read Us magazine, or track Jennifer Anniston’s love life, or weigh in on Beyoncé’s new haircut.

When I was planning my move from Portland to Berkeley in 1996, I racked up 148 games of free cell that I won by in some cases starting over and changing my moves. I would never go on to a new game till I’d solved the one at hand. There’s a satisfaction in seeing a course of action to a “successful” conclusion, of solving the puzzle and watching the auto-play pile the remaining cards into suits–let the game do the rest of the work!

And it’s relaxing.

It engages my mind and problem-solving faculties just enough to occupy me but not challenge me too much. But mostly free cell is a time waster. He who kills time, as Thoreau put it, slays eternity, and I am a serial killer. I could just as well be surfing the web for Kate Middleton’s or Kate Upton’s last outfit, flipping through Entertainment Weekly, or contemplating whether I should lose respect for Benedict Cumberbatch for appearing in Star Trek into Darkness. But mostly I play free cell as a distraction from something I have tired of doing, something, usually, of importance or at least time-dated urgency. You know like when the taxes are due and it’s suddenly crucial that you clean your oven.

As one who was arrested in the anal stage of psychosexual development, I do derive pleasure, feelings of justification, perhaps, at watching things fall into place and summarily wrap themselves up, as when you remove the one remaining obstacle to victory and you can sit back and declare, “My work here is done!”

At my age (I summited the hill quite a while ago) one is advised to keep one’s brain active. Mahjong is another mental and visual dexterity-enhancing time waster. But however relaxing and/or stimulating these pursuits are, they’re still junk food. I prefer I’d spend the time in nourishing pursuits, not repetitive ones.

Clearly I have nothing to prove to myself,

but time-wasting is a manifestation of my time-honored practice of avoidance–procrastination that feels like doing something that is so clearly nothing. À la Facebook. [Time does not honor avoidance. Time spits on avoidance. -Ed.]

Of course it’s not exactly nothing, you are communicating with people who mean enough to you to take them on as Facebook friends (which inherently is worth a nickel minus five cents), but it’s a trade-off. We abandon more personal interactions and more time offline for the convenience of mass announcements. And also, one feeble set of ears hearing what we have to say is not enough. The whole world needs to know what we’re thinking. It’s that important.

The programs Freedom and AntiSocial turn off the internet or social media for a specified amount of time, but they’re like a Flintstone band aid on a blood-gushing wound. I sought to heal that wound—the rift between myself and my life as I used to live it. It used to be I never turned my computer on unless I was going to write something—never to surf the web or consult the Oracle of the Book of Face or even check email—certainly not for entertainment or something to do. I joined Facebook when it was still not all that pervasive, but it started happening that you wouldn’t hear about stuff going on around town because people were posting it to Facebook as the default manner of announcement. Why didn’t I hear about that? I don’t know [I did my duty] I posted it to Facebook…

Political rallies or local events might pass you by because you weren’t on there. Kind of an “it’s-how-people-communicate-now” vibe and aren’t you with it? If everybody played by the same Facebook rules, it would be cool to know about that upcoming fundraiser, who has signed up to go, and the person among them that you either do or do not want to see. To know for sure that if they are there, you would either go or not go. 5000 is the Facebook friend limit, but a great many of those 5000 turned off your feed as soon as they added one more digit to their friend total.

Initially I joined Facebook

in order to write a column, “I’m Not Really on Facebook I’m Just Spying on Those Who Are” (not available at this time). A friend shut his account down as soon as he had a child. Good on him! It might feel like you’re taking a stand. I’m not wasting any more time on Facebook! But it’s no moral crusade; it’s just a choice. We don’t have to buy into the inevitability of social media even if it does surround us. We sign up for it. We willingly devote our time to it. We derive enjoyment or emotional support from it or use it as a crutch or outreach or publicity tool. It saves stamps and smartphone minutes. We control our use, and now and then I choose to control mine by ceasing it.

When I first shut down my account, I had been on Facebook complaining about Throwback Thursday. “I would like to take the nitwit,” I had posted, “who thought of Throwback Thursday and throw him back to last Thursday.”

Someone quickly responded, “Aren’t you just a ray of sunshine.”

“How does the Internet,”

I continued, “co-opt something as basic as a day of the week, and convince the world they all need to be doing and thinking the same thing on it?”

Another friend weighed in, “Much ado…”

In the scheme of things, it is nothing. If you enjoy it, go ahead and enjoy it. No harm, no foul. Not the crucial issue of our time. But it strikes me as some feel-good sheeple group-think thing. It’s Thursday! Everybody gather ’round, rifle through your lives and share it with the others! Come ’round! Wiggle your ears! More s’mores!

Source: karoshiga

Maybe we should wear a looney-toon hat

on Thursdays in case we go outside, so fellow throwers-back will know we are participating in the throw-back, just to reinforce that it IS Throwback Thursday, that whatever else we do that day, fear not, we will be sure to throw back. The first friend suggested I needed a break from the internet and I realized she was right.

