The Rights Of The Human Being

The protesters throughout the world are starting to make a difference, and what is happening in New York City right now, just a few short blocks away from our greatest tragedy may very well be our greatest triumph…

Over the course of the past two hundred years, technology has advanced to a point where as soon as a piece of equipment is released, it is obsolete.  That is how fast technology operates; and the other day saw the release of yet another iPhone…and it will already be obsolete.  With all of the good that has come from technology, with all of the incredible things that human beings can now do as a result of technology, the most important of all of these is the ability to communicate anywhere in the world with anyone at any time in just that very moment.  Neither a week, nor a year…right now.  This moment.  This time.  And this is what Governments across this planet have feared for years, because my FINALLY the people…the great unwashed masses…those not in the one percent who control everything are about to put a stake in the ground, and say, “NOT THIS TIME!”

Today is the first day of the rest of the life of this planet and the people who live on it.  We are now declaring that we as Human Beings are entitled to certain inalienable rights that regardless of our nationality, race, creed, sex, and sexual orientation must be guaranteed by our governments.  Today is the day that the message that I am about to send across the Internet goes to you and yours…and then it is time for you to act and pass it on.  Today is the day that we begin to act on these certain core Human Rights:

-Every inhabitant of this planet has the right of free speech; the right of which shall not be abridged in any manner by anyone.

-Every inhabitant of this planet has the right to a free Press, Internet blog or posting, e-mail, or other method of communication be it in print, audio or visual (or both) in nature without its abridgement and suppression by anyone.  People also have the right to private communication that shall never be infringed upon by any government on the face of this world ever again.

-Every inhabitant of this planet has the right to worship or not to worship a Creator or none at all; the right of which shall not be abridged, restricted, or forbidden by anyone.

-Every inhabitant of this planet has the right of Universal Healthcare from cradle till grave at no direct monetary cost to an individual, outside of any taxes that shall be leveled by a Government to cover the cost.  The taxes should be fair and equitable, so that those who can afford to pay more for these services shall; and those who cannot afford to shall not.  Well visits as well as hospital and hospice care and nursing facilities shall never be denied to any Human Being ever again.

-Every human being on this planet has the right to a job that best fits their skills, and shall be fairly compensated for their labor in a fair and equitable manner regardless of race, creed, color, religion sex, or sexual orientation.  Every human being has the right to join with other human beings and form Unions to represent them and their interests and negotiate unhindered by anyone in any manner.  The right to work and have a job is a guarantee of full employment and usage of all human beings on this planet to further our knowledge and our souls as well as further our ability to aid one another in survival.

-Every human being on this planet has the right to a roof over their head and food in their belly.  No human being will ever go to sleep hungry and in the rain ever again.  We will all share our food supplies with one another so that NOT A SINGLE PERSON DIES FROM STARVATION WITHIN A DECADE.

-Every Human Being on this planet has the right to a free education up to and including the Baccalaureate Level.  The right to and access to a free education shall NEVER be restricted by anyone.

-Every human being has the right to due process of justice in his or her respective nation; and every person within its borders should obey the laws of that nation.  Dissatisfaction with a law or set of laws should be addressed through the voting process or a peacefully organized protest or other means of redressing the government.  That government shall not impinge upon the right to redressing grievances of the individual against their government.

-Every human being on this planet has the right to attain and advance his or her destinies, so long as there is no harm to another human being in any manner in the process of self-discovery.

-Every human being on this planet has the right to love another human being, regardless of race, creed, color, religion, and sex.  Sexual orientation- be it heterosexual, gay, lesbian, transgendered, or transsexual shall never disqualify a person from a job, place in the community, or engaging in marriage.  The rights and benefits of the state of matrimony shall be equal among all, and never denied nor segregated in any manner by any Government.

-Every human being on this planet has the right to state of grace and redemption

-Every human being on this planet has the right to peace.  A person has the right to live out their lives in a state of harmony, within oneself and within a community and the community of nations.

-Most importantly, every person on this planet has the right to be free from any state of war declared by a government upon another or a group of people upon another.

-We have the right to a world free of nuclear, biological, and conventional weapons.

Enforcement of these rights shall be guaranteed by the United Nations and its member states, and protected by it.

The time has come for Humanity to awaken its inner consciousness, and free of obstacles to peace and harmony; food and shelter; a job and medical care move the Human Race into a new age of enlightenment, both practical and spiritual.  This will allow all of us to live our lives free of the day-to-day fight for survival and allow humanity to truly reach its potential as sentient creatures who will then have the beginnings of a big dream: to walk amongst the stars like giants, confident in all of us as a whole, respecting each other as individuals and as a collective.

I pledge myself to follow these rights as an individual, and do all within my power for as long as I live to see them come to fruition by doing whatever I can to ensure the completion of The Rights Of The Human Being.

Respectfully submitted on this 5th day of October, 2011,

K. Austin Walsh

 “They do not seek conformity. They do not surrender. Out of their differences comes symmetry, their unique capacity to fight against impossible odds. Hurt them, and they only come back stronger. The passions we deplore have taken them to their place among the stars, and will propel them to a great destiny. Their only weakness is that they do not recognise their own greatness. They forget that they have come to this place through two million years of evolution, struggle and blood. They are better than they think, and nobler than they know. They carry within them the capacity to walk among the stars like giants. They are the future and we have much to learn from them.” – Ambassador Delenn: (referring to humanity) on “Babylon 5” (J. Michael Straczinski)

Special Note: Despite my PTSD, my wife and I are talking about joining the protestors on Saturday afternoon to show our solidarity and support.  I may be eating Xanax like M&Ms, but this is too important to sit on the sidelines and just watch.  Even if it is joining the crowd that remain in the park while others march elsewhere.  I could never live with myself if I missed this opportunity.  I invite our friends and family to join us in this important endeavor.  

 

 

 

 

 

Time Out! Some Site Business…

Hi guys…it’s been a while since I wrote, but the mental strain of being too close to 9/11 was taking a toll on me.  I’m trying to juggle a blog, book, and family but on the other hand I need to keep you (and me for that matter) on a regular publishing schedule.  I plan to publish on the blog on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday every week starting today (which means I may or may not have something later…I have two sick kids right now with nasty colds and one friend who is having some surreal problems that I need to keep myself open for just in case she needs me).  I think this will allow me to Digest what happened over the weekend and make my comments on the Sunday talking head shows on Monday; Wednesday is usually a busy news day and I can include what I know from the previous two days in here plus Wednesdays news; and Friday will be good for summing up the previous two days and anything that developed late Wednesday.  I’ll publish on off days if the situation warrants it.

So there you are.  You now know when to expect something new, and I know when I have to switch over from book mode to blog mode and back again, all the while dealing with a young teenager and a 10 year old…two girls who I love dearly but drive me crazy sometimes, LOL.  I hope to Gods they are not reading this…anyway you might have something later.  Please keep in mind that although I comment a lot on politics, I also like to comment on being a dad and just my observations about life in general.  Be open to those posts.  It seems that any time I write something angry, my readership goes up, and although many times I am an angry and frustrated man, there are times that I am warm and loving…and that is what I’m striving for in my personal life these days.  Yoda was right.  And speaking of our favorite green short Jedi, I have seen the Star Wars Blu Rays and they are simply jaw dropping.  By far some of the best work I have ever seen done for the medium.

Now someone please get “The Abyss” and “Lawrence of Arabia” on Blu Ray…pretty please?  I’ll be your best friend…LOL

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” – Master Yoda

Concrete Angels With Clipped Wings: Part I

It was 2 PM and I awoke screaming

It was ten years ago today, September 12th, 2001 that after being baptized into the new world by a cold fire hose the previous day (in order to get rid of any WTC dust on me), I now entered reality after what would be the first of ever increasing flashbacks and nightmares of 9/11.

FLASHBACK 14 HOURS (insert wavy lines and blurry TV screen here)…

We had gotten home late from the hospital where my doctor sent me to get checked out shortly after my excruciating ordeal, mainly because they had no idea what was in the WTC dust cloud.  To make matters worse, our car broke down on the way home, but I was lucky enough to flag down a police officer who pulled us into a local parking lot, told me to get the car out of there by 5 pm the next day, and gave us a ride home.  Now that I’m thinking about it, it was just so typical that my car would go belly up on this day of all days.  But I’m sure there were thousand of other families who gladly would have had their loved ones being returned to them in a Police Car.

The Emergency Room at Monmouth Medical Center had a section cordoned off just for survivors as they were clearly expecting huge amounts of casualties filling up their wards.  Instead, there were only about 10 of us in a room that looked like it could handle well over 200 injured survivors.  The staff was nervous; you could see it in their eyes.  There was a sense of fear.  I knew it from the moment that I arrived and my Doctor had pre-admitted me, so when I got there (or ANY survivor from Lower Manhattan) we were whisked away very quickly from the rest of the population and immediately hooked up to sensors, had blood drawn, and put on an IV drip.

I was asked about what happened, where I was, how much dust was on me, did I smoke…everything but what age did I lose my virginity at (17 if you’re interested).  My wife and kids were allowed to stay with me because there were so few people in that special ER.  Things quickly began to catch up with me.  Besides, if I had anything like the plague or whatever, they were already exposed and would at least be in isolation themselves.  That was the problem: no one knew what to expect that night, but these guys expected and were prepared for the worst.

I had thrown away all of my clothing from that day a few hours earlier and in a bit of shock had stripped naked in front of my house.  It went into a plastic bag and into the garbage bin in front of my garage (so my neighbors and everyone else that used my street as a short cut got a bit of full frontal; it was purely unintentional).  Nothing was clicking right inside my head, NOTHING.  I just very casually got undressed to my birthday suit and walked inside like nothing was wrong.

I took a long shower and washed and scrubbed like a madman…I even thought about shaving my head (good thing I didn’t as they took and needed a hair sample later).  The adrenaline was leaving as was the fight or flight feeling and I was drinking scotch and beer like a madman.  I was shaking and hoped that it would stop that, and it didn’t (and I still shake; tremors in my right hand to this day when stressed enough).  I just started to get a bit of a buzz on when we were told to get to the hospital ASAP.  I couldn’t wash away that burning smell, the smell of all of that jet fuel and burning bodies from my nostrils and in fact it would be months before that could happen (I worked for another two years from the ruins of the South Tower).  After they got me behind a curtained off area I was listening to a woman behind me who obviously was in the Towers.  She had discussed that there was “some sort of accident…but I have to get back to my desk now”.  At which point I did a double take.  The woman was in complete and total denial about what had happened a few short hours earlier;

After being hooked up to about a dozen machines, having my breathing, heart, lungs…everything picked and prodded they sent in the psychiatrist.  There were several of them on call that day and mine was a young and very compassionate woman.  I found myself breaking down uncontrollably and crying my eyes out recounting my story while my wife watched in horror.  One of the hospital employees brought my oldest daughter over to a play area they had set up for the children, a few of whom were there to keep my oldest daughter company while Tess held on to the baby).   It felt good to recount it and get it off my chest, but I knew there were some details that were sketchy and couldn’t remember a lot.  They gave me some pills to calm down (I suspect it was Xanax because they wrote me a prescription for the stuff before I went tome to last for a few days) .

Once they were satisfied that I was not carrying the Andromeda Strain or the Satan Bug, they released me into the quivering arms of my wife.  We got to the parking lot and the car started giving us trouble: it didn’t start and then it did but appeared to be dying (it was only 4 years old at this point and we still own it and it runs fine) as we went along on the 3 mile drive home…it died about ¼ mile from the house and that’s when we flagged down the cop who called the Bank to make sure my car wasn’t towed until the agreed upon time to have it removed, whereupon West Lon Branch’s Finest gave us a ride home.  In the car ride he mentioned that a lot of the guys were up there already helping out and he was going to work on “the Pile” the following day.  More than likely that man is dead or dying….

 After waking up screaming, Tess had listed a pile of names that had called to see how we were, if I was OK, what happened…the usual.  I spent the next several hours recalling the story to everyone until about 8 PM when I had had it; interestingly enough, the last caller on the list got the most detail because I started to remember more.  I was popping those happy pills along the way, because quite frankly, I was a nervous wreck.  Tess went down to get the car and my medicine, and I also took a break to bask in the sunshine…all except for the whisper of that awful cloud passing by.  And that smell…it couldn’t escape me, or the visions of the jumpers, nor the second plane crash, and fireball of the South Tower.  And every time I went into the shower I broke down, because I couldn’t get the smell off of me…all I smelled was brining bodies…

After I was finished making phone calls for the day, I started watching the replay of what I had experienced with horror…how in God’s name could I have survived that…THAT?  It really started to sink in now, and watching the jumpers caused me to scream and relive it.  It was like someone recorded everything I said and then more…but what I noticed in the forthcoming days was that the footage became more streamlined and homogenized and that everyone was getting on the same page for something.

America had saved the world several time, and now the world wanted to pay us back.. But instead of putting our arms around these “little brother nations” while the “big brother nation: just got its ass kicked’ accepting them into the fold to fight terrorism but also unite as one common people, one human race…and they were ready for it.  They were practically begging fo it…THE WORLD WAS BEHIND IT.  What did we do?

