Independents Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Nightmares Dissipated And Hope Renewed

I’ve waited a few days to write this, mainly because I needed to place some things in their proper perspective and not write with the emotion of the moment.  I’ve saved those for Facebook pages and a video of my initial reaction of the incredible news of Osama Bin Laden’s death this past Sunday May 1st.  I needed time to put things into place, slot them into their proper compartments and try and write this with as much emotional detachment as I can, but somehow I know that will be impossible in a few paragraphs and most certainly by the end of this post.

For the past three nights, I’ve slept very soundly and with no nightmares for the first time in a decade.  The sense of palpable relief and that decade long “waiting to exhale moment” hit me like a ton of bricks on Sunday.  At first I broke down upon hearing the news; and I kind of figured that I would.  OBL was a man who I wished dead every moment of every day for nearly a decade.  Say what you will, call me an inhuman bastard, that I don’t practice what I preach…but I am VERY human, and as such having that bastard get a bullet (or range of bullets as they are now saying) to the head is extremely gratifying.  I can’t hide behind any pretense on that simple fact; I’m not going to get up on my Proctor and Ramble soapbox and say that we should never wish anyone dead and OBL is no exception. Well, we SHOULDN’T wish anyone dead…but OLB was always the exception to that rule.  I’m not a believer in the death penalty except in only one case: crimes against humanity; my logic being that if a person could be that powerful as to commit atrocities among so many people on this planet then they could be powerful enough to somehow break out of prison (Napoleon, anyone?) and regain  or attempt to regain their power and do it all over again.  (My preferred method for dealing with murderers is life in solitary with no parole; a living death if you will…much worse than the quick fate we offer them at the hands of the State Executioner.  Plus society is being consistent with it’s own laws).  We have seen this happen with not only Napoleon, but other tyrants throughout history who were deposed and came back to be as strong or stronger after being sprung from their prison by their followers as most assuredly OBL would have been had he been taken alive.  I strongly believe that would have been the case, and we would have had the fish we longed to catch jump back off the boat and into the sea where the odds would have been not in our favor of catching the same fish again.  Quite frankly, as much as I believe everyone deserves a fair trial…he already had his.  He admitted as much in public that he was responsible for committing not only the two attacks on the World Trade Center, but the USS Cole and other attacks.  That is an admission of guilt, which in a court then means you are subject to the judge’s discretion in reading the law and imposing sentence.

There are 3,000 souls who were judge and jury who were screaming “Death!” from the next plane of existence.  There were the families of the dead who said the same thing; and then there were those of us who were witness to one of the worst crimes in Human History whose lives (and that of our own families) were irrevocably changed who wanted this man dead. There was no cries for mercy from anyone that I knew of.  In fact, I always said if I could have been allowed to slit the man’s throat with a scimitar myself I would gladly do it…no matter how much bad karma it cost me.  I have been in Hell for the past ten years: acute PTSD, alcoholism gone unmitigated and even enhanced as a result of 9/11 and a couple of breakdowns along the way, plus a diagnosis of Bipolar II at age 43 which pretty much ended my chances of living normally or having a career in my former field.  My children barely got to know their father’s true self; it would appear from time to time but it was always buried under this cloud and fog of 9/11.  My oldest will be 14 this coming Saturday and she remembers very little (much to my surprise when I asked her) of what I was like before 9/11.  My youngest, born 30 days before the attacks NEVER got a chance to know me as I was…the good part of who I was, anyway.  The guy who was fun, funny, and liked a good time.  The guy who was responsible.  The guy who was a good dad and starting to become a very good one as I started to grow up a bit and settle into my role as father and husband and embrace it more than I ever had previously.  My wife got to see the man she married vanish to be replaced by this other being who she didn’t want to know at all anymore.  Or even be around for that matter.  As much as I suffered over the past ten years, my family suffered even more I think.  There was no refuge for them; there was no peace for me…we were all caught in a prison built brick by brick by my decline with a foundation laid by one Osama Bin Laden.

And now, he is gone…body so trashed by American SEAL’s bullets that not even Don Corlione’s favorite undertaker could fix it.  Sonny looked a hell of a lot better than Osama did, hence no photos being released of the body.  So after they scraped the bastard off the walls and the floor, DNA tested and compared certain records unique to him to ensure his identity, they put what was left of him together and prepared it for a proper burial at sea (where no shrines to martyrdom could be built)…which was more than we could say than he did for 3,000 people who died on 9/11.  No stone was left unturned to ensure proper Muslim burial, and they were placed in that body bag and sent along with the vile creature to the bottom of the Arabian Sea where it shall swim with the fishes and have no one but perhaps Luca Brazzi to chat with.

Somewhere between those bullets being fired and the news breaking on Sunday Night, I was starting to write a post here about unfinished business and promises unfulfilled.  I go about 800 words in when i stopped for some reason…something told me to wait.  A few hours later, my own personal demon was gone.  And somewhere in there part of my soul came back.  Over the past few days, I’ve been finding things funny that I never would have laughed at a week ago…things that are actually funny that is.  In fact, my youngest said something extremely funny yesterday and I laughed deeply and hysterically.  She looked at me and said, “Daddy, I never heard you laugh”.  Imagine that…your child saying that she never heard you do the simplest of emotions to express joy.  “Of course you have, Grace” I said…and she said, “Not like that!”  You know, she was right because in retrospect my laughs were never that hard for a decade.  My joy was never there even when I felt a little bit…it was always forced.  But somehow, I’m getting that back…and it came very naturally and through the simple joke (very clever and Irish wit entwined) thanks to a 9 year old.  I’ve been hugging my kids like crazy the past two days, because I feel like they have not had their father…their REAL father…around them in a very, very long time.  My wife and I still have work to do on a very fractured marriage thanks to the stresses of the past ten years and the non-person I had become.  But slowly and surely, it’s starting to germinate in me like a seed in the spring…and how appropriate that OBL’s end was on Beltane, the Pagan spring festival.  It was also on the first anniversary of my father’s death, a relationship that was always rocky where I had many regrets and in many ways I was starting to become that which I rebelled against and resented.  In the midst of my melancholy and  pensiveness came this incredible news…and somehow some new light was being shed on my own father’s relationship with me because of what he had to go through in the Korean War (which was far more extensive than I ever could have imagined).

Somehow, slowly and surely I plan on taking that which was best in me before 9/11 and try and reconcile it with who I am now.  I’ve had a lot of revelations about myself and my place in this world and the state of humanity  because I’ve had plenty of time to ruminate hid away from the rest of humanity in a darkened basement den…because I was not only afraid of my own shadow, I was afraid of the world…

…and somehow, I am no longer afraid of sunlight.

“We don’t have to live in a world 
Where we give bad names to beautiful things 
We should live in a beautiful world 
We should give beautiful a second chance

And the leaves fall from red to brown 
To be trodden down 
Trodden down 
And the leaves turn green to red to brown 
Fall to the ground 
And get kicked around

You strong enough to be 
Have you the courage to be 
Have you the faith to be 
Honest enough to stay 
Don’t have to be the same 
Don’t have to be this way 
C’mon and sign your name 
You wild enough to remain beautiful? 
Beautiful”

-lyrics by Steve Hogarth  from the song, “Beautiful” by Marillion

It’s Midwood, Baby!

Two days ago, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D) of the NY Congressional District that contains my old Brooklyn neighborhood of Midwood, came to the floor of the house armed to the teeth with a mouthful of common sense in a diatribe so brilliant that I do not believe it will ever be topped in  the House of Representatives EVER again.  All in one minute and forty seconds.  He slammed his colleague Peter King (R) of NY who explained that Republicans were voting no on a Bill that would provide aid (health and otherwise) to First Responders and those who survived 9/11 who were developing coughs and other respiratory issues due to 9/11 on a “procedural technicality”.

Rep. Weiner game them all hell for that…all hell…

He represents my old neighborhood in Brooklyn; the neighborhood where I was born and raised for 5 years but I STILL call my Hometown.  This current NJ Resident and once Brooklyn Boy just wants to say thank you Rep. Weiner for expressing brilliant and succinct oratory like you did the other day.  I have to say that my all time favorite tactic was Rep Weiner introducing to the House Floor an amendment to a Health Care Bill a few years ago that would have abolished Medicare.  Now while that sounds horrific and how dare a Democrat do such a thing, of course EVERY REPUBLICAN VOTED AGAINST IT.  He put them ALL on the spot.  Which was the purpose of the exercise.  They are all talk and bullshit the GOP…but we Brooklyn Boys are not.  We say what we mean, and call it as we see it.  He did us all proud.

And this ex-Midwood boy from East 2nd between Ave M and N (as the F train rumbles overhead on MacDonald Avenue one block over) just wants to say thanks.

