EXPELIO TRUMPUS! – BY ELLIN CURLEY

David Brooks wrote an editorial in the June 2, 2017 New York Times called “The Axis Of Selfishness.” I just reread it. It really helps you understand where Trump is coming from. It makes his attitudes and actions a bit more comprehensible.

Brooks posits that Trump has a very dark view of humanity and the world. Trump believes that man is motivated solely by selfishness and self-interest. Life is merely a competitive struggle for gain and dominance at the expense of others.

There are only winners and losers. There is a limited amount of ‘stuff’ to be had and everyone has to try to get as much as possible for themselves. You are either on top or you are on bottom beneath someone else’s heel.

There is nothing in the middle. No area of compromise, no mutual interest, no sharing. No neutral zone where people coexist in peace, prosperity and equality.

This explains a lot. He is simpatico with brutal dictators because they share his philosophy of life. They are ‘winners’ who have come out with the most power and the biggest piece of the finite pie. It’s every man for himself, us against them, eat or be eaten, dominate or be subjugated in a dark world with no humanity or humanism.

No touchy feely stuff like morality, good, selflessness, compassion, caring, or justice enter his world. It’s as if those qualities don’t exist for him. That really is sad. If he weren’t screwing up the entire free world I might feel sorry for him — another squishy emotion that he doesn’t recognize.

If this is how Trump sees the world, his behavior almost makes sense. No wonder he’s such a dick! No wonder he’s paranoid. No wonder he thinks all Muslims are out to kill us, that Western European democracies as well as Canada and Mexico are out to cheat us, that all non wealthy, non white Americans exist entirely to mooch off everyone else — and all liberals want only to destroy him.

No wonder Trump can’t let anything go — or stop tweeting. He has to be right and everyone else must be wrong. No wonder he has to demean others. In his mind, the only way you can lift yourself up is by denigrating others.

Brooks says the problem is that Trump’s worldview is self-perpetuating. If you act aggressively, competitively, and selfishly towards all others (people or nations), they will respond to you in kind. Thus your misanthropic attitudes are confirmed and the vicious circle of the worst humanity has to offer goes around and around.

The rest of us acknowledge the existence of greed and venality, but we believe social evolution pushes mankind to be cooperative, empathetic, idealistic, loyal, and righteous. We believe humanity is designed to strive for these ideals in our personal and public lives. We can see the wonderful world we can make if we work together and care for one another.

In our world, Harry Potter beats Voldemort every time. In Trump’s world, Harry Potter is a minor character with little power or even influence. Voldemort is the undisputed king.

I don’t want to live in that world! Neither does most of America.

We have to hope the people who share our better view of life can muster the strength needed to banish Orange Voldemort’s darkness, and bring back America’s light. We have to fight to reinstate compassion, decency, justice, and right as the guiding forces for America.

EXPELIO TRUMPUS!

TODAY IS TOLKIEN READING DAY – MARCH 25th

March 25, 2018 – TOLKIEN READING DAY

Celebrated around the world on March 25, Tolkien Reading Day is a favorite among fans of the renowned author. When we were younger and drank more, it was also Fall of Sauron Day.

This day commemorates the dropping of the One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom and the non-extinction of the human race. Sadly, I think Sauron is back.

Mount Doom

I don’t know if he-who-has-gone-to-Mordor (aka Florry-duh) or whether or not he has the one Ring of Power, but the extinction of the human race seems to be exactly his goal. If he can’t kill us by getting rid of our medical care, maybe he can wipe us out by destroying the planet. If that doesn’t get the job done, there’s always the nuclear option.

So perhaps this is the right day for celebration after all.

If we can remember a couple of hobbits and an insane mad creature named Gollum climbed through the darkness and horror of Mordor to get the ring into the fire, maybe we can get through this too.

J.R.R. Tolkien (Jan. 3, 1892 – Sept. 2, 1973) was an English writer, poet, philologist and university professor. He was best known as the author of the classic works: The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarrillion as well as Roverandom and Farmer Giles of Ham.

HOW TO OBSERVE THE DAY? 

Read some of Tolkien’s works and use #TolkienReadingDay to post on social media. As it happens, not only did I just finish reading the entire three book series, but Garry and I also watched the extended 3-movie extended version of “Lord of the Rings.”

