This is a re-post from a previous blog.  I wrote this after we put our dog Rainey to sleep. That was two years ago today. She was our cherished little girl. When she passed I changed my Facebook profile picture, using one from her last day. I can’t bring myself to change that picture. We have our Lexi now. We never expected Lexi to replace Rainey just like we never expected Rainey to replace our first Gordon, Phantom. They’re all special in their own way.  This post was the last in a series of posts about our Rainey in my blog An American Boomer’s Life.

 

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

It’s been a month since the Saturday that began with such great promise.  I’d managed to get myself up early and got in a good run; 40 minutes, pouring sweat and feeling exhausted.  Not the “I think I’m going to die,” exhausted. It was the kind of exhaustion that makes you feel great knowing it was damned good effort. Longest run in as far back as I could recall. It was going to be a good day.  Changed into a dry shirt and headed for Starbuck’s for morning coffee.  The Starbuck’s drill on a Saturday morning is to cruise by and peek inside.  Yeah, lined up to the door.  Never mind the coffee, I needed to get home to see how our dog Rainey did overnight. When I walked in she was lying in the downstairs bedroom.  She sensed that I was home and struggled to get up on her three legs to greet me; a good sign.

Then came the screams.

Something was causing her unbearable pain.  She would try to stand and then something set off pains somewhere causing her to go into a writhing panic. With our help, she hopped over to the family room and I held her and eased her into a comfortable position. I noticed that her hind legs were splaying out to the side when she tried to get up.  And so one of us supported her front end with a strap under her chest while the other stabilized her on her hind legs. Cora told me that Rainey had a similar episode while I was out running. After that early morning occurrence Cora gave Rainey ¾ of an Acepromazine tab; a sedative that normally would have her loopy. She was also wearing a fresh Fentanyl patch that should have kicked in the day before.  She should have been completely pain free.

That patch was from a visit to the Sage Emergency Clinic 2 days earlier after a similar fit of pain. I didn’t even try to walk her to the car that evening so I gave her a sedative and when it kicked in Cora and I rolled Rainey onto one of the dog beds and used it as a stretcher.  At the clinic the vet checked everything; the amputation site looked good; vital signs were all good; blood flow to the other limbs was normal.  The only issue was a rapid heartbeat which didn’t alarm the doctor. He suggested that Rainey’s pain might be phantom pains of the leg she no longer had. Before we left I asked the vet if they could apply another Fentanyl patch and he obliged.  We figured that this would get us through the few days until the following Thursday for the appointment to check the surgical site.  Like every other hunch we’d had over the past few weeks this one went as badly as the others.

And so two days later there we were.  Cora sitting at the kitchen table; me on the floor with our girl who was having excruciating pain that she couldn’t describe.  That’s the way it is with pets isn’t it?  Most of the times you’re kind of glad that they can’t talk because you figure that they’d be calling you out for your bad behavior, and then telling you a moment later what a wonderful person you are. And then there are those times when you’d give anything for them to suddenly develop a gift of gab.

There are times when you feel an unrelenting and unwanted reality closing in and you can’t do a thing about it; boxed in, utterly helpless.  We obviously couldn’t wait until the Thursday appointment. I considered calling Sage for an emergency appointment.  But what were they going to tell us that they didn’t 2 days before?  I considered calling Sage for advice.  I considered driving there by myself just for advice. By then I was crying because down in my gut I knew that what I really wanted was for someone to tell me if it was time or not.  Cora wasn’t going to help me with that.  In the end she’d acquiesce but I’d be the one to make the decision.  Two weeks prior, Dr. Richardson, one of the Sage veterinarians told me that it was time and so I’d made the appointment for Rainey to be put down, only to cancel when she started hopping around on her three good legs, looking playful and spry again – at least as spry as you could with one bad leg.  It was then that we’d decided on the amputation of her front left leg and what would be a subsequent chemo regimen.

I pleaded to Cora that I didn’t know what to do.  She responded that we had an appointment for Thursday and I reminded her that the appointment was to check the surgical site.  “And what are we going to do about the pain for 5 days?  I added.  “The patch and sedative aren’t doing anything.”

“So are you going to euthanize her?”

“I don’t know, Cora.  I just don’t know.”

And I didn’t.  I didn’t know if it was phantom pains or if her hind legs were cramping or if she was simply panicking because she just couldn’t stand.  All I knew was that I didn’t know.  What I knew at that moment was the promise that I’d made to myself for Rainey years before when I vowed that if she would ever have to be put to sleep it would be in her home and not at a veterinary clinic.  And so on this Saturday morning I knew that my window for making a decision was small.  I was pretty certain that I could get someone there that day if I had to.  I was equally certain that I wouldn’t get anyone for Sunday, meaning two more days of pain, panic and anxiety for Rainey until Monday. Stalling was only shrinking that day’s window.  The alternative was to wait out the day and if necessary have the euthanasia done at Sage in that little room with the “Quiet” sign on the door.  It was furnished to look like a living room but it was still the vet.  Dogs, even blind ones, know the difference between home and the vet.

I ran through every possibility that I could think of and realized that the path had played itself out with nowhere to go and no turning back; no money that I threw at this would buy a solution; no more hopes to float; no more prayers to send.  Sometimes decisions make themselves.  You mull through options and without realizing it you’ve discarded all but one; good or bad, right or wrong a decision transpires.  Its at times like this that you put yourself on an unemotional autopilot and do what you have to do with or without the realization that when it’s done you’ll drown in a wave of hurt. I did that some 20 years ago when my mom suddenly died.  Nobody but me to plan a funeral, keep my dad on some sort of even keel and tend to the visiting relatives.  You just do and when it’s done you allow the collapse into exhaustion and grief.

I walked over to Cora who knew by now where this was all going and, she tried desperately to steer us away from the inevitable. Cora is that person that will spend hour upon hour scouring the internet and since Thursday night she’d done just that, hoping for an answer to jump off the computer screen at her. I sat down next to her and listened while she told me that she’d read articles and blogs suggesting that sometimes it can take months for dogs to get used to three legs.  “She’s still weak.  She has to gain her strength.”

