A couple of weeks ago when the Occupy moments started up, I made the suggestion…no, I implored these folks to get their message together, get some leaders to represent those ideas, and go to Capitol Hill, the State Houses, the street corners…whatever it took, to get those messages out there and into action. I also said that Americans do not like a mob, will not listen to a mob, and never have listened to anything that came from a mob. The Civil Rights Protests, the Viet Nam War protests were all organized events that effected change in a positive way and did in fact change the way this nation operates. I also said that they should do this as soon as possible, because they were at the point of having their movement defined for them rather than having them define their movement.

I know I don’t get a hell of a lot of readers over my way (and I do get some cool trackbacks that make their way into the Blogosphere), but these were basic principles that any experienced college organize (yours truly back in the day) or old hippie (was anyone even listening to a few of the voices of 60s reason in the crowd?). Why this never happened is beyond me, but what is happening at this very moment is not only is our movement being defines for you, you are being made out to be traitors and thugs, and anarchists, and moreover…the public opinion which brought you this far is starting to turn against you now.


Go out there and pull back, regroup, reorganize. Maintain a peaceful presence on the streets…but ensure that it is not threatening. Go back and take all your General Assemblies and elect leadership, take your common principles (which I know you have after watching an economist talk about your VERY impressive sheet of economic ideas on “Countdown” last night) back out on to the streets. Go peacefully into that good night and present a UNIFIED FRONT. No more of this organig BULLSHIT. You want to change the country, the world, the universe…hell, I’m behind of a thousand percent. And moreover, there are thousands of others like me out there who can only watch from the sidelines. We have kids, jobs, responsibilities that need tending to. In my case, I’m disabled but my power is in my pen as my sword. Our Constitution is my shield. I support you in the manner in which I can…and that is by writing a Blog post more and more (it’s starting to become daily as the level of Police Violence escalates) supportive of you.


The police and the Establishment are using tactics that are coordinated from “somewhere”; rumor has it that it’s the White House. These are tactics learned not only from the past ten years via Homeland Security, but years of fighting protestors during the Viet Nam War. There is no way in hell almost every single protest we have seen so far could have almost the EXACT same tactics used. In some cities they are more violent than others; in Oakland you almost expect the violence, but you saw what happened when they tried to do Oakland style control in NYC…sorry Mayor Bloombag, we messed up your haven for the rich. 30,000 people march…30,000 angry New Yorkers. Take into account both the Giants and Jets lost last weekend, and you have some pretty pissed off New Yorkers. Plus you are trying to take away THEIR city. Mayor Bloomerg, NEW YORK CITY BELONGS TO ITS CITIZENS. Not the rich, and certainly not your crazy goon squadrons.

And that goes for ANY of you Mayors or Governors…this country belongs to its people and not it’s Corporations, no matter how much the Supreme court now defines them as a “person”. And now I save my final vitriol in this post for the man who has been conspicuously absent by his silence: The President Of The United States. President Obama, you swore an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. You have not done so. You have not said a thing outside of the fact that every jurisdiction should handle things as they best see fit. Well, that is pure and simple BULLSHIT, sir. This is a coordinated effort between the Federal Government (who cannot send in the Army into a State unless the National Guard has already been called in and needs assistance) and local jurisdictions.

People are starving; give them food. People are cold; give them shelter. People need medical care; give them medicine and doctors. People need an education; give a free one to every single child in this country. This was the hope we had for you sir when we elected you. You were the savior, like it or not, of the American people…and you have reluctantly refused the mantle. Do we have to offer you this nation as a dictatorship 3 times and have you refuse it like a modern day Caesar? What is it that is preventing you from protecting the RIGHTS of every PROTESTOR down there, and the level of VIOLENCE perpetrated upon every one of them by their fellow Americans whom you refuse to reign in. YOU CAN RESTORE ORDER BY SIMPLY ALLOWING THE PEACEFUL PROTESTS TO CONTINUE. Talk with these guys; have representatives …OUR ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES give a shit for once and show up at that meeting and LISTEN to what is wrong with this country. The hell with the polls or reelection campaigns. You and you ALONE can turn this moment into an historic opportunity to change the landscape of this nation forever.

Just go out there and do what you were elected to do in the first place. Be the man we thought you were. LEAD, DAMNIT…LEAD!

