Back at the start of the Trump Presidency I undertook a project to write regularly about what I was seeing during the first 100 days. Remember those days when Steve Bannon was in the Oval Office? Here is what I wrote back on 2/28/2017:
Mike Flynn walks out of court a free man. He walks out convicted of nothing.
Does this convict the Trump administration's justice department, or the justice system? It is getting harder every day to make sense of what's happening.
Back in 2018 when Flynn went before Judge Sullivan for sentences on charges he lied to the FBI, this is what the Judge said to him,
“All along, you were an unregistered agent of a foreign country while serving as the national security advisor to the president of the United States,” Sullivan told Flynn, referring to the other case, for which Flynn was not charged.
“That undermines everything this flag over here stands for,” the judge said. “Arguably you sold your country out.” https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/18/judge-tells-michael-flynn-you-sold-your-country-out-at-hearing.html
He sold his country out. But today he's a free man, all charges dropped and charges that weren't brought will never be.
Was Sullivan just wrong? Did the FBI set Flynn up and "trick" him into lying? Is Barr's justice department acting on behest of Trump?
Will we ever know who we can believe about anything in the justice system ever again? I don't know the answer to that but I can say with certainty that I do not know if any of them can be trusted from law enforcement to judicial to DOJ to the White House.
From where I sit, it looks worse and worse for all of us.
Beware of Darkness
Watch out now, take care
Beware of falling swingers
Dropping all around you
The pain that often mingles
In your fingertips
Beware of darkness
Watch out now, take care
Beware of the thoughts that linger
Winding up inside your head
The hopelessness around you
In the dead of night
Beware of sadness
It can hit you
It can hurt you
Make you sore and what is more
That is not what you are here for
Watch out now, take care
Beware of soft shoe shufflers
Dancing down the sidewalks
As each unconscious sufferer
Beware of Maya
Watch out now, take care
Beware of greedy leaders
They take you where you should not go
While Weeping Atlas Cedars
They just want to grow, grow and grow
Beware of darkness
Songwriters: George Harrison
Beware of Darkness lyrics © The Bicycle Music Company
Listen on YouTube - https://youtu.be/pPuFDaPC5XM
Trump cultists simply refuse to admit they were wrong. They were had. They got suckered and personify the old gambler's maxim, "There's a sucker born every minute."
Now the White House brought in the ultimate helicopter-parented barbie doll in America as press secretary. That tells me that the White House is very near the slimy bottom of the barrel from which they've been dipping leaches to staff the White House since the election. I just want to know who pulls her cord to trigger the recorded messages of corrupt media, Trump is God's President, and so on.
Kayleigh McEnany impresses me as nothing more than a uber-coddled millenial whose parents dashed in front of her at the Country Club to step on dandelion seed heads lest they trip her to the left, or lodge seeds under the laces of her leather Jimmy Choos creating a princess and the dandelion situation. Her appearance must be concerning to Kelly Ann Conway whom she is obviously replacing, much the way Jane Pauley was aged-out from Today by Katy Kouric. Trump like the NBC producers enjoy their younger clones. Many women in America must cringe that these amoral White House opportunists continue to manifest as blonde-haired, blue-eyed women.
Thomas Merton wrote, "The man who lives in division is not a person but only an 'individual'". Trump fits this description so perfectly and yet, even as he tosses one after another of his "friends" and "allies" on the trash heap of his presidency, professional narcissists continue to flock to him either out of purely ideological advantage or out of a deep personal need to be in the shadow of power. The suckers simply don't seem to get the fact that Trump doesn't care about anyone but Trump. After three years there is no evidence to the contrary, not one whit, and yet they keep on coming.
Merton went on to explain his statement in an exquisitely prescient description of the pathology of Donald J. Trump.
"I have what you have not. I am what you are not. I have taken what you have failed to take and I have seized what you could never get. Therefore you suffer and I am happy, you are despised and I am praised, you die and I live; you are nothing and I am something, and I am all the more something because you are nothing. And thus I spend my life admiring the distance between you and me; at times this even helps me forget the other men who have what I have not and who have taken what I was too slow to take and who have seized what was beyond my reach, who are praised as I cannot be praised and who live on my death." Thomas Merton, "New Seeds of Contemplation"
What do we do when the only thing that matters is what is good for me?
We’re there. People are protesting stay at home orders because they feel their rights are infringed upon by being asked to act in the best interest of themselves and their neighbors.
This calamity of humility and kindness was predictable. It takes shape in many ways in our society. A gun store owner or a gun manufacturer and can sell war weapons to anyone for profit. No responsibility for what the buyers do with the weapon. No care at all beyond the profit.
Christian Churches preach prosperity gospels. If you are right with God they preach, He rewards you with cash. It does not matter if that cash comes by lying to the IRS (you’re forgiven) or if you lie to your clients to increase your margin (you’re forgiven), or even if you lie to your wife about where the money came from (you’re forgiven). Prosperity gospel says if you’re rich, and you donate to the church, you are adored by God. If you’re poor, it’s because you’re not right with God.
It’s not what Jesus preached. Matthew 19:21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
People and corporations push drugs. Giant companies knew for years that cigarettes were deadly. They knew opioids were deadly. But they lied about it making millions, killing millions, and the CEOs were paragons of virtue in their community, their church, their clubs and golf courses. They were given Elk’s Clubs awards and were made Master Masons while killing their fellow man, knowingly, purposefully, heartlessly.
