Old Dog political perspective

I’m an old dog; I don’t get too excited.
I don’t get caught up in all the mass hysteria.
Tim Howard

This sweet old dog photo courtesy of Morguefile.

This sweet old dog photo courtesy of Morguefile.

I literally made myself ill in 2004 working against a second G.W. Bush/Cheney term, and today saw a photo of the radiant Michelle Obama embracing the loathesome Bush who created the cyle of death and destruction that continues today. Seeing them together like that was a kick to the gut.

And then I realized I shouldn’t be at all surprised.

Michelle’s husband expanded many of the immoral programs Bush put in place (drone program, for example), giving those Republican programs a bipartisan blessing that effectively cemented them as permanent U.S. policies. Now we’re about to have Round Two of a Clinton presidency, and the power structure keeps rolling along.

 An oligarchy runs this country and exploits the rest of the planet, and while it infuriates me, I refuse to make myself sick over it.


A hit of Molly

So keep fightin’ for freedom and justice, beloveds,
but don’t you forget to have fun doin’ it.
Lord, let your laughter ring forth.
Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats,
rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce.

~  Molly Ivins (1944 – 2007)


Just really missing ol’ Molly today. She’d show us the way through all the dumb and ugly raining down on us. She knew the cost of fear.


Endless series of little details

Wine glass


A mountain is composed of tiny grains of earth.
The ocean is made up of tiny drops of water.
Even so, life is but an endless series of little details, actions,
speeches, and thoughts.
And the consequences whether good or bad of even the least of them
are far-reaching.
 ~ Swami Sivananda


On becoming numb and desensitized

I just saw this tweet:
adam johnson iraq tweet

I responded with this:

And now I can’t stop thinking about how for years and years I maintained an Iraq death toll sign in my front yard. Every day I looked up the death tolls for Iraqi civilians and U.S. troops, and changed the numbers on the sign. The sign Zippy and I kept chained to our locust tree after other versions were stolen. The sign that resulted in vandalism and harrassment from people in our neighborhood. The sign that was my voice after my elected “representatives” refused to listen to me and the millions of people around the globe who took to the streets to demand the United States NOT invade Iraq in 2003.

Death toll numbers as of August 8, 2014

Death toll numbers as of August 8, 2014

That photo is from a post on August 8, 2014, when Obama started bombing Iraq some more. I never put it out again despite the ongoing, never-ending death and destruction following the U.S. led invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Which brings me back to Adam H. Johnson’s tweet and my shame.

The corporate elites and imperialists count on us to be apathetic due to overwhelm, but it’s on me that I’ve let the people of Iraq slip off my emotional radar. Just as it’s on me that I’ve pretty much become numb and desensitized to every single instance of death and destruction. I don’t want to feel numb and desensitized, I really don’t. I’d rather be angry and in the streets with a pitchfork.

But everything feels like too fucking much.



Self-Preservation 101

On this election night, I’m taking steps to avoid a full-on freak-out:

  • I vacuumed up the dog hair, cat hair, geranium petals, and miscellaneous debris because I feel less angst when I’m doing something, even if that something is a mundane housekeeping chore.
  • Then I listened to The Clash’s Combat Rock at full volume while lifting weights.
    Combat Rock album cover“Know Your Rights” felt particularly timely and I pumped that iron with a fierce determination.




  • I just remembered the photos I took this morning, of the tenacious cottonwood leaves clinging to the tops of the trees down the hill from me. I’ve been watching and admiring them for the past week and I’m posting them here as a reminder that all the political ignorance and ugly out there right now is no match for nature’s beauty. So take that, climate-change denying authoritarian soulless candidate who might be my next “voice” in the Senate!
    Lone cottonwood leaves 001
  • Beer.
  • Netflix.
  • Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

(And you know what else? In the spirit of self-preservation I’m also gonna quit wasting my time trying to get that effing bullet point to line up where it should line up!)

