The Death of Truth in the Afternoon

Each afternoon during the impeachment trial, I was reminded of the fragility of truth. Forget “General Hospital,” the Impeachment Trial of Donald John Trump, as some of the networks titled it (as if he wasn’t president), was must-see TV almost every afternoon. Each side had …

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Most of the People

How does a famous quote from Abraham Lincoln stand up today?

Most historians, and people in general, love good old Abraham Lincoln, what with ending slavery and saving the Union and all. But years before then, he was still becoming known for his debating skills (against Stephen A. Douglas) and for some insightful and memorable sayings. One of those, of course, was the following – “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

Great words indeed, no doubt about it. In fact, it apparently was an instant hit even back then, being adopted by companies to use in ads to sell stuff and the like. And, what about today? You would certainly think, that with today’s hyper “connectedness” and mass “technology,” it would be hard to fool any of the people any of the time.

First, let’s look at ‘fooling some of the people all the time,’ you know, probably the ones in “fly-over country” where nobody goes to college and they are all “Trump zombies.” That doesn’t quite fit though, because the only reason they settled on Trump in 2016, is because they were no longer fooled by the Democratic Party, the party that took them for granted and assumed that they owned their votes.

Maybe it’s the people who buy in to everything they see on social media propagated by the Russians? Could be, but there certainly wouldn’t be false information distributed by the elite and all-knowing tech companies via mystery algorithms, would there?

Next, we have ‘fooling all of the people some of the time.’ What would there be in today’s world that could be fooling everyone? Given the fractured nature of the country, it would be hard to put a finger on any one falsehood that could unify us all in a single incident of grand stupidity. It’s not for lack of trying though and could be possible. You see, I think the common-sense portions of our brains grow smaller as technology dependence replaces thoughtfulness. Evolution indeed!

Now for the grand finale of ‘but you cannot fool all the people all the time.’ That would be true if the ruling elite had not figured out a sneaky angle for at least fooling most of the people all the time. It works like this: they make sure, over time, that there are only two dominant and opposing political parties. Next, they ensure that each party’s respective members “know” that all the ills of the world are due to the other party.

As Maxwell Smart might say, “Ah yes, the old divide and conquer trick.” Brilliant. If you have two dominant camps, each needs only to fool their own camp (some of the people) all the time, and the sum of the two equals fooling most of the people all the time, simply with different falsehoods. Fortunately, for the moment anyway, I can say ‘most,’ because there are still a few independent thinkers hanging in there!

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Happy Holidays Vlad

The initial impeachment hearings have wrapped up, and it seems that Russia is still wreaking havoc in the United States. We have an election coming up with “weak” candidates (and maybe one “Russian asset”), an impeachment in progress for a “corrupt” president, a significant portion …

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The Power of the Press: Abusive Power That Is

Again, and again the press plays into the Trump narrative on the “fake news media.” Let’s cut to the chase. Big is bad. The larger and more entrenched an organization is, be it political, private or media, the more corrupt and more protective of itself …

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The Politics of Personal Destruction and Congresswoman Katie Hill

Both sides want to end the politics of personal destruction, except of course, when it benefits their own side. “The politics of personal destruction” is a phrase originating from conservatives that characterize how Democrats personally demonize anyone that they disagree with. Of course, we know …

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Another Fine Mess

In a shocking turn of events President Trump is still acting like President Trump.

For those familiar with the Bachelor reality television series, there is a running claim that host Chris Harrison makes every season. At some point, you can count on him stating that “the current season is the most dramatic and shocking season ever.” He doesn’t even say it with a straight face anymore since everyone knows it’s just something that he always claims, true or not. That’s how the Ukraine “fast-moving” (could be a drinking game every time the press uses that term, scratch that, we don’t condone binge drinking) impeachment story feels.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a serious matter. But please don’t be dismayed if the public yawns a bit at the hyper coverage of the press and the deafening proclamations of the politicians. We have heard this all before, just about every day in fact, since Trump got elected.

The press (excluding Fox News) openly hates the president and maybe with good reason, but it is not their job to openly hate a president. It is their job to play a neutral arbiter of the facts, something for which they seem to have trouble doing. It makes it harder to be on continual “fact check” mode with Trump, and be believed when you have to “amend” too many stories. That gives your enemy (President Trump), an opening to lie even more because he can somewhat rightly claim to his minions that the press cannot be trusted.

