Category Archives: Reflections

Amerika/America, du hast/you had….

We are nowhere near the end of the Trump-thumping we are taking.. We are not at the beginnig of the end, nor the end of the beginning.  We may be at the start of the beginning.  And that makes it all even more sad and urgent.  We have already lost so much; it is such a great shame.

Towards the end of his life, the great German poet, scientist, lawyer, statesman etc;, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) became very enchanted with the energy, robust freedom and lack of a haunting past in the young American Republic.  During those later years he wrote the following poem (here in English translation praising and expressing an important hope about us and  our republic:

(If you want to know more about who Goethe was, read my post “Who is this guy Go-ee’-thee (Goethe)?

Amerika du hast es besser

America, you have it better

Than our old continent.

You have no tumbledown castles

And no basalt deposits.

Your present is not disturbed deep down by

Useless remembrance and vain strife.

Use the present with good fortune!

And if your children write poetry,

May a kindly fate guard them from writing

Stories of knights, rascals, and specters.

http://www.bachlund.org/Amerika.htm

 translation by Marilyn Barnett

One of DT’s first targets for negation remains our fragile, wilting ecosystem.  We must get it back under control —and fast—.  Before DT touched nature with his cold, dead hands, an annual reduction of atmospheric hydrocarbons by 2% would have saved us-but we were barely making that. Now after he has negated our environmental protection, the yearly target for a timespan 4 years shorter than in 2016 is 5%.  And we had been barely eking out a scrawny 2%…. If we fail now, there will not be a second chance, the resulting inhospitable, lethal climate will make this planet uninhabitable.

Let us remember the hopes and faith that so many had for us so many years ago.

But we can only get to the end of the beginning by accepting without filtering where we are today. That’s the first step.

To that end, today Goethe’s hopeful poem could only be written something like this:

Amerika, du hattest es besser…

America, you had it better

Than our old continent.

But you failed to save your forests and oceans, 

You permanently poisoned pristine waters.

Shame! your present is blighted by leaders of

Useless remembrance and vain strife.

You misused the present in bad faith!

And your children will never write verse,

Condemned by drudge lackeys and their bumbling boss, to

end with a whimper: 

as nature winds down in reverse..

Where indeed have all the flowers gone, long time passing? How much pain must good men endure, before they throw off this yoke?

  

What has happened to US? Pane 1a: HOODWINKED BUT HARDLY DEFEATED

Hoodwinked. How and how to escape the thrall.

Hoodwinked? Anybody with two eyes and a brain can see that the US is divided very deeply, as deeply as it was in 1861 when the Confederacy opened fire on Fort Sumpter.

Funny. I hardly ever meet up with a streetfighter version of Sean Hannity or Dr Rachel Maddow I’ve seen bumper stickers, some window decals, an occasional lawn sign. If you listen to the news and the politicians, everyone in the United States is either angel or devil.

Right, I’m wary of devils being around. You never know these daysif yuou are about to step on yet another political landmine until it is too late unless you are wary and hold back. It is not OK any more to be in error and apologize. So, with some, I parse my words when it comes to politics. But I’ve always avoided talking politics with strangers anyway, it is just that now it feels llike the choice is not mine any more, unless I am willing to pay a large price.. Some may like it hot so to speak, but it is not my cup of tea. Never was. Many do want robust debate but apparently the all-out, no-holds-barred, but we are going to have dinner tonight anyway debating of days gone by is just a memory now.

I can remember my parents’ monthly cocktail party with old friends. I heard afterwards that Bill was upset by what Jane said about his need for status as a Republican (what my parents were) or how Muriel and Jack, devoted New Deal Democrats, thought the Republicans in the group too wary of civil rights, and so forth. They discussed heatedly, but they all kept coming to those discussions at the monthly cocktail parties year after year. I wonder today if I am lucky or cursed to have known that political climate.

But i have a duty to participate. Democracy: use it or lose it. We are already all too close to the latter. I have to speak out about what I think I have learned, about my opinions, but not in attack. It is my duty to conscience, to this country and all who have struggled, suffered, died to keep the experiment alive and moving. It is my duty.

So, in that spirit, just what is our political constellation, once we turn off the 24-7-365 news that needs to attract viewers to stay on the airi and turn off the politicians whom Mark Twain called the only native American criminal class.

While trudging the hopeless, dusty path of the Big DIvide, I stumbled onto proof that the Big DIvide does not exist outside the Beltway.

We do after all know how the political landscape actually is segmented, and we know it in detail, and with very solid grounding. I read about it in Die Zeit online just around the time of the 2018 midterms.

https://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2018-10/us-wahlkampf- washington-demokraten-republikaner-spaltung

It upset the applecart of all my assumptions about American political sentiment. It gave me hope — but it showed that if we want out of this dreary, dead mess in DC, we the people will have to get up and get going. Now.

It is all there to read, but it has not been talked about very much in the US. Imagine my surprise…. I was unable to google up any US talk about this more than a few sentences no matter how hard I searched. I first read about it in the reputable and very thorough German weekly online paper, Die Zeit (Time or The Times) in an article called Americas Exhausted Majority.


Is it that important? You bet it is. But you judge for yourself from what comes next..generally about these two questions:

  1. The actual political segmentation of our country: what is it and how is it that we are set up to be hoodwinked by autocrats?
  2. What are we going to do about it?

WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO US? PANE 1B: HOODWINKED. How? What is the real segmentation of our country politically?
A study published on 1 November 2018 comes to a very different conclusion than the one we are being manilpulated to believe. Instead of a split society, the study, Hidden Tribes: A Study of America’s Polarized Landscape [https: hiddentribes.us/pdf/hidden_tribes report.pdf, documents the US today as a society with highly nuanced political segments. I am summarizing here. The whole study is fascinating and ought to be crucial to political campaign planning. Get it and read it, and then do something — speak, write, volunteer for canvassing, party office work, whatever.