Misplaced Amidst Chaos And Despair

I had the pleasure of dining out with my brother two nights ago.  We hadn’t done this in many years; it was just us, no wives, and no kids.  We both have similar domestic difficulties going on, and our dad passed away on May 1st…and we just needed to catch up as brothers.  We haven’t done that in years, mainly because we allow our political views to sway our opinion of the other guy way much more than they should.  As we were chatting away , one topic that I never thought would be breached was that of September 11th, 2001.  Mainly because that was the most horrible day of my life; I was just going to work on a beautiful late summer Tuesday morning…and the next thing I know I’m in the middle of a terrorist attack.  So was my brother.

We both are 9/11 Survivors.

It’s something that we never talk about.  For me, it’s uncomfortable because of the previously written about reasons: going slowly crazy and nearly drinking myself to death chief among them.  I have one hell of a bad case of PTSD as well.  For my brother it was other reasons.  He worked for the City of New York and was in a position of responsibility where information was on a “need to know” basis which he took very seriously.  So seriously in fact, that he never sought any counseling for years after 9/11.  He no longer works for the City and still will not divulge any information.  Last night, somewhere in the middle of a sentence…out of the blue…it was dropped in that he had gotten some counseling.  Not only that, but he expanded on the topic a bit to include a few philosophical statements, one of which is that no one can possibly understand the impact and the toll that had on humanity and on yourself unless you were there; much like the survivors of Oklahoma City cannot possibly express what they feel.  There is this void, this emptiness that comes with the fact of being a survivor.  There is the obvious “survivor’s guilt”…and there is this feeling of being forgotten.

While we rightly commend and mourn those brave souls who responded to the attacks, and mourn the almost 3,000 dead; those of us who just merely SURVIVED the event have now become a part of a date in history, rather than being treated as a LIVING part of that awful event.  We are not dead.  We are quite alive, thank you very much.  Some of us have started to become ill from specific types of cancer that can only be caused by radiation.  Or we have developed an obscure type of leukemia or another disease that affects the skeletal structure.  (Who the hell knew what was in that dust cloud in the days and weeks after 9/11?)  Or we have had our alcoholism escalate to new heights like mine was.  And a lot of us have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

In short, you have several thousand survivors…LIVING breathing HUMAN BEINGS with families who have suffered with them.  My oldest daughter has been affected because her Daddy came back from work one day a very different man than he was when he left that morning.  I have a younger daughter who was only a month old when the attacks happened, and as a result she knows nothing of the person I used to be.  9/11 robbed me of a chance to be a better father to her than I was for her older sister.  My wife has suffered through all of this and quite frankly, our marriage is being strained by certain things that have resulted from that day.  No one gave a damn about how she reacted to watching two buildings be attacked knowing full well that I would be coming up from the PATH trains at the exact moment the first plane hit.  No one asked her how she felt…perhaps she would have been better off not having a husband coming home on that day, because there were certainly days over the past nine years I acted as if I might as well have been dead.  I was a living and breathing and walking shell of a man…and what woman could (and should) put up with that?

Now let’s think about this for a second: how many THOUSANDS of workers experienced this tragedy, this unraveling of the human spirit and creation of a condition or set of conditions that put these people AND their families through HELL because they were witness and today they live to tell about it?  How many children will grow up like mine, and what will happen to their children as a result of being exposed to the behavior of a completely dysfunctional parent created by a dysfunctional family that was anything but prior to 9/11?  How many THOUSANDS?  HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS?

And why the hell isn’t anyone standing up for us; recognizing what we went through over the past nine years…or later?  In my brother’s case, it took him several years to seek therapy; there are thousands in the same situation…and that delay just makes you more damaged as an individual. In my own case, my Psychiatrist said there was a chance of me not getting PTSD as badly as I did had it been addressed within the first six months.  I waited 14 months, until a horrible incident provoked me into going because I then knew that  there was something not quite functioning well in the brain department.  Two years later another incident happened that led to a complete breakdown…but it took years to battle back from that last one, because that was the final straw.  That’s when they also found out I was Bi-Polar.  Oh, my wife married a real winner, didn’t she?  But back then I had a career, I had a life, I had my health…and now all that has been ripped from me, no matter how hard I try; and like my brother said, you really cannot understand unless you were there.

Thanks for the flag waving, and invading a country that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11.  Thanks for paying MILLIONS of dollars in settlements out to wives, insurance policies, continuing family health coverage…thanks most importantly for even ACKNOWLEDGING that we even exist.  We are the forgotten of 9/11; the office workers, the brokers and bankers (like myself) who had to come back for  two YEARS working  two blocks away from the WTC site of the old ruins South Tower; the cleaning people who were able to see the embers of the glowing pit for months after the disaster.  Let me be clear here, I am not looking for compensation in any way…just RECOGNITION that some of us kept the damned economy going as the fires burned and the dead were pulled from the rubble.  I want ACKNOWLEDGMENT that we exist, there are those who need to talk to other survivors (like my brother and I did, quite unexpectedly).

And I want an APOLOGY from the United States of America to every single one of its citizens that it let them down that day, that it failed to protect us.  It failed to do the most basic rule of government: protect its citizens, and on September 11th, 2001 they did a miserable job…all the while at the old Crawford ranch the report handed to the President for a photo op no less stated “Bin Laden Determined To Strike at U.S.” went unheeded and THOUSANDS of lives were impacted.

I’d like to see “9/11 Survivor’s Centers” set up for both the Pentagon and WTC attacks so that what remains of this generation of survivors, and the next two to be taken care of FULLY at no cost for physical or mental ailments.  Just simple places or groups where people can talk and meet one another.  The simple connection you feel and make inside your heart when you meet another survivor is indescribable.  They’re tracking our health (the Survivor’s who signed up for the annual survey) now, so why not just do the right thing…because it’s the American thing to do it’s the HUMAN thing to do

And FINALLY, I want every Goddamn War Veteran who has fought from 2001 until the day when we pull out of wherever we are and decide to go next (because God only knows where the elusive 7 foot Arab with a dialysis machine is)  to get the honor, respect, and outstanding treatment they deserve both physically and mentally.

It’s time you owned up, America…and I’m a Democrat saying this…THIS President should take it upon his own shoulders to do this…because it’s the right thing to do.  And the American thing to do.  And the Human thing to do.

Or else that damned Constitution isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

“[Power then] devolves to the People, who have a Right to resume their original Liberty, and, by the Establishment of a new Legislative (such as they shall think fit) provide for their own Safety and Security, which is the end for which they are in Society” – John Locke

Daydreams With Dentures

There’s WAY too much going on in my life on a personal level right now.  The game of backgammon has started, and there is only dark and light.  I have far too much respect for people involved to go about trashing them in a public forum right now, but let us just simply identify my personal situation right now as “The Game” from now on…because that’s what it is.  And the less said or written about it to anyone (except my Shrink and Therapist) the better.  So, that’s yet another reason why I have not written for a while in this, possibly the worst year of my life.  Just add it to the list.

Last night I watched for the third time “Dreams With Sharp Teeth”, an outstanding documentary about the life and career of my favorite WRITER, Harlan Ellison.  Not a writer of Science Fiction, nor Horror, nor observations of the human condition both within an essay format or a short story yet all of the above.  He’s won more awards than I’m quite frankly too tired to list, so Wiki and then get into more extensive research on your own.  He’s written memorable television scripts including what is considered to be the best Star Trek episode ever, “The City On The Edge Of Forever”.  This man is a WRITER.  He is known to many, and known to few.  He just simply IS.  And “is” being an outstanding writer of incredible talent, one who MUST write who MUST create.

He is also my favorite writer.

There are times that I look at my sentence structure and realize that it may look a bit like Ellison’s, sound a bit like Ellison’s…hell, the idea/plot may be something Ellison would do.  But it is most decidedly NOT Ellison’s.  The man is one of a kind; and yet, every time I read his material or read something about his rather controversial life…it moves me forward.  It MAKES me want to write.  He is the kind of writer I would love to be; just churning out page after page after page and coming straight from the soul.  I can do that.  I have no problem writing 3-5,000 words in a sitting, and it might even be pretty good.  But I need something to (forgive me here Frank Herbert) “set my mind in motion”.  For quite a while, that has not been the case.  Now, I have so much shit happening in my life that any vice I had wouldn’t even take care of things and make me forget nor feel any better.  So all I am armed with is this keyboard, and a mind, and a will and a desire to be a WRITER.  Influenced by Ellison?  Absolutely.  Like Ellison?  No fucking way; and if someone ever paid me that compliment I would say they were fucking bananas.  Except of course, if it came from Ellison.  Before I even get allowed to buy a ticket to the ball park let alone be inside it, I need to get back to the craft and the regularity of what I was doing up to about a year ago when all hell started breaking loose.  And this year, dear God, this year has been awful.

They always say write what you know about, and I could write about the past six months in great detail, and perhaps with a sense of irony and humor.  Perhaps with a sense of grace and purpose.  And somehow, how it all ties into this complex character of a man who I am.  But I have to be a WRITER first.

And that my friends, is what I shall be.  Expect me, when you see me.

“You must stay drunk on writing so that reality does not kill you.” – Ray Bradbury

Greetings, Comrades! Pull Up A Chair!