“I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country. “ – Thomas Jefferson

“All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move.” – Benjamin Franklin


Critical Mass

“And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.” – Aeschylus

I usually end a blog post with something reflective about it and the days events that I spoke of.  Today’s different, because three years ago this became my call to arms in waking up from a very long funk of feeling sorry for myself because of 9/11.  I had just started this blog the day before and had posted what has now become well-travelled piece on the Net…but I owe that post and the change in my outlook to this quote.  Bobby Kennedy used is as a quote at Brother Martin’s funeral, in a way what he was trying to say to the crowd was “We may not understand why this happened now, but in the long run perhaps we will…and no matter, the pain never goes away”.  I looked at that quote and saw it as a means to letting go…of letting my own survivors guilt disappear into the haze of ether in between universes and finally was able to become a bit freer enough to start a blog that I was very consistent at keeping up with originally bus have since posted when the fierce urgency of now warranted.  The events of the past few weeks have finally made it necessary to speak out once again as I believe that our own government is trying to play both sides of this coin and is acting is a despicable (yet not unsurprising manner).

The Occupy movements have grown tremendously in the few short weeks I texted.  Two weeks ago, a former Iraq War veteran was shot in the head by a tear gas canister in Oakland.  He is still in hospital, learning to walk and talk again (he wasn’t badly hurt to the extent that he was like a stroke victim, but badly enough to where he needed some type of therapy).  Since then, the Oakland Police Department have committed atrocities against the crowd; injuring peaceful protestors who offered no resistance and destroying their tent cities.  The same has happened in Atlanta, Oklahoma City and scores of other places that the movement has spread to.  Finally, the other evening the Nazi-like tactics of the NYPD struck again, beating peaceful protestors as they slept, wearing riot gear and destroying what has become the center and symbol of this movement Zuccati Park in lower Manhattan.  To use this amount of excessive force against the populace in such a similar fashion looks as if it almost came out of a playbook.  Well, now we know who’s, and it may be surprising…

The Obama Administration itself.

An Administration Official under strict anonymity told filmmaker Michael Moore that this was organized by the White House.  While on one hand, Obama remains silent (VERY conspicuously absent in the issue, but has called for peaceful protests and for each jurisdiction to handle things in the manner it sees fit); it is also putting out a “playbook” for the coordination of these attacks against the American People and how to shut the protestors down.  It seems as if Obama is now doing the will of his Corporate Overlords and Masters in enforcing destruction of these Occupy events.  Freedom of speech is being suppressed.  The right to have the press cover this was taken away by Bloombag the other night by arresting the reporters ostensibly for their own “safety”.  A No Fly Zone was placed above the area.  A NO FLY ZONE…last time I looked only the FAA could do that, not the fucking NYPD no matter how powerful these bastards think they are.  If that doesn’t lead you down a certain line of reasoning, I don’t know what will.  Supposedly, people will be allowed back into the park with no tends or blankets or any other equipment and will have to pass through 4 “checkpoints” TO GET INTO PUBLIC SPACE.  I find that rather amusing…and the silence from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is just fucking deafening.

A man we voted for change and hope for the future has apparently sold us out and down the river and is kowtowing before the Gods of Wall Street who tell him what to do next.  They’re making him look like fucking “Benson”.

There is going to come a day when the Army is called in.  There is going to come a day when people are killed…and there is going to come a day when this idea which has now become an uncontrollable mass of uranium is about to go critical…you cannot stifle freedom.  You cannot silence those of us who will continue to write and speak up about this.  The sleeping giant has awoken, and we are now pushing the levers of power that we have.  We will not be silenced, moreover I REFUSE TO BE SILENCED.  I will continue to write until they drag me off kicking and screaming for a Cuban vacation.  What I know, I will pass on, what I find out I will pass on.  Consider me an internet conduit in the coming revolution…

…because make no mistake, one is coming.  And it ain’t gonna be pretty.

“Democracy… while it lasts is more bloody than either aristocracy or monarchy. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” – John Adams 

Did You Ever Notice…

I’ve met many famous people in my life; some of them have been wonderful (Musicians Carlos Santana, Jorma Kaukonen of the Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna; NY Giants Quarterbacks YA Tittle, Charley Connerly; the toughest man to ever play the game of football, Defensive Master Dick Butkus; and the incredibly gracious and fun ex-Cleveland Browns Quarterback Otto Graham- possibly the greatest QB ever to play the game, along with his lovely wife…who gave me an insight into the game I love so much over several scotches and several hours.  All of those sports figures were at the top of a hotel in San Fransisco after they attended a charity event and my friend his then-wife and I got to hang out with them for a few hours.  What a memorable evening…and of course the batteries in my camera died and the hotel gift shop was closed.  I’ve met Bruce Springsteen a couple of times as he lives in my area and I ran into him on line to get a beer at a bar we both happened to be at in  the area and he just started talking to me.  Great guy).  Others have not been so nice (Sportscaster Sal Marciano, and Ray Davies of the Kinks come to mind immediately).  There were a couple I was in awe of (Cleveland Running Back Jim Brown and Musician Quincy Jones).