Deactivating your Facebook account is not that satisfying—all one need do to reactivate it is log back in. Still my immediate response was physical, mental, and emotional relief. Something cracked wide open. I used that phrase to describe the line from the George Pal film “The Time Machine,” “He has all the time in the world.” It cracks everything wide open. Marcia Gay Harden said it to Ed Harris in “Pollock,” “You’ve done it, Pollock. You’ve cracked it wide open.”

I’m wary and weary of this age of homogenization,

this let’s-all-be-on-the-same-page mentality, experiencing and reacting to and discussing the same things at the same time. There are too damn many pages! Facebook. Facebook Live. Twitter. Instagram. Instagram Live. Reddit Snapchat Foursquare Google+ LinkedIn Tumblr Pinterest Periscope YouTube Vimeo Vine Skype Meetup Tinder (“Tinder is how people meet. It’s like real life, but better.”)

How does one even define real life anymore? Is there any interaction between people that hasn’t been coded? What happens anymore that doesn’t go through an app? Photography is not what it was, as seen through the framework of Instagram—the resulting picture is not so much a free-standing result of photographic choices but an “instagram,” an instance of application use. I’ll crop my photo square if I want to after I see it.

One has to shield oneself

against overexposure to unfiltered information. It’s practically radioactive. It weakens and sickens one over the long term. I have turned off Yahoo as my home page so I don’t boot up to that day’s filler crap.

  • DJ Tanner (aka Candace Cameron Bure) just chopped off all her hair, and she looks SO chic. OMG, girl! Could you be more fabulous?
  • Kelly Ripa’s 10 Most Probable Co-hosts, Ranked From Most to Least Liked (Most: Morris Chestnut [who he?]; Least: Fred Savage)
  • The Do’s [sic] and Don’ts [sic] of Wearing Eyeliner
  • Chris and Liam Hemsworth’s Dad is a TOTAL hunk but we are not surprised
  • Brock Turner Going Free Is the Best Thing to Happen to Rape
  • And oh yes, the President of the Philippines called Obama an SOB.

The greater part of the click bait we click on we would never investigate if we had to trouble ourselves to look it up. All that info is waiting for us there on the web. You’re not going to take the time to search for how to dip a t-shirt into Portland cement to create Halloween lawn ornaments, but you might click on it (I did–to see what it is people will SO be doing after learning this trick). My mind is cluttered with things I didn’t need to have seen. Clutter—as in a room of suffocating stuff you should just get rid of. Don’t rearrange it—ditch it!

Facebook is always there

for one’s use. Go on it, go off it, whatever. But I’ve been ensconced in such childish and churlish confrontations and misunderstandings with folks (many of whom I’ve never met), I’m tempted to throw the baby out with the bath water.

I’m conflicted about Facebook

because of carbon dating. I’m so old I date back to the days of carbon paper, mimeograph machines and white-out, party lines, telephone exchanges, and two-digit zip codes. Face-to-face relationships were the norm at one time. Getting a phone call and not knowing who it is. Someone showing up at your door. Meeting someone through a “personal ad” used to be an embarrassing anomaly.

In other words, I’m a fuddy-duddy. I prefer the way things used to be.

When a friend wanted me to meet a friend of his via Facebook, I forced the issue. I forced us all out of the house to meet at a coffee shop. Haven’t seen either of them since. I still use and like Facebook because I find lost friends, meet new ones, get turned on to a lot of creative output and new information, but I don’t like the changes in personal communication it has wrought worldwide. Other than emergency and volatile political situations, I don’t see an inherent value in the 21st century status quo of being constantly communicative, constantly up on the latest means of following people around online.

There is a need for Facebook, or it wouldn’t exist. But is it healthy? Is it enabling us to distance ourselves from each other?

Look at this: Are you sure you want to deactivate your account?

FB deactBecause your 179 friends will no longer be able to keep in touch with you.  What arrogance! It reminds me of a sing-songy Time magazine ad that claimed “Time lets you care” about current events. As you see folks are crying, screaming, and pleading with me not to go. But if Facebook is the default way to interact with people in the modern age, what a pathetic statement about today’s human relations.

What about Fear of Missing Out?

You are always missing something, and always will be. Even if it’s all you do you can’t keep up with the pace of social media—the danger is it does turn into all some people do. There are levels of engagement, and you’re in control of them—until you’re not. Then you might as well face it, you’re addicted to Facebook.

The Checking-in Phenomenon

What is that about? Why track your minute movements throughout the day and broadcast them to your friends at large? X is with Y at Z. You’re already with the friend you want to be with, enjoying a personal interaction. “Hey everyone else: I’m here without you. I’m sharing this with someone else, but you still have to know about it.” Is it an invitation for anyone reading it to join you? I doubt it. I saw one such posting of a crowd of friends at a concert I would like to have been included in. That has probably happened to everyone. “We didn’t think of you when we made these plans, but here’s a smiling selfie for you to enjoy.”