From the study:

 
The segments have distinctive sets of characteristics; here listed in order from left to right on the ideological spectrum:– Progressive Activists: younger, highly engaged, secular, cosmopolitan, angry.– Traditional Liberals: older, retired, open to compromise, rational, cautious.– Passive Liberals: unhappy, insecure, distrustful, disillusioned.– Politically Disengaged: young, low income, distrustful, detached, patriotic,conspiratorial.– Moderates: engaged, civic-minded, middle-of-the-road, pessimistic, Protestant.– Traditional Conservatives: religious, middle class, patriotic, moralistic.– Devoted Conservatives: white, retired, highly engaged, uncompromising,patriotic.

The Study Summary: from Die Zeit.online

In welche Lager teilt sich die amerikanische Gesellschaft? =

Into which camps does American society divide itself?

Key to graph:
versteckte Stämme—hidden tribes
politische ausgeklinkt —politically disengaged
traditionelle Konservativen — traditional conservatives
passive liberale — passive liberals
Moderate – moderates
traditionelle Liberale—traditional liberals
progressive Aktivisten— progressive activists
hingebungsvolle Konservative — devoted conservatives
  1. THE BOTTOM LINE:
  2. Traditional Conservatives+Devoted Conservatives+Progressive Activists: the political leatherlungs, 33% of the electorate
  3. The Exhausted Majority, the rest: 67% of the electorate. The ones who want this to stop, will find common ground and are ideologically significantly more flexible.

“The relevance of the segmentation is evident on a wide array of subjects, from issues of race and prejudice to gender and sexuality. Progressive Activists, the most liberal group, and Devoted Conservatives, the most conservative, show strong degrees of consistency within their ranks, while being almost perfectly at odds with each other. Middle tribes, by contrast, orient themselves incrementally on the ideological spectrum.

Further evidence of the relevance of core beliefs and their associated tribal identities is that tribal membership predicts differences in Americans’ views on various political issues better than demographic, ideological, and partisan groupings. This can be seen on subjects such as approval of President Trump, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and approval of the modern feminist agenda. On these questions and many others, the differences between the most ideological segments are greater than the differences between, for instance, self-described “strong Republicans” and “strong Democrats”
…..
“ Members of the Exhausted Majority are considerably more ideologically flexible than members of other groups. While members of the “wing” groups (on both the left and the right) tend to hold strong and consistent views across a range of political issues, those in the Exhausted Majority tend to deviate significantly in their views from issue to issue.Furthermore, the wing groups, which often dominate the national conversation, are in fact in considerable isolation in their views on certain topics. For instance, 82 percent of Americans agree that hate speech is a problem in America today, but 80 percent also view political correctness as an issue. By contrast, only 30 percent of Progressive Activists believe political correctness is a problem.”
….“

Yet it would be a mistake to think of the Exhausted Majority merely as a group of political centrists, at least in the way that term is traditionally understood. They do not simply represent a midpoint between the warring tribes of the left and right. They are frustrated with the status quo and the conduct of American politics and public debate. They overwhelmingly believe that the American government is rigged to serve the rich and influential, and they want things to change.With that said, there is nevertheless one segment within the Exhausted Majority that matches the traditional understanding of centrism: the Moderates, who comprise 15 percent of the population and whose views are consistently very close to the center of public opinion.The Exhausted Majority may be the key to countering polarization. Traditional Liberals and Moderates instinctively support compromise. Their voices would be strengthened if the Passive Liberals develop greater confidence in the value of their participation. On the other hand, the Politically Disengaged are at risk of being drawn into polarizing us-versus-them narratives, especially given their comparatively high levels of distrust and suspicion.”

The study characterizes these groups as hidden because they seldom occur as part of the daily discourse, the extremes are much more likely to be heard.  “The people at the extreme ends of the spectrum are more strongly interested in politics and are more likely to use the social media to announce their opinions.”’ says Miriam JuanTorres, one of the study’s authors.  “They understand the political discourse as something binary and perceive the respectively widely separated opposite side often as just a caricature.”

Hidden Tribes Links:

https://hiddentribes.us/download-report

https://hiddentribes.us/midterms-update

https://hiddentribes.us/quiz

What to do?

Last night I saw a new documentary on Amazon Prime about the history of liberal and conservative. If you would classify yourself in any one of the Exhaused Majority groups, you must see this. All I will say is that we need to get ourselves loose from the tastemakers because the divide into the concrete of which the political preachers have buried our political feet, does not exist. We have been hoodwinked, and hoodwinked hard.

Read a foreign, well respecrted newspaper. Die Zeit has a good englilsh verson online. The knowledge and insightfulness of their reporters are impressive, without an axe to grind.. And you get to hear a different point of view, see how Germans respond to our doings here, and read a bit about our most important European ally (or now, with the clear distaste that the Germans show for our President and his cronies, an ally at a distance.)

Or google how to handle situations like this–and find the good list in Psychology Today:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-practice/201807/8-highly-practical-tips-bridging-the-political-divide?amp

Better yet, get a copy of On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder. This is the bible of democratic citizenry wanting to prevcent dictatorship in their own country. Kindle version available.

What if we all decided that we were fed up with the slanting, editorial comment posing as reporting, suggestive innuendo, character assassinaations and lies of the so-called News Media?

What if we in the finely nuanced dispersion of the real USA decided to ask others what they believed, why and tried to find common ground rather than being on attack or defense all the time?