And then there was Andy Rooney.

Many years ago, I was the Assistant Manager of a Branch of Chase Manhattan Bank At Columbus Circle.  I got to meet a lot of famous folks; the aforementioned Jim Brown and Quincy Jones among them; but Andy was just a regular guy who’d come in from the CBS Offices just down the block and deposit his paycheck.  No Direct Deposit…he took a check.  Maybe he didn’t trust technology, who knows…but ever two weeks we’d see his slightly rumpled figure and eyebrow (singular) pop in to do some banking.  One day he needed something, and He and I introduced ourselves.  The request was simple, “Did you ever notice there’s no Deposit Slips at the ATM when you really need them?” was  his question.  And yes, he asked/observed that EXACTLY the way he would have told it on TV, and it took all my control not to laugh in the face of this great man.  And that was only because he was right; it was a Rooney observation; and he said it like Andy Rooney could only have said it.  I told him that I’d make sure we’d stock things up and it wouldn’t happen again.

A few weeks later, he came into the Branch, saw me and pulled me aside and said, “Ken, I was here last night at 2am and there were Deposit Slips.  Thank you.”  And I said that it was a pleasure and he made a great point, and from then on we’d see each other every while and stop and chat.  He told me to call him Andy, and I still called him Mr. Rooney regardless.  There was just no way I could have possibly called a man with  his journalistic background and history by anything other than his surname.  Once in a while it was crazy conversations about the winter; other times it was about an event of the day that he was fuming about (or I was).  I told him my background was in Journalism and that’s what my BA was in; he told me to get the hell out of banking while I was still young enough and give it a go as a writer.  He freelanced for a year or two after his stint in the Army reporting for Stars and Stripes, sometimes under enemy fire and had won a few medals for bravery.  He loved Eisenhower because he never believed in censoring Starts and Stripes whereas today everything is sanitized for your protection.  He was a nice guy.  He was also a great tipper for the Teller Staff; because when Christmas time came, they all got cash envelopes that were supposed to NOT be taken, but how do you say “No” to Andy Rooney?  There would be a show on about it in a matter of days.  The Tellers loved him; we all did (Nipsey Russell could be a pain in the ass, but I got along like a house on fire with him…but he was stingy with tipping those guys).  Andy was just a nice man who’d also occasionally talk a bit about WW2 as that was an interest of mine; but he’d have to stop because he reported on the Battle of The Bulge and the Liberation of Buchenwald.  Which I completely understood…but he was a font of great information.

Andy Rooney passed away today at the age of 92; ironically, the age I see myself exiting this plane of existence.  And somehow, I will always remember one of his last words when he was leaving 60 Minutes for good and “retiring”…and that’s what I’ll leave you with today:

“Writers don’t retire…” – Andy Rooney

Rest in Peace, Mr Rooney.

The Better Nature Of Our Angels

I’ve been holding off writing about the recent events surrounding the various “Occupy X” movements for good reason: because things happen at such a rapid pace and so quickly do things change that I find it hard to get a grasp on things.  I needed a few days to put together some thoughts in my head about the whole movement, our Congress and Senate, and our President.  This is very important what I am about to write; so please listen to what I have to say and feel free to comment and have a dialog by commenting at the end.  I have disabled the “comments must be approved” function for this post so that a free and open dialog can go on uninterrupted by myself and that everyone has a say.

This is a pivotal moment in history; we are truly living in historic times, and have in fact done so since the turn of the new Millennia.  I believe that 9/11 was the catalyst for a lot of things, but while it was responsible for two wars and billions of dollars spent on the dogs of war and their machines, it was also a decade that saw artificial wealth being given to the middle class in the form of these packages real estate derivatives that were a part of many direct investments or 401K’s.  It saw a lot of people own homes who had no business owning one by virtue of their income not being large enough; in fact, we were encouraged to “go shopping” by then President GW Bush as if nothing had happened and nothing changed after the attacks on the Pentagon, World Trade Center, and the unfortunate loss of life by those passengers on Flight 93 who diverted the plane into the ground rather than see it be used as yet another weapon of terror.