Come Donald J. Trump, he cares about nothing more than his standing and that is measured by money and power. He cares about nobody, he cares about nothing except as it reflects on him. Donald J. Trump is the pinnacle of greed, avarice, corruption.
Trump’s devotees now march to announce they want health restrictions relaxed in the name of personal freedom. They don’t care that the virus can run free, kill whom it will, no matter. Adherents to the Trump doctrine care only about their income, their own well-being. They don’t even care if it kills someone close to them so long as it doesn’t hurt their income, they just don’t give a damn.
America is now represented on the world stage by people who say we are well rid of the people who will die of the virus. They are weak, unproductive and they are in the way and should be culled from the herd.
Lieutenant Governor of Texas said this, "No one reached out to me, and said, as a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren? And if that is the exchange, I am all in."
That guy said he was willing to throw himself on the pyre to keep the stock market healthy. Give him an infected swab and ram it up his nose. If these helicopter capitalists believe what they say, that nobody should feel economic pain if a few people have to kick off, they should just shut up and jump on the pyre with a match. Get it over with.
Hubert Humphrey once said, “The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”
Donald Trump and his government fail this moral test. The ever pious Christian right backdrop - Mike Pence - fails with his smirking, head-tilting, pasty supplication. Trump shows nothing but contempt for the most vulnerable. He builds walls. He splits up families. He makes fun of the handicapped. He threatens, degrades and defames. He lies. He de-funds pandemic response teams and the world health organization. He doesn’t give a damn about his neighbor, or anyone else.
And, if each system in gradation roll
Alike essential to th' amazing whole,
The least confusion but in one, not all
That system only, but the whole must fall.
Let earth unbalanc'd from her orbit fly,
Planets and suns run lawless thro' the sky;
Let ruling angels from their spheres be hurl'd,
Being on being wreck'd, and world on world;
Heav'n's whole foundations to their centre nod,
And nature tremble to the throne of God.
All this dread order break- for whom? for thee?
Vile worm!- oh madness! pride! impiety!
(Alexander Pope, Essay on Man, Epistle 1)
Alexander Pope’s "Essay on Man" stuck with me four decades since I read it at University; especially the final four lines.
These past months of the growing devastation caused by this virus reminded me yet again of the fragility of human life and how there is a dread order that we can't pretend we are outside of, above, or better than. We are a small part of the whole, and we are subject to it, part of it, we move with it not against it and moving against it is folly and self-destructive. It does not matter whether you prefer to think of the power we're seeing as God, Universe, or Mother Nature, we're experiencing the truth of a dread order that does not break for us.
I fear this disease outbreak is a warning of things to come with climate change. If it is not too late to change what seemed, prior to the virus, an inevitable and blindly arrogant march toward global warming, perhaps a positive outcome of this outbreak will be improvement in humanity's ability to see ourselves as subject to the dread order of the Universe, answerable and subject to greater powers.
I can't help but wonder whether human collective conscience will awaken now. The "least confusion but in one", is us, humans have acted in a confused way about our rightful place within the whole. Will humans realize the “madness! pride! impiety!” of acting as though we are above, outside, separate from the all-powerful energy of which we are but a small, temporary particle; that we are not the architects but simple caretakers of this singular Eden within a grand Universe?
The hardest thing about the impact of the COVID-19 virus for me is not the sheltering at home or the lack of social interaction or the uncertainty about getting the virus. What haunts me is thinking about the poor souls who are hospitalized, cut off from the people who love them. These people die alone and their loved ones lose them without the opportunity to offer or receive the love, forgiveness, kindness and a proper goodbye that a dying loved one deserves.
I feel the obscenity of this isolated death keenly because I lost my mother in mid-March. During Mom’s last days the restrictions on nursing home visits were tightening but fortunately we were able to still spend the night in her room, hold her hand, kiss her, talk to her, listen to her, calm her, get her what she needed from staff, feed her, give her water, bring her a Taco Bell taco or a Pepsi. She died surrounded by love.
Yes, there are attendants showing compassion to those dying of COVID-19, and they are angels in their own way, but tender family love is not replaced by masked compassion however kind.
COVID-19 is still spreading in the United States and a second cousin in Canada died of it last week. She lived in a nursing home.
But we don’t know who has the virus or doesn’t because there is no testing available to the majority of us, unless we’re rich, powerful, or otherwise well-connected. I tried to get a test last week and I was told that since I am judged to be “asymptomatic” I can’t get tested. The doctor explained there simply are not enough tests to test people without symptoms; this in spite of the president’s declaration that, “Anyone who wants a test can get a test.” A statement more dangerously false than most of what he utters.
The inability of the US Government to design and deploy a testing program in time and with expertise and professionalism is confounding, maddening, discouraging, frustrating and inexcusable. Germany did it, South Korea did it.
Dr. Anthony Faucci tells us from his perch at the National Institutes of Health that asymptomatic people can also be infected and spread the disease. So it logically follows that we must be able to test everyone in order to get back to work and control this disease.
On cable news each night, the mounting Corona virus death toll is reported. I watch this morbid but necessary act of counting and I am drawn back in time to the Vietnam War when the nightly news reported the daily death toll of Americans and Viet Cong. I didn’t understand death as a kid, it was just numbers on the screen, but as an adult my empathy is wrung dry by the absolute awfulness of these families cheated by nature of a chance to say goodbye.