At hand is a phone call the president made to the leader of Ukraine asking for help in investigating Biden for wrongdoing. Let me be clear that this is not a good thing, but am I the least bit shocked that this call took place? No. Are the Democrats and the press really asking me to believe that Trump is the first and only President to engage in such underhanded activities? Really?

It would also be easier to buy in to the impeachment inquiries if they were not led by politicians as equally unlikable and idiotic as the President. It’s like an absurdist comedy turned tragedy, as our way of governing is melting down before our eyes, and the press is standing by, gleefully throwing gasoline onto the burning heap of our Republic.

People will say we have to get to the truth of the matter, but the fact is that truth only exists now in the prism of two equally corrupt sides of the political spin machine. The press, unfortunately, has concluded that there are no profits to be made in honest reporting, and so the death spiral continues.

Maybe getting rid of Trump by impeachment is the right thing to do. We can then get back to the way things used to be, where the political natural order can be restored. A place where corruption, lying and stealing can once again be kept more private, within the ruling class. Then we can also pretend that none of the things Trump did ever happened before he came along.

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Sand

The wind has removed itself from our presence
But the sand still lingers, as an obstinate thick fog
Permeating everything it touches
Including my long returning thoughts
More galling, my deepest protected memories

Riding, like Bedouins coming out of the desert
Not seen for an endlessly hopeless time
Once so organized and stored
Now moving again, ever relentless
As grains of sand stinging my leathered face

Each of those grains a dirty nightmare
Of the horse drawn sullied history
Coming out of this tin shack dive bar planet
As if Gertrude Bell herself came home
Drawing boundaries to forever haunt this place

Castles enter and slip away once more
In dreams of ghost riders, swords drawn
Erasing history’s EtchoSketched footprints
Left by kings and queens of purple sage
Tumbling moral virtues into Damascus

Silence breaks the quiet of the sunrise
Spreading like winged camels across Wadi Rum
I saw Mr. Lawrence among the dust strewn bodies
But the magnificent seven would not stand
They slipped away, as time momentarily halted

Disappearing through the Ottoman’s looking glass
Toiling away in the universe’s inner sanctum
As the final notes of Jericho’s horns fade to black
Searching endlessly for the meaning of it all
Only to re-emerge on the broken streets of Babylon

And the sand lingers still

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Sign of the Times

When we can’t even manage a Woodstock 50th Anniversary concert, you know peace and love are out with today’s generation.

It sounded like a fantastic idea in these times of protests, political attacks, talks of wars, racial tensions and cyber-bullying – a major concert event celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock. You know, the event that defined the era of peace and love; where, for a fleeting moment in time, we all seemed to get along, or at least tried to get along. In that moment, music united instead of divided us.

The impact of Woodstock is hard to overestimate. Not only was it a pivotal moment in music history, but Woodstock also helped define the counterculture generation, and it is still widely talked about today. The site of what has been called “3 days of peace and music” has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Joni Mitchell said it best while commenting on the festival, “Woodstock was a spark of beauty where half a million kids saw that they were part of a greater organism.”

It sure would be nice if we took a few lessons from Woodstock in our current environment. Today, with the help of politicians (including the President) and the press, we are accentuating what divides us to increase those divisions. Music was a unifying force in the sixties and that force attempted to spread love vs hate and togetherness vs tribalism.

Enter the original organizer of Woodstock, Michael Lang. Perhaps trying to catch lightning in a bottle twice, he set out with the goal of organizing a 50th Anniversary version of Woodstock.  What a wonderful idea it was. Unfortunately, the problems began almost immediately for the second go-round. The chief financier of the event pulled out quickly and even went so far as to announce that the concert was canceled. This was disputed by the organizers and of course, lawsuits followed.

Lang then tried multiple attempts to shift the venue and revive the concert, but, alas, no one seemed to want them. Lang still planned to hold the event at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Maryland. I know the venue well as it was a prime concert location for us Washington DC teenagers. Another issue was that all previously locked-in acts had been released from their contractual obligations, and there were no confirmed bands performing. In addition, the concert was then listed as being free – Deja vu. And now, the organizers have thrown in the towel and Woodstock is dead.

All in all, the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock’s failure is analogous of today’s political environment – worthy goals, not being achieved, because of in-fighting, divisiveness, lawsuits, and lack of true leadership. Perhaps in today’s environment, we are not only tired of too much “winning,” we are also tired of music, peace and love.

Maybe it’s not too late to save the day. I believe it is time for Michael Lang to call on our president to take a break from winning. Together, they just may be able to make Woodstock great again. I know what you’re thinking: what have I been smoking?

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