It was a decade of personal loss for me after being caught up in the WTC attack: acute PTSD and Bi Polar II had me on the permanently disabled list, and I’m collecting the Social security that I paid into since I was 15…and I’m collecting it way before I ever expected to.  Likewise Medicare.  But these are two programs that helped my wife and I in a time of crisis, and every day I wake up and thank the Gods, Universe, or whatever is out there for that social safety net that kept my family together.  We’re going through some rough times right now personally.  My wife and I have issues and we are now the parents of a teenager who is an absolutely brilliant kid, but give us the headaches of growing pains.  Our 10 year old is in that awkward transition from child to teenager.  The only ones who have no problems are the cats.  They find their sunbeam and lay in it most of the day happier than can be.  My wife is a Registered Nurse and is the breadwinner, I’m the stay at home dad who is trying to raise the kids and not let my ailments get in the way (I also have degenerating discs in my back).  I’m also trying to write a book about the past ten years and what happened to me and what I thought we, as a species should be doing right now to help one another and survive this world together.  I also blog too, not just because I want to, but because I HAVE to.  Writing is the only way I keep my focus on one thing instead of a million and I actually remember what I’ve done because its on a page in front of me, rather than ask someone where were we in a conversation.  It’s not easy having a mind that’s quite intelligent, but a memory like a sieve; one that used to be photographic.  Now it’s like the copier machine has broken.

9/11 changed the way I look at the world; it was like a switch went of in my head that was always there but never used before.  I’ve spoken to many other 9/11 Survivors who feel the same way: that Mankind HAS to change in order for it to survive; so that we have no more days like that horrible Tuesday that killed and scarred so many of us and our families.  This is something we have talked about for years on blogs, in posts, among ourselves, but is now coming to fruition by the brave souls who are protesting not only the wrong way they were treated and the right to have a job to make an honest living, national healthcare and free education.  These are rights that should be afforded us as human beings, not “rights” in quotes doled out by the 1 Percenters who pick and choose which of us is to survive.  That is Social Darwinism at its most perverse.  In order for this planet, this species called the Human Race to survive…we must change the way we do business with each other as well as the way we think  and look at ourselves.

Changes are coming; HUGE changes.  Not just governments rising and falling (which is inevitable, even some stable ones we know might be threatened) because the sleeping giant has been awakened.  The people of this planet who have been kept downtrodden and poor by the upper classes are realizing that there are others out there in the same boat.  The middle class realizes that it is ever shrinking, and that the economy which once depended so much on them being employed can now function with Corporations making profits with less staff that will not be replaced like they did in the old days.  There is the creeping reality that jobs will never be recreated.  And the rich are realizing they never had it so good.

In the meantime, a new class has been formed, something I like to call “The Political Class”, which is pretty much anyone in elected office, their staffs, or anyone who lobbies these guys on behalf of large corporations.  These guys get it good: good pay, good benefits (in and out of office), and the money that comes from taking that little bit of cash here and there than cannot be traced; a vacation that looks innocent enough on the books but is in fact one big strategy session with the Corporate Masters.  Yes indeed, The Political Class is a reality, and they are the ones who believe in a lifetime job in Congress or the Senate.  These are the guys that are supposed to represent OUR best interests, not theirs.  These are the guys who are supposed to fight FOR US, not AGAINST US.  Instead, they rally behind causes championed by their Corporate Masters, eager to please and surely eager to gain more personal wealth from the experience.  The most frightening thing of all is the fact that this class of people is in fact replacing the Middle Class so that you now have a group of “Haves” (the 1 Percent who control almost all the wealth) and the “Have Nots” (the 99 Percent who have very little wealth, do all the labor, and are the ones who make the 1 % Rich).  The Political Class pretty much falls in like with the 1 Percent because let’s face it, that’s where their own personal wealth comes from.

So what we have here is a situation that is untenable and self-destructive in its own nature.  It simply cannot exist, because of the sheer numbers of people who are in the 99 Percent.  You can have all the money in the world, but if there are 100 of you and 1,000 angry at you for having stolen or not given them some what they worked for back to them you are outnumbered and may in fact be outgunned.  2,000 fists will beat 100 any day of the week, unless those 200 hands command tanks and other weapons that could be used against the 1,000.  And that is the precipice upon which we stand at this very moment, with the Political Class very much caught in between.  There are those that side with the 99 Percent but cannot publically support us because their own position would be threatened; and for my money, that’s not someone I want in office who can only represent me when it counts for HIM and not all the time of US.  There are those in the Political Class that are clearly also a part of the 1 Percent and are now shouting that the protestors and participants of the “Occupy X” movements are anarchists, that somewhere there is a Robespierre among us and there is also a sharpened guillotine awaiting them.  This is simply not the case.  This is not France in 1789, it is the United States of America in 2011.  Americans do not act that way, nor do we even THINK that way.  We are far more a nobler and wiser people than that.  We are not the type who like mob rule on any level, and in this instance this is also the case.