HISTORY

This day was officially started in 2003 by the Tolkien Society to encourage the readings of J.R.R. Tolkien. March 25th was chosen as the date to honor the fall of Sauron in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

Personally, from our point of view, they were very late to the party. We’d been joyously celebrating that day for years, from the late 1960s right through the 1970s. By the time the Tolkien Society made their pronouncement and declared it a special day, we had largely disbanded. I had gone to Israel, others moved to Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Utah, and Massachusetts.

But we never forgot that day or the ceremony — which involved considerable drinking and a very short service, noticeably reminiscent of a Passover Seder. I  steal my material from wherever I can find it.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT “THE LORD OF THE RINGS”

The book is about good and evil. On the bad side, there’s Sauron, the greatest and most powerful of evils. Saruman, who would have become Sauron — given the chance. The horror of those who follow these worst of men.

The fear that engulfs the world as Sauron’s shadow began to cover it. The fearful hope that somehow, when power fails, that the determination and dedication of the least of them may yet win the day — and does win the day. It was definitely worth a party and it still is.

I bumped into this quote last night. I was tucked in for the night and I hoped I would remember it in the morning. I didn’t exactly recall it, but luckily for me “Lord of the Rings” is such a well-quoted book, I found it online:


Eomer said, “How is a man to judge what to do in such times?”

“As he has ever judged,” said Aragorn. “Good and evil have not changed since yesteryear, nor are they one thing among Elves and another among Men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.”


In the great fabric of  life in which we are threads, good and evil are part of us. We are born knowing both. It’s in our DNA. When we see evil and allow ourselves to become part of it — when we live in evil times and excuse the evil around us– we become part of it. No spoon is long enough to keep you far enough away from the Devil.

A bad man and his wicked followers and adherents don’t have “a good side.”

And in the darkness bind them …

Happy Fall of Sauron Day. Read Tolkien. Watch the movies. They’re available on Netflix. Maybe elsewhere, too.

WHEN THE SWORD COULD BE MIGHTIER THAN THE TRUTH

In theory, we applaud “whistle blowers.” We are grateful that they have brought forth an important story. An issue with which we should all be concerned.

In the real world, whistle blowers fare poorly. They don’t get a lot of congratulations. They are distrusted by everyone in their industry and elsewhere. They are frequently prosecuted for failing to come forward sooner by outside authorities and always fired by their employers — regardless of what “the law” says.

Within the organization on whom they are lowering the boom, they are ostracized. Typically they are prevented from earning a living in that profession again. Scorned. Hated by many whose careers are ruined.  A lot of people will go down when that whistle blows.

The other day, I told the story of Bernard Cardinal Law and our Somali cat, Big Guy. It was a true story. Cute and friendly.

The story gets a lot less friendly a few years later. That was when Garry and others in his age-group were being forced out of television by virtue of having gotten “too mature” or just “not the right type” to roll with the “new kids” on the TV block. It was the same time that the huge story of the pedophile priests of Boston was breaking. Garry didn’t cover the story (though he followed it closely) because by then, he was not working.

Cardinal Law had been one of his friends in Boston’s power structure. He was one of the people Garry would have turned to when his own fortunes needed a lift. Instead, the Cardinal was coming down. He went back to Rome where he passed away in December 2017.

The demise of the reign of Bernard Cardinal Law was tragic on many levels. He was in charge of moving the pedophile priests from parish to parish, year after year. More than 20 years that we know of. He had to know it was wrong. He was a bright man. A Jesuit. Well-educated. Intelligent in a worldly way, not just as a churchman.

But, he had his orders. Discipline in the Church is no different than in the military or police. Strict. You do not fight with your superiors … not if you intend to remain in the Church.

While this was going on, William (Billy) Bulger — an important Massachusetts political figure for many years and who was another friend of Garry’s — was grabbing his golden parachute and drifting away. He had been promoted from head of the Massachusetts’ Senate to President of the University of Massachusetts. A genuine intellectual, he was political, funny, and rivetingly smart.

But. He had a brother and that brother was a criminal. Not just any criminal. Whitey Bulger was one of the FBI’s most wanted criminals. A very big deal on the criminal scene. Whitey had been in hiding for decades. Despite this, no one had closely questioned Dr. William Bulger about his brother’s location.