“Yeah but she has to start chemo for the cancer,” I reminded.

Cora responded, “Rainey can’t do the chemo until she’s strong.”

“Then the cancer takes over.”

And that’s when even Cora who’d tried to hold out for that further out end was coming to realization. She just stared blankly ahead; a thousand yard stare focusing on the gameboard with no moves left – checkmate.

I placed a call to the man who was supposed to have euthanized Rainey two weeks before.  Voicemail.  I left a message but continued to look for a vet who did euthanasia at homes.  I finally found one nearby and checked reviews realizing that if Yelp was ever going to be worth a damn then this was that time.  I checked the website carefully and it all looked acceptable.

I called, a woman answered and I blubbered. Nonsense followed by a questioning voice on the other end. I tried mightily to remain calm and coherent and then I handed the phone to my daughter who turned out to be the rock of the family that day.  Jessica would be my strength during the times when I would stumble.

“What time do you want her to come over?”

Oh God what a question.  I wanted now, NOW so that there can’t be a moment of weakness. I wanted never – ever. I went to check with Cora who had gone outside to water the garden.  She was in her coping mode – keeping herself busy to keep from losing it all.  Her sister and our nephew wanted to come to say goodbye.  Carrie and Carl had often watched Rainey when Cora and I went on trips.  They were members of Rainey’s pack. Our neighbor Sandy also wanted to come and say goodbye.  Sandy also helped out during our vacations.  I went back in, “One o’clock” I blurted. That gave us about 3 and half hours.

Rainey always loved the upstairs particularly during the day when the rooms were less bright than the downstairs and her day blindness wasn’t so much of a handicap for her.  When she didn’t relax in her crate that she considered her little apartment, or with her family downstairs she would go upstairs and sleep in our bedroom or perch at the top of the stairs.  After her foot surgery she was banned from the upstairs until we relented and helped her get to her favorite place.  After her amputation there could be no way to get her upstairs.  Still there were times when she went to the gate at the bottom of the stairs and stood on wobbly legs as if pleading to be allowed up.  She seemed desperate and a few days after Rainey was gone my son Matt offered that maybe our Rainey knew that she was dying.

And so, on this day I decided that Rainey’s last moments would be in her cherished upstairs.  Jessica and I gently got Rainey on the dog bed and carried her upstairs. And there I lay down next to her, where I would be for the entire time, talking to her, petting her; rubbing her head and smoothing those floppy ears.  Lying beside her I could tell that she was weary; but not so much so that she couldn’t manage to tap her tail slowly on the floor; a languid thump, thump, thump. I occasionally looked at my watch to see time slipping away.  At times Rainey’s breathing grew shallow and I thought that she might be dying.  “Stay with me girl,” I would say even as I harbored a hope that she would slip away on her own.  In one of her visits upstairs Cora offered the same thought; “I don’t want that injection,” she said.

Rainey tried to get up and I tried gently to keep her still and coax her out of it but she was having none of that and then whatever pain or panic that was afflicting her struck again; she screamed and writhed and I eased her into a comfortable position on my pillow with my left arm around her.  I embraced her with my left arm, stroked her head with my right hand and talked quietly to her.  We stayed there and I held her in that position for some time.  Half hour; forty-five minutes?  I don’t know. I held her until Sandy came to pay her respects.

Sandy calmly stroked Rainey’s head and spoke in quiet tones reassuring her that one day we would all be together again.  Cora showed Sandy to the door and the two talked on the front porch, of what I’m not certain but likely it was Sandy trying to reassure Cora that what we were doing was the right thing.

Once again Rainey tried to move and once again she was hit with pain and once again I eased her into a comfortable position and calmed her down again.  Cora came back with some dog treats and fed them to her one by one.  After the last of the treats she soaked a paper towel with water and let the water run into Rainey’s mouth.  She repeated this devotion several times until Rainey’s thirst was satisfied.  This was only one instance of the reverent attention that Cora had given over the past few weeks.  She had iced the amputation site, applied warm compresses, fed Rainey by hand and I imagine had prayed a thousand rosaries on Rainey’s behalf.  For my part, I slept on the floor by Rainey’s side at night and sat outside on the back patio with her in the cool evenings.  I was the pill dispenser.  We tried all sorts of vehicles to get Rainey to take meds and when sticking a pill in a dog treat or plastering it with peanut butter and jam didn’t work I had to pry open the jaws and put the pills on her tongue.  Sometimes I would return to find a pill sitting next to her and the process was repeated.

Another of the endless glances at my watch; 12:45 and it was all closing in.  Carrie and Carl arrived to pay their respects.  One o’clock was impending and I retrieved some strips of bacon that I’d cooked earlier.  I fed them to Rainey in small pieces and my sister in law asked, “She likes bacon?” In the only light moment of the day my wife and I looked at her somewhat incredulously and said as one, “Everybody likes bacon.”

One o’clock and there was an almost inaudible knock on the door.  Doctor Ivey entered with a small bag and gigantic heart.  She spoke in quiet tones as I led her upstairs to our bedroom. She knelt down and petted Rainey and remarked that she looked tired and yes it was her time.  I saved the doctor that awkward moment and asked her, “Shall we do the paperwork first?”

I’d earlier downloaded and filled out all the forms and all that was left to do was the payment.  Then there was nothing more but to proceed.  Cora refused to be there and she left to busy herself with something – anything. As so it was me, Dr. Ivey, my nephew Carl, sister in law Carrie and my daughter Jessica all seated on the floor.  Dr. Ivey started to explain the procedure. I was at the point where I wanted to get it done and I was about to tell her that I’d already read about it but I realized that the others in the room had not.  And so she described the 3 injections. The first would be a mild sedative administered gently under the skin.  The second would be a stronger sedative to induce a deep sleep and then the third would be an overdose of anesthetic to stop the breathing and the heart.  She instructed that she would pause after each step and ask me when I wanted to proceed to the next.