Hello Old Friends, it’s been a while.  Various personal and health issues took me away from blogging at least a few times a week, so as you can see the muse hasn’t inspired me from April till now.  In the interim I received some nice comments by folks who were mistakenly directed to my site and found it interesting.  “Funny how MSN works” said one reader; another was directed here while looking for cookie recipes.  How that managed to happen is beyond me (although my Kitchen Chronicles series from two years ago might have inspired her.  The point is, I need an outlet again, a means to vent off steam, just like I did during the 08 election.  Unfortunately the discourse and tone of the political game has become so OPENLY corrupt that it is disgusting.  What is even more sickening is our will to have both Republican and Democratic rhetoric shoved down our throats.  It’s like that scene in Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” where a member of the elite society goes down into the bowels of the city and decides to live as a worker for one day, just to see what it is like.  He he shown that he has to push and pull levers at certain times.  When asking about why this is done and it’s purpose, the response is “No one told me and I don’t care”.

I am afraid we have become this society, a society where 10% of the population controls 90% os the nation’s wealth and we just accept it.  We vote a Democrat in hoping for change, only to be profoundly disappointed by his job performance; he is a continuation of Bush II.  Next time it will be a Republican.  What these people who so-called are the caretakers of this nation are in fact themselves a class unto themselves: The Political Class.  Now, it’s pretty tough to break into this elite club, but when you do you are pretty much set for life…so long as you play the game by their rules.  In an incredible show of hubris and the biggest fucking pair of balls ever, these guys who are behind indicted for crimes don’t blink an eye when they were caught misappropriating funds, or rerouting dollars for their districts….because they’re going to get off.  And they have the balls and the temerity to say on TV, “Yeah…so what?” and we as Americans have sat back for far too long and watched this happen behind closed doors…but the fucking GALL to do this in the open now is just incredible.  Judge is invested in companies that invest in BP and they are the largest shareholder…and he doesn’t recuse himself from the decision he KNOWS he is making the following day and had already told his broker to dump the stock.

This is America?  This is what we have become; what farce of a democracy that would listen to any word coming from Governor Moosebrains or Glenn Beck (who gives recovering alcoholics like me a bad name).  THERE ARE NO LEADERS on EITHER side of the aisle.  We are being taken for a ride ladies and gentlemen…a ride on the biggest ponzi scheme called the United States Government.  You want to blame folks for this mess?  Look on TV, they are there BRAZENLY FLAUNTING their wrongdoings in your face,

At least years ago they had the decency to cover it up.  Now this is an everyday occurrence.  Funny how all these people worry about Socialism, because quite frankly…that may be the very thing that save the Republic.  More next time…and yes, I’ll be writing a LOT more…mid-terms coming up.  PERSONAL NOTE: Rich, thanks for this poem:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

-W.  Henley

Phoenix In Chains

For many people, today is considered the holiest day in their religion.  Easter signifies the resurrection of the Christ and of the coming of life anew in spring, after the madness of the winter.  Since I’m a Deist and not really partial to Churches and trappings and holidays, this day also has meaning for me but in a very different way.  It usually signifies the start of my revival as a person; for the next several months, I will act like a human being again instead of a hermit huddled in his bunker with the heat on.  Coincidently, it is also the start of baseball season, as my beloved New York Yankees take on our hated rivals in Boston this evening.  I have a nice day planned with the kids; just hang out in the sunshine and make a nice roast for dinner this evening.  For many, today will not be such a day.  Today will simply mark another day in their existence with not a shred of significance for them at all.  Today will simply be another Sunday (if that) and they cannot even bear to bring themselves to look at Easter, because they have been betrayed by the very institution that was supposed to bring them salvation.  Their sanity and their souls have been contaminated and held back by the Church of Rome because of the perverted carnal desires of a few men who were supposed to bring light into the darkness, and instead brought darkness upon the darkness.

The current Bishop of Rome (when he was a Bishop and a Cardinal) appears to be implicated in helping to aid and comfort these men by not only allowing them to remain as priests, but aid in moving them from the parish where they committed these atrocities to another, where they would continue to commit them again.  And he would move them again, even after being implored by his own Bishops and others not to.  He would simply cover up their crimes…and like they always say, the cover up is sometimes worse than the crime itself.  So, you are now faced with a very interesting dilemma; an interesting situation that in fact tests the faith of the congregants of not only those parishes but of all of the Church of Rome.  This is not merely a bump in the road or more than a crack in the Church foundation…it will eventually prove to be the undoing of the entire institution.

I like to refer to myself jokingly as a “recovering Catholic” in addition to being a recovering alcoholic.  I was educated at a prestigious all boys Catholic High School in New York City, one considered at the time to be one of the best in the country.  We were required to take 4 years of Religious Education which involved studying both the Old and New Testaments, learning about the Catholic faith…and learning about other faiths throughout the world.  I spent ONE YEAR doing the latter; and it was during all four years of this Roman Catholic High School, that I realized that I was no longer a Catholic.  I realized it on an Easter Sunday when I kept seeing pomp and ceremony, and the congregants impeccably dressed; I realized it when through all of the fog of the incense…that you don’t need a building to be close to God (or the Universe as I later came to believe).  You don’t need an institution to interpret the words of great men like Moses, Jesus or Mohammad…all you need is a belief and a faith in yourself.  Moreover, you need to believe in a faith of Mankind, a universal unspoken truth that we are of one being.  We are one race, one people, one species…and we are so challenged in just being that alone.  How can we attain enlightenment when we haven’t even admitted to ourselves that we are fallible?  How can we POSSIBLY earn any measure of salvation when we can’t even be kind to our neighbor next door when they needed us during one of the many snowstorms this past winter in helping to dig their car out?  If you can’t be kind to your neighbor, then how the hell are you going to love them?  How can we understand words of great men when we have them interpreted for us through the guise of an organization that seeks nothing more than power and control over humanity in and of itself?  It’s not just the Church of Rome, it is any organized religion’s hierarchy.  It is through that shroud that we are “allowed” to seek salvation, as long as we believe in the INSTITUTION and not the FAITH.

What’s wrong with this picture?

There are so many phoenixes in this world just waiting to be reborn, and they are chained to the ground by institutions and trappings.  They cannot allow themselves to soar and their spirits fly and their souls learn of the wonders of this Universe; of learning through it and it through them.  Be a good Jew.  Be a good Catholic or Protestant.  Be a good Muslim…but most of all, be a good Human Being first.  Once you understand how to do that, then all the tenants of Faith begin to fall into place…and you might be able to build a better Church, or other organization.  Believe in the faith, not the institution; believe in peace and justice, not in lies and hierarchies.   Do not allow what happened to those poor souls happen again to another human being.  Take it upon yourself to move the earth to change heaven…and when you do, resurrection is not something celebrated annually but instead daily.  Allow those chains to fall off and be the Phoenix rising.

Then perhaps, Humanity just might have a chance…because if we begin to understand ourselves, then perhaps we can begin to understand each other and through each other the Universe.

“Many a doctrine is like a window pane.  We see Truth through it but it divides us from Truth” – Khalil Gibran

206.3 Live or Die

Those are the numbers my life comes down to: 206.3.

That was on the prescription blank when I went in for a full body-bone scan this past Wednesday.  Those little numbers hold the very key to my future, as they will say whether or not I have leukemia or not, or a particular type of leukemia that is associated with those exposed to benzine for prolonged periods, or radiation equivalent to that of Hiroshima or Nagasaki in one burst or over an extended period of time.  This leads to the next inescapable question: how was I exposed to these substances?

Benzine is an element that is prevalent in JET FUEL.  I was there at the crash site of the WTC on 9/11 and worked two blocks away for three years,  Those fires from the initial impact didn’t stop burning and smoldering for two months afterward, or perhaps longer.  Then we come to the far more interesting of the two main causes: RADIATION EXPOSURE.  Was there something in the initial crash, subsequent dust cloud, or air afterward that contained radioactive substances?  WELL?

So here we are…a weekend, when I sit and try and take my mind off things.  I don’t drink or party anymore, so those two are out (I’ll only be drunk and dying as opposed to just dying, LOL).  Internet…nope; everything reminds me of that day and what I’m waiting on.  Blu Rays or DVDs…no good there either; someone only says something in the script that triggers a memory and I go off.  Sleep reveals absolutely LSD type dreams that make no sense, including metaphorically.

It all boils down to one number: 206.3

(Updates as situation warrants)

“The Air Is Just Fine…” Part I

I collapsed three times in one day a few months ago.

My right leg gave out on me after a searing white hot pain shot through it and my hip causing me to tear up because the pain was so bad.  And this was after I had taken pain medication for my back, which as you know (if you’ve been reading this blog regularly), has three or more degenerative discs in it.  The leg has been giving me problems on and off now for a few months but nothing major like this…I was taken completely aback by the pain and the fact that my leg no longer had any control and gave way.  A few weeks ago, I visited my orthopedist for my annual check up on nerve damage in my legs, which is where a lot of the pain is starting to make its way toward.  It showed some small issues, like the problem is getting worse (which I already knew because I could feel what was going on).  I told them what the problem was, and they said it could be from the nerve damage; but let’s wait a month to see if things were OK.  So, we waited two months because I wasn’t getting that pain any longer…until about a month ago.  This time, they ordered an MRI on my hip, and the results showed that I has bone spurs and some arthritis.  It also revealed anomalies in my bone marrow, which was something that was not new.