We put our little brothers in strangle holds, and punched them in the face; all the while saying “thank you for your support”.  We took away liberties under the guise of the PATRIOT acct (we’ll make any acronym fit, trust us) and acts we weren’t even made privy to.  And instead of angels ready to soar together to make this world a better place, we became concrete angels with clipped wings rooted in the expansion of empire, bile, hate and revenge.  And we decided to remodel the world in our new image…

(To be continued tomorrow…)

“Wisdom and deep intelligence require an honest appreciation of mystery” – St. Thomas Moore. 

Time Carries Away…

“History is a relentless master. It has no present, only the past rushing into the future. To try to hold fast is to be swept aside.” – John F. Kennedy 

You never think twice any time you’re doing something routine.  It becomes second nature, your brain goes on autopilot, and rote is an understatement.  It seems as if you operate at a completely subconscious level, and things become very much like autonomic reflexes in the body: things that just happen because that’s the way they are supposed to.  When you have to commute and go to a job on a daily basis, you are very much in this mode.  Go to train station, get coffee and newspaper, read and drink while on the train, change trains, pull into destination station, ride up escalators, walk two blocks, get in elevator, go to desk and turn on computer.  That is very much how my life operated for years; you never expect anything different outside of those parameters except for the delay on the railroad or the store not having your favorite blend of coffee and they’re out of your usual morning paper.  Nothing major is ever expected, and nothing ever did happen to disrupt that pattern for me for 8 years.

One day everything carried along as it should have, until the last part of that routine: pull into destination station, ride up escalators, and then find yourself in the middle of the biggest attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor almost 50 years earlier.  Somehow, it makes not having your favorite coffee or newspaper become irrelevant very quickly.

For the next several hours I tried to get home to my wife and two children, the youngest of whom was only 1 day shy of a month old.  In a way, I’m still trying to get “Home” after 10 years, because from that day onward my life was never the same again.  The comfortable confines of my home would become alien to me over the years, my friends and family would become strangers, and as I lost myself in a haze of booze and ever growing PTSD I don’t think I could ever define what “Home” meant to me anymore, except as a place on a baseball field.  Home couldn’t be where the heart was for me because I had no heart left after a while…so I became a Bedouin of the soul lost in the empty spaces between existence and existentialism.  I was a man without a home and rapidly was becoming a man without a country as my beloved Republic took on the shape of a Police State with each passing law and each passing year.  The very core of my being was destroyed and dismantled; delineated and deleted.  Nightmares filled my every sleeping hour and I would awake screaming.  My waking hours were spent drinking and trying to dull not only the pain of that day, but very much unknown to me at the time a very bad case of undiagnosed Bi-Polar Disorder.  The man who I had become ceased to exist after a while; the lifeless eyes in the mirror that stared back at me reflected eternal nothingness; two black holes at the center of a heartless universe. 

And then I woke up…

Oh, how I wish that were true in the sense that the last ten years have been one long and very bad dream, but that is not the case.  I did wake up and sober up; I got my act together and became a better and more involved father to my children.  I was laid off from my job, but now I had the most challenging one of all as stay at home dad (or “Domestic Warrior” if you like) with no pay but all the benefits of bringing two lovely souls into the world. 

There is always a price one pays for the trade-off of regaining your soul, and in my case it was the disintegration of my marriage.  The one thing that was the strongest was the bond between my wife and I, and that was the price exacted from me for regaining my life.  The Universe demands some tough choices from us, and sometimes it acts with such deliberate callousness that is hard to fathom, but it is always for a reason.  The hard part is figuring out just what the reason is. 

What follows is a piece I wrote two days after that horrible but impossibly beautiful sunlit and cloudless Tuesday in September.  I was still reeling from the events of the previous couple of days and needed someway of expressing myself.  I had originally written this to let friends from a “Babylon 5” fan webite know that I was OK and what had happened to me.  It now is part of Survivors recollections and resides in the Library of Congress along with those of my brothers and sisters of that day.  Professors have also used it in their lectures over the years (Brown and Harvard among them and I have always granted requests for its use for educational purposes).   To me it is simply my story of that day; one of thousands who experienced a defining moment in the history of the world and their lives.  Sometimes you seek out history, and other times History seeks you out… 

———Phoenix Uncertain: Originally written on Thursday, September 13, 2001—————-

CATHARSIS I: The Road to Damascus

I need to write all of this down right now, while the smells, sounds, and experiences of the past few days are fresh in my mind. I also need to do this now because I’ve gotten some clarity in the past few hours and I don’t know how long that will last for. I have alternated between disbelief, sorrow, confusion, and anger…and sometimes all of these simultaneously. On Tuesday, the man I was ceased to exist. The light has been extinguished from my eyes. I’ve tried to explain things to my wife and broke down every time. I cannot even begin to explain to my daughter Katie how lucky she is to have her Daddy around, nor can I explain to her why her Daddy screams in his sleep or why he shakes for no reason. I cannot explain to her why every time I head a loud sound or bang, I practically jump out of my skin. All I can do is try and take the medication that keeps me normalized and try and make some sort of sense of the whole thing. Now that I’ve just popped a “happy pill”, I’ve got 8 hours to write this all down, before I descend into my own abyss once again. In the past 72 hours, I have witnessed events that I never thought I would see with my own eyes. What you are seeing on your television is absolutely nothing…and I do mean NOTHING…like it actually was to be there. I keep telling myself that something or someone must have had a greater plan for me, and that is why I am alive today instead of being buried under a ton of rubble. Perhaps that plan just to write this document of my experience to share with others so that they may carry on the memory of those who survived like myself, and the memory of those who were lost. Perhaps it is to share with you that amidst all of the evil, I witnessed some of the finest moments of compassion and humanity that I have ever seen…an affirmation of a belief that I have always held: that we have greatness inside all of us. Perhaps it is about the redemption of my own soul, for like Saul on the way to Damascus, I’m slowly coming to the realization that my life has indeed reached a turning point. I also know that there is no going back to the person I was, and I just have to figure out just who the hell I am now.

CATHARSIS II: Abnormal Normality

TUESDAY, September 11th, 2001: 7:22 AM, Little Silver Train Station, NJ
Kissed my wife and daughters good bye as they dropped me off at the station. Took my coffee, laptop, and briefcase…bought a copy of the NY Daily News. Thankfully since the NY Giants/Denver Broncos game ended late, I don’t have to read about how my team was defeated. Read through the paper all the while sipping my coffee on the one hour ride to Newark NJ, where I will catch the PATH Train (a subway between NJ and NY) to the World Trade Center, just 3 blocks from my office at 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza.

8:20 AM, Penn Station, Newark, NJ
Board the PATH train…and actually found a seat! I consider this a good omen for the rest of the day, especially as I was lugging around a very heavy laptop PC in addition to my regular briefcase. It was for this reason that I decided NOT to listen to my CD Player today…it would be just too awkward carrying around a CD player strapped to my waist as well as a laptop and briefcase. I close my eyes to catch a few winks on the 22-minute ride into Manhattan. 8:42 AM, World Trade Center, New York, NY Leave PATH train for the ride 6 stories up a series of escalators to the street level. I decide that my laptop is sitting awkwardly on my shoulder, and that I would fix it when I reached the top of the escalators.

8:45 AM, WTC Path Square (located in the center of the WTC Complex, 1 story Below Ground, where there’s a Shopping Mall)
Reach the top of the escalator, and begin to fix my laptop. As soon as I get myself situated…something happens…a sound…something different. Sounds like a crash at first…then a low rumble…then a “whoosh” throughout the complex. People are starting to run, and once others see people running, they too scramble for the exits. At this point, I think it’s a good time to get the hell out of there, and start to run toward the exits as well. Someone, in his or her haste to get out, knocks me over. I’m falling face first toward a plate glass window in one of the shops. Somehow, I manage to contort my body so that I land on my left knee pretty hard, but my face hits the floor. I’m dazed…compose myself for a minute…and realize I have to get out no matter what just happened. My knee is killing me, but the endorphins take over, and that pain is quickly gone. I feel something warm on my chin, and realize that it’s blood. My fall knocked one of my front teeth into my lip, putting a nice gash in it. I wipe some blood away, and follow another crowd into the lower level of the Border’s bookstore, which also has an exit to the streets…it’s much less crowded, and a calmer exodus of people. I reach the street and exit into the air. There is a burning smell…I’d never smelled anything like it. There are thousands of papers falling from the sky in a quiet procession of calm amidst the chaos. A paper rain, much like one of those party favors that you might have had when you were a kid…you know, the fake champagne bottles filled with confetti. I start to walk across Church Street. I can see smoke, but because I’m so close to the tower, I can’t really see anything. I begin to walk westward toward Broadway past St Paul’s Chapel. As I walk, people are looking up at the North Tower, then looking back down at my blood stained face. I see their eyes are filled with confusion. When I reach the corner of Broadway and look up I can finally see what happened. There, at the top of a building that is approximately ¼ of a mile long is a HUGE hole…several stories in length…plumes of smoke and flame billowing higher into the air. I can only stand there, watching in disbelief as I realize that what we had all feared had probably taken place: a bomb had gone off in the World Trade Center.

CATHARSIS III: Another Ulysses

APPROX. 9:00 AM, Broadway
It’s funny how the mind operates. You know, kind of like when you see a magic trick, you can’t believe what you saw…or when your team makes a triple play…or when you witness a birth. You know you’re seeing something, but your mind sends signals that it’s just not possible, but there it is. From out of the Tower, I’m seeing debris fall…but it’s coming in very irregular intervals. Usually, debris falls in a pattern as a structure is weakened, and at the same rate of descent. This debris was sporadic, and it wasn’t just falling in a straight line from the Tower…it was arcing. I saw it happen once, twice…but on the third time, I saw what I thought was debris MOVE, I thought I saw arms move…and I realized that debris cannot move, nor could it have arms. I had just seen people throw themselves from the North Tower to escape the consuming flames. I began to shake, began to shout “No F***ing way!” and “Oh my God” at the top of my lungs. Someone came over to me and put their hand on my shoulder and asked me if I was all right. I think I said something to the effect I was, but they offered me a bottle of water and some tissues to wipe the blood off my face. I accepted and I asked if they had seen the explosion…and that’s when they told me it was a plane that had crashed into the North Tower. They also told me it was an airliner. The brain couldn’t register that one really…except for the fact that I thought it was a terrible accident, and thank God it wasn’t a bomb. Another person in the crowd came up to me and asked if I needed help getting to where I was going. I realized that my hands were trembling and couldn’t hold either the tissues or water steady and my knees felt weak. Brain kicks in again: yeah, take this guy up on his offer. It turned out he worked for my company but at another location. We began to walk toward my building, and I notice some debris along the way. About a block from my office, right in front of the Federal Reserve Building I see some debris that catches my eye: some tacky looking upholstery that looks like it came from an airline headrest. It was then that I saw a seat cushion and an armrest…THANKFULLY empty.

APROX 9:12 AM, 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza
I walk one block further south to my building, and reach the Plaza. Just as I’m about to turn to enter my building, I hear the whine of jet engines. I look down the block at the South Tower, and see a fireball engulfing the building, showering flaming debris across the skyline, arcing outward and in my general direction. There is a low, rumbling sound, very much like what I had heard earlier…a sound that grew as the flames spread and debris rained down upon Manhattan. The crowd begins to run frantically toward the east, away from the falling debris. I overhear someone say that it was another jet that collided into the South Tower. It was then I realized that this was no accident, that my greatest fears were realized: we were under attack. It was at that moment, I knew that I had to somehow survive this…get the hell out of there…and get home to my family. I had just become a modern day Ulysses.

CATHARSIS IV:The Silence before the ROAR

APPROX 9:20 AM, 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza
I’m pretty superstitious. I usually sit in the same seat for a baseball or football game if my team is winning. I never pick up a penny “tails up”, and I don’t walk under ladders. In some convoluted manner, the Universe played a trick on me, for I work on the 13th floor of my building. It never bothered me before, but on a day like Tuesday, there was just no way I was going to go up into my office…so I decided to go downstairs to the Branch to use the phone to call my wife to let her know I was OK. (A footnote here and an important one because it’s going to come into play later: The Branch is an underground structure, kind of like a rectangular “donut”. It is just below the Plaza, with a circular glass enclosure in its center containing a fountain. There is an opening at the top of this enclosure to the Plaza to let light in. From the Plaza level, there is a circular wall that allows viewing of the fountain from the Plaza, and it’s quite beautiful when viewed from inside the branch at the level of the fountain.)