I asked for the door to the bedroom to be locked so that the grandchildren wouldn’t enter.  I also instructed cell phones to be silenced and then told Dr. Ivey that she could start.  Rainey lay with her head on my lap.  Even before the first injection she was almost asleep; likely the work of the Fentanyl and the oral sedative.

Some minutes after the first injection the doctor asked if she should proceed to the next.  “Yes.”

She administered the second and I moved around to lie in front of Rainey with my face in front of hers and spoke in soft tones. I wanted her to know that I was there; that I would be her last sight and her last scent.  Her eyes were open and pointed at me but I don’t know even know if she was seeing me.

I told Dr. Ivey that she could give the third injection.  It couldn’t have been a minute when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw her take out a stethoscope. “She’s at peace now.”  I never saw a last breath; never saw a twitch.  Her eyes never closed. She was there one second and in the blink that never happened – gone.  I hope that in the end she saw me and that she went away with the understanding of my love for her.

I don’t even know what happened after that except that I was lost in sobbing.  At some point everyone except my daughter had left and I only knew she was there because I felt her hand on my shoulder. She asked if I wanted to be alone and I spent some final moments with my best friend.  I imagined for a moment that I saw her chest rise – still alive?  I put my hand in front of her nose – nothing. I closed her eyes and left the room.  Cora entered and was inconsolable. “Rainey, I would have taken care of you.”

The rest of the day was more or less a gray fog. At some time in the evening I drove down to the bayside and took a walk and looked longingly at people with their dogs.  It was a short walk.  I suppose that in years past I would have stopped at the bottle shop and picked up a bottle of bourbon to jump into. I had the wherewithal to realize that my doctor had put the skids to that behavior. And so I stopped at CVS on the way home for something to binge on.  I got home and finished off the two bags of licorice and a fair portion of a carton of chocolate ice cream.

Yeah it was done.  That afternoon’s wave of grief had started to lap against me long before that day.  It wasn’t weeks old or months old.  It didn’t begin when her paw became infected or when the vet told us of Rainey’s heart murmur.  The crash of pain that I would feel on that last day was once a mere ripple months before when I noticed her activity slowing and her muzzle graying and I realized that her clock was ticking inexorably to an end that I knew was closing in.  It’s the end that never crosses your mind when your puppy chews up your socks,  pees on the carpet and “washes your face” with a thousand licks.

Even as I write this I have my doubts.  Did I do the right thing?  I know that question will always return.  And I know that I’ll always return to that played out path with no way out. And I realize that I’ll never really know the answer.  Cora was quiet the next day as she watered the plants.  I asked her if she was mad at me and she said no, “I just don’t like the injection.” In the end it was my decision and she acquiesced and that’s okay because in the end we didn’t argue. It would have been a perversion to argue over our dog’s life.  I know that she will continue to turn the moves over in her mind and she’ll always come to the same checkmate.

There is a poem called Rainbow Bridge that tells us that our pets are in a better place waiting to greet us when our own time comes. I hope that this is true. I want so much to see my big girl, sighted and whole again.

But if that’s not to be I want to believe, I have to believe, that when she passed, Rainey went to that place and was met by her mother Piper and our long passed dog Phantom. I can almost see Phanton run up to her,  “Hi Rainey. Look at these fields. There are birds everywhere. You can run and chase them all day long. And when you get tired you can drink from this stream and rest under these trees. And when you look deep into the waters you can see your people. They love you and miss you.”  If there’s anything, any one thing that’s right with the universe it’s that these loving, magnificent creatures live on in spirit in a beautiful happy place.

It’s a month later.  We received her ashes in a little cedar box engraved, Rainey, Chasing birds in heaven. I don’t cry so much now but I’m saddened almost every day when I’m reminded that my friend of so many years is gone.  It might be looking down when I get out of bed to make sure I’m not stepping on her.  It might be going up the stairs to bed and expecting her to be waiting at the top, nose off the edge of the landing and tail thumping. I don’t ever want the hurt to go away so that she’s relegated to another of life’s events.  She was my faithful friend for a fifth of my life.  Rainey became a part of the family when my daughter was a senior in high school and lived to see my daughter blow out the candles on her 30th birthday cake and know Jessica’s own children.

But, as I told my friend Scott, I think I have one more dog in me.  It’s lonely on those sunrise walks now.  I know that this coming winter’s fireplace will be incomplete without a dog curled by the bricks. There is nothing that can match an exuberant tail that knocks a drink off the coffee table; the surprise of a cold nose on the back of your neck or a sloppy dog kiss on your cheek.  Dogs enrich our lives; so much so that the pain of parting is made worthwhile by the love and companionship they give us in their too short time.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

The Rainbow Bridge Poem ~ author unknown

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First Meeting

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Pretty Girl

Swimming Rainey

At Dog Beach in San Diego

Rainey and the running shoe

Running Shoes Multipurposed

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In her last days

You just wait;

He’s gonna skate.

And there’s the extent of my poetic skills. Twenty four hours ago, at this writing, I hoped that there would be justice, poetic or otherwise, but I knew in my mind, my heart, my soul that this would blow over. Twenty four hours ago the ruckus over Trump’s Helsinki press conference was universal. Even some Republicans were holding Trump up as a cross between Aaron Burr, Benedict Arnold and John Walker. All except in Russia where they were probably having free caviar and vodka day in celebration of an American president giving Vladimir Putin a public blow job.

There were cries of treason, incompetence, impeachment and the 25th Amendment. Trump certainly couldn’t survive that inglorious press conference in which a sitting American President looked for all the world, and to all the world, like a bootlicking little sissy compared to the domineering KGB officer.

It started with John McCain, “Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory, The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.”

Ryan Costello, R-Pa. “I haven’t seen anything that was so weak and so pathetic as that press conference.”

Even Paul Ryan, seemed to temporarily locate one of his longtime missing balls, “Vladimir Putin does not share our interests. Vladimir Putin does not share our values.They did interfere in our elections. It’s really clear. There should be no doubt about that.” He made this statement at his weekly presser which could more accurately described as his weakly presser.