A few months ago, my white blood count was completely off the scale, so I had more tests done and for some reason, those blood tests came back OK with the white count within reason, but on the high end.  Still, it was normal and nothing to worry about.  Those tests were ordered because my annual MRI for my back showed that there was anomalies in my bone marrow as well.  This past one for my hip was the tipping point, and I’m scheduled for a full bone scan later this week to see if the problem is localized or widespread.  At best, there could have been something on the scan that the radiologist pointed out to cover all bases…but twice?  And worst case is leukemia.

I’ve lost some weight, and my appetite is not what it once was.  I do not really enjoy the taste of food anymore, at least until the past two days when I was pulling out all the stops for the holidays and making my specialties for the family.  I REALLY went to town eating over Christmas Eve and Day (hey, I’m Irish/Italian and we’re supposed to do that) and to be quite frank, it really felt good to be indulging in food again, because while most would be over-doing it, I was simply getting a normal appetite back where there was very little previously.  I am tired and run down a lot, but then again I’m a 48 year old stay at home dad dealing with an almost 13 year old daughter (who is allowing me to pay off karma at a vastly accelerated rate) and a precocious 8 year old girl.  I’m refereeing cat fights between our four felines (and to a degree my daughters).  Plus my sleep pattern is COMPLETELY out of sync with the rest of the world; I was always a “night owl”, but having 3 am as a regular bedtime and sometimes a 6:30 am wake-up call to get the kids off to school can be trying.  I’ll take an hour or two in the form of naps throughout the day to play “catch-up”.  And aside from the fact that I’m in constant pain because of my back (but it’s significantly alleviated by my pain medication), I feel OK.

What I have noticed (and so has my oldest daughter) is that my Bi-Polar Disorder is getting worse; that my moods are all over the scale and I’m very impossible to live with.  She said the one day her daddy “went out the door and never came back” (her exact words), and I couldn’t help but think if it was recently or on the morning of September 11th 2001 that this happened.  The body and the mind are interesting things: perhaps in some convoluted way my brain knew what was going on inside the very marrow of my bones and was in some form of revolt.  Perhaps my whole body chemestry is being thrown out of whack by the plethora of medications I’m taking…but I keep coming back to one inescapable thing, and that is the following statement by then-EPA Secretary Christie Todd-Whitman:

“We are very encouraged that the results from our monitoring of air quality and drinking water conditions in both New York and near the Pentagon show that the public in these areas is not being exposed to excessive levels of asbestos or other harmful substances,” Whitman said. “Given the scope of the tragedy from last week, I am glad to reassure the people of New York and Washington, D.C. that their air is safe to breath and their water is safe to drink,” she added. [sic]

You know you’re in deep shit when a formal Government press release just days after the 9/11 attacks can’t even spell the word “breathe”; hence my “sic” reference.  If you’re going to initiate the biggest lie of the new century, then you think you’d use spell check.

You would think all the issues with my back are what I am on Disability for; it is not.  Acute PTSD (as the result of 9/11) and Bi-Polar Disorder are the reasons for that; the back and other things are happening to me only over the past 18 months, and it seems that every time I go back to the doctor, they notice something anomalous or new.  I cannot help but wonder if these ailments are happening to me as the result of being in the dust cloud on 9/11 or because I worked two blocks away from the wreckage of the South Tower and breathed that air every single day for another 3 years.  Or both.

After 9/11, our office was closed for about 3 weeks while they cleaned out the place and removed the dust.  We still found some when we returned to our cubicles at that time, and the smell of that horrible day lingered both inside and outside of the office for MONTHS.  You could still see the Pile burning every day for months after the attack; the twisted remains of a support of the glorious South Tower still standing for another few weeks as well.  People would develop coughs and then they would go away; allergies flared among my co-workers.  We all knew something was dreadfully wrong with the air, we could just feel it in our bones…and I have no doubt that some of us are feeling it quite literally now.

I’ve been doing research on the Net so see if anyone else is (or has) developed symptoms similar to mine.  What I am finding is that strangely enough, there is a connection between PTSD and muscular-skeletal disorders even prior to 9/11, but that those have become common in 9/11 Survivors.  In addition, every single time I look up these ailments, the word “cancer” is always used in the same article.  Almost all of these articles pertain to Rescue Workers, and in some of them there are mentions of office workers who survived having these symptoms, but they are usually buried or a footnote.  What I keep coming back to is the fact that Office Workers seems to either be one group that no one gives a damn about, or very few cases have been reported…until recently.

I have found a number of outstanding articles detailing the health issues of a lot of folks in Lower Manhattan, but as I said, almost exclusively all of the reported issues are with First Responders and the like.  The rest of us that worked, and ate, and spent prolonged exposure time down there are forgotten.  The ones who literally opened the Stock Exchange just days after the attack and while the remnants of the cloud were still there.  The ones who kept the engine of Capitalism moving…and now we are starting to drop; slowly, surely, and most definitely.  The Powers That Be (or as I like to call them the SOBICs- Sons of Bitches In Charge) have been good at keeping this quiet…but it’s almost 10 years later.  10 years of having the toxins build up and your body react.  10 years of trying to have a normal life again, only to find out that you may have gotten your life back together only to find out that you may be fatally ill.

I have no problem giving my life for my family and my country or even a total stranger; it’s almost expected of me based on my own moral compass.  I resent potentially having to do so for a lie and for perpetuating a system that enslaves the populace even more than it ever did in the form of economic and social chains of injustice.  Next time they start debating Public Health Care, ask yourself this question: why are they SO determined now to ensure that it is not single-payer, or a public option?  Why have the insurance companies gotten away with getting off the hook scott free?

Because sooner or later, there will be thousands of us who worked and lived in Lower Manhattan getting ill and dying.  Sooner or later they will not be able to keep things quiet.  Sooner or later, SOMEONE has to make a profit off all of us who die…

…and all because someone decided that the almighty dollar was more important than human life.  All because someone said, “The air is fine…”

TO BE CONTINUED…

“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.” -John F. Kennedy

The Eat Their Young…And Soon, They Will Come For Us All

No, this is not your typical Halloween story; but it certainly is a most frightening one.  Ever since last year’s election, Republicans have been faced with an identity crisis of epic proportions.  For many, the “moderate” approach of John McCain was in fact the one that lost the election; what should have happened was that a Conservative, right-wing purist might have fared better and even won the contest.  In the ensuing months since the November Massacre, the GOP has had a void of leadership that was only filled (and still is), by right-wing talk show hosts and fringe politicians.  Moderate voices need not apply.  There have been many in the Party who have veered toward the Center on one day only to be “corrected” by a Limbaugh or Beck and did a 180 the next day and was warmly embraced back into the lunatic fold.

The New York 23rd Congressional special election was indeed a proxy for the ideological forces within the Republican Party.  It was a three way race between Democrat Bill Owen; Republican Dede Scozzafava, and Conservative Doug Hoffman.  The GOP Candidate was a woman who was pro choice, pro-gay rights, pro gun ownership (in that part of the State, everyone has one) and a fiscal moderate.  She supported the stimulus package back in February.  The Conservative was the usual pro-life, pro gun, gay hating, gun toting right wing idiot that has been filling the political vacuum for the past few months.  The Democrat was the standard liberal, but in fact very close to the GOP candidate in many ways politically.  Governor Moosebrains got into the fray by supporting Hoffmann, as did many other Right Wingnuts; Newt Gingrich supported Suozzafava as did many other moderate-Conservatives.  Today that all came crashing down when Scozzafava “suspended” her campaign after polls showed that she was behind both her challengers and that the Democrat had a real chance of winning a seat that hadn’t been held by a Democrat since the Civil War.

And the GOP didn’t do a damned thing to stop her.

So it appears as if we are beginning to see not only a right-wing shift and takeover of the GOP, but a fringe tea-bagging, secessionist loving, lunatic faction making their way into power into the GOP.  This could lead to many primary challenges for the 2010 mid-terms, and could in fact create a slate of candidates that are so far to the right, that the only hope for moderates is the Democratic Party.  When confronted with a tough economy, high unemployment, a protracted battle for health care, and a war on two fronts in the Middle East (possibly three fronts shortly); voters will be offered a choice between a Democratic candidate that will effectively continue President Obama’s ambitious agenda (being slowed down to some success by the Republicans) or an alternative represented by a lunatic fringe right wing candidate.  Let’s be honest, people see what’s happening in their lives, and when presented with a choice of the status quo representing all things bad and an alternative (no matter how crazy)…they will pick the alternative.