Just before entering the Branch, I meet up with a co-worker who sees me and is pretty amazed at my condition at this point…I can only imagine: A deer in the headlights look accompanied by a bloody face. I try and tell him what’s happened so far. It turns out, he’s not going to his floor either…and he helps me into the Branch. Needless to say, the Branch had been closed to all but employees with ID. I also know the Branch Manager, Assistant Branch Manager and many of the staff well because I’ve worked with them directly when I was in the Branches myself. I got in there; they sat me down and got me some first aid as well as some water. I called my wife, told her I was OK and told her of what I was going to do next: try and take the Staten Island Ferry and get to either my parents or my in-laws and have them drive me home. I just wanted to get the hell off Manhattan as soon as possible, especially with the thought that there were two ¼ mile buildings a few blocks away that had the possibility of collapsing. I called my parents and told them of my intentions as well. Needless to say, I’m pretty shaken up at this point. I decide to sit a few minutes to try and relax, collect my thoughts, and move on. A woman named Maxine (who I’ve never met before) sat with me and comforted me. She also spoke with my wife during my phone call and said she was taking care of me. God Bless her…she was a BIG help. We turned on the radio to listen to the news, to see exactly what had happened, and it was just as we feared: two jet liners were hijacked and were rammed into the World Trade Center…and one other thing that hit us all like a ton of bricks…the Pentagon was also attacked the same way. Nothing was the same anymore.

CATHARSIS V: No World Order

APPROX 10:15 AM 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza
Some people talk about a “New World Order”. At this point in my life, there was definitely a New World, but anything but order. I had finally calmed down, and was about to make my way toward the Staten Island Ferry when the unthinkable happened: That ROAR happened again…that ungodly Roar that still was imprinted in my head from the last few hours… …And then I saw the debris and smoke fill the glass enclosure around the fountain. The ground shook, and we all began to rush toward the escalators that would take us to the vault sub-basements in the Plaza. We arrived down there followed by a cloud of smoke and dust…we made our way through passages that led to the underground cafeteria where security told us to go. My first thought was that my building was attacked, but something completely unexpected happened. We had just found out that one of the icons of the New York Skyline, one of the World Trade Towers had crumbled to dust…and that rubble had spread across Lower Manhattan, washing across the Plaza. We were told to stay put…it was safer here, and there was NO visibility AT ALL outside. More people started to file into the cafeteria…all of them covered in dust…stark white ghosts with terrorized eyes peering from the rubble that had been strewn onto their bodies. Among them were two people who worked in my department. I rushed up and the three of us hugged and held onto each other. We got a table in the cafeteria; got some of the water and wet rags they were handing out to help us breathe. …And we sat…for two hours…and waited for news of when we could leave the building. In the meantime, there was another dull roar in the distance…THAT ROAR… …And the other Tower had fallen. …And God only knew what the rest of the world outside looked like.

CATHARSIS VI: A Hole in the Sky

APPROX Noon, 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza
Now I know what my cat feels like when I let him out of his carrier after we bring him back from the vet. He always wants to get the hell out, and yet he steps out gingerly, unsure of what he can expect. I kind of felt that way as I exited our building after we were told to head toward the East River. I also felt like a B-Movie actor on one of those bad 50’s “Day After…” movies, the ones usually used for cannon fodder on “Mystery Science Theater 3000”. There was dust everywhere, and it looked like it was snowing in September. There had to be two inches of dust and debris on the streets as CJ (one of those guys I mentioned earlier who worked with me) and I made tracks for the South Street Seaport. We’re wandering around, towels around our faces like some post-apocalyptic version of TE Lawrence and The Shadow trekking across the Nafud, or Paul and Jessica across Arakis in “Dune”. We looked back where the Twin Towers had been…the same two towers CJ and I came through every day from the PATH (she’s from North NJ)…the same two towers that had dominated the skyline since we were children (we’re both 40, born a month apart). There was nothing. Absolutely nothing…except for a huge black cloud where those beautiful towers once stood gleaming in the sunshine. It was as if you used a photo program on your PC, highlighted the Towers, deleted the image and filled the blank area with smoke. It hurt to breathe (and I’m a smoker, so I can just IMAGINE what a non-smoker would have felt). The dust stung your eyes and skin. It was raining dust…a horrible snowfall on a late summer day…a snowfall that contained pieces of building, asbestos, paper, jet fuel, and God only know what else. I was reminded of Good Friday for some reason… We finally got to the River, and began to follow the exodus uptown toward God knows where. All CJ and I knew was that we had heard there were ferries still running to NJ (the SI Ferry was shut down at this point, so my first plan was abandoned) and we had to catch one. The air was clear, and I decided I REALLY needed a cigarette at this point (NOTE: A martini was my first choice, but the bars were closed). I offered one to CJ…who hasn’t had a cig in 10 years…she took it, we lit up and moved on.

CATHARSIS VII: Dorothy and The Scarecrow

EAST RIVER ESPLANADE: Approx. 12:30 PM
I’m thoroughly convinced that The Universe has a sense of humor. CJ and I stop and look out at the river just below the Brooklyn Bridge. We can see hundreds of people walking across the Bridge to Brooklyn, the same for the Manhattan Bridge in the distance. It’s actually a beautiful day; there are no clouds in the sky…there are people just sitting on benches on the esplanade looking out at the water…some are fishing…some are making out. Order amidst chaos. We had just come from chaos into one moment of perfect beauty. I think to myself that this is really a beautiful day, and I imagine myself at the Shore or in my backyard with my kids…and then it hits me… …No beach to walk on unless I get home. No backyard and no kids and wife unless I get home…and God only knows what else happens on this day. Snap back to reality…we’ve got to get home. CJ and I meet a Police officer who says ferries are leaving from Pier 11 for NJ and directs us Uptown. Just a slight problem…Pier 11 is just South of us a few blocks, so CJ and I are headed in the wrong direction. Like I said, the Universe has a sense of humor…

SOMEWHERE ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE: Approx., 1:00 PM
CJ and I have walked for a while. I’m still carrying the laptop and briefcase, and I really can’t feel the pain in my knee yet, but at least my lip has stopped bleeding. Needless to say, both my shoulders are killing me. We walk around trying to find Pier 11, just Dorothy and the Scarecrow trying to find Oz. We walk through neighborhoods that we would never walk through regularly, and people are coming up to us and asking if we are OK (we’re covered in dust at this point). They give us water and comfort. We see others helping people…a woman in a wheelchair giving directions and a bottle of water to two people…four people hugging in the middle of a street glad to find each other…Police Officers with their arms around people offering them comfort as well as direction. I realize at this point what my Dad always said about the blackout of 1964 (he was trapped in the subway) that New Yorkers are people who put all differences aside when in a crisis. We finally find a cop who points us in the right direction…we head back downtown.

CATHARSIS VIII: Just Click Your Heels Three Times…

PIER 11, New York, NY: Approx. 2:00 PM
We found OZ. No emerald city here, just a bunch of ferries that were going back to New Jersey. CJ and I parted company here. She headed back to Jersey City and one of the few remaining trains that were running out of Hoboken. I got on a high-speed ferry bound for the Highlands on the Jersey Shore, about 10 miles northeast from my house. I decided I’d worry about how to get home from there…I’d walk if I had to. The Police search our bags before we get on… The ferry is VERY comfortable, complete with bar that is, unfortunately closed…it costs approx. $18 each way, about twice my cost for the trains (which were NOT running at this time), but they were ferrying everyone at no cost. They gave us water, and there were two clergymen on the boat, a Catholic Priest and a Minister, both Chaplains of the Highlands Fire Department. A call comes over the loudspeaker asking for 50 volunteers to take the next boat. People get up and leave, willingly with no problems. I see the Priest and yell out, “Father, are you riding this boat?” He says yes. I decide to stay.

NY HARBOR, Approx. 2:20 PM
The boat leaves, and the Scarecrow decides to look back at the Emerald City. The Towers are gone. The Black Void is still there. The Scarecrow loses what Brains he had left and breaks down. Like the Towers, I’ve just crumbled into a pile of rubble.

IN TRANSIT THROUGH NY HARBOR AND THE ATLANTIC:
 The Minister sees me and comes over to talk. He was in Viet Nam for two tours of duty. I tell him what I’m feeling, and he tells me what happened to him. He’s describing what I’m feeling to a “T”. I’m amazed that someone else can describe what I feel…and realize just how fragile we really are as humans…and I also realize at this point, I’m not the same person who woke up that morning. We both pray publicly. It is my first time praying in public since I was 14. Like I said, the Universe has one hell of a sense of humor.

CATHARSIS IX: …And Say ‘There’s No Place Like Home’

HIGHLANDS, New Jersey Approx. 3:00 PM
We arrive in New Jersey The Minister walks me off the boat and asks if he can do anything else, and I tell him he did more for me than anyone in a very long time. I follow the crowd off the gangplank. We are told that we will have to present ID. We are also told that if we are covered in dust we will have to be decontaminated. I am told to go to the “left” line. My belongings are put in a bag; my laptop and briefcase are scrubbed by men in isolation suits by hand. I am told to stand forward a man with a fire hose that then proceeds to spray water on me from head to toe. As he is doing this, I can see the NYC skyline in the background. What two gleaming towers, had once dominated, was now dominated by a huge cloud of smoke and a gaping hole where the towers should be. I was told to turn around so they can spray my front. They do so…and I have been baptized into the New World. I’m handed my belongings, and a Police Officer takes my statement as he was informed that I was in the WTC when the first plane hits. It’s the second time that day that I’ve told my story…but this time more emotions are coming out…and I find I cannot look anyone in the eyes when I talk to them… I’m directed toward a bunch of vans, busses, and private cars where I’m told that someone would drive me home. I walk slowly, drenched…laptop and briefcase still present…away from the water and toward a parking lot. All I can do is stare straight ahead and make no eye contact with anyone. I feel like I’m there (here) but somewhere else. A woman named Doreen asks me where I’m going, and I tell her. She says she volunteered to give rides to people, and really has nothing to do…mainly because she was just laid off from Nike the day before. She offers me her cell phone to call my wife…it’s the first time we’ve spoken my phone call in the morning. I tell her I’m coming home in a few minutes. Doreen assures her I’m shaken, but OK. We drive off to my home.

CATHARSIS X: Who Says You Can’t Go Home Again?

We arrive at my house…and I run to my wife (holding our month-old daughter) and my 4 year old daughter, Katie. Everything comes back to me in a big rush…I break down. We all thank Doreen, and I give her a big hug goodbye. In the next few hours, I try and explain things to my wife…and some of them I can…most of them I cannot. We call my doctor who tells me to go to the ER at the Local Hospital for a chest x-ray and some tests…apparently the stuff I was exposed to may have contained asbestos…and God only knows what else. While getting tested, they had me speak to a Psychologist…just like others who were coming in. I told my story the best I could, and she was a HUGE help for my family and me. I needed to talk and I did…and I realized that there is a lot I still have to deal with.

CHARTHIS XI: Phoenix Uncertain

I’m hanging in there as best as I can…and for the past five hours, I’ve been spilling my guts out for those of you I know, and those of you I do not. This has been my story, and there are thousands of others such as I. I mentioned before that I am not the same person I was when I woke up on Tuesday. Quite frankly, I’m not sure who the hell I am anymore…but these things I do know: *I am a Father of two beautiful girls *I am a loving husband of, quite simply, the most amazing woman on the planet AND THOSE THINGS ARE THE ONLY THINGS THAT ARE MY LIFE! Please…just take the time to hug your kids, wife, partner, loved ones…NEVER take them for granted! Hold on to your friends and keep them close…chances are that this has touched us all in one way or another.

We have all been transformed in one way or another by this event. We are all filled with a plethora of emotions…I certainly know I am.

Let us work together to seek justice for those who have been killed or injured. Let us offer a hand to those who need it, whether or not they have been there first hand. Let us all show the strength of humanity and compassion that we are all capable of. Let us rebuild our city, our nation, and our fragile planet.

Let us go forward with one voice that says we shall never allow this to ever happen again.

God Bless You, Your Families, The United States Of America, and our Beloved Planet.

Kenneth Austin Walsh- BORN: Mar 14, 1961 DIED: Sept 11, 2001 REBORN: Sept 11, 2001

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I can look back at 9/11 and understand part of the Universe’s reason behind making me go through what I had (outside of some very nasty karma I must have generated in a previous lifetime): the person I could have become after I had graduated college and before I became firmly entrenched in the grips of Corporate America was allowed to take root again over the past few years the one who had the inquisitive soul and spiritual nature was allowed back into me once again.  I am still exploring what for me is still foreign territory yet so familiar.   I’m writing a book about the past ten years of my life (I’ve been doing that for years, but now I have a new sense of purpose with which to do so: I have more pieces of the puzzle and those happen to be the ones I need to write what I have to)…and I am also writing about what has been revealed to me through grace and redemption, and what I see as being necessary for our race to achieve its rightful place in the universe: Human Beings being Human; not as we have done most recently and been incredibly shortsighted spiritually challenged creatures who cannot live in harmony with the Planet let alone with each other.