Social media was blowing up with outrage. This was surely the end of the Trump presidency. The deafening sound of crickets was coming out of Air Force One and later the White House. Would Trump even dare to show his face ever again? I suggested to my wife that this was so bad that Mike Pompeo should just leave a loaded revolver on Trump’s desk and let him do the honorable thing and go out like those disgraced Russian officers in the movies.  How could he possibly survive this? How could he survive Arnold the “governator” calling Trump a “wet noodle.” Oh, how indeed.

First of all the condemnation wasn’t at all universal. Some Republicans seemed to have been watching something completely different from what the rest of the world was watching with mouths agape.

Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-La.), I thought he did a good job.”

Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), The good news is there was a summit.”

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), called it perfect.”

Second and most importantly, I’ve seen this movie before. It’s like those Westerns in which the bad guys terrorize (choose one), a sodbuster, a sheep rancher, the weakling who struck a vein of gold, a rich widow or a town full of cowardly men. It’s the same basic plot with slightly different characters and circumstances but these movies all come out the same. So, yeah I’ve seen this plot before, in the form of, “they’re (Mexicans) bringing drugs,” “blood coming out of her (Megyn Kelly) whatever,” “grab em by the pussy,” and Charleston’s “very fine” Nazis. Outrage, demonstrations, he’s plumbed the absolute depths and he can’t last after this.  And yet – he does; last that is. Why should this potboiler end any differently?

I went to bed hoping that everyone but the die hard sycophants and snake oil addicts would say we’ve reached bottom and figure there’s only one way to go but up. That’s what Chris Cuomo said. “We’ve reached bottom.” But I knew in a gut that was boiling with anger and outrage that this probably isn’t the bottom and even if it is bedrock bottom, Trump will somehow escape demise to wreak havoc and terror again, just like that guy with the hockey mask in that series of slasher movies.

And so Trump said with a grin; 

Wiping Putin’s cum from his chin, 

“Let’s do damage control.”

I guess after a few suggestions were floated around someone came up with the “my dog ate my homework,” countermeasure. Hell if it’s good enough for a 10 year old kid it must be good enough for the President of the United States. Right?

And so 28 hours after the train wreck, Trump came out of hiding and explained it all away saying that he misspoke in one of his answers.

The question?  

“Just now President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every US intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did. My first question for you, sir, is who do you believe? My second question is would you now with the whole world watching tell President Putin — would you denounce what happened in 2016 and would you warn him to never do it again?”

And then came the answer that had Republicans from sea to shining sea putting their heads between their knees to stave off those panic attacks. “I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this. I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

So Trump claimed that he just missed the contraction wouldn’t and said would instead. He didn’t mention all the other instances in which he tossed America under the bus. To add insult to injury he read his statement and looked so strained and unconvincing that a commentator likened it to a hostage’s forced statement. CNN’s Erin Burnett asked what should be a reasonable question, “How stupid does he think we are?”  But these aren’t reasonable times. 

Erin, he was elected President of the United States so let me turn the question to you, “How fucking stupid do you think we are?”  And we’re not getting much smarter. When I heard Trump’s lame excuse I had no doubt that the GOP was reveling in that immense sense of relief that you feel after you’ve dropped off your date and you can finally let out that massive fart that’s been percolating in your belly for 2 hours. Yeah, Trump farted and it’s all good now.

And so the Republicans got a hall pass. They’ve been spared that bothersome scavenger hunt for their backbones.

One of the first up was that annoying little poodle dog Marco Rubio who yipped, “I’m just glad he clarified it. I can’t read his intentions or what he meant to say at the time. suffice it to say that for me as a policy maker, what really matters is what we do moving forward.”

Bob Portman of Ohio, I take him at his word if he said he misspoke, absolutely.” How stupid are we Erin Burnett? Well this clown takes Donald J. Trump at his word!.

I listened to a Trump sycophant named Michael Caputo on CNN swallow Trump’s would/wouldn’t bait, hook, line and sinker, while swiping at the media for hitting the President with a “gotcha” question. Yeah it was a real brain twister, even for a stable genius.

Today there were calls for Congressional investigations, a bill to force Trump to release his tax returns and a push to question the translator who was in the meeting with Trump and Putin. And I’m sure all of that’s going to happen – on the 35th of Octember. Shit’s not going to happen. The Republicans are going to say that we need to put this misstep behind us and come together as a nation. Hey Erin, “How stupid?”  

Over 80% of Republicans think Trump is doing just fine thank you and so the Republicans in the House and Senate continue to shake in their oxfords, keep their morals and their love of country in deep freeze and do the bidding of Donald J. Trump even with the full knowledge that when the history of this era is written they will be among the damned.

Yesterday as the drama was unfolding and America was being sold down the river by a charlatan, I hinted on Facebook that this would blow over. A friend responded, “I do not think it will, my friend. Many Repubs. are calling him out. And who will believe him when he blames Obama for mess he created?”

I would love for this to be the beginning of Trump’s end, but while I wish for a good ending I don’t get my hopes up anymore. I’m like the Cleveland Browns fan who yearns for a Super Bowl and watches with hope all the while knowing that each season is the same recurring tragedy starting with his team drafting a bust in the making at quarterback who will lead his team to another league worst finish so that they can draft another bust in the making at quarterback.  

This thing is going to have the shelf life of an avocado. In a couple of weeks most Americans won’t know Helsinki from Moscow. How do I know this? Well, have you heard anything about those immigrant children lately?

Maybe it was just me. Maybe I didn’t sleep well the night before. Maybe I just, as the saying goes, woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Maybe it was taking a peek out the window and seeing a windy, overcast, gloomy Fourth of July morning. Not as if this weather was any different from most Fourth of July mornings in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you want a traditionally warm Fourth, then San Francisco is not the place for you. The cold wind pretty much took the barbecue ribs off the menu. I’m done with trying to do low and slow ribs while fighting a cold wind. That’s okay because unlike most years, we weren’t hosting the usual family gathering. Maybe it was a little bit of all of it. I just wasn’t feeling Independence Day this year.