The greatest mistake of Democrats is the fact that we assume people are intelligent and think; when in fact most people are not well read and are very happy being told what to do.  In other words, perfect candidates as cannon fodder for the right-wing loony toons.  After dismantling any sign or hope for moderation in their Party, the GOP will have a slate of crazies across the board, crazies that have a VERY good chance of winning; not because President Obama has done anything to deserve getting thrown out of office, but precisely because he has done NOTHING.  At all.  If he does not look down at his loins and find a pair pretty quickly, what he may be faced with is a Congress that is not only hostile, but RABIDLY right-wing hostile.  He has begun to piss off his base, something ANY smart politician does not do.  He forgets that die hard ex-hippie guys like me, gays, minorities, and others that make up the Progressives got him elected in the first place.  He is trying to govern in the center, and that is a recipe for disaster.  He is hanging out with the very same rich bankers that got us into this financial disaster in the first place.

So while the GOP sees his programs as the next 5 Year Plan and he as the reincarnation of Vladimir Lenin; he is doing NOTHING to help unemployment by creating Federal jobs like FDR did.  Sure companies are happy and showing profits, but that’s because they are doing it with fewer people they have to pay and are making it work.  These unemployed will not be going back to the sectors in which they worked, rather, they will remain almost certainly unemployed for the foreseeable future…and that makes them perfectly willing to vote out the Democrats and put in not only the same Republicans who caused the downfall in the first place, but a whole new bunch that are even more rabid and right wing and would love nothing more than to set up a Christian Theocracy.  The President is in fact laying the groundwork for an eventual Fascist takeover that will be complete with the election of a Palin or Pawlenty in 2012.  Only he can stop it now.  Only he can stop a Vice President Michele Bachmann, or a President Palin.

Because by eating their young, the Republicans are paving the way to ensure that those of us who do not conform to the ideological purity tests that they have been subjecting themselves to, wind up in those FEMA camps that Glenn Beck talked about.    They will win in force because of everything I just talked about…oh, and did I mention the President is an African-American?

“Fascism is capitalism in decay” – Vladimir Lenin

A Liberal Clock Cleaning Of A Fringe Conservative

A few days ago, someone I know posted some pretty ridiculous stuff to their wall on Facebook.  Lots of people do that, but what I am finding out lately is that Facebook is becoming the Internet soap box for political discourse.  Yet, what I am also finding is that the lunatic Glenn Beck/Rush Limbaugh/Fox News fringe who love carrying guns around in public (just in case they need to make sure their double coupons are properly counted at the supermarket, or stop someone from pulling the plug on grandma) somehow manages to shout down intelligent discourse even on there!  It’s usually through sneaky ways: a quick blurb on your wall while you’re talking about a new recipe or putting you on a distribution list of one of those myriad “notes” that famously get you drawn in to making up lists like, “25 Things That Annoy Me About You”.  Well last week, I received this little tidbit which annoyed me to absolutely no end.  It’s not the politics that got me as much as the factual inaccuracy and subcurrent of racism throughout:

Obama’s First Seven Months: Accomplishments
1. Offended the Queen of England.
2. Bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia.
3. Praised the Marxist Daniel Ortega.
4. Kissed Socialist Hugo Chavez on the cheek.
5. Endorsed the Socialist Evo Morales of Bolivia.
6. Sided with Hugo Chavez and Communist Fidel Castro against Honduras.
7. Announced we would meet with Iranians with no pre-conditions while they’re building their nuclear weapons.
8. Gave away billions to AIG also without pre-conditions.
9. Expanded the bailouts.
10. Insulted everyone who has ever loved a Special Olympian.
11. Doubled our national debt.
12. Announced the termination of our new missile defense system the day after North Korea launched an ICBM.
13. Released information on U.S. Intelligence gathering despite urgings of his own CIA director and the prior four CIA directors.
14. Accepted without comment that five of his cabinet members cheated on their taxes and two other nominees withdrew after they couldn’t take the heat.
15. Appointed a Homeland Security Chief who identified military veterans and abortion opponents as “dangers to the nation.”
16. Ordered that the word “terrorism” no longer be used and instead refers to such acts as “man made disasters.”
17. Circled the globe to publicly apologize for America’s world leadership.
18. Told the Mexican president that the violence in their country was because of us.
19. Politicized the census by moving it into the White House from the Department of Commerce.
20. Appointed as Attorney General the man who orchestrated the forced removal and expulsion to Cuba of a 9-year-old whose mother died trying to bring him to freedom in the United States.
21. Salutes as heroes three Navy SEALS who took down three terrorists who threatened one American life and the next day announces members of the Bush administration may stand trial for “torturing” three 9/11 terrorists by pouring water up their noses.
22. Low altitude photo shoot of Air Force One over New York City that frightened thousands of New Yorkers.
23. Sent his National Defense Adviser to Europe to assure them that the US will no longer treat Israel in a special manner and that Israel might be on their own with the Muslims.
24. Praised Jimmy Carter’s trip to Gaza where he sided with terrorist Hamas against Israel.
25. Nationalized General Motors and Chrysler while turning shareholder control over to the unions and freezing out retired investors who owned their bonds. Committed unlimited taxpayer billions in the process.
26. Passed a huge energy tax in the House that will make American industry even less competitive while costing homeowners thousands per year.
27. Announced nationalized health care “reform” that will strip seniors of their Medicare, cut pay of physicians, increase taxes yet another $1 trillion, and put everyone on rationed care with government bureaucrats deciding who gets care and who doesn’t.  Bloomberg reports: Daschle says, “Health care reform will not be pain free. Seniors should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them,” while former Colorado Governor Dick Lamm says seniors have “a duty to die.”

OK, I think you get the point that by this time I was beside myself…so I did the only thing I could do.  I wrote an e-mail.  I decided not to send this off like I wanted to, but since I know this individual reads this blog, I’ll just let my prose take care of everything here:

*******************

A,

Rather than post this and get into a long and probably nasty exchange over the Internet in a public forum, I decided to do this privately and correct you on many of your perceived misconceptions of the first 7 months of this Administration.

Has it been perfect?  No.  Am I happy with everything he’s done?  Certainly not; in fact, as a bleeding heart liberal I don’t think he’s done enough and has sold the Left wing of his Party out to many of the Special Interests that dominate Washington politics.  I think he is too eager to please Republicans when it is clear they do not want to negotiate in good faith; I think he should just ram through legislation, just like the Republicans did when THEY had control of Congress.  Everyone seems to forget that was the way things were run.  Then again, Republicans can’t stand the fact that they LOST the last election and are so hell bent on destroying the Democrats that they don’t give a damn about the country.

Take a good look at just who is destroying America: a bunch of rich white men, corporations, and ignorant white Southern men who burn crosses on front lawns in their spare time.  You and the rest of the middle class who actually believe the trash and nonsense that comes out of Rush Limbaugh, Hannity, O’Reilly, Glenn Beck and Fox News and every conspiracy site on the Internet are being manipulated.  You THINK you are saving the country…you are in fact trying to defeat programs that are designed to HELP you.  You are instead maintaining the status quo of keeping the same rich white men and corporations in power.

Oh, and another thing: you guys can’t stand the fact that a black man is in the White House.

Maybe not you personally, but a hell of a lot of your fellow Right Wing Americans do.  Just look at the signs that LITERALLY wish DEATH on this man…is THAT America?  Is THAT the way we as Americans are supposed to have a dialog and constructively work together to protect this democracy?  More importantly, is that the way we act as human beings?  When was the last time you saw a gun brought to an anti-Bush, Reagan, or Nixon rally?  NEVER.  Either because they would be arrested for violating SOMETHING (other than a gun law which allows you to carry openly in certain states) or because they would exercise the common sense notion that bringing a gun into a large crowd of people is DANGEROUS.  And disrespectful to the President.

When was the last time you heard a member of Congress interrupt a speech by the President during a Joint Session of Congress?  NEVER.  It is against EVERYTHING we believe in, because we as Americans have a civil dialog (unlike the British who allow such outbursts.  They have their place, and I must admit I find Parliament amusing, but you better not damned well interrupt the Queen).  What that Congressman did was unforgivable; I would still say this if someone did that do former President GW Bush…and believe me, I’m sure there were plenty of folks in that chamber that wanted to do the same thing…we just don’t do that.  Add to the mix that the man is from South Carolina (first State to secede from the Union), is a member of the Sons Of The Confederacy, and as a State Legislator worked to keep the Confederate Flag on the SC State Flag.  (I find the Confederate Flag as offensive as the Nazi flag because it represents treason to this nation.  It represents a lifestyle that was abhorrent.  Moreover, it is the flag of a vanquished ENEMY.  Do you see anyone flying Nazi flags so openly?)