Someone had read something I posted in a political discussion on Facebook and wrote back, “This is why you were born: to be Witness and Warrior”.  That kind of blew me away because perhaps that is my purpose in life; after going through so much and understanding coming from my own experience medical condition, perhaps I can now go on to fulfill whatever I was placed here to do.  After all, there has to be a purpose, because I should have been dead many times over already in my life.  Perhaps some things that I thought were permanent in my life were only transitory to get me to where I am now.  Perhaps even though I love and long for those parts of my life, I have to leave them behind in order to fulfill my purpose, which I am gradually believing to be to somehow help this planet and those who live on it live in harmony with each other…and it doesn’t have to be a great big role in the grand scheme of things either.  Perhaps it is just as simple as a one off book and raising my two girls to become on their own the agents of change that I could not become…or to exceed my own efforts and go on to even greater things themselves.  I always joke with my oldest daughter Kate how I’ll be holding the Bible as she is sworn in as this country’s first woman Chief Justice of the Supreme Court…I’ll be 92 and in a wheelchair and my grandchildren will be holding the book under my shaking hands as I see her sworn in.  Then I’ll drop dead at the reception.  Or perhaps my daughter Grace will thank me in her speech after winning her Tony Award for best actress in a play…perhaps even one I wrote a decade or two earlier with that part in mind for her eventually. 

Or perhaps History will once again come calling and take me along, swept by the tide that I cannot swim against and I will find myself in the position I used to find myself in quite frequently in my youth: as a fighter for the oppressed with righteous indignation at those that dare to tear down the human spirit and the human road toward greatness.  I am not only good with a word, I am good at a speech…I just have to get past this little thing called PTSD that prevents me from being in large gatherings…. but perhaps the Warrior will find a way to do that.

I used to have a lot of Survivor’s Guilt, and I still do from time to time.  I have a lot of regrets, but I regret nothing at the same time.  It has brought me to this point in time; this moment where I now write these words confident in the fact that The Universe always unfolds, as it should.  I am a very different person now than I was 10 years ago and in many ways a better person.  I have had my convictions tested and I have won almost every time, especially when it comes to morality.  In the face of the ultimate betrayal, I still maintain my own sense of self worth and a core principle: when you take an oath, you honor it.  Good men and women keep their word; it is their bond.  There is no crime in admitting that you cannot give your word; the crime is in giving it and reneging on it.  That is the greatest crime of all.

Because whoever you are, wherever you may be; if you cannot stay true to yourself then you cannot stay true to others.  The First Responders on 9/11 were true to themselves; the guy just going to work who survived then and is now dying because of the toxins in the air was true to himself; the mother watching on TV and was horrified at what she was watching in horror at the site of those beautiful towers on that day was true to herself wondering where her husband was in that rubble all the while holding her children close by.  Our soldiers are always true to themselves.  They are the truest of all, because those warriors have sworn to protect us, at the peril and sacrifice of their own life to heed the calling of the life of a soldier.  They or we may not agree with a mission’s purpose, but they have a responsibility…they have taken an oath and they must fulfill it.

Just as I must now be true and write my account at length in a book along with what I believe in now.  Just as I will be true and raise my daughters no matter what the cost; my life for theirs, always.  And I will accept and embrace the change that is coming to us all but unlike that uncertain phoenix of ten years ago; this phoenix has a purpose now.

And I am flying upon the winds that will carry me forever onward toward my destiny…like it or not, it is what I am and what I am here to do.  For I am indeed Witness and Warrior…and I will accept the role I can now undertake with the full understanding of what I must do even at the cost of my own life.  For I would much rather live my life with a purpose than live it with none at all…because that is not life.  That is existence. 

I am alive…and I am thankful and I embrace that…and I am scared to death at the prospect at the same time.

“For time and the world do not stand still. Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future.” – John F. Kennedy

“Like the wind crying endlessly through the universe, Time carries away the names and the deeds of conquerors and commoners alike. And all that we are, all that remains, is in the memories of those who cared we came this way for a brief moment.” – Harlan Ellison    

This piece is for…

My daughters Kathryn Rose and Grace Anne: you are and always will be the center of my Universe and my love.  I tried my best in those early years, and I will try harder to be the father you can be proud of

My dear friend Amy: who first showed me that love was possible in an empty heart and magic is real

My best friend TC, who has always been there closer than a brother to me; the embodiment of friendship

My dear friend Rose: you are the sister I never had and half of my soul.  One of these lifetimes you and I will get it right…

My late Uncle Frank: who taught me about humanity and what it is to be human…I miss your life so much I cannot tell you…

For all of you who became my friends on Facebook: we started out as strangers, and now we are travelers together (like it or not, LOL).  Thanks for reaching out to me and allowing me to ask you for your friendship and guidance…

For Pamela: who walks on a path that I once did uncertain of a destination. Don’t worry, the Universe will show you the way and guide and protect you…and thank you for bringing me to where I had to go without even knowing that you had done so.  You are a very special person, and some lucky guy will find themselves with a wonderful and beautiful woman inside and out…and an incredibly determined one at that!  (Don’t mess with Texas, LOL)

My brother Steve: walk on the path, brother…you are close, so very close…but need to see the forest through the trees.  You must give up what you don’t really need in order to get what you do…

And finally to my wife Tess, who saved my sorry ass for you guys to read my words and be a father to my children.  And change my life in ways that I cannot even begin to put into words.  Like it or not, I still love you.  I’ll still walk with you if you will have me.

All That Was, and All That Is

This is the start of a week of annual hell for me.  It usually starts with little things in August, like the way the sun is at a certain angle, or the way a sky looks on a perfect say.  A particular shade of blue.  Then comes the disruption of a low flying airliner if they shift air traffic (not normally over our town at all) and I get subjected to a lot of planes.  Sometimes I get more sensitive to sounds than I normally am already, but loud noises will make me crawl out of my skin.  And then the depression starts in earnest around the first of September.  Then I know I have 11 more days of a gradual feeling of extreme unease, that is sometimes met with complete calm on the 11th or panic.  It’s either serenity or terror.  It’s varied wildly over the past 10 years.

The best and most rewarding one of these horrid anniversaries was finally speaking with my first love on this particular day.  We had gotten in contact through Facebook, and we had been writing for a few months.  We kind of left things hanging the last time we saw each other in 1988, very unresolved.  There were things on her end that needed closure as well as mine.  But that particular September 11th was the first one that my wife wasn’t home; she had to be in work.  She ALWAYS took off on the 11th, except for this one very rainy day.  And in the morning of that dark and rainy day, the phone rang, and it was my friend…very unexpected and calling me to see how I was feeling.

We talked for close to two hours that day (because if you think things get going and don’t stop once I start chatting away, you should see what happens when the two of us talk or were in the same room when we were at college together, LOL).  We played catch up on how our lives went, a lot of “what ifs”, some closure, and a whole lot about our kids.  Boy, could we talk about our kids and how much we loved them, what they were doing in school or music lessons.  Inevitably, we still write or talk about the kids mostly, but once in a while another “what if” creeps in and we talk about that a little more.  We always talk about where we are now, and perhaps lend support when needed, or encouragement, but that day was the first time we had spoken in well over twenty years.  And it was something I desperately needed.  Not that either one of us had any designs on meeting up somewhere or anything like that (no matter how good or bad our lives are we are both very moral people)…that was never the case at all.  Even in any letter we wrote previous (or subsequent) to this.  But to finally hear her voice after twenty years made my heart skip a notch or two, I will be honest about that.  You never ever forget the first person outside your family or friends that you first fell in love with on your own.  The first person you truly and honestly could make a conscious and adult decision (even at age 19 in my case) that something inside that is you relates to something inside of someone else on a higher level.  I don’t think there is a person alive today who can say otherwise.  (I know the exact moment too: we were in the campus bar having a bar hanging out and Steven Stills’ “Love The One You’re With” came on the stereo.  I still can’t listen to that song without thinking about her).  And I can still hear the embodiment of all that she was and all that she is in that voice…and it’s such a unique voice that as a writer I am lost for words to describe its beauty.

She’s probably reading this now, and I cannot even begin to tell her how much that first phone call meant.  We were back in each other’s lives, on the periphery, very much as friends (always, always as good friends!)…but in our own little worlds once more.  And on a day when my wife wasn’t there (and me being blissfully ignorant about the extent- but very much aware- of the damage I had caused in my marriage at the time), there was someone on the line who was there when I needed her more than at any time I ever did in my life.  And not only that, got a chance to answer some questions and ask a few and get some answers of my own

And a day that is usually reserved for sadness became one of great joy and beauty.

On a day where I was usually in a funk (and the weather wasn’t helping matters on that particular 11th), I got a chance to close some gaps in my life, and close a few in hers.  And moreover, I got to get back in touch with her as a friend, but always operating on a level outside of friend that is definitely not a lover, but a friend that is more than a friend; a kindred soul who walked with me in my youth and most influential years of my life for a time; someone who shared souls with me.  Now, we’re in each other’s lives again, and I am incredibly appreciative to the Universe, Gods, or whatever for seeing that fit to happen.  I don’t quite think I have ever told her how much that alone has meant to me.  I think she knows it though.  She has to…we were always two of a kind…off in conversation that only we understood and no one else listening could even fathom if they eavesdropped.  (Too bad; they might have learned a thing or two).  If we spoke more these days as opposed to writing, it would still be the same.  But on that particular day that is when we were allowed to be on the same trail once again, not necessarily together and not necessarily apart.

And for a few hours, I was allowed to become who I was as a youth before my soul became corrupted by Corporate America and any hopes of a spiritual or academic path vanished (and what I was like before September 11th but older and hopefully a bit wiser).  I was allowed to walk this path with her once again.  Two old friends playing twenty years of catch up in two hours, gradually asking questions that needed answers as things went on, and one moment of forgiveness on my part that wasn’t even necessary.  I could never ever hold a grudge against her; she is one of the few people in my life outside of my daughters that I can say that about.  But the question I had asked had the answer just as I expected and I was relieved at that.  Two young and scared kids totally into something that was always intense no matter how many times we were in or out of our lives over an eight-year period.  It was like nothing before or since for either of us; beautiful and frightening at the same time.  It was always inexplicable magic; phenomena and the two of us.  The Universe moved for us, always…it was as if we were destined to be together and apart at the same time…and that is exactly what happened for a very long time.  Together and apart, but never alone because we always knew that as long as the other was out there somewhere in this crazy world that magic was not a thing of dreams, but real.  And we can both testify to that.

We’ve talked several times since that first phone call.  Our kids are always a prime subject as I previously said; we’re both extremely protective and aware of our role in shaping their young souls into something unique that perhaps they will find the key on their own (which is how it is supposed to be done) and unlock their own magic.  And they too will find what we had for one brief and shining moment in time with each other…pure and undying love and understanding.  It’s something that is completely, totally, and without question a sharing of their soul with another human being that they choose.

And while we did not choose each other for marriage and lost contact for a long time, we attained a level of understanding of another few in this world can ever obtain or imagine.  We certainly found what clicked with our current partners, as they are the mother or father or our respective children.  We have very different lives, but we have very similar ones (usually as chief cook, psychologist, and chauffeur to the kids).  Her husband works a good job, as does my wife; and we’re the keepers of the fort, she has a part time job and I’m on Disability and writing a novel, and more importantly we are both the shaper of souls.  I think we took from each other what was necessary to become a parent and then realize that can be and should be shared with our kids somehow when the time was right.  I usually find myself doing it and not telling them so (because they would never listen to me, LOL)…but I do indeed tell them magic is real and that all things are possible…

…even talking with the first love of your life on what is always the worst day of the year for you and getting closure, support, and a new start on how our lives are now and how we remain friends on a LOT of levels these days…but always, always, always, on that special level we had (and still have) but in much more experienced place right now.  We are where we are for a reason; but I am so grateful she is back in my life in any fashion because she is one of the most incredible, wonderful, and beautiful souls I have ever encountered on this unforgiving world.

She is also a great person to fall asleep on the subway with…we got a lovely tour of Pelham Bay Park that night/early morning, LOL.  It’s also the moment that changed our lives and moved us in the direction we are at now; the places we are at in our lives.  Like it or not, things might have been a bit different if we had listened to Petula Clark’ and not sleep in the subway.  But I know she wouldn’t change a thing nor would I…because it is where we belong at this place and at this moment in time.

And we are still allowed to be in each other’s lives, and that is one of the most positive and beautiful things in my life, and this time I hope we never leave each other again.  Thank you old friend for all the fond memories you evoke in me, your guidance and friendship, and allowing me to remember what I was like and who I really am.

And thank you for a phone call that saved me on a day where I was so very lost, but I found you once again.

How heavy do I journey on the way,
When what I seek, my weary travel’s end,
Doth teach that ease and that repose to say,
‘Thus far the miles are measured from thy friend!’
The beast that bears me, tired with my woe,
Plods dully on, to bear that weight in me,
As if by some instinct the wretch did know
His rider lov’d not speed being made from thee.
The bloody spur cannot provoke him on,
That sometimes anger thrusts into his hide,
Which heavily he answers with a groan,
More sharp to me than spurring to his side;
For that same groan doth put this in my mind,
My grief lies onward, and my joy behind.