As I said in a previous post I don’t consider myself patriotic in the traditional sense of the word. To me the conventional notion of patriotism smacks of that old “my country right or wrong” dogma. By and large I think that in theory we have a pretty good system going. That’s in theory. In practice America has had its share of blunders that would belie what we’re supposed to stand for. For most of my life I’ve always held on to a belief bordering on hope that when the ship of state starts to drift, the system will get us back on course. Our unique little experiment and our traditional ideals have always inspired the pride that every Independence Day has had me hanging the flag in front of our home. There was no flag this year.

I didn’t go to our little town’s Fourth of July parade this year. I did go to the celebration at the community park but only because my granddaughter was performing. I wandered around the park among young and old dressed in their patriotic garb. In a way I envied their spirit and their optimism. Maybe they know something I don’t. Or maybe they’re walking around in red, white and blue blinders. And then there’s the depressing reality that some of those people in their Uncle Sam hats and flag pins, waving mini Old Glories actually think we’re doing just fine thank you. MAGA baby – MAGA.  I was just thankful that they didn’t do a flag raising and a National Anthem because in my mind I was ready to just take a seat. 

So while the weather was downright frigid, the ribs put back in the freezer for another day and the family balkanized I know the reason for these doldrums. It’s the second Fourth of July of the Trump regime.

It was different a year ago. The bullshit was only about ankle deep then and I guess there was some hope that Trump would completely implode, throw in the towel or a smoking gun would turn up to seal his doom. God, maybe he could bump his head and jar something in that orange melon that would make him act like some facsimile of a President. But we got none of that. The tide of shit just continued to rise. 

I guess it’s about waist high by now. By the New Year 2018 it seemed that surely the depths had been plumbed. I mean how much lower could things really go? Silly me, how low indeed.

A sham of a summit with Kim Jong Un in which the master dealmaker apparently got schooled.

A trade war with our traditional friends while we cozy up to despots.

Immigrant children being separated from parents with no real plan in place to reunite the families. A policy that’s shamed America in the eyes of the world.

An administration that makes Tammany Hall look like Camelot.

Justice Kennedy resigning under some suspicious circumstances leaving our bush leaguer to select yet another Supreme Court Justice.

A boondoggle of a tax bill that enriched the already rich while bending everyone else over.

An Attorney General who justifies his malignant actions by quoting the Bible.

An America that has lost its status as a world leader and has in fact become an embarrassing laughing stock.

The consistent whittling away of American values and quite frankly human values.

A Republican Party leadership that has completely, brazenly and unapologetically abdicated any morality that it might have had and in the process stabbed America in the back. Oh and they continue to plunge the knife.

A Republican Party rank and file that’s perfectly okay with the ruination of a once great nation.

And finally a daily enema of lies from Trump and his lackeys with absolutely no misgivings about being caught

And I have this dread that come the midterms the Democratic Party will carry on it’s tried and true tradition of stepping on it’s own collective dick and getting motorboated.

And this was just the short list. The bottom is nowhere to be seen. To me a happy, proud and patriotic Fourth of July has become a distant memory; faded away into a fog of time and drowned in a bog of corruption and deceit.

The ship of state is most certainly adrift and bearing down on an icebreaker and the ship’s captain’s headed for the lifeboats. In my dreams I’m hearing the strains of Nearer My God To Thee.

It’s as if Trump is waging a four years long rope a dope. And the worst part about this is that I feel like he’s winning. Waiting to land a right cross in November and the knockout punch in 2020. I dread the prospect of another 2 Independence Days like this one or God forbid another 6. If that happens we might want to start thinking about dusting off the tri-cornered hats and loading our muskets.

I’m hearing the booming of fireworks over the nearby hills. Fourth of July 2018 is in its final throes. I’m ready for the fifth. In fact I think we have a fifth of something in the liquor cabinet. Dear God do I need a drink. 

It was one of those American family traditions. Get into the family station wagon or some other version of that 60’s pride of America – big Detroit steel – to head for the fireworks stand. It was one of those warm up acts to the main performer – the big holiday; like getting the turkey before Thanksgiving or going to the tree lot to get a Christmas tree. The fireworks stands popped up around mid-June, looking a little mysterious with the wire mesh over the front and a small slot where you conducted your business. There were all sorts of explosive options to be had. Starting at the top were the big giant block party boxes with enough gunpowder to take down a small bridge. The assortments scaled down from there. As a kid your standing in the neighborhood was in direct proportion to the size of your family’s fireworks assortment.

I guess it was around the late 70’s – early 80’s when the local cities started banning the “safe and sane” fireworks. For my part what that did was to take safe fireworks out of the hands of reasonable people and leave the private celebrations in the hands of the knot heads who go out and buy rockets and mortars and shit that can blow the very ass off you or start a ten thousand acre fire. These are the half wits who would be trotting out the heavy artillery regardless of the availability of “safe and sane” fireworks. .

I remember driving along the Great Highway that fronts San Francisco’s Pacific shoreline one Fourth of July and the sky over the beach was alight with rockets and starbursts. “Oh look, they’re doing a reenactment of the Normandy Invasion. Isn’t that Tom Hanks crouching in the sand out there?”

We arrived home with the box of fireworks and I’d peek through the cellophane window in the front of the box to get a better look at the cones and fountains with names like Piccolo Pete, California Candle, Yankee Doodle Salute, and Apollo Mystery Cone. My friends and I would get together and compare notes on which house had the bigger assortment. Sort of like politicians comparing “hand size” except on a more innocent and less testosterone fueled note.

Americans tend to view Independence Day just like other holidays. That is they like the holiday a hell of a lot, they just don’t know why the fuck they have it. You know, Christmas is supposed to be about Jesus but that whole thing’s been picked through so that what we have left is spending the night before Thanksgiving in line at WalMart; Memorial Day is to pay homage to the war dead but it’s more or less celebrated as the first camping weekend of the year.

And then there’s the Fourth of July which commemorates some guy name Kingsford inventing the charcoal briquette. Okay that’s not true, but too many Americans don’t know what Independence Day is all about.  I checked out a Marist Poll from 2011 and the results are as I might have expected.