And this is only the tip of the iceberg of what is wrong now; the way we are disagreeing with one another.  It is one thing to disagree with policy and concepts, it is another thing to call the man a Nazi and a Socialist…which is ironic because they’re on opposite sides of the political spectrum.  (I hope you guys just pick one already).  It is another thing to wish death on this man…and bring signs that say the same to a rally all while wearing a GUN.  (Look, I support the Second Amendment.  I am all for gun ownership; and although I choose not to own one, I will not impede your right to obtain one).  When I saw a sign at the DC rally last week (where the crowd was officially placed at 75,000; not 7.5 million or whatever Glenn Beck said it was.  Another thing…where was HE on 9/12 for the 9/12 project?  Afraid some Left winger with a gun and a sign might actually go after him?) that read “We didn’t bring our guns (this time)”, I was mortified.  THAT was a DIRECT THREAT to the President of The United States…and this is OK?  The fact that people are openly advocating the overthrow of the legitimately elected government of the United States is FRIGHTENING.

Speaker Pelosi (no stranger to violence and political assassinations having witnessed the terrible tragedy of the death of a Mayor and a Supervisor in San Francisco in the 70s) needs to be taken seriously in her warnings against violence.  God forbid the unthinkable happens, you will have chaos and pandemonium the likes this country has never seen.  You will have panic and race riots.  You will have Martial Law and suspension of the Constitution to prevent a revolution…and then you may very well have violent revolution.

And that will only lead to the curb of freedom even more, because the “winners” of that revolution will be an extremist regime that will make the Nazis look like amateurs.

And We The People…shall be but a distant memory.

Here’s what’s right and wrong about your “accomplishments”:

Obama’s First Seven Months: Accomplishments

  • Offended the Queen of England.

It was his wife who accidentally grabbed the Queen’s royal posterior, not he.  And for the record, just WHICH country did we have a revolution against, and why are you concerned with having offended a direct descendant of King George III?

  • Bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia.

Observing a customary greeting for the King of Saudi Arabia is offensive?  And you were concerned about Queen Elizabeth’s ass?

  • Praised the Marxist Daniel Ortega.

He’s done a hell of a lot more for the people of Nicaragua than any right-wing regime ever did.  Perhaps that is why he was ELECTED TWICE by the people in free and fair elections, because you see…Nicaragua is a democracy.  Oh, and he was also voted out of office twice as well.

  • Kissed Socialist Hugo Chavez on the cheek.

Again, a customary greeting…and we’re still with the nice international protocol violations, huh?  Too bad you guys weren’t concerned with niceties demonstrated during the 9/12 March of the Wooden Soldiers.

  • Endorsed the Socialist Evo Morales of Bolivia.

He did not endorse ANYONE.  The President does not openly endorse any candidate in a foreign election.  Get your facts straight.

  • Sided with Hugo Chavez and Communist Fidel Castro against Honduras.

Well, perhaps the right-wing junta that overthrew the legitimately elected government of Honduras didn’t exactly thrill him or the rest of the other nations who signed a United Nations statement condemning the action.  You know, guys like Germany and England and Australia…our allies.

  • Announced we would meet with Iranians with no pre-conditions while they’re building their nuclear weapons.

The UN Inspector who was sent to Iran confirms they are NOT building weapons…however, it does not mean they don’t have a hidden bunker somewhere where they are.  Since you don’t know and don’t have proof, and you want to prevent this from happening anyway, YOU TALK.  Oh, and what the hell are we SUPPOSED to say, “We’ll only talk with you if you don’t stop building the weapons you’re not building”?  If you want to obtain your goal, you TALK.  Or would you prefer that we bomb their nuclear facilities off the planet, thus sending harmful radiation and fallout into the atmosphere where it will contaminate the food chain, and perhaps kill your own children eventually…as well as the hundreds of thousands such a strike would cause the Iranians.  Or are they not worth being Human Beings because they are Muslim and they deserve to die anyway?

  • Gave away billions to AIG also without pre-conditions.

That my dear, was George Walker Bush and Hank Paulsen  the previous President and Secretary of the Treasury who gave a final parting gift to their rich supporters, not President Obama

  • Expanded the bailouts.

The additional Bank funding was authorized by the PREVIOUS Congress (at the pleading of Bush and Paulsen) in increments.  If you recall, there were hearings early in the year that made sure they needed the additional funding…hearings authorized by THIS President.

  • Insulted everyone who has ever loved a Special Olympian.

OK, the guy did a bad thing here; I agree.  He apologized.  Like you never insulted me at one time and didn’t realize it until the words came out of your mouth?  Please…

  • Doubled our national debt.

No, that would be President Bush who did that…you know, the Conservative who believes in fiscal responsibility…the guy who loved tax cuts so much he forgot how to pay for a war that he started, and Medicare Part D just for starters.  Oh yeah, he was left with a SURPLUS by President Clinton; he left Obama a few trillion in the hole.

  • Announced the termination of our new missile defense system the day after North Korea launched an ICBM.

A 5 BILLION DOLLAR missile system for 10 missiles in EUROPE…one that is based on technology that has not been perfected yet…in favor of one costing half as much that would deploy missiles on ships in the area of Iran as opposed to putting them in Poland where the Russians would feel a bit threatened.  You know, like we did in 1962 when they tried to put missiles in Cuba.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready for my gamma ray bath and incineration just yet.  Oh, Korea is a separate issue and is in no way linked to this action.

  • Released information on U.S. Intelligence gathering despite urgings of his own CIA director and the prior four CIA directors.

Just like Valerie Plame was outed by Scooter Libby as a CIA Agent in violation of Federal Law, or was this a legitimate and legal decision by the President of The United States as Commander In Chief?

  • Accepted without comment that five of his cabinet members cheated on their taxes and two other nominees withdrew after they couldn’t take the heat.

OK…bad decisions, and bad vetting process.  I agree with you here.

  • Appointed a Homeland Security Chief who identified military veterans and abortion opponents as “dangers to the nation.”

I’d be interested in seeing where the comment was taken from and the complete context of it.  You guys are famous for taking things out of context.  Another thing, it’s at least less harmful than appointing a man whose only experience in life was raising Arabian Horses as head of FEMA.  His bungling cost thousands of people their homes and hundreds are dead because of “Heck of a Job Brownie” in New Orleans after Katrina.  I’d rather have the bad words said…at least they didn’t kill anyone.

  • Ordered that the word “terrorism” no longer be used and instead refers to such acts as “man made disasters.”

HUH?  Last time I heard, he uses the word “terrorism” whenever applicable.  Is he not using it ENOUGH for you guys?  I mean, to me, wearing a gun to a Presidential Rally holding a threatening sign is terrorism.  Killing a man because he performs late term abortions is terrorism.  Should he have used the word then?  I think so.

  • Circled the globe to publicly apologize for America’s world leadership.

More like made overtures to the world that we were willing to talk and protect our freedom and anyone else’s…but not at the point of a gun or bomb them out of existence.

  • Told the Mexican president that the violence in their country was because of us.

Again, CONTEXT.  This was a statement that since we are the PRIMARY CONSUMERS of MEXICAN DRUGS, INDIRECTLY we are responsible for some of the violence.  Just like if you buy cigarettes on the Internet (which I don’t do) the money may support terrorism.  It’s a fact.

  • Politicized the census by moving it into the White House from the Department of Commerce.

And the price of tea in China is…?  Whatever Administration is in charge politicizes the Census; Bush did it…it’s all a fact of life.  Deal with it, you’ll sleep better in the morning.

  • Appointed as Attorney General the man who orchestrated the forced removal and expulsion to Cuba of a 9-year-old whose mother died trying to bring him to freedom in the United States.

I despised what Janet Reno authorized be done in that incident.  He was only carrying out the orders of his superiors…you know, the same way CIA operatives were when they tortured people.

  • Salutes as heroes three Navy SEALS who took down three terrorists who threatened one American life and the next day announces members of the Bush administration may stand trial for “torturing” three 9/11 terrorists by pouring water up their noses.

Waterboarding is TORTURE, not just pouring water up their noses.  We tortured people in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions that we pledged to uphold as part of International Law.  We went rogue, and in the process lost our soul as a nation and in my opinion, anyone who authorized, ordered, and carried out waterboarding or any other technique classified as torture should be prosecuted as a war criminal, as provided for in the Geneva Conventions.  Oh, and he was absolutely right to salute those Navy SEALS.

  • Low altitude photo shoot of Air Force One over New York City that frightened thousands of New Yorkers.

HUGE MISTAKE…I was mortified and offended.  And so was he; that’s why the idiot who authorized it is now on Uncle Sammy’s bread lines.

  • Sent his National Defense Adviser to Europe to assure them that the US will no longer treat Israel in a special manner and that Israel might be on their own with the Muslims.

And Israel should be treated as “special” because…?  They’re Jewish and make good brisket over there?  Or because the Zionists seek to obtain solely for themselves a piece of land “given” to them by a non-corporeal entity whose existence cannot be proved?  I’ll tell you what, God told me I can have your house.  I’ll be over tomorrow and kick you and the boys out and let you fend for yourselves across the street or endlessly roam the streets of Rosebank.  THAT’s what the Jews have done to the Palestinians…and they are systematically KILLING them, simply because they are a different faith.  Just in case you haven’t realized it yet, you are NOTHING to the Zionists either because you are Catholic and not Jewish.  The Jewish State (according to the Zionists) is supposed to remain PURE.  You want to talk about Nazis?  Look no father than the end of Bibi’s nose.  They have The Bomb, have tons of money donated to them by the Jewish population over here (duped into believing that all of the Jewish People are at risk of annihilation from everyone)…let them fend for themselves.  By the way, there is a VAST difference between a Jew and a Zionist.  It’s like the difference between being German or a Nazi.  I know Jews who HATE the Zionists with a passion and want nothing more than to live in peace with the Palestinians.