You’d think that would be on the tip of everyone’s tongue, but it wasn’t. Or, maybe it was, but it never made it past the ears of those who heard or knew.

How many people — other than brother Billy — knew where Whitey was hiding? Politicians, reporters, policemen, and more than a handful of FBI agents knew, not to mention the entire Bulger family. But no one was publicly saying anything.  Supposedly, Whitey was also an informant and protected by the FBI. It got extremely tangled and in the end, at least one agent ended up in prison.

Note: John Connolly, the former FBI agent, was convicted of racketeering, obstruction of justice and murder — charges stemming from his relationship with James “Whitey” Bulger, Steve Flemmi, and the Winter Hill Gang. He was convicted on racketeering charges in 2002 and sentenced to ten years in federal prison. In 2008, he was convicted on state charges of second-degree murder in Florida and sentenced to 40 years in prison. 

Everything wound up in court. Movies were made.

The issue always arises — when does conscience force you to tell the whole truth? When does  being on the right side exceed your need to survive, have a career, get your pension, protect your family? Protect your life? At what point are you obligated to question orders and do the right thing? This is no simple question. While we acknowledge good and evil, in our real lives, there is more going on than that. There are other people to protect. Family. Friends, Co-workers. That can add up to an awful lot of people and if you bring them down, they aren’t going to thank you because you “did the right thing.” How hated are you ready to be?

This is the question. Whether you march with the church, a political machine, are a police officer, or in the military — the truth can get you and yours killed. As in literally (not figuratively) dead. Or locked in a prison from which you will never again see the light.

When does obedience to the order to which you belong end and obedience to higher principles begin? Discipline is strict. If you do not obey a direct order — conscience or not — you can and will be brought up on charges. Fired. You will lose everything. Probably forever.

In theory, conscience should (must) rule but in reality — there’s a lot more to it. You don’t just disobey a command from a superior officer, whether the officer is the Pope, a Colonel, or the President. Not without paying some stupendous price. Your disobedience might easily cost you your life or the lives of those you care about. Not to mention everything you value.

The cost of obeying your conscience is only a small thing when the issue is maybe snitching on your older brother to a mom or dad. That’s probably the last time it’s no big deal. The higher up you get in the ranks of any organization, the harder you will fall.

Nor, in the end, will you got a lot of thanks for your efforts. Even those for whom you went out on a limb will probably not be thanking you.

While all this high-end drama was playing out, the people that Garry had hoped he could ask for help in repositioning himself in the market were collapsing, never to be publicly seen again. While he was going down, they were falling too.

They had better parachutes than Garry. Life can be very funny that way.

Note 2: For a real life look at the life of a prominent whistle blower, take a look at the life of Frank Serpico, the guy about whom they made the movie. 

ENROLL TRUMP FOR TREASON – A STUNNING COMMENTARY BY RICH WILSON

I think I’m pretty good with words, but compared to this guy, I’m a first-grader writing with blunt crayons. In this piece titled:


Donald Trump Cracks the Seal on Talk of Treason


Written — or should I say composed — by conservative author Rich Wilson, the words flow like music. This is a symphony of the English language describing our so-called president. I should let the author speak for himself. I don’t think anyone could say it better. This was so good, I read the first half out loud to Garry. 


You may have noticed by now, but I’m not one to pull any punches on Donald Trump. As a conservative, I see him as a statist abomination, a plump, be-wattled authoritarian-wannabe man-baby with the intellectual horsepower of a toaster oven.

One thing we’ve learned in the last two years is that no legal, moral or cultural strictures bind Trump and that he is immune to the better angels of human nature. The moral event horizon around him consumes the good in anyone who becomes one of his vassals. There is no better version of Trump, ever. He can only degrade and destroy everything he touches, but today was remarkable, even for him.

Monday’s simpering, prissy, self-indulgent performance in Ohio was just another raree-show with our Kentucky Fried Nero fiddling while the stock market burned. Then came the moment where he broke another seal, and cracked another seam in the foundation of our Republic.