So you see, not only do our 1 Percenters feel threatened by the very fact that we outnumber them, and that the sleeping giant has been awakened, but that the sleeping giant is REALLY pissed off having realized what’s been done to it while it took a rest.  Well, they have a valid point, and quite frankly I’d be pretty scared right now if I were in their position.  But that is letting human emotion and not human reason get in the way of reconciling differences and coming to terms and accommodation peacefully.  They too are human beings, like it or not, and they have a right to live, have families, make a living, and have the same things the 99 Percenters want.  Many in the 99 Percent forget that there are many noble people who fought tooth and nail for their earnings, who came from less than humble beginnings and now are very proud of what they have.  And their mantra is that they worked for it, and so should you.  There is one slight problem with that thesis: there are no jobs to be had so that the vast majority of people in this country have the sheer opportunity, just the OPPORTUNITY to work.  How can you advance yourself financially and socially when there is no opportunity, when the 1 Percenters are not going to give you any, and when the Political Class sits there doing nothing but watch like some spectator on the sidelines (While you’re up, please get me a hot dog and a beer).

It is clear that conventional means will not work.  What will happen is one of two things: the masses will be satiated for a few years by some type of giveback or settlement and then we will be back at this point, or this will end very violently at the point of a gun and no clear victor emerging except either mob rule or an oppressive government hell-bent of stifling free speech and right to redress grievances forever.  What is needed is thinking outside the box, a way of approaching all of the issues at hand in a peaceful and non-violent manner.  That has begun by the sheer fact that there are now so many “Occupy X” demonstrations (at last count 259 as of last night, according to Keith Olbermann) in every part of this land; every town and village, every hamlet and city big and small.  It doesn’t matter, because the 1/99 formula is the same in a small village in Minnesota as it is in New York or Boston.  The fact that we have a coordinated response is a HUGE step toward changing the way we as Human Beings think and act toward each other; but as I said before, we are on a precipice and we all must be very careful of the next moves we make.

As many have said, and as I have posted on my Facebook page, “Stay in the Light”.  That pretty much means in Star Wars type language, don’t use the Dark Side of the Force to get what you want.  Stay in the Light and use the positive energy, the positive thinking, the thousands of years of recorded history of mankind’s most enlightened souls to guide you to a peaceful outcome.  Violence will not solve anything.  It will only grow into the specter of Civil War, which this could very well become if everyone is not careful where they step next.  We lost our most precious blood exactly 150 years ago this year in a War we still have never recovered from.  But while that war was one for state’s rights as much as it was for slavery, this one cuts across all walks of mankind: white, black, Latino, Asian, Gentile, Jew, Christian, Muslim, straight, gay…EVERYONE.  And THAT is why the 1 Percenters are as frightened as can be, because they have no way to turn the 99 Percenters upon themselves like they have successfully done in the past.  They have divided and conquered us enough, the time is now…we move together, as one or not at all.

As noble a thing as mutual spokespersons are, and a few are chosen here and there to speak on television, it is not a realistic way to get your message across.  Americans like organization; we are not Egypt or Syria…we are Americans and we like our sides well drawn by lines and points we can understand by people who can speak and get the message across.  I implore the demonstrators to PLEASE GET SOME SPOKESPERSONS NOW TO FRAME YOUR MESSAGE OR YOUR MESSAGE WILL BE FRAMED FOR YOU.  It is happening now; the media is starting to misrepresent what the “Occupy X” Movement is all about…and all the masses who are not involved, who do not read alternative sources on the Internet see are what is shown to them by the Mass Media, who also have a vested interest in this.  Every media outlet is owned by a Corporation, so if you think they are not going to be involved on some level, even as much as twisting your message…think again.  Get representatives now.  Get spokespeople NOW.  Have a Congress, much in the same way as we had our First Continental Congress and elect your leaders from there.  We are a participatory Democracy; that is what people are used to.  You move the world with a lever but you apply pressure a bit a time.  Part of that involves an Organization, and like it or not you are going to have to form one.