Friday Five: The Next Chapter

(1) Zippy and Zebu were at the tail-ends of their colds when I got sick two days before we had to start our drive to Washington. Of course. We left on Thursday morning with a big box of ultra-soft tissue and the rental car trunk loaded with Zebu’s stuff. We’d chosen a chevy impala trunkChevy Impala for its impressive trunk capacity and ended up getting one equipped with satellite radio. We drove many of our 1600 miles laughing at comedy routines and only once did I fear for our safety when Lewis Black had Zebu and me (behind the wheel) in tears. I highly recommend comedy for road trips.


(2) Zippy and I are now officially empty nesters (if you discount the two dogs and two cats), and I’m handling the transition pretty well. We arrived back home late Sunday night and while I did wash my face and brush my teeth on Monday, I spent the day in my jammies on the couch, watching flawless movie stillmovies (Party Girl with Parker Posey and Flawless with Philip Seymour Hoffman, pictured here with Robert DeNiro), some television (The Mindy Project and Californication), and staring into space. I’ve since roused myself, put on real clothes, and rejoined society.

(3) Now that we have Zebu settled at college, I can no longer put off finishing my YA. I thought my slow progress was solely due to feelings of trepidation regarding what happens when a manuscript is polished Daggerand ready to go (something that feels like the equivalent of putting my heart on a platter so that others can stab it over and over again), but a couple days ago I had an epiphany about my slow progress. I haven’t just been procrastinating in an act of self-preservation, but have been writing slowly because I was headed in the wrong direction. I thought I knew the ending, but I did not. Rather, I knew the final scene but had a few key details wrong. I believe my middle-office mind knew that and was patiently waiting for me to wake up to the truth of the story.

(4) I applied to and was accepted into the Rutgers One-On-One Plus Conference held next month, which is another motivator for finishing my manuscript. Yikes.

(5)  I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing, but as a result of all the preparations and then the emotional aftermath of getting Zebu off to school, I’ve largely ignored the fear-mongering and bloodlust dominating the airwaves. May I just say, for the record, that I am so very tired of the U.S. government thinking it can end fundamentalist ideology by bombing it out of existence? It hasn’t worked before and it won’t work now. Also? Not only is it stupid, this latest bombing is illegal. But, hey, we’re Team USA! However, . . .


Major Regret OR I Told Me So

Even though I saw it coming, Obama’s recent budget proposal to cut Social Security benefits via a Chained CPI makes me want to puke.


Cutting benefits for society’s most vulnerable is a callous act. It’s cruel and unnecessary, and I’m deeply ashamed I voted for Obama in November. I knew this was coming and yet I caved at the final hour and cast my vote for someone who is clearly not a Democrat because of my disgust for the Republicans’ voter suppression campaign.

I wish there was a time machine that would give me a redo so that I could cast my vote for someone who doesn’t help the rich get richer at the poor’s expense. Alas, no such device exists and I must live with my vote. And if I’m ever again tempted to vote for someone who clearly doesn’t care about the powerless, I need only remember this sick feeling in my gut. In the meanwhile, I’m making sure my “representatives” know where I stand on a Chained CPI.

Iraq War Veteran Tomas Young’s Last Letter

This week marks the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Millions of people in the U.S. and around the world took to the streets in opposition to the invasion. We wrote letters and made phone calls to our so-called representatives in this so-called democracy. We knew an invasion would be a crime against humanity.

I was in San Francisco on spring break with my young family when the first bombs were dropped on Baghdad. Protesters chained themselves in the streets, outraged by what our government was doing in our name. We knew it was a crime, but the people in power did not care. They still don’t care. That invasion didn’t affect their lives except to make them richer and expand their power base. Fear and greed ruled that day, as it continues to rule.

Please read this powerful letter to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney from a man who paid the ultimate price for their invasion (from Truthdig – The Last Letter):

Tomas Young

Tomas Young

The Last Letter

To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
From: Tomas Young

I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.

I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some one million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all – the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.

I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans – my fellow veterans – whose future you stole.

Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.

I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level – moral, strategic, military and economic – Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.

I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.

I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.

My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.

To: Mr. Tomas Young                                                                                                             From: Tracy Abell

I am so very, very sorry. I wish you peace and comfort.