A mere 58% of residents know that the United States declared its independence in 1776.  26% waffled on the question, and 16% mentioned another date.

As to who the United States declared independence from, only 76% answered Great Britain.

After reading the poll I could only repeat my dear departed mother’s frustrated words, “Well isn’t that a fine kettle of fish.”

On the actual Fourth of July, our parents let us break open the box of fireworks early in the day so that we could light the Snakes which were little black tabs that looked like licorice candy that when lit cork screwed out into a charcoal “snake.” We usually lit the Piccolo Pete during the day because as a display of sparks it was pretty weak. So the afternoon quiet was broken by shrieks from around the neighborhood.

I’m not surprised that Americans get Abe Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson confused with say, Babe Ruth. That Americans’ ignorance about American history doesn’t shock me doesn’t make it less concerning. One of America’s most cherished rights is the vote. The citizens pick their leaders from city council to president. Voting is a weighty responsibility. We the people have the responsibility of evaluating our leaders with regard to their adherence to and protection of the ideals that our nation was founded upon. Not to mention other minor shit like keeping us out of World War III. How are you supposed to know if our prospective leaders are going to keep the country moving in the right direction if you don’t know the direction it took originally and whether or not it’s stayed the course since inception?

If you don’t even know who that Jefferson guy was then you’re way the hell behind the curve. 

As my my own public service, let me reveal that the Jefferson guy was Thomas Jefferson. He was America’s 3rd President but before that he was tasked to draft the Declaration of Independence which was formally adopted on July 4th 1776. The vote for independence was actually taken on July 2nd and passed by a vote of 12 of the 13 colonies. He was also a slaver and as such a hypocrite of major proportions. But he did come up with some pretty heady stuff in that Declaration. 

So while I know that this is going to come as a real eye opener to many, the Fourth of July is not about the Coney Island hot dog eating contest or getting sick on too much strawberry shortcake or having too many shots of Jim Beam and then playing with explosives and forevermore being known as ol’ nine finger; it’s all about The Declaration of Independence (No, not The Constitution which came 13 years later).

And then there were the firecrackers – a horse of a different color. When we got older and parents were relatively certain that we wouldn’t blow ourselves or one of the neighborhood cats up we were allowed to light firecrackers. How firecrackers made it into our quiet, whitebread suburban neighborhood was a bit of a dark mystery. It sort of went like this; somebody’s cousin had a friend who had a brother whose friend knew a guy in San Francisco who knew a shopkeeper in Chinatown who had a connection with a merchant seaman who got them in the black market in Macau and then sold them under the table. It was all very sinister. We handled the firecracker packet with the proper reverence due a stolen foreign secret weapon.

Maybe a valuable family activity on this Fourth of July is before you crack open your third bottle of Bud you crack open The Declaration and read it. It’s not a long read but it is a valuable read.

But don’t just read it. Try to take yourself back. 242 years ago these guys in their goofy looking waistcoats and those silly powdered wigs got together, took a deep breath a big swig of mead or whatever the hell they drank back then and essentially said, ‘If we’re going to do this shit, then let’s just get it done.’ And so they signed it and published it. It was an unimaginable sort of thing; the 18th century version of Bob fucking Dylan going electric. These men, these signers of the Declaration were standing up to the most powerful empire in the world. It took some real testicular fortitude to stand up for some ideals that they believed in.

And what do we have now? Certainly no fortitude, testicular or otherwise. What we’ve been left with is too many feckless, cowardly politicians who are too concerned with feathering their own nests and retaining the jobs that they don’t do, than in doing the right thing by the revolutionaries of more than two centuries ago. We have an electorate that is only a fraction of the whole of our population and much of that fraction is uninformed and lazy.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…

These are the most recognizable words in The Declaration of Independence. They are some of the building blocks of America. Are we as a nation and as individuals true to these words today?

Endowed by their Creator ostensibly means everyone, because didn’t the Creator create us all? We need to ask ourselves as individuals if those unalienable rights apply to all or just a privileged few. And if they do apply to all then we must hold our leaders’ collective feet to the fire and make sure that they work towards the fulfillment of “these truths,” or get the fuck out of the way.

Much of the Declaration of Independence is a list of grievances that the Colonies had against King George. Read those grievances and ask yourself if some of those grievances are relevant today. This shouldn’t be a partisan activity. This was all pre-political party stuff. Hell there wasn’t even a United States yet. Don’t even think about Trump and Obama and Hillary. The unalienable rights existed long before those three and will be recognized long after they are gone. Today’s politicians are transient particles of history compared to the the rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

 

 

My last few posts dove into the serious and the depressing. It’s time to cleanse and what better way than with water.

“Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.”         Lao-Tzu

I enjoy taking photos that include water. Water has a dynamic personality. It can be powerful or serene; mysterious or bright. Water can be nature’s mirror. Water nourishes and water degrades.

Stopping Water 

Take time to plan, have your equipment ready and go to the site you’re looking for and then you can take your time, find the best light, the angle that suits you, set your camera on a tripod, set up a timed shutter release or a cable release and your forethought is rewarded without any stress. 

Umpqua falls

Two Views of the Umpqua Falls in Oregon 

“Many a calm river begins as a turbulent waterfall, yet none hurtles and foams all the way to the sea.” – Mikhail Lermontov

Umpqua falls 2

And then there are those times when there is no time. It’s now or never. Washington DC gets hot and muggy in the summer so when we were visiting our nation’s capitol I got my runs in early.  This particular morning was part exercise and part sightseeing the monuments before the hoards of tourists would emerge.

Morning light is a fleeting thing. A stunningly lit scene is there one moment and by the time you’ve pulled your camera out of the bag the scene has become ordinary. Dawn was just beginning to light the Lincoln Memorial at the far end of the pool. I looked into the pool and saw that it was doing just as it’s architect had intended; on this morning reflecting the Washington Monument beneath some spectacular clouds.  There was a shot from where I had stopped but clearly the best shot would be at the other end of the reflecting pool, right beneath Abe Lincoln’s gaze.  With the clock ticking away there was certainly no time to get my DSLR but I did have my cell phone. I sprinted to the shadow of Lincoln on the other end of the pool. The shot was there in front of me but after the sprint my breathing wasn’t allowing a steady shot. Deep breaths…wait…I took a couple of exposures and that was it. Within moments it was full on sun.

