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Trump’s Trolley Kills Five

trumpyWell, America … you have murdered the trolley workers. Their blood is now on your hands. Let me be clear; a minority of Americans can rest peacefully, albeit, fearfully. They at least tried to pull the lever. They just couldn’t get enough help from their fellow Americans who “voted their consciences” or didn’t vote at all.

Ok, I get the feeling your face is dressed in confusion. “What the hell trolley is he talking about? Who died?” Let me back up and explain.

The “trolley problem” is a well-known thought experiment in the field of ethics. You remember ethics? They used to be common in the halls of government in this country.  In the trolley problem, you are confronted with a serious dilemma.

A trolley car is out of control and careening down the tracks where five workers don’t see or hear it coming. If nothing is done, the five workers will assuredly die. You see this and happen to be standing by a large lever. If you quickly pull the lever, the trolley will be directed onto another track where you see one worker who will unquestionably be killed. Do you pull the lever to save five lives at the expense of one life?

If you pull the lever, you will be directly responsible for the death of one man. If you don’t pull the lever, you didn’t have a direct role in anyone’s death. There are those that will argue that you are responsible for five deaths, but you can legitimately say you did not personally take action that resulted in these tragic deaths. That’s the gist of the trolley problem. Kill one person or take no action and allow five to die.

After a few days of the Trump administration, sane people all around the world are shaking their heads. An increasing number of Trump supporters are shaking their heads. We’ve been subjected to a sequence of utterly insane actions from “The Donald”. It only promises to get worse.

Yet, in November past, huge numbers of Americans didn’t vote or they voted their consciences and wouldn’t vote for the viable alternative because they didn’t “like” her. They stood by the lever and watched as the trolley ran over America’s future. The magnitude of the slaughter is already immeasurable and it’s just getting started.

The trolley rolls on and some Americans still stand idly by staring at the lever. Some now deal with the lever by intentionally looking in the other direction. If you don’t watch the carnage, you can’t be responsible for it can you?

A seemingly intelligent friend is now dealing with the situation by not watching, listening or reading the news. An ostrich with its head in the sand can’t pull a lever. People that haven’t even heard about Trump’s completely nonsensical way of paying for his nonsensical “great wall,” can’t pull the lever. They – with intent – ignore the existence of the economic realities of how tariffs work (a tax on Mexican imports is paid by Americans, not Mexico) and aren’t going to be thrilled watching as their food choices dwindle and the prices increase on those remaining. After we get to that point, it’ll be too late to pull the lever.

Trump supporters and non-supporters alike are shaking their heads on the immigration ban. Immigrants from seven countries are barred, while immigrants from others such as Saudi Arabia, aren’t included in the ban. You remember Saudi Arabia don’t you? That’s the country at the center of the Wahhabi Sunni sect, the most radical and dangerous Muslim group in existence. The overwhelming majority of the World Trade Center terrorists were from Saudi Arabia. But they’re not on the list. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that Trump has extensive business dealings there. Wake up and pull the lever!

Trump fires the acting Attorney General because she gave him her best legal advice as she promised during her confirmation hearings. Pull the lever!

Trump removes the generals from the National Security Council and replaces them with a radical right wing pal. That kind of thing worked for some German leader in the 1930s didn’t it? Pull the damn lever!

Trump appoints someone to head the Department of Education that has absolutely no experience with public education. The lever! The lever! Pull the lever!

Trump puts a guy with a B.S. degree in Animal Husbandry in charge of our nation’s nuclear arms.

This insanity goes on without end and no one’s pulling the lever. Do you hear that sound? It’s the sound of the trolley car barreling out of control and screaming down the tracks. Whatcha gonna do? You can pull the lever or not. Either way, someone’s future is already bleak. Either way, you are responsible. But if no one pulls the stinkin’ lever, America’s going to be run over and it ain’t gonna be pretty. Do something or do nothing.

 

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A Death in the Family

graveNo one’s getting out alive. One of the few constants in the universe is that there is an ultimate end to everything. If we’re to believe all of the philosophical euphemisms surrounding death, we shouldn’t fear it. It comes to all things. The Second Law of Thermodynamics is inescapable. All things are ultimately buried, even if only metaphorically.

When the end comes, whether it be expected or a sudden and shocking event, the process of grieving begins.  People deal with their grief in different ways, some constructive, others not so much. In her landmark book, “On Death and Dying”, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross spoke of what she called the five stages of dying: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Although she directed her words to those who were dying, the five stages also apply to those forced to grieve the loss of a loved one.

As the “survivor”, I too am confronted with the five stages. I seem to be following the classic path, but having that knowledge doesn’t seem to mitigate the suffering. I remain intermittently distraught and withdrawn. Anyone who has gone through the five stages knows you can bounce back and forth as you move toward the inevitable “acceptance”.

When I first learned of the illness, my initial reaction was indeed denial. There was just no way it could be happening. As the months went by and evidence of the disease manifested itself more and more, I gradually replaced my denial with anger, at times, fairly extreme. I’m sure friends wondered why I wasn’t my usual jovial self. Occasionally, I was overtly unpleasant.