For the Political Class and 1 Percenters…your time has come as well: you must realize that you cannot hold on to Power in this manner any longer.  You need the consent of the People to govern.  You need the will of the People to make this nation a better place…and by giving us up as an example for the rest of the world to follow, just like we have so many times before.  Capitalism as it stands now cannot survive; the Empire we have militarily cannot be maintained without great cost to your citizens.  Do the right thing: Give up on Empire, take that money and feed the hungry, take care of the sick, give people jobs, IN YOUR OWN COUNTRY.  It is time that AMERICA TAKES CARE OF ITSELF, because if we do not do that, how can we possibly take care of others?  How can we effectively give to the rest of mankind when we have not shared the wealth in our own borders?  And by share the wealth I mean this:

  • The Federal or State Governments needs to create something along the lines of the old CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) and other Organizations to repair this nations crumbling bridges and roads.  Yes, we will have to spend money…but would you rather spend it now on peaceful applications, or bombs that kill others?  Investments demand that money be spent.  SPEND IT NOW.
  • Medicare For All, it’s as simple as that.  Raise our taxes, do what you have to do to make this work…but make sure everyone has medical coverage.
  • FREE education for all, and forgiveness of student loan debt…ALL student loan debt up to the Bachelor’s level.
  • People have a right to UNIONIZE and COLLECTIVELY BARGAIN…don’t you DARE take away those rights again through some government trickery.  The 20th Century was spent with people dying for this right…honor their memories, not trample on their graves.
  • Treat our Veterans BETTER than we do now.  They fought for the rights that you so much want to suppress…honor their sacrifice by giving them better pensions and Medical Care than you do now.
  • Maintain and strengthen Social Security and Medicare.  I can vouch first hand how much this saved my family; I’m sure it does the same for many others.  I have ideas on how to do this, but this is not the time nor place for them…but these are programs that Americans rely on.  They are a social contract between this Government and its citizens that needs to be maintained.

For the “Occupy X” protestors, what you need to do is this:

  • Pick leadership, or get leadership from your elders who have fought these battles in the Civil Rights and Anti Viet Nam War movements.  We may be old, but we know a thing or two about protesting properly.
  • DO NOT ANSWER VIOLENCE WITH VIOLENCE.  The Corporations and the 1 Percenters control the Police.  Passively resist; then it takes two officers to haul you in as opposed to one and takes away from their manpower.  The moment you beget violence with violence, you become an angry mob and will be treated as such by the police, and the media, and eventually the very people you are trying to help who are only seeing the periphery on television or in the newspapers without knowing all the facts.  Remember this well.  Read Dr King’s notes on this as well as those of Mahatma Gandhi.  Gandhi’s notes may also guide you toward a spiritual path that this is destined to become IF we let the better angels of our nature guide us.
  • You are on the verge of changing the world…don’t blow it.

(…to be continued on Friday…)

 “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.”- Mahatma Gandhi

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it–always.” -Mahatma Gandhi

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”- Martin Luther King Jr.

“To overcome evil with good is good, to resist evil by evil is evil.” – Prophet Mohammed

“It is better to sit alone than in company with the bad; and it is, better still to sit with the good than alone. It is better to speak to a seeker of knowledge than to remain silent; but silence is better than idle words.” – Prophet Mohammed 

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

– Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 5.3-12 ESV)

My Brief (And Absolutely Perfect) On Line Encounter With Steve Jobs

A few years ago, I needed a new computer.  After getting frustrated in trying to find a driver for a new piece if equipment I bought (a Creative MP3 Player) and believing that the software should be doing the work and not me, I decided to purchase a Mac.  From the moment it arrived to my home until this very day, that 24″ iMac (circa 2006) is still going strong (Tess and Grace share it).  I’ve since moved on to a fully loaded for bear 27″ iMac, 16 gigs of memory and the new Lion OS X 10.7 running the show; but it was that very first introduction to the Macintosh and Apple and the absolute genius of Mr Jobs that was a moment I will never forget.

Imagine: a computer that actually did the work FOR me instead of ME having to do the work for IT!  A computer that rarely crashed (although Lion has its share of issues I will be the first to admit; but it shows promise) and no blue screens of death!  No slow boot up or shut down times as well as no defragmentation!  It was a thing to behold, and as the years went on Apple only got better and stronger and I was there as the iPhone and iPad was launched as a member of the “Apple Family”, because once you go Mac you never go back.  I was so impressed with that computer, we bought a smaller 18″ iMac for the kids (a great deal on a refurbished one and they stood by their product with the same warranty or extended warranty and great service).  That’s how I got into Macs and have become one of their staunchest supporters.