  • Praised Jimmy Carter’s trip to Gaza where he sided with terrorist Hamas against Israel.

And he SHOULD have praised his trip because it was humanitarian…they were being SLAUGHTERED for DAYS by Israel.  Or are they worthless because they are Muslim?  And if you were getting slaughtered, wouldn’t you try and fight back?  One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter…just ask George Washington.

  • Nationalized General Motors and Chrysler while turning shareholder control over to the unions and freezing out retired investors who owned their bonds. Committed unlimited taxpayer billions in the process.

Congratulations, you own a car company!  Why?  Because if they went under the entire economy could have collapsed; thousands of manufacturing jobs (auto workers, the guys who make the parts, Dealerships) would have been lost.  Yes, there were job losses, but nowhere near as bad as if there was no bail out.  And all of this came about because GM and the other guys ran THEIR companies into the ground by making poor business decisions.  The shareholders of GM and Chrysler are also responsible because they didn’t throw the bastards out of the Board Room.

  • Passed a huge energy tax in the House that will make American industry even less competitive while costing homeowners thousands per year.

I have NO clue what you’re talking about here…evidence please?

  • Announced nationalized health care “reform” that will strip seniors of their Medicare, cut pay of physicians, increase taxes yet another $1 trillion, and put everyone on rationed care with government bureaucrats deciding who gets care and who doesn’t. Bloomberg reports: Daschle says, “Health care reform will not be pain free. Seniors should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them,” while former Colorado Governor Dick Lamm says seniors have “a duty to die.”

Medicare will NOT be touched; Seniors will NOT have their benefits stripped.  Medicare is about as sacred as the Pope to these politicians and to the American People…it ain’t going nowhere…or granny will get her gun.  The cost of the Health Insurance Reform program approaches $1 trillion (it’s estimated at $856 billion) OVER 10 YEARS.  It’s COST not TAX…a VAST difference.  No one will be deciding who gets what and when granny gets the plug pulled.  You think this would have died already…you guys just love keeping up the lies, don’t you.  FALSE, FALSE, FALSE.

Hopefully, I’ve enlightened you to the Liberal view of things…and all this was done without a nasty sign or at the point of a gun.  You know, through intelligent discourse, like it’s supposed to be…not mob rule.

K.

********************

As you can imagine, that took quite a while to write, and with each word that came off the keyboard, I just got angrier and angrier.  I am realizing that once again, the Right is using the politics of Fear and Division in order to attempt to regain power, through any means possible.  And the way you hear it from some people, through revolution if need be.  This is not the way we do things in this country.  We are the envy of the world every four or eight years as we have a peaceful transition of  power from one Administration to another.  In many parts of the world, this happens at the point of a gun or not at all.  Just because you are not happy with the results of the last election does not give you the right to overthrow the government.  Trust me, if my liberties were being taken away or my rights under the Constitution were declared null and void, I’d be out there fighting with all I had.  This Administration hasn’t done a damned thing for anyone to be concerned about.  If anything, I think they need to put their foot down more and push through their agenda as much as possible given the sizable numbers of Democrats in Congress.  I think that The President is on the verge of waking up and taking the reins from some of his  advisers who are doing an awful job (Rahm Emmanuel, anyone?) and is going to start playing some hardball.  Hopefully, the Democrats won’t follow with their usual habit of forming a circular firing squad.

The way you hear it from the Right Wingnuts, you’d think that we’re on the verge of Nuremberg rallies, bund meetings, and goose-stepping in the streets.  Oh wait!  That was the Bush Administration!

“Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it.” – John Lennon

Yet Another Day In September

Somewhere in Washington later on this afternoon, there will be a gathering of people, assembled at the behest of Right-Wingnut Glenn Beck.  A march on DC for the “9/12 Project”, a group that claims to want to reestablish that feeling of oneness and patriotism we all felt the day after 9/11.  To see Beck describe it on his television program, you would think that the idea came forth from the heavens in the form of a celestial vision, or perhaps he saw a burning bush by his apartment building.  We are going to see a bunch of loyal, patriotic Americans who want to take their country back from the evil oppression of President Obama and the Democratic Party who they’ve demonized into Adolf Hitler and the National Socialists…or is that Joe Stalin and the Communists?  Oh well, Communist or Socialist…it doesn’t really matter, because they’re not American anyway.

Please…get a life Beck.  You’re giving us recovering alcoholics a bad name.  You’re supposed to see all the crazy shit when you’re drinking or detoxing, not when you’re sober.  Oh…I forgot; you’re a Mormon and think you get your own planet when you die.  Silly me.  Can I have the number of your cosmic real estate agent, because I’d like a lovely planet not too close to the sun, but one with some nice beaches and attractive women playing bad drunken calypso music?  Yes, the man who can’t even spell “Oligarchy” correctly and who just a few short years ago complained about the sad state of the American Health Care system after a brush with death is going to make sure you get that warm fuzzy feeling you had the day after 9/11/01.

Look, I don’t know how you felt, but I was still trying to make some sense of everything.  I had just been through and survived a terrorist attack.  I had spent a good portion of the night in the hospital talking to psychiatrists and getting pushed, pinned, stuck, and prodded by a team of physicians who thought I could have been carrying some sort of secret plague after I was exposed to  the dust cloud.  I got a few fitful hours of sleep, but I was awakened by a nightmare at 2pm…and I couldn’t get to sleep again for another 24 hours.  So let me tell you how I felt the day after 9/11, sir…let me tell you about how “warm and fuzzy” I felt…

I was shaking constantly.  I was breaking down crying for no reason and at the strangest times.  I was seeing flashbacks of people jumping off buildings because they would rather have died that way than be burned to a crisp.  I was jumping out of my skin when I heard an engine backfire or if something dropped in the kitchen.  And worst of all, I was drinking like a madman trying to get it all to stop…and to forget about the day before.  Trust me, I was not waving a flag and being a patriotic robot.  I was a damned disaster; a shell of a human being, a frightened man who had just lost everything he had mentally in a few short hours.  It was the start of a disability that I still have and prevents me from working to this day…and it was the start of a decent into madness and alcoholism that was to last for another 5 years.

And you want me to go back to the person I was on that day?  Are you INSANE?  I very much want to go back to the person I was on 9/10…a man with a successful career and a family man who just had his second child.  A man who was finally growing up and coming to terms with his life.  A man who would go to work day in and day out to support his family with no questions asked.  A man who went to work one day and never came home again quite the same way.

Sure, Glenn Beck…perhaps in another parallel universe I felt the way you felt; but not in this one.  Please, Beck…do me a favor.  Go back to slugging a few because at least I’ll know where this insanity is coming from.

“Never allow someone to be your priority, while allowing yourself to be their option” – Anonymous

Eight Years On: Memories Of Two Towers Struck Down

I am a Survivor of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001.

There are moments in History where you know where you were when they happened, and sometimes you become a part of History yourself.  I’ve been to some famous sporting events, watched the first man walk on the moon, and the fall of the Berlin Wall.  I was on the Tappan Zee Bridge when I found out Miles Davis had passed away, and I had to pull over once I got off the bridge, and cried my eyes out while “My Ship” played softly on my car stereo.  There are moments when you see History and you choose History.  Then there are moments when History chooses you.

When I woke up that Tuesday Morning, I had no idea what was about to happen to me; nor did I have any idea of how much my life would change over the course of the next eight years…but that was a moment History chose for me to be a part of.  It began a very long journey into depression and alcoholism, recovery and triumph over my inner demons.  It began a period of self-discovery and awareness that was not there before in my 40 years on the planet.  But all of this is for a later time.

What I would like to do now is reprint a piece I wrote a few days after 9/11 while I was still very much in shock and totally unsure of what happened and where I was going next.  It has been printed on several web sites over the years, and it resides in the Library of Congress as part of a collection of written history from eyewitnesses and survivors of that day.  It is graphic and intense, but it is MY story of that day…the day when my world, and everyone else’s changed forever.

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

CATHARSIS I: The Road to Damascus

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

CATHARSIS II: Abnormal Normality

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

8:20 AM, Penn Station, Newark, NJ
Board the PATH train…and actually found a seat! I consider this a good omen for the rest of the day, especially as I was lugging around a very heavy laptop PC in addition to my regular briefcase. It was for this reason that I decided NOT to listen to my CD Player today…it would be just too awkward carrying around a CD player strapped to my waist as well as a laptop and briefcase. I close my eyes to catch a few winks on the 22-minute ride into Manhattan.