-William Shakespeare Sonnet 50

Speed Karma

“I am thoroughly convinced that I am paying off karma at a vastly accelerated rate.” – Cdr Susan Ivonova from “Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczinski, writer

Ok, here’s where my life takes one of its absolutely incredible twists and turns; where the roller coaster goes flying off the rails or where the thing that could never possibly happen in a million years does.  And it happens to YOU.  Come to think of it, stuff like this always seemed to happen to me throughout my life anyway.  Perfect example: Back in 1980, I wanted to see one of my favorite musicians, Bill Bruford, and his jazz fusion group that were playing at the late lamented Bottom Line in Greenwich Village.  I had planned on going to either the early or late show…no difference to me; and I was walking with my then girlfriend from the subway toward the nightclub just about a two block walk from the subway station.  As we exit the stairwell, the guy in a mad dash zips past us on roller blades, almost knocking my girlfriend to the ground (the is was era of girls wearing pumps for everything and every outfit; so she almost broke her neck tripping.  Caught her just in time).  Being a Staten Island guy at the time (yeah, I grew up there but I was born and raised for 5 years in Brooklyn..so that’s my hometown, not that horrid place), I shouted some choice epithets in his general direction, made sure Caroline was OK, and we continued on our way.  One go no less than one more block and this guys cuts us off again, and I’m ready to take his head off at this point because he was dangerously Blading through the streets on what was a beautiful and unusually cool August day.  Again, i hurled some choice words his way, and he disappears.

A few minutes later we get to the Box Office, and as we get there, I see Rollerboy jetting off into the distance (probably having bought tickets for Tom Petty or The Village People).  I nicely ask the gentleman for two tickets to see Bruford that evening, either show will do fine.  I was then informed that Rollerboy had just bought out the last 8 tickets for BOTH shows.  With no show to go to, we then spent the better part of the afternoon drinking and the better part of the evening engaged in more pleasurable pursuits (you can do this when you’re 19).  But what were the odds of that happening?  A guy on rollerblades beating me out for the last tickets to the show I wanted to see…and while Bruford was popular among jazz-rock and progressive rock aficionados, it wasn’t the hot ticket that night.  I mean, beat me out on foot…beat me out running to the box office…but beat me on the way there on ROLLERBLADES?  That could only happen to me.

Same thing twenty one years later when I was caught in the WTC during the 9/11 attacks.  Then this past week, the East Coast gets hit with an EARTHQUAKE.  A fucking earthquake!  5.8 Richter that had people in California laughing at us because they have those for breakfast every morning.  Oh, and this happened just shortly before my consult with my cardiologist…nice timing, huh?  And now comes the piece de resistance: the hurricane of this young century and one of the worst ever seen in over 100 years heading our way.  So let’s do the math together: Earthquake, hurricane, and the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 all happening with a couple of weeks of each other.  I’m always a bit of a basket case this time of year anyway because of the 9/11 remembrances.  And of course this year will be bigger than all of them.

Can you say “xanax”?  Sure you can…I like the way you say “xanax” (Could you imagine Mister Rogers saying that?  Oh, that would be hilarious).  This only goes to prove that it’s 3 am, I’m delirious, nervous, and am getting ready for a lot of unpleasant things I have to do tomorrow.  I just thought a bit of humor before I eventually have to go silent because we will most assuredly lose power (and that should be even more fun!) might put a smile on someone’s face in the crosshairs of this monster called Irene.  So I guess I am going to be joined as one with the universe faster than I anticipated, because of all the crazy things that are happening to me lately.  But all I keep asking myself is what the hell did I do in a former life to deserve this?  Most especially, this hurricane called Irene…

She should be called Irony.

“Goodnight, Irene…Irene Goodnight!” – popular song from the Dark Ages, LOL.

The Ceiling Collapsed…And The Sky IS Falling

Months ago, I predicted that the Republicans would be so hell-bent on destroying the Presidency of Barack Obama, they would use the Debt Ceiling as a weapon in taking America hostage.  I knew with this group that call themselves Republicans (but are the furthest thing from what I grew up with as the Republican Party imaginable), they would not hesitate on putting the needs of the Party ahead of the needs of the country.  From the moment he was sworn in (late, and with a botched oath no less), the President has been the target of Republicans.  They swore to get him out of office in any manner possible, and if that meant taking this nation to the brink of financial disaster to add one more notch on the belt to do that then they would.  The same Party that has brought you one terrorist attack that was allowed to happen, two unnecessary wars, two tax cuts that were unsustainable as well as a new portion of Medicare that was also unsustainable was now going to suddenly become fiscally responsible by using a tool to drive home their social agenda (that otherwise would never have passed Congress) that is never questioned: the Debt Ceiling.  Under normal circumstances, the debt ceiling is a “gimmie” in Congress; usually one or two lines are quickly written in the House, rubber stamped by the Senate and sent to the President who signs it faster than a speeding bullet.  This time, the issue was used as a reference point for showing the established political players that a minority in their Party would now be controlling the entire process (despite even some of their own backers urging them not to) by threatening default.  In addition, this would also take the focus away from what the Administration has been trying to accomplish, namely creating jobs; thus, allowing yet another opportunity to take down President Obama go un-wasted.

If you’re wondering where the jobs are, ask the Congress who ran on the platform of providing them; instead, they are simply hell bent on destroying a Presidency.  Ask the President, who allowed the Republican Party to frame EVERY SINGLE DEBATE during his tenure in the White House.  If you’re wondering why we’re not having better economic results, ask these same people.  You see, it’s not about putting the country first.  It’s not about putting the unemployed, sick, elderly, and hard working Americans first.  It’s about maintaining the status quo when it comes to keeping their own jobs and trying to get this President out of his.  The Congress recently had an 82% DISAPPROVAL RATING by the American People…that is astounding, and something that I never thought I’d ever see.  (Only 14% approved; the remainder wondered what planet they were on).  After taking us to the brink for their own gain, we are now faced with what will most certainly be called “Black Monday” after the US Treasury Bonds were downgraded to AA+ from AAA by S&P.  You can pretty much expect the Market to tank tomorrow…and we’ll get an idea of just how bad in a few hours when the Asian Markets open, but most assuredly millions of 401Ks will be taking a huge hit.  There is going to be blood on Wall Street, because large chunks of the sky will be falling; the Republicans not only got what they wanted in the debt deal, the are going to further sink this Presidency by using the downgrading plus any subsequent bloodletting of the Markets against him.  And the worst part is that this President will let them.  He has gotten himself and this country backed into a corner by his ineffectual leadership and willingness to “play nice” instead of taking a stand and be as intransigent as the Republicans are.  One columnist compared it to hoping he plants a flag somewhere…anywhere…and raises it.  Instead, he plants a flag raises it, and then lowers it to half staff.

I am a Liberal, closer to being a Socialist more than anything, but I have some Libertarian leanings too.  I believe in a strong and sound fiscal policy; one where you should have the vision to put forth bold new proposals and the guts to say that you can’t afford it if you cannot; or scale it back so that you can.  I campaigned for this President, I voted for this President, but I honestly believe that this cannot possibly be the same man that I voted into office.  The man I voted into office was bold and thoughtful; and it was refreshing to have a smart guy at 1600 instead of a dolt that chokes on his pretzels.  The man I voted into office was someone who could have done great things, but he allowed himself to get sidetracked by the Republicans and have the arguments framed by them instead of he and his staff.  He capitulated this past week in the most alarming fashion, as he could have simply used the 14th Amendment and told the Republicans to take a hike.  Then we wouldn’t have had John Boehner saying he got 98% of what he wanted, nor would we have had a downgrade in or credit rating.  We could have avoided what is coming over the next few days, if only he had the vision and the boldness to execute the 14th Amendment.  His predecessor used to tear apart the Constitution all the time, he should have taken this moment to use it to his advantage.

Instead, he planted a flag of surrender.

“The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong , but to those who see it coming and jump aside.– Hunter S. Thompson

Eat Your Broccoli And Shut Up…

The only thing I can think of that I ever liked about George HW Bush was that the vegetable broccoli was not served for the four years he was in the white House.  He never liked it as a kid, and as and adult, and he said when he first became President he’d be damned if he’d be eating any broccoli at White House State Dinners.  So for four blessed years, that horrible ugly stalk that smells and tastes worse than anything I can possibly imagine (even conjure up in fiction), was banned from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  I always liked that story.  Hillary may have banned smoking, thus making leaders of the greatest nations on the earth go outside for a smoke; Dubya had a fondness for non-alcoholic brew (as I do); and Obama continued the smoking ban…although I definitely think he kicks back in the Oval Office and puts his feet up on the desk and lights up a Marlboro.  He probably went through a carton over the weekend…but he basically also told his caucus “Eat your broccoli!” when he forced that travesty of a budget deal down the throats of the American People.  Make no mistake, this is no great victory for anyone; at best it’s Pyrrhic for the Republicans because every major economist believes that it will destroy the economy further because we cannot spend our way out of a Recession.  One that was in fact created by THEM.  And guess who might get the most blame for this.  At worst, it greases the skids for a Republican President in another four years, because there are a lot of Progressives who do not like to be told to a) fall in line; and b) eat their broccoli.  And there is of course the new Boehner Precident that was set: we will keep taking political hostages until you give us what we want.

This President has been an abject failure in the leadership department ever since the Medical Insurance debacle.  First off, he tried to not take the Clinton approach which was to get involved in everything; he took the complete opposite approach of complete delegation to his folks on Capitol Hill.  That’s like telling 2000 alcoholics that there is a great tavern they now own.  Some will not indulge, but I guarantee you that most will…and they will continue to do so until someone puts an end to it.  He let the Dems and Republicans run free to come up with ideas, to sit down like adults in a room, work out and compromise on a deal.  Silly Rabbit, Tricks are for kids…and the GOP.  That whole month of August where the Representatives and Senators went home to their Districts and held town meetings, all there was at first was confusion about the plans on the table.  I mean, it was clearly defined by Max Baucus himself, I mean…how could it not be any clearer what was being proposed (and if you believe that there is some beachfront property in North Dakota I’d like to sell you). And while Emperor Max fiddled about, Washington lobbyists were busy burning up the phone lines and the airwaves… controlling and framing the debate so that it eventually wound up being the “let’s unplug grandma and watch her croak” ordered by the evil “Death Panels” that were lurking in every state waiting to be unleashed at the slightest sign that you might not recover from that bad cold and ship you off to a FEMA Constructed refugee camp somewhere.  Oh, the Right had a field day with that one but it was the very lynchpin that served this nation notice that this man that we put in the White House was not doing what he was supposed to do: LEAD.  He could have delegated and inserted himself into the argument as warranted, but always stating what HE WANTED to get in the end. Clearly, he never did any sales in his life because when you negotiate, you ask for AT LEAST what you want, and a VERY SMART NEGOTIATOR asks for WAY more than they want and eventually settles for what they always wanted in the end, or as John Boehner now has it…98% of what he wanted on the debt ceiling deal.  Remember now, this was the very first time he failed miserably; because the debate had now been framed by the GOP, the Insurance and Pharmaceutical companies.   There was no Public Option, because he would have gotten that if he INSISTED on a national program like Medicare for all.  Oh and what a coincidence!  One of the proverbial alcoholics unleashed in that mythical bar was Senator Max Baucus, the recipient of more money from Health Insurance companies and Big Pharma than any other Senator.  In the end, we had a law with no teeth; was expensive, and still screwed the Americans like I who have pre-existing conditions, because they really couldn’t be forced to take me on their books for a few years…although I can go into a “high risk” pool.  A swimming pool with no water is high risk, and that’s what he expected people to just dive into.  So far, not many takers.

With that little disaster behind us, I said to myself that this was a lesson he learned the hard way and he’ll never repeat it again.  Oh boy, was I wrong…and I’ve just noticed that there are no other vegetable choices on the menu except for broccoli.

This “crisis” was completely manufactured by the GOP to get people’s minds off the real issue that they have been so miserable at: JOBS.  Where are the Jobs, Mister Speaker?  Where are those great, living wage jobs (the ones not on paper; the ones with someone with a body temperature of around 98.6F are attached to).  Oh, no jobs…well, it’s because…well…we’re spending too much money!  Yeah, that’s it!  We need money to spend to create jobs, or rather we have to make sure that the rich people who “create” them have the money to do so!  And we have to balance our books, that’s another reason why our economy is so bad, and…and…and…

You get the idea.  The Debt Ceiling limit being raised is usually a simple matter.  This is something that is usually a one liner on a piece of paper pushed through Congress at light speed and sent to the President who signs it fast.  It’s authorizing the US to PAY THE BILLS IT ALREADY OWES MONEY ON.  It’s not allowing us to spend more, it’s allowing us to pay what we spent…but once again, the argument was framed differently.  The Republicans controlled that argument, beat it into us senseless for months, knowing full well that this weak, ineffectual President would capitulate in the end.  Which is exactly what he did AFTER they made it seem like the sky was falling.  This same Congress that allowed Ronald Reagan to raise it 17 times and Dubya 8 times.  Many of these same guys voted for one or both of these increases under these guys.  Boehner took the US Economy, seniors, the disabled, and kids hostage and used them to get his budget cuts.  And our fearless leader DID NOTHING to get something in RETURN.  There was the 14th Amendment that he could have used (and would have according to VP Biden if all else failed) as leverage in getting his taxes on the wealthy.  Nope.  He could have used 14 as leverage for closing loopholes.  Nope.  Instead, he let Boehner get 98% of what he was looking for, and a Super Congress (which I can guarantee you will be declared unconstitutional) that will decide the fate of the debit ceiling next time around, because rather than one or two economic terrorists, we will have 12.  And they will decide what get cut with EVERYTHING on the table…including the broccoli.