Do we want our country and history back?

Well, what are we waiting for? Any or all of the actions suggested by any of the sources I’ve seen can do the one thing that will turn the tables: energize us, . the Exhausted Majority. Accepting this debacle does not mean being a speedbump. Remember: American ends in I CAN.

COMING UP:HOW OUR CULTURE MAKES US VULNERABLE TO AUTOCRATS.: PANE TWO: OUR CULTURAL INVENTORY, PART 1: SHE’S OUR QUEEN TOO..

COMING UP: OUR CULTURAL INVENTORY, PART 2, THE P-47 THUNDERBOLT SYNDROME

Carpe Diem and Memento Mori

I walk with Roxy each day in the local municipal Cemetery.

It started out because anywhere else, our self absorbed fellow citizens walk with their dogs off leash.. And the do it wherever they please. I suspect that many of them really get a kick out of scoffing at the leash laws right in front of all the signs that say, All dogs on leash all the time.

It is tempting to skewer that behavior with the long thorns of acidic sarcasm and wicked wit. Let me just dismiss that path by saying that we are merely seeing another manifestation of the heads in the sand, I’m entitled Unites States of Narcissism. It is our culture now.

i was struck by the quiet in the cemetery. Expecting to be put off by being around dead people, I was surprised. No smell of rot. No hands reaching up out of the grave to grab Roxy and pull her, screaming, back down undergroud. No apparitions being exhaled like thin smoke by the grave. Not a thing from Hollywood at all. Just quiet and grey stones in varying stages of wear stuck at tottering angles, like uneven teeth in an old man’s mouth, On brown grass. Gothic trees reaching with concentration camp limbs silently to something we cannot see, lording their powerful shadowed presences over us lesser mortals.

IMG_3066

Nancy had found this place after having been frightened by dogs off lead while walking Roxy also. She had urged me to go, but I was reluctant. Why?

We had made a memorial to our three beloved German Shepherds Zora, Bruno and Kaiser. All three died in our house on the mountain with us right by their sides. I took to heart what Butch, our deceased Schutzhund trainer had said was his moral commitment to his GSDs: he would make certain that the last thing any one of them saw on this earth was his loving face. Amen. Me too.

We had found a cross shaped piece of wood, the day after Bruno died, on a spot in the woods where he loved to lie. More than coincidence, random chance?  I stained it, found rocks and spray painted them gold, and made a little memorial mound on that spot. I loved to go there, sit on the bench I’d made of cinderblocks and boards, remember them while loving the beauty of the woods and feeling, still achingly sorrowful for their absence, grateful for their lives.

On the last night we were in that house, a really perfect cool clear night on last March 29-30, we took the urns with their ashes, and spread them in our woods memorial chapel.  I read a farewell passage and prayer we had written for the occasion. We did the same at all their favorite outdoor spots.

That was supposed to have tied off the loose ends of grief. It did not. It did not because it was aimed,ever so subtly, at relieving me, at least, of my grieving for them — which I still am doing and most likely will do until the day when I die too. I had not gotten the message.

The cemetery is not colorful, and the plastic flowers or wilted real ones just emphasize by contrast the grey, colorless ness of a whole bunch of old and new graves. It is clear to me that there will always be loose ends, that I could well be one of those headstones one day, and at 76, not too far off.   My memorial spot back up on the mountain– well, it was not an acceptance of life on life’s terms.  And that was a well meant mistake, an act of American pretend.  It was a way to hang on.  You cannot hang onto anything gone from this world, it’s like trying to grab and hold a chunk of The Present.

What’s left? For me what’s left is the realization that this life, which seems so hard and sturdy with its atoms and molecules and thumbs that hurt when hit with my hammer, is just an illusion.  When you cannot stop the show and cannot hold onto the present, how can it be otherwise?  A glorious, beautiful, super ultra high definition movie which we crate as we act out our roles.    A moving feast.  What a theater, what a chance to grow!

So: Memento mori–remember that I too must die.  And I’ve discovered that in doing that, I find much much more of rich joy in that ephemeral elusive thing we call the present.  Heavens, today is a great day to die on!  I now know that native American wisdom to be a statement of gratitude for reality, not a morbid preoccupation with Holllywood’s contorted view of death and dying.

Thank heavens for my cemetery walks.  I have my beloved Roxy with me, sometimes my dear, patient, loving and long suffering Nancy —  and being there above ground provesI’ve got one more day on which to enjoy the abundance of God’s earth. Carpe diem and memento mori.

Can I help you, sweetie?

ghfbeard10-20124

 