8:42 AM, World Trade Center, New York, NY Leave PATH train for the ride 6 stories up a series of escalators to the street level. I decide that my laptop is sitting awkwardly on my shoulder, and that I would fix it when I reached the top of the escalators.

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

CATHARSIS III: Another Ulysses

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

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

CATHARSIS IV:The Silence before the ROAR

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

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

CATHARSIS V: No World Order

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

CATHARSIS VI: A Hole in the Sky

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

CATHARSIS VII: Dorothy and The Scarecrow

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

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

CATHARSIS VIII: Just Click Your Heels Three Times…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHARTHIS XI: Phoenix Uncertain

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

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

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

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

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

Arkangel3 BORN: Mar 14, 1961 DIED: Sept 11, 2001 REBORN: Sept 11, 2001

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Coda- September 11, 2009: It’s always interesting when I go back and re-read this piece.  When I first wrote it, I was scared and scarred emotionally and physically.  I had just been through an event that I never in my wildest dreams thought I could have been privy to let alone be a part of.  Eight years have made me a much different person than I was on that fateful day or when I wrote this a few days afterward.  I have literally been through hell and back.  I was diagnosed with Acute PTSD as a result of the September 11th attacks, I am disabled because of it and I try and live with it every day.  I was also diagnosed as having Bi-Polar disorder and I am also a recovering alcoholic.  It hasn’t been easy.

While that day still lingers for me and thousand of others, it is also a significant point in Human History as well as in my own life.  It is a point at which we choose a path to go down in our life as individuals, as a nation, or as a planet. For my own personal journey, it has been a source of self-discovery (and rediscovery); of sadness and pain, and occasional joy and triumph.  But what has been born of pain has made me more Human than I could have ever hoped to be otherwise.  And the most painful thing I had to work through was the most challenging obstacle to overcome: the guilt of surviving while so many others died.   I was spared, and somehow came home to the loving arms of my wife and children…and yet, I could not get past the guilt of living.   A painful reminder was the sight of my neighbor on a daily basis; her brother was killed in the attacks.  I saw her go through the grief and anguish over the next few years, and all I could think of was what she was thinking every time she saw me…perhaps asking the Universe why I was alive and her brother wasn’t.  And every time I saw her I kept asking the same question.

Last year when I started this blog, I was looking for a quote from Robert Kennedy to close out a post.  I came across something RFK quoted from the Greek poet Aeschylus at Martin Luther King’s funeral:

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

What Bobby was trying to tell those gathered in the Church and the Nation was that although we might not understand why that happened, and the pain it caused us; there was a reason for it and it would be revealed in time.  That eventually the pain of the loss will go away, and from it something new will come.

I was struck as if hit by lightning.  In that very moment, my guilt began to wash away and the pain of having survived the attacks began to abate…for I had finally begun to forgive myself.  For all the pain I had caused my family, for all the pain I had been through…I began to forgive myself…and thus begin to slowly live my life again.  The key had been turned and the circle closed, for that part of my life was finished; now I have to deal with what is coming and I do that a day at a time.  I do that by trying to be the best human being I can be on a daily basis, and sometimes I fall miserably short in that lofty goal…but I am human after all.  There is always tomorrow…and why I was spared I may never know; but I have a tomorrow…and that is all I can ask for.


One Year On…

One year ago, I started this blog with the intention of trying to change the world one word at a time.  Well, at least my little corner of the world.  I think I might have succeeded on some levels, certainly on a personal one.  I tried to blog as much as I could; most especially during the election, once or twice a day.  Lately, I’ve been ill and it was the end of the summer, so I took some time off to spend with my kids before they went back to school…but I have a lot of free time back on my hands right now, so I’ll be posting at least three times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays.  I might even pull a column from the past as a reprint on the other days of the week, especially if it deals with current events.

I have to admit, bloging is an interesting experience; you just sit down with a blank canvas and “go” on some days; and on others it’s like pulling teeth.  That’s why I am not a great believer in forcing a post on a daily basis; if it’s taking me that long to write something, then it’s not worth posting because chances are it’s of low quality.  (Although I have to admit a few times I did post that sort of stuff and incredibly people loved it.  Maybe I’m too hard on myself).  It’s been great talking about everyday events and trying to put a funny spin on them, or writing about an historic election that I must admit at times had me pulling my hair out (and thank God I have plenty of that left).  I also loved being able to share some of my philosophy and beliefs in the Universe with you, and if I touched something in you along the way then I was doing my job.  That’s what writers do: we are SUPPOSED to touch something inside you, make you feel a certain way or think twice about your own beliefs…at least that’s the way I see it.

I also started this blog one year ago in a very different place than I am now.  I was at the verge of accepting what happened to me on 9/11 and the results thereafter.  I was definitely at a crossroads, and this blog helped me to focus myself on what had to be done personally and hopefully professionally as I embark on writing a novel.  The past few months have been rather a lull for me creatively and personally, and sometimes that can be a good thing.  You take the time to enjoy and appreciate your family.  You take the time to get ideas and get some sketches down on paper.  More importantly, you interact with your friends and other human beings more instead of furiously typing away at the Mac.  All of these things combine to refresh the spirit and create a new beginning.  So now I am ready for the next phase of what has to be done in my life…and this blog is certainly a part of it.  Hopefully, you’ll stick around for the ride…just make sure you fasten your seatbelt!

Special Note: Tomorrow I will be re-printing a piece that I wrote a few days after 9/11 that kind of went viral back then and every year that I reprint it, it does the same.  It’s my first hand account of what happened to me on that horrible day 8 years ago, but it’s also accompanied my my current thoughts on the event.  I hope you’ll read it again, or for the first time; it’s one of the pieces of writing that I am most proud of.  It’s unfortunate that it had to come from such incredible events…then again, when you are witness to history, sometimes you have to tell your piece of the tale so that no one will forget that day and so that it will never happen again.

I Was A Teenage Socialist!

30 years ago when I was a youngster of 18 attending a small college in Vermont, I registered to vote in that state.  At the time, my politics was very left-leaning, and my grade advisor (who was only in his 20’s with a PhD and two Masters) was an unabashed fan of jazz and he was also a registered Socialist.  I learned a lot from him over the two years I was at that school; so over drinks or coffee (usually with Miles Davis as the soundtrack), we would both bemoan the fact that Ronald Reagan was President and that any chance at a serious Progressive agenda was DOA.  The vast tentacles of the Right were infiltrating every portion of my life, most especially in denying me the Guaranteed Student Loan for my 3rd and 4th years of college, because my father made too much money; which is why I had to change schools (and eventually my major from Political Science to Journalism).  But back in 1979, influenced by my ideals and hatred of Republicans (Nixon’s resignation just shook me to the core) I signed a piece of paper that made me a card-carrying member of the Vermont Socialist Party.

You see, it’s quite simple.  I believe in single payer Health Care for all Americans.  I believe in single payer Education for all Americans up to and including a Bachelor’s Degree.  I do not believe in the Death Penalty except in cases of Crimes Against Humanity.  I believe in a woman’s right to do as she chooses with her own body (quite a Libertarian view in fact) as well as access to the same salaries as their male counterparts.  I do not believe in the United States being the Policeman of the world (yet another Libertarian view).  When I had to register for Selective Service (we were the first to do so along with those born in 1978), in large black marker I wrote on my application, “Conscientious Objector”.  I organized protests at an all-boys Catholic High school (something not easily done), most of them “silent” by us choosing not to do something and doing something else.  I wrote a rather unflattering letter to the Editor just prior to my graduation; about recent events in the school that caused the administration to deny us a Senior Day.  They wanted me to edit it myself and to tone it down in tenor…I refused.  They published it anyway, and I still hear about it from my classmates.

So you see, by registering a Socialist, I codified my beliefs under one umbrella; the beliefs that were already there but needed a name to unify them.  The beliefs of Socialists clearly reflected my views at the time, and I proudly became one.

As the years wore on, I became a Registered Democrat and then a Registered Independent, as I started to vote for the candidate rather than the party…which I till do.  Only now, I am a proud Registered Democrat.  I did so last year in order to support Barack Obama in his quest for the White House.  This too came as a decision based on several years of being a free soul thanks to being downsized in 2004.  Yes, I was also disabled; but in the quest to find myself, I awakened those core principles which had remained buried for so long.  I took my new found life experiences and codified them under the Democratic umbrella…and here I am today.

I sit poised to remember something horrible that happened in my life 8 years ago, as the anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center loom on the horizon just 7 days from now.  But what happened to me was that out of those ashes and flames, I was born anew.  I have my mental (and now physical) challenges directly (or perhaps indirectly) related to that day; challenges I face on a daily basis.  But I have become more open in my heart, and more willing to allow my Humanity to shine through in a way that has never shone through me before.  The fact of the matter is, I give a damn.

And this is what motivates me politically.  This is what and who I am now.  I have come full circle…and although I have a label on me politically, I am so much more than that.  I wonder how many Republicans can say that, now that their once great Party has been taken over by zealots and wing nuts?

“Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of man will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without constraint.” – Alexander Hamilton