There was still a chance that it could have failed today, and Obama would have been forced to use 14 to make sure default didn’t happen…and none of that steaming Republican cooked broccoli would be law right now.  And what this has proven is now the President and this Nation can indeed be taken hostage again….by ANY POLITICAL PARTY IN THE MINORITY.  THAT IS NOT THE WAY IT WORKS.  MAJORITY RULES, except here in America where there is no clear majority.  Only clear minorities like The Working Poor.  The Political Class are happy once again because they got something to go back to their constituents with (for/against) on The Great Dent Ceiling Debacle.  All led by a minority in Congress, the whims of Grover Norquist, and the ineffectual and absolute abject failure of leadership of the President of the United States.  If anything this sets up some interesting political theater for the coming months, because on every interview you could tell the Democrats were PISSED OFF.  And I mean, PISSED.  When you have Debbie Wasserman-Schultz stammering for kind and encouraging words about a piece of legislation she had just voted for, you’re in trouble.  She was told to eat her broccoli just like every other Democrat was.

And thank you to the Democrats who refused to eat their vegetables this time around.  They have a principle.  They wanted the Hollandaise Sauce at least, but in the long run were told they couldn’t get any.  We couldn’t afford it.

“If winning isn’t everything, then why keep score?” – Vince Lombardi

“When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt


The Through Deal

Let’s face facts, my fellow Democrats: we blew it.

We had both chambers of Congress for two years and failed to produce anything meaningful legislatively, except a bastardization of a Medical Plan.  Oh, that was a compromise; one that was engineered even before negotiations had begun.  The President set his expectations low offering no Public Option like most of America wanted, and what he got was really nothing but a waste of money.  Sure, insurance companies will now have to carry everyone on their books, and everyone will have to buy insurance at grossly inflated prices.  But it meant health care for all.  Right…and I’m Derek Jeter coming out of the shower after just after banging my gorgeous girlfriend.

We had to enforce TARP, but we got tarred and feathered by the Bush Administration posthumously on that one…because we were the ones who had to do part two of that deal…and guess who got blamed.  Everyone forgets about the two wars and Medicare Part D that was unpaid for and the unmitigated deregulation that allowed banks to pretty much do what they wanted with your money.  Guess who got blamed for that.  Guess who allowed the Tea Party a seat at the table.  Guess who let the Republicans control the agenda when we had the agenda in our hands and the votes to go with it.  Guess who blew if for the first two years of this Presidency: WE DID.

Then into town rides the Orange Man on the White Horse hoping to get the tone in Washington changed from jobs to social issues and the debt…avoiding the very campaign promises that got them there.  And who let them?  WE DID.  Moreover, who allowed this to happen on his watch; who gave us Hope for Change and a new way of doing things after 8 years of the worst President this nation has ever seen?  The man we voted into office.  The Compromiser in Chief.  If Hitler had him at Nuremberg, there would have been no Second World War; he would have just compromised the entire continent away.

In short, I have never seen a President more ineffectual at governing and managing the day to day operations of this government since Jimmy Carter…only he’s a much better orator.  The next thing he’ll be talking about is “national malaise”, and then you wind up with President Bachmann.  You know, the crazy lady who looks like she belongs on QVC hawking cosmetics but instead may end up President because we let her get this far.

There is a failure not to communicate, but to lead.  This President does not lead…he reacts.  He reacted to what was what once was a simple line of legislation; let the Republicans turn it into a crisis, sold out the core values of the Democratic Party (which thank God for Nancy Pelosi someone remembers), and we have our own Appeasement at Nuremberg

President Obama is NOT who I voted for, not this guy posing as him.  He may look like him, act like him, speak like him, but he is not him.  He is like some evil carbon copy from The Twilight Zone.  He sold out Medicare, Social Security, and every social safety net imaginable…all because he didn’t LEAD.  He FOLLOWED and allowed the Republicans to frame the debate.  Nice going dude; in one single evening you destroyed the New Deal.

And we have no one to blame but ourselves.  No one kept pressure on him.  No one held his feet to the fire because no one listens to the Progressive Caucus anymore.  We have become marginalized because we let ourselves be so…but with any luck they will listen to us tomorrow when they refuse to vote on this pile of shit that is being handed to the American People on a tarnished silver platter.  At this point, I’m willing to suck up my Social Security check just to watch us all sink into the oblivion that WE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN.  WE allowed a few fringe lunatics control the debate and take the government hostage.  We set up a dangerous prescident for all future governing in this nation: that any minority can simply run their agenda down America’s throat without even so much as open debate because they can.  Because they are backed by the Political Class and Corporate interests.  Because WE LET THEM TAKE CHARGE

We blew it.  Three words every Democrat should take to their grave, because I hate to tell you, the bad guys have just won and the Orange Man is now riding a black horse.

“If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn’t thinking” General George S. Patton

Tempis Fugit

It is late.  “Tales From Topographic Oceans” by Yes is cranking out on the Mac as I type; at this “magic hour” when I manage to do my best writing.  Don’t ask me why, but only at this time of the day something happens in the creative process that opens the mind’s eye to different things.  Just like the simple beauty of this album.  I haven’t heard it in ages, and yet it remains one of my favorite albums of all time…perhaps because I don’t always play it, it takes on a meaning for me that is special.  It’s not one of those things you break out on a road trip and crank from the car stereo with the top down (although I sure as hell would if I were out crossing the desert somewhere in Arizona).  Something as simple as this, these moments that I am enjoying this music mean so much more to me as I get older.  Perhaps it’s because I look at the days so preciously now rather than as being disposable pieces of a puzzle to get through like I used to.

Once upon a time, I was a guy who worked at a bank.  I was a Vice President who had people working for me.  I was making six figures, had pretty much the rest of my career ahead of me.  Smart money had me making Senior VP before I was 50 as I was one of those guys who rose to the top of the game by playing some of the best political games ever devised by man.  You want to see politics?  Try working in a bank for 17 years; knowing which star to hitch your career to, and knowing that there were others who hitched their star to yours.  You rose and fell as your superiors did at times.  You moved ahead of the next guy by not necessarily being the nicest guy on the block.  If you had to step on someone to get your way, then you did.  It was as simple as that.  No hard feelings, and it was just like they said in “The Godfather”, “Nothing personal; it’s only business.”  There were truly some guys who I thoroughly enjoyed getting ahead of by stepping on, mostly because they were bastards.  They were bastards to me once (forgetting the axiom of always be aware of those who you climb the ladder with because they might be the same ones you see when you descend while they make their climb) and I got them back at a later date.  Or I didn’t like the way they treated a friend.  I almost felt justified in being a bastard at times; I guess I had to keep telling myself that because the politics was tough.  If you wanted to go where I eventually wound up in the bank, then you played tough and most importantly, you were VERY good at your job aside from the politics.  But the politics was always there.

I like to refer to the upper level of any organization as “The Adminisphere”; kind of like another layer of the upper atmosphere.  The air is very thin up there, and the people who work at that level move the world with levels that they control and have others push for them.  These are the Senior VPs and EVPs, and people who run the organization.  These were people who were always used to getting their way, regardless of who or what stood in their way and trust me, YOU would be the one moving the levers and pushing the stone uphill like Sisyphus.  The Adminisphere is where all the decisions were made and they had a very deliberate way of treating one another.  They were very much like the US Senate and had power within the bank that was equivalent to that so-called august body.  But just like me, they rose through the ranks upward knowing what politics to play, and who to play them with and for.   And my goal at one point was to get there.  To have that nice McMansion…  To get a nice car, and to get a home theater system that was off the wall (although I can’t imagine what I would have bought had I been able to given my current system…which is excellent).   I wanted it all and was getting there slowly and surely.

Then September 11th happened, and nothing was quite the same after that.

My job became less meaningful for me; I lost my drive and ambition.  My new boss turned out to be the biggest asshole I EVER worked for; he made me look like a Saint in my worst moments.  He was one for the ages this guy, let me tell you.  And I had met my political match in this guy who decided he didn’t like me or want me (whereas I received stellar reviews for almost all of my 17 years with the bank, this guy gave me mediocre to a disastrous review for my last one).   He was by definition a political animal as well, but he was a back stabbing bastard.  With me, you always knew where and sometimes when the knife would strike, but with this guy it was completely underhanded and stealth.  And always, ALWAYS in the back.  In the end, he won.  All of my connections in the Adminisphere were severed when we bought another bank, and their old chairman (who would be the new chairman of the combined institution a few years down the road) put all of his guys into positions of power.  And this guy moved in very nicely with the new sharks swimming in the water because they were all like him.  And after all my politicking, and doing a damned good job at whatever I did for the bank at every position, it was over.

And just like that…I was voted out of office.  I received a nice severance package, and had a year of salary and benefits that I managed to spend 24/7 drinking away.  I had begun my immolation as a corporate bastard.  I became something else, and it wasn’t pretty.  During this time my wife fell out of love with me (although I didn’t know that until recently).  During this time I became lost as a person, because I no longer had any direction.  I didn’t know what was going on anymore until I sobered up the following year.  In the 5 years since, I started to get my shit together but many things have suffered.

My marriage is pretty much gone.  I deal with acute PTSD and Bi Polar II as well as an ailing back on a daily basis that leaves me in a lot of pain both physically and mentally.  I’ve become a stay at home Dad, and in that sense I found some type of identity, but like the old saying goes, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.  Oh without a doubt, I want to either write or teach once the opportunities present themselves…something I should have done immediately after college instead of selling out for the corporate buck.  Then perhaps I can get off Disability and make a decent living for myself once again, because you see there is no way I could ever go back into the corporate world I once inhabited.  I’m not one for having a lot of people around me, and I really don’t like crowds.  PTSD is not a great thing to have, trust me.  It tends to put a damper on what you can do and how far away you can travel from your home base, at least in my case.  I need to be in a small environment or work on my own which is what is probably the best thing for me.  Writing affords me that, and one of these days (hopefully by next year), I’ll finish a first draft of that book and get an editor and try and get it published.  Until then I’ll keep working on it and blog away, because it seems as if I found my voice once again.

I think I’ve learned to accept my present circumstances; I don’t like them, but it doesn’t mean I can’t change them.  My old job is so far away…my old way of life belongs to another time and place.  That person died on 9/11.  It’s taken me some time, but I’m finally figuring out what makes me tick.  Confrontation is not it.  Stepping on other people is not it.  Enjoying power is not it, because quite frankly, I’m not even the guy who really runs this house anymore.  I handle the finances, because I did it for years, I cook, I do what I can for the kids and try to guide them as best I can (if they are willing to listen.  My oldest has become rather existential, and given her life, I can’t say that’s surprising).  And I try and write…because I am finding out that is the one thing that makes me tick.  That is who I am; a guy who can put words on paper and put together something that’s going to express how I feel or what I believe.  It’s starting to become a necessary thing for me to do again, because I cannot live without it.  As Ray Bradbury said once, “You must stay drunk on writing so life does not kill you”.

So dear readers, you get to watch me get drunk on writing again.  The bits and pieces that make up my life might appear on these pages or what I think about politics (which is a lot.  Old habits die hard).  But I’m encouraged that I’m getting people interested in what I have to say once more, and that is humbling…just like the last few years have been for me.  I had to fall from a height and into the abyss and pull myself out slowly and surely.  I’m out of the hole now and dusting myself off, looking around at the sky and the endless horizons before me.

And it’s beautiful…

“The only thing worth writing about is people. People. Human beings. Men and women whose individuality must be created, line by line, insight by insight. If you do not do it, the story is a failure. […] There is no nobler chore in the universe than holding up the mirror of reality and turning it slightly, so we have a new and different perception of the commonplace, the everyday, the ‘normal’, the obvious. People are reflected in the glass. The fantasy situation into which you thrust them is the mirror itself. And what we are shown should illuminate and alter our perception of the world around us. Failing that, you have failed totally.” – Harlan Ellison

Meet The New Class System And The Newest Head Of The Class

We used to have something called “the Middle Class”.  We were hard working blue and white collar workers who basically were the backbone of this country.  We made your cars and cashed your checks, helped you buy hat new suit or opened your bank account or get you a loan.  We bought the TVs, stereos, hone theaters, cars, latest gadgets for our kids, and basically put our disposable income into the economy.  Now the economy has made us disposable.  For we are no longer the Middle Class…upper or lower.  We are now all the working poor; a nice wake up call for me (who was raised in an Upper Middle Class Household as a kid…but I watched my dad bust his ass until he made six figures, then retired with a nice package at age 60).  My immediate family was solidly mid-upple middle class.  I was a Wall Street guy who made six figures, and forget about it when my wife worked and we had no kids…we were doing VERY well, but then again, so was everyone else in the Clinton years.  But that was before my wife became a full time mother and I was able to afford things on one salary because of my recent promotion to Vice President.   That was before 9/11 and I became disabled.  We now survive on my wife’s salary as an RN and my Social Security (which I am now slated to receive for life because of the nature of my disability: Acute PTSD from 9/11 and Bi Polar II).  We make ends meet, we’re cobbling money together from here and there to send my oldest daughter to a Private High School.  We have few debts, and we are luckier than most people are…but trust me, if we’re hurting by making it paycheck to paycheck, I can only imagine what’s going on with those less fortunate than us.  While I would usually call us the middle class, I am now putting us in the bucket with everyone else who works, pays their bills (or sometimes cannot), and goes paycheck to paycheck.  We have become part of the Working Poor.