That was when Trump, in his typical sneering, sniggling, purse-lipped way said of the Democrats watching his State of the Union speech: “They were like death. And un-American. Un-American. Somebody said ‘treasonous.’ I mean, yeah, I guess, why not? Can we call that treason? Why not? I mean they certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much.”

Even for Trump, on an endless quest to define American decency down, this was a new low. His followers and Congressional cheering section will love it, of course. A few Republicans in Congress may furrow a brow or intone some anodyne statement like, “I wouldn’t have put it that way, but…”

Trump lacks the mental capacity to see where this very slippery slope leads, but the political arsonists around him do. With that, prepare to reap the whirlwind.

See the rest of the story at: DONALD TRUMP CRACKS THE SEAL ON TREASON


And thus the man himself has slipped the word into the national conversation. This is the one crime that has never been trivialized or minimized. “Our Founders viewed treason as the most severe crime against the Republic. Treason was an act without shades of gray, without gradiations, without rationalization. It is the one crime we punish by stripping those found guilty of it of their citizenship, or even their lives.”

You hear the expression “Let slip the dogs of war.” I think, as words go, these may well be our dogs of war. Casual talk of treason? Casual? Treason?

Remember this in days to come. The day the stock market crashed, Trump talked casually and humorously of himself as a man accused of treason. A light-hearted jest tossed at the heart of the nation he supposedly serves.

CONFESS LEST THE DEVIL TAKE YOUR SOUL?

Last night we watched the final episode in this year’s “A Place to Call Home,” a really good Australian melodrama. This was its fifth year and who knew we’d get all tangled up in an Australian melodrama? It’s their version of Dallas, sort of … but I like the people better.

In this final episode of year five, the Very Bad Girl of previous seasons eventually kills herself to implicate a Very Bad Guy. It is a sacrifice to all the evil she did in previous episodes. In the end, at least one member of the family feels it is wrong to let the Very Bad Guy go to the gallows when this family knows, even if no one else knows, that the Bad Guy didn’t really kill her.

It got me to thinking about life and death decisions … when you are obliged to save the life of someone who has done you wrong and  every fiber of you is screaming “let the bastard die.”

I believe most of us can’t do that.

Despite the fact that today, in this time and space, our country is being run by awful people who have no conscience and no sense of right and wrong — or good and evil — it doesn’t mean that we are the same. Have once been in that position, I couldn’t do it. Should I have done it? I sometimes wonder, though really don’t know. I was sure then and I’m reasonably sure now I would have regretted it. If I didn’t regret it, it would have changed me and made me into someone else, someone I could not recognize as me.

things we do, good and bad, alter us on a fundamental level. Technically — legally — no one is responsible for saving the life of someone whose death they did not cause. If you see someone trying to commit suicide, you are not legally obligated to stop them. You aren’t breaking the law if you let them jump from that ledge or take the poison. But your soul knows. Your conscience knows. Your gut knows.

The bad things we do never go away. They are little poison pellets that grow inside us. Forever.

That’s why looking at our so-called leadership, I wonder how these people can look at themselves in a mirror and not be struck with horror at what they see. I would like to believe that at some point, this will catch up with them and the poison in their souls will eat them alive. I don’t know it’s true and I have no belief system to prove it, but I want it to be true.

A TOUGH GO FOR AMERICAN CONSCIENCES

It was pointed out to me that there’s a lot we don’t know about the people who came before us.

How — why — they dressed and spoke and related to each other as people in their society. We are fuzzy about a lot of cultural material and mostly, we take our best guess as to what they were thinking as they lived from one day to the next in whatever capacity they lived it.

We have no clue about how our great-grandfather confessed his love to great-grandmother. We don’t know the words they used, or their tone of voice. We don’t know if their moment of passion happened at all. We don’t know because they left no evidence for us. They spoke differently, yet surely they held the same emotions we do — and we base all our fiction on that assumption. But of course, we could be entirely wrong. It’s just guesswork.

United States Slave Trade

On the other hand, we know precisely — anyone could know this because it’s easy material to find — that the people who drew up our Constitution precisely understood how deeply wrong slavery was. They knew — fully and completely — that failing to remove this horror would cause a war. A big war.

Many expressed gratitude they would not live to see it.


They knew right from wrong.