Sunrise Wash Mon 2

Washington reflects well in the reflecting pool in the morning and in the Potomac at night 

IMG_2562_0101

 

 

Water is Natures Mirror

IMG_1059.jpg

Above: At the marina in Emeryville, California just a short drive from where I live I noticed this yacht one morning. Being a runner I thought it appropriate.

Hit almost any body of water in the early morning hours and you can almost always find a pretty darned cool reflection.  Below: Schwabacher Landing, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. 

Teton tree.jpg

 

Water is Cool and Refreshing

Water and grass 2

To me the photo above shows the refreshing quality of water 

 

Water Can Be Blue – VERY Blue

Ghost ship copy

Crater Lake Oregon (above). 

In paintings water is most often depicted in blue – bluer than nature intended. At Crater Lake the water is so strikingly blue that it seems bluer than nature intended and yet it is nature at it most stunning. It is such a stark blue in fact that as we looked at it I turned to my wife and remarked that the blue almost hurts the eyes. This photo is of a small island of rock called, appropriately enough, The Ghost Ship.

 

Water Always Finds A Way

Water finds a way.jpg

(Above) In it’s quest to find a path this stream chose a few courses to continue it’s inevitable movement. 

 

Water is Fun

Swimming Rainey

And One of Water’s Most Priceless Attributes –

After the fun, water tires out the dog.

Above: My Gordon Setter Rainey swimming at Dog Beach in San Diego and pooped out after the swim (Below).

Sandy Rainey

 

I don’t understand trigonometry. I don’t understand quantum physics. I don’t understand Chinese, Russian, Portuguese and most other languages.  There’s a whole lotta shit out there that I don’t understand. Most of it is cut and dried, straightforward; you either understand Greek or organometallic chemistry or you don’t.

Then there’s the shit that just leaves you shaking your head in wonder. Human behavior can be as baffling as a Rubik’s cube.  You know, like updating your Facebook profile on your cell phone while you’re doing 80 miles an hour down the freeway after a couple of martinis at the local tavern.

And right about now there’s some human behavior going on in Donald Trump’s America that just blows my mind; your’s too probably.

Let’s start with something I do understand – sort of. I understand more or less why Trump got elected.  I guess it was a freaky confluence of Russians, Comey, a Clinton campaign that could’ve done better, a lot of white folk who felt left behind, and a bunch of unhappy racists. Who knows, maybe God decided to let Satan drive on election day in 2016.  And while I kind of understand it I’m having a hard time understanding what happened a couple years ago. Understand?

In the past week or so there’s been a lot of stuff to make you scratch your head and ask yourself, what in the wide, wide world of sports is happening in America. 

I just do not understand:

How it became alright to separate families of immigrants, pulling crying children from their parents and putting them in pens with nothing more than a pad on the floor and a Mylar blanket. And then shipping the kids to other states. “You’ve won an all expense paid vacation to the middle of a strange country without mommy and daddy and a stay at The Trump Dump Motel.  Let me introduce our recreation director, Kirstjen Nielsen. Don’t be afraid kids. She may seem like a monster but she has lots of video games and toys to try take your mind off the panic you’re feeling now.” 

I don’t understand –

How a sitting Attorney General of the United States could invoke the Bible as a justification for ANY policy. I guess he skipped law school the day they were discussing the First Amendment.

How a sitting Attorney General of the United States could invoke the Bible as a justification for a zero tolerance policy that separates families and puts children in pens. I guess he skipped his Bible Study group when they were discussing Matthew 25 – For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing.

Where morality and empathy and compassion went in America.

I don’t understand –

Why people say this is not who we are. The hell it isn’t.   Enslaved children were taken from parents when they were old enough to wield an ax or serve the mistress her supper. It was a dirty business deal; you know like buying and selling Molly the cow, except that these were people. Native American children were taken from parents and sent to “Indian schools” so that they could learn to assimilate. Kind of reminds you of Communist Chinese reeducation camps doesn’t it?  Indian schools were in session from the late 1800’s to the early 1970’s. So I don’t understand how this is not America. DO … NOT … SAY … THAT … THIS … IS … NOT … AMERICA.  Not only is it historically America but it is America – NOW.  America elected the motherfucker. You can scream, “He’s not MY president,” but the truth is, his name is on the mailbox at 1600 Pennsylvania and that’s his fat ass sitting at the desk in the Oval Office signing all kinds of destructive shit. America is putting up with the motherfucker because tens of thousands of people are not taking to the streets every damned weekend over this inhumanity so yes THIS IS AMERICA! WE ALL OWN IT! 

I don’t understand –

How some ruthless, cold hearted talking heads can make light of children being taken from their parents and then pray to their god for salvation and enjoy a good night’s sleep. “Now I lay me down to sleep I pray the Lord my soul to keep.  And Lord while we’re talking about keeping, can you keep those dirty little Mexicans out of our country?” 
     On Fox News a tart by the name of Laura Ingraham likened detention centers to “summer camp,” because everyone knows that summer campers always sleep on a mat on the cold floor with a Mylar blanket and that a favorite game is, can you guess where in America you are now and where your mommy is and if you’ll ever see her again?

    The national wicked witch of the west, Ann Coulter called the immigrant children “child actors.” Hey Ann, why the long face?

     Corey Lewandowski, one of the mongrels of the Trump camp, mocked a story of a 10 year old girl with Down’s Syndrome who was separated from her mother.

On Fox and Friends, Co-Host Brian Kilmeade pointed out that,  “These aren’t our kids.” Show them compassion, but it’s not like he’s doing this to the people of Idaho or Texas.” Well that should make it all better knowing that ol’ Brian designated these kids as lesser beings. So why get all bothered by it all?