Then there is what used to be the Upper Middle Class, the ones who live in their Mc Mansions, buy a new car every week, work for a large corporation or own their own businesses.  For them, nothing much has changed except for the fact that they now pay less in taxes than at any time since 1950.  True, these are the guys who basically ARE the economic drivers right now…they are the only ones who can afford to buy big ticket items such as TVs and cars.  They are also the ones who have disposable income to do so on other things: manicures, pedicures, weekly trips to the beauty salon, pay a pool boy to take care of their pool.  I cannot quite call them rich, because they’ve moved the bar on that…they’ve moved it so high, it’s become part of a ceiling one must break through in order to achieve some financial success in America.  I’ll just call this the New Middle Class.

We have the Rich, pretty much self explanatory…the ones who own most of the wealth in this country.  Now we have another entity altogether different, one which has only shown its hand in the past few years.  They have always been there, but buried in the Middle Class or Rich, or even sometimes the Lower Middle Class.  These are our representatives in Washington, 535 members of millions of us chosen to govern and set policy supposedly based upon the demands of the people.  But this they do not do…this has become passé, for now the time has come with the recent Great Recession (actually a Depression according to many economists) to truly show their colors.  What used to be done in back door rooms (I’d say smoke filled, but Nancy Pelosi would have a fit) with not so much obviousness is now being conducted in public.  Those who govern are owned by the Corporations that lobby for their votes.  And once you take their campaign cash, you are theirs for life.  Look at John Boehner, once caught handing out checks from tobacco companies to Representatives on the floor of the House (point of reference: I smoke and I think this was deplorable).  That used to be done behind closed doors.  The connections between various Representatives and oil companies, drug companies, and insurance companies that used to be met with silence or denial are now met with, “So what?” by those that Govern.  They themselves have become like what once happened in Rome…they have become a class unto themselves: The Political Class.  They are the marionettes whose strings are pulled by Corporate America for the benefit of Corporate America, the Rich, The Political Class, and the New Middle Class.  It is the latter that keep them in power.

Does it mean there are more of them than us?  No.  They just have more money, and money means power, and power means control over the masses.  So what used to be an honorable profession in serving your nation as a representative has become a full time job and/or a business.  And these are the same people who arrange the Congressional redistricting lines to keep them in power and their corporate masters happy.  So they keep the New Middle Class Happy to ensure their support (and some of the support from the Working Poor who are transfixed by the eye candy delivering so-called news on FOX).  My question now is a simple one, and it really is one that’s starting to be asked more and more: WHY DO PEOPLE VOTE FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE GOING TO HURT THEM?  I honestly can’t figure that one out except that it’s the Orwellian Nightmare come to pass.

THAT my friends is the new class system in this country.  We can blame the Rich all we want, but they are only benefitting from what the Political Class decide.  We can’t blame the New Middle Class for the very same reason.  We can blame ourselves, those of us in the Working Poor for not speaking out more vociferously and getting involved in government.  We just don’t give a damn…we are angry, but we have no constructive use for that anger.  And we are working just to live.  But in order to change this, we need to focus that anger on upending the apple cart.  The Corporations may be powerful, but the People are stronger.  We can enact term limits to prevent the wholesale buying and selling of candidates and eliminate gradually a layer of The Political Class, but it will always exist now that we have let it.  They have come from the shadows and gained form, and they like being able to come out into the daylight and exist…and exist at the expense of others.

Thus the great debate on the Debt Ceiling…it is not just a fight for the simple borrowing power…it is a fight for the very soul of this nation.  You see, all the progress of the New Deal is being scale back as I type.  All the progress we’ve made on good working conditions and the foundation of a solid Middle Class are being dismantled in washington DC right now.  And in the end, those of us who get Social security will be happy we are getting our checks and will shut up for a month.  And those of us who have never even knew this so called debt ceiling now know one exists, that Congress is in it only for themselves, and Emperor Obama is indeed without clothes in the Oval Office.  and we are not better off than we were 4 years ago, or even one year ago.  The debate was controlled by the Corporations who created the so-called grass roots (more like Astroturf) movement of the Tea Party.  They are the ones that moved the Political Class, and the President with it, to the Right and away from the vast majority of us who believe in social Programs and fair taxing of everyone…especially and including the Rich and the New Middle Class.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of paying for their tax breaks…even more than they are tired of paying for the Social Programs of the masses.  And the time to begin to move as one is NOW.  This debate has been a crisis that was wholly manufactured by the Political Class for its benefit and that of the Corporations that control EVERYTHING.  We need to organize, and to become a movement ourselves, for as surely as they attempt to destroy the Working Poor now, we will be eliminated if we don’t fight for ourselves now.  Your children and grandchildren’s future doesn’t depend on some damned debt ceiling…it depends on our ability to stand up to the New Order and change it to OUR Order, the order of the people.  The freedom of those children and grandchildren ride on what we do over the next few years and we must be the ones to start the movement.

“If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time – a tremendous whack.” – Winston Churchill

Event Horizon

A Black Hole is a collapsed star.  The star expends all of its energy and explodes into a nova in one final burst of energy before the sun cools completely, and begins to collapse upon itself.  What happens next is that the sun turns inside out and takes part of the surrounding space with it, creating a huge hole in space with a gravitational pull so strong that nothing…NOTHING, not even light itself can escape being sucked into it  There is a point though at which it is not too late to pull away, and that is just before the final piece of space where light can no longer escape and falling into the unknown black abyss is called an Event Horizon.

Regardless of the outcome of the debt ceiling negotiations, one thing is for certain: we have reached the political equivalent of an Event Horizon.

For the President, the next 48 hours will make or break his Presidency.  For the past year he has aquiesced to every single demand of the Republicans and acted more like one every day, rather than that champion of the Left I thought I was electing in 2008.  His leadership skills have been awful…he is not a strong leader.  He has let the tail wag the dog; instead of getting involved head on with everything from the Health Care Debate to this latest debacle that shouldn’t have happened, he has let circumstances dictate his responses.  He is reacting, not ACTING.  He is being the complete opposite of the Hope and Change we demanded in 2008.  What we got instead was not only more of the same, but more of the same and then some.  He is a horrible manager, because any good manager would have had his subordinates in line by now.  There would not have been any question of who was in charge and who was the Boss.  What’s more the country would have seen that.  When you have the small Tea Party faction calling the shots for the Republicans AND the Democrats by making them move farther and farther to the Right causing chaos.  The Freshman Senators and Congressmen don’t follow established protocols.  They are the lunatics running the asylum now, the children in the playground acting up…and their parents are helpless to control them.  We are literally at the abyss, the edge of destruction financially, and this same small group will cheerfully go down with the ship.  It doesn’t matter…it’s all for principle.

And this President lets them.

The Senate debates now trying to cobble legislation after holding the required symbolic votes so the Political Class can have something to fall back on when they have to run again and were asked, “How did you vote during the debt ceiling crisis”.  And there’s a word for you…”crisis”.  There shouldn’t have been one; this is usually a one sentence Bill that is pushed through the House and Senate so quickly it’s done by voice vote and the President simply signs it and the nation can pay its bills for another year or so.  Not this time; this time the game changed because this lunatic fringe decided that they would hold the country hostage in order to push through their agenda.  There was no serious discussion with the American Public about cutting their social safety nets.  There was no vetting in the polls.  There was no debate anywhere because this group held America and Americans hostage.

And this President let them.

We now have a new set of rules…a small minority can get what it wants by skirting the checks and balances of the Constitution by forcing people to vote the way they normally wouldn’t…and thus putting into place their agenda without so much as even the courtesy of open debate.  (The British used to do this to us back in Colonial Days; so these guys took those lessons to heart.  Not only to they have the spirit of the Revolutionaries on their minds, they have the tact and political will of our oppressors in our first battles for independence).  There will no longer be a majority getting what it wants in any deliberative body.  The President can be forced to compromise his own positions (if he truly had any) no matter what…except there is one way to escape this awful Event Horizon we approach and the only way to save this country now and our political system as we know it for future generations with our current Constitution: INVOKE THE 14th AMENDMENT.  Use that Constitutional avenue to say, “OK…I’m done.  You guys had your chance.  I’m not letting this happen, so by Executive Order I’m authorizing Treasury to pay anyway because there really is no ceiling…and now there never will again under my watch.”  he can with DECISIVE ACTION END THIS CRISIS.  Or he can be the one man who let Default happen on his watch.  This Congress will have every ballot box ready to carry votes against them.  Or perhaps People will see this as a way of adding more of the fringe lunatics.  No matter…this may have been several Presidents debt (including his own), but this President couldn’t control his Congressional Leaders let alone Congress.  This man is a compromiser…a wimp who has absolutely no pair of balls.  He had under-negociated on everything with compromise on his mind.  Instead of starting out with 100% and ending up with 90-95% of what he wanted as a compromise; He starts at 70% and winds up with 40%.  This is a weak, ineffectual leader…and I am a proud Progressive Democrat saying this.  So now my Republican friends and I have one thing in common

This man does not deserve another term.  He needs a Primary Challenge.  He has created a Black Hole from what was once a sun burning brightly heavens, and taken us to the Event Horizon.  He has let the Constitution be re-written without so much as a pen being lifted.  He has now only one chance and only one: INVOKE 14.  Do it now.  Tell Congress to take a hike and say you’ve had enough.  But he won’t.  Because he prefers compromise over confrontation and standing up for your principles, something I thought the man did when I voted for him.  Well, I was wrong.  He won’t be getting my vote, my time campaigning…nothing but my respect for office and a hole in my heart because he had greatness.  He could have been one of the greats, but he let the lunatics run the show.  And if America defaults and our Democracy is never the same again (unless he invokes 14)

It is because he let them.  He took us to the Event Horizon, and no light will ever escape again.  We will not stare into the abyss, we will have become a part of it.

“The United States Constitution has proved itself the most marvelously elastic compilation of rules of government ever written.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

In The Crosshairs

Yesterday I noted that I was an observer of the human condition.  Well, let’s take the following observation I’ve made after careful consideration and extrapolation of important data:

Congress needs to be replaced.

Every member needs to be voted out.  Every member should be held accountable for the delays on what has traditionally been a one line passage of raising the nation’s debt ceiling (which covers the bills already racked up, not increases more spending).  It’s like getting your paycheck and paid your mortgage, utilities, and any credit loaned to you.  This is money due.  All you are doing is paying it off.  The problem is that the US hasn’t seen a raise at the job in several years, and that paycheck isn’t coming on Tuesday unless we go to the boss and beg for the money, something that he has never failed at doing: meeting your paycheck and those of your co-workers.  Now the boss can’t meet his payroll because he has had the same clients paying the same payments every month for years without any increases to cover his increased expense to operate a business.  With me so far?  Our favorite Uncle is in the same situation, because it hasn’t raised his own receivables because…well, he liked a few more clients more than others.  So he cut their monthly bill.  And so he found himself with less money…and now his usual bills are coming due Tuesday.  He can’t borrow because the bank won’t let him.  So in the long run, you don’t get your paycheck.

For millions of us on Social Security, that nightmare begins Tuesday.  The first thing on the table to prevent default is the billions of dollars due to Social Security recipients on that date.  The will make the Government solvent for two weeks, but will leave millions without any money for their mortgage or rent; money for utilities or food; and perhaps might cause a HUGE amount of other unintended consequences for our creditors.  If you have auto-deduct on anything and timed it around your Social Security, the money won’t be there…so every check you wrote, every deduction (including perhaps bank statement charges) will cause an overdraft.  So the banks will be getting VERY rich on Wednesday morning and for several days after that.  You have to decide between the bills or food; food or medicine; medicine or death.  THIS IS REAL, MISTER PRESIDENT, MISTER SPEAKER, AND MISTER MAJORITY LEADER.  There are MILLIONS who will blame YOU when this mess happens.  There will be chaos and possible unrest.  And we will blame YOU the entire time.  Would you like to know why?

Because a few right wing fringe lunatics were allowed to hijack what had once been a great political party and turn it into the biggest group of xenophobic misanthropes the world has known.  And they are intractable in addition to not being very good with a calculator.  They are more interested in protecting the special interests that keep them firmly in “the Political Class” (another post on this theory of mine forthcoming in a few days) than they people they represent.  They are more interested in saving face, because the first thing to go is SOCIAL SECURITY…and what a coincidence…they finally sent us back to the 20’s, made millions poor overnight, didn’t even have to use legislation to do it.  because they did NOTHING.  The Democrats are no better, because they didn’t see this coming; the budget to keep the government running should have been the first indication that this was their next big fight.  As always, Democrats never seen the inevitable because like Ethel Merman singing, “Everything’s Coming Up Roses”…the fat lady has indeed sung.  And they allowed it to happen.