I am by most counts 76 years old. Not that it pleases me much. But I’m fed up with ageism.  It’s everywhere, like a fungus among us.
  • The doc says not to worry abut X YZ because, uh, well uh, ahem! – you know, at your age you might ..uh well-uh you know what i mean, right? As we grow older certain things do not work-as well, you know what I mean? Right?
  • The bored and distracted cashier at the grocery store assumes im already-a demented, doddering, simpering, half blind , weak old nincompoop who cannot find or then carry his own  groceries and so says: here let me carry them to your car SWEETIE/HONEY/etc.  I decline as politely as they were when offering.
  • It’s not that I wouldn’t enjoy being waited on.  No.  I decline because of  the packer’s behavior:  either s/he is, my  age or ojder and  looks like s/he is about to topple over just by himself — or because being young and strong, the packer has a look of blind+deaf+dumb indifference that says you cannot breach this wall in a thousand years oh boring old person.
  • There is no winning.  They want us whitecaps to lose their oomph.  Maybe when we are vital and aged ,it upsets some teenage universal order.  Who knows?  It does not matter.  When I declinebecausee of these reasons,  these slobber-mpommies inevitably come back with;     are  you sure DARLINGs
  • I get the same bs from some nurses, waitresses, bank tellers, Wendy’s order takers, secretaries vendors eyc ad nauseam.
They mean well but they dont know!
Sure the body chsnges over the years.  Just ask my pants. But so does the wisdom  of been-there,  done-that. Its simple and I demonstrated it this.   morning with our 1’ foot of snow. You just work fast so that your body is  done before your slow, turtle like brain knows it has hapoened.  Take a peek:
 And the next little floozie who calls me HONEY/SWEETHEART/DARLIN’ etc better watch out.  My slow brain might think she’s asking for a quickie — I might take her up on it, and she won’t ever again think we HONEY+SWEETIE+DARLIN’S  are slow, plodding slug like creatures incapable of our own little interpersonal explosions. She wont know what hit her ( neither will I but it will be fast there isn’t much to be quick about any more..) Or I can just tell her off:  Cut out the talking down to me (can’t say condescending:  it is above the 4th grade reading level — our just peachy national reading level average – -the tweet level of comprehension) HONEYLAMB, its rude, pushy and presumptuous. Need to know how to spell presumptuous?  Finally I could just watch as she laughs herself to death after I take her up on the presumed flirt.
One way or the other, it would be fondly to be hoped that SWEETIE/HONEY/DARLIN’ won’t ever mean the same thing again.
At least thats my own sweetie fantasy.  Going back for my mid morning nap.
 Now what was my name again, sweetie?
)😜😇

Perspective

We live in (yet more) turbulent times.  The expected orders are being upended, the familiar dreams are being destroyed, the economic system on which most of us have relied seems headed for the junk pile, our leaders are people we would earlier not have chosen in a thousand years.  It seems that we are experiencing the re-valuation of all values.

So I was lazily drifting through blogs, books and emails when I stumbled across the following.  I’ve shown it to a few people and all agree: there is here some validation of the woe of our times.  See what you think:

“Oh grim calamity, where have my years all  gone?

Have I dreamed my life or is it real?

Whatever I held to be something, if it were there,

Was it really something?

And so I slept and knew nothing of it.

Now I am awake and now is strange

That which was before as familiar as my own hand.

The folk and the land in which I grew up

Are now foreign to me—as if that all were untrue.

My earlier playmates have grown slow and old.

The fields are abandoned, the forests all cut down.

Were the streams not flowing

Where they formerly flowed,

My pain would be truly great

I must believe.

I’m greeted coolly

By  those who knew me well.

Everywhere the world is bleak

The moment I recall many a magnificent day

Which has now slid away like a splash in the ocean

Then, forever:  oh woe is me.”

Ring any bells with you?  My sense was that, essentially, this sums up a lot of how I have felt recently.  And says it more eloquently than I could,, for sure.

But there is another aspect to this also:  perspective, in the sense that, first, my impressions are not just my own particular insanity, and, second, that we have been here before and are still around to talk about it.  It appears that we are like the timex watches of ads when I was young:  we take a lickin’ but keep on tickin’

And why, you might ask, do I come to that conclusion about this:

Simple.  It was written 800 years ago.

800 years ago by an itinerant German troubadour named Walther von der Vogelweide.  Walther spent a lot of his life walking  —. Yes on foot in all weather, day and night at a time when the world was lit only by fire — from one Prince’s court to another. HJe composed his poems and then sang them to his audiences for food, shelter and any other reward which his benefactor cared to bestow.

440px-Codex_Manesse_Walther_von_der_Vogelweide

He turns out to have been the for many greatest poet of the German Medieval era.  Apparently some people back then thought so too. His works survive in 32 manuscripts and one of them has a record of the melody to one of his Crusade Songs, the Palästinalied.

For me, today, his words go well beyond just having great historical importance.   Historical importance is a value in and of itself for me.  But this occasions both a sad reflection on persistent tragic folly of mankind and in a roundabout way, an encouragement in these turbulent times of ours.   It’s pretty obvious that here is an 800 year old ode to the tensions in the Holy Roman Empire during his time, and that they are to unlike some of mine at least, here 800 years later in another time of tensions and struggles. Our tragic folly is hardly different today:  fractured governance, fractured values consensus, seemingly endless warring, repeating some of the same actions that led in 1932 to The Third Reich, reversal of the reverence for nature implicit in our former embrace of ecology, etc, and so forth.  Different bottle, same sour wine.

The questions then must arise:  have we changed?  Has our notion of progress been an illusion?  If it has not, even in part, then could it be that we are not fundamentally here to make this world a better place?  DO we need some deeper reflection on the persistent tragic folly we create?.

On the other hand, this man lived  in circumstances physically enormously more dangerous and trying than mine.  He lived in  a world lit only by fire.  He walked or, if he was lucky, rode or was pulled by some animal in his travels. In the winter, he did not have to worry about his cars heater and defroster working.  No impermeable snowmobile suits with fitted gloves, boots, headgear and facemasks:  he wore heavier cloaks and possibly leather boots.   There weren’t even buttons to use on clothes.  No radio, no tv, no newspapers, no mail service…  He depended on handouts for his food, drink and shelter.  There was no social safety net of which we know (have to be careful here not go judge then by now’s standards however).  Lifespan was shorter.  Diseases which we have controlled then regularly cut down whole populations like scythes cutting tall grass. He even engaged in some rather pointed and possibly very dangerous political poetry/song writing which could easily have been seen as Walther biting the hand that fed him..   And yet:  he survived and  left this world works of beauty that have endured 800 years.