I don’t understand –

How people who call themselves Christians, who read and quote scripture and self righteously claim that they’re saved can reckon that St. Peter won’t meet them at the pearly gates, hand them a bottle of ice water and some fireproof drawers wish them good luck and tell them that God reserves the right to refuse service to assholes.

I don’t understand people who reek of a steaming stinking insensitivity that doesn’t give a damn that these immigrants left whatever little they had; whatever small comfort they had, no not to steal an American job, not to go on the public dole, but to flee poverty and hunger; to flee persecution; in many cases to flee certain death. These are children who is some cases had been going through coercion to become gang members or in the case of girls to be concubines to gang members.  And so their parents did what parents do;  tried to do right by their children.

And it isn’t like they hopped on a plane to Juarez and took a cab to the border.  Some of these people walked.  Honduras to El Paso is about 2000 miles. And that trek is something I really don’t understand; I mean wrap my head around walking two thirds of the way across the United States. I don’t even wanna drive that distance.

That’s how desperate people get when they feel they have no choice. But never mind all the crying kids and desperate parents – it’s all a ruse. Trump said so in a Friday morning tweet, “…we cannot allow our Country to be overrun by illegal immigrants as the Democrats tell their phony stories of sadness and grief,”  So there you go. This whole shit show has been ginned up by Democrats. Everyone is comfy dandy thank you.  And now about that wall… 

But despite what Trump, his cronies and the state run media over at Fox would have us believe these people exist.  They’re the unfortunates who Emma Lazarus wrote about in The New Colossus; the tired, poor huddled masses yearning to breathe free; the ones that Lady Liberty invites into America, “Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,” says Lady Liberty. Well you’re out of luck folks, the invitation has been rescinded; there’s no room at the inn so back to the tempest with you. These pitiable souls made a dangerous trek from a “shithole country” to be prosecuted and mistreated by a shithole president and his shithole minions. Hell Trump probably doesn’t even like Lady Liberty; too damned old and doesn’t look like a Slovenian model. 

I don’t understand the callousness of the likes of this administration it’s sycophants and it’s party.

But I DO understand that, sadly, there are politicians in this country who are so foul that they can’t be moved by crying children; can’t speak out against a heinous policy; that is until a finger meekly thrust into the wind tells them that the public voice makes it politically safe.

I don’t understand, I mean seriously cannot fathom, wrap my head around, comprehend a president who so blatantly and shamelessly lies while manufacturing an absolutely preposterous separate reality. Nixon took lying to an art form but Trump has elevated lying to an historic level. He is a dynastic fucking liar. And what’s even more awe inspiring is that people believe the motherfucker.

And so in the tried and true method of banging out another fable Trump and his co-authors came up with a cruel policy of child separation and then blamed the Democrats; claimed that their hands were tied with a nonexistent law. That is until the whole wide world screamed out in unison, “What in the fuck do you think you’re doing.” You know you’ve fucked up when even the Ayatollah throws the you’ve violated human rights flag, “How can they commit such a crime of separating children from their mothers for the excuse of implementing some policy? This shows how evil they really are.”

And when the Republicans saw just how badly this was playing out they looked at each other in horror did the Ralph Kramden  Hamana hamana, and more or less said, “Here’s another fine mess he’s gotten us into and how in the fuck are going to get out of it?”  I’m sure they went to bed with visions of crying children in Democratic campaign ads dancing in their tinfoil covered heads.  Because that’s what we do here. We play politics with the plight of refugees, kids, puppies, flags and national anthems. You name it, if it brings tears and outrage it’s fodder for campaign adds. 

And so Trump signed an executive order stopping the separation process which essentially admitted to the lie that his hands were tied by a law passed by the Democrats (oh and by the way, I really do wish his hands were tied – literally). And in the process of admitting to the lie he told more lies. It’s really extraordinary. He’s the LeBron frigging James of bullshitting. 

Here’s what I really don’t understand. I don’t understand why, when Trump erupts with another gusher of lies, at least one member of the press corps, just one, doesn’t put up his or her hand and say, “Enough. You’re telling a fucking lie you fucking douchebag and you know it. What makes it okay for you to stand in front of the world and blatantly tell whoppers?. When are you going to tell the truth? Now answer our questions you son of a thousand fathers.”

Oh I’m sure that it will mean someone’s job but if at every press briefing or press conference or one of Trump’s wild hair sorties onto the White House lawn at least one member of the press corp calls bullshit then maybe something will change. Probably not but I know a press corps revolt would put a smile on my face. 

There’s an endgame at play here that we all understand. Trump and his syndicate want Congress to come up with a comprehensive immigration policy; one that includes funding for Trump’s hellborn wall. So the government of the United States has gone into the business of using separated families as bargaining chips. 

Here’s something I understand. I understand that we don’t have until 2020 to put our house back in order. 2018 had better be the year that Americans stop piddle fucking around and at least take back Congress because I understand that over the course of another 2 1/2 years Trump’s gonna burn the whole thing to the ground.

Finally here is what I believe down to my soul. I believe that instead of building a wall the world would be better served by the building of a compound; not to imprison the wretched displaced, seeking the American promise of breathing free – a promise that Trump has brazenly betrayed. No, that compound should incarcerate the racketeers who have no regard for human rights, no regard for human dignity, no regard for justice; a brazen gang of crooked, double dealing, racists and douchebags who have trampled the Constitution, made a mockery of truth and turned the world against America and Americans against themselves. Trump, his administration and the Republicans and anyone else who’ve enabled and continue to enable that criminal; and the politicians who cower before that despot for fear that he’ll turn on them come election day should find themselves in a prison that makes Pelican Bay look like – well – summer camp. 

If everyone were drunk there would be no war.”  ~ Anthony Bourdain

It’s been a week. Seems much longer than a week. It all started with questions. “What?” “How?” “Why?” That was after the “Oh fuck no.” I suppose he’d have appreciated the “f” bomb. A well placed expletive was part of his unique charm. I present as evidence, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, his clear-cut ruling on a basic dining right in the land of the free and the home of the Hamburg steak, “I believe that as an American I should be able to walk into any restaurant in America and order my hamburger – that most American of foods – medium fucking rare.” Continue reading