As a non-believer, I wasted little time in the bargaining phase. I’ll confess that I did contribute a substantial sum of money in the hope that it would be used to reverse the progress of this ugly ailment, but most of my time was spent in anger. I have moved on to the depression stage. My sense of humor has gone dormant, hopefully, not dead.

The only remaining stage is “acceptance”. I’m definitely not there yet. In some respects, I hope I don’t get there. To accept is to surrender. Submission has never been one of my finest attributes.

The funeral is scheduled for Friday, January 20th. I truly hope it helps me get out of my current funk, but optimism is in short supply. The funeral takes place in Washington, D.C. as a new President is sworn into office. Together with many of my fellow citizens, I will mourn the death of civilization as we’ve known it for all my lifetime. It has been said that American democracy was an experiment. It appears that in the wake of our past election, that experiment has failed.

I mourn the death of civility in American politics. I lament the passing of a great country where people of all races, religions and lifestyles had nearly gained the respect of their fellow countrymen. I shed a tear at the departure of the era of truth where honesty mattered. I’m white, male, financially comfortable and in good health. By those measures, I should be celebrating. But I can’t bring myself to turn my back on others who face the loss of their hard earned freedoms. I don’t want to see the rise of hate, a new era of bigotry, the face of misogyny and a world of misology.

I’ve never liked funerals. I especially am not going to like this one. From dust to dust.

 

Free at Last – Free at Last

Judge Roger Vinson apparently has an insatiable need to be well known, not an unusual need for a Federal Judge. It’s been my experience that most Judges, especially those in the Federal Courts, have far more ego than common sense. By that standard, Judge Vinson fits the stereotype.

Vinson is the guy that pandered to the Tea Party by declaring the health care act unconstitutional. Like other simple minded myopes, e.g., Arizona buffoon in chief, Jan Brewer, Vinson says the Constitution somehow prevents the government from forcing people to buy health insurance. He justified his logic by announcing in his written decision, “It is difficult to imagine that a country which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in American would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place.”

What the hell is this guy talking about? He’s a judge; surely he understands the concept of non-sequitor. As the Tea Party’s chief intellectual, Sarah Palin, calls them, this was clearly a WTF moment.

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Who Shot Gabrielle Giffords?

I was in the middle of writing a column on the Republican grandstanding surrounding the idea of repealing the healthcare bill or as they call it, ObamaCare. That’s when the news flash arrived saying Arizona Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords had been shot. My heart dropped much like it did on that fateful day in 1963. I was saddened, disgusted and shamed to be a member of a society that breeds the kind people that can perform such heinous acts.

Giffords was a supporter of universal healthcare. She cared for her constituents, rich and poor. She answered to her conscience and used her strong intellect to make the decisions she felt were best for America. As I write this, the identity of the killer hasn’t been released. His motives remain a mystery.

As I do my best to resist anger and frustration, I ask “Who shot Gabrielle Giffords?”

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Book’s Progress

I’m please to report that book sales for “The Man on the Bench” are brisk and exceeding expectations. In part, I thank some great publicity from media like The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Pennisula Beacon, NPR and KPBS, and Channel Six in San Diego. Thanks to all. Keep spreading the word.

View the most recent TV show by clicking here.

The Man on the Bench

Feel free to view this as a self serving missive about my new book. The reason being – this is a self serving missive about my new book. The Man on the Bench is available from Barnes and Noble and Amazon. It’s already getting good reviews so why not sing about it?

Nearly a year ago, I wrote a piece about the death of a homeless, mentally ill man that became a good friend. When I wrote it, I knew my friend’s first name, but not his last. I decided to try and find his family and learn more about his past. The book chronicles the amazing story of Jeffrey Pastorino, the man we called the Mayor of Point Loma.

He sat on a bench for nearly twenty years. People thought he was crazy and by many standards, he was. But after discovering his past and the events that brought him to that bench, I began to wonder who was truly crazy. The path of that discovery turned out to be the basis for this amazing story. The life of this unlikely man serves as a beacon for all of mankind when it comes to dealing with our insecurities and shortcomings. For in the final analysis, we all spend at least a little time sitting on the bench. Learn more at www.54Candles.org.

The Migratory Habits of the Tufted Southwester Tea Bagger

Some days are just meant for bitching. Don’t lie to yourself; you’ve had’em. You wake up on the wrong side of the bed and someone’s going to have a worse day than you. It doesn’t have to make sense. It doesn’t have to be fair. The first person who falls into your sights is toast. If my wife (who is as close to uniformly charming as anyone walking) gets out of bed and does a crab-walk to the bathroom first thing in the morning, I’m outta there. Sometimes I might have to throw her a piece of raw meat to distract her while I sneak out the door, but whatever it takes to find a cave in which to hide is what I’m going to do. No one’s immune from the wishfully rare, but all too common human ailment.

A small percentage of people seem to have been born to bitch. It’s not a once in a blue moon thing. They get out of bed every day intent on making everyone who crosses their path into road kill. They’re constantly negative. They delight to bringing people down. It’s as if they find it easier to elevate their own mood by making everyone else’s lower than their own. We all know a few of them and if possible, we avoid them like the social boils they are. Their complaints don’t have to make sense. They don’t have to think things through. They can’t seem to take responsibility for their own actions. They live as perpetual consequences. They are victims. Everything that happens to them is beyond their own control and everything that happens is bad.

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