Therein lies the encouragement.  Do we not have so much for which to be grateful, even if it becomes the stage on which we act or our age’s tragic folly?  Should I then be consumed by concern?  Where are the gifts that are bestowed upon us in our time? If we can be open to it, even the cry of human woe grasping at our hearts across 8 centuries can be beautiful—-to my ears the beautiful music of Walther’s words.   Think of a poem or work of some sort where the words and the rhythm of the writing pleases you very much.  You will then have an idea of what this man’s literary power was 800 years ago..

Walther seems a lot closer to me now than he did 50 years ago and yet his distance has grown by 50 years. Increasingly my reading of history uncovers how we have been similar over the centuries, how our humanity has been the same, regardless of the physical and technological conditions of any particular time.  I have a growing sense that we are all in all ages in this together somehow.  Why not?  Einstein said time is a delusion.  My dear friend Bruce asserts that there is no future and no past, just the same day repeated over and over with different perceptions of the same thing=and all for the purpose of learning.  Walther’s cry of Owê, oh woe, oh alas, ach Weh gives that abstract thought shape and color.  At least for me.

Such mulitleveled beauty in one cry of existential sadness!  If we did not know that Walther said that 800 years ago, we could think someone said it today!  His reality and beauty is then ours too.

If truth is beauty, then our true reality is beauty, not turbulence. Turbulence just causes us to find new ways to create and celebrate beauty–to love. That’s! the reassurance of Walther’s Owê.

With this perspective, do we really have anything to fear but fear itself? O in the end Walther leaves me with this one compelling question:

Owê,what am I leaving behind of beauty?

 

 

 

 

 

1

Beyond the Divide

The announcement by DJT that the US is leaving the Paris Accords takes this repugnant regime and the rest of the US from the frying pan and into the fire.

As usual, his facts are wrong.

As usual his conclusions are wrong.

As usual his party is wrong.

As usual, this is what Scott Peck called evil: being unwilling to exert energy unconditionally on behalf of other people.

He is living proof of the German adage that stupidity will never become extinct.  But what should one expect from a spoiled brat whose parents protected him from the consequences of his boyhood bullying, who evidently was totally immune to learning during his educational years and whose lawyers and aggressive behavior have protected him from knowing what an unmitigated disaster he has been all of his malignant live?

Is this just a political difference of opinion?  Absolutely not.  It represents greed,  ideology and oppositional thinking (being against things to be against things in the erroneous belief that opposition is somehow strong) blinding decision makers to reality.  It is in short, disastrous denial and terminal uniqueness.

Climate change is real and 194 nations on this ailing planet agree.  194.  So that leaves Generalissimo Trump and his Repugnikan cohorts gleefully thinking that they are the only soldiers in step in the army.

This destroys American leadership in the world of democracy.  This destroys American initiative, creativity, determination to dominate the world in the future of energy production.  And it won’t come from oil or coal.  Even some of the oil companies refuse to support DJT in this evil insanity.

This is the macro-economic equivalent of wanting to deprive millions of Americans of health care.  Think through all the twists, turns and jumps and jerks of any part of this bully’s behavior and you must wind up at only one conclusion:  this is just plan evil in power.  Its what in Faust the Devil called himself:  the spirit who constantly negates. This is what M Scott Peck called evil:  the unwillingness, perhaps even inability, to do anything for the benefit of anyone else without condition or thought of reward or recognition.  Perhaps it is so utterly blatant that many cannot see it, but it is there nonetheless.

So this has now finally placed us at that place where the divide, until now still at least theoretically bridgeable by civil dialogue, is too great to bridge.   Civil dialogue with the morally bankrupt, know nothing bullies in the Repugnikan Party and anyone who even remotely supports them, is a waste of our time from now on.  As the kids said in the 1950s, we are cruisin’ for a bruisin’.  Except that there is no mirth in this at all.  This will do for our economy what the Repugnikan version of health management will do for our health:  undermine it.

Time to take off the velvet gloves and hit back as hard as we can —  plus 10% just to be sure.  The line has been drawn.  We are indeed beyond the divide.

Titan-o-man, so grand: farewell our friend

I keep beating myself up with self-recriminations.  Why didn’t I read the signals clearly and get help for Titanoman earlier?

It began after we gave him a bit too little food with his morning Augmentin on Wednesday.  He walking into another space from his bowls and vomited.  He repeated vomiting until it was dry heaves in the vet’s office in the early afternoon. An exam, more blood drawn and a hypothesis:  his stomach was upset by the powerful anti-biotic.

But he needed to calm things down so that he could continue the Augmentin, the supplement which protects the liver, the prednisone and if he had any pain, the combo of Tramadol and Gabapentin.  He needed all that to keep the lymphoma at bay and keep his blood count normal.  He needed all that with this his third chemo protocol, the “rescue” chemotherapy, to give him maybe another two to six months, outside, to live.

And on Wednesday he refused to take any medications or eat any food after the regurgitation spasms.  He had been given a shot of Cerenia and it helped with nausea, but something else was going on: not eating and hobbling on the left rear leg.  The vet said take him home and let’s see if the Augmentin’s absence and the anti nausea med does the trick.

It didn’t.

By mid afternoon he was having troubles getting up and walking.  We were at wits’ end about what to do until we found that our former vet here in our new hometown offered home care!  Unbelievable.  Nobody offers home care any more as a routine part of a medical or vet medical practice.  But she does. And she did.

He verdict was:  probably his spine.  Lets give him Gabapentin by mouth, Prednisocw by mouth, more Cerenia and then morphine just to be sure.  And if he cannot or will not get up after the morphine wears off around 11 PM, then tomorrow we will have to end his agony and life:  euthanasia.