I was also a member of Dot Mac, a service that gave you web space, e-mail, and the ability to access your Mac anywhere regardless of using a PC or Mac.  That was converted to the expanded “Mobile Me” service which is still in existence till next year but there will there be overlap with the new iCloud, which syncs even more programs between all your devices (this will truly be a revolution, and it begins next Tuesday).  However, in moving from Dot Mac to Mobile Me, a lot of the current cutomers such as I had trouble accessing e-mail, files, photos…name it.  It was supposed to be seamless, but it also occurred the first day of the iPhone release.

That may have been a bit more than Apple could handle (and it was), and the lack of a smooth transitionwas quite evident to Mr Jobs who was VERY hands on with the iPhone end, and did something he rarely did with such an important project: he delegated it…and boy, he probably wished he hadn’t.  It was a disaster.

What follows is a letter I wrote to Mr Jobs because I had gotten a hold of one of his e-mail addresses he uses outside the standard flow of things (don’t ask, LOL).  I was a very upset customer, and I had never written to a CEO before and I knew I read his e-mail, but particularly from this box.  And then comes the absolute, priceless response from one of the busiest men in the world, who took two minutes to write me back via his iPhone  Those of you who know me extremely well will be laughing hysterically at the reply I received, because Steve Jobs had somehow managed to get an idea of what I’m like as a person never having met me:

On Jul 28, 2008, at 1:36 PM, Ken Walsh wrote

Mr Jobs,

This is the first time I’m writing the CEO of any company.  I don’t believe in wasting Executives’ time (being a former Vice President at JP Morgan Chase myself) the with trivial complaints, but I feel this time I have to; not just because I need to express my frustration with Mobile Me, but because I believe that Apple may very well be headed down the wrong path at a critical juncture in its ascendance.  

In December of 2006, we needed to purchase a new computer as our old PC was on its last dying gasps. I was holding off on a purchase because I was waiting for Vista to finally be released, and then I could make my purchase with the OS already installed without having to go through the rather nasty upgrade process to Windows XP that I experienced in 2001. After a particularly nasty incident with downloading a driver for a product that had worked not 5 minutes earlier, my patience with Windows was an an end, and I began to seriously consider buying a Mac.

After looking for a few days at the Apple web site, I settled on a 24″ iMac. I was immediately struck by the ease and simplicity of the OS and the quality that went into the machine’s construction and design. Like the ads said, “It just works”. No matter what peripheral I added, there were no drivers to hunt down, and they always worked first time, every time right out of the box. I said then (and will still say, by the way) that an iMac was one of the best large ticket items I’ve ever purchased. My wife and I were so impressed, we decided not even a month later to purchase a second iMac (although the smaller 18″ version) for the kids. Needless to say, my kids were absolutely thrilled, because they could be on line and working on a project in the same amount of time our old PC would initially boot up.

Since those initial purchases, we have bought 4 iPods, iWork 08, iLife 08, Logic Express 08, and upgraded both Macs to Leopard.  We would definitely be iPhone users right now if it weren’t for my current cell phone contract’s prohibitive “opt out” cost.  We have also been .Mac (now Mobile Me) subscribers since we purchased our initial Mac in December 2006. While Leopard was a bit problematic at first, I was understanding because I know that an Operating System is a complex thing and nothing is perfect the first time out of the box. Apple did its best to keep its customers informed of the problems, through e-mails and in the press. The key in this roll out was the timely dissemination of information that would keep customers in the loop as to problems and resolutions. Every problem was acknowledged, and if there wasn’t a solution, rest assured we knew that Apple was on the case given its stellar reputation when it came not only to its products, but the way in which it services its customers as well.

When the conversion of .Mac to Mobile Me was announced, I viewed it (with the exception of the abysmal choice in name) as a potential improvement. As much as I loved .Mac, I felt that there was some improvement (particularly in the sync capabilities) needed. So, it was with great anticipation on the first day of conversion I looked forward to an improvement in the service.

I should have realized that there was bound to be issues with the roll out of several new products on the same day, but I figured that Apple wouldn’t have done that if it didn’t have the technology and support (both in terms of server and human capability) to handle it.

There’s an old adage that only an fool fights a war on more than one front on its borders, and unfortunately Apple seems to have taken a page from this tarnished playbook. The launch of Mobile Me and the iPhone 2.0 on the same day was a problematic at best, a lingering disaster (at least on the Mobile Me front, anyway) at worst.  As I mentioned before, I understand things can go wrong upon any roll out; I’ve had my share of them myself when I was an Executive.  The one thing I always learned from my mistakes is to admit them, acknowledge a problem, assure the customer that a resolution is on the way and deliver on the promise to resolve the situation.  This has always been a standard at Apple, no matter the product; be it in a personal communication to me by a Customer Service Agent or in the Press if the problem was a large one.