My subtle commentary on the matter was to post that I was at a gas station with a friend. Who could possibly care? One mundane post covers them all. Though some bored soul might ask, “Oh really, where are you going?”

One brilliant guy, a chemist and teacher and an amusing conversationalist, would post along the lines of “Stopping for a bite before the show,” as if we’re keeping a logbook of his movements. Hold on, I show a gap between 7:10 and 7:14. What were you doing? Walking to your car? Let me get that down. I was about to unfriend him for being boring despite his advanced education (how does one work that?) but he beat me to the punch. (Don’t you hate it when someone unfriends you before you’ve had a chance to unfriend them?) Do we think people are that interested in our minute-to-minute activities? Do we think we are that interesting? Do our egos need such constant bolstering? It’s great news for stalkers, though.

THE CONNECTED GENERATION

I guess I am one

who doesn’t need to know everything about everything everyone I know is doing at any given moment. But I am also one who values solitude above constant companionship. I treasure my own place, my own silence, my own bed, my own insistence on doing whatever pleases me at any time. Some folks must enjoy constant worldwide fraternizing, but as a homicide detective put it in “The Fall,” “Modern life is such an unholy mix of voyeurism and exhibitionism. People perpetually broadcasting their internal and external selves.”

As soon as I graduated college and was on my own, I decreed that I would never wait to do something until someone wanted to do it with me. That’s how I ended up by myself on the Trans-Siberian Express. I routinely attend concerts and events by myself; it usually doesn’t occur to me to invite anyone along. I go to movies by myself so I won’t have to talk about them later. I recognize that most people don’t want to be alone, they want companionship and family on a daily basis. I realize most people have a greater capacity for talking than I do for listening to them.

But some of these people don’t know how to be alone, or how to enjoy their own company. And Facebook is somewhere to meet up with others needing something to do.

People sound off,

lament, announce an event, or post random observations instead of calling a friend, because then only that friend would know about it. That’s not nearly enough attention being paid to us. Not to say I haven’t participated in these practices myself, because they’re the accepted language of Facebook and you fall into the rhythm.

There’s the passive-aggressive cry-for-attention post—some obscure, mysterious statement begging to be asked what it’s about.

Fuck, shit, crap.
Never gonna do that again.
Everything’s going to be fine.
Only three more days…

Prompting responses like: Are you OK? Hugs! I’m here if you need me. You are beautiful. Stay strong. Etc. Sometimes you feel like you’re constantly ministering to people. Are people not getting this support from the humans in their lives, or do they just want more? Is our need for validation so pervasive?

Did I miss keeping abreast of my friends’ daily lives while deactivated? Even if so, I’d rather live my own daily life. It’s like the voices in my head stopped talking. It took a while for the reverb bouncing around my skull to settle down. Anyway, we know who our true-blue friends are, and those who are mostly avatars–the madding crowd we invite into our homes. It’s hard to resist taking advantage of a platform to say anything you want. But you don’t know who’s turned your feed off, who’s not “on” that day, who’s not paying attention. In a way it’s still yelling into a void, though the world be at your feet.

Diamond Dave
The Dave Wave, Diamond Dave, Dolores Park, San Francisco

When my attention gets too scattered by stimulus on the web, I eliminate the option to choose from it. Say I click on 50 links in one day. 45 of them are trash. But I still went through the motions and have nothing to show for it. Look at your browsing history, if you want to be appalled. There’s groovy stuff out there, no doubt. But it’s in you, too, waiting to manifest.

I’m in an insulated bubble of privacy,

writing offline in Word at midnight, crickets sounding off at the window. No one knows where I am, what I’m thinking, what I’m doing, reading, eating. Freedom! Have we forgotten what that feels like? How much time do we spend showing off to people, some of  whom we don’t even care about, because we’re on a public forum?

The Misfit Cafe
Is where I take my tea
When I’m trying to impress others
Who don’t impress me

 – Mayor Jones, Postcard Pomes, 2001

I, of course, am the biggest show-off of all, a writer.

LIFE AFTER FACEBOOK

If you’ve read this far, you wouldn’t have read this far if I hadn’t written this far, and I did so in the beatific space left by the expulsion of social media. But my cold turkey experiment of last year didn’t work. Facebook is a facilitator of friendship but it is not a substitute for friendship. The sad fact is, I don’t stay on Facebook because it’s the de rigeur way keep up with my friends. It’s because if I leave, they will not keep up with me.

♥ ♣ ♠ ♦

face deactTell me you remember you are still a human being…Have that conversation, that glance, that touch. Be a healing conversation, one filled with grace and presence.

Put your hand on my arm, look me in the eye, and connect with me for one second. Tell me something about your heart, and awaken my heart. Help me remember that I too am a full and complete human being, a human being who also craves a human touch. Omid Safi, “The Disease of Being Busy”