His morphine rest was restless.  He really did not sleep, he just vegetated and began panting in earnest.   OK, that could just be sensitivity to morphine. We will know after 11 PM what the score is.  (Come on buddy, you can do it, God, come on, don’t let this wonderful friend down, don’t make Nancy suffer what I suffered when you couldn’t help us save Kaiser from hermangiosarcoma that windy night out on our deck April 2 last year. Please, please, please…)

He stood by himself twice between 11 PM and 3 am today.  By 3 am he could not stand unless we hoisted him in the Help ‘Em Up Harness which Bruno had and which the vet and vet tech had helped us get onto him. Otherwise he was struggling with episodes of heavy paying and open mouth breathing while on his side in the hall, struggling to try to move himself, failing back into exhaustion and not getting up.


(Come on bud, you can do this!  You just need a little rest and you’ll rebound.  After all your blood tests just 5 days ago were all totally normal and your lymph nodes all right sized.  If you’d only just eat a little, just drink a little more water.  Should we try to get you to an Emergency Vet?  Don’t know if we can lift you into the back of the car.  But I think you want to be in the car, which is your safe haven and favorite place. Right?  How abou some sign of agreement? But if I get you into the car, am I doing this just so that I’ll feel better or is it really going to serve you?  I’m so rightly strung that I think I;ll bust.)

At 3 we realize that we need help, even if it is for a euthanasia. (Large, hard lump in my throat, nerves screaming, mind whirling, fatigue pushing me hard but not overtaking me). The Emergency Vet Hospital 15 minutes away says get him here. We haul and hoist him into the Outback “trunk” area on top of an old, soft deep comforter.  He smiles  the car is one of his homes.  He is safe.  By 4:30 we are there.

This loss is especially hard for Nancy: Titan was one of the greatest loves of her life. She and he were, are and always will be one. that is a once in a lifetime inimitable gift. Precisely that, however, insures that she will feel even more sharply the aching emptiness of the hole beside snd inside herself where he used to be, while the healing process of grief takes its course.

As for me, as I write I am quietly rehearsing my habitual though basec on his being nesrby: “come here bud, lets play tug the ball”. In that very instant Inrealize with a feeling of almost nauseating bottomless falling, that his physical being cannot do that any more.

Then I’m knocked down by the very big disaster for me, on older fellow who found his only effective cure for lifelong very severe ADHD in the companionship not just of dogs, but especially and powerfully with trained GSDs. The big knock down is realization.that for the first time in 17 years there is no GSD awaiting us at home when we return is daunting. It ties up my gut in fear.

Ut at least helping him with his dying we got right in the end. We are so very very glad that he died while in the hospital; we took him there because we could not handle his struggle by ourselves. And we wanted him and his body to be treated with the utmost care and dignity.

Things got so unbearably painful for him and us that night. We filled God’s inbox with prayers, petitions, even outright commands in less than civil language. With just an bour left for him, We achieved that at nearby Western Carolina Regional Animal and Emergency just in time.

We are so utterly grateful for the unconditional love he brought us — just as Bruno,Zora and Kaiser did. We are grateful to German Shepherd Rescue and Adoption of NC for having brought Titan and Kaiser to us. Our GSD companions have lined our lived for 18 years with safety, steadiness, solace and sweetly intelligent companionship.

Titan came to us on the 19th of April, 2013 via Connie from German Shepherd Rescue and Adoption, a group of some of the most loving and tough people I’ve ever known.  It takes a lot to have to face a dog whom some dead-souled human starved, intimidated, kicked in 3 ribs and knocked out a tooth while scarring his muzzle and psyche — all before dumping in the woods to die? Is that love exceeded anywhere?

That’s what happened to Titan and the context in which he had lived when I fist met him at GSRA’s Adoption Event in March, 2013 in Cary.

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We know who did it from what he feared when he came to us:  a slim person, wearing dark shoes or especially boots, jeans or especially cargo pants and a baseball cap,.  We think this person,  if such a lowlife can deserve the appellation of human implied in the word person, must have been a male:  titan was terrified of me, cowering, baring fangs, growling at first.  We think he was protected by a woman–he had no fear of any woman who is comfortable around him.  And in some way the back seat or utility area in the back ofd an SUV type vehicle was his safe haven:  even dying, one hour before his body gave out, you could see the realization and joy at being in the back of our Outback–regardless of going to his final vet visit.

He became noticeably more agitated at the vet hospital.  It was hard to draw blood because it was thickening inside his veins.  He began to breath with his mouth wide open, tongue hanging out, long, loose, pink in color but dry as a bone and oozing a sweet-rotten smelling green nd black gelatinous goo which had to be wiped from his lip:   dehydrated saliva.  He was alternately restless and almost senseless.

The vet was in a hurry to get his blood tested.  Maybe there was something that could still be done.

(My God, is he dying right before our eyes?  He isn’t even whimpering.  Don’t worry bud, we’ve got you covered, we won’t let you suffer :  dammitallanyway, the signs of all this were evident 5 hours ago at home, my God, my God, my God it was my need to keep him around and then to be his savior that made him suffer needlessly.)

I say that to Nancy.  She says remember we did not think we could lift him into the car. (Yeah, I forgot, it took us one hour to move him basically two car lengths with the Help ‘Em Up harness and then every ounce of strength we two oldsters could muster to heft him, feeling like a burlap potato sack filled with lead potatoes, into the rear.  Oh thank you God;, he looks so peaceful here.  He seems to be smiling, and the panting is far less severe.  He’s safe and we did it!)