While I will not go into my problems with the service (none of which have been resolved by the way), what I want to communicate to you is the level of secrecy and incompetence (or just downright laziness) in the way my issue (and other issues raised by many subscribers to Mobile Me) was handled.  This is not the Apple I have come to know.  This is not the level of professionalism, courtesy and respect that I am used to.  

When I first brought my issue to the attention of Mobile Me support, it took me no less than 15 minutes (by internet chat, no less!) to even have my problem acknowledged as a genuine one, let alone get some type of information as to a resolution.  I have written e-mails, and the responses I have received in return are CLEARLY that of an edited form letter; and a badly edited one at that, made to appear personalized.  I have posted on the Discussion Forums about my issue (an issue with Family Accounts that appears to be widespread), only to have my posts or topics edited or removed by the moderators despite the fact that I have asked genuine questions and have even gone so far as to offer solutions as to the nature in which problems are acknowledged and resolved by the Mobile Me Support Team.  In fact, part of this very letter was part of a Topic I started last night on the Mobile Me Transition Forum ostensibly because it violated the “Unsolicited Idea Submission Policy” and was removed this morning.

I can understand if there are problems with a roll out, but to not acknowledge those problems, to censor Discussion Boards from posts by Mobile Me Subscribers who are just trying to let Moderators and others know about those problems is absolutely infuriating.  All of this on top of not having a resolution to a problem which may even not be acknowledged by the Mobile Me Support staff or the Discussion Forum moderators.

Apple is starting down the very road that its competitors walk: that of pushing product backed with inept or non-existent Customer Service.  This is not Apple; this has been the very thing that has differentiated Apple from its competition in the past.  Apple is much more than its products; its about a lifestyle choice, something that not only makes your life better and easier but is always at the forefront of human technological capability…no matter the product.

I have only been a part of the Apple family for a short time now, and up until this morning I was incredibly proud and happy to be a part of it.  My two daughters pretty much saw me go through the roof this morning when I found out my post was deleted.  I’m a Stay At Home Dad, so I’m constantly teaching them life lessons; and one of them is, “Never start a fight, but always finish it”.  I’m only exemplifying that right now by writing this letter in the hope that something constructive can come out of the less than stellar launch of Mobile Me.  You have pulled Apple back from the brink before, and in turn have given the world some life-changing technology in the process.  Please acknowledge the issues with Mobile Me, if not in the Press, at least with your subscribers of the service.  Most folks will be more than understanding if they are not constantly stonewalled and even lied to about issues and resolutions.  I can understand secrecy when it comes to a product launch, that makes absolute sense; but silence surrounding the issues with a paid subscription service is unacceptable and totally beneath Apple.

I would hate to see Apple’s stellar reputation tarnished by some bad decisions that were made in the past few weeks.  Moreover, I would hate to see Apple become just like its competition.


Ken Walsh


To which I surprisingly received this return e-mail about a half hour from Mr Jobs, in his sometimes brusk and candid style (which didn’t bother me a bit).  He was having a bad day, yet he still took the time to listen to me and care enough to send the following:

From: Steve Jobs

Subject: Re: Yes, Another Mobile Me Letter

Date: July 28, 2008 7:58:52 PM EDT

To: Ken Walsh


Relax. We had a very bad last few weeks with mobile me and frankly had bigger problems than yours to focus on. We are making good progress so hopefully we can begin to address issues like yours soon. 


Sent from my iPhone

This was priceless!  I have never released its content until now nor told many people about it because despite his blunt honesty, just the fact he took the time to write to me blew me away; and I considered it a private conversation that I said to myself I would release whenever he passed away just to show the man’s character.  Yes, he was very human but he was brilliant and I still cannot believe that a modern day daVinci wrote me.

And if you are wondering whether or not that was really him…come on!  Look at his first words and the bluntness of the message.  It was him alright, and yeah some might have considered been taken to task I just considered it an honor to be a part of his brief “Reality Distortion Field” and an honor to have had him read my letter.

So there it is…my brief and perfect Steve Jobs moment.  May he rest in peace, and may the Universe truly find a special place for him as one of Mankind’s truly great human beings ever lived.  His vision was a one in a two lifetime event.

‎”Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma–which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

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.  






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

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…

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.

 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


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.

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:


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