They spent agonizing hours, weeks, months and years writing about it. Discussing it. Keeping notes about what they said and what others said. They didn’t for a minute think building a nation on slavery was “okay.” Abigail Adams, for one, didn’t want to live in the White House — not merely because it wasn’t finished, but because slaves built it. Yet without the compromise of making slaves three-fifths of a person — a person who would never vote or have anything to say about his own life — there would not have been a Constitution or a country. Getting the country to be a country was, ultimately, what mattered. Under this devil’s decision lay the future in which we are now living.


We didn’t get here by accident. It wasn’t one bad election or a few unfortunate choices. The path on which we are walking was being laid out for us before there was a United State. The issues we now face have always been there. 


For all the northern objections to slavery, it wasn’t as if there weren’t any slaves in New England or New York. Southern plantations bought slaves, but New England sea captains brought them here. The first port of call for southern slave owners were the slave markets of New York and New England. Until the Constitution when northern slavery was formally abolished, there were plenty of slaves up north, too.

About those Native Americans from whom we grabbed this land and who we slaughtered so we could keep it? Of course we knew it was wrong. Maybe not every unread slob understood it, but anyone with a modicum of education got it. We still know it, even if we have tried our best to tuck the information as far from “common knowledge” as we can. We don’t want to think about what we did to get this place — and what we are still doing.

Did our ancestors understand this?

Yes.

But you see — they wanted this country. They wanted it and they wanted it beyond any moral compunctions. If that meant slaughtering entire tribes — see Andrew Jackson for more on that — so be it. Why should “those savages” get this rich and beautiful country? They didn’t deserve it. It should be ours. To make this righteous, we made up a bunch of crap about white being better than not white, but we didn’t get that from anyone’s religion. We quite simply made it up because we needed to believe it.

So, as has happened throughout history, we did what we wanted. We took everything, killed anyone who got in our way and have more less continued to do that ever since. Was it the first or last time an invading group of foreigners stole a nation from its native inhabitants? Obviously not.


I do not buy any concept which says “we didn’t understand what we were doing.” We knew just fine. Our ancestors — your ancestors — might not have talked the way we do, but they were much better at acknowledging good and evil. 


Again: How do we know this? Let me reiterate.

They wrote about it. At great length. In documents, diaries, letters, newspapers, and books. We don’t have to guess: they told us. Whether or not great granddad Josiah proposed in flowery English to great grandma Elizabeth may be a guess, but that Josiah thought our behavior toward slaves and Natives was wrong — we do know that.

What a great job we’ve done with the place!

The reason the Trump White House can do what it is doing is because there is so much hatred in this country. All he needed to do was play to the haters and leave the windows open. We don’t know what our so-called “leaders” believe, but we know who and what they hate. I don’t care in how many other countries this same ugly scene is happening. That doesn’t justify it happening here. If the whole world needs to clean up its act? So be it.


The majority is not necessarily right.


For my entire life, I believed this country — my country — was getting better. Was becoming more of what it said it wanted to be. That we were struggling, but trying to become a moral light in the world. I’m not seeing that anymore. Not on a national level. Are there many individuals who are still fighting the good fight? Sure. But nationally, as a nation, that isn’t what I see. I cannot begin to tell you how deeply disturbing I find this.

How is your conscience doing these days? Having a bit of a rough patch?

A DEAL IS A DEAL

This morning, after last night’s midnight signing of a law to abandon Americans to the tragedy of poverty with no recourse to government, I realized that there can be but one reason this has happened.

The Republican party and nearly all its members have signed contracts with the Devil. Real contracts. Signed at the crossroads in the dead of night. In blood. Because this certainly can’t be any kind of “principles” from anyone who is supposed to protect this country from danger or economic collapse — or even nuclear war. This has got to be the foul paw prints of the evil one at his finest.

Christians? I don’t think so. Does anyone see any Christian act in any of the behavior of this band of evil-doers? I thought not.

At some point, late in the night, they all gathered and each drew blood and signed their name. From this they got “a career” and probably wealth — because in the end, it’s always about money. It is possible that the Koch brothers actually are emissaries of the devil, if not the devil incarnate. Hard to tell in these modern times.

Welcome to Hell, folks. I believe we are living in it.