The vet had sprinted with the blood to the testing area at about 5:15 am.  He’d given T an injection of painkiller to slow the stress on the heart and lungs.  Nancy was talking to him – T – and turned to do something at the counter in the exam room. I was sitting a bit away and behind where Nancy was standing.  The instant she turned away, he raised his head, looking for a split second up towards the corner ceiling in the room to his front and left.  He had not been able to raise his head or even react for hours now.  And now suddenly he sits up?

But that’s not even the  half of what I saw and cannot explain.

Just before Nancy had turned around, I had noticed that, lying there on his side, panting,  those deep, large brown eyes had begun to shine a glazedgolden brown .  Suddenly the great bear head raises up, just as if he were at home and had heard something outside that was not supposed to have been there:  high alert.  It was as if he’d seen something beyond that room.  But his alert was suddenly ecstatic.  We all know what our dog looks like when he is overjoyed to see someone he loves.  Those golden brown eyes the instant he showed his joy glowed molten gold.And then, the golden light just stopped and he slumped slowly, head first and neck curved, as he’d been doing when tired from exertion all night to his right.  My eyes went instantly to his abdomen:  the lifting and falling of life was gone.  He was dead.

I had seen something that we just do not get to see on this earth.  Please don’t ask me to prove it — you were not there, I was.  It overwhelmed me, I knew biblical awe in a flash, but my mind was kicking on my thoughts saying, tell her, tell her.  God I did not want to tell her that but I did.  She screamed for the vet — but more  for her loss, and he came running.  No heartbeat.  Just a very very handsome boy lying there, eyes open but with a gentle far away stare, those large black coal nugget eyes that always had had that polish and questioning look, were dull and blank..

I am editing this on October 23.  My oh my how that hole in my life still aches, how that empty hall still hangs dark with shadows of his suffering and last nights struggle.  I’d do anything to get him — and Kaiser, and bruno and Zora — back.  But I digress.

The blood tests showed that his kidneys had failed.  We were right in deciding not to do resuscitation.

So it would not have made one iota of difference whether we had gone there earlier or not.  He was on his way out all during those two days.  He was trying to tell us that by not eating.  He was trying to get, not to the hospital, but back into the car. At least just about his last experience was a 15  minute car ride.  He wanted to leave from his safe place.

Of course now we are enduing the wrenching and lurching agony of separation, parting with no debrief afterwards.  We are doing all the phases of grief.  But they say that the brain remains active for a period after the heart stops.  I am so utterly grateful that that night shift vet gave us 10 minutes with him and then promised dignified and caring treatment of his body.  Indeed when he came back, he sat down in front of T, told him how handsome he was, and  stroked his head, neck, legs and sides.  But in those 10 minutes, when I now believe his true eternal self had made those eyes glow and was still gently hanging on to this world, he heard, saw, felt and knew a love song enough to break the bonds of death itself.

The miracle was that we wound up doing it all just right.  Or more accurately: we were guided by him to take all the right actions at all the right times.

We are devoted to German Shepherds and after a pause to grieve and reorient ourselves, not only want to bring more into our lives.  We feel strongly that we must do that, that it is our lot in this life to provide a home and a good life for GSDs misunderstood as “aggressive”, rejected,  dumped, abandoned, beaten, starved and worst of all, ignored. We owe it to Bruno, Zora, Kaiser, Titan.  Having our hand out for them is our responsibility.

Thank God he chose Nancy for his earthly commitment.  Thank God that we had the honor and sublime joy of having been his companions for four years.  Thank God that we gave him in return the best life we could.  Thank you Titan for having given me just a quick glimpse of whatever it is that animates all life.  Thank God for Titan and German Shepherds.

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The Whole Nine Yards

Why the lethargy in finding out whether the President of the United States and his immediate subordinate have committed actions which could well amount to  treason?

How come, then, is it the demonstrable case that the worst it gets with Trump,  the more dedicated Trumps radical supporters get in pushing what they think is his cause?  It must be some basic facet of human character that makes such devastation possible:  it happened in Nazi Germany and nothing seems able to stop if from happening again, right here in River City,

Everyone knows that if this were anyone else in the chair in the Oval Office, the sky would have fallen in on him or her and he or she would either be history or on trial in the US Senate.  Why not DT?

A friend urged me to read Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward, probably to help me see where I’m still stuck in adolescence at age 75….

So I still have some growing up to do:  tell me something I don’t know!

OK, from Rohr,  here it is:  the same division of individual life into two phases applies in Rohr’s book to societies aka nations.  What Rohr has to say about that in regard to the US answers the questions above which have been rattling around in my mind ever since January 20. (Text in brackets […] is mine, not Rohr’s).

“Law and tradition seem to be necessary in any spiritual [read:  attitudinal] system both to reveal and to limit our basic egocentricity, and to make at least some community, family, and marriage possible.  [Rohr’s italics].  …

Without laws like the Ten Commandments our existence here on the earth would be petty precarious indeed.  What if you could not rely on people to tell you the truth?  [Sound like anyone we know in government today?]  What if we were not expected to respect our elders, actually to dismiss the age old role of community elder, and we all based our lives on cynicism and mistrust of all authority?  [Sound like any current generations you know?]  What if “I love you” between partners was allowed to mean nothing? [Know any prominent couples where love would be an empty formula?] What if covetousness, which Rene Girard calls “mimetic rivalry”, was encouraged to grow unstopped, ,as it is in capitalist countries today?  [Any particular consumer minded societies come to mind, where the people — some of them — have gone way beyond conspicuous consumption in their greed?  Where certain politicians and churchmen have actually preached that greed, one of the original cardinal sins, is good?] Such shapelessness would be the death of any civilization or any kind of trustworthy or stable world.