Then we have a man who I thought would be one of the greatest political leaders of all time, who has turned out to be more than just a disappointment…he has become a travesty and a shadow of his former self.  The guy didn’t even have a good bracket for March Madness this year.  He’s lost his political touch and his skill with the people.  He is being weak.  He is being the most ineffectual leader in a time of crisis since Herbert Hoover.  He deserves a Primary Challenge (but no one will give him one).  He has not used his power to get legislation through; he has done nothing but compromise after he’s constantly being kicked in the political nuts.  Now I don’t know about you, but when someone’s kicking me in the nuts, they get a right cross.  It’s time for him to do the political and constitutional equivalent of one…

Invoke the 14th Amendment.

Under sections 4 and 5 of the 14th, he can invoke Executive Orders ordering that all payments continue and unilaterally raise the so-called debt ceiling on his own, because that Amendment says that “the debt of the United States shall not be questioned”.  This basically means we’ve been operating an unconstitutional thing called a debt ceiling for almost a hundred years.  Well, we have a crisis.  The bills need to be paid…and rather than seriously look at this option, he’s considering not paying Social Security.  That’s going to have A LOT of people mad…fighting mad.  And it doesn’t matter of you’re a Republican or Democrat, you have a crosshair at the ballot box on you the very moment this happens because EVERYONE GETS THE BLAME.  No one will be safe…and banks will be richer on Wednesday morning because they have all those nice overdraft fees.  Our credit rating as a nation will have plummeted.  Our means of taking care of our elderly, disabled, and our soldiers will be gone.  All this will happen unless one thing happens:

MISTER PRESIDENT, GROW A PAIR OF BALLS AND INVOKE THE 14TH AMENDMENT.

You may have a Constitutional crisis on your hands, but it will be preferable to the alternative: chaos and certain destruction of the economy, this country, and more importantly people’s lives.  In my world there are 4 inclusive of myself I care more about…and right now we are about to suffer because of all the political posturing and bullshit in Washington is more important than my medications which keep me sane and out of pain.  Or food on my table.  Or a roof over my head.  You will not have my vote, nor will my Congressman or Senator.  I will vote for a third party.  I will not waste my vote on business as usual.  It’s time to stand up and be counted.  It’s time to put these bastards in the crosshairs of the ballot box and let them know in no uncertain terms that they will NOT be going back to DC and that is what will happen…unless the President takes decisive action NOW…INVOKE THE 14th Amendment.

“We think too small, like the frog at the bottom of the well. He thinks the sky is only as big as the top of the well. If he surfaced, he would have an entirely different view. “
Mao Tse-Tung

An Observer Of The Human Condition

Today I received my signed copy of “Brain Movies” by Harlan Ellison (also signed by Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczinski) in the mail, and I couldn’t have been more ecstatic.  Here was a collection of ORIGINAL  scripts, scanned from the original documents written on Harlan’s old Olympia Typewriter (he still uses an Olympia Electric for his work), with all the notations, deletions, notes in the margin.  It was a brilliant look into the creative process of the world’s most awarded writer (and hands down my favorite author of all time and my personal hero).  It was a look into what makes a writer great, and what makes the man tick…and what makes him tock.  It was a full and beautiful view of some of the best scripts ever written for “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”, and two from “The Outer Limits” (among others).  It was my own personal gold…it was something that gave this humble writer a few short moments of joy in his day and in his life.

As I was looking at what were some rather interesting videos of Harlan on You Tube, the thought occurred to me that the very reason why I connect with him so much is the fact that he is an observer of the human condition.  So am I.  He is one angry at the world son of a bitch, and so am I.  He doesn’t give a damn what people think, where he is or who he’s with, if he has an opinion it’s going to be out there regardless of its appropriateness for the occasion.  That’s me too.  Once when I was watching the great documentary about him called, “Dreams With Sharp Teeth”, Harlan was on a rant and my daughter who was on the computer nearby said, “Dad, he sounds just like you”.  Needless to say, I took that as a badge of honor.  My wife has always said he and I would get along like a house on fire and maybe one of these days I’ll get a chance to meet him where he’s not behind a table and I’m waiting as a fan to get my head ripped off by him.  Perhaps I can meet him on a street, shake his hand, and simply say that I enjoy his work and walk away.  (As a native New Yorker, that’s kind of how we do things; it’s rare we kiss anyone’s ass unless its Anna Kornikova’s and I’d do a hell of a lot more than kiss her ass, believe me).  Better yet, perhaps one day in the next decade Gods willing he’ll still be alive and I can share a panel discussion with him having my second novel just behind me.  Or maybe we can have a pastrami on rye at Katz’ Deli on the Lower East Side after a bowl of Matzoh Ball soup washed down with a Doctor Brown’s Cream soda.    One of the things that I do is observe what the rest of humanity is doing; it’s foibles and how stupid and wonderful we can be…sometimes simultaneously.

All writers are observers of the human condition.  I don’t like what I see now politically, with the debt ceiling about to cave in on us and we get to say hello to our upstairs neighbor Mr Chang.  I don’t like the fact that I’m stuck in a marriage that is the closest thing to paying off all of your karma in one lifetime that you will ever see.  I love the fact that my kids get great joy out of a stupid insta-pool that we bought for the backyard complete with filter and ladder (4 deep and 15 round).  I love the fact I can float in that thing and fall asleep on a floating bean-bag like device like I did the other day.  I dig that I have 3 very cool cats.  People say I tend to have a pessimistic outlook .  I like to refer to it as “stark realism”; after all, the glass is neither half full nor half empty, it is simply at 50% capacity.  I state it the way it is.  I don’t sugar coat anything.  I’m blunt, but I will admit to holding back and sugar coating when the situation mandates it.  (My daughter however, is a work in progress…).  But I look at things and I write about them.  I’m writing about my life now for Christ’s sake.  I mean, you survive a terrorist attack, alcoholism, acute PTSD, Bi Polar II, and start to get yourself together when your wife suddenly decides that she’s no longer in love with you.  Not only that, she’s acting on her urges.  Now THAT my friends, is a book.  THAT my friends, is the Human Condition…

…and it’s MY Human Condition.  And sometimes it sucks, and sometimes it’s great…but it beats the alternative.  Then again, after completing all of my karma by staying in a failed and loveless marriage…the other side has got to be amazing.  But I still have a lot more work to do here.  So I’ll write, and finally get that damned book finished so I can help someone out there realize that THEY need help.  I’ll write to get my own beliefs and philosophies out there, because no one is going to do it for me.  And I’m going to try and make the second half of my life better than the first, because I deserve a little island of happiness on this sea of storms.  For I am the lookout on the mast, lashed to the ship and yelling down at the helm.  I am the one who is going to save your ass from the rocks looming ahead and my own soul in the process.

For I am an observer of the human condition.

“We walked for some time, and grew to know each other, as best as we’d allow. These are some of the high points. They lack continuity. I don’t apologize. I merely pointed it out, adding with some truth, I feel, that most liaisons lack continuity. We find ourselves in odd places at various times, and for a brief span we link our lives to others and then, our time elapsed, we move apart. Through a haze of pain occasionally, usually through a veil of memory that clings, then passes, sometimes as though we have never touched.”  – Harlan Ellison

Independents Day

For the past several weeks, we have seen both political parties posture and play with fire regarding the nation’s debt ceiling.  This is akin to tossing a newborn up in the air and hoping it lands in someone’s arms when you are the only person around.  All you can do is look at the horror you created at the end and say, “Well…I didn’t mean to…” because trust me my friends, that is exactly what the excuse will be on August 3rd when the world’s Economy tanks; Moody’s will lower our credit to a “D” rating (as they have threatened); and all that you saved for in your 401 K takes such a beating you will have to work at least 10 years past that which you planned to retire by.  Social Security will stop (and so will 20% of my household income) and Medicare will stop paying the bills (my treatment for that which causes my disability is Medicare paid).  You are going to have a lot of angry, disabled, and white haired people with walkers out there.  This will not be what either Party expects, because the backlash of those people (I might as well say “us” because I’m in that group) will be intense.  How about a massive march/roll/limp/walk on Washington for starters?  Go right up the the steps of the Capitol and tell them just what they have done to your life.  Tell them how you can no longer live, or pay your bills, or eat, or get the medicine you need…it’s almost like Paul Ryan’s plan put into motion by the simple act of a few key Republican right wingnuts not understanding the world and national impact of their selfishness.

And then the time will come when we realize that all our lives, what we have been fed are lies and more lies by people who govern with the consent of the governed for the benefit of the corporations.  We will all realize, every single one of us, that every single politician in Washington needs to be replaced NOW, starting with our disappointing President on down (and don’t worry Supreme Court…you’ll be in line too).  The major problem is that we have a two Party system that is more than broken; it is simply the tattered remains of a once great nation.  It is a system that treats Corporations as people and allows them the right to have a voice in the election hiding behind groups like, “People For The American Way” and “Freedom Works”…both of which are neither.  They are groups that do not have to divulge where their funding comes from, so we know not which corporate slave master is responsible for attempting to steer the ship of state their way…but in this case, all we have are a bunch of rocks and sirens who can’t sing in key.  So the ship travels onward aimlessly because our Captain is way too busy trying to make nice with those who seek to destroy him.  And this is the biggest disappointment to me of the past four years: President Obama.

When he was nominated, I cried…because I was the one who ran in to tell my mom that Martin Luther Kind had died.  I remember the marches, and the body counts on the news all during my formidable years as a youngster in the late 60’s; most assuredly born ten years too late.  When he was elected, I wept with my daughter because we were so happy that a person of color could finally reach the highest office in the land…and while I remember growing up in Brooklyn and Staten Island and the “hidden” racism of the North…my daughter was crying because her friends had something to be proud of the next day.  Whereas I went to school in a lilly white borough of NYC, she grew up in a suburban town of mixed backgrounds socially, economically, and racially.  There was so much promise, especially after 8 years of having my beloved Constitution treated like a gum wrapper rather than the sacred document it was.  There was hope again…a hope a dream of a new beginning for all of us.  Unlike the first time we heard the expression, I truly believed that it was indeed “morning in America”…until someone turned out the lights that is.

Closing Gitmo?  Not yet done although it had been attempted.  War Crimes persecution for those who lied us into a war that cost the lives over several hundred thousand human beings let alone close to 6,000 of our own precious blood…and scores more of wounded?  None…taken off the table, just like impeachment was two years prior by Pelosi and Reid.  To think that Congress had once tried to impeach a man for lying about a blow job under oath rather than impeach a man who lied about starting a war and not following the same Constitution he had sworn to protect…if this isn’t the height of folly I don’t know what is.  Lowballing his demands on what he envisioned as a national healthcare system led to a fight that damaged  his credibility and created a program with no teeth that costs a lot more money than Medicare for all would have (and in fact would have made that program financially solid).  His repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” should have happened on January 21 2009…screw McCain and the others who want American Empire to continue although we cannot afford to maintain it.  He gave in on the Bush tax cuts extending them a year…giving the wealthy more for their pockets instead of the treasury getting its fair share.  He has been remarkably silent on the Union busting going on and has for some reason delayed the card-check bill that was supposed to be on the legislative calendar years ago. He has become owned lock stock and barrel by the corporations and basically is now in the untenable situation of either having to acquiesce to their demands on the budget or not have the debt ceiling raised.  And here we are…

…in the midst of the most turbulent period in this country’s history although it may not appear that way now.  History will not be kind to these men and women in power; these 535 people who do not listen to their constituents but who may have a lot of listening to do in the next few months as the new poor and dying come to their offices and march on the Capitol.  History will remember the names of those few who plunged the world economy into the abyss.  More importantly, the populace will remember that it was both Republicans and Democrats who did this to them…and then begin to look at alternatives.  Can a Third Party emerge?  Will it be possible to publicly finance elections and not allow private contributions, so that all have an equal shot at office…not just the rich and powerful or those whom they support.  Or will it finally be time for “Independents Day”, when the People become so backed into a corner that they come out fighting mad.

And rather than the tears of joy I once shed at the election of this man, I now shed tears of sorrow at how fast he was turned into something else…a man who no longer resembles the man who gave us all hope 4 short years ago.  And as I write this on the day of our Independence from Great Britain,  I only hope that we can find the inner strength to do it again to those in power now who seek to use America for their own nefarious ends rather than the bastion of freedom and justice it’s supposed to be.  Use the ballot box.  Run for office.  Write and speak at rallies.  Make your voice heard in any way possible, because you never know when even that simple right may be taken away…because you are too damned tired from working three jobs to make ends meet to get involved.

You’ll be more than happy just to sit and watch it all unfold on Fox, or CNN, or MSNBC (or whatever channel will feed you the Party Line because they will all be saying the same thing in a few years) and let someone else do the work.  After all, you have now been mollified by your 50 inch Sony Plasma TV and comfy chair.

What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? – Thomas Jefferson