I wonder:  Are we there already? …

If you want a job well done, on time, with accountability and no excuses, you had best hire someone who has faced a few limiting situations.  [Give me your tired, your poor, your teeming masses…and they will do the work that Americans think is beneath themselves.]. He or she alone has he discipline, the punctuality, the positive self image, and the persistence to do a good job. [Research has shown for decades that the best leaders essentially fail their way to success by learning from failures. Can we say that about DT?] If you want the opposite, hire someone who has been coddled, been given “I Am Special” buttons for doing nothing special, had all his or her bills paid by others, and whose basic egocentricity has never been challenged or undercut.   Rohr states that , to be honest, this seems to describe much of the working population and the student body that one hears about in the USA.  Many of the papers he received teaching in summer graduate courses at major universities were disturbingly deficient.  It was embarrassing to read their undisciplined style and purloined, unattributed content.   Yet those same “adults” are shocked if the do not get an A.  This does not bode well for the future of our country.  (from Rohr, Falling Upward, p. 28 ff)

  • Rohr’s text was written in 2011.  I wonder now if he might feel that his last sentence above was prescient at the time but too weak for our present context– needing  now to  written with much more indignant outrage.
  • We now have placed the future of our country in the hands of a man who has been coddled, given all sorts of Attaboys for doing nothing exceptional or worse, has always been financially cushioned and so has no idea whatsoever of the needs of those who have not been padded by greenback dollars all their lives. His colossal and poisonous ego not only is never challenged or undercut, but taken as affirmation by all the other adolescents in our society that they do not have to grow up.
  • We have put all the inmates in charge of the asylum.  The country which invented teenage, and all of its cultural expressions, now may be swamped by it and drown.

The reason that Trump gets more popular as he gets worse is that he is the emblem, the symbol, ,the embodiment of  the adolescent culture we have planted, fertilized, cultivated, grown and harvested over and over again for decades.  He is their self image become flesh.  They accept his dark blessing as white because their ability to make distinctions, by and large, ended with that of a fourth grader.  They cannot see or abide the grays of life.  Just like children they want it all black or white:  absolute predictability and validation of themselves.  Before they are willing to change that, if indeed they ever do, they will have to hurt a whole lot more than the discomfort of a few blog posts, marches, investigations and adamant speeches will create.   They clearly would rather fight than switch–not an unusual response to change, even if it does not ever work. And if the history of post WW2 right wing reactions is any guide. many of them will wind up defeated but unconvinced.  they will wait in the wings, teaching their progeny the litany of ignorant indignation and blame, waiting for the next Emperor to come along.

To think otherwise is to deny.  Denial:  the best friend of the irresponsible and a sure path to everlasting ignorance and the eventual collapse its pervasiveness will trigger.  We have armies of citizens, really armed to the teeth, who are determined to force the rest of us to admit that the Emperor really does have new clothes….

Even more than that, they will have to be willing to accept that DT, just as Hitler and Stalin and all the rest of the autocrats ever did, has hoodwinked them to  keep them forever bound to their character defects.  In the midst of an era when nothing is constant except upheaval, and when our world’s Gretchens of Faust find it ever more elusive to hand onto old rituals, he  told them that he knows all the right answers and will take all the responsibility.  And they say:  it’s a deal, Big Guy!

There is only one power on earth stronger than that. Eisenhower described it in warning our enemies in WW2:  there is no force stronger than an aroused democracy. To arouse my own democratic indignation and that of any of the handful of people who may ever read this, mainly, is why this essay is here.  I must write and publish whatever I perceive, think, reflect on, sense about this most critical of crises since the Civil War.  A moral statement without committed action in its name is just whistling wind..

The moral worth of a man only just begins at the point where he is ready to offer up his life for his own convictions.  General Henning von Treschkow, final words of farewell before taking his own life after his efforts failed in the July 20, 1944 plot to kill Hitler.

And why a commitment whose price could well be our own mortality?  Bernard Shaw said it:  Liberty means responsibility.  That is why most men dread it.

There are things more important in this theater of morality we call life than our individual lives.  One of them is liberty and justice for all.  Can we let what untold numbers of humans have died for just slip away?

If we want liberty, then we must be willing to commit to making it happen, even if it looks hopeless in the short run.  I cannot tell you what you must do.  But I must be ready, even at 75, even or maybe especially because it frightens me, to go the whole nine yards.

High Time

The citizens of this country have every cause legitimately to feel untempered indignation about DT and his cronies.  They have violated with contempt and cynical abandon the physical, legal, moral and spiritual underpinnings of the United States.  They have discolored the bright, developing light of the worlds only constitutional republican experiment in multicultural democracy with the fetid dank, putrid stain of self-seeking, bigoted, unthinking, dull  cynicism.

They, not the mainstream Republicans, not the mainstream Democrats, not the Progressives, not the Libertarians, not the Mexicans or Catholics or Intellectuals: no one but they and their dedicated collaborators alone have brought on the time of remorseless reckoning. They have created and surely earned the unsparingky intolerant earthquake-like shockwaves of the moral and legal bombs they’ve been dropping.

The honest and decent, long suffering cituzens of this great nation pause now in rapt attention.  We are observing, not missing a stitch of who is taking right action or ourbehalf  and who, like Matshmallow McConnell is still dodging and weaving, trying yet again first to save his own you know what.  We are awaiting the chance to get even with the collaborators and to mark the removal of the DTs with a heartfelt:  good riddance!

As for the DTs and their collaborators:  it would be high time to prepare to exchange your golden cufflinks and hand made Italian shoes for hardened steel handcuffs and US made shackles. That–or get